Sing Until Your Lungs Give Out - Oh, look, a CAN OF WORMS! Let's watch Mary open it again! :D
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sharpest_rose
sharpest_rose
Isn't moral anarchy kind of the point?
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 10:24 am
Oh, look, a CAN OF WORMS! Let's watch Mary open it again! :D

This may seem kind of bolt-from-the-blue-ish, but it's been stewing in my head for a long time and, while it's still not as articulate and clear as I'd like, I thought I might as well get it out here so I can try to refine it again in the future.

I've thought a lot, in the months since the Buffy/Spn argument that exploderated in this journal, about whether or not my views on gender and equality are outdated -- starting with the fact that I still frequently and wholeheartedly refer to myself as a feminist, but also including my need to see strong female characters present as often as possible, rather than just throwing the gates open and letting the genders fall as they will amongst characters.

It's actually eaten me up quite a bit -- am I totally wrongheaded? Am I causing more problems with my insistence on an equal heroine:hero ratio?

A lot of the people I know, online and off, identify a lot more easily with male characters than with female characters, which I suspect is one of the major stumbling blocks when we all try to discuss this stuff from equally well-meaning but very different positions. Because I don't identify more easily with men than with women. I don't know why that is. It wasn't, when I was a little girl, a political choice I made. It's just part of who I am, and it influenced the way I grew up and the beliefs I hold as an adult.

There's a book I have called Fearless Girls, and in the introduction the writer talks about going to a school and reading a picture book to a kindergarten class. At the end of the story, she asked the kids who they'd 'been'. Who had they identified with in the story. And one of the little girls flipped through the pages to a crowd scene, and pointed out a girl in the background -- the only female character in the story. That's how I feel sometimes. It's why I end up fixated on hobbits who show up for two scenes at the end of a three-book trilogy.

There are certainly male characters I'm fond of; that's no revelation to anyone reading this, I'm sure. But I want Sarah Connor as well as Mad Max; Zoe as well as Jayne; Jessica Jones as well as John Constantine, Stephanie Brown as well as Tim Drake. I want the option to identify with a female to be available to me.

It's not fair for a black kid to watch tv and only see white people when they'd also like to see black people. It's not fair for a gay teen to watch tv and see only straight people when they'd also like to see gay people. And it's not fair for me to watch tv and only see male people when I'd also like to see female people.

Your mileage may vary; I know it does for a lot of you. But my mileage is as valid as yours, and isn't as reflected by what I can watch, and that's why I haven't shut up about it yet.

167CommentReplyShare

brown_betty
brown_betty
Betty
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)

I can't see how this is wormlike, but I'm totally watching your comments with bated breath anyway.


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sharpest_rose
sharpest_rose
Isn't moral anarchy kind of the point?
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)

*snort* I've learned that Mary griping about gender = worms. Which, were I a wiser woman, might make me shut up.


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rubynye
rubynye
rubynye
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)

Um, yes. And yes, and also yes!


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mmymoon
mmymoon
Mmy
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)

I agree with everything you just said. I'd often not BE anybody in male-dominated tales. And there's probably a reason why I read soooo mucccccccch crappy fantasy growing up: Strong female heroines are normal there. (I'm talking about McKinley/Lackey/McCaffery newer type crappy fantasy here, of course.) And why I wasn't interested in a lot of the OMGCLASSIC sci-fi/fantasy as a kid -- wow, another male messiah type, that's so interesting and relevant to my life experience! *eyeroll*

It kind of struck me as wrong and uncomfortable when I went from reading fantasy to reading comics... if there are princesses who forsake the knights to run off with the dragons, where the female heroes?

An heh, Jessica Jones might the MOST empowered female hero in all of the Marvel U at the moment. The one who doesn't use her powers -- and it's her choice -- compared to the one who gets married off, or the one who is the comedic relief, or the one who is defined by her marital problems... beh.


