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June 18, 2012
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Real Women DO Wear Dresses by JaybieJarrett Real Women DO Wear Dresses by JaybieJarrett
I really hate the Real Women Never Wear Dresses attitude [Relevant link-[[link] out TV tropes]

A girly girl is not an automatically sexist or weak character. Too many people underestimate internal strength. You don’t need violence and asskicking to be an awesome character. I’m starting to feel that badassness has become-forgive me but- overrated. Having a badass character is all well and good; I have a few characters that I might consider such. But it’s not the only kind of worthwhile character to have.

A character that is strong on the inside-even yes if they cry- who keeps going on in spite of it all can be just as awesome as a guy who can take down a bunch of enemies. A character that can take care of herself and even cleverly work her way out of a bad situation is also a strong character.

Hollywood’s “Strong Female Characters” characters who are made to adhere to society’s idea of what a strong character should look like are too often unbelievable fantasies- sometimes even outright Mary Sues-and kind of shallow. A real strong character is one who can stand on their own two feet and characters who get knocked down but keep getting back up. If she never faces a real challenge I have a hard time counting her as a strong character. A proverb (not sure where it comes from) says that people are like tea bags and their true flavor comes out when they are in hot water. A character that’s always faced easy challenges and took down opponents without breaking a sweat is going to crash and burn when a real threat comes along and the character who has actually built up skills with practice and hard work is going to be the one that will fare better.

Females who have interests that are ‘traditionally feminine’ are not sexist and they are certainly not weak. I always find it surprising that some people call themselves ‘feminists’ and shun everything feminine. Feminism isn’t “doing things as good as the guys” or “better than the guys” it’s no less or no more than believing that females should have rights and be able to make their own choices.

Two characters I believe are awesome female characters that are still girly are Rarity from MLP Friendship is Magic and Winry Rockbell from the Full Metal Alchemist comic. Winry has often gotten flak for being supposedly sexist.

Because…she cries and does girl things. Nevermind that she is resilient and keeps strong in the face of danger and horrible circumstances. Or that she is resourceful and smart. She cries when she sees her friends face terrible danger and tragedy and when she faces her own parents’ killer. And That’s Terrible.

Doesn’t anybody see how ridiculous that sounds?
There is nothing wrong with emotions, contrary to popular belief, and having them does not make you weak. Many of the occasions where Winry cries are to me very logical situations for a person to cry. I would probably cry when watching my friends suffer a painful loss or facing the man that killed them. Also I heard her criticized for being ‘weak’ because she didn’t shoot Scar.

So let me get this straight. The fact that she didn’t kill someone, going against everything she stood for, despite extreme temptation makes her weak?

…..I don’t think so. Seems like some people’s ideas of what makes strength and weakness are pretty mixed up.
It is extremely easy and sometimes tempting to toss your convictions out the window and do something because the person deserves it. Giving into that isn’t strength. While revenge may seem ‘badass’ to people, it isn’t exactly strength. It’s just letting obsessive anger rule your life and allowing it to twist you into someone you’re not. Winry wasn’t weak; she only saw that her killing Scar in revenge would only continue a vicious cycle. She chose to end it regardless of how angry she probably felt and how she probably hated him.

Yes, she cooks, she does laundry. Big deal. Some people actually enjoy cooking. They’re not made to. They like it. Should they be prevented from doing something harmless that makes them happy because of their gender? That sounds exactly the same as people in the olden days saying women shouldn’t take jobs because they’re women. It’s not progressive, it’s just the same thing in a different package. As for the laundry well someone’s got to do it, right? What if there are no men in the house? Should a woman just let the dirty clothes pile up? Um….ew.

