The Solution Is Obviously to Write No More Female Characters at All

by Shaker Socchan, who has had enough of this shit already.

Last Monday, Part One: Overthinking It posts a horrendous chart diminishing a staggering number of prominent female characters - and at least one real, nonfiction woman - to simple stereotypes (possibly as a follow-up or companion to this August 18 post, which suggests that strong female characters are bad for women). Commenters sing the chart's praises.

Last Monday, Part Two: Jezebel re-posts the chart, praising Overthinking It for asshattery ingenuity, I guess. Again, compliments for the chart overflow from the comments section.

Last Tuesday: Sociological Images re-re-posts said chart, with no critical analysis. At least some of the commenters there recognize the chart itself and site commentary on as problematic.

Shakers, I feel ill. We are in a dire place indeed if even when multifaceted female characters are written, they are nonetheless stuffed into the narrow confines of a stereotype, right alongside all the female characters already written within the narrow confines of a stereotype in the first place. Heads you win, tails I lose. No matter what, female characters stink.

There are characters fully or approaching three-dimensional there: What of their other traits? What of the other characteristics that make them who they are, that define them outside of the limited scope Overthinking It has deigned to allow them? Is a female character only worthy of praise if she fits no stereotypes whatsoever?

I don't even know where to begin with those choices. Nyota Uhura as "Useless Girl"? Blanche Devereaux as "Slut"? The fact that Yoko Ono is on there at all? What are the implications of that for other nonfictional women - are we also worthless if we fit even a single category on this chart?

Since we're at it, how about the ablist connotations of defining a well-rounded and thoroughly crafted female character as "strong"? The best way I've been able to read it is by mentally changing the phrase to "strong-willed", but there's surely got to be a better way.

While there is certainly more work to be done in Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general, by ignoring the traits that make these female characters more than stereotypes, this chart is doing the exact opposite of helping.


There are some great posts and discussions on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth if you're interested in reading more:

* Memlu's untitled post with some of the basics
* bossymarmalade's post about Yoko Ono
* havocthecat's post on the whole thing and then some, including a great roundup of links
* annwyd's post with an updated/corrected version of the chart, placing blame/praise on the creator(s) involved rather than the characters

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