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Dresden Files Incoming, unpopular opinion on the horizon.

#1 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 07:16 AM

First off I'd like to say I enjoy Dresden Files, and so far I've read up to Proven Guilty. I plan on to keep reading it.

Now for the unpopular part. It's kind of a stupid male power fantasy where women are objectified and it really hasn't bothered me till Proven Guilty. I hadn't really notice it till Molly in this book. But now that I look back on it was kind of always there (some woman kind of escape it, Murphy being one of them). Every women is sexualized (the only ones who weren't was the troll girl who dies, and some of the female wizards who we know nothing about) to the ump degree. Now I think most people realize the Dresden Files isn't anything other than dumb soap opera fun but every time I tried to bring this point up about the Dresden Files I get booed down. Bringer me to my other unpopular opinion, is when read critically Dresden Files (along with a lot of genre, which I think is a reflection of 'mainstream' culture) has a lot of problems (and I don't mean things like prose but the unfortunate implications of some plot points like Injun 'stereotypical native american name' of course only his closet white friend can say it) people overlook simply because people think it's 'dumb fun' to quote myself.

And to bring it home I'll ask a question is this alright? Can we truly read such a thing uncritically and simply enjoy it or do we have to take in all of it, including all the suspect handling of women and non-western ethnicities?

Edit*
I also realize this might fall into the cultural outside of Dresden and I just ask to keep it to the books and not fall into a political debate about the state of whomever if possible.

This post has been edited by Studlock: 18 September 2012 - 07:19 AM

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#2 User is offline   Obdigore 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:36 AM

I can.

You apparently can't.

I disagree with your examples of 'suspect handling of woman and non-western ethnicities', but you seem to want to find something to be critical about.
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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:41 AM

View PostObdigore, on 18 September 2012 - 08:36 AM, said:

I can.

You apparently can't.

I disagree with your examples of 'suspect handling of woman and non-western ethnicities', but you seem to want to find something to be critical about.


Concur. I think you are cherry-picking examples to fit your motive of having read it that way.
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#4 User is online   Tsundoku 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:42 AM

Isn't there some crazy-arse feminazi blog page about stuff like this? Did someone mention it on this forum elsethread? I can't recall exactly where I read about it. Maybe someone with better search powerz or more care factor would be able to find the thread.

I'll have a quick bo peep ...

EDIT: 5 minutes searching couldn't find it :p

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#5 User is offline   champ 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:52 AM

I just disagree, the term grasping at straws come to mind!

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#6 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 09:52 AM

Yah, it's not so much that your opinions are controversial as much as your facts are wrong about the Dresden Files. The women are sexualized only to the point that they are sexual beings who enjoy sex...and the same goes for men. In other words, it's kinda real. Dresden might be a chivalrous prig sometimes (which he overtly acknowledges like at least once every book, which is actually one of the few refrains that annoys me in the series), but in terms of the series itself it's refreshingly non-chaste. There's actually not much Virgin/Whore dialectic going on, which is nice. The "Injun Joe" thing is obviously a tongue-in-cheek self-appellation, and the character exists (at least in part) to skewer and toy with the stereotypes/tropes. Also I kind of chuckled at the use of a Native American as an example of a "non-Western ethnicity" but that's perhaps neither here nor there.

As far as problems in genre work in general, there's a thread in the Discussion forum on that very issue, and I don't think you're wrong that we should be critical (though I don't see why literary fiction would be deemed less problematic). It's ripe for analysis. Dresden just doesn't happen to be a very strong culprit of any of these crimes.

On a side note, I want to say that making succubi/incubi a type of vampire was a pretty awesome idea. I don't know if Jim Butcher is wholly original in doing so, but it was new to me.
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#7 User is offline   Ribald 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 09:53 AM

