Monday, 15 February 2010

The Damsel in Distress

Feminism - because ugly women need a hobby too!

There are 3 reactions to the above statement:
  1. Laughter
  2. $#^$£!?#@~!£$%#!!!
  3. Huh?
If you responded with #1 - stay quiet. If you had #2 - well done! And #3 - go away and google "boobies" for 'research.'

We (still) live in a world where some people see women as inferior to men. This makes people angry (and rightly so). Consequently, this breeds a class of person known as "feminists". I say known as and "feminists" here as the people I'm talking about are not Feminists with a capital F. There are people out there who believe Feminism is hating men and fighting for female superiority. The internet (the fucktards' breeding ground) warrants things like this:

If you want a committed man your best bet is to go to the local mental institution.

Witty when you think about it! And.......

Women are only good for one thing: raping and killing! No, wait, that's two things...but you get the general idea...

Isn't the internet fun?

In actual fact, of course, Feminism is about equality for all - both sexes. Because of people calling themselves Feminists when they aren't, we get:

Anyway, I digress. I'm not a Feminist as I don't know enough about it to call myself one - and I'm a strong believer that to label yourself as something, you should know everything about it [insert rant about Christians who haven't read the Bible here]. However (as we take fecking ages to get round to the point of this post) Feminism - or Feminist views - in fiction, interests me a lot!

I blame Joss Whedon - that Feminist, Humanist, Atheist, writing guy!

His work has a lot (and I mean a lot!) of Feminist angles to it. Something like 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' - Joss takes the classic stereotype of the helpless blond and turns it on its head, making her a hero. By the end of 'Angel' season 5, the most powerful character to enter the Buffyverse is (probably) Willow.

'Firefly' also features some strong women characters - Zoe is a hell of a lot tougher than Captain Mal and River is a "helpless" girl who turns out to be a destructive killing machine! Joss loves his strong women characters.

Take a look at his speech for Equality Now - even if you're sick of the guy, what Whedon says is both inspiring and insightful - why does he create such strong women characters?

It is essential to address the inspiration of Joss Whedon's strong women (besides what he talked about above). In fiction, one of the strongest female characters has got to be Ellen Ripley ('Alien'). Here's a woman that almost single-handedly destroys the mother of all monsters! A very strong character and a brilliant woman.

Then we have Sarah Connor ('The Terminator'). Through the first film we saw her grow from an ordinary young woman into a powerful survivor. Then in 'Terminator 2' she was portrayed as a badass killing machine.

There are many other strong women characters who take a powerful active role in fiction, such as Max ('Dark Angel') the sisters from 'Charmed' etc. However, there are also classic conformers to the "damsel in distress" role. As I look around at girls aged between 10 and 16 (that didn't sound wrong!) I see a complete undoing of Feminism. The 'blame' at the moment lies with 'Twilight.' Here's a female lead who does nothing but get saved time and time and time again by men! I won't go on yet another rant but really it needs no explaining.

There is a tendency to take a "strong women character" and essentially turn her into a "man with tits." Women aren't the same as men. To make a strong female character is not to make her the same as a man.

In my opinion, to make a powerful woman in fiction, she should be equal to a man - be able to do what a man does - but also retain the very thing that makes her a woman. I'm not talking about those two things either. I'm talking about the different outlook a woman has - the personality, the emotion, the sentiment etc.

That brings us to the end of the post. And having said all that about the equality of women, I ask you - why did I write this? Why did I feel the need to post about strong women characters?

Because - to take from what Joss Whedon said - it's still an issue. People are still creating female characters that are absolutely useless and - in the space of 90 minutes - destroy years of work of Feminists.

To finish, let's play a game - below are a series of pictures. You have to tell me (in the comments) which characters are strong women and which ones are a Feminist's worst nightmare.

1) Megan Fox in 'Transformers' (bonus points if you can tell me her character's name or a single line of dialogue she has!)

2) Faith, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'

3) Nancy, Oliver Twist

4) Clarice, 'The Silence of the Lambs'

5) Hermione, 'Harry Potter'


Lucy V said...

Joss Whedon is not a feminist: whilst I can accept he turned a stereotype on its head, he's created a MONSTER - now writers imagine a few headbutts and tae kwon do moves mean their character is a *strong female* -- woooooh (yes, Willow is the strongest, funny how her legacy hasn't made it into the slush pile though). Ellen Ripley started as a MAN on paper FFS and James Cameron is one of the most anti-feminist writers on the planet, he actually OFFENDS me 9/10. Sarah Connor? Vasquez? Puh-lease. If it's anyone, it's Lindsey in THE ABYSS - but cue similar problem with the kickass girls, cos she's not the one who gets remembered. What. A. Surprise.

And btw, reprinting anti-feminist slogans and pictures does not prove you're an ally of women (even if you DO make fun of said slogans and pics). Do not give such shit any houseroom whatsoever. Now anti-feminists using google to find stuff that supports their skewed view of the universe will have access to your blog. If I were you, that would creep me right out.

Manda said...

Interesting post, Neil. I sort of agree with Lucy. The thing about Whedon's female characters is that being able to kick ass equates to being strong women.

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