Geek Girls Rule! #475 – Slut, Maiden, Mother, Crone

These are the four flavors women come in, as far as most media is concerned. Granted it is changing, a bit, but not much.  Even the more progressive shows like Brooklyn 99tend not to stray far from them.  Rosa (my favorite) definitely falls into the Slut category. She is unapologetic about liking sex with whomever she likes sex, and having it.  Amy vacillates between Maiden and Mother.  She’s pretty virginal, even if she isn’t (we’ll talk about that later), but oftentimes drifts into “Mom-friend” territory. Brooklyn 99 is way better at subverting masculine tropes and stereotypes than female ones.  And I’m glad they do that.  But that can be another post.

I want to be very clear that when I use the word Slut I am referring to the trope, and not using it in a judgmental way at all.

But when it comes to these tropes, you have the Maiden (unfuckable, even though you want to, save by her one true love), the Slut (the kind of girl you don’t take home to mother), the Mother (somewhat fuckable depending on looks and age, but mostly nah), and the Crone (grandmas).

The problem remains that most of media is still written by dudes. Dudes who don’t understand women, and honestly, we’re still trying to get them to understand that women with a sex drive are not unicorns.  The majority of women have a sex drive, but an awful lot of them stifle it so they can survive in the morass of toxic masculinity disguising itself as our culture. Or have no energy for sex after a day of working a full time job and then coming home to housework and kids.

For all that Joss Whedon has become “He Who Cannot Be Named” for all of his really gross personal life (and some hella problematic shit with Buffy and Dollhouse), I do love one thing he did.  In Cabin in the Woods, he deliberately points out that those labels up there, often bear no reflection on reality.*  Someone, somewhere deemed you a slut, you’re a slut, often for the sin of having developed early or having male friends that you are definitely not fucking.

Hell, people can decide you’re a “Mom” even if you don’t have kids.  You can be the “Mom-friend,” or they’ll decide you “dress like a mom.”  And Crone gets even dicier.  The majority of folks will tell you you’ve hit crone somewhere in your 40s or 50s, menopause is definitely a line there, with a lot of people counting cronehood from when you can no longer have kids.  But an awful lot of women hit menopause long before they look like they’ve hit menopause.  Or look like they’re old enough to long before they actually do.  Genetics plays a huge part in that.

Also, there are a lot of sexy damn Crones in the world.  (Helen Mirren, OMG!!!)

And before anyone starts in with “What about the ‘Funny Best Friend?'”

The funny best friend (FBF) often falls into one of those tropes up above.  Because the funny best friend is the foil to the female protagonist.  Where the protagonist is an upright and moral Maiden or Mother, the FBF is a slut.  Where the Protagonist is a Slut, FBF is a Maiden.  A Maiden? FBF is often a Crone.  A Mother? Frequently a Slut, to demonstrate the differences between morally upright motherhood, and someone with or without kids, who’s out there catting around still.

And frequently, the FBF will be a conglomeration of several of them. Charlotte from Sex and the City was both the Maiden and the Mom-friend.  Blanche Devereaux from Golden Girls was the Slutty Crone, while Dorothy was the Crone-Mother, and Betty White was the Crone-Maiden.  Sylvia was kind of another Slutty Crone, with some Mother in there, because she was Dorothy’s mom.  (I list all of them because they all took a turn as Protagonist and FBF.)

Now, let’s look at Nerd Media.

The Avengers.  Black Widow, definitely cast in the Slut trope.  Pepper Potts,  sleeps with Tony (her one true love) and, is almost always depicted in virginal white. Maria Hill is definitely the Mom.  Sif, Maiden. Hela, Slut. Valkyrie, is an odd Maiden-Slut cross.  Her game doesn’t lie in her sex appeal, but she’s also not exactly virginal.

