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Friday, February 13, 2015

Men in women suits

Silvia Moreno-Garcia says no to strong female characters:
I was not a fan of The Book of Life. I will not elaborate too much on this point except to mention that when I watched it I recalled a bit from an article by Sophia McDougall published in The New Statesman:

I remember watching Shrek with my mother.

“The Princess knew kung-fu! That was nice,” I said. And yet I had a vague sense of unease, a sense that I was saying it because it was what I was supposed to say.

She rolled her eyes. “All the princesses know kung-fu now.”


I thought the same thing about the heroine of The Book of Life. She knows kung-fu and she spews the kind of “feisty” attitude we must associate with heroines and she is therefore strong and everything is kosher.

In an effort to get a wider variety of women in movies and books, we have often heard the mantra that we need more strong female characters. However, as some commentators have noted “strong” has often become a code word for a very specific kind of character. The kind that must demonstrate her chops via feats of physical strength. So, for example, in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 the heroine Elizabeth Swann has now acquired fencing skills. This serves as a credential for her “strength” even though the character had demonstrated “strength” of another type already in the first movie: she was smart, even devious, managing to wriggle her way out of more than one situation.

Shana Mlawski did an interesting study of male and female characters a few years ago. The main question she wanted to answer was whether male characters are more immediately likeable than female characters. Her conclusion:

All of the above data suggest to me that we (or at least the critics at EW) like a wide variety of male character types but prefer our women to be two-dimensionally “badass” and/or evil.

That means that badasses like Sarah Connor and villains like Catherine Trammell could be palatable to audiences. Male characters, however, were allowed to come in a wider range and still deemed likeable. Men, Mlwaski, writes, could be “passive” characters. Women? They could blow stuff up or kill people....

In fact, a couple of weeks ago I watched the 1980s adaptation of Flash Gordon and was mildly delighted to see that Dale Arden was “strong” too! Despite the cheesiness and bubbly sexism Dale kicked ass! She was for the duration of the film most interested in exclaiming FLASH! but at one point she took off her heels and beat about half a dozen guards. Strong woman, indeed.

And that, I guess, is my point. We really haven’t gotten that far from Dale and her display of 1980s strength.

Sarah Hoyt says much the same thing in passing while writing about Portugal:
In the same way the ten-thousandth Empowered Woman Defeats Evil Males saga might posibly contribute to the self-esteem of some severely battered woman who SOMEHOW managed to avoid all other identical tomes rolling off the presses for the last twenty years at least.  For me they are just a “oh, heck, yeah.  Go sisterrrr.  YAWN” as I toss the book aside. 
I have three main objections to strong female characters. First, the basic concept is a lie. Barring mystical powers or divine heritage, the strong female character is simply nonsense. They don't exist, they aren't convincingly imagined or portrayed, and they're essentially nothing more than token feminist propaganda devices. Freud would, in this case correctly, put the whole phenomenon down to penis envy.

Second, it is tedious. As both women note, strong female characters are neither new nor interesting. If you're blindly copying a trope that hasn't been new for three decades, you're just boring the reader. And third, it is dreadful writing. Most "strong female" characters observably are not women, they are simply male characters dressed in female suits. They don't talk like women, they don't act like women, and when we're shown their interior monologues, they don't think like women either. They're about as convincingly female as those latent serial killers who like to wear those bizarre rubber women suits. They are, in fact, the literary equivalent of those freaks.

I'm not the only one to notice this. Carina Chocano observes: "“Strong female characters,” in other words, are often just female characters with the gendered behavior taken out." In other words, they're one-dimensional men in women suits.

Ironically, men tend to write more interesting "strong female characters" because at least they know what men think like when they are writing about men in women suits. When women do it, they're writing what they imagine the man the female writer is pretending is a woman would think like. It's convoluted, it's insane, and it should be no surprise to anyone that most stories based on such self-contradictory characters don't turn out very well.

On a tangential note, McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book. He even had two separate narrators, one of each sex, for the audio book. Now, not only is that silly stunt-writing, but think about the literary implications. It means the behavior of the character and its interior monologue is so haplessly inept and unrealistically bland that the reader cannot even ascertain something as intrinsically basic to human identity as the mere sex of the character.

Can you imagine if you couldn't tell from their behavior if Anna Karenina was a woman or if Aragorn was a man? Would that inability improve or detract from the story? Strong female characters are bad enough, but the occluded sex of Lock In marks a new depth in bad science fiction writing.

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166 Comments:

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 13, 2015 6:54 AM  

I don't read anything in this genre, but just looking around at the culture at large I have to agree with 90% of what you're saying. But I will add this critical caveat.

The biggest problem with the "empowered, ass-kicking female" is a lack of artistry. (Yeah yeah, we have different standards about artistry, I know.) The occasional dollop "strong woman character" can be interesting to the structure of a story, even if the character herself is not completely convincing. But in the hands of a good artist you can have a convincing strong female AND an important plank in the structure of your story -- especially if the story is of the "journey as character maturation" type.

I'll give an example. In the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" the hero, Hiccup, starts out as a weak, incompetent, unpopular kid who is considered too weak to battle dragons like the other Vikings ( a cliché in its own right, but bear with me.) His unattainable love interest, Astrid, is a cold-hearted badass who is convincingly skilled with a battle axe. Her attitude and character are convincing once we understand WHY she is this way: she understands all too well that the dragons threaten to destroy their island, and she's determined to do her part in the existential war for survival. She's a child scarred by war. Nonetheless as the kids train to battle dragons themselves, she has nothing but contempt for Hiccup, who is cowardly and incompetent in the arena.

This starts to gradually change when Hiccup, who has secretly discovered and befriended a fearsome Night Fury, begins to shine in the training arena, defeating the dragons through clever, unconventional means, based on what he's learned by studying them in secret. In other words he shows his strength through science rather than through raw physical valor. This makes Astrid angry and envious because she's very competitive, and wants to place first. But then she tracks Hiccup to where he's hidden his Night Fury, and he takes her for a moonlight flight on the dragon's back. She starts to come around to liking him.

By the time of the final battle she's all nurturing and supportive and genuinely feminine, she's putty in his hands. And by the end of the movie Hiccup has to demonstrate genuine physical courage, which makes him the village hero. It's a classic coming of age tale, and a good love story which operates through the mechanics of role reversal.

My point being that you can't have a role reversal story where the characters end up in their proper roles, if the roles don't start out as being oddly reversed. This is an actual good use of the "strong female" trope. It's about artistry, not politics. I think your real critical gripe (or one of them) is that these writers simply aren't good artists, they're just political partisans using bad writing to advance an agenda. Good writers can make a fine meal out of whatever happens to be in the pantry.

"Oh we never understand. But we feel certain things. Stories that we can understand... are just badly told."
-- Bert Brecht
(who ironically, went on to reject his own insight)

Blogger Kryten 2X4B 523P February 13, 2015 6:55 AM  

TV is getting really bad for that, especially if its aimed at the young adult audience.

Take "The 100" - Every female character is the "Strong Female Character" type. And I mean every.
We have the GeekGirl Engineer - who naturally was the most gifted engineer on the Ark.
We have the Chancellor - older woman powerbroker / political manipulator / doctor with a desire to control everyone. We have The Chancellor's Daughter, who is now defacto leader of the entire group making all the "tough decisions". We have the leaders of the Grounders - always young women with excellent fighting abilities that lead the grounder clans. The can apparently defeat males that are twice as tall as they are and outbulk them by a factor of 4. Not to mention that these superlative male warriors are totally subservient to the female leaders.

You'd think thats enough, but no.

The grounder's leader "seconds" are of the same type.
The Doctor in Mount Weather who is a "power behind the throne" type, enforcing her will with the force of the men around her.
And we even have a love interest in the Romeo and Juliet style that has gone over to the grounders to train as a clan second, and hopes to save her love from himself.

One "strong female" in a show can be bad enough - but eight? Overload.

However, there is a plus side of sorts - the one dimensionality of the female characters has allowed some of the male secondary characters to show some surprising depth. Its a terrible show to be sure, but interesting to watch in some regards if you can stomach it. I veer between cringing and hilarity most of the time.

The whole "Strong Independent Woman" thing is getting really, really boring now though.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 7:09 AM  

Rhys, do not post OT comments. And especially never post AG comments here at VP. That takes cross-posting, which is already banned, to new heights. There is overlap, but the VP readership is not synonymous with the AG readership.

Anonymous Rhys February 13, 2015 7:19 AM  

Sarah Connor

One of the few legitimate women bad asses on film. In the first film she is not kung fu lady and is pretty lost in life. Meeting Kyle Reece and having a cyborg try and kill her maker her stronger.

In the second movie she is all kick ass and is actually believable. She has given up her feminity (she looks more manly than any hipster) and actually has a believable backstory as to why. She is trying to prepare her son to be the warrior he needs to be to save the world. Its also noticeable how much being tough has token its toll on her. She looks ragged, she is barely holding it together and she breaks down after trying to kill Dyson.

This is much more realistic than a kung fu chick with no muscle tone, manicured nails and who appears unfazed by the violence in her life.

Women can't write strong female characters because they don't understand what true strength is. They assume its all big muscles, kung fu, beating bad guys and talking shit. I guess, to most women, that is what they see as strong in a man.

