Strong Female Characters: The Mary Sue's NYCC Panel

Sarah LeBoeuf

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Strong Female Characters: The Mary Sue's NYCC Panel

Presented by feminist geek culture site The Mary Sue, this NYCC panel highlighted well-rounded fictional female characters in existing media.

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JET1971

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I don't think it is the consumer that doesn't want strong female characters, I think it is the creators that are afraid to make them. Alien is one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time and Ripley is female through and through, male or female it didn't matter, she was a great character. I think men would be equally happy with having more females as the protagonist in every media. Take Assassins Creed issue, would having the protagonist as a female with no option for a male version sell less? I don't think so. I think it would sell the same if not more because of it. we have plenty of sausage fest movies, TV, and games that a well written female protagonist would be a selling point.

There is also the issue of men feeling threatened by strong female characters because they cannot do the things they see her doing. It makes some men feel less masculine seeing a woman being the hero, and I think many of the men creating movies, TV, and games that are always male lead fall into that category.
 

SUPA FRANKY

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I really hate that phrase, "Strong Female Character". Why can't characters just be characters? Why do we have to always tie buzzwords like empowering or progressive to characters now?
 

Mister K

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Well, IMO, the problem with female characters in the west is that, as far as I am aware, western writers most of the time think that strong female character means "angry and/or screaming ***** that doesn'care about anyone or anything except her own ambitions". Sexy outfit is optional, but desirable, because it shows that she has WOMAN power, not the man power.

Look, I am all for having more leading ladies, but can you guys PLEASE stop diregarding characters like Yuna from FFX, Terra and Celes from FFVI, Merida and Rapunsel from Disney cartoons as non-existant or weak? I think they are well-written female characters, that actually still ARE women, not stereotypical male trope in female body.
 

mistwolf

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Mister K said:
Well, IMO, the problem with female characters in the west is that, as far as I am aware, western writers most of the time think that strong female character means "angry and/or screaming ***** that doesn'care about anyone or anything except her own ambitions". Sexy outfit is optional, but desirable, because it shows that she has WOMAN power, not the man power.

Look, I am all for having more leading ladies, but can you guys PLEASE stop diregarding characters like Yuna from FFX, Terra and Celes from FFVI, Merida and Rapunsel from Disney cartoons as non-existant or weak? I think they are well-written female characters, that actually still ARE women, not stereotypical male trope in female body.
The article actually goes into significant detail how 'strong' isn't meant as 'physically' or even 'mentally' strong so much as well-written. I know most feminists and so-called SJW's in my neck of the woods don't disregard any specific characters without due cause. I would consider Yuna, or most women in Final Fantasy, to be well on the 'strong' side of things. The objection is more the paper-thin caricatures of characters. As someone above said, 'strong female character' is interpreted by many writers to be 'angry physical badass'. A strong character can BE an angry badass, but there are so many characters trying to play off being a badass as being a good character when that is their entire depth. To say nothing of the Bella-esque bland slabs of nothing passing for characters.
 

Sarah LeBoeuf

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mistwolf said:
Mister K said:
Well, IMO, the problem with female characters in the west is that, as far as I am aware, western writers most of the time think that strong female character means "angry and/or screaming ***** that doesn'care about anyone or anything except her own ambitions". Sexy outfit is optional, but desirable, because it shows that she has WOMAN power, not the man power.

Look, I am all for having more leading ladies, but can you guys PLEASE stop diregarding characters like Yuna from FFX, Terra and Celes from FFVI, Merida and Rapunsel from Disney cartoons as non-existant or weak? I think they are well-written female characters, that actually still ARE women, not stereotypical male trope in female body.
The article actually goes into significant detail how 'strong' isn't meant as 'physically' or even 'mentally' strong so much as well-written. I know most feminists and so-called SJW's in my neck of the woods don't disregard any specific characters without due cause. I would consider Yuna, or most women in Final Fantasy, to be well on the 'strong' side of things. The objection is more the paper-thin caricatures of characters. As someone above said, 'strong female character' is interpreted by many writers to be 'angry physical badass'. A strong character can BE an angry badass, but there are so many characters trying to play off being a badass as being a good character when that is their entire depth. To say nothing of the Bella-esque bland slabs of nothing passing for characters.
Well put. I think the point of the panel was we're trying to get away from the caricature of physically strong and/or angry "strong female characters" and gravitate more towards well-written, well-rounded fictional women and girls.

Yuna's definitely one of my favorite female characters, by the way. Merida and Rapunzel are a goddamn badasses and I love them.
 

Draconalis

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Mulan is one of my favorite female characters, and I feel she's strong. She needs a shout out.

I want Mulan to be my daughter's role model.
 

Izanagi009_v1legacy

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SUPA FRANKY said:
I really hate that phrase, "Strong Female Character". Why can't characters just be characters? Why do we have to always tie buzzwords like empowering or progressive to characters now?
I have to kind of agree, when I hear "Strong Female Character" I keep hearing the nostalgia chick's sarcastic "Strong independent woman" talking about kickass women with no real flaws or growth.

If you write a good character, gender doesn't matter. The only time gender matters is if you bring it up or if it's an issue that involves gender like abortion.

I have a test for making a character: if after making a personality and codifying what their place in the world and the interactions, ask if it makes a difference if making the character male or female matters. If it benefits from or doesn't matter if the character is a female, consider making the character a female. However you are under no obligation.

Characters are gears in a story, gender should only apply if the story asks for it.

We have an issue with making good characters period, lets get that done first before starting to worry about writing good gender specific characters.
 

Uriel_Hayabusa

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SUPA FRANKY said:
I really hate that phrase, "Strong Female Character". Why can't characters just be characters? Why do we have to always tie buzzwords like empowering or progressive to characters now?
You're not the only one:

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters
http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr/

There's plenty of ways to make interesting, believable female characters without just resorting to making them stereotypically ''strong''.
 

FavouredEnemy

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The panel was on 'strong female characters'. I am not certain it is fair to criticise the panelists for discussing them. You might criticise the reasons for having a panel on 'strong female characters', but I'd not be surprised if it wasn't because the term is already well used.

The fact that the panelists then discuss what they use the term to mean is significant.

With regards to not discussing particular characters from one computer game, I think I can forgive that when the panelists were largely there because it was a comic convention, rather than a gaming one. I don't think anyone went out of their way to disparage FF.
 

Sarah LeBoeuf

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FavouredEnemy said:
The panel was on 'strong female characters'. I am not certain it is fair to criticise the panelists for discussing them. You might criticise the reasons for having a panel on 'strong female characters', but I'd not be surprised if it wasn't because the term is already well used.

The fact that the panelists then discuss what they use the term to mean is significant.

With regards to not discussing particular characters from one computer game, I think I can forgive that when the panelists were largely there because it was a comic convention, rather than a gaming one. I don't think anyone went out of their way to disparage FF.
Yeah, video games weren't really brought up, so those characters weren't ignored--they just weren't on the panelists' radar. In retrospect I wish I'd asked Jill what female gaming characters she likes, because I know she plays games. But no one's saying Yuna and her Final Fantasy brethren aren't strong.