On Building Better Male Protagonists

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Title: On Building Better Male Protagonists
Creator: lierdumoa
Date(s): March 20, 2016
Medium: online
Fandom: multifandom
External Links: On Building Better Male Protagonists, Archived version
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On Building Better Male Protagonists is a multifandom piece of meta written by lierdumoa and posted to Tumblr. The topic is about feminism and male characters in popular fiction.

As of November 2018, the essay has 1781 notes.


On Building Better Male Protagonists

We need more women in the media on every level and in every aspect. That’s a given.

We also need better men in the media, on every level, and in every aspect.

Women in the media still have to achieve twice as much as men to get half the respect, both behind the scenes and on screen.

Chris Rock, while remarking on Obama being the first black U.S. president, said “That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years.” This same sentiment applies to feminism. If we’re seeing more women in the media, it’s not because women have gotten better. It’s because men have gotten better. Ultimately, if we want to continue making things better for women, it’s men’s behavior that has to change. If we want to bring more women into male dominated fields, men need to stop creating hostile work environments for them.

And this is why I grow so weary of feminist media that continues to surround its female leads with Loveable MisogynistTM and Nice GuyTM male protagonists.

We need more protagonists like Steve Rogers, who accept rejection with grace, instead of treating flirtation like a sales transaction to be haggled over. We need more protagonists like Wade Wilson, a man in his mid thirties who thinks getting hit on by an woman nearly half his age is awkward and disturbing, instead of sexy, and who genuinely respects and admires his age-appropriate girlfriend who does sex work. We need more Fury Road version Max Rockatanskys, more Finn Damerons, more Peeta Mellarks, and more Raleigh Beckets.

I by no means want to devalue the importance of calling out problematic male behavior. On the contrary – it’s important to show that even well meaning men can unintentionally cause harm.

But there’s no point telling men and boys “what not to do” if we’re not also showing men and boys what they should be doing.

When the media fails to consistently portray positive male role models, the consequence of this failure is the normalization of male entitlement, casual misogyny, and other sexist micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions.