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swallowfeather
topic
09:22:20 PM Aug 12th 2012
Is Proper Lady really a "corrective development"? It sounds quite old-school to me, focusing on the woman's self-sacrifice, etc, very Angel In The House. Did you maybe mean Spirited Young Lady instead? (I've inserted Spirited Young Lady, which clearly belongs on the list, but didn't yet remove Proper Lady in case there's some rationale I haven't seen, so if you have it, bring it.)
Stoogebie
topic
06:03:44 PM Jan 2nd 2012
From the main page, I read the part mentioning the Brawn Hilda, which is balanced out by Amazonian Beauty. But apparently it's a Broken Aesop because the latter is already "conventionally attractive".

Um...what?

Brawn Hilda depicts women who are strong as mannish and unattractive...because they are strong and muscular. Amazonian Beauty on the other hand depicts physically strong women as being sexy because they are toned and very strong. Same goes for Hot Amazon. I don't see how it's "conventionally attractive" if the more typical ideal of feminine beauty is for a woman to be slim, thin and stacked.
swallowfeather
07:41:45 PM Aug 12th 2012
edited by swallowfeather
This is true. The point that's made in the article is that muscular women are considered unattractive and Amazonian Beauty and Hot Amazon are all about muscular attractive women, with no hint of being attractive "in spite" of being muscular. So that particular point doesn't stand.

Now I need to go figure out why we have both Amazonian Beauty and Hot Amazon... how much of a distinction can there be?

Ah. Just kidding. Looks like they're the same page. So that's all right.
Koveras
topic
05:47:50 AM Aug 30th 2011
I have just launched Aggressive Submissive, which I feel fits somewhere on this page (because it's almost Always Female) but I cannot put a finger on the exact spot to place it. Help?
contradictioninterms
07:23:48 PM Sep 4th 2011
I guess... passivity is going under Objectification for some reason, but it seems to fit with the part under Reactive that starts "Creator and audience ambivalence is often expressed towards women in powerful roles ..."
contradictioninterms
topic
03:16:45 AM Jul 3rd 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
I lose at threading.

> > This was not really a place to use the theoretical framework, cause it didn't work.
> It's a perfect illustration of it.
> Male characters have to be active; female characters can be active or passive,...

You wrote "the active-male/passive-female dichotomy". This example disproved it so hard that you spontaneously deleted it from your mind! Hehehe.

> ...a man who suffers Bad Ass Decay is far more likely to be killed or written out of story because he becomes narrative dead weight since, in the absence of overt agency, male characters don't have the same motivational properties as female characters.

Is this a thing? Do guys who get Bad Ass Decay die or disappear from the story? I don't have a lot of experience with it, but they don't talk about that too much in the trope page.
MercuryInRetrograde
10:51:49 AM Jul 3rd 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
> You wrote "the active-male/passive-female dichotomy". This example disproved it so hard that you spontaneously deleted it from your mind! Hehehe.

I don't know where it's stated that female characters are never portrayed as active; just that the existence of the older 'passive female' metatrope still exerts influence. Mostly because people don't want to let go of women's 'specialness' and passive value and have not yet successfully resolved the obvious contradiction. Women can't simultaneously have value because they're women and achieve value through agency like men. It's just... not possible.

I think the overall problem is this... This is a look at how gender is used as a device in fiction. It's about what male and female characters are used for. We're not looking at why, here, just how. Yes some of the motivation for men to focus on actions rather then reactions is to avoid being seen as 'sissy or effeminate or gay' but women are also motivated to not act manly.

Also, when creating a story, what's at the forefront of most creators' concern is not 'I don't want these characters to seem gay/manly/effeminate/butch/etc.' but, 'I want this story to work right and hold together. I want it to feel believable. I want these plot points to be hit.'
Stoogebie
08:44:19 PM Jul 5th 2011
Well, here's my thing: the usual gender dynamics you see are that men are active and women are passive, and the latter are "good" due to very intrinsic attributes such as beauty and kindness. But what happens when she's not only attractive, but smart/competent and active? A lot, but not all, fans react by calling her a Mary Sue. Men are mostly admired for being active, but if they happen to be rather attractive too, and smart, no one seems to mind as much.

And for another thing, I don't see how "all" matriarchies are either Straw Feminist Mary Suetopias or horrible hierarchies set as an "example" of why women and power don't mix. Sailor Moon seemed to portray a matriarchy pretty well, without coming off as misandrist or misogynist, but just playing it as another way to run things.

However, there seems to be an issue with regards to Faux Action Girl; ever notice how some action girls fail to live up to their badass reputations, but a Non-Action Guy doesn't somehow "forget" he's a buttmonkey with all the fighting skills of The Chick?

Those are just some things.
contradictioninterms
09:00:46 PM Jul 5th 2011
> I don't know where it's stated that female characters are never portrayed as active...

> This is a look at how gender is used as a device in fiction. It's about what male and female characters are used for. We're not looking at why, here, just how.

Yeah, yeah, that's what I'm saying! :>

In daily life and in storytelling, the treatment of gender and gender relations has a lot of interesting and elaborate elements. There seem to be some not-too-large number of rules and preconceptions that explain different pieces of what's going on. But people get the hang of them without consciously working them out, or even without consciously understanding or noticing them.

So, we could ask "why are things like that," but before doing that, it's already a deep problem to explain how things are like! What makes a character a guy? What's the difference between men's dialogue and women's dialogue? Can you tell someone's gender on the Internet just from their writing?

I got a bit carried away talking, but, anyway, my point is. The dynamic where "women are passive and serve story functions, and men are active participants in the plot who can either succeed or fail" is a thing. And the dynamic (or, more like a collection of dynamics) where "a man's death is not sympathetic" (part of the reason why Men Are the Expendable Gender) or "nobody wants to see a grown man cry" is a thing.

They work really well to explain the tropes that they govern, but I think using them for every trope is really a stretch. And the page would probably be better with more dynamics to talk about.

So, anyway, uh... If I try and make edits, what are the chances that they will be immediately reverted? I promise not to actually put any feminism in. :3

...

By the way, the gender predictor thing gives me 464/302 (Female) and you 1044/2156 (Male) in this thread. I wonder if that is correct? Hehe...

Although really, that predictor thing is kind of creepy.
MercuryInRetrograde
01:16:20 PM Jul 6th 2011
>They work really well to explain the tropes that they govern, but I think using them for every trope is really a stretch. And the page would probably be better with more dynamics to talk about.

Why don't you list the dynamics you want to include in the discussion.

>So, anyway, uh... If I try and make edits, what are the chances that they will be immediately reverted? I promise not to actually put any feminism in. :3

To the basic structure that has gone through the YKTTW and already gotten approval? High.

>By the way, the gender predictor thing gives me 464/302 (Female) and you 1044/2156 (Male) in this thread. I wonder if that is correct?

I'm female.
contradictioninterms
04:35:06 PM Jul 20th 2011
> To the basic structure that has gone through the YKTTW and already gotten approval? High.

N... No, just edits. Like the actual ones that I did make.

Like this one. History, history~

"An Expendable male character is treated as if their interior, emotionally reactive world is simply absent. In functional terms this means hispain and suffering is dismissed or concern for his well being deemed irrelevant."

...which I changed to...

"An Expendable male character's pain and suffering are dismissed and no concern for his well being is displayed."
contradictioninterms
04:43:29 PM Jul 20th 2011
Or most notably,

to

  • Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female on Male - The idea that it's fine to abuse a man for any or no reason, because men are invulnerable to the effects of physical and emotional abuse, of course. This trope can be subverted just by showing the realistic effects of abuse on the character's personality.

This and some other edits on that paragraph got reverted with the message, "No Take That please and no sugar-coating. This isn't a second Unfortunate Implications or Double Standard page. We simply translate the meta messages of certain tropes."

But I don't really get it. I didn't sugar-coat anything.

Like this,

"A man who isn't strong enough to keep a woman in line deserves what he gets. How exactly he's supposed to 'keep a woman in line' without violating Wouldn't Hit a Girl or Domestic Abuse is never explained."

