Tropes: The Curse of the Smart Girl

Recently, in a review of the third Percy Jackson book, I accused all the women in the series of being "Faux Action Girls" -- women whose prowess and usefulness in a given situation is more of an Informed Attribute than anything that the reader ever gets to see. What was interesting (and frustrating) to me at the time was that a lot of the tropers on TV Tropes didn't really see it the same way -- sure, the Annabeth character in the movie was a Faux Action Girl, but the one in the book is smart and intelligent and her advice saves the day more than once in the series. That makes her useful, right? Wrong.

The problem, at least in my opinion, is that being the Smart Girl in a novel doesn't make a female character strong, useful, and meaningful to the story -- it makes them less so.

The Smart Girl, as a character, is useful only to the author. She serves as a plot exposition device; such as when Annabeth explains all the plot-relevant Greek myths to Percy, even well into the later books when he really should have brushed up on his mythology by then. Why should he expend effort to learn the myths? From a literary standpoint, the more ignorant Percy is, the more ignorant the audience can be -- Annabeth is right there to pipe up and explain things to Percy and the audience. She becomes the narrative voice that is so hard to achieve in a first-person novel, and her purpose as Plot Exposition Voice doesn't make her smart or strong or useful -- it renders her into the same role as an author's footnote.

The Smart Girl is not, ultimately, smart at all. Never does her vast encyclopedic knowledge help her avoid an obvious trap -- to do so would be to avoid literary tension and exciting adventure, and no one (most especially not the audience!) wants that. Annabeth, Thalia, Zoe, Bianca, and every other girl in Camp Half-Blood stumbles blindly into the same traps that snare the admittedly ignorant Percy; despite every possible warning sign, the adventurers only notice the trap once it has sprung. Then, and only then, can the Smart Girl start spouting plot exposition and analyzing the obvious nature of the trap. "I've been so stupid!" she may cry, and the audience is forced to agree: the Hero may be ignorant, but the Smart Girl is stupid... and ignorance is a curable condition.

Even when the trap has been sprung and the Smart Girl's brain is allowed by the author to start working, the Smart Girl will not be the one to get the heroes out of the trap they find themselves in. She will be called upon to provide exposition, backstory, and relevant weaknesses of the monster/trap they are facing, but the actual solution will be hit upon by the young, plucky, male hero. Once again, this adds tension to the novel at the cost of reducing the Smart Girl to an even more useless character: it wouldn't be interesting if the person with all the knowledge immediately solved the trap, so instead the new "everyman" protagonist that the reader is intended to identify with should hit upon the solution in a moment of inspiration. If it is a literary law, though, that the ignorant character must provide the solution, it follows therefore that the Smart Girl can never solve the problem. Thus, we come again to the crux of the problem: the Smart Girl never does anything that could be deemed by the audience to be actually smart.

The Smart Girl is not a strong character even when she saves the Hero from harm. When Annabeth tackles Percy to the ground to save him from the manticore's poison spines, the reader doesn't appreciate how smart this plan was because the reader instinctively understands that Percy was never in danger. Once again, the Smart Girl is really only useful to the author as a narrative device; if Annabeth hadn't saved Percy in that moment, then something else would have -- a blast from Poseidon, an arrow from Artemis, a well-timed trip in the snow, whatever. Since the reader knows that the first-person protagonist is inherently protected from serious harm, thus any smart plan by the Smart Girl to save his life is ultimately pointless because his life was never in any serious danger. On the other hand, a smart plan by the Smart Girl to save the lives of others would in fact be quite meaningful, but Smart Girls don't get to save anyone but the hero -- the other characters must either be sacrificed to cause angst for the hero or saved by the hero to illustrate what a heroic hero he really is. The Hero saves others; the Smart Girl saves the Hero. The problem is, since the Hero is never in credible danger of losing his life, the Smart Girl's actions are ultimately meaningless and without tension or appreciation.

The Smart Girl is smart so that she can be bested by the brave and plucky Hero. She has a high Int score and can provide necessary plot exposition, but every other stat is ultimately her dump stat. She isn't as strong as the hero and will frequently bring a knife or a bow to what is clearly a sword fight, as we see in the many, many battles where Percy's sword is the one weapon that dishes out serious harm to the monsters they face. She isn't as fast as the hero, and can't take as many hits as he can -- expect to see her flung across the room and knocked unconscious at least once per book while the hero can take similar hits and keep going by the Power of Pluckiness. She's not as charismatic as the hero -- a point that will be explicitly called out in text when someone wonders why Ignorant McKnowsnothing is the leader instead of the Smart Girl; the handwave will be that he alone has a hero's heart and the masses will follow only him because of it. And though she is smarter than the hero, she will never be wiser than him; her "book smarts" will leave her cold and unable to follow her heart and make the right choice that the Hero will know instinctively to make. 

When the book is over and the Hero has won, the future is bleak for the Smart Girl. Now that she is no longer needed as a plot exposition device, she will be downgraded to a trophy for the Hero. At best, she will be allowed to use her smarts to help the new world order; she will be an adviser, a vizier, a source to be listened to when convenient and ignored when not. At worst, she will be nothing more than the Wise Wife, useful only for soulful pillow talk where she soothes her kingly husband after a long day and provides lovely heirs that are smart and male -- the best of both their parents' attributes, of course.

Over and over in literature, we see the bare fact of the matter that Plucky Protagonists are interesting and Smart Second-Strings are not. Take Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole series: in "The Capture", Gylfie may be the one who figures out the moon blinking brain-washing techniques and how to prevent it, she may be the one who infiltrates the crucial hatchery and library and learns their secrets, and she may be the one who identifies which owl can be safely approached to help them learn to fly and escape from their captivity, but she is not the hero. Soren is. Soren, who is younger, who is more ignorant, and who is (to most young readers) more easily identifiable with. To be sure, Soren has some wise moments, such as when he realizes that they are being hypnotized with their names, or when he invokes the Ga'Hoole legends to save their sanity when in the moon prison, but these moments are moments of wisdom, when his "gizzard" instinctively guides him. Once again, the (female) character with the reams of knowledge and loads of intelligence takes a literary backseat to the (male) character who is regularly ignorant but yet is granted important flashes of inspired wisdom.

The Smart Girl effect is so well-established that when it is subverted, it's immediately noticeable. Take David Handler's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series. Violet, the eldest, is a smart girl, but she is not a Smart Girl. She is smart and plucky and clever, and she invents ingenious devices to save her siblings from danger time and again, but she does not exist solely to spout book smarts and provide plot exposition. If anything, her younger brother Klaus fills that role, but Handler is quick to lampshade the entire concept -- much of Klaus' "plot exposition" is word-for-word repetition of what Handler has already revealed in a Snicket Aside to the reader. The trope is thus subverted and lampshaded at the same time. When Klaus isn't being used for ironic plot exposition, he still manages to avoid the Smart Girl curse because his knowledge does allow him to recognize and avoid traps, and when the children are trapped anyway his intelligence does work to get the children out of danger. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny share the spotlight and each of their strengths are used in turn to avoid death and danger; none of the characters exist solely so that the other characters can outshine them. They are smart children, but they are not Smart Girls.

