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The Female Power Fantasy?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Logos&Eidos, Mar 13, 2014.

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  1. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

    What is it exactly, does anyone know? If so would they be willing to share that information, especially for the sake of men(like myself) who are going to be writing female characters and eventually a female protagonist. Much has been said about the male power fantasy and it's rarely good. In fact I've seen that phrases used as a condemnation and almost at times swearword. So what exactly is the male power fantasy, it's essence can be distilled in to a simple sentence"over coming adversity and being rewarded for having done so ". Everything associated with the male power fantasy,gaining wealth,influence,mates!,power unlimited power!, is just the logical extension of the concept. :cool:

    After hearing so much about the male power fantasy, good bad or indifferent, I got to thinking their logically must be a female power fantasy aswell. So what is it and what does it entail?:confused:
  2. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    Irrelevant. Write the character based on what that individual would do, not their sex.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    That's a pretty loaded question, following a pretty loaded statement.

    If you want a "Female Power Fantasy" that compares to a "Male Power Fantasy," well, there isn't one. "Male Power Fantasy" is a fairly sexist and condescending term, but the equivalent condescending statement would be along the lines of "Women are interested in something besides Power . . . .", whatever that might be.

    But I would suggest, as Guy said, to just drop that line of thought as completely irrelevant to anything but some controversial meta-cultural literature. People read what they want to read, for whatever reason they want to read it. Just leave it at that.

    If you want to know what women like to read, then go read books by women about women. And if you like to use labels, find some that are actually useful in writing a book that reaches your audience.
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    I've heard it said that feminism is the outrageous belief that women are people.

    Try that approach.
  5. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    Power fantasies are kind of dreadful, regardless of what gender they're for. Speaking as a woman, I don't think the two are particularly different. Power (both physical/magical and political), good looks, money, an attractive/interesting lover. Aside from the fact that female power fantasies are usually less misogynistic, the two are basically identical. We're all people, we want the same things.
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    This is a good start.
    If you're writing a character you need to make it an individual - a person. Basing a character's motivations on what is commonly accepted to be the norm for people belonging to the same group as the character might work for characters that aren't very important to the story. Side characters that appear for a scene or two can be done like that - then you're just playing on the reader's prejudices and that might work out just fine.

    If you're writing a character you'll have to get to know them and figure out what drives this specific member of the group the character belongs to. You'll have to consider special circumstances and exceptions as well as mental and physical traits and attributes. Basically, it'll get messy.

    I've spent a fair bit of time thinking about how to portray female characters - as it's important to me to try to get them "right". My current theory lines up with what Guy says, but with one important addition: the opinions of everyone else.

    If you're creating the character in a vacuum their gender won't matter. They will have a personality and they will have motivations and fears but in the big picture, their gender is irrelevant. It's not until you put the character in a social situation, where they interact with the people in the world around them that their gender, or skin color, or sexual preference, starts to matter.

    A person's gender will have some impact on their personality, but probably not that much compared to everything else that impacts their personality. Where gender is important is when it comes to how society views people of that gender - and that is something that can have a huge impact on a person.

    I'll try and sum it up.
    Gender does not define who we are, but gender defines how the world treats us, and that defines who we are.

    (yeah, I'm probably oversimplifying it)
    Night Gardener likes this.
  7. Noma Galway

    Noma Galway Archmage


    Gender is one of the major things that affects social interaction (imagine for a moment a world where nobody knew anybody's gender!). This is the nature vs. nurture debate. At their core, humans want the same basic things. Gender determines how they react to each other trying to get those basic things. When other people react to a person, that person will adjust his/her behavior accordingly (typically). So...back to Svrt's.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    I guess that "power fantasy", whatever the gender themes, has something to do with writers basing their heroes on themselves. Honestly I don't know if that's always a bad thing. What's important is that your character is capable of experiencing tension and conflict even if they do certain things you would love to do yourself.

    I also question whether gender has to influence social interactions within a fantasy society to the same extent it does in our world. Some might think it "realistic" or culturally faithful to portray a superficially medieval society as the stereotypical patriarchy, but that would only matter if you care about sticking to the realities of history. In that case why not stick to historical fiction?
  9. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    If you really want to see what a "female power fantasy" looks like... (I can't believe I'm about to say this) read fan-fiction.
    Firefly likes this.
  10. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

    Personally? I can't give an answer to the question that isn't kind of silly. What does a woman's power fantasy look like to me?

