mysticalchild_isis: (xena rawr)
[personal profile] mysticalchild_isis
Further Thoughts On Fandom Misogyny

You know, I'm disturbed by how often the male characters who treat people (especially women) like crap are the fandom darlings. They become the woobie who can do no wrong, because he's deep, he has layers, he's had bad things happen to him, he's misunderstood (especially by all those evil female characters). They often have huge communities devoted to them and metric tons of fic describing how wonderful and perfect they are. I'm not trying to criticize people for loving the characters they love. We all have our preferences, and deeply complex characters are interesting, and often feel more real.

What's really bothering me here are the gender politics that go on in fandom, and the double standard between the way female characters are treated versus male characters.

Let's take Tony DiNozzo from NCIS. Yes, I like him too. He is a complex character, he's had some wonderful moments of heroism, and he has struggled with some tough times in his life. But let's be honest: he's rude, he's dismissive, he bullies people, he objectifies women constantly, and he also tends to blame women ("it's always the wife "). Before anyone jumps in to accuse me of misunderstanding poor Tony, let's take a step back and deconstruct things a bit.

Take some time and really, truly, and honestly think about this: if Tony was instead a woman, let's say Tonia, what would you think about her? When she constantly objectified men while simultaneously dismissing and blaming them, how would you feel? When she bullied, belittled, and tormented Tim, would it seem just as funny (because, after all, she really does love Tim like a brother, right)?

There are some people who can truthfully say they'd love Tonia just as much as Tony, because it really is just about what they like about the characterization, regardless of gender. Tonia has probably also gained some brand new fans, who like her because she turns the dominant paradigm on its head- they'd enjoy watching a woman constantly objectifying men, and running roughshod over everyone.

But be honest: how many people would call Tonia a slut, a bitch, a whore, or a harpy? How dare that uppity woman torment poor little Timmy! Who does she think she is?

Let's try an opposite sort of example, and take Rose Tyler from Doctor Who. Rose consistently gets accused of being a Mary Sue, a selfish brat, a chav, and all sorts of other similarly offensive things. Imagine, however (honestly and deeply), if Rose was instead Ryan, played by someone like Bradley James. Let's say we now have a young man who doesn't have much in the way of education, but who pick things up pretty quickly, someone who's compassionate and friendly, and who loves the Doctor deeply. Ryan is suddenly reminding me a lot of a modern version of Jamie McCrimmon. How many people hate on Jamie, or call him a Gary Stu, or accuse him of being selfish for loving the Doctor? Just how many of the people who despise Rose would hate Ryan just as much?

Try taking any female character you dislike, and transforming them into a man... how does this change how you look at them? There are still going to be plenty of characters you dislike, regardless of gender, because they're still a cat hater, or a Yankees fan, or they look just like that math teacher who used to call you stupid. But how much time would you spend bashing them? Do you think there would be whole communities devoted to hating them? Would they be constantly vilified in fanfic?

But what does it matter if we bash female characters? They're only fictional, after all. I'll just say this- I don't think it's a good idea to spend a lot of time disparaging and despising women, even if they aren't real, as that's the sort of thing that can become a habit.

Yes, I'm oversimplifying things, being judgmental, and the people who see this are almost certainly the last people on earth who need to read it, but I had to throw it out there.

Thoughts, critiques, attacks, opinions?

You're very welcome to share this/link to it.
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Date: 2010-03-25 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prlrocks.livejournal.com
My thoughts? Damn straight! Well, I can't comment on the first character you dealt with, but the Rose hate annoys me so much. I'm just not seeing what all those who despise her are. Mary Sue? Hardly. And yes, she's flawed and doesn't always make the right choices, but I think that makes her and her story so much more interesting.

I admit I rarely like 'perfect' characters. They feel unreal and annoy me.

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From: [identity profile] kelly-holden.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-28 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-03-25 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] epiphany-gun.livejournal.com
I love you. But I'd love you more if you were a man.

One of the things that bothers me most about this is that it's mostly women girls who do this. It makes you want to grab them by the shoulders and shake, yelling things like "The Doctor will not leave Rose for you if you badmouth her hard enough!"

And then, because someone female wrote it, it's magically not sexist or offensive at all.

It drove me nuts in the NCIS fandom how Tony could bully McGee and everything was sunshine and puppies but if Kate teased him a bit she was a cold-hearted bitch. (Especially since I kinda shipped Kate/McGee >_>)

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Date: 2010-03-25 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazelwho.livejournal.com
I don't know anything about the NCIS character, but I read "Greg House" for "Tony DiNozzo" and all your points still worked beautifully. I also agree about Rose. One of the things I've enjoyed about NuWho is that all of the companions have strengths and weaknesses that are individual to them. None of them are scream queens or Mary Sues.

I also think [livejournal.com profile] epiphany_gun is right about much of the bashing coming from girls in our fandom. Maybe they're just young and don't really understand, or maybe they're trying to 'fit in with the guys', or maybe it's some misguided interpretation of third wave feminism - who knows. I would support you 100% if you unlocked this and sent it out, and I think you have a chance at opening these girls' eyes to what they're doing. ...Or else you'll get in a major flame war with a bunch of 16 year olds who won't understand what you're trying to tell them about propagating misogyny for another 10 years.

