Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality
This scale examines how the relationships between men and women are portrayed in fiction. The common positions on the scale vary by culture in time, distance, and medium.
True equality, which is near the center of the scale, is rare. The edges are taken by positions where the opposite sex doesn't exist, or exists in only a contemptible form. Note that Level 1 is not the exact reverse of Level 9, as there are far fewer works in which the writer simply fails to include male characters, or in which a setting is intentionally created as a female-free paradise.
See also: The Bechdel Test
and Chromosome Casting
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There Are No Women
There are no female characters in the story, or there are very few, but they serve as nothing more than background for the male character, and don't do anything of note. None of them are more than a minor character. There may be nothing sexist about it - there can be a legitimate reason for the lack of women, such as stories being set in places where women are not allowed (a men's prison
, a WWII era military submarine
, etc.) This is an example of Chromosome Casting
Anime & Manga
- In general, the majority of the Yaoi Genre anime and manga have very few and / or largely insignificant female characters.
- Both Crows and Worst by Hiroshi Takahashi feature no females whomsoever aside from occasional mentions (one of the main characters has no less than 6 girlfriends). This is a seinen manga about inter-school fighting and manly friendship and, despite the premise, even the most rabid Yaoi Fangirl would be hard-pressed to get any Ho Yay out of it.
- Likewise, the satirical manga and anime series Cromartie High School. The mother of one character is seen in at least one episode... And "she" looks exactly like her son but with a skirt and longer hair.
- Kaiji. There is one woman on the show, but she only appears in a single scene in one episode and says no more than two lines.
- Akagi has zero women onscreen in the entire show.
- Most Tintin books feature no significant female characters and in the series as a whole only Bianca Castafiore can be considered an important female; and she's relevant to the plot in only a few of the stories.
- Similarly, the Blake and Mortimer stories written by their original author E.P Jacobs feature a grand total of one female character who got more than a few lines - and she was a litteral medieval Damsel in Distress in a Time Travel episode, who appeared during one third of the story. Authors who took over the series after Jacobs' death have been adding more female characters to the series.
- Dreamcatcher: a stranger in the street early on and numerous extras in the military camp are the only women in the film.
- Dr. Strangelove has precisely one female in the movie, a secretary, who is also a Playboy centrefold.
- Gettysburg; there is talk of wives left behind, but the only women that actually appear in the film are either waving to the troops or tending the wounded in the background.
- Glengarry Glen Ross.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A prostitute appearing in a single scene is the most important female character and the only one given a name. Every last woman in the film besides her is someone's wife, and all their appearances are within the first hour of the nearly 3-hour film. Rape, incidentally, is on Tuco's Long List of prior offenses, which is entirely Played for Laughs.
- This happened with a lot of Sergio Leone's films. Out of his main body of work (which consisted of two trilogies), only three had women in a notable role. The first one (A Fistful of Dollars) had two women in supporting roles - except neither got much screentime. One was running the gang whom the story puts less focus on, and the other is just a Damsel in Distress whose only purpose is to give Clint Eastwood a Pet the Dog moment towards the end. The only two films of his that actually had strong women in significant roles were Once Upon a Time in the West, which had the nerve to include a female protagonist, and Once Upon a Time in America, where the love story plays a major part in a much larger epic. As for the others, For a Few Dollars More has one credited women who only appears in two brief scenes, and one girl who only appears in a flashback and has no lines, and Duck, You Sucker! again has one women who appears in flashback with no lines, and the only other woman is an annoying racist who is out of the picture in the first 15 minutes.
- The British monster movie Gorgo is mocked for this by the MST3K crew. The only woman who appears is in the background of a crowd scene.
- Lawrence of Arabia. Famously used as an example why failing The Bechdel Test doesn't automaticly makes a movie misogynistic since it takes place during a military campain during World War I.
- For that matter just about any war movie tends to fall under this, especially when it focuses exclusively on the battlefield. Somewhat justified with any story set in a war before the 1970s (i.e. World War I, World War II, The Vietnam War), as women wouldn't have been allowed to serve on the battlefield. However it does seem a bit odd that there are very few films dealing with modern wars that show women in uniform.
- Enemy at the Gates inverts this, not only portraying women soldiers in the Red Army, but in a higher proportion than there actually were.
- Likewise, in Master and Commander, the only women that appear in the film are part of a party of native traders that resupply HMS Surprise.
- Reservoir Dogs. There are three women in the movie: the waitress who doesn't meet Pink's tipping standards (who is never seen), the girl that Mr. Pink pulls out of the car while running from the cops, and the driver of the hijacked car that shoots (and is immediately killed by) Orange.
- There was originally a scene involving a female cop, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
- The Shawshank Redemption, being set in a men's prison, has only Andy's barely-glimpsed murdered wife, from whom he was estranged anyway, and a few extras when Brooks and Red are paroled. A good case could be made that the poster and film clips of Rita Hayworth are the film's strongest female presence; an even better case could be made that this is why it flopped, despite nigh-universal critical acclaim.
- John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). No women among the main cast, and the only female presences are a chess computer that's out of commission 30 seconds after the introductory scene of R.J. MacReady, and a 10-second glimpse of a female contestant in some game show the two mechanics are watching. This may be Truth in Television, however; there aren't many women stationed in Antarctica.
- The prequel goes up a few levels, seeing as the base had two women - one a professional French scientist and the other an American student of paleontology.
- This is also true in the original story Who Goes There?, which was written in 1938. While woman's rights movements had been going on as early as World War I, there were still only a few jobs available by that point that were considered acceptable for women, and being sent to do scientific research in Antarctica was not one of them.
- But in the 1951 film version The Thing from Another World one of the main characters is a woman (and in fact the actress who plays her, Margaret Sheridan, is topbilled - although admittedly the real stars are Kenneth Tobey and James Arness).
- 12 Angry Men. The only characters are the members of an all-male jury. Some modern versions try to correct this by making the judge a woman. Others simply opt to retitle the play "Twelve Angry Jurors" just so that some of the jury can be women.
- My Dinner With Andre is a very minimalist film with only two main characters: both men. A wife is mentioned and women are seen in the restaurant but it focuses on the two male leads.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey is a very male-dominated movie. We do see women working in space, though largely as stewardesses, secretaries, and other stereotypically female professions. Dr. Floyd does speak to two female scientists, but the group conducting the lunar expedition as well as the Discovery crew are both made up entirely of men. Arthur C. Clarke's sequel novels, especially 2010: Odyssey Two, incorporate more strong female characters.
- The Hobbit.
- Robinson Crusoe.
- Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara, probably because it was just a ripoff of The Lord of the Rings; the next book has the world saved by a girl and in the third one of the trilogy, one of the protagonists is a girl.
- The stories of H.P. Lovecraft: there are virtually no female characters across such a vast body of work. Only one of his seventy-plus stories has a female protagonist, and even then there's a whole complex issue wherein it turns out to be a man in a woman's body. At best, a character's wife briefly appears and maybe gets a line or two.
- However, it is often argued that this is simply because Lovecraft himself was not good at writing female characters. With changing roles in society women are sometimes featured more prominently in the mythos stories of contemporary writers.
- Indeed, Lovecraft himself wrote in a letter that discrimination against women is an "oriental" superstition from which "aryans" ought to free.
- In fact while Lovecraft very rarely wrote female protagonists, his depiction of the few women that appear in his stories is actually quite impressive for the time he was writing. For instance, in The Shadow Out of Time, when the main protagonist apparently goes mad (In actuality his body being swapped with an alien from the past but nobody else had any way of knowing that), rather than simply submit to her husband despite his sudden changes and seemingly-abusive nature, his wife actually takes action and divorces him.
- One exception to the rule is Keziah Mason, who features prominently as the antagonist in Dreams in the Witch House. Another interesting case is the mother of Arthur Jermyn. She's never named, but is quite atypical among Lovecraft's female characters: a music hall singer who walked into the family seat and forced everyone to accept her son, then managed somehow to scrape the family fortune together and see that her son had a decent education.
- Lovecraft did write a few stories in which the gender of the protagonist was never explicitly stated, leaving room for alternate interpretation. Some notable examples include The Nameless City, The Festival, The Music of Erich Zann, What the Moon Brings, Cool Air, Ex Oblivione and The Hound (to which there is actually an unofficial continuation that runs with this).
- A lot of early genre writers were like this. Much like Lovecraft Edgar Allen Poe mainly wrote male characters, with a wife or sister in a supporting role at best (and quite often when there was a female character they met a nasty end, as seen in Berenice and The Black Cat). In some cases (again, The Black Cat), the female characters didn't even get a name.
- Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, both early science fiction writers, were slightly more open, but their works are still very male-dominated. In Verne's case it may have been simply because he was writing at a time when women doing some of the things he described would seem unrealistic (I.E. joining a scientific expedition to the center of the Earth, though granted this was handled well in the 1959 adaptation). In fact the one story he did where it would be logically possible, Around the World in Eighty Days, actually does have a surprisingly strong female character for the time (and I might add that she's an Indian princess).
