I hate this female character flow chart
with a passion I try to keep within me for causes that matter.
Luckily, this is one of them.
I am not the first to be irritated by it
, no god no.
My main problem with the flow chart is that it reduces all female characters into foils of the male characters.
All of them.
It is especially irksome when Yoko Ono
is there as well, being an actual person and all.
Sarah Connor, a heroine which we are afraid to see in this day and age, reduced to "Mama Bear".
Miss Piggy, one of my personal heroes, a performer of the highest calibre and one of the few regular female presence on "The Muppet Show", reduced to her mood swings, rather the hilarious comedienne that she is.
Lieutenant Uhura is useless?! In what freakin' universe!?!? A woman who held her own on the bridge of a Star Ship. I just... Ah!
Look at the flow-chart and judge for yourselves.
But judging is all that ever goes on when it comes to female characters, huh. It's all about whether they fit a paradigm of looks, abilities and personae.
Do male characters not fit that flow chart. You bet they do, but will there ever be a flow chart so demeaning? No, of course not, that flow chart will be critical and thoughtful and be about the characters as Characters
, not the characters as "men".
The chart also demonstrates the notion that archetypes and tropes are a bad thing. I beg to differ, archetypes and tropes are what make a story work
. If we look at the shortest form of a story, a joke, the comedy (and tragedy) of the tale works because we understand the history of the character as an archetype and we understand the situation the character is in because it is a common trope.A horse walks into a bar, the bartender says, "Hey, why the long face"
Despite that joke being as old as the hills, it demonstrates my point - the characters, of which there are two, are in a common setting (a bar) and the funny is in the way is treated (as a human) by the bartender.
The joke wouldn't work without the archetype of the bartender and the trope of being sad in a bar.
Is a "strong female character" someone who manages to overcome the archetypes and the tropes? No, a strong character, regardless of gender, orientation, race, nationality, ability and more, is a person who works
those things beautifully.
It is of course worth mentioning, that gender, orientation, race, nationality and ability do matter
, because of the white-supremacist masculine-centric hetero-normative society we live in, those characters who do not fit well into the social paradigm listen above are scrutinised, because they have been more often than not been stereo
typed, instead of archetyped and as such their stories are, at best, written in order to appease the long laundry list of hierarchies listed above.
The thing is, when it's the feminists (hi there!) who create that chart and continue to critique female characters as though they cannot stand on their own, as though they really are simply gender foils to male characters - well then, what exactly is the point?
Other articles to read regarding our loving and/or loathing of female characters would be Harridans, Harlots and Heroines: women of the classical world
, all of which would likely fit in that chart as either Fickle Woman, Lady of War, Shrew, Suffering Wife or an Ideal Woman.
And Connecting with Female Characters in Geek Television
which goes in quite a bit about the truly irrational hatred of Gwen Cooper of Torchwood
and River Song of Doctor Who
- two women characters which have garnered a lot of fandom hatred to the point where it seems to be almost a fetish to write fic that simply bashes them.
I will admit that I didn't like Gwen (though not to the point of murdering her in fic for the sake of calling her a whore and getting rid of her from the lives of Jack and Ianto... yes, I've seen it! *shudders*) in the beginning, but fandom taught me to love her and River is someone I loved from the moment I saw her.
When feminists participate in this kind of misogyny, not to mention racism, check this article out from Den of Geek
that came out in July... Martha Jones. Martha "I walked the Earth for a year in order to save the Universe and all I got was a boatload of female Doctor Who fans who hated me for it" Jones.
This is me, giving that article and that flow chart the two fingered salute, the birdie and the request to stop perpetuating sexist ideas about what female characters are supposed to be like in order to be "strong".
Sometimes, being a feminist fangrrl is just no fucking fun at all.