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burntcopper
burntcopper
Gunbunny
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)

'Classic' sci-fi? Oh, christ yes. All the (men, normally) who go on about how I really should read _insert book here_ ... and everything I ever read (yes, this includes Asimov) of all the classic sci-fi was either boring, about how wonderful earther patriarchy was, or similar. BORING.

Tells you something when the victorian/edwardian originals are more fun to read. I'll read HG Wells and Tarzan books any day, because they may be full of victorian attitudes and patronising and so on, but at least they weren't full of their own self-importance. Seriously. Jane in the Tarzan books? More well-rounded and feminist than 99.99999% of characters in 'classic' sci-fi.


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glossing
glossing
I saw you eating ice cream, pal!
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)

Like you, I need female characters present and accounted for. I think I *also* need, however, a narrative universe where women are, even a little bit, respected and taken into account. So, really, commence laughing at my love for the DCU, but I like the version in my head, where Babs and others rule. There's *room*, at least, for fannish interpretations that take them seriously.


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petronelle
petronelle
Petra
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)

The ways I interact with fiction don't always require women to be there for me to be happy, but I can't see any bad in having them there, particularly given that some women *need* them there.

I'm commenting on this comment in part because in my brain, Barbara Gordon knows more than anyone in the DCU, and other people know *that* and defer to her knowledge. That's contrary to canon in a lot of ways, but in the places that it's not true, I love the universe less.


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scribbleomania
scribbleomania
Scribbles
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)

I don't believe you're wrong at all. Guy characters are generally more interesting, in both their strengths are faults; they're always the only human-seeming characters. I need girls to identify with, too, and they just...aren't there. (or they die >: )


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papervolcano
papervolcano
papervolcano
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)

Being overdosed on both flu meds and cider, I will not attempt to offer anything approaching a coherent comment. But one of the reasons The Authority will forever remain close to my heart is that it gave me the chance to be Jenny Sparks or the Engineer. I remember reading Angie's comments in the Secret History of the Authority trade - something along the lines of 'I was a blue collar kid from Queens - the only way I was going to become a superhero is if I made myself into one' - and she *did*. She made herself into one of the foremost scientists in the world, and then into one of the foremost superheroes. And she's still Angie. I have considerable difficulty identifying with Mr Fantastic, or Mr Terrific. But The Engineer? I can see myself in Angie Spica.


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karenhealey
karenhealey
chocolate in the fruit bowl
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)

God, yes, I love Angie for precisely the same reason.

And then Mark Millar put her on her knees in the Oval Office.


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femmenerd
femmenerd
nancy drew is cool
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)

I too tend to identify with female characters, male ones too, but.

I just want there to be *enough* female characters that there can be both heros AND villains, interesting ones.

I actually just posted about women on SPN but I was mostly talking about fandom reactions and I don't know that I was entirely cohesive in my discussion. Mostly I was trying to say that I am unapologetic about liking women on SPN, not even specific characters, but that their presence in general. And I think they've been doing a better job with that this season, which makes me glad.


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morchades
Ragnell the Foul, Unlicensed Ethernaut
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:06 am (UTC)

I just wanted to point out that its so awesome to hear from someone else who has read this book.

Seriously, that book should be in every household.


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hradzka
hradzka
David Hines
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)

There are different issues in this for me. I don't usually identify with characters; for me, it's usually whether I find them interesting or not, so when I do identify with characters it's outside the norm. And I'm a white boy, so I do have a fair number of opportunities. But when I usually identify with characters, it's typically in individual scenes. So I identify with male and female characters, to some degree. I don't want my heroes to resemble who I am; I want my heroes to resemble *who I'd like to be.*

(I went for SUPERNATURAL because of Dean Winchester. Not because I saw myself in him -- okay, trunk full of guns, slight resemblance there -- but because Dean is a throwback to the traditional active masculine hero that I knew I'd been missing, but didn't realize I'd missed quite so hard. I like Sam okay, but he is more in the WB hero mold, and I care for that character type much less.)

