Why do women like ***** characters?

happyninja42

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So this is something that's always puzzled me about female characters in entertainment, whatever the media.

Women that I've known, or seen mention the subject online or whatever, tend to heavily gravitate towards the "*****" character of some ensemble cast.

The only example I can think of offhand, though I know there are others that are slipping my mind, is Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls.


When that show was a huge pop culture thing, I would see tons of girls and women who were fans of it. And as a personal curiosity, I started polling them on why they liked the specific character.

And almost without fail, the answer was to the word. "Because she's a *****"

Not "Because she's a strong independent woman" not "Because she's clever and creative, and solves her own problems"

Just "Because she's a *****"

I don't understand this.

I don't really see a parallel of this in male characters, where people like them "Because he's an asshole" or "Because he's a dick" If they happen to like a character that is abrasive, it's usually because of his other traits.

So why the ***** Attraction for women? And to clarify I'm not asking why they are portrayed this way in media, I get that trope and why it's the unfortunate way to portray a female character. But I don't get the appeal to the audience of it. Now granted, this is mostly colored from my personal dislike of asshole/***** characters of either gender, so I might be biased I guess, but I don't see the appeal of liking a character, whoever they are, because of their negative qualities. Unless we mean an Antagonist, liking a badguy because of how bad/evil they are is fine, because you can enjoy a good villain, but to me there is a difference in liking the character, and cheering them on and hoping they succeed.

I mean when you call someone a *****, they usually don't take it very well xD I know in my experience it's always garnered a negative reaction to calling a woman a ***** (even when it was an accurate description of her). So then why do women seem to embrace it? It seems a very strange disconnection to me, and I really don't understand it.

The closest explanation I've heard was basically "because they say what they are thinking, and don't take shit from anyone." Which I guess could be seen as female empowerment? But there are examples of female characters who could fit those qualifications, without being labeled as "a *****".

So why the ***** Attraction?

Thoughts?
 

Thaluikhain

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Bit of a generalisation there, I think. Anyhoo...

Happyninja42 said:
Not "Because she's a strong independent woman" not "Because she's clever and creative, and solves her own problems"

Just "Because she's a *****"
There may, or may not, be a difference between those. The first two aren't unlikely to get a woman labelled as the last.

Happyninja42 said:
The closest explanation I've heard was basically "because they say what they are thinking, and don't take shit from anyone." Which I guess could be seen as female empowerment? But there are examples of female characters who could fit those qualifications, without being labeled as "a *****".
There's also a problem in that certain people really don't get the idea of female empowerment, yeah. If women are "supposed" to be quiet and demure, then a woman that goes round being angry and randomly punching people is totes subversive, right?
 

Flutterguy

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Same reason guys like characters who don't listen to anyone and get shit done. Like Abraham Ford on Walking Dead, only reason I kept reading the comics was Abraham, same reason I quite reading them too, haha.

Fulfillment of a power fantasy, in which they are not only powerful, but usually correct. Rather then exxagerated muscles, temperament and always speaking straight to the point, female power fantasies tend to speak negatively of everyone elses point then go on solving the problem themselves.
 

happyninja42

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thaluikhain said:
Bit of a generalisation there, I think. Anyhoo...
Don't see how it's a generalization, when I asked them directly why they liked the character, and the reason they gave is "Because she's a *****" And these were women and young women I was asking so, yeah it's a pretty specific question as to why women like ***** characters. And this isn't exclusive to the Buttercup example I gave, it's been a consistent trend when I've asked women I know or meet why they like a particular female character. And more often than not, they would give, as the only reason "Because she's a *****".

Happyninja42 said:
Not "Because she's a strong independent woman" not "Because she's clever and creative, and solves her own problems"

Just "Because she's a *****"
thaluikhain said:
There may, or may not, be a difference between those. The first two aren't unlikely to get a woman labelled as the last.
There is indeed a difference in the two. As there are plenty of examples of female characters who meet the first two descriptions, but don't automatically include the third. That is the crux of my problem, that they seem to like the female characters, for the expression of negative qualities, qualities that if you described them as having them personally, they would take great offense at.


Happyninja42 said:
The closest explanation I've heard was basically "because they say what they are thinking, and don't take shit from anyone." Which I guess could be seen as female empowerment? But there are examples of female characters who could fit those qualifications, without being labeled as "a *****".
thaluikhain said:
There's also a problem in that certain people really don't get the idea of female empowerment, yeah. If women are "supposed" to be quiet and demure, then a woman that goes round being angry and randomly punching people is totes subversive, right?
I guess? That's what I said originally, that the only reason that makes even the slightest sense to me, is the female empowerment. My issue with this is it does indeed seem to be a reflection of not understanding female empowerment. I was mostly looking for input from female posters on the site, to get other ideas on why they like ***** Characters, assuming they do. Or an explanation why the simple reason of "Because she's a *****" is enough.

