Sexualized Saturdays: Badass Ladies Can’t Have Romance?

We do a lot of complaining about the way women’s roles in action movies are typically that of the romantic interest. And hell, it’s justified. There are far too many films where the lady, however interesting she is, is nothing less than window dressing or the arm candy.

However, on the other side of this coin, it’s important to remember that having a romantic interest does not inherently lessen the worth of a female character. It’s only when her role boils down to ‘my only motivation is my love for my amazing prince charming dudebro’ that it becomes a problem.

Consider The Avengers. Does it matter if Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff have a thing? I’m not necessarily arguing that they do, but if they did, would it make Nat any less kickass? No. In this case, the Black Widow is a well-rounded, complex character with various motivations, and romantic feelings are just one part of those motivations.

On the other hand, let’s look at Sherlock. Irene Adler is also an arguably badass lady. But over the course of her part in “A Scandal in Belgravia”, all of her actions are motivated by her romantic attachment to Sherlock, and it makes her character unpleasantly two-dimensional.

The problem with boiling women down to just their romantic motivations is that it essentially removes their agency, and forces us to define their characters in relation to their romantic partner. But at the same time it’s important to remember that the basic fact of having a male romantic partner does not immediately make a lady less kickass.

9 thoughts on “Sexualized Saturdays: Badass Ladies Can’t Have Romance?

  1. What do you think of Korra and the way her motivations were reduced to having her crush (like when her airbending finally comes out)? I also thought that Lauren Faust, the creator of My little pony FIM, said she would not do romance in a girl’s show because it derails girl’s shows if there is a male love interest.

    • I was honestly very frustrated by Korra by the end of the season. It seemed like a lot of her motivations boiled down to whining over Mako, and I thought she acted very spoiled and entitled… but on the other side of that, she doesn’t have to be a perfect character? I’m sure she grew up incredibly spoiled and maybe she’s just not used to having everything handed to her? Even so, I thought her attachment to Mako was way overdone.
      I dunno if Faust said that or not (although if she did, it doesn’t surprise me) but I think that she does have a point. In a vacuum, it wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for one of the ponies to have a romantic plot – as I pointed out it doesn’t have to a bad thing – but I think there are enough shows intended for little girls where there are love interests already, and Faust wanted to set the show apart and focus on portraying strong female friendships first and foremost.

  2. It’s not that she was not perfect, it’s that she never changed, even as late as the last episode of season 1. She’s still the same dumb, privileged brute she was at the beginning. Now she has all the powers and more at the start of season 2. I’d go so far as to say she’s now become a mary-sue. Still, it’s hard to tell, as someone once said, how much she’s grown sometimes given that her twilight-esque “romance” took over the plot as well as her other issues. We see more of her pining over Mako than her training in airbending.

    • Yeah, I was really disappointed by the lack of character development. I feel like they focused on the romance plot to the exclusion of all the other open plot threads, and then had to rush to awkwardly tie them all up in the finale. I was really annoyed that she just sort of magically got her airbending, because it would have been nice to see her struggle with something for once. And although I’m excited for the next few seasons, I’m also completely unsure where they’ll go, because they tied up literally every open conflict at the end of S1 and no one seems to have grown or changed that much except for Tarlok, and he’s dead.

  3. romance will get a bigger focus unfortunately in the next season, as evidenced by an interview with Bryke themselves. They want to delve deeper into the romance between Mako and Korra, even though they say he still has Asami in the back of his mind, Korra’s cousin might fall for Mako, and Mako might be able to go to the Spirit World with Korra if a piece of concept art is to be believed.

    • Ugh, really? I was sort of smitten with Mako at the beginning of the first season (dose eyebrows, haha) but I seriously am tired of him being at the forefront and his character in general. Boo.

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