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The Female Power Fantasy?

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

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  1. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    There's also the issue that Cleopatra isn't African, but Greek. The Ptolemy bloodline took over Egypt from a previous invasion and when they weren't marrying their siblings, they were marrying other greek nobility.
    False dichotemy, but ok. 'Real woman' proclamations do exist, and they differ from conservative to feminist.
    Also, cyring and being sensitive is a serious issue. Just watch most women. Cry in front of them once or twice after extreme experiences because you feel 'safe' with them, it may strengthen their empathy for you, but cry with ANY regularity, and watch that empathy turn to disgust and spite. Same with sensitive emotions. Men tell each other that to protect themselves. Women tell men that because despite what propaganda you hear, women hate weak men.
    Hmm. I'll have to go watch that then.
    thank you.
    There is. And it's fairly well defined.
    Svrtnsse is correct, it's not connan the barbarian or other over-muscled Schwarzenegger or Dwayne Rock Johnson films, that's just one expression of hundreds.

    The Male Power Fantasy is about overcoming adversity and being the hero. The how is immaterial. The strong man. The trickster. The sage. A thousand variations between the three. The male power fantasy is that he saves the day.

    The female power fantasy is different. Both seek adulation form society, but the female power fantasy doesn't care about being a hero. That's sometimes an element, but not even the majority. It's to be able to do whatever you will, and have those important to you reward you for it. saintly or malicious.

    And AnnoyingkidAnnoyingkid , girls don't consider "chick flick" to be derogatory unless they're professed feminists. And even then, twilight and The Other WOman which are total chick flicks are massively popular among feminists. And male feminists. And women in general. So unless you're limiting your view of worth to male approval...
    Except that we DO sexualize sexual and physical assault. Fuck, TheMarySue, an absolutely dripping feminist propaganda rag published articles about how women are the overwhelming audience of rape porn. And I've talked before about the Harlequin romances already.
    Trust me, that's not the part they're threatened by. It's actually a fetish.
    It's about agency, I can wholly agree with that... Though, before you get too far into the objectification idea, you should really check out the romance section. 95% written by women, 100% sexually objectifying. Men, women, sheep, lamps; ALL are sexually objectified! The massive majority of female written pieces, power trips and otherwise would not pass the Bechdel test.
    The Sage and the Trickster. Two common expressions of the power fantasy that typically are not only not strong, but deliberately portrayed as weak. And yet, they're still power fantasy heroes.
    There...is though?
    There has been, and it's not recent. It's just recently taken the front seat in hollywood.
    I'm going to go with some other factor. The situation was even worse in mens favor when we were hunter gathers. Agriculture is simply the period when we started writing about it.
    :cry:No, that is far too narrow, but I've already pontificated.
    And just flipping the characters gender does not make it a FPF. Never has.
    That's probably the root of what's causing this psychological dissonance, that people think it is.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    A gentle reminder to all our members: ad hominem arguments are poor practice at best. They turn a discussion of ideas into attacks (or defenses) of individual members. My general guideline is simple: am I replying to a person or to an idea? If the former, then I need to breathe deep and not click that Post button. The place to argue with someone directly is by way of direct message. Doing it on a thread is roughly like getting into a loud argument at a party--you force everyone else to listen to the gripe you have with an individual.

    I would also encourage people, when a thread heats up, to return to the original post. Are we still on topic, or have we become preoccupied with defending a position we've taken? If it's the latter, it's time to take a break.
     
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  3. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    I don't think I'm ad-hominem-ing. I mean, maybe where I'm telling annoyingkid his experience is vastly different than me and my friends, but I'm not sure what else.
     
  4. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    I don't think Skip meant you specifically, He's referring to our ideal of fostering mutual respect that I'm going to quote here:

    Now that I've posted this, I hope that going forward, there won't be any heated arguments, disrespectful posts or anyone getting off topic. If this occurs, this thread will be locked and / or deleted.
     
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  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Do you happen to have a source for this definition? I'm confused because this definition, at least as worded, doesn't seem to be focused on power.
     
  6. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    Being able to get away with anything isn't power?
    I'll grant you, that's the less charitable interpretation, but what you quoted me was paraphrasing from Readers Digest.
    The recurring themes as I've been chasing this across the internet and print are 1: wishing to be able to manipulate the social lives of people around them 2: get the perfect guy (rich, good looking, good in bed, an odd mix of Dominating and highly deferential) 3: not be held accountable or successfully shift the blame if their actions broke laws or hurt people.
     
  7. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    Well yes, but I would say Girl Power is a slogan because of double standards in the first place. I remember a time in my dim past when Girl power became a thing (in Music and Hollywood at least) and it was generally well received. Your elaboration on how it became a derogatory term is accurate IMO.