Flutterguy said:
Same reason guys like characters who don't listen to anyone and get shit done. Like Abraham Ford on Walking Dead, only reason I kept reading the comics was Abraham, same reason I quite reading them too, haha.

Fulfillment of a power fantasy, in which they are not only powerful, but usually correct. Rather then exxagerated muscles, temperament and always speaking straight to the point, female power fantasies tend to speak negatively of everyone elses point then go on solving the problem themselves.
Actually I can't stand headstrong characters who don't listen to other people's advice, and just run off on their own. This qualifies as an "Asshole" in my book, and like I said in my OP, is something I personally dislike.

As to your second comment about power fantasies, why? Why is that the power fantasy that seems to be desired? That's where I'm puzzled, because if they encountered someone like that in person, who was acting that way to them, the wouldn't like them, at all. So why is it enjoyable to embrace that?

*shrugs* I guess I just don't really enjoy, or get the "being bad" desire that many people have, and maybe that's where this issue is rooted. I've never enjoyed playing badguys, or rooting for anti-heros in stories. In games where you can go Light or Dark, I don't play the Dark path, I never really have. I just don't enjoy it. And maybe that's why this reason just baffles me personally, as I don't find any fun or benefit in indulging my negative aspects, or idolizing characters who do.
 

DoPo

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Happyninja42 said:
thaluikhain said:
Bit of a generalisation there, I think. Anyhoo...
Don't see how it's a generalization, when I asked them directly why they liked the character, and the reason they gave is "Because she's a *****"
If you take concepts A and B, then B would be a generalisation of A if all As share the trait generalised in B. For example, we have a set of balls as your concept A

Concept A



If you thought something different, you have a dirty mind.

Then you can generalise this as "All balls are round" which is concept B.

"All women think X"

Is a generalisation. However the path to the conclusion you made is "I asked some women something and they said X, therefore all women think X".
 

Flutterguy

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Happyninja42 said:
Why is that the power fantasy that seems to be desired?
Because they try to get things done. They inevitably get proven wrong, and it crushes them, but they keep trying. They tend to be more realistic since they are opinionated, hiding their insecurities, and they tend to have the best intentions.

It's much more then just 'being bad'.
 

Dragonbums

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Honestly I'd rather take a "*****" character in film anyday than the myraid of submissive, pushovers, that let men walk all over them like an airhead doorstep.
 

Uriel_Hayabusa

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I'm guessing for the same reason that a lot of men like these snarky, super confident and hypercompetent male characters. Because it's a fun self-projection fantasy for a lot of people.
 

neokiva

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it's most likely the same reason tsundere is so popular tsundere is a contraction of tsuntsun (cold onomatopoeia) and deredere (warm onamatopoeia) the term refers to characters who are outwardly cold, and often treat people coldly then eventually they warm up and it turns out that they have a cute and adorable side. people are attracted to people with self confidence, who are outgoing and take no shit from people and some people seem to think this is a negative (especially with women)
as for the whole women ***** bezerk button thing it's simple ***** means female dog and it often meant as a derogatory insult to women so of course they would flip their shit.
 

rob_simple

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I get the feeling that you are generalising, massively, and that the ratio of women who only like '***** characters' is probably about the same as that of men who just like meathead punchsolvers. Or to put it another way: if women only liked ***** characters then there would only be ***** characters in shows designed to appeal to women.

Then again, I accept that I'm possibly the one on the fringe, in this respect, since I have a knack for picking the less popular, or otherwise under-represented characters in whatever I like (Zabuza, FTW).
 

Lightknight

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Because women, just like in real life, confuse bitchiness with strength and power. They think bitchy = in control of the situation.

Thankfully for them, media can provide and atmosphere where the character is rewarded for being bitchy in a way they wish the real world would reward them for it when they're that way.

If you ask me, an asshole is an asshole no matter the sex. Bitchy is just the female-specific term for a jackass since jennyass sounds weird.
 

happyninja42

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DoPo said:
Happyninja42 said:
thaluikhain said:
Bit of a generalisation there, I think. Anyhoo...
Don't see how it's a generalization, when I asked them directly why they liked the character, and the reason they gave is "Because she's a *****"
If you take concepts A and B, then B would be a generalisation of A if all As share the trait generalised in B. For example, we have a set of balls as your concept A

Concept A



If you thought something different, you have a dirty mind.

Then you can generalise this as "All balls are round" which is concept B.

