1. I mostly agree. I haven’t seen Captain Marvel yet, so I don’t know what I think of the show itself, but it seems like it’s partly going to be judged based on the controversy surrounding it.

    But, yes, evaluating these things takes a lot of nuance. One thing for me is that when people set out to make a feminist icon in mainstream media just for the sake of it, the char carries a large risk of coming out so so at best. That can be a bit insulting. (I’m supposed to look up to/identify with THIS?)

    Some of the best female chars I’ve seen are ones that are just themselves, and do a better job of representing women even without being written for the sake of feminism. Lots of anime chars are like this. Like…Natalia from Fate Zero probably had around two episodes of screen time at the most, and it didn’t really go into her backstory(those episodes were about Kiritsugu). But she was strong and cool and her story as Kiritsugu’s mentor/mother figure was tragic and touching. She was keenly aware that she wasn’t the perfect person to raise him, but she sure tried her best. Also, Kiritsugu was an amazing assassin, and Natalia taught him everything she knew and was never sidelined during the process. Kiritsugu is pretty much a living testament to Natalia’s skill.

    It feels kind of weird for people to act like Captain Marvel and other such chars are the ones women ‘need’. Maybe fifty years ago she would have been better than nothing, and maybe she isn’t a horrible character, but she probably isn’t an amazing or revolutionary one, so it’s odd for people to act like she is or supposed to be.

    Honestly, there have been a lot of guy chars that I’ve ‘needed’, or at least identified with, a lot more than the female ones. And that is because their personalities and struggles resonated with me a lot more. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be strong female chars, because they definitely should be there. But I don’t like it when people make a cardboard cutout feminist char and then uphold it as someone everyone needs to like and root for. Especially when there’s a subtle message that says ‘this is exactly how all women think, feel and maybe should behave’.

  2. notleia says:

    Complementarianism = patriarchy with a insufficient coat of whitewash on it.

    If men become weak when women are more proactive, it’s because those men are sad sacks of dick.

    Okay, that’s a bit mean (or a lot mean, but is it untrue?), but it’s the same reaction I have for manbabies who act like their weeners will fall off if they wash a dish or do their own laundry. Yeah, it’s upsetting when you have to do this thing you didn’t expect to have to learn or want to do, but guess what, cupcakes, the definition of a functional adult is someone who can learn and adapt to these kinds of situations. If you want to pay someone to do it for you, that’s a workable solution, but don’t pretend like domestic labor isn’t labor. Pay the eff up.

    • Yeah. People need to learn to be adults, though I wouldn’t only blame complementarianism, especially since there’s different forms of it.

      People kind of also underestimate the human need to be active/have aspirations in life. Some men might not rise to the occasion/fight if they see women fighting, but most of them won’t factor that into their decisions much. People often do things because they want to, not necessarily because they’re easy.

      Or, men could even be encouraged to fight by the women in their lives (think about guys who were raised by strong single mothers or something). And regardless of how many women become soldiers and cops and whatnot, there are still going to be men that take an interest in that stuff and sign up.

    • Travis Perry says:

      While I have waged rhetorical war when I thought it was important (which may have been far more often than when it really was important) I think the use of insults is generally bad. If you would not want a woman to be called cupcakes, don’t call a man that. I don’t think treating people badly is the real road to equality.

      • notleia says:

        “Cupcakes” is something that a TV drill instructor would use because they can’t drop f-bombs onscreen. “Cupcake” is on the low end of insults thrown around the internet.

        But it’s rather unrealistic to pretend like people who have to put up with clueless dudes are going to have infinite patience about it. Clueless dudes have often traded on their cluelessness to manipulate their way out of doing emotional labor.

        • Travis Perry says:

          Let’s cut to the heart of the matter instead of focusing on particular words. You believe in “punching up,” a modern notion linked to social justice concepts in which groups afforded with privilege are fair game for (verbal) attack, especially from groups with less privilege. Just because of who they are, but doubly so (or more) if they misbehave.

          I believe in an ancient notion often called the Golden Rule, which the Bible phrases as “love your neighbor as yourself.” I believe that even though it’s necessary to combat certain actions (and words), while doing so we should avoid, as much as humanly possible, being sarcastic or insulting about it.

          It does not matter to me so much what results the Golden Rule produces, since I’m looking at it as a duty (deontological) rather than a means to an end (teleological). Yet I think routine attacks on other groups as in “punching up” invites counterpunching and raises tensions. I think leading with kindness is generally better.

          That’s what I was trying to express in regard to your tone. Yes, I agree many men need to grow up. I just think it’s better to say so kindly if possible.

          • notleia says:

            That’s nice, I guess, but I’m feeling this like at my retail job when we get another email from middle management telling us to smile more. I’m not taking their opinion very seriously when they don’t have to deal with the brunt of the reality.

  3. Travis Perry says:

    I appreciate your balanced approach here. Yes, there are many topics concerning which being too extreme either way is a mistake and the proper relationship between men and women is one of them.

    I think the excess that would concern me in the direction of feminism would be to imply all women are in fact superior to all men by every meaningful metric. Captain Marvel (which I haven’t seen), could perhaps be viewed as saying that /because/ she is a woman, she is the stongest. Which of course would not make sense, but I think is a belief some feminists hold whether they say so openly or not (female superiority).

    I think a real concern in storytelling stems from a level of ire about women being portrayed as weaker than men (in any sense) by some feminists. Which may lead to a push to have women characters without any vulnerabilities. And people without any vulnerabilities tend to be at least a little boring.

    Part of the problem with our culture is we come from ancient warrior traditions that still shape our world view. Often in the stories that permeate our culture, the power to physically fight is treated as inherently more important than the power to show kindness and build someone up. But it isn’t.

    As Christians, while we are inheritors of an Old Testament that shows an active warrior culture and even shows that God can be a warrior (and even our humble Christ will return with an army of heaven), we know, or should know, that war is aberrant. In sharp contrast to an evolutionary perspective, which puts a fight for survival as the driving engine of the process that created all life, we know God is capable of creating without a battle. We know our world is full of conflict, but that’s because we inhabit a cursed universe, a universe cursed because of sin.

    Likewise, while war is a real necessity, it is a necessity because of human evil that forces otherwise kind-hearted people to take up arms in defense of those who are weak. Neither men nor women were intended to be at war in God’s original plan. Yet sometimes each gender is forced to fight.

    Did God create men and women different from one another? Clearly yes. The most obvious difference–no man can ever bear a child.

    Are men on average better than women at war? Let’s see: men are generally physically stronger, can pee standing up (this is an real advantage in harsh combat environments), don’t need menstrual supplies, and can’t get pregnant (being pregnant is of course a liability for any extreme physical activity). Men are also somewhat more expendable, because a society can survive better with a higher ratio of women to men rather than the other way around. Yep, in general, men are better suited for war.

    Yet there are exceptions to that. Some women are exceptionally couageous, clever, physically fit. Some women are great shooters and some are great pilots. Some are great strategists. I see no reason to deny women able to fight the right to fight. But keep in mind that war sucks, so going off to battle is hardly a privilege.

    I personally would appreciate more superhero stories that emphasize strength other than physical strength…

What do you think?