"And over time [the writers] realized that you don't have to put a sword in a woman's hand to make her seem tough."A woman is shown as weak, incompetent, and ineffectual unless she dresses and behaves in a masculine manner, or is otherwise applauded for being "not like other girls." A variation is a Tomboy and Girly Girl scenario, where the tomboy is presented as superior. It's not hard to spot the Unfortunate Implications: that traditionally feminine traits are worthless and women must "masculinize" themselves to be taken seriously. It takes the old prescriptivist gender roles and merely inverts them, creating a new prescribed gender role that female characters must adhere to or be shunned. And yet, the trope persists, and we record it. Between a woman in trousers and one in a dress, the odds are the trouser lady is going to be the Action Girl of the pair and the one in the dress is going to be a Damsel in Distress. Variations exist, of course, especially in works after the third-wave "Girl Power" feminism. Many of the straight examples are from older works, when having proactive female characters at all was fairly edgy. See also Pink Means Feminine and the various tropes on Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits. Compare Stop Being Stereotypical. Contrast Girly Bruiser, Lady of War, Silk Hiding Steel, and Kicking Ass in All Her Finery, where it's the feminine lady in the dress who you should watch out for. Also compare Vasquez Always Dies, where trouser-wearing and competence aren't enough to keep a woman alive, Tomboy with a Girly Streak, where a real woman does don a dress when she needs or wants to, and Real Men Wear Pink. Note: This is not an audience reaction trope. The trope is reserved for cases where a character is derided by another character in-universe for having traditionally feminine traits, or where the work itself clearly portrays femininity as a sign of weakness, incompetence or inferiority.
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Anime and Manga
- In Sailor Moon, the infamous Stay in the Kitchen remarks by Jadeite in the first season, where he takes Tuxedo Kamen out of the fight and then mocks the girls. Moon, Mercury and Mars responded with a Kirk Summation and an awesome Three Plane Fu.
Jadeite: Can’t you do anything without the help of a man? Women are such foolish creatures in the end! Bwahahahahaha!Mars: Hah! Only old men think that they’re better than women in these days!Mercury: That’s right! Scorning women is positively feudalistic!Moon: Down with sexual discrimination!The three: We must fight against Jadeite, that arrogant man!
- Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon further speculates on how this show is an aversion of this trope.
What I find fascinating about the series is that it really is girl power in action. It does not take traditionally "masculine" action tropes and simply gender swap them, no, and it does not deny or condemn the attraction of the pretty princess fantasy. Instead, it takes all the "feminine" girly stuff like frilly princess dresses and pink unicorns and makes them into implements of power. The hypothetical girl in the audience is being told that she can be as girly as she likes and still dream of growing up into power and responsibility. Feminine articles are not shackles or playthings to be eschewed, or tools good only for obtaining the approval of men — they are treated as cool and desirable things, in and of themselves.Boy craziness is even part of this, in the way they make the knightly romance fantasy an active one. The girls wanna be swept off their feet by a handsome knight, and, damn it, they're gonna go out there and find that handsome knight and make sure he does it.
- Now has its own page.
- Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon further speculates on how this show is an aversion of this trope.
- Skip Beat!: Kanae aka Moko deliberately calls out Kyouko when they meet only because she perceives Kyouko as a "House Wife"-type of woman who shouldn't stay near show business. Even later in the manga, when both have a kind-of-friendship and Kyouko has shown how scarily competent she can be when acting, Kanae still feels uncomfortable with Kyouko due to her own perceived contradiction between being able to do any domestic chores and being a reputed actress and entertainer. There is a twist: Kanae also acts as a housewife for her own very large family, as her parents are always traveling and her older brothers are no help, and seeing Kyoko reminded her of herself. Kanae's type of housewifing is more like an extreme sport and it's kind of easy to understand why she is so annoyed by it.
- In Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, Buttercup is shown to be reluctant to join the group because it would require her to wear a skirt. Later she breaks her own code by wearing one in order to get the attention of a boy she has a crush on, but realizes that she prefers her boyfriend to like her as she is and not for what she pretends to be. Despite the fact that she isn't complaining about the skirt anymore, don't mention it to her; just don't.
- In Freezing, it's interesting to try to apply this trope to the main character, Sattelizer L. Bridgette. As a child, she was sexually abused by her half-brother, resulting in her having a paralyzing fear of being touched. At her mother's deathbed, she was told to never give up and not take shit from anyone any longer, and a little later on she became a Super Soldier Action Girl. However, rather than this solving all her problems as per this trope it did not help at all, as this did nothing for her fear and resulted in her savagely beating the crap out of anyone who came close to her, causing her to be feared and hated by all. It's only when she falls in love with a male, Aoi Kazuya, the first guy to be nice to her, that she slowly starts to get over her problems and work on them.
- Rico in Gunslinger Girl isn't used to wearing dresses. When she's forced to wear a dress in order to move unnoticed in an opera house in order to assassinate her target she says that a dress is "too loose." It may be more understandable in her case: she loathes the idea of being restrained in any way since she's an ex Ill Girl who was in an hospital bed for years.
- Inverted with Pao-Lin aka Dragon Kid of Tiger & Bunny, who is being pressured to act less masculine because her corporate sponsor thinks it would make her more popular. In the Grand Finale she wears a sundress and hairclips, but it's less about sponsors and much more about looking nice while going out with Mom and Dad.
- Played with in Attack on Titan. While the female soldiers are fairly androgynous in uniform, the majority have long hair and wear long skirts or dresses whenever they are out of uniform. On the other hand, we also have the Tomboy and Girly Girl pair of Ymir and Krista playing things straight. Side notes point out that because soldiers fight using acrobatics, female soldiers have an enormous advantage over their male counterparts, due to being smaller and lighter.
- Subverted in Sekirei,
- The titular Human Aliens draw their strength from The Power of Love and are primarily female. Musubi wears a pink skirt, a massive bow tied around her waist, and enjoys cooking. She's also a Cute Bruiser capable of leveling a building with a single punch. The most powerful Sekirei? Miya Asama, a beautiful housewife that retired in order to settle down with her late husband. She's still a Person of Mass Destruction, without sacrificing an ounce of her femininity.
