Trope Talk: Strong Female Characters

Trope Talk: Strong Female Characters


Why is writing girls difficult? This is a legit question, I swear. More than half the population is girls, (60%) but it feels like there are only like five girl characters in existence. There’s the mom, the damsel, the hardened badass, the sexy one, and the silly one, but if you look at the dude archetypes, you’ve got way more variety. There’s the paragon, the big friendly guy, the smart guy, that dark misunderstood one, the moral gray area, the team dad, the lancer, and so many more. Hell, even the everyman is a dude. Why? This isn’t meant to be accusatory in any way, I’ve honestly been trying to figure this out because I have so much trouble with this. The first piece of major writing I did had precisely one female character. She was pretty and demure and cried a lot and had healing powers. It was a disgrace, really. The thing is, when people notice this problem, the first solution tends to be to take a fully developed male character and turn him into a girl. Take the big guy, now he’s a girl. Smart guy –>smart girl. And this can totally work, but sometimes you get weird translation errors where traits affiliated with the archetype clash with their gender. Like when you take a grizzled soldier badass and make him a her, There’s a weird tendency for her to spout a bunch of cookie cutter “Don’t be such a girl,” stuff every other minute, because, of course, in fictional militaries, the overwhelming attitude is very classic Macho. So when you fit a female character in there, you get a weird bit of character whiplash when her own Machismo is expressed by calling unimpressive behavior womanly. Like, girl. Own yourself. By the way, this character is pretty much what people are referring to half the time when they scornfully call someone a “Strong female character.” The other half they’re talking about a Bayonetta type who is threateningly sexy, the I’ll-kick-your-ass-and-look-good-while-doing-it variety, which is just a variant on the aforementioned sexy archetype. Actually, more specifically, It’s a repurposing of a villainous female archetype. The dominatrix kind of villain who’s both sexy, and intimidating. You can totally take that archetype and turn it into a hero, But that’s actually a new development, since for a few centuries there, women weren’t allowed to have sex drives, so of course only evil women could be dangerously sexy. But anyway, there is another instance of that cookie-cutter gender swap thing where the translation error doesn’t manifest in the character, but in the reception of the character. Like, well… not to open a can of worms, but like Rey from The Force Awakens. I was so surprised when I went online after I saw the movie, and everyone was complaining that Rey was an OP Mary Sue, because when I saw that movie, it looked like a faithful recreation of Episode IV, magic space orphan and all. Rey and Luke were the same character with a slightly different attitude, but a chunk of the Internet went berserk. Now, admittedly the Internet is in a constant state of going berserk over something or other, but this one kind of hurt. Because, I really liked Rey. I liked her curiosity, her experimentation with her powers. One of the most complained-about scenes when she manages to mind-trick the guard was one of my favorites, because it was obvious she’d grown up hearing stories about what the Jedi could do, and as soon as she learned she was force-sensitive, she started trying new things she’d heard about in stories. And I really liked that because it was exactly what I would do. She felt like a real person to me. But her confidence and the rapid growth of her powers flipped some rage switch that wonderboy fighter pilot chosen one Luke Skywalker hadn’t. And we can argue about why all day long, but I’d rather not Because fundamentally, I think the problem here isn’t gender specific at all, I think it’s just symptomatic of a much larger characterization problem. The root of the error, I think, is that writers oftentimes draw inspiration more from other stories than they do from reality. And it’s a sad truth that, up until a few decades ago, there were basically four or five girl characters. You got your fairy tale princesses, your moms, your femme fatales, and your occasional Viking warrior woman. And the characters ended up getting recycled as a consequence of the fact that most writers are inspired to write by absorbing what other people write. The original error and girl characterization is, yes, rooted in centuries of dude-centric storytelling. But the reason why it propagated is, I’m pretty sure, this. And then within the past few decades, you suddenly got this moment of clarity where people started asking “Why does this character have to be a dude?” And that’s how you got the cookie cutter gender swap stuff, which, by the way, was the second approach toward female characters that I ended up writing into that world. I had a warrior prince I decided to add some estrogen to. Again, shamefully lax writing on my part, but in my defense, I was, like, twelve. But I think this idea that we should write from archetypes is the root of the problem, because if we were drawing characters from our lives instead, I’d say the vast majority of us have been exposed to all kinds of fascinating people of every gender. Archetypal writing is what leads to half a million identical heroes fighting the other half million villains. There’s nothing wrong with starting from other stories, but there are so many benefits to drawing from reality too. Now, I’m better at actually drawing that I am at writing, So let’s use that as an analogy