Men, of course, see strength as far more internal than external. Its courage, standing by principles, facing fears, doing your duty and so on, regardless of how big your muscles are, how much kung fu you know, how many bad guys you beat and how pithy your one liner is.

Anonymous Rhys February 13, 2015 7:23 AM  

Rhys, do not post OT comments. And especially never post AG comments here at VP. That takes cross-posting, which is already banned, to new heights. There is overlap, but the VP readership is not synonymous with the AG readership.

Ok

Blogger James Dixon February 13, 2015 7:24 AM  

> As both women note, strong female characters are neither new nor interesting. If you're blindly copying a trope that hasn't been new for three decades, you're just boring the reader.

Three decades? Jirel of Joiry goes back to October 1934.

Anonymous Stingray February 13, 2015 7:28 AM  

McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book.

How could he hate women so much?

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus February 13, 2015 7:36 AM  

From the linked Overthinking It piece:

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.

So what women were clamoring for = what feminists were demanding, and all would have been well had that wise demand been granted, but stupid (and repugnantly horny) men misunderstood, so bad writing followed.

No sale.

For a start, what women clamor for is Edward Cullen or an approximation thereof. It was ever thus; it will always be so.

So what flaws can female characters have? Uh, I don’t know. How about the same flaws a male character would have?

Not even close.

Anonymous Salt February 13, 2015 7:42 AM  

Is it Iron Man 2 where the chick trashes multiple guys in slow-mo kung-fu and he gruelingly defeats one? She comes back and he says, "I got him," then looking down the hall he sees her multiple-badass exploits? Comic book characters, the new reality, indeed.

Anonymous Ha February 13, 2015 7:44 AM  

McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book.

How could he hate women so much?


Such is the inner fury of the beta -- not uncommonly manifested in a killing spree.

Anonymous Laz February 13, 2015 7:49 AM  

"They're about as convincingly female as those latent serial killers who like to wear those bizarre rubber women suits."

Did you mean skin suits? "It puts the lotion on it's skin..."

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 7:53 AM  

Did you mean skin suits?

No, I meant exactly what I wrote. Rubber women suits.

Anonymous totenhenchen February 13, 2015 7:55 AM  

It's ironic that the Lady Chablis is probably the most feminine movie character of the last twenty years.

Anonymous Stingray February 13, 2015 7:56 AM  

I can't ever unsee that. Yikes. I thought you were talking about those weird black rubber suits like in the first season of American Horror Story.

Blogger AmyJ February 13, 2015 8:02 AM  

Starbuck in the Battlestar Galactica reboot is a good example of an eye-rollingly "strong" female character. The funny thing is, she became more compelling and strong (not physically) when she displayed more feminine traits and, surprisingly, faith in higher powers. Holding her own in fist fights with burly men were laughably stupid scenes, but grappling with the fact that she might be a mother, and the subsequent heartache she goes through when she finds out she's not...that was powerful.

I wish more authors would realize that strength in women just isn't intriguing when it's physical.

Blogger IM2L844 February 13, 2015 8:05 AM  

...and what is up with practically every constabulary on television now having a female character - department head or chief of police - that insists on being called "sir"? What is wrong with "ma'am"?

Anonymous bub February 13, 2015 8:06 AM  

"I remember watching Shrek with my mother."

Now that's not the greatest image to start the day with.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 13, 2015 8:10 AM  

John C. Wright has very good essay on this topic in Transhuman and Subhuman. I highly recommend it. Not only does he cover what a strong female character isn't, he discusses what one is.

The problem is that these characters aren't strong female characters, they are masculinized female characters. As such they are incapable of any kind of normal, male/female relationship. They invariably end up lesbians. Witness the very irritating end of Korra. S.M. Stirling is even worse about this than Joss Whedon and that's saying something.


The pixie ninja has passed from trope to cliche at this point. In Agent Carter, Peggy Carter is a kick ass grrl agent in 1946, who can karate the shit out of every one of her neanderthal male oppressor coworkers in her office. This cliche is so universal at this point the show didn't even bother to explain where Peggy got her Magic Super Kung Fu.

I would have even accepted that she had had unprotected sex with Captain America as an explanation but they couldn't even bother with that. Nope just the magic of being a grrl.

Blogger mmaier2112 February 13, 2015 8:16 AM  

RE: Scalzi's book: I call bullshit on not being able to tell

Does the character have reason and/or accountability?

Blogger mmaier2112 February 13, 2015 8:18 AM  

That said, it's really bad.

The latest episode of THE FLASH had a drug-addled little girl kicking the ass of a Russian Mafia dude AFTER she'd been pummeled just a few hours earlier AND getting her ass kicked again.

She just turned the tables.

Cuz she's the best... AROUND!!!!

Anonymous Jeigh Di February 13, 2015 8:19 AM  

They've announced that the next Ghostbusters movie will have an all female cast. I can't imagine it being anything but one of the most horrible movies ever made.

Blogger Josh February 13, 2015 8:21 AM  

Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl (which is worth seeing just because the feminist SJWs HATE it), on female characters:

"I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books," it reads. "I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains. Not ill-tempered women who scheme about landing good men and better shoes … not chilly WASP mothers … not soapy vixens (merely bitchy doesn’t qualify either). I’m talking violent, wicked women. Scary women. Don’t tell me you don’t know some."

Blogger Josh February 13, 2015 8:26 AM  

Link to the Flynn essay.

"Female violence is a specific brand of ferocity. It’s invasive. A girlfight is all teeth and hair, spit and nails — a much more fearsome thing to watch than two dudes clobbering each other. And the mental violence is positively gory. Women entwine. Some of the most disturbing, sick relationships I’ve witnessed are between long-time friends, and especially mothers and daughters. Innuendo, backspin, false encouragement, punishing withdrawal, sexual jealousy, garden-variety jealousy — watching women go to work on each other is a horrific bit of pageantry that can stretch on for years."

Anonymous Victorian Novel Reader February 13, 2015 8:27 AM  

I'm slogging my way through Middlemarch by George Eliot (real name Mary Anne Evans) right now. It has all your Victorian era verbosity, but Eliot really does nail the characters. The women characters are not inflicted with the modern sensibility of "strong and masculine." They are recognizably feminine - that is, soft, emotional, and oftentimes self-deceiving. In fact, not to get OT, but the novel is among other things a case study in (and affirmation of) Game.

If Eliot had been born more than 100 years later, she probably would have written strong female schlock.

I'll be glad when I'm finished and I can back to reading something I truly enjoy.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 13, 2015 8:31 AM  

Speaking of Gillian Flynn... everyone is going gaga over Gone Girl, which isn't bad. But the real fo-shizzle is her debut novel, "Sharp Objects". Much more interesting and disturbing, and it contains quite a lot of what Josh is talking about.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 8:31 AM  

"On a tangential note, McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book."

Its a trainwreck really... I mean.. on the one hand they shout that everyone is different... then turn around and congratulate themselves for demonstrating that they beleive everyone is exactly the same.

If everyone is exactly the same what does diversity matter?

Blogger Chris Mallory February 13, 2015 8:38 AM  

Johannes Skylitzes and Saxo Grammaticus early SJWs or not? Both wrote of female warriors.

What about John Ringo? The Black Tide Rising series features two female warriors, one a Marine, the other a sailor.

Blogger Josh February 13, 2015 8:38 AM  

Much more interesting and disturbing, and it contains quite a lot of what Josh is talking about.

Yeah, she wrote the essay about sharp objects.

Anonymous Zippy February 13, 2015 8:41 AM  

Now I know why I hate the Honor/White Haven romance in the Honor Harrington series.

I am fully aware that Honor Harrington is not a realistic woman, in outlook or character. She is Horatio Hornblower with boobs. The physical stuff I can get beyond, because she is genetically engineered (or descended from genetically engineered stock). But psychologically she is motivated by things that motivate men.

That's why I find her romance with White Haven so repulsive. Because it feels gay.

Blogger ScuzzaMan February 13, 2015 8:45 AM  

" a new depth in bad science fiction writing"

Well that's gotta be worth noting. It's not easy, these days.

Blogger Owen February 13, 2015 8:45 AM  

AmyJ,
I agree. Initially, Starbuck was a typical Joss Wheedon female lead. The bizarre ending to the series aside, she really did develop into a more interesting character and a more challenging role when she went through the motherhood experience(s).

I keep coming back to it, but "Gone With the Wind" has some of the best characters. The Alpha rogue, Rhett, the hapless betas send to the meat grinder, the bitchy female lead, and the genuinely feminine Melanie.

Anonymous darrenl February 13, 2015 8:48 AM  

Thank you for using the word 'sex' and not 'gender'

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 9:04 AM  

"the bitchy female lead"

Bitchy?

You're using "bitchy" in association with Scarlett?

Anonymous cheddarman February 13, 2015 9:04 AM  

I make one exception for strong female characters. I liked Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. The way she was hardened by her experiences was believable and exceptional (Almost being killed by the machine in T1, loosing her love interest Kyle Reese, being judged as a nut by other men), and she did it to try and protect her offspring.

I also thought she was funny as a female outlier after I saw the movie a 2nd & 3rd time.

Anonymous Ain February 13, 2015 9:05 AM  

It's amusing that JS takes pride in people not knowing if a character is female or not. It's akin to a gay staying in the closet -- he's there because the truth is shameful.