I like diverse casting for a very shallow reason. Yeah, it's important to have different folks on the show, and reflect different viewpoints, because it respects your audience and makes your story better -- but me? I really like that it adds visual interest. I get really bored of blandly pretty young white people; I like interesting faces, and when you vary characters' ethnicities, ages, and gender, it's more interesting to watch and -- especially for me, as I have a lousy time with faces -- a hell of a lot easier to keep track of minor characters.

(I know what it's like to desperately want to see yourself on television; when I was a kid, I got all excited once because an episode of FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES just *mentioned* a rabbi. I think that went away, though the way Jews are handled on TV, when we're onscreen at all, still kind of annoys me.)


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tamerterra
tamerterra
TamerTerra
Sun, Jan. 14th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC)

especially for me, as I have a lousy time with faces -- a hell of a lot easier to keep track of minor characters Heh, word. I went to see Grease on stage when I was younger, and until about three-quarters of the way through I thought that two of the characters were the same person because all the boys had the same clothes and hair. *facepalm*


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musical_emjay
musical_emjay
difficult difficult lemon difficult
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)

First, can I say that I think you're an awesome person? Like, really, really awesome? Because you are. That's the reason I friended you. You're smart and well spoken and funny and god, just so amazingly passionate.

That being said, boy do I ever differ from you in matters of feminism and gender equality. To be entirely truthful, the SPN/Buffy essay you wrote, and the ensuing conversations made me very upset and angry. I so violently disagreed with you, (and yet didn't have the balls to say so at the time), and I felt incredibly insulted by some of the comments you and a few other people were passing back and forth.

That being said, don't stop what you're doing. Really, don't. If I disagree with you, that's my problem, and if other people disagree with you, that's their problem. I have a back button and I know how to use it. What you have to say is always interesting, and always important and always relevant, at least to me, even if I really do disagree.

This is all just a really longwinded and stupid way of me trying to say: "Keep on truckin', Mary. U R AWESOME."


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liviapenn
liviapenn
PROBE UNIVERSE
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)


[warning: Long digression before comment gets to the point]

There was this interesting discussion on Pandagon last week about Changing Your Name When You Get Married. And one of the points the blogger brought up was that there are a lot of "Very Good Reasons" that people always bring up to bludgeon the woman into giving up her name-- it's good for kids to have the same name as both their parents, after a few generations hyphenation is going to get unwieldy, etc.,-- but oddly enough, these always seem to be used as reasons why SHE should change her name, when really, it should be just as simple and unremarked upon for him to change *his* last name to *hers*. And yet somehow that never is considered, or ever happens. (For statistically significant values of "never.") You know, you get plenty of women who say "Well, my name was silly/hard to say/hard to spell, so I was just as glad to take his," but somehow guys seem to manage when their names are silly/hard to say/hard to spell, just fine.

Anyway. One of the things that was brought up during the discussion was that, although it's *also* a lame patriarchy-reinforcing excuse, a lot of women *really do* feel less of a connection to their own last names-- because from birth we're indoctrinated with the expectation that we *will* have to give them up-- it's a normal part of a *girl's* childhood to go around writing "Mrs. Livia Winchester" or "Mrs. Livia Momoa" on her notebooks.

And obviously that makes me kind of sad-- we don't even get to own our NAMES!-- and in the same way, someone who says "well, I've *always* preferred male heroes and I *never* like female characters, and I can *always* see myself better in the male characters than the female characters" ... it kind of makes me sad, too. It's not that such a person has some kind of inherent character flaw, but it's a combination of (1) male characters historically being more *present* and *interesting* and (2) the cultural indoctrination that guys are interesting and active and deep, and women are passive and boring and don't DO stuff. And the total inability, or *inclination*, to see past that indoctrination and be like "hey, wait! There's women on this show! And they're kinda cool!"

I mean, especially in fandom when we spend so much time spackling over the faults and creating elaborate imaginary backstory and theorizing over tiny clues and details for MALE characters. And female characters don't get any of that energy. And then people say "Well, she's just not interesting." Sigh.


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minim_calibre
minim_calibre
Minim Calibre
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)

I have a cousin who changed her short, appealling last name to something appalling when she got married. It horrified me. I mean, why??