for a minute. Say you want to learn how to draw, which I heartily recommend. Say you start by drawing cartoon characters you like. Or by getting one of those how to draw anime books and filling in the lines. You can get really good at that, but in the end you’ll be making what is functionally someone else’s art style. And if that art style doesn’t cover how to draw, I don’t know, dogs, how are you gonna draw that dog you want to draw? Well, you can google how to draw a dog and follow the instructions, But that’ll get you how someone else would draw a dog. Do this with enough things and you end up with this weird Franken-style, where your art is a patchwork of other people’s art. Sometimes the style discrepancy is very visible, especially when you have, for example, very stylized cartoon characters in front of incredibly detailed backgrounds. Or very Disney-looking humans with more Looney Tunes-y animals. But there’s another way to learn art, and it’s pretty much the only way to develop a unique style, and guarantee that whatever you end up making, it’ll be something nobody else could have made. Unless, of course, they were imitating you. Obviously it’s life drawing. But more specifically, it’s developing artist eyes. You sort of need to be able to look at the world and see in your head how you draw what you’re seeing. Animators watch people moving and learn how to get across incredibly complex motion without compromising the simplicity of their visual style. Painters see swathes in color and contemplate the brush and palette knife tricks they’d use to recreate it. Graphic artists see light and shadow and learn how to get across a realistic human face with only a few blocks of black and white. And writers see the people around them and see the characters that their personality could contribute to. There are story characters that are so vivid and unique that you can practically hear the person who inspired their creation. Any given Terry Pratchett novel is full of them. A character inspired by life is going to feel so much realer than a character inspired by another character, no matter how good the original character is. Learning from someone else’s style will only show you how to do what they’ve already done. If you want to do something new or take the character in a unique direction, you’ll need to draw on your experiences from reality instead. So even though, statistically speaking, the vast majority of us know at least as many girls as guys, the tendency towards archetypal writing leads us to disregard these people when the time comes to design our characters. And though there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from the works of others, if you don’t add any of your own observations or experiences, your character is going to be rote. But there is, I think, another element contributing to a certain amount of the trouble people have with writing girl characters, specifically. And that’s that in our culture, there are things that girls are supposed to be. The most obvious one of these is pretty. If you’re not pretty, it’s almost like you’re doing something wrong. Now, this is why girl characters in almost any story are going to be traditionally attractive, regardless of species, profession, or circumstance. It just feels like the norm. The baseline. Now obviously there are exceptions, but the mere fact that there are notable exceptions kind of reveals that there’s a rule here. Now I like pretty girls as much as anybody else, but we don’t write characters we idealize all the time. Or at least we shouldn’t because that’d be kind of boring. But there are other girl rules in place that have much more of a character impact than simple appearance, because beyond the physical, there are social rules we kind of absorb and assume are the norm. Again, most obviously, there’s been this idea for a very long time that when things get serious, the girls hang back and the dude folk sort things out. It’s a chivalry thing, but it becomes almost cartoonish when it shows up in modern cinema’s favorite action comedy trope of the decade, the ludicrously competent girl training the completely inexperienced schlub. Everywhere, from The Matrix to The Lego Movie, the ludicrously badass strong female character with years of experience, building on already extant native talent, hangs back in the finale while the schlub with a week of training saves the day. And it feels natural. No matter how badass she is, she ends up being a support character, because girls support dudes in our culture. And again there are exceptions, but again, they are notable exceptions. And again, this isn’t accusatory, it’s just something to be aware of. We want to write good stories, it’s good to be aware of the things we silently assume have to be there. There are a few more rules in place that are less rigid, but still present. For example, girls aren’t generally supposed to take up space, so their visual designs will tend towards compactness; either short, or, on significant occasions, tall but willowy. You end up with a lot of socially motivated trends over an entire gender of character, and yes, dudes, too, and again, it’s because we’re writing from archetypes. Not experience. We know people or are people who aren’t traditionally attractive, we know dudes who cry and girls who are six foot six and bench eye beams in their spare time, and we know the impracticalities maintaining a glamour routine on a daily basis, let alone while stuck on a desert island or an alien planet. We know this stuff, but because we’re writing from other stories, all this cool real stuff doesn’t get included, which is a shame, really. So yeah.

