In the dark abyssal depths of the Penguin-whale's blog you might find fandom posts, random posts, writing posts, and lots and lots of Pokemon.The penguin-whale will try to answer your questions
Help me prove a point
I have never reblogged anything faster.
Unfortunate for the books, but speaks loads about the quality of some fan fics
Oh, hell yeah. Anything by incandescens can stand on my bookcase any time.
My favorite fanfics of all time are miles better than a number of books I’ve read.
pippitypopadoo said: Hi, I looked through the tags to see if there was anything about clothing but there wasn't, so I hope this hasn't been addressed before and that it's fine to direct my question to this blog: I would like to know how realistic it is to fight in heels, stilettos and such? A lot of stories, movies, etc. have been doing it for ages, but imo it just doesn't sound like a good idea. There seems to be a lot of challenge and danger to it
High heels are like bikini battle armor. In the realm of fashion, they are helpful because of the way they draw the eye and shape the visual impression of the leg. High heels lengthen the leg, draw the eye up, and highlight the shape of the butt (and more). However, with long term use, they are very hard on the joints (ankles, knees, and hips) and can lead to long term damage.
I know there are people out there who will argue that catsuits, spandex, bikinis, and high heels are practical combat gear for women. Some of them are very well-meaning, some of them are women who buy into it. You’ve probably seen some of them on this site. They’re the ones who take the stock photographs of female martial artists doing (slightly awkward looking) high kicks in high heels as “YES GIRLY GIRLS CAN FIGHT TOO!”. Well, they certainly can but not in high heels. (I applaud the women who can do full extension sidekicks in high heels though! What flexibility! Much balance! Incredible skill! A woman who can do a high kick in high heels is a badass. It’s a testament to their mastery of their body though, not high heel combat viability.)
High heels tip the body forward, putting all the weight on the balls of the feet. If you’ve ever walked around in high heels, then you know finding your balance can be tricky (especially on slick surfaces) and running is mostly out. (You can, it’s just awkward.) The original design for high heels was 14th/15th riding boots when they were a men’s fashion choice. They were never designed for walking on land.
My personal problem with the emphasis on high heels and women’s fashion for female combat oriented characters is the emphasis on visual beauty over practicality and professionalism or any respect for the problems created by reality whatsoever
When it comes to clothing, how you dress your character does actually matter. If a creator or artist approaches their female character with the belief that women don’t fight anyway, so further sexualization of them through their clothing doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things then they are actively contributing to the dehumanization of that character and upholding that ideal that women fighting at all (much less on an even plane with men) is a fantasy. (The reality is women all over the world do fight, do take on dangerous jobs in various shapes, sizes, and personalities.)
Why? Because it prioritizes emphasis on their appearance to the outside observer over the concerns of the reality they are facing. Whoever put together their outfit was thinking primarily about how they’d be perceived not on practical choices of what they’d choose to wear for traipsing through a sewer. When I think about sewers, peep toe shoes, skinny jeans, and spaghetti straps don’t exactly come to mind first as preferred spelunking wear. Galoshes, raincoats, and pants that repel moisture, yeah. Clothes from the $5 bin I don’t mind throwing out after, sure. My Coach bag and (if I owned any) $400 Jimmy Choos? Hell, no.
A character doesn’t become more badass by ignoring the physical constraints and dangers of the world around them. They just look more stupid. The required level of suspension of disbelief is higher for these characters than their male counterparts.
Now, male artists do this for male characters too. The problem is, of course, that you can actually make a case for fighting in biker boots, a loose leather jacket, and jeans. That’s actually practical street combat wear. Leather jackets work as makeshift armor, they can absorb a fair amount of impact. Biker boots are thick, made of leather, protect the shins, and they’re designed to take impact. They armor the foot. Loose men’s jeans are practical, provide freedom of movement, and they’re durable against friction burns. They survive longer and they’re thicker than other kinds of pants. So, when Steven Stallone turns to the camera in a goofy 80s action movie and says “You don’t need to get fancy, lady.” He’s actually right. You don’t.
However, if you have Black Widow do the same in a catsuit, high heels, or even just skinny jeans, a tight fitting leather jacket, a very nice red satin shirt that exposes her breasts, and heavy makeup, it’s not exactly comparable in impact. (One of the nice things about The Winter Soldier was how practically they had her dressed when wearing civvies.) 1) Because she already is dressed fancy and 2) her clothing isn’t any more practical to the situation than the person she’s bitching out.
Plenty of Urban Fantasy protagonists, super heroines, and movie characters do this. I’m not picking on Black Widow, but she’s getting passed around a lot. Buffy did this all the time and it’s part of why I couldn’t take her seriously (especially in the early seasons). Going down into the sewers in a satin pink spaghetti strap, a mini skirt, and matching sandals. Why? Because she likes sacrificing $100 to $200 in clothing every day. Single parent home, pushing minimal income, constantly complaining about her allowance, while burning a metric shit ton on clothing every single week. How is she affording that? The answer is she’s not. The clothing just pops out of the snow, like daisies. The same can be said of the female protagonists on The Vampire Diaries.