My husband's last name is hard to spell. Nice enough name, but hard to spell. Plus it would sound stupid with my first name. And I'd just ordered checks. And I was kind of attached to my name, thank you kindly.

It's not that such a person has some kind of inherent character flaw, but it's a combination of (1) male characters historically being more *present* and *interesting* and (2) the cultural indoctrination that guys are interesting and active and deep, and women are passive and boring and don't DO stuff. And the total inability, or *inclination*, to see past that indoctrination and be like "hey, wait! There's women on this show! And they're kinda cool!"

Yeah. This. I get it (it's not *me*, as I grew up, err, changing the pronouns in my books to make more girls, but I get it), but it makes me sad.


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rebeccama
rebeccama
Looking at the Stars
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:49 am (UTC)

I am someone who identifies with male characters more than female characters. Ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and class also don't seem to be the deciding factor for me. Some of it may be that I am used to fantasy/science-fiction where many or all the characters are different species.

This does not, however, mean that I don't get frustrated by the lack of three dimensional female characters. While I can identify with a male in the story when there are no female characters with whom I can see even a hint of myself and the women around me I end up feeling like something is missing. Obviously, there are stories I like where I could never be a part of that world because that world is fantastical, but I'd like to believe that someone like me could be there. (There is a slight exception if there is a specific plot reason.)

For me it is similar to ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and other elements of who we are. For me identifying with a male character is about one character in a story universe. The existence of intelligent, strong, three dimensional female characters is about the story universe.


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jennifergearing
jennifergearing
Jennifer Gearing
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)

Yes yes and yes.

And this is another worm-can, but really, there are lots of times when I identify with male characters because there isn't a female character there to begin with, or because the female characters have been treated with such utter disdain that 'being' them would crush my soul. I'm sure there are people who happily identify with male characters, but until there's actually a balance there, I can't help but wonder that there aren't at least some of those vocal about preferring male characters who have (subconsciously at least) made a self-protective choice.

And y'know, that's okay, we are allowed our self-protective choices because patriarchy is kinda overwhelming in it's fucked-up-ness for individual people to deal with, so people pick the fights they have energy for, and we hope it kinda balances out. But seeing what's a protective thing and what's just personal mileage is part of figuring out who we are and out place in this funny little world thingy. And really, the 'well I identify with male characters and don't need no girl characters in *my* show' vibe that came off a chunk of that whole exploderate really put my back up. Because that kind of defensiveness always sets off alarm bells in my head.

That said, a lot of the exploding also had to do with the debate about the idea that we shouldn't ask for more female characters until writers learn to treat female characters better. And whilst I can understand those reservations, and oh lordy I do because sometimes tv really sucks, it still makes me want to beat my head against a wall, because it's like saying "learn to do better, but no resources for you!" How the hell can writers prove they can do better with female characters if they don't have any?
Of course, what extends from that debate is this idea that "well you asked for more female characters, so you can't complain if they're treated like crap", which makes my brain explode.

...*ahem* So, I'll stop ranting now.


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minim_calibre
minim_calibre
Minim Calibre
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)

Because that kind of defensiveness always sets off alarm bells in my head.

Mine, too. Do not get me wrong: I think disliking a female character is a perfectly okay thing for a person to do. There are several fictional females who make me grind my teeth. But what often strikes me is that people will love a male character for acting a certain way, and hate a female character who does the exact same thing, and it winds up looking like a double standard or an artifact of internalized misogyny.


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odditycollector
odditycollector
Karen
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)

I'm much the same - my fannish favourites are almost *without fail* female (and professional women, if there are any available). It's not a choice I made... it's not something I even realized about myself until I actually *made a list*. It had something like four guys for the whole decade I've been in fandom. (Compared to 20 or so gals. I was startled.)

And even with the male characters that do make it into that top tier of obsession, my love for them tends to be qualitatively *different*.

I like Alan Scott because he's noble and cranky and is the only one in the DCU who could pull off that costume. You don't have to feel the same, and that's fine. You can tell me why, and then maybe we can trade scans back and forth about who is the best GL or something.

