In our culture, there are certain careers, goals, and traits that are considered "feminine". This naturally bleeds into fiction, where we expect a female character to have at least one of these traits or goals. If she doesn't have any of them, she may be criticized as being too masculine or because No Guy Wants an Amazon
. If she has too many, she may come under fire from the Real Women Don't Wear Dresses
Note that while this can be gender stereotyping, which is a bad thing, it can also be a way of rounding out a character
. Real people, even an Action Girl
or a Wrench Wench
, can have interests outside kicking ass or fixing machines. A strong female character isn't any less strong if she's also a Supreme Chef
- All Girls Like Ponies
- All Lesbians Want Kids: Every woman wants children, even if she has no interest in men.
- All Women Love Shoes
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: A woman can be an Action Girl, but only as long as she stays attractive.
- Behind Every Great Man: A woman should be content to stay in the shadows and support a man's career, even if he is claiming all of her accomplishments as his own.
- Career Versus Man: A woman can be forced to choose between getting her man or keeping her career. It never comes up that she could conceivably have both, and she will lose the audience's sympathy if she does not choose the man.
- Chick Flick: Women love these! The ones who claim otherwise are lying or they have something wrong with them.
- Family Versus Career: A female character cannot have both a career and a family; she must choose to give one up. It's going to be family that wins if you want her to be a "good" character.
- Females Are More Innocent: Men do evil because they enjoy it or because they want something that can only be obtained that way. Women are coerced into doing evil by evil men.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: She can't cook? Clearly this is meant to be funny, a chance to get in a Take That at some group, or a sign of her insufficient femininity.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: A girl with a collection of soft, squishy teddy bears looks simultaneously childlike and nurturing.
- Girls Need Role Models
- I Just Want to Be Beautiful: There's nothing more important to a woman than her physical appearance.
- Lineage Comes from the Father/Heir Club for Men: Royal women should not expect to rule in their own right. A queen's job is to produce the sons for the man's Single Line of Descent.
- Madonna-Whore Complex: A female character's value is based entirely on whether or not she's a virgin. If she is, she's pure and virtuous and potential wife material. If she isn't, she's a dirty whore who should be disposed of accordingly.
- Mandatory Motherhood: Even if you don't want children, cosmic forces will ensure that you must conceive a baby.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Every woman wants a baby as she approaches menopause, even if she never did before.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Women's morality is measured entirely and exclusively on their attitude towards sex. Nothing else matters.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Female characters in positions of power got there through their connections to more important men. If Alice is the captain, no one will fail to mention that her father is the general.
- Princess Phase: When little girls dream of political power, it's only so they can wear pretty dresses and get handsome prince husbands.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: A female character can be strong and assertive or pretty and feminine, but not both.
- Retail Therapy: There are no worries or concerns on a woman's mind that a trip to the mall can't solve.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Working with fabrics, weaving, sewing and knitting is an acceptable career path for a woman who wishes to work.
- Vanity Is Feminine: Femininity means being shallow, envious, and obsessed with beauty.
- Women Are Delicate: Women are as fragile and dainty as a satin ribbon.