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Women, Violence and Urban Fantasy - WTF

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I may have missed something somewhere, so I thought I'd bring this up.

Like a lot of readers, I am interested in urban fantasy and paranormal romance from a sociological perspective, particularly with respect to gender. Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has also been interested in the topic and there are two posts I'm thinking of that exhibit the opinions and thoughts of two different authors.

A while back he put up a guest-post by Lilith Saintcrow called 'Angry Chicks in Leather.' This is the gist of it:

"Part of what makes this so fascinating to me is the fact that female UF protagonists are almost without exception extraordinarily tough, and that violence is acceptable for them to use. This is a huge revolution in the type of stories our culture tells itself. Violence in our culture is a man's game. Women are supposed to be weaker and more passive--the recipients of violence or protection, instead of active agents dishing it out...The responses of female protagonists to violence lies at the heart of the moral and ethical ambiguity that makes for good urban fantasy."

A gigantic shit storm followed, with about 55 comments to the post. The responses were, as to be expected, both vitriolic and horrifying. Please, please check them out. They included such gems as the following, all from separate commentors:

"...she seems to me like someone with a tremendous chip on the shoulder..",

"MAN BAD. WOMAN GOOD."

"Say what? It is always depressing to see such ignorance from an author about their supposed sub-genre of preference."

"Could Saintcrow have insulted any more people in this article? Wow."

"The ignorance of Saintcrow's assertion is staggering"

"I got a huge kick out of the self-righteous indignation the "physical prowess" observation generated; it really highlighted the naievety, self-indulgence, wishful thinking, and--yes, I'll say it--penis envy."

Yesterday, Pat posted an exerpt from a post by Daniel Abraham, which reiterates a point that Abraham has made before (including in the comments of Saintcrow's essay):

"I think as I've said elsewhere that urban fantasy is a genre sitting on top of a great big huge cultural discomfort about women and power...The thing that sets almost...all the urban fantasy heroines apart from real women as found in the real world is this: they don't fear rape...And so while urban fantasy embodies so many of the insecurities about women and power here, it falls into real fantasy. They're immune to traditional masculine power (that's to say violence) because they have internalized it. They've become it. Urban Fantasy heroines are for the most part weaponized."

And there are zero comments. There was no big explosion of people losing their shit because someone said UF has a lot to do with women or violence, or both. There were no rude assertions of the author's total idiocy. There was none of the infamous 'Anonymous' comments.

WTF. I'm sure you could make the argument that this entire topic is old news and that's why there are no comments. Been there, done that. But obviously I think that's a crap excuse. If I hear one more person say that we've solved the problem of sexism in SF, I might die of apoplexy.

I didn't really have any other reason for pointing this out - I just thought it was totally uncool and somebody needed to bring it up. Nor am I trying to revive the dead horse of controversy. I just think it's important that we keep an eye on the way these discussions take place, rather than just on the discussions themselves.

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First off, yes, I do think the reaction is different primarily because this time, it's been said by a man. And not just any man, but the successful (and good!) author of "proper" fantasy, Daniel Abraham. (Though he does also write his own UF as MLN Hanover, and it's not exactly secret, so I'm not sure how much difference that latter distinction makes.)

Having said that, I don't think we can totally discount the almost 2 years that have gone by in the interim, though, and the fact that this time it was posted on a Saturday -- I'd like to see if more comments come in tomorrow, as people come back to work.

Having said that, I absolutely agree with you that people who think sexism is over -- in SF&F or elsewhere -- is either obtuse or seriously misguided.

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Hmm, I really don't think the passage Luga quoted was what upset people. Reading the rest of the post and taking a look at the comments, it looks like the negative ones are mostly guys who are pissed at the author's assertion that fiction by or for women tends to be taken less seriously. That, and people whose conception of urban fantasy is very different from the author's.

It's an interesting take on urban fantasy, and while I haven't read enough of that to comment on it intelligently, I think the same phenomenon is certainly present in other subgenres of fantasy as well.

But yeah, I'd also say guys feel less defensive when a man comments on gender than when a woman makes the same comment.

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I say bring on the angry chicks.

I haven't read Anita Blake, but I've read other UF. And one thing I like and notice about that genre is the fact that the weaponized women - love that term - are not afraid to show their femininity. They beat people up, but they still worry about clothes, boyfriends, etc. (At least in certain books that I've read.) In a way, the genre shares some similarities with another much-maligned genre, the chick lit camp. So maybe this is the reason why some people are skeptical about it?

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Everybody freeze, I've got a woman and I'm not afraid to use it!

...

On a more serious note, Pat kinda forgot to paste the next line of the article, that goes:

As the beneficiary of masculine power, I’m also skeptical of it (which is part of what made the Black Sun’s Daughter books a nifty project for me). But I’ll go into that another time.

I can't say I disagree with this, as this part: "therefore innocent of one of the central feminine cultural sins: ambition. She is in relationships primarily with men rather than in community with women." I agree with, but see as a simplification of the woman's character. Why shouldn't a woman be ambitious? Is it really good that empowered girl in UF invariably become "one of the guys", transforming themselves with masculine attributes to get accepted? (not hanging out with other women is particularly egregerious) IIRC that was part of the reasons behind the Saintcrow criticisms (the "penis envy" one, for example), since that author is strongly advocating that heroines becoming more like men is good in itself. It's good fantasy and it sells, but is it good and is it enough?I'm not convinced.

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Hmmm... an interesting topic.

A while back he put up a guest-post by Lilith Saintcrow called 'Angry Chicks in Leather.' This is the gist of it:

I don't really agree with the main premise of the post (which to me seems to be that 'What truly defines UF, and why the genre has exploded recently, is the moral and ethical ambiguity of its protagonists').

I think the weaponized woman emerges in recent fiction when someone starts to think she's marketable. First example that comes to mind (though I'm sure other people can think of older and better ones) is Tank Girl (who is utterly awesome, but also utterly underground) who, in the mid 80s, was a direct inspiration for Lara Croft (who made her first appearance in 1996). I think the reluctance to introduce them in fiction was probably due to them combining violence, which was seen as something males might want in their fiction but women didn't, with a female lead, which was seen as something women might want in their fiction but men didn't. Their early success is probably more due to men not minding a woman doing the ass-kicking (specially if said woman is hot), than to the genre attracting women themselves (though it obviously did eventually, opening the door to further markets, like the specific kind of chick-lit UF Lilith seems to refer to).

The other term in the binomial is, of course, violence. There was a very interesting panel in Octocon about likable anti-heroes, where the feasibility of introducing morally ambiguous characters as protagonists was discussed. More often than not, at least in my experience, what is marketable isn't as much moral ambiguity as a badass lead. What makes a badass lead is that he/she can (and will!) kill lots of people. And that's badass and cool and we dig it. Of course, when this trope is poorly done, which is unfortunately far too often, all these people are always bad people or not even people at all, because they're vampires or demons or whathaveyou, so even if they look exactly like people they're not people and it's OK to kill them. Weeeeeee. The problem here is that far too often this becomes a mere glorification of violence and badassery and dehumanizing a certain collective rather than something which we could honestly term morally ambiguous.

Yesterday, Pat posted an exerpt from a post by Daniel Abraham, which reiterates a point that Abraham has made before (including in the comments of Saintcrow's essay):

And there are zero comments.

I think that some of the things he mentions are part of what really makes for a poor use of the trope. Violent people shouldn't be immune to violence because they're violent.

Omar Little and Snoop

are a good examples of how being in the game will end up getting you killed no matter how exceptionally badass you are. Another good example is The Walking Dead, excellent if you want moral and ethical ambiguity. In this series the two characters with greater martial prowess (a sniper and the much abused woman with katana) are female. And these two women feel a good amount of fear. They may be better than average at killing people, but that doesn't make them invulnerable. Far from it. They're afraid of the zombie horde, of losing their loved ones, of their fellow human beings who have devolved into a state of violence themselves, etc. Addressing violence the way it is rather than in a completely cartoonish way is fundamental to moral and ethical ambiguity. Cartoonish violence can be entertaining (Buffy comes to mind, but so does Tom and Jerry), but, only if it's something utterly surreal, otherwise it can indeed be morally dubious (not the same as morally ambiguous :P). It's also not the best of mediums if you intend to delve in stuff such as ethics or morals. Finally, violence =/= power. How violent people are powerless to influence outcomes that don't depend on a body-count is another way of addressing this trope properly.

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I think the weaponized woman emerges in recent fiction when someone starts to think she's marketable.

Is this really all that recent? Before the skintight leather set you had the chainmail bikinis, Red Sonja et al. Wonder Woman's been around since the '40's.

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Wonder Woman wasn't a Kickass Chick so much as an extended bondage fantasy. What, her one power is a magic whip that is conveniently also her only weakness, so she spent most of her time getting tied up? :bang:

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Hmm, I really don't think the passage Luga quoted was what upset people. Reading the rest of the post and taking a look at the comments, it looks like the negative ones are mostly guys who are pissed at the author's assertion that fiction by or for women tends to be taken less seriously. That, and people whose conception of urban fantasy is very different from the author's.

I'm gonna go with this. The reason Saintcrow's post got so many vitriolic responses is because it was deliberately confrontational - it's as much about public reaction to the writing as it is the writing itself, it threw accusations at the readers and the readers responded.

Whereas Abraham's post is a politely phrased discussion of his own perspective and as such is much more difficult to respond to, because it's an article about where he's coming from, personally.

I don't think anyone's pretending sexism isn't an issue in fantasy.

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Is this really all that recent? Before the skintight leather set you had the chainmail bikinis, Red Sonja et al. Wonder Woman's been around since the '40's.

True, and I did say that I was sure other people could come up with older and better examples :P

The thing with most comic book heroines is I don't think any of them really took off, specially as leading characters in their own right. Most of them ended up working as part of superhero teams where they put some emotional angst and romantic interest on the table while at the same time slowly maturing as three dimensional characters. As I said, though, I don't think any of them really stuck to the level a Batman, Superman or Spiderman did. I must confess I haven't ever read a Wonder Woman comic. I have seen her in a few JLA books, but I only tend to pick those up when Alex Ross draws them.

Red Sonja was a good counter part to Conan, but she didn't really ever take off as a character on her own right. Interestingly she originally appeared wearing a long-sleeved mail shirt which then became her iconic chain mail bikini to please the readers. I remember reading a Conan comic where Conan finally challenges Red Sonja to a duel (in the middle of a bar brawl!) for the right to take her virginity. Conan and Sonja duel and eventually Conan wins (the narrator says either through his prowess or because Sonja slipped over a puddle of beer, we will never know). After defeating her Conan claims the right to bed her, but Sonja refuses, saying she doesn't want to, and he'll have to force her if he wants her. Not being the raping type, despite being a ravaging barbarian, Conan walks away, claiming he will not force her, but he's also done wasting his time with her, which more or less mirrored my thoughts regarding the character I'm afraid.

I think Lara Croft was the pioneer of the current Kick Ass Women trend, though this is entirely a personal impression and I don't really have anything to substantiate it with.

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Wonder Woman wasn't a Kickass Chick so much as an extended bondage fantasy. What, her one power is a magic whip that is conveniently also her only weakness, so she spent most of her time getting tied up? :bang:

She also does a lot of tying up.

Seriously, Marston had some WEIRD ideas about the healing psychological effects of bondage (there's one comic where they have an amazon reform prison for criminals, where they tie them up and teach them to obey women... It' not even subtext at that point...)