I think that Studlock has raised some interesting points, although I don't agree with them wholesale.
Dresden as a character possesses a strong sense of chivalry, and while not a bad thing per se, it is an inherently skewed attitude to women in the modern world. Dresden respects the character of Murphy, yet at the same time continually comments on the fact that she is short, blonde and cute. The fact that he references her physical description in a slightly patronising manner and marks her physicality as a defining characteristic supports some argument that Dresden is slightly sexist as a character. Even Dresden admits to having an 'old fashioned' attitude.
However, I am not entirely convinced that this means that Dresden sexualises female characters. As an author, Butcher uses Dresden's thoughts and comments to more fully describe the world of the novel. This results in a number of descriptions, such as of Murphy, in which physical descriptions are given a supposed level of priority that serve to help the reader picture the character rather than actually reflect how they would be thought of or described in the real world. A good contrast would be how Murphy is introduced in the TV show. In the TV version there is no need for Dresden to comment on her physicality as it is immediately obvious to the viewer, therefore the introduction appears a lot less patronising and focalisied on Murphy's physicality. As a result the TV introduction appears less sexist as it deprioritises physicality and concentrates far more on personality and ability.
There is also a distinct difference between the sexualisation of female characters and the objectification of female characters. They are not necessarily the same thing.
So there is a balance here between whether or not a slightly old fashioned and polite chivalrous attitudes can be considered sexist (in a non-pejorative meaning of simply treating and thinking of men and women differently), the need of an author to locate physical descriptions of characters as a priority so that the reader can imagine the world more vividly, and inherent patriarchal cultural bias that disguises many of our attitudes toward women in general.
I think that referring to Dresden stories as 'stupid male power fantasy' is inaccurate and deliberately antagonistic, as does calling it a 'dumb soap opera' . It also does a massive disservice to the thought that Butcher has put into crafting a coherent and developing series. An urban fantasy series centred on a male protagonist who ultimately will save the day can reductively be described as a male power fantasy, but calling it 'stupid' and 'dumb' is not helpful nor is it in any way a critical insight. The series goes well beyond a simple power fantasy, although there are very strong elements of this. Unlike many of the other popular power fantasies, at least the character of Dresden has both limits and often pays the price for bad decisions.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts on this.
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#8 User is offline   Tattersail_ 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:10 AM

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 07:16 AM, said:

First off I'd like to say I enjoy Dresden Files, and so far I've read up to Proven Guilty. I plan on to keep reading it.

Now for the unpopular part. It's kind of a stupid male power fantasy where women are objectified and it really hasn't bothered me till Proven Guilty. I hadn't really notice it till Molly in this book. But now that I look back on it was kind of always there (some woman kind of escape it, Murphy being one of them). Every women is sexualized (the only ones who weren't was the troll girl who dies, and some of the female wizards who we know nothing about) to the ump degree. Now I think most people realize the Dresden Files isn't anything other than dumb soap opera fun but every time I tried to bring this point up about the Dresden Files I get booed down. Bringer me to my other unpopular opinion, is when read critically Dresden Files (along with a lot of genre, which I think is a reflection of 'mainstream' culture) has a lot of problems (and I don't mean things like prose but the unfortunate implications of some plot points like Injun 'stereotypical native american name' of course only his closet white friend can say it) people overlook simply because people think it's 'dumb fun' to quote myself.

And to bring it home I'll ask a question is this alright? Can we truly read such a thing uncritically and simply enjoy it or do we have to take in all of it, including all the suspect handling of women and non-western ethnicities?

Edit*
I also realize this might fall into the cultural outside of Dresden and I just ask to keep it to the books and not fall into a political debate about the state of whomever if possible.


I don't see Charity that way. Not at all. The way he talked about Elaine he had feelings for her but she was no bombshell. I don't see Murphy as attractive. All three are strong characters in my opinion. The books are from Harry's point of view as well, he finds Susan attractive but the way he describes her I just think she is average, yet he fancies her. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in this case it is as seen through Harry's eyes. Now he locks himself in his basement a lot and he doesn't socialise as much as other people. This can alter his perception of any females he comes across. He has old fashioned morals which has been pointed out many times. The people I have met, that have similar morals, would describe any young lady as pretty or nice looking even if I don't think that is the case. He is a little repressed at times so this can affect his libido. I just disagree with you. I don't find faults in the way Butcher portrays his female protagonists.

Now the other point about "stereotypical native american name". It works. Injun Joe is a good name. Better than Bobby Hancock or something. Why does he have to change their name to suit everyone elses ideals? Or their language? I mean if he is describing a Chinese man that is only visiting America on business for the first time and the Chinese guy can speak fluent excellent English that might seem off to me, but then again it may not. It honestly does not matter to me because I do not think that the author would want any offence to take place. Do you really think he wants women to feel degraded? Or that he is taking a swipe at Native Americans?
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#9 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM

I'd like to say that I don't think Jim Butcher himself is purposefully writing characters like this, but is sadly a side effect of his and really most of the 'Western' (I use in the 'Old World' sense) POV regrading women and POC. And worrywart when I said mainstream I meant everything outside of genre, including literature fiction. I should of been more clear on that. From this point on I will be speaking in certainties only for the sake of discussion, so if I come across as arrogant I am sorry. Finally before I descend into the madness that is my argument I am sorry for some of my subjective language I used in my first post.