On the other hand, I give Charmed a pass because they constantly acknowledge how hard demon fighting is on their clothing. They try to fix their clothes with magic, they have to come up with money to repair the manor, they have to buy new clothes, they think about trading in their old styles for more practical ones and decide against it. The daily rigor, the stress on their wallets, the general mundane realities of every day life are expressed in the choices and habits the characters make and maintain. If they have time before facing a given crisis, you’ll even see them go run to change. Their clothing isn’t practical, but the show at least acknowledges that and uses it to humanize their struggles with being women and demon hunting witches.
The big problem with style and fashion is they help contribute to the idea that women primarily exist in fiction (and in real life) to be looked at. They’re decorative first, even when they’re dangerous. If you remove that aspect, men and women will in fact complain.
Yes, both of them.
Women are presented with a cultural idealization of beauty day in and day out, the stereotypes we’re presented with become a part of what we expect to see and may even idealize in ourselves. Recognition of beauty, being admired, is presented as a goal all women (whether or not they can even achieve the standard) should aspire to. Not appearing beautiful is presented as bad by media, unworthy, unable to be loved. Conform to be worthy. For many people, they want both. To fit the cultural ideal of female sexualization while simultaneously rejecting it. It’s wish fulfillment and there’s no shame in it, media has told you you’re entire life that this is what you should want to be.
It doesn’t exist, but you’ll see plenty of people try to make it so anyway like the girls I knew in gym who’d cake on makeup before going out to play basketball or run the mile.
To challenge the stereotypes, you have to recognize them and that may require changing how you see women in media. It’s insidious and, more importantly, not necessarily evil. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be wanted, to be beautiful, to be recognized. But how a character looks and what they wear should always, always come second to what they need to get their job done.
I try to beat this by thinking about the situation first, instead of character. I construct a character to deal with a situation. With this set up, practicality usually prevails.
I challenge you followers. When you think of a powerful woman, or a dangerous female, what do you think of first?
Notes from reading one too many romances with inorganic tension because the leads won’t just talk to each other oh my god. But some of these go for nonromantic plots too — and it sure would be great to see more that did. Always write stories that give nonromantic relationships the weight they actually deserve!
I love angst, I love dramatic reveals, I love emotionally constipated characters, I love all the things that usually accompany a “use your words” plot. But it is incredibly frustrating when the problem a character is creating becomes so much bigger than the problem they’re avoiding. So, as soon as your character begins to be unhappy because they have a feeling they “cannot” express, please consider:
Reasons for a character not to talk about their feelings with the object of said feelings that can be strong enough to drive an entire plot
- Feelings which are inappropriate to the situation (usually romantic):
- In-laws, lovers of friends, etc
- Enemies. Not rivals; rivalry is personal and surmountable. Enemies, who have third parties invested in them staying enemies, thank you very much
- Well-founded (even if ultimately inaccurate) fear that doing so will negatively and seriously affect a valued relationship, romantic or otherwise:
- Founded in social norms: “I can’t tell you I love you; we’re both women” (this isn’t fear of third-party consequences; that there would be an ordinary plot problem. this section is purely about the object’s reaction)
- Founded in experience: “I can’t tell you I love you; I’m not lovable” (i.e. abuse. use with extreme caution)
- Founded in the other person’s prior behavior, if done very convincingly: “I can’t tell you I love you; I tried [more than] once and you shut me down”
- Founded in straight-up common sense: “I did a legitimately bad thing and you will think badly of me if I tell you my feelings about this”
- Doomed circumstance
- We’ll never see each other again, so let’s not admit how sad that is
Reasons for a character not to talk about their feelings with the object of said feelings that are strong enough to contribute to dramatic tension, but really can’t drive an entire plot
- Characteristic reticence
- Reticence is essentially a personality trait, but it probably came from somewhere, and it definitely manifests differently depending on the character’s background
- Class conditioning (comes in many varieties): stiff upper lip, Stepford wifeliness, aristocratic dignity; toughness, survival mechanisms, nobody-cares-so-don’t-whine; etc
- Gender conditioning (mostly masculine, but not exclusively): boys don’t cry, don’t be a wimp, strength is silence, etc
- Habit: politicians or diplomats, the solitary, those with authority
- Inexperience and/or youth
- "I don’t even know what I am feeling”
- "I’ve never done this before and don’t know how"
Reasons for a character not to talk about their feelings with the object of said feelings that just make everyone roll their eyes and want to smack them
- Spite, pride, anger
- This is where rivalry belongs
- "I’m too Cool And Independent to love you" (not to be confused with straight-up common sense: a woman who fears marriage will stifle her independence isn’t being prideful. A character whose reputation or self-identification hinges on not admitting something, absent any other reason on this list, is. Danny Zuko, I’m looking at you.)
- Withholding affection out of anger is understandable short-term, childish medium-term, and abusive long-term
- Use these if you want the character to look bad, of course!
- Laughably ill-founded fear of rejection
- There’s no stigma, nobody’s committed any major sin, everybody’s in a relatively healthy mental place, and the other person’s given no strong negative signs
- And if you sat down and thought it through for ten seconds with a little bit of empathy, you’d probably figure out why they did you give that negative signal that one time
Pleaaaaaase, writers of romance and fanfic, understand that purely emotion-driven plots are really hard to do and try to avoid milking more tension out of a given situation than it can actually sustain. That is how drama becomes melodrama. At best.
Have I forgotten any common tropes? Anybody have examples of stories that break my half-baked hastily-crafted ill-thought-out rules?