    -I come home to an empty sink because the dishes are done, without having to ask.

    -Coming home to the kids' homework being done (for those that have children), again without having to ask.

    -Finding out the shower works properly or the doorknob isn't going to fall off in my hand because the around the house stuff that I'm physically capable of doing, but cannot do within the confines of a relationship because that would somehow make a man less of a man, is done without having to ask.

    Honestly, to me, power looks a lot like respect...and who doesn't need respect in their life?

    I think the better question(s) to be asking are about what power is or isn't. Is it an individual thing, wherein one person can decide they have power and therefore act like they actually have power or is it an outside societal observation and power is in how other people view/treat a person?

    If you can answer whether or not power is an internal vs. external thing the following questions become much easier to answer: Is money power? Is class power? Is religion power? Is belief power? Is knowledge power? Is sex power? Are there cases where these aren't true?
  11. Trick

    Trick Auror

    Upon reading the OP I immediately thought of The Black Jewels Trilogy. I don't have much of an opinion on the books, some things I like, some things I don't, but it might be a good one for the OP to read. Lot's of "role reversal" though even that term is somewhat indelicate. I wouldn't necessarily call it a "Female Power Fantasy" but it is fantasy and there is a lot of female power in it. Not that it's lacking in 'Male Power.' I guess it's hard to describe exactly what the book does with the female/male interaction that made me think of it. Be warned though, it's R rated and I know some people avoid that kind of thing, and I don't want anyone offended by me suggesting it.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  12. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    I thought the female power fantasy was, "I'm cute so he'll do whatever I want."

    Before I'm labeled sexist, I should mention that all three of my kids are girls. If I had a son, he might know I'm an easy mark. Anyway, that's how daughters see a dad. I guess that's more like the Female Power Reality.

    Serious answer: I've written male MCs and am now working with female MCs. The gender matters, but only in the way that other traits matter. I feel like man vs. beast/nature and woman vs. beast/nature wouldn't be different. When there are other people in the story, then the MC's gender matters in the sense of how other characters perceive her.

    My goal with a female MC is no different than my goal with a male MC: make the character likable and believable* and fun in the hopes that the reader roots for her.

    *…though my stories are full of BS
    Firefly likes this.
  13. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

    Legendary Sidekick. Just because something is offensives doesn't mean that it can't be true;the truth hurts as the saying goes.

    I have read several works written/co-written by women.

    Mageworlds,Debra Doyle.

    Star of The Gaurdians, Margaret Weis

    Full Metal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa

    Supirior, Ichtys( Is a pen name,I don't know what her real name is.)

    Witch Craft Works, Ryu Mizunagi

    Sekirei, Sakurako Gokurakuin.

    I have noticed a recurrent idea in their writing. While the characters in their works act for the same reasons and move towards the same goals as do those in stories written by men. There is a difference in what aspects of the characters motivations are emphasized. All of these very different women have put the emphasis on their characters relationships to others as the motivating factor in their lives. Where as all the male writer that I know seem to give their characters a bit more abstract motivations. Here's an example. A man loses his family and seeks revenge! A woman seeks revenge because she lost her family! If the Hero and Heroine are successful at the end of their quests the bad people die horribly! Same story but the execution is going to differ in a subtle but noticeable way.

    I have read a number of articles that talked about the differences between male and female authors. Men tend to emphasize events where as tend Women emphasize feelings. There is a degree of difference between men and women, subtle in someways overt in others;and most of the differences are really just different expression of the same basic traits and characteristics. It's the difference in that expression that I am interested. Again I say, since there is a "male power fantasy" there must be a "female power fantasy".

    At it's heart the often maligned "male power fantasy" is not about power or domination, at least not directly. It's about over coming adversity then being reward for having done so; In my not so humble opinion. To over come adversity one requires strength, and after overcoming some great ordeal is it wrong to want something in return? Like say,wealth,mates,authority.

    I already have something of answer as to what the female power fantasy might be and entail. I even have something of an example. In fact I came here because I found that answer insufficient.

    Her Name is Bayonetta. Don't look at me like that. Yes I know she seems to seems to embody the concept of Ms.Fanservice, it's true she is not only a Ms. Fanservice, she's both president spokeswoman for that entire organization!