The Smart Girl effect is so common in fiction that I think as a culture we have become almost blind to it. Any female character that has the Informed Attribute of "smart" and exists to spout plot exposition is automatically considered to be a Strong Female Character without any real analysis of what that might mean. We don't notice as a culture that the Smart Girl never really saves the day, and never really uses her "smarts" in a useful way, because we instinctively understand that the Hero must save the day instead. It's not that the Smart Girl is dumb, the tropers will insist, it's that she's handicapped by the demands of the plot; it's not that she's not a Strong Female Character, it's just that she's not the Hero. It's not the Hero's fault that he always wins, right? And yet we never really question why the male Hero "must" save the day each and every time.

In my opinion, good heroes aren't always right. Contrast the Percy Jackson series with a series like The Hunger Games. Katniss is a Strong Female Character and the Hero, a rare enough phenomena in modern YA publishing. Like most heroes, she's the Plucky Protagonist who acts on her gut impulses instead of following her calmer instincts. She's smart about certain things, like hunting and surviving in the wild, but her most defining moments are moments where she acts "stupidly" and yet captures the hearts and minds of the oppressed in her country.

Yet despite following the established Plucky Protagonist trope, Katniss is a hero who doesn't always win. Sometimes her impulsive acts work in her favor; but other times her rash actions cause herself and others to be unnecessarily hurt. Though she follows her heart and her gut, she is sometimes noticeably wrong instead of being magically always right. She isn't a one-woman army, and for as many times as she rescues her friends and loved ones, she in turn will have to be rescued as well. Like Percy Jackson, she's a first-person protagonist, but unlike him, she's not present for every plot-critical moment, and she isn't the savior of every situation regardless of circumstance. She occasionally takes a backseat while other characters save the day or provide insight into the plot, and she's a stronger protagonist because of it.

Katniss is a very human mixture of smart and stupid, of false bravado and true bravery. She's neither a Smart Girl nor a smart girl -- she's just human. Annabeth, and Thalia, and Zoe, and Bianca, and so many other of Riordan's female characters, on the other hand, noticeably aren't human -- they don't have personalities at all besides a collection of informed attributes designed to propel Percy into the most heroic position possible.

Ultimately, the curse of the Smart Girl isn't that the character is or isn't smart, and it's not even that she's never the protagonist. No, the curse of the Smart Girl is that she is neither human, nor relateable, nor important to the plot. She's a trophy to be won, a measuring stick to be surpassed, a plot exposition voice to provide narration in a first-person story. She's an object in a story otherwise populated by people, and her Usually Female status gives the uncomfortable impression that all females are objects, and only males can hope to be people. The Smart Girl is a bane to the female reader, a reminder that her best achievements will ultimately only be measured in terms of how much they helped the male protagonist to shine as the Designated Hero.


Nathaniel said...

Damn, never thought of it in that light.

Must admit though, off the top of my head can't think of other series I have read that have Smart Girls rather than girls who are smart. What other books have you read that contain this curiously non person?

Ana Mardoll said...

Haha, it would probably be easier for me to list books and movies that DON'T have Smart Girls in them. This is particularly a problem in movies -- picking the first thing that pops into my head (because Percy Jackson makes me think of mythology) would be the recent "Clash of the Titans" remake.

Take one girl, and make her super-knowledgeable so that she can spout backstory to the audience as needed. Give her a weapon so that the feminists can't complain about her purpose being ornamental, but don't actually let her be useful in battle because everyone knows girls are weaker than boys.

My belief is that it's so common that we've been completely blinded to it. Heck, take Narnia: Susan is the one who suggests they wear the fur coats and worries about the food supplies, but does she actually do anything useful? She doesn't fight the war (Peter does that), she's not the impetus for the betrayal/sacrifice allegory (that would be Edmund), and she's not the explorer who discovers Narnia (that would be Lucy).

See also Twilight. Alice is the smart one, what with her precog abilities; she provides buckets of plot exposition. But even though she can beat her super-strong, tactically minded boyfriend Jasper in "practice" fights, she never distinguishes herself in actual combat. That is, I believe, largely left to the men in the family.

Why can't Susan fight with a bow? Why can't Alice be the best warrior in the family regardless of whether or not it's practice or the real thing? The only reason I can see is that authors have been conditioned to believe that women are the thinkers but men are the doers.

Nathaniel said...

Ah, well, movies I have no trouble of thinking of potentially dozens of them. Hollywood absolutely loves this trope.

Would you characterize Susan as a smart girl? I thought she was more of a Wendy myself.

As for Twilight, my burning hatred for the narrator blinded me to most of the other characters and how they were portrayed.

Orion Anderson said...

I'm a little confused now because I could have sworn Susan does fight with a bow.  Not disagreeing with the larger critique, just wondering if you left something out.  

redcrow said...

>>>.she never distinguishes herself in actual combat

Yet another reason why movies are at least relatively better than books. Because movie!Alice... erm, I don't know if anyone would rather not be spoiled for movies, so I won't go into details unless someone wants me to - let's just say she *does* "distinguish herself in actual combat".

Redwood Rhiadra said...

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series.

Ana Mardoll said...

 Orion Anderson

I'm a little confused now because I could have sworn Susan does
fight with a bow.  Not disagreeing with the larger critique, just
wondering if you left something out.

Depends on whether we're referring to the books or the movies. In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Susan is given a bow by Father Christmas, but he warns her that it is not a tool of war for battles are ugly when women get involved. (As close a quote as I can manage from my head.) To my recollection, she does not use the bow for the entire book; the two major battles (the fight with the wolves, and the fight with the witch) find her either up a tree (literally) or away with Aslan.

In the second book, Prince Caspian, she uses her prowess with a bow (shooting targets) to prove her identity but she does not, IIRC, use the bow in battle. Her prowess is largely as an upper-class hobby, rather than as a lady of war.

The movies beef her up a bit, and rightfully so.

Jill, in the Last Battle, I believe uses a bow in a combat situation. But I cannot swear on that -- I'd have to go home and dig up a reference.

Ana Mardoll said...

Redwood Rhiadra

Hah, that one will be contentious, I predict.

However, let's set out the criteria, just as I've arbitrarily defined them here:


1. Has a defining characteristic of "intelligence" but is rarely smart enough to recognize, avoid, or thwart traps. Instead, their "intelligence" is largely used to provide plot exposition to the ignorant protagonist/audience on behalf of the author. (This is important to the trope because it illustrates that the Smart Girl isn't *actually* smart.)

2. Has theoretical combat abilities (magic or mundane) but is rarely effective in battle. This can be because she doesn't "use enough gun" (as with Annabeth's knife to Percy's sword) or because she can't take hits and gets knocked out of combat quickly. (This is important to the trope because lack of usefulness in combat situations is much of the Faux in the Faux Action Girl.)