The left really does hate the womanly virtues. Why hide femininity in females? In their world view, woman that behave as men and men that behave as women is good. Women behaving as women and men behaving as men is bad. The later makes them want to claw their eyes out, because their desire of how they want things to be is so easily burned away by truth. They simply must pretend it doesn't exist.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 9:06 AM  

Johannes Skylitzes and Saxo Grammaticus early SJWs or not? Both wrote of female warriors.

No. Not very much, they didn't.

What about John Ringo? The Black Tide Rising series features two female warriors, one a Marine, the other a sailor.

Ringo, like many an otherwise sensible SF/F author, has been influenced by the pink propaganda. Most of us who write in the two subgenres are, due to three generations of relentless propaganda.

All you need to know it is complete nonsense is to compare the pregnancy rate of these female warriors, who are often portrayed in pre-contraceptive eras, with the pregnancy rate of actual female U.S. military personnel who have free access to a plethora of redundant contraceptive methods.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 9:08 AM  

I make one exception for strong female characters. I liked Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2.

Yes, that was doing it right. The exception that proves the rule. And her physical transformation was real.

Blogger MATT February 13, 2015 9:19 AM  

I liked Linda Hamilton too. If I remember, she didnt really do anything a woman couldnt do. She wasnt tossing men through windows, or knocking them out with one punch. She used her smarts.

Blogger JartStar February 13, 2015 9:21 AM  

McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book.

If you read the reviews on Amazon this didn't go over well with nearly anyone, even his normal fans.

Anonymous Feh February 13, 2015 9:27 AM  

What about John Ringo? The Black Tide Rising series features two female warriors, one a Marine, the other a sailor.

Yes, those are... challenging... to suspension of disbelief.

Especially when the ass-kicking teenage girl repeatedly gets buried under hordes of ravenous fast zombies but manages to throw them off. Hundreds of pounds of biting, rotting flesh... I doubt I could get out from underneath that.

Blogger Owen February 13, 2015 9:34 AM  

You're using "bitchy" in association with Scarlett?

I am. Maybe we define it differently.

She's temperamental, manipulative, back-stabbing, and - well - bitchy.

Blogger Chris Mallory February 13, 2015 9:34 AM  

"No. Not very much, they didn't."

"wrote of" does not imply any quantity beyond a mention.

Grammaticus in The Danish History Book Eight has the following passage:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1150/1150-h/1150-h.htm#link2H_4_0026

" Now out of the town of Sle, under the captains Hetha (Heid) and Wisna, with Hakon Cut-cheek came Tummi the Sailmaker. On these captains, who had the bodies of women, nature bestowed the souls of men. Webiorg was also inspired with the same spirit, and was attended by Bo (Bui) Bramason and Brat the Jute, thirsting for war. In the same throng came Orm of England, Ubbe the Frisian, Ari the One-eyed, and Alf Gotar. Next in the count came Dal the Fat and Duk the Sclav; Wisna, a woman, filled with sternness, and a skilled warrior, was guarded by a band of Sclavs: her chief followers were Barri and Gnizli. But the rest of the same company had their bodies covered by little shields, and used very long swords and targets of skiey hue, which, in time of war, they either cast behind their backs or gave over to the baggage-bearers; while they cast away all protection to their breasts, and exposed their bodies to every peril, offering battle with drawn swords. "

"The maidens I have named, in fighting as well as courteous array, led their land-forces to the battle-field."

The trope is older than just a few decades.

Anonymous Nathan February 13, 2015 9:39 AM  

Re: Ringo;

The sailor, Seawolf, is within belief as she's not up close and personal as her Marine sister, Shewolf, who everyone in the series rightly considers a freak of nature. Even then, Shewolf has scenes where she has to come to grips with the fact that she can't hang with the guys physically. Ringo likes using the woman warrior trope, but is realistic (in most cases) to the limitations of them. The one that thought she could be a decent legionnaire in his fantasy series quickly filled a grave.

OpenID thule222 February 13, 2015 9:48 AM  

There is one realistic type of martial woman, and that's the one type Hollywood runs from. When we meet Peggy Carter in Captain America, we learn that she's a crack shot. She carries a pistol and can hit anything, dropping bad guys right and left.

In her TV series, gun hating Hollywood dropped this, and now she kung fus the bad guys like all the other heroines.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 9:53 AM  

"She's temperamental, manipulative, back-stabbing, and - well - bitchy."

hrm...

Bitches get what they want by... being bitches. Bitching is defined.

Scarlett may bitch in the book some, but not very much. Most of the time she gets what she wants be doing the exact opposite of bitching.

Anonymous Baseball Savant February 13, 2015 9:57 AM  

Karrin Murphy would like to have a word.......

Blogger John Wright February 13, 2015 9:59 AM  

"Three decades? Jirel of Joiry goes back to October 1934."

And Britomart is from Spencer's FAERIE QUEENE (1590) ripping off Brandamante is from Ariosto's ORLANDO FURIOSO (1532), whereas Camilla appears in Virgil's AENEID (First Century BC).

And that is without even mentioning 'Maid Jean' as portrayed by the big-eyed and babelicious Glynis Johns in THE COURT JESTER (1955)

And if we throw in Amazons, sea monsters, and goddesses, this trope is as old as written language.

The difference is that these poets used the 'Martial Maiden' as a symbol to represent the oddity and paradox of the feminine beauty in a male warrior role, not to heap contempt on the role itself, not to undermine nor destroy it.

Amazons in Greek myth are a fantastical creature, meant to be seen as freakish as a three headed chimera, not as a role model to encourage the Athenian maidens to join in the phalanx against the Spartans.

All these martial maidens and she-warrior characters in the old poems were portrayed skillfully by the poet, met comedy and tragedy, and so on. They were solid. Modern portrayals are flimsy, cardboard things. The scene of Dale Arden, of all people, doing backflips down the corridor of Ming's palace shooting guards with a laser pistol is not even good as comedy: the scene comes out of nowhere, accomplishes nothing, and means nothing. It is there for shock value, or schlock value. (Oddly, the movie also has a strong female character in Princess Aura, who is strong in typically feminine ways, sly and manipulative and ruthless as only an evil princess can be.)

So the problem with the modern portrayal of 'strong female characters' is threefold: they are not strong, they are not female, and they are not characters.

Blogger Owen February 13, 2015 9:59 AM  

Nate,
I see your point. I was using it as a general term. I didn't want to imply she was "bitching" as much as being the type of woman I'd call a "bitch."

Still, a great character and develops throughout the plot.

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 10:04 AM  

It's ironic that the Lady Chablis is probably the most feminine movie character of the last twenty years.

For those who didn't search, Lady Chablis is a drag queen (I had no idea). I've done searches of how to do things in a more feminine manner, for example, my handwriting. The first several hits were all tranny websites--men trying to figure out how to be more feminine. How sad is that -- that it's more popular for the mentally deranged than for actual women to figure out how to be more feminine?

Anonymous The other skeptic February 13, 2015 10:05 AM  

Those people who claim that it is all a plot to get white women to waste their reproductive years chasing a mirage are kooky conspiracy theorists.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 10:06 AM  

"Amazons in Greek myth are a fantastical creature, meant to be seen as freakish as a three headed chimera, not as a role model to encourage the Athenian maidens to join in the phalanx against the Spartans. "

Correct sir. We shouldn't lump Norse mythology into the trope just because of the Valkyries.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 10:07 AM  

"How sad is that -- that it's more popular for the mentally deranged than for actual women to figure out how to be more feminine?"

Umm... why would a girl need to learn to be more feminine?

Pintrest exists. Go there.

Anonymous Harsh February 13, 2015 10:08 AM  

On a tangential note, McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book.

Reminds me of a few stories I've read by neophyte writers where the author goes to tortuous lengths not to use "he" or "she" at all in an effort to foster ambiguity about the main character's gender. As Vox said, it's gimmicky stunt writing.

However, in Scalzi's case it doesn't surprise me because I imagine he has trouble on a daily basis figuring out if he himself is male or female.

Anonymous Stingray February 13, 2015 10:12 AM  

why would a girl need to learn to be more feminine?

I'm surprised you asked this. Most of us were raised that femininity was weakness. Not necessarily directly by our parents, but taught this down the line nonetheless. Weakness = bad and should be avoided at all costs. Masculinity was strength and was to be desired. Some of us got quite good at being masculine (*cough* raises hand) and were tangentially rewarded for it.

Learning to stop being that way can be difficult.

Blogger John Wright February 13, 2015 10:14 AM  

"You're using "bitchy" in association with Scarlett?"

Evidently someone did not read the version of GONE WITH THE WIND written by Margaret Mitchell.

Yes, Scarlett O'Hara is a vain and selfish bitch, who marries thoughtlessly, loves unwisely, but learns during and after the war to fight teeth and nails, gouging eyes and pulling hair and biting ears, -- as women fight, as is proper for the weaker sex to fight -- to run a business, to surrender nothing, for the true love of her heart, which is the land of her ancestors, rightly named after the paradise of the Irish, Tara.

It is from her, more than any other popular character, that the trope of the bitchy, fiery Irishwoman comes.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 10:26 AM  

"It is from her, more than any other popular character, that the trope of the bitchy, fiery Irishwoman comes. "

She becomes that... certainly. But again... more often than not Scarlett gets what she wants by doing the opposite of acting like a shrewish bitch.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 13, 2015 10:26 AM  

"It is from her, more than any other popular character, that the trope of the bitchy, fiery Irishwoman comes."

