Negative stereotypes about men, for example, can make them uncomfortable and hurt their feelings. This seems to be the most common cause for men’s complaint and a major reason for women’s reluctance even to talk about sexism when men are around. But antimale stereotypes come primarily from women, a subordinate, culturally devalued group that lacks authority in a male-identified, male-dominated, male-centered society. In other words, if the source is a woman, the damage stereotypes can do is pretty much confined to personal hurt (as in making men feel foolish in bed), with little if any effect in the larger world. This is because antimale stereotypes aren’t rooted in a culture that regards maleness itself as inherently dangerous, inferior, ridiculous, disgusting, or undesirable. Such stereotypes can therefore be written off as the bitter ravings of a group beneath being taken seriously.
Antimale stereotypes also can’t be used to keep men down as a group, to lock them into an inferior and disadvantaged status, to justify abuse and violence against them, or to deprive them of fair treatment.” When women refer to men as jerks, for example, they aren’t expressing a general cultural view of men as jerks. If our culture really regarded men as jerks, the population would be clamoring for female presidents, senators, and CEOs. Instead, we routinely look to men for leadership and expertise in every area of social life, whether philosophy, government, business, law, religion, art, science, cooking, or child care.
It always struck me that men actually might benefit from the “bumbling idiot” stereotype. In very many of the dysfunctional heterosexual relationships I’ve observed, men basically only work then come home and do nothing, and women do a majority of the actual work and men use this learned or feigned helplessness to get women to do everything for them. They’re socialized this way, I think. I married this very equality talking, sensitive, feminist-ally, politically correct kind of man and yet the day we got back from our honeymoon, my ex husband suddenly became an infant who no longer knew how to operate an iron, pack a grocery bag, balance the budget, take a pee without splattering the entire bathroom, flush the toilet, cook his own meals, return phone calls, put his own dishes in the sink before they turned moldy, or even drop letters off at the post office.
The bumbling idiot stereotype doesn’t hurt men. Men are not being denied jobs or health care or legal rights because of being seen as bumbling idiots. They benefit from the stereotype because it means that women do everything.
mousesinger (via swordssoarewords)
This mentality starts early, too. My brother, from a young age, learned that if he pretended to suck at everything around the house my mom would just do it for him, or ask my sister and I to do it. So even though he’s actually a very capable guy, he’s learned that as a man he doesn’t have to try very hard because a woman will swoop in and do the stuff he deems unworthy of wasting a lot of attention into learning how to do right. If he were straight and got married to a woman, I’m sure this would be exactly what would happen. (meanwhile, my sister and I get berated when we fail at doing some house chore, and forced to repeat it until we get it right because ‘how are you going to be able to look after yourself if you can’t even iron a pair of jeans’) (via feministcrixus)
Jesus effing Christ, this is my brother in a fucking nutshell. And now I know what it is he is doing. My brother spent two weeks away with other lads a few summers ago and he complained about how messy they were, about how it was gross and disgusting, and he had to clean up after them. And yet, when he’s home, he will leave his plates in the sink, the pots he’s cooked with, for four fucking days.
[TW: misogyny, rape culture]
We all know women can be strong. Us women can wield the big guns like the big boys. We can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan; we can do anything, everything, we can work and have babies and cut the cords with our teeth and then still get up and punch a motherfucker in the face with our brains –
– Yeahno. See, that’s the problem with stereotypes. They contain a grain of truth, sure, but the rest is all melodramatic bullshit.
The usual reaction whenever someone complains about the SFC stereotype is much like what I’m seeing in that io9 article thread: confusion, frustration, and lots of, “But what about [insert favorite badass woman character]? She’s a good character, isn’t she?” Followed by lots of “yeah, but what’s wrong with a woman being sexy and wielding a big phallic symbol?”. The answer is: there’s nothing wrong with it — as long as that’s not the only depiction of women that we’re given. When the grain of truth is all we see, any truth in it becomes a lie.
Thus people begin to believe that the SFC is the only way for a woman to be strong — and they simply stop noticing the many, many other examples of women’s strength around them. They praise Aeryn Sun in Farscape but not Zhaan. They cheer Ripley using a pulse rifle in Aliens, but not Ripley using her brain in Alien. Stereotypes work kind of like brain macros: if [circumstance A] occurs, then run [assumption 1], [assumption 2], and so on. The SFC has programmed us to think “strong” whenever we see a woman with a gun, but not when we see a weaponless woman enduring something that would break another human being. Or we see her, but rationalize away her strength — sometimes until we convince ourselves that it’s something completely different. Strong women would leave an abusive relationship; the ones who stay must be cowards, for example. Or we come up with some other excuse. Even as we’re hit in the face with examples of a woman’s strength across hundreds of different circumstances and in thousands of different expressions, they mean nothing to us. We can’t even see the real strength in real women once we’ve been blinded by the stereotypical strength of the fictional SFC.