"All women think X"

Is a generalisation. However the path to the conclusion you made is "I asked some women something and they said X, therefore all women think X".
I didn't say "All women like ***** characters" if you look, that word was not used in my post. I asked why women like ***** characters, and stated that in my personal experience, when asked, the majority of them stated the reason of "because she's a *****". The word ALL was never used in my initial statement or question, therefore your example doesn't really fit, and it is still not a generalization of all women. I asked "Why do women like ***** characters?" If you are not the type of woman that likes ***** characters, then the question wasn't directed at you.
 

K12

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There definitely is a parallel for male characters.

There are literally millions of characters who act like bastards that are likable because they get the job done. There's the House style "genius bastard", there's the "charming bastard" like James Bond, there's the violent "badass bastard" like Judge Dredd or pretty much any "dark" comic book hero, there's the "straight talking bastard" who insults people and alwasy "tells it like it is" like Wolverine. There's even the non-fiction example of "expert bastard" like Gordan Ramsey and Simon Cowell who tell useless people that they are useless in a mean but thoroughly entertaining way.

The idea of being so brilliant that you can get away with being horrible to people is a fantasy that loads of people share and its probably more common to have a hero who's a bit of bastard/ ***** than it is to have someone who is a genuinely nice guy. There are far more Wolverines out there than there are Captain Americas.

Also the title is one of the most blatant over-generalisations and over-simplications I've ever seen.
 

Phasmal

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What's up with the sudden influx of `F*cking women how do they work` threads.

Women are just people. People like different things.

Also maybe because pretty much every woman ever has been called a ***** at least once so it kind of doesn't mean anything any more.
Lightknight said:
Because women, just like in real life, confuse bitchiness with strength and power. They think bitchy = in control of the situation.
Is that what we think? Good to know.
 

giles

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neokiva said:
it's most likely the same reason tsundere is so popular tsundere is a contraction of tsuntsun (cold onomatopoeia) and deredere (warm onamatopoeia) the term refers to characters who are outwardly cold, and often treat people coldly then eventually they warm up and it turns out that they have a cute and adorable side. people are attracted to people with self confidence, who are outgoing and take no shit from people and some people seem to think this is a negative (especially with women)
I don't think so. The "tsundere" character is an emotional infant, like a little child who kicks the boy she likes because she can't deal with her feelings otherwise. It's also tied to the idea that deep down everyone just wants a hug or some other Carebear shit. Maybe people are also interested in "conquering" the "tsun" side. It's not hard to think of reasons why some anime nerds would be attracted to this archetype, although I can't think of one that's not tied to some emotional immaturity.

The "*****" has none of these elements. She's an asshole and a terrible, lazy character just like the "tsundere", but I think that's where the similarity ends. While she at least has "something to do" other than be a love interest for more interesting characters, to me she embodies the laziness of writers like no other character archetype. This is especially true for TV series and the like.
Got no conflict? Just have women act like irrational bitches, coz, you know, they're women and menstruation is a thing! Instant drama!

PS: None of this means I agree with the OP about the "*****" being popular among women. That's completely new to me.
 

someonehairy-ish

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They're appealing in the same way that Sterling Archer is appealing to men. Arrogant, narcissistic, sarcastic, but also far, far more confident and carefree than most of us can ever be. These characters might be bitches or arseholes, but they're fun to watch and sometimes its fun to fantasise about being the kind of person that can speak their mind, and doesn't have to worry about being tactful or sensitive around other people.
 

SweetShark

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Maybe that why we love MLP:
None of the Ponies are b*thes.......
Except Trixie.....all the people love Trixie, I think.

joking, joking. I don't know why this happening.

Maybe sometimes the women feel like this? To act like that without care the other what the others think?
 

DoPo

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Happyninja42 said:
DoPo said:
Happyninja42 said:
thaluikhain said:
Bit of a generalisation there, I think. Anyhoo...
Don't see how it's a generalization, when I asked them directly why they liked the character, and the reason they gave is "Because she's a *****"
If you take concepts A and B, then B would be a generalisation of A if all As share the trait generalised in B. For example, we have a set of balls as your concept A

Concept A



If you thought something different, you have a dirty mind.

Then you can generalise this as "All balls are round" which is concept B.

"All women think X"

Is a generalisation. However the path to the conclusion you made is "I asked some women something and they said X, therefore all women think X".
I didn't say "All women like ***** characters" if you look, that word was not used in my post. I asked why women like ***** characters, and stated that in my personal experience, when asked, the majority of them stated the reason of "because she's a *****". The word ALL was never used in my initial statement or question, therefore your example doesn't really fit, and it is still not a generalization of all women. I asked "Why do women like ***** characters?" If you are not the type of woman that likes ***** characters, then the question wasn't directed at you.
It's an implied qualifier because you talk about women plural as the "species of humans", rather than "these people I know, who happen to be women".