Many fictional characters have cookie-cutter personalities. They are the same across every genre of film and literature. Though male characters are just as easily stereotyped, we will focus on females in this article. Here are five female characters we see all the time:
1. Token Girl
“Congratulations, you get to be The Girl of this story!” This character is usually the only girl in the cast, or at least the only girl who is on the same team as the guys. Most of the time, she’s a girl just for the sake of diversity. She does nothing different from her guy counterparts. If her character were changed to a male, the character would make all the same decisions and say the same lines.
She is often the main character’s secondary friend. In an attempt to make her more interesting, writers may combine her with one or more of the stereotypes listed below. It doesn’t help. As an individual character, she is still hopelessly boring.
This girl is the darling of romance-disguised-as-action stories. Though she is constantly getting into trouble, she is incapable of helping herself. She is extremely needy, but what she really needs is to be erased from the story completely.
She usually serves as a motivator for the hero. He will do anything for her, so the plot will move forward in the name of “love and devotion.” However, if the damsel were swapped with a motivating circumstance (such as the death of a loved one), the hero would still act in a similar way. The story would be basically the same. This damsel is useless to the core.
3. Eye Candy
Most often used in visual art, this character’s physical appearance is the main reason for her existence. Every scene she appears in just-so-happens to show off her curves appealingly. She adds almost nothing to the story; the plot would get along fine without her.
This character is easily the most offensive on this list. While other stereotypes reduce a female character to a single trait, this character is reduced to her body. She fails to reflect real women and assumes that she is the main reason real men view art. We all know that she is just another marketing ploy.
4. Hardcore Warrior
This woman is a fighter, but that’s about all. She rarely displays emotion or empathy. She is always the best at combat and survival. The other characters follow her leadership without question, even though her only skills usually involve a weapon.
Not-very-subtle feminist undertones go with this character. She is never dependent on anyone, especially not men. It is hard to imagine her in everyday life because she lives and breathes battle. She lacks a dimension that would make her more human, less a cold-hearted robot. At the end of the day, she is only a secret weapon for the good guys to use.
5. Mean Girl
If a character’s personality is rude and petty, it will be female more often than not. She can be cruel for no good reason. Prissy, selfish, and sassy, this character embodies an uppity attitude.
She is almost always the antagonist. Her motivation for putting others down is either unclear or foolish. She makes an unhelpful friend and an unchallenging enemy. She is shallow all the way through. We can’t help but snore as she fails to measure up to just about every other character.
These character types all have something in common: they are ridiculously unrealistic. Because of this, the characters cannot change and grow like real people. We never get to really know them because are all just copies of each other.
If a character is summed up in a stereotype, she is lame and we are tired of seeing her reincarnated. We would rather see characters more closely reflect real, multi-faceted personalities.
Real women are vibrantly and intricately diverse. They can display pieces of different types, but they don’t live in those ruts. If more fictional characters were modeled after real women, their stories would keep us on the edge of our seats.
Cadi is an editor who masquerades as a writer. When she's not helping author's make their stories the best they can be, she works on her own projects, including a YA Fantasy/Steampunk trilogy.
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