“I want to live in a world where little girls are not pinkified, but where little girls who like pink are not punished for it, either. We can certainly talk about the social pressures surrounding gender roles, and the concerns that people have when they see girls and young women who appear to be forced into performances of femininity by the society around them, but let’s stop acting like they have no agency and free will. Let’s stop acting like women who choose to be feminine are somehow colluders, betraying the movement, bamboozled into thinking that they want to be feminine. Let’s stop denying women their own autonomy by telling them that their expressions of femininity are bad and wrong. Antifemininity is misogynist. What you are saying when you engage in this type of rhetoric is that you think things traditionally associated with women are wrong. Which is misogynist. By telling feminine women that they don’t belong in the feminist movement, you are reinforcing the idea that to be feminine and a woman is wrong, that women who want to be taken seriously need to be more masculine, because most people view gender presentation in binary ways. This rewards the ‘one of the boys’ type rhetoric I encounter all over the place from self-avowed feminists who seem to think that bashing on women is a good way to prove how serious they are when it comes to caring about women and bringing men into the feminist movement.”—S. E. Smith, “Get Your Anti-Femininity out of my Feminism”
AND CAN I JUST ADD that the term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" is starting to go the way of "Mary Sue" in that it began as a a critique of poor writing and is now becoming a blanket excuse to hate female characters? Yes, the MPDG is problematic, because it shows a lack of imagination and understanding of the depth of women as human beings on the writer's part. The MPDG is a shitty trope because so many writers insert one in a story to solely to bring joy into the lives of male characters instead of giving her her own story (refer to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for an excellent lampshading of this trope with regards to Clementine). The shitty part is the disregard for women as serious agents in their own lives, NOT THAT THE WOMEN ARE INHERENTLY FLAWED. It's fucking okay to be happy, have idiosyncrasies, and even be "twee." Some people are; that's not all they are. What isn't okay is writing female characters in two dimensions and male characters in three. TL;DR: condemning a character as a manic pixie dream girl because of her perkiness rather than writers who don't understand how to develop character is simply an updated way to disregard female agency and indulge in petty misogyny. ~*~the end~*~
"#liz lemon feminism" OH MY GOD. How did I exist without this phrase in my life? It properly encompass everything I hate about feminism and the idolization of Liz Lemon (as a fan of 30 Rock season one and two).
Haha I’ve seen it used on various blogs about the problematic nature of some forms of feminism, and Liz Lemon’s whole world is such a good example of this sort of exceptionalist, judgmental “lol those other bitches ain’t shit” mentality because (and I love Liz herself but) every chick around her is the butt of a joke somehow, an example of a silly/slutty/lazy woman. It’s not a girl-positive kind of feminism at all. (so… not so feminist.) When you compare it to the kind of feminism on shows like Parks and Rec, where there isn’t that sense of there being a wrong way to be a girl or a feminist.
Heh, funnily enough I think Sady Doyle’s one of the people who first critiqued 30 Rock as a feminist show.
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I realize that the way in which I worded things came off a bit (or, arguably, a lot 'rawr rawr men are superior') but that is in no way what I intended. Your points are obviously extremely valid and clearly articulated and I really appreciate your taking the time to do so. Some of my favourite characters are exactly what I praised Olivia for not being (case in point: Olive Snook (Pushing Daisies) and Veronica Mars). However, I was approaching this from a narrow CSI/etc viewpoint, where the characters are, in my opinion, incredibly unrealistic. Shows like Supernatural have also ruined me, but that’s neither here nor there. I wasn’t intentionally trying to put down these other female characters because of their ‘girliness’, and for that I’m sorry. I just love the fact that Olivia is, in my opinion, a fresh take on the leading lady (and I realize, as you’ve pointed out, I seem to celebrate her as being ‘manly’ so is leading lady the appropriate term? hmm). I wasn’t intending to portray her as the ‘correct’ way of being a woman. I did read that reblog you suggested and I’m not familiar with any of those characters/shows (besides the previously mentioned Olive Snook). I really don’t want to discount those women because I’m not familiar with them. I guess it all comes down to laziness and the brashness/lack of specificity in my points. As I’ve said before, I was pitting Olivia against a very small selection of females in network crime procedurals that, in my opinion, portray highly idealized and unrealistic women. Sure, you can wear heels and mini-skirts or trench coats and boots, as long as it’s in the realm of possibility (in my opinion). The first thing that comes to mind is Sarah Walker (Chuck) wearing a mini-skirt, tight shirt and heels while taking on a fake job as a computer repair tech. I saw it as a blatant ploy for increased male viewership and something that would never be acceptable in real life. And yes, I realize this sounds a bit off coming from someone who enjoys a show about time travel and the like, but hopefully you can see my point. At the end of the day, I guess all that really matters is what you bring to the table, not the way in which it is brought. There is no right or wrong way of being anything at all, and I’m sorry for coming off that way. Once again, thanks for your insight and taking the time to respond! I really appreciate it :)
Thank you for not hahaha uh flipping out (that is always an very unfortunate chance in these situations) and conversing with me nicely instead! And let me say I completely understand what you mean and what you love about characters like Olivia. I very much love those things too.
