There's a wealth of symbolism and story cliches that enforce gender roles that people are thinking of when they bring this up. They are also thinking of superficially similar situations with men where things were treated differently. Instead of arguing these points with valid counters -- men who have been injured SPECIFICALLY to bring angst to a female character, which is the actual equivalent of the Fridge accusation; or reasons the character may have been considered disposable -- you're just plain dismissive of the person arguing because heaven forfend, someone may have brought up sexism.What do you think? Effective, or cause for more defensiveness?
Here's the thing, we live in a society with still very strict gender roles, as a guy you must know this -- its it socially acceptable for you to wear certain clothing, to express certain emotions? Well, on the female side we experience our own problems, where you are not expected to be able to do a certain job (science, math) or think a certain way (mechanically, logically) as well because of your gender. Sexism still exists, as we still have assumptions in our society about behavior that's proper for a man yet is not proper for a woman, and vice versa.
Since society has these gender roles and presuppositions, they are going to show up in stories also. Probably moreso than they show in real life. It's worth examining a female role in a story and how it may differ from a male role, sometimes it turns out to be inconsequential, yes (I can think of a few anti-Arisia posts I had to read twice before I decided it wasn't a putting the blame on the woman attitude so much as a "The main character can do no wrong" attitude), rarely does it turn out to be malicious (Actually, I can't think of an instance where I've believed a moment of sexism in comics to be intentional or malicious), but sometimes it needs to be looked into and changed.
You can't simply dismiss the argument offhand because sexism comes up. You have to actually address the person's concerns on a mature level. It's not only perfectly acceptable to examine the possibility of sexism, it's downright important to consider the option, not only in the stuff you dislike but also in the stories that you do like, and in your own attitude. Considering the possibility does not lead to conclusion that it exists and even more importantly, Concluding that it exists does not imply that it was malicious, or that the writer is a bad person or an unskilled writer, just that the cliche appeared. Gender roles are a common storytelling tool, but they're restrictive for all characters and looking into them opens up creative opportunities by expanding your range of character types and situations.
Again, I personally disagree with JLG on Pantha's death. I don't even think that a Fridge moment is necessarily a bad thing (I do think it's a terrible thing when we only see women on the one side of that narrative tool. And at the moment I can come up with men injured to give angst to other men before I can think of men injured or killed to give angst to women). But that's no reason to dismiss his concerns out of hand as "Freaking out over a female character."
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Crossposted from Comic-Bloc
I can't seem to keep out of these arguments, this one's about Pantha, but I ended up with some insights I thought I'd share. I'm arguing with this guy, not about specifics, but on dismissing the sexism argument at the outset. Here's my argument: