Within The Battle Beyond Planet X podcast, the ‘strong female character’ trope/buzzword has been invoked a number of times, and while its presaged by acknowledgement of its complexity, the invoking has always been in a positive light, referring to greats like The Major and Rita Vrataski. The ‘complexity’ there being simple: the strong female character might sound feminist, but it is in fact only a first step, and ideal female characters need to be more nuanced than just ‘strong.’
The main reason I hold on dearly to the term is because the male characters I loved growing up were perhaps ‘strong male characters,’ for example John Matrix or Douglas Quaid or The Terminator. Given the right context, the strong female character is perfectly fine by me. She doesn’t have to say much, she just has to kick ass.
Beyond me, the trope still legitimizes its presence by being that first step. As I’ve mentioned in an episode of the podcast, my theory is that before we have nuanced female characters in certain genres (action, horror), we need to have strong female characters, because otherwise our irrational audience we’re trying to interface with might not understand how to interpret the negative characteristics that come along with a more nuanced character.
Now, the irrational audience is key because they’re the last ones in need of convincing that women aren’t a collective mass of babbling seagulls; this is merely logic, otherwise we’re preaching to the choir and/or circle-jerking. There is a void in psychological literature running the razor edge of modernity, taking a critical eye to these people and understanding why they can’t be reasoned with, can’t be bargained with.
For an example, we might as well play along and conflate feminism with gender studies. The transgender community seems like the last frontier (at least, before pedophiles in an age where I fade to the right and a new breed of liberal is born), and they’re having a great difficulty getting their message across, partly because people who post on YouTube are very young, and socially challenged in a number of ways. The Internet is an important battleground for the war on America’s cultural future, because darklord_masterchief767 is going to literally be the future in a few years, but also because it’s a very powerful mode of communication — step one toward understanding.
Some cis people find trans YouTubers alienating, and feel that statements in the vein of ‘cis people need to shut the fuck up,’ which you don’t have to trip far to find, signify that War on Christmas that suddenly takes top priority, and has the power to transform a progressive into a defensive, hostile protector of self-interests.
At this stage in the game, one cannot react to fiery statements like that above with emotion but with reason, a colder, intellectual kind of response. Because it’s coming from a damaged, vulnerable place — the greatest existentialism runs through those words, and so even though these particular trans people might seem narrow-minded, or even hypocritical, let them be that. I’m asking this of you — the compromise’s middle ground lies closer to your feet than theirs, but this was known from the start.
It just gets complicated when they seem to embody the same hatred they’re fighting against. But this is a natural reaction, a human reaction — just as it was for the original haters. Younger trans people undergoing so much cultural oppression and attempting to live in a completely alienating world are understandably hard-edged. They may try to close off communication, but at that point, one needs to interrogate the kind of communication in question. Why do trans people have to constantly answer to cis people’s constant probing, and why do cis people, upon having these interests and asking these questions, take on a massive hero complex? As a yellow fellow, I do know that even well-meaning conversation-starters (“where are you from?”) can be unintentionally laced with offense. It may never make sense to you, but it doesn’t have to.
Indeed: Your feelings don’t matter. They don’t — now. At this very moment during the war. Adding your voice to the mix in this way is slowing progress, and takes the focus off of those who need it. Nobody hates you for being cis — at the very least, no one with the power to do anything about it. So nitpicking trans people for using hateful language has a similar effect as actively oppressing them, insofar as a negative gain is hardly better than walking backward. It’s just slowing this train down, and make no mistake about the direction it’s headed. The idea here is to listen, no matter how hard it is.
Now we turn it to the trans YouTubers, which is just my short-hand for those using online platforms to discuss these social issues (my shorthand perhaps because by nature it is the ‘loudest’). Your audience must be the irrational audience, otherwise again, you’re circle-jerking. You’re talking to cis people who do feel like heroes when trying to talk, anthropologically, to transgender people, and thus haven’t done enough self-interrogating to realize their fragile egos. And that’s your best demographic — there’s also the full-bore assholes, and these people can be saved too, much as you can’t imagine them on your side one day.
Communication requires language, and people on both sides can react disproportionately to hastily or even maliciously chosen diction. It might seem prissy but it’s very real — I call it irrational. Let’s speed things up here, people.