Damsel in Distress? No Thank You.

All I wanted to do was write up a nice, little blog about this article I read on LitReactorDystropia: How the Damsel in Distress Has Evolved, but it started becoming this rant on feminism, and how men objectify women, and how women cut each other down.  Not exactly the direction I intended.  As a modern-day woman, I do find the exploitation of women in this day and age infuriating, and I do not care for stories or movies where the woman’s sole purpose is to be rescued, to cause the ensuing chaos, or to serve no purpose other than to be eye candy — we’re more complex than that, we offer more than that, and it’s time to stop putting us in those boxes.  I’m tired of terms like “bitch” or “slut”.  Just because a woman is strong, vocal, not ashamed of who she is, and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in does not make her any of these labels.  Let’s just get rid of the labels all together.

Sydney2Buffy w:stakeNikita2

I read somewhere that writer Damon Lindehof, co-writer of Star Trek Into Darkness, regretted writing the scene where actress Alice Eve, aka Dr. Carol Marcus, flashes her underwear for no reason other than to flash her goodies.  She’s a scientist, a weapons expert, and yet we have to show her practically naked for what reason?  C’mon.  Fanboys weren’t the only people in the audience.  This is why finding writers that actually create complex female characters is so refreshing.  Some of my favorite shows ever host a female lead; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, La Femme Nikita, and Alias.  All these women, besides being kick-ass, were great characters.  Game of Thrones is wonderful for this reason as well.  Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, has had a wonderful character arc from frail, young girl to the leader of an army.  Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, has said in interviews that people have called her a bitch to her face, as if she is her character.  If the actions of her character were done by a man, no one would have anything to say.  I’m also a fan of Lost Girl, that not only has a wonderful lead, but interesting side characters as well.  I like the direction TV is going with women, creating strong characters without cliché.

I love the show, Sherlock and its lead, Benedict Cumberbatch, but I have to wonder what sort of reviews  it would get if they had made Sherlock a woman.  Why is it so shocking when a female character is an alcoholic or has some eccentricities?  Why is it absurd to vocalize that not all women want to be mothers or somebody’s wife?  Why do women have to be pigeonholed into a certain category where men feel secure?  What year is it?

Then I found this article by the New York Film Academy about Gender Inequality in Film.  It’s kind of shocking, considering we make up half the population.  As a woman writer, I write about female protagonists with a strong, supportive female cohort.  Two of my scripts are almost entirely made up of women.  I’m not trying to make a statement, I just think that the number of women represented in literature and film is dismal, and when a strong female character makes her way on the scene, she is usually met with resistance.  Have we not, as a society, moved past this point?  I may have been raised by Disney princesses, and believe me when I say they made a huge impact on me, that doesn’t mean those are the types of stereotypical women (maybe just variations) I want to continue to go out into the world.  Little girls deserve more realistic diversity.  They need role models, but they also need to know that whoever they turn out to be is okay.  And the only way they can know this is if we, as writers, make those types of characters available.  Don’t take the easy way out — write interesting characters!

Okay.  I’m going to stop right there, because this did turn into a rant.  Ah, well.  Hopefully, it was enlightening.

Have a great week everyone!

*Images: Sarah Michelle Gellar of BVS, Peta Wilson of LFN, and Jennifer Garner of Alias.

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