In more recent years, Hollywood has attempted to be slightly less disgustingly misogynistic in it’s treatment of women, more out of an attempt to appear forward-thinking rather than a genuine belief that women are individual human beings.
One of these slight changes is the portrayal of awesome, kick-arse female characters in films (and other media. While the title of this article refers to Hollywood, I will refer to games and comics as well).
So waht’s the problem? Here’s a woman who is able to kill zombies/aliens/robots just as well as any men, right? A positive role model, and one the ICoS girls should admire, right?
Oh, how wrong you are. Sure, I think most of these women are cool, but as for role models for women? Ehh, not so much, especially in the drastically important realm of surviving the post apocalyptic world.
Let’s look at clothes first, shall we?
The Hollywood Tough Girl is dressed in a way that to the casual eye seems vaguely sensible. She’s certainly not dressed as impractically as most heroines in Hollywood! She’s there, wearing a tank top, a pair of shorts or trousers cut more for style than practicality, her long, glossy hair in a ponytail…
I think you can see the problems. Lets compare this with my survival outfit, shall we? I will be wearing a sports bra, a sensible top, a chainmail shirt, leather trousers with metal plate armour, my hair cut off and a helmet. A leather jacket when I need a bit of extra armour.
Think about it. My outfit won’t be sexy, but it will keep me alive. Her outfit? Leaves her open to injury from bullets, zombies, the weather and pretty much anything. Her long flowing hair can be grabbed easily.
This is ignoring how she somehow manages to do herself a nice smoky eye when she’s supposedly fighting for her life.
Which leads in nicely to the choices the Hollywood Tough Girl makes.
She’s supposed to be brilliant, but sense and pragmatism is replaces with traits the film-makers think make her ‘awesome’ when they’d just make her dead.
I watched Blade Trinity recently (yes, I know) and the supposedly awesome fighter girl in that… listened to her MP3 player while fighting. She had a fight track. This is fucking stupid. I don;t have words for how stupid this is.
When you are fighting things, you need ALL your senses- including your hearing! This goes double for things that are canonically faster and stronger than you. This is a classic example of an ‘awesome’ trait being very very likely to get you dead.
Don’t do this.
That’s only the most gobsmacking example though. Nearly every Hollywood tough girl I have ever seen makes ridiculous choices that put her safety and her friends at high risk. And because pretty girls don’t die unless it’s to give the hero some angst, they get away with it.
Part of this characterisation is because the idea of a pragmatic, cool-headed woman is somehow unfeminine. Women are passionate and emotional, and because most screenwriters are male, or are writing for a male organisation, they nearly always portray this to mean silly and overwhelmed by emotions.
I don’t know about you, but while I am very emotional and passionate, I can control that and put it to one side when the situation is bad. I imagine most of the men and women reading this can do so.
Of course, male heroes are often portrayed as this as well, but such men are usually the exception, rather than the rule. The men who dress impractically and act on emotion rather than logic either die, or are iron-hard mavericks. Whereas ALL FEMALE SURVIVORS are this, in one way or another.
Anyone would think they were cynical marketing attempts designed to appeal sexually to men, or something.
Regardless, the point remains. If you are a woman and hoping to survive, Hollywood isn’t the place to take your inspiration from.
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