The Real Problem With Female Versions of Male Characters

It’s not because “it takes away from the original”. It’s not that “the story will be twisted to be about love and fashion instead of its core principles”, though that’s probably true given how the entertainment industry – and everyone else – think that’s all women care about and thus will only cater those two topics to us.

No, the inherent problem with making a spin-off with gender-bended characters is that, once again, the female is thought of as “the other”.
There’s Hulk and there’s SHE-Hulk.
There’s Spiderman and there’s Spiderwoman.
There’s Captain America and there’s American Dream.

The issue is, as Simone De Beavour states in her book “the other sex”, that while men are defined by themselves, women are defined in comparison to the men surrounding them.
This means that a female human being is not measured singularly but by what it is compared to other men.

This theory is outdated, to be sure, as women and men have come a lot closer since the 1930’s, but in fiction this still holds to be true. Women are constantly asked to put themselves in the place of men while men watch few female characters.

In order for real equality to be established not just women should watch empowered women but men must also come running to the screen.
And by empowered women I mean, of course, those who can take care of themselves and will deal with their problems in a real way instead of always going to some helper.

So why even make female versions of the male characters? In my opinion it waters out the male as there’s two of him instead of one now.
Why not make awesome female characters that have no counterpart?
Raven
Starfire
Wonderwoman

Unfortunately the list doesn’t go much further and Starfire, as far as I can see, is rapidly becoming a pure sex object in the New 52.

Of course, as blogger Janna points out, it’s a gimmick. Genderbending can be fun and even liberating. We can show that gender/race/ability doesn’t really matter – story and character is what matters.
But it goes without saying that there’s a general difference in the treatment of men and women as they grow up (for good and bad) and this will affect character.
Again, this could be an awesome opportunity to show how a character would be different but still the same in another gender, but most times this ends up being quite stereotypical changes.

Men can definitely enjoy female characters. I know for a fact that the two most popular characters in Avatar the last Airbender among male viewers are Toph and Azula, both very strong female characters.
Men should have the opportunity to enjoy female characters.
It is degrading to assume they can’t and condescending not to let them.

What are your thoughts on female versions of male characters? Do you know some good cases or some bad ones? Which female characters do you know of that have strong personality? Do you agree that men don’t watch as many (real) female characters?

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