Charity is another of the few females who isn't overly objectified. Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly. I have no problem with them wanting sex, again I turn to Murphy as a character which I think is actually written quite well in her wants and how she is described. My problem with Listens-to-Wind is a his name is English even though he himself is supposedly a quite older Native American and is simply a native american as if they are one group (this may change as we learn more about him though). He is basically the Magical Native American. Shiro just happens to match up the mystical warriors Japan is famous for. They're not particularly deep characters. To me the handling of 'Injun' Joe, which is of course a derogatory term, is on a more personal level with me being a Métis myself so to see a character be a stereotype rubs me the wrong way.

There is also some scene involving women and and Harry which are just not needed. The shower scene in Proven Guilty with Molly is one of them. Another is Harry and Susan's sex scene in Death Masks which boarders on rapeish.

@Ribald To me the way this characteristic of Harry isn't overly demonized and is sometimes written as just an odd personality quirk even though it is ultimately a sexist 'quirk' which treat women in a condescending manner. As for the over description of the female characters (all characters for the matter) is really just not needed, given that we're 14 books in.

Again I'll say I really just don't think this is a Dresden problem but a genre problem which in turn is a reflections of it's mainstream culture.

This post has been edited by Studlock: 18 September 2012 - 02:51 PM

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#10 User is offline   champ 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:08 PM

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM, said:

Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly.



The book is told from first person perspective... male first person perspective... what you expect?

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#11 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:14 PM

View Postchamp, on 18 September 2012 - 03:08 PM, said:

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM, said:

Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly.



The book is told from first person perspective... male first person perspective... what you expect?


Not the need to measure them about how 'banging' they are?
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#12 User is offline   Tattersail_ 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:16 PM

View Postchamp, on 18 September 2012 - 03:08 PM, said:

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM, said:

Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly.



The book is told from first person perspective... male first person perspective... what you expect?


It is his thought though, it is his perspective. Maybe others would not think that way but he does. He always has. Imagine him changing the way he thinks, that'd be changing a character halfway through a series. Look at his first encounter with Molly, he didn't think those thoughts then, only know she is a 20 year old he may perceive her differently. He's a lot older too, so looking at a younger girl who is in good shape and naked what do you expect?
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#13 User is offline   Vengeance 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:23 PM

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 03:14 PM, said:

View Postchamp, on 18 September 2012 - 03:08 PM, said:

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM, said:

Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly.



The book is told from first person perspective... male first person perspective... what you expect?


Not the need to measure them about how 'banging' they are?


As a male I can tell you that is how I think. I walk down the street and think how hot a chick is. I also think is she wearing panties or not, does she have sex in yoga positions, does she have any tat's or piercings that are only going to be visible upon closer inspection, does she put out on the first date, or is she one of those girls who you can just ask to fuck and not bother with a date. Mind you all this and more that I won't put down go through my mind in microseconds upon seeing a pretty girl walking down the street. I assume that all guys are like me so reading a book written from the prospective of a sexually active male directed toward sexually active males I found came pretty close to being realistic.
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#14 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:25 PM

I am not talking about changing the character, I actually like the books again BUT I have noticed a lot of squick moments when addressing the women and some of the POC. Also I believe Molly is still a teenager in Proven Guilty which does makes it even weirder on top of being attracted to a friends daughter you've known since she was child.
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#15 User is offline   Vengeance 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:26 PM

View PostTattersail, on 18 September 2012 - 03:16 PM, said:

View Postchamp, on 18 September 2012 - 03:08 PM, said:

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM, said:

Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly.



The book is told from first person perspective... male first person perspective... what you expect?


It is his thought though, it is his perspective. Maybe others would not think that way but he does. He always has. Imagine him changing the way he thinks, that'd be changing a character halfway through a series. Look at his first encounter with Molly, he didn't think those thoughts then, only know she is a 20 year old he may perceive her differently. He's a lot older too, so looking at a younger girl who is in good shape and naked what do you expect?


This is true I have watched some female relations grow up. I appreciate that some of them are very attractive but I am not attracted to them because I have known them since they where knee high. But I can easily look at them and think some lucky guy is going to have a fun time with her.
How many fucking people do I have to hammer in order to get that across.
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#16 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:27 PM

Can we stop attempting to castrate fictional characters into nice? Or make them into unbelievable (especially where the males are concerned) characters who don't think about women sexually. If you are a man and not gay then you most likely think about women like this a lot.

I mean seriously.

Does Dresden do stuff that doesn't show him in the best light? He does indeed, he can be pigheaded and abrasive. He also does great and heroic stuff with no thought for his own life.

He's interesting because of the fact that he has a character.

A character in a book is not its author. For the last time. This is something that has been really pissing me off in recent discussions.

Making Dresden have the good traits AND the flaws that he does makes him realistic.