3. Is allowed to save the protagonist on rare occasions but rarely/never saves anyone else of importance; this latter job is left to the actual protagonist. (This is important to the trope because saving the protagonist is usually an act devoid of dramatic import unless Anyone Can Die.)

4. Is characterized as being "limited" by intelligence (i.e., too cold, too detached, too logical, too unemotional, too uninspiring, too uncharismatic). The protagonist will surpass the Smart Girl in these fields, and this will be a justification for why the protagonist is better and more well-loved than the Smart Girl by the other characters. (This is important to the trope as it reinforces the idea that the Smart Girl is automatically inferior to the protagonist.)

5. Is characterized at the story's end/epilogue largely in terms of the male characters around her -- as lover, wife, daughter, or mother. Rarely uses their vaunted "intelligence" to do more than advise men and bear intelligent babies. (This is important to the trope because it reinforces that the Smart Girl is not an individual, but an object.)

I'm guessing (I haven't gotten to the series end, so I can't speak to #5) that Annabeth ranks 5/5 on that scale. I'd place Susan at a 4/5 if we expand #5 to include "fallen woman" stereotypes; I didn't mark her down for #4 because she isn't characterized as being limited by her intelligence so much as the opposite -- in THaHB, she's described as being emotional, capricious, and flighty.

Someone else can weigh in on Hermione -- I've not finished those books, either. 

Redwood Rhiadra said...

I'll start off by saying I *like* Hermione Granger, a lot - she's probably my favorite character in the series, and I think Rowling did a grave injustice to her, particularly in the last couple of books. If I were going to be reborn as any character in the HP books, I would pick her.

1) Exists to explain magic to the Harry, but frequently falls for traps (troll in the bathroom, cat hair in polyjuice, paralyzed by basilisk) - check.

2) She's a witch, she has a wand, she knows combat spells. But doesn't seem to be very good at using them in an actual fight. (She was the worst injured during the Ministry battle). Check

3) Allowed to save protagonist but no-one else. I'm not sure I can think of a situation in which she even really rescues Harry, much less anyone else... Check.

4) She's characterized as being pushy, bossy, nagging, far too academically focused. Most other people don't like her because of this. She's the one who does all the organizing of Dumbledore's Army, but again Harry is the leader, because people look up to him. Check.

5) Characterization at the end of the series: Ron's wife and mother of however many Weasleys it was. Not "First Muggleborn Minister of Magic", not "Head Unspeakable", not even "well-liked Transfiguration Professor." As soon as the series is over, she marries Ron and does absolutely nothing except push out babies. Check, check, CHECK! (And what annoys me most about the damn ending!)

Five for five.

Ana Mardoll said...

She doesn't even become an Auror? Wasn't that her life's dream, or am I misremembering? I knew she had a load of Weasleys at the end, but I assumed they were born between Auroring. 

Orion Anderson said...

In the printed books, EVERYONE is defined primarily in terms of family-- Hermione's career isn't specified, but that's true of most of the characters.  According to Rowling in interviews, Harry and Ron become Aurors while Hermione becomes an administrator in magical law enforcement.  

Ana Mardoll said...

Orion Anderson 

According to Rowling in interviews, Harry and Ron become Aurors while
Hermione becomes an administrator in magical law enforcement.

Time for me to show off my ignorance, but what's the difference? I thought Aurors were the enforcers of the magical laws?

Amaryllis said...

According to the famous interview, Rowling said that Hermione became "pretty high up"  in the Department of Magical Law. I assume that means she's working as as a lawyer, something like the wizarding equivalent of the D.A. or the Attorney General, while the Aurors are something like an elite police force. It's the difference between "law" and "law enforcement."

Or, for that matter, maybe she runs the Public Defenders Office. Or if there isn't one, maybe she establishes it. It sounds like something she'd do.

It may still be an office job, but is it not important? I'm not crazy about the idea of cops without legal One of the things I liked about the Potter books was the variety of ways in which female characters were treated as actual people. "Kick-ass hero" is not the only valid or interesting character role.

Meanwhile, I take exception to the characterization of Ron as "stupid, lazy, worthless, comic-relief." He's a little slower to grow up the Harry or Hermione, perhaps, but I find that perfectly understandable given the difference in their circumstances. But there's good stuff in Ron, from the beginning.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, from what I know of Hermione, I can see her as a defense lawyer. That would be cool. It still seems ripe for misunderstanding, though -- either only boys can get their dreams while girls settle for being secretaries, or boys are good for the rough and tumble law enforcement while girls do the high up thinking work. Writing gender is hard because there's so MANY stereotypes to fall into; I'm not blaming Rowling by any stretch, but it's still worth thinking about even if the intent was perfectly innocent.

Ron. Such a contentious character. I admit to disliking Movie!Ron very strongly, but a lot of that is based on Deadly Hallows 1 being devoted SO MUCH to him sulking while World War 3 is going on outside the tent. I hate romantic tension of the sulking variety with the passion of a thousand fiery suns (see also Gale in The Hunger Games) so Movie!Ron had no chance with me after that. Still, I'm willing to understand that maybe he's a bit more three-dimensional in the books. 

Amaryllis said...

boys are good for the rough and tumble law enforcement while girls do the high up thinking work.
Maybe. But again, if we go by the same interview, Harry becomes Head of the Auror Office. The Police Chief's job, in the Muggle world anyway, is more paperwork and politics than rough-and-tumble with the bad guys; maybe Harry's not such an action hero by that time either.

As for Ron I think the movie exaggerated the romantic-jealousy aspect of the sulk, and downplayed some of the other factors that went into Book!Ron's bout of depression.

Oh, and just to pick nits,

@redwoodr:disqus :I'm not sure I can think of a situation in which she even really rescues Harry

Would you count DH Chapter 17 (visit to Bathilda Bagshot) and Chapter 21
(visit to Xenophilus Lovegood)?

Ana Mardoll said...


Haha, true enough -- that does sound rather administrative in nature. That'll teach me to deconstruct an interview I haven't read on a series I haven't finished. :D *blush*

I've read a rather good "why Hermione and Ron are good for each other considering their personalities" decon somewhere once. It was good enough to convince me, but again I haven't finished... oh, past the second book, I think. I was waiting for the movie series to finish out, and now I suppose I'm waiting for non-watermarked eBook versions to be available, so I'm a bit out of touch on HP world building. ;)

Amaryllis said...

Well, after all, that interview isn't canon, as they say.  It just amused me to think of Harry with a desk job. And as the Auror Office is an element of the Department of Magical Law; it also amuses me to imagine Hermione continuing to climb up the ranks until she's the Head of the department-- and thus Harry's boss.

When I talk about Harry Potter, I'm talking about the books. I've seen the movies, but somehow movies never make much of a lasting impression on me.

And as for eBooks, I shall continue to be a paper-and-ink dinosaur for the foreseeable future. (Amaryllis-- last on her block to get a cell phone, and it's still only a phone!)