Extra pet peeve note. To the people who think a homemaker/stay at home mom is weak- think again. You’re in charge of not just cleaning but, cooking the meals, managing money to keep groceries on the table, and taking care of children. Not to mention anything that may break around the house, oh and all chaperoning falls to-guess who-you. Have you ever taken care of a child? That is a very tough job. Trust me…I’ve babysat before. Children are energetic, extremely curious and often dependent on some adult. They fight, yell, talk back and get hurt. Boy do they get hurt. Don’t get me started on babies. They’re completely helpless and probably the most vulnerable creatures on the planet. If they fall and get hurt, it’s not ‘oops’, you’re in deep crap. Also, they cry and scream in the middle of the night or any hour of the day. Still sound easy? Being a homemaker is like being the head manager of your own store. It’s a rough job and someone has to do it.

Now Rarity. She’s a fashionista and prime example of a girly girl. Yet, not helpless and not weak. In one episode she used her wits to work her way out of a hostage situation by the time help arrived. She also runs her own business, which takes some serious managing skills. So she’s certainly not useless or a damsel in distress.

Despite being the fashion queen of the group her core virtue is generosity. She’s a nice person, who goes out of her way to give to her friends. This type of character is extremely rare in the sea of cookie-cutter mean queen bees. It’s why I love her character honestly, she moves beyond stereotypes.

Ahem- getting a little off track there. But anyway, my point is what makes a female character a sexist stereotype is not simply having girly traits or sticking her in a dress It’s a character that has feminine traits because it’s ‘expected’ rather than it truly fits her character, or when she can’t do anything for herself, depending on the men in her life for everything. Believe it or not you can also have a female who never wears dresses be an annoying stereotype. Like the fiery woman who goes around punching men or picking fights (and is hailed a hero for it). Or the women who bitterly hates all men or even the girl who doesn’t even seem like a real girl but rather a generic guy with girl parts.
The answer to avoiding annoying or sexist female characters is simple and should be applied to all character creation.

Just write a character who is a person first and foremost. Always have a reason for the traits you give them and see that they make sense for the character. Have your character find some way to pull their own weight to take part in the plot (it doesn’t have to be fighting) . To avoid making them a Damsel or The Load, make them independent and able to fend for themselves in some way or another, and don’t make them do stupid things to get themselves captured for the sake of drama. If they are captured, have it be because the villains are very skilled and dangerous. Avoid having one character get captured over and over again. They should learn from their experience if they can. Just think when you create them and allow them the same amount/range of personality you would everyone else.

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DJHiryu508 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2014
Most tomboys I've met can't take HALF the punishment or have the endurance as some of the "girly girls" I've met!
JaybieJarrett Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer

yeah, I don't think feminine vs. Masculine interests are any indicator of strength or lack therof.  
SweetKiraNZ Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014
Yeah this girl said she hated girly girl characters. Because she says they are weak and stupid for going after men. And tomboys are coool.
EarthAngel87 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I hate the "Real Women Don't Wear Dresses" mindset with a passion, because I think it's just as misogynistic as saying all women should just "stay in the kitchen" (since the idea behind it is that feminine/"girly" =weak, stupid, and unable to care for oneself). Feminine women and girls can be badass,  too! Then again, it's kind of related to how some people think "damsels in distress" are automatically weak female characters, which is not always the case.
JaybieJarrett Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, It's bad to tell girls they SHOULD be this, or SHOULD be that.
yumethenekomata Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2014
i love how people don't mind much when a male chara is weak but if a female one is then she automatically sucks or is sexist
JaybieJarrett Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I think it's an issue when she's the only major or only female character, or if the author claims that it's because she's female that she's weak.  But then again, when you have only one member of any demographic you have that problem.  You can't expect a single person to represent an entire group.  Then any flaws you give that person could be taken as Unfortunate Implications of the whole group.   That's why you should have multiple sexes/members of a group if you can help it.  
WhiteKnightx5 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2014
Here is an interesting quote that should show that "girly" female characters have strength of their own. 

"Violence is not strength and compassion is not weakness" 

Also brilliant article. :) 
EarthAngel87 Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
"Violence is not strength and compassion is not weakness" -That's a great quote!
WhiteKnightx5 Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2014
It's from the film Camelot. 
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