    Not sure what you mean by this. By this statement I meant that ‘real’ women are people. ‘Real’ men are people. They are both idealised on screen or on the page, to a greater or lesser extent. It just seems to me that women are idealised more than men.

    Also, crying and being sensitive is a serious issue. I know first hand. I suffered from anxiety and depression for 20 years before being diagnosed Bipolar after a serious psychotic break. I cried a lot (usually by myself). Men told me to ‘suck it up’. Women didn’t know what to do. Why? Because, like it or not, people have a predisposed idea of ‘normal’, and when you act outside of these parameters they are generally confused. Attitudes are changing now (at least in my part of the world) as people become more educated and are exposed to these issues in media (eg. autism and The Good Doctor, off the top of my head).

    The reason I would hesitantly label Jessica Jones as FPF is not because she has super strength and can get away with stuff. It is because she has promiscuous sex, and doesn’t get called out on it. She drinks like a fish, hardly wears any makeup, goes out without her hair done, doesn’t wear heels and doesn’t get called out on it, except when and if it’s plot relevant.

    Posted by 40yr old house dad who’s about to go hang laundry, so wife has clothes for work tomorrow.
     
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  8. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    (Jokingly) Hey, I said that first..;(
     
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  9. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    heh, wrote that before I saw your post, didn't delete it afterward. Lazy.
     
  10. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    As a slogan, "girl power" hasn't been used since The Spice Girls" in the Brit Pop era of the late nineties.

    As a concept, Girl power is derogatory among men because challenges to masculinity are threatening. Not because of a slogan that was popular 20 years ago.


    Female and male are terms of biologicalsex/gender identity, not behaviour. That's called being feminine or masculine. So a "man with boobs" is actually simply a woman performing masculinity.

    Women didn't act like pigs in the past because the social freedom to act like a pig was lacking. Yours is an argument against social freedom, which is antithesis to a power fantasy.

    Top 2 fighters in that film are Diana and Ares, the latter of which is a dude. But saying certain amounts of femininity are required in order for it to not be "sjw propaganda" is putting limits that aren't present in male led action stories. Which supports my point. It's not viewed fairly.


    It's not in error, considering you responded the way I predicted.

    You can't justify a Gary Stu feat with another Gary Stu feat. Everything came easy for kid Anakin. He built a protocal droid, by himself, as a slave, as a pre pubescent uneducated child, to factory specifications with the ability to learn, or be compatible with the programming of learning 6 million languages.

    At the Pod Race, if you stalled, at the starting line, like he did, at NASCAR or Formula 1, you'd lose instantly. And fixing it mid race as slowly as he did, hed be dead. DEAD.

    The difference between Rey and Anakin, is because shes a woman, people look for reasons to condemn her as a Mary Sue as their default position, and because Anakin is male, people look for reasons to defend him from Sueism as their default position.

    The cognitive bias is as obvious as it is staggering.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  11. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    This ties into the infantilization of women in a Patriarchy as described in feminist theory. A child fantasizes about being able to get away with anything without getting into trouble.

    Notice how the proposed "male power fantasy" is fundamentally benevolent, "saves the day" whereas the female one is fundamentally malevolent, as one doesn't need to "get away" with things that are moral.

    Also notice how the female power fantasy listed above is passive and reactive, relying on other's reactions to you. "Others" "Let" her get away with it. Whereas the male one is active. "YOU go out and save the world, through your actions."

    It's sexism. Caused by, or the result of.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  12. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    I’m male. I don’t find that Girl power threatens my masculinity in any way, or even that many men under 65 use it as a derogatory term. 20 years ago I had a hairdresser that was also an international judo champion. She could’ve beaten me easily, anytime, in a fight (or in cutting hair). But I never felt my masculinity was threatened, never less of a man. She had worked hard, very hard, to be that good. Isn’t that what Girl power is? Excelling in a previously male dominated arena?
    This is the sticking point. I for one am tired of seeing female heroes dashing about in high heels punching out guys twice their size, never breaking a nail. It’s unrealistic, (unless it’s Rhonda Rousey) and this is where the ‘man with boobs’ comes into it. The part would be better served being played by a male, but for whatever reason they have a female with all the strengths and traits of a male. This is not to say it can’t be done. Black Widow does a fine job of not only defeating powerful opponents, but multiple opponents, and not coming across as ‘masculine’. The difference is she fights based on her strengths, not what a man might do. That’s girl power, not the poor writing or decision making based on political propaganda, flavour of the month BS, trying to use platforms to springboard their product.
     
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  13. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I can't escape the thought that we are feeding a troll with this necro'd thread.
     