But it should be pointed out that WW was *intended* to be kick-ass. Although she was also clearly aimed at boys (the idea was to give a strong female character for boys to look up to so that they would learn to respect women, or something like that)

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Unless i missed the scope of what was going on in both authors arguments, i think there is a key difference between the two.

"Part of what makes this so fascinating to me is the fact that female UF protagonists are almost without exception extraordinarily tough, and that violence is acceptable for them to use. This is a huge revolution in the type of stories our culture tells itself. Violence in our culture is a man's game. Women are supposed to be weaker and more passive--the recipients of violence or protection, instead of active agents dishing it out...The responses of female protagonists to violence lies at the heart of the moral and ethical ambiguity that makes for good urban fantasy."

- Saintcrow is saying to me in this short bit is that the use of violence for female leads is emporwering. Its a revolution in how stories are told. That the use of violence itself as a means to solve problems is something new and powerful.

I would like to note on this point that someone else, Mentat i believe, made mention of violence itself not being all that ambigious. Its simply violence. Someone kicking the ass of demons all day is not ethically ambigous in and of itself just because they might be female, there needs to be other actions invovled...like being willing to sacrifice a few innocents for the greater good. That was just a poor example, but you get my drift.

Whereas Abraham said:

"I think — as I've said elsewhere — that urban fantasy is a genre sitting on top of a great big huge cultural discomfort about women and power...The thing that sets almost...all the urban fantasy heroines apart from real women as found in the real world is this: they don't fear rape...And so — while urban fantasy embodies so many of the insecurities about women and power — here, it falls into real fantasy. They're immune to traditional masculine power (that's to say violence) because they have internalized it. They've become it. Urban Fantasy heroines are — for the most part — weaponized."

- His view is not so much of an endorsement as Saintcrows, as it is an observation. Some could say a criticism but i did not get that from him in this. And what he is observing is not that the violent agency of women in UF is good, but that the violence itself makes UF more fantasy and less reality. The agency of women in this sense is a wish - its like Joss Whedon's waif-fu. These women are not Brienne, but slender and beautiful, often with a too large rack. And they are going about kicking all sorts of ass, regardless of the size of their opponents. They have become less than reality, and more like weapons.

I think there is a world of difference in what the two are saying, and unless i am wrong, i think thats the difference in the response. Alternativley, men can just be stupid jerk-faces.

As a side note, and perhaps this observation is off, but there is some cake and eating it too going on with the women protagonists in these sort of stories. I could be wrong, i don't read UF so my basis for bringing this up is built off of Joss Whedon (i'm thinking specifically of River in Firefly, and Underworld with Kate Beckinsale). But this is something i have observed, and it extends into fantasy as well.

Now, its no secret that the musculature of men is different than women. Its not a stereotype if its true, and its not to say that women can't be strong, but for the most part men are stronger than women. If you look at the portrayal of men in fantasy literature, they are often described as being big guys. They have the muscle necessary to carry and fire the big guns, or to swing the big sword. They are built for it. But often the women are demure and small while being physically strong enough to do anything that a man with an extra eighty pounds of muscle is able to do. This can be fudged a bit with the introduction of some form of martial arts, but the point remains. Men often reflect the need to have the extra power to support the violence that they dish out, but this does not necessarily apply to these sorts of urban fantasy or to certain mediums were the female is the main ass kicker.

Now of course, this is fantasy, and anything can apply. Correct, and it should. Its just interesting to note that the perception of male agression still involves everything that you would see in the real world, namely muscles and strength, while females are supposed to retain those slender forms that are most found to be attractive. Aside from Twlight, you don't see alot of waif thin emo-douches wandering around kicking all sorts of ass. Unless they are something not entirely human, like Elves, Vampires, or something of the sort.