Redwood Rhiadra said...

Would you count DH Chapter 17 (visit to Bathilda Bagshot) and Chapter 21
(visit to Xenophilus Lovegood)?

To be honest, it's been a long time since I've read the last two books - I really didn't like them at all. I'd have to go back and look.

Ana Mardoll said...

And as for eBooks, I shall continue to be a paper-and-ink dinosaur for
the foreseeable future. (Amaryllis-- last on her block to get a cell
phone, and it's still only a phone!)

I've heard of people like you, but I've not yet met one in person! ;)

(Just kidding -- I have several friends at work who still have the Just-A-Phone varieties. :D)

Brin Bellway said...

(Amaryllis-- last on her block to get a cell phone, and it's still only a phone!)

At least you have the excuse of being old. Teenagers are expected to know their cell phones like the back of their hands. Compared to that, my late adoption* seems all the stranger. (You can probably guess I don't have an eReader. I do have an MP3 player, though.)

*In my family, we have one cell phone between the four of us. It lives in Mom's bag (though I've borrowed it a couple of times) and is used only on special occasions.

Orion Anderson said...

Well, Movie!Harry and Hermione had all this chemistry from previous films that wasn't in the books at all, so it makes sense that Movie!Ron is a little more jealous.  Also Movie!Hermione is Emma Watson.  

jetso said...

Exposition, when done with enough skill, is indistinguishable from chemistry.

jetso said...

Which is intriguing in some way because I think back in the day, we were all about men being all the think-y-logic and women being all the intuition. In fact, still a turn of phrase, that and that is arguably the other annoying box female characters get stuck in.

I think you've hit the nail on the head in terms of trope definition. There's always been something that tastes wrong about the Smart Girl being peddled as a "strong female character", but something I've struggled to entirely articulate, but and I think you've finally hit the nail on the head with the post. So, yay!

Hermione is very contentious, I suppose, because she is has enough wordcount in the books that you can start finding loopholes and exceptions (and depending on who you are, you probably like her enough to try), but the broad strokes of her character do fit. And in many ways, it is the problem with the characters of Harry Potter as a whole, they never quite escape their tropes (the good, or the bad, in terms of aspects). Rhiadra pretty much summarises it. She does save Harry (and Ron) a good few times times through the Power of Exposition.

I did just come from watching 7a, 6 and 4 of the Harry Potter films, so Movie!Hermione, at least, fits the bill incredibly. She does appear to be the only competent character in 7a. It does, however, save Harry from packing. After all,  having him do an emergency escape with a chase sequence is much more exciting, but he also needs to have been prepared, so she does it for him (much of her function does boil down to doing the clever stuff without the hero knowing so that narrative tension can be maintained).

Kit Whitfield said...

a lot of that is based on Deadly Hallows 1 being devoted SO MUCH to him sulking while World War 3 is going on outside the tent

Rowling's been very open about having suffered from clinical depression, and I think that experience weaves in and out of the books a great deal. If you posit wearing the locket thingy as becoming depressed, the whole thing makes a lot of sense: some people are more vulnerable to it than others, and if you're really under it, it does mess up your sense of proportion. 

jetso said...

For what it's worth (as someone who does suffer from clinical depression) I'm not sold on Ron's "sulking." It's better in the films partly because it takes less time, and there's a slight viewpoint shift that allows you a glimpse into his world. The film also makes World War Three more bleak, less of a viva le resistance feel to the radio shows and more of an all-the-good-people-are-dead. His frustration becomes part of the reader's (they really do not very much for weeks, and then months, note the clothing change.) The mind-control aspect of the locket's powers is also more overt in the film.

With the book, I suspect it's just that he's not the point of view character and Harry does frequently strain to empathize (c.f. the way Cho is described in Order of the Phoenix or even Tonks in Half Blood Prince). I think the problem is that Rowling might weave that experience into her books, she's not quite able to (or doesn't chose to) convey it sympathetically. Many of the characters (Ron arguably less so) who do sink into what can be seen depression don't tend to be sympathetically portrayed. Unflattering descriptions tend to  be piled onto them and there is very little sympathy or recognition.  It's less an internal battle, more an inglorious inconvenience that Harry is bemused by. 

Kish said...

In the book (never saw the movie...never plan to), I thought it was very clear that Ron was sulking--and eventually stormed out--purely because of the locket's influence, and would no more hold it against him than I would hold it against Frodo that he said "No, I won't throw the ring into the volcano," m'self.

Silver Adept said...

Oh, this trope, we hate it. And while Smart Girl is generally the common incidence of the trope, we think it actually expands to the Smart Sidekick in general, regardless of whether they're male or female. The brainy people who always have the useful information to exposition or for giving clues to the Hero are almost always portrayed as high INT, low WIS, and CHA is their dump stat. That, frankly, never makes any sense - with that comination, they're also almost guaranteed a backstory of oppression, few friendships, and a healthy hatred for the bullies / primary antagonists, which is why they join up with the Hero when the bullies pick on him for being the New Kid.

What they should have is a high degree of cynicism, misanthropy, and a strong willingness to manipulate the Hero into doing what they want them to do, rather than falling in line as one of the Hero's entourage. They will play puppetmaster, not marionette.

Of course, if the Smart Girl actually did that, that would make her a villainess, and probably the Temptress that could lure the Hero to the Dark Side, were it not for Polly Purebred saving him. Smart Girls aren't allowed agency for their abilities or frustrations unless they're on the side of Evil. Mother Mentor figures, like Lily Potter and Molly Weasley, however, are allowed to do much the service of protecting the Hero and/or their children. Why don't we hear about what Minerva is doing, or Madam Hooch, or any of the other female Hogwarts faculty? Why are all the doers on the side of Good all men?

In the case of Harry Potter, Ron and Harry pass the Idiot Ball back and forth between themselves, usually triggering the trap and forcing Hermione to get them out of it. Where she messes up, it's usually from overconfidence in her abilities or being rushed, rather than being unable to use her brain until after the trap's sprung.

aravind said...

That's exactly what I thought of during this post. She started out as something... more. I'm not exactly sure how much more though, since she was pretty frequently presented as very fragile. Still, by the time she and Ron got together, she was nothing but exposition for Rowling, it seems.

Ana Mardoll said...


What they should have is a high degree of cynicism, misanthropy, and a
strong willingness to manipulate the Hero into doing what they want them
to do, rather than falling in line as one of the Hero's entourage. They
will play puppetmaster, not marionette.

Ah! This makes so much sense. Perhaps this is why the Smart Guys in a lot of movies come from a relatively sheltered upbringing -- in the fantasy stuff, they're always monks of some flavor; in more modern movies, they're implied to have not left their computer desk since 4th grade.

The only Smart Guy examples I can think of, really, though are (1) the monk from Dragon Heart, (2) the monk from Van Helsing, and (3) the hacker from The Core. In each of those cases, the gendered portrayal of the female love interest was so full fail that an upgrade to Smart Girl might have been a good thing.

