Oct. 12th, 2014

attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Trauma in modern American media is a tricky thing. On one hand, the backstories of nearly everyone, heroes and villains alike are full of it. On the other, trauma is heavily shamed, and leaves characters open to accusations of weakness, or of being whiny. This means that while we want characters who go through traumatic experiences, we are extremely uncomfortable with expressions of trauma. Also, we are much more comfortable with some expressions of trauma than with others. Only certain kinds of traumatic expression are allowed, and like so much about culture, who and what a character is determines what kind of traumatic expression we as a society will allow them to have. Straight white men are given the most freedom to be traumatized, and stereotypically masculine trauma is the most widely viewed as legitimate within fandom in my experience. A character who was in battle and suffers symptoms of PTSD for example is much less likely to be called weak than a character recovering from an abusive relationship who has the same symptoms. A character who lashes out is much less likely to be considered weak than one who breaks down crying. A character who reacts with anger is seen as stronger than one who reacts with fear. There are very few roles for the traumatized woman or girl in American media. Traumatized women can be broken damsels in need of rescuing, but then once the danger is past, the damsel either recovers quickly, or disappears. They can be villains, who use their trauma as an excuse to hurt others, or they can... well. This isn't to say that portrayals of men coping with trauma are all that great either. For all there are so many more of them, they are usually not especially nuanced, though of course some are.

This is why I was so amazed and grateful when I saw Avatar: the Last Airbender for the first time, and why Frozen struck such a chord with me as a woman dealing with childhood trauma. Now, in Book Four of Legend of Korra, the narrative is once again giving a female character, this time its heroine, Korra, the space and the right to be traumatized. )

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attackfish: Yshre girl wearing a kippah, text "Attackfish" (Default)
attackfish

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