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  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I suggested folks go back and read the OP. Anyone doing so will see that this thread is far removed from the question as originally posed. Here's a chance to get back on track.

    What is a female power fantasy? The best way to answer the question is to provide not only a definition but one with examples. Bonus points for providing examples from books rather than movies or comics. I say that because each medium has its own peculiar history and social dynamics. And because nearly all the examples so far given have been movies.

    The OP also rhetorically asks what is a male power fantasy. I found the definition provided there to be superficial, so here's an invitation for folks to put forward examples there as well.

    I'm curious about the responses because, near as I can tell, I've never had a power fantasy (I wonder if there's a gender-neutral power fantasy). I will point out that there is a significant difference between a character who is or becomes powerful--that's just a hero--and a [gender] power fantasy. The one is a character, or even an archetype. The other is a social construct.

    It's also worth pointing out that the OP was concerned because their experience with the term male power fantasy was largely negative. He was planning to write a female protagonist and didn't want to wind up writing something that would be received badly. Didn't want to write the female equivalent. So it's at least possible that there's such a thing as a [gender] power fantasy done well or poorly. Again, examples would really help. When folks argue about definitions, it devolves into arguing who's right. When folks argue about examples, it evolves into talking about why you liked and and I didn't.
     
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  15. Solusandra

    Solusandra Dreamer

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    Anything written by Trudi Canavan. For positive examples.
    Twilight and all boddice ripper romances. For the negative.
     
  16. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Thanks for the reference to Trudy Canavan. It wasn't a name I knew. In case that's true for others, can you add a little bit about why her characters embody the female power fantasy?

    Is Twilight etc. an example of a power fantasy done badly? Or an example of women being dependent victims rather than being powerful? I couldn't make it very far in Twilight, I'm afraid.
     
  17. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Read the whole thing, and I believe that while the author struck a chord with many, many fans, she missed the mark on what she was shooting for: a vampire story without the sensuality. As to how she portrays relationships and female characters in general, I will leave that for others to say.
     
  18. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    I am of the belief that there is no definitive definition. One persons ideas of power will always be influenced by their real life situations, experiences and feelings. Take me for example. When I was young, I wanted to have Spider-man’s powers. Strength, agility, reflexes, and the ability to navigate through a convoluted world in his own unique way. When I got the game on the PlayStation 2 I would sit there and swing from one end of Manhattan to the other for hours.

    Some people want to be the knight in shining armour, others want to be feared for their brutality. Some want to be adored by the masses, others may just want options in life. To me power fantasies are a very individualistic concept based on wish fulfilment. (Defined pretty well here Wish Fulfillment - TV Tropes)

    I would suggest though, that there needs to be some element of escapism (which is probably a given in fiction), and perhaps some type of catharsis, allowing the reader/viewer/gamer to vicariously live a different life; one that provides a sense of power that they lack in real life.
     
  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I agree, Futhark, but I keep going back to the OP. If there is such a thing as a female power fantasy, it's almost certainly possible to handle it badly. What advice can we give?

    It's easy to say don't write your hero as a man with boobs--don't write a male power fantasy and substitute a female. So now we have to know what constitutes stereotypical male power behavior, so we can avoid having the female lead behave in that way.

    And that, I think, is how the OP got to asking about the female power fantasy, looking for ways to have a strong female lead, presumably in ways that would resonate with female readers. Looking, iow, for what to do rather than simply what to avoid.

    It's no good, or at least I think it's no good, saying just to write the character. I'm a male. Specifically, white male American. So, my notion of neutrality is skewed by my background. I may *think* I'm writing a believable strong female, but who knows how many gaffes I'm making along the way. One easy piece of advice, then, is to do your best, then make sure you get some female readers. And that gets us quickly over into "sensitivity readers." I shy away from that, partly because of the presumption that such readers are uniformly reliable, partly because I'm arrogant enough to believe I can learn to do this for myself, and partly because I see no end to the sensitivity reviewing--gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, language, level of education, age, and so on. Right now, it's an unanswered conundrum; one I'm willing to let hang because it doesn't feel urgent to me. Which is probably one manifestation of the white male American.

    Anyway, the original question is interesting to me.
     
  20. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    I only got halfway through the first film. The vampire came across so creepy/stalker/emotional manipulator to me, and the girl was like ‘it’s fine, he loves me.’ Maybe a strange male power fantasy? Idk, it didn’t interest me.

    Dr. Rowan Mayfair from the Lives of the Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice is, IMO, a good example of a strong female protagonist. Probably not a power fantasy though. This is hard, cause I have no clear definition, so I can’t provide examples. You always ask the tough questions skip!
     
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