100 thoughts on “Trope Talk: Strong Female Characters”

  1. May be an unpopular opinion; but my personal example of a ‘strong female character' that I dislike for pretty much the reasons stated in the video is Captain Marvel. I honestly think she's just not a good character; and it's not that making her into a male character would improve Captain Marvel in any way, it's just that she could stand for a lot of improvement as a character. It just seems like she lacks something. Like they said ‘we need a strong female character to show that were being diverse and more inclusive' but it feels like her character is just that; for the sole purpose of being a ‘strong female character' without any actual work going into.. Well, the characterization of that character. Which is exactly what she lack; character.

    I'm not intending to be hateful and if you disagree I'm not attacking your perspective or anything, I'm just adding my two cents here.

  2. Red I think people don't like Rey because every Jedi even the most important ones had training and yes I know this video is old but I still feel like this is really weird with force awakens and I think Rey is a good woman character but the hatred she got for this one reason is just rude .

  3. 6:17 actually, all of my characters are pretty. i'm pretty ugly myself, and i don't want any of my children to carry that burden. it will only be something else to worry about, and that conflit wouldn't make a very good subplot for my magical-sword-adventure-mystery-tour-type narrative

  4. Hm… A bit late, but I do believe that Rey is a Mary Sue, not because she's a strong, female character, but because her character development is nothing like Luke's. If you watch both episode IV and VII on a side-by-side comparison you can actually pick up moments where Luke undegoes some form of development whereas Rey doesn't.

  5. If you want to write a female character that is widely received you have to give her a delema both genders can relate to. The female sniper from sword art online had a toxic amount of pride to the point where she became angry that the main protagonist was comforting her. "He is cosuling me like I'm a child"!!!

  6. I'd rather take a single or small handful of well written female characters than a 100 Strong Female Protagonists any day.

    And I don't care what any hack writers says.

    Looking at all you feminists and SJWs.

    Actually try to put some effort into writing a good, or at least decent, character who just so happens to be female or whatever it is you want them to be.

  7. Please don't give your female character "sexy armor." no armor is like that, it would be uncomfortable, utterly pointless, and kinds insulting. (I know some people like it but its Usually just done for fan service wich takes away from the actual story)

  8. While I don't fully agree with some of your points here, I quite liked this analysis and the particular style of video you have (both in the background and the cute little characters you draw). I'm gonna go watch some more.

    Even though I don't write creatively. Because I'm terrible at it. And haven't improved in 6 years.

  9. Commander Shepard from Mass Effect Trilogie is a really well written female character…or male character, which depends which gender you choose in the games. Another example that the character was written without having a specific gender in mind, so a female Sgepard feels as natural as a male Shepard. Shepard is badass as a man and women!

  10. Just to be clear, the only thing Luke "Could do" with the force is have better reflexes while Ray magically gets the abilities of a Jedi Master with zero training or practice.

  11. OP female characters are a joke. Fact: men are 3 times stronger than wahmen because we have denser muscle fibers, stronger bones and THE HORMONE OF THE GODS, testosterone. We also have larger craniums, thus larger brains and a correspondingly higher IQ. Thus men are better than wahmen at EVERYTHING that doesn't involve childbirth.
    BTW, those cherry-picked studies that claim that girls are smarter than boys focus on 11-12 year-olds. Girls have already started puberty by then but boys don't really start puberty until age 13. As a result girls have a once in a lifetime advantage over boys, who then blow past them one they hit puberty. This is why 15 year old boys can beat world champion women's soccer players. – google it if you don't believe me.

  12. The first time I felt represented by a character was reading The Sign of the Four by Conan Doyle. He described Mary as a normal woman, not extra pretty, but good looking in a common way and amiable. She was helpful to the investigation because she's smart, sensible and a good observer, and I could relate to those traits. It felt better than reading about divinely beautiful women.

  13. Lol, Rey was able to do every damn force trick without training. What is the point of a mentor character if the protagonist knows it all already? Total Mary Sue.

