This isn’t my regular post for the week but I wanted to post the comment that I made on Go Into the Story’s Blog on Part Two of Heroine’s in film. Heck, I took so much time on it I gotta post it here. It makes me feel like I was working that way. (Part One and Part Three are also attached.)
jwindh- I’d have to disagree with your comment: “[I’d] say that Alien’s Ripley and SOTL’s Clarice are very much “male” hero stories where the protagonist is female. I would say mostly the same with Katniss, too – although the maternal feelings she has for her sister are very “feminine” (but still not really any different from any tough male hero who still has a soft spot for protecting “women and children”).”
I don’t believe that being an action hero as opposed to a social hero makes a woman’s journey a male one. One of the things I loved about Katniss in the books is she had absolutely no desire to have a child. That did not make her a male personality but someone who recognizes the limitations of the world around them. She loves kids so much she would not bring one into that world. Everything she does is either based in caring or on surviving. She’s spent her life doing both so she has an extremely clear perspective of what those things mean and how best to do them.
Noting Clarice’s journey as an example of a male hero’s story is a shock to me. Picture a man relating the major thematic monologue explaining what happened to the lambs on the farm. In our culture, a man imparting a tear filled childhood memory like that would be thought of differently. Would Hannibal even be interested in that story from a man? Wouldn’t it make him dismiss the man as weak instead of as an intimate exchange that makes him feel closer to Clarice?
As to Ripley, I spent my senior paper in college analyzing the first three Alien movies as different stages of womanhood. I have 15 pages to argue that Ripley is a woman and those movies can be seen as a vehicle for a woman. It bothers me when people say that when someone out of the mainstream vision of that thing (i.e. a white male) is taking over a positive characteristic they are emulating the representation of that characteristic, instead of that characteristic. Even if I speak the King’s English and listen to Tyler Swift I am still going to be black. In no way, shape, or form, does that change my skin color or the experiences I have had as a black person. If I beat up a bunch of guys and jump off a building that does not make me a man. All the things and experiences that make me a woman will still be there.
Think of Trinity in The Matrix. She’s been through just as much as Neo has. She’s even kicked more butt than Neo. With the exception of the last minutes she is the major bad ass. Yet we do not say she has a male story because in the end she is deferential to and in love with a man. Is that what it takes for a bad ass woman to keep people seeing her story as female one? I hope not.