(Art uncredited, all rights to current holder)
Sara C. Roethle discusses an article by one Nathan Albertson arguing that The Force Awakens‘ Rey is completely ridiculous and so are all other female fighters in fiction (Wonder Woman, Ripley, Black Widow, etc.) Albertson quotes the Bible saying things like “weak as women” which proves therefore women are weaker than men. And a woman just can’t beat up a man, anyway. And besides, women just shouldn’t do stuff like that (the same argument John C. Wright has made). It’s unfeminine, and denies the fundamental difference between the sexes: men are most manly when they protect the woman, woman is most feminine when she lets the man be the boss. And besides, doesn’t the fact movies keep making the men the real heroes and showing women worrying about having boyfriends and kids prove that even Hollywood knows what women are really like?
Roethle makes good points about the fact a trained woman can indeed take down a man, and that Rey is no more ridiculous in a fight than if Finn were doing the same things. I recommend reading her piece, but I’ll add a couple more points:
•Lots of women have been formidable fighters. Mary Read and Anne Bonney were pirates. Women cross-dressed as men to fight in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and countless European wars. Russian women worked as everything from snipers to fighter pilots (the “Night Witches”). The amazons of Dahomey (women selected as the king’s elite royal guard).
•The fact that movies keep writing in stereotypes such as Of Course All A Woman Wants Is A Boyfriend/Baby, does not prove that they’re true. This is an annoyingly common argument: the fact that many people are scared of black men proves blacks are dangerous; the fact that stereotypes are race specific (Jews are tight with money, Irish drink, French are great lovers) proves they’re true (otherwise why would they fasten on a particular race/nationality). No. And no. Believing in negative (or positive) stereotypes doesn’t prove they’re true.
•And while it’s a minor point, describing Ripley of the Alien films as “godmother of them all” is just wrong. Wonder Woman predated her. So did the Black Widow. And Jirel of Joiry, shown above.
For bonus sexism, here are some articles from the Federalist (not a direct link) explaining how patriarchy makes women happier than feminism because both women and men want the man in charge (which is why, according to the Federalist, women also like Fifty Shades of Grey). You know I think we’re long past the point where anti-feminists can pretend they’re “defending tradition” — women have had legal equality for more than 40 years, and second-wave feminism has been around just as long. Whatever Mollie Hemingway and the other writers at feminist want to drag us back to, it no longer counts as tradition any more than trial by combat or the divine right of kings.
•And since I’m in this vein, let’s remember David Goyer’s declaration that the super-strong She-Hulk is really a male fantasy, because (his theory) guys dream about being strong enough to bed her. Because obviously she wouldn’t just sleep with you because she likes you or you’re sexy, you have to be strong enough to take her down. This is another Undead Sexist Cliche about strong women, that the guy has to be stronger than she is to be worthy of her/interesting to her. Only Superman can date Wonder Woman. Red Sonja will only accept a man who can outfight her (Marvel’s version, Robert E. Howard’s was different). The idea has cropped up other places to. And yes, it is a kind of male fantasy (guy attains the unattainable woman by surpassing her). But She-Hulk’s never played by that rule, so Mr. Goyer, you’re full of it.
For more on this topic, check out a previous Undead Sexist Cliche post.