As I've been working on the Anima Campaign and it's related comic, I've been coming across more and more issues regarding how women are portrayed in media, especially comics and games. I do in fact follow the Escher Girl and Hawkeye Initiative tumblrs because of these issues, largely because I find their ways of dealing with it humorous without making light of the issue.
On the whole, I agree that women are not well-portrayed in most media. Boob and Butt poses and battle bikinis are better represented than real woman. This is obvious and cannot be argued because the evidence is there. You can't miss it. Horrible anatomy is also prevalent for both genders (thanks Rob Liefeld...). That too cannot be missed.
Even what seemed like a step in the right direction has gone amiss, namely the Strong Female. This idea went from the light at the end of a tunnel of sexism, to embodying it further because the Strong Female is the only female allowed to show up in anything other than romantic comedies, usually as part of an otherwise all male group. Strong Female is violent in ways that the male characters wouldn't accept from the other guys but it's okay for her because she's the woman, she has something to prove and probably has Daddy Issues.
To recap, we have:
~ Women put in stupid impossible poses for the sake of sexy, because all women must have butts but also not have room for internal organs because that means they are fat.
~ Women who are supposed to be warriors put in clothing that is impractical and would likely get them killed over their male counterparts.
~ Women who are simply plot devices to make the lead male man up and take out the bad guy.
~ The so-called Strong Females who talk a big game and beat the crap out of whoever they want, but ultimately come off as insecure.
This doesn't bode well for anyone creating a female character for pretty much any kind of media.
Going down this thought path, I began to wonder if, in trying to solve the problem, it's actually become worse for the creators of the media, especially ones just starting off. It has me concerned about my own character in the Anima project and how she will be perceived.
First off, let me state a few things about me so that my poor Ageha will make a bit more sense:
~ I am not feminist in the classical sense. I believe men and women are equal but different and that difference is needed. It takes all kinds, as they say and all kinds includes men and women being different.
~ I believe that women are strong and capable, but I also think a woman's strength is different than a man's strength. It's hard to put it into words because I'm not just talking about physical strength.
~ I am a large woman, always have been and probably always will be to a degree. Women who look like literal wasps are not something I'm going to draw unless she's literally a wasp-women hybrid and then I will find some way for her internal organs to be in her wasp-butt.
Okay enough about me.
This is my Ageha. She is five-foot-nothing, slightly chubby, definitely chesty and though you can't' see it, the girl barely has a butt. Hips yes, butt no.
She is, for lack of a better term, a ninja. She frequently wanders around in plain sight so she's not about to wear anything that scream "HI I'M TOTALLY A SUPER ASSASSIN!", so no random armor pieces or any of that nonsense. She wears the kimono because A) She likes it. B) It's comfortable and C) It's feminine.
This leads me to some of my concerns.
There are those would rejoice at the fact that Ageha is not showing copious amounts of cleavage. She shows a bit of leg sure, but she's wearing boots with no heel. So not bad.
It's the who she is and her circumstances that have me concerned that I will be blasted for writing. She is a tough little woman but she fights only out of greatest need. She is modest and feminine. Her greatest wish is to be a wife and mother but her circumstances won't allow this yet. She is the only woman in a group otherwise comprised of men, which I've recently learned is one of symptoms of the Strong Female Syndrome. There are some who would have problems with any or all of these things.
I know that I can't please everyone nor should I. I love Ageha the way she is. I made her that way for a reason and I shouldn't apologize for it.
It makes me wonder though, as I think about this in terms of Ageha, has trying to solve the issues of poorly done female characters made things harder for newbies like myself?