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The Female Power Fantasy?

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

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  1. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    Logos&Eidos, If you want to write a power fantasy book for a female audience I suggest you should read about marketing products to women.
    I personally always wanted my books to be popular both with men and women, but unfortunately most of my writing is very dude-centric.
     
  2. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    In that case you and I have very different experiences. I hear Buffy, Skully, Sarah Jane (doctor who) and Susan Ivanova (B5) alot. Those at the scyfy conventions. Comicon its always Black Widow, Diana Prince, and (insert X - girl here)
    Not sure why either points are bad ones. If you're worried about the horror genre thing, both women survived shit alot of professional badasses did, and neither broke suspension of disbelief nor pissed off their own fan market.
    If you're a sane rational person, yes. But then, you're probably not writing a power fantasy or are diluting it liberally with something else. Several somethings else that aren't lampshades.
    I considered that, thus my initial disclaimer. Still... while the OP was in 2014, the last major post by the OP was late 2017
     
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  3. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    It's bad because they're saying there hasn't been a good female character since 1984 and because neither character challenges the masculine. Which is why they never "pissed off" the male fan market. Sarah Connor plays a supportive role to Kyle Reese and the Terminator respectively, and Ripley played a backseat to the rest of the crew and the space marines respectively, saving what heroics she did for the end. In the first one as a plot twist, as the last survivor, and the second she was out of the action for almost all of it due to trauma. Neither character took a lead with the action. A female character that does take the lead in action as the main character tends to get a very different response. That's the problem.
     
  4. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    .....I feel sorry for you and your range of experience.
    No. What pisses off the fan market is the self centered, entitled, condescending, shallow characters who are shoved in our face for "girl power" rather than being a compelling character on their own.
    Buffy. Wonder Woman. Laura Croft. Nikita. Alice. Kill Bill. And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Every last one of them flat out contradicts your entire point.

    There's alot of other well received female leads, but feminine action leads...
     
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Who is they?

    I suppose its bad if the goal is to challenge the masculine, but I am not why that is a worthy challenge, or why it is a more worthy challenge than any other. I suppose, if in my efforts to write them as people, the character I write goes on to challenge some male notions, then that will be okay, it will ring true for the character, and if I've done my job well, ring true for the other characters as well (and maybe resonate past to the very whole of the world itself).

    I fear I would not agree with you on Ripley and Sarah, I do think they took agresive and leadership roles. But...I dont wish to talk about them. As you have already said, they have been played.

    We have been down this road before. I dont think your issue is one of no good female characters, I think it is one of believability, and wanting something to win acceptance that is a tough sell. I assert that it is a tough sell becuase it cuts against many things that appear (to me anyway) to be true, but I have seen others succeed at it. Its not an impossible one. Course, I have also seen it fail.

    IMO, I would prefer we did not bring in outside considerations into a story, and just told the story that is deep inside of us waiting to come out. If for you that is one that challenges males up and down the scale, then I hope you have much success. And where it rings true, I will happily say so.
     
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  6. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Scribe

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    I spoke spect that Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley don’t really fill the same psychological niche for women that male action heroes do for men. They might have a number of admirable traits, but I don’t think they are objects of female fantasy.

    A female power fantasy figure is probably less focussed on the type of power that is derived from physical prowess and more directed to the type of power that is more appealing to women.

    Several of Jane Austen’s characters that appeal to women are able to influence the world around them through their intelligence, bravery and strength of character.

    Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation is able to achieve her goals and generally make the world a better place through her enthusiasm, selflessness, general competence and personal integrity.
     
  7. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    Except there are male characters who are just like that and they don't piss off male audiences as much do they. Anakin from the Phantom Menace never had men calling him Gary Stu in droves, yet they call Rey that in her first movie. Even though she was older and accomplished less in comparison.