A realistic portrayal that i have seen recently is Kara Swole in Dan Abnett's Ravenor omni. She is the ultimate stealth package, basically, but not all that good at fighting. She has some skills, but it is not disproportionate to her size. Not like say, River standing next to Jayne Cobb. The excuse with River could be that she's been weaponized, her minds been altered, but the fact remains that she's about a hundred and ten fucking pounds, and for her to throw around someone like Jayne would be very difficult. Not impossible, however, and i don't critisize it. I just prefer Jayne...but thats because he's my favorite character in the series.

So, in conclusion, what i am seeing is two things. Saintcrow sees female violence as a revolution, and Abraham sees it as fantasy. Any comments are welcome, this is an interesting conversation.

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I'm gonna go with this. The reason Saintcrow's post got so many vitriolic responses is because it was deliberately confrontational - it's as much about public reaction to the writing as it is the writing itself, it threw accusations at the readers and the readers responded.

I can see the point, sure. This is the internet, after all - acting sarcastic or delivering an argument with attitude is bound to cause a comment's war. Many of the comments, though, are about details that aren't really relevant to the main point. I mean, okay, many of the comments were angrily testifying to the fact that 'violent women' actually show up earlier in literature, which therefore invalidates all of the author's claims. I doubt either Saintcrow or Abraham would pretend that 'weaponized women' have never been popular before. Obviously. But no one can argue that the shear amount - the avalanche - of weaponized women in UF is something that has never happened in literature before - oh, hell, I'll say it - in the history of the world!!!!

Anyways, I thought Abraham made some interesting points, which no one seems really interested in debating (although I accept the point about the weekend timing of the post). So not only do I find the tenor of the Saintcrow-directed angry comments to be at issue, but also the fact that Abraham's post still has none. For example, I love Abraham's point about 'ambition', as that motif in urban fantasy (the woman's power is usually not acquired by her own designs) has always fallen flat for me. I'm also interested in his comments about the rape idea. I'm not sure if I agree with him, entirely, but they bring up interesting issues.

One of these is the whole social apparatus informing the idea of women bearing weapons and when that is or isn't acceptable (would Buffy have been so popular if she carried guns rather than wooden stakes? would the shocking difference between the timid Sarah Connor and the kick-ass one be the same if she'd just learned karate?).

Second, since women reading about women kicking ass is overwhelmingly what's going on in the UF/PR genre today, is it really so ultimately attractive to us because we want to fantasize about being free from rape? Is the kick-ass chick's superpower the power over rape, and thus the embodiment of the most rare of all female powers? I think this is a very compelling idea; it is a very important insight. But I'd bet not every woman agrees with it.

Plus, Saintcrow's characters are useful for debating these issues. One of her more popular characters is raped (Dante Valentine). She is ambitious and chooses to become weaponized, she seeks out superskills, although as a direct response of her powerlessness in the realm of sex and abuse. One of the central themes is the character's attempt to deal with her horrible experiences and her final confrontation with her abuser - he almost overpowers the character again, but she is now able to fight him off. So, in Saintcrow's work at least, rape is a real and dangerous threat that has to be overcome. It isn't used simply for titillation.

The theme of the heroine who is raped and sexually abused but is then able to become powerful occurs in other works (e.g. Carrie Vaughn). So rape is central tothe powerful chicks theme, although in many stories the woman (ambitiously?) chooses to gain the power that enables her to prevent it in future (Dante Valentine, Kitty Norville [who takes self-defense classes]). I wonder if that could be one of the ever-sought-after and ever-elusive differences between urban fantasy and paranormal romance?

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I like the idea of weaponized women as a term because it reminds me of Donna Haraway's work on cyborg and feminism. (Not an expert on her, but I've been interested in work. Anybody familiar with her?) Her cyborg work was not primarily about defining a woman, but a criticism on the prevailing ideas on feminism at that time, specifically the essentialist theory. Also, she used SF as the jump off point for her studies. (Yay.)