I wonder -- can we draw a conclusion that the "Smart Guy" can only appear when (a) there are no women in the movie at all or (b) there are women who (for better or worse) didn't fill the Smart Girl role? (Law of Conservation of Narrative Detail means that you really don't need TWO exposition characters.)

kbeth said...

While Hermione is definitely a Smart Girl in the earlier books, she does seem to become less so later on. She definitely mellows out a bit, at least. Another thing is that she sets up a lot of good contingency plans, for example with Marietta (or whatever her name was) telling on the D.A. in book 5, or when the trio gets caught by Death Eaters in book 7. I think this is at least similar to being able to notice traps. Of course, she then doesn't notice the giant gaping flaw in their plan to infiltrate the Ministry at the beginning of book 7 -- namely, that they *don't have a plan* for anything after getting inside -- so that kind of ruins it. She does often tell Harry that whatever strange item he might obtain (the Firebolt in book 3, the Half-Blood Prince's potions book in book 6) might be dangerous, and makes him get them checked out, but it turned out that there wasn't anything wrong with either, so that again became more about her being nagging and bossy, even though her concern was definitely merited for both.

I feel like she does save people besides Harry and Ron -- the examples someone brought up from book 7 are a bit iffy, because they're somewhat incidental to saving Harry and Ron, though she does make a special effort for Xenophilus -- but I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Well, she does kind of save Penelope Clearwater in book 2 by telling her to look around corners with mirrors, but it happens very much off-camera (so to speak, I haven't seen the movie) and is attributed to her bossy personality.  She also knows that Lupin is a werewolf in book 3 and doesn't tell anyone else about it, so that's helpful to Lupin, but also pretty passive.

Overall, though, I think Hermione definitely fits the trope, just with some exceptions. I also agree with Silver Adept that the trope is somewhat more generally about the Smart Sidekick -- there are lots of secondary male roles that fit this as well, though often those characters tend to be cast as goofy-verging-on-buffoonish nerdy best friend, rather than the cold, aloof, controlling woman.

Ana Mardoll said...

While I do not have a stake in the HP fight, I do think the "mother = protector" problem isn't because it's not good or noble to protect one's children, but rather because that is usually the only valid protector role offered to women/mothers in literature.

Although Molly Weasley is apparently a very powerful witch (witness the dozens of spells she keeps going constantly), her character (as far as I can tell) seems to be largely "Mom". To my mind, at least, I can think of several non-Fatherly traits about Mr. Weasley from the movies, but I can't remember a single instance where Ms. Weasley is anything other than nurturing and protective.

This may be an artifact of the movies, or it may be a social bias on my own part -- maybe I'm conditioned to only see the "mom" parts and disregard the others.

Emmy said...

I don't think Hermione really counts as a Smart Girl? She is the smarter/more expository sidekick (the mind to Ron's heart, so to speak), but she does save people--off the top of my head, she co-saves Sirius in book 3 (while Ron is in the hospital), Lavender Brown in the seventh book, Neville a couple times, and Harry and Ron multiple times during book 7. She punches Draco in the third book, and she's instrumental in the battles in books five and seven (and acquits herself pretty well, iirc--better than a lot of male characters).  Also, she kills a horcrux!

As for traps, what about the potions riddle in book 1? 

I think she definitely leans toward the trope, but I think she also rises above it to some degree. 

Silver Adept said...

Ana Mardoll The Smart Guy trope generally heads more toward the Sage role - Giles, for example, fills the trope role excellently - expositionary, font of brilliance, and too X (major character flaw) to do the heroing work himself, despite being more clearly qualified for the role. If you have a Smart Guy next to the Hero, there's also usually an explanation that the Hero is truly the only one who can wield the Keyblade, so he's necessary, otherwise the Smart Guy should totally be the Hero. (Kingdom Hearts I actually subverts the trope, as the Smart Guy, Riku, can actually wield the weapon, but his heart is open to darkness, so he's nominally a villain for the first game and something much more complex from there on out.)

Based on the above, though, I'd say that you can have plenty of Smart Guys where there are women, and even when they eventually fill the Smart Girl role later on (because they paid attention, unlike the hero). But if your movie/book has a Smart Girl from the beginning, then the likelihood of Smart Guys is lessened.

Amaryllis  You're right, there's a lot more going on there that we're not seeing from Harry's perspective. It would have been nice to see or hear more of it going on, though, through the means that are available to the trio for keeping track and progress on the war and on the politics. But that detracts from the action, so I guess it makes sense to not include it - Harry doesn't really care about it.

I agree with Ana that it's not that "Not my daughter, you bitch!" isn't a valid form, just that it seems to be the only form available to middle-aged women in these stories - Teacher/Mentor/Mother. That's what I was trying for, and if I missed it, I'm sorry for being unclear.

Ana Mardoll said...

The more I think about it, the more I think that Smart Guy and Smart Girl are two different tropes.

1. The Smart Guy is rarely a Faux Action character. He's usually not setup with "badass" as an informed attribute that he then never lives up to - he's usually a monk or scholar. The issue with the Smart Girl isn't just that she's for exposition, it's that she's also capable of combat in theory, but never actually performs to expectations.

2. The Smart Guy has a life after The End. He goes back to wandering the earth, or returns to the monastery and his studies. What he doesn't do (usually) is restructure his entire life around a hero he sometimes even barely knows.

3. The Smart Guy is not gender representative. I can't think of a single book or movie where ALL the men are Smart Guys, but I can't say the same for Smart Girls. This is ultimately what is most powerful and damaging about this trope -- the mentality that being plot exposition for the hero is the best thing girls can aspire to.

So while there are Sage Guys as a trope, I don't think they're simply the male gender equivalent of this one, if that makes sense.

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh, and also the Smart Guy usually saves someone other than the hero, if only because the Smart Guy needs a girlfriend too!

Amaryllis said...

@openid-75628:disqus : yes, I see what you're saying, but I think I disagree as far as the HP books are concerned.  Teacher/Mentor/[Parent] is a role that's not restricted to women in this series.It's a school story, after all, and most of the adults that the protagonist interacts with are teachers and parents. And the men are just as protective  as the women. Is Molly at Hogwarts, for instance, either less heroic or more concerned with protecting the young than, say, Sirius at the Ministry?

And is the completely unmaternal-in-aspect Minerva McGonagall more of a parent figure and less of a professional than Remus Lupin or, God help us, Hagrid?

It's true that Molly Weasley is a Stay-at-home Mom, as we say here in the Muggle world. But she's the only adult female of whom that seems to be true (unless you count the upper-class Narcissa Malfoy). Women in the wizarding world, as far as we can judge by Harry's adventures outside Hogwarts, are business owners, government bureaucrats, writers, researchers, athletes, journalists, doctors, Aurors...occupational choice doesn't seem to be particularly restricted by gender. Is Molly's choice any less valid than anyone else's?

