August 26th, 2011


Strong Female Characters

This article asks "What Do You Mean When You Say You Want Strong Female Characters?"

I want some combination of:

* She has a female body and/or feminine gender identity.
* She thinks with her brain, not with her crotch.  
** Consequently if a man is an asshole, she will notice this and reject him accordingly, not fall in love with him and encourage him to treat her like a doormat.
** Consequently if the villain underestimates her, he will be painfully surprised by her competence.
* She is physically fit/muscular.
* She is good with hand-to-hand combat and/or weapons.
* If she is a mother, gods help anyone who threatens her children.  Do not expect pregnancy or recent childbirth to render her completely helpless either.
* She can solve challenges herself, without requiring rescue by some guy.
** Consequently this affects the kind of relationships she is likely to have with male characters.  Those who can accept her agency are eligible for possible friendship or romance.  Those who cannot are promptly classified as road hazards.  It also opens the door for gentlemen-in-distress if so desired.
** Consequently she has a good awareness of her own strengths and weaknesses, so is not plagued by self-doubt or recrimination implying that she is somehow not a real woman or there is something wrong with her for being an effective human being.
* She is comfortable with her gender expression, whether that is tomboyish or feminine or some combination thereof.  
* She readily spots mistakes made by opponents and takes advantage of them.  In order to pose a real threat to her, a villain must be quite formidable and/or must attack her obliquely by threatening someone/something she cares about.  Foolish or careless villains will fare no better than one-hit minions.
** Consequently the plot complexity and scope tend to be greater.
* If she has domestic skills or other conventionally feminine traits, she is confident about them and uses them appropriately.  She is not trying to be a man (that's for strong genderqueer characters, a different category).  She may indeed use these to carry the day, often in ways that a villain would not expect and may find it difficult or impossible to parry.
* She is secure in her role and does not feel compelled to squash other female characters to make herself look more important or powerful.  She is powerful in some way(s) and uses it appropriately rather than waving it around like a stick of firewood.

[EDIT 8/26/11] Note that the above is a list of positive traits, and that I said "some combination of" rather than "all."  I neither expect nor enjoy perfect characters, and I've stated my preference for interesting flaws often enough that it didn't occur to me to restate it here.  But it still applies.  Some of the comments indicated that I should clarify those points.

So, that's what I'm thinking of when I ask for strong female characters.  More like that.

What kinds of things do you like to see in strong female characters?  Which of my female characters do you like in regards to this discussion, and why?
aldersprig has a related discussion on this topic.

Celebrating the Right to Vote

This crossed my desk today.  The link goes to a Democratic website, but other parties probably have their own activities aimed at women voters.  Vote however you want, but VOTE.  People died to win this right.

Ninety-one years ago today, women won the right to vote when the 19th
amendment was enacted. In an era when women occupy corner offices, serve
as Supreme Court justices and travel the world representing America, it's
easy to forget that we won this right less than a century ago.
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Torn World Muse Fusion is open!

The August 2011 Muse Fusion is now open over in torn_world.  Come leave us some prompts, sponsor material, or just hang out and watch the fun.  If you're not familiar with Torn World, generic prompts (like "first snow" or "hope") are fine too.  If you'd like to explore our science fantasy shared-world setting, "Start Here."

Here is what I have written:

"On the Road to Inoram" -- 16 lines, Buy It Now = $5
From the road prompt I got "On the Road to Inoram," written in unrhymed quatrains. It's about a student traveling to Faajaffug for higher education.

"Storm Season" -- 16 lines, Buy It Now = $5
From the hurricane prompt I got "Storm Season," written in unrhymed quatrains. It's about a Duurludirj village converting to flotilla.

Read "Scrimshaw" on Torn World

If you are a Torn World supporter, you can now read my poem "Scrimshaw."
Warsailors carve bone and ivory to pass the time.

If you like this poem and want to see more like it, please consider sending me credits or karma through Torn World's crowdfunding options.  Not a Torn World member, but still want to support the work? I have a permanent PayPal button on my LJ profile page.

Created in the Path of Irene

kmessner is organizing a project, "Created in the Path of Irene."  The idea is to write, draw, etc. something while Hurricane Irene is whomping the east coast.  Those of you who are into crowdfunding might consider putting a donation button on your post, and passing any donations along to a charity that helps victims of violent weather.