  14. The issue is that the "strong female character" has become a total trope. We need to stop writing "strong female characters" and write well developed ones instead. Otherwise we will end up reciting "strong female character" like a mantra and producing garbage. Strength isn't talent or emotional fortitude, but perseverence against the odds. A good character needs to be thrashed about by adversity, and present authors shy away from doing that to female characters. IRL women are not often risk takers, and a good protagonist needs to take risks and lose, as well as win. No struggle, no story.

  15. When I make DnD characters I have a hard time making good guy characters, I've made like two really good guy characters one decent, and like 6 good female characters.

  16. 7:02 it's not exclusive to female characters. Terminator did the same thing but gender swaped with sarah connor and kyle reese.

  17. In the case of the Lego movie wild style hold back because she’s not the main character and the main character needs to “shine” I don’t know that’s my take on it

  18. Not trying to argue but every had trained but Rey and when they fought their first Sith Lord the basically got their hand chopped off and got their butts kicked and lost but Rey Used the force she didn’t pass out or got drained like baby yoda passed out for a couple of days or when Anikin trained for years without even thinking about the force or when Luke trained with yoda it felt more earned but after all that Rey fought kylo with a lightsaber which she didn’t even train for and won and kylo was trained for years with Luke and the Sith Lord but still lost and she even heard of the Jedi of force before and when she tried to fly the Millennium falcon with no experience she said she aced it and got the attention of Han and the baby yoda who is fifty but is still a baby who is one of the more force sensitive species please leave comments I love to have Conversations

  19. I'm just saying, people always get mad when females are drawn as sexy or written as sexy but when a guy is no one bats an eye

  20. That's because most females fall into the trope of 'Romance' or 'Love Triangle' and this INFURIATES me.
    I can't stand when I pick up a book and the female character seems appealing and interesting but somehow always has to be pined after two guys! Who she can't chose. Majority of books I read in highschool were about this, and I got sick of it.
    Why? Why does she have to have two love interests for a plot! I can think of a few books where this isn't needed and the female lead was okay. True there was some romance sub plots, but it wasn't the main theme of the book.

    Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound are a trilogy example of this done right. Allie may have some dudes she likes, but her character arch is finding out she's not always right and prone to making mistakes, and even getting her ass handed to her. This teacher her humility, and the guys there are her friends at the most that serve to teach her this. She didn't have to be 'strong' for them, and they didn't always have to be the lead male. It was a series done time with a male and female lead!
    Then you get things like Twilight or Hunger Games (The last book for that one). Where it's annoying how much the female is dependent on the male leads and, for Hunger Games, it becomes a romance I could not believe due to the fact that there were BIGGER PROBLEMS AT WORK! Romance is a minor compared to the fact your own government is trying to kill you! Yet we are always force fed romance plots during these things… because females always seem to need a male!

    IDK why guys, but for me this is why I can't get into female leads, because most I find are just poorly written characters who serve only for romance novels.

  21. I have the opposite problem: I can't write dudes. I am female, a have lots of trouble understanding guys, I'm a military kid so the only male person that's been with me enough to understand is my dad… it kinda sucks.

  22. Yes! And if you have problems trying to figure out how to make her without it being a cookie cutter or basic try picking random personality that aren't most the time used together (for example:nutureful and wild or love and Anger) and try making a character around them! This is what helps me at least

  23. From what I know, the reason why people hate Rey compared to Luke, is because she wasn't flushed out in any way other than a girl that scrounged for scraps to sell, all the while waiting for her parents to return before deciding one day she'll leave. And when she learned she was force sensitive, she was able to influence a trooper's mind, that she heard in a story from an unknown source, when most were at most able to make something like a broom float without training beforehand.

    Meanwhile Luke was raised by people that use and fix technology for a living, Luke dreamed to one day leave and explore, and had to be extensively trained in the force despite being a direct descendant of someone with the highest midechlorian count of his time (And to all the people that groan at this, yes they're still a thing despite rarely being talked about, and no they're not the force itself, just the Star Wars equivalent of mitochondria that allow access to using the force *They're needed for life to exist, can increase through training, and an average trained Jedi has around 10 times the amount of an average Joe while an average athlete has around 2 times the mitochondria than an average Joe*).

  24. I’m late to this party, but you can’t be serious about Rei from Star Wars. She has the entire mythos broken in order to make her a badass. If that’s not a Mary Sue, please tell me what is?

