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2013-02-27 01:34 am (UTC)
The best way to avoid the "this female character is presented as either explicitly feminine or explicitly masculine" trap is for a given narrative to have
more than one important female character
, have said female characters represent a diversity of personality types, and have all of their personalities/characteristics/interests are
valued by the narrative
fulfilled the former but not the latter requirement.
For a contemporary example of doing it right: My Little Pony. Does a goddamn better job at being a feminist narrative than 99.9% of media for adults. And it accomplishes this by having six lead female characters who have varied personality types and who care about different things. That's all! It also helps that the show doesn't label anything as being explicitly masculine or feminine; even Rainbow Dash, the athletic and hyper-competitive pony with the deepest voice, is never labeled anywhere in the show as being "masculine" or even "tomboyish" in any way. (The fandom frequently describes her with that label, but then again, the fandom sucks.)
managed to do that with only two lead female characters. Neither was ever presented as explicitly "masculine" or "feminine."
I realize that
had to be pretty explicit in labeling its gender roles, due to the setting of the story, but it still could have shown that some of things that Eleanor cared about were valuable. That would have sidestepped the feminine-bad, masculine-good binary that the film ends up unintentionally broadcasting. For a movie that was supposed to be about a daughter and a mother learning to understand each other, it really falls apart when it ends with the mother learning to understand and appreciate everything that her daughter cares about (freedom! adventure! horseback riding! using weapons!) and no reciprocal understanding/appreciation ever shown from Merrida learning to appreciate what her mother values. Yeah Merrida learned the value of telling stories, but the things that were REALLY important to her mom - leadership, responsibility, and the arts - are either just tossed aside by the narrative or explicitly shown to be BORING AND OPPRESSIVE OMG and therefore
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