Maybe Saintcrow read Haraway, I don't know. But her definition of the UF heroine, her argument that the actions of UF heroines, their violence and the appropriation of "manly" attitudes, reminded me of Haraway's cyborg body. She posited that employing this imagery of cyborg identity breaks down old dualisms that have been too limiting for women. [ETA] So going by this point of view, these angry chicks in leather, by embodying violence, are doing something revolutionary.

A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden; it does not seek unitary identity and so generate antagonistic dualisms without end (or until the world ends); it takes irony for granted. One is too few, and two is only one possibility. Intense pleasure in skill, machine skill, ceases to be a sin, but an aspect of embodiment. The machine is not an it to be animated, worshipped, and dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment. We can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries; we are they. Up till now (once upon a time), female embodiment seemed to be given, organic, necessary; and female embodiment seemed to mean skill in mothering and its metaphoric exten-sions.

Full text of the Cyborg Manifesto

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I can see the point, sure. This is the internet, after all - acting sarcastic or delivering an argument with attitude is bound to cause a comment's war. Many of the comments, though, are about details that aren't really relevant to the main point. I mean, okay, many of the comments were angrily testifying to the fact that 'violent women' actually show up earlier in literature, which therefore invalidates all of the author's claims. I doubt either Saintcrow or Abraham would pretend that 'weaponized women' have never been popular before. Obviously. But no one can argue that the shear amount - the avalanche - of weaponized women in UF is something that has never happened in literature before - oh, hell, I'll say it - in the history of the world!!!!

Anyways, I thought Abraham made some interesting points, which no one seems really interested in debating (although I accept the point about the weekend timing of the post). So not only do I find the tenor of the Saintcrow-directed angry comments to be at issue, but also the fact that Abraham's post still has none. For example, I love Abraham's point about 'ambition', as that motif in urban fantasy (the woman's power is usually not acquired by her own designs) has always fallen flat for me. I'm also interested in his comments about the rape idea. I'm not sure if I agree with him, entirely, but they bring up interesting issues.

One of these is the whole social apparatus informing the idea of women bearing weapons and when that is or isn't acceptable (would Buffy have been so popular if she carried guns rather than wooden stakes? would the shocking difference between the timid Sarah Connor and the kick-ass one be the same if she'd just learned karate?).

Second, since women reading about women kicking ass is overwhelmingly what's going on in the UF/PR genre today, is it really so ultimately attractive to us because we want to fantasize about being free from rape? Is the kick-ass chick's superpower the power over rape, and thus the embodiment of the most rare of all female powers? I think this is a very compelling idea; it is a very important insight. But I'd bet not every woman agrees with it.

Plus, Saintcrow's characters are useful for debating these issues. One of her more popular characters is raped (Dante Valentine). She is ambitious and chooses to become weaponized, she seeks out superskills, although as a direct response of her powerlessness in the realm of sex and abuse. One of the central themes is the character's attempt to deal with her horrible experiences and her final confrontation with her abuser - he almost overpowers the character again, but she is now able to fight him off. So, in Saintcrow's work at least, rape is a real and dangerous threat that has to be overcome. It isn't used simply for titillation.

The theme of the heroine who is raped and sexually abused but is then able to become powerful occurs in other works (e.g. Carrie Vaughn). So rape is central tothe powerful chicks theme, although in many stories the woman (ambitiously?) chooses to gain the power that enables her to prevent it in future (Dante Valentine, Kitty Norwood [who takes self-defense classes]). I wonder if that could be one of the ever-sought-after and ever-elusive differences between urban fantasy and paranormal romance?

But it still remains fantasy. Its wish fullfillment. A great many women who are raped never see justice, or even revenge. I'm not saying that the idea of revenge is bad, i think there are many movies were revenge is a fantasy, a form of catharsis, and it in no way makes for a bad story. We need these sorts of stories to feel that there is some justice in the world.