  25. Your experience with Rey remindsome me of Qibli From Wings of Fire.
    He became my favorite character,
    he felt real and shings he did felt like what I would do and made sense in context.
    But I've met People who say he's a Marry-sue.
    That he's too over powered.
    That he's a generic flawless good guy with all good traits and abilities.
    THAT he's annoying pointless.
    And this hurts my heart.
    Qibli is my fourth favorite character of all time.
    That's out of all the characters in the 2000+ books I've read, he's in my all time top 5,
    And I HAVE found other people who love him as I do.
    But A lot of people see him as ok, and still kind of a Marry-sue.
    And I just don't get why

  26. Sally Kimball from the Encyclopedia Brown stories was the best character in them. She was the most well rounded person in that world. She was strong, brave, athletic, smart, curious, and yes pretty you can't avoid every trope.

  27. You can like Rey, it's fine if you do.

    I don't, however that does not mean that I'm not going to listen to your points.

    I'm a writer, and this series is really helpful.

  28. Rey is a mary sue and Luke is not, because Rey is perfect and the everything works out for her. My boy Luke almost fucked his sister, was a dumbass who saw the mentor he always knew get murdered, and had his hand cut off. Rey is a Frankenstinian creation of people wanting feminist money, and that is why you like her. Because she's perfect. Because you think women can do no wrong and are above reproach. Rey isn't even allowed to like men; she has no personality (no, "being badass" is not a personality) and has no flaws. (no, "I have no flaws" is not a flaw)

  29. In my experience, Strong Female Protagonists isn't necessarily bad, but the people who have agendas are unimaginative hacks who can't human very well, so they cannot properly write a character with nuance and personal growth, and so she ends up with an entitled narcissist of a character nobody likes that spew their propaganda.

  30. So TLDR, "Rather than making the Archetype a "Girl," Make a character who happends to be a girl or guy or however fits the story who is the Archetype." ^_>
    That instead of race swapping or gender bending someone who already exists to make a character who is who they are that are those things the character is supposed to be / do.

  31. The other biggest problem and again why those who value Equality hate Feminism all the more so because of how feminists tend to be or act, The Issue of Taking From someone to try making others look "Better" in comparison rather than making those others better so as to stand alongside the first group or groups……..

    "Easier to harm than to heal," etc tends to be a thing but when all you do is tear other down it only serves to tear Everyone and Everything down with it as time goes by, to include invariably those who pursue such a way of dong things.

  32. Interesting vid. Currently rping as a ciswoman for the first time ever and even working out a realistic life story took a reasonable amount of effort. I haven't really based the character on anyone I knew personally…she has the same initials as me but other than that her story's very different, she's just someone that realistically 'could' exist in this reality, that I'd be able to relate to in some way without being a self-parody.

  33. Try finding an online photo of a woman without makeup. Just try. Even in google images, a significant number of "hits" will be women WITH makeup. Just more subtle makeup. Sometimes. Or, the "before" image on a makeup tutorial – because women aren't supposed to exist without makeup.

    YET NO AUTHOR WILL HAVE A FEMALE CHARACTER PUT ON MAKEUP. Seriously. Haven't seen it in any novel anywhere unless they're putting on a disguise, and in movies/TV they are invariably wearing makeup 24/7, without ever having to put it on, or off – unless they're playing for "shock monster" laughs because she's got a masque on, or the "she takes WAAAY too long to get ready" trope.

    And don't even THINK of discussing menstruation. Never mind that real women have to strategize how to deal with it for 7 days out of 28, female characters were all born without a uterus – but are nonetheless fertile. No pads, no tampons, no accidents, not even any sudden trips to the bathroom, and heaven forbid they have any spots on their sheets. EVER. Those are reserved for jizz. I'm not saying authors should dwell on it, and it's obvious that bathroom breaks and even eating are given short shift for any character – but the dearth is almost 100% complete. Because /really/ being female isn't actually on the agenda.

  34. Rey and Luke are completely different when you remeber that Luke lost to his "BBG" three times in a roll while Rey beated her's every single time she faced him.

