Showing posts tagged misogyny
Ok, yes. You’re absolutely right. When secondary characters—of any gender—are badly written, it’s never good for the story. But having a secondary character whose backstory and motivation is less thoroughly developed and detailed, and is given less time than that of the protagonist isn’t bad writing or misogyny on it’s own; it’s a necessary economy in the narrative, since it only has a limited time in which to be told.
For example, I think the women in Sherlock are, for the most part, well-written and have clear purpose as characters in the narrative. Seeing them in broad strokes as badly written women is not the most relevant way to think about them, since they are supporting characters in a story that is about the central partnership of two men. Molly is as well written as Anderson is! Mrs. Hudson is as least as fully developed as Lestrade is. Irene is as much a fully present character as Mycroft is. I don’t think calling it sexist is always the most productive lens with which to see these things. Mary is still a mystery to us on a lot of levels, but that’s not desultory writing, that’s MYSTERY.
Another show that got this complaint a lot was True Detective, in which I think the one-dimensional portrayal of the women was driven by the fact that the story is told from the perspective of two men who can’t see women as anything but a parade of archetypal virgins, whores and manipulators. If the story had been told from Maggie’s point of view, it would have been a different story. We see her as Marty and Rust see her. The characterisation wasn’t one-dimensional because of bad writing, it was an intentional perspectival choice that revealed the limits of the male protagonists’ understanding.
What I don’t really understand is why people get so angry about women being supporting characters, with all that that entails, in stories that are centred around male protagonists.
What’s misogynist is the fact that there are so few genuine female protagonists! Rage on about that, by all means! And, even more upsetting is that all too often, when there is one, when they are genuinely badly written. Case in point: Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood. At this point, she has been sidelined to divert focus to the boys in a show that’s supposed to be about HER for the last two freaking years. Another case in point: Dana Scully during the pregnancy storyline on the X-Files. JESUS.
I’m not going to go into all the details and prove it to ya’ll, but in both cases, that shit is egregious, and I hope everyone rages on about it.
I’m not saying it’s ok to write female characters badly in stories about men, I’m saying my sense of what constitutes badly written women in those stories doesn’t include the economies and choices that are necessary when a character is not the protagonist.
Also, thank you for asking. This is a topic I would love to discuss further, and would love to hear any arguments anyone may have.
A few kind words about Sookie:
Sookie is, according to what I’ve read in just the last two days: a complete moron, a whore, a bitch, a cocktease, the worst friend (sister/employee/girlfriend) in the world, childish, weak, careless, selfish, self-righteous, willing to endanger everyone else for what she cares about, jealous… you name it! She’s responsible for the rift between Eric and Pam! She’s tricked Eric into loving her! She can’t keep her legs closed for five minutes! She’s the town bicycle! She’s dragging her friend into danger and doesn’t care what happens as long as she gets her boyfriend back! She’s a judgemental, short-sighted hypocrite! She’s irritating! She’s useless. She’s a victim, and for some reason that’s beyond my comprehension, that makes her hateful.
And, remember: that’s just what I was able to remember from the past two days.
I would say that it truly shocks me that an audience of MOSTLY WOMEN would judge her this harshly, but it’s not shocking, unfortunately. It’s par for the course. Women’s inability to be kind, or even just fair, to other women is legendary. Feminism in one breath, and all this hate in the next.
Indeed. And the double standard doesn’t simply follow this pattern. There’s also a double standard within judging various female characters.
For example, the woman who called Sookie a “town bicycle” — because, naturally, once you sleep with more than one man, after being a 26-year-old virgin, you are basically an irredeemable whore and you should be rightfully passed around like an object (excuse me while I gag on this mentality) — is actually … wait for it … a PAM FAN! That’s right, she loves Pam, who was a prostitute in her human life, and didn’t exactly turn to celibacy or, indeed, monogamy, once she was turned.
ARGH! OH MY GOD. I didn’t even know that, because I read the comment second hand on your blog. How can someone say a thing like that without a single hint of irony? I mean, don’t get me wrong — I love Pam, too. I don’t hold it against her at all that she was a prostitute, or that she is actually something of a (fabulous) bitch. Pam has great qualities and she has deep flaws. She’s a wonderful character, but how can you call Sookie a whore in one breath, and then valorize Pam?? Why can’t both ways of being strong and being a woman be acceptable and honored?