    The reason "girl power" is a thing and used in a derogatory manner as you just did, is the same reason "boy power" isn't a thing. It's normalized and assumed that boys will be in power. Whereas a girl who upsets that by not playing to standards of femininity is derided as shoved in people's faces for "girl power". This is because it upsets people's conditioned, internalized paradigm that forms as a result of living in a society that pushes the message that male characters that can defeat trolls, dragons, all manner or monsters believably with a badass one liner, but a woman who can outfight men is a "Man with boobs" and unrealistic and "Girl power propaganda". I've seen that double standard over and over in debates. The fact that people use it without any self awareness is in itself a problem. The fact that people immediately go on the defensive instead of self reflecting and considering internalized sexism, is a problem.

    If a movie came out tommorow with the top 2 greatest fighters as women - the fact that that this would be considered girl power sjw propaganda, is the problem. Female power fantasies are not viewed with the fairness of male power fantasies.

    You are strawmaning my position. Re-read my argument. At no point did I argue about well received by the general tv or moviegoing audience. I said Sarah Connor and Ripley are the only two that ever gets mentioned in debates with men as good examples of female characters done right. And I've been in many such debates. They all, down to the last one, have that exact same pattern. Even on this forum.To which I gave the reason. You haven't contradicted that point at all.

    The dudebro argument in every single debate: "Female characters today suck and are Mary Sues/obnoxious not because of my sexist bias, but because they've all been written badly. Female action characters that have been written well are Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley. Two characters from the mid eighties in the same genre, with similar arcs, written by the same man. "
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  8. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

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    Yes, this is it exactly. There is so much social and cultural conditioning that has accrued over the centuries that even though we, as an individual, may be ‘enlightened’ and strive for equality, there are also standards that we unwittingly still apply.

    Ray Sonne writes -
    This is, of course, because personhood with all its flaws, mistakes, and ugliness is still something often not applied to real women in our society, along with female representation in all media. If women are mean, they’re bitches. If they show sexual cravings, they’re sluts. If they slip up, they’re incompetent.

    Wildcats, Superheroes and the True Female Power Fantasy

    When I was a kid I read comics. Sometimes I was told that they were just juvenile power fantasies. Were they? Yes. I was weak and weird. I fantasised about being powerful. The people who often told me this acted out their power fantasies on the sports field. Did that make them more powerful than me? No, it made them delusional because they thought that this fleeting power translated to the real world (and then sometimes I’d have to explain what delusional meant).

    As I see it, a power fantasy, whether male or female, is not a bad thing. The current negative connotations associated with it seem to stem from examples of this trope that rather than empower a social demographic, they objectify, denigrate, humiliate or oppress others. For this reason, most of the power fantasies that aren’t remarked on have somewhat two-dimensional or unsympathetic villains (think mindless aliens, faceless governments, heartless corporations, etc.)

    Another possible reason for it’s unpopularity is that these heroes are supposed to do great things and get away with it as Ray says. I would suggest that some writers confuse this with not being accountable, so you end up with heroes that are psychopaths (which is fine if that’s what your aiming for, not so good if it’s some Freudian nightmare).

    So what, if anything, is the ‘female power fantasy’? Is it dressing in tights because she likes how she looks in them, sticking to walls and beating up the evil Dr. Squidface? Sure, why not? Is it rescuing the children, ensuring they don’t starve and finding freedom? Okay. Maybe a Chinese prostitute/madame that becomes the most successful pirate captain in history with over 300 ships and 20,000 to 40,000 pirates? No, wait, that really happened (search Ching Shih).
     
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  9. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    That's because despite that being true, Anakin is not a Gary Stu while Rey is a Mary Sue. Competency is not the defining trait of a Sue/Stu character, it's the way the other characters react to them and make everything about them. The defining moment for Rey is (SPOILER ALERT) when Leia, after Han Solo dies, goes to seek mutual comfort with Rey rather than Chewie. Anakin has no such moment. Actually, despite being a child, who are notorious for hogging the spotlight by default, and an annoying one at that, Annakin is overshadowed by Jar-Jar Binks in that movie. Also, this isn't really an apples to apples comparison because Annakin was already a defined character when we first see him in The Phantom Menace. We already knew him as Darth Vader, the beloved villain introduced in the first movie, and in a certain sense, whom we first saw in Return of the Jedi. Rey was not, and she upstaged established, beloved characters. This is what makes people see her as a Sue. Not that she is hypercompetent, but that the other characters seem to only exist in function of her.
     