  35. Most "male" archetypes are gender neutral. That's why a girl nerd works just as well as a guy nerd. Any type of character can work for a woman but it'll work better when it fits her. Males and Females are inherently different. Not better or worse just different. Even if a female has more masculine traits they will still see things differently than a male. Same goes for males with more feminine traits. So while the good ole advice that is "just write a good character that happens to be X" is great sentimentally but isn't functional. Nobody makes characters from a completely blank space. The default is going to be something you're familiar with which is usually male. What your character is or where their from does affect their characterization, It just shouldn't be their central characteristic. So if you're writing a female inject some femininity into her. This is easier for people who are women or surrounded by them. If you're not one then ask one if your character sounds like one.

  36. I think too often a writer's drive for a 'strong, female character' exist for the sole purpose to get preachy. And no one wants a story to be preachy.

  37. I just want them to have a soul. Not just "I am strong indepent woman who don't need no man" like that cool and all but like what else?

  38. I don’t particularly like Rey from the new movies, but I agree that the complaint of her being a Mary Sue is incorrect at best.

  39. I liked Rey for the same exact reasons. And in literally any other universe it would have been valid! The thing is that the galaxy far far away has their magic system, even at the base level, require years of training just to force push, and the first movies put in a lot of work to establish the difficulty. Otherwise, why arent there force using people everywhere? Cause you need a master or decades of experimentation to get results. Given I only learned this after looking over past movies and lore to figure out why it was a big deal, but yeah.

  40. To answer your question in the start, I think it may be because throughout history, for many reason of varying acceptablity / lack thereof, most writers were men and therefore inclined to write male characters as there is a slight ,or large depending on who you ask, less of a degree of seperation.

    This is all just my own theory though

  41. What about a weak, shy character that turns into a badass, eventually becoming somewhat evil, making a mistake and seeing the error of their ways, unlocking something to support the character development and then finishing the story, becoming a hero and saving everything. (minus the way too powerful universe overlord stuff leaving room for imagination)
    how does that sound
    im trying to make a good character

  42. I just wish I could afford an illustrator. I have my favorite female character being my own creation based my own experiences and a little contributed from my gf but my stories work better as comics or shows DX

  43. I totally agree with you on the idea of just a few female character tropes. I also agree about beauty. I’m sick of seeing a girl being bullied in high school while being perfectly beautiful. I can’t relate to any of this and it annoys me! Media makes me feel even more like an outcast as a girl for having to deal with acne, dry skin, and unusual, puffy hair. In a world where movies are constantly striving to have teens relating to them, I’m seeing a lot of “pretty white girl hates on barely less pretty white girl because bullying is relatable”.

  44. This video had me thinking about my WIPs characters and I realised they all share at least one thing in common with me or personality trait as I do. I've basically split my own personality and interests into multiple characters and build their personalities up from there. I'm still on the first draft so this may not be the case later on

  45. Honestly thank you for talking about Rei. To me she was the most interesting character in star wars and honestly also was the most interesting protagonists in star wars. The amount of crap I hear about her is honestly dumb because they see her do this stuff like know how to repair the milianum falcon despite not ever seeing the ship in person until then or the whole scene with the Jedi mind trick you mentioned or hell even her whole fight with Kylo Ren. First off yes she may have not been on the Milianum Falcon at all but she is first introduced raiding a broken down ship for parts. It's kinda like asking a mechanic can you drive. You already mentioned how she may have heard about the jedi mind trick stuff and even then everyone in the god damn world knows about it and even then there are even a race of creatures who are immune to them XD. Then her fight with Ren, he was wounded so the fight was already unfair on his end despite being trained by Uncle Luke and plus she knows how to fight cuz her planet wasn't exactly safe so its expected that she knows how to fight. Honestly stop giving rei hate guys she actually is an interesting character.

