Ya geddit? See, ‘Women in Refrigerators’ and ‘Nuking the Fridge’ are both tropes with ‘fridge’ in them… and I combined them in the title of this post! It’s kind of like, a pun or something.
Anyway, I’ve been on vacation for three weeks, which means I was too lazy to even write on my blog, and instead watched hours and hours of TV. But since I’m in the fiction business, I maintain that watching TV counts as research, and am therefore perfectly justified in my actions.
On that note, I can fully reccommend the series ‘Justified’ to my readers. 🙂
But while I was pretending to be away, I happened to come across several posts/arguments all on the same topic. Women in Refrigerators. For those of you not in the know, this trope refers to a female character being killed off purely to get an emotional reaction from a male character, and it’s really sexist because of… reasons.
Okay, so you all know I hate the idea that all fiction always carries messages about how the author views women/minorities, mainly because you can read anything into anything if you want, and unless the author comes out and says ‘I intended this to be a comment on the issue of X’ you’re just fooling yourself into believing you know the author’s mind better than they do. I’ve already spoken about that, but this one was really annoying me, so I wanted to ramble a little about it.
First of all, being Stuffed into the Fridge is not a trope restricted to women. I’ll admit most instances of it that I can think of are women, and I think that mostly boils down to lazy writing. Have villain threaten/kill hero’s girlfriend. Sometimes it’s the hero’s son instead, but people get nervous about killing off children so that’s not as common–but it does happen. It doesn’t mean the writer doesn’t value women.
Some people seem to think that this ‘devalues’ women as a whole, because they can just be killed by the villain or whatever, but I think those people are thinking less in terms of fiction and more in terms of social justice. From the examples I know, the majority of Fridged characters only had as much value to the story as the value they had to the person the villain was targeting by killing them. I’ve heard people complain that Fridging makes their characters all about the male character rather than having their own storyline, but let’s face it. A lot of these characters never had a storyline and were never going to. Their purpose was always to flesh out the main/more important character, and that’s what some characters are there for in fiction.
As for those who did have their own storyline and always had more impact of the plot than how they affected the main character, being killed to hurt them doesn’t necessarily devalue them as long as it’s put in the hands of a competent writer–sometimes it makes perfect sense to the story–and even if it’s up to an incompetent and they completely mess the whole thing up, that’s not necessarily because of sexism. It’s because of incompetency.
To sum up, killing a female character to upset a male character is not sexist if killing a male character to upset any character is okay. The fact that it’s more often women who are the victims of this trope could be because the death of a woman is considered more tragic than the death of a man, it could be simpy because more heroes the villain would attack in this way are male, or it could be a combination of the two. That might be worth looking into more, but crying sexism every time a woman is Fridged is non-sensical.
So fill your refrigerators with all the women you want! (Wait, that came out wrong…) They’ll at least be protected from nuclear attack.
Or maybe it’s all bullshit, I don’t know, I’m hungry. I wonder what’s in the fridge…