On the other hand, I missed Ginny's presence in that last book. And, as far as Hermione and the Horcrux, I wish she'd been allowed to destroy it on-screen in the books (that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean),  like Harry and Ron and Neville, rather than having the achievement tossed off in a one-liner, and presented as something of a gift from Ron. (That was one of the places where the movie improved on the book.)

I never said the books were perfect. :)  I just don't think they can be reduced to tropes soe easily, I guess, and I've probably gotten sensitive about the way that Molly gets routinely dissed.

For an anti-SmartGirl character, I may mention here that I've gotten quite fond of the warrior Tazendra in Steven Brust's Khaavren Chronicles. Instead of being Miss Exposition, she generally needs to have matters explained to her. But nobody attacks a friend of hers, or a weaker party, when she's around.

Silver Adept said...

Ana Mardoll Fair enough. Differences enough to not be the same thing.

Amaryllis Molly's choice is no less valid than the others. But the big pieces of magic seem to be connected to a mother's love for her child. or the need to protect someone else. Maybe that's the nature of the magic, or the story. You're right - I over-reached on reducing the women to tropes.

At least we're getting good discussion out of it. I think my batting average can handle it.

Enigma32 said...

*waves* Hi! It's Enigma the Transhumanist, from Slacktivist. I'm just weighing in on a few things and describing my own experience using female characters when I write. You're familiar with TV Tropes, so it should be easy for me to condense this stuff into a relatively short area in a trope-saturated post :)

First, I usually stick with an omega cast. This means roles have to overlap, because I don't want an exceptionally large group of characters. The closest I've ever come to using the smart girl archetype without mixing it comes from Naomi in my current short story I'm working on - and Naomi isn't just the smart girl, she's the main character.

Now, I'm a RPer who enjoys to play female characters; I get a wider variety of characters doing that, because all of my male characters seem like they're just me under a different name. I bring this up because what I've found is that I'm usually the only female character in the group; which means that, in general, I get smacked with the Smurfette Principle stick repeatedly. My current character, Noelle, looks more and more like she's going to fall into the role (although she serves other uses, too - she's a psychic sensitive, meaning she's the only member of the cast open to the supernatural, and the only other player who can actively sense demons, monsters, entities, and the like. Where possible, I do look for a way to defy roles, and I never, ever play the chick). And that's part of the problem. The smart girl wouldn't be such an issue if she wasn't the only female character. By virtue of being the only female character, she becomes representative to the whole female sex in that novel (I read someone commenting about that above, but it's worth repeating) - and that's the major problem with just about every work that features women that aren't aimed at them.

Sailorsaturumon said...

     Ah, and here lies the rub. When You look At GOOD stories (Like Harry Potter), You see that the Smart Girl has charachteristics that you attribute to guys here. Hermione actually gives herself less credit then she is worth of - she repeatedly comments that books can only take you so far - and then achieves more.
      And in a bad story, guys are just as useless, except for the hero. And the girls in question are NOT presented as action girls. What we have here, is Faux Smart Guy, the counterpart of Faux Action Girl, but not actually a Faux Action Girl

Aravis Lasaraleen said...

Anita Sarkeesian is just another Straw Feminist because she believes all males are bad writers and all are in favour of tropes like this. If its not present she would think of some other excuse to call you a misogynist so if you are a follower of her then you are a blind sheep who turns a blind eye to misandry.

chris the cynic said...

Who is Anita Sarkeesian?


Unrelatedly, the second link in this post "Faux Action Girls" is broken.

Ana Mardoll said...

I was wondering that too. Google says she's a famous online feminist and *I think* she's the one in the Bechdel Test video:

Probably-not-surprisingly, I can't find her anywhere saying that all men are bad writers. *shrug*

Fixed the link -- thank you!

Aravis Lasaraleen said...

She doesn't say that but she certainly implies that because she finds EVERYTHING misogynistic but nothing misandric. This suggest she and her followers only have love for their own gender will hating and blaming the entire for women's oppression even if they open the door for them.

chris the cynic said...

Fixed the link -- thank you!

It was actually because I was wondering if you had linked to Sarkeesian that I noticed that. I looked at the address of every link to see if any went to an unexpectedly Sarkeesian place but, with the exception of the broken one, they all went exactly where I would have expected them to go.

So I still have no idea why Sarkeesian was brought up as if she were already being discussed, but you're welcome for the heads up on the link.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Aravis Lasaraleen, feel free to go complain about Anita Sarkeesian on her blog.

Coming on here to complain about people who don't post here and haven't been linked to is poor internet form, and I'm not going to provide a platform to it. Furthermore, complaining that activists are concerned about the causes that interest them rather than the causes that interest you is also very bad form and additionally a tactic of Derailing for Dummies.

Find something else to talk about or I'm going to start handing out spoons -- I don't have the time, patience, or state of mind to host a gripe-fest about someone I've never heard of before this morning.

Aravis Lasaraleen said...

Hating feminism douse not make you a misogynist any more then hating al-Qaeda makes you Islamophobic. A majority of the people who disagree with it hate it for its hippocracy of abolishing sexism. If they truly believed in equality they wouldn't be identifying themselves as feminist because a majority if not then all forms of feminism hate all males no matter what they do even if they are supporting women's rights. Anita Sarkeesian and other feminist should call themselves equalist so their management and education wouldn't be reduced to Hate groups. Buy the way check out TheAmazingAtheist's video "It's Only Sexist When Men Do It" nothing exposes the hippocracy of the feminist movement more then that.

Rikalous said...

The feminist movement supports rule by horses? Well, I'm not sure what that has to do with abolishing sexism, unless the Houyhnhnms are involved. Fascinating new information, though.

Most if not all forms of feminism are misandrist? Welp, never mind. You're just an ignorant Yahoo.

Dav said...

I admit that I would have a hard time not voting for the Thoroughbred of Sin. But that probably has little to do with my feminism, and more to do with my love of catchy theme music.

Also, nothing says "not misogynistic" like telling women what they really think, and following up with telling them they're doin' it wrong.

Ana Mardoll said...

[Content Note: Miscarriage]

@Aravis Lasaraleen, congratulations, that last post got you a full collector's set of spoons and an insta-ban from this blog. Please enjoy posting somewhere other than here.

If you honestly can't be arsed to look up feminism 101, read it, and understand why feminism is necessary in a world where women are being actively jailed for the 'crime' of having a miscarriage, then I don't have the time or energy to explain it to you. Maybe the next blog you visit will. Bye!

Ana Mardoll said...

@Rikalous and Dav, thank you for the belly-laugh this morning. :D

I, too, would vote for Houyhnhnm.

chris the cynic said...

I wasn't sure if it was worth coming back to this thread, knowing what probably provoked more comments in it. I'm definitely glad I did. Just getting:

The feminist movement supports rule by horses?

Would have made it worth it.

Joamanova said...

