Variety beats tokenism any day

Women come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, personalities and career paths. This isn’t reflected in our media. And it’s a big problem, one that I see is making more and more people discontent. People want to see more female characters that have variety of roles and personalities. That is, enough female characters in a body of work that the sole female doesn’t have to stand in as the symbol for every female everywhere. It’s hard to have a lot of variety in female characters, if there is only one female to a movie and she’s surrounded by a bunch of boys. That puts a lot of symbolism into that female character. It implies that being female is by definition whatever that female character is in the story and she can’t be anything else. Take Pacific Rim for example and how much emphasis got put on Mako Mori. The amount of emphasis put on her character and her story in the movie was ridiculous for what the movie was. They even tried to make a new feminism test based upon her character. It was out of control.

Now, yes, I understand that Pacific Rim was based upon Japanese mecha anime like Evangelion. And traditionally in most mecha animes like Macross and such, the pilots are male because Japan. But this was a Guillermo Del Toro (who did Pan’s Labyrinth and should know better) making a big budget film from Hollywood. He could have put more than two female pilots in the story. He chose to put just two female pilots in the story. Because he didn’t, Mako became a huge symbol who couldn’t live up to her own hype!

I also then see, “you don’t watch a lot of female oriented media, do you?” My retort is, why are there only a bunch of females in “female oriented” media? Not every female is particularly minded to watch so called “female oriented” media. I watch a romantic comedy a year if that. I love action movies. If I want action movie style female oriented media, I’m stuck with Underworld, Ultraviolet, Tomb Raider, maybe Resident Evil and a bunch of stuff aimed at 4 to 16 year olds. And notice, all the movies I just mentioned at most have two female characters and one of those will be disposable.

Look, I went through the Sailor Moon phase as a teenager. I love Sailor Moon. It got me into astrology and blood type personalities and to an extent numerology. I’ve watched my fair share of Ever After High, Monster High and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. So, why can’t there be a group of kick ass action varied female characters in an adult show or movie that is oriented at well, everybody. X-Men to a certain extent tried, but there were still two males to every female. Becca pointed out that this is partially a source problem, however, I can rattle off a bunch of females from the comics that it doesn’t take a rocket science to find and use. Fox just chose not to do so.

This is ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to watch something that is aimed at a thirteen year old girl to get my fix of varied characters. (Not that I don’t love Monster High and Ever After High mind you. I wish they’d been out when I was a teenager myself. Just, I want to see that type of variety in other media aimed at other age groups.)

Men and women are routinely pressured by media on what a ‘true man’ and what a ‘true female’ looks and acts like. However, the men at least, usually get a wider selection of terrible stereotypes and archetypes to model themselves after, while the women are either told “you’re a butch tomboy lesbian who can keep up with the boys type or you’re a pink loving, fashion conscious bimbo who ends up being the damsel in distress.” There doesn’t seem to be any in between. This is hurtful to our young girls and also to the men. Either way a girl goes, they are told they are “wrong.” If they go the tomboy route, well, it’s in the name, they aren’t girly enough. They aren’t ’female.’ But if they go the ‘female’ route, they’re deemed weak and useless. This is where having a single female in media has left us, tokenism.

The token female puts a huge burden on young girls of “this is how they are supposed to be.” Whereas, if there were a lot of different female characters in media that is targeted at everybody (not just romcoms and girl power cartoons) they would get the message that there are a lot of different ways to be female in all sorts of situations. Females come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, interests and personality traits. Women in today’s society can and are doing the same things that men do. They should have the courtesy of being portrayed in their many faces and facets in media.

But Hollywood chooses not to.

Maybe with the success of Mad Max: Fury Road and the amount of positive commentary it got for having many female characters who were strong, they’ll see to be putting more female ensembles on the screen. The upcoming reboot/remake/sequel or whatever it is going to be of Ghostbusters looks promising. But, I’m still not getting my hopes up just yet. (Though it’d be nice instead of having a remake property, that we women would get an original property. Just saying…)


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