white straight ciswoman mid-20s-ish. surrounded by telly. likes words,
I have a hole punch, let's not get big-headed now.
keppps << shallitellyouastory
Since when did a character (female or not) have to be well-trained in fighting/guns/archery/etc. in order to be badass? Why is physical strength a requirement for being awesome?
As a feminist who enjoys a lot of genres that aren’t usually lady-friendly, it always irks me when people claim they have strong, feminist characters in their stories, but in reality they’re neither of those things. Sometimes a character’s qualities are debatable, but I wanted to make a list of things that don’t necessarily make a strong female character:
1) She is a woman/girl. Okay, so you created a female character. That’s a good start. But even Bella Swan from Twilight is a woman and I wouldn’t call her a good representation of feminism and modern womanhood. Is your character reflective of real women, or is she part of a stereotype? Do you even know the kinds of problems real women face? Does she face appropriate obstacles?
2) She can kill people, ergo she is a strong woman. Being a strong woman does not necessarily mean she can bash in skulls or toss people across the room. It means that she is psychologically, emotionally, and sometime physically well developed and can hold her own against opponents. Yes, it is refreshing to see female characters that are not physically wimpy and dependent, but if her character isn’t fully fleshed out, she’s just a tool. Try to make your female characters as complex and realistic in the story as possible.
3) She is a feminist. Okay, who says she’s a feminist? You, or her actions? Being a feminist is more than just saying “I’m a feminist.” Does she illuminate women’s issues during her story arc? Does she legitimately stand for all women’s rights, or just a stereotype of women’s rights (i.e. fauxminism)? Don’t make a straw feminist (see Feminist Frequency’s video on the Straw Feminist).
4) She doesn’t act like other women. Okay, this is really common in genres like fantasy and scifi, and it’s really problematic. First, you are assuming that all women act in a certain manner, which is not the case. Second, this most likely means that you are not writing a female character, you are writing a male character with boobs. This isn’t necessarily a good representation of womanhood. The point of avoiding stereotypes and cliches when writing for a female character is not to eliminate femininity and womanhood, but instead to adopt a more enlightened and diverse perspective on womanhood. Many things factor into a woman’s life that make her unique from other women. You have to consider things like class, race, culture, situation, history, and other perspectives that you design for her. This is also why it’s important to have multiple women in any story, because if you write five very diverse male characters but only one female character, it is easy to assume from the audience’s perspective that all women behave as that one female character does, and this is part of why sexism is so prevalent in media today.
5) She is the main character. Again, this kind of goes back to point #1. It is great to have women in main roles instead as just a sidekick or love interest, but if she isn’t a well developed, strong, and complex character, there’s really no point for her to even exist, other than to maybe be eye candy or a foil for a scenario.
I could go on and on and on forever and ever about sexism in media, mostly in fantasy, scifi, and horror (which are my favorite genres), but that would take way too long and I have to make a taco pizza (that’s a pizza with taco ingredients for toppings, if you were wondering). If you’re interested in this sort of stuff like I am, then check out Feminist Frequency. They offer great videos on a variety of topics concerning women in media. These were mostly just some tips I wanted to offer for young writers, film makers, game designers, comic artists, and other crafters of media about handling women in media. If people like this post, I may consider doing one for queer people, too…
can I just voice a few unpopular opinions regarding my take on feminism?
- the idea of a damsel in distress is not anti-feminist until the need for saving becomes the sole purpose of the character. while stories of women who don’t need saving are groundbreaking and empowering, it’s, in my opinion, anti-feminist to place the character so high up on a pedestal that they will never need saving. feminism isn’t about glorifying a gender; it’s about equality. so a woman (who is defined outside of being a damsel in distress) that needs saving at some point is, therefore, not anti-feminist.
- the structure of marriage, family, and what may be viewed as the stereotypical lifestyle that follows is not anti-feminist. some women choose this lifestyle. some women want to be stay at home moms and raise a family and do household work while their husband provides financially, versus being a career woman. and there is nothing wrong with any of those choices.
- while many of us agree that slut shaming is anti-feminist, the girl who chooses not to engage in a sexual lifestyle is not anti-feminist either, unless they are participating in slut shaming themselves. some women will choose to remain abstinent, some may even choose to wait until marriage or at least until they’re in a long-term relationship to have sex. that’s perfectly acceptable. shaming them for that choice is defying feminism.
- females and female characters do not need to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, physicists, linguists, psychologists, intellectual creatures, or super heroes with super powers to be strong women. this idea in itself is anti-feminist, as it implies that anything mediocre or below is shameful. feminism is an inclusive cause, meaning that every person of every background, belief, status, orientation, and intellectual level are represented equally.
disclaimer: I don’t claim to represent everyone’s ideas of what feminism is and should be. the only person I’m representing is myself and my own opinions. and if you just happen to agree with me, that is fantastic!
I watch movies and I don’t care who is the protagonist, I feel what that guy is feeling. You know, if it’s Tom Cruise leaping over a building I, I want to make it, you know? And I’m going to, yes, I made it. And yeah, so I get that.
And I’ve grown up, well, partly because there weren’t great girls’ literature. Nancy Drew maybe. But there weren’t things. So there was Huck Finn and Spin and Marty. The boys’ characters were interesting and you lived through them when you’re watching it. You know, you’re not aware of it but you’re following the action of the film through the body of the protagonist.
You know, you feel what he feels when he jumps, when he leaps, when he wins, when he loses. And I think I just took it for granted that, you know, we can all do that. But it became obvious to me that men don’t live through the female characters.
you know what i wish people would stop doing? writing ridiculous pieces about adopted people and the birth parents they never met (nor wanted to meet) and trying to make ~connections~