2 years ago5,000+ Views

There are so many to choose from... unfortunately.

They get on your nerves, because they're offensive or just offensively bad writing, it doesn't really matter. Stereotypical characters really need to be retired. These are a few of my peeves, though I'm sure you all have your own!

The obligatory 'good at shooting things' girl

The kind of character you really want to love. She's cool! She's good at stuff! And doing things! Well, sort of. Usually she's just there to lead a training montage for the slightly less capable but inexplicably more fit for heroics male lead. Or she's just there to be the token woman on a team of dudes. Good luck finding her on a t-shirt.

The manic pixie dream girl

She's so quirky! And super-interested in a kind of boring dude for some reason. In fact, it seems like everything she likes and cares about is perfectly tailored to suit that boring dude's incredibly specific needs.

The support staff

The five minutes of screen time these characters get is always enjoyable, but let's face it, most of the time these characters could be played by cardboard cut-outs of people. Frankly, the cardboard cut-outs might actually get some character development.

The blank slate

She has a very strong opinion about something completely mundane ("ugh, weather, am I right?") but aside from that there's not really anything substantial here. She's as close to "default female" as we get. Because being female is enough of a defining characteristic, right?

The trophy

It's like someone misheard the definition of sexual empowerment. But see? She's naked! And guys totally love it! That's what sexual empowerment is all about, right? Groan. Her boobs also double as flotation devices, so there's that.

What do all of these have in common?

(Aside from the fact that they're all female stereotypes).
They're not actually characters. All of these archetypes have no depth. They don't have internal lives, or needs that aren't about someone else. And when there's only one female character present in a story, these stereotypes are glaring. They're not just gross, they're lazy storytelling!
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@BeannachtOraibh yes that is very true sadly....a certain author comes to mind too.... @allischaaff thanks :) I'm striving not to make stereotypes and cliches like these-- that's why I love reading things like this! It helps me to evaluate my own ideas and refine them.
@lovelikematoi @BeannachtOraibh @allischaaff you definitely have a point. I think it's also important to point out though, there are plenty of female writers that have zero problem writing men. Shonda Rimes comes to mind- every character in her shows has depth, and development. Sure, all the characters in her shows are flawed, but their flaws are unique and personal, not caricatures. I think there's this expectation that woman are *naturally* more sympathetic, so of *course* they can understand men. But expect a man to understand a woman? Oh no. Women are from venus, men are never going to understand them so why bother trying? There's a lack of sympathy there.
I wouldn't say a lack of sympathy, so much as a "programmed lack of sympathy". The capacity is there, but whether they accept that they don't have to fall in line is ultimately up to each of them. Just as women can jump into the shallow end, so too can men choose to delve into the depths and explore a feminine perspective.
@BeannachtOraibh that's so true! There's nothing innately different about men and women, it's that we are all trained to behave differently. And you're so right, men are trained not to be sympathetic. Or perhaps it's that they're not motivated to be? I think there is definitely an assumption that women should be able to relate to all of the male-dominated films, but that men shouldn't have to relate to "women's genres".... like it's an assumption that male stories are universal, but womens' are not? It's not true at all of course. But it's such a subtle message I think people don't realize that's what they're being told. @m1chaela thanks!