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How to Fight Like a Girl

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Feo Takahari, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    ArenRax and Tom like this.
  2. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    This presents some interesting hings to consider with smaller characters. Thank you ...
    You're right though - super "pat me on the back, I'm a man that's a Feminist"

    It's really sexist.
    "Girls have always enjoyed psychological advantages. Emotional perceptiveness and the ability to gather precise observations of body language, facial expressions, and speech patterns can give females a dramatic advantage in a conflict. Males are generally too busy making brave noises and engaging in aggressive displays of strength, even subconsciously, to notice such things."
    Who says women are always more emotionally perceptive? I wasn't aware that all men and women hold these qualities but I guess you learn something new every day :)

    If you want to consider gender while fighting, personally, I would expect to see women fighting "unfair" (throwing dirt in opponent's eyes, pulling hair, gouging eyes, etc ... I once saw two girls rip each others' earrings out- ouch!) Women can be vicious in their own ways (which don't require size or strength).

    I think there'd be more merit to the article if they left gender out of it. It's not just something that affects female characters -- smaller male characters are often portrayed similarly. I don't think I'd call it "fighting like a girl" so much as being resourceful and "fighting with a brain".

    Whether male or female, the fighting should be believable and if the classically "weak" character is to triumph, it should come either as sheer luck (the troll trips and falls on his own sword) or because (s)he surpasses the opposing character in wit.

    I'm concerned that the writer believes all men are so stupid and predictable- he makes it sound as if all "weak" women are destined to triumph over men because we're so much smarter. Flattering but no.

    Using brains can tip the scale against physical strength but whether male or female - victory should never come too easily... even if your character is up against a big stupid man making "brave noises" and obnoxious "displays of strength" :)
     
    Reaver, Gryphos, Tom and 1 other person like this.
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    The amount of subtle, and not so subtle, sexism in that article is startling.
     
  4. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    It's The Mary Sue. You pretty much have to expect a certain amount of "Girls rule, boys drool."

    (Maybe my standards have been lowered by posting on a certain pro-Gamergate site that shall not be named. They've got a really funny gallery of anime GIFs, but they're so scary when they talk race and sex that other sites' biases feel mild by comparison.)
     
  5. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Sure, but the hypocrisy of it all is rather amusing. Things like that do a spectacular job of shooting your cause in the foot.

    The article dismisses this rather offhandedly, but there are some weapons that play to women's strengths. Bows and polearms, for example. And this can be seen in those ancient and medieval societies where women saw actual combat.

    Something else the article ignores in favor of perpetuating more than a few stereotypes is the class divide. If your female character is part of a warrior or noble class, she's got a solid advantage. Being trained from the age of seven to fight is going to give you a leg up experience wise on peasant levies. And she's going to have better weapons and armor.
     
    TheCatholicCrow and Feo Takahari like this.
  6. BronzeOracle

    BronzeOracle Sage

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    The article considers the phenomenal skills and group coordination that a particular band of fighters have - who happen to be female. They could instead be a band of men who have the same skills/team work. Of course the average foot soldier wont have anywhere near these skills, in reality almost all fighters wouldn't. I don't find this part of the article very helpful - 'hey the answer to overcoming an opponent's size/strength is to be a ridiculously overpowered fighter working in a coordinated team. You just need to be able to hear blood from 100 yards away'. You might as well just give them a gun or magical powers.

    I think making displays of strength is about (1) intimidating your opponent and (2) bolstering your own courage. They aren't silly or stupid but relate to the psychology of close quarters combat among average combatants - up against such displays the average, unskilled fighter gets scared. Of course the experienced fighter is conditioned to this and in the face of such displays will calm their nerves, but wouldn't this apply to both men and women and large or small fighters?

    I do think the article makes a valid point about underestimating one's opponent. In this respect a larger warrior will probably underestimate a smaller warrior, but not always - it comes down to the individual. I thought an interesting take on this was in the climatic sword fight in Rob Roy, where the tall and strong but slow protagonist (Liam Neeson) is getting cut to ribbons by the smaller and far quicker fencer (Tim Roth). But in the end he goes for broke and it is the prideful fencer who is caught off guard. A similar upstage occurs between the darting Viper and the lumbering Mountain in Game of Thrones. In this respect 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall' applies to one's pride, not just stature.