A hundred times yes! to your faux action chick/smart chick trope. That one's been annoying me for ages. My knee-jerk response is usually that they had to give (the girls) *something*. Not combat prowess, and they can hardly make her just the pretty flower, so let's give her *smarts*. Something non-threatening usually (as you so rightly pointed out) redundant and still meant as just a tool for the Real Hero.
It feels, to me, so patronising: 'we gave the woman-character smarts: now quit yer complainin''. This is highly subjective and probably sometimes even untrue. But it's one of my irritations.
It's just another way to make female characters redundant as all but a prize for the hero, the mere fact that it looks a little different doesn't make it any less annoying.

That said characterisation is hard, and shorthand is sometimes necissary, and completely okay. But using shorthand is something other than lazy characterisation.

I wholeheartedly agree that these characters are not "Strong Female Characters" any more than the Damsel-in-distress-incognito* is.

Both tropes reinforce that what is important in a woman is what a man sees in her, at best, and how she can be of use to him at worst. And when you get right down to it, that's rather squicky.

Does it seem to the other readers/writers here that the movie industry especially, but books too, seem to be grasping at things to 'give' a female audience as long as it's not an actual, you know, *personality*? Because I sometimes think i'm exaggerating, and then i see another movie/series/fridging or something else that annoys me and i think: This Cannot Be Accidental!

*I will try to come up with a good and concrete example. I don't mean to be vage: I hope the readers here will understand the type of characterisation i mean. I lack the time at the moment, and will do better. I promise. But i just wanted to cheer here very quickly, because I read this post and thought: "See! I'm not alone! Other people are seeing it too!" Thanks for that. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

I'll throw out the first movie I've watched recently: Captain America.

I actually liked it more than I thought I would, but if anyone can tell me from a single viewing what the Love Interest's job was, I'll give them a cookie. It seemed to my brain that the movie went:

She's British! Some kind of exchange-student program. But in war!
She... trains soldiers! That's kind of cool, I guess.
And... is some kind of scientist? She's on the operating floor during the demonstration, I think?
And she's some kind of Battle Secretary! On the front lines!
Who can... just take off and not be missed for hours. Or something.
And she shoots guns in the scientist training room. Because she's ANGRY!
Now she gets to talk to the hero during special missions because he wants to bone her. OK.

If she had a job in that movie that was anything other than "Love Interest" (and therefore magically available at all times in all circumstances necessary), I never caught on to it. She had a personality in as much as a series of character actions issues a personality (much like spider silk results in some form of web), but as we never got to see her goals, wants, needs, wishes, or -- really -- anything, we just ended up with a series of supporting actions that made a loose personality and nothing more.

Rather disappointing, really. And I just picked that one at random.

chris the cynic said...

Discussions like this always make me think of the movie Salt which I'm told was originally supposed to have a male main character and, presumably, a female spouse. (If the movie had called for a happily married gay couple I think I would have heard of that.) So the female lead we get was originally written as male, and the male love interest we get was originally written as female.

They're both great characters and I don't see why we can't have more like them.*

It also makes me wonder about other things. Can you think of any reason why Mal from Firefly couldn't have been female? Nothing really comes to mind. It would have changed things of course. Mostly involving sexuality, I think. The main character would be a lesbian, Zoe would be implied to be bisexual (otherwise why would Wash think that there is unresolved sexual tension between Zoe and Mal?) marriage equality would be shown to accepted and noncontroversial (see the first Saffron episode) and stuff like that, but nothing jumps out as making it not work.

Interestingly, I think that in places sticking closer to the script would change things more than reworking it For example:

Inara: What did I say to you about barging in to my shuttle?
Mal: That it was manly and impulsive?
Inara: Yes, precisely. Only the exact phrase I used was "don't."

Keep that word for word the same and it would imply that Inara and female-Mal have previously had some disagreements about how a woman should act, with Inara implying that Mal isn't doing it right, and Mal is interpreting their subsequent interactions in light of that. A theme that would return in ORM when Inara is surprised that Mal has experience wearing a dress. (Though, to be honest, that probably would be somewhat surprising, do you imagine female-Mal wearing a dress to the ball with Kaylee, or sticking with the tight pants? I think she'd wear pants.)


If she had a job in that movie that was anything other than "Love Interest" (and therefore magically available at all times in all circumstances necessary), I never caught on to it.

The only thing I can think of that might have been able to justify such constant availability, and this doesn't apply to the actual movie at all, would be if she had been a superhero tasked with overseeing the superheroing of the new superhero. She's there in training to evaluate the candidates, she's there at the injection because she's been through this before and can thus provide support, she's on the front lines with loosely worked out duties because she's in the job of heroing and that sometimes involves disappearing at a moments notice onto an unplanned covert mission, the shooting of a gun in the lab without warning can have no explanation, and she's talking to him during special missions because as another superhero she's one of the few people who understand what he's going through on such missions.

Unfortunately, that totally fails to make sense in the context of the actual movie.


* And I'm still pissed off that apparently the only reason that love interest died was because sexists with power thought a woman shouldn't rescue her husband. Rescuing presidents is ok, but a husband being rescued? No way. Bastards.

Will Wildman said...

It took me several minutes to catch the hippocracy joke. Worth it.


I've been thinking more about this Smart Girl deal - or, more specifically, the tendency for the Girl to save the Hero and thus enable the Hero to save the Day - and noted that there are actually places where it pops up in textbook form in my own writing, which almost surprising to me. Not because I assumed I would Never Ever write a scene in which a male character is rescued by a female and then saves the day, but because I didn't notice that's what happened. Then I look at a recent story in which the most traditionally powerful characters are both female, and (in the original plan, which has since gone wonky) no less than three of their climactic scenes involve saving male characters, and I give myself the side-eye. (Which hurts like bejebus, let me tell you. I think I sprained my ocular nerve.)

Having given the matter some thought, it has occurred to me that the emphasis of those scenes as I envisioned them was entirely somewhere else: in the first example, the saving-a-male-hero aspect is kind of incidental to the turning-on-her-old-boss-who-is-now-evil aspect; in the second example, the saving-a-dude aspect is less relevant than the accepting-herself-after-long-believing-that-she-and-her-power-are-evilbadwrong; in the third example, the male character needs to get rescued because he's almost a MacGuffin at that point, and the female rescuer's decision to save him has more to do with cementing her principles than saving a dude.

So, narratively, the scenes make a great deal of sense to me exactly as they are or were (the latter two have since been thrown into flux due to rewriting previous sequences). Yet, functionally, they still end up falling into the same basic shape of 'female rescues male, then male saves the day'. I flipflop on whether this means there's a problem I would like to fix, or if I should stick to it because rewriting a story to not bear surface resemblance to a weaker story is not a good technique.


Oh, sweet. Just while writing this up, I've been struck by a different version of events for the third example which 1) downplays the 'save a dude' thing, 2) does an even better job of cementing the female character's principles, and 3) feels a lot less like a Deus Ex Machina. Hat trick!

Beatriz said...

Unfortunately I have to agree with Aravis Lasaraleen. You think your organization is perfect and never question it. But really all it takes for you to call something sexist is if the writer is male regardless of how he writes because from your perspective he is automatically sexist. and yes I believe Anita Sarkeesian hates all men.

chris the cynic said...