- Lord of the Flies, chronicling the adventures of the students from an all-boys school.
- The Discworld novel Small Gods (since it's about a church that doesn't allow female priests)
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Later books in the series have female characters, including a female protagonist in both Foundation and Empire (the critical second half) and Second Foundation.
- Asimov's Lucky Starr books are direly short of women. A female alien appears briefly in the first book, a wife appears in the second (and promptly goes away to make coffee for the men), and they're absent from the final three books.
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The original story had practically no women aside from the unnamed witness who saw Mr. Hyde commit a murder. A huge difference from most, if not all adaptations, which usually tack in a Love Interest for Dr. Jekyll.
- The first half of Watership Down. The second half revolves around trying to find some females so the warren doesn't die out.
- In World War Z by Max Brooks there are 37 men yet only 5 women in what is presented as a UN report.
- G. K. Chesterton's first novel The Napoleon Of Nottingham Hill. Of course, judging by his later works, probably what the women were doing was refusing to get involved in such silly nonsense.
- Deadliest Warrior - Being a show about historical warriors battling to the death that's Rated M for Manly, it's to be expected. Briefly became a type 4 in one episode of Season 2 (CIA vs. KGB), where both sides had one female operative, and one of them (The KGB) kicked quite a bit of ass.
- Recently got its first female warrior in her own right in the form of Joan of Arc who fought against William the Conqueror, she even (won)
- Red Dwarf's plot hinged entirely on three guys (four once Kryten joined the cast) getting stuck on a spaceship in the middle of deep space 3 million years from Earth (though for a little while they did have a female computer). There were even a few episodes where the guys tried to get women on board, only for something strange to be revealed. The series finally gained a female lead half-way through Season 7, but even then Season 8 largely took place in the ship's prison, and her role was greatly overshadowed by the other male characters. Then she was completely written out of the miniseries that followed.
- Thomas the Tank Engine used to be like this until characters like Daisy, Mavis, and Emily came along. Apparently, as the show goes on, it goes up a few levels in the scale.
- The parody game Hol has no pre-generated female characters to play as because "no woman has been stupid or unlucky" to be sent to the Hell Hole Prison.
- In Punch-Out!!, the only women ever seen are Super Macho Man's fangirls in still pictures, and Aran Ryan's sister who is mentioned and nothing else. Justified though - it is a male boxing circle, after all.
- Many of the past decade's video games have featured a watered-down version of this trope out of pragmatism: The differences between male and female skeletons means that a female character model will look noticeably wrong if it's moving the same way as the male characters (and animation rigs are fairly costly in terms of development resources). This hurdle doesn't stop you from including women in motion-captured cutscenes and the like, so many developers partially avert this by having female characters in prominent supporting roles (e.g. Cortana, Anya, and the female helicopter pilot in Call of Duty 4). And since the male characters whose screen time exceeds theirs tend to be "blank slate" tough guys, said women often wind up with more depth and personality than anyone else.
- Maverick Hunter X - the only female character in the game is a navigator who helps X in coordinating the robot masters but plays no significant part in the story.
- The rest of the X series fairs a little better, having female navigators starting with 4 (and most famously one of said navigators as a boss in 4 as well,) and finally letting them take to the field as unlockable characters in 8.
- The original Sonic the Hedgehog games bar Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball.
- Silver Chaos. But, you see...
- Team Fortress 2 has no playable female characters. There's just eight classes that are clearly male and the Pyro. The only person who is clearly female only appears in-game as The Voice.
- The warcamp in Goblins is males-only by mandate of the goblins' deity, with female spellcasters the only exception. Justified in that the "warcamp" is an expendable decoy settlement, which diverts adventurers' attention away from the hidden village where the noncombatant women and children can live in safety.
- Metalocalypse. Only a small handful of episodes give female characters any lines; mostly they're just nude or semi-nude groupies.
Whores, Whores, Whores...
In this kind of fiction, all female characters are either complete sluts who will screw around with anything that moves or helpless and disposable sex slaves whose sole purpose of existence is being raped or taken advantage of by male characters. Of course, they ought to enjoy the rape
and thank men for it. Needless to say, in such fictions, women are also commanded to grovel at men's feet, Stay in the Kitchen
, Et Cetera... or else.
Anime & Manga
- Most beer ads, where women exist solely as sex objects/status objects for men.
- The mad scientists trying to take over the world in Our Man Flint hypnotize the majority of women into "pleasure units" who serve, flirt, canoodle, and presumably sleep with any man without question. For his part, White Knight Flint manages to undo this by uttering "You are not a pleasure unit" in a woman's ear.
Table Top Games
- John Norman's Gor has this all over the place. The women of Gor fall into one of three categories — free women, who are supposed to be afforded respect; outlaws, who have no legal protection and are subject to capture and worse; and slaves, often of the sexual variety. It is all too easy for a woman of the first two categories to become the third category, and unlike men who fall into slavery, who generally break free of their bondage and move on with their lives, women who become slaves generally tend to stay slaves.
- The Eye of Argon has this, though the men are sluts too.
- The Fifth Sorceress and other books in that series. More or less, anyway.
- A Clockwork Orange portrays women this way, with the exception of Alex's mother and a couple of female doctors. Of course, the book and film are told from the perspective of a psychopath.
- Overwhelmingly the case in the works of the Marquis de Sade. Women are capable of cruelty, as characters like Eugenie and Juliette prove beyond doubt, but Character Filibusters about male superiority and the pleasures of torturing women abound in the Sadean canon.
- The Paladin of Shadows series by John Ringo, which even he considers a "wanker piece". The protagonist is said by the fandom to "collect hookers like cats", and it's the origin of the "OH JOHN RINGO NO!" Memetic Mutation.
- FATAL is here, among its many other flaws (including the very fact that it exists).
- Grand Theft Auto. Lord, Grand Theft Auto!
- The Witcher. Every time you sleep with a woman, you are rewarded with a card that picture her doing something "sexy" (like strangling a chicken (?!?!)). There are several important women, but they are all obsessed with Geralt and defined largely by their sexual allure.
- The Ciem Webcomic Series and its Ultimate Universe counterpart both have shades of this. Yes, the women outnumber the men, and get to have more adventures. But a lot of their adventures can best be described as "almost got raped/killed/whatever today, but got away in the nick of time." Men hold nearly all the positions of authority, and the few women that have any authority are either useless or psychotic. With exception of a small handful of good guys, all the men are either mindless sex addicts or depraved sadists or sleazy manipulators, all bent on enslaving women and usually abusing them sexually. The women are completely obsessed with their romantic/sexual reputations, and the damage done from all the times they're raped and/or nearly killed.
Know Your Place, Woman!
Women are useless and most of the time don't contribute anything. If they are in trouble, they can only wait to be rescued. Also, they are never in control of anything - males are always patriarchal leaders and their actions can be questioned only by other males. Most of the purest and straightest (which means those that will never change) examples of The Load
and/or Damsel in Distress
Anime & Manga
- Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, though there are notable exceptions in Belit and Valeria, who are treated as Conan's equals, and superior to the average man. Same with Zula from Conan the Destroyer. Although she needed rescuing toward the beginning she more than manages to hold her own in combat with and against men. Female monarchs have the same level of power and influence as their male counterparts, but story considerations often cast them in the role of damsel-in-distress. It goes with the time period (both when it's supposed to have happened and when it was written).
- Most of the stories in the 1920s-era Pulp Magazines were at this level; the only role female characters ever had was Damsel Scrappy.
- At first, War and Peace. It is not stretching to say men are the characters of War and women the characters of Peace.
- The original Tripods trilogy fits squarely here. There is only one notable female character, and her only real influence on the story is to provide a Heroic BSOD for the protagonist when she is handed over to the Tripods, stuffed, and put on display.
- A Song of Ice and Fire is a huge subversion of this type of setting. While the world is quite obviously patriarchal, there are several prominent female characters. The books have several viewpoint characters, and many of them are female. Female characters either adhere by gender expectations and find ways to obtain or assert their power (Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Margaery Tyrell, Arianne Martell), completely subvert them by being action girls (Arya Stark, Asha Greyjoy, Brienne of Tarth), or follow gender expectations and suffer (Sansa Stark).
- The kingdom of Dorne is the only kingdom in Westeros that allows females to be in the line of succession, even if they are the eldest. Several action girls in the series (the infamous Sand Snakes) are from Dorne. Bear Island is similar in that the females take up arms to defend their homes while the men are off fishing. Wildling women fight as well, being called spearwives, and women of the mountain clans can fight and are allowed positions of power.
- Dothraki culture is very patriarchal, but the dosh khaleen, the religious leaders of the capital Vaes Dothrak, are all widows of the male Khals.
- Before The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond movies were like this, at best. Bond was a jerk at best, a chauvinist at worst. (Of course, that said more about the time period than it did for him.
- Most Super Mario Bros. games, with Peach as a perfect Damsel in Distress. However, Super Princess Peach is an inversion.
