But it's good to know that when civilization collapses and humanity is doomed to a slow and painful extinction, some people will still have their priorities straight.
Studies back this up -- we want female characters who fit a "superwoman ideal." They should have the "manly" traits of assertiveness and aggression, but we're turned off if they don't hit feminine beauty norms and show at least some vulnerability. That's the difference: It's fine for male characters to have a single manly trait (he's the badass, he's the smart guy) but if women can't do everything, then they're not good enough.
So how did things get like this?
There Aren't That Many Women Making Shows
There's no single explanation for why television is so frequently bad at writing women. As we mentioned earlier, some of it is writers imitating what they watched growing up. Jokes about crazy "sluts" and hormonal harpies show up for the same reason fat jokes do -- they're easy. Also, they're popular. TV comedy is about offering comfortable entertainment you can listen to while you're washing the dishes. Networks don't get monster ratings by challenging the audience's worldview. For cop shows, it's easy to get drama out of a brutal rape, or the threat of one. But in every case, "easy" is the key word. And over time, we fall into a pattern, which results in half the women we see being crusty stereotypes or shrieking victims.
NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Law & Order diversifies by always having both.
But the lack of diversity behind the scenes also plays a big damn role. A mere 27 percent of industry jobs are held by women, even though women watch more TV than men. It's probably no surprise that actresses have shorter careers than their male counterparts (if a female wants a career past 35, she'd better either be in great shape or funny as hell), but female screenwriters retire much earlier as well. Hollywood doesn't look too kindly upon older writers in general, because only a constant influx of youth will give the television industry a steady supply of those new and fresh period jokes we all love. But older women (read: wizened, 40-year-old crones) have it worse, even in a job where your age and appearance supposedly doesn't matter.
And it's trending down. In 2014, 25 percent of TV writers were women, down from the ancient days of 2007, and barely above where we stood in 1998. We're not saying there's some intentional system to shut women out of the process (Note: The Cracked editorial team isn't exactly bursting with women, either), but regardless of the reason, TV is definitely worse for it.
The Daily Beast
But it seems that what we really need more of is men complaining that female characters written by women are unlikable.
If you're writing about any group without a single member of it in the room, it's easy to fall back on lazy stereotypes. In a lot of cases, they're not writing about what it's like to be a struggling single mom based on any experience. They're writing about what '80s sitcoms told them about being a struggling single mom. Which means that you get the same jokes, decade after decade. Even if you don't care about political correctness or equality, having more women behind the scenes would mean better shows. No creative outlet in the history of the world has gotten worse by adding fresh perspectives. Why else do you think Cracked is constantly asking people to sign up?
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