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  10. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    Yes he does. Qui Gon breaking story logic by bringing him - a child - to a warzone so said child could save the day when none of the experienced pilots could.
     
  11. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    Not just any child. Anakin had been established by then as not only future Darth Vader, but also some sort of Chosen One with a virgin birth, and he upstaged a bunch of extras no one cares about in a scene that was played for laughs as much as it was serious. Rey, whose deal we (or at least I) still don't know about, upstaged fan favourite Han Solo in his home turf. It's not even close to the same.
     
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Are there no examples of well-written female characters in modern (say, post 2010) fantasy? I find examples of things done well to be more helpful to me as a writer than examples of things done badly.
     
  13. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Unfortunately, looking at my current reading list, I don't think any of them were written after 2010.... I think the recent wonder woman movie won a lot of acclaim, and would qualify. Atomic Blonde...she was pretty rough, and I bought it. Anita Battle Angel just came out...oops, same guy. A lot of good female characters, but I assume were are just looking for power fantasy types. The girl in firefly was pretty formidable too, was that after 2010? I might put Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad there. Would Moana qualify? Probably. The girl from the newest Mad Max movie...Oh yeah, and Mrs. Katnis. Anyway, sure there are others, just a small list.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  14. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

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    Interesting, I never have planned my characters on their sex. What they do is all about their psyche to me. Also, I think about my audiences age but not their gender. I'm unfamiliar with "female/male power" stuff so maybe that's why?
     
  15. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    I'm getting the impression that you believe the only way a female character can be good is if they act all macho badass and are the female version of Rambo charging into a physical confrontation. However something like that would just 'piss off the male fan market?' You do realize that women are part of the so called 'male fan market.' Your making it sound like only men watch movies which we know is untrue.

    Lets see she defeates Kylo (who trained all his whole life in the force and with the lightsaber) with a lightsaber. How is that not a mary sue.

    Or maybe its because people are not stupid and realize that the sexes are in fact different and it rings false when one dons the mask of another. Simply because people question your argument does not mean they have internalized sexism.

    Seriously if you can take said badass female character switch the sex and there be no difference, it is for all intents and purposes a 'man with boobs.' At that point why not just make the character male? It makes more logical sense and feels less like the reader is having social propaganda shoved down their throat. It is getting really annoying, no one cares about the authors/directors identity politics. That is why 'the "male" fan market' gets pissed off. Badass female character. check. Minority character as a lead. check identity politics check. all it is is ticking check boxes and trying to be as woke as possible while leaving story and character by the way side. It rings hollow to the audience who can see through the crap.
    example: 'Cleopatra should be played by a black actor – but not just for historical accuracy'
    This line quote. "The casting should be informed by the racial and social dynamics of today." It's a brave new world of woke power fantasy. I can understand historical accuracy but this come on.....

    Depends a lot on the setting. But if it's not superheros or some explanation that makes relative sense yea it would be. Without magic or super powers it makes no sense. People can see the physical difference every day they go outside. No matter how much sjws want to tell everyone that male and female are the same it does not erase the reality that they are different.


    wow. so because they have a different opinion they are sexist and biased, funny. Anyway I cann't really agree that every female character sucks, a lot do especially in film and tv but not all.


    Does that mean it applies to fake women? what the hell does that even mean 'real women' this is just wow. The same also applies to men, mean man ass***** , bas**** , sexual cravings a pig, ass***,etc.. if they slip incompetent. In what world does the author if this drivel live where if a man makes a mistake they are not castigated or fired. FFS this is just ridiculous.

    Depends on how we define power fantasy and how it plays out. based off Power Fantasy - TV Tropes it seems like power fantasy is simply power for the sake of righting perceived wrongs, to put others in their place simply because one now has power. I can see why it has the connotation, it is little different that having power for the sake of power, or power for vengeance. Carrie is basically this idea. There are also ones where the character arrives at forgiveness instead of vengeance.
     