Nope, I'm puh-retty sure it comes from my great-grandmother.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 10:27 AM  

"I'm surprised you asked this. Most of us were raised that femininity was weakness. "

The lies told to you don't change your nature Stingray.

Anonymous Stingray February 13, 2015 10:37 AM  

The lies told to you don't change your nature

No they don't, but they can make it incredibly difficult to find it. Especially when rationalizing is part of that nature.

Anonymous zippo February 13, 2015 10:46 AM  

When the Romans invaded Gaul, they remarked that the Gaulish women were just as large and ferocious as the men. Some Roman writer (forget who) wrote that very often the Roman soldiers were more afraid of the women than the men.

And there's that whole Boudicea thing (sp?). As JCW points out, it's not a new thing; what's new is the how and the why of its deployment.

Although part of me is tempted to think (wrongly, probably) along the lines of what Nietzsche said: "After winning many victories, one says to oneself, Why not lose once in a while? Now I am strong enough for that."

Whenever I see the black computer genius on TV lecturing the dumb white man, I'm tempted to think, Well we all know this is actually an expression of white strength, because all the computer geniuses are actually white and everybody knows it, so we're really just throwing a bone to the losers here. It's like showing an amazing white basketball player defeating Michael Jordan, we all know it won't happen, by spinning it backwards we're asserting the power of the truth.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 10:51 AM  

irony: feminism has actually created the environment that will produce a new demand for finishing schools.

Anonymous Heh February 13, 2015 10:54 AM  

"When the Romans invaded Gaul, they remarked that the Gaulish women were just as large and ferocious as the men.

But who did the actual fighting? The men.

"Some Roman writer (forget who) wrote that very often the Roman soldiers were more afraid of the women than the men."

Probably for the same reason British soldiers were afraid of Afghan women -- their proficiency in torturing prisoners.

"And there's that whole Boudicea thing (sp?)."

Like other noted "female warriors" her function was largely symbolic, not a matter of exceptional fighting prowess.

Anonymous Giuseppe February 13, 2015 10:56 AM  

How could he hate women so much?

Penis envy

Anonymous Heh February 13, 2015 10:56 AM  

"the land of her ancestors, rightly named after the paradise of the Irish, Tara."

If it's named after the paradise of the Irish it should be called "Paddy's Pub, $1 beers during Happy Hour".

Anonymous Philalethes February 13, 2015 10:58 AM  

Freud would, in this case correctly, put the whole phenomenon down to penis envy.

Funny how, in the end, the entire feminist shtick comes down to a simple confirmation of Freud's (so we're told) most shallow and incorrect observation. Truly, that's all it is.

Anonymous Porky February 13, 2015 11:02 AM  

irony: feminism has actually created the environment that will produce a new demand for finishing schools.

And robots.

OpenID cailcorishev February 13, 2015 11:11 AM  

"Strong female character" always makes me think of Caroline Ingalls, since I grew up with that show. In the pilot, Charles has to go off looking for work, and one night she sits with a shotgun across her knees while Indian war drums beat nearby, obviously terrified but determined to protect herself and her children. Throughout the series, I mostly remember her there in the kitchen baking bread and running the household, being classy and kind even though their lives were pretty tough, sacrificing for her kids and being loyal to her husband.

What the heck was wrong with that kind of female strength? Oh yeah, it's good, so it has to be destroyed.

Blogger Owen February 13, 2015 11:12 AM  

What the heck was wrong with that kind of female strength? Oh yeah, it's good, so it has to be destroyed.

It's not "center stage" enough.

Every woman is central casting in her own drama.

Blogger Bard February 13, 2015 11:14 AM  

How about Marvel Agents of Shield? Mostly unrealistic ass kicking females. 2 tough dudes were just killed and the other male scientist is now retarded.
John Wright,
Awake in the Night Lands was awesome. Just finished it.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 11:14 AM  

"If it's named after the paradise of the Irish it should be called "Paddy's Pub, $1 beers during Happy Hour"."

Wright must have a curious idea of paradise to associate it with Ireland.

Anonymous crazy February 13, 2015 11:21 AM  

Conversation w/ a young spec fic writer recently: "All my female characters are strong and all my male characters are weak. What does that say about me?"
"You're a misandrist."
Protests. "No, I'm just trying to change up the usual tropes."
Words fail.

OpenID cailcorishev February 13, 2015 11:22 AM  

Some Roman writer (forget who) wrote that very often the Roman soldiers were more afraid of the women than the men.

When I read claims about how different people supposedly were in some ancient era, I wonder: if a thousand years from now, only a few samples of today's entertainment remain, what will people think of us? Imagine if all digital copies of everything were wiped out, and then a couple centuries later an archaeologist opened a vault and found someone's videotape collection of Law & Order, Will & Grace, and Terminator films. They might confidently claim that in the late 20th century, there was an epidemic of white, white-collar crime that was being fought by a justice system heavy on wise minorities, that homosexuals made up a large part of the population and were smarter and more attractive than everyone else, and that killer robots nearly wiped us all out.

Blogger Krul February 13, 2015 11:23 AM  

John Wright - Amazons in Greek myth are a fantastical creature, meant to be seen as freakish as a three headed chimera, not as a role model to encourage the Athenian maidens to join in the phalanx against the Spartans.

Fun fact: the word "amazon" may be derived from a phrase meaning "without breast", as the amazons were believed to cut off one breast when they reach maturity to facilitate drawing of the bow. Freakish indeed.

Anonymous Randy M February 13, 2015 11:24 AM  

"Its a trainwreck really... I mean.. on the one hand they shout that everyone is different... then turn around and congratulate themselves for demonstrating that they beleive everyone is exactly the same."

The point is to force you to simultaneously assent to two contradictory propositions.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 13, 2015 11:32 AM  

Correct sir. We shouldn't lump Norse mythology into the trope just because of the Valkyries.

Frankly, we shouldn't lump early historic mythical or at least semi-legendary warrior women into the trope of modern day feminist pixie ninjas anyway, since they are--at best--only superficially similar, and come from a completely different background and were viewed completely differently by the people familiar with them when they were new.

Blogger Owen February 13, 2015 11:44 AM  

They might confidently claim that in the late 20th century, there was an epidemic of white, white-collar crime that was being fought by a justice system heavy on wise minorities, that homosexuals made up a large part of the population and were smarter and more attractive than everyone else, and that killer robots nearly wiped us all out.

And commercial breaks with erectile dysfunction commercials, daddy-dimwit commercials, etc., they'll draw the only conclusions they can.

Anonymous Daniel February 13, 2015 11:45 AM  

Lock-in should include a subtitle:

Lock-in: Brianna Wu Gets Sick

I haven't read the book, but the disease described in the blurb makes no medical sense.

Blogger John Wright February 13, 2015 12:02 PM  

"Wright must have a curious idea of paradise to associate it with Ireland."

Tara is the name in pagan Irish myths for the otherworldly abode of dead heroes and fairy kings where no foul thing comes, hence, a heaven, a paradise. The Hill of Tara in Ireland, where of old the stone of coronation sat, is said to be the entrance to this realm.

Whether this otherworld paradise is 'inside' Ireland or not is a quaint theological question, or perhaps a question of spiritual geometry. It is, however, Irish.

The family land owned by the O'Hara's in GONE WITH THE WIND is named after the realm of the Sons of Don, or perhaps after the hill on Earth, where kings of old had held power.

Blogger John Wright February 13, 2015 12:03 PM  

"Awake in the Night Lands was awesome. Just finished it."

Thank you. I live to serve.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 12:09 PM  

"wrote of" does not imply any quantity beyond a mention.

I wasn't pointing out that you were incorrect, I was pointing out that your reference was irrelevant.

Words fail.

They shouldn't have. The correct response is: "That IS the usual trope. You're a misandrist whether you realize it or not."

Anonymous liljoe February 13, 2015 12:20 PM  

I make one exception for strong female characters. I liked Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2.

Yes, that was doing it right. The exception that proves the rule. And her physical transformation was real


agreed. I would add Ripley from the first two 'Alien' films as another example of strong female character done right. Her strength was less physical and more cunning. she understood chain of command, not only the importance of protocol but reasoning behind it.

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 12:20 PM  

Umm... why would a girl need to learn to be more feminine?

Pintrest exists. Go there.


Stingray gave you a pretty good answer. Also I did discover Pinterest after my initial failed searches.

Finishing schools might sound like a joke. From my limited understanding they were for the daughters of the upper class to get the final polish on domestic skills they learned from their mothers, tutors, etc. Most women today have barely even started that education.

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 12:23 PM  

I would add Ripley from the first two 'Alien' films as another example of strong female character done right. Her strength was less physical and more cunning. she understood chain of command, not only the importance of protocol but reasoning behind it.

She was good in the 3rd one too. I don't understand why people think that movie is so bad. Prisoner-monks in a massive, decaying prison take on the Xenomorph -- way more imaginative and better executed than the vast majority of movies today.

The 4th movie was terrible and tried to make Ripley into a pixie ninja. She wasn't even Ripley anymore. She was so sarcastic and arrogant, ugh.