I don't think it's like that! Like, 100% wrong!

I think it's more like what I wrote. Who is there that thinks that, for example, Ranma was a weakling for being hit by Akane constantly? Who even thinks men should "keep women in line" in the first place, let alone that not doing it should result in pain?
contradictioninterms
06:35:41 PM Jul 20th 2011
Oh, also~

> Why don't you list the dynamics you want to include in the discussion.

I can tell you're as excited as I am about this!

I want to keep them in more or less the same groups, but instead of doing this type of clunky theoretical analysis:

"The emphasis on male character's actions over their attributes may be a contributing factor to the idea that virginity in men is undesirable. Virginity is valuable as a marker of innocence and newness but real men should be taking their value from their actions, not their *lack* of action."

I would rather talk about the implications of a man being a virgin vs. a woman being a virgin, how guys are assumed to have sleeping with people at priority one and that a guy who is a virgin couldn't possibly not be interested, etc.

Although, at the same time, I would change a lot of stuff in that entry. (And then it would immediately be changed back.)
contradictioninterms
03:52:46 AM Jul 27th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
No, wait, she probably doesn't watch this page, so I should pm instead.
MercuryInRetrograde
04:11:47 PM Jul 27th 2011
"I don't think it's like that! Like, 100% wrong!"

You've never heard the framing that men should be able to 'keep their woman in line' and when they fail to, it's their fault?

I can't speak for Alrune in terms of the rationale for why she reverted it, maybe she can chime in.

"I would rather talk about the implications of a man being a virgin vs. a woman being a virgin, how guys are assumed to have sleeping with people at priority one and that a guy who is a virgin couldn't possibly not be interested, etc."

Implications of tropes can be found on 'unfortunate implications' or 'double standards.'

We're trying to get away from that with a page that just deals with meta-categorizations of tropes and how they interact for male and female characters.
contradictioninterms
01:17:16 AM Jul 28th 2011
You've never heard the framing that men should be able to 'keep their woman in line' and when they fail to, it's their fault?

No, never. I've heard unsympathetic treatments of stock bigot characters telling the hapless protagonist that he should show his woman some discipline or whatever, and I've heard guys being made fun of for being pussy-whipped and going along with what their girlfriend wants them to do (at least in fiction). And I've seen guys be hurt for comedic effect.

I've never seen the plot have a guy be hurt by his girlfriend to show that he is weak and unmanly. I don't think that's a good general explanation for why guys' pain is used for comedy value.

And what about when guys are hurt by non-girlfriend women, which is a lot of the time? >_>

Implications of tropes can be found on 'unfortunate implications' or 'double standards.'

I just mean regular implications, not double standards. Like, a lot of the text on this page is talking about connotations and implications.

The original text, "...virginity in men is undesirable. Virginity is valuable as a marker of innocence and newness..." is talking about the implications of a man being a virgin also. A lot of the time, the trope is that a character's quality X (gender, innocence, hostility, alcoholism) has a certain implication.
MercuryInRetrograde
05:09:31 PM Jul 28th 2011
>I've never seen the plot have a guy be hurt by his girlfriend to show that he is weak and unmanly. I don't think that's a good general explanation for why guys' pain is used for comedy value.

What do you think is a good general explanation for why men's pain is used for comedy?

"Like, a lot of the text on this page is talking about connotations and implications."

Explain what you think should be done with the page overall.

Alternatively, why don't you explain what is bothering you about the page?

contradictioninterms
12:05:43 AM Jul 29th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
What do you think is a good general explanation for why men's pain is used for comedy?

That people like really violent comedy, but hurting a woman is often regarded as morally wrong, so guys are used. Both this and the idea that guys are supposed to tolerate women feeds into the "guy is hurt by girl and it's funny" type of Abuse Is Okay When It's Female on Male.

Like, socially, which of the following seems like the solution to "man is hurt by woman":
a) Gently, but firmly, restrain woman.
b) Put up with it, you can deal with it.

It's b)! b) is the socially acceptable way of dealing with provocations by women. Therefore, my explanation is at least closer than the one that's there now, since that one predicts a).

Alternatively, why don't you explain what is bothering you about the page?

The theoretical framework is bothering me! Still. I think that there are a lot of unsupported gender theory-type assertions. It's not even like "Socially, X is viewed as Y. In Q theory, this is because Z." It's like "Z causes jargon, resulting in X being viewed as Y. I neither have nor need proof of that."
MercuryInRetrograde
06:57:36 AM Jul 29th 2011
"Therefore, my explanation is at least closer than the one that's there now, since that one predicts a)."

The explanation that men are expected to possess greater agency then women predicts both. A man is not supposed to be affected by the actions of a woman because nothing a woman can do to him can truly harm him due to his greater agency; A man is supposed to also keep a woman in line based on his greater agency.

The explanation in the trope emphasizes the connection between our belief in men's greater agency and the expectations we place on them to be responsible for having been abused.

"The theoretical framework is bothering me! "

That's interesting, because there is no theoretical framework. There is no explanation why these tropes exist, why they're perpetuated or who does it(except for saying 'everyone').

It's four categories of meta tropes for how male and female characters are depicted in media. It's entirely observational with the only explanations related to how each trope fits into the meta trope.

If you have a problem with the framework why don't you present what you think are alternative metatropes that tropes can be categorized under?

>I think that there are a lot of unsupported gender theory-type assertions

Like what? It's really this simple. Four metatropes and attempts to explain how the tropes fit under them. If you have problems with any particular explanation, post it here and we will discuss it.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:16:33 PM Jul 29th 2011
To use your analogy the page is supposed to be like:

Metatrope1 (metatrope1 is X and affects characterization in Y way.)

Trope (supports Metatrope1 in Z way.)

Also if you need evidence, there are some sources linked on the page. For example the Moral Agent(Actor) vs. Moral Object(patient) dichotomy.

I'm not sure how appealing to feminist theory will clarify anything; as in "Socially, stigmatizing effeminacy in men is really sexism against women. In feminist theory this is because of the misogyny inherent in the creation of the Other within Hegemonic masculine discourse." Or, worse, 'Socially, stigmatizing effeminacy in men is really sexism against women. That's because feminist theory X says it is.'

If an argument relating X to Y can stand on its own merits, then it can be stated succinctly on the page in plain english without appeals to theory (but with first sources as evidence.)

Why don't you start by listing the jargon you find problematic as well as the arguments relating X to Y that you find problematic.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:19:08 PM Jul 29th 2011
Or, alternatively, you could explain how you would re-write the 'Expendable' section to reflect what you think is acceptable.
contradictioninterms
02:28:55 AM Aug 1st 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> The explanation that men are expected to possess greater agency then women predicts both.

Oh, good. Maybe you should replace the explanation that's on the page, then.

> > The theoretical framework is bothering me!

> That's interesting, because there is no theoretical framework.

There is a theoretical framework. A really obvious one! What about the "active and passive attributes"? What are those? Is "love" an active or passive attribute?

"Female characters are defined by their value to others, ..." What does this mean? You could just as easily say that "Male characters are defined by their value to others."

Like, this later sentence is better: "In terms of characterization, female characters tend to be characterized by their relationships to other characters..." Uh, maybe it's not better.

It's sometimes the case that someone's mom's role in the plot will revolve around the fact that she is someone's mom, or X's wife will just have some stock wife-of-X traits, which I guess is what you're getting at.

"An Expendable male character is treated as if their interior, emotionally reactive world is irrelevant. This dynamic takes Actification to it's most extreme and disturbing conclusion; whatever happens to a man he deserves because he let it happen. ..." These sentences don't even make sense together! How can a person with no interior world "deserve" something or "let something happen"?

Let's just argue about that to start with.

> If an argument relating X to Y can stand on its own merits, then it can be stated succinctly on the page in plain english without appeals to theory (but with first sources as evidence.)

Yes, exactly.

> I'm not sure how appealing to masculist theory will clarify anything; as in "Socially, stigmatizing masculinity in women is really sexism against men. In masculist theory this is because of the misandry inherent in the creation of the Other within Hegemonic feminine discourse."

...is your style. I'm the reasonable, patient one. I would write it like this.