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  16. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    These two seem to go hand in hand, so I would like to address them together.

    The problem I have with this is the underlying assumption that the way things have developed is not the way they would have developed if we had much earlier on had a more enlightened view of equality. That if we could take the box and shake it and let all the debris settle again, that it would not come out the same, and if we added a bit of more 'women in power roles' to earlier models, there would be very different attitudes today.

    I reject the notion that what we have is the result purely of cultural conditioning, and would assert that our cultural conditioning is equally influenced by the difference in the genders that have played out over a long period of time. I think it is false that if I shook the box and let it settle again, I would get very different results, because I think those results are the natural outcome when one gender is kind of wedge shaped and the other is hourglass, when one bares children and the other provides, and that when it comes to what is required to raise children, that the division of labor would not seem obvious. I think, save for some rare examples, this plays out in every culture, and in every era, and will continue to do so most likely till there are just no more humans left. I think it is true that some forms of modern technology have been able to help overcome the differences, and to that regard we have modern attitudes to go along with them. Perhaps in time, they will be a good reason why the differences have diminished and some roles have changed, but I think the jury is still out on how that plays for a long span of years. IMO, I don't think the primitive notions of gender roles will ever wholly disappear.

    I further reject the notion that women have not been equals. I think the genders are equally balanced and a good compliment to each other. In every interaction, power balances are at play, and sometimes one wins over the other, but the same man who may use his male power to push girls around and thump his chest, can also be totally wrapped around the finger of another.

    I totally get the argument that if a man can be shown to beat a giant, which no way he has the power to do, why is it so bothersome if woman is shown to do the same? Seems reasonable, and it is just fantasy.

    Well, I do find it dubious the man would prevail. I just look for what I think is true, and often I think, um...No! No one gets up from that. But that aside, if a woman pulls off the feat...well... I am not saying it cannot happen. Anyone who gets a lucky shot to the jugular of a giant kills it right? Could a woman hit a giant hard enough to cut into the jugular? Well, sure...provided something about it is not impossible. But it is far more likely the male would engage it, the male would fight it to the death, and the male could hit it harder. He just might be able to cut it deeper than a woman of similar conditioning.

    I think the reason why 'girl power' comes into the light more than 'boy power' is because 'Girl Power' typically is pronounced after a girl has done something more in the realm of a male gender role, which is more prominently at the fore front given modern attitudes about slights in the distribution of historical power. Usually it is meant to be 'in your face, male!' I suppose if I was to do something more in the female gender role side of the equation, such as give birth, I might exclaim 'Boy Power' as a way of saying in your face women... But there is a lie behind it. The lie is that one set off example makes the rule. It does not. And if a giant is coming over the hill, and there is a choice as to who fights it, almost all of the time, a male is a better choice. He has the wedge shaped body, and all of the advantages that has brought, from greater upper body strength, to different psychological mindset, to different social and cultural conditioning.


    Didn't this already kind of happen with Thanos's two daughters? I was okay with it.

    But yes, generally, I would have a problem with it, because I would have to assume everything else about what I know about men and women was true for them as it was for us here on earth. So...unless it is shown that men are smaller and weaker, or the genders are somehow biologically different, I would find it very unlikely that it would ever happen. So I would be asking questions and likely arrive at...'um...no. That would never happen.' Course, I might be sold on it. Did not question Thanos's daughters. Give me a reason.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
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  17. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

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    You totally misconstrued this. A ‘real’ women refers to an actual, living, breathing person. Therefor it cannot apply to fake women as they don’t exist. But yes, it does apply to men. Examples: real men don’t cry; if you care about your woman’s feelings you’re ‘whipped’; if you admire and are aroused by the female form then you’re a misogynistic pig. The author never claims that if a man makes a mistake they are not castigated or fired. What she is saying is that “personhood..(is not)... often not applied to real women in our society, along with female representation in all media.” This is to say that the stereotypes in our society, when translated to a fictional medium, suffer from double standards. This is not just true for the male/female roles, that’s just what we’re discussing now.

