Women Are Delicate

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Such beauty, such fragility.

"A woman's duty is not to control or take charge."
"Women's nature is passive."
A couple of Neo-Confucian proverbs.

This is an Omnipresent Trope. It can be assumed to exist in every form of media unless otherwise stated. In most forms of human society, the assumption is that women are the more delicate of the sexes or are more suited for nurturing than the more active roles undertaken by males of the species. Women tend to be physically smaller than men, possess less musculature, and have more estrogen. All of these things, and many others besides, have created the assumption that women are less "hardy" than men.

The Stereotype takes two forms:
  • Unilateral: Women are inherently delicate, incompetent, unstable, dependent, vulnerable, ineffectual, unreliable, lovely, precious or sensitive.
  • Bilateral: Women are more delicate than men. In this form, even if women have toughness, strength or stability, it's less than what their male peers are capable of.

Nearly every form of media plays around with this in some way. There are some tropes (for example Stay in the Kitchen) which stereotype it while other tropes (such as Action Girl) outright subvert, defy or avert it intentionally. From there, the combinations tend to get tricky. Some tropes treat it ironically (Waif-Fu) while others reinforce it by having the more masucline of two female characters be the disposable one. Under this belief, it's also commonly assumed that beauty is a woman's "hat", and thus what women naturally lack in power or capability, they make up for in appearance.

In modern day culture, it is nigh-impossible to not have some sort of variation of this trope. Only in some hypothetical, gender-neutral civilization would that be possible, and that does not describe the world as it exists today. Even if unintended by the author, the audience will take whatever tropes used and add meaning to them. A girl who puts up a fight alongside her male colleagues will still be considered an "aversion" of this trope while a girl who is meek and prefers to sit down and talk will be a straight example.

Lastly, note that the word we chose to define this trope is "delicate". That word is not just about the woman's physical or emotional toughness. Delicate also means "careful, deliberate, thorough", which are also qualities women are stereotyped with such as with Women Are Wiser and Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication. Delicate is the best word which summed up everything this trope is about. Please keep that in mind when adding/editing the subtropes. We intentionally chose a polysemic word for this trope because Tropes Are Flexible, and like all stereotypes, this one is an Evolving Trope and changes a LOT as people attempt to use it or downplay it.

A Sister Trope to Men Are Tough.

No Examples Please. This page should be used as nothing except a listing of tropes which play with this in some way.

A Super Trope to:

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     Played Straight 

  • A Day in Her Apron: She's a nurturer by nature, and therefore better suited to take care of the house and kids than her husband will ever be...and better suited for that than any job outside the home.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Commonly believed because of this trope, but not true in any capacity.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: Even the most Butch Lesbian should be a slave to her nurturing instinct.
  • All Periods Are PMS: Women are so weak that even their own bodies conspire against them and turn them into raving maniacs. And it does so all the time.
  • Alpha Bitch: A female character that is the leader of a Girl Posse whose job is to make the lives of other students miserable. However, they almost always pick other girls, or shy/"weak" boys, to pick on. They either swoon over the Jerk Jock or Hunk or pretend to, so that they can use him for their own ends.
  • All Women Are Prudes: Because women are delicate, they must treat their virginity and/or sexuality as a precious gem to be protected.
  • Baby Factory: A woman is tied to her biology, and some force conspires to use her for that purpose.
  • Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch: The Girl Posse is made up of unstable, cannibalistic she-devils who can't wait to turn on their leader and possibly usurp her position.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: The man is cold or cruel toward his more delicate lover, but the relationship is meant to arouse the audience.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: A villain orders his minions to clean and pretty up a female prisoner. Usually so that he can try to seduce or rape her.
  • Bathing Beauty: A gorgeous woman, usually naked, cleaning herself for fanservice. Tends to associate women as being obsessed with cleaning themselves, or alternatively, just used as an excuse to get them naked and wet.
  • Beast and Beauty: A savage, beastly male character contrasted with a beautiful and feminine female one.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: An enslaved woman attracts The Hero's (and the audience's) sympathy because her enslavement makes her more vulnerable than normal.
  • Beauty Contest: A competition to determine who will be crowned the most beautiful female in the setting. Due to how badly the women in the setting want the title, it will become all-out war. A Straw Feminist will usually complain (but be ignored and a Transgender or Wholesome Crossdresser will typically win either to teach An Aesop or for laughs.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: No woman ever gets seriously injured, or even dirty.
  • Bed Full of Women: A stock visual to demonstrate a character's manliness, virile nature and sexual aptitude by having a number of women in his bed, with the implication that he managed to have sex with (and often satisfy) all of them. Most of the women, if not all of them, are rarely of any importance.
  • Behind Every Great Man: A great man has a woman behind him to assist his greatness.
  • Beta Bitch: The second in command for the Alpha Bitch, who either worships the ground she walks on or does her dirty work. She may backstab her leader, either because she wants her spot or she is won over to the good side (usually by The Hero).
  • Bitch Alert: A shot or blocking which serves to let the audience know that a spiteful or conniving female character has come into the story.
  • Black Magician Girl: For the girls who like to destroy she has a better grasp of the intricacies of Functional Magic then heaving a heavy metal weapon. This trope also helps her fit the Squishy Wizard archetype. The Lady of Black Magic is similar.
  • Body Sushi: Her body is being used as a serving platter for food, as a means of entertainment and Fanservice.
  • Brainless Beauty: She's valued for her looks, and only her looks, and doesn't have (or hasn't had the opportunity to develop) any other skills or talents.
  • Bridezilla: Because weddings are often seen as the most important event in a woman's wife, brides tend to want things to go absolutely perfectly, to the point that a typically cool or docile woman becomes ferocious and scary.
  • Broken Bird: Life has been hard enough to shatter this delicate girl.
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: She mustn't, but damn if it wouldn't feel GREAT!
  • Career Versus Family: She can be a mom, or she can work outside the home, but not both.
  • Career Versus Man: She has to choose whether she wants a long-term boyfriend or husband, or a career; she can't have both.
  • Casting Couch: If she wants the part or position, she'll have to submit sexually to whoever makes the decisions. Or, the assumption that a woman in a position of power has used her sexuality to get that power, whether she actually has done so or not.
  • The Cheerleader: A corollary to Beauty Is Bad and the Alpha Bitch, The Cheerleader is an attractive (sometimes wealthy) girl who is a member of the cheerleading group—typically considered the apex of the "cool club" of a school. However, she is usually superficial, mean, or downright evil.
  • Chickification: When the Action Girl is defanged to become today's Damsel in Distress.
  • Christmas Cake: Women hit an "expiration date" in their mid-20's, after which they are no longer attractive, and will have a harder time finding a husband or even a boyfriend because their potential partners have so many younger and prettier (and presumably more "innocent") women to choose from.
  • College Widow: An outdated trope where colleges are dominated by horny young men, and thus any woman that appears (as a member of staff or the spouse of staff) is bound to attract their attention.
  • Compete for the Maiden's Hand: Two or more suitors engage in some sort of contest to win a noble, royal or otherwise important woman as their prize.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: A "good" girl will always bleed the first time she has sex...and if she doesn't, she must fake it, because that bloodstain signifies her worth as a human being.
  • Cosmetic Catastrophe: Sub-Trope of Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty. For men, a Rite of Passage involves something violent or tough to become a "real man". For women, the path to womanhood involves learning how to wear cosmetics and wear cumbersome feminine clothing and accessories.
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: A very delicate and demure pose to invoke feelings of gentleness in a romantic target.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: A stock female character who is relegated to housekeeping tasks for a wealthy or powerful master, and comes across as creepy due to how seriously she takes the task. Her male counterpart, the Crusty Caretaker, usually does more than just housework and is more abrasive or crochety than unhinged or creepy.
  • Damsel in Distress: Women are too delicate to fight for themselves; they must be protected and rescued.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Casting daughters as either naive enough to date a person their father knows is rotten or spiteful enough to date them as part of their Daddy Issues.
  • Death by Disfigurement: A woman's beauty is more important than her life.
  • Declaration of Protection: A delicate woman inspires a man to pledge his protection.
  • Defeat by Modesty: A method of defeating a (usually female) opponent is by somehow taking off their clothes. Tends to overlap with All Women Are Prudes, since the very thought of being exposed instantly makes the female character too self-conscious to fight.