And then we hesitate to vote for female politicians if they don’t wield a gun. We justify paying women less because they don’t fight for more — never mind that they shouldn’t have to. We tell women soldiers to suck it up if they’re raped. We expect mothers to be perfect, and career women to “have it all”, and gods help us if we want to be both. We put so much pressure on women in general to live up to so many unrealistic expectations that it’s killing us. And we put the blame for everything women endure because of sexism — differential pay, assault, harassment, the unrealistic expectations in and of themselves — on women, because strong women ought to be able to fix all these problems single-handedly. This absolves men of any responsibility for the system that benefits them.
And thus the Strong Female Character ends up supporting, not subverting, sexism.
N. K. Jemisin - There’s no such thing as a good stereotype
Stereotypes kill. Even the “good” ones. Stereotypes end careers, or prevent them from ever getting started. Stereotypes hide real discrimination, and excuse real violence. Stereotypes change the fate of nations, usually for the worse.
So hit “ESC” on the macro in your head and think, dammit. And the next time you find yourself trying to justify a stereotype, or downplaying a stereotype as “good” stereotype, recognize what it is you’re doing. You’re being a bigoted asshat. You’re killing people and helping to make the world even more fucked-up than it already is. You are the problem.
Now fix it.
media representation is a hell of lot more complicated than just being there.
Is the character a fully actualized person? Or just a mess of stereotypes thrown together?
Is the character defined solely by one aspect of their identity (i.e. are they the gay one? the Black one? the girl?)
Is the character played by an appropriate actor? (See: Rebecca Romijn playing Alexis Meade, a trans woman on Ugly Betty when there are trans women who could have filled that part)
There’s probably a better checklist somewhere but please don’t just think media representation is about a character BEING there.
I’m writing this in a Submit because it was a tad too long to fit in the ask. It may be a bit disjointed, so if you post it, please feel free to edit it / respond as you see fit.
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, the idea of River’s character / River’s bisexuality / etc.
1. Moffat says she’s bisexual, but we don’t see any evidence of it in the show.
2. Moffat says he’s not working towards creating bisexual identity (might be the wrong phrase, what I mean is that tweet from him in response to someone else, from around when he outed her as bi)
3. You can be bisexual without flip-flopping between sexes (i.e. River’s just being with the Doctor doesn’t invalidate her bisexuality)
So I suppose my point or question sort of is - does her sexuality matter? Is it really that important that a bisexual character “fly the bisexual flag,” so to speak? River to me is one of the strongest characters in the show, I feel. You’ve said on multiple occasions that Moffat’s general portrayal of bisexuals as “having too much fun” is offensive, so here’s a bisexual character who’s in a committed relationship. And wouldn’t it be the same if she was outed as bisexual outside the context of the show but was only seen in a relationship with a female?
I suppose my general question is: How important /is/ River’s sexuality to the show in general? We’ve seen that the arc of her story is centered around the Doctor, and doesn’t it make sense then that she’s seen with him?
-Again, sorry if this is jumbled, and I’m sorry if I misunderstood anything you were trying to say before in regards to her character!
Of course, all these points are sort of valid, and everyone is allowed to think whatever they want about the character of River and how she is portrayed. But to me, it’s a matter of having had enough. And I think we’ve covered all of this before, but I will repeat it: River Song as the “flirtatious unreliable bisexual woman” is a trope that is being repeated again and again and again and again and again and again. It’s perfectly fine to have problems with it. No, River’s sexuality isn’t important to she show at large, but when bisexual people have such a hard time to get any visibility in the media at all, it’s really damn annoying when pretty much the little visibility there is turns out to be exactly the same and harmful stereotypes that gives people the completely wrong idea of bisexual people. Go on, give me one example of a bisexual ever who hasn’t been promiscuous, cheating or unreliable. Those characteristics on their own do not always have to be negative, sure, a lot of people are like one or several of those things, but when that’s the ONLY kind of bisexual we see in the media, it gets old pretty quickly.
