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@Skemono: http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/1042/

Hope that helps.

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One of the main boons of Martin’s choice to use point of view chapters in the way he does is that people’s opinions are coloured by their circumstances.

Yes, and? It’s true that for many of the characters you mention, their opinions and beliefs are contrary to the reality. But that’s not the case of Cateyln’s treatment and opinion of Jon. Her chapters make it just as clear as Jon’s that she holds him in disdain.

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I agree with the sentiments behind this post, but I strongly disagree with your assessment of Ripley.

You state that it’s more “acceptable” or “believable” for a woman to enact violence in defence of her family due to maternal instincts… yet isn’t this exactly the same for male characters? “It is automatically assumed, in fiction and in life, that a woman standing up for her family (her children, her husband) is going to use violence far more effectively and with less hesitation than a man would in the same situation” – I don’t buy that for a second. What man wouldn’t use violence far more effectively and with less hesitation when standing up for his family?

Take Commando. John Matrix has given up a life of violence to live off in the woods, and cannot be persuaded… until he learns that he took his daughter. How is that any different from what Ripley did, aside from the difference in genetic relationship between her and Newt? I can think of tons of other films where a male character who’s lose his child finds a surrogate son, and goes to hell and back to save him just like Ripley did.

I also profoundly disagree with the victimisation element in every way apart from sexual victimisation: isn’t the story of a weak, scrawny, ineffectual underdog who is determined to make something of himself despite dealing with adversity and a tragic upbringing extremely common? Hell, half of all superhero origin stories are about a little boy suffering a terrible loss or extreme hardship, and the Triumph of the Underdog story is one of the most frequent in all of Hollywood.

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I agree that victimization is pretty standard in hero origins (sexual victimization is a subset that is probably too prevalent among female characters, mind you)>

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Eidolonkami said on April 3rd, 2012 at 6:21 pm

What bothers me about summaries such as this is: it makes no mention of what a no-quote strong female character should be. I am a woman, I write about women instinctively. Frequently men don’t show up at all in my writing. To me, what makes a strong character is when you could replace every gender-specific article with its opposite and still have a story that makes sense. (Sex scenes occasionally excluded, if need be 😉 ) Overthinking “strong female characters” implicitly forgets that women are people and men are people, we all know many of both. Write characters like people you know; flawed, weak, but with hidden strengths and courage in unexpected situations. Sometimes a character is instinctively passive or submissive. This should not be the default, but if it exists it needs to be a designed part of the character. And it should be just as soon a man as a woman. I don’t know if this holds true across the board, but certainly the men I know are a lot less likely to be passive or submissive toward a woman than they may be to each other. “Girliness” is a quality specifically because it does exist. Women and men react differently to different situations, biologically. The key is, when a male character freaks out, he doesn’t need a woman to calm him down and get him back on track. The same thing should hold true about a female character. A woman should be able to freak out in a believable feminine way without inspiring rage and angst, but she needs to be the one to pull herself together.

Uh, this rant is a bit directionless. I guess all I’m saying is it’s really easy for even a woman writer to think the word “they” when thinking about women characters. We need to remember to use the word “we,” that should make it easier for us.

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Eidolonkami said on April 3rd, 2012 at 6:39 pm

@Pantsless Pete WHY YOUR COMMENT NO HAS LIKE BUTTON

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I’ll argue that Catelyn’s hatred for Jon was completely justified. His looks and Ned’s treatment of him make him, rightly or wrongly, a walking, breathing proof of her husband’s cheating on her, whom she is forced to interact with on a daily basis because her husband treats him with a level of privilege and regard second only to his trueborn children.

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Buffy is a strong female character. She does not just kick ass in combat but has the right instincts in many other situations where others are wrong. She has sex but is not extremely promiscuous. Her life does not revolve around any particular man, and she has strong female friendships, mainly with Willow but also with Tara. Buffy has been through a few things but is not shaped by being a victim.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on April 4th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Male heroes with victimization origins… we’ve already got Batman & Punisher…

I’ve lost track of all the retconning done to Wolverine, but when I was reading X-Men his origin boiled down to “some evil people stuck metal on my bones against my will, and being vicimtized in this way has left me bitter and mean and vowing never to be a victim again! Er, bub!”

Also, Magneto (during times when he is a good guy) fits the bill pretty well…

And we all remember that issue where the Watcher was genitally mutilated at the age of seven, right? “Nobody was watching then, so now I watch over all!” You all remember that one, right? I keep bringing it up but nobody ever seems to know what I’m talking about…

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@The Unstoppable Gravy Express Uatu HAD GENITALIA ?!

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@Eidolonkami I wholeheartedly agree mademoiselle , you’re absolutely correct ! This hunt for the true Strong female can go way out of rail ! Women are nothing but males without a functioning SRY & Men are a mutation of women …. Now I’m scared…
Here , kisses from tunisia & you got yourself a present ! http://devilkais.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4syabh

( How come no post ever talked about him ? That’sth Desthpicable !)

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Yvonmukluk said on April 5th, 2012 at 6:11 am

@Murc: Re:x-23: To be fair, they pretty much ignore the prostitution backstory. It wasn’t even established in her origin series written by the guy who created her, but in a miniseries by Joe Quesada, which unfortunately got published first. You can catch up on her and just skip over NYX (the Quesada-written series) without losing anything particularly important. Honestly, that aside she’s a very interesting character.

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Marionette said on April 5th, 2012 at 9:07 am

Going all the way back to the 1960’s, Emma Peel was sexy without being hypersexualised, physically stronger than her partner, with whom she never had a sexual relationship, was never victimised, and in no way the lesser half of the duo.

But though she sometimes passes the Bechdel test, it’s not a given, as most of the non-starring roles are more likely to be male than female.

Either way, it’s depressing to have to look at a fifty year old TV show to find one of the better examples of equality.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on April 5th, 2012 at 9:07 am

@Saidi: well, not after age seven. 🙁

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Pantsless Pete said on April 5th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

@Marionette

Emma Peel had constant shots referencing her physical attributes (Complete with puns), lost to John Steed each time they fought (It was John who actually did morst of the asskicking) and may have been boinking him, depending who you ask.

I’m fond of her but…yeah. She’s one of those character who peoples memories of may not actually match the show itself.

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[…] a refusal to think. In fact, the arguments are so tired that they can be completely destroyed with this article from John Seavey, and this comic from Kate […]

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[…] crop of strong female characters. You can find more debate about strong female characters at Mighty God King, Overthinking It and i09. I can’t help thinking that as with female sexual roles in fiction, […]

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vortex said on May 7th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Hmm, you know, I’d say Cologne (Ranma 1/2) but all her machinations are to make her great-granddaughter happy, and that always involves Ranma Saotome…

Jackie Brown is another one, but I can’t remember her having much in the way of conversations with other women in the movie…

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