1. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    The treatment of women in lterature

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chinspinner, Oct 20, 2011.

    Was aiming more for the three stage test used in fims, i.e. is the female character central, are their two of them, do they interact in a meaningful way about a subject other than a bloke. In most cases no. As a perfectly hetro bloke I find the treatment of woman in TV/Cinema/mainstream lit slightly depressing.
     
  2. the1
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    the1 Active Member

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    There are plenty of women throughout TV these days who have strong roles.

    One that comes to mind off the top of my head is the main character in The Good Wife.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you say "Was aiming more for..." that suggests that you're clarifying something that you already said or asked, but I don't see the original question. Was there a question?
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think he means that he was hoping to look more at a three-stage test: "Is the female character central?"/"Are there two of them?"/"Do they interact with each other in a meaningful yadda yadda yadda..."

    What you've got to remember is that most women didn't get the right to vote until 1928. We're not even a hundred years on from that yet. The problem, I think, is that as a culture we can see a male protagonist or hero a lot easier than we see a female. I groan, audibly too, whenever I see a badass female in a medieval/period setting. It annoys me. I don't mind it so much in sci-fi, but even then it's kind of stupid because there's too much lycra or leather most of the time.

    You know what? After thought, that's not even the problem. Think about all the women you know. How many of them could be interesting as the main character of a film? More than that, how many of them could be interesting as the main character of a film without the film being a stupid "can't get the girl but does" romance? I'm talking a good, solid drama here. Very few - nay, NONE! - of the women I know can fit into that sort of slot. They're secondary characters. Background people.

    I'm not saying that women aren't interesting. They are. But they're not the kinds of people who I'd make a movie about. Hell, I wouldn't even make a movie about ME. My life is kind of boring. I know guys who have lives that would make relatively good drama films, though. I know guys who would make it as some of the greatest film characters.
    Read: I'm not talking about acting. I'm talking about if these people WERE characters.

    So when I see a lead female character in a drama, she better be goddamned solid and realistic, you know? And I don't see that, because there aren't many of those films. Too much of the "empowerment of women" bullshit is taken to be "Let's make a bunch of badass women that guys can drool over but not touch". It's stupid. I crave a love interest that we can hate, even if we understand why the main character loves them. I crave a main character who can be beautiful without needing to be hot or sexy.

    It's not going to happen, though. That's not how we make money.
     
  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think he means that he was hoping to look more at a three-stage test: "Is the female character central?"/"Are there two of them?"/"Do they interact with each other in a meaningful yadda yadda yadda..."

    What you've got to remember is that most women didn't get the right to vote until 1928. We're not even a hundred years on from that yet. The problem, I think, is that as a culture we can see a male protagonist or hero a lot easier than we see a female. I groan, audibly too, whenever I see a badass female in a medieval/period setting. It annoys me. I don't mind it so much in sci-fi, but even then it's kind of stupid because there's too much lycra or leather most of the time.

    You know what? After thought, that's not even the problem. Think about all the women you know. How many of them could be interesting as the main character of a film? More than that, how many of them could be interesting as the main character of a film without the film being a stupid "can't get the girl but does" romance? I'm talking a good, solid drama here. Very few - nay, NONE! - of the women I know can fit into that sort of slot. They're secondary characters. Background people.

    I'm not saying that women aren't interesting. They are. But they're not the kinds of people who I'd make a movie about. Hell, I wouldn't even make a movie about ME. My life is kind of boring. I know guys who have lives that would make relatively good drama films, though. I know guys who would make it as some of the greatest film characters.
    Read: I'm not talking about acting. I'm talking about if these people WERE characters.

    So when I see a lead female character in a drama, she better be goddamned solid and realistic, you know? And I don't see that, because there aren't many of those films. Too much of the "empowerment of women" bullshit is taken to be "Let's make a bunch of badass women that guys can drool over but not touch". It's stupid. I crave a love interest that we can hate, even if we understand why the main character loves them. I crave a main character who can be beautiful without needing to be hot or sexy.

