I am tired of being told to like female characters.
Yes, I am going to judge male and female characters differently, I am going to be interested in a wider range of plotlines that feature male characters and, to be honest, I am going to like more male characters than female characters.
You know why?
1) Male characters are often written with more effort and originality, and the author understands the male characters better.
Let’s be honest. Authors are as sexist as everyone else. It takes a rare gem of an author to actually write stories with female characters with characterization as complex and interesting as the male characters in the story, or MORE complex and interesting. It takes a rare author to give women more plot, more agency, more original roles, more great lines. There is a difference between a female character your straight male readers want to fuck, and a female character your female readers want to be.
I don’t want to have to cherish the underdeveloped, agency-deprived, two-dimensional stereotype just because I am so goddamn starved for representation. You know what, fuck the people who are feeding me cardboard and telling me it’s steak. I am allowed to spit out something that insults me.
2) There’s a certain amount of sexism I just do not want in my stories.
So I am going to have fucking problems with things like “the only female character in the book spends the entire book disguised as a boy” or “female character in a viciously sexist setting uses her enemies’ sexist misjudgment of her as a tactical advantage” or “female character uses stereotypically-female role to defend herself from enemies who are much more powerful than her”.
Dealing with sexism is not my fucking power fantasy. I don’t want to feel threatened or vulnerable by identifying with a protagonist. I want to feel heroic. I don’t want to have to chew through a crunchy candy coating of sexism to get to the part where she saves the day. Yes, Wonder Woman is an important character who kicks ass, but Superman doesn’t have to deal with sexism while he’s saving the world.
If my options are character-constantly-threatened-by-sexism or character-not-constantly-threatened-by-sexism, I will pick the latter, even if it is at the cost of not reading about female characters.
3) Sometimes it’s easier to be invisible than to look in the funhouse mirrors people hold up to people like me.
Sometimes I will pick up an interesting-looking book, and just wish that there are no female characters at all in it, so I don’t have to see what the author thinks of women. Sometimes I just want to read books without a mother/wife/sister/secretary/damsel-in-distress/hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold/mean girl/princess/sexy villain/love interest/rape victim. And there are so many books out there where women are no more than that.
Seriously, what are the odds of a random book I pick up having female characters that I can identify with more than male characters, and not having plotlines consisting of character-vs-brutal-or-pervasive-sexism? Hahaha are you fucking kidding me or do you have access to a magical fucking library? I don’t really feel like playing Sexism Roulette all that often. I don’t go looking for female characters unless I feel ready to get a faceful of steaming hot sexism, and when I see a new female character I wince, fearing what the author is going to do to her, and by extension to me.
Now yes, there are some female characters I genuinely love. There are some female characters I want to be, some female characters with compelling stories, flaws and all. But not as many as there should be. And there’s only so much broken glass I can sift through to find more of them.
Sometimes I hear people say that racism/sexism/etc in culture isn’t important or worth criticizing. ”Oh it’s just a book,” they say. ”It’s just a crappy TV show.” ”It’s just a commercial.”
This argument always baffles me. It’s like if you put poison into a fish-tank and then say “Oh well I didn’t poison the fish, I just poisoned the water.” The fish lives in the water, dumbass; it’s completely submerged in and surrounded by the water. I’m pretty sure that poisoned water is going to affect the fish.
Similarly, we all live constantly immersed in this miasma of information that we call “culture.” People are not born prejudiced. We don’t emerge from the womb knowing that all black men are scary thugs, that all Latinas are spicy sexpots, that all Indians are violent savages, that all women are weepy and frail, that all gay men are depraved pedophiles, and that all people in wheelchairs are objects of pity. We learn these things, usually starting at a very young age, and we often learn them from our culture — the books we read, the movies we watch, and the constant barrage of advertising that we don’t really pay attention to but which still manages to seep into our brains, and which shapes the way we think about the world, for better or for worse.
If you want to save the fish, you need to purify the water.
Additionally, it’s not like it’s just this one film or this one commercial. It’s abundat.
yea you can “choose” the way you interpret what a slur means the same way you can say that the word “apple” could mean “banana” if you alter the meaning in your brain but in reality, if you say the word “apple” in front of a large group of people who have been exposed to apples their whole lives the majority will think of this