After reading Chuck Wendig’s post about how toys for boys and toys for girls assume certain gender-roles right from a young age, I started to think to myself. I do that sometimes,
Recently I posted something abutter female characters and stereotyping and blah blah blah. And while I meant every word of it, I now, too, realize that this goes both ways.
What about men?
Again, I’ve been thinking. Wait–what? Right. Thinking. While we are concerned about the female objectification, gender-roles for female characters and so on, are we forgetting the males? By that I mean, are the males we looking at in media (TV, books, etc) real men? By real men, I don’t mean tough-motherfucking-bad-ass-die-hard-caricatures. I mean, men with emotions. With fears. With guilt. With joy. Love, heart, compassion. Three-Dee-Characters needs to be a concept for everyone. I know, women suffer more in the media, and I advocate strong female characters until we don’t need to specify this type of characters as “strong female” anymore, but simple “people”, though the same has to be done for men.
I don’t want to go into too deep of examples here, but often in movies or stories where women are treaded as objects, damsels-in-distress or similar archetypes of gender-assumption, men are likewise portrait in certain stereotypical ways. They are strong. They overcome. They control–or take control. They build and fight and win (often the girl at the end). These men are just the same caricature as the sexy, witty-yet-helpless woman in their lives.
Men are people, too, ya know?
I’d wager to say that it’s an issue of balance. Women become the weak but supporting object, because males often are strong acting subjects. Makes sense? Maybe. Maybe not.
Every story needs a hero. Somebody to root for. Somebody to cheer on. Even if he-slash-she is a dirt-bag, we still want to see their journey to the end. Often, this is a man acting. And too often with that comes a woman to react with that. To be the pursuit of the hero. For love. For righteousness. Who knows–but the man-hero acts to somehow be the good guy in the context of the story its woman.
What if we switched that around? I don’t mean to write a new story with a girl being bad-ass-hero and the guy being the reason for pursuit of heroism. I mean, take the classic action tales and simply make the male lead a female and female object a male. Does the story still hold up? Assume both roles are simply people, no gender, but genuine people, is it believable?
Make them homosexual. The hero is still a man. But the damsel in distress is now too a man. Does the damsel act and react like a person or like a caricature? A female hero and female to-be-rescued? Does the heroin look like a people or like a wierdo girl trying to be an over-and-up-perked guy?
What I’m saying is, the balance is off because the media tried to have a gender-assumption-based balance. Strong hero needs something to be hero about. A weaker, yet desirable balance. The scales need to be tipped in both directions.
Not every woman is a princess in need, nor is every man a prince on a quest. Remember that.