  • Defiled Forever: A very repugnant trope commonly believed about a woman's sexuality. Namely, no man will want a woman after her virginity has been spoiled or she has been "violated". Even rape victims believe this about themselves, which leads to horrible implications both in Real Life and fiction.
  • Deliver Us from Evil: Motherhood draws out a woman's inner gentleness and nurturing.
  • Dojikko: A Japanese variant of the Cute Clumsy Girl that plays far more on the cuteness and delicateness. Can be male or female, but male versions tend to be effeminate also.
  • Drama Queen: A character (usually female, hence the name) gets overly emotional or excited about every little thing that doesn't go their way and behaves in a manner that demands sympathy or attention.
  • Droit du Seigneur: A new bride is forced to spend her honeymoon with a more powerful nobleman before she is "returned" to her new husband.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: The hero leaps to the defense of a woman, even if he barely knows her, because of this trope. She might be able to talk her way out but not punch her way out.
  • Earth Mother: She creates, protects and nurtures all life on the planet. Her more dangerous counterpart is Mother Nature (below).
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Women being portrayed as frightened of a tiny mouse, often to the point of being frozen in fear of them.
  • Emotionless Girl: Serves the double purpose of letting you know something's wrong with her and making her seem more vulnerable as a result of her "condition".
  • Engagement Challenge: A set of rules, tests or tasks that one must meet in order to prove worthy of a spouse as their prize. The prize is usually a woman, and the challenge is either imposed by the her parents, gender customs or some other group other than the woman herself. Part of the drama involved is that her feelings are irrelevant—she will be forced to both reject a suitor she loves if they fail, and to accept one she hates if they succeed. Can be gender-inverted, but not commonly.
  • English Rose: She's posh and proper, and maintainsher feminine delicacy with noblesque. She drinks tea from china that's as delicate and refined as she is.
  • Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: With all the implied formal dresses and big, heavy skirts to make this possible.
  • Fag Hag: She's there as a Shipper on Deck to her gay guy friends, and can't get a boyfriend herself because she isn't considered attractive enough.
  • Fainting: Played for Drama for girls; Played for Laughs for guys.
  • Farmer's Daughter: She's an innocent wildflower who can't seem to resist the exotic city men who wander onto Daddy's farm. Possibly uneducated, and always emphasizes the Madonna–Whore Complex (she's either a naive virgin the city man seduces or a jezebel man-trap). Beware of the Shotgun Wedding.
  • Faux Action Girl: She's hyped up as an Action Girl, but she doesn't pull her weight as equally as the male characters because of her delicateness.
  • Favors for the Sexy: Guys swarm over her, trying to show her how "nice" they are, without any regard for her feelings, by doing mundane things for her that she could probably do herself, or trying to win her over with expensive gifts or compliments.
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: Angels are beautiful, kind, and merciful and thus are women. Demons are hideous, cruel, and aggressive and thus are men.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Every woman is more sensitive, wise, and pure than a man. If one or more of those qualities is missing, a man is probably to blame.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: The graceful, crafty cat will usually be female and the brutish, simple dog will usually be male.
  • Female Misogynist: She believes that guys have it right and most girls are inferior (in extreme cases, even herself).
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: A delicate woman can cook because she's careful, thoughful, notices subtle details in taste etc. Tomboys don't have this ability because they're more masculine.
  • Final Girl: Enforced in Hollywood because a lone female will seem more vulnerable than a lone male.
  • Foot Popping: When a woman receives a kiss, her leg bends and foot sticks up to demonstrate how swept up by her emotions she is. If the pose is reversed, it's usually Played for Laughs.
  • Fragile Flower: These are most often female because they are both sensitive by way of "easy to hurt" and in "sensing the grief of others."
  • The General's Daughter: She's typically seduced by the Military Maverick and daddy will fiercely protect his little girl.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Because she's so sensitive, a girl will cower before danger even when it's fictional.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Due to "maternal instinct", all girls love cuddly things.
  • Girliness Upgrade: She's gone from Tomboy to more feminine after Character Development.
  • Girls Behind Bars: The innate delicacy of women make women's prisons a cosy, comfy and safe place where nothing bad ever happens.
  • Girl Show Ghetto: Media aimed at a primarily female audience lacks any sort of quality or substance.
  • Girls Stare at Scenery, Boys Stare at Girls: A visual shot that is often shorthand for A Man Is Always Eager and All Women Are Prudes. She has her mind on other things, but he has his mind on her.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: A plot in which a geeky, unmanly guy has trouble gaining female companionship. Until he finds the one girl who is different, or otherwise proves that he is manly or successful enough to "deserve" a girl. Rarely gender-inverted.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: A woman is forced into a sexy, skimpy, or otherwise humiliatingly erotic outfit after being captured or enslaved by a villainous force.
  • Gold Digger: A character (usually a woman) who doesn't provide for themselves, instead finding a boyfriend or husband to take care of them, and giving away their body to be provided with a quality life. Often overlaps with Trophy Wife and Ugly Guy, Hot Wife.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Girls who have abortions are portrayed as bad, emotionally damaged, or sexual deviants who want to "avoid" consequences. Also, she will typically be portrayed as victim to archaic and unsafe abortion methods which put her life in danger. Even if a story does involve a woman deciding to abort, it's with great emotional indecision and torment. Just casually deciding to terminate a pregnancy without drama is out of the question.
  • Gossipy Hens: Women can't resist gossiping with each other. Usually because they're portrayed as shallow and fickle, backstabbing and untrustworthy, or both.
  • Granny Classic: If young women are delicate, elderly women are even moreso.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Women in combat attack from range, for a variety of reasons. Men use melee or direct physical attack.
  • Haunted Heroine: Congratulations; you're a girl in a ghost story. Now watch as you slowly lose any and all sense of reason. After all, you're far too delicate and sensitive for such spooky happenings.
  • Heir Club for Men: Because Lineage Comes from the Father, a girl can't inherit property or status, even if she is far more competent than any brothers she may have.
  • Heroic Build: In American comic books (and some other forms of media) the omnipresent body type is that of a hulking adonis for males and a slender, curvaceous figure for women.
