On the Net: “With a Gun Between Her Legs”—Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad For Women.

There has been a bit of talk throughout the blogosphere recently (and not so recently) about how “strong” (ie. butt-kicking but looking hot whilst doing it) female characters are detrimental to women.

From Overthinking It:

“… The trouble is, although these characters were marginally better than the original Damsels in Distress, they still ended up having to be saved in the final act by the male hero. There would usually be a scene (or three) where the ‘Strong Female Character’ would be trapped by the villain and put into sexy clothing.”

Here are a few examples: Drew Barrymore in Charlie’s Angels (in a satirical hyper-sexualised way), Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano in Charmed, and Megan Fox in Transformers, which Overthinking It explicitly references.

Furthermore:

“And even when she was being strong, she was always doing it in the sexiest way possible. She’d never, say, get a black eye or a broken nose in a fight. Her ability to fix cars (a powerful, masculine trait) would basically allow her to get sexy grease all over her slippery body. Her ability to shoot a gun was so the film’s advertisers could put her on a poster wearing a skimpy outfit with a big gun between her legs. All in all, the ‘strength’ of her character was just to make her a better prize for the hero at the endand for the horny male audience throughout.”

Again, Fox in Transformers with the grease, but also Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and even Strong Female Character Buffy, who always looks good kicking vampire butt.

[Overthinking It] Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[Overthinking It] The Female Character Flowchart.

[Overthinking It] “Her Ability to Shoot a Gun Was So the Film’s Advertisers Could Put Her On a Poster Wearing a Skimpy Outfit With a Big Gun Between Her Legs.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, Or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

A recent post on Girl with a Satchel (which was reblogged here) inspired me to assess my favourite fictional female characters.

One of my favourite books is To Kill a Mockingbird (if you’re a frequent reader of Early Bird, you’ll be no stranger to my love for Harper Lee’s novel), and protagonist Scout Finch is one of my favourite characters of the written word. Her innocence and naivety are super-endearing, and her past-tense narrating allows the reader to put themselves in her shoes easily.

Wicked is a niche musical and book that theatre buffs can’t get enough of, but the general public are a bit oblivious to because it hasn’t derived from/been made into a movie, like Melbourne’s current season of musicals, West Side Story, Mary Poppins and Hairspray, all of which are on my theatre-going agenda in the coming months.

I’ve seen the production three times in Melbourne, and many a friend has seen it in its various international incarnations on Broadway and the West End… oh, and Sydney! I was so touched by the story and its messages of friendship, good versus evil and judging a book by its cover, and even more so by Elphaba, better known as The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Unlike in the original story, Wicked’s Elphaba is fiercely loyal to her disabled sister Nessarose, and those who become close to her like Glinda, Doctor Dillamond and Fiyero, misunderstood because of the colour of her skin and the slander spread about her when she discovers the Wizard of Oz is a fraud and seeks revenge.

In the vein of fairytale musicals, Beauty & the Beast (which is being re-released in selected theatres in 3D from 2 September) is by far my favourite, and I love its heroine Belle so much, I have been known to fight with my friends and children alike over the fact that I AM BELLE! Hello, I have brown hair, like burly men, read a lot and have a penchant for yellow gowns! While there have been arguments circulating that the Disney princesses are beacons of anti-feminism, I maintain my stance that Belle doesn’t need a man to rescue her (in fact, she does the rescuing, helping the Beast when he is attacked by wolves, attempting to make the townspeople see the error of their ways in going after him, and ultimately, setting his heart free) and sees the Beast for who he truly is, not for what he looks like or what he can do for her. She’s a kick-ass beauty in the vein of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

I’ve blogged (or reblogged) a little bit lately about Elle Woods. She’s an everywoman. Rachel Hills identifies with her, as does Satchel Girl Erica Bartle. A law-studying friend of mine recently compared herself to Miss Woods, also. And I won’t lie; I’ve fantasised about wearing a Playboy bunny suit whilst purchasing an Apple Mac! Elle Woods proves that you can take pride in your appearance and have fun whilst pursuing your dreams and making a name for yourself separate from the name of the man in your life.

There are plenty of other made-up women who I have an affinity for, including the aforementioned Buffy Summers, and Daria Morgendorffer for their kick-ass feminist mentalities; ditto for the Charmed sisters; Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf, who can be a psycho bitch at times, but she’s THE psycho bitch; Carrie Bradshaw, only for her clothes, apartment and loyalty to her friends; for similar reasons as Elle Woods, Cher Horowitz; Glee’s Sue Sylvester, whom the show is worth watching for her one liners about Will Shuester’s hair; and at the risk of angering feminists everywhere, Barbie.