Long ago, at the very start of this site, I posted about a question Nialla had raised on a forum: was a male poster right when he said women who criticized female characters for representing us poorly were just jealous of them? Since then, I’ve noted that women who complain about female characters also stand accused of taking shows too seriously, of being judgmental, of jumping to conclusions.
If you’re a young white straight man, you’ve grown up seeing People Like You disproportionately well-represented in positions of governmental and business power – only you don’t think of it as disproportionate, because no one ever points that out. You’ve seen thousands of People Like You written as solid, well-drawn characters on TV, and when you run across a badly written Character Like You, you have dozens of others to watch instead. Just sit back and take your pick.
My reality’s a little different. Very few People Like Me hold public office, even though we outnumber you guys. Very few People Like Me hold powerful positions in business. No one ever points out how disproportionate it is. It’s just the status quo. In 30+ years, I’ve seen a handful of well-drawn Characters Like Me, and the rest are so inonsistent or fantastic, I can’t recognize them in even the poorest real-life examples of my demographic. When I find yet another craptastic woman character, I’m damned unlikely to have any better options.
This is what the target audience wants me to ignore. It’s the usual privilege argument: “The system works great for me; why are you complaining?” And we’re not talking about unfair toy sharing practices. We’re talking thousands of years of denied education; denied rights to vote, hold office, work for a living (instead of marrying or prostituting for one); of legalized spousal rape and battery; of the right to be judged by talent and achievement instead of gender.
It should come as no surprise the target audience is mostly satisfied with how women are characterized in the film media. The media is, after all, customized to their desires. The assumption that complaining women (and non-white men, and gays, etc.) are just Negative Nellies to be dismissed with an eyeroll is also, sadly, no surprise. Some of us live on a planet where the only thing keeping us from extreme power and wealth is competition: the rest of us know if we just manage to get into the competition, it will be history in the making.