It’s funny that you mention Sarah because I actually paused the season premiere of Chuck to make my second reply to you.
Chuck is pretty much amazingly out of control with both its pandering and its male gaze! I still watch it for various reasons (and I do so critically) but it has quite an exhaustive laundry list of gender issues and I completely understand people just not having the time for it.
All that said, I still love Sarah Walker. On a meta level, I hate the way she is filmed and exploited and I have various other issues with her treatment. But on a textual level, Sarah Walker is brave and determined and can be incredibly ruthless when she needs to be and the world and the entire life she’s lived in it have made her cynical, but not so much that every once in a while she can’t open herself up to hope. On a textual level, the fact that she can be wearing a ridiculous outfit yet still maintain both her dignity and her ability to be badass in a variety of ways just makes her more awesome to me, even as I hate the fact that, on a meta level, she’s being forced into it because society tells us that if a woman isn’t attempting to be sexually attractive to men at all times she’s a waste.
It’s a delicate balance, but I guess that I mostly just try to appreciate who a female character is while looking critically at the way the text presents and treats her. Because otherwise it’s really easy to let frustration with these awful tropes and whatnot turn into resentment of the women themselves which, I think, is both misdirected and counterproductive. But anyway!
I have both appreciated and enjoyed this discourse and I mean that genuinely.
I LURVE MY DASHBOARD/FOLLOWERS
So while scrolling through my dash, I came across THREE separate posts about three separate fandoms and they were all calling people out on bashing one female character in order to raise another female character up.
THE SMACKDOWN WAS GLORIOUS. Bonnie and Elena? BOTH AWESOME (and so is Caroline)! Sansa and Arya? BOTH AWESOME! Bella Swan not your cup of tea? No need to hate on her just to bolster up Hermione or Buffy or Eowyn or whoever. It is a false dichotomy that plays on screwed up gender roles and skewed definitions of what ‘feminine’ is and whether being described as such is a good or bad thing.
And as it turns out, female characters CAN co-exist and not be compared. SOMETIMES THEY ARE EVEN FRIENDS! (And you are not a horrible person for making this mistake, it does not mean you hate women or anything. You just need to let your heart grow three sizes so you have enough love for ALL THE LADIES.)
Anyways, kudos to the awesome people I follow!
P.S. THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO BE A GIRL.
I quite enjoy explaining feminine beauty practices to bros.
Especially to my younger brothers. I feel like I have the chance to be really influential in how they think about and treat women the rest of their lives, so it’s important for them to be respectful and interested and informed and stuff.
Like, once my brothers were watching me foundation myself and asking about it, so I explained what a tide mark was, and how to avoid it. They’ve had a go at straightening and curling my hair, and sometimes when my nails are drying they take my curlers out for me (priorities).
Or, you know, explaining lip liner as lipstick insurance, or why a bodysuit is useful for a clean line when wearing tight-fitting high-waisted skirts, or talking skirt length, or the thought process behind deciding to wear heels, or many other clothes related feels because they’re not just to protect you from the sun/cold, you know?
I noticed that you re-blogged one of my posts and added your own commentary. I'm perfectly fine with that because I like seeing opinions that differ from my own. However, not that I expect you to care, but I wasn't trying to paint the character as a ~bad~ woman. If you watched the show (which I don't believe you do), you might feel a bit differently about my commentary (and not the way in which I worded some of my sentiments, which are a bit off the mark). Essentially, the reason I love the character as much as I do is because she embodies the kind of woman television isn’t too keen on putting at the forefront. I do believe that inaccurate portrayals of women in procedurals or crime drama need to be rectified (my ‘high heels, short skirt’ comment). It’s not anti-femininity in MY book, but rather a matter of practicality. I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but I wanted to clarify anyway. If you’ve managed to read through all of this, then thank you.
