Women are NOT Objects


Photographs courtesy of Giang Nguyen

Media recently have been very good at including women and turning the spotlight on them. Whether they’re supporting the main character in a show or even being the main character themselves, we have seen a large influx of attention on women. It is amazing how far we’ve come.

In the past, I would always roll my eyes at the typical white man character as the main role but now I can find at least one ongoing piece of media with a female lead. However, we are still faced with an ongoing and ever-present issue in the characterization of women: they’re objects.

This phenomenon isn’t new and it is something you may have seen a few times: the damsel in distress, the prize to be won, or simply the only way for a man to be motivated. For a while I thought that the trend had died down. But recently, with the release of popular role-playing game “Kingdom Hearts 3,” I noticed several instances where a female character had been built up for a major character arc only for their entire reason of existing to be boiled down to one single man.

It is disappointing to see female characters cast aside in favor of a male counterpart when they have received equal or even more development. Not only does this waste the potential of a character, it is also a sexist writing trap into which many people still fall. Even worse is when the female character is completely killed off in order to further the development of the male character (personally, I call this “manpain”).

Why does this matter? It matters because if we want to create an equal industry, we have to understand what certain writing implications mean. It’s one thing for a man to do something for the woman he loves, but if we flip that around it might give the wrong implication of what being a woman means. For so long, women have been viewed as things for men to own and we still see these thoughts manifest in the real world.

By eradicating this idea that women are merely objects and showing that they have agency for themselves, we can create stories that are interesting and do not fall into the same tropes. A good example of this is the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road where not only do we have several female characters, but the story was about these women running away from men that abused them and thereby gaining their own agency.

We still have a long way to go before we create stories that treat men and women equally across the board. But if more writers start to realize when they’re falling into the trap of axing female characters just to further a male character’s arc, then hopefully we’ll see a better representation of women with each coming year.