X-men.  Ok, we’re not going to go through all the female members, just the highlights.  Kitty Pryde – Maiden, Jubilee – Maiden until that fucked up Dracula storyline then she gets to be a Slut for awhile.  Storm – Mother, until she’s Mohawk Storm (Slut), but then she reverts back to Mother.  Jean Grey – Maiden, until she’s the Dark Phoenix, and then she’s the Slut. She gets to be the Mother for awhile as Madeline Pryor.  Oh that fucked up storyline.  Marrow – the storylines I’ve read, definitely the Slut.

Female villains are almost always coded the Slut.  They rarely move like normal women, instead they stalk and slink.  They dress more revealing, wear more make up. Everything they do from dialing a phone to eating a piece of pie is sexualized to hell and back.

Crones are also another favorite for the villain.  Think about the majority of your witches from fairy tales. The Wicked Stepmothers in Snow White, Cinderella, the Wicked Witch from Hansel and Gretel, from the Wizard of Oz, from Roald Dahl’s The Witches.

Very, very, very rarely you’ll get a Maiden or Mother villain.  Mother more frequently than Maiden.  But still. usually in media the Mother or Maiden are the ones being victimized, i.e. the Final Girls of most horror movies. For Maiden villains I can only think of a handful, including the original Bad Seed, but children mostly fall outside these tropes regardless of gender, and have their own system of jacked up tropes.  May kind of fits.  Most often, the Maiden undergoes a trauma or transformation that turns her into the Slut, and therefore an appropriate villain (Ginger Snaps,** and I’m drawing a blank even though I know there are others…)

Now I hear people going, well, what are we supposed to do, write women who aren’t these things?

Yes.

Seriously, there are lesbian women who are neither evil seductresses or virginal victims.  There are Mothers who are badasses (Angela Carter’s retelling of Bluebeard has a fantastic Mother as Hero in it). There are women who just have sex, without being insatiable sluts, and who like having sex, and initiate it and everything.  There are older women who are still sexually active, there are older women who are still virgins.  There are Maidens who already know what they like, and some who never will.  And all of these women can do things that have EXACTLY ZERO TO DO WITH THEIR SEXUALITY.

Also, can we do away with the Slut Always Dies trope?  That and the At Least One Half of Any Queer Relationship Must Die, trope.  That’d be great.

Dudes get to exist outside of their sexuality and sexual status. Why not women?

I want to see virginal bounty hunters, trying to support their families.  I want to see women who enjoy sex (and can we quit vilifying women for wanting sex, please), but that is not the focus of their character.  Really, I want to see women who enjoy sex who don’t look like pin-up models, or, the inverse of that trope), who are fat and/or ugly and a punchline.

That, can we quit making women who want sex a punchline?

While we’re at it, can we quit making anyone wanting sex or not wanting sex a punchline.  We get it, a dude who has never had sex is hilarious, while a woman who has never had sex is virtuous, until she hits a certain age and is a punchline.

Honestly, I can only think of two virginal male characters whose virginity is not used as a punchline, at least not all the time.  Captain America, and Jesus.

Do not come at me with that “You can’t treat Jesus like a fictional character shit.”  He’s been featured in enough films and fictional books that I damn well can.  And any comments about it will not make it through moderation. That is not the fight I’m having here.

And even Captain America gets poked at by Tony Stark about his sexual status.

Basically, can we just write people?  Not tropes or stereotypes, people.

*The film opens with the “Virgin” telling her best friend, the “Whore” about the fact that she’s been fucking one of her professors.  While the “Whore” has only ever had sex with her boyfriend, whom she’s been with a long time and plans on marrying.

**Ginger Snaps and Dog Soldiers are my two favorite werewolf movies of all time.

If you like what you read here, please consider donating using the link at the top right of the page:  Keep Us Geeking, or checking out my Patreon.  Thank you!

Also, if you’d like to see what sort of fiction I write when left to my own devices, please feel free to check out my fiction Patreon, Nothing Nice Comes Out of My Head.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s