  46. Strength is not butch.
    Strength is not superpowers.
    Strength is not beauty.
    Strength is not intelligence.
    Strength is not punch.
    Strength is not anger, a combative nature, or attitude.
    Strength is not an indomitable will, or unfailing independence.
    Strength is not winning or succeeding.
    Strength is…
    moving forward when you lack these things. Continuing along when all your aptitudes fail you. Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off when you've been ground into the dirt.
    Strength is the ability lose hard, and recover. Not through narrative fiat, but through genuine effort.
    Strength of character is what is important… not piling on various quantities of "winmore."
    I would even argue that characters that win often are NOT strong. They lack the capacity to be strong, because they never have their abilities tested. Their wills are never bent or broken, and thus they never have to face their limits.
    It was never the fact that Ripley or Leia picked up guns, shouted and scoffed, or bucked authority that made them strong. It was the fact that they had their limits very well defined, and determined to strive for their goals even while fully acknowledging those limits.
    Ripley couldn't kill the aliens herself. She knew she had 0 chance of survival with it in the same room. Time and time again the creatures toyed with her, menaced her, and made clear just how very small she was in comparison to them. So she blew them out the goddamned airlock.
    Leia had no hope of shooting her way out of the carrier on her own and I have no doubt she knew that. She most likely didn't even get out of her cell but for some stroke of providence. But she did whatever she could when the opportunity arose… and the biggest opportunity was latching onto the other morons trying to meat shield their way through the place.
    Strong characters are allowed to lose. Allowed to cry. Allowed to whine and plead. Allowed to grasp at straws and cling to whatever or whoever increases their chance of survival…I only hope one day people will use the word strong to mean something more than just bench pressing heavy things and sneering really hard.

  47. Well, i don't think that there is some sort of "conspirasy theory to under western civilisation", i just think that Rey was not that good. Even Anakin, the space jesus only had instinctual prediction of future, while Rey somehow managed to pull of a mindtrick.

  48. Well I think Sakura from danganronpa was written well, she looks tough (and is tough); but she has a really sweet heart,(spoilers)

    even though she was the traitor among the group she felt guilty about it, she cares enough about her friends to the point where she sacrificed herself for their survival. A good female character in my opinion.

  49. 2:30 So if you get locked up in a prison cell and get a lockpick, you would immediatly be able to get out of the cell without experience, trials and errors just because you heard you could do this? That's pretty much what Rey did.

  50. A Mary Sue is a character for which the story and plot bends so that they can look good and do what they need to do. It's bad and lazy writing, nothing more. Respact wamen and mans by giving them background stories that makes sense, and show how they change themselves and their society through struggle, and don't waste our time with characters who just blast all obstacles aside with their awesomeness and never have to learn real hard lessons.

  51. Disliked, you discredit yourself by saying you can't see how Rey is a Mary Sue, someone who was born on a desert planet yet knows how to sail a skip on water??? She knows everything for no reason, she beats Luke and Kylo Renn 3 whole times even though she's never been trained. Luke Skywalker at least went through a struggle, was defeated multiple times, lost his hand and his friends, and only just won. Rey gets everything handed to her. You're a fucking moron OSP

  52. Also with girls; the best friend, either really boring, boy crazy but her & the friend she is best friends with are nerds, or very protective of her friend (usually girl protaginist)

  53. I'm a new writer and I'm loving your channel but in the middle of me taking you seriously your "comment" section edits make me cackle and laugh and honestly I love your channel thank you for the help and the laugh 🙈

  54. Rei is just poorly written and develops a set of abilities in mere seconds that she never had an ounce of training with. I doubt she grew up listening to a lot of Jedi stories. Those stories wouldn't have told her how any of the powers worked, so she would have no idea how to do any of it.

    People can like her, but she was just a poorly written character that should have been left behind. Seriously, she spends more time trying to get away from the story and everyone else is dragging her along. At the end it looks like she just wants Luke to come back and deal with shit.

  55. It's worth noting, at least with female characters on TV or movies, is to just develop a character or motivation, and let the actor/actress breathe a little life into it. Kaitlin Olson said that when she was first hired for It's Always Sunny, she was a different character, more of the 'come on guys' type character. She went to Rob and Glenn, and asked why she had to be that type. They said they didn't know how to write a female character (basically). She said, just just write a funny character, and I'll add the 'female' parts. Thus Sweet Dee was born.

    Like many commenters are pointing out, just start with an interesting character, who happens to be female. Give us a reason to like the character, and it won't matter who they are.

  56. My two favorite strong female protagonists, who are kind of a study in opposites, are Honor Harrington and Isabella Camherst. Both are from literature (Honor Harrington by David Weber, and Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan), and try as I might, I can't seem to describe them in a comment section without doing them a disservice. Suffice to say that both are brave, clever and honorable, and that other than those three traits they are almost completely different.

  57. The scene where rey mind-tricks a storm trooper is mentioned. I might be the only one, but she did it on her second attempt, without any kind of gesture (focus), this is a skill that took a very long time to learn, and even obi-wan in episode 4 had to gesture. I do know that actions are not completely necessary, but they give the jedi something to focus on, making it easier.

