So for no particular reason I’ve been trawling through a bunch of shitty superhero movies/TV shows on Netflix and Amazon lately and it’s just really reminding me of the pattern cropping up in lot of big ol’ Hollywoodish productions that in theory seems to be following the “give your female characters meaningful connections with male love interests so they’re not just passive objects of desire” approach, but in practice these ‘meaningful connections’ are invariably “have your female characters take on the entirety of the emotional labor of the relationship”.
Like, yes, please, let the female character make big decisions about what’s going on in her life and the plot and whatnot. But is the studly dude constantly coming to the female character for advice, is she pulling him back from the darkness, is she the one making all the decisions about what is and isn’t an appropriate response for him to have to a situation? Is the dude a passive reactor to his life, sitting back in baffled shock as his relationships fall apart around him, until an Emotionally Mature Woman comes to the rescue and explains to him everything he’s been doing wrong?
That’s not reciprocal, man. That’s the grown-ass dude your best friend’s dating who’s never in his life done his own laundry. When they’re ostensibly prepping for a dinner party, he plants himself in front of the TV and says, “Hey, let me know if I can help with anything, I will absolutely help with anything you need,” or after a fight he very earnestly says, “Just tell me next time something’s wrong,” but he is never willing to put in the effort to be proactive about contributing to the relationship in any way. These dudes are blissfully ignorant that the effort needed for their partner to plan and manage and coordinate all these things on top of her own emotional baggage, not to mention having to work out how to communicate them, is practically a full-time job in and of itself.
Just, oh god, if you’ve gotta write dudes, please start writing dudes who are emotionally competent?