Remember, it's "Socially, X means Y. Q theory says Z."

Socially, a straight guy who does feminine things (X) is considered creepy. Feminist theory says that this is to maintain the hierarchy: if one admits that men naturally like doing feminine things as well, how can women be looked down upon for doing them?

See how it leaves open the possibility that the theory is wrong? Oh man, this is rocket science here.

But the point is not to jam a feminist primer into a page where it's unnecessary, but to take out the one-off theoretical ideas and jargon that are already there. I was suggesting feminist theory as an emergency measure if you just can't give theoretical stuff up.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:28:07 AM Aug 1st 2011
"There is a theoretical framework. A really obvious one! What about the "active and passive attributes"? What are those? Is "love" an active or passive attribute?"

Yes. In many cases love seems to be considered passive. Active attributes are attributes acquired through the actions of the character; passive attributes are those granted to the character by forces outside their control. Since love is associated with fate and destiny, it is rather passive.

Anyway, I'll clarify this.

"Female characters are defined by their value to others, ..." What does this mean? You could just as easily say that "Male characters are defined by their value to others."

"These sentences don't even make sense together! How can a person with no interior world "deserve" something or "let something happen"?"

Irrelevant means that an expendable male character's interior world is just... not relevant, not that it doesn't exist. It's treated like it doesn't exist. And it's treated like it doesn't exist because it's assumed that if a man isn't capable of saving himself, even in situations where it's impossible for him to do so, that he's simply not worth anyone's time. Who cares what an expendable mook thinks?

"Socially, a straight guy who does feminine things (X) is considered creepy. Feminist theory says that this is to maintain the hierarchy: if one admits that men naturally like doing feminine things as well, how can women be looked down upon for doing them?"

This is still problematic. You're trying to advance an agenda that women are the ones who are always losers. Plus, your theory doesn't even address what the Men Are the Expendable Gender trope covers. There is a lot more going on then just men being dissuaded from having the passive attributes that women have, because, you know, society wants to be able to look down on women for being passive and if men were passive too they couldn't.

When men are 'acted upon' aka. passive, they are seen to loose ALL VALUE and become expendable(unless they can somehow reclaim their Active status). It's not that anyone is looking down upon them for being passive, it's that they're killed/beaten/threatened and no one cares or is expected to care. Whereas when women are 'acted upon' aka. passive, they are still considered valuable enough to revolve a plot around. The audience is still expected to be horrified if a female character is killed/beaten/threatened. Thus the innumerable 'save the woman' or 'avenge the woman' plots. How is that accommodated by the 'society wants to look down on women' theory?
PapercutChainsaw
04:36:48 PM Aug 9th 2011
I think we should leave feminism/masculism out of this. Two reasons:

1. They present biased interpretations, implying that various Double Standards are only offensive against men, or only offensive against women. What the index does is suggest that it may be damaging to both. (That's probably as close as you're going to get to a "theoretical framework") Maybe both sides have valid points, but I think the article needs to be balanced.

2.I think appealing to academic theory may make the article less accessible to the "average" troper. It will fulfill its purpose better if it can take these complex concepts, and word them in such a way that is engaging and accessible. Considering that most Tropers are male, an overly-feminist approach would probably put them off.
contradictioninterms
08:50:25 PM Aug 11th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> Yes. In many cases love seems to be considered passive. Active attributes are attributes acquired through the actions of the character; passive attributes are those granted to the character by forces outside their control. Since love is associated with fate and destiny, it is rather passive.

Okay, so, that's really not what I would have guessed the page meant by "active" and "passive". Talking about "active and passive value" makes no more sense than "active and passive attributes."

Like, just say "active" and "passive", and talk about the observation that men and male characters are considered to be degraded if they have certain types of emotions separately from "men act, women are".

> This is still problematic. You're trying to advance an agenda that women are the ones who are always losers. Plus, your theory doesn't even address what the Men Are The Expendable Gender trope covers.

I have an agenda now, huh. I don't want to argue about feminism, anyway, all I want to do is edit the page for clarity! I brought it up in the first place as nothing more than a rhetorical blockade so I didn't have to go through this:

A1: Let's take out the analysis, which is kind of pulled out of someone's ass.
B1: Don't take out the analysis.
A2: But I don't like all the theoretical jargon. I can't even find any of it on Google.
B2: What kind of Philistine are you? Theory is important to help us understand the world.

So instead I went with this.
A2': If there has to be theory, let's use a type of theory that has had people poking holes in it for decades and more or less stands up.
B2': What theory? There's no theory.
A3': What about this unclear point in the theory?
B3': Well, if you insist, I'll clarify the theory.
A4': There's totally theory! You just said there was theory!
B4': There's no theory.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:12:39 PM Aug 11th 2011
I'm guessing you're referring to the whole passive/active attributes as a theory. Some attributes are achievements thus won by the character through their actions, others are granted to the character by forces outside of their control thus are passive.

That's not a theory. It's an observation.

A theory would make predictions.
MercuryInRetrograde
06:32:23 PM Aug 14th 2011
Thinking about it a bit further, I believe I understand where you're getting theory from.

You're coming from a position that the observed phenomena (male characters not being allowed to express reactive emotions; male characters being treated as expendable) is a result of a social hierarchy in which men are placed above women. So when men are 'degraded' by being passive, they are placed in the lower position of women.

This does not accommodate for all the observed tropes, however. When male characters are passive they don't take on the status of female characters. If they did then they would also be saved like women and the audience would be expected to react with horror when they are threatened. Instead male characters are treated as essentially disposable when they fail to be active.

It's because female characters have passive value—ex. the audience reacts with horror when a woman is threatened, usually because she's valued for some aspect of her sexuality, either that as sexual object or mother—that they aren't simply ignored when they need help or left to be slaughtered. Male characters only have active value so when they fail to be active they have no value and thus it is acceptable to ignore their need for help.

There is an element of shaming male characters for taking on female characteristics(ie. a lack of agency) but the male characters in question don't actually assume the status of female characters or the passive value of female characters. If they did the trope Men Are the Expendable Gender would simply not exist. Because every time a male character was threatened(became passive), he would assume the status of a female character and thus the writer (and the audience) would treat saving him as a moral imperative for other characters. We would be horrified at a protagonist who slaughtered male characters without a thought and likely consider them a villain; we would be disgusted at characters that did not do everything in their power to save male characters(for example, imagine the climactic death scene in the Titanic with the genders reversed); The trope Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female on Male would not exist, neither would Rape Is Okay When It Is Female On Male, etc. etc.

How does the 'hierarchal theory' of gender dynamics account for this observable phenomena?
contradictioninterms
09:31:37 PM Aug 15th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
"I'm guessing you're referring to the whole passive/active attributes as a theory. Some attributes are achievements thus won by the character through their actions, others are granted to the character by forces outside of their control thus are passive.

That's not a theory. It's an observation.

A theory would make predictions."

Isn't it a definition? This is the source of the idea built into the entire article that "active attributes" (achievements?) and "passive attributes" (character traits and stuff that happens to people) naturally fall into two distinct, homogeneous groups.

The most objectionable part of this is the way that "character traits and stuff that happens to people" is just one big blob in here. And this is a problem with the classification of everything to two types — a problem with theory.

For example: "In summary, objectification is when a female character is reduced down to her passive attributes and her agency denied."

I am pretty sure that objectification is when a character is reduced to a beautiful but unfeeling object. As in, a thing without emotions, like a rock or something (with apologies to my pet rock). This makes even less sense since beauty is an active attribute anyway.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:04:29 AM Aug 16th 2011
"Isn't it a definition? This is the source of the idea built into the entire article that "active attributes" (achievements?) and "passive attributes" (character traits and stuff that happens to people) naturally fall into two distinct, homogeneous groups."

Simplification is somewhat necessary to identify tropes.

