Main Real Women Dont Wear Dresses Discussion

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08:48:32 AM May 16th 2017
Under the Sailor Moon example, there's an excerpt from an article talking about how Sailor Moon really is 'Girl Power' because they use 'girly' objects to fight with.

I find this a little problematic, because I suspect that was not the intention of the creators. In Japan gender roles are much more strictly enforced, so feminine = powerful is not necessarily an empowering trope as you are considered not a 'real' woman if you are tomboyish. In other words, it is imposing Western values onto an Eastern show to say that the use of makeup/girly items as sources of power is meant to be feminist or empowering.

I think there's even an article under Values Dissonance about this problem.

TL;DR - should the example under Sailor Moon be cut and the excerpt from the show be left in? The dialogue arguably represents the trope more than the excerpt below does, as the characters are consciously rejecting the idea of female inferiority in the dialogue.
08:14:01 AM Dec 3rd 2017
08:29:32 PM Jun 22nd 2016
edited by lavendermintrose
Alright. Here's what the issue is.

The trope is about a narrative that shows a non-combatant female character as inferior to warriors.

Several people, such as the last topic starter, think it is a problem because it's more of a problem for someone to tell women that they can't be warriors. They see this trope as excusing that idea, because they think that telling women it's okay not to be a warrior is the same as telling them they cannot be warriors.

That is not true. It is also not true that warriors are superior to non-warriors. A person - male or female - can be strong in character and be a completely worthwhile person without ever picking up a weapon or committing an act of violence against another person. To say that they can't is more problematic than anything you can say about gender.

The trope is sexist if it treats womanhood as an "excuse" for not being a warrior. In truth, no one needs an excuse to not be violent, and there is nothing wrong with Non-Action Guy characters either. However, that doesn't seem to actually be the point of the trope.

The trope is necessarily female because, unfortunately, looking down on "feminine" men is still People Sit on Chairs, and no one really cares to fix that. note 
09:45:46 PM Apr 5th 2018
The trope is not about warriors, it's about "traditional" femininity. It covers stereotypical girlishness. Informed prissiness in some cases. Some context is needed in any given example.

Two, the problem is that it's sister trope, dismissing a female who is not traditionally feminine as a "shemale", "man with boobs" etc is missing. We can have Butch Lesbian and Lipstick Lesbian but for some reason drew a blank here, even though both tropes very much exist.

Okay. Maybe "the problem" is a little too limiting. Another is really, in my opinion, users on this site focusing too much on forum and editorial commentary as opposed to, say, things that actually happen in the work. Another problem is taking this way too literally. The page image gets the idea across, admittedly, but it's not an example. The police officer is more competent because she's a trained law officer. She's not wearing a cloth type dress because field officers don't wear such things.

If there were two officers and the one who didn't, say, wear lipstick or paint her nails like women are apparently expected to do where they are and was either better at her job because of it and or thought herself better in some way for it, that would be an example. Whether or not they are both law officers, "warriors", in not relevant. They can both be reporters, photographers, with one wearing a skirt, the other not and the one not being better not because the skirt get's caught on bushes while lining up for the shot, because she wore perfume that the person being interviewed was allergic too, but because she was doing something "girly", which is a hindrance in of itself.

Another is that most of the examples are presented in the work as being wrong. It usually turns out willingness to twerk in public does not in fact make one any less capable of throwing a punch, that a pedicure does not make kicks softer, that some problems can be solved with seduction, diplomacy, flattery, cooking what have you. Yet we must insist the attitude is wrong even though most of the works listed agree it is wrong. I guess this ties back to the point the other side should probably have a page too.

