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Author Topic: Strong Protagonists  (Read 728 times)

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Offline RaveledTopic starter

Strong Protagonists
« on: December 04, 2009, 12:28:13 PM »
They're arguing this in the SB as I post.  Heheheh.

Video games get a lot of guff from a certain segment of society for being very much a boy's club.  Many of the big-name developers are male, most recognizable heroes are male, and in general females only seem to exist in video games to a.) give heroes a reason to fight or b.) be oogled over by the fans.  On occasion you get a female protagonist, but all too often they end up just like Lara Croft, another in a long line of pixels to be drooled over.

I was having this conversation with a friend and she bemoaned that there were absolutely no female protagonists that a young girl could look up to.  I came up with three off the top of my head: Faith from Mirror's Edge, Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, and Samus Aran from the Metroid series.  My friend agreed with me on Jade, but she argued that Faith and Samus could be replaced by men without the game changing much.

Her point was basically that, when a strong female protagonist acts like a man, there simply isn't any difference than having a strong male protagonist.  I'm wondering what Elliquiy thinks: if a female protagonist is masculine, is it effectively the same as having a male protagonist?

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 04:08:42 PM »
Her point was basically that, when a strong female protagonist acts like a man, there simply isn't any difference than having a strong male protagonist.  I'm wondering what Elliquiy thinks: if a female protagonist is masculine, is it effectively the same as having a male protagonist?

Personal opinion?  I agree with her.

The issue is that we need to define 'strength' for each gender.  What makes a man look like a 'strong' protagonist is actually quite different than what makes a woman a strong one.

There are two major stereotypes for us men:

A)  The Masterless Man:  Exemplified by Robert E. Howard's Conan the Cimmerian and other lone hero types, this is a man who surmounts all challenges on his own, whether they be brawn, brains or sheer luck, he perseveres all on his own needing no one.

B)  The Captain:  The leader of men, the King, the Commander.  This archetype is on top of the heap, often the type that clawed, fought and earned his position, he now looks over a group of other fellows and is admired and loved by them as he leads them to prosperity in some fashion.

Admittedly there are others but these two are the most common in adult (As opposed to Adult) literature.\

To be honest, I have no idea what sort of female protagonists need to be considered 'strong' by other women.

Offline Cold Heritage

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2009, 01:25:00 AM »
Why would a Masterless Woman be any less strong a protagonist than a Masterless Man? Succeeding through one's own merits without recourse to the aid of an outside agent or agency is meritorious for males or females, isn't it?

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2009, 01:38:52 AM »
Actually, no.  Because that's what we're getting as 'strong' women, and which most women don't identify with for the most part.

Offline Cold Heritage

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2009, 01:44:40 AM »
Most women don't identify with a woman succeeding based on her own talents and skills?

Offline Scribbles

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2009, 04:18:00 AM »
Iím not quite sure I understand. So she's saying that if the protagonist for a story could interchange between a man and a woman with no foreseeable difference that it somehow equates to the female protagonist not coming off as a good role model? Or is she not comfortable with the idea of a woman accomplishing feats she finds difficult to relate to?

If itís the latter, I feel I need to point out that I could hardly imagine most of the gaming couch potatoes I've seen performing any of the acts that the protagonists do, regardless of gender.  ;)

Admittedly, I watch more than actually participate in most of these games so if Iím missing something then forgive my ignorance.  :P
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 04:20:34 AM by Scribbles »

Offline Jude

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 06:59:44 AM »
I think a certain portion of human behavior has been misattributed to masculinity because it was classically shown by males:  i.e. certain shades of ambition, willpower, etc.  And so often when people think that female protagonists are acting "masculine" I think it's part of the sex stereotypes that have been perpetuated by traditionally paternalistic cultures.  I'm not usually one to cry sexism, but I truly believe that if a woman has a certain degree of independence and doesn't ascribe to various cliches then they tend to be painted as mannish and labeled all sorts of negative traits to the detriment of their femininity.  I hate to say this because it's such a classic feminist line, but I think a lot of men are "intimidated" by ambitious, intelligent women.

How this ties back to the question at hand is, I don't think that just because a "strong female protagonist" can be often transplanted for a male protagonist means that the female is poorly written, etc.  Quite to the contrary, I think gender differences are often overblown, and if the plot is good enough it shouldn't hinge on the sex of the main character at all.

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Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2009, 09:23:14 PM »
Like hell you could take Samus out of Metroid without it changing much! It's just not the same! If they had used a male lead then it would have been generic! It was the first big shock of video games! It's paramount! Plus there is nothing hotter than women in fully, self contained, power armor.... >,>

EDIT: You'd end up with freaking Halo (Which I will defend to my death is just puzzleless Metroid with testosterone.)
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 09:25:18 PM by Inkidu »

Online Silk

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2009, 11:58:06 PM »
Then by the same regard you could take most males and just swap it with females and have no major baring on the plot. And most games these days tend to have customizable main characters anyway unless there is some particular gimmick involved. And many characters are often overlooked anyway, look at the two female ninjas from the tenchu series, having their own game's etc. Then there is stuff like Final fantasy x-2.

If anything constant males can be seen as a insult to guys depending on the game. I mean its stereotyping guys as bad evil bla bla since its almost allways a guy as a villain. In combat based games its implying these flat two dimensional male characters that are only good for smacking heads together is the general norm. Just saying a woman is fighting for the sheer hell of it and is doing all this bad shit for no real reason besides being that way.

 Just isn't going to work, the reason why males is the default options is largely because a woman would need explanation for their reasons or it will not be accepted, whereas they can take the male option doing things a man does and it doesn't really need any real explanation, since those gosh darn males are allways out to destroy the world amirite?

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Strong Protagonists
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2009, 01:58:35 AM »
Most women don't identify with a woman succeeding based on her own talents and skills?

That's what men identify with.  I have no idea if women do or don't.  I am not speaking for them because I am not a woman.  That's what I'm saying.