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Date: 2010-03-25 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cantusnoctum.livejournal.com
THUMBS UP IN APPROVAL!

Btw, you should check out the book I'm reading The Supergirls. It brings up some of those points, although only relating to comic books. :)

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From: [identity profile] cantusnoctum.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-25 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-03-26 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alexiscartwheel.livejournal.com
Great posts! The prevalence of women hating on women in fandom is really saddening. I began to notice it a lot when I was active in Harry Potter fandom. The sheer amount of vitriol directed at Ginny Weasley was astounding. How dare she have the nerve to date more than one boy before Harry? The companion bashing in Doctor Who fandom is equally ridiculous.

I understand having an appreciation for complex and problematic characters, but I think sometimes fans do start to too easily write off the flaws of male character. Sometimes there a pretty big difference between a good character and a good person. Like DiNozzo--a lot of the time he's just not a very nice guy. Not surprising I guess, since it's military related, but NCIS in general seems to have frequent moments of the male-oriented adapt to the hostile work environment or else vibe.

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Date: 2010-03-26 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madeelly.livejournal.com
I love Tony, but he is a misogynist. Not disgustingly so, but it is a little annoying. What annoys me the most though is the fact that everyone hates Kate (who is my favorite) for calling Tony out on how much of a misogynist jerk he is (particularly in S1 and S2). Tony's gotten better, but still...

And I know this isn't the point at all, but mmmmmm Bradley James as the Doctor's companion. Want plz. But I guess that just proves what you were saying, even though I love Rose. xD

Female characters FTW! They get too much hate in fandom.

Date: 2010-03-26 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kalikethewind.livejournal.com
I'm not even gonna lie...if Maryann Forrester had been a man I totally would have been bored with her storyline after the first few episodes. So..what's that make me ? lol I'd like to think I'm not a manhater but I have a lot less patience with male characters when they comfort other characters (whether male or female) because I feel the writers are just saying "oh look the big strong man is saving the day"...but then I do like Jason Stackhouse even though he's a dumbass...maybe because he's a dumbass...and Sam...because he's always getting fucked over...and I like Bill because he's so out of his element all the time. Pathetic old beast haha

Ramble ramble. This isn't really even related. I suck. I did read both posts though! :)

Date: 2010-03-26 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoshinekoyasha.livejournal.com
Ive only seen a bit of NCIS but i really dont liek tony. I dont understand the tony/ziva shippers at all when I tried to get into it, hes a douche to her a lot of the time.

best example: Barney from HIMYM won the march steel fandom cage match last year (I think..)

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Date: 2010-03-26 04:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vrrrrt.livejournal.com
I recently encountered these double standards while talking with a friend about Doctor Pulaski on Star Trek Next Gen; she doesn't like Pulaski for being mean to Data and being like a female version of Bones - and "a female Bones is just a bitch." I was dismayed...

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Date: 2010-03-26 05:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hoshinekoyasha.livejournal.com
100th comment!!!!!!

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Date: 2010-03-26 09:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vivian-lake.livejournal.com
In almost every fandom I ever had, I liked female characters more (almost, since not all of my fandoms have women in them). Unless a woman canonically try to break canon gay couple (and, in some cases, succeeds) - but my reaction to the guy breaking canon lesbian couple would be just as furious.

>>>Just how many of the people who despise Rose would hate Ryan just as much?

Let's see... If Ryan had a black boyfriend he'd left for the Doctor (who'd treat said boyfriend horribly, by the way)? If his reaction to the Doctor acting a bit melodramatically after being slapped would be "Dont'be so retarded" (since Ryan is supposedly not very straight, "you're so gay" wouldn't sound as bad coming from him)? If the Doctor spend the next season comparing his next companion to Ryan who Would Know what to say and what to do and making said companion feel inferior? If some very vocal Ryan's fangirls continuously bashed the next companion(s) for not being Ryan?
Many would.
People might dislike Rose for the reasons that has nothing to do with her being a girl.
(For the record, I don't want to sleep with the Doctor or with any actor who ever played him, so I hope there won't be any accusations of me being "just jealous".)

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Date: 2010-03-28 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] parisntripfan.livejournal.com
Agreed - on pretty much all your points.

Bringing in yet another character - I always thought that if the guy in my picture was a woman - would be still have the legion of fans he does? I very doubt it. Most likely people would be put off by his moodiness, the fact he thinks he is so much smarter then everyone else, his complete lack of interpersonal skills and so on.

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Date: 2010-03-28 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] verasteine.livejournal.com
Yes, yes, yes, and I'm so linking to this, yes!

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Date: 2010-03-28 06:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iamashamed.livejournal.com
I love this.

Date: 2010-03-28 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iamashamed.livejournal.com
also, I linked this to my journal, it was spot on. :)

Date: 2010-03-28 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] liebesdammerung.livejournal.com
Hi, from metafandom!

