For those somehow fortunate enough to have missed it, the context for this rant is this flowchart
, on Jezebel, that purports to be a critique of the stereotypes female characters fall into when they are not written strongly. But when you look at the chart, and see characters like Zoe from Firefly, Ripley from Alien, Sailor Moon coded as only the adorable clutz, Nyoto Uhura
coded as "Useless Girl", among others, including putting on two real life women (minority women, of course) as examples of fictional tropes, it's hard to consider it a valid critique of stereotypes. It reads more like a straightforward bashing of all female characters because they don't meet an invisible, unstated standard of what it means to be strong.
There are people out there who are already doing a fantastic job of picking apart all the ways this fails on gender and race issues. Here are a couple good links
to get you started.
What I'm going to talk about for a bit here, is that weasel-word, strong. Because when it comes to bashing female characters in media, it seems to be the best excuse ever for saying you don't like any female characters. They're not strong enough. Never mind that a lot of fandom's favorite male characters are written with the exact same levels of "strength" or depth.
When I talk about a strong female character, I mean a character with goals and interests which are not just about the male characters' goals. And I mean a character with agency, who acts in some way for herself and her stated goals in the process.
So Zoe, who fought in the war against Unification because she believed it was wrong, who is loyal, but questioning, towards Mal, who loves her husband, but still lives her own life, who will go on after losses, she's a strong character.
Tuskino Usagi, the clumsy crybaby who hates fighting and isn't good at school, but who still gets up every day, who still fights to save others, the girl who is the protagonist for her series and who saves the universe with the power of love
, unironically, is a strong character. As are all of her teammates and friends. The weakest character, development-wise, is her boyfriend, Mamoru.
Kathryn Janeway, the scientist turned Captain, who stands off against the Kazon and the Borg through the power of coffee, the pool shark who turns around and embroiders a blanket for the newborn Naomi Wildman, the warm compassionate woman who suffered from bouts of depression and guilt, who made some brilliant decisions, and some bone-headed mistakes, she's a strong character. Not always the most consistently written one, but still strong and engaging.
B'Elanna Torres, the woman struggling to accept all of who she was, the brilliant engineer with some raging insecurity issues, who learned how to lead on the fly, but apparently does an excellent job of it, who gradually learns how to trust others and accept herself, she's a strong character.
Nyoto Uhura, the character who could have been so much more had the networks and producers allowed it, still sat there every day doing her job competently. She had interests in music and art, pursued her career, and in the books and later movies got more and more of a chance to shine. In the new movie, it's overshadowed by the other, action-oriented, crowning moments of awesome, but she pulls off some fantastic bits of translation on the go with no problems. Anyone who's ever tried to learn more than one language can tell you how hard that can be, and she does it with grace.
Marguerite Krux, from The Lost World, a woman who doesn't know anything about where she came from, who wants so much to know who she is. Who doesn't hesitate to lie or seduce someone to achieve her goals, who spends most of the first two seasons of the show getting used to the idea that people might help her with no hidden agenda. Who is a hero, even when she keeps it secret. She's a strong character, even as a character they added in just to make it not be all a bunch of guys.
Joan Girardi, from Joan of Arcadia, who has enough going on in her life without adding "talks to God" to her resume. She's occasionally thoughtless and self-obsessed, she'd far prefer to just be a normal popular girl, but she grows so much, and she keeps trying when it's hard. She's a strong character.
And there's dozens more I could be listing, like Kate, Ziva, and Abby from NCIS, Susan Ivonova and Delenn from Babylon 5, 95% of the female characters in Harry Potter that get more than one line, Kaylee, Inara, and River from Firefly, Buffy, Willow, Tara, Dawn, Anya and Joyce from Buffy, and so on and so forth down the line.
So you know what, makers of that flowchart?
Fuck you, she's awesome. They all are.