  • Hero's Muse: The Hero is on a harsh journey, but he has a special woman to keep him motivated.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Females Are More Innocent and, thus, will always turn to good when presented with the opportunity.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: Women are passive things for men to fight, barter, or haggle over.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: If a woman doesn't live up to her family's expectations, or even falls victim to malicious rumors, she is to be harmed, ostracized, or killed.
  • Housewife: The role that most women were expected to play until about the mid-point of the 20th Century. Now considered a Discredited Trope.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: A big and tough man is contrasted with a small and more delicate woman.
  • Human Mom Non Human Dad: Frequently used for instances where weak human mothers are abducted, raped, or otherwise inseminated with the child of a more powerful non-human species.
  • Hypnotize the Princess: Rather than kidnapping and imprisoning the Damsel in Distress by force, the villain instead hypnotizes or brainwashes her so that she doesn't resist.
  • Hysterical Woman: A woman descends into helpless hysterics, usually during situations where men would or do keep their cool or act more pragmatically.
  • I Broke a Nail: When played straight, it's used to show that woman is more concerned with her delicate appearance than the more important task at hand. When used ironically, it's used to show that even an Action Girl cares about her appearance.
  • Ice Queen: A woman who is hard, cold, and indifferent to the male hero must be afraid of getting hurt or hiding a wounded inner self.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: The men in her life want to make sure she's well taken care of, and because they're not delicate like she is, they guarantee it with threats of bodily violence.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The villain sexually molests his female captives. Since he is male, this shows what a bastard he is. Gender-inverted scenes, with a villainess molesting the male hero, are far less likely to be evidence that she is evil (and far more likely be fetish).
  • I Have Your Wife: The villain kidnaps the hero's wife (or daughter) far more often than he kidnaps the heroine's husband.
  • Ill Girl: This trope is taken Up to Eleven; already delicate girl is made even more delicate with an illness.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: If women are delicate, pregnant women are even more so.
  • The Ingenue: Young women with a "proper" upbringing are so innocent that they are easy prey for men with bad intentions.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: She's pure and kind, associated with the gentle flower.
  • Lady and Knight: It is a knight's duty to protect and serve the delicate lady.
  • Lady Drunk: A woman who spends most of her time drunk out of her mind. Either because she can't cope with whatever is wrong with her life or because she started as a Hard-Drinking Party Girl and is too far gone to know how to do anything else.
  • Lady-in-Waiting: The personal attendant and servant of a queen or other woman of high stature. Almost always a woman because it's assumed a man in that position couldn't be trusted to keep his hands to himself. (If the person in that position is male, he will almost invariably be a eunuch.)
  • Lady of Adventure: Even a woman who likes to be in the thick of danger won't resort to physical exertion or force.
  • Lady of Black Magic: A more elegant, graceful, and often wise type of combatant, which is why the role is typically female. Also often overlaps with Guys Smash, Girls Shoot.
  • Leg Cling: A Stock Pose in which a powerful man stands in a dominant fashion while a woman (usually under-dressed) clings to his leg in submissive, helpless fashion.
  • Lesbian Vampire: A sexy, seductive female vampire preys on women. It often serves as an allegory of lesbianism: that women who desire other women are predatory (similar to how men are stereotyped) and will turn a woman into something "wicked" that no longer has a "natural" desire for men. Or, might just be used to invoke Girl-on-Girl Is Hot.
  • Let Her Grow Up, Dear: A father exerts some sort of control over his daughter's life, because he doesn't want to trust her to make her own decisions. Often, the mother calls him out on this.
  • Light Feminine Dark Feminine: Most often, it's the more delicate, light colors which are associated with "good" women.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: Fragile little girl + red = dead little girl.
  • Lonely Doll Girl: A lonely girl whose only companion is her dolls.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: A woman with long, well-cared-for hair must have lived a sheltered life and/or must have the free time needed to manage her delicate tresses. Active men, on the other hand, can't be bothered with such things.
  • Loser Gets the Girl: Two men fight over a woman, but unexpectedly, the one that wins isn't the one that gets her. The trope still treats the woman as a "prize", with the subversion being that the dominant one isn't the one awarded.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: An aversion of the Wet Blanket Wife trope, where a hero has to go do something awesome or dangerous, and she has to Stay in the Kitchen. They accept, however, that the awesome and dangerous things he does are exactly what makes him the good man that she loves.
  • Love Goddess: Almost every pantheon, real and fictional, has at least one goddess dedicated to love, sex, matrimony and/or commitment.
  • Madonna–Whore Complex: She can be sexy, or she can be Happily Ever After material, never both.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: She's ripe for a High-Heel–Face Turn after she meets our strong, heroic protagonist.
  • Maid and Maiden: A very archaic trope where a beautiful (and important) young woman is accompanied somewhere by an older woman. This is a carryover from the times when girls were discouraged from going anywhere by themselves to preserve virginity and purity.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Using makeup to enhance one's natural beauty is "cheating" and makes someone (usually women) untrustworthy. Especially common for The Vamp or the Femme Fatale, and is a Super Trope to Excessive Evil Eyeshadow.
  • Make Way for the Princess: When the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse come on scene, everyone in the school gets out of their way. Most often used as a way to effect the Male Gaze on the extremely hot girls.
  • Maiden Aunt: A specific version of Old Maid; she's successful but has no children of her own, so she dotes on her sibling's children.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Whether she wants to or not, her destiny is to be a mother.
  • Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast: Women are fundamentally very different from men, almost to the point of being a whole other species.
  • Mars Needs Women: Aliens are coming to earth to steal human females. Often used, whether intentionally or inadvertently, as a fantastic analogue for lecherous foreigners.
  • Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: Curvers are visibly softer and more delicate than lines, which makes them perfect for drawing women while straight lines are perfect for drawing men.
  • Men Act, Women Are: Male characters get everything done, or do the hard work. The female characters are simply there to look good or to invoke audience sympathy.