But ultimately, it is misleading...and it is fantasy.

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Luga, I think you bring up some very interesting points regarding rape in UF.

DA's comment about the women in UF not fearing rape was what really stood out for me in the two comments you posted. I haven't read the entire post that the quote comes from so I don't know how he elaborates on it. But having read quite a lot of UF and its precursors I would say that is not a view shared by all UF protagonists. Perhaps it is his reading experience but it isn't mine. I've found that rape has been a defining experience for a number of heroines.

It hasn't been marketed as UF because that genre did not exist when it debuted in 1995 but J.D. Robb's In Death series takes place in the future and pretty much has more in common with UF than Romantic Suspense (which is what it is marketed as). The heroine is a NYC homicide detective who kicks ass repeatedly. However, as a child she was repeatedly raped by her father. This experience shaped her into the person she is and drove her to a profession where she could work to bring justice to other victims like herself and put away people like her father. However, she is continually haunted by nightmares of her rapes. No matter how tough she is, how much love she has in her life, those rapes continue to affect her. So she might not be afraid of being raped in the present, but she continues to experience fear because of her past.

Also in

Richelle Mead's Dark Swan series, the heroine is the stereotypical tough kick ass weapon bearing leather wearing UF heroine. Yet a prediction has been made regarding the power her future child will wield and there are many men who want to be the father - whether she is willing or not. There are numerous incidents where men show up and she has to defend herself. Eventually she does end up getting kidnapped, drugged, and repeatedly raped. She experiences fear while it is happening. And afterward she knows it can happen again and fears it will. But maybe the fear is more for any future child that would result and their future. Because she survived the rape and knows she could again if she had to.

So maybe "fear of rape" is the wrong phrase. Maybe UF heroines don't have fear OF rape. But I do think its wrong to say they don't experience fear because of rape. It might not be a present fear for themselves. But it can be there. And when it is its a fear that shapes them and drives them and I think to many extents keeps them human.

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I like the idea of weaponized women as a term because it reminds me of Donna Haraway's work on cyborg and feminism.

To switch mediums a second, because I haven't read much UF, a lot of the crop of kick ass chicks were actually cyborgs, and to strain 'cyborgism' somewhat a lot, characters like Buffy or Max from Dark Angel weren't actual robots but were women with bodies that were actively created as instruments of violence. (Also the rest of Joss Whedons, er, body of work, Romy from Andromeda, Cameron in SCC, and apparently a big theme in Caprica, which I haven't watched.)

What Saintcrow seems to be saying* is that here you have women who are using violence by personal, unambigous choice, whereas in a lot of cases (literally!) weaponized women are usually created (by men) to serve some purpose and often have a certain struggle against their own body/role in life. On a reader level too, the scantily dressed kick ass chick is there to cater to men, right? OTOH,i'm not sure this is a hard rule. I enjoy female badassery as much as anyone, which maybe explains her presence in literature assumed to be geared for women.

*Does anyone have any UF recs, to get started? We seem to be talking about it a lot, I feel like its time to actually read some.

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I think that some of the things he mentions are part of what really makes for a poor use of the trope. Violent people shouldn't be immune to violence because they're violent.

Omar Little and Snoop

are a good examples of how being in the game will end up getting you killed no matter how exceptionally badass you are.

Fuck you very much for The Wire spoilers...

eta: fixed for future readers

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whereas in a lot of cases (literally!) weaponized women are usually created (by men) to serve some purpose and often have a certain struggle against their own body/role in life.

This is a very interesting point, which I hadn't really considered before (despite it being basically the exact theme of Buffy Season 7), but that does seem to be a theme peculiar to Kickass Chicks. I know the theory is that you need your heroine to be morally conflicted about the violence she's committing in order for her to be sympathetic, but I don't remember (eg) Bourne of the Bourne Identity having to balance his Speshul Superagent status with his, I dunno, fatherhood responsibilities or whatnot.

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