What organization? And we've never met this Anita person.

Do you honestly believe that there's some massive feminist conspiracy that unites everyone who ever makes a feminist critique in a single organization? Are their membership cards? A mission statement? Talking points? Marching orders? Talking horses? Do they pay dues?

How does one attain membership? Do potential members petition the organization, or does the organization have to actively recruit potential members.

Or, in short: What organization?

Beroli said...

I also find it fairly unlikely that "the writer is male" is a necessary condition for Ana (or Our Organization, depending on who Beatriz was addressing with "you") to call something sexist.

Aravis Lasaraleen has a screen name which is a composite of the names of two female characters; if I had to pick a pronoun to use for that poster, it wouldn't be "he." S/he is clearly sexist. "Beatriz" appears to be a female name; in the unlikely event that s/he sticks around long enough to express more of his/her views, I'd expect them to be sexist.

chris the cynic said...

I also find it fairly unlikely that "the writer is male" is a necessary condition for Ana (or Our Organization, depending on who Beatriz was addressing with "you") to call something sexist.

Indeed. Consider Twilight.

Beroli said...

Just because anything these particular people hate that much is likely to be good, I tracked down Anita Sarkeesian: .

Hm. I'm not big on online videos. I wonder if there's anything that would pass for an indication that she hates men--even in the dimmest light--to someone who doesn't consider that encoded in the word "feminist."

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't much care for online videos myself, but it looks like all her videos are fully transcripted.

As for The Grand Feminist Poobah and Her Mighty Organization, has anyone gotten their new membership card? Mine hasn't come yet, and I'm worried.

Hombom said...

The organization, movement or whatever you like to call it is never questioned because you think its perfect and flawless when in reality its no different to the KKK, the Nazis of the Skinheads. You feminist don't question any of the double standers you promote, including castration, false rape allegation, hate speech, misandric disposition and encouraged divorce and abortion even before she gets married or pregnant. Any one who douse of either sex is automatically a misogynist for believing in gender equality and not in gender supremacy. Thus my conclusion is they are out to get any male no matter what he douse.

Ana Mardoll said...

The only way it makes sense to me is if zie is saying that feminists are all "hey, if that whole marriage/pregnancy thing doesn't work out, there's always divorce/abortion as an option". In which case, yeah, I'm totally about that, so guilty as charged.

Gilad Oman said...

Again you seem to be ignoring your flaws, you think your movement is perfect when all it has ever done is promote double standards and increased the fear and hatred for both genders

Beatriz Clark said...

A majority of feminist groups are either puppet movements to either the Gender Feminist or the Separatist Feminist just like how a majority of communist states where puppets to either to China and Russia who forced them to be just like them. In theory feminism is perfect like communism but in practice they are both no more anti-discriminative then Nazi Germany. If you truly believe in gender equality you wouldn't be calling yourselves feminist but equalist because the word feminism itself implies that it is only in favor of one gender.

Beatriz Clark said...

I wounder why there hasn't been any comments allowed by anyone since the 18th of March 2012?

Gilad Oman said...

Yes I believe that you get pregnant just to have abortion and get married just to get divorced and blame it on all men as art of you hate speeches you educate on young women. The question is whether or not you say yes to every double stranded that you have promoted and still think the movement is perfect and without fault?

Mathew Clark said...

Guilty of making a misandric statement I know. That is the only reason why you get married and and pregnant is to get divorced and to have abortion.

chris the cynic said...

Hey, so remember how people came here to randomly rant about someone named "Anita Sarkeesian"?

Well guess whose name I just ran into? A Huffington Post article says that she's going to be doing a series of videos that will look at the roles women repeatedly play in video games and the effects that has on what one expects in real life.

The kickstarter page for the project is here, it has 32 hours left and has, at this point, already received 2,230.4% of the requested funding.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, chris. I decided to back that because I'd love to have access to the research materials when they're done. I greatly appreciate the heads-up.

Makabit said...

For an anti-SmartGirl character, I may mention here that I've gotten quite fond of the warrior Tazendra in Steven Brust's Khaavren Chronicles. Instead of being Miss Exposition, she generally needs to have matters explained to her. But nobody attacks a friend of hers, or a weaker party, when she's around.

I love, love, love, Tazendra, for precisely this reason. She is such a recognizable 'type', but it's not at all the type that is normally given to women. And yes, you do have to explain things to her...carefully...

chris the cynic said...

I didn't notice the researching materials thing. Now I'm tempted to contribute to get those but, on the other hand, 25 dollars is a lot of money from my position. I've got 18 hours to figure out if I can spare the money.

And you're welcome.

Will Wildman said...

Since this thread's active again - I've noticed that in the mnoths since its original posting, there will occasionally be a name in the sidebar indicating that someone's posted here, but there were never any new comments when I checked. Was that just the interwebs being glitchy, or some kind of restriction and unpublished comments, or something else?

Not that I mind coming back here to reread, since it's all so awesome (aside from the trolls).

chris the cynic said...

Ana obviously has the details and can speak to this with authority, but I think it has something to do with the way that blogger and disqus interact. (Posts are copied to blogger for safe keeping in case anything happens to disqus.) Things show up in the sidebar when they get copied to blogger, they show up in the thread when they're in disqus.

I think what's been happening is that banned people have tried to post comments and they've been copied to blogger but deleted from disqus.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris is precisely right -- "new posts" are showing in the widget because the widget looks at Blogger instead of Disqus. If I took the Disqus software off and "unveiled" all the spam posts on the thread, there would be more comments than you currently see now.

TW: Misogyny, Abortion

Very bizarrely, about once a month someone who appears to be the same person registers a new email address with Gmail in order to post a single comment to this thread (which is already locked for moderation, but most of the regulars here are whitelisted and can post wherever whenever) about how feminists deliberately encourage young women to get married and pregnant in order to then get abortions and divorces as a sort of rite of passage ripped from the legends of the Greek Amazons.

I can't tell if this person genuinely believes what they are saying, but it seems a lot of work to go to in order to post a comment that they never even get to see (what with the thread being on moderated-posting only). It's very confusing.

Will Wildman said...

That explains it. Lolsob. Thanks to you both.

hapax said...

TW: divorce, abortion

Beatriz whoever, I know you can't reply unless you can figure out another sockpuppet, and I doubt you'd make any sense anyhow, but this one:
encouraged divorce and abortion even before she gets married or pregnant.
stumped me.

I mean, maybe it's explained in the Secret Feminist Cabal Handbook that got lost in the mail, but how does that WORK, exactly?

All I can think of is a lecture on the mathematical analysis of mutations in certain gene sequences that hapaxspouse once attended, which he summarized as: "According to these equations, a species can go extinct even BEFORE it originates!"

(It sounds better in a movie-mad-scientist mock German accent. Which, crossing the threads, I am now
going to apply to Edward Cullen in the Thrilling Restaurant Scene. Bella will respond as Natasha Fatale)

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