The Fallacy of Fridging

October 18, 2010

This is dedicated to the ones who scream “Fridge” if anything bad befalls any female character in any context…

The Overthinking It Flowchart of Female Characters
from Overthinkingit.com

Fridging, for the happily unenlightened, is taken from the title of the list “Women in Refrigerators” which notes the number female characters who are killed, raped, or otherwise brutalized… but mostly killed and decapitated so their heads can be left in the hero’s refrigerator.  One of the creators, Gail Simone, has explained the original point simply enough: if you want women & girls to read comics, maybe killing off all the characters they like isn’t such a hot idea.  The original list, however, has been used as the foundation for any number of essays, deconstructions, and blogs who, in the words of whatever Kennedy said it, seem to want the luxury of having opinions without the bother of having thoughts.  The complaint–and it’s a fair one up to a point–is that the women and their deaths are just plot devices.  It’s not the story of their deaths, it’s the effect their deaths have on the hero.

Of course the same can be said of Duncan or Hamlet’s father, but nobody ever bemoans king-snuffing.

Look, I know these Fridge-Screamers are good people, most of them, and they’re honestly trying to help, but the fact is, they are the problem, not the writers. These well-meaning souls seem to think they are educating the rest of us by dissecting women’s roles in fiction in the ways shown here. In their minds, it’s writers putting women in these categories that keep them from being full and equal human beings alongside the men. We who might actually enjoy these outings are like savages worshipping a radioactive idol, not realizing that the glow we find so fascinating is bad for us.

Well, sorry, fact is, the Fridge-Screamers are the ones who have a faulty understanding. Because the thing that keeps these women from being full and equal human beings is that THEY’RE NOT. They’re not real! They are CHARACTERS. Characters in stories are going to repeat certain patterns and fit into certain roles. You accept that in order to experience the story in the same way you buy a ticket to a movie. It is literally the price you pay to get in on the experience. We could play this same stupid game with the men, because they too have a role to play in any story. But we don’t dissect them for 180 kinds of imaginary subtext simply because they have testicles—and that is the only thing that is keeping them on a higher shelf than the women. The women aren’t as real because of these analysis matrices taking everything they say, do, or wear out of the context of the story and run through the defensive paranoia filters of every silly blogger out there who read the syllabus for a women’s studies course one time and imagines she has amazing new insights.

Look, there are misogynist trolls out there masquerading as writers, as editors, as movie directors. They are not hard to identify. That seems to be the problem, actually. Sally Sophomore doesn’t feel like an enlightened intellectual pointing to the sky and saying “It’s blue.” On the contrary, there is a predisposition to reject the obvious simply because everyone can see it. “All you people, the peasants, you think the sky is blue because that’s what your eyes tell you. You’re not as wise and wonderful as me. I am one of the elite who can appreciate the particular un-blueness that so eludes your simpleton mentality.” While Sally is harmless (annoying as hell, but harmless), she does contribute an awful lot to the noise pollution that keeps real issues from being discussed. That’s a pity, but hey, that’s the Internet.

It is Monday, so a brief CT update is order. I really don’t know where to begin at this point, which probably explains the diatribe on Sally. I guess Electron 29: Chapter 3 would be a good start. That’s out! I don’t usually release stuff over the weekend, and I know how it slips by a few readers when I veer off schedule that way, but the way things are going, I can’t be that choosey about when things get done. Anyone who misses an update, hey, there’s the newsletter, the forums, Twitter, ffnet author alerts, and this paragraph. If all that escapes ‘em, DOUBLE CHAPTERS NEXT TIME! Woohoo! They can have a Cat-Tales readathon.

Anyway, one of the main reasons for the big time crunch is the ebook conversion. The Book 1 compilation as well as all the individual B1 tales are done, and Book2 is so far along that it will probably be up on the website by the time you’re reading this. That brings us up to the present, but things don’t line up for the future by themselves: writing on chapter 4, conversions of Book 3, prepping the fan art gallery for a new artist, all these things are in the pipeline, along with one other treat I’m trying to arrange by Christmas… *stops and takes a deep breath* …which is why I can’t afford much blog time to shout out to all the Purple Catwomen at New York Comic Con…

The forum’s own “Glitch2” as Eddie in this one



…Let alone recap “Why men like boobs” for the new crop of terminally confused whackadoodles. I’d like to, along with a few other issues that cropped up over the summer, but the Tales come first, and the commentary on non-tales matters comes second. Today we got Overthinking It out of the way. It’s a start…

That said, Kitty can really use an extra set of hands. So… I’m thinking it might be time to get an intern again. Since we now have a virtual visitor center in Second Life, I’d prefer an SL resident. If you’re interested, stop by the Cat-Tales Visitor Center in Second Life and send me a notecard. If you’re not in SL, you can send me a PM through the forum, but I’m giving preference to SL people on this one.

Chris Dee

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