I fail at blog today.

So go read this!

Why Strong Female Characters are Bad for Women.

(I’ve been watching Xena for a while now, waiting for inspiration to strike, but even though the plot right now is deathly awesome I can’t articulate my thoughts just yet. So look for a double-post of Xena tomorrow. I promise!)
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5 Responses to I fail at blog today.

  1. dollyann says:

    Okay, just thought I’d let you know I think the new Gender Goggles avatar is totally sweet! 😀

  2. eloriane says:

    Hey, thanks! I dabble in graphic design work; nice to see something worked out!

    If you want, I’d love to put one together for you, too! It’s a lot of fun, and I’m looking for excuses to use shiny, shiny Adobe Illustrator 🙂

  3. dollyann says:

    AWESOMENESS! Totallyzzz! Could you make it, like, all red/black/white too? Like my header? That would be totally cool! Thank-yous, thank-yous, thank-yous! 😀 😀 😀 😀

  4. fremenalex says:

    I went to that other site talking on how strong female characters are bad for women. Um, ok.
    I have a couple of questions… First of all, I do agree that the girl from Transformers was pretty much an unrealistic fantasy in a macho d-bag dude-bro. But hello, who was that movie made for?
    Second, why is it important for a female character to “represent” all women everywhere? I do agree that there’s a lack of role models for girls, but just because a female character is in a movie or show doesn’t mean she has to represent what womn should be. If that’s the case, then does that annoying kid in the Transformers movie supposed to represent me? I will personally kick my own ass if I start acting like that, I promise!
    Thirdly (and last too I promise), didn’t the author of that blog get the wording backwards, especially in the title? What I mean is exactly what you stated in one of your previous entries on how it should be. There should be strong characters who happen to be women instead of strong female characters. If they’re strong characters who happen to be women, then not just women can identify with them. Yeah, don’t hog Xena and Buffy and The Bride, and even Lucille Ball all to yourselves. I wanna be like them when I grow up too!!!

  5. eloriane says:

    Okay, this is going to be long.

    Let me start by clarifying what I mean by “representation.” First, the point isn’t to show how women should be, it’s to show how they are. And second, collectively, the women in our media represent all women, period. That’s how it works. They are representations of women, they represent women. It’s kind of like the way that a picture of an apple represents the way apples look; it’s inherent in the fact that it’s a picture of an apple. Just so, the men in our media represent men. (The characters of color represent POC, the LGBT characters represent LGBT folks, and so on.) If you put together all the images or stories of women created in the year 2008, they ought to form a complete representation of women in 2008. The trouble is that they don’t– our culture’s stories about women are often shockingly disconnected from women’s actual lives (ask me about periods, if you want some good examples.)

    And that’s why feminists clamor for strong female characters—because we’re not seeing our own lives in the stories being told about ourselves. It’s a lot like using “mankind” when one really means “humankind”– it excludes women from our definition of what it means to be human.

    And the blog gets it right in the wording, it just has to do with how you read the phrase “strong female characters.” As the original author says:

    I think the major problem here is that women were clamoring for “strong female characters,” and male writers misunderstood. They thought the feminists meant [Strong Female] Characters. The feminists meant [Strong Characters], Female.

    I’d probably phrase it “[Strong Female] Characters” and “Strong (female) Characters” to maintain the word order in both, but the concept is the same.

    As for the “What About The Men” portion of your post—yeah, the men in Transformers were supposed to represent you. (Feminists aren’t crazy about the terrible representations of men either—the idiot-sitcom-dad who can’t cook or clean or do anything for himself; the idea that “boys will be boys” and men can’t rise above their baser natures.)

    But I bet that if you didn’t like the whiny kid, there were other men there for you to pick from instead. Or you could watch Batman or just about any movie, and you’d be offered such a variety of definitions of “man” that you could find the perfect match.

    Plus, it’s not really fair to say that, “Oh, this movie was aimed at men, so it doesn’t matter if the women are unrealistic fantasies.” First, because plenty of women like Transformers, and second, because even if only men attend, it still matters what messages they receive about women. Men have to live in pretty close quarters with women—it’s not good for either group is they’re taught that women ultimately exist to serve them.

    Not every woman has to be Xena (just like not every man has to be Batman), but they should all at least be people.

    And now, for something completely different: I have to say WOW to your last paragraph! Your previous comments are pretty common complaints—there are bingo cards with some of them—but usually the complaint is, “How can you expect us men to identify with female characters? Don’t you know we’re MEN?!” as opposed to your quite admirable, “Yeah, don’t hog Xena and Buffy and The Bride, and even Lucille Ball all to yourselves. I wanna be like them when I grow up too!!!”

    Ultimately, that’s the goal—to have strong characters with whom anybody can identify, regardless of gender. Because Xena IS awesome, and a Y chromosome shouldn’t disqualify someone from wanting to be like Xena. It’s just that usually, men aren’t willing to look across gender boundaries for their heroes, despite the fact that women are constantly expected to do the same. That’s the number one reason given for under-representing women—men won’t go see movies about anyone other than (straight, white) men, since they can’t identify with them.

    Nobody wants ALL movies to be about women, no matter how kick-ass those women are. Certainly, I don’t. I want all movies to be about people, who accurately reflect the people in our world. Which to me means, any character could be any gender, and nobody pays much attention, but it all works out to be 50/50. And in movies set in the US, 25% of the characters are POC, and 10% are gay, and so on. And all of these people’s stories would be our stories.

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