Women villains as role models

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/19/women-villains-as-role-models.html


I want that throne as my armchair.


I guess that’s one way of feeling empowered. Thankfully not the only way.


I prefer Ursula. That gal didn’t need some man in a mirror to tell her she was pretty. She may not have had perfect skin or a 24-inch waist but she had one thing all those other witches, queens and stepmothers didn’t-- CONFIDENCE. (Plus a bodacious booty. So two things.)



Apparently, @Brainspore agrees!


In before the, “Oh, if MEN are villains they can’t be role models, BUT WHEN THE WIMMINS DO IT…”

Generally speaking, I prefer the villains to the nice characters, anyway. Nice guys may not always finish last, but JFC they’re boring.


You’re not alone. I suspect Darth Vader merchandise outsells Luke Skywalker merchandise by at least one order of magnitude.


I don’t find villains as good ROLE MODELS, but they can be hella fun characters to enjoy.

For whatever reason, they are usually better dressers.


I wanna’ be a hench-boy!!!


The article is about women villians, and it’s clearly not suggesting that someone like you see them as role models:

She makes a thousand decisions every day and she never feels the need to justify any of them with a shrug or an “I don’t know, I just thought maybe we could…?” Woe betide the man who speaks over her in a meeting.

We love her and we hate her in equal measure. We feel that way because she revels in being all the things that we are told we aren’t allowed to be.

Unfortunately, villianous characters are dangled in front of heterosexual men as role models. And all such role models are men, it seems.


Not a villain, but fitting the article description: Stella Gibson in The Fall. Seriously I’m surprised MRAs haven’t freaked out over that show. Stella is very good at her job, gets what she wants, and is not particularly nice.

(The second gif is after she smashes her former lover’s nose when he won’t take “no” for an answer. She does it with no more than an exasperated “Fuck’s sake!”)


Women can be good role models for men, and vice versa.

But like I said, I love a good villain, but I wouldn’t want me kiddo stealing people’s talents with poorly drawn contracts, or conscripting murders in the woods, or inscribing sentences in students’ flesh as punishment.

That is the general appeal of any villain.



So you’re saying you wouldn’t want your kiddo to read or hear about that article? Because I think that would be a sad lost chance.

The article is obviously not saying that it would be good for girls and women to do the evil things that women villains do. It’s saying that it’s a damn shame that girls are encouraged to emulate features embodied and enacted by the “good” protagonists, rather than those embodied and enacted by the women villains.

Have you read the article? Doing so might save you the trouble of making off-base comments, and the rest of us the trouble of weeding through them. And like I said, I think it would be a great thing for your kiddo to read too.

But it’s an appeal that registers very, very differently for boys than for girls.


Actually, if you look at the past branding, other than Yoda and the clone commander Rex and a few other exceptions, since like 199X it is VILLAIN branded on the Star Wars figures. If it isn’t neutral like the old packaging, with just the name and then character portrait, they use the Maul, Vader, Stormtroopers, Kylo Ren etc on the package. I would estimate at least 3 out of 4 of the series have the bad guys on the front.

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I think you’re adding more to my generic statement of not seeing villains as role models than my original intent. It wasn’t a direct rebuttle to the article, but just to the general concept of villains and role models.

I get the point of the article, that villains do portray some GOOD traits that people can utilize in their everyday lives. Taking risks, being bold, being in control of something, and being your own person are all good things if properly applied.

At the same time, the article seems to fight off the generic generalizations about female protagonists which, while there are definitely examples supporting the generalizations, there are many notable examples that shatter the mold:

We look at thin-wristed shy-smiling nice-haired female protagonists and we see what’s expected of us: wait. Be patient. Be nice. Be happy with your lot, enjoy what you’re given, and don’t look for more. Make wishes, not plans. Have animal friends, never henchmen. No one should work for you, but everyone must love you. Look soft and small and breakable, and cry with your head flung into your arms so no one has to see your puffy eyes.

So like in the show we are enjoying right now, Steven Universe, as well as the graphic novel series we are reading, Amulet, none of the female characters would fit these generalizations. I assume the point of the article is is to prompt more interesting and powerful female protagonists that don’t rely on the old generalizations mentioned above. And people are doing that.


FTFY, because you seem intent on missing the point, which is that we still live in a pernicious (I imagine you hate this word?) patriarchy.[quote=“Mister44, post:18, topic:83747”]
So like in the show we are enjoying right now, Steven Universe, as well as the graphic novel series we are reading, Amulet, none of the female characters would fit these generalizations.

Cool! I don’t know the series, but it sounds like awesome parenting is afoot.

Sure, people are doing that in nooks and crannies and verdant eddies, but rarely in mainstream culture. Which is what, in a patriarchy, still so negatively shapes the budding identities of girls and boys.


As a man who loved that show, I will attest, it is deeply uncomfortable to be a man and watch that show, in all the best ways.