October 25, 2020, 04:40:53 PM

Author Topic: female character error in stories ?  (Read 345 times)

Offline eclipse

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female character error in stories ?
« on: September 28, 2020, 07:23:16 AM »

I thought this was an interesting article.

It never came across my mind while  watching Elona Holmes I think people look too deep sometimes. I get the feeling there would still find something to complain About if the villain was female.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2020, 07:41:22 AM by eclipse »
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Offline Peat

Re: female character error in stories ?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2020, 10:19:43 AM »
Calling it an error seems a bit strong and sure, there's always something to complain about, but the argument did broadly make sense to me. It reminds me of an article I saw in New Statesman years ago that female heroes had to be "strong" while male heroes could be moody narcissistic drug addicts - but still be heroes - for it seems to be the same general complaint about sticking to a "safe" formula for female protagonists that is heavily centered on "Yes, girls can" rather than just taking that for granted and telling a story about a girl. With lashings of "Yes, girls can" being short for "Yes, girls can be just like boys", heavy-handed and divisive commentary, all "Strong Women" being the same, and maybe a small snifter of "We care about showing women are equal because look they're beating the patriarchy now please don't ask us about an equal division of roles" after.

Aye, there's always something to complain about, but it feels like asking TV and movie people to keep putting more back into portrayals of women is worth doing so.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: female character error in stories ?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 05:11:24 AM »
(More riffing off Peat's post here than the original article, I think...)

A key thing I look for in media is women having relationships with women. Not in a romantic way--or not JUST in a romantic way--but I want to see there being enough female roles, with enough showing-up-on-screen, and enough variety between them, for there to be a lot of different ways for women to interact.

I think part of the "strong women only!" aspect of current media is that there are few female characters, so you have to cram all the women-positive stuff into them. (It's like the problem with killing off a character who's of colour, or queer. It's not such a problem if you have lots of characters with similar attributes. Depending.)

So one of the things I love about the TV show Harlots is that the cast is about 80% (at least) female, so there is a huge array of characters, across varying age and social standing, and they have a wild multiplicity of relationships with each other that are continuously shifting as the characters grow and develop.

And it also means that the female characters are allowed to have flaws. Because they don't have to be the "uberwoman", a character can be short-tempered or selfish or vain or vicious or conniving or cranky and it doesn't matter, you're not passing judgment on all women, you're showing humanity in all its intricacy.

I just want media where women are allowed to be powerful or selfish or uncaring or any number of other things that male characters are allowed to be, without being relegated to being crazy and/or the villain. And I don't think lots of women characters is the only answer - there's also a strong element in society where female characters exhibiting exactly the same characteristics as male characters are not given as much sympathy, and that skews the stories that can be told and sold - but I think getting audiences used to seeing a wide array and variety of female characters is a step in the right direction.

Online ScarletBea

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Re: female character error in stories ?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2020, 08:04:13 AM »
@cupiscent , I really like your reply!
I've been thinking about this too, because I suddenly (?) noticed it in the Malazan book I'm reading (and most of the previous ones, at least 4 or 5): the sheer amount of women there are, good and bad, fat, thin, weak, strong, straight, gay, queens, paupers, soldiers, relateable, hateable, and I could go on and on.

And actually many times it throws me off, when I'm reading about a character, in my mind it's a man, and suddenly there's a "she" on the page! I love when that happens, such a great reminder of unconscious bias, hehe
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Offline Peat

Re: female character error in stories ?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 02:49:05 PM »
Hear hear on having lots of women rather than one. I hope that if there's a sequel to Enola, they go that route
 - although I most note that Enola sounds like a superhero movie in disguise, and superhero movies frequently have the hero on an island, so maybe that's just the territory, although maybe that's why I've never really caught the superhero bug. Although I've liked several books that are like that. In any case, confused sentence aside, it can't be the Single Story about admirable women, and it's close. I struggle to think of many stories like what cupiscent refers to with a whole cast of women of different natures.

That said - that's not the only complaint there - I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert on feminism, and where violently oppose the Patriarchy stands within it - but we do seem to be getting into Single Story complaints there too.
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Offline Bender

Re: female character error in stories ?
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2020, 05:08:40 PM »
Take the two superwomen movies as example. Carol Denvers was already a free spirited test pilot in Air Force (despite them not allowing women to be combat pilots). Diana was independant and powerful from get go. (She was a demigod, but still....). They are both movies where women are treated at par with any other male superhero.

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