    It's not going to happen, though. That's not how we make money.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    He's talking about the Bechdel test, and it has nothing to do with empowering women or a feminist agenda or anything radical like that. All it is is a test to see if women are treated realistically and not as objects in a movie/book/whatever. The criteria are really very, very easy to achieve, and yet the vast majority of mainstream films (the test is intended to be applied to film) don't pass. All you have to do is have two female characters talk to each other about something that isn't a man, and you pass. You can consult the site bechdeltest.com and see a list of recent films that pass/don't pass, and it's kinda depressing. It doesn't demand that the women be at the centre of the story, or even that they are significant, they don't have to be sympathetic, or empowered, all they need to do is talk about something that isn't a man.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how can anyone know what he meant?

    aside from that, this is someone who in another thread, is asking members to send him their work for help/critique, when his own is pretty poor, grammar and otherwise...

    as for women in tv nowadays, there are strong women aplenty:
    unforgettable
    body of evidence
    the closer
    the big c
    weeds
    harry's law
    l & o's olivia benson
    and
    the much missed 'medium'

    just to name a few!
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If you bothered to read mine/his posts, you would see that he does, in fact, mean the Bechdel test, which I explained in more depth in my post. You would also see that it has little to do with strong women or tv, and further, I would argue that the prevalence of tv-for-women as a genre is only further evidence of the misogyny of the entertainment industry (women don't leave the house, so let's make tv shows for them while the men go out).
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no need to be so rude, arron... fyi, i DID read his post and there is no mention of that particular test... so i still don't see how you can claim to know what he meant...
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Television programming targeted primarily toward women is produced and aired because people watch it and the producers can sell advertising. Calling it misogyny is a huge stretch and the use of the term in such a careless manner lessens true instances of misogyny.
     
  11. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    The Bechdel Test: Passes if it
    (a) Has two women in it who (b) Talk to each other (c) About something other than a man
    Substitute bloke for man and you have exactly what Chinspinner wrote.

    And yeah, the lack of popular female characters in literature is irritating. The ones who do, though such as Bella from Twilight, which just barely passes said test, are downright uninteresting and one-dimensional. Most female characters partake in the same plot - they are desperate for love. It'd be great to see some variation in this. There are strong female characters in literature/television, but none that people refer to in popular culture, without focusing on the butt of the issue.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Bechdel test, which is the test the questioner is asking about, isn't about females as lead characters, it's about females pretty much doing anything that isn't about a man. I routinely check books against the test, and find that those that pass the test seem to do so more-or-less effortlessly even if they do so within gender stereotypes -- the daughter saying how scared she is by a situation and the mother comforting her for instance. Those that don't pass without good reason (such as being set in a monastery) actually feel unreal to me, as if they're describing a bizarre world in which half the population doesn't have lives or maybe doesn't even exist.
     
  13. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do apologise because I started this. It is interesting how much discussion there is regarding this, but if you think of every book you have read they are a foil for a much more capable bloke. I am currently writing a piece where there is a genetically engineered woman who has survived for time immerorial and gets proper fisty. She will not appear or take an active role until the last quarter of the piece, and when she does it will be to save the bird she rescued years ago. No bloke, no ulterior motive, pure lairiness. It is part the usual revenge drama you may expect but with a bit of sci-fi thrown in. What I want is to create a situation where you do not even consider her as a bird, just a person getting a bit lairy; the reason, I really am fed up watching my neice growing up with barbies.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'm surprised by how apparently limited the reading experience of many users is. I've read plenty of books with engaging, active female characters who are not a foil for a more interesting man.
     
  15. immaturegirl91
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    immaturegirl91 New Member

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    as a woman i find the replies funny because i agree that i myself don't know many women who are interesting or can even think beyond marriage. i wish there were more career-orientated woman who weren't hypocrites or over the top in their i'm a confident woman crap when we know it's just a bunch of...crap. wow that sounded stupid lol

    but the reason why i think woman are so uninteresting in writing, stories, tv shows...etc. is because usually her happy ending is marriage... like you already know the ending, what's the point of reading it?
     
  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. What idiot told every bird that finding a bloke and having an expensive wedding was the be all and end all. I do not want to watch/ read Ripley in every film, I just want characters with a brain in their head.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    _Every_ book has females only as foils for males? Absolutely not. Did you mean that, or did you leave a word out somewhere?

    Without leaving my keyboard, I can see the following books, all of which have strong female leads:

    An Episode of Sparrows, In This House Of Brede, The End Of The Pier, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Amber Spyglass, The Battle of the Villa Fiorita, Water Like A Stone, Uncommon Clay, Winter's Child, Last Lesson of Summer, The Greengage Summer, Bertram's Hotel

    and that's where I get tired of typing. That's leaving out the strong-female-lead books on the children's shelf that's also in my sight:

    Matilda, The Borrowers, Candy Floss, Hitty, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, A Little Princess, Missing Matilda, The Dolls' House, Miss Ghost, The Velvet Room, The Changeling, Little Plum, Holly and Ivy, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Adventures of Raggedy Ann, The Mousewife, The Midwife's Apprentice.