    This I agree with this completely, except that Cleopatra was essentially Greek.

    First paragraph - if you add a different variable (more women in power), reset the paradigm, then Chaos Theory dictates that there will be different results. If you take a look at pre-Christian Viking and Celtic societies, the common woman had more rights and freedoms than their later medieval counterparts. This is not to say that there were no women in power in medieval times, just that the ‘average’ woman had less. This could very easily have gone down differently in history, and we would have a thousand years of equal rights for men and women.

    Second paragraph - yes absolutely. Different genders have (in general) different preferences, priorities, biological drives, and thinking patterns. Hence the whole Gender Pay Gap propaganda. The report is a statistical compilation of which gender works in what profession, how many hours they work, how many years etc. Men and women don’t get paid differently for doing the same job, it’s against the law (here anyway). These Social Justice W#nkers (as opposed to SJW who actually do good things) are saying that it needs to be 50/50, which is not social freedom, it’s Totalitarianism.

    Third paragraph - yes and no. Ok yes there is often a measure of balance. You know, the man is the head of the family, but the women is the neck, and she turns the head anyway she wants to. But socially or politically it’s very often a no. Equality to me is the inherent right to have the same freedoms and opportunities as each other, something rarely seen even 50 or 60 years ago.

    To give an example of what I would arguably call a ‘female power fantasy ‘, that I enjoyed, thought was done well, didn’t see her as a ‘man with boobs’, and didn’t have any of ‘I’m just a girl in a man’s world, but I can do it too’ (looking at you Captain Marvel), is Jessica Jones on Netflix.
     
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  18. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I say chaos theory does not apply. If I go back to the beginning and change those attitudes and let it ride, we still see a world that shapes itself in hierarchical structures, and the same forces that shaped it then, will shape it again. We will see few instances of women in roles typically held by men and vice versa. The only variable I suspect would make a difference is if we could go back to primitive man with todays technology, which would not be very primitive. But unless we change the fundamental difference, the wedge shaped man, the hour glass woman, the child birth process, and relative roles that would naturally spring up from them, chaos theory never gets off the ground.

    Course, that is no reason not to write the fantasy fiction you desire. If you have the next awesome female power type, go for it.

    I will confess, I am lost as to which paragraph is which but... I will say I missed Jessica Jones. No interest. Maybe I should.
     
  19. Futhark

    Futhark Inkling

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    I get what your saying. Lightning will always earth itself along the path of least resistance. Water will always flow according to the laws of gravity. And I agree that we would probably see little difference in the roles held by men and women. My argument is that with just a few minor variables we could have had a culture that valued gender equality for much longer.

    When I say gender equality I mean freedoms and opportunity. Things like access to justice, the right to vote, do what job they want. If a girl wants to be a boilermaker she should have been able to without judgement (they do now I know). Back in the day (couldn’t be bothered researching actual dates, sorry) women couldn’t become doctors, they could only be nurses.

    That is not equality. Would there be more male doctors than female? Probably, but the women who wanted to would have had the opportunity.

    But gender equality does not mean gender sameness. We are different (technically males are mutant females). Gender equality means valuing those differences and recognising that we all have inherent rights.
     
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  20. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    I don't think this is the case. At all. I don't think there weren't a significant number of cultures that valued gender equality or women over men in the past. If you look at traditional societies, societies that live largely the same as their ancestors did for millennia - hunter-gatherers and nomads, not social conservatives - you'll find they don't seem to favour one paradigm over the other. It isn't until the advent of agriculture that you start seeing a bias towards patriarchy. I have thoughts as to what pressures would shape that (namely, that since most warriors are men, the more warlike a culture is, the more likely it is to be patriarchal because the warriors will either have the power to begin with or take it for themselves, and when a more warlike patriarchal culture meets a less warlike culture that tends towards matriarchy, the more patriarchal culture wins out) but I would hesitate to state them categorically.
     
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