I’m finding that as writers grow to follow social acceptance movements and diversify their character profiles, female characters in universes that are inherently warlike are beginning to fall into a trope. In most situations, women forced into a conflict are forced to specialize in being cunning and/or agile, usually as a result of being trained as an assassin.
This is often the product of a past where they were abused, and their desire to go down the line of assassination is a means of fulfilling revenge.
These female assassins tend to straddle an ambiguous moral line, although usually their motivations are made to appear somewhat reasonable to the audiences despite being intrinsically malicious or deceptive. (i.e. a character who was raped or tortured would become murderous and never trust anyone again).
The most recent and popular examples of this archetype is the current film adaptation of Black Widow, the little Stark girl from GoT, and the female lead in the 300 sequel.
I’m open to criticisms about the Stark girl, since I’m not as familiar with GoT. I’ve just heard of her storyline enough to know it includes all these elements.
Female characters, however, remain base and uninspiring as a result. Take for instance that each of these characters had to be physically and emotionally mutilated to create a desire to fight in a culture of war. These two things are not mutually exclusive, as plenty of male characters are driven simply by pride and courage to join a conflict, and usually do not need a disturbed past or a revenge to inspire their decision to fight.
In fact, there are examples of this in every male foil to the three aforementioned women (GoT’s rife with “This my family mtherfkr” guys, Captain America was bullied sometimes, but they often made a point to show his good morals were never affected, and the male lead of 300 was your everyday General Whiteguysaveseverybodybecauseliberty).
Besides the psychology of the characters, the decision to make them assassins as opposed to soldiers pigeonholes the characters into a set of emotions and actions, as well as subtly acknowledging the physical disparity between men and women. Because if you can’t be as physically massive, you can at least be much faster. As such, these three female characters compensate by doing just that; being lean and intelligent.
It was kind of reasonable to do this before, when female warriors of any kind were nonexistent, but as a trope, it now looks like a lazy means of producing a female character in a war-torn universe. As generic as any stale male warrior or hero character.
Also, I’m sure there would be female characters in a war-torn universe who are driven to fight because, well, fuck yeah national pride. And that even the physical limitations of a woman could be overcome easily given simple and logical literary underpinnings. (i.e. her family is naturally a bunch of strong ass people, she trains incredibly hard, and she’s battle-tested from experiences. Combining these three, you can even justify her being brutish or rash like many male warriors often act in stories).
There is one reason this does not happen in popular fiction though.
Female characters are pressed to keep a sexually appealing look that is justified by the literature and logic in the previous point. By being lean/agile, they maintain a standard female appearance without seeming physically out of place in a fighting situation (She happens to be a curvaceous 130 pound woman, but she’s an assassin who’s fast and smart so it’s ok if she lacks muscle mass).
The deceptive nature of an emotionally tortured female assassin also logically justifies any overtly sexual clothing they may wear, usually as their standard attire, and sexual behavior as well, since sex is an easy tool to deceive men with (Artemisia sleeps with Themistocles to persuade him to join her army, Black Widow is played by Scarlett Johansson and everything that comes with that).
It keeps the avenue for sexual appeal open in a way that male characters’ literature aren’t written to accommodate for. They don’t have to worry about having story points in order to keep them sexually appealing with reason like these female characters do.
I have three good examples of females in war-torn universes that aren’t necessarily kept to these generic rules. One being more controversial than the others, and all 3 being in anime (which is ironically infamous for being shit at creating substantial female characters).
The first is Mikasa of Attack on Titan. I haven’t followed up with it recently unfortunately because I am an idiot, but Mikasa remains a strong compelling character who’s inner strength is so convincing that the moment she breaks down and cries is actually a raw and powerful moment. Her motivation to fight is through the same old trite means of abuse (She’s kidnapped as a child to sell her into sexual slavery, parents get murdered in the process, her abductors are men). But she doesn’t grow into a vengeful assassin; instead she becomes a soldier for the country that produced the men who kidnapped her, killing titans instead of hunting down her captors. She isn’t sexualized (As far as I’ve watched into the show), and in a lot of ways appearing to be mentally stronger than her male counterparts (Especially Eren, who’s an emotionally unstable little prick in the early episodes, and we all know Armin’s a little bitch).
The second is Emi Yusa of The Devil is a Part-Timer. A titular character in the series, Emi receives her dose of “Shit’s real” when she’s separated from her father very early on. She’s never actually abducted or abused, though; instead, it turns out she’s an angel, and the only one with the capacity of combating the titular villain in the series (Who happens to be Satan, yes).
She’s through and through a strong-willed sword-swinging warrior who’s emotions make sense throughout the series.
Except for the last few episodes, unfortunately. The series is a hilarious and adorable show that places a twist on standard anime plots and is well-written, but it stammers when it makes Emi crush on Satan himself. This story point makes more sense when you watch, but I have a hard time believing their experiences in the anime were enough to melt decades of brutal warring.
Her character’s inner conflict and influence on the plot, however, does a good job of blurring the lines between heroes and villains on the show; this isn’t something delegated to female characters usually, and it’s always good to see a show that does not place actions in a black and white moral dichotomy.