- The guys are not immune to this. The most powerful male Sekirei? Shiina, an adorable, effeminate boy that you could mistake for a woman.
- Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: The female characters regularly involved in combat or important tactical decisions normally wear pants or shorts: this includes Bellows, Ridget, and the female soldiers seen during the opening sequence. In contrast, Amy, her friends, and other "noncombatants" who aren't capable of contributing much when pirates or whatnot invade are normally shown wearing skirts. This is somewhat subverted in that Amy turns out to be a lot tougher than she looks (as seen in the final episodes).
- Bleach discussed/inverted this with tomboy Tatsuki and Orihime in the beginning, when Orihime has her speech about how it is her turn to protect Tatsuki instead of the other way around.
- Pre-Eclipse Casca of Berserk is an Action Girl (the only girl, and second-in-command of the Band of the Hawk) with only one scene where she's out of her armor (at a ball, where her companions see her in a dress for the first time and can only stare at this perversion of everything they know to be true). Post-Eclipse, she's reduced to the level of a two-year-old, and wears a peasant dress for practical reasons.
- Played with in Princess Knight. While Princess Sapphire and the lady knight Friebe do their best asskicking while in masculine clothes, Sapphire feels far more comfortable in feminine attire and it's implied that this is the way that's best for her. Friebe, meanwhile, is heroic and is almost always seen in her armor, but wears a dress and brags about her ability to cook and sew as a selling point to convince Sapphire to marry her. Played straight with Hecate, who enjoys the carefree life she lives, while her mother's attempts to force her to turn into a proper lady are shown as quite villainous.
- Defied in Saiunkoku Monogatari where Shuurei was to take the male-dominated Imperial Examination, being the first woman ever to take part in the exams, Cool Big Sis Kouchou presented her with a gift of cosmetics and reminded her to never be ashamed of being a woman and to take pride in it. Shuurei then proceeded to wear makeup on the day of the Imperial Examination in a Mundane Made Awesome moment.
- In Saint Seiya, There are women Saints. ( There are very specific rules about that. ). Since only men were supposed to be Saints of Athena, a woman must wear a mask to reject her feminity. Being a god like Athena works too.
- The creation of Wonder Woman was William Moulton Marston's attempt to address this in society:
"Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
- Parodied in Rick Veitch's Brat Pack, with Straw Feminist superhero Moon Maiden. As she teaches her sidekick Lunar Lass, emotion and weakness are one and the same to warrior women. Attachments and relationships are for little girls and weaklings. When Lunar Lass gets pregnant, Moon Maiden freaks and speechifies about how a warrior woman needs no one, especially not a child. So she forces her to give herself an abortion with a wire hanger because she can't be a strong or respectable woman if she has a baby.
- Parodied as early as the 1950s, with "perfect little lady" Janie Jackson teased and compared unfavorably to the superheroine Tomboy ("That's what I call a real girl!") by her older brother, who never realised that Janie and Tomboy were the same person.
- The Argentinian comic strip Mafalda: As Mafalda's ideas on women's rights were advanced by the standards of The '60s and The '70s, they come as more rude and stuck-up than well-intentioned to modern reader, especially when she constantly and very rudely tells her House Wife mother Raquel that she's "useless" and "mediocre" because she chose to raise Mafalda at home than juggle with work/college and motherhood.
- Albedo: Erma Felna EDF: Averted in one story where Erma finds out, with Toki's coaxing, that she finds that occasionally indulging her feminine side, like buying and wearing a sexy dress and attracting the appreciative stares of males, is fun. However, she still is no less a soldier on this kind of off-time such as she spots a possible terrorist with a gun and she and Toki have him covered with their own sidearms instantly. It turns out to be only a camera with a pistol grip, but everyone assures Erma that it was a reasonable call.
- Bendis' run on Uncanny X-Men mentions this trope. The female recruits are ashamed of wanting to go shopping "like normal girls". For- shock horror- clothes. And soap. And books. They have a whole spiel justifying it, but their teachers (of both genders) understand immediately and consider it a good idea.
- It’s common in fanfiction that the male lead chooses the Tomboy over the Girly Girl because the latter is considered “weak” for liking fashion, make-up, shopping and other feminine things. According to shippers, women are superior when they're outgoing, emotionless, can put up a fight, and most importantly, don’t wear dresses. Girly girls, on the other hand, are stripped away of their personality so that they only cry, whine and care about their appearances, making the male lead (and other men) make a beeline for the tomboy. This only happens to the girly girl because, in the eyes of the author, a skirt automatically makes her a doormat — and the tomboy "deserves" the cool love interest.
- It's also common in fanfiction to see the inversion: the tomboyish Action Girl, or even a girl who just doesn't care about her looks, undergoes a makeover (or hits a growth spurt) and suddenly develops an interest in fashion and flirting, and she turns into an eyelash-batting avatar of the writer's wishes and dreams. This was even a joke in the Harry Potter fandom, that any fanfic that started out with "Hermione had changed a lot over the summer..." will not be good.
- Frigid Winds And Burning Hearts tries to avert this trope by having Storm Cloud (a pegasus mare in the Royal Guard) and Rarity (a fashion designer) argue over the significance of Cutie Marks, which show up when a pony finds what they're destined for. Storm Cloud's is a spear, and thus she joined the Guard; when she chews out Rarity for criticizing her masculine behavior, Rarity points out that Storm Cloud just blindly went with her Cutie Mark, while Rarity ignored the implications of hers (three gems) and went into design, making her the stronger of the two. The problem is that the fic radically misinterprets Rarity's mark by claiming it symbolizes mining; she got it after using gems in dress design, not finding the gems in a rock.
- In An Alternate Keitaro Urashima, Makoto dismisses Miyabi's opinion simply because she happens to be Keitaro's girlfriend. Similarly, she and Naru immediately turn on the newest tenant when she reveals she has a boyfriend.
