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View Thread

Do the women of Blake's 7 pass the test?
Yes Yes 43%[6 Votes]
No No 7%[1 Vote]
Maybe Maybe 14%[2 Votes]
Only some of them! Only some of them! 36%[5 Votes]
Total Votes : 14
 Print Thread
Strong female characters?
Spaceship Dispatcher
This remarkable and amusing test has been uncovered recently by fellow member Frankymole - who posted it on another site but has shared it with me to post here too. I have posted it already on the Doctor Who thread in relation to discussing the 'companions' in that show, but what about the women of Blake's 7 - do they pass the test or not? Over to you...

*mod hat - when replying, please only quote the relevant point and not the entire test. Thanks Grin*



The 8 point test of whether female characters are actually written as strong characters

After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?

If she does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?

Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?

Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?

…or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling fool, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?

It’s nice if she’s hyper-cool, but does she only start off that way so a male hero will look even cooler by comparison when he rescues or surpasses her?

Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention? Is breaking down her pride a fundamental part of the story?

Does she disappear entirely for the second half/third act of the film, for any reason other than because she’s doing something significant to the plot (besides being a hostage, or dying)?

Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
peladon
All the TN female pass/come out as strong on all counts I think, but only 1 of the females created by other writers (Soolin). Not even Kerril passes them all.
 
Travisina
Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:

Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?

…or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling fool, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?

Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention?


Kerril. Alas! From tough gunslinger to screaming at cobwebs.
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
@ Travisina: those three points are a pretty good plot synopsis of City from the Vila/Kerril viewpoint Grin
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
peladon
Yep. The other writers were so of their time and I'd guess verging on the old fashioned even in 1980.

My test of a strong female character has always been - is the character essentially gender neutral (in story terms) - so if you changed the character to a male one would any of their behaviours have to change. If very little does - then they probably are 'strong'.

Its not always that simple of course Servalan is written 'strong' from the outset but the way she is played sometimes verges on weakening her. Sand is awful for several reasons and thats one of them.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
peladon wrote:

My test of a strong female character has always been - is the character essentially gender neutral (in story terms) - so if you changed the character to a male one would any of their behaviours have to change. If very little does - then they probably are 'strong'.

So if they're a female character then they're weak by definition, unless they're a generic character who just happens to be played by a woman? That strikes me as a strange rule. It might just about apply to some fantasy drama, but I'm not sure about the classics like Jane Austen or other relationship dramas.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Travisina
peladon wrote:

My test of a strong female character has always been - is the character essentially gender neutral (in story terms) - so if you changed the character to a male one would any of their behaviours have to change. If very little does - then they probably are 'strong'.


And there you have it - Terry Nation had originally created Servalan as a male character, but changed it to female midway through writing.
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Travisina
Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:

peladon wrote:

My test of a strong female character has always been - is the character essentially gender neutral (in story terms) - so if you changed the character to a male one would any of their behaviours have to change. If very little does - then they probably are 'strong'.

So if they're a female character then they're weak by definition, unless they're a generic character who just happens to be played by a woman?


I don't think that's what was meant - after all, you can have weak male characters, too.
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Travisina wrote:

And there you have it - Terry Nation had originally created Servalan as a male character, but changed it to female midway through writing.

But the change having been made, she was written as a woman from there on - specifically qv Kairos
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Travisina
Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:

Travisina wrote:

And there you have it - Terry Nation had originally created Servalan as a male character, but changed it to female midway through writing.

But the change having been made, she was written as a woman from there on - specifically qv Kairos

Indeed - however, her increased female-ness was brought in by other writers. Terry's Servalan could have been a man.
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Travisina wrote:

Indeed - however, her increased female-ness was brought in by other writers. Terry's Servalan could have been a man.

The purpose of the test is, imo, about how they actually feature in the finished article more than unused ideas.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Travisina
Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:

Travisina wrote:

Indeed - however, her increased female-ness was brought in by other writers. Terry's Servalan could have been a man.

The purpose of the test is, imo, about how they actually feature in the finished article more than unused ideas.

