What I want for her

Last week I posted a review of the Daredevil series on Netflix. There I wrote that my only real problem with the show was with that female characters, and how they seem to serve as little more than incidental plot devices. There two things I’d like to address from that article.

One, I need to practice being more critical of media simply so that I learn to express my opinions more concisely. Seriously, looking back at it that article it seems like it was written by an adolescent spider monkey. It was basically the critical equivalent of just declaring, “I feel ways about stuff.” (Which is basically what I’m doing here. But, hey that’s what blogs are for right?)

Secondly, that stuff I feel ways about is women’s roles in fiction. Well women’s roles in general. To be completely honest I don’t know if I  care about this because I’ve grown more mature and can see a bigger picture or, did I decide to care about gender equality as a result of raising my daughter.

I think it is important to have strong women role models in books, and other media because our imaginations shape so much of our world view. I see so many female characters that are either simply there to be damsels in distress, sex kittens, or nagging harpies. Stronger roles tend towards emotionally inaccessible bitches. That’s just not reflective of the women I know, but it is reflective of how men I know talk about women. That’s not what I want my daughter think of as normal or okay.

I’ve known about inequality all of my life, in one way or another. It, after all, would be hard to get through even elementary social studies classes, without having some idea that the society we live in has been shaped by wealthy white men. I’ve always thought it was wrong, but I really never bothered to say anything or do anything about it.  One of the benefits of growing up as a white male is that you can opt to have a sort of indignant ambivalence towards some of the social issues. I mean you can say that MRA guys are asshats but you’re not the one who really has to deal with them. Same thing goes for pay equality or reproductive rights; you might have a sympathetic opinion that you’re willing to share but, at the end of the day it’s not like you’re the one with an immediate interest in the fight. Even this article isn’t really saying much. It sure as hell isn’t going to change anything.

I guess what I really want is for my daughter to grow up in world where the promise I keep making to her can be kept. You know the one about her having the opportunity to be whatever she wants. I want her to be inspired by people, artists and writers that care about the messages they send. I want her to live her life ad define herself, not to have her life defined by assumptions based on gender.

Yes, there’s a chance I am reacting to things in an exaggerated way about this. I may not be reacting enough. There’s a real good chance I have no idea what I’m talking about, because here I am, that guy trying to understand and discuss women’s issues. I am definitely rambling on.

It is, however what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday

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4 thoughts on “What I want for her

  1. You get to have an opinion, most definitely — your blog is your space for that. Inviting the opinions of others who may or may not have their own space is good, too. Making sure that your invisible backpack either does not get in the way of, or makes a smoother path for, your daughter, is a necessity.

    You will be the one who will first notice and/or get to teach her about all the ways the world will work against her — she will be the one it actually works against.

    It’s good that you notice, definitely, and it’s good that you also know that noticing isn’t the same as doing something.

    • I would like to think that it is more of me becoming more mature and aware with age, than having a daughter than makes me notice. That’s probably not true though. Self interest tends to be truer motivation, even for the most enlightened of souls.

  2. I have mixed feelings about it as well. Lacking good female role models I have often chosen male ones in fandom and fiction. It is hard to tell looking back through my various infatuations with male characters if I wanted to fuck them or be them. The whole broken system is hard then not to reproduce in fiction when I write, because even as a woman in a same sex relationship, society hasn’t offered me very many women to connected with in any of the genres I love. For the past two decades most of my friends have been male, and I thought that was just because girls, by and large, didn’t like the fandoms I like. Turns out there are a lot of them who just couldn’t find a place in fandom for them. After a lifetime steeped in stories about compelling men, it is hard to write compelling women, because the way society informs us to think of women in fiction, infects both genders to be prejudiced. When I listen to conversations of women about women they try to peg them into those same stereotypes you point out above, virgin-damsel, slut, harpy-shrew. It look at it as a twisted trifecta of the maiden, mother, crone. The right path forward is a challenging one. I see us as further behind in gender equality then we were in the 80’s because of the anti-feminist backlash, where people use feminist as a dirty word. I think we are about to see some real gender bullshit with Hillary Clinton running for president. Anyway that is my babble on it.

    • There has definitely been a backlash against feminism, just like we’re currently seeing push back against same sex marriage. It is by and large a shame that empowerment of one class is inevitably views as an assault on another. I doubt there is going to be much change in that direction. As far as writing compelling women’s roles, I do suppose I have the convenient excuse of not being one, therefore lack perspective. The real argument to be made there, AI suppose is to write compelling roles, first, then worry about gender, or not. Or something, I doubt I have any real answers on this.

      Thanks Holly.

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