    So those LadyStar girls had better keep their heads on their shoulders if they don't want to lose them - super skills or not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  7. Yeah, I really don't think this guy knows what he's talking about. Aside from the straw-men and the fact his fighters, by his own admission, are a bit OPd,but there is a reason why there are weight classes in fighting sports. The bigger guy has the advantage over the smaller guy. Reach, strength, weight, access to one's most vital area (the noggin) all of those combined make it difficult for a smaller fighter to win.

    His examples from history, more like gross over-generalizations, are also a bit laughable. He states that history is replete with the underdog winning. Guess what, history is more replete with the not underdog winning (is there a better term for this). Civil War? Big Guys won. Sure they may have lost a battle but eventually the might of the North overcame the South. WWII the Allies were clearly superior in production, population, and GDP. Guess what, they won. The various battles the Romans faced. Hey they won a ton of those too. Combat with actual militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan oh look the US won there too. Guess what, not underdogs. (We can get into the whether the US is winning against the illegal combatants in another thread). Fact is bigger is almost always better. That's why underdogs are so dang cool. They fight and win against the big guy.

    Another interesting thing about underdogs this guy touches on but loses in the whole mantra that girls are better than guys. Underdogs often use unconventional tactics or tactics that deliberately play to their strengths. Take the David v. Goliath story. David used a sling. Most modern readers would see that as a weak weapon, when in fact slingers in ancient days were deadly warriors. David realizing he lacks the reach and the strength to stand toe-to-toe with old Goli removes those advantages by using a ranged weapon. He wasn't facing some insurmountable obstacle, he just had to think outside the box. He did. He won. People love that story.

    Same goes with women fighters. Biologically, women can't develop upper body strength like men can. They're not as tall and don't have the same reach. So they have to think outside the box. So, if you're a woman magic user why not just use arcane skills to waste your lumbering brute of an opponent, as all men are. Going toe-to-toe with someone bigger and stronger is dumb, dumb, dumb. That's why al-Qaeda never did. Should the US go in to fight ISIS in Syria their standing army would be wasted quick, but guerrilla tactics would keep them alive long enough for the US to tire of war.

    TL;DR? you know nothing Theodore. (See what I did there?)
     
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  8. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I'm a sword fighter and I'm 5'3" and 130 lbs. I'm at a disadvantage and that's that. I'm weaker than my male counterparts, who can swing heavier swords, which have a reach advantage, and then there's the you know, shortness of my arms. Plain and simple, against a guy who's 6'4" and fighting a pair of 35" blades, I'm not gonna win. Unless...I get in close and gain the advantage. But that's not easy to do, so I've never actually beat him one-on-one. In a team, I can be more effective because I present a smaller target and can often dart in and take a leg before I get hit, meaning my partners/ team can score the kill.

    As a younger woman, I've been beat up pretty good. I wrestled in high school, even. I was 119 on the team and my practice partner was 135. I got beat every day and I just thought I sucked. However, one day, my partner was absent and we were getting ready for a tournament, and I got paired with the 112 varsity guy. I totally dominated him. Wow. Really? Who knew seven pounds and a low (and unusual to wrestler boys) center of gravity could make a difference?