Blogger hank.jim February 13, 2015 12:23 PM  

A believable strong woman type is a scorned woman who boil rabbits. Often strong women are paired with pussified men, the opposite and opposite attract.

Sometimes, there are strong women characters who don't give up her femininity or feminine wiles. I can think of Lara Croft and her big boobs or Xena the Warrior princess with her sidekick. Maybe they do believe in helping others altruistically by going to war. Doesn't happen much in real life, which is why it is a fantasy.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 13, 2015 12:27 PM  

They're about as convincingly female as those latent serial killers who like to wear those bizarre rubber women suits. They are, in fact, the literary equivalent of those freaks.

Apparently I have missed one of the less appetizing twists of our modern post-civilization.

On a tangential note, McRapey was bragging about how people couldn't tell if the protagonist of Lock In was male or female throughout the entire book...the behavior of the character and its interior monologue is so haplessly inept and unrealistically bland that the reader cannot even ascertain something as intrinsically basic to human identity as the mere sex of the character.

Hey, write what you know, Johnny, write what you know...


I am reading an Agatha Christie book, Murder on the Links, published in 1923. A man is found stabbed to death, a knife in his back. Because of this, the initial assumption is a woman killed him...

Anonymous Jack Amok February 13, 2015 12:30 PM  

irony: feminism has actually created the environment that will produce a new demand for finishing schools.

Hey, we'll have to find something to do with all the excess univerisity campuses.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza February 13, 2015 12:32 PM  

It is too detailed for a Friday comment but in dark souls 2 female characters are just not working, the men's build is a instanta hit.

Anonymous cheddarman February 13, 2015 12:35 PM  

"Some Roman writer (forget who) wrote that very often the Roman soldiers were more afraid of the women than the men." _ Zippo

the fact that women excel at unconventional warfare was explained to me once by a very wise and godly Christian woman. She was actually teaching me aspects of "game" in the broader context. She also understood that Boudicca Queen of the Iceni lost once she was forced to fight a conventional battle with a roman general.

Gallic women would be more likely to kill a Roman soldier in an indirect manner, such as them poisoning.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 13, 2015 12:37 PM  

agreed. I would add Ripley from the first two 'Alien' films as another example of strong female character done right. Her strength was less physical and more cunning. she understood chain of command, not only the importance of protocol but reasoning behind it.

That's because the fiercely protective maternal character, the mama bear, if you will, is a recognizable character, and we can actually imagine that. That's not a woman pretending to be a man, that's a woman--at atypical woman, to be sure, but still a woman--acting in a way that's consistent with femininity.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 13, 2015 12:38 PM  

The 4th movie was terrible and tried to make Ripley into a pixie ninja. She wasn't even Ripley anymore. She was so sarcastic and arrogant, ugh.

In other words, she was Ripley as imagined by Joss Whedon.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 12:41 PM  

"Tara is the name in pagan Irish myths for the otherworldly abode of dead heroes and fairy kings where no foul thing comes, hence, a heaven, a paradise."

Ah ha! Excellent. not being Irish... nor particularly interested in irish paganist tradition I am ignorant of such.

I appreciate the education. I honestly had no idea where the name Tara came from. Thanks.

Anonymous Stickwick February 13, 2015 12:45 PM  

What kind of weird mental gymnastics are required to accept the trope of the kick-ass woman who beats the daylights out of huge men while at the same time holding that violence against women is much worse than violence against men?

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 12:46 PM  

Joshua Dyal, good catch. I forgot he wrote it. I really liked Ron Perlman's unusually excellent grammar. Something like "with whom do you think you are #$%!ing?"

Also Winona Ryder's character was kind of Kaylee the Woman Engineer's predecessor.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus February 13, 2015 12:48 PM  

Marvel's recent gimmick was to make "Thor" a woman. She who is worthy gets the hammer, which performs for her as it never did for the male "Thor," and she gets the masculine name too.

Apparently the idea of introducing Freya, a powerhouse in her own right and emphatically feminine, never entered anybody's head.

This shows what's going on.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 13, 2015 12:48 PM  

The terrifying thing is that these cliches are now so pervasive in our culture, that they are actually influencing national defense policy. Particularly during the Obama years.

Anonymous Anubis February 13, 2015 12:56 PM  

"Peggy Carter in Captain America, we learn that she's a crack shot. She carries a pistol and can hit anything, dropping bad guys right and left."
I actually watched an episode to see how bad it would be and it had her being a crack shot with her little pistol while men on both sides sprayed machine gun fire hitting nothing and it had the no recoil but grown men knocked back effect.

"Gallic women would be more likely to kill a Roman soldier in an indirect manner, such as them poisoning."
Queen Boudicca lost her first battle against real soldiers. Yes she sacked London & did great against other-than-roman-legion. Against men Roman soldiers had a great fighting chance, against poison or someone that would sleep with you then kill you not so much.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 1:00 PM  

"Apparently the idea of introducing Freya"

Freya is in the Marvel lore.

Anonymous Feh February 13, 2015 1:06 PM  

The 4th movie was terrible and tried to make Ripley into a pixie ninja.

But at least there was a vaguely credible explanation for it -- she had alien DNA mixed in with her human DNA.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus February 13, 2015 1:06 PM  

Anubis: "Queen Boudicca lost her first battle against real soldiers."

To be fair to her, losing to Roman legions in their heyday was not unusual.

Anonymous zippo February 13, 2015 1:06 PM  

"Tara is the name in pagan Irish myths for the otherworldly abode of dead heroes and fairy kings where no foul thing comes, hence, a heaven, a paradise."

I thought the Irish paradise was Tir naNog, the Land of Eternal Youth. I thought Tara was a reference to the Hill of Tara, the seat of Irish kingship, the symbolic capital and mystical center of the "Five Fifths of Ireland" (the four main provinces plus Tara in the center).

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus February 13, 2015 1:12 PM  

Nate: "Freya is in the Marvel lore."

Fair enough, and so's practically everyone, technically. But, for example, Marvel Shiva is very unimpressive. I would say he and many other Marvel mythological supers are "in name only." To use them properly, one would have to introduce them as something new.

Anonymous cheddarman February 13, 2015 1:12 PM  

Anubis, boudica supposedly routed the 9th Roman Legion Hispania when she ambushed them while they were marching to the relief of Colchester (Camulodunum?). She caught them in a march formation, when they were strung out along the road, and wiped out most of the infantry.

Anonymous Feh February 13, 2015 1:13 PM  

She was good in the 3rd one too. I don't understand why people think that movie is so bad.

I liked it. Even though the opening scene had an obvious problem: alien causes fire in cryogenic compartment... so why doesn't the ship open the compartment to vacuum, which will put the fire out and kill the alien. But no, instead the ship ejects the EEV onto the prison planet.

(And in the first movie -- alien on board? OK, everyone suit up and we'll open up the ship to see how it likes hard vacuum.)

Wright must have a curious idea of paradise to associate it with Ireland.

Like the other paradise, it was ruined when serpents got in (i.e., the English).

Anonymous Scintan February 13, 2015 1:14 PM  

What kind of weird mental gymnastics are required to accept the trope of the kick-ass woman who beats the daylights out of huge men while at the same time holding that violence against women is much worse than violence against men?

It's basically the same mental gymnastics that women use when they claim "A woman can do anything a man can do." Those sorts of comments are all just different points on the same spectrum of narcissistic fantasy.

Blogger John Wright February 13, 2015 1:30 PM  

"But again... more often than not Scarlett gets what she wants by doing the opposite of acting like a shrewish bitch."

You are using the word in a nonstandard way. Bitchy women can also be catty, and, to menfolk, sly, flattering, silver-tongued, simpering, and so on.

While the slang verb 'bitch' does indeed mean to bellyache, grouse, or complain, the slang noun 'bitch' does not mean a woman who complains. We have another animal after which such females are named: shrew.

A woman is called a bitch when she is domineering, malicious, aggressive, bitter, which Scarlett O'Hara certainly was. (She also complained a great deal. You may reread the book, if you like)

I suppose you can use the word to mean 'a complainer' if you wish, but you cannot correct others who are using the word in the more commonly accepted way.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 1:37 PM  

' suppose you can use the word to mean 'a complainer' if you wish, but you cannot correct others who are using the word in the more commonly accepted way."

do the words "bitchy" and "bitch" have a similar connotation? I suppose to me they are different. A bitchy person is someone that's a whiner and aggressive complainer. A bitch (in slang anyway)... it something all together different.... malevolent and evil.

you're a finer wordsmith than I and I accept your take on the matter.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 1:39 PM  

"I thought the Irish paradise was Tir naNog, the Land of Eternal Youth."

now that I think about it... that seems familiar from that wretched Iron Druid series.

Blogger John Wright February 13, 2015 1:40 PM  

"I thought the Irish paradise was Tir naNog, the Land of Eternal Youth. I thought Tara was a reference to the Hill of Tara..."

Hmm. I thought the Hill of Tara was called that because it allegedly contained the entrance way to Tara. I could be mistaken.

As for the other, you are half right: Tir na Nogth ("Land of the Young") is one of the many names for the Irish Otherworld, such as Tir Tairngire ("Land of Promise"), Tir fo Thuinn ("Land under the Wave") Tir na m'Beo ("Land of Life") or, my personal favorite, Tir na m'Ban ("Land of Women"). These are not separate lands, but different names for the Otherworld.

