First off, I’m about 70% done my next book. Though it will need edits and such and such. Weekly movie updates on my patreon.
Waiting for my food, so I decided to write about something bugging me recently. A lot of cool genre tv/movies are coming out. I no longer have to be shy about liking nerdy things. Nerds are mainstream.
But of the series that are arriving on the scene, they keep changing the fundamental tone and even themes of the source material. If it was just for entertainment expediency it would be one thing, but that’s not it at all.
Anyway, a lot of these properties seem to be written by women, directed by women, staring women, whose arcs either didn’t exist in the source, or were diametrically opposite. Okay, fine. That is totally acceptable. Especially since the original properties often had no women at all or they were very minor. Got to cater to audiences.
To rewind about 30 years ago, I remember reading an interview with an actress who was playing an action role. And the director wanted her to headbutt someone. Because that would show she was tough. And she was like, no, that would show that I’m stupid. Women don’t headbutt people. It hurts. My head is half the size of the guy you want me to headbutt. No sane woman would ever do that.
Headbutt is like the ultimate manly attack.
And I don’t mean that as a compliment. Our heads are surrounded by bone because they house 4 of our 5 senses and part of the 5th. They have delicate cartilage outsides. And you have to strike perfectly to not hurt yourself. And even if you do, you risk sloshing your brain around. It is an absolutely terrible attack that puts you in serious jeopardy getting within neck distance of your foe so you can throw your brain at him/her/it. It’s the ultimate male attack because only guys overcome with testosterone and adrenaline rage would ever attempt it. It’s mindless fury to the point of injuring yourself.
Within the last 2-3 years, I can think of about 5 instances of “tough” women headbutting people in movies and tv shows. And they’re almost all written by women. I never would have expected that. Because it’s such a ridiculously stupid move.
Moreover, in many of those cases, the headbanging women are just women. Not super women. Not monster women. Not women with reinforced craniums and who carry their brains safely in their butts and are thus risking no harm. Just regular old humans smashing their skulls into someone to prove they’re just as stupid as any man.
I get wanting to make women strong, tough characters. But writing them exactly as if they were homo sapien males during fights and girly females in the downtime when it’s convenient, isn’t equal time or empowering. It’s just silly. What really brought this to a head(butt) for me was watching Wheel of Time and the opening scene had a woman, 2 minutes from literally giving birth, fight off and murder like 10 soldiers. She was in labor.
Back in the 90s, I watched a bunch of chopsocky Hong Kong movies. When they were super duper over the top. Just crazy wildness. Like a Hollywood B-action movie on a combination of LSD and speed. And I’m pretty damn sure I saw the same scene in one of those. This wasn’t merely a pregnant woman. She was moments away from giving birth. And, look, I’ve had kidney stones. Which I’ve repeatedly been told is the closest a guy can get to experiencing child birth-level pain. Though still far less. And at their worst of worst times of kidney stones, I was not going to fight off an ant. When you’re experiencing 9-10 level pain, your body is no longer under your complete control.
And, again, this would be fine if that was a Florpdian Alien–that normally give birth inside of active volcanoes because it’s warm. I saw that scene, and I’m like, wtf are they thinking? I did a search and, apparently, that scene is super popular. So they clearly got people happy. But it’s just absurd.
If I could come up with a guy equivalent of that scene, it would be your James Bond/Conan character, having sex, and not stop having sex, while he killed 10 people. Just doing both cuz that’s how cool and sexy and tough he is. And I like to hope that if anyone saw that scene, they would be like, this is the most idiotic thing ever.
I’ve got the luxury of writing in a universe where binary earth genders aren’t a big thing. Cuz there’s no earth and never was. I mean, I got to put someone on the cover. And I don’t enjoy explaining the nuances of every alien life form. I’m not writing hard science fiction. But the idea of Garm headbutting someone is actually offensive. Because other than trying to put out a gasoline fire using her hair, I can’t think of a better way to show she’s foolish and doesn’t know how to fight. She simply fights different than Hank. Because she is physically different than Hank. That’s not a terrible thing.
Women can fight. Women can be absolutely great warriors. Especially if you’re writing genre fiction where the rules are looser. But instead of making them do exactly they same stunts as male characters, how about you give them unique voices and traits and styles?
Like if you want to show a man as being able to care for a baby, you don’t have him breastfeeding. Normal homo sapien male breastfeeding. You’re not going, see, men can be nurturing, too. You’re going, I’m a writer who has no clue what planet I live on and I hope no one notices.