As I’ve viewed a lot of TV shows and movies and, read a lot of books, and played a lot of video games, I’ve come to notice a curious pattern, whether the work is a non-political adventurous romp, a right-wing love letter to guns and ammo, an ultra-progressive screed against men and whites, or a hyper-kinetic anime: One must show females fighting just like men. It is amazing how consistent this is — it seems to be the one thing that everyone agrees is essential.
They seem to be a kind of pre-emptive crouch, a token used to avoid accusations of sexism. Of course, it doesn’t work — feminists will happily brand you and your work as “sexist” even if your females wield weapons just as effectively as men, simply because you didn’t acquiesce to one piece of propaganda or another. After all nothing other than total submission will satisfy a feminist.
Note how creators try to describe their lady characters as “strong” almost reflexively. Every woman, especially love interests, must do karate and spit snark — virtually anything else is dismissed as insulting to women. “Toughness” is taken to be the measure of how a female should be protrayed, as if women are supposed to be in some unconscious war with the male sex. While feminine women in modern fiction do exist, there’s always a compulsion to put in a butt-kicking babe to balance it out, or to give said feminine woman fighting skills.
The classic Disney Princess movies are a favorite punching bag for feminists. Many of the heroines aren’t knocking someone out or cutting down their men with witty one-liners, so those movies are seen as morally compromised. By contrast, children’s entertainment always includes females dropping somebody with their ultra-elite martial arts skills. Showing a children’s cartoon with traditional sex roles would likely prove more controversial among the media than showing bestiality. Indeed, the creator would likely be branded a Taliban Nazi woman-beater and forced out of whatever studio he works out of.
All this is not to say that writing action girls makes you a bad person, or that these types of works should be purged with cleansing fire. It’s just that it is so commonplace that we write it without thinking more deeply about why. I freely admit that I sometimes like action girls very much, especially when there isn’t an undercurrent of anti-male hostility. However, we do not need to act as if some commissar will jail us for crimes against feminism if we don’t like to see every princess go Wonder Woman on somebody.