Get your pet cause out of my vidya gaems
This whole post was like nails on a chalkboard to me. Holy fucking shit, son, we need to stop a minute and rap about the realities of the issues you are trying to address.
1) Female villains are awesome, or at least they have the capacity to be. Good things to incorporate in a good female villain would be a fully fleshed out character with a sympathetic story arc and plausible motives. Avoid common female villain tropes like evil women are inherently sexual (vilifying a woman’s sexuality), female villains only do it for attention (especially a man’s attention), or the ever-present straw feminist trope where you turn feminism into a evil, power hungry shit storm (like you sort of ironically did with this post).
2) Why do you even have to speculate on a female character’s appearance? Why is this a unique consideration separate from male characters? Why are the only two physical options for a female character seductively hot or repulsively ugly? Why can’t you possibly conceive that an average looking female character can exist? Or are you admitting that the only value a female character has is inherently tied into her appearance? I’m going to need you to reflect on those questions before you move on.
3) Being a sidekick is not necessarily being subservient. Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is not subservient to Batman. She kicks ass, has a well developed story herself, and assists in many important ways. Just because she is not the main character does not mean she is not important or equal in the Batman universe. The narration simply centers around Batman and not Batgirl. Kathy Kane, however, is a subservient sidekick. Writers created Batwoman solely for the purpose of becoming Batman’s romantic interest in order to dispel rumors about Batman’s vague sexuality. Her story is, frankly, lackluster and lame in comparison to the colorful life of Barbara Gordon. So you see, the two women both fill the same role as sidekicks, and yet one is clearly more influential and relatable as a character than the other. It’s another case of “not what you write, but how you write it.”
4) “that would imply that women can not work together, or that one is more equal to the other.” I’m sorry, but I don’t even know what the hell this is supposed to mean. Again, sidekick status does not imply that one is inferior to the other. It only implies that there is leadership in a group and that there is a fixed narrative perspective. If you write a sidekick as inferior, than that is your doing, but it is not a natural consequence of being a sidekick. When women criticize a stories lack of female heroes, it’s not because we feel like female sidekicks are buttkissing dude-worshippers (even if that is true sometimes). What we are really criticizing is the lack of narratives from the female perspective! Women most definitely can work together, and should when given the opportunity. The fact that two women working together is somehow inherently political just indicates how out of touch society’s view of woman to woman interactions really are. Women should not be in competition with one another. When patriarchal notions pit women against each other, it only serves to distract us from the fact that patriarchy itself is the real enemy. It’s like busy work for the political dissenters. And the phrase “one is more equal to the other” is an oxymoron, a logical paradox. Don’t make that mistake again if you want people to take you seriously in an argument.
5) The fact that you view having a woman as a hero as inherently part of male fantasy and fetishization of women speaks volumes about your own mental place in regards to female characters. Do women often get used as tools for male fantasy? Abso-fucking-lutely. When a female character is nothing but a glorified tool through which a man can enact excessively masculinized violence or machismo while simultaneously being able to ogle and objectify her, she has no purpose other than to fuel a male fantasy. This reminds me wildly of Frank Cho’s bastardization of Shanna the She-Devil. However, not all female heroes are violent, nympho, killing machines. Take Buffy Summers for instance. Her deal? Still kicking ass, but she is a well-rounded, wonderfully developed character with a vibrant personality and long story arc that consists of sympathetic and engaging events. She stands up for right, has flaws, and is supported by her friends and family. She has a sexuality, but it is not her defining trait in anyway. Her femininity is neither fetishized nor dismissed, and that’s what makes Buffy such an icon.
6) You can absolutely make a female character who is strong and muscular and still a woman, but this also goes back to the previous point about male fantasies and using female characters as tools. The trope of the barbarian woman has, for the most part, been used to subversively tailor womanhood to fit a largely male audience’s needs. The barbarian woman is a mindless, over-sexed, killing machine. Literally more machina than human. She is primal, compulsive, and devoid of humanizing characteristics. For this to be the main conception of female strength is both outlandish and unfair. It is frankly suggesting that the only way for a woman to be strong is to be dehumanized and masculinized. There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as my favorite female super hero, She-Hulk. She-Hulk is big, she is beefed up, and she is green. She clearly breaks conventions about stereotypical femininity. And yet? She is 100% woman. Jennifer Walters is an intelligent and gifted lawyer with aspirations and morals. She has flaws and strengths outside of being She-Hulk. The characterization of her transformation into She-Hulk is just as detailed and deliberate. She-Hulk is more outgoing and aggressive than Ms. Walters, which balances some of he original insecurities, and is a very empowered person. She has a pronounced libido, but it is not an emotionally detached sexuality that is typical of barbarian women. She still loves and cares for people, and embraces and empowers herself. This does not make her a “male character with breasts,” it makes her a character that pushes the boundaries of gender roles and expectations.
