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Foz Meadows
I just rewatched Mad Max: Fury Road for the first time in about a year and now I'm all in my feels about female characters, so: a thread.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
Replying to @fozmeadows
When the Great Debate about What Is A Strong Female Character inevitably rears its head, much is made of the misuse of the word "strength".
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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There's always some reductive soul who thinks strength is purely physical, and then we get into debates about various types of strength, etc
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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But what strikes me, watching MMFR, is how many common manifestations of female strength are expressly about dealing with male bullshit.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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Which is a large part of why so many dudes of the reductive, oblivious kind utterly fail to understand "strong" women in sexist settings.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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I've written before about the common problem in many pseudo-medieval fantasy settings that I call Sexism Without Sexists, but in brief:
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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It's what happens when writers want sympathetic male characters in a sexist setting plus 1 or maybe 2 Exceptional Girls (usually warriors) -
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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- but don't want to deal with the issue of their male characters being invested in the sexism of the system that keeps them in charge.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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So you'll have these random Good Guys who are cool about these random specific Warrior Girls, but no other commentary on the world's sexism.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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In these stories, the Warrior Girls are usually presented as Girls Who Aren't Like Other Girls, aka full of internalised misogyny -
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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- so that *they* don't provide a vehicle for social commentary either, except at the most simplistic, individual level: outliers by design.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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What's always, always missing is the network of outcasts: those people whose breech of social norms is less flashy than Warrior Girl -
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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- but who lay the groundwork for her. Like Athena, these Warrior Girls always spring to life, full-formed, possessed of self-knowledge -
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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- so that even as kids, they knew they were Different From Other Girls. They always just wanted to fight, to be rough and tumble! No gowns!
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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There's never a catalyst event, unless it's some flavour of sexual assault or brutalisation. Never any conflict over social duties or wants.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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It's always this all-or-nothing impetus which often results in very poorly-written characters, because there's no context to the wanting.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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It's always, like, girl who runs off to do a Daring Thing and insists in TSTL ways that she's Capable because she Wants It, sans any context
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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The ways in which traditionally feminine duties are inherently devalued in these settings is, of course, another key facet of the problem.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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Which brings me back to clueless dudes who don't realise sexism is what shapes a LOT of female strength, the way pressure makes diamonds.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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These guys just, honestly, cannot conceive of what strength means for a woman outside of "wanting, however badly, to be like a man".
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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But then, in MMFR, you have these women whose strength is *defined* by a rejection of everything the men around them want.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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You have Angharad using her pregnant belly to shield Furiosa from Immortan Joe, while he bellows at her that her child is his property.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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You have Angharad and Capable arguing for Nux's life - "No unnecessary killing!" - because they *know* he's brainwashed into wanting death.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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You have Cheedo, heartsick, trying to flee, letting the Dag and Toast pull her back, then later pretending to flee to manipulate Rictus.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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You have the Dag baring her teeth, hiss-spitting at war boys after her chastity belt comes off, unafraid and absolute. "We are not things."
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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You have Miss Giddy staring down Immortan Joe in the heart of his Citadel - "You can't own people! Sooner or later, someone pushes back!"
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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Later, as Joe has Angharad's baby cut out, it's Miss Giddy alone who covers her dead eyes, who holds her hand - who sees HER, not a body.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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But there are still people who'll watch that film & recognise Furiosa as the only *really* strong female character, because she hits stuff.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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These people will miss the power of her opening shot, that shows us the brand on the back of her neck; the same brand that Max just dodged.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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They will not understand in full why Furiosa is looking for redemption, because they'll miss what the context tells us about her status.
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Foz Meadows 1 Sep 17
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The kind of guy who sees no worldbuilding flaw in Sexism Without Sexists won't blink at a lone, exceptional woman working for Immortan Joe -
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