- Final Fantasy I, though considering the party members aren't defined as male other than (limited) visual clues, you could cast them as females. The game still only features two named female characters, one is a Damsel in Distress, the other a blind witch.
- Final Fantasy II has one female protagonist, and also including Princess Hilda as a major NPC and temporary party member Leila. It's still up the mostly male party and their almost all-male support to take on the Emperor though.
- Final Fantasy III sits squarely here, with once again only three female NPCs, two of them give their lives to make sure the (presumed all male) heroes can continue on towards beating the bad guy.
- Dragon Quest I had only one named female character, who was a Damsel in Distress.
- This article implies the game Earthbound belongs here.
- The Penguins of Madagascar - there are very few females and they only show up when the plot of the episode revolves around their character, which isn't that often. It's no surprise to know that the lead male Skipper can be a sexist jerk.
- Transformers has about 300 male characters and 3 female characters. The few females are VERY gender-stereotyped as either the Damsel in Distress or The Vamp.
Men Are More Equal
At this level it looks like both sexes are equal. Then why do only males have all the cool and most offensive powers and equipment, while their female teammates do things like providing first aid, being Mission Control
, working in the laboratory and you would be damned if you will ever see any of them in an actual fight? And even if they go into a fight, they end up either defeated easily, insignificant in the overall victory, or end up fighting another girl
. Every unlucky Action Girl
that lives in a world set at this level will suffer from Chickification
and eventually turn into or be revealed as a Faux Action Girl
. At this level, men and women are equal, but some things are still a man's job
Anime & Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh! - Most of the time a girl wins in Duel Monsters, it's an unimportant duel that we see only in a cut-scene, and those on which the plot is focused and have been won by girls can be counted on one hand.
- In Macross, humans are here. A major plot point is how subversions of this status quo begin to appear.
- Gundam series directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino tend to go here (we're looking at you, Shrike Team).
- Indeed, many Universal Century works tend to zig-zag between this and the next category. Female characters are very much present, such asSayla Mass or Audrey Burne aka Mineva Lao Zabi, but they vary from being capable and prominent to merely in the background. More recent works however place women on an even more equal footing.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Most of the female characters have strong personalities and shown to be competent and capable, but still revolve around the more numerous male characters (often because it's their their job, which then evolves into affection). Although there are two female Gundam pilots, Allenby and Rain, they don't get the same specialty techniques as the male protagonists and the second spends the majority of the finale episodes as a Damsel in Distress. Allenby is notable for avoiding Designated Girl Fights (being the only female Gundam Fighter in the Finals her opponents are male, and she goes after big, burly male thugs on several occasions) and her fighting skills are shown to be on par with the rest of the Shuffle Alliance.
- Rurouni Kenshin, where the female characters are supposed to be very competent and can look big and impressive, but all supposed Action Girls are actually Faux Action Girls who nearly always fail in the line of battle.
- Naruto ends up being this way. All of the Rookie Nine are composed of teams of two boys and one girl. Granted, the girls are allowed to be plenty Bad Ass — often with the caveat that she fails in a suitably plucky manner and is either defeated or rescued by a man — but it's still a man's world.
- Dragon Ball. The female characters are however competent and most of them are great fighters, but become less significant as the series goes on and make room for the male main characters. Unfortunately, all of the characters aside from the saiyans got less significant by Dragon Ball Z.
- Street Fighter. Though the female characters are as equally capable of fighting as the male characters, they are still a lot fewer compared to the male cast.
- Parts 2 through 5 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, since there are a lot fewer female characters and that they contribute somewhat less to the overall plot, except when they have to be rescued. They get better about it over time, until part 6 which has a female main protagonist helps.
- While Bleach is more focused on Ichigo and we have two damsels in distress, there's justification why both Rukia and Orihime aren't doing anything while being imprisoned and we have Yoruichi and Soi-Fon, two powerful female shinigami who proved themselves in a fight with very strong enemies.
- Another woman, adult form Nel, almost killed Nnoitora, an Arrancar who gave Kenpachi a hard fight in a fight, but her powerup didn't last, and her opponent had not activated his Super Mode at the time.
- Vizards' power rank is based on how long he/she can stay with his/her masks on. The first time Ichigo lasted three seconds, while Mashiro took 15 hours to reach her limits. Although this ends up being more of an Informed Ability, since Mashiro still managed to wear out all that power in a single fight ending up being rescued by Kensei.
- Death Note. A few of the female characters, such as Misa and Rem, are okay, but the vast majority pale in comparison to the men, or come across as almost Too Dumb to Live. We're looking at you, Naomi Misora.
- Texhnolyze may belong here. There are only two female characters in major plot roles, Doc and Ran. And while they are perfectly good at the jobs they perform (and Doc is a Mad Scientist, which is an unusual role for a woman), both of them answer to men. There are also no women with any combat ability worth speaking of, like there are with men.
- Muhyo And Roji. There are skilled females of various trades in the Magical Law Society (Biko, whose skill at making tools is crucial on several occasions, her teacher Rio and Imai, a skilled Judge) and Ark (Ivy, Rio, again and Panza), but the majority of the most influential and powerful heroes and villains are male.
- Even though there was a female dog named Cross in the Ohu army in Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, the dogs in the army are almost all male. This is due to male dogs being bigger and stronger than females.
- Toriko winds up here. Women like Melk the Second and Rin are shown to be quite capable at their own work (neither of which is typical feminine work), and a few other competent women are sprinkled here and there, but they all get very little screentime compared to the main male cast.
- Bakugan is an odd case. It originally started off as Level 5, with a balanced main cast of males and females and both genders participating in the plot. However, starting with the second season (New Vestroia), all the major female characters were Put on a Bus and Demoted to Extra, and the new cast became more male-dominated with The Smurfette Principle mostly in effect, causing the show to slide back into Level 4.
- Sword Art Online has both male and female players being able to kick ass in the game, right? Yet, thank to the plentiful of Male Gaze Fanservice, the anime series winds up here.
- Many manly action movies such as Con Air, which had two women with supporting roles, they were the protagonist's wife and the female prison guard.
- The James Bond movies where the Bond Girl is his professional equal, such as You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, or Tomorrow Never Dies. They might still need rescuing in the climax, but they're not constant damsels in distress.
- In Star Wars (the original trilogy, anyway) Princess Leia had a less active role than the major male characters and only played a major combat role in Return of the Jedi. Even there, Han rather than her led the Endor strike force even though she'd been with the Rebellion a lot longer and was among its top leadership. All the fighter pilots in all three movies were male, and the only other female character, Mon Mothma, was in a leadership but non-combat role (though the Expanded Universe reveals she is the leader of the Rebellion, former Senator representing her homeworld, etc.)
- The Lord of the Rings may fit here: although most of the characters are men, the few female characters that exist are very strong personalities and in Galadriel's case, quite powerful. This probably explains why Arwen is written to be significantly more Badass in the first film, although she suffers from Chickification later on.
- Courtship Rite has a society much like ours in this respect (though very different in others). Some clans are blatantly sexist, while others profess a more egalitarian view. Still, even in the more open-minded clans, it seems like it's mainly men in positions of power, and mainly men who do the fighting.
- In Ender’s Game, the battle school seems to have no problems recruiting kids of either gender, but it's stated that boys tend to get accepted more often than girls. That said, the one girl we do see is treated more or less as equal, at least by Ender.
- The West Wing is here. The vast majority of the important characters are male, and one of the select prominent female ones is sometimes known as a "sex kitten". Others include the first lady's Chief of Staff who's then director of legislative affairs, the president's executive secretary, the deputy chief of staff who's Josh's love interest, and a prominent one as press secretary. But at the end of the day it's the men who are the leaders who most of the action is around.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation. While it shows more women in leadership positions than Star Trek: The Original Series (including female captains, admirals, and a female Chief Medical Officer), the majority of them are guest stars or minor recurring characters. Of the three women in the main cast at the start of the series, the only one in a combat role was quickly written out when her actress decided to leave the show, unhappy with the way her character was being written. The other two, while influential and highly respected crew members, are both medical professionals who rarely see action, and Counselor Troi is widely considered to be one of the more useless officers.
- Note that the combat woman was not written sexist, as much as, like Worf, a one-note character.
- Doctor Who tends to fall here more often than not with regards to the Doctor / companion dynamic; the Doctor, a male, is usually the clever, resourceful and heroic one while his female companions tend to play the role of the less-experienced and resourceful sidekick who needs everything explained to them or needs to be rescued from the Monster of the Week. While the classic series was pretty notorious for this (although the stereotype of the completely useless, whiny Damsel in Distress who was only ever good for twisting her ankle and screaming at something is actually less common than you'd think), the new series has tried to move away from this with varying degrees of success.
- Warhammer 40,000 zigzags, but is mostly positioned here. Space Marines, the Primarchs, the Emperor and at least 3 of the Chaos Gods are male. Most factions employ men for combat. On the other hand, the Adeptus Sororitas are all-female and the Imperial Guard features equal amounts of men and women (not that one would notice from the official minis though). Xenos races are usually more equal, and have more visibly female models. When it comes to background however, women are much more favourably positioned in general, bordering on true equality (sexism is still an issue, but usually presented as something bad that has to be fixed).
- BIONICLE goes here, primarily as a result of being a boys' toyline that is heavily affected by The Smurfette Principle. Women can be powerful warriors, but the focus is always on the male characters. Female Toa also seem to be given the least interesting mask powers, ranging from the Boring, but Practical Underwater Breathing, to the Blessed with Suck Mask of Detection (which gives its wearer headaches as she gets closer to the MacGuffin). The Bechdel Test is rarely passed. In the early years in particular, the females were portrayed as the calm, gentle ones, while the males displayed much more diversity, although in recent years this has improved.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, this seems to be more story based rather than gameplay, which is more even.
- Final Fantasy IV had mostly male characters, there were a handful of prominent female characters, including 3 female playable characters and a handful of female villains. The kingdom of Troia had an all-female army and was ruled by a group of women. The sequel added several more playable female characters.
- Final Fantasy VII falls squarely here, with the few female characters being strong but mostly used for plot devices. Most important NPCs are male even then.
- Dragon Quest II had three playable characters, two males and a female, which was a step up from the previous game.
- Kingdom Hearts. The earlier games have the whole 'Princesses of Heart' and 'rescue Kairi' thing going on, but there's never shown to be any sexism in the various game worlds. Aqua was a big step forward, being a fully playable badass, but even then she's the only major female character to be properly playable.
- Most installments of The Legend of Zelda go here. Zelda is more capable than the average Damsel in Distress, but at the end of the day, it's always Link saving her from the male Big Bad. Side quests and subplots involve every combination of genders imaginable, but again, it's always Link, a man, who ultimately saves the day - and even there, women are noticeably more likely to be damsels in distress than quest givers or troublemakers.
- In both Inazuma Eleven videogames and manga/anime, there are girls who play soccer (especially in the second game, where almost every team has one or two females on it, and there are the Osaka Gals too). However, the boys have far more focus than their female counterparts and the only two girls who have joined the Raimon so far are not very strong in comparison (heck, Touko's The Tower ends up destroyed most of the time) Of course, this is only plot-wise, as you can make an all-female team in the games if you want to and Curb-Stomp Battle rivals with a good training.
- Pokémon's more recent installments are pretty much equal for player characters, with the option to play as a male or femalenote , and Gym Leaders, who tend to have an even split between genders. However, the female Pokemon professor in Pokémon Black and White is so far the only Token Woman to hold the position, and the female rival in Black/White is written with uncomfortable stereotypicality (although this is partially cushioned in the sequels, which make her an assistant to the token female professor, and some other media including the anime, in which she is somewhat more developed as a character).
- Arthur started at this level but changed in later seasons.
Almost Perfect Equality
Stories that portray both sexes as an equal or are at least trying to balance Damsel in Distress
with Action Girl
or subvert/justify them fit here. Both men and women may be protagonists. It's almost impossible to achieve a perfect balance of both sexes, especially in stories aimed for one specific audience (like Shonen
) - sometimes girls don't get full respect only because the story is just too focused on boys and vice versa. That's why many of the examples here are works that, while it is still impossible to tell whether they portray both sexes as completely equal, are just more balanced than Level 4 or 6.
Anime & Manga
- Most superhero universes fall here. While heroes (and villains) tend to be male, the female ones we see are just as competent. The only problem comes when the writers try to introduce some angst or remove a supporting character- who is often female- resulting in cases of Stuffed into the Fridge.
- Wonder Woman is an interesting case. Originally created precisely as an empowerment example, she is considered today to be one of DC Comics' "Trinity" of main heroes, the equal of Superman and Batman. Her supporting cast also features many strong (and some funny) female characters. However, in recent times, her main background element, The Amazons, have, over the years, lost their scientific and philosophical achievements, and been in fact reinvented as man-haters. See Amazons Attack for a particularly gross example.
- Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light stars a full-fledged Action Girl who gets into fights with supervillains on a regular basis and always gives as good as she gets. Most of her Rogues Gallery is male, although every single one of them Would Hit a Girl and have no problems going after Spider-Woman with everything they have. In her civilian identity, Mary Jane Watson also has to deal with the same kind of bad luck, money problems, and bad grades that frequently plague male Triple Shifters.
- Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams doesn't apply quite as much, given that the protagonist is male, but several of his enemies are Dark Action Girls and Sleepwalker has no compunctions about hitting them just as hard as he would any of his male enemies. The female characters in Rick Sheridan's and Sleepwalker's supporting casts also get a considerable amount of development in their own right.
- Starship Troopers shows men and women as being perfectly equal, to the point of showering together and sharing sleeping quarters.
- In Harry Potter, the wizarding world seems to be more gender-equal than ours; there have been female Ministers for Magic, headmistresses of Hogwarts, and female Quidditch players for centuries. In fact two of the four Hogwarts founders were women.
- Like Star Wars, most of the important characters are still men, although there are several strong female characters (and two villains we love to hate — Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange).
- The fifth book in particular added several prominent female characters that are fan favorites, including Luna Lovegood, Tonks (who was also the first female Auror identified on page), and the aforementioned female villains.
- Warrior Cats: The Clan society is set up for almost perfect gender equality with both toms and she-cats receiving equal training and equal opportunity to become medicine cat, deputy, or Clan leader. Not to mention that there has never been a point in the series where there were no female leaders, all the Action Girls throughout the series, and how more recently most deputies have been female. The only difference between toms and she-cats is that she-cats have to nurse their kits for six months, which is more a biological necessity than discrimination. On top of that, there has been an almost equal number of male and female protagonists. The only real question that has come up on occasion is whether or not female cats in positions of authority should be allowed to have kits. There's no explicit rule against it, but it is not often done because it is believed that having kits will distract and incapacitate the she-cat, especially while nursing. Leafstar challenges this idea in SkyClan's Destiny, citing the warrior code rule "The word of the Clan leader is the warrior code" as the reason: she's the leader, so she gets to say what's okay and not, and she says that it's okay for female leaders to have kits.
- The Honor Harrington series mostly falls in this category. The Star Kingdom of Manticore, the (People's) Republic of Haven and most other Honorverse societies are more or less perfectly gender-equal; even the Space Marines have many female members
- The Wheel of Time is all over the shop on this. Both sexes are equally stupid. The women are Closer to Earth, but also tend to be nagging shrews, misandrists, end up in chains with some man lording it over them, or all three. Men, on the other hand, are all idiots and deserve to be abused. Witness Mat being raped at knifepoint, which is apparently considered hilarious. In The Wheel Of Time, all male members of the Witch Species are doomed by their powers to go violently insane, and so have to be "gentled" before they can do (much) harm. As a result, the balance of power is shifted way over towards the female side, and many women are convinced of their inherent superiority (in fact, most men are inherently stronger in magic as well as physicality.) So, as noted, it arrives here not because of gender parity, but because both sexes are equally sexist. Two Wrongs Make A Balance.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo depicts a lot of evil men, but Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist share time as co-protagonists and are both skilled.
- Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen's Thief books are pretty even on gender equality. While the majority of the major cast is male in terms of numbers, Eddis and Attolia are both female and hands-down two of the wicked smartest characters in the series. Gen is arguably smarter than them, but he needed both of their smarts to accomplish most of his crazy gambits. Even stupidity (when it shows up, which isn’t often) is distributed pretty well proportionally between male and female characters (for example: Nahuseresh and Costis, for males, and Hanaktos’ daughter for females). Even the important deities are evenly split between male and female, as with Moira and Eugenides. Irrespective of gender, most of the main characters in this series are pretty freakin’ badass. This is especially impressive considering the setting is based on ancient-to-medieval Greece, and even the culture within the books isn’t incredibly egalitarian. The characters are defying their own universe to be gender-equal.
- The Sword of Truth series is here in regards to the characters and philosophy, though most of the societies are heavily unequal in one way or another. The House and Rahl and the Imperial Order are clear Type 2s, ruled by straw misogynists, where women are considered breeding stock or worse. The Midlands is an odd example: It's a Type 3 society where women wear their hair cut short as a sign of submission to men, but the ruling Confessors wear their hair long as a sign of defiance and kill all of their male children at birth because they don't think men have the "unique compassion of a woman" to resist abusing their powers, thereby placing them at either Type 8 or 9.
- Animorphs falls squarely here for the entire run of the series. Of the main characters, only two are girls, but both are Action Girls, and they're never treated as any less important than the boys.
- For the most part, Gone falls into this category. It got some accusations of a Level 4 early on, but the later books fixed it, putting it here.
- The crew of Serenity in Firefly appears this way. Zoe, the first mate, is just as respected as Captain Mal, and perfectly capable of leading if he is indisposed.
