I FUCKING JUST
what I mean when I say “we need weak female characters,” when I say “we gravitate to the white male characters because they’re people,” when I say “men’s self-loathing is presumed literary while women’s self-loathing is just anti-feminist” —
my first Feminist Awakening was when, at the height of my K/S phase, I was reading a ton of h/c dudeslash and realized that I’d be uncomfortable with reading het of the same nature if the woman were on the receiving end of h/c. because, you know, a man being torn apart and breaking down and needing somebody to soothingly stroke his forehead? fine. a woman in the same situation? OH GOD NO CRINGE.
because we’ve got a threshold of weakness, and women are already presumed weak, so they can’t be made weaker in fiction.
and that’s why we’ve got the tortured complicated daddy-issues white boys who are the stars of the show, and meanwhile the People Like Us are perfectly coiffed, poised, ever-ready with a sassy comeback. the more marginalized demographics, the glossier we’ve got to be, otherwise we’re at risk of MISREPRESENTATION. of being a DISGRACE TO OUR PEOPLE. it’s not spoken, but I feel it, too. we bear the brunt of the “responsible storytelling” myth. can’t be a single stupid woman character, otherwise somebody might think women aren’t smart.
and I just — who the fuck do you THINK we’re going to gravitate to? the characters who look like Examples for us, who are there to assure the world we’re worthy of existing (because People Like Us are only worthy of existence if we’re perfect, goddamn) or the characters we can actually relate to, because in relating to them, we get a taste of power? the power that means you’re allowed to be weak, you’re allowed to be a full, flawed human being?
and I don’t think I’m even mad, anymore.
I forgive fandom for woobifying our clichéd leading men in the efforts to woobify ourselves. I don’t condone disrespect, but I forgive clumsy attempts to wriggle into our own humanity. because it’s goddamn hard to write People Like Us as people, no matter who you are; we’ve got all of society bearing its weight against us.
just be careful, be kind, and take all the narratives of shame and self-loathing and being broken and battered and cared for — take them. we deserve them. take all you can get.