- Averted in the Heralds of Valdemar fic Leave me alone you spirit horse!. Daila (a farmgirl trying to refuse the call) insists that she can't be a Herald: she doesn't like fighting or magic, and she knows how to sew. Her Companion is not convinced.
- Casey's mother from the Disney film Ice Princess says, "I know ice skating requires a great deal of athleticism and skill, but I just can't get past the twinky little outfits." Never mind that male ice skaters wear outfits that are almost as "twinky" and in some cases even "twinkier". Also she's saying this about a sport that is dangerous on the level of gymnastics but has metal blades! This being a Disney film, by the end of the movie the mother realizes she was wrong.
- Twister has the love triangle between Bill Harding's estranged wife, a down-to-earth country woman, and his stylish new fiance. Guess who handles the tornadoes better.
- Lisa (Grace Kelly) frequently wears Pimped Out Dresses in Rear Window, but after she risks her life to help expose the murderer, she wears a blouse and blue jeans in the closing scene. She also does this to impress her boyfriend, who thinks she couldn't adapt to his lifestyle.
- In the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, Blanche Barrow is portrayed as The Load in contrast to Bonnie Parker and, in the real Blanche's own words, "a screaming horses's ass." Significant in that the two male leads, Clyde Barrow and Buck Barrow, aren't foiled against each other to the same extreme.
- In Small Soldiers Alan's mother is contrasted with Kristy's. Alan's has short hair, mostly wears pants and when the Commandos attack she fights them off. Kristy's mother is long haired, notably spends most of the film in a pink dressing gown and willingly hides in the closet when the Commandos are attacking. Also Kristy is presented as a bit of a Lad Ette which is shown as a very positive thing. Especially when her Gwendy dolls (which she admits she has always hated) come to life - they are presented as Girly Bruiser fighters and Kristy takes great delight in smashing them up. Nothing at all symbolic about a teenage girl smashing up her doll collection eh?
- In a World...: Real Women Don't Talk Like Sexy Babies. The main character starts a voice training course to help women speak in such a way as to be taken seriously as professionals. Which, judging by what we see onscreen, mostly consists of speaking in a lower register... in other words, more like a man.
- In Conan the Barbarian (2011) Conan makes a crack that wearing a dress makes Action Girl Tamara look like a whore, then gets her some leather armor. He didn't think this was worthy of comment when they first met, and it's played as a sign she's earned his respect.
- The female classmates of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde hold similar views. Although none of the women are butch -Not even the Straw Feminist- they are prejudiced against the main character's ridiculously girly outfits and her fondess of pink. They all adopt a sober, toned down style and minimal make up, and of course, they consider Elle to be a shallow Dumb Blonde without any of the skills or abilities needed for Law School. Elle started to change her fashion sense and attitudes to merge with the other students and look more mature and professional, but it didn't work for her. She started to feel repressed and uncomfortable, and anyway it did little to change the way the other students saw her. In the end, Elle just destroys the prejudices by becoming a successful and smart lawyer while still retaining her girliness, although her style changed from that of a ridiculously girly - and childish - teenager to a feminine young adult.
- Subverted in the Resident Evil, where the character Alice spends the film wearing a little red dress - and combat boots - while kicking zombie dogs in the head. It was an interesting contrast to the ultra-tough Rain Ocampo, who wears full black combat gear.
- If you want to recognize this trope in romantic novels and/or novels set in other historical periods, look at the female protagonist carefully. Many, MANY authors fall in the trap of trying to make a heroine you can relate to... by having her look down on other women for "being so submissive and stupid" or "losing their time sewing and doing stupid feminine things".
- Notably averted in A Brother's Price: Women are the expendable gender, due to making up 90% of society. As a result, sexist tropes like this are nonexistant. Women are implied to wear trousers, though what they wear exactly is seldom mentioned. Non-action-women are described as completely normal part of society, and Jerin mentions having had a crush on his teacher, who is not particularly badass.
- A Tale of Two Cities plays with it. Lucie Manette is the ideal of pre-Victorian femininity and pretty damsel in distress. The only badass female character on the side of good, Miss Pross, is described as mannish and so ugly that it doesn't make a difference when she is disheveled after a fight. Madame Defarge is the only major female character portrayed as both womanly and powerful but she's also a villain.
- In-Universe example in House of Leaves, at one point it summarizes interviews between Karen (who's claiming the events are fictional), and a number of celebrities. One such celebrity is a feminist who chastises Karen's 'character's' nyctophobia, dismissing it with "No self-respecting woman is afraid of the dark".
- In the Hurog duology, there is Tisala, who can fight and has short hair, but does wear dresses at formal dinners and similar occasions.
- Rachel and Cassie are inversions of this trope in the Animorphs series. Rachel is the toughest, most blood-thirsty, aggressive warrior of The Team and also the more womanly compared to Cassie. She is often described as a leggy, well-dressed, beautiful blonde who loves to go shopping, cares a great deal about outward appearances, often insists on improving Cassie's wardrobe, and goes shopping for the group when clothes are needed on the fly. Cassie on the other hand is the more feminine in nature, broken-hearted for everything that breathes, is the most hesitant to do battle and yet is the one who can't dress.
- The Spy High series, where beautiful, blonde, fashionable Lori is the most ruthless of The Team, especially when provoked; the less looks-conscious Cally is The Heart and eventually wins the love of leading man Ben. Bex, the biggest Action Girl of the team, rejects feminine dress and looks completely; with punk clothes, many piercings, and short spiky green hair.
- Merrily defied in the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce.
Lord Wyldon: If only you'd been born a boy, Mindelan.Kel: But sir, I like being a girl.
- In the first quartet, Song of the Lioness, Alanna starts out hating the fact that she's a girl and wishing she were a boy because she wants to be a knight. She tells her brother that part part of her motivation for the switch is to go towards knighthood and away from ladyhood. Part of her Character Development is coming to accept and enjoy her femininity even in the midst of her eight-year-long stint as a Sweet Polly Oliver. It does not detract in the least from the fact that she is Badass and becomes a legendary knight—in the last book, her current lover Liam pitches a fit over her wearing a dress at one point because he can't fit her into a neat stereotype box when she's a warrior and feminine, serving as a portent to their eventual breakup.
- In one of the short stories, Fedal complains about women of Tekalimy's Islam Expy religion being forced to wear veils, and she gives a speech about how she likes wearing them, since it means she isn't judged on her looks. Another short story follows this girl as she speaks for the female side of her god as a prophet, but continues to wear the veil.
- Daine from the The Immortals quartet also hates dresses, but for a different reason: she's a very outdoorsy type and skirts are monstrously impractical. It's for this reason that she absolutely loathes anything with too much frivolous decoration. On the other hand, when she knows in advance she has to dress up and gets to pick a dress she likes, she's shown to enjoy looking pretty from time to time.
- In the Protector of the Small quartet, Kel is the first girl to openly train to be a knight. She insists on wearing dresses to dinner each evening, just to remind people of her gender.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- The two Stark girls draw an unflattering contrast between masculine and feminine behavior while deconstructing them at the same time. Arya is a tomboy whose interest in swordplay helps her overcome many trials (which slowly eats away at her humanity until she discards her identity and becomes a literal tool of murder), while Sansa, who is better at traditional feminine pursuits, spends half the first book as a victim of abuse and torture. Once she's gotten past most of her her initial idealism, Sansa becomes much more politically aware, and her femininity and awareness of social customs helps her as she keeps house for and trains under the series' resident Magnificent Bastard. The girls' mother Catelyn is a much better blend of confidence and femininity.
- A clearer example are Jaime Lannister's two most important female relationships. One, Queen Cersei (the one in a dress) is manipulative and unfaithful, with a talent for ruining everything she tries to meddle in, and a belief that violence is a sign of strength.note The other, Brienne of Tarth (the one in plate armor), is the closest thing Westeros has to a true Knight in Shining Armor. While in an (explicit) relationship with Cersei, Jaime acts like a Jerk Ass and kicks puppies without a second thought; while in a (budding and rough-starting) relationship with Brienne, he both rediscovers his inner goodness and becomes more successful as a knight and military commander. Interestingly, Cersei is a Boomerang Bigot who hates other women and considers them and traditional femininity weak, tries to prove herself "better" than they are, and wishes she were a man, while Brienne respects other women whether they conform to traditional gender roles or not, even wishing she could be a traditional woman but can't due to her size.
- Played with in Mistborn- heroine Vin, though she qualifies as a tomboy at heart she has a definite girly side to her, in spite of her abusive half-brother's best attempts to beat it out. A good chunk of her character arc involves her coming to terms with the fact that she can enjoy dancing and wearing ballgowns and still be a Badass.
- Brandon Sanderson likes to play with this trope; he has a number of female characters that can kick ass, and are also generally comfortable with femininity.
- Jane Eyre: The title character's more conventionally feminine and pretty classmate Helen dies early on. Whether Helen should be thought of as Too Good for This Sinful Earth or not strong-willed enough to survive depends on the critic.
- The Chronicles of Narnia:
- "The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe" concludes by saying, in a nutshell, that the two queens (with their appropriately royal dresses) were just as effective and beloved as the two kings.
- In The Last Battle Susan Pevensie becomes "no longer a friend of Narnia" and the only mention of why is a line saying she's only interested in "lipstick, nylons and invitations". Many readers take this as criticism of female sexuality though CS Lewis said of Susan "The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there's plenty of time for her to mend and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end... in her own way" which, coupled with things other characters say suggest her fault is trying too hard to grow up and forgetting her childhood. The other female characters Lucy, Jill and Polly aren't said to be any less feminine than Susan.
- Anne of Green Gables: While the title character is a daring, outspoken Fiery Redhead, she is also very concerned with physical beauty, jewelery, and fairies. Her assertive side and and her imaginative, feminine side are portrayed as mixed bags independently of each other, and at times they overlap.
- In the Kitty series of children's books, the tomboyish Kitty is frequently at odds with her prissy cousin Melissa who loves pink frilly dresses and ribbons in her hair. When Melissa starts at Kitty's school, she is unpopular with the other kids. Kitty comes back to school after a week off sick and discovers Melissa has cut her hair short and started dressing in baggy tracksuits. She is now popular and liked by everyone.
- Zig-Zagged in Plato's The Republic, where Socrates contends that women have the right to the same education and civic duties as men...just so long as they act identically to men. The idea of educating women the same as men was, however, in its day, so highly progressive as to be considered ridiculous in Athens at the time.
- In Feet of Clay, Angua tells Cherry (a female dwarf) that you can be any gender you want in the Watch, as long as that gender is male. Immediately subverted when she recounts her own efforts to do so, telling bawdy jokes that caused the others to flee in terror. A later book has her and Nobbs on Honey Trap duty, with Nobbs as the Honey Trap. When she asks him why he's in the dress, Nobbs, Dirty Coward and Non-Action Guy, has difficulty with the idea of Angua being the one to put herself in danger (plus, she was the backup).
- In the Sophie series by Dick King-Smith, protagonist Sophie is a tomboyish, animal-loving little girl who always looks untidy, and wears jeans and rubber boots. Her designated enemy, the prissy Dawn, wears dresses and pigtails and is mocked by Sophie for being vain.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians and its sequel series The Heroes of Olympus is quite guilty of this. All the most prominent action girls are tough tomboys with a heart of gold, while the stereotypically girly Aphrodite cabin is written off as being weak, shallow fighters. Its most prominent member Silena is given depth and characterization, but is also revealed to be The Mole, having been seduced by a villain. In the sequel series, Piper is revealed to be one of them, and expresses disdain for their shallowness, vanity, and overall femininity.
- Explored a bit in All Men of Genius, where Violet's relationship with things stereotypically feminine is somewhat complicated. She starts out ignoring it all in favour of being something of a Wrench Wench, and then disguises herself as a man to attend Illyria Academy, but when she is able/required to change back for a while, she finds she doesn't mind dresses so much any more (although acknowledges that this might just be relief at not needing to conceal her gender).