As is, Non-Action Guy isn't exactly people sit on chairs. Action Hero, Guile Hero and Science Hero were typed up as companion pages for a reason. Action Survivor can easily qualify for a non fighter, Action Duo specifically calls for a non fighter, and not all works necessarily have something to fight in the first place, even when they don't as far as No Antagonist.
08:56:33 AM Dec 13th 2014
The main problem with this trope is the circular logic that borders on gender essentialism and portraying everything as strictly binary. In combat oriented media, the Action Heroes need to dress practically. That's not "masculine", that's just sane. Soldiers and cops and construction workers that happen to be women aren't going to be any more capable for their job when they're in a skirt and high heels and armed with a compact and lipstick— that actually makes their job worse and more dangerous.

Aside from that, in both the audience reaction reaction (for lack of better words on what the previous page devolved to) and in-universe version of the page, there's this underlying current of "Real women have to be feminine or else they're not Real Women, they're men with tits" even though that's just fucking stupid. 'Not feminine' doesn't automatically mean 'masculine', and it doesn't make a woman any less of one if she happens to be good at sports or has short hair or wears pants.

There was a suggestion in the cleanup thread about making a sister trope to this called Real Women Always Wear Dresses, for the cases where women are bashed in-universe for 'not being girly enough' and portrayed as bitchy, repulsive to men, or psychologically unhealthy, and sadly it hasn't been created even though it's Truth in Television.

Wall of text expanding on this point 

Meanwhile as much emphasis as there is on "masculine" women needing to retain their "inherent" femininity because "femininity isn't weakness", the common consensus is still that being beaten by a girl is ‘embarrassing’ and ‘emasculating’ for a man in the first place, and femininity is poisonous to them (dresses, purses, and makeup are so off-limits that men can't even be seen holding them for their girlfriend), so if the point is that femininity should be valued, having it remain women-only is a terrible way to go about it and weaponizing it in order to be taken seriously is even stupider.
08:30:36 AM Dec 15th 2014
Interesting. How would you suggest adjusting the trope to ameliorate these problems?
09:26:06 PM Apr 10th 2015
I was under the impression making a page for women being insulted for not being feminine enough as a "sister trope" was the suggestion. It'd be nice to get a response though, Empty||Handle.
03:53:54 AM Sep 30th 2015
Making a page for women being insulted or 'punished' for their lack of femininity (because there are examples as demonstrated in Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits) is a good idea, but then the idealist in me says I'd rather we fix people and their essentialist mindset so that this trope stops existing, because adjusting it still keeps it here.
05:25:10 AM Sep 30th 2015
Keep in mind that we can't fix the world's sexism problems by rewriting a trope, folks.
07:39:15 PM Jun 22nd 2016
edited by lavendermintrose
But not every story is about combat. And non-warriors are not worth any less than warriors.

Being a strong person/character, male or female, is not about strength in combat. It's about character strength, which doesn't have to be connected to physical strength at all.

The gender binary issue comes in with the fact that pretty much everyone thinks it's okay to say males are worth less for having a softer appearance, preferring certain styles of dress, etc. Even when people accept non-hetero-exclusive men, they look down on "sissy" men. I don't, and I think the world needs more soft, elegant, pacifist men and women, and less warriors and violence, but that's just me. Everyone else apparently still thinks you have to be a warrior to be worth something. // You know what's a sexism issue, though? People who think that in order for women to be worth something, they have to conform to the traditional warrior ideal for men, regardless of the fact that violence and war are objectively bad for the world. This trope is pointing out that that attitude is harmful.

The thing to do to fix the trope is to point out that traditionally feminine traits are acceptable on men as well, and that the body parts you're born with have nothing to do with the fact that any traits are all equally okay for both.
08:29:53 AM Sep 18th 2014
I still think this trope gets horribly offensive sometimes, particularly in regards to when the page was more soapbox-y. How are we supposed to move on towards more equality when we establish certain personal traits as exclusively male or female, and then essentially tell women which ones are appropriate for them? In the end, it's no different from rigid Victorian-era social standards, but with the pretense of it being somehow progressive.

07:04:35 AM Oct 5th 2014
I'm confused. The page is complaining about a trope wherein "girly" women are treated as less competent/less feminist. That the trope is offensive is the whole point - the page is "soapbox-y" in criticising the trope, if anything. That's not the same as complaining about women ever being portrayed as tomboyish.