- Also, no bones are made at all in the show that she's an Action Girl, nor is her Non-Action Guy husband treated as being any less of a man just because his wife could kick his ass.
- Colonial society in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica appears to be this, more or less. Men and women participate essentially equally in both government and the military (the President is a woman for most of the series, and the head of the Fleet is a man, but the Quorum of Twelve is mixed and there are high-ranking officers of both sexes).
- In some cases, they're even more open-minded than modern society. For instance, public restrooms, at least on Galactica, are unisex. Also, in one episode Sam mentions to Apollo that Kara proposed marriage to him, and there is no indication that a woman proposing to a man is unusual in their society.
- The original Battlestar Galactica hovers between this and Type 4. While most women are relegated to support roles; several get to upgrade to full kickass Viper pilots. One of the best pilots in the fleet, Sheba, is female, and she easily holds her own against her male counterparts, even commanding an elite squadron. Females are the minority on the Council, but they are easily as formidable as the men, in some cases even more so. One, Siress Belloby, even manages to cow Adama of all people.
- Power Rangers at its best is around here.
- JAG: While the men are more numerous, the women are no less capable.
- For the most part, Scandal is this. The President is male, but the protagonist, Olivia Pope, is female (and black), and is generally regarded as one of the most powerful people in Washington in large part because of her Chessmastery. The ensemble cast has a good mix of males and females and doesn't generally favour one over the other.
- Castle tends to come close to this. Kate Beckett does tend to have the edge over Richard Castle as both a detective and an action hero, although this can be explained both by her being more driven and focused personality-wise than his more flippant and irreverent nature and by her being a trained professional detective as opposed to him being an untrained mystery writer. He's also no slouch at either solving crimes or getting dangerous when necessary.
- Dungeons & Dragons, in statistical terms anyway. It can differ according to the setting, with allowances for the fact that it's mostly medieval-level societies. Planescape, Eberron, and Forgotten Realms are probably the most egalitarian, with plenty of powerful, competent women who hold the same roles men do.
- D&D has an interesting relationship with this trope. As explained in the v3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide II, the makers of the game have gone out of their way to ensure gender equality, both mechanically and within the (generally assumed) game universe—even when this clashes with players' initial expectations of a medieval-ish society. There is a simple and compelling reason for this: they don't want barriers for female player characters. However, since D&D is possibly the biggest Trope Codifier of the fantasy genre, a lot of other fantasy works that didn't have the same practical need for egalitarianism picked it up anyway. The result is that today, completely gender-blind fantasy worlds are the norm, unless this trope is actually discussed in the work. This applies even if the world is otherwise based on a medieval or otherwise non-gender-equal real-world culture.
- In 1st Edition AD&D, females' Strength scores had a lower ceiling than males', which effectively barred them from being fighters by making them undesirable, and literally barred Small female demihumans from classes with a high minimum Strength score.
- Played painfully straight in Paranoia, where hormone-suppressing drugs and Computer-directed education means that most clones see no distinction between the genders other than a different set of superficial attributes. Characters in Secret Societies that study the mangled relics of the past might get some glimpses of gender inequality, but it's always filtered by misguided understanding of those relics and played for laughs.
- Applies to the Deadlands campaign setting, since the dangers of the west means most communities need everyone they can get and can't be picky. There's also an unusually long American Civil War that drained a lot of male resources. If a woman wants to guard your caravan and at least knows which end of her gun is which, you hire her. The same thing has done a good job of erasing racism.
- In Legends Of The Wulin, While mainstream society is just as sexist as it was in historical China, the Wulin is presented as an idealized society, where members are judged by their deeds, rather than their sex, ethnicity or wealth. The game recommends that for female PCs, gender prejudice should only be as much of a problem as the player wants it to be.
- In Disgaea men and women of various classes have the same base stats and aptitudes in the key stats, but vary in weapon proficiency, other stats, and evil acts. The cast is usually relatively equal in terms of gender ratio and there are just as many badass women as there are badass men.
- Fire Emblem fits right in here. The main protagonist is male more often than not, but there are quite a few women who take that role as well. Story-wise, there are as many females in positions of power as males, and functionally, the genders are equal in combat. For every uber-powered male character you run into, there's an uber-powered female somewhere (e.g., Ike and Hector are regarded as powerhouses, but so are Titania and Tanith).
- Dragon Age: Origins actually mentions that men and women are pretty much equal in Ferelden. Nobody seems to find anything odd about a woman leading the grey wardens, Queen Anora is a great political ally, and in the dwarven kingdom of Orzrammar, the female dwarf warden is named heir to the throne along with her older brother (And because she and her brother are removed, that's why the Succession Crisis happens). And it's not just authority, Fereldan women excel at ass-kicking, too: e.g. in human noble origin, the PC's supposedly frail defenseless mother dons combat gear and proceeds to tear her way through the besieged castle alongside the PC.
- Although it is debatably a type 4 at times, as some characters find it odd when they see a woman warrior and, naturally, rape is not all that uncommon.
- Then again, as the female city elf origin shows, it's most definitely not without its dangers...
- In the Fallout world it's pretty common to see women as soldiers, carrying weapons (and knowing well how to use them), in charge of units and fighting like their male counterparts, you can even see female raiders and bandits, and female ghouls. Looks like that, when you live in a Crapsack World full of mutant animals, merciless criminal gangs, radiation, enormous and scary super mutants and extremely deadly creatures like the deathclaws, sexism is a stupid and pointless thing and every human able to use a weapon must do the work.
- Though there are few if any female Enclave soldiers. Most of them are given seemingly safer jobs as scientists and leaving the dangerous wasteland duties to the men. Most likely because of their wish to preserve the human species.
- Fallout: New Vegas does have as one of its main factions Ceasar's Legion, who are quite enthusiastic about wanting to push back the setting to roman levels of sexual discrimination... But then, they're kinda bad guys, so it's not really surprising.
- Final Fantasy V falls here with not only the main playable cast being 3 out of 5 females, all 3 are figures of authority and just as capable as the male cast.
- Final Fantasy VI has a debate going over which female party member is the main character, said two female characters are the only ones who learn magic naturally, one of them used to be a general, and the plot focuses just as much on the female characters as the male ones in total... due to there being that many more male characters.
- Final Fantasy VIII uses the same trick as The Wheel of Time, not in both genders being stupid, but with giving the females the cool magic powers. Other than that, the various roles are split very well among the cast, with both genders shown to be equally emotionally weak. This is also the first game in the series where the main playable party is split 50/50 between the genders (disregarding temporary party members), a tradition that's been (mostly) carried on since.
- Final Fantasy IX hands super powers of mass destruction and Heroic BSODs to both genders equally (if you take Kuja into the consideration, if not then the girls win on the superpowerful magic side of things). With several competent females in positions of power, and an amazon army for Alexandria.
- While the universe of Final Fantasy X may be less equalized, the story itself is definitively gender-balanced. With the focus of the story being on Yuna's journey instead of Tidus's achievements, and the only insignificant party member being a male one (Kimahri). And the stretch through the ruins of Zanarkand shows that the setting's past has been strewn with strong female figures just as much as males.
- Final Fantasy XII gender-balances well with princess Ashe being more recognized as the main character than viewpoint character Vaan (though Basch was originally designed as the main character, until it was decided that the game's demographic wouldn't go for a middle-aged male lead). The focal point of the story is not centered so much on the characters as it is on the political climate of Ivalice as a result of the Archadian Empire's control over Ashe's rightful territory of Dalmasca (and, in the background, their struggle with the neighbouring Rozzarian Empire). The only real gender issue that is ever brought up within the game is the apparent segregation between male and female Viera (of which only the females are even seen ingame); outside of this, gender roles appear to be more of less balanced. With that said, Judge Drace, the sole woman within the ranks of the Archadian Judge Magisters, was the only one to directly call out Vayne for killing his father, Emperor Gramis, and was executed for it. The fact that she was the only major female character outside of the protagonists' team in the game doesn't really help.
- Final Fantasy XIII continues on the by now-tradition of having just as many well-fleshed out female characters as male characters. It's the second in the series with a female main character and gives the females both of the more iconic recurring summons (Bahamut and Odin). The males, as a balance, get the cooler Synthesist roles.
- Final Fantasy XIV has an interesting case. Aside from the obvious situation of lacking statistical differences between the genders, all three nations are led by women, and the main contact for the second half of the story in A Realm Reborn is female as well (making roughly half of the active members of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn female, if you count Tataru; if the Player Character is female that balance is tilted). In addition, A Realm Reborn adds playable male Miq'ote and female Rogaedyn, maintaining the balance of playable genders. However, while Kan-E-Senna of Gridania and Admiral Bloefyswyn of Limsa Lominsan are strong Action Girl leaders of their nations, Sultana Nanamo of Ul'dah is a tiny Lalafell and unsuited to fighting, so the Ul'dah contact is her hulking general, Raubahn (he is often seen carrying her). Additionally, after defeating Titan, Minfilia and half of the Scions are kidnapped. Fortunately the two "active" women, Yda and Y'shtola, escape and help you coordinate the rescue, but it still is a little rocky. On the plus side? NPC dialogue will actually change to reflect your character's gender when speaking about you. It all sorta evens out, really.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic has both men and women serving in combat roles in both the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. The Jedi Grandmaster Satale Shan is female and so was her predecessor. By end game, the Republic's Supreme Chancellor is a female Twi'lek. The Sith Empire drafts any non-Force user of age into the Imperial Military for both combat and non-combat roles. Also the Sith more concerned with Fantastic Racism to non-humans and non-sith purebloods than gender inequality.