This is exactly how I feel about Dean from Supernatural. I mean, I love him to pieces too, but it's the one thing that bugs me. Granted, there are a lot worse characters when it comes to this, but he does objectify women a lot, and can behave like a general douchebag towards women. (Of course, there are times when he genuinely does not, but a lot of the time, especially in the first couple of seasons, he does.) I always enjoyed reading fic where he is a girl (if it's done well, natch), for this very reason.

Another thing, along the lines of your penultimate paragraph, I can just imagine some of the comments you could get (hopefully not too many, and hopefully not here) from some people about how it's just fantasy, they aren't real, this kind of stuff does not matter in television/fandom/whatever, but that's just not true. It matters because how you see things in fiction mirrors and can even influence how you see things IRL. We do not turn ourselves off when we watch a show.

TL;DR, IAWTP. :)

ETA: I've had to edit every single comment I have made today. LJ + hangovers = srs bsns.
Edited Date: 2010-03-28 06:38 pm (UTC)

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Date: 2010-03-28 07:04 pm (UTC)
ext_9031: (Methos - Look)
From: [identity profile] ithildyn.livejournal.com
What you said! This subject is one of my fandom pet peeves, so it can get me going [g] Back when Torchwood started, I said that if Ianto had been a woman, she'd have been vilified. Nothing's happened to change that opinion.

Thanks for a great post.

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Date: 2010-03-28 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danajsparks.livejournal.com
American culture (and I think in some ways American feminists especially) often holds women to much higher standards than it does men. It is assumed that men are all dumb, stupid, crass, selfish, sexist, etc. Thus, any evidence that a man does have some redeeming qualities about him is something to celebrate.

On the other hand, we expect all women to be close to perfect... beautiful thin toned bodies, witty, able to be devoted mothers and wives, clean the house, and hold meaningful careers. Any deviation from perfection elicits scorn.

It is certainly unfair that we hold women to such unreasonably high standards. But I think it's also wrong that we generally think so little of men.

Date: 2010-03-28 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danajsparks.livejournal.com
Oh, here via metafandom, BTW

Date: 2010-03-28 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bofoddity.livejournal.com
This has been one of my biggest fandom pet peeves ever, and kudos to you to for making a great post about it! I hate it especially much when the fandom darling is the male villain; there's something really depressing about the fandom slapping down the heroine for not being perfect (especially if "not perfect" translates to "not easily likable") while happily hand-waving all the crappy things that the villain ever did away.

Date: 2010-03-28 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bofoddity.livejournal.com
Also, here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom!

Date: 2010-03-28 08:34 pm (UTC)
ext_41651: Ianto shiny with mobile (tosh)
From: [identity profile] fide-et-spe.livejournal.com
I saw this recced, and yes, I think you are right, but equally I think it applies to all aspects of life. Look at the hate directed toward Hilary Clinton for behaviours that in a man are viewed as admirable. Female directors are overlooked and criticised terribly, especially when they are a bit perfectionist, yet the bullying types, like Oliver Stone, are admired and get the nominations (not that he isn't a good director, I just plucked him as an example, there are lots of them! )

It's women who collude against themselves as well, we expect women are expected to behave in certain ways, and we let men get away with everything. We also judge women's looks all the time, in a way that men never get judged. The Doctor is obnoxious and rude, and rather horrid to those around him, but it's Rose who gets the crap.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] blktauna.insanejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-28 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fide-et-spe.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-29 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fide-et-spe.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-29 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-03-28 08:35 pm (UTC)
ext_3117: (Default)
From: [identity profile] blktauna.insanejournal.com (from livejournal.com)
Well,

DiNozzo is the reason I stopped watching NCIS. I loathe him and want him to die in a fire. Not Even my combined love for Abby, Ducky & Probie (which is vast) can make me watch the show any more. Every time I look at hiim I get violent.

Rose...
I loathe Rose as well and don't watch any episode she's in.

Both of them are highly unpleasant people who I'd give a good smack to if I could.

So to your point, no not everyone puts up with people like that, male or female.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] blktauna.insanejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-28 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-03-28 08:42 pm (UTC)
eve_n_furter: (P'Gell - wink)
From: [personal profile] eve_n_furter
Please keep in mind that I'm oversimplifying here: If you are a het female and get into a fandom because you are a fascinated with a male character, then the female characters will become your rivals. It's a basic natural instinct. (Yes, there's more to it. Oversimplifying, remember?)

Date: 2010-03-28 09:59 pm (UTC)
meredith44: Can't talk, I'm reading (Ziva Red)
From: [personal profile] meredith44
I have just so totally been in discussions with people over this, but it was from the other side, as in why people hate Ziva so much while liking Tony. I completely agree with your post and have so much love for it I cannot fully express it. I really do think there is a double standard in how fen treat the female characters and the male characters.

I know you said that it is fine to share/link to this, but I thought I'd still ask if it is okay to link this in [livejournal.com profile] ncis_newsletter. You might get a bunch of highly defensive enthusiastic Tony fen over here, and I didn't know if you would want that.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-29 02:49 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [personal profile] meredith44 - Date: 2010-03-29 10:20 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-03-29 12:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
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