April 8th, 2013

“Mary Sue” = misogyny

Posted to my Tumblr, saving here.

The term Mary Sue comes from a parody fan fic that basically mocks, dismisses, degrades and otherwise tears down women’s fantasies. The character was gendered for that very reason. The fact that women having self insert power fantasies is something to be mocked and trashed.

Then the term started being applied to female characters from other fiction. The term is used to discredit, dismiss, degrade, mock, and otherwise tear down those stories too. It’s basically saying “Hey, women shouldn’t be strong and you women shouldn’t have any kinds of fantasies of power of any kind’ MARY SUE! Feel bad about that!”

Then people started forcing male characters into Mary Sue, they equated them to being a women, to being female and then shaming the character for it. They called male characters Mary Sue, just so they wouldn’t look sexist, despite the fact that pretty much every male character out there is a self insert power fantasy. Hey boys get to be Goku and Naruto and women get to be…. uh…. nothing. Women don’t get a fantasy that is just simply accepted without being torn to shreds in some form or fashion.
(example of the Avatar creators mocking Katara/Zuko pairing fans at a convention.)

Which s why using the term Mary Sue for any character is sexist and misogynistic. You are saying women’s fantasies are something to be shamed and they are inherently bad thanks to the character. Then trying to apply it to male characters just o justify you using it. (like how some people will call men whores just to feel good about calling women whores, and say “I use it for everybody”)

So if you want to keep using that term, you are not being feminist, you re being a misogynist and I don’t really want to know you’


4 responses to ““Mary Sue” = misogyny”

  1. I usually get the feeling that Mary Sue/Gary Stu is normally applied to suspicions where the author is specifically exalting THEIRSELF. The usual problem is when the author feels impelled to excise any “real” character flaws, lest the character be deemed detestable. (Which has the problem of making character development difficult.) A matter of whether the exaltation is at the expense of story believability, I suppose. I’d guess that the original “Mary Sue” work was meant to satirize what was seen as a tendency to trade glory for story coherence.

    Not that I get the point of power fantasies. Long past time we stopped valorizing strength and condemning weakness, as though they could be mapped to good and evil. I prefer Guile Heroes to strength elementals (q.v. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure), anyway.

    Although the earliest fiction account of such a character I can think of is MALE–Galahad from the French versions of the Arthurian tales. (Poor Perceval…) Maybe if “Mary Sue” and “Gary Stu” were replaced with something like “Galahad Mimic”? Or just “Purity Elemental”? “Abstract Valorization”?

    (And this is where I hope I didn’t paint a crosshairs on myself somehow…)

    • Still though, what’s WRONG with themselves in their own stories? Why trash it when there have been countless male author self inserts. For example the biggest one I know of that became religions canon:

        Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri

      I’ll agree with rplacing “mary Sue” with “Galahad Mimic” as it would show ‘Hey this whole concept of self insert? Yeah.. isn’t new at all.’ Which then give more fuel to the ‘Stop being so dismissive and hateful of female Galahad Epics.’ Though some might use it to strengthen the ‘Well only men can be self inserts then.’ >_< WHICH is what we basically have going on here.

      • I suppose it’s the implicit keen of overweening pride/superbia. An attempt to attain vicarious attention, much like Galahad was effectively the French authors’ attempt to one-up Perceval, and implicitly the Welsh, whether they understood the latter element was there or not. (“Hey, you know the old Grail Knight? Well, we’ve come up with an even BETTER one, as only we French could!”)

        Admittedly, I’m thinking more in terms of fanfiction (which is where I thought the Mary Sue and Gary Stu terms were endemic–and where I keep associating them) than original works. I think it might also be related to my distaste for Silent Protagonists in Final Fantasy-style CRPGs. The player is properly the director, not the lead actor…(And I suppose THIS is related to my disbelief that anyone would WANT to become addicted to a game. Is immersion INHERENTLY a good thing?)

        • Well I’ve seen The term used for original fiction as well, it did originate in FanFiction but, it mutated.

          Eh, my distaste of the silent self-insert protagonist is it’s always a (white) dude your supposed to be playing as. How am I supposed to insert into that? Also, most time the non-silent actor is so irritating i want to kill them and have a game over. What I hate is the games that let you create your character, pick a gender and then you aren’t silent, and the character turns into something you don’t want to play anymore. (Otome games fall into this, they let you name the main character and then she usually turns out to be a doormat.)