Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stereotyped Strong Female Characters with Moffat

images Copy Write BBC
I am a big fan of Doctor Who and Sherlock. Both of which are shows that involve Steven Moffat. I find that Moffat is talented in coming up with brilliant ideas however the execution and writing of them do not turn out as well as they could. I am in some ways a fan of him because of that brilliance, but that does not mean I don't have some big issues with some of his writing. In particular his writing of women and so called "strong female characters."

I have chosen the compare four of his most well known strong female characters: Amy Pond, River Song, Irene Adler, and Clara Oswald. Please know that while I am strongly criticizing these characters I have a very strong love for several of them. Particularly Amy Pond(read my post) and River Song. One can enjoy and like something and still be critical. 

 Let us start with the one major flaw that unites all of these women. Their characters plot lines all are dependent on male characters. Amy's story is wrapped up in the Doctor from childhood, River was basically born for the Doctor to kill him/marry him. Irene exists to challenge Sherlock Holmes and cause him problems. Irene has no backstory about who she is and where she is from she is solely there for Sherlock Holmes. Clara, oh Clara, you are as the Doctor puts is "his impossible girl" that is all that your character exists for to be impossible to the Doctor, and as Clara says was "born to save the Doctor." All of these strong female characters are not actually strong. If they were strong they would have much more independent stories/lives from the male characters. Their existence in the story would not be to aid the story of the main male character. Rather they would have their own stories and background separate from that of the male characters and their stories would exist not for the male characters but rather as a co-story with them. I think it is significant that Sherlock and the seasons 5-7 of Doctor Who do not do well on the Bechdal test. (Moffat has done much better in season 8) His so called strong Female characters would fall apart if we were to remove the male characters. 

Not only are these characters unable to stand on their own with out the male characters, they also may as well be the same character. River and Irene are both intellectual women who are shown to be able to be on the same level as the intelligent male counter part. They are both geniuses. Strong female characters do not need to be geniuses in order to be strong characters. IQ does not make a strong character. All four women can be considered to have higher than average intelligence, but most especially River and Irene. 

All four of these women are quick witted and all make quips. They all think fast on their feet. They all love the danger and thrive it. You could blend Irene and River together and have a character that would not be inconsistent in anyway. The same could be done with Amy and Clara.These traits that they all share as characters are good traits, but the fact that all of Moffat's major female characters share these traits is a little disturbing. It is like he has the same base for a female character and just adds a little something different to each but at their core they are all the same. They are not individuals.

Moffat seems to have this stereo typed strong female character in his head. His idea of a strong female character is a women who has a high IQ, can keep up with the male characters, loves danger, thinks fast, can make quips, and have witty dialogue. That is not what makes a strong female character. Strong female characters are women who are all unique have strengths and weaknesses. They have an independent story. Strong female characters are like normal women. They don't need to be larger than life(though certainly those larger than life characters are enjoyable). They don't need to stand out in a crowd. They just have to be themselves. Women are diverse in so many ways and the strong women of today are not all the same. Strong female characters in media should be just as diverse. 

Moffat does not know how to create strong female characters. He only knows how to create archetypes of characters that are based on stereotypes/what he thinks these archetypes should be. His so called strong female characters lack the verity in characteristics and basically no character independence thereby making them not true strong female characters. Strong female characters are well developed characters, unique personalities, unique characteristics, are very much like women you meet in real life, and have no story line dependence on the male characters.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Being Body Positive in a Victoria's Secret World

I am sure every girl out there struggles with their body image. I have,do, and will probably for the rest of my life. It seems to be our lot in life as a girls to constantly worry about our image, which is a product of society and culture that tells us our entire worth is derived from how hot, sexy, and sexually appealing we look. We are constantly bombarded with media and ads that tell us if we use this makeup brand, or this lotion, or this diet, or this what-ever-product we will finally achieve what society has deemed to be beautiful. This is all a lie of course because our natural bodies cannot achieve something that is a) un-achievable for most female bodies and b) completely artificial.

Copy Write of Victoria's Secret
I like to call this the "Victoria's-Secret-Beauty-Image." Why? Because it seems like all their models look perfectly like what Hollywood and the media have set up as the ideal beauty. They are thin, still have larger breasts, and most of all have the sex appeal for men. Which is mostly cause by body type, photo shop, and quite possibly unhealthy dieting.

However not only do we have companies projecting this image of what the ideal beauty is but we see it among stars. I know when I watch television or look at singers I want to see girls whose bodies look like mine however there are hardly any. This ideal image of beauty is so deeply saturated our culture that women who don't fit this mold are forced to change their bodies or are not allowed in to the industry. Why is there a lack of diversity in female body type? And when and actress is more "normal" sized she is ridiculed by the media as "fat." These messages trickle down very far and to the very young.

Photoshop is something that has become so common in changing how people look in the pictures that are used. Many people have commented on how unrealistic the changes that are make are. When a person looks nothing like their picture in a magazine there is something wrong. When we change them to look nothing like themselves we tell people that they are not beautiful the way that they are. That they are lacking and must be changed.

Me senior year of highschool and me sophomore year of college.

I was already concerned about my weight and tummy by the time I was at least 9. At the age of 12 I finally realized that the "Victoria's-Secret-Body" was quite frankly unattainable for my body. I could lose so much weight to the point of being unhealthy and still not attain it. Short of having multiple surgeries involving completely changing my bone structure and body it was completely impossible. I am just not built to look like that.

Once I had reached this conclusion I decided to just move on there was nothing I could do about. I think my personality of "just-get-over-it-and-move-on" is beneficial for me in this place. However, I could certainly have chosen to obsess about it let it press down on me. There are so many girls out there who struggle with body image who don't deal well with it. Young girls realize very early that there are expectation on their body and how they should look. I still struggle though. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wish that I could just somehow magically lose the fat in my stomach and thighs. Sometimes when I am out shopping I look at pictures and start to make a list in my head about how I don't look like them. I know when I go cloths shopping I don't like to admit that I can't wear a size small in any brand.

I can't say that there is any true solution to becoming body positive. I can give some suggestions. Make the choice to want to be body positive. Focus your good things. Document days when you are feeling beautiful to look back on and remind yourself of that feeling. Make a list of things about your body that you see as beautiful and why. Such as "I love my freckles because I think they make me look cute." Little things add up. When I have thoughts about comparing myself to others I try to remember that my body is nothing like their body and comparisons should not be made.

We need more visual images of a diversity of body types. I know there are many movements for this but we need to see so much more. You can all make s difference by supporting companies that do this. We have power as consumers to change the world. We can speak up more about wanting to see better representation and speak out against the use of Photoshop to change a persons body. We also need to be more open and honest about our own body struggles. Let's be honest being body positive in a Victoria's-Secret-World is hard and it sucks.

What are your body positive struggles? How do you combat them?