megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
[personal profile] megwrites
If you want to know what prompted this, it's that people keep calling these pictures of the Sith!Disney Princesses awesome, and all I see is someone who decided to give the Princesses bigger breasts, skimpier clothes, and a technogoth makeover and call it Sith, even though the male (or male presenting) Sith in the Star Wars movies (note: I'm working off movie canon, not expanded universe canon) never wore anything even remotely that revealing.

For instance, take Darth Maul's costuming. How much of his ass do you see hanging out?

I said as much on my Tumblr account when it made the rounds on my dashboard, but it's still pissing me off to see people geeking out over it without stopping to think about what it means, or pretending like it's this great thing instead more Sci-Fi Bikini Babes with Disney Princess heads and why that's part and parcel of the same geekish misogyny that I've been putting up with.

Yes, Disney + Sith is a weird and possibly cool combo, but aside from the lightsabers in the picture, there's precious little that actually has to do with the actual Sith from the Star Wars 'verse.

And when in the name of George fucking Lucas have you ever seen any Force imbued persons EVER pull out teal and magenta as their colors? EVER?

Even if you could find instances of more scanty woman warrior attire in the expanded Star Wars 'verse (it would be equally problematic, btw) - I'm STILL not sure how imbuing these characters with the dark powers of the Force would cause their bust sizes and body types to suddenly morph into what I see there. Every single one of their body shapes has been deeply modified from the original to emphasize thinner waists, larger breasts, rounder butts, and longer legs.

Nor am I clear on how such a physiological reinvention emphasizes their empowerment as a dark warriors fighting for the forces of evil, but I'm thinking it has less to do with actually crossing over two works and more about gratuitously over-sexualizing three female characters because, well, you couldn't really dress them like this in the actual movies where they have lines and stories and ACTUAL young kids look up to them.

Oh, and just to be EXTRA gross, notice that the sole woman of color is the one with the MOST exposed breasts and most body hugging costume. Though Ariel's bikini-cum-black shower curtain costume comes in a close second.

And maybe I'd be okay with this, because you know what, people have been sexing up Disney characters since they first came around. But when someone holds this artistically uninspired picture to me as though it's this great thing and it seems like nobody's examining what it means that changing them into Sith also entailed dressing and drawing them like this and why that's deeply problematic, I get really fed up.

But hey, extremely large breasts and metal bikinis are totally empowering to women, AMIRITE OR AM I RITE?

Which means that we have to have The Talk again, don't we internets?

You know the one I'm talking about. The one where I have to sit you down and ask you why it is that when you depict female heroines in a physically aggressive role, you seem to dress them in the most ridiculous attire and consider it empowering to women as a whole (as though women can be summed up by gender despite the diversity of that group in other intersecting aspects of their identity) - but don't do the same thing to male characters.

After this, we'll have the talk about only portraying binary-presenting characters when human beings are not strictly binarily gendered. But that comes later.

Here's the thing. I'm glad when writers or artists come up with female characters who are capable of applying well placed kicks to enemy posteriors. Really, I am. And I understand that there are going to be times when the universe you write or draw within is going to be stylized and that certain realities of, say, physics or biology or chemistry are best left swept under the rug. I'm not asking for hard, gritty realism here. I'm good with flying kicks and fantastical backflips and vampires and zombies and spells and the laws of physics sort of disappearing.

What I am asking is that when you consider how you costume or dress these women - and indeed when you pick out the other details of their fictional lives - you not only ask yourself about the practicality of such details, but compare them to the details you assign to the male characters.

For instance - is your kickass male hero wearing a sensible pair of camo pants and sturdy boots and a protective jacket while your heroine is wearing what appears a leather body suit or leather pants, a shirt that offers less coverage than your average sports bra and heels so high and spiky that even S&M leather fetishists are tilting their heads going, "Wow, that's gotta hurt to wear"?

Or, maybe you drew a picture of three heroines wearing skimpy attire when their male counterparts would be far better and more practically clothed as evidenced by the very source material from which you are drawing?

Does your heroine hold a large phallic weapon that's actually far too large for anyone who doesn't have extreme upper body strength to wield efficiently while your hero holds a sleek weapon specifically designed for his size and abilities?

Or, perhaps your hero is allowed to wear a bulky coat to keep out the cold, but your heroine is wearing a shirt or jacket that exposes a lot of cleavage, is always open and pants that had to be painted on?

Because the problem with such a dichotomy, dear internets, is that it shows your priorities where different genders of characters are concerned. It shows that when it comes to female characters, your priority is on presentation over substance, in pleasing a specific gaze (the male gaze) rather than creating a whole character who can be attractive (or at least interesting and engaging) to a WIDE variety of people.

It shows, in essence, that the idea of an actual warrior woman is so fantastical to you that you cannot truly imagine or portray it in a way that shows a lot of thought and planning, but can only imitate it with women who's attire and narrations make it clear that you don't really take them seriously and don't expect anyone else to. You're not really mapping out what would be useful to a woman who finds herself up against zombies or vampires or supervillains, what it would take for her to be successful.

Because if someone did take it seriously and delved into what it would actually mean if a woman went out into a physically dangerous situation wearing a red leather halter top, leather pants, and five inch heels to fight the forces of darkness, they might find it totally absurd and then decide your work is not worth their time.

Clue: I'm one of those terrible Debbie Downers who does all that silly thinking and analyzing stuff.

And by the by, actually take some time to look at the heels you're putting your heroines in. Look at what shape the feet must take to fit into them, and how that would translate into being able to run. Also keep in mind that part of why high heels are so fashionable and so valued in our society is because they're specifically NOT practical, because they're not meant to be worn for physical labor or practical purposes.

So ask yourself, when you're adorning your heroine in such things if you're doing it for a specific reason (perhaps the heroine has a job that requires dressing in a certain way, which is legitimate enough) or if you're doing it because it looks "cool" or "pretty" or "kickass". And if you're doing it for looks, ask your self why the heroine's looks are THAT high on your list of priorities.

I'm glad we've had this talk, internets. And I hope that when you seek to create your feminine kickers of various assi, that you think about these things, because when you do, you start coming to that strangest of all conclusions that women are people. Not people too, but people. And there's not really a good damn reason to treat them as less real or less important or more easily used as decorations and ornaments than men.
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