- The Anderssons by Solveig Olsson-Hultgren developes a very strong pro-feminist message as the time goes by. And unfortunately, it ends up in the territory of this trope. Almost all the Andersson women have a career of their own, even if they are married and live in a time when married women were supposed to be housewives. Mandi is the only one out of four sisters to give up her career plans when she gets married, and she is punished for her "stupid" choice by ending up being abused by her husband ("that's what happens if you become dependant on a man, girls"). And the Girly Girl Åsa is treated as a more whiny and prissy person than her Tomboy sister Saga. But it seems to go the other way around too, as all the men have to give up their machismo (or not be macho men in the first place) if they want to be portrayed in a positive light. So you can say that the message is that all traditional gender roles, both for women and men, are bad...
- Jane Rizzoli of the Rizzoli & Isles series is absolutely miserable and uncomfortable in the dresses she has to wear as her pregnancy progresses, as they're a far cry from the dowdy pantsuits that she prefers.
Live Action TV
- Sometimes used in Super Sentai, which is fond of the Tomboy and Girly Girl trope: if there are Two Girls to a Team, typically the Pink (or White) Ranger will be girly and wear skirts/dresses, while the Yellow (or Blue) Ranger will be more tomboyish and wear shorts or pants. Early series would lean towards making the tomboy the stronger warrior, while the girly girl would be more of a pacifist and often have a less powerful weapon.
- Played straight on Robin Hood which saw Djaq, an intelligent, resourceful, competent Action Girl who always wore pants written out at the end of the second season and replaced with Kate, a girl who wore an impractically long dress out in the forest, and whose contributions to the outlaw gang included a string of kidnappings, bitching, and a Romantic Plot Tumour.
- Game of Thrones: In the books it's based on, Arya didn't really have this attitude since she was fine with other girls being girly and didn't really hate feminine things so much as wish they weren't forced upon her since she is naturally no good at them, which makes her feel self-conscious. The show, however, is a different matter, giving Arya this exchange.
Tywin: Aren't most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, with flowers in her hair?Arya: Most girls are idiots.
- In Cougar Town, Bobby makes friends with a tomboy named Riggs. Travis and Grayson turn Shippers on Deck and try to convince him that Riggs is girlfriend material by making her over but when Bobby sees Riggs on a dress, he breaks out laughing because the sight of it is ridiculous to him, "like a dog wearing sunglasses." Rather than feeling embarrased or outraged, Riggs agrees with Bobby and the two continue their platonic relationship, which eventually becomes romantic.
- Doctor Who generally avoids this very well, but the story "Horror of Fang Rock" spends a lot of time contrasting the girly, ineffectual Screaming Woman Adelaide with the Bad Ass Knife Nut companion Leela. For instance, the serial also goes out of its way to show Leela changing her uberfeminine 1910s dress for male clothing, and strong attention is placed on a sequence in which Leela slaps Adelaide in the face (at a time when it was still normal to show male characters slapping female ones in media). To be fair, this was being done to show how badass Leela was compared to traditional companions as well.
- There was some backlash against the supposed Chickification of Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when she eventually hooked up with Worf. Essentially, she was always an old soul in a young body and some fans objected to that "young body" part getting played up when she did things like jump into his arms and get broody, despite the fact that she was an Action Girl throughout the series and even after she died, when Worf and the gang had to go on a dangerous mission to ensure she got into the Proud Warrior Race Guy version of Heaven.
- And the action that got them together? She picked up a sword and challenged him to a duel. Worf tended to suffer serious injury when they slept together, even.
- The saddest part is that the only way in which Jadzia Dax was traditionally "feminine" was that she fell in love and entered a relationship. Otherwise, the writers tried to load her up with every positive "masculine" trait possible. She could kick ass in martial arts plus a variety of specialized weapon combat, she had the experience of multiple previous male lives, she'd most recently BEEN A CROTCHETY OLD MILITARY MAN, she was shown as being cool-headed, brave, and even stoic when necessary, she liked to use the Holosuites to indulge in eye-candy hotties giving her massages, she had Curzon Dax's history of being guy-buddies with Captain Sisko, she flirted with the native cuties on whatever planet they were visiting, and so on and so forth. Yet romance somehow "negated" her "masculine side." Heaven forbid she be someone traditionally "feminine" like Keiko O'Brien, who, during the course of the show, gets engaged, gets cold feet, gets married, gives birth, moves to a space station along with their young daughter to accompany her husband's career move, works first as a civilian botanist, then as an elementary school teacher, gets pregnant again, and has a second child. She not only does calligraphy, she also cooks — and bakes.
- The reason the guys went on a mission to ensure Jadzia's entry to Sto-vo-kor wasn't because she wasn't worthy or didn't believe, it's because she didn't die in battle. She was assassinated.
- Subverted by Battlestar Galactica's Caprica 6.
- Deliberately invoked with a twist in the very NSFW song "Only Straight Girls Wear Dresses" by CWA, in which a Lipstick Lesbian reads the title in graffiti in a bathroom, finds the perp, and convinces her otherwise; with sex.
- The video for P!nk's song "Stupid Girls" equates "stupidity" with feminine things such as playing with dolls, putting on make-up and wearing anything pink while equating being smart with being a tomboy and physically strong. The end of the video has a little girl choosing to play football instead of playing with her dolls.
- The Taylor Swift song "You Belong With Me" has the line "she wears short skirts/I wear t-shirts," and "she wears high heels/I wear sneakers," and makes it clear that her close friend's high-heel- and dress-wearing girlfriend doesn't understand him.
- The song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" has a verse that traditionally goes: "Johnny wants a pair of skates./Susy wants a dolly./Nellie wants a storybook/She thinks dolls are folly." However, complaints got raised that the song was stereotyping all girls to want dolls, even though only Suzy wants a doll while Nellie thinks dolls are stupid. A politically correct version therefore was written, which goes: "Johnny wants a pair of skates./Susy wants a sled./Nellie wants a picture book./Yellow, blue, and red." So Suzy is no longer "stereotyped" but as a result Nellie is now illiterate. Hooray for... improvements?