Lastly is the character of Ryuko Matoi of Kill La Kill. It does contain the standard “omg who killed my parents” trope, but it does not put her in a compromising position to be kidnapped or abused. And like most male warrior characters, this instead inspires her to be mentally stoic and honest, as opposed to unstable and deceptive. She also avoids the assassin trope and is often seen being ridiculously physically powerful.
The controversies come from the following points however:
She’s also kept rather lean considering the physical stress she’s placed herself under for years (You’d expect her to at least be physically daunting).
She’s also highly sexualized.
The first is easily dismissed when you consider every character on Kill La Kill is absolutely over the top ridiculous. The disciplinary leader Ira is absurdly massive and his main power turns him into a gigantic masochistic cock (literally). Or Nonon, a girl dressed up like a drum major who’s power gives her a gigantic flying instrument.
The second is a little more complicated. You have to begin by accepting the show’s highly stylized, self-indulgent nature. It isn’t attempting to construct personable characters who’s aesthetics or even capabilities are logical. The only logic it attempts is the proper motivations of each character, and perhaps the show itself being a metaphor for the struggles of female adolescence (which I’m not sure is true but it seems very accurate).
The rest is thrown up in the air to create a whimsical collage of messy, ridiculous, and brutalized fun.
When you do, you begin to notice that every character is subject to the same sexualizing as Matoi is. We’ve already covered Ira’s absurd cock transformation, but the entire “Nudist Beach” faction has Matoi’s teacher, a male, constantly undressing in simple expository scenes as a goof, and his enigmatic partner is also interested in being completely naked.
These three males have fairly unrealistic depictions of the way men look. The sexuality is not limited to the girls on this show, and anyone who suggests otherwise is turning a blind eye to scenes like this.
To criticize the universe’s unadulterated sexual style would be like watching a Tarantino movie and asking “why is everyone dying omg???”. This is this nature of the universe, and all characters abide by its ridiculous logic.
When you consider all of this Matoi is a fairly likable female warrior who’s thrusted into conflict without falling into the same old scarred assassin role. She remains mentally balanced, driven, and likable without any mental instability, one-dimensional revenge motives, or forced sexuality (She is not anymore sexual than the universe around her; the universe is just that sexual).
There are plenty of ways to create female warriors in a world that requires them. Sure, they may still succumb to some well-tread paths (“haha ur dad’s ded bitch”, “im gonna steal u!!!”), but every story is allowed its tropes as long as the execution remains fresh and exciting. Unfortunately for the characters of Arya Stark, the film adaptation of Black Widow, and Rise of an Empire’s Artemisia, they are completely forced into all the same old patterns of instability, deception, and assassination to get their means in a world rife with conflict, when they could instead become headstrong, honest, warriors who do their battles conspicuously.
Most of the women I know, after all, would sooner punch me in the face than slice my throat from behind. These are both sexy to me but that is a whole other essay, isn’t it.
how many “take me to the museum and make out with me” posts can y’all make like damn you’re horny and pretentious we get it
or maybe people are just horny but actually really like museums too because museums are really really cool and last I checked “wanting to go to a museum” and “being pretentious” weren’t mutually exclusive and museums are places that everyone can enjoy?
shut the fuck up
It’s weird to think about how your birth is a fixed point in time but your death is constantly moving based on the decisions you make. The length of your life is always fluctuating.
krista this fucked me up.
the point was only fixed after the fact. before it depended on a variety of circumstances such as your parents’ individual life situations (finances, maturity, health, and could your dad hit it from the back), and whether or not your particular little cum snake could make the egg.
your death is imminent and ever-shifting. but when you do, well, it’s quite static all of a sudden, isn’t it. kinda like your birth.
i spent nine hours revising a single [chapter? excerpt?] last night. and five hours this morning. I ended getting rid of 90% of what I wrote yesterday and revising it further. And well, I can live with what’s on the page for now, and move on to the rest of the book. phew.
makes me so happy to hear that i’m questioning my standards of happiness
look if you unironically say ‘money can’t buy happiness’ then either you’ve never faced a real financial struggle or you’ve achieved enlightenment, because goddamn does financial security feel an awful lot like happiness when it’s something you’re not used to
it doesn’t. i know someone personally who jumped from 20,000 to 100K a year and remained as miserable as he ever was. the job was harder, granted, but his security didn’t affect his own perception of life.
plus your spending habits do not change. you spend in proportion to the amount you earn.
personally i’m broke atm but the only thing keeping me sad is a huge writer’s block and a pretty girl from california.
if you can watch this entire video straight through you have the most iron fucking will on the actual planet, in the actual universe. you have gigantic balls of steel. i would not fuck with you. you could come in my house and slap my mom and take my cats and i would just let you. if you can watch all of this you scare the shit out of me
Reminder that this child lives 20 minutes away from me and goes to a local high school and I cry myself to sleep every night
i…cannot continue. i can’t finish it. i have dishonored my family.
this is what m like when i fuck can anyone in this club handle me right now???