Studlock, I don't know what you are looking for, but in my world people come in many shades and colours of personality. If we constrain our fictional characters to be paragons of virtue (that don't really exist in modern society) then we aren't being true to them. Butcher is true to Dresden by letting him be who he is and not apologizing for any of it.

As for sexualization, Dresden is sexualized as well, he's the tall, dark and handsome stereotype. So is Michael. It always bugs me that people immediately see the sexuality of women in a book and assume that it's on purpose and meant to put women in their place or something....but they conveniently have no trouble with the fact that Dresden and Michael are both the female-desire versions of men...you know, the kind you see in women's magazines. Neither one of them is out of shape, both are unremittingly charming, and both are decidedly heroic and sought after by women.

It goes both ways...and as well it should. That at least makes it somewhat realistic in the fact that the board is even, if not for the believability that everyone is a demi-god or goddess.

It's certainly not skewed in the fashion that you seem to see it as.

The same is true of the slew of female fronted urban fantasy where every man is tall dark and handsome, dream men who are just wild enough to need taming. In fact, Butchers wife Shannon writes this type of fiction too. In my eyes, it's an equalized sexualization that is written that way to entertain, titillate and escape with. It's fiction.

This post has been edited by QuickTidal: 18 September 2012 - 03:32 PM

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#17 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:28 PM

View PostVengeance, on 18 September 2012 - 03:23 PM, said:

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 03:14 PM, said:

View Postchamp, on 18 September 2012 - 03:08 PM, said:

View PostStudlock, on 18 September 2012 - 02:49 PM, said:

Literally almost female is described via how 'hot' they are including Molly.



The book is told from first person perspective... male first person perspective... what you expect?


Not the need to measure them about how 'banging' they are?


As a male I can tell you that is how I think. I walk down the street and think how hot a chick is. I also think is she wearing panties or not, does she have sex in yoga positions, does she have any tat's or piercings that are only going to be visible upon closer inspection, does she put out on the first date, or is she one of those girls who you can just ask to fuck and not bother with a date. Mind you all this and more that I won't put down go through my mind in microseconds upon seeing a pretty girl walking down the street. I assume that all guys are like me so reading a book written from the prospective of a sexually active male directed toward sexually active males I found came pretty close to being realistic.


Sorry double post.

Really? You don't even think of what her name is? In microseconds you think of all that and her identity, her name even doesn't come up? I am also a male, I also have sexual desire but it is not how I define a human being literally every time I see them as Harry seems to do.
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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:32 PM

I know I personally don't go around trying to guess strangers' names. Seems rather pointless and unproductive.
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#19 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:33 PM

View PostQuickTidal, on 18 September 2012 - 03:27 PM, said:

Can we stop attempting to castrate fictional characters into nice?

I mean seriously.

Does Dresden do stuff that doesn't show him in the best light? He does indeed, he can be pigheaded and abrasive. He also does great and heroic stuff with no thought for his own life.

He's interesting because of the fact that he has a character.

A character in a book is not its author. For the last time. This is something that has been really pissing me off in recent discussions.

Making Dresden have the good traits AND the flaws that he does makes him realistic.

Studlock, I don't know what world you live in, but in mine people come in many shades and colours of personality. If we constrain our fictional characters to be paragons of virtue (that don't really exist in modern society) then we aren't being true to them. Butcher is true to Dresden by letting him be who he is and not apologizing for any of it.

As for sexualization, Dresden is sexualized as well, he's the tall, dark and handsome stereotype. So is Michael. It always bugs me that people immediately see the sexuality of women in a book and assume that it's on purpose and meant to put women in their place or something....but they conveniently have no trouble with the fact that Dresden and Michael are both the female-desire versions of men...you know, the kind you see in women's magazines. Neither one of them is out of shape, both are unremittingly charming, and both are decidedly heroic and sought after by women.

It goes both ways...and as well it should. That at least makes it somewhat realistic in the fact that the board is even, if not for the believability that everyone is a demi-god or goddess.

It's certainly not skewed in the fashion that you seem to see it as.


In society it doesn't go both's ways. Men for the most part are not objectified by society, while women are. My problem with the narrative is that it doesn't seem to give these problems the weight they have in real life to the POV and this to me is troubling. I have no problem with characters being bad people but when the story shows it is a light-hearted way its doing a deserves to society.
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#20 User is offline   Studlock 

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 03:34 PM

View PostSalt-Man Z, on 18 September 2012 - 03:32 PM, said:

I know I personally don't go around trying to guess strangers' names. Seems rather pointless and unproductive.


I was making the point that nothing of person identity was considered outside of sexual preferences.
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