perihadion: (Nina Simone)
[personal profile] perihadion
Here is what I think:

If you think that a female character has been treated misogynistically by the writers, it is not feminist to duplicate that misogyny in your so-called "feminist" criticism of the character — that means that if you're talking about a character you think has been objectified, it's not feminist to then objectify her again in your use of language: don't call female characters who you think have been objectified "rubber dolls", "T&A", "nothing but a pair of boobs/legs", etc. Just don't do it. You can say that you think they have been objectified and give examples of that objectification, but there is no fucking reason to use that kind of language to speak pejoratively about a woman, fictional or otherwise. Because when you do? You're the one objectifying them.

If your "feminist criticism" of a character makes other women feel like terrible people or terrible women for identifying with them then you are doing it wrong; if your "feminist criticism" of a character deems her 'unrealistic' because she is "too smart" or "too insightful" or "too witty" or etc. then you are invalidating the lived experiences of real women who are smart, insightful, witty, etc. and you are setting a standard of realism for female characters which just does not exist for male ones. In fact, if your standard of anything for female characters differs from your standard of the same thing for male characters "for feminist reasons" then it's not actually for feminist reasons. Like, I just don't get why it's perfectly all right for Matt Smith to get more naked in "The Lodger" than it is for Karen Gillan to get in any episode of Doctor Who — and yet the fact that Amy goes around on average wearing, um, about as much as every other female companion is horrifically sexist and Matt Smith flashing almost every part of himself passes without comment.

I don't think that a woman can practise sexism by the mere fact of her existence, fictional or otherwise. I think that female characters can be sexist stereotypes, but it's overwhelmingly more common for female characters to be treated misogynistically by the narrative than to be misogynistic in and of themselves by virtue of the fact that they exist and have a particular set of character traits. I find it more than slightly problematic when dissection of a female character centres entirely on how everything about that character is an affront to all women everywhere rather than taking the text as a whole, including the way other characters treat that character (but then I suppose nobody wants to accuse their favourite male character of behaving sexistly towards a female character they dislike) — because then it's less like, "Hey, let's talk about the problems this text has," and more like, "Hey, let's talk about how much this one character fucking sucks and what a perfect feminist utopia the show would be without her. I suspiciously have no problems whatsoever with any of the male characters."
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Mary

September 2010

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