7) And your last comment only serves as an inflammatory remark regarding your ignorance on women’s issues. Let me break this disastrous comment down into it’s most basic components and see if you understand why you’re getting so much backlash. “Make a female character at all,” as in, the effort it takes you to create a realistic, fleshed out, relatable female character is so hard for you that you would rather just pass over the whole project itself? You are making no effort to listen to your female audience and willfully alienating 50% of your potential fan-base. This, my friend, is why many girls are never going to be interested in anything you write or develop. How come video game companies will go out of their way and bust their asses to do market research into what the average 15-25 year old male wants, but when you have women specifically telling you, point blank, what we want from characters, y’all want to throw in the towel and turn tail on us because somehow it’s our fault that you aren’t willing to make a game that we want to play? That’s absolute shit on your part. “because Feminists will bitch all day over nothing,” because, you as a man know exactly what it’s like to be never have accurate or equal representation in media and society, and you know what it’s like to only have diminutive roles available to you because of your gender, and you understand what it’s like to have your worth reduced to your looks or your ability to fill a need for another character, and you have had your interests and needs constantly passed over in favor of the “dominant market.” Yes, all of these things are clearly women whining about absolutely nothing. We never experience serious body image issues thanks to all the that harmless objectification of women’s bodies. We also never feel unwelcome in spaces or markets that hold femininity as frivolous or undesirable. We definitely never feel threatened by watching our heroins, the strong, courageous, and intelligent fictional women we look up to hacked to pieces or killed violently for the sake of progressing a male character’s story arc. No, you’re right. We’re all just “bitching,” as we silly women tend to do. We should be ashamed of ourselves for even criticizing these things, because… “actual women are being oppressed in third world countries.” First off, as a proud graduate in the field of geography, this is my official petition to abolish the terms first world and third world. These are archaic and colonial terms that no longer apply to our conception of geopolitics. Okay? It does not mean what you think it means. Second, your idea of dividing the worth of women’s struggles based on what type of society they live in is divisive, colonialist, and classist. Just because some women live in worse situations than others does not mean that women living in your community are not experiencing sexism. You are using a logical fallacy to derail and invalidate women’s arguments. You need to stop. That is sexist and patriarchal behavior that reduces a woman’s ability to criticize society.
So, on the whole:
You are largely bastardizing real criticism from women as consumers of media, and mutilating the intent behind them to lash out against feminism. I suggest you invest time reading and learning about “straw feminism” if you are at all interested in why actual feminists are disagreeing so strongly with what you are posting.
If you really want to know what women look for in a character, look at the ones we are consistently turning to for inspiration. We obviously have characters in video games, comics, tv, movies, books, and other forms of media that we love. We plaster them all over the place and exalt them and go out of our way to shove them in your face because we want you to acknowledge these characters, and make more like them. We are literally doing the work for you. Also, look at the kinds of characters women themselves are making. They too have an inkling about what kinds of characters to write. Your argument that you can’t write a female character that women love is so wrong, that it makes me queezy just thinking about the infinity of your wrongness. This is clearly an issue on which I feel very strongly, because I just wrote a short novel dispelling your inaccuracies. Not because I’m an asshole feminist, but because I want you to understand. I want you to know where I am coming from. I want you to think about this critically, take it into your brain meat, and come to a place of enlightenment. I’m not fucking joking. Women are not crazy sociopathic naggers. We don’t take secret joy in crushing your balls over trivial things (well… most of us). These things matter to us because they actually fucking matter. Do us a favor, and just hear us out before you decide to go on a bullshit tirade that makes you and those like you like misogynistic douchehats. It might save you some time and pain next time.
Okay this commentary is great and all but the biggest issue I find with the opening post is that it implies that there will only be one or two women in what they’re making. That is the core problem with your approach. If your work has one woman and she’s, say, super hot and in love with the protagonist, then yes it comes off as you thinking that the only female characters that are worth having are super hot love interests for the men. But guess what? You can include a multitude of women with a multitude of qualities! That is how you portray female characters in a way that removes itself from stereotypes and sexism, not this weird idea that a lot of male creators have that they should have a colorful cast of many types of men and then try to figure out how to make one or two female characters that will satisfy feminists.
(Also: while it is an idea that is so prevalent in our society that many feminists fall into the trap of agreeing with it, thinking that women shouldn’t be strong and muscular is gender essentialism, not feminism.)