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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Damn-sels in Distress


I’m sure I’ve said this before in some rhyme or fashion, but it bears repeating. I think it just comes down to one unavoidable fact. I HATE weak women, in real life and in fiction. Perhaps it was how I grew up, surrounded by strong, capable women with no men folk in sight. Maybe it’s the three decades worth of horror stories from my mom and sister. Or it might be the deep-rooted bitterness of not having a boyfriend until college. Whatever the case may be, I’ve learned to stand on my own and appreciate a man’s company, but not require it.

This is not everyone’s view, at least not in the books and movies I’ve seen recently. (And no, Twilight is not one of them) In some instances, the female protagonist lack basic commons sense to a chauvinistic degree. It’s that typical “I heard a strange noise in the basement so I’ll go check it out alone, half-naked with a broken flashlight” thing. Even better yet the “oops, I tripped on a dry leaf in the forest, so I’m just gonna lay here and hope the killer doesn’t hear me screaming” thing.

Either way, this is grounds for human torture, and I automatically start rooting for the bad guy. The logic behind these dumb decisions take my breath away. One glimpse in the hot new guy’s smoldering eyes and the girl turns special Ed for the rest of the story. Obvious clues of danger are overlooked for the sake of plot or for Hottie McHero to swoop in and save the day, even if he’s the cause of said danger to begin with. Gratitude turns into obsession, then a false notion of love, an unhealthy dependency akin to Stockholm Syndrome.

The female character could be valedictorian in her school, but all her innate wisdom occurs in hindsight. She has never been in a fight in her life; therefore, can’t properly defend herself. Worst of all, she has no elementary street smarts. I’m not talking about the underground hustler code of ethics here, but the basic “don’t travel anywhere dark alone” principle that’s ingrained in every female since birth.

I have NO, I repeat No sympathy for a character who thinks of a good idea (like running away from danger) then does the opposite. I don’t care how hot someone is, I don’t care who needs help. Get the hell out of there and call for backup! This, in my humble opinion, is the main theme of teen thrillers: Lie to your parents about where you’re going, rebel against your God-given instincts, and run off and do perilous shit.

But what bothers me the most is that the men are treated like demigods because they own the good sense to stay out of trouble. Why are they the only ones with the brains in this outfit? Why aren’t they tripping over themselves, throwing caution to the wind to gain a smile from their love interest? One would think he would get sick of playing Captain-Save-A-Ho after the fourth time.

I’m not expecting to see Sarah Conner or Ellen Ripley in every story, but a female lead with half a vertebrae would be ideal. Balance out the dynamic to where both characters bring something to the table. I fear this might give young girls a bad example of relationships. Simple fact: No hot guy will come to the rescue in real life, and you will be, ON. YOUR. OWN. Harsh, but true, and whether you survive is up to you.

13 comments:

  1. This is a great post. I think it's important to note a more subtle version of this problem too, which you touched on: in stories where there's no suspense or thriller element, female characters can still act stupid by simply staring into the hot male lead's eyes and going all a-quiver. Real life rarely works that way, and the writer must give us a REASON for the female to be so drawn into the male. It's not a bad thing to be drawn in, but it has to be more than his smoldery looks.

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  2. Where do women find men who wipe their noses for them? As you say, best to avoid those spots.

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  3. I totally agree. Great post. I really get annoyed if the female character can't even tie her own shoelaces without getting into trouble, and having to wait for a man to get her out.

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  4. :standing ovation: YES THIS! EXACTLY THIS! I absolutely can't tolerate weak women and you've just spelled out so clearly all the reasons why. THANK YOU.

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  5. I heart this post. True AND entertaining.

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  6. I agree. I'm curious what you think of strong female characters who aren't the lead.

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  7. I agree totally! With your post and the comments made. I love it!

    BTW...I thought I was the only person who frequently uses "Captain Save-A-Hoe" in everyday communications! LOL!

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  8. BRAVO! I'm whooping & cheering in my office; my coworkers must think I just won the lottery. But yeah...I have no use for spineless, brainless twits, and I refuse to write them (unless I plan to kill them off in dastardly, torturous ways. Yeah.)

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  9. Matt, I think strong supporting charactrs are awesome. They're not just wallpaper. every character should have a ballance of strength and weakness that compliment other characters. :)

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  10. I agree with practically every word of this. I also like the expression: 'Hottie McHero'. :D

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  11. okay this is totally awesome and i'm going to occasionally use the term 'captain save-a-ho' just because i like it so much lol

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  12. Haha. So TRUE (not to mention funny!):)

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