    The advantages of being a woman in a wrestling ring are few. With a sword, it's potentially a lot more even. With a bow...the table is leveled. Whomever has the better poise and confidence wins that bout. The thing is, there's no reason a female character needs to be weaker than a male character. Both can be good police detectives, good mages, good writers (ha, a throwback to the sexist writing thread), but in swinging a battle axe, there are certain disadvantages to being female. Now, I've met women who could give any normal man a run for his money in an arm-wrestling competition, but they were like professional lumberjacks. That isn't an average woman by any standard, but who are we writing about? :)

    If i'm writing an average woman and an average man, she's rather scrappy, and he's more brawny. i'm not sexist, I've fought with a fair number of men hand-to hand, and a number of women with swords. Weird I've never wrestled a girl. Something feels unnatural about that to me, I guess. Maybe because I never met a girl who wanted to? once, I had a boyfriend who was about 135 pounds when I weighed 120. I was messing around with him and his friends and I don't remember how we got to it, but we ended up in the grass wrestling. I got him in a half nelson and pinned him and I thought he was just letting me win, but his friends laughed at him and I felt bad after, because he was literally just a skinny dude with noodle arms. Whoops. I think that's one of the things we forget, that pride has a place in this debate, and a lot of guys wouldn't feel particularly thrilled if their girlfriends pinned them and made them a joke.

    In a non-traditional world, it probably wouldn't be as much a problem. I think most men would sort of think it's cool to have a female partner who's badass (like at work) but it can be threatening in a relationship. Not that I technically agree with that sort of macho thinking, just saying it exists. I've known men who equate all female aggression with hormones or bitchiness, and it's kinda sad that we accept male aggression as more "natural." Why shouldn't a woman be a warrior? Or a seventeen-year-old wrestler, rather than a gymnast? HA!
     
  9. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    You know, the author of that piece blows this off, but "brave noises and aggressive displays of strength" certainly have their place, especially in the set piece battles of history, and even on to today. Most battles ended not when an enemy army had suffered horrible casualties, but when their morale broke. War cries were supposed to bolster your side's morale and weaken the enemies, war paint was supposed to make you look scary, crests were supposed to make you look bigger than you really are, and so on.

    In the ancient and medieval worlds, the time periods where most fantasy takes place, most casualties took place once the enemy broke and ran, when a victorious commander cut his cavalry loose after his fleeing opponent. That's why you have things like battles where the enemy lost tens of thousands and the Romans lost hundreds or less.
     
  10. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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  11. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Exactly. Often the battle was already half-won if you could intimidate your opponent.

    Same in fencing--we utilize a move called a ballestra, which is essentially a leaping advance. When you come down, you kick your forward foot hard against the floor to make a loud stomping sound. It's meant to startle and intimidate the opponent. We'll also use "scare tactics" to unnerve our opponents--rapid footwork to confuse them, aggressive attacks to keep them on edge, sometimes even pure, unadulterated physical intimidation such as getting up in their face, yelling as we make an attack, etc. It's not the most honorable strategy, but it works. Aggression determines who will win and who will lose, much of the time.
     
  12. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    One of my favorite examples of ostentatious displays in warfare are the Polish Winged Hussars. These guys wore actual wings on their backs. Historians are divided about their exact purpose: some think they were meant to intimidate the enemy, others that they were to protect against lassos and back cuts, and others that they were to deafen their horses to the noisemakers used by the Mongols and Turks. In any case, these guys sure would have been intimidating.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Does that mean the wings made some kind of noise when they run?
     
  14. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Yeah, they made a clatter as the horse galloped.
     
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  15. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    My money's on 'because swag'.
     
  16. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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  17. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Smooth. They could teach politicians how to evade a question.
     
  18. That they certainly could. It's a little frustrating too because there could be a great dialogue going to really hammer out the nuances and complexities of this issue. Well perhaps someone else will take up the charge.
     
  19. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Indeed. I can't say I'm surprised. I was expecting either some sort of dodge like this or a frothing rage.
     
  20. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    I understand from a realistic perspective that someone like Ronda Rousey would have very little chance against someone like Cain Velasquez, but I write pure fantasy and in my worlds, it wouldn't be surprising for one of the heroines to call Gregor the Mountain 'The Molehill' and then kick his ass in a toe to toe battle. Just a matter of style IMO.

    Fictional men surpass the limits of what should be a realistic male character all the time after all, why shouldn't fictional women XD

    I disapprove of making the male opponents necessarily stupider/less competent etc. though, I prefer them to be incredibly strong, fast, skilled, tough, intelligent and all but the heroines are just better lol.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
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