So Doctor Who fandom is having a discussion about like and dislike of female characters again, as sparked by this post on why someone dislikes Amy
. It has sparked some posts on feminism
and love for Amy for not being normal
and probably lots of posts I haven't read.
Four things have struck me.
Point 1) The compassion argument. In a few of the comments, Amy gets slammed for being having a lack of compassion and 'not caring less'. Among other things cited is not approaching strangers (to her) being unhappy on several occasions. And you know, that gets my back up a bit, because that is not in itself lack of compassion.
I am frequently uncomfortable approaching someone I don't know well or don't know at all if I see they are unhappy. This is not because I don't feel for them. This is because I was raised in a culture where you don't 'push yourself' on others. Where you don't approach strangers in the assumption they'll be your friend. Where you don't assume you have the right to know their worries. Where you're afraid others will take it as pity, not compassion. In other cultures, they might not have those concerns. Hell, I know many don't. But I have them.
I am not Rose. I'm not instantly warm to all I meet. I don't befriend instantly. It doesn't make me feel less compassion for their misfortunes. Nor am I Amy, or Donna, or Martha. I have my own way of caring. Holding me up to them as if one of us must be the right way and one the wrong, instead of just different ways, is doing a huge disservice on many levels.
I guess my point is that not everyone expresses their emotions, compassion or even distress in the same way. Don't hold everyone to your choice of standard.
Which brings me to point 2) Women have no obligation to hold to your
standard to be feminists. That's the thing about us females - we're all different. We're all women. Don't we want a world that doesn't dictate how we have to be to qualify as 'proper' women?
Amy doesn't have to have Rose's display of compassion to fit into feminism. Donna doesn't have to have Martha's weapon-blazing bravery. Rose doesn't have to have Donna's insight. Martha doesn't have to have Amy's feist. In fact, I'd like to make a case that the more varied female characters we get, the better for feminism it damn well will be.
Point 3) Starting a post with any variation of "I'm not bashing, but..." is in most cases gonna merrily roll down that path. It's like "I'm not sexist, but...", "I'm not racist, but...", "I'm not blaming the victim, but..." and "I'm not an asshole, but..." If you feel you have to defend yourself with that but, you're already aware that's what it sounds like.
And yes, sometimes it bloody well is exactly what it sounds like.
Bonus point 4), recycled from many previous rants. If course you can dislike characters. Female ones too! Tastes vary and sometimes, a character can just be too far removed for you to connect with it. Or there is one or more character traits that just bother you too much. That's okay! It happens!
But if you're slamming a female character for traits you love a male one for, if female characters are always the target of your dislike, if you use certain words to describe your dislike every time - well, maybe it's not the character(s)
you're really disliking.