As Usual, Genre Fiction Gets Stiffed

During a discussion of the sudden glut of kickass female characters on TV and in movies.

As the commenters point out, nowhere in the original article is there a mention of Starbuck. Nowhere in there, Delenn or Ivanova or River Tam or Zoe, or even Buffy who’s usually the one go-to reference for this shit. No mention of Aeryn Friggin Sun, who pretty much wrote the book on this. No mention of Arya Stark, no mention of any one of a dozen comic-book heroines. Because sci-fi and fantasy are supposed to be outliers, or they’re not mainstream enough, or the author just doesn’t care about anything other than what’s on basic cable.


And that’s without even getting into the idea that young ladies might think they can defend themselves if they see other women doing it. HORROR:

Is watching U.S. Marshal Annie Frost — of the startling blue eyes and
set jaw — take down a fugitive after a helluva battle empowering or
delusional, dangerous or inspiring?

Should these images carry a
warning — like Cesar Millan’s “Dog Whisperer” or Johnny Knoxville’s
“Jackass” stunt outings? “Ladies, do not try these kick-butt maneuvers
in a dark alley faced with a real assailant.”

“I’m concerned
about teenage girls who go and see ‘Salt’ or go and see Lisbeth in
action and then think they too have that kind of prowess,” says Merin,
an admitted “dyed-in-the- wool pacifist.”

“If young girls are being
exposed to kick-ass queens and they think they can do that, there’s a
danger that they’ll just get smushed.”

Sigh. Yes, you shouldn’t try to do kung-fu if you don’t actually know kung-fu, but James Bond has been blowing shit up and jumping his car over his boat over a volcano for like 200 years and I don’t see any real concern that it’s giving young men unrealistic expectations.



9 thoughts on “As Usual, Genre Fiction Gets Stiffed

  1. One of the nice (and interesting, from a writer’s point of view) aboutSalt was that Salt as a character was developed in such a way that we find out her skills are a result of intensive, rigourous training sinceearly childhood. Now, if we could encourage parents of girls to, say, allow girls to take martial arts and be physical and unrestrained from early childhood, we might have a culture in which thirty-something women would be perfectly equipped to “smush” an assailant.
    My heart breaks a little every time I’m out in public and I hear a rambunctious little girl being rebuked and shushed for something that would be perfectly accepted as normal in a rambunctious little girl. The longer we keep drilling into girls and women (both tacitly and explicitly) from birth that their purpose in life is to be passive and quiet and look cute, the more likely they are to get smushed. (Case in point, look at just about any catalogue to see how pictures of little girls and little boys are presented. The boys are almost always shown in action shots, or at least with implied action, such as posing with sports equipment. The little girls are almost always shown sitting passively and looking cute. It ain’t exactly highway-sign stuff.)

  2. Should we celebrate, or be suspicious of, these daughters of Diana Rigg’s peerless martial artist and fencer Emma Peel, Pam Grier’s blaxploitation mama Foxy Brown, and, yes, Jodie Foster’s driven FBI agent, Clarice Starling?
    Likely both.

    Shit like that is why people can’t stand reporters. This is why FOX News is popular with its audience–they aren’t fucking wishy-washy. They say what they mean. What they back is, in my opinion, destructive and horrid, but they ain’t fuckin’ ashamed of it, that’s for sure.
    Also, if you use the term “kick-butt” in print, you should instantly have your writer’s license revoked. I know it’s the Denver Post, but I think most people won’t burst into flames if you use the word “ass.” Especially since you did so in the article (admittedly, in a quote–but it’s there).

  3. Someone on Twitter posted a quote from Joss Whedon…paraphrasing here…about his answer to “why does he create such strong female characters?” He said that if that question keeps being asked, then he needs to keep creating them. Too damn true.

  4. Meanwhile, the ground is littered every year with thousands of bodies of young men who thought kicking butt was a good idea. Sure is a good thing they didn’t learn that from any representations of boys and men in the media.
    An acquaintance who was “involved” in a bar fight once commented on how unlike fictional portrayals it was: no escalating threats, no squaring off, he just made a snide remark to someone, started turning away and the next moment found himself on the floor bleeding. But heaven forfend we should din that into young men’s ears.

  5. We start when they’re little.
    We teach boys to yell, scream, make a scene if they’re threatened.
    We teach girls to not fight back lest they anger the attacker more.
    It’s stupid.
    It’s horrible.
    It’s getting our children killed.

  6. Love Arya Stark, since she is the one character from the first book who’s journey has been one of going from strength to strength and doing what ever it takes to survive/win. But then again I do have a spot in my heart for Brienne of Tarth, a character that is the One True Knight in the series, and the saviour of Jaime. A wonderful little twist on the Sir Galahad trope.
    While Aeryn is great Chiana is far closer to the type of character I find more entertaining. In fact, just about every female character in Farscape was all sorts of wonderful in their own little twisted ways. Mele-on Grayza, Sikozu, Ahkna, Furlow and even Zhaan if you feel a need to be spiritual, were just darn good strong characters.
    And lastly Ivonova, but I’ll let her speak for herself:
    “Confirmed Survey 1. Upon arrival you will report for debriefing. And just one more thing, on your trip back I want you to take the time to learn the Babylon 5 mantra. Ivanova is always right. I will listen to Ivanova. I will not ignore Ivanova’s recommendations. Ivanova is God. And if this ever happens again
    Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out! Babylon control out”
    “Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me.”

  7. Good point about James Bond. I mean, so I’m not going to be tempted to re-enact a car chase from the movies, in real life, but a *girl* might get “squashed” by watching Buffy? I call shenanigans.

  8. I remember trying to split a concrete block like those karate guys on “That’s Amazing!”, oh so many years back. I figured iron determination and a prayer to God would work. (Fortunately I flinched a bit, though afterward I blamed my lack of faith.) Sadly, the editorial standards of “That’s Amazing!” have declined to YouTube levels in this Internet era, amirite? At least “The Gong Show” and Evel Knievel didn’t encourage kids to perform idiotic stunts, either by juggling eggs or by jumping over toy cars with skateboards. Not for long, at least. After the first minor mess or injury our folks made a new house rule.
    Warn kids not to do stupid things? Yes, that is our role as adults. Protect them from coming up with some way to do something stupid or dangerous we couldn’t even imagine? Totally impossible. Believe me. So long as there’s a tree to climb or a hill to sled down, there’s bones to be broken and lies to be told. I used to blame my stupid actions on the bad kid at school — you know, the one your folks warned you against — and if that failed, it was my brother’s fault. But that bad kid’s been around forever, even before newspapers, radio, TV, or the Internet.
    Anyway, gotta get back to work. /end rant.

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