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What YOU dislike seeing in female fantasy characters

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by thecoldembrace, Nov 23, 2015.

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  1. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

    I didn't receive a single positive comment for my original post.

    I'm not sure why people are projecting negativity into my comments, you are all reading what you want to out of my words.

    If English is a second language then think twice before attacking, I have a right to be offended.

    This is not the first time that Mythopoet has jumped on me either. I really don't understand why.

    I just want to help people and be positive.

    Same team Farva.
  2. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling


  3. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    If i recall correctly i merely asked for some clarification, no attack. Read the original question again and try to find any sign of hostility.

    Afterwards i apologized for my mistake and you call me "inappropriate".

    For what reason and at what point do you have the right to be offended and how exactly is this being helpful to anyone? If you wish to answer than PM me because i don't want to clutter the chat with this off-topic conversation.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I think it's best if we let it go and get back on point. The current back and forth has run its course.
    Ban and Jackarandajam like this.
  5. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

    Agreed, Devor. There is no need for back and forth comments that increase in their hostile feelings. I do want discussion on this issue, and if you are confused about what someone says, please state that you are confused so that no one takes it the wrong way.

    I have also been thinking on this issue after I made the thread, and I found something else I didn't enjoy. A lot of stories I have read include women who are perfect. Its like they were cut from marble, and made to be the best of everything. I already hate it when male characters are overly powerful or perfect, the same thing applies to women who seem to be the best of all ideals. I expect all characters to have flaws and to suck and multiple things. No one I know in real life is a genius at every aspect of life.
    Anyone see this more and more?
  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Yes, I made a comment about this earlier. I find this in Dean Koontz, like I said, or in Dan Brown, where the girl is always "the most beautiful, smartest, brain surgeon but also works for an orphanage in Peru where she engages in combat against the rebels with manicured finger nails, and has three golden retrievers who are also perfect and beautiful and poop golden eggs.... and she's funny and witty...etc." Drives me nuts.
    thecoldembrace likes this.
  7. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    And she wants kids, but she is so busy fighting rebels in Peru, and saving people's hearts, and she just hasn't found the right guy yet....

    Oh, I can just keep going and going...

    Actually, come to think of it, I think Patrick Rothfuss sort of played with this a bit in Name of the Wind. The way he described Denna, or Denea or whatever her name was (She was also perfect and beautiful and mysterious and funny and smart and used her body to get what she wanted...) in this very stereotypical way, but... when he was telling the story to the Chronicler his god/goat friend guy stepped in and commented that he always felt her nose was off a bit. Just a tiny bit, she had a weird nose, and Kvoth argues that she was perfect, but he is adamant that he thought she was perfect, but her nose was a bit off...

    Something to that effect. It was pretty funny.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
    Ban likes this.
  8. Daughter of Hell

    Daughter of Hell Banned

    Regarding the OP,

    Female characters in fantasy. I hate seeing feminist statements. Too many authors try to make their female protagonists as an ode to feminism. It splits me down the middle like an axe does. The problem really is feminism is a modern ideal and exporting it into a medieval environment is not only unrealistic, but it also sends the message that medieval women are incompatible with heroism, which ironically is misogynist!

    With my own female protagonists, I strive to make them the same as medieval women were, then write them into a heroic story. So like, most medieval girls were pregnant by age 15, for example. Don't shy away from things like that. Put a baby in their belly, then make them save the world afterwards.

    Also exaggerated combat skills. Women cannot fight as well as men (on average - and it's a major difference). Get over it. Writers who make men and women completely equal in combat aren't doing reality any favors, and again it sends the message that realistic women are somehow not awesome enough to appear in their work. Some of my female protagonists carry spears, but... wait, here's a quote I wrote from my current novel:

    The ox-cart passed, so they continued on their way. They seemed to be heading out of town, down the lakeside road towards the pine forest beyond. Skaði eyed her mistress out of the corner of her eye as they went. Siggy armored in knee-high boots, pleated leather short-skirt, matching sleeveless vest with a high collar hugging her throat like a gorget, green woolen cloak, and wielded an iron-tipped spear in hand.
    “You dress very strangely, for a woman.”
    Siggy snorted in disdain. “Women are the wives o’ men. I’m a girl and proud of it.”
    “Sorry,” Skaði apologized. “But are you a warrior?”
    “No. I’m a shieldmay.”
    “Is there a difference?”
    “Warriors aim to win battles. Shieldmays only strive to survive ‘em.”
    “Oh, okay.” She still wasn’t sure she could see the difference, but decided she liked the answer all the same, and her new mistress too.

    See the line about the difference in a female warrior. It's no less awesome, her plight is no less real, and it takes into account the reality that women aren't front-line fighters, dealing an overall better compliment to women.

    Bye now.
    Xitra_Blud likes this.
  9. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Here's a list of almost everything discussed.

    -One dimensional, non fleshed out women
    -Indecisive Women
    -Sexed up Women/ Overly romantic women
    -Perfect women
    -Emotional wrecks
    -Political women
    -Lack of diversity in women
    -Shy female protagonist (so overused!)
    -Gold diggers
    -Quirky women
    -Non Cohesive personality. Too many traits.
    -Weird ultimatum making women
    -"Special" women who are more than likely just crazy
    - Dull dialogue
    -Stereotypes: Damsel in distress, Tomboy, etc.. Who have little else to them
  10. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    I may catch some flak, but I dislike to see female characters raised in a sexist society who are entirely unaffected by the norms and values they have been raised with. To me, in my potential ignorance of the subject, the idea that gender and social roles have such a weak grasp on people that just like that they'll go puff if you want it, is mind boggling. If it was like that we'd have a 100% equality by now.