    The rest of the books in my den are about gardening and sewing. If I left my den, I could find a a few hundred more examples.

    If I actually get up from my chair to look for books in my den that are heavy on male characters, searching more thoroughly than I did for females, I see:

    All the Harry Potters, I Go Pogo, Homer Price, The Kitchen Madonna, Murder at the ABA, Brewster's Millions, The Lost Symbol, Long Live The King!, The Stupidest Angel, Impunity Jane, The Story About Ping, The Prisoner of Zenda, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    That's about it. I'm having to go to _cartoons_ (Pogo and Charlie Brown) and ducks (Ping) to fill out the strong-male-character list.

    I'm not arguing that there isn't room for more strong female characters in all forms of fiction, but _every book_? Seriously? I'm hoping that I completely misunderstood what you were saying.

    ChickenFreak

    Edited to add:

    Yes - I'm at a loss. What are people _reading_?
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    That does seem to be overstating the case. But the test referenced isn't about strong female characters, it's about how female characters interact. And for example, the films of Harry Potter and the [Sorcerer's | Philosopher's] Stone and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire fail the test (and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is disputed).
     
  19. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I am sure your husband built a lovely bookshelf for you. Seriously though anyone can pick out the exceptions and ignore the mainstream. Ask me to spot Ford's driving past my house and it will become a world of Ford's. It frankly does not change the fact that a Ford is an economical motor offering superb performance with fuel consumption at a fraction of its competitors, and a pretty latter day Art Deco aesthetic combined with the kind of visual touch that can only come from a very special individual who has been involved with V8's since he was knee high to a grass hopper.
     
  20. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I am sure your husband built a lovely bookshelf for you. Seriously though anyone can pick out the exceptions and ignore the mainstream. Ask me to spot Ford's driving past my house and it will become a world of Ford's. It frankly does not change the fact that a Ford is an economical motor offering superb performance with fuel consumption at a fraction of its competitors, and a pretty latter day Art Deco aesthetic combined with the kind of visual touch that can only come from a very special individual who has been involved with V8's since he was knee high to a grass hopper.
     
  21. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I find certain replies very sexist.. but then yet i might be exaggerating....
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You seem to be very much at a loss here. Perhaps you could debate your point by debating your point?

    I understand that you have perhaps never chosen to pick up a book with a meaningful female character. That choice, however, does not make those books disappear. (I'm suddenly picturing an ostrich hiding his head in the midst of a library; he doesn't see them, so they don't exist.)

    ChickenFreak
     
  23. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or perhaps I was joking. I cannot be bothered to argue further.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure, yep; I was thinking as I entered those books about whether they qualify in terms of strong female characters _and_ two female characters talking-and-not-about-a-man. Looking them over again, and picking just one example from each:

    An Episode of Sparrows: The two sisters talking about the garden.
    In This House of Brede: Mrs. Talbot and Penny talking about a clock.
    The End Of The Pier: Maud and Miss Ruth talking about books.
    The Silence Of The Lambs: Clarice and Catherine talking about getting Catherine out.
    The Amber Spyglass: Mary and Serafina talking about the spyglass.
    The Battle of the Villa Fiorita: Philippa and Caddie talking about their mother.
    Water Like A Stone: Annie and Dr. Elsworthy talking about a sick mother.
    Uncommon Clay: Deborah and the housekeeper talking about pottery.
    Winter's Child: Deborah and another woman talking about cleaning up trash.
    Last Lesson Of Summer: Amy talking to Beth about money.

    I'm getting tired. :) It's possible that Bertram's Hotel may not qualify - no, I think it does! Selina Hazy and Bess Sedgwick talking about muffins.

    It is interesting that I can think of plenty of books and plenty of television shows that pass the test, but a much smaller number of movies. I'm actually having to _think_ to come up with movies, rather than being able to type names full speed. I'm coming up with them, but I'm having to IMDB and search my mind. And I'm coming up with more old movies than new.

    ChickenFreak
     
  25. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    The vast majority of lit i read is written by blokes, whether it is worthy, holier than thou bollox, or nonsense.
     

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