Don't get me wrong, there are problems with the critique (it's often a circular argument, with "competently dealing with the situation at hand" being itself treated as a masculine trait, and therefore somehow demeaning some hypothetical woman who would rather go to pieces and wait for a man to rescue her). But I think at heart it describes a real and problematic Trope In Aggregate.
04:02:35 PM Jul 3rd 2014
Is the pic of Rose and Cybil really good for this trope? From what I remember, Cybil wasn't portrayed as superior (if anything a stubborn, somewhat jerky cop at first while Rose was actually in the right) and Rose wasn't portrayed as stupid or anything just for wearing a skirt. She could've been wearing jeans and it wouldn't have made any difference in the film. Maybe a screenshot from that Pink video 'Stupid Girls' might be more accurate?

08:37:55 AM Sep 18th 2014
edited by
Kind of on the fence about the image. From what I understand the images are not supposed to be overly reliant on knowledge of that work, so it really shouldn't matter which one ends up being more competent in the movie. All I see inthe picture is that Cybil has her gun out, but how does that make her more competent? There isn't any danger going on in the image.
08:40:24 AM Sep 18th 2014
Well, knowing the work it doesn't make a lot of sense. Rose was about as competent as Cybil, but Cybil was a lot more useful in a fight.

That said, I'll say this: If shit went down (as seems imminent in the image), I'd sooner have the woman in pants on my side.
08:50:26 AM Sep 18th 2014
What's so imminent though? They're apparently on a street on a cloudy day. The picture seems to rely a bit much on Unnaturally Blue Lighting.
10:41:41 AM Sep 18th 2014
Being armed and alert like that is a sign of an imminent threat.
11:31:51 AM Jul 18th 2012
We have way too many inversions, subversions and aversions to this trope; I mean, isn't this and the poorly-demonstrated page image proof that the Audience Reaction version made more sense?
04:52:40 PM Mar 21st 2013
The Audience Reaction version got dumped because it largely devolved into complaining about people the trope writers didn't like as opposed to documenting legitimate phenomenons.
06:06:45 AM May 20th 2013
edited by
But the Audience Reaction version is a legitimate phenomenon—one that's still going on, particularly in terms of feminist discussion of works. If Draco in Leather Pants is considered legitimate (since it documents examples of antagonistic or even villainous characters being idolized by fans), why not Real Women Never Wear Dresses? (If we really want to keep this trope—as flimsy as it is, as others in the discussion have noted—we could also bring back the original under one of its alternate titles, like Femininity Is Bad or something. We would just have to take steps to ensure it doesn't devolve into generic "female fans bashing female characters for no reason" bashing like before.)
02:42:57 PM Aug 22nd 2013
edited by
I came here through Dead Unicorn Tropes. In other words, pretty much all examples are meant to be inverted, subverted or parodied (maybe even deconstructed) as saying "See? You say Girly Girl like it's a dirty word. There's no reason to pretend to be something you're not!" In fandom, however, Girls Need Role Models, and if said role models are wearing pink, like cute things, are perhaps themselves very cute, or* occasionally have off days when fighting the bad guys and have to be rescued by a boy...well, how dare she! Case in point, I read one person who posted a comment about Bella Swan from Twilight saying that she's "too feminine to function". Problem is, other than cooking, she really lacks the character necessary to count as 'masculine' or 'feminine'. Unless of course you count being an Extreme Doormat and Shallow Love Interest as being inherently feminine.
08:42:19 AM Sep 18th 2014
edited by
"Unless of course you count being an Extreme Doormat and Shallow Love Interest as being inherently feminine."