- Rift's resident badasses are about evenly divided between genders.
- Starting from Dragon Quest III, female characters are much more prominent. All of the playable characters can be male or female.
- Although Dragon Quest is usually very good at gender equality in playable characters, the only games with female main characters are the games where you could choose between male or female. Even then, promotional art usually featured the male character more often. There is also not many female villains in the series, either.
- The Tales Series keeps close to a 50/50 ratio of male and female party members, and it's the norm to have at least one Action Girl amongst them. There's also a good number of female villains. Perhaps the only notable imbalance is the lack of female leads.
- The first few Backyard Sports games are an extreme example of this trope. The playable characters are equally divided between boys and girls, and the commentators are a boy and a girl as well. What makes this extreme is that all the NPCs are equally divided between boys and girls.
- Tales of Symphonia seems to do this intentionally. In the beginning, Lloyd's personality is balanced with Collette's. We have Raine and Kratos, both portrayed as sensible and intelligent, and when Sheena joins up, she and Genis are considerably more idealistic than Raine and Kratos, but also considerably more pragmatic than Lloyd and Collette. When Kratos leaves, his place is eventually taken by the equally respectable Regal. Overall, people of both genders are represented with a wide range of personalities, viewpoints and intelligence/skill levels.
- Most every Resident Evil game is split very cleanly down the middle. There's almost always a male and female protagonist each game partnering up and aside from a few slight gameplay differences (like Jill having a larger inventory in the original game) neither is really presented as better or worse than the others.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown has the exact same skill trees for both male and female soldiers, with both genders fighting on the front lines on equal footing, both having the same chances of developing psychic potential, and both eligible to become the Volunteer. Meanwhile at the base, (female) Dr. Vahlen and (male) Dr. Shen are your chief researcher and chief engineer, establishing gender equality in non-combat aspects of XCOM, as well.
- As of World of Warcraft, Azeroth sports almost full equality. You will find an equal of male and female characters in almost every army. Three and 1/3 of the player faction leaders are female, and amongst the military commanders and minor faction leaders, while females are not as common as men, they are just as competent, noble, bloodthirsty and evil, and there is extremely little dialogue that indicates the NPCs don't view them as equals.
- Homestuck - the cast is evenly divided between male and female characters, everyone can kick roughly equal amounts of ass (fashion-designing girly girl Kanaya fights zombies with a chainsaw; Roxy loves kittens and stuffed animals but is both a competent hacker and scientist and doesn't even need a weapon to fuck shit up), and Alternian society, while terrible in most ways, made basically no distinctions based on gender and both members of their imperial line were female, and Word of God confirms that gender pretty much means nothing to them.
- Haley and Miko of The Order of the Stick are just as badass as their male teammates and receive just as much character development.
- The Word Weary has a lot more male characters than female, but all of the female characters are treated with the same respect and agency as the males.
- Darwin's Soldiers has several female combatants and men in distress. In general, a combatant has an even chance of being male or female.
- In The Guild there are three women players and three men players in the main cast, as they wanted to point out the high number of girl gamers in online games. The girls are shown to be just as powerful and skilled as any of the guys they face in the game. Even if they're all equally idiotic.
- That Guy with the Glasses. While still a bit of a sausagefest, everyone loves fighting, everyone has varying levels of intelligence, and everyone's a lunatic.
- The SCP Foundation usually stays in this zone. Some of the sanest researchers are female, the named cast of researchers is increasingly gender-equal, and the plethora of evil Eldritch Abominations they have contained are about even in gender as well. The Red Shirt Army is the exception, as it is composed of convicted felons considered expendable and, in Real Life, male convicted criminals do outnumber women in many countries. Field Agents, while often unnamed, are usually both mixed in gender and in race. Their Well-Intentioned Extremist counterpart, the Global Occult Coalition, have only recently gotten fleshed out in-story but so far have stayed at this level. In a universe with Black and Gray Morality and this much Nightmare Fuel under every rock, gender is a sidenote.
- In Archer, male and female characters are generally portrayed at about the same level of (in)competence. Pretty much everyone is screwed up emotionally or mentally, with no overt correlation between level of competence or emotional state and gender.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender , the genders are represented fairly equally.
- To break down the main group, in the first season and part of the second, there was Aang (male/bender), Katara (female/bender), and Sokka (male/normal). In the second season they pick up Toph (female bender) and the group stays as that until the third season. Then, halfway through that season, finally finishing his Heel-Face Turn, Zuko (male/bender) joins and several episodes later helps bring in Suki (female/normal). That brings it to an even representation in overall numbers and combat abilities for both sexes.
- Not to mention that Azula and her all girl team of antagonists are far more successful in general than the previous male antagonists (succeeding in their conquest of the Earth Kingdom where Zhao failed at the North Pole, and striking down the Avatar himself after Zuko failed so many times).
- It's also a bit odd to note that the villainous Fire Nation seemed to have a more gender equal military (or at least police) than the good guy Earth Kingdom (we only ever saw male Earth Kingdom soldiers or police/city-guards, while the Fire Nation even had mixed gender prisons and prison guards). The Water Tribes turned out to be even more sexist; Sokka was something of a He-Man Woman Hater, at first, and the waterbenders at the North Pole turned out to be a bunch of jerks — much to Katara's chagrin. This resulted in a Jackie Robinson Story, which ultimately worked out for Katara.
- Of the six Avatars we know of (Korra, Aang, Roku, Kyoshi, Kuruk and Yangchen) there's a perfectly even three to three gender balance.
- The Legend of Korra brings us a close-up on one of those female Avatars, series lead Korra. Her main crew are two male benders, and her Airbender master is male as well. However, joining the female members are Pema, Ikki, Jinora and especially, Chief Bei Fong—a kickass earth bender who doesn't take crap from anybody, and Asami Sato, a rich girl who is perfectly capable of kicking asses without a bending ability. The bad guys, on the other hand, skew pretty heavily male, with the only female Equalists being background extras with no lines.
- The second season ups the ante a bit for both sides. The hero's side remains fairly egalitarian with the addition of Kya and Bumi, Tenzin's brother and sister, both of whom are very competent in their respective fields and get the opportunity to show it. Lin Beifong takes a back seat to keep the focus on Korra and her gang, but Jinora steps up into her place to take a significant role in the plot of the finale. The antagonists' side is still fairly male-centric, with Unalaq and Varrick being the equally villainous bosses on both sides of a civil war. However, their female sidekicks both take much more active roles in the story. Zhu Li, Varrick's Girl Friday, seems to be even more competent than Varrick at times; Eska, Unalaq's daughter and dragon, is the dominant personality of her and her brother Desna's relationship and not at all afraid of going against her father's orders when she deems it necessary.
- Gargoyles has multiple competent and diverse female characters. Police detective Elisa Maza saves Goliath's life just as often as he saves hers, women being in positions of power (police chief, clan leader) is treated as a non-issue, and the female villains are just as interesting, well-motivated, and (on occasion) psychotic as their male counterparts. Occasionally suffers from having only one token female character per clan, but that's the only real issue.
Women Are Better Than Men
In this level, women are always the protagonists and usually don't need men to fight for them. Men, while still competent (usually), are only supporters at best, accessories at worst, and can only hope to be part of the Token Romance
. While cases of Never a Self-Made Woman
can still happen, most times blood lines, royal heritage and the like are matrilineal and male power figures, if they exist, will always stay in the background or make just one demonstration of authority for good measure. While it's usually never stated that women are superior to men (that's more level 8), women are often shown as the only ones who can possibly make an impression in the story line.
Anime & Manga
- Pretty much any TV advertisement for household products, which tend to feature men being idiots and women being competent. Still plays into all the old sexist tropes by reinforcing the idea that women should be the ones who do the housework and/or are particularly suited to housework.
- In the anime of Claymore, only women can become the eponymous badasses, and the few men in the series are either evil, ineffectual, or both.
- Kiki's Delivery Service.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena is commonly considered to belong here, since all of the male characters seem to be either evil or fairly ineffectual compared to Utena (or both). Then again, nobody in the show is without serious stains, and the gender dynamic is one of the points discussed.
- Girls und Panzer fits here. The only reason that it isn't higher up is because men are clearly empowered to at least the same degree as they are in Real Life in-universe, but there are absolutely no men who are relevant to the plot, and the only ones portrayed at all are Akiyama's father, the Hana family's manservant, spectators, and the man from the Education Ministry.