    The same also goes for male characters, or noble characters who thinks everyone's an equal despite raised to think there is no such thing as equals and the list goes on. If the society is presented as having no class or gender differentiation then I'm ok with it. But if you write the world as full of sexism and inequality but the characters are unaffected by their own culture's values, then I've got a problem with it.
  11. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    In other words: Female characters! We hate 'em when they're shy and when they're spunky, we hate 'em when they fight and when they don't fight, when they're emotional and when they're cold, we hate 'em when they're powerless and when they're powerful, too!

    To back down a little--I think the effect in this thread is mainly unintentional, but it's a good moment to take a step back and acknowledge that we may be enforcing higher standards of likeability on female characters than male ones. Do we hate mercenary male characters the same way that we hate gold-digging female ones? Do we hate awkward, passive male characters the same way we hate timid, passive female ones? Do we really hate wish-fulfilling male characters the same amount that we hate wish-fulfilling female characters? (There's an entire huge trope about that--the Mary Sue. You really don't see the Marty Stu label being thrown around half as much.)

    That's not arguing that female characters haven't been written poorly in the past, or that characters with those traits haven't been given them because of tired stereotypes. Far from it. But I'd really like to point out that the point of objection should be with the author writing these characters and the cliches that give rise to them--not the idea of women with these traits. And when you're referring to them as an "obnoxious broad" or a "cast-iron bitch"... The line between critiquing fictional women and disparaging real ones is getting kind of blurry.
    J. S. Elliot, Russ and Ban like this.
  12. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Hi Nimue, I'm out of thanks for today ;( but this needed a comment.

    Thank you.

    I noticed the same thing in the post you quoted (again, probably not the intention of the poster) but I'm glad you brought it up.

    We hate female characters.

    And this is what I was trying to say with my 'diversity' post. I just want to see diversity. LIke KennyC said, women who are people. Some women are shy, some aren't, some are wildy passionate, some aren't. Some are beautiful, some aren't. Some are fighters, some aren't. Some are leaders, some aren't. Yet they are all women, and they can all be represented.

    It kills me that we are still trying to shape some idea of the 'perfect' woman… whatever that is. And that we are trying to recreate some new ideal of what that should be in writing…
    Nimue and Ireth like this.
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Or, Nimue, it could be that different readers are...different. What might annoy you might not annoy me, and vice versa. Or maybe you won't notice the same things I notice, and I habitually overlook what you do not. "You," understand, being the generic case here and not you, Nimue, specifically. :cool:

    P.S. edit: I'm responding to the general list, since I haven't followed the thread and really don't want to involve myself in whatever ongoing back-and-forth might be happening.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
    Devouring Wolf likes this.
  14. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Good conclusion. My idea was that it would be useful to know what has already been said but the list is so diverse that few traits are not considered bad writing. Didn't notice it in writing but i'm glad you did Nimue.
  15. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    I agree. In the context of "Why do we only see women written like this...?", almost all of these criticisms make sense. I want to see so many more facets of these characters than just "strong" or "weak", to be sure! It's when they're phrased as "I hate female characters who are like this" that it sounds a lot more bitter.

    Of course. But I don't think that alone explains the cross-section and rejection of almost every trait that a woman can have--and the way in which these traits have been marked as undesirable. There's vitriol here, and language, that I don't think you'd find in a general discussion of bad character writing. Again, not the entire thread, but enough to be off-putting.

    Edit @ Banten: Also, yes, not trying to say you did anything wrong by condensing the thread! I'm really trying to reply to the thread as a whole, and that about summed it up.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
    J. S. Elliot likes this.
  16. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Well, and each person (of those posts I've read) singled out one trait or type. Some may have singled out a couple? Others took the more generic route, to cover all bases—"stereotypes," "lack of diversity"—but what, exactly, can be expected of a thread that poses the question posed in the OP?

    As with so many similar threads, there's always this feeling I get that someone or multiple someones are looking for a condensed, inviolate template that might be followed: do this always, or avoid this always!

    It's just so weird, when you get right down to it.
    Ban likes this.
  17. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Exactly Fifthview. It is also completely understandable however. I mean which writer wouldn't love to know what exactly they should do to not offend anyone. Unless someone is purposefully writing to create controversy, which isn't necessarily bad, then a template would be magnificent. Sadly (or luckily depending on your view) such a thing can not exist in a world as diverse as ours.
  18. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    Yeah, I'm also a bit leery of threads like this. I almost think the meta-analysis of why we discuss things the way we do is more valuable than any given outcome. Because there really never is a conclusion to these threads, is there? Except that you should write well, and write thoughtfully.
  19. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    I'm surprised nobody complained about tsundere characters.
    They are usually flat characters with very few unique traits ,and the stereotipical tsundere serve only as love interest and wish fulfilment.

    I like female mercenaries and dislike male gold diggers.
  20. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    We need to see and feel our characters as people.

    It does not matter really if they are men or women, because after all there are so many types of people, motivations and personalities. As Storytellers we should get into contact with our characters and portray them as who they really are, without worrying so much about stereotypes and cliches.

    Also, I have observed in this thread something that has been repeated over and over again in many other similar threads:

    Most people see these issues exclusively from our world's point of view, and it happens that we tell Fantasy stories. If I want to write a story about a medieval world in which all women are normal height but all men are two feet tall, I can... And that would result in armies composed by women only, because the men are too small and weak to fight.

    The women in that world would be trained to fight and defend their countries, it would be normal for them and they would have a culture quite different to the Medieval Europe of our world.

    We can also write stories about other species, not only ours! Why do you keep seeing everything from a human-only and realistic point of view? We can have great fun imagining worlds very different to this one.

    Above all, the truly important thing is to Tell Stories and tell them well.
    J. S. Elliot and Ban like this.
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