I like Kara Zor-El because, honestly, I barely remember a time when I *didn't* have unconditional love. You don't have to feel the same, and that's fine. We can talk about something else.

I like Psych's Gus because he is lovable and geeky and played by Dule Hill. I like House's Dr. Cuddy *because*... and although I'm sure I could come up with reasons if I really sat down and thought about it, the reasons would still come after the initial burst of love.

Which is not to say that I have *less* reason for liking female characters, but it is usually more *visceral*. I've got to get past that to be objective at all, and unless I am writing meta (which I don't) there isn't much point to bothering.

(After all, the visceral fannish love is worth *more*. House is quickly becoming a BAD show, but I still watch it because it has Cuddy in. Supernatural, season one, was a fun ride... but I've yet to feel the urge to follow the second season.

Of course, even if there are female characters, there's no guarantee I'll glomp onto any of them. But I'd be willing to bet a lot that I'd cut SGA more slack if we saw cranky *female* geeks once in a while.)


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odditycollector
odditycollector
Karen
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)

Cont. because jennifergearing brings up a good point...

...there are lots of times when I identify with male characters because there isn't a female character there to begin with, or because the female characters have been treated with such utter disdain that 'being' them would crush my soul. ...I can't help but wonder that there aren't at least some of those vocal about preferring male characters who have (subconsciously at least) made a self-protective choice.

I suspect I can get away with having a preference for female characters because am a world champion at negotiated reading. It's a skill I never entirely grew out of, and when I'm doing anything from reading comics to watching movies to, like, watching *porn*, I'm usually tweaking the canon slightly so it fits better in my head. Often I don't even realize what I'm doing - I've had many conversations that go along the lines of:

Me: THIS IS AWESOME!
Not-Me: Well, I grant it is pretty good, but what about X.
Me: ... wait, X? I don't remember X. Did I miss an episode somewhere?
Not-Me: In the one about Y? Where they do Z?
Me: Um. Sorry.
Not-Me: You were just raving about Y! Just now!
Me: Oh, right, *that* X. Huh.

So it's basically that I have entirely *different* self-protection methods, and in comics, at least, I can pretty much get away with it. Still, I try not to debate continuity much, for obvious reasons.


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caiusmajor
caiusmajor
Caius
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)

Yes, exactly.

I'm not, myself, one of the people who can't identify with male heroes--it's very hard to be, in this world; I adored studying history in school, and sticking to female heroes *there* would have either kept me to domestic social history or to the few 'exceptional' women in most cases.

But I know other people who are, or were; one of my cousins, when she was younger, just wasn't *interested* in any books without girls in them, although life has trained her out of this at least partially: she got through an English major in college, after all.

I just want to be in a world where seeing the world fictionally through the opposite sex's eyes is required of--and *allowed* to--men as well as women. I have a male friend who is interested in good fictional women very specifically; he wants to understand women better, so he wants to read about them. And I want it to be less embarrassing to take him into the comic shop and try to find stuff for him to *read*.


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amberdulen
amberdulen
Amberdulen
Mon, Jan. 15th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)

Take your friend to see The Descent!


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muccamukk
muccamukk
Muccamukk
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)

God, I've so been in this mental space lately, especially in relation to fandom. I found this lj com about "Cannon!Sues" which I thought would be funny, but upon reading it really an excuse to tear down every strong women ever to appear in mainstream media (I don't think the word "uppity" was actually ever used, but it wouldn't have been out of place.) Which is just an example of what I've been seeing A LOT. And I just get so angry even though I'm not generally a touchy person. It just seems that fandom, which is largely made of women, should be more female friendly, more interested in my own gender, but instead the majority of women are summarily sacrificed on the alter of the Almighty Penis. What the fuck is that? No wonder there aren't more strong women in media; we ourselves shoot down everyone we see, apparently.

Sorry. I'll stop venting all over your lj now.