    However there are quite a few people that see Bayonetta(Bayo-chan as the developers call her) as a female power fantasy. While googling to try and find information on the elusive female power fantasy, I started coming across pages that described her as one; you can find them by googling, Bayonetta female power fantasy.

    If they are right and Bayo-chan is indicative of the female power fantasy;even if only in part. Then I am afraid,very very afraid. Why, because when I thought about it I realized that Bayo-chan's defining characteristic wasn't her rocking bod; which dose rock extremely hard by the way. It was her freedom or perhaps better termed her lack of accountability.

    Bayo-chan is a Witch one of the last left in the world. She is answerable to no mortal man, and would likely shoot any controlling immortal men in the face; then feed what's left of them to demons she summons with her hair! The only other remaining and or active witch at the time of the first game is Jeanne an equal. Being that their coven is gone, their are no older more power witches that Bayo-chan has to answer. Bayo-chan motivations are selfish, recovery of her memories and survival. She winds up saving the world solely by virtue of those goals just happening to align with keeping earth spinning. Luka the closet thing to a man in Bayonetta's life she treats like a pet; well he kinda qualifies as one to be honest. he's a normal human while she punches out angels.

    Bayonetta is an anti-heroine at best and a Heroic sociopath at worst. Motivated entirely by selfish goals. Who's defining characteristic is a near complete lack of accountability to anyone!
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  14. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I often see Bayonetta mentioned as a woman who's sexualized as an active and powerful figure in a way that's more commonly associated with male characters like Kratos. (The other character who tends to come up is Aeon Flux.)
  15. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

    Sorry for the Necro, Logos&EidosLogos&Eidos but you're more or less correct on your use of Bayonetta, but I would have used a rather long series of chickflick movies from the last decade instead. If you want to emphasize the Truth Hurts statement you made, here's a documentary (youtube com/watch?v=x5KlGljHT8g) on it you might be interested in.

    Particularly, watch the movies "How to be Single" and "The Other Woman".
    If you prefer to read instead...Well, there's literally millions of female author Romance Novels which portray it perfectly. The general slang for them is "bodice rippers" and "harlequin".
    If you prefer video games, other than Bayonetta, Try "The Sims". You as the player are playing out the female power fantasy in all it's positive, negative and neutral lights.

    Simply stated though:
    The male power fantasy is to be the Hero. Find a problem. Solve the problem. Get the girl. Have the respect of those you aided. With the anti-hero male power fantasy, add an element of redemption in there, for the former failed hero or former villain.
    The female power fantasy is to avoid accountability for your actions and receive the benefits of being the hero. Regardless of whether they're genuinely the hero or the thinly veiled villain.

    I expect you've already written your piece, given this thread is 2 years old, but my suggestion for other browsers is to ignore the female power fantasy and do what Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Black Widow did. Write a male power fantasy with a likable feminine female character as the lead. Guys with boobs like captain marvel's recent runs repel both men and women.
  16. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Write a power fantasy for a female character and she'll be called a Mary Sue or SJW propaganda or "man with boobs". Write her as a male fantasy and she gets called an object of male gaze and misogynist.

    If your character isn't Ripley or Sarah Connor (the only two good female characters ever according to the internet) then you'll be criticized whatever you write. So just don't even worry about it and write whatever YOU want to see, forget writing to a specific audience's "fantasy", because not for nothing, if they want a pure power fantasy, an RPG game is a better medium for it.

    That and audiences aren't writers. They only vaguely know what they want. In the abstract.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  17. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    Honestly, in this world, just having power is a dream for the vast majority of women.
    Firefly likes this.
  18. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

    AnnoyingkidAnnoyingkid Bwahahahahaha.... sorta, kinda, not entirely? There's also Buffy.
    MythopoetMythopoet If you wana go that simple, that's the fantasy of the a great many men too. But the subject line was the Power Fantasy, which is a pretty well defined thing.
  19. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Yeah but I've never seen men say Buffy. It's always James Cameron's Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley. Thats their two, in every debate. Basically the same characters in the same genre written by the same man. Both traumatized women who are stalked by a horror and who spend most the time running and hiding from said horror and who learn to appreciate their maternal role. Ripley with Newt and Connor with John.
  20. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    Okay, Buffy, there you go. And I could make some criticisms of Ripley and Sarah if I liked.

    Isn't the answer to this always, write them as people?

    This is like 2014, original poster is gone. I don't know, I don't think I set out to write male or female power anything, It just rings too untrue to me.
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