The Princess Syndrome

I wish I could remember where it was, but I was recently reminded of an article describing two girls in the George R. R. Martin books (I may have just completely misremembered that. Please correct me if you are the person who originally pointed me toward that article.)

If I remember correctly (and my memory is pretty well shot this month), it was something about one girl being frilly and acting frilly while the other was a tomboy who acted tomboyish. (Yes, it’s quite fun trying to piece broken memories back together. Thanks for asking.)

I think it basically boiled down to wanting to see those stereotypes broken…or perhaps the two do actually break the stereotype.

At any rate, I was reading an article on how female characters tend to not be up front because they’re too busy being subplots, primarily in fantasy settings. The whole article is pretty fascinating, really, because it not only looks at these characters being pushed back and being made mostly helpless, but it looks briefly at the stronger female characters out there as well in this context. While managing to be strong women, these women are still subjected to stereotypes.

I’ve had too much time on my hands recently, so I’ve been trying to think, trying to view movies and shows I enjoy, but reversing characters’ genders. (In Sigma Six, it only made things a lot, lot worse, actually. Scarlett’s a pretty strong female character in her own right, and if she gets captured, at least one of the guys is stuck with her. It had everything to do with her being Sigma Six and little to do with her gender…so far…) In some cases, the property in question features a somewhat effeminate, yet still strong, male in the lead, so the whole thing falls apart because the argument feels moot. In others…I don’t know. I’m still trying to decide on that one.

It might be easiest to create a transcript of an episode of a couple of these shows, change all the names to a name of the opposite gender, let it lie somewhere forgotten for a bit, and then read over the transcripts and see what jumps off the page at me.


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