"I am pretty sure that objectification is when a character is reduced to a beautiful but unfeeling object. "

And here is another big problem. Female characters are not reduced down to 'unfeeling objects' because their feelings are very important to motivate and propel the action. If female characters were simply objects then why the emphasis on their reactions and vulnerabilities? Why would there be a Screaming Woman trope? Or a Closer to Earth trope? Or a Always Save the Girl trope? If a female character really was treated like an 'unfeeling object' no one would care to uphold Would Not Hit a Girl and Wounded Gazelle Gambit would be useless.

If you go through the tropes it's actually male characters who are unfeeling _actors_ while female characters are endlessly feeling non-actors. (When they're not Action Girls.)
PapercutChainsaw
04:04:32 AM Aug 17th 2011
I'd say that being "reduced to an unfeeling object" is more of a very extreme form of objectification, in which a woman's value as a possession/object completely overrides her role as an actor AND the focus on her emotional world. It certainly does happen in fiction, for example, the Shallow Love Interest or the Trophy Wife, but the most common form of objectification is more subtle.

The common variant simply involves a woman's value being defined by her relationships to other characters. All her "actions" are just reactions to whatever the more important chartacters are doing. In these cases, she often will show emotional responses to events, but won't have much impact on the plot unless she's the one being fought over.

And then, of course, there's the sexual connotations that most people associate with the word "objectification". This variant focuses only on the woman's value as a sex object. She won't necessarily be devoid of action or emotion, but these qualities will be nowhere near as important as the Fanservice.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:37:21 AM Aug 17th 2011
" In these cases, she often will show emotional responses to events, but won't have much impact on the plot unless she's the one being fought over."

Although women's emotional reactions are often used to motivate male protagonists as well. Which I believe is also a form of exploitation.

If a female character's emotions are used as motivation for male characters, by definition this removes her agency because if she is perceived to be able to do something about the threats causing her distress then the male characters are rendered less useful and their actions redundant.

So concern for women's feelings, plot wise, is always coupled with rendering them helpless to do anything about them. But the caring still exists whereas it doesn't for male characters. Thus Men Are the Expendable Gender.
contradictioninterms
04:53:02 PM Aug 19th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> And here is another big problem. Female characters are not reduced down to 'unfeeling objects' because their feelings are very important to motivate and propel the action. If female characters were simply objects then why the emphasis on their reactions and vulnerabilities? Why would there be a Screaming Woman trope? Or a Closer To Earth trope? Or a Always Save The Girl trope? If a female character really was treated like an 'unfeeling object' no one would care to uphold Would Not Hit A Girl and Wounded Gazelle Gambit would be useless.

Yes, excellently argued. In other words, the categorization of anything like that under Objectification is wrong. It is a major problem with the page. What should we do about it?

Or, if you meant that it's a problem with something else, what else? Is it a problem with me? :>

> If you go through the tropes it's actually male characters who are unfeeling _actors_ while female characters are endlessly feeling non-actors.

The example is Jack Bauer, right? He's a protagonist! I haven't seen 24, but, just because he is the protagonist, he must have feelings, and the audience must empathize with them — otherwise he wouldn't be the protagonist or there wouldn't be a story.
MercuryInRetrograde
04:58:54 PM Aug 20th 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
> in other words, the categorization of anything like that under Objectification is wrong.

Fair enough. Papercutchainsaw and I are discussion re-labeling that category with 'objectification' as a subcategory.

>The example is Jack Bauer, right? He's a protagonist! I haven't seen 24, but, just because he is the protagonist, he must have feelings, and the audience must empathize with them — otherwise he wouldn't be the protagonist or there wouldn't be a story.

"Writers tend to arrange stories so that the protagonist acts in a way that is responsive to circumstances, that is to say, in the way we experience ourselves in everyday life."

http://www.onfiction.ca/2011/02/actor-and-observed-man-and-woman.html

We identify with characters more when the characters in question are not perceived to have motivation or personality separate from our own. In other words, the most identifiable characters are cyphers who act to achieve a goal we buy into but have little personality or motivation outside of that.

We identify more with male characters precisely because we believe they feel less and act more then female characters.

"The researchers explain this effect in terms of the actor-observer bias. In general, say Bortolussi and her colleagues, men in Western societies tend to be seen as acting in response to circumstances ("he did what he had to") whereas women tend more often to be seen in terms of their personality ("she behaved emotionally"). Thus, for both men and women, our social stereotypes make it easier in stories to understand and to identify with a male protagonist, the kind of character who acts in response to the situation he is in, than with a female protagonist, the kind of character who acts because of her personality."

Male characters become cyphers for the audience. They aren't perceived to have a personality distinct from the audience in the same way female characters do.

This allows for greater identification but it also means we don't empathize with male characters as much. By definition empathy requires recognizing that there is another person with a separate personality and motivations to empathize with. Female characters are perceived to have their own personality and motivations; male characters are not, at least not to the same extent.

Because of this when female characters are threatened we can actually feel a sense of alarm or urgency. There's an actual 'person' there being threatened. Male characters, on the other hand, don't create the same sense of concern in the audience when they're threatened. Possibly because the audience only identifies with the male character to the extent that he acts and when he stops being able to act they stop identifying and can't empathize because there is nothing there to empathize with. Thus Men Are the Expendable Gender.

These, of course, are not absolute statements.
PapercutChainsaw
07:28:19 PM Aug 20th 2011
To expand on the above:

Many male protagonists (particularly when they are not part of a Nakama) are set up as someone we can empathize with by making them rather bland personality-wise. Hence the Ridiculously Average Guy, Heroic Mime and Dull Surprise. The audience is free to imagine him feeling however they would be feeling. (For an extreme example, see Sam Worthington's character in Avatar.)

However, male background characters are considered less easy to empathise with. They are often distanced from the protagonist, either by making them faceless Red Shirts or Mooks, or by going in the other direction and giving them personality or lifestyle quirks that may make them less easy for the "average" person to identify with them. These "quirks" often mark them as expendable; see Bury Your Gays, Bury Your Disabled, Black Dude Dies First.

There is a difference between sympathy and empathy, however. While we empathise with the male protagonist, we are expected sympathize with female characters (ie, feel sorry for them when bad things happen as opposed to laughing). Sometimes, the female may, as Mercury said, be given a distinctive (and generally likeable) personality which gives her value, but at other times, in cases of exceptionally Bad Writing, she'll be just as dull as the aforementioned male protagonist. Her value in this instance stems from her attractiveness, or even from her unique status as a woman.
contradictioninterms
09:50:17 PM Aug 20th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> In other words, the most identifiable characters are cyphers who act to achieve a goal we buy into but have little personality or motivation outside of that.

> Because of this when female characters are threatened we can actually feel a sense of alarm or urgency. ... Male characters, on the other hand, don't create the same sense of concern in the audience when they're threatened.

I swear you are reading totally different books and watching totally different movies from me. Ones without cliffhangers involving men. Or interesting male protagonists.

Like, I like Lois Mc Master Bujold's Vorkosigan series, which has a very complicated and interesting male character who is all the more interesting because of the ways in which his own personal flaws motivate the plot.

Or I like the Sherlock Holmes stories, which are perhaps a better example. Even though they have an enigmatic central character, a relative 'cipher' for a narrator, very little discussion of their relationship, and an intellectual and relatively bloodless atmosphere, Holmes and Watson's relationship is well realized and the reader has a strong impression of their close affection for each other.

Even if the male protagonist has gotten himself into a great degree of trouble, and even if there are no sympathetic female characters in the entire movie (like The Big Lebowski, maybe?), it still works fine as a plot. The audience does not get bored and wander away.

Your take on why background characters are expendable (and particularly male background characters) would lead you to conclude that male protagonists should be expendable too, and (in novels from this planet) danger to them serves just as well as or better than danger to some random female character.

"Society looks down on men in general expressing their feelings" is certainly an observable fact here (again, on my planet), and male characters' feelings are usually kept out of the text and written into the subtext, but not discussing one's feelings is quite another thing from not having any, or from having only irrelevant feelings. (By the way, what are they irrelevant to?)

Another example would be Doctor Who, right, where a lot of the deeper emotional impact comes from the way that the Doctor is willing to throw himself constantly into danger to save other people's lives, rather than from the frequent and cheap dramatic way that the companions are constantly being kidnapped or whatever. A lot of people find them irritating on those grounds.