  • Men Are Better Than Women: Men are more all-around capable, reliable, or flat out superior, than women.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Because women are delicate, they can appreciate fine culture like opera and classical painting. Men, because they are brutes, cannot.
  • Men Are Generic, Women Are Special: A male character is considered "normal" by default. A female character, by virtue of simply being female, is treated as special under the circumstances or is characterized with stereotypically womanly traits.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: The primary virtue of a man is to be strong, capable, tough and daring. The primary virtue for a woman is to look pretty. Even if she displays the other virtues above, her looks, sex appeal, or beauty is still one of, if not THE, most important thing about her.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: One of the more Unfortunate Implications of this super trope.
  • Men Buy from Mars, Women Buy from Venus: Advertising tries to make men's products tough or cool, while women's products are sensitive, gentle or make housework easier.
  • Men Get Old, Women Get Replaced: Female characters either stay forever young and/or beautiful, or they're removed from an active role in the story. Male characters stay involved even after they've grown old.
  • Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: Because men are strong, violence is their main method of problem-solving. Because women are delicate, they talk things out to find a solution that pleases everyone, or manipulate others into getting what they want.
  • Messy Male, Fancy Female: Men (or male characters) are portrayed as unkempt or dirty to showcase their ruggedness or lack of domestication. Female characters are are portrayed as clean and well-kept to showcase their beauty or lack of ruggedness.
  • Misogyny Song: A song either about how women are objectified, disposable, crazy, or all of the above.
  • Monster Misogyny: A plot about a monster, creature, or other wicked entity that stalks, harms, or kills women.
  • Motherhood Is Superior: Her strength lies in her nurturing abilities...and she's praised for being a mother before she gets accolades for any of her other achievements or accomplishments, if she gets any at all.
  • Mother Nature, Father Science: Nature is about emotions, intuition, warmth, birth, and nurture. Science is about logic, death, cold fact, and radical progress.
  • MRSDegree: For men, college is about becoming qualified to work and start a career. For women, college is about finding a husband—probably one of those men.
  • Ms. Red Ink: She doesn't understand the value of money, or know how to use a credit card responsibly.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: When a woman's value or appeal is inversely proportional to how often she has had sex.
  • My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: Used as an insult to state that an elderly grandmother can do better than the younger, fitter, or tougher (and usually male) character. Sometimes "little sister" is used instead, to have the age on the opposite extreme while keeping the gender.
  • Mysterious Waif: A fragile woman who hides a secret and typically seeks a liberator.
  • Mystical Waif: A fragile young woman infused with magical power.
  • Naïve Everygirl: She's innocent and clueless. Just like our target demographic.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin: Virgins are more valuable.
  • Nerd Nanny: A pretty and socially-adjusted girl with no interest in geeky or sciencey stuff hangs out a lot with a large clique of guys who are far into that stuff.
  • Neutral Female: The Damsel in Distress makes no effort to help when The Hero arrives to rescue her.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Women are expected to act demure and defensive about sex and relationships; men don't like it when they're the aggressors.
  • Not Wanting Kids Is Weird: A woman who isn't eager to become a mother is seen as abnormal because it implies a lack of nuturing maternal instinct.
  • No Woman's Land: Places outside of the woman's home or native environment are treated as harsh, abusive, misogynistic or deadly places for a woman. The women that live in such places are thus typically victims awaiting rescue.
  • Office Lady: Often the Token Girl at the office, she's in a low-level position (such as a secretary or receptionist), with little or no room for advancement, and will undoubtedly leave when she gets married or gets pregnant.
  • Old Maid: An older woman who failed to get a husband in her prime and thus is deserving of scorn and ridicule.
  • The Ophelia: This poor girl has seen so much that she's lost her sanity (but not her beauty).
  • Overprotective Dad: What loving father wouldn't do everything in his power to protect his fragile daughter from the outside world?
  • Pale Females, Dark Males: When you also need contrasting hues to emphasize the delicate point.
  • Pregnant Hostage: A delicate woman in an even more delicate condition is placed in immediate danger.
  • Pretty Freeloader: A character, usually female, who does absolutely nothing to provide for herself but uses her good looks and sex appeal to coax someone else (usually a guy) to let her mooch off of them. Similar to the Gold Digger, with the exception that the Pretty Freeloader doesn't need to sleep with anyone.
  • The Prima Donna: A bossy, self-important and conceited starlet of show business. She uses her fame and/or beauty to get everyone to bend to her whims, and is typically portrayed as immature and self-destructive.
  • Princess Classic: Characterized by her beauty, extravagance, poise, and non-aggressive demeanor, she is the archetypical princess, since Victorian times.
  • Princess Phase: The period in a young girl's life where she wants to be a beautiful and graceful princess, complete with pretty clothes and a handsome knight or prince to come rescue her.
  • Proper Lady: Violence? Force? Harsh words? How unladylike.
  • Property of Love: If she is treated like property by her lover.
  • Rape and Revenge: If a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, a man in her life should avenge her, whether she wants revenge or not.
  • Rape and Switch: A lesbian can be "fixed" (read: turned heterosexual) through rape by a man...or a heterosexual woman can be turned into a lesbian through rape by a woman.
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: A hostile, irrational, or troublesome woman changes her outlook after being raped. This trope is problematic for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is reinforcing the idea that all a woman needs to be "tamed" is a man sexually forced upon her.
  • Rebellious Princess: She wants the hero to have his Standard Hero Reward and/or smite evil with him etc. Daddy is not enthused.
  • Remarried to the Mistress: A husband with an extramarital lover simply replaces his dead wife with the other woman. Beyond sometimes treating women as interchangeable, this sort of practice is often more acceptable than the inverse, since women often aren't allowed to remarry, fewer have a choice of whom to marry, and woman taking lovers is usually seen as the greatest of insults.
  • Retail Therapy: Shopping is something that'll cheer a woman up. If this applies to a man, he's effeminate or equally shallow.
  • Ryona: A fetish that is specifically about gaining pleasure from the brutalization of women.
  • Save the Princess: The oldest one in the book. Knights go off on adventures to save a royal lady.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: A woman who goes evil will wear less, while a man who goes evil will wear more. He becomes bulkier and more intimidating, while she becomes more seductive and titillating.