- Male characters in Noir are usually either characters who only show up in one episode, or one of the many easily-killable Mooks
- In Rozen Maiden the female dolls get in on all the action, and Jun, the sole main male character, just takes care of them the entire time.
- Most of the Magical Girl series fit here. Boys cannot be the chosen ones, or fight evil with magical powers (except if they get Gender Bender). However, they can still be helpful by being themselves and provide a source of "something to fight for" for heroines. Most Maho Shoujo is simply the girl version of Super Hero stories, since most girls are either not human (which explains why they are special ala Superman, or simply the circumstances lead to only magical girls in the main cast a la Nanoha, where there are magical boys, and most of the Red Shirt members of the TSAB appear to be men, but due to the circumstances we don't see them doing much).
- The most prominent example of this is Sailor Moon, with Mamoru helping by just encouraging Usagi to never give up (and actually being more of a liability to the Sailor Senshi by being repeatedly brainwashed or kidnapped), and three boys who help Sailor Senshi via turning into magical girls themselves. Later in the series, Mamoru becomes more of a Badass Normal, but still lacks the sheer power of the Sailor Senshi.
- In the manga (which is the source material) the Star Lights never turn into women, they are women. They are simply cross-dressing in an effort to find their princess faster. Mamoru also gets his own attack and crystal making him basically equal to the other Senshi (excluding Moon, who is on her own level) in the manga.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica borders on Type 9, with only three named male characters- Madoka's father, Madoka's younger brother, and Sayaka and Hitomi's love interest Kyosuke Kamijou- and only Kyosuke has any impact on the plot.
- Played lightly in "Comics/Runaways." More than half of the original team were female (including the [[Cool Pet]] Dinosaur), and, unlike the males, actually had superpowers. Of the original two males, one was self-admittedly dumb and the other was revealed to be [[The Mole. While both guys on the team are now generally competent and likable, it's the girls who do the heavy lifting and make the decisions. Even the Gender-Neutral character is physically female most of the time.
- In the world of Phyllis Ann Karr's Frostflower and Thorn, the ruling priestly class is basically patriarchal, but a counterbalance is provided by the fact that all warriors are women (though most women aren't warriors). The leads are female, and so are most of the sympathetic characters.
- Tomoe Gozen by Jessica Amanda Salmonson.
- Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Morgaine by C.J. Cherryh
- Sheri S. Tepper's The Arbai Trilogy, starting with Grass. Men are consistently shown to be either too incompetent and ineffectual, or self-important and arrogant, to figure out what is really going on in the eponymous world. Most of the females are little better; but the few that the novels actually focus on, particularly the protagonist, are far and away more competent and effective than the men.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo depicts even the non-evil men (who are probably in the minority) as fairly ineffectual compared with the brilliant heroine.
- L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz tends to sit here. Females like Ozma, Glinda, and the Witch of the North hold the reigns of effective government. The Witches of the East and West also held power, but not in a good way. Dorothy has the most common sense of her party; all males who don't so much as blink about taking marching orders from a 12-year-old girl. She is also seen as Oz's heroine and champion, as well as Ozma's companion and heir! Kings are seen, but they're usually figureheads (like Oscar "The Wizard" Diggs), buffoons, or secondary to their wives.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer is perhaps the best known Western example. For one thing, women in the Buffyverse seem to be better at magic - both in skill and ethical use: while there have been a couple of evil or crazy witches, dedicated male magicians seem to be morally ambiguous at best. Compare Jonathan (or Andrew for that matter) to Willow and Tara. When facing Dark Willow in Season 6 Giles is explicitly empowered by a coven of witches. Female villains are guaranteed a pardon if they show the slightest amount of regret and are treated much more understandingly than men: the shortcut to showing that a villain is a monster is having him say "bitch", Buffy and Willow pretty much use the word "man" as an insult by the end of Season 7, the fact that Buffy reviles the shamans who created the slayer line despite the fact that they saved mankind many times over, that women in-universe are better than men at absolutely everything and of course- femininity equals good. In fact, the only male character who has shown any competency and remained good throughout the series was Giles. Angel may also count, since becoming "Angelus" wasn't entirely his fault, but aside from him? We've had a Disappeared Dad, a generally-useless Xander, a misogynist villain and his two incompetent cohorts, Spike's alteration between Badass/Villain Decay, Robin Wood's attempt to kill a good Spike, a demon whose sole purpose was to wreak vengeance on men and many more!
- Charmed has the most powerful witches in the world and the eponymous characters as women.
- Many sitcoms, particularly the family-based ones, run on the "dumb husband screws up, competent wife fixes it" trope, e.g. Home Improvement.
- Xena: Warrior Princess
- Any Meerkat Manor fan will know that even though meerkats don't really have one sex that overdominates the other, the main individual in charge is almost always a female.
- Among the Vistani of the Ravenloft game-setting, only women can be the spiritual/mystical leader of a tribe, as males with the Sight are killed at birth to avert their becoming that culture's version of The Antichrist. Men do direct the mundane day-to-day activities of a caravan, but only with the female raunie's approval. The overall setting probably averages at 4 or 5, though (quite a number of domains are socially backwards by D&D standards, or have darklords with varying degrees of sexism, among them The Bluebeard - yes, that one).
- Tex from Red vs. Blue: Oh my lord Tex, one of the only female characters is also one the Most. Badass. Characters. EVER; just take a look at this (she's the one in black armour).
- Further exemplified by Agent Carolina, who was recognised as the best Freelancer before Tex came along. And boy does she kick ass.
- The men usually run on Rule of Funny, but take several levels in badass over the course of the series. And the male Freelancers kick tons of ass, they just don't have as much focus as the female Freelancers (excluding Washington and Maine).
- Kim Possible. The eponymous Extraordinarily Empowered Girl "can do anything" while her sidekick, Ron, is mainly used for Plucky Comic Relief, although he does have a few heroic moments. Meanwhile, her main nemesis, Dr. Drakken, is far less competent than his Hypercompetent Sidekick, Shego.
- Executive Meddling-enforced version in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Although it's not that females are explicitly better than males, it's that since the show's target audience is little girls there are barely any male characters at all, so it's up to the females to do everything whether they like it or not. In-Universe, it's a type 5; on occasions when male characters do show up, it would appear that they're more or less on equal footing (hoofing?) with the females.
- The Powerpuff Girls epitomizes this level. Though one episode featured a villain who was a Straw Feminist trying to convince the girls that all men are dogs and that women are superior, as a lesson that this isn't the case.
Can't Stand Men, Can't Live Without Them!
Men are jerks and there's nothing good in living with them, because they only think about sex and how to get a partner under their thumbs. However, living without them is hard too - there are things that should not be the concern of women, or simply require brute strength to get accomplished. Also, there's one thing that makes males necessary - procreation. Simply, you need a man if you want to have kids, and if there's one thing they're good at, it's making kids.
- One (or thirty) too many Lifetime movies Of The Week. Made worse because they're supposed to be empowering for women, but it fails by portraying men as Always Chaotic Evil for no other reason than to "make women look good".
- Many romcoms shoot for this level. However, whether they make it or not is a different story.
- Many love stories. Especially Harlequin novels and their ilk, though they sometimes loop back into male chauvinism by making the woman a bit too meek or accommodating.
Out Of The Way, Sperm Bank!
Governments are ruled by women, wars are fought by women and all important functions in the society are in their hands
. Men are useless and there's not a single thing that women couldn't accomplish without them. Except for one - procreation. That's the only reason men weren't slaughtered already. But they are still reduced to second-class citizens at best, and to sex slaves at worse. In other words, this is just a complete inversion of Level 2.
Anime & Manga
- In Ooku, a plague has decimated the male population, leading to a complete inversion of gender roles in medieval Japan. The feudal lords are all females, and men are regularly sold as prostitutes by their own families or bartered into marriages with high ranking officials.
- Queen's Blade lands here. Men are occasionally in positions of formal power, like the priests and noblemen of Hinomoto, the ruling council of Elves, Count Vance, or the goblin who owns Branwen (who has shown that she can escape whenever she pleases and is just a masochist), but in all cases they rely on women, who are the sole source of martial power in that world, aside from some armed men like bandits and such.
- In The Incredible Hercules, Artume almost turned Earth into that kind of place, with women in charge since the beginning of time, most males as second-class citizens and the few men that survived, including Hercules, labeled as terrorists.
- In A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer, women outnumber men by about 20 to 1 (or more) so polygamy is the norm. This is not the fantasy that men might envision. Society is completely matriarchal. Men are basically property and can be sold or traded for money or a husband for their mothers or sisters. Men also take care of the home and children while women work and fight. Even the male protagonist primarily functions as a Damsel in Distress.
- Drow society in the Forgotten Realms.
- Melanie Rawn's The Exiles series.