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littledarkvoice
littledarkvoice
Revolutionary Mawrtyr Finkraine
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC)

--you know, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about canon_sues. It should be funny, what with all the horrid 19th Century Lit out there to spork, but then people get on these anti-sue crusades against just about every female character imaginable. And they don't know how to go about it good-naturedly.

Furthermore, they're largely drawing on speculative, wish-fulfillment genres to find these Sues, where the Mary Sue type character tends to flourish anyway. I mean, if you must pick on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, doesn't it make sense to pick on Indiana Jones, too?

(Granted, there's a huge difference between female characters being "perfect" so that the audience wants to be her/has fun watching or reading about her, verses female characters created to be "perfect" so as to titillate the heterosexual male audience. The latter is worth ranting about, but can't we appreciate the former a bit more?)


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minna
minna
another dead hero
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)

I usually empathise with male characters -but I always assumed that to be not because I'm partial to *male* characters, but because I'm partial to male *characters*. I mean; I don't nurture -I'm not a nurturing sort of person. But I do *protect*. So, I tend to get to be a male character, and it frustrates me a little. I can identify with guys easily enough in books/movies/tv/comics, but if I play a video game, I find it a lot harder to get into if I can't play a female toon. WEIRD BUT TRUE.

I don't think you should, or should have to, shut up about it. o_0 Everything you're saying is perfectly valid.


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irradiatedsoup
like liam neeson
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)

I'm not sure what this is directly in relation to, but it's interesting and I think I feel sort of the way ... I echo what scribbleomania said. I want lady characters, but I want them to be as layered and interesting as the boys. I don't want them simply as a love interest or killed for the benefit of some other boys storyline. I *can't* relate to that cardboard scenery stuff. Which is why I like Joss' girls so much (but even then, I write far more boyslash than girl ... anything. And I don't even know why.

This adds nothing to the discussion, especially because it's RPS, but I did think of you the other day during a whoseline friending meem. One of the intro-y questions was something "What pairing do you absolutely not like?" and there were so many answered with "Nothing with Kathy Greenwood (almost the lone female US whoseliner) or het in it". It made me twitch so much, that when asked who I would shag in a later community poll, --if I had to choose one of the whoseline boys, I said Caroline Quentin (which isn't really a lie, cause she's hot and funny and british and I totally would.)

ANYWAY. There's a bunch of stuff you didn't need to know. Welcome back by the way. I want to speak to you about things later in the week.


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dracunculus
dracunculus
little dragon
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)

I write far more boyslash than girl ... anything. And I don't even know why.

In most of the fandoms I watch, there's this sense that slash is way cool, femslash is fine and dandy for the small minority that are into it, but het is just EWWW GROSS. It makes me sad because I like girls, and het guarantees that there will be a girl in it.

I don't mean to criticize in any way your personal writing preferences, as I'm very much of the "everyone should get their own kicks and not complain about other people's kicks" school of thought. I just do wonder if writers would include more girls in their stories if there wasn't this weird "het is for losers" thing going on.


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honeydew_melon
.
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)

Character appeal, to me, is far more about whether I find them interesting, rather than being able to identify with them. Not that I don't appreciate diversity - I do, but not because I want to see myself on television.

I've always thought that network attempts to include "minority" characters often come off awkward and forced, which invariably turns people off. But it would be brilliant to see actual diversity with done well.


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jennifergearing
jennifergearing
Jennifer Gearing
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 04:18 am (UTC)

I've always thought that network attempts to include "minority" characters often come off awkward and forced, which invariably turns people off.

I think what frustrates me about when this happens is that it creates this thing of networks going "hey, they didn't like our diversity characters, therefore diversity characters don't work", when the reality is usually that they've just done a really crap job. And then we start wondering if we should complain about quality of representation in case the networks go "well, it's too hard, let's just not do it", and it fuels that whole "uppity minorities who hate everything we do because we're trying and they just complain no matter what we do".


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sweill
sweill
Steph
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)

OMG, I wrote this whole big thing about how I feel just like you so about female characters and that the SPN revelation that Jo is hunting on her own just makes me SQUEE but I lost it so this is the super-condensed version...


