Feminism in storytelling is going through a transitionary period. So it’s not the most impressive even in stories that are aimed for this particular theme. The irritating part is no one truly mentions this because it’s welcoming a wave of hellfire into your mentions since people like certain things to stay a certain way. In this case, people like feminism to either be heavily drowned or excessively pushed rather than a natural flow of thematic structure in storytelling.
All-Female is not always Feminism
In the information society we live in, terminology and vocabulary are more imperative than anything. If feminism is being used as a structural component in storytelling then it’s not as easy as making an all-female cast. The very foundation of feminism is the equality between men and women. There are many layers to this movement and having all-female casting is only a branch of that movement. However, it’s not the ultimate goal.
One big example is the term ‘female’ in itself is still under debate as to which parties sit on that branch. Then feminism becomes an extension of gender equality, bringing all genders into the mix. So is it really feminism if we have eight cisgender women in a cast?
It gets tricky, doesn’t it?
Promoting feminism in storytelling needs a lot of thought. This is a surprise to no one because any person in your audience can tell if you’re placing a political component for the sake of marketing. And if you’re only doing it for marketing, people will be quick to point out any flaws.
Stories are a massive influence in our society. While some creators may not think it’s such a big deal, it doesn’t shift that influence and the reactions of the public if you commit a blunder.
What can you do?
Making stories that are relevant to the generation is important but don’t let it sacrifice your story. Instead of making half-hearted remakes with more women in it, create original female characters that can influence the newer generation. If you’re adding non-cisgender characters, make sure to research and understand what you’re writing. Tie new stories with new faces to mark a new era. If you use the same faces and same ideals, nothing will ever change. This is a boring cliché saying but if you want things to change, you need to change something too.
The Poor Feminist
I don’t know how many people like this trope but it needs to go. Yes, there is systematic sexism and it most definitely exists. However, if you ever listen to any successful woman out in the world, they always have one common consensus. If you know something is unfair or wrong, don’t sit and complain. Instead, do something about it. You hate women losing their ability to get up when in danger? Write a woman who can jump back up in seconds. You hate that women are being unnecessarily sexualized in stories? Create or read female characters that aren’t sexualized. Promote them not as a protest but as simple awareness and normalization.
I’m not saying it’s incredibly easy but that’s not the point. Feminism tends to become this platform to pity women like they’re fragile porcelain and it rubs me the wrong way. It’s counterproductive and all it does is contribute to the system you’re trying to protest. I understand the need to humanize women constantly but it doesn’t always have to be a pity party.
What can you do?
Stories about the struggles of being a woman are fine but there needs to be a balance. Especially if you want to teach or inspire the newer generation. If our approach to feminism is “our life sucks and that’s pretty much the gist of it” then once again, it’s never going to end. Write, read or promote stories that normalize women in new ideals and characteristics so the newer generations know which values to learn. If you keep giving them the same old drama, it’s all just going to repeat.
Feminism in storytelling really doesn’t have to be so complicated so long as you have your heart in it. Make sure to understand that the story comes first and the themes come later. People will know a good story and bad one without any kind of political agenda so it’s good to be aware that you’re writing or promoting something for the right reasons