  • Shameful Strip: A woman is forced out of her clothing. Sometimes she's forced to endure the torture of taking them off herself while people (or her tormentor) is watching. Other times, she's forcefully or violently stripped.
  • Sleeping Their Way To The Top: There's no way a woman could get into a position of power on her own merits; she got there by doing sexual favors for the "right" people.
  • Slut-Shaming: A woman who had sex should feel bad about it.
  • Soapbox Sadie: A (usually) female character who is sensitive to a huge number of plights in the world. The character can either imply that women are more empathetic to such problems, or that they are too "wholesome" for their own good. Or both.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Sister Trope to Men Are the Expendable Gender. Even though the love of her life is gone, he is still "with" her in the person of their child (who is usually male).
  • Southern Belle: Large frilly dresses, perfect nails, curls, and perfect social graces make the archetypical (white) woman of the American South. (Black women? They don't count).
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Any woman, no matter how Badass, can be rendered helpless if the villain grabs her upper arm.
  • Standard Hero Reward: She's a reward for his heroism, and his heroism entitles him to a happy ending with her, which she is only too happy to give him.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Character or narration tells a female character that they can only be a homemaker.
  • Talented Princess, Regular Guy: The female character has both high status and highly developed skills while the guy is just there.
  • Tampon Run: Another one of those strange little quirks of femininity; her body always seems to betray her at the least convenient moment.
  • Team Mom: The teammate who looks after the physical and emotional well-being of the others is usually female. (The one who does most of the strategic planning or fighting is usually male).
  • Territorial Smurfette: The sole woman will always feel insecure and threatened when another woman is in her territory.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Delicate or time-consuming tasks are for women, not men.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: The internet has often been seen as a place where nerds come to congregate, and many said nerds do not know many (or ANY) Real Life women who are interested in the things they like. Thus, for a long time, it has been assumed that any girl on the internet was either a man in disguise or a precious, rare gem that needed to be treasured (and flirted with) fiercely.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Females from three categories together: wife material, seductress material, and child material. All three are feminine and delicate.
  • Third-Person Seductress: An end result of Men Are Generic, Women Are Special, Most Gamers Are Male and Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty, this trope has a developer create an attractive female Player Avatar so that the "default" male audience will have something pretty to look at while they play their game.
  • Touch of the Monster: A stock plot or invoked image that intentionally implies that a monster is doing, or has done, rape or some other disturbing act, with a helpless woman.
  • Trophy Wife: She's just an ornament, meant to serve as a symbol of her wealthy husband's success.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: One side of this trope reinforces the "Women are Pretty" cliché by having an attractive woman contrast with her ugly husband. Another side of this trope implies that a rich, powerful or successful man can have any kind of woman he wants.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: A female character is freaking out or is very insecure about a perceived flaw that she has. However, once her Love Interest is made aware of it, he doesn't care and his acceptance is enough to put her at peace.
  • Vain Sorceress: The first (and often primary) application of a witch or sorceress's magical abilities is to enhance her beauty or make it last forever.
  • Valley Girl: A very shallow, self-absorbed girl who speaks in "vocal fry" or hip slang and is generally seen as annoying by the cast, or is intended to be seen that way by the audience.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: Physical beauty is delicate, so women care about it more than men. A man who cares about his appearance is acting more like a woman.
  • Victim Blaming: If a woman is raped or sexually assaulted (or less commonly, when something else bad happens to her), she brought it on herself somehow, by doing/saying/wearing the "wrong" thing(s), hanging out with the "wrong" people, having the "wrong" kind of reputation (or actual character), being in the "wrong" place, being out at the "wrong" time of day, etc.
  • Virgin Power: Losing her virginity means losing her powers or inherent "specialness."
  • Wacky Cravings: If a woman is "expecting," don't expect her to be able to control the irrational desires of her pregnant body.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: The Hero has awesome, or dangerous, things to do. His Love Interest, however, pleads or nags him not to do it, for reasons that may be valid, but not conducive to the plot.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: An older woman of show business who is way past the prime of her career, but can't accept being replaced by younger and prettier girls. Or, in a more sympathetic portrayal, she is a victim of the sexist showbiz machine; since she is no longer pretty or pure enough, she is quickly replaced. Her behavior is typically demonstrated to be self-destructive or outwardly hostile.
  • White Magician Girl: For the girls who like to heal, they have Healing Hands in addition to a healing personality.
  • Wife Husbandry: A much older man is involved in the raising/development of a young girl he plans to eventually take as a wife. It is widely ridiculed in most 21st century societies because of the inherent power imbalance. Naturally, this would be the case with either gender but has been more commonly done with girls, often to ensure her chastity and virginity and because of their preceived "delicate" nature.
  • Woman Scorned: A woman makes life hell for a man who has hurt her delicate heart. Often, we're not intended to sympathize with the man, but are supposed to see him as scum who deserves what he gets no matter how severe.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: The armies which work for the villains are depicted as misogynists or abusers who hurt or rape women while the armies that work for the heroes are depicted as merciful, gentle and chivalrous.
  • Women Are Wiser: Women always the more sensible gender, because they are less clumsy and more sensitive.
  • Women Drivers: A popular stereotype that a multi-ton machine that can travel anywhere doesn't mix with "irrational" members of their fairer sex.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Since woman are delicate, it is wrong to hit them. If a hero firmly believes this, he will be in trouble if his assailant is female.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: She moves very slightly and deliberately, is soft-spoken, and remains at home while her husband (usually a merchant or samurai) takes care of the everyday busywork. She is the archetypical woman of Japanese culture.
  • Yoko Oh No: The wife of a musician/artist that is blamed for destroying their career; specifically, she is considered a corrosive, distracting, or destructive force to them.

