I’ve discussed this topic a few times before, so here’s part one and part two (part one includes LGBTQ people, while part two just focuses on women).
I honestly wish I didn’t have to do this again, but it looks as though this is going to end up being a monthly conversation. The reason why is that a lot of people just still don’t get it. There is a reason why women in fiction, every medium of fiction, is important.
I’m focusing on women in this post, because there’s still this stigma that if a product has a woman on the cover, it won’t be as wildly popular than if generic, white, cookie cutter man is on the cover. That stigma is the problem, and some can’t get past it, which means that a lot of marketing for video games, movie titles, books, comics and so on drops off because the head honchos don’t believe a female lead title can sell. Which is weird because a lot of female lead products have been wildly successful in the past.
- Xena: Warrior Princess
- Wonder Woman
- Batgirl (all three incarnations)
- Birds of Prey (the comic)
- Spider-Girl (and a good deal of the MC2 universe)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
And quite a few more that I can’t think of off the top of my head (though, I’m sure others can add to this list). So why are we always taking a step back whenever a new female lead title starts to make it’s way through the press? Why are we forced to deal with the same nay sayers over and over again over female characters in print, film and digital media formats? Is it an insecurity that suddenly women will become more ubiquitous then men in fiction? I doubt that considering that the number of female lead titles that exist is still only a small handful compared to the number of male (and white) lead titles that exist in the world. Keep in mind, for decades it was always a male power fantasy to be the shining knight and save the damsel in distress. This was the way of things. It’s old and tired now, but those who like old and tired things are trying to hook up the white knight to a heart monitor and keep him alive via external machines. Well, it’s time to just let him die, he had a good life, now let him die with dignity and let the new stuff happen.
This is another reason why women in fiction is important (and this part doesn’t just cover female characters, but female writers, artists, creators, and not just white women, but women of all colours); women bring something new to the table. A different point of view that can bring about new stories and keep the world’s creativity alive. Let’s face it, we’re starting to hit the bottom of the barrel, creatively speaking, and we need new stuff. After all, why the hell are we doing remakes of Total Recall and Psycho in movies when we could be searching for something different. The main answer to that is business people really don’t like taking risks and they’d rather play with a sure thing. When they do take a risk, doing so with something that has a female lead is often way too risky for them to go through with it. And even when they do go ahead with it, they don’t promote it enough in order to allow that thing to work.
Bottom line, let more women be creative leads in every aspect. Let women be the main characters of popular culture. But make sure it’s not in some patronizing way. Make it believable. We’ll all be more creatively richer for it.