Also, I'm not sure if what you are saying is even internally consistent. The audience identifies with men because they stereotypically aren't motivated by feelings but are responsive to circumstances, just like the audience, and that's what makes them expendable —- meaning that the audience regard themselves as expendable?
MercuryInRetrograde
11:47:42 PM Aug 20th 2011
Quoting from the article linked above:

"In a story, circumstances tend to take precedence over other influences in how a writer imagines a protagonist. In psychology there is a principle that helps to explain this effect. It was proposed by Edward Jones and Richard Nisbett (1971), and it's called the actor-observer bias.

"The bias is that we tend to experience our own reasons and other people's reasons for doing anything in rather different ways. Imagine I am a student and I work hard for weeks studying for an exam. I am the actor here, and as such I might experience myself as studying hard because I know the exam will be difficult and I know the result will be important for my future plans.

"If I were to see another student working hard for weeks studying for an exam, I would be the observer. I would tend to say this student was working hard because he or she was conscientious or ambitious. When we act, we tend to see ourselves as being responsive to circumstances, doing what is necessary to pursue a plan. When we observe others doing exactly the same thing, we tend to attribute their action to some persisting aspect of their personality. It’s rather like when one is driving and has to brake suddenly to avoid hitting that careless person in front."

As I quoted in my previous reply:

"The researchers explain this effect in terms of the actor-observer bias. In general, say Bortolussi and her colleagues, men in Western societies tend to be seen as acting in response to circumstances ("he did what he had to") whereas women tend more often to be seen in terms of their personality ("she behaved emotionally"). Thus, for both men and women, our social stereotypes make it easier in stories to understand and to identify with a male protagonist, the kind of character who acts in response to the situation he is in, than with a female protagonist, the kind of character who acts because of her personality."

Male characters are seen as acting in response to circumstances. In other words the audience attributes *their own* motivations to the male character—the audience is riding inside the character's head so to speak. Female characters are seen as acting in response to their own personalities—the audience is outside of the female character's head, watching her.

"Even if the male protagonist has gotten himself into a great degree of trouble, and even if there are no sympathetic female characters in the entire movie (like The Big Lebowski, maybe?), it still works fine as a plot. The audience does not get bored and wander away."

Nothing that's stated here suggests that audiences can't be interested in a work with only male characters. Quite the reverse in fact. Audiences prefer works with male characters because they can then insert their own motives and personalities into the character. However when a male character does not fulfill that function he is expendable.

"Your take on why background characters are expendable (and particularly male background characters) would lead you to conclude that male protagonists should be expendable too, and (in novels from this planet) danger to them serves just as well as or better than danger to some random female character."

Nope. Danger to them does not serve as well as danger to a random female character. In how many movies or books does the central plot revolve around danger to just the main male character? In other words the only person he's saving is himself? Happens quite a lot in horror movies—with a female protagonist. Hell it's better to throw a random woman in there being threatened for the male protagonist to save then just having him save himself. No one really cares about his safety so much as if he'll achieve his goal. If his goal is his own safety... generally those types of characters aren't protagonists very often. (Off the top of my head I can name Rincewind from Disc World.)

"The audience identifies with men because they stereotypically aren't motivated by feelings but are responsive to circumstances, just like the audience, and that's what makes them expendable —- meaning that the audience regard themselves as expendable?"

No, the audience regards themselves as being motivated by circumstance not by aspects of their personality. Where male characters reflect this, the audience identifies with them. When male characters don't reflect actions towards a goal (in response to circumstance) the audience does not identify with them at all and the male character is treated, in terms of the narrative, as expendable.

By way of contrast we *empathize* with female characters and their narrative draw tends to involve questions of their safety.

> Society looks down on men in general expressing their feelings" is certainly an observable fact here

So what? We're trying to get beyond simple facts into stuff that can inform the development of new works.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:54:46 PM Aug 20th 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
This is why the most consistently consistent narrative structure involves a man whose goal is to save a woman. It becomes a force multiplier for the narrative tension: will he achieve his goal? Will she be saved? If he doesn't achieve his goal, she won't be saved!
contradictioninterms
11:56:19 PM Aug 20th 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> Male characters are seen as acting in response to circumstances. In other words the audience attributes *their own* motivations to the male character—the audience is riding inside the character's head so to speak.

How is that "in other words"?

> Nothing that's stated here suggests that audiences can't be interested in a work with only male characters.

Yeah it does. If nobody cares what happens to male characters,
> Male characters, on the other hand, don't create the same sense of concern in the audience when they're threatened.
there's nothing to motivate the plot.

> However when a male character does not fulfill that function [of being the avatar of the audience] he is expendable.

Is a male character always expendable? Or just when the audience can't identify with them?
contradictioninterms
11:58:40 PM Aug 20th 2011
> This is why the most consistently consistent narrative structure involves a man whose goal is to save a woman.

Ok, name a book or movie like this.
MercuryInRetrograde
12:01:00 AM Aug 21st 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
>Yeah it does. If nobody cares what happens to male characters, > Male characters, on the other hand, don't create the same sense of concern in the audience when they're threatened. there's nothing to motivate the plot.

Let me put it another way. No one cares more about a male character's safety then they do about him achieving his goal. No one cares more about a female character achieving her goal then they care about her safety.

So when a female character has no goal aside from 'wait to be saved' the audience will still tune in to see if it happens; if a male character has no goal aside from 'wait to be saved' the audience will tune out. In fact they'll likely be floating somewhere uncomfortably outside of the narrative universe wondering what's on the other channels.

>How is that "in other words"?

Actor/Observer bias. The audience assumes the male character is motivated the way they are motivated, by circumstances. Thus there is no 'personality' to get in the way with identifying with his actions.

>Is a male character always expendable? Or just when the audience can't identify with them?

What do you think?
MercuryInRetrograde
12:02:57 AM Aug 21st 2011
>This is why the most consistently consistent narrative structure involves a man whose goal is to save a woman.

Always Save the Girl and Distressed Damsel list a whole bunch.
contradictioninterms
01:24:26 AM Aug 21st 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> Always Save The Girl and Distressed Damsel list a whole bunch.

Name one that you read recently. Where the plot is powered by a woman in danger.

The point that I'm trying to make is that it's not really that common. I've recently played a video game that had a "save the woman you love" part in it, and "save an important woman or family member" has been a thing in video games since Mario (are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?) I haven't recently read a book or watched a movie with a plot or subplot like "Female X is missing! Hero, get female X back!" ...Well, I have been watching Doctor Who around the time of the Fourth Doctor, but so far they sort of all keep rescuing each other.

[Oh, actually, I wasn't thinking. There are a couple anime that I'm watching that have become like this lately, both with love as motivation.]

...Also, if I understand your ideas correctly, if a man were to save the woman he loves, that would be acting on the basis of emotion rather than from the necessity of circumstances, and the audience would lose their empathy with him and would not care whether he lived or died.

I really just... disagree with you.

> Actor/Observer bias. The audience assumes the male character is motivated the way they are motivated, by circumstances. Thus there is no 'personality' to get in the way with identifying with his actions.

No, this makes no sense. Say the male character feels about dying the way I feel about dying, ie. he is against it. So he tries to not die. In other words, he is motivated by circumstances, the same way that the audience supposedly sees themselves, and the way he would act probably wouldn't be too different from the way the audience would act.

How on Earth do you get to "he has no personality" with just a "thus"??

> > Is a male character always expendable? Or just when the audience can't identify with them?

> What do you think?

Well, the second one is different from what you usually say, but it makes more sense than usual. I honestly don't know which one you actually believe.

Or are you asking for my personal opinion about Men Are the Expendable Gender? I think men are at the standard level of expendability and it's more like Women Are The Precious Gender (because of (supposed) innocence and non-combatant status). Killing people off is great in fiction, you get the delicious schadenfreude, but you kind of feel especially bad killing woman and children. That's my take.