Roger Zelanzy also used Tir na Nogth as the name for the region above Amber, the one true city at the center of the universe, where visions gathered.

Anonymous zippo February 13, 2015 2:08 PM  

"I thought the Hill of Tara was called that because it allegedly contained the entrance way to Tara. I could be mistaken."

No, you're probably right; it's just that "Tara" evidently has two meanings -- the one you identified, and also the symbolic, mystical capital and center of Ireland, the seat of kings. Since the original question was, Why was Scarlett's plantation called Tara, your explanation is better than mine (viz. to her it was heaven on earth). But since I only knew the political meaning of the word and thought paradise was Tir naNog, I figured they called it that as a way of emphasizing that it was important and that it was their seat. B ut paradise sounds like a better explanation.

OpenID thetroll February 13, 2015 2:16 PM  

> the strong female character is simply nonsense. They don't exist,

Oh, I don't know. Freydrís Eiríksdóttir strikes me as a real life strong female character, if we give the Grœnlendinga saga and the Eiríks saga rauða credit for reasonable accuracy. And since Norse sagas are not in general even remotely pink in their treatment of female characters, it seems charitable to credit these exceptions with an assumption of accuracy.

Blogger Manveer Claire February 13, 2015 2:19 PM  

*conversation w/ a young spec fic writer recently: "All my female characters are strong and all my male characters are weak. What does that say about me?"
"You're a misandrist."
Protests. "No, I'm just trying to change up the usual tropes."
Words fail.*

Notice it isn't enough for her to just make "strong" female characters. She has to make the men weak. Just as every feminist deep down knows, they cannot compete with men on being men, so they must make every attempt to encourage men to be less man like.

Why does she even stop at strength? Make the men beautiful and the women ugly. The men loving and kind, the women violent and greedy. The men victims, the women, rapist oppressors. You should have told her she clearly wasn't going far enough for the cause.

OpenID thetroll February 13, 2015 2:22 PM  

> Is it Iron Man 2 where the chick trashes multiple guys in slow-mo kung-fu

Well, to be perfectly fair here to the creations of the immortal Kirby, Natasha Romanov is the pinnacle achievement of the USSR's espionage cyborg enhancement project "Black Widow Ops", not just some random chick. Although her cyborgness is largely overlooked these days and completely ignored in the cinematic universe, I grant you.

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 2:24 PM  

But at least there was a vaguely credible explanation for it -- she had alien DNA mixed in with her human DNA.

It's true, it's just disappointing that it was Sigourney Weaver on screen in a xenomorph movie, but Ripley no longer.

OpenID pancakeloach February 13, 2015 2:26 PM  

Finishing schools for the feminist age will need to cover the basics, not just put the final polish on manners. I went to an all-women's college, and there were girls there who did not know how to do their own laundry.

As for learning to be feminine, even though I come from a quite traditional family, due to various circumstances I never really learned how to express femininity as a teenager. Thank God for YouTube videos and fashion blogs.

Pintrest exists. Go there.

*wails* Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Anything but PINTREST!!! T-T
LOL

Anonymous Rolf February 13, 2015 2:41 PM  

That's something I thought about in The Stars Came Back. Quiritis, the pilot, is an excellent pilot and intelligent, but not physically an ass-kicker. Bipasha is beautiful, educated, and smart / clever, but totally not a physical danger to anyone but herself; she drives a hard bargain, but not a fight. Physical violence she really doesn't care for, and falling for a soldier isn't something she's comfy with. Allonia can kick butt, but she was heavily genetically engineered and spends most of her "-screen-time" in a much more feminine role. You would never confuse ANY of them for men.

The original version even had a female character offer, in about so many words, to service every guy on the ship in order to get off-planet. She didn't realize they were on their way to pick up a hundred injured men for transport off planet. When she did she initially refused, so Harbin said "deliver or get off the ship." The fact that they were in space made no difference: keep the contract or suffer the consequences. She wasn't amused in the least, but she chose to keep the contract (and hate herself for taking that path). I rewrote it a couple of ways, my editor didn't like any of them, so in the end it got cut, but I still think it's a good scene. Again, you'd never confuse that female character for a man.

Blogger Ken February 13, 2015 2:45 PM  

Cheddarman, though she did bloody them fiercely, Boudicca died almost 50 years before the 9th Legion's last march in Northern Britain/Southern Scotland. In fact, it more closely correlates to a male Scot leading a shit-ton of my ancestors to mob and brawl.

Anonymous Daniel February 13, 2015 2:46 PM  

(And in the first movie -- alien on board? OK, everyone suit up and we'll open up the ship to see how it likes hard vacuum.)

Full exposure was against Kelland Mining protocols for the security of the trimonite stores and safety concerns. They simply couldn't even guarantee that life support equipment was graded to full ship exposure. This would never have been seriously considered, nor likely even joked about by the crew.

/endklaven

Blogger Ken February 13, 2015 2:49 PM  

Also, I have a question for the martial artists in the forum.

The other day, I was talking with the men and women of my Bible study. We are mostly nerds who like Firefly, Marvel, etc. I brought up a mutually-enjoyed series, CHUCK, and said that, while I enjoyed it, I really only liked Adam Baldwin's character; the female protagonist kicking ass - especially Baldwin's ass - was grossly unbelievable.

They, of course, got indignant, saying that a trained woman could beat a trained man, and amidst my deep belly laughter at their stupidity, one friend - who both loves the pixie trope AND has a black belt - said that a woman could easily beat a man in Aikido or a similar martial art.

Now, I had no answer to this, because I am not versed in this practice. Is Aikido a martial art where a woman could be a badass? (of course, Hollywood doesn't USE Aikido, but still...)

Anonymous Stingray February 13, 2015 2:54 PM  

Ken,

I did martial arts in college. I was pretty good for a woman and there was no way I could come close to beating the young boys who were less trained than me. I just didn't have the speed or the reaction time for it

I think your friend is full of it.

Anonymous Rolf February 13, 2015 2:54 PM  

Ken - the only martial art where women might typically hold their own against a man that I know of is the traditional American martial art of cha-ching POW. (That is, rack the slide and open fire). Guns are called "equalizers" for a reason.

Anonymous Feh February 13, 2015 2:54 PM  

@Daniel,

If they want to play that card they have to delete the idea that the ship's interior is in vacuum while the crew are in hypersleep.

Anonymous Feh February 13, 2015 2:55 PM  

Rolf, you'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many women are incapable of racking a slide...

Blogger Ken February 13, 2015 2:58 PM  

Stingray, Rolf, thank you! I shall definitely make use of the reaction time and speed differential next time the idea of women kicking ass comes up (which...knowing my group, will probably be sooner than I'd prefer. I'm just trying to smack some common sense into these loveable idiots).

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 3:01 PM  

They, of course, got indignant, saying that a trained woman could beat a trained man, and amidst my deep belly laughter at their stupidity, one friend - who both loves the pixie trope AND has a black belt - said that a woman could easily beat a man in Aikido or a similar martial art.

Not a chance in hell. They have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. A trained woman can't beat most UNTRAINED men. It's not much more silly than insisting a trained 10 year-old can. I've sparred with dozens of women. None ever even TOUCHED me. They are slower and weaker than you would imagine possible.

In fact, most trained women won't even spar with men below purple belt because they are afraid they will get hurt due to the lower-rank's lack of control. That "black belt" obviously didn't get it at a fighting school.

Blogger Ken February 13, 2015 3:07 PM  

Vox,
I didn't realize the difference was that pronounced! Fascinating.

And yes, I do not believe my friend is likely to be much of a fighter. He seems to be an anxious individual wrapped around getting forms and style perfected, but when I asses him, I don't think of him as a threat. Could be hubris; probably isn't.

Blogger Krul February 13, 2015 3:09 PM  

Ken - (of course, Hollywood doesn't USE Aikido, but still...)

Steven Seagal did. Of course he was a wiry 6'4" bruiser at the time, so that doesn't really answer your question.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was 5'2" and a renowned warrior, having served in the Russo-Japanese war and studied several martial arts. On the other hand, Ueshiba was a physical outlier, able to lift AND carry 1000 lbs in his youth, so his prowess could at least partly be attributed to his strength.

Intuitively, the best way to find out would be to have a female Aikidoka fight a guy, but Aikido schools don't spar or compete, so that method of comparison is out.

From what little I know of it, having taken a few lessons, I'd say "Maybe if she were an expert and he was drunk. Otherwise, no." But I could be wrong.

Anonymous Stingray February 13, 2015 3:12 PM  

We weren't even allowed to spar with any men with less than the highest rank to protect us. And probably came at me with something like, I don't know, 10%-15% (this might be high) of what they were capable of and while I would sometimes make contact, it was given to me. It was fantastic training for me because not only did it enhance my skills, it just reinforced the fact that I should only ever fight if it was an absolute last resort. If ever a man were to make contact with me, the fight would be over, regardless of my skills and his skills.

OpenID thetroll February 13, 2015 3:12 PM  

> Is Aikido a martial art where a woman could be a badass?

It is reasonably plausible that a highly trained woman could avoid losing a fight for a while against most untrained males with the use of aikido, as the whole point of it is to redirect the attacker's momentum and if you're not familiar with aikido techniques then you are indeed pretty likely to look like a flailing idiot trying to fight someone who is.