“We’ve seen that the arc of her story is centered around the Doctor, and doesn’t it make sense then that she’s seen with him?”
This is another thing that we have a problem with and have covered in several posts, the fact that her whole storyline and identity ended up revolving completely around the Doctor is pretty awful. She started out as a cool and independent character, but in the end her whole storyline has been twisted to just revolve around one single man. The fact that her plot revolves around the Doctor is not an argument for only showing her showing any affection or attraction towards the “opposite” sex, it only makes it even more problematic.
Moffat has a history of displaying very little understanding for any sexuality that isn’t heterosexuality, so it’s not a surprise that he keeps getting it wrong. What is frustrating and enraging is when he completely refuses to listen to people who are part of the sexual minorities he insist on including. It’s not difficult getting it right. But he seems more interesting in enforcing harmful stereotypes and using people’s sexualities for cheap laughs and punchlines.
And don’t worry about your post being jumbled, I’m pretty jumbled myself.
I read your post ‘Sherlock Women and Feminism: Irene Adler’, and I agree almost 100%. I’ve already ranted about it myself, so I won’t go into that here, but I’d just like to bring up one thing: River Song’s bisexuality. It shouldn’t /have/ to be stated. Sure, the only person we’ve seen her interact with ~sexually~ is the Doctor, a man [so far] but that hardly…invalidates her bisexuality. I’m biromantic, but have only dated men because where I live is not conducive to same-sex relationships. But that doesn’t mean I’m not actually bi. And, I mean, I doubt you meant to say that in your post, but it did come across that way. And I’m by no means excusing Moffat. I’m just…well, just because one chooses to have relationships with one person doesn’t mean that they weren’t [or can’t be] attracted to others.
submitted by lillianabigailsturm
First of all, I would like to extend an apology for any misunderstandings brought about by that post. In no way were we attempting to invalidate anyone’s sexual identity. And really, our problem with Moffat’s claims that River is bisexual come from his representation of bisexuality and his characterization of River as a whole more than anything else.
On Twitter and on his series Coupling, Moffat presents bisexuality in a way that fetishizes those who identify as bi, and relies heavily on the stereotype that bisexual individuals are too busy having sex to do anything else (or at least that’s how I read, “We don’t acknowledge you on television cos you’re having FAR TOO MUCH FUN. You probably don’t even watch because you’re so BUSY.”)
Also, for the most part I would agree that River’s bisexual identity doesn’t have to be stated for her to be bi. However, River’s character doesn’t work towards queer or bi visibility, and that’s where we take issue. To quote Hallor’s post about Moffat and the twitter mess that occurred surrounding River’s sexual identity, “The problem is that if people need to be told that River is bi to understand it, she clearly isn’t contributing to bisexual visibility. On the whole it’s a prime example of word of god/gay, where a character’s sexuality is announced outside the context of the show. So far I’ve not seen a single queer character of his where their sexuality isn’t used as the punchline to a joke.” [x]
We aren’t trying to say that somebody must be shown participating in relationships with people of different genders in order to identify as bisexual. Our point is that River’s sexuality seems to come as an afterthought, rather than as an important part of her character development.
Bisexuality in Doctor Who and the Queerbaiting Antics of Steven Moffat:
Let’s talk about sex.
Specifically bisexuality. Okay, so there’s more to sexuality than just mashing genitalia together—and what genitalia—which may come as a surprise to you if you’ve just graduated from the Steven Moffat School of Sexxyyyy Ed.
It’s an episode that might look feminist and progressive at first glance (~STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS~), but there are many things that really bothers me about it.
Okay, so Madge succeeds in saving the day and saving the planet and all that, but hang on a tick. She succeeds and is strong but not because of her abilities, but… because she’s a mother. It implies that a woman can only reach her full potential if she becomes a mother. (Also this sort of gender essentialism is super problematic, because being a mother or having a womb isn’t what defines a woman. There are women who can never bear children and there are men who can)
There were jokes about Madge’s bad driving (harmful stereotype, and the idea that women would be worse drivers than men is simply. not. true. If anything, statistics show that women are much safer drivers than men, and that men are the ones who are in accidents the most often)
Also! We’re told that Madge met her husband when he would FOLLOW HER EVERYDAY AND WOULDN’T STOP UNTIL SHE MARRIED HIM! Not cute! It’s stalking!
Feminist Whoniverse has written a couple of really good (and much more eloquent) posts on the episode that you can find here.