To clarify, I already love Olivia Dunham based entirely on Tumblr and the limited amount of Fringe I have actually watched. I have no problem with people loving her and her particular style and way of going about things. I reblog her all the time, in fact! I was not under the impression that you were saying she was a bad woman.
My commentary was in response to what your comments implied about OTHER female characters. Those “pseudo-badasses” in mini-skirts and 4-inch heels and designer sunglasses who wear makeup and don’t tie their hair back. The “typical eye candy used to lure the male demographic” who are not, as you said of Olivia, “the male demographic, except, you know, not male.” The ones who “bitch and moan” about their love lives and who are themselves sensitive and emotional, a role that Olivia leaves to Peter. The ones whose questioning of their superiors you’ve categorized as “bratty” as opposed to Olivia who is simply speaking her mind because she knows there’s a better way they don’t see.
In the course of these numerous statements scattered throughout your post you are repeatedly derisive about behaviors and trappings traditionally considered feminine (or dismissing women in extremely gendered ways) while celebrating Olivia for her various traditionally masculine behaviors. You are essentially going, intentionally or not, these girls are GIRLY so they suck; Olivia is MANLY so she’s awesome.
Now, as I said, there is lots and lots of legitimate critique to be made about the presentation of women in all fiction and certainly in crime dramas and the like and about the performative femininity forced on them even in situations where it isn’t fitting or practical. And Olivia avoiding many of the problematic issues there is, indeed, to be celebrated. But that celebration can happen without appealing to kyriarchal standards to condemn everything identifiably “female” as lesser and exalt everything identifiably “male” as superior.
In short, in the course of communicating that you love and appreciate the practicality of Olivia’s character and the way she subverts various tropes, you also communicated that female characters in the sci-fi/crime/action genres who are performatively feminine are not worthwhile, which is both untrue and undermines any woman-positivity in your rejoicing over Olivia. Because, as I said, there is no wrong way to be a girl and the assertion that there is is misogynistic. This reblog lists a variety of great characters who fight crime and defeat evil whilst engaging in various levels of performative femininity, most of whom would be discounted by your commentary.
I hope that made more clear what I was getting at!
TW: suicide, ableism, sexism
Is it bad that I have sort of started to dislike Hermione a little bit because of how people keep comparing her to Bella Swan in order to say terrible things?
For example, this thing that my mom reposted on facebook via George Takei (what what what are you doing!?):
An oldie, but a goodie. Okay, I understand the sentiments: the HP series shows kids standing up for what is right in the face of evil, etc., while the Twilight books show that relationships are the most important thing in your life, reinforcing the stereotype that women are preoccupied with relationships. But oh my god:
- This is kind of incredibly ableist. I’m not trying to diagnose Bella with some kind of mental illness, but these are certainly symptoms of depression and other problems. This implies that Hermione, someone who isn’t depressed, is inherently better than Bella, someone who might be. Fuck you.
- I don’t know why, but it always bothers me when people compare Hermione and Bella and Edward and Harry instead of Bella and Harry, because they are the two protagonists of their respective series. It’s like we have to compare Bella in terms of how she excels or fails as a female character instead of as a protagonist of a fantasy series. So then I guess I do know why it bothers me.
- On that note, I have never seen a macro about Edward going to the Volturi to kill himself when he thinks Bella is dead. If there is one, feel free to send it to me, but it’ll still just be a blip on the radar. I guess self-destructive behaviors like this fall under the category of “feminine” behaviors, and while Edward can behave in this way and be, at best, canonized as “brooding, sexy, and ~in love~”, Bella is a terrible role model for little girls because she behaves in this way.
I definitely am not a Twilight fan. I think it is terrible for so many reasons. But the fact that Bella, a TEENAGER, got really sad when her boyfriend broke up with her, is not among them. Stephenie Meyer has defended her books against feminist criticism by saying that Bella’s actions are “her choice”, and while I think the implications of these books can be really terrible, she is actually a little bit on to something there, and clowns who make shitty macros like this are just giving her more ammo. Stop.