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mrsfrankenstien
mrsfrankenstien
Godzilla McMurphy
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 02:36 am (UTC)

I wish I had something more intelligent to say than "Yes, that's it exactly!"

But yes. It was very frustrating to eight-year-old me reading Tolkien. I'd been reading mostly Tamora Pierce-type stuff at the time and Trixie Belden before that, and I hadn't really realized that you were allowed to write books with no girls in. I've gotten sort of used to it by now, but it's still ridiculous to think you can get away with ignoring half the population.

I'm glad you've said all this, because someone had to.


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aphephobia
aphephobia
Jess
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 02:41 am (UTC)

Agreed entirely.

I hate that the female characters in EVERYTHING just seem to be there to continue the myth of the body beautiful and do little else except give straight boys wet dreams.

At least Stripperella admits to it.

I mean, seriously? I can't see Jessica Alba as a heroine any more than I can see Barbie as one. I mean, shit... where's the female V? A woman who isn't pretty and in tight-fitting costumes, and who's smart and sexy and political and good with words and knows no fear?

If I could draw, I'd draw her. And give her a voice.


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liviapenn
liviapenn
PROBE UNIVERSE
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)


Aleph and Miranda Zero, from "Global Frequency?" I was just re-reading the second trade today and some comic artists don't get her *quite* right, but the ones that do remember that she's got kind of a big nose. I love that. :D


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droolfangrrl
droolfangrrl
Drooling Fan Girl
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)

"It's actually eaten me up quite a bit -- am I totally wrongheaded? Am I causing more problems with my insistence on an equal heroine:hero ratio?"

For the first question, don't know, from my point of you that's pretty much mostly important to you, kind of.

As for the second, that kind of assumes that "causing more problems" is a bad thing.


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cocombat
cocombat
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)

Dude,
I firmly believe the reason I am a geek (of the web developer, half-completed Comp Sci degree etc, oh god, even D&D playing type), is because I read too so much Golden Age sci-fi as a kid.

There were pretty much no females.

Ironically, I think this was a far better thing than reading some of the later published sci-fi, in that I only had the hero to identify with, rather than later fiction with the secondary female characters, who were never quite as good as the boys. :P

Or, in the often well meaning fic, where they were, maybe nice. Maybe, caring. Maybe solved stuff/saved the day through diplomacy smarts, but, generally not through technology smarts.

That grates on me the most. Well-intentioned female characters who are supposed to be heroes, but always limited in the areas in which they excel at. And flat out geekery is rarely one of them.

I did obviously want to see strong females, but it was an either/or thing for me. I couldn't read in between, so it was either Golden Age sci-fi with no females, or strong females in Octavia Butler & Sherri Tepper.

Oh. Actually, I probably was craving more female characters, because the Golden Age thing probably led to a slight fixation on Robert Heinlein, who, for all his crazy militaristic, libertarian, gun-nut-ness, and sometimes uncomfortably 'chivalrous' approach to females, was - especially within the milieu he was writing - occasionally throwing in really smart, kickass females, even just as background characters, who the main characters looked up to or respected, or even flat-out making it clear that these characters were way better than the main character, before proceeding with the storyline (as in Starship Troopers) - even if he didn't go into any depth.
He'd do the same with non-white characters, just to fuck with peoples expectations. I like that.
I wish more writers would do that. Ok, so, you can't seem to write female characters for shit (insert human population of your choice), so, mention over oh, maybe two pages at the beginning, that say, the mentor for your character, who was as good or better at all the same things, was a female. There. You don't need to put any more characterisation in there, as it's almost a background character, but the girls reading it will get a little glow of pride that hey, this is totally within their reach, these characters feel she is capable of everything the main character is.
Ok, the way I worded it sounds crazy, but it matters.

I still want some female Hiro Protagonists.

With Supernatural - I don't want all my shows to be ensemble shows. I mean, it's probably easier on the actors if it isn't, but I like having only two main characters, I can really get to know them, there's a real depth there, I start to know what they're going to say, how they're going to react, down to really small details. Uh. What's the word for not ensemble?
See, I'm not really interested in any more characters, male or female, in SPN as more than supporting cast.