Ouch, see this is what I mean when I say the assigned-gender-roles thing gets so wrong a lot of times.
02:14:15 AM Nov 18th 2014
I think that the trope is'n omnipresent, it can be traced to the Second Wave of Feminism where feminists started to reject traditional feminine traits and adopted more butch characteristics, but the current feminists views don't make a fuss of being girly as long as women do it for themselves. The trope needs to be fixed and let only straight examples and intentional subversions/inversions/deconstructions (Where the authors had this trope in mind and attempted to defy it or play with it) There're enough valid examples to still make this an actual trope instead of a Dead Unicorn Trope, but it needs to be fixed.
07:17:45 AM Nov 18th 2014
^ Feminism is far too fractured to make blanket statements about what "current feminists [sic] views" do and don't make a fuss over.
01:20:21 AM Nov 21st 2014
And how does being a Dead Unicorn Trope make the examples any less valid? Just because its being used to attack something that was never actually used before doesn't mean it still doesn't get used. That phenomenon itself has its own trope page.
01:11:10 AM May 20th 2012
edited by Meself
We're just recording the trope, here. It happens. Between a woman in trousers and one in a dress, the odds are the trouser lady is going to be the Action Girl of the pair and the one in the dress is going to end up being a Damsel in Distress.

Hmm... this implies that all media is combat oriented, and in such a context, it's natural to assume that someone in trousers would be tougher than one in a dress. This seems to be destroying it's own argument... Of course, the trope isn't specifically about dresses, or at least many other indexes explain so.

The main problem with this trope is that it's about someone not doing something. In short, the trope itself would be "a character isn't strong if she does any stereotypically feminine things." Therefore, character who simply has no interest in doing these things shouldn't be listed as an example.

All I can say is that the odds of this soon needing to become an example-less page are quite high.
05:09:19 AM Jun 12th 2012
The problem with this trope is it's got its logic backwards. The reason active professions wear trousers is because trousers are practical. The reason men traditionally wear trousers is that they were more likely to be in active professions. So where this trope assumes a female soldier dresses in a "masculine" way because femininity is useless, the reality is that you have to wear clothes like that to do the job effectively.

Worse, the trope implies that female cops would rather be going around in skirts and high heels, but The Man won't let them. So a trope that was originally about a Straw Feminist Audience Reaction has become mildly sexist in its own right. Yaaay.
11:23:13 AM Jul 18th 2012
I don't see how this trope makes any sense now that it's been "fixed". It's a very pervasive attitude among audiences, yet supposedly portraying a female cop in pants is all over this trope (never mind it's Truth in Television; were female cops to go about in frilly dresses in order to avert this "trope", most all of us would lose our Willing Suspension of Disbelief).
11:44:36 PM Sep 14th 2012
I think the dresses are just an example of the intended focus of the article. I took it to be "Strong = Manly, and therefore Weak = Womanly." To me, it's about an audience's (or writer's) assumption that a woman can't be both feminine and tough/strong/capable, at least in comparison to a woman who is more masculine in her actions.

And as a Gender Studies major, I did find this article useful because it puts that concept into focus, and I hadn't had thoughts about this false relationship before.
10:13:45 AM Apr 27th 2012
Guess which of these women is the tough, competent one. it the police officer? Guess how I came to that? Because she was wearing pants? NO! Because she's a cop! This page pic isn't convincing me of almost seems to be shoehorning it like "OMG! See! Look! The one in pants is the tough one! Yeah she's a cop, but that doesn't mean she can't be in a skirt too!" Sorry if that came off really harsh, but really, what happened to the old meaning (that people are still continuing to use?)
10:52:46 AM Apr 27th 2012
That image was kept on the page by a recent Image Pickin' thread. It was agreed that it wasn't great, but nothing better was produced. If you have a suggestion, take it to that forum. Thanks!
01:48:11 AM May 20th 2012
That discussion has been closed by Willbyr...
07:38:34 PM Sep 6th 2012
I agree, this picture is pretty bad. Besides the fact that Cybil is a cop wearing a police uniform, that pictures caption wouldn't make sense even if Cybil wasn't a cop. Cybil and Rose are both considered badass and intelligent. Both women spend the bulk of the film searching for Rose's daughter and being attacked by monsters and crazed cult members, and the only advantage Cybil is ever shown to have over Rose against their opponents is her gun. And even then, Rose ultimately finds all of the clues, puts the puzzle together, confronts the Demon and saves Sharon.
11:39:42 PM Sep 14th 2012
To me, I felt the picture (while not a great example) was a good metaphor for the whole topic, and it helped me understand what the trope is about (Strong = Manly, essentially).
06:06:53 PM Feb 24th 2012
edited by doomsday524
How come this trope went from "Fan Dumb says dresses=weak, bad" to "shows have women in dresses doing less even if they're you know, between a trained police officer and a civilian woman". I'd say the former trope was completely valid and had a big list of the excesses done attacking females for doing anything feminine. What happened to it and why was it replaced by a trope that might be it's opposite?
04:50:22 PM Feb 26th 2012
edited by butterblock
From what I know, it was because it became nothing more than complaints about female fans hating female characters, regardless of the reason.
03:02:56 PM Mar 12th 2012
This is the TRS thread.