If a man has a responsibility to die to protect his wife and child, a woman also has a responsibility to die to protect her child. Are women The Expendable Gender in that case? Is a woman's passive value being annihilated by her inability not to act? No, it's just that a child's life is even more innocent and precious. (I'm not seriously saying this "even more" so please take it with a grain of salt etc.)
contradictioninterms
06:04:40 AM Aug 21st 2011
> In how many movies or books does the central plot revolve around danger to just the main male character? In other words the only person he's saving is himself?

I'll replace this with "the main person being saved is the protagonist." A short story with a man trapped in a cave would give you "only," and I think it could be pretty compelling, but I'm mainly thinking about novels and games. (Also, please remember that the protagonist doesn't necessarily save himself.)

9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors is like this for most of it, although you have to save a little kid too later. I have the feeling there are a lot of 'escape the dangerous thing' games. In the Mountains of Madness? Glasshouse? The short story Labyrinth (although he sort of rescues someone else incidentally, or someone else rescues him incidentally)? The one where the guy is locked in a burning building and has a time machine that only sends him into parallel realities? (I think he's the only one in danger there.) The first story of Miles Edgeworth, where he gets charged with murder? The Sherlock Holmes story about not getting killed by Sebastian Moran, and "His Final Bow"?

Also, there's at least one Silent Hill game like this, I think... Silent Hill 4, right?

Anyway, no matter what is driving the plot in general, if you put a protagonist in danger in the middle of it, even if the protagonist is male, (as long as it's not the kind of movie with iron-clad plot immortality) the audience will worry. Or at least I will >_>

> Happens quite a lot in horror movies—with a female protagonist.

Like the "Final Girl"? Why wouldn't it? :>

Remember, if you were right, fiction where only adult men were in danger wouldn't just be less common — it would not be compelling, and it would go directly contrary to the whole doctrine if people naturally sympathized with frightened, sad men.
MercuryInRetrograde
11:04:41 AM Aug 21st 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
>Name one that you read recently. Where the plot is powered by a woman in danger.

Why limit it to literature? Also, it's not just 'save the girl'. Revenge plots are also motivated by avenging the death and/or rape of a woman.

Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. Dawn of the Dead. Zombie Land. 24. Silence of the Lambs.

What we're talking about are not absolutes. These are trends. They're not going to be as obvious in carefully crafted works in which the author has considered the Po V of nearly every character; but they are going to become more and more obvious in less well crafted stories. (Which may be why we see the plethora of 'save the girl' plots in older games; older games aren't known for their compelling writing.) It's also going to be more obvious with characters whom we know nothing about aside from their sex.

And there are a lot more dynamics going on then the actor/observer bias. There's also the ['Women are Wonderful' effect in which people actually place more value on females(and female characters). There's the moral patient/moral actor dynamic in which people categorize victims separately from either villains or heroes and if they have a choice, would even rather heroes suffer then victims. There is also the dynamic in which women categorize their *own* attributes as unchanging and passive(ie. they acquired them not through their actions but through some force outside of their control.)

In this case the Actor/Observer bias predicts that we will be more interested in men's actions and women's reactions. Men's actions because we can 'ride along' in their head; women's reactions because they can hold some value and interest to us, being separate from our own (because we recognize a 'personality' there to react. Since we're attributing her actions to her personality.) (Thus all the A Woman Reacts tropes-Hysterical Woman, Screaming Woman, One-Woman Wail.)

Certain emotions are acceptable for male protagonists to feel; usually (temporary)depression if he fails his goal, anger if he's thwarted in his goal, uncertainty that he'll achieve his goal(used sparingly), regret over what he has to do to obtain his goal. In fact the narrative draw of the Heroic BSOD *is* the threat to the hero's goal that the hero himself poses(will he abandon it?). But male protagonists are not allowed fear for their personal safety—at least not to the same degree as a female character is allowed. In no case is a male protagonist allowed to appear as emotionally vulnerable as a female protagonist.

Let's look at a recent example. Torchwood: Miracle Day. Every single character that expresses any sort of out of control fear or nervous break down is either female or a male villain. The male protagonists are emotionless to the point of near catatonia. Jack might be an (slight)exception (he never actually loses site of his plan) but only because he's 'part gay', so not really a true male protagonist in the traditional sense.

>if a man were to save the woman he loves, that would be acting on the basis of emotion rather than from the necessity of circumstances, and the audience would lose their empathy with him and would not care whether he lived or died.

No. The Actor/Observer bias says we attribute to *ourselves* that we respond to circumstances; and we attribute to *others* that they respond as a function of their personality. As the quotes put it; when you study hard you attribute it to the test coming up(a circumstance you are responding to), when you observe someone else studying hard you attribute it to some aspect of their personality(they're studious.)

When we see a male character acting, we attribute it to circumstance, just like we attribute our own actions to circumstance. There is no 'alternate' personality to get in the way of us totally identifying with him. When we observe a female character acting, we attribute her actions to a personality, which makes her as distant to us as any other person we observe. We can still be interested in her reactions, as we are with other people, but we aren't as interested in following along with her actions. (Or maybe we just don't buy into them as much, or maybe we want to spend more time thinking about and considering her personality, who knows.)

Yes a male character wants to save his wife because he loves her; but we focus on the fact that he's responding to circumstance (he's defeating the villain) to achieve a goal (save his wife) more then our conception of him as being a loving husband(personality.) In fact his unique lovingness is irrelevant to us. We can insert our own for anything that we value instead.

Now let's imagine, instead, a story about a loving husband who has a nervous breakdown when his wife is killed by assassins and the entire story is about how he recovers emotionally and learns to cope.

Compare to a story about a loving wife who has a nervous breakdown when her husband is killed by assassins and the entire story is about how she recovers emotionally and learns to cope.

The second is something you could make into something watchable. The first... good luck.

The audience reactions will be something like:

First scenario: Why isn't this guy trying to do something to avenge his wife?

Second scenario: What a strong woman learning to cope with the loss of her husband!

Why? Because men's actions interest us; their emotional reactions are just not good enough to carry a story and we focus on the actions we think he *should* be taking. (The actions we secretly want to take or want to be able to take.)

However, women's emotional *reactions* interest us enough that they can carry a story. Or propel a plot. Or add ambiance. Or be used to characterize other characters.

>I'll replace this with "the main person being saved is the protagonist."

I'm not saying that it is impossible for a male protagonist to have, as his goal, his own safety(and only his own safety). Just rare.

And even rarer still is the male protagonist who has no goal at all, not even his own safety and just waits, frightened and sad, for someone else to save him.

>If a man has a responsibility to die to protect his wife and child, a woman also has a responsibility to die to protect her child.

Compare the number of 'male protagonist saves female protagonist' plots to 'woman saves her child' plots. Also Men Are the Expendable Gender covers a lot more situations then 'men die to save women'.

>Anyway, no matter what is driving the plot in general, if you put a protagonist in danger in the middle of it, even if the protagonist is male, (as long as it's not the kind of movie with iron-clad plot immortality) the audience will worry.

Again, they won't worry more about his safety then they will about him achieving his goal. As long as he's still taking action they stay interested. If he sat down and waited for someone else to take care of everything, the audience will lose interest in that character. Not so much if its a woman who does that because they'll still be very concerned for her safety (or interested in her reactions to events.)
contradictioninterms
02:40:42 AM Aug 22nd 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> Why limit it to literature? Also, it's not just 'save the girl'. Revenge plots are also motivated by avenging the death and/or rape of a woman.

Because of the Mario games? I wanted you to tell me stuff I hadn't heard of.

> Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. Dawn of the Dead. Zombie Land. 24. Silence of the Lambs.

Huh? What are those examples of?

Like, there are actual examples, like The Princess Bride comes to mind. The conflict: beloved princess is being married to villain. Hero, rescue beloved. This is the kind of thing I was looking for.

But what does HHGTTG's plot have to do with women at all? Fenchurch and Arthur's relationship is entirely in the fourth book, and at the start of the fifth book she promptly disappears forever into hyperspace due to a lack of attention to the safety materials on their part, leading to Arthur's serious depression and years of space drifting in the hope of going wherever she went or at least killing himself in the same way; this happens in a page and then he crashes and becomes a sandwich maker and the rest of the book happens. Zombie movies, because the main characters are in danger and some of them are women? 24, because terrorists kidnapped a guy and his daughter, and one of them is female?