- Marina & the Diamonds "Girls" is from the perspective of a girl who believes that her fellow female peers are boring and shallow because they don't "think like a guy." Marina nowadays admits to cringing when she hears the lyrics.
- Peanuts had Peppermint Patty, the most athletic female character, wear shorts in contrast to the other girls' dresses. Lucy and Sally later stopped wearing dresses in the 1980s.
- A short arc involved Patty's school enforcing a dress code which required her to wear a dress. She was not at all happy about it.
- La Tigresa's supposed issue with Amarillis in WWC was her being an untalented model hired for her looks. Turned out her actual issue was more along the lines of jealousy, as Tigresa wanted to keep Amarillis from becoming a good wrestler and getting into contention for her woman's title.
- This the reason Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd' failed to turn around after it was turned into JD Star by Hidenobu Ichimaru. Jd' had already lost its purpose after Jaguar Yokota left, as it was created to push her but Ichimaru's attempts to salvage it revolved around scouting girls with model level good looks to train in the jd' dojo in an effort to produce wrestlers who would become actresses. The process produced both the worst and the best wrestlers to ever come out of Jd' but the very ideas of looks being first priority and entering pro wrestling as a stepping stone to something that wasn't even a sport were too off putting to the wider puroresu community, with some joshi eschewing Japanese Politeness to state an "athtress" had no business in the ring with them.
- Early TNA stable "Bitch Slap", Nurse Veronica, Traci Brooks, Cheerleader Valentina and Trinity, were out to improve the image of women in the company by removing those they deemed undesirable. That's right, they were trying to remove the T&A from a pay per view company called TNA. Their main targets were cage dancers but they confusingly picked on jobber Daizee Haze too.
- Implied by Nikki Roxx, when "Barbie Crusher" and "Bimbo Plant" were settled on for the names of her finishing moves. Fans had a tendency to chant "Barbi Doll" at her opponents too, up to and including Hailey Hatred(who often does wear a dress, incidentally) at APW's first ChickFight tournament.
- Best known for working in CMLL and Southern Mexico's Women Wrestling Stars, her catchphrase, "Soy luchadora no modelo!", suggested Starfire was of this mindset. However, she did do photo shoots as High Speed champion in World Wonder Ring STARDOM. Faced covered shoots, but shoots all the same.
- Tammy Lynn Sytch's feud with The Lovely Lacey and later The Age of the Fall started when she praised Daizee Haze and Lacey for being real wrestlers and Lacey responded to say that Sytch was a Diva who did not belong in Ring of Honor. (it should be noted this was provoked by Sytch's past Stay in the Kitchen attitude, which Lacey never forgave Tammy for)
- After her aspirations for grace, infatuation with "The Indy's Most Hated" Amadeus and any friendly tendencies she had left all died, this became a part of Sienna Duvall's gimmick. Having encountered one too many "divas" in the business, it became her aim to root them out and beat them until they give it up.
- After a brief stint with TNA, "The Wrestling Goddess" Athena returned to Traditional Championship and Mid-South Wrestling expecting acceptance from Malia Hosaka, who instead told her all Athena had done was prove she thought being in a squared circle was all about T&A. However Hosaka had to grudgingly admit Athena was tough and talented after they split a series.
- This became The Anti Diva Serena Deeb's secondary gimmick in FCW while she was in the Straight Edge Society in WWE. She soon enough inspired two successors in Anti Divas Sofia Cortez and Paige. (perhaps because they lacked the primary gimmick, the latter two got huge pops). Judging by some of Sweet Nancy's comments, it seems she and Leandra also took on an "anti diva" mindset in EWO (and not to pops).
- When World Wonder Ring STARDOM started up, one of the audience alienating premises was its imitation of the "glamour" approach JD Star took up midway through it's lifespan, with the hiring of swimsuit model or "gravure idol" Yuzuki Aikawa being a particularly strong point of contention. While Aikawa would quickly earn the sympathy of fans after recovering from a thorough trashing given by Nanae Takahashi(which also established STARDOM as the most violent non shoot, non garbage joshi fed), several other wrestlers remained resentful, to the point efforts to ruin "Yuzupon's" looks so she couldn't return to modeling became a Running Gag.
- This was turned into a storyline in WWE in 2011 with Beth Phoenix and Natalya's heel turns, the two of them proclaiming they were sick of the models in WWE. Interestingly on WWE's part, they kept both sides with a sympathetic point of view; Beth and Natalya wanting to make the division more serious and about wrestling while the likes of Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres trying to prove themselves as wrestlers.
- OVW had two new glamazons after Beth Phoenix got called up who provide two different variations. Paradyse is a femboy who likes his women mannish while Epiphany is bully who likes torturing those she considers "divas".
- This article discusses this trope in relation to the WWE Divas and offers a neutral stance on the debate.
- TNA would be at it again with Jacqueline and ODB singling out Velvet Sky and accusing her of ruining the knockouts division with her girly girlness.
- On the July 28, 2012 episode of Ring of Honor TV, there was a clip of Sara Del Rey attacking Maria Kanellis during a brawl between Eddie Edwards and Mike Bennett. This cut to an Edwards promo where he said that he could do anything he wanted to Mike Bennett but he couldn't put his hands on Maria, so he got someone who could. Sara walked into the scene and called Maria "disgusting. You worry about your hair and your nails when a real woman would break you in half."
- After being invited to compete at SHINE, Jessicka Havok took a liking to the company and became protective of it. Her first act in SHINE's name was to cripple earlier invitee Reby Sky, who Havok reasoned had only been contacted because of "smut" and had to be removed from the roster if the promotion was to ever get any respect. Interestingly, Havok tolerated sharing the Crossfire roster with Sky immediately before having a fit at seeing her in SHINE.
