Carrie Laben (teratologist) wrote,

Note to Universe

It's 2007. Having female characters that open their mouths from time to time and/or are capable of exerting a certain amount of physical and/or magical force does not make feminists of the following:

J.K. Rowling
Anne McCaffery
Robert Jordan
Fill In Your Example Here

On a related note, I've noticed something interesting about the 'role model' conversation (besides the way it inevitably goes in a pretty downward-spirally pattern like a nautilus with a bad meth habit.)

As soon as you start talking about the desirability of more female (or poc, or gay, etc.) role models, there tends to be an assumption on the part of readers/responders that the purpose of such characters would be to act as role models for children or adolescents who are themselves female (or etc.) Then someone female (etc.) helpfully comes along and explains that THEY never never had any trouble identifying with heteronormative white boy characters as a kid and doesn't thinking that girls (etc.) can only identify with people like themselves actually patronize girls (etc.)? And the counter to this is almost always that someone ends up denying someone else's sincerely felt experience, which gets read as an accusation of false consciousness, and then we end up with a who's-more-feminist(etc.)-than-who argument and then, you know, big snail with a meth habit time.

But another vitally important, yet almost never discussed, virtue of female (etc.) role models is that they give actual real-life heteronormative white boys a chance to identify with someone who is UNlike themselves in what society persists in alleging is a pretty vital way. Of COURSE it's no problem if girls (etc.) identify with Harry Potter. But if you want to see someone be, shall we say, actively discouraged, check in when a boy admits identifying with a female character (etc.) Why do we patronize the poor heteronormative white boys so, instead of challenging them to identify with Unlike characters?

Please. Think of the heteronormative white boys.
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