My Problem With The Strong Woman Hoax

There’s the token black guy, the token gay guy, the token this, the token that.
We see them all the time – after all, it’s politically correct to let them crawl into our TV shows.
I wish there was a Token-hunter somewhere, sort of like a vampire hunter.

The particular token that’s got it out for me this time is the token strong female.
Come on, you know her.
The female character that fights alongside the hero. She’s there to make women everywhere feel represented in the story which is why she’s so bland. The writers try to please our inner feminist.

Even if she only kills minions.
Even if she fails or has to be rescued at all major plot points.
Even if her being in a dress and not pants would change nothing about her character or the plot.

Let’s have an example, shall we? Nothing better than the average B-movie to show it.

In ”Jack the giant slayer” we meet Jack, a farmboy, who gets his hands on some magical beans that grow into the sky, accidentally taking the princess with it. He now has to go with the king’s men to save her from the giants whilst fighting off the evil guy who wants to control the giants with an ancient crown.

They want us to believe that the princess is a strong woman.

She wants to rule the land well, so she goes out to get to know the people.
She tells her father off and goes into the city though he forbids her. “According you all that matter is marrying a kind,” she says.
She wants to marry for love.
Later we even see her clad in armor. Sassy.

But that doesn’t make her strong.
(In fact, I think it would show great strength in her if she was willing to marry out of duty for the best of the people. That’s the whole responsibility part of being royalty, y’know … No upsides without downsides.)

The princess tells her father she wants to marry for love

At first I didn’t have a problem with her. I mean, she’s a fine motivation for Jack, though he’s only spoken with her for a short conversation, but, y’know, whatever …
I’ve watched too many bad romantic comedies to let that stop me.

But then:
– She’s taken to the sky by the bean stalk and trapped in giants land. Instead of climbing back down to safety she “goes on adventure” with no real motivation though common sense should strike and convince her that more things are at stake than a dull afternoon and she should get her ass to safety.

– She’s taken hostage by the giants and is then rescued by Jack.

– When a giant stands in the way between them and the bean stalk home the men solve the problem while she hides behind a rock.

– On the climb down the bean stalk the king decides they have to cut it down before giants attack. When the bean stalk falls she hangs onto Jack while he saves them.

– Once reunited with her father she is clad in armor. What a strong woman! Damn!
And then the giants attack and they flee and when they go to get the magical crown Jack, again, has to rescue her. She doesn’t even throw a stone at the giants barring their way. She doesn’t distract them or lead them into a trap or something.

– In the end Jack comes out holding the crown and PUTS IT ON HIS HEAD. The giants bow to him and that’s the end. Everybody’s happy. She marries him.

He becomes king.

Yes, I know that he’s the main character. But it really doesn’t make sense that he puts the crown on his head.
Why not her?
It’s her crown.

Do you see how she might as well have been wearing a gown this entire movie? She did nothing. Didn’t even give us a wee little self sacrifice, as a hero should.
And if they hadn’t clad her in armor I wouldn’t have given it much thought, but they were trying so hard to make her scream “I’m strong; I can take care of myself” that it hurt my brainz.

These hoax strong women melt my spleen because people celebrate them when there’s really nothing to celebrate them for. But dress a woman up in armor and give her a sword and she won’t have to do much before people accept her as a strong woman.

I’ll take the opportunity to mention Sansa Stark. She gets a bad rep for being too “girly” yet she’s way stronger than this fiddly princess.
Just because she’s girly doesn’t mean she’s not strong.

So she likes dresses, so she fell in love with a jerk prince (she soon fell OUT of love with him), she likes fairy tales.
Well, find a woman who doesn’t like cool/pretty/sassy clothes, hasn’t loved a jerk or someone that wasn’t good for them and who doesn’t like to sometimes imagine things will work out in the end.

Sansa has survived the death of her family. She’s held hostage. Each day is about survival for her. If she speaks out of place she’ll be hit. Not just a slap. She’ll get freaking bruises.
She’s been threatened with death and rape.
Yet she survives.

Granted, Sansa is also a pretty inactive character, but in this case it doesn’t make her weak as her survival comes from her being passive. The more she does the less likely she is to survive. Sansa’s strength comes from being able to bide her time.

I’m tired of being told these hoax strong women should be my idols.
They don’t represent me and make me feel like the world thinks I’m a child who can’t do anything since the writers believe I should feel represented.
I would like some characters with strength, with personalities, with actions that have consequences.

So here’s a call out to some strong female characters that I love:

Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire)
Raven from Teen Titans
Azula and Toph from Avatar the Last Airbender
Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica
Joan and Peggy from Madmen

None of them are perfect. But then, no great character is.

How do you feel about hoax strong women and token characters in general? Which character has angered you the most? Which characters do you love?

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