     Aversions, Subversions and Inversions 
  • Action Girl: She isn't delicate at all, and can kick as much ass (or more) as some men.
  • Action Girlfriend: The girlfriend is the more Badass person in the couple. Considered an aversion of this trope which juxtaposes traditional gender roles. .
  • Amazon Brigade: When you have an entire squad of nothing but Action Girls.
  • Badass Princess: An aversion of Princess Classic; the princess is as tough as, or tougher than, her guards.
  • Battle Couple: When she's just as tough as her fight happy boyfriend.
  • Biker Babe: Motorcycles are not suited for a "delicate female".
  • Bodyguard Babes: When a group of women protect the person in charge.
  • Brawn Hilda: She's definitely female, but anything but "delicate", and is seen as unattractive because of that.
  • Butch Lesbian: A tomboyish homosexual woman who eschews many delicate characteristics; often considered the "man" in a lesbian relationship with a more feminine partner.
  • Determined Homesteader's Wife: A tough homesteader requires an equally tough wife.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: A woman lifts someone or something equal or greater to her body weight to show just how abnormally strong she is.
  • Feminist Fantasy: A story which is about a woman, or women in general, who are major characters making things happen of their own agency and volition and saving the day under their own power.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: There are an equal number of guys and gals on the cast of the work, avoiding making any one of them a "token" of their gender.
  • Gender Is No Object: A true aversion of this trope but even with that, any gender role variations will appear somewhere else on this list.
  • Glacier Waif: She can do impossible amounts of damage for a girl her size.
  • Go-Getter Girl: She wants to achieve something and she will do it herself, no matter how hard it may be.
  • Good Bad Girl: She does things that typically only "bad" women do, but still stays morally good.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Aging is not considered by most people to be attractive, so she breaks the norm by being sexual and having sex appeal well into her old age.
  • Hairy Girl: Body hair is not "delicate," and it may be associated with being nonconformist and/or non-passive, so it's considered unattractive.
  • Heroic Seductress: Subverts the usual perceptions of a woman being chaste, and unchaste women being immoral. She is both a good person and a sexual being.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Considered a rare and ironic inversion to the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife trope.
  • Improbably Female Cast: For some reason, there are next to no men in this setting. Women do everything, plain and simple.
  • Jeanne d'Archétype: A charismatic woman leads armies into battle.
  • Lad-ette: This type of woman enjoys many of the same boorish, vulgar, and physical activities as men.
  • Lesbian Cop: Since being a cop is "man's work", the woman is thus as man-like as could be.
  • Lesbian Jock: The same as Lesbian Cop, but with sports.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Her boyfriend is the delicate one.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: The older, more worldly woman is the superior towards her younger, male assistant.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Because we automatically assume this trope, situations where it's the opposite (such as in other species, both real and fictional) are quaint and fascinating.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: When the guy is turned on by her promiscuity, i.e. lack of delicateness.
  • One of the Boys: There's no distinction between her and her male friends.
  • Outdoorsy Gal: She'll be outside getting dirty before the boys.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: A girl who is passionate about sporty, physical activities which are usually only of interest to boys.
  • Plucky Girl: No one would fault her if she became broken, but she refuses to let that happen.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Used in games where gender is a Palette Swap. The character is statistically the same regardless of gender.
  • Real Women Never Wear Dresses: The trope that tries to defy this trope by going in the opposite extreme.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Hurting a woman is considered okay when it provides sufficient comedy.
  • Strong Girl, Smart Guy: The female partner within a duo is more physically powerful than the male, who instead uses more intellect and tact.
  • Tomboy: When "delicacy" isn't practical. Traditionally, any girl who likes any sort of job or activity attributed to men is considered a tomboy.
  • Tomboy Princess: A monarch's daughter that does not partake in feminine activities or interests. Instead, she's more likely to partake in princely activities.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: Being stronger than her man is her fetish.
  • Wrench Wench: Mechanics is sometimes a dirty, heavy business but she can hang with the best of them.
  • Xenafication: The practice of making a more delicate woman into an Adaptational Badass just to avert this trope.

     Zig-zagged (Neither plays it straight nor averts it) 
  • Action Mom: She does both the nurturing job of a mother and the awesomeness of a badass.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Deliberately averts this trope, but only because it was played straight originally.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: The lesbian side of this stereotype assumes that women are stepping into "men's" roles by desiring sex with women and since "marriage" is considered exclusive to straight couples, that means they have free reign to be as "promiscuous" as they dare.
  • All Women Are Doms, All Men Are Subs: Because the image of a dominant woman is (usually) more attractive and invites less Unfortunate Implications than the inverse.
  • All Women Are Lustful: The far opposite stereotype to All Women Are Prudes, with women portrayed as incapable of controlling their basic urges once they get started, while men can keep cool and collected heads. Related to Hysterical Woman.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: She has the power to destroy the world, and more often than not, it's up to a male protagonist to prevent that from happening.
  • Apron Matron: She's in charge of the little ones and the house they live in but she uses more vinegar than honey (and sometimes flat out violence) to take care of them.
  • The Baroness: Typically the militant female The Dragon of the Big Bad. Variations can fit anywhere between sexy and feminine or butch and unattractive.
  • Bastard Girlfriend: The female in the relationship is the abuser.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: She's a Badass Action Girl, but she will only be courted by a man who can conquer her.
  • Black Boss Lady: White men are usually the ones in power; thus, if a black woman is in charge, she's bound to be tough as nails to have earned the position.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Just because she looks like an innocent, devout, virginal, young schoolgirl doesn't mean she actually is any or all of those things.
  • Cool Old Lady: Just because she's getting older doesn't mean she's slowing down!
  • Crazy Cat Lady: She's psychotic and compulsively hoards animals, but she most likely became that way because she couldn't find a partner or tried to "do it all" when she couldn't.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: She's considered to be "atypical" of most girls because she's more accident-prone, which in turn makes her seem MORE delicate. note 
  • Dainty Combat: Side-stepping the issue of how a more delicate character can fight.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Yeah, she's delicate enough to get in trouble, but she's also Badass enough to get herself out.
  • Decoy Damsel: When the Distressed Damsel is truly a trap, i.e. exploiting delicateness.
  • Dominatrix: A woman who dominates men for the erotic satisfaction.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Because men have been portrayed as the stronger, more dominant sex, this trope is usually Played for Laughs because the role-reversal is ironic.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Because women are perceived as "weaker," the idea of a woman raping another woman, or leaving her victim traumatized and/or Defiled Forever by the encounter is considered absurd.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Same as Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male except regarding rape.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: A pose originally used strictly for male heroes or leaders. When female characters do it, they are usually given large (often exposed) breasts, thin waist and much wider hips, or sometimes turned away from the camera to get a Boobs-and-Butt Pose.
  • The Fake Cutie: Pretending to be The Cutie by banking on this trope.
  • Femme Fatale: Letting her into your heart is extremely risky.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: The beautiful seductress who is a spy under the enemy's very noses.
  • Girly Bruiser: Sweet, feminine little badass ball of destruction.
  • Girls Need Role Models: Due to the rarity of female characters, Executive Meddling and Media Watchdogs will turn any token female in a male-centered work, or any Improbably Female Cast into "role models", because these rare females automatically stick out.
  • Girls' Night Out Episode: The female cast of a team is given the spotlight on an otherwise male-oriented show, often to invoke Girl Power and reverse genre conventions where the girls have to rescue the guys.
  • Girls With Mustaches: Instead of a smooth, clean-shaven face, she has groomed and styled facial hair like that which you'd find on a man.
  • Good Bad Girl: Good girls don't do the things she does, but she's the exception to the rule.
  • Grande Dame: A fussy, bossy woman of stately social status. Her pompousness is usually superficial and she will either fall apart easily when challenged or slide off the slippery slope and become bitter and spiteful.
  • Hairy Girl: She's hairy, which makes her unusual for women who are usually smoother and softer.
  • Higher Education Is for Women: In the same vein as Women Are Wiser, this trope is an attempt to reverse the perception that women didn't go to college, but now it's a stereotype in its own right.
  • Honey Trap: Using this trope to obtain blackmail.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: A girl is unusually huge for her gender, and thus is self-conscious about her size.
  • Iron Lady: The woman in charge and she's as delicate as iron.
  • Is This What Anger Feels Like?: The Pollyanna has just felt anger for the first time.
  • Kick Chick: She lacks the upper body strength of men. Thus, she relies on her long legs to do the fighting for her.
  • Lady Land: This trope, as well as Matriarchy, could fall anywhere on the scale, depending on the writer's own discretions. There is no way to write such a place without producing some sort of accidental theme or Aesop about gender in general.
  • Lady of War: She's a warrior but with the flourish and poise of a Proper Lady.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: Before she goes out and does something badass, she gets dressed and made up for the occasion in an epic fashion
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: She's small and cute, but she knows where it hurts. Her targets are usually male, and this is usually Played for Laughs due to irony.
  • Little Miss Badass: She's cute, she's adorable, she's tiny, and she'll kick your ass.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: She's cute and adorable, and will play you for a sucker.
  • Little Miss Almighty: She's cute, she's adorable, she's tiny and she's God.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Old women are naturally nosy, thus they make for excellent detectives and are easily underestimated.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: The Little Red Riding Hood has a bloody hood because she just killed something.
  • Magical Girl: This genre of Anime zig-zags on the type of heroine which fits the style. In the 70s, Tomboy heroines began making an appearance specifically to avert this trope. The Magical Girl Warrior subgenre was then created for a more combat-oriented version of this genre.
  • Magical Girlfriend: She's more powerful physically than her boyfriend.
  • Mama Bear: She may be a very delicate and sensitive at heart, but God help you if you mess with her kids.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Her sassy and lively nature is her best asset to nurture and inspire her brooding and lonely boyfriend.
  • Maternally Challenged: Subverts the idea that a woman is naturally maternalistic and nurturing. She has no idea what to do to raise a child. This may be treated as a "problem" to overcome for the character's arc to be complete.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: When you find out a badass, terrifying monsters is mostly badass and terrifying because you messed with the aforementioned kids.
  • Mother Nature: Can be ferocious and deadly, but at the same time, takes care of her "children" (namely all living things).
  • Muscle Angst: Women are not "supposed" to be muscular, so being an outlier tends to result in a lot of teasing and angsting.
  • Mysterious Woman: In many works, the mystery woman is a deliberate allegory to the supposed "incomprehensibility" or strangeness of women. Not every use of the trope applies this, but the association is very common.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The tender, elderly old lady will beat you to a pulp.
  • Not Like Other Girls: A given woman is superior to others, for reasons such as her lack of traits associated to other women, traits that are usually associated with men, or maintaining a Proper Lady standard that most women fail at.
  • Power Hair: Yes, she's in a position of power, but in order to be taken seriously in a world where feminine traits are not valued, she needs to cut her hair short like a man's.
  • Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Removing the coat and covering a puddle for a lady to cross.
  • Pregnant Badass: Pregnant women are even more delicate than normal, which makes a woman who can be Badass in that condition extremely exceptional.
  • Psycho Lesbian: An antiquated (but still persistent) attitude that any woman who doesn't like men has something wrong with her.
  • Quickly Demoted Woman: Getting our strong, successful woman out of the way so we can make way for the male lead.
  • Sassy Black Woman: A result of both racial stereotypes and aggressive feminism. More often than not, she is juxtaposed with women of other races and cultures to show how much more assertive, confident, and "real" she is.
  • Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl: The woman is not delicate at all despite all appearances.
  • Sexist Used Car Salesman: Either played straight to demonstrate how clueless women are about anything outside of their "scope" or used to demonstrate the exact opposite.
  • She Is the King: A female monarch or head of state takes a masculine title such as "Queen" or "Emperor" so that she is seen as an equal to her male predecessors or contemporaries.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The woman unofficially in charge by using subtlty and indirect influence. She's likely also a Proper Lady.
  • Spirited Young Lady: She averts or subverts the qualities of a Proper Lady, just a little bit. She still retains many of the traits of femininity, but with some sort of passion, ambition, or interest that is considered atypical.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's the opposite of petite.
  • She-Fu: The more slender and delicate woman can perform more acrobatic maneuvers. Necessary, because she usually can't take a punch.
  • Short Tank: Her attempt at being feminine is genuinely cute.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: A female character pretends to be male in order to break gender barriers in some way.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: She's bigger than her man, and it's played for irony.
  • Tomboyish Voice: A woman with a deeper, more "manly" voice, to indicate that she's a tomboy.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: An easy way to make the tough tomboy show a softer, more feminine and/or more delicate side, i.e. Hidden Depths.
  • Two Girls to a Team: A counter-trope to The Smurfette Principle, where instead of there only being a single female member of a team, there are two, but no more than that lest the show be mistaken for being "too girly".
  • Uncanny Valley Girl: A female character that seems innocent, beautiful or friendly on the outside, but something about them is either off-putting or hints at the danger that lies beneath.
  • The Unfair Sex: Women are held to a different standard than men for arbitrary things. Most often, this trope is the reason why, even if it's inconsequential.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Related trope to Makeup Is Evil, Beauty Is Bad, and Vanity Is Feminine, a woman that foregoes wearing any makeup, beauty products, or elaborate hairstyles. Often, she is regarded as more "genuine", less "deceptive", or more practical than other women. But, since women are expected to be pretty, she still manages to please onlookers.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The less delicate/more tough a woman is, the more likely she is to die/be killed by someone. The converse is also true.
  • The Vamp: She's pure evil, but she knows how to get what she wants.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: She would normally be more delicate, but she's in charge, and can't afford to show weakness.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In this trope, a woman uses her delicacy (whether real or feigned) to fool others.
  • Wounded Gazelle Warcry: A woman uses her delicacy (whether real or feigned) to inspire others to fight harder.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: She is turned on by yaoi, though the implication is often that she can't get a real boyfriend to satisfy her, for whatever reason(s).


Alternative Title(s): All Women Are Delicate

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WomenAreDelicate