- If I Pay Thee Not in Gold by Mercedes Lackey and Piers Anthony. Women are the ones with magic (of conjuration) and in charge of things, while men are slaves. Those men that do get set free are treated like second-class citizens and have to live in a walled-off section of the city.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel The Courtship of Princess Leia featured two examples in succession. The Hapan Consortium has been a matriarchy for centuries, to the point of having a female monarchy in the Queen Mother, whose son's wife will reign after, but not him. Their attitude is summed up in the saying: "Never let a man believe he is the intellectual equal of a woman. It only leads him to evil." The Witches of Dathomir, meanwhile, are a matriarchy of female Force users (apparently women alone can use the Force on this planet, since they show surprise upon meeting Luke Skywalker). Men have the roles we associate with women, such as caring for their children, cooking, cleaning, etc., while being explicitly referred to and treated as slaves. Even Luke is enslaved, albeit briefly.
- In the Lensman novels, Lyrane II is like this. One of the carrots offered by the Boskonians in the Lyrane subplot of Children of the Lens is the promise not only of power but of technology to enable the women to do without males at all. If they accept and succeed they'll be replacing the Kalonians, who are almost the exact societal opposite - but who biologically cannot completely discard their women (for reasons which were obvious at the time the books were written).
- Ursula K. Le Guin's short story The Matter of Seggri is set on a planet where women naturally outnumber men by something like fifteen to one. At adolescence, men get sent away from their families to live in castles, where they participate in competitive sport and, if they do well enough, join the staff of their local "fuckery" where women pay to have sex with them. Meanwhile, women marry one another, raise children, and run every other aspect of society. By the end of the story, due to alien intervention, the sex ratio is becoming more equal and men's role is starting to be re-evaluated. One male character expresses his ambition to live as women do: "I want to be a wife."
- In the Gene Roddenberry TV-pilot film Planet Earth, the PAX team led by Dylan Hunt encounters a society where the women rule the man, and in many ways, reverse 20th Century gender roles, attitudes and behaviors.
- There was an episode of Sliders in which men were kept in camps for breeding purposes because in that world Saddam Hussein unleashed a bioweapon during the Gulf War that attacked the Y chromosome. Women were unaffected, but most of the men and boys were wiped out. The remaining men were put into breeding camps to repopulate their respective countries and because artificial insemination was never discovered in this Earth, procreation could only be achieved the old-fashioned way - sex.
- The Drahvin society in the Doctor Who serial Galaxy 4.
- In spotted hyena society, males are always at the bottom of the social ladder. The highest ranking males rank below the lowest females. Males are also smaller, weaker, and generally more submissive than females. Even their penises are miniscule compare the female pseudopenises, which are essentially enlarged, mostly-external clitorises. By comparison, females can be so vicious, that they'll often try to overpower and kill their male littermates just seconds after birth.
- The government in Drowtales runs under this principle seeing as women have a higher status than men (not to mention being physically larger than the men) and only a few men have fairly important positions. There is a growing male rights movement in the story, but it's mostly been implied and not focused on much.
- This probably comes from the fact that the original D&D Drow have a strict matriarchal society, created and kept in power by their demonic goddess.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Dathomiri Nightbrothers are completely subservient to the Nightsisters, to the point where the Nightsisters chose "mates" by competing with them in a battle, and slaughter the competitors just to find one worthy of being their servants. The Expanded Universe novel Darth Plagueis takes it even further by claiming that the Nightbrothers are killed, after child is conceived.
Men? What Men?
Women rule the world, men are all either castrated slaves or extinct
. Women live in a Straw Feminist
Utopia with superior technology or some kind of nature paradise
to emphasize how women are Closer to Earth
, and are either happy lesbians or simply celibate. Genetics takes care of procreation. On occasion, there is nothing sexist about it when the fiction takes place in a realistically women-only setting (like a realistic women's prison), but this happens far less often than in Level 1. This is also an example of Chromosome Casting
Anime & Manga
- Many Yuri Genre works often have no male character of note, especially in works aimed at older readers or at actual lesbians.
- ICE – The Last Generation takes place in a setting where all men died and remaining women fight over ideological differences (if they should or shouldn't bring men back) and an ICE (which is an only thing that can help them reproduce).
- There are male students usually used for background decoration, or at best getting a quick line or two in a scene, but Azumanga Daioh has only three supporting male characters, and one of them is a dog and another is imaginary (possibly).
- Amazons from Wonder Woman comics live on a separate island, without any men.
- In Planetary, their Expies also have technology a thousand years more advanced than the rest of the world. They were planning to send an emissary that would usher all mankind into a new golden age. However, they were still slaughtered by The Four.
- Somewhat downgraded/averted in Superfriends.
- Deconstructed in Y: The Last Man. Notably, in a setting that's practically asking for it, it avoids claiming that women need a man to fix things - the world is messed up to start with because half the human race has suddenly died, including most political, business, and religious leaders, transport infrastructure (pilots, sea captains, and truck drivers) and law enforcement, but things steadily improve over the next five years - or that women are better off without men messing things up - there's still no shortage of greed, lunatics, or violence among the women left behind.
- By the end of the series, however, the trope is played straighter. The world has become a near-utopia, cloning takes care of reproduction, and the only remaining men are the rare clones of Yorick himself. However, there's still international strife. The last issue has France's leader discussing the need for an Atlantic alliance to help deal with a newly nuclear-armed Iran.
- This was parodied in Polish movie Sexmisja (English title: Sexmission), where two male protagonists wake up from hibernation in a world where all males were killed by a pandemic and nuclear war. Women live underground and their community denies the existence of males. However, their leader is in fact a transvestite who somehow managed to survive the end of the male race, and the movie ends with our heroes manipulating a cloning machine to create a new male breed. Keep in mind, that this move was directed in the times of communism and was one big Getting Crap Past the Radar about living in a land under the control of a communist party.
- Goodmother Night by Rachel Pollack.
- The world of Whileaway in Joanne Russ' novel The Female Man, is all female, with the men having been wiped out ages ago by a plaguenote , and is unabashedly utopian.
- In Joan Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean, male protagonist Spinel gets sent to a world like this as an exchange student/cultural ambassador.
- Sheri S. Tepper, again. The Gate To Women's Country. Males and females are strictly separated, with the exception of a few quasi-eunuch servants. Women live in technologically advanced, walled city-states tending toward Crystal Spires and Togas; while men are relegated to primitive camps outside the city walls, restricted to a much lower technological level, in a caricature of warrior culture. Men are used for reproduction; but only according to a strict breeding program intended to breed out any aggressive or otherwise stereotypically "masculine" traits.
- Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is the Ur Example of this level.
- Microprose's Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender features a planet filled with militaristic women. It's only later in the game that you learn that there was a war involving the two sexes, the end result being the women wiped out all the men via biological warfare. Not only did women have to reproduce by using the aforementioned Gender Bender to temporarily change into men, the virus used had an unintended side-effect of making the women incapable of having male babies ever again.
- PlayStation 2 RPG Nuga-Cel informs you outright at the start that absolutely no men will be appearing in the game, not even as NPCs. The (male) narrator who informs you of this is fired on the spot, never to be seen again. Although the player character is male, he is never seen or heard, unless you get a particular ending where he becomes the final boss.
Out Of Scale Level: Full Gender Separation.
Men and women live separately. There are two divided communities, each with members of only one gender. There are only homosexual relationships (if any at all) and neither gender needs the other to survive. Even the procreation problem was somehow solved.
Full Gender Separation Examples
Anime & Manga
- The Zentraedi in Super Dimension Fortress Macross do this in the first series as men (Zentraedi) and women (Meltrandi) are kept in completely separate social systems.
- A world in Banner of the Stars is gender segregated, being a prison planet after all. There is a part where men and women are allowed to live together...but they must be sterilized beforehand.
- Two islands in Franken Fran have been divided by gender since about WW II (they reproduce by cloning but by the present day they both know that they can't sustain themselves for much longer). After an initial honeymoon period they're so prejudiced, socially/emotionally stunted to the opposite sex, and hyper-aggressive they annihilate each other within a week. One baby was produced/survived and it's a hermaphrodite.
- Marvel Comics character Thundra comes from a future where men and women are in a state of war and use artificial methods of procreation. Her daughter, Lyra, (born in vitro with use of Hulk's cells) gets a little Retcon of this: Her world is set After the End, where women created an advanced society while men degenerated into a bunch of wild tribes who worship old superheroes as gods.
- One of the worlds featured in The Female Man by Joanna Russ is one where men and women are at war with one another. Near the end of the novel, the principle characters (four versions of the same woman from perpendicular dimensions) visit the men's side and one of the women tears a man limb from limb. Here, though, each gender does need the other to survive, so they develop a squicky prisoner-exchange program of sorts.
- Ethan of Athos. Shortly after the invention of the uterine replicator, a religious group that believed women were the source of all sin established an all-male colony world.
- One of the Time Warp Trio books has the boys travel back to when cavemen and cavewomen were apparently refusing to have anything to do with one another. Fortunately they help the two tribes patch things up, ensuring the survival of the human race.