And this person, calling Sookie a town bicycle, didn’t chock on the irony of it at all. No, the post was straight up in earnest.
It’s not just the misogyny among “fans” of male characters. It’s misogyny among fans of female characters. Because a favorite character is “awesome” and “liberated” for the things that label disliked character “a whore,” to be shamed and dehumanized out of existence.
THIS. It’s as if the only kind of feminine heroism we are willing to applaud is the 1970’s Charlie’s Angel variety. She needs to be a hot, kickass cartoon of liberated womanhood: a feminism that defines itself in opposition to traditional women’s roles. Sookie is such a wonderful heroine, because she is really JUST A GIRL at bottom.
Sookie’s telepathy, the thing that makes her different and special is really, in some way, just a metaphor for that thing we all have in us that makes us who we are — different from other people. At the beginning of the story, Sookie doesn’t know how to live in the world and be herself. Her specialness is a curse that separates her from other people and isolates her. What I love about the story is the way she is slowly learning to be who she is, and let what’s magical and special about her have it’s life in the world. She meets people who use her, betray her and harm her, and someone who honors her, strengthens her and heals her.
I love her journey, and I love that her strength isn’t kickassery, it’s kindness, loyalty and the ability to truly, truly love. I love how human she is. I love watching her grow into her agency and power. I have a feeling Sookie’s going to be more powerful than she could possibly imagine.
And it’s not just men. Misogyny is alive and well in many women.
For instance, just saw someone reblog a comment about Sookie Stackhouse, calling her a “town bicycle.” That’s right, it was a woman who used this foul phrase.
Never mind that it’s a ridiculous thing to say about someone who only had 2 sexual partners by the age of 27. But the entire implication of it: that she is somehow free-wheeling and dirty for having sex with more than one person, or at all.
And then the same commenter followed up the bicycle thing with “let her then be passed back to Eric, or Bill, or whoever.” Like she is a thing, a toy. And it’s said with such disdain hidden under a supposed joke …
Absolutely, utterly disgusted right now.
Thank you SH! I saw that too and couldn’t believe it. Not only has she only had two sexual partners in 27 years, but until 1(?) year ago, she wasn’t able to go on a single successful date.
Again: female charaacters can’t win.
No, they sadly cannot. The mindset of it … I am literally sick to my stomach right now.
I got rid of the gifs, because their implication that misogyny is ingrained in MEN’s minds and that men have these attitudes and women are the victims of them offends me. It’s true that men benefit in certain ways from patriarchal thinking, but they are horribly hobbled by it, too. I know there are men who are misogynist assholes, but much more often, the sad fact is that it’s women who judge other women so harshly in these terms. It’s also women who think men that behave like macho, swaggery asshats are sexy and men whose softer feelings show are weak and emasculated.
Any brand of feminism that blames men for patriarchal attitudes and doesn’t admit how deeply complicit women are in perpetuating it, or how damaging patriarchal attitudes are for men can blow me.
Other than that, I agree with everything. THE TOWN BICYLE? Fuck you, person who said that.
“Republicans date women, they marry women, they have children with women. They take women to dinner. They buy women diamonds and open car doors for women. Yet there’s this Republican war on women, and the Republicans want to actually somehow reach into their purses and grab their birth control pills and take ‘em away from ‘em. The Democrats actually think that they’re going to win with this!”
Rush Limbaugh, explaining last Thursday why there’s no Republican war on women.
Shorter Limbaugh: “We buy you sluts diamonds and dinner! What more do you ungrateful feminazis want?!”
Ah, I see. So bullheaded restrictions on reproductive rights, opposing the Violence Against Women Act, not supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Act, etc… All that is perfectly fine because Republicans buy diamonds for women they’re dating, AMIRITE?!
And yes, Rush. The more you keep running your mouth like this, the more you help Democrats. Democrats would love to focus on the economy, but when the Blunt Amendment is offered before a jobs bill, it’s a little hard.
Rush, you’ve been paid to say terrible shit about ethnic and racial minorities, women, the GLBTQ community, and liberals in general for nearly 30 years.
We’re paying attention now.
Oh, and P.S.: Not all Republicans marry women. Please see Log Cabin Republicans.
Such a scumbag.