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  1. #1
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    Default Female protagonists and romance in fiction.

    When it comes to female protagonists, there's this insistence on them not needing a man, and how great it is when they're not romantically involved with one. Like it makes her seem weak for caring so much about a man.

    Why is that? I ask, because I know of very few male protagonists who don't have women in their lives, who aren't emotionally dependent on them. Why aren't these men seen as weak for being so emotionally invested in a woman? If Scully on X-Files died, there's no way Mulder wouldn't have spent an whole season, or several, mourning her (not if his character was written well, at least). Or how about Dexter Morgan, whose adoptive sister, Debra, was everything for him? I could bring up many more examples.

    What makes a strong, self-reliant woman, so much weaker for caring about a man, than the male equivalents who feel the same way about a woman? What's funny is that some of these people who praise aromantic women, don't seem to mind when said women have a child who is everything to them. Like, a strong woman in love with a man isn't really strong at all, but one embracing motherhood, something chauvinistic men very much approve of, is empowering, apparently.

    I admit that I love when women care strongly about a man, the same way men are shown caring about women in fiction. I love to see women chase men. I wonder if these stories about strong women caring more about a child than a man, or not caring about anyone (but especially not a man) aren't written precisely so sexist men in mainstream audiences don't feel threatened. A strong woman rescuing her man would not be flattering, for sexist men, after all, but rescuing a child is okay. And well, stereotypically speaking, even people who claim to believe in gender equality, just aren't used to a self-reliant, self-respecting woman caring about a man more than anything else.

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    I think your view is a bit simplistic.

    I think many of those who complain about female protagonists with male love interests, will complain just as loudly about male action heroes and their female lovers. I know I do. Love interests are a waste of time in the typical action movie, no matter the gender.

    (Your example of Dexter is a good case. I enjoyed the first season, but in the second season he gets a girlfriend, and I lost interest.)

    Besides, female protagonists have a difficult enough hurdle, without having to overcome romantic drama as well. Love interests detract from the main plot, and are very difficult to get right. Male heroes have an inbuilt advantage and can withstand the damage. Female heroes can't.

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    Ultimate Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    I don't think this is a real thing. Not as you're presenting it.

    Heck, you outright namecheck Scully. Scully obviously cared for men and had romances. Even if Luke Wilson had an overbite, she was into him, and she was certainly friends with Mulder long before it turned sexual.

    From X-Files to Stephbats, Edie Claire or Julie Jenner or Greg Rucka novels, Nikita of La Femme Nikita or Bridget Jones of Bridget um... Jones, there's romantic subplots or scenarios and fans of them.

    Now, having the protagonist overshadowed by, or only presented in relation to their romantic partner, that can get boring, tedious, or otherwise in the way of a more actiony plot. But, then, that's true of male protagonists, too, which is why "the girlfriend role" or "damsel in distress" are a thing and John McClane or John Rambo aren't spending 70% of the movie focusing on a romance, but on not getting shot and on being a badass.
    Last edited by t hedge coke; 07-25-2014 at 08:18 PM. Reason: autocorrect is a lil evil
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arvandor View Post
    Male heroes have an inbuilt advantage and can withstand the damage. Female heroes can't.
    I think the only reason female protagonists are deemed as incapable of withstanding such damage is because many people, even some of those who claim to believe in gender equality, still can't help but think of women as these fragile things that need to be protected.

    For some people, it seems female empowerment requires women to be tougher than even the toughest guys. So no romance allowed, but motherhood's apparently okay. Maybe it's because a child is more physically vulnerable than a grown woman, leaving female protagonists with someone in greater need of protection than say, a grown man, at least stereotypically speaking. Just a theory.

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    Ultimate Member t hedge coke's Avatar
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    Again, where are you seeing this "no romance allowed" actually happening? To such a degree that you feel it's a thing.

    Some protagonists don't have a major romance in some stories. I don't see where it's more common to female protagonists than male, though, in any medium, in any genre. Where is this wave? It's not in romance novels, it's not in horror movies, it doesn't seem to be in superhero comics or popular song. So where?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DS1 View Post
    When it comes to female protagonists, there's this insistence on them not needing a man, and how great it is when they're not romantically involved with one. Like it makes her seem weak for caring so much about a man.
    Can we have some examples please? All I can come up with is Ellen Ripley, who actually was a man in the script.

    Why is that? I ask, because I know of very few male protagonists who don't have women in their lives, who aren't emotionally dependent on them. Why aren't these men seen as weak for being so emotionally invested in a woman? If Scully on X-Files died, there's no way Mulder wouldn't have spent an whole season, or several, mourning her (not if his character was written well, at least). Or how about Dexter Morgan, whose adoptive sister, Debra, was everything for him? I could bring up many more examples.
    Ehm, are you somehow trying to say that when Mulder was missing and possibly dead, Scully didn't spend most of the season eight trying to find him? That Mulder cared more about Scully than she did about him?
    Because that's not the show I watched.

