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Women in fantasy

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Chilari, Mar 10, 2013.

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  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think The Maiden may cover that (playful, carefree, feeling of invulnerability). There's always the option to interchange female and male archetypes to fit your characters' needs. That may be where a tomboy type character may fit in.
     
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    The most obvious omission I see is that there's no type that corresponds to an atoning ex-villain. (I know there are a LOT of female redeemed villains in Japanese fantasy, but I'm not sure how common they are in the U.S.) It also lacks science heroines (like Agatha from Girl Genius) and more cunning heroines (like Lyra from His Dark Materials, unless you want to force her into "Father's Daughter".) And probably whatever Granny Weatherwax is--her type isn't usually used as a protagonist, but she fills the role pretty well.
     
  3. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    It's true that usually they're young, but the tomboy isn't always playful and carefree. It's more about not fitting in the specified gender role you're expected to fit.

    P.s.: Lyra has also a lot of tomboy in her. :p
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Your examples are over my head. In broad strokes, what would a compelling female ex-villain seeking redemption look like to you? I'm curious both about the villainy and the path to redemption. I think a crystal-clear example image would help.
     
  5. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Well, what I was specifically thinking of was that there doesn't seem to be anything on that list that a Dark Magical Girl might comfortably fit into. (I suppose they might better fit something on the villain list, since they tend to start as villains, but I think of them as heroines because they're almost always redeemed.)

    P.S. It might be worth mentioning that I'm an advocate of taking archetypes that aren't traditionally protagonists and using them in protagonist roles--traditional antagonists, traditional mentors, traditional comic relief characters, and so on, all getting their day in the spotlight.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    She's there. I'd say the Tomboy would be a mix of The Maiden & The Father's Daughter ("one of the guys" archetype). The book is too detailed to understand from just a list of names.

    There's a big difference between archetypes & character story.

    Like Phil said... All of the archetypes have flip-sides that depict the darker version. That's where you'll find your villains. There's in depth analysis of potential character arcs (including redemptions), pairing archetypes, etc. The list Phil provided is only a small subsection. Each archetype has very detailed descriptions the writer could potentially use. Like most good resources, it is meant to be a guide towards character creation that can enhance distinction, not a stringent blueprint. In my opinion, all archetypes should be viewed in that light.

    The Mystic, or her flip-side, The Betrayer depending on story role.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  7. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    This could probably be spun off into an entirely different thread about archetypes (characters with relatively fixed story roles and somewhat fluid personalities--e.g. the Temptress) and stock characters (characters with relatively fixed personalities and somewhat fluid story roles--e.g. Harlequina.) I tend to think in terms of the latter to the point of ignoring that the former exist.

    P.S. And I just realized that I used the term "archetype" above when referring to stock characters. Would it help if I admitted that I'm also figuring this out as I go along?

    P.P.S. Just realized that "Harlequina" might be an obscure term. Kate in The Taming of the Shrew is the most well-known example of her type. (That entire play is based around stock characters, some of whom occupy relatively unusual roles.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Right. Without double-checking the definition, I was referring to archetypes in terms of the role a female character can play in a fantasy story, rather than her raw personality types. For the point I was making in the conversation, I'm more interested in archetypes to contrast with the "Damsel in Distress" than in trying to categorize how many types of women there are (which can be helpful in many contexts, don't get me wrong, but is in some ways the opposite of what the thread is about).

    You play with the "Damsel in Distress" archetype by making the Damsel the Seductive Muse wooing her enemies into submission and then using them to get what she wants from the male characters. Or making her the Nurterer and seeing how that plays out with her captives. But so long as "Damsel in Distress" is the only female archetype that you see, your options are sorely limited. Doing anything else means doing something entirely new to you, and not just tinkering with the familiar.

    That's why I'm more curious at the moment about archetypes as you've defined the term.
     
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  9. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    This video discusses damsels in distress as relates to video games, but is relevant here too:

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  10. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Edit: Forget it, I'll drop this. I'm not really sure what we're arguing about at this point, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Oh. Her. Ugh. Her Lego/toys video pissed me off. Apparently, making Lego sets based on Batman and Lord of the Rings means that Legos are sexist and eeeevil. And so are action figures, nerf guns, and absolutely anything cool marketed to boys. She can keep her rhetoric, and I'll keep my Transformers thank you very much.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Ad hominem arguments aren't very effective. If you disagree with what she says about damsels in distress in the video Chilari linked, why not address those points specifically and tell us why you disagree with them?
     
  13. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I'm not making an argument, ad hominem or otherwise. I'm merely expressing my distaste for her work and giving fair warning that all my responses will be colored by that distaste.

    However, if you do want me to construct an actual argument regarding her videos (specifically the ones on toys as I haven't watched the others), I can do so.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    It would probably be more pertinent to the point of the thread to do so. And even more pertinent if you watched the one linked, that prompted your comment, and made statements directed specifically toward that one, since that one is more on-topic to the present discussion than videos about gender-biased marketing of toys.
     
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  15. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    After reading the thread from the start, I wanted to share my point of view to describe how I deal with all of this in my own Fantasy worlds:

    In my first Fantasy trilogy: This story (and also the second that I wrote) takes place in worlds inhabited not by Homo Sapiens or others, but by a species of my own creation called Aylars. These Aylar creatures look a little similar to humans, except that they have differences like huge colorful eyes, a furry tail, claws instead of hands, fangs and other things.

    Most Aylars are female, and they range in height from 5'8'' to 6'4''. There is only one male for every seven females, but these males (known as Guardians) stand well over 12' tall and weigh as much as a huge polar bear.

    This results in a society that is heavily feminine and controlled by females, because the Guardians have a separate society of their own and they usually live outside of cities and towns. The societies are ruled by Queens, and the family names are passed down from mother to daughter exclusively.

    Aylars (not referred to as female Aylars, just Aylars) are very respected and looked after by the Guardians, and they engage in all types of professions and activities which includes going to wars. They are also fierce and sadistic in nature, because this is a very powerful and dangerous species.

    The Mages living in these worlds are Aylars with the difference that they have this powerful Magic that normal Aylars do not have, and they also have a society ruled by Queens. The Mages allow very few Guardians to live in their cities, and these few Guardians consider themselves lucky to live and serve for the Mages.

    Well, that's what it is like in my Fantasy worlds... what do you think?

    I want to describe the same, but about my Joan of England trilogy, in a different post =)
     
  16. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    My biggest issue with the video of hers in this thread is that she unnecessarily characterizes this as a difference between male and female characters when in reality I think it's more a difference between primary/main characters and secondary characters. Sex is just incidental. Or to put it another way, her video is doing the equivalent of arguing that Batman Begins should have focused more time on the characterization of Rachel Dawes, and that its failure to do so makes it somehow deficient. I disagree. The story is about the main character. The story does revolve around the actions of the hero. That's what "hero" means. Criticizing a story for doing that seems misguided. Side characters get captured and have to be rescued. Male or female, it's what they do.
     
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  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    But if you have a situation where, in the genre, you've got an 80/20 split of these characters along gender lines, then whether you call it "primary/secondary" or "male/female" you've still got the same underlying problem.
     
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  18. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Not really. Most of the video games she discusses are marketed toward boys. Boys typically want to play as male characters. I know this from experience. Therefore, by default, any female characters who appear will be secondary characters. To criticize female secondary characters for being secondary characters in such a situation seems absurd.
     
  19. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Also, I just noticed, she names the dozens of games that Peach has been a playable character in, but then dismisses them because they "don't count", since they're not part of the "main Mario series." How convenient.
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    This is a standard argument, but I think it is flawed. First, there are a lot of women in the customer based, as evidenced by all of the discussion of the issue by women gamers, readers of fantasy, and so on. Second, it's circular and a self-fulfilling prophecy. We'll construct these things in a gender-biased way under the idea that they're marketed to males, and if females don't get on board we'll take that as evidence it is only males who are interested in the products and therefore continue to market them in a gender-biased way toward males.

    The conception that this stuff is all for males and therefore concerns for gender parity are misplaced is a problematic rationale.

    Third, even if you're only marketing to males your products still affect male views of gender because of how they portray females, so even if only males ever consume the product, you've still got a problem.
     
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