Silence of the Lambs is about catching a serial killer who targets women, so I sort of get that, but the police also catch serial killers who target men, so catching a serial killer is not a very clear-cut "save the girl" plot.

Seriously, what? I expected you to either give me a bunch of "save the girl" plots and prove me wrong, or to just deliberately miss the point so you didn't have to. I didn't expect you to pick a book and four random movies.

I don't, I just...

Anyway, you decided to recapitulate a bunch of stuff, but I don't disagree with the stuff someone else wrote, I disagree with the stuff you made up.

You think a story about a widower coping with his wife's death would be unwatchable? All I have to do is find one popular one to prove you wrong, like Stephen King's "Bag of Bones" or the film "Message in a Bottle."

> And even rarer still is the male protagonist who has no goal at all, AND IS MOTIVATED BY HIS EMOTIONS RATHER THAN BY THE PRESSURE OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

Even if society really does consider men as nothing more than goal-seeking engines like a sort of fleshy tweenbot, men aren't actually emotionless. A man without a goal does not necessarily, as you suggest, lie down wherever he is and be sad. Those are not the two possibilities.

The other possibility is "the male protagonist who just acts like himself, rather than running through the checklist of things that he is assigned to do by the plot."

Maybe being sad and lying down wherever he is is his thing, like Roast Beef in Achewood.

> Compare the number of 'male protagonist saves female protagonist' plots to 'woman saves her child' plots.

What I am saying is that women also have a responsibility to risk their lives to protect their children, and a woman's life is (supposedly) not made less precious by her inability to act, so (supposedly) the reason why people prefer a mother to risk her life for her kid cannot be like that.

The reason why a woman might have a responsibility to die to save her child, and the reason why a man might have a responsibility to die to save his wife and child, are probably closely related.

Since women's responsibility to risk their lives for the safety of their kids doesn't come from "losing all active value," it strongly suggests that men's responsibility to risk their lives for their wives and kids probably doesn't either.

I certainly agree that there is a gender difference, so there's no meaning in saying things like "Compare X with Y!" I disagree with your theory about why that is.

And I also insist that "Men Are the Expendable Gender because a man who can't accomplish his goals is worthless as a human being" is a theory (with a lot of incredibly scary implications if it were true, that you would think I would notice) and not an observation.
contradictioninterms
02:56:53 AM Aug 22nd 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
This has been a whole lot of argument, huh >_<

Please put on your hat as a moderator, or at least the person who is taking ownership of this page.

There is a user who has made a bunch of edits to other pages stressing how badly men are treated and how much of a disadvantage they are at. This user has added a lot of their own ideas to your index page about gender dynamics, like that society feels that men who can't protect themselves deserve to be beaten and so on.

One day, another user complains to you about them. They want you to take the contributions like that out and concentrate on clearly describing the tropes. You don't really want to take out the first user's stuff, since they're a personal friend of yours (or more precisely, you ARE them), so you ask them both to discuss it, and they do! At ridiculous length, to the point of being a circular argument.

But, sooner or later, you have to decide in favour of one or the other.

Which one?
MercuryInRetrograde
10:22:40 AM Aug 22nd 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
>Seriously, what? I expected you to either give me a bunch of "save the girl" plots and prove me wrong, or to just deliberately miss the point so you didn't have to. I didn't expect you to pick a book and four random movies.

Always Save the Girl, Damsel in Distress, Damsel Scrappy, Save the Princess

I was referring to the movie made from the book.

>Zombie movies, because the main characters are in danger and some of them are women?

In Dawn of the Dead the first twenty or so minutes are all about three armed men protecting two women. It was annoying enough that I didn't watch the rest of it.

In Zombie Land, the two female characters have to be saved by the male characters.

>Anyway, you decided to recapitulate a bunch of stuff, but I don't disagree with the stuff someone else wrote, I disagree with the stuff you made up.

I didn't make up the Observer/Actor bias.

>Even if society really does consider men as nothing more than goal-seeking engines like a sort of fleshy tweenbot, men aren't actually emotionless. A man without a goal does not necessarily, as you suggest, lie down wherever he is and be sad. Those are not the two possibilities.

... This has nothing to do with what I said.

>The other possibility is "the male protagonist who just acts like himself, rather than running through the checklist of things that he is assigned to do by the plot."

... This has nothing to do with what I said.

>You think a story about a widower coping with his wife's death would be unwatchable? All I have to do is find one popular one to prove you wrong, like Stephen King's "Bag of Bones" or the film "Message in a Bottle."

Notice that I said 'killed by assassins' this isn't a situation in which a wife just dies. But is murdered.

>Maybe being sad and lying down wherever he is is his thing, like Roast Beef in Achewood.

Like I said. Rare. Unless wikipedia is wrong about the summary, Roast Beef is intersex and a buddy character of a main protagonist. Used as a foil. It's not that rare to have the 'buddy' be more flamboyant or passive or insecure or what you to work as a foil to the more traditional hero traits of the main protagonist.

>What I am saying is that women also have a responsibility to risk their lives to protect their children, and a woman's life is (supposedly) not made less precious by her inability to act, so (supposedly) the reason why people prefer a mother to risk her life for her kid cannot be like that.

I guess. I don't think it's quite what you're saying. I think it's more that parents have a responsibility to defend their kids. In fact in recent memory I recall more fathers doing something risky to save their kids then mothers, even when the mothers were there as well. (One incident was when a girl fell into icy cold waters and her father(and another man) dove in to save her while her mother watched on the bridge; another incident was from coast-to-coast in which a mother was sitting down waiting while the father attempted to save their kid and 'saw' the father and yelled at him to go save their kid, except what she saw was not him but an astral projection or her imagination or something.)

>Since women's responsibility to risk their lives for the safety of their kids doesn't come from "losing all active value," it strongly suggests that men's responsibility to risk their lives for their wives and kids probably doesn't either.

I think that women's responsibility to risk their lives for the safety of their kids is a subset of 'parents risk their lives for the safety of their kids.'

Regardless. Men Are the Expendable Gender covers far more situations then 'men must risk their lives to save women.' That is just a subset.

>And I also insist that "Men Are The Expendable Gender because a man who can't accomplish his goals is worthless as a human being" is a theory (with a lot of incredibly scary implications if it were true, that you would think I would notice) and not an observation.

Well I'll restate the page quote:

"To put it simply: men are neither supposed nor allowed to be dependent. They are expected to take care of others and themselves. And when they cannot or will not do it, then the assumption at the heart of the culture is that they are somehow less than men and therefore unworthy of help. An irony asserts itself: by being in need of help, men forfeit the right to it."

Other people aside from myself have noticed this.

>But, sooner or later, you have to decide in favour of one or the other.

So because I think that male characters can be at a disadvantage(note this does not mean I think female characters can't be at a disadvantage as well) you say my contributions need to be removed?
MercuryInRetrograde
12:53:52 PM Aug 22nd 2011
>What I am saying is that women also have a responsibility to risk their lives to protect their children, and a woman's life is (supposedly) not made less precious by her inability to act, so (supposedly) the reason why people prefer a mother to risk her life for her kid cannot be like that.

A lot of Men Are the Expendable Gender can also be used for adults relative to children.

All that says is that our media hasn't yet completely relegated women to the status of children. But they still aren't at the status of men.
contradictioninterms
09:01:12 PM Aug 22nd 2011
edited by contradictioninterms
> So because I think that male characters can be at a disadvantage(note this does not mean I think female characters can't be at a disadvantage as well) you say my contributions need to be removed?

No.

Thank you for shopping Strawman Enterprises.

Actually, I take what I wrote back. I don't really mind the hobby-horse riding that much, and I would be happy enough if it were just in its own paragraph near the trope descriptions.

However, I would appreciate being allowed to edit the page. "Allowed" since when I tried to do it the first time, it got reverted, and it seemed like anything else that I changed would probably get reverted too.

Like, look at this: "Female characters in media are often employed to react emotionally to the actions of others."