    What makes a strong, self-reliant woman, so much weaker for caring about a man, than the male equivalents who feel the same way about a woman? What's funny is that some of these people who praise aromantic women, don't seem to mind when said women have a child who is everything to them. Like, a strong woman in love with a man isn't really strong at all, but one embracing motherhood, something chauvinistic men very much approve of, is empowering, apparently.
    Query: where do these babies come from if these women aren't having any romances?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS1 View Post
    ]
    I admit that I love when women care strongly about a man, the same way men are shown caring about women in fiction. I love to see women chase men. I wonder if these stories about strong women caring more about a child than a man, or not caring about anyone (but especially not a man) aren't written precisely so sexist men in mainstream audiences don't feel threatened. A strong woman rescuing her man would not be flattering, for sexist men, after all, but rescuing a child is okay. And well, stereotypically speaking, even people who claim to believe in gender equality, just aren't used to a self-reliant, self-respecting woman caring about a man more than anything else.
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    My answer may not be reproduced or have the essence of it rewritten in any way for any platform outside of the CBR community forum. From that~

    The opening post ignored a swathe of male charactors who have little or no dependence on women, such as characters well known by generations previous to Gen Y and Gen Z.

    Neither version of Thor is remotely in that band of relationship dynamic as Mulder or Dexter. Kolchak The Night Stalker (often cited as an inspiration for the X Files) rarely did more than interview women. Conan Doyle's Sherlock basically couldn't care less. The original pulp novel Conan barely deals with any woman for more than a boink binge, the lead character from The Invaders never had any personal concern affecting his need to save humanity from et's, frat crap like Bo and Luke Duke were ratings-monsters and were the antithesis of what you posit above.

    The dynamics in Agents of Shield Season 1 mostly defy your opening post.

    No-one feels that Anna Torv's character in Fringe was weaker or less due to her ironstrong emotional bonds to her kith and kin, and her male Love is her main raison d'etre.

    Lana, from Archer, underneath the jokes, succeds by being the opposite of the contention of your thesis. She is one of the most popular characters in years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DS1 View Post
    When it comes to female protagonists, there's this insistence on them not needing a man, and how great it is when they're not romantically involved with one. Like it makes her seem weak for caring so much about a man.

    I dunno...I think I need a few more example of exactly where this is happening. I can think of some female led action films where there wasn't a love interest, but I don't think people are going on about how "great" it is or that if there was one the protagonist would look "weak."

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    All of your threads are basically pleas to take the accepted boundaries of feminism and replace them with your own personal squicky misogyny. A world where a strong female character is one who lets her tits and ass hang out and spends her time pining for a man. You know that, right? I'm just pointing it out in case you can't see it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Hopkins View Post
    All of your threads are basically pleas to take the accepted boundaries of feminism and replace them with your own personal squicky misogyny. A world where a strong female character is one who lets her tits and ass hang out and spends her time pining for a man. You know that, right? I'm just pointing it out in case you can't see it.
    I applaud Shawn's candour. However I have seen a lot of this brand of neo femiminst media deconstructionism in uni's in 3 countries and this thread's title, and the title of DS1`S previous thread, is very much what you find in gender politics studies when the student is also getting a degree in media and/or journalism.

    Personally I hope Shawn's supposition is correct and DS1 is not "trawling".
    Last edited by TroubleWithTrebles; 07-25-2014 at 06:47 PM.

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    The best feminist television character of the last generation was Buffy Summers and she nearly always had a boy next to her. Angel (season 1, their love was the plot of season 2, and season 3), Riley (season 3), and Spike (sex buddies in season 6, emotional relationship in season 7). Not to mention she was always aided by her male Watcher, and one of her two strongest confidants was Xander, a man.

    The biggest comic book feminist Wonder Woman always had Steve Trevor, and later Superman.

    That's two mediums where the top female protagonist and symbol of feminism has significant male relationships. Leia had Han Solo. This will be an unpopular example but the girl from Twilight had her shiny Vampire boy.

    I think the OP is making this out to be some thing it's not.

    In film there's plenty as well. Sarah Connor's was in love with Kyle Reese and he drove her out of her ditsy college girl character.

    I mean I don't think it's true that female protagonists by nature are going to NOT have a male relationship. Put it in context, when have they not done it, when it would have made sense to? Some characters like Ripley for instance wouldn't make sense to, the stories aren't about that. If you switched Ripley with a male, that guy wouldn't be having a love interest.

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    Junior Member Kencana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DS1 View Post
    When it comes to female protagonists, there's this insistence on them not needing a man, and how great it is when they're not romantically involved with one. Like it makes her seem weak for caring so much about a man.
    Eh, the problem is not in the romance itself. I think it's because when a woman have boyfriend/husband, she's being referred as “the love interest of so-and-so”. Her relationship is dependent to man. Take Lois lane for example. She's a protagonist of her own comic with title Superman's Girlfriend: Lois lane. But you will never see comic title like Lois Lane's Husband: Superman. Lois Lane is not a superhero, you said? Ok, but superheroine who star at her own title still suffer from this syndrome. Even wikipedia article refer Elektra as Daredevil love interest. But you will never hear people said, "Daredevil? Isn't he Elektra's former lover?" or "Batman? Isn't he Catwoman's love interest?"

    To put it simply, this panel answer your question:

    Last edited by Kencana; 11-04-2014 at 12:56 AM.

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