Jan. 4th, 2012

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A lot of men just don't get it.

They'll point to women who run around a movie or show, leather-clad and kicking ass and beating up the bad guys. They'll say it's a strong female character who kicks ass. They think they're awesome characters, because the women should be happy that there's a woman kicking ass on screen and the men are happy because they have some tightly-clothed hot chick to ogle.

And they genuinely can't see what's wrong with that.

If you're a man, and you can't understand why I would find characters like Lara Croft or the girls from Sucker Punch to be demeaning and *deeply* rooted in sexism, READ ON. It's time to educate yourself.

You know what a strong female character is? One who has a personality. One who has character flaws and a point of view. A character whose dialogue you can read and immediately pinpoint exactly who's talking.
In other words, a strong female character is the exact same thing as a stong male character. They don't need to be a hot spy running around kicking crook's asses. In fact, characters like this are, more often than not, almost every bit as demeaning as a 'helpless woman in distress' character. Why? Because they're still being objectified.
When's the last time you saw a movie with an ugly girl going around kicking ass?
Exactly.

Why is this? Do men often write these characters and think that's what women want to see? Or do they create these characters because that's what MEN want to see, and if a woman dares to get all uppity and point out that there's oh so very few well-written female characters in Hollywood, they can be shown this chick who beats men up! Look how ENPOWERED this chick is! Women should just STFU and stop complaining because there's awesome chick characters who exist like these, am I right?!
I shudder to think of all the people out there who truly think this way, who feel that a woman beating up men is their carte blanche to make her as attractive and objectified as they want.

Maybe some people write these characters as a contrast to the helpless girl in distress trope, and the (physically) powerful woman character is a result of trying so hard to go against this idea. Maybe some of these characters are written with the best intentions. Some of these characters are written by women, although that doesn't necessarily make it OK, since women are every bit as capable of misogyny as men are.

This is not to say that all (physically) strong female characters who literally kick ass are bad. Of course not! Some of them are awesome. I'm ridiculously in love with The Bride from Kill Bill, for example. But that doesn't change the fact that so many of these characters are written horribly, usually by men who can't understand what's wrong with what they're doing.

A strong female character doesn't need to be busty, beautiful, and beating up men to be strong. Think of what you would do to write a strong male character. If you think any of those ideas should change because you're writing a female character, you've already failed.

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