That's what I meant! In TN's episodes, Servalan's dialogue, by and large, could have been spoken by a male character. (Even Rai, in S-L-D, if you just look at the clean dialogue and ignore the stage directions). The femininity was really brought to the fore by other writers, starting I think, with Carnell's closing lines in 'Weapon'.
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Travisina wrote:

In TN's episodes, Servalan's dialogue, by and large, could have been spoken by a male character.

hmm... will have to check out some scripts, but I can well believe the lines were fairly generic. But here's a question: when judging whether a character is strong in a finished drama production, do only the writers intentions count or are the actors and directors input equally important?*

*imo yes, fwiw
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
JustBrad
Yes, with one or two exceptions. Keep in mind it was the 70's. 'Strong Female Characters' were much rarer when B7 aired. I feel that modern, strong female characters in sci fi, like Ivonova and Aeryn Sun, can trace their roots right back to Jenna, Cally, Dayna, Soolin.... And, of course, Ripley of Alien.

It is a further test for the female character to be strong without losing her... for lack of a better word... femininity. If your strong female character can easily be replaced by a strong male character, what was the point of making her female?
 
JustBrad
Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:


So if they're a female character then they're weak by definition,.


Not by definition, but by stereotype and convention.
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
JustBrad wrote:

Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:

peladon wrote:

My test of a strong female character has always been - is the character essentially gender neutral (in story terms) - so if you changed the character to a male one would any of their behaviours have to change. If very little does - then they probably are 'strong'.

So if they're a female character then they're weak by definition..?

Not by definition, but by stereotype and convention.

Well, the concept that 'female' is defined by stereotype and convention and makes a character weak whatever else may happen to them in the story, or whatever personality they may have, was the point I disagreed with...
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
peladon
My comment was 'in story terms', by this I meant would the story elements carried by the character have to change if they were male. So would the tendancy to be kidnapped or assulted change for example, could difficult decisions still be carried by the character. Are the plot driving behaviours valid only if the character is of a specific (female) gender.
The personal ones, relationships etc, would have to change in some but not all instances. Rai is a case in point, the way the dynamic of that scene is written it could be either male or female on either side, there is no stereotypical 'femaleness' inherent in the situation or dialogue.

All of TNs female characters would work, in behavorial and story terms, if they were male, and all the males would work if they were female. Blakes fire and Travis's obsessions are not linked to their gender attributes but to other more 'androgenous' characteristics. This is not so with the other writers (nor is it true if SM today).
 
trevor travis
Yes. For its time, in particular, B7 had very strong female characters. Yes, some of them were slightly watered down as time progressed, but all started strong, and Servalan and Soolin, in particular, were very strong characters throughout.

Servie is one of the strongest female characters ever.

In both Assasin and Warlord, Soolin (a supporting character who appears fifth in the credits) saves the life of the leading character (Avon), through her quick wits. How many programmes did that happen in.... in 1981?

And Jenna, Cally and Dayna all have their moments.
 
trevor travis
Travisina wrote:Indeed - however, her increased female-ness was brought in by other writers. Terry's Servalan could have been a man.


But doesn't Servalan use her femininity against Rai in almost her first scene in her very first story? That wasn't written for a man; it just couldn't work the same.

If Servalan was conceived as a man, the decision to change the character to female seems to have happened before "Seek-Locate-Destroy" was written.

Although I agree on all counts about the sheer strength of character of Servie. But she's a strong woman, not a strong man.

Terry already had some history in this regard. Carolyn Seymour's Abby Grant from Survivors is a tough cookie and becomes leader of her band of survivors.
 
Travisina
trevor travis wrote:

But doesn't Servalan use her femininity against Rai in almost her first scene in her very first story? That wasn't written for a man; it just couldn't work the same.


That's in the way Jacqueline played the scene (and possibly in the stage directions). However, if you just read the clean dialogue, the lines could just as easily have been said by a man - including the one about being old friends (which itself may have been a late addition).
Twitter: @TravisinaB7
Tumblr: tumblr
There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes
 
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