Questions from Google

It's always fascinating to dive into the "search terms" area of this site's statistics. A lot of people find Feminist Fiction through a good old-fashioned search of "title/character name + feminism," and a scarily large number of other people stumble confused here after Googling weird misogynistic things. But among all that, there are always questions. Lots and lots of questions, about Game of Thrones, about feminism, about where to find illegal copies of books (again, those people were pretty lost when they ended up here). So here are the answers to some of the questions on Google's mind this February:

1. Why was HIMYM problematic?

How I Met Your Mother was a fun show, but wow did it screw up in the end. There are too many things to quickly summarize, but:

  • It turned Barney from a playboy who wanted "legendary" adventures into someone solely obsessed with tricking women into sleeping with him, and it did so after he had genuine three-dimensional character development, so that he no longer seemed like a parody of a bro pick-up artist and instead seemed like a character we were supposed to like non-ironically.
  • It erased Robin's personality for the benefit of her "romantic" plotlines, and ended with her pining for the guy she rejected years and years before.
  • All women want children. Even those who say they don't.
  • The racism. Oh god, the racism.

2. Is Long Live the Queen game feminist?

I mean, it's a fairly short and simple game, so it's hard for it to have overt feminist themes, but Long Live the Queen IS a great game, with lots of powerful female characters, and where you're just as likely to win with poise and singing ability as you are with sword-fighting and military strategy.

3. Is Tyrion the villain?

I don't think so. I think it goes against the point of Game of Thrones to have one "villain" character. He does some cruel, perhaps even villainous, things, but you can't dismiss his complex psychology as just being a "villain" and call it a day. If anything, I think he's a commentary on the anti-hero trope, where the dismissed underdog doesn't triumph, but ultimately is so broken by his circumstances and how others treat him that he actually becomes more and more like the horrific person they all think him to be.

4. What does Ross Geller do in his free time?

Be jealous, sexist and obsessive, probably.

5. Why is Frozen not a feminist film?

The most common, and valid, arguments are that the movie has almost no secondary or background female characters, that the two female protagonist have almost identical faces, and that it has no racial diversity whatsoever. However, it is feminist in other ways.

6. Do you think The Incredible Hulk is a feminist film?

No. Not at all. Its only female character is supposedly a great scientist, but is in fact nothing more than "Bruce Banner's girlfriend," with no character, intelligence or plotline of her own.

7. Is Game of Thrones a feminist text?

I don't think it's written purposefully to be a feminist text. And it does have some issues -- I've always been bothered by the fact that Cersei doesn't get the sympathetic treatment that Jaime does, even in her own chapters. But it does present an interesting view of a lot of unusual female characters, and it works hard to break many sexist tropes we might expect in fantasy fiction.

8. Why was Sansa mad at her dad?

Because she's spent her whole life being told that it would be a dream come true to marry the prince and become queen. She's engaged to Joffrey, and he's kind to her, and she thinks that she's living her perfect happily ever after. And her father tries to take that away, without giving her any hint as to why. She's naive here, sure, but she was set up to be that way.

9. Why is Mary Crawley so mean?

She's the eldest child, she's lived in Downton Abbey all her life, but now her home and her inheritance is being given to a random guy they've never met, just because she's a woman. She's expected to marry him, or else someone else of great standing, to save the estate. It's no wonder that she's somewhat angry.

10. Is Belle from Beauty and the Beast a good rolemodel?

Maybe. She's intelligent, she's a reader, she wants something from her life, she won't stand for Gaston's sexism, and she understands the value of kindness and of not judging by appearances. But she also is kind and patient to a guy who, ultimately, has imprisoned her.

11. How do you know if you're the designated DUFF? (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

You're not. If anyone tells you you are, that person is a jerk, and is not your friend. If a guy tells you that, he's probably trying to emotionally manipulate you. No real friends ever look at anyone in their friend group and think "oh, she's the ugly fat one we all use to look better."

12. Is Cinderella weak?

I think it depends on your perspective. She never really stands up for herself against her step-sisters or step-mother, which people might see as too compliant and too nice. But on the other hand, she doesn't necessarily have much choice -- what is she going to do, live on the street? -- and it takes a lot of strength to put up with that kind of treatment and still remain generous to others as a general rule.

13. How is it a good thing that there are different categories for women and men in the Oscars?

Well, there's only one set of different categories, for acting. But in almost every category that isn't separated by gender, men are the vast majority of nominees, and almost all of the winners. By having a best actor and best actress category, the Oscars guarantee that at least some women in the movie industry will receive recognition. Based on this, if there were separate categories for, say, best male director and best female director, more women would get recognition in more fields. But then, a "best female director" category would probably be seen as a lesser category than "best male director," so you really can't win.

14. Does Zoella deserve her money?

Does anyone deserve their money? Zoella got rich because people liked her Youtube channel, so much that they were also eager to buy her beauty products and books. And even if those things were developed by other people, she still created the powerful Zoella brand by herself. Was that at least part luck? Probably. There are many similar Youtubers out there. But something about her resonated with millions of viewers, and that something is what she gets paid for, in the end. You can't go that far without having some business sense and worthwhile content to offer.

15. What are other books like Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars?

For The Fault in Our Stars, try books by Gayle Forman, Jasmine Warga, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell. For Harry Potter, try Ally Carter if you light the light-hearted school adventure elements, Leigh Bardugo if you enjoyed the magic and plot-twistiness, or Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series if you liked the humor.

16. Is The DUFF an appropriate movie for pre-teens?

I haven't seen it, but probably not, considering the question above.

17. Why do female characters in literature have to be powerful?

They don't. They just have to be people, with all the different personalities and roles than normal people have. However, considering that there are fewer women than men in positions of power in real life (as in CEOs, politicians, military leaders, the president...), it's good to see women in those positions in literature, because those fictional characters can both inspire real women and help establish female power as a norm.

18. Is it possible for a guy and a girl to be best friends if she's fat?

In general, obviously. What does weight have to do with friendship? Probably not for this particular guy and girl, though, if one of the two people feels the need to ask this question. It isn't a weight problem, though. It's a jerk problem.