To summarize, it had become a huge bag of soapboxing, natter and flame wars. Now, it's treated as an in-universe thing.
01:31:06 PM Mar 13th 2012
edited by doomsday524
Since when did soapboxing become a bad thing here? To clarify, there's a lot of pages that soapbox (pretty inflammatorily) here, possibly including this one. Why would the old article get singled out?
07:01:01 AM Mar 14th 2012
edited by lu127
No, soapboxing is not acceptable. Most soapboxes are getting the axe. Stuff like Acceptable Nationality Targets that becomes a soapbox leaves. Base Breaker became example-less for the same reason.

Soapboxing is a bad thing. The admin himself participated in that thread.
07:35:43 PM Mar 21st 2012
It seemed like the original RWNWD trope was "female characters being bashed specifically for being girly" to "female characters being disproportionately bashed/nitpicked in general." The latter does seem to be a legitimate issue (see here and here for starters), maybe bring back an example-less page called something like "Women Under the Microscope" just explaining the concept. It's something I've noticed myself, that certain female characters are over-analyzed every time they sneeze, especially when they're being compared against other female characters. Something to do with being caught between flat out misogyny and Girls Need Role Models.
09:49:12 PM Mar 29th 2012
I also found that the old page worked well in analyzing typical patterns of Fan Dumb complaints. Granted, it often portrayed the complaints in a negative light, but it was difficult to treat complaints that were so petty (This character dresses like a girl! She's a sexist icon!), disproportionate (How dare this girl have a mental breakdown after her boyfriend is killed!) or completely unreasonable (It's sexist for her to step down from being an Action Girl to raise a family! Never mind how much she dislikes violence!) in any sort of positive light, similar to the Die for Our Ship or Ron the Death Eater pages (or in the opposite direction, Draco in Leather Pants). Having a page around to analyze where and how this trend manifests is important for the issue.
09:51:14 AM Apr 27th 2012
edited by Stoogebie
First this, then All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles. You do realize that if there are to be such Audience Reactions as Draco in Leather Pants, there can be this trope. I see it all the time. I really think we need some changes made here.
10:18:15 AM Feb 22nd 2012
Does this page really need to be split by medium? The subpages are not nearly long enough for that. (Hell, the music one only has one entry.)
01:23:25 PM Sep 29th 2012
How is she masculine, dont feminists want women to have the right to wear trousers and short hair, and be in good shape. Hell it would be more sexist to put her in a skirt. Its sexist to say that she is masculine just because she is not wearing a dress. How is she unlike other women? Are you trying to say she is unfeminst for having power as a woman. One minute feminism is wanting women in trousers etc, next there trying to imply that women in trousers grow balls and want to be men. Feminism is destroying its self with its own sexist. The second a woman becomes in someway empowered feminists still are not happy, they then start seeing her as too much like a man. You really are scraping the bottom of the barrel with this.
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