  58. Honestly, thanks. I needed to hear this stuff. I'm an artist and a writer who is female, yet it wasn't until I found this video that I realized why all my female characters we're so similar. For example, the lawful evil sister of my main character. She was unique enough, but I couldn't figure out why I had trouble separating her from the main character. That's because being pretty was a part of the main character, but it wasn't a big deal for her sister, considering she covered up most of her face. Your video helped be realize that in the scenes where you could see her, she didn’t need to be pretty. So I made it that she was notably average compared to the main character. And she felt complete. So thank you for opening my eyes, keep making videos!

  59. Not sure where this one went. What was the verdict? I think the problem might be in trying to assign women to tropes after the fact, when the writer may not have had that trope in their head.

    And for the record, the reason more women aren't "strong" in fiction is that… women aren't strong. Physically, speaking, women half roughly 70% of the muscle strength of men for body mass.
    The world record for snatch lifting for a 76 kg woman is 124 kg (273 lbs), and the world record for clean & jerk for a 76 kg woman is 156 kg (343 lbs). Compare that to a snatch (168 kg or 370 lbs) and clean & jerk (198 kg or 436 lbs) for a 73 kg man, and it's clear that, pound for pound, men are simply stronger. In order to find women whose records beat the world records for the smallest category of men (55 kg), you have to look at women who are literally MORE than 30 kg (66 lbs) heavier.

    Women are simply not physically up to MANY fictional archetypes, not because there aren't good writers willing to take up the task, but because women simply CANNOT believably fill those roles. She can't be the Lancer. She can't be the Strongman. She'd get crushed, UNLESS… she were fighting another woman. Put the best MMA female fighter in the ring with the best MMA male fighter, and the female fighter is going to be leaving in the back of an ambulance.

    If you look around you and see a woman that could take on Mike Tyson, you let me know, but when I look around me, I can see more women that couldn't change a tire on their own, let alone brush themselves off after being suplexed or break out of an arm lock. Statistically speaking, women are shorter, lighter, and have much lower upper body strength, which means that for ANY physical role (or trope), there are simply a dozen men more capable for every woman available to fill that niche.

    So that's why women aren't seen in many of those roles. It's not prejudice or bigotry. It's just cold, hard reality.

    Also, Rey is a "Mary Sue". Taking the "well she heard these stories" is kind of bullcrap. She was stuck on a desert planet. What stories? Granted, I haven't bothered to see the movie, so I don't know if it was established that she "grew up hearing stories about the Jedi". Regardless, the problem isn't that she was trying out things she may or may not have heard about, it's that she did all of these things without failure, setback, or, most importantly… embarrassment. A Mary Sue is never embarrassed. Rey was never embarrassed. Rey is a Mary Sue.

    One final point…

    Feminine =/= "Weak". A woman can be true to her emotional states, embrace her femininity, and still be "strong", without trying to push into "traditionally male roles". I think the issue here is the pedantic need to pigeon hole characters into tropes. Strong female characters abound in fiction, mythology, and religion. They are rarer, simply in certain contexts. In battle stories, there are FEW "strong female characters", because of the reasons I pointed out above. In romantic comedies and drama, strong female characters abound, so maybe the problem that you're having isn't a scarcity of "strong female characters" but of focusing on one genre of fiction or unrealistic expectations of women taking roles for which no one would believe in their competence.

    In The Matrix (1999), the character Trinity is "a badass", because the Matrix isn't real. She takes the back seat, however, because she isn't "the one". The Matrix COULD have believably had a woman "messiah"… and "Trinity" could have fit in nicely with their religious theme. Missed opportunity.

  60. Woah, thank you so much for the truthful and inspirational video. I was actually in the middle if writing something and was experiencing a block, when I watched your video and you really helped me sort out the issue I was having! So thank you again.😊

  61. Rei is Mary Sue
    M – self inserted
    a – no goal
    r – no meaning
    y – immense powers out of nowhere
    S – hastily written
    u – MC replacement
    e – enough said

  62. WAIT! The first female character Red wrote, that looks like a first draft of Alinua for her Aurora webcomic. I can’t believe I missed that!

  63. Joice from stranger things is like the best female character, shes a badass, a mom, a smart cookie, a lover, and not gonna loe shes kindda cute.

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