It is highly implausible that a woman could win fights reliably, because the way you end a fight in aikido is to immobilize the opponent with a joint lock or something after you've redirected their momentum into flailing idiotically, and most women don't have the power to do that reliably to most grown men.

Blogger Ken February 13, 2015 3:16 PM  

Holy shit. Yeah...I'm definitely going to get my future wife a CCW, then - and teach her how to use it. No way is she going to rely on physical prowess while we live in LA.

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 3:17 PM  

Rolf, you'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many women are incapable of racking a slide...

::hangs head shamefully::

I could barely charge my husband's S&W 45 Call of Duty gun (I couldn't tell you the proper name of it, which is why I got Lady.

Anonymous Rolf February 13, 2015 3:19 PM  

Feh - With a little training, just about any woman that isn't physically handicapped can rack a slide. That said, I'd not be surprised that many could not because most have little or no training and weak hands, so they try doing it improperly. Perhaps that's why some of them prefer revolvers. As with so many things, a little bit of training goes a long way.

There is no substitute for sparring or range-time to find out what you don't know. :-)

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 13, 2015 3:23 PM  

Not a chance in hell. They have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. A trained woman can't beat most UNTRAINED men.

That's it! I'm never playing as Chun-Li again!

It's not much more silly than insisting a trained 10 year-old can.

That's it! I'm never reading Tarzan again!

Anonymous Daniel February 13, 2015 3:32 PM  

That "black belt" obviously didn't get it at a fighting school.

A lot of trained women can dance better than untrained men. Any school that teaches arts that are inspired by martial activity would do themselves a favor by advertising them as dancing lessons. I don't even mean that as insult. Pretty kata is nice to look at. It is decent exercise. It is an art.

It has nothing to do with fighting.

Anonymous Dr. Brooklyn February 13, 2015 3:43 PM  

Notice it isn't enough for her to just make "strong" female characters. She has to make the men weak. Just as every feminist deep down knows, they cannot compete with men on being men, so they must make every attempt to encourage men to be less man like.

Like in the aforementioned Agent Carter, where the titular agent does all the heavy fighting while they had to take existing (and I think a few new) male characters and kneecap them. Edwin Jarvis was an RAF veteran. All the rest of the SSR agents are, as far as I know, existing and competent SHIELD agents in the comics. In one case, they literally made the male character lose a leg so Peggy can keep up.

Then again, considering this is a series where the main character's major flaw is that the men around her don't take her seriously enough to see how perfect she is in every way, I shouldn't be surprised.


Also, isn't Aikido what Murphy uses in the Dresden books when she knocks around men twice her size?

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 3:49 PM  

I do not believe my friend is likely to be much of a fighter.

Easy test. Ask him how many bones he's broken and how many times he's been knocked out. If the answer is zero and zero, he has no freaking clue about fighting. To put it in perspective, I broke 14 bones and was knocked out once in six years. All of those except one broken nose were in training; I got the nose broken in a ringfight that I won.

My sensei stopped ringfighting when he got his cheekbone broken. It's a rough game. Nine out of ten people who joined our dojo quit within six months. But if you survived, you weren't afraid of anything. I mean, hell, what are they going to do, knock you down again? Been there, done that.

Blogger Mr. Bee February 13, 2015 3:58 PM  

Having been annoyed by the ubiquitous 120lb woman beating up 200lb thugs in movies, I started noting that this type of "powerful woman" character ALWAYS came from the pen of male screen writers and male directors. I submit that the stereotype is, in fact, a male fantasy or more likely fetish due to so many males being raised in a fatherless family where the mother is both the source of nurture and protection. It serves the secondary purpose as a sop to less radicalized feminists.

Blogger Gunnar von Cowtown February 13, 2015 4:06 PM  

Titus Didius Tacitus sez "Marvel's recent gimmick was to make "Thor" a woman. She who is worthy gets the hammer..."
What are the odds that this was blatant trolling or "blacknighting" by a sympathetic wiseacre inside Marvel? Come on... a HAMMER?!? It's like they're doing the bump/set and just daring you to spike the obvious and hilarious penis envy joke.

Marissa sez "I've done searches of how to do things in a more feminine manner, for example, my handwriting. The first several hits were all tranny websites--men trying to figure out how to be more feminine. How sad is that -- that it's more popular for the mentally deranged than for actual women to figure out how to be more feminine?"
Woah. What a perfect microcosm of the current state of Western Civilization. It's wonderful that you're trying to be more feminine, but that has to be kind of disheartening? Regardless, best of luck. Don't let the trannys get ya down.

Anonymous sawtooth February 13, 2015 4:07 PM  

Just got me to remembering the epic silliness of the Charlies Angels TV series.

Also another concept concerning the "powerful woman" that I've seen over and over and is so divorced from reality as to be laughable.

That is the concept of a beautiful woman (a 9 or 10) voluntarily putting her life (and looks) on the line every day to "do the right thing" and fight the despicable evil doers.

Reality demonstrates that these lookers would be spending their days gossiping on their smart phones while at some token "job" and then bouncing from one office alpha to the next.

Risk a broken tooth or a yanked out earring while saving the world? Are you effing kidding?

Anonymous Stickwick February 13, 2015 4:20 PM  

Stingray: ...it just reinforced the fact that I should only ever fight if it was an absolute last resort.

And even then, that's why God gave us handguns. ;^)

When I was growing up in Canada, my dad owned a gym, and we had a Canadian professional football player who worked out there. The guy was 6'6" and 300 lbs., just a TANK of a man, and he was pretty fast, too. I'll never forget the time he complained to my dad, that for all his size, strength, and speed, it meant nothing, because "some little monkey with a gun" could easily kill him. Guns really are the great equalizer. Modern fiction should therefore focus more on showing women being proficient with guns than with anything requiring size, speed, or strength.

Anonymous Morgan February 13, 2015 4:27 PM  

The library has the George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois edited anthology DANGEROUS WOMEN which I signed out yesterday. I am going in. Stand by for a review in 2-3 weeks at Castalia House.

Anonymous Culture War Draftee February 13, 2015 4:32 PM  

The commenter above who brought up Caroline Ingalls touches on something pretty basic. Frontier wives pretty generally held to the roles expected of them. They tended to be farm folk, so perhaps might have seemed un-feminine to moneyed folk in more settled areas, but they were simply living the life one lived as a pioneer.

Now along with all that cooking and milking the cows, there was a grim price to life on the border. There are plenty of stories of women in the role of back-to-wall-fighers, loading guns, firing on Indian raiding parties, etc. There are plenty of stories that went the other way, and far more stories that just involve anonymous victims. Analyze that a bit to grasp how different women's role was from men's.

My point is that the exceptions prove the rule. Women can certainly show strength, they can fight, they can inflict violence, but to pretend that women were secretly yearning to be Rangers or march off to the front in Virginia, or to kung-fu the crap out of Comanches is to miss the point on a colossal scale.

Blogger Marissa February 13, 2015 4:32 PM  

That is the concept of a beautiful woman (a 9 or 10) voluntarily putting her life (and looks) on the line every day to "do the right thing" and fight the despicable evil doers.

Reminds me of the show Castle, which I complained about on a different thread for its constant white male murderers. Stana Katic, one of six children, plays Detective Kate Beckett, very beautiful but oh-so-very serious. All she cares about is her job. In real life, Ms. Katic is 36, unmarried, with no children, and speaks 6 languages. One of six children!

Blogger Ken February 13, 2015 4:59 PM  

Vox,
Regarding your training experience, what martial art does your dojo teach? Karate, Kung Fu, etc? I'm sure you've mentioned it in previous posts.

Also, pardon this being off-topic a bit, I'm considering taking up Krav Maga. Anyone have any good reasons to avoid this style? I know it's not the "prettiest" for film (I'm an actor) - that's either Kung Fu or Tae Kwon Do - but for practical self-defense, KM seems pretty effective to me.

Blogger Danby February 13, 2015 5:22 PM  

Yeah I laughed out loud at the scene in IM2, where Black Widow jumps in the air, locks her ankles around some gorilla's neck, and drops him by spinning in the air. She weighs what, 85 lbs? No way she has enough momentum to even knock him off balance, let alone knock him unconscious/kill him (the movie's not clear which is the specific outcome.) A guy that big will take the impact, punch her in the crotch, and overpower her like a..., well, like a big man beating down a little woman. And 2 dozen professional guards unable to draw and fire in the couple of minutes the scene lasts? really?

It ruined the entire scene for me. It was simply unbelievable, on a physics level.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 13, 2015 5:43 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 13, 2015 5:44 PM  

@Ken

It's honestly going to depend on your instructor. Certification for KM is terrible. If you've ever been in a McDojo you know what to look for and avoid.

We've got a local instructor that's pretty good, which helps you out not at all. Give it try is my thought.

Blogger CM February 13, 2015 5:52 PM  

In defense of the crack shot agent Carter and the poorly aimed machine guns, that trope exists regardless of the hero's sex... Taken, anyone? It's one of mine and my husband's favorite things to laugh about in modern story telling... imagination is so stunted that the only way to make one look skilled is to make the other suck.

"Strong female" to me was always internal - Anne Shirley, Beth & Jo March... they possessed the ability to rise above their circumstances with grace. They were not victims.

