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my response to that female characters post

Obviously, sexism influences fans and fannish practices, but I think it’s ridiculously disingenuous to suggest that internalized misogyny is the only force at work. I don’t always want to brace myself for my entertainment; it’s common to say, “[x] is my life, of course it comes with me” - I’ve said it myself, and it’s true to some extent, but sometimes I do want to just set it aside and not feel like I have firecrackers going off in my brain for a few hours.

And I do think female characters generally are written as - particular rather than universal, women dealing with women’s problems fighting women’s enemies, and so rarely given narrative prominence or detailed arcs the way male characters are. Sure, there are female characters in various supporting casts who I absolutely love. Hermione, Katara, Leia, Romana, Éowyn. But they’re not given the centrality of the male protagonist, they’re rarely celebrated to remotely similar extents, their backstories and personal array of flaws and merits aren’t explored in anything like the same degree. Sometimes it seems that the “yay awesome ladies, boo on the haters!” rhetoric blames the audiences for not correcting the deficiency of canon, not mentally rearranging the text to be better than it is. 

It’s remarkable, too, how fandom’s response to female character suddenly shifts to how they respond to male characters when they’re written in similar ways. In one of my fandoms (Avatar: the Legend of Korra), the controversial troubled-but-kickass protagonist is a girl (Korra), regarded by fans with a pretty typical mixture of fervent dislike and fervent adoration. The raging hatred often directed at female love interests is focused on the male love interest (Mako). The initially enigmatic supporting character with their own subplot, a kind of tragic glamour, and a legion of dedicated fans - here she’s female (Asami), and pretty much regarded as a saintly but unjustly treated total badass who can do no wrong and is never properly appreciated, and widely shipped with Korra. The most popular pairings are het and femslash. It’s not a fluffy sweet fandom by any means, but somehow, inverting many of the usual gender roles inverted the responses of the fans, too - and I’ve seen it happen in other fandoms. 

And, yes, some contingents of fandom have zero interest in female characters except as satellites to their ship, and some couch their disinterest in spurious, ridiculously narrow requirements, and although fandom mostly likes protagonists and deuteragonists, now and then they cheerfully fall for fairly minor male characters and do the mental work of building a community of fanon around them in ways that they seldom do for female ones. We can acknowledge all that without suggesting that's all that happens, that this has nothing to do with fandom's focus on male characters. I'm pretty tired of the idea that it's really (mostly female) fans who are primarily at fault. They do love male characters more--but they love female ones, too, especially when they're not relegated to the box of female character qualities. I'm sure ATLA fandom would have stanned for Azula and Toph as boys, as they were originally planned--but hey! The creators made them girls instead, and the fandom still stanned for them. Wow, it's amazing! And ATLA fandom (and LOK after it) are kind of terrifying but not really atypical. It's just the ... the Ellen Ripley effect. But somehow that doesn't seem to come up much in these conversations.


shakespeare and fanfic

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