Or maybe you could write, "Women are often used for reaction shots"?

I'll try and change it to that, and see if you put it back.

> Well I'll restate the page quote:

> "To put it simply: men are neither supposed nor allowed to be dependent. They are expected to take care of others and themselves. And when they cannot or will not do it, then the assumption at the heart of the culture is that they are somehow less than men and therefore unworthy of help. An irony asserts itself: by being in need of help, men forfeit the right to it." — Peter Marin, Jill Gets Welfare—Jack Becomes Homeless

Sure, for society, a homeless guy is a failure or a wreck who could turn up dead without anyone caring much, and society is sympathetic to homeless women.

No, the same thing is not true for a guy who just has to depend on someone else to save his life (although women's lives are regarded as somewhat more precious, it seems like). Firefighters carry men out of burning buildings too; the Coast Guard saves men's lives too; the ambulances carry men too. A dependent man's life is not worthless. If it were, then ships in distress would be left to sink; men who are injured would be left to die. That's what I mean by the incredibly scary implications.

> All that says is that our media hasn't yet completely relegated women to the status of children. But they still aren't at the status of men.

Suddenly you agree with me that Men Are the Expendable Gender has more to do with women being lower-status, and therefore innocent and lovable, but also irresponsible? :>

If I'm not terribly mistaken, Men Are the Expendable Gender comes from several different sources.

Who are the most "expendable" guys in the sense that there is an expectation to risk their lives? Military and rescue personnel, and oil workers or anyone working a dangerous job, right?

Who are the most "expendable" in the sense that their deaths don't come as a shock? The homeless, working guys on dangerous jobs, and non-white people in other countries, right?

They're fairly different.
contradictioninterms
topic
06:59:45 AM Jul 1st 2011
I really like the idea of a gender dynamics index. But I don't buy the analytical method here.

I have the feeling that part of what this page is doing - trying to explain stuff in terms of an overarching principle of "active men/passive women" - is probably impossible.

For example, "Faux Action Girl - everyone says she's an Action Girl, but she never shows her chops. The greater emphasis on male characters to be active means they rarely fall prey to this."

The essential Faux Action Girl is supposedly capable, but she fails in battle — she is easily taken hostage or she's easily defeated by weak enemies, and she's not able to escape or do any of the usual badass stuff. This was not really a place to use the theoretical framework, cause it didn't work.

(In the zeroth place, the way that the dynamic of gender works /changes/ with the writer and with time. Although I am also guilty of ignoring this.)
contradictioninterms
07:01:34 AM Jul 1st 2011
...I also strenuously object to the word "actifier" on the grounds that it doesn't and I don't.
MercuryInRetrograde
10:29:34 PM Jul 2nd 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
The fact that men rarely fall prey to a Faux Action Guy trope is what illustrates the dynamic, not the trope itself.

Male characters who fail to be active are more despised then female characters who fail to be active. That's one reason why we don't see as many distressed dudes and we have the trope Non-Action Guy.

>she is easily taken hostage or she's easily defeated by weak enemies, and she's not able to escape or do any of the usual badass stuff.

Yes. And if she was a male character who failed to be badass she would be more likely to be killed off, not saved.

>This was not really a place to use the theoretical framework, cause it didn't work.

It's a perfect illustration of it.

Male characters have to be active; female characters can be active or passive, and can function in-story as a hero or a Damsel in Distress who motivates others. This gives room for female characters to be Chickified while still having plots revolve around them; a man who suffers Bad Ass Decay is far more likely to be killed or written out of story because he becomes narrative dead weight since, in the absence of overt agency, male characters don't have the same motivational properties as female characters.

This isn't an absolute, of course, because sometimes guys get the Badass in Distress treatment as well. It's just trends.
MercuryInRetrograde
10:36:17 PM Jul 2nd 2011
>...I also strenuously object to the word "actifier" on the grounds that it doesn't and I don't.

Okay... ?

Other people have used the term 'success object'. The idea is giving men disproportionate agency and responsibility.
MercuryInRetrograde
topic
11:04:27 AM Jun 1st 2011
It is also interesting to note that corrective actions almost never reach women in positions of power, who are almost always depicted as Always Chaotic Evil. Power wielding demands actual action and decisive, proactive power and women can't handle these properly. Thus, if they do and are successful at it, it is only legitimate to label them as either morally corrupted, either castrating, power-hungry harpies.

MercuryInRetrograde
11:07:49 AM Jun 1st 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
Looking through the 'Matriarchy' subcategory finds a lot of matriarchies that have been portrayed as better then patriarchies or our current system. Same with Lady Land.

Evil Matriarch is balanced by Apron Matron, My Beloved Smother and Iron Lady.

God Save Us from the Queen! is balanced by The High Queen and The Woman Behind The Queenly Mask. Just like The Evil Prince is balanced by The White Prince.

Quickly Demoted Woman has more aversions and subversions then it's played straight. It's also (overbalanced) by the tendency of many works to make female characters more competent then male.

Overall, I think you're exaggerating this effect.
Alrune
03:12:42 PM Jun 1st 2011
edited by Alrune
I understand your point of view and maybe I've been a little exaggerating here but I think it's not all that false.

Matriarchies are often received as a form of Straw Feminism as I said. They're either played out as some kind of Marysuetopia or, back in Ancient Greece, as a demonstration about how women are inherently unable to wield power. Cue Lady Land.

Quickly Demoted Woman: I have yet to see a mainstream live-action work where women are effectively more competent than men without using sex as a weapon and without being in the service of a greater man.

As for the Iron Lady, it clearly implies that power positions are no place for feminine women. Which is why such ladies have Power Hair and must act like men, furthering the idea that being proactive is essentially a masculine thing.

The High Queen isn't that common in comparison to its dark counterpart and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask is also a way to prove that power really doesn't befit women and that they can't find actual fulfilment from it. And if they do, they are manipulative,selfish bitches.

The Evil Matriarch might be balanced by the Apron Matron but it shows that a matriarch, ie a female patriarch, can do no good and that she is usurping the rightful position of males by ruling the family in their stead, even if the father is deceased.
MercuryInRetrograde
05:20:48 PM Jun 1st 2011
edited by MercuryInRetrograde
I don't watch a lot of TV, but just off the top of my head. The Star Gate series has plenty of competent women. Farscape had plenty of competent women who were better at fighting then the main male protagonist. Doctor Who annoys me, but now there are a few more competent female characters. The CSI shows seem to include competent female characters.

Matriarchies are more often portrayed as better then patriarchies(it's even stated in the trope description); the Greek Amazonian matriarchial distopia is a pretty old trope. Also the High Queen has tons and tons of examples and many of the examples in God Save Us from the Queen! are aversions or subversions.

I think you can't take too much from the names of tropes... Evil Matriarch being evil and the patriarch being neutral is just a naming convention from tvtropes, I don't think it reflects a trope itself.

I think the take away is less that powerful women are portrayed as evil but that they are portrayed as necessarily being more masculine or... just... awkward.
Alrune
10:59:13 AM Jun 2nd 2011
I don't watch much TV either but, as I said, most competent female characters are in the service of a greater man. If there is no one above them, they are almost always evil or at least antagonistic.

As for the rest, I'll give in to what you said. But the reason I introduced the "women in positions of power" paragraph is because the audience's reaction is, as you described, ambivalent.
paschendale
06:26:10 PM Jun 30th 2011
edited by paschendale
I think the more important issue in defining a female character in power is whether they're defined by their actions or by their femaleness.

When discussing a fictional man in power, his maleness is not considered a defining characteristic. When discussing a woman in power, you end up with all the tropes mentioned above.

Therefore, the most pertinent fact that comes from women in power tropes is that there are no Always Male equivalents to them. Depictions of men in power are commentaries on humankind, not men specifically. They themselves are defined by what they do, not their gender.

I believe that you can find women in authority in fiction, but unlike men in authority, they're still defined by their gender. Think of Captain Janeway: Since all the admirals are back in The Alpha Quadrant, she's absolutely the one in charge but we still see her as "the female captain" (and FWIW Benjamin Sisko as "the black captain.")
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