And to the fool who thinks Edward Cullen has always been the female fantasy, such a lie. At one point, Gilbert Blythe and Bhaer were considered desirable men.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 13, 2015 6:05 PM  

What are the odds that this was blatant trolling or "blacknighting" by a sympathetic wiseacre inside Marvel? Come on... a HAMMER?!? It's like they're doing the bump/set and just daring you to spike the obvious and hilarious penis envy joke.

Not very high, IMO. Marvel is a hotbed of SJW-ness, and has been for years. Anyone remember the flack when they killed off Peter Parker in the Ultimate spin-off line, and replaced him with a multiracial pseudo-black psuedo-hispanic kid? And then when they realized they were taking flak because not everyone thought the idea of a POC Spider-man for its own sake was actually compelling story-telling, they went out of their way to swear up and down that that wasn't really the point, please ignore our prior press release, really!

In addition, the movies is where the money is to the point that the comic book business is probably, at best, an afterthought where SJWs can go indulge themselves without much in the way of real oversight from anyone with talent or intelligence.

Anonymous Dr. Brooklyn February 13, 2015 6:21 PM  

What are the odds that this was blatant trolling or "blacknighting" by a sympathetic wiseacre inside Marvel? Come on... a HAMMER?!? It's like they're doing the bump/set and just daring you to spike the obvious and hilarious penis envy joke.

I don't know, you tell me.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 6:34 PM  

The library has the George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois edited anthology DANGEROUS WOMEN which I signed out yesterday. I am going in. Stand by for a review in 2-3 weeks at Castalia House.

So brave!

Regarding your training experience, what martial art does your dojo teach? Karate, Kung Fu, etc? I'm sure you've mentioned it in previous posts.

Shorin Ryu, Wing Chun, and Kali, with a bit of boxing and wrestling mixed in. Think of it as MMA with elbows.

Anonymous women ruin everything February 13, 2015 6:58 PM  

"The kind that must demonstrate her chops via feats of physical strength. So, for example, in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 the heroine Elizabeth Swann has now acquired fencing skills. This serves as a credential for her “strength” even though the character had demonstrated “strength” of another type already in the first movie: she was smart, even devious, managing to wriggle her way out of more than one situation."

Noticed this in many movies with sequels, first time in Mummy. Then there is the addition of a female character who is even more badass, like in Lethal Weapon.

Blogger Gunnar von Cowtown February 13, 2015 7:11 PM  

@Dr Brooklyn

It's so over the top hackneyed, I still can't tell!

Anonymous A. Nonymous February 13, 2015 7:13 PM  

She was good in the 3rd one too.

Not really. She gets most of the other prisoners killed and it's one of the surviving men who ultimately comes up with an effective way to kill the alien. Ripley's most significant act in the film is essentially to commit suicide.

I don't understand why people think that movie is so bad.

Because it's a pointless, unneeded remake of the first film that killed off everyone who made it through the previous adventure, most of them within the first ten minutes, and not only that, but on the basis of some insultingly arbitrary (and, to my mind, just flat-out illogical) retcons, too.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 7:18 PM  

"
It is reasonably plausible that a highly trained woman could avoid losing a fight for a while against most untrained males with the use of aikido, as the whole point of it is to redirect the attacker's momentum and if you're not familiar with aikido techniques then you are indeed pretty likely to look like a flailing idiot trying to fight someone who is."

Mate... no amount of training can make up for slow. And that's the most crucial point. Its not that women are so weak... they are.. but no... the real problem is that they are both weak... and so very slow.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 7:23 PM  

if you're not familiar with aikido techniques then you are indeed pretty likely to look like a flailing idiot trying to fight someone who is."

I was not familiar with aikido techniques and I sparred with two aikido practitioners. I knocked both of them down within 30 seconds. People who are not accustomed to getting hit do not take getting hit very well and people who do not spar are not very good at avoiding getting hit.

All the grappling practitioners are the same. They grab at the first limb offered to them. It's almost child's play to throw out a jab, let them reach for it, then blast them in the face with a rear hand as soon as they open up. And since they're not used to it, they're already reeling and they can't avoid the follow-through like an experienced fighter will even after you get a shot or two in.

Blogger Vox February 13, 2015 7:25 PM  

Mate... no amount of training can make up for slow. And that's the most crucial point.

This is correct.

Anonymous cheddarman February 13, 2015 8:04 PM  

would you set an upper age limit for someone trying to learn a martial art that involves full contact?

Blogger frigger611 February 13, 2015 8:42 PM  

I used to like that show, Castle, way back when - but then the black boss lady ordered everyone to address her "sir." And everyone obliged, instead of saying fukkouttahere...

Never watched again.

To me the only "strong" woman is one who spits in the face of feminism, recognizes it for the evil that it is - and knows how to use (and has worked on developing) the very feminine gifts granted to her by God and nature.

Blogger Nate February 13, 2015 8:52 PM  

indeed the most laughable hollywood myth is that women are faster and more agile than men and win that way.

Anonymous Steve February 13, 2015 8:53 PM  

Marissa - I don't understand why people think that movie is so bad. Prisoner-monks in a massive, decaying prison take on the Xenomorph -- way more imaginative and better executed than the vast majority of movies today.

People didn't like it because it was so depressing and grimy.

The first Alien was a taut, claustrophobic sci-fi horror film.

Aliens was a great action movie.

Alien Cubed started off by telling us that the characters we rooted for in Aliens were all dead, and dropped Ripley in amongst a bunch of skinhead rapists in a set that looked like it was made of offcuts from the 1984 Apple Mac commercial.

Even for a film series about monsters that burst out of people's ribcages, it was grim.

Anonymous Stickwick February 13, 2015 10:03 PM  

Spot-on synopses of the Alien movies, Steve. Ye cats, did I hate A3. Don't even remember A4. Will just add that the way Ripley's maternal side was explored in Aliens was pretty cool.

Anonymous Joe Author February 14, 2015 12:33 AM  

“I have three main objections to strong female characters.”

Well within the purview of the author or filmmaker to create them with skills they normally would not possess It’s really not your call to make. So, until there is a perpetual backlash against this “nonsense”, authors and filmmakers are going to (say it with me) write what they want and create what they want. Which is, ultimately, their right to do so, unless they are themselves prevented from exercising their creative liberty by “patriarchal gatekeepers”.


““Strong female characters,” in other words, are often just female characters with the gendered behavior taken out.””

Don’t buy it, don’t watch it. The material is still going to be churned out.


“It's convoluted, it's insane, and it should be no surprise to anyone that most stories based on such self-contradictory characters don't turn out very well.”

Then those authors will be unemployed if their audience no longer finds their work personally enjoyable. Until then, write what you want and create what you want.


“Not only does he cover what a strong female character isn't, he discusses what one is.”


A mere opinion by Mr. Wright.


“I can't imagine it being anything but one of the most horrible movies ever made.”



Don’t go. I’m sure there will be millions of people who will share your sentiments.


“I'll be glad when I'm finished and I can back to reading something I truly enjoy.”

[Ding, ding, ding] Folks, we have a winner. YOU find enjoyment in what you read. OTHERS find enjoyment in what others produce for them. That is what literature and filmmaking is about—creating an experience for their audience they will find individually captivating.


“So the problem with the modern portrayal of 'strong female characters' is threefold: they are not strong, they are not female, and they are not characters.”



Which ultimately means they should not be developed…at all…under any circumstance. Great to know. I will inform those authors they must cease and desist what they do because it is essentially causing irreparable harm to society. Perhaps Mr. Wright could pen a manual as to how prospective authors ought to write. Not suggestions, mind you, but a MUST DO list, lest their writing privileges be forever revoked.


Write what you want. Create what you want.

Anonymous tiredofitall February 14, 2015 12:38 AM  

"However, in Scalzi's case it doesn't surprise me because I imagine he has trouble on a daily basis figuring out if he himself is male or female." - Harsh

That's an easy one, he simply asks his wife Christine if he can stand to pee, or if he has to sit "girl-style" that morning.

Blogger dfordoom February 14, 2015 3:28 AM  

The Strong Female Character/Kickass Action Heroine is just feminist misogyny in action. A woman character is only good if she's indistinguishable from a man. Because feminists worship maleness and despise femaleness. It's not patriarchy that's misogynistic, it's feminism.

Blogger Franz Lionheart February 14, 2015 8:27 AM  

I instantly had to think of Monty Python boxing.

Blogger Kirk Parker February 15, 2015 5:16 AM  

Stickwick,

"What kind of weird mental gymnastics are required to accept the trope of the kick-ass woman who beats the daylights out of huge men while at the same time holding that violence against women is much worse than violence against men? "

Extremely common mental gymnastics, alas. I suspect many people buy Cognitive Dissonance by the case at Costco or something...

I'll second the responders to Ken. Look at other physical-effort realms: for example, how much further down the scale do you have to go to find men who can't beat the Olympic champion woman sprinter? D9 college? High school? Middle school?

And yeah, a handgun is an equalizer, but Feh is right that many women can't rack a slide and (in my experience) can't learn how to (but maybe I'm just a crappy teacher.)


Vox,

"[Women] are slower and weaker than you would imagine possible."

Heh. Reminds me I (who literally never plays golf) went golfing with my wife (who golfed frequently at the time). She was genuinely pissed about my longer, straighter drives, and it took a long time for that to go away.

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