- Jessie Kaye (JK Kennadi Brink on Sparkle to distinguish her from Jessie McKay of team Australia) is a diva despising wrestler. Her issue's that she had an unhappy, fat childhood and saw the same type of people who passed her up then continuing to do so in her profession of choice.
- The Deathmatch Diva Slayer Jewells Malone, who would like to introduce her perky, dancing, rump shaking classmate Seleziya Sparx to a heavy object wrapped in barbed wire. Malone's not above wrestling in a mini dress, though.
- On NXT when there was around six Divas, the babyface side consisted entirely of girls with Tomboy gimmicks: Kid-Appeal Character Bayley, woman-child Emma and the Anti-Diva Paige. The heel side was a stable of girly girls known as the BFFs - creating some Unfortunate Implications. In 2014 this was reversed as the heel side included Tomboy Becky Lynch and the face side gained Cute Bruiser Alexa Bliss.
- The first known wargame, Little Wars, published by H. G. Wells in 1913, advertised itself as "a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books" (emphasis mine). On the other hand, given the time period, the fact that girls were acknowledged as players at all is somewhat surprising, especially considering that even today certain wargames seem to go out of their way to exclude them.
- In-story, Lady Macbeth has this opinion of herself. She calls on evil spirits to make her less feminine and able to kill Duncan.
- At first, Wicked suggests that the pink-clad Glinda is an Alpha Bitch who betrayed the more hard-working and tomboy-ish main character. The two become best friends, and learn from one-another to overcome their respective faults. The apparent "betrayal" was something both of them were in on.
- In-universe example in Trauma Team: in one of the extras, Maria wears a dress. Gabe's response is to try to rip his eyes out.
- An In-universe example in Odin Sphere. Just about the only thing the Valkryies of Ragnanival fear is getting married because it usually entails getting hit with a love spell and falling for the first man she sees (usually a man she is given to). Gwendolyn thankfully lucks out in that Oswald likes her just as she is, and is badass enough to beat down everyone else after her; she's not so lucky in that Oswald is a little too afraid of her not loving him if she finds out she was never under that spell to begin with and never tells her.
- Curiously inverted in Fallout: New Vegas with Veronica Santiago. She's a Brotherhood Scribe who isn't afraid to question the Brotherhood's outdated beliefs, admits to having fallen in love with another woman once, and can floor a deathclaw with her power fist. Her greatest wish is... to wear a dress because she wants to look good and sexy for once. She's genuinely grateful if you get her one, and if you find a good dress, she squeals like a schoolgirl. Then she goes back to pummeling the opposition.
- In Solatorobo, this attitude (and a literal instance) is the whole reason for the photo collection sidequest: Alicia had a photo taken while wearing a princess dress, and she's so embarrassed by it that she has her gang swipe all the photographer's photos. Waffle eventually sees it and compliments her, but she's offended by the comparison to Princess Theria.
- Turned on its head in Resonance of Fate. As part of her Character Development, Leanne decides to start wearing full makeup when knowingly heading into gunfights. Her reasoning is it encourages her to keep her emotions in check, since crying will make it start to run, and by not breaking down she avoids becoming a liability to her partners.
- Mass Effect:
- Avoided in the Mass Effect 2 DLC "Kasumi's Stolen Memory". New teammate Kasumi is a Classy Cat-Burglar who enjoys a number of more feminine pursuits such as composing poetry in her off hours, but she's no less an Action Girl than Lad-ette FemShep.
- And Played for Laughs in Mass Effect 3 when FemShep and Miranda Lawson try to have a "feminine" conversation, bringing up various stereotypically female topics only to discover that neither one of them can even manage a complete sentence on the subjects in question.
- Fate/stay night deconstructs this trope with Lady of War Saber. She pretended to be a man and fought on the front lines of battle for all of her human life. At some level she never wanted to do these things but she accepted them because they were her duty as King Arthur. As a result, she has no sense of self-worth, and can only feel fulfilled by serving other people. The main character Shirou realizes that even though she is a supremely skilled warrior, she would be happier if she didn't force herself to fight.
- Averted in Long Live the Queen. If Elodie completely refrains from raising her courtly talents, she'll likely alienate her allies and stand alone against her enemies. As one review put it, "You can't make a successful Arya without adding a little Sansa."
- In Choice of Kung-Fu, if the player chooses to make their avatar female, this trope will potentially affect dialogue. When she sees a badly injured woman collapsed on the road, she has three options: to immediately help, to cautiously investigate the situation further, or to callously walk past on the basis that "it's women like her that make it so hard for women like me to get respect". Doing the latter will fail Master Zhuge's Secret Test of Character and earn her dislike. Zhuge is female, incidentally.
- Debated between skirt-hating Straw Feminist Susan and skirt-loving Action Girl Nanase in El Goonish Shive here (although though both were transformed into boys at the time) with Susan naturally taking the Real Women Don't Wear Dresses side of the argument.
- Kate Beaton mocked this trope with "Strong Female Characters".
- Parodied in Sinfest when Monique cries over a TV show, and gets her "strong woman" card suspended. (Other characters have also had various cards suspended for not behaving stereotypically. For instance, Squigley loses his Bro card after he dares to acknowledge the athleticism of female tennis players rather than just watching for panty shots.)
- In L's Empire, Void asks why Daisy wears a dress if she's a tomboy. She responds as such:
Daisy: DID YOU EVER THINK THAT MAYBE I LIKE TO WEAR DRESSES? HUH, DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT?
- Eerie Cuties: Tomboy Brooke rarely wears skirts or dresses despite having a very practical reason to do so (she occasionally turns into a half-snake and loses her pants to Clothing Damage). Lampshaded by girly-girl Melissa here.
- Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series in the Episode 15 match between Tea Gardner and Mai Valentine. After dissing the latter for being a flirtatious "bleached blonde," Tea announces, "I'm going to beat you, Mai! And when I do, it will prove that women are equal to men!"