And that should be ok, it just means that I want, need, more shows with 1 or two main characters, or ensemble shows, where females are the leads.
Shit, if Supernatural was on TV in that same period that we had Buffy, Dark Angel, and even uh, Alias (not that I watched it) at the same time - it would have been less of a problem.

But at the moment, it's... it's BSG for me. :(
I mean, I love it, but the sad face is because it's the only show I'm watching with bunches of strong, awesome female character who I'm happy to identify with.

{Cont.}


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mmymoon
mmymoon
Mmy
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)

I just mused about Heinlein above -- I remember really liking his stuff when I was a teenager, but reading more of it as an adult caused me to boggle at myself. "I thought this was feminist...? How?"

But you're right -- he does throw in kickass women. Most of them are really background characters, but hey, among classic sci-fi, that's... amazing! Wow! That woman CAN DO MATH!

(I think the main thing that killed my love of Heinlein is remembering the group marriages as more warm and fuzzy and polysexual than they were. Everyone has their fandom kink! Mine is everyone sleeping together...)


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cocombat
cocombat
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)

{Part 2}

While I like Heroes, I'm not identifying with any of the girls, and overall, the females are seeming weaker characters than the guys - they're all being... passively acted on, rather than being uh, actors of their own fate (what's the better word?).
The only vague exception being the evil twin, but even then, oh geeze, one of the first times I can actually say that the exception *does* prove the rule. :P
Oh damn. I really don't want to look at Heroes from a feminist perspective, because... it really kind of sucks.
Admittedly, all the characters are kind of hard for me to get a real feel for though, there's so many of them.

Torchwood. Oh man, maybe that's my problem with Torchwood? I was really down on it for awhile.
I don't identify with any of the females, especially not Gwen, but not really any of the characters. Toshiko should be my target - she's supposed to be smart, but she always looks so *uncertain* (I wonder if it's the actor? According to the dialogue, she likes dangerous situations... uh, yeah, right!). Of the others, Owen's a prat most of the time. Jack I guess is the most sympathetic, fleshed out character. Ianto usually just stands in the background, and occasionally provides a useful, dry or funny comment. Huh. Ok, Ianto is usually pretty much the secretary, and yet he's the character I'm most sympathetic with, other than maybe Jack. o_O

I watch House occasionally. There's what, Cameron (meh) and Cuddy? Out of 6 main-ish characters? Cuddy being more awesome, but again, diplomatic smarts rather than tech smarts.
I like Foreman most.

The rest of Mainstream TV seems to look even... worse?

Looking at SPN on it's on terms, I'm ok with the lack of females as long as it's because it has a narrow focus, two characters only. (I can identify with Dean with being the older sibling, and I can identify with Sam for being the freaky normal one, even if I want to hit him over the head for it). Whenever they zoom out though, I want to be seeing strong females in that mix of characters.
I think they've done ok on that
They have had quite a few strong females in that zoom-out territory, and I'm actually really liking Ellen and Jo as occasional supporting cast (Jo! Mini-little-sister Dean!) but if anything, I think in order to counteract the chick-of-the-week thing, they should have been having more, uh, helpless guys?
They've had a few, but they tended to be younger, whereas the helpless females were in their 20s, which makes for... an unbalanced victimization profile? Umm.
If that makes any sense?
Somehow guys in their 20s actually being helpless, and being rescued by the main characters who are also guys in their 20s is harder for TV to do than guys being rescued by main characters who are also girls.
:P

Gah! I'm really sorry for going all ramble, all over your journal!
You make me think.

In conclusion:
Yes. TV, give us more strong girlies!
You're kinda sucking at the moment.

(Is there some shows I'm missing? That don't suck?)


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burntcopper
burntcopper
Gunbunny
Sat, Jan. 13th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)

Don't forget, Ianto is also there to be victim and Jack's toyboy. His main function is 'pretty'.


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