- The ComicsAlliance review of The Legend of Korra's finale praises the writers for giving Korra serious character flaws to overcome, in the form of her (typically masculine) brashness and impulsivity. And then it goes on to say it would have been bad writing if the character was more typically feminine, because shyness isn't a real character flaw. Apparently only men and women like men are worthy of character development. And apparently only stereotypically "male" flaws are real flaws that must be overcome, because women in dresses are inherently perfect.
- Use of this trope in advertising is conversed and critiqued on Cracked.com here.
- Discussed on occasion by The Nostalgia Chick, who seems to regard this as a Pet Peeve Trope. She's been known to call badly-done Action Girls "Kate Beatonian Strong Female Characters" (see above). In contrast, one of the things she liked about Frozen was that it trusted Anna to carry the narrative without giving her inexplicable fighting skills.
- Zoe Washburn of Firefly, of all people, gets this treatment from the livejournal blog of allecto.
- Specifically in the episode "War Stories", where Wash survives hours, possibly even a day, of brutal torture, then leads the effort to rescue the captain with roughly thirty seconds of rest first, while knowing they probably have days. Zoe gets this treatment because she rewards Wash by cooking soup.
- The same critic (I presume) also accuses Wash of abusing Zoe. Her (the critic's) argument for this is that all white male/black female relationships she's known have been abusive. Never mind that the show makes it abundantly clear that Zoe wears the pants in the relationship and any attempt to abuse her would put Wash in a body cast for a year, this woman claims her own limited experiences are conclusive evidence.
- The same critic later attempts to make her point by claiming that when it came to the episode's bounty, Zoe began to say something about it being marked for the Alliance and Mal telling her to shut up (in Chinese), which would infer that Mal used his power as a man to dominate and "abuse" his female (and black, as the critic wastes no time pointing out) subordinate. In fact, it was Wash who had made the comment about the bounty being marked, and Mal telling Wash to shut up, not Zoe.
- Whether Mal aimed his remarks at Zoe or Wash wouldn't have mattered, really. He wasn't dominating or abusing his female or his male. He was giving an order as the captain. Just because he's usually easygoing and pleasant-demeanored with his crew doesn't mean he doesn't expect them to jump when he tells them to. Especially since when he decides it's time to start giving orders, the orders involved are often things like "fire at will" and "run like hell."
- Allecto somehow applies this to all of the female characters. She rags on Kaylee for having the gall to want to hook up with Simon, Zoe for...erm being married...? (she seems to think that all marriages ought to be celibate or something), and Inara for her profession. Neverminding the fact that Inara is the only one on the ship who makes a steady living.
- Allecto appears to be a rare type of really extreme Straw Feminist who believes it is inherently impossible for heterosexual sex to be consensual.
- Specifically in the episode "War Stories", where Wash survives hours, possibly even a day, of brutal torture, then leads the effort to rescue the captain with roughly thirty seconds of rest first, while knowing they probably have days. Zoe gets this treatment because she rewards Wash by cooking soup.
- RWBY has a episode where characters question why Ruby and Weiss would think of fighting in a dress as it is impractical. Both react very insulted and explain how they wear specific battle skirts. They are never shown being hindered in any way by their skirts (or, in Weiss's case, by her high heels) and are at least as capable as the pants-wearing females of the series.
- American Dad!:
- In the beginning, Francine is practicing for a pie-baking contest, leading Hayley to belittle her and ask her questions like when she plans on giving back the vote. Later at night, Francine catches Hayley, wearing a frilly, outdated dress, baking pies of her own.
- Played with in another episode. Hayley makes a video of Francine, mocking her status as a typical housewife who sews, cooks, and cleans. Francine is distraught and receives a fake doctor's license and then works for the handicapped mafia. Things get out of hand but once Francine takes care of things Hayley apologizes for claiming Francine couldn't do anything important.
- Deconstructed in Wonder Woman. The Amazons are trained early in life to be warriors, but are secluded from mankind for centuries. Persephone calls Hippolyta out on this near the film's climax. Diana herself finds a balance towards the movies end. She moves to New York and is in a relationship with Steve, but she still maintains her status as an Amazon and fights crime whenever she's needed.
- A Discussed Trope in The Legend of Prince Valiant in which tomboyish Rowanne (who dreams of becoming the first female knight of Camelot) worries that she'll ruin her chances if she's seen dressing and behaving like a girl. Queen Guinevere assures her that she can be both a knight and feminine when she wants to be.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Generally averted.
- In the episode "A Dog and Pony Show" subverts this as Rarity, the most traditionally feminine of the Mane Six, gets kidnapped and enslaved, only for her to rescue herself by manipulating (and annoying) the Diamond Dogs into submission, the Aesop being that being feminine doesn't mean being weak. When it comes to Rarity, she is on multiple occasions shown to be quite at home with violence, and prefers using Good Old Fisticuffs to magic.
- Rough and Tumble Tomboys Rainbow Dash and Applejack are not any more competent or effective than the rest of the cast in a crisis (sometimes even less so).
- And neither of them hesitates for more than a moment to wear the dresses offered by Rarity, to help her by appearing in a fashion show, or get fancy when the occasion, such as the Grand Galloping Gala, calls for it. If there is any resistance, it's usually that Applejack finds the dress impractical (being born and raised on an apple farm), rather than it being too feminine.
- Applejack is also the Team Mom of the Mane 6.
- Princess Cadance is an extremely pink Non Action Girl who has personally vanquished two villains (with some help from her husband Shining Armor).
- Strange Magic: The main character Marianne is a pants wearing Tomboy Princess in contrast to her Princess Classic sister Dawn. Marianne gets to be a sword-fighting badass while Dawn spends half the film as a Damsel in Distress.
- In the Sonic Boom episode "Role Models", the mayor assigns the heroes an "image specialist" to help them be better role models to the town, who proves to be an embodiment of Political Correctness Gone Mad. One of the things he does is forbid Amy from cooking, because that's a gender stereotype.
Amy: While I agree with you in principle, the simple fact is I'm the only one who knows how to cook. And I enjoy it!
D. B. Platypus: [blows whistle] WHAT YOU LIKE IS UNIMPORTANT! You're a role model now.