I am bored.This is the problem with characters that must be beyond criticism. They cannot fail. There is no conflict. There are no surprises. Just rainbows, unicorns, and unstinting praise from start to finish.
Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy many of these books, or that I think they have no redeeming qualities. But these brave new heroines can, by and large, be summed up as “smart, nice, vaguely sassy.” There is individual conflict, sure — Barbara’s academic work, Gwen’s band, Kate Bishop’s desire for independence — but it’s rarely defining, and never truly risky. Certainly none of these books approach the kind of comedy, pathos, or danger that define the greatest male characters. They’re all a little safe, a little tame, a little quiet.
It is true the characters are boring, yet what Khan describes — this smart, nice, vaguely sassy woman — is the very character feminists adore. All their icons fit that description. That is Tina Fey. That is Lena Dunham. That is Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Kristen Schaal, and Mindy Kaling.
It also describes the women they flock to online. That is Anita Sarkeesian. That is Brianna Wu. That is Zoe Quinn, Leigh Alexander, Lindy West, Amanda Marcotte, Jessica Valenti, and Zerlina Maxwell.
This is precisely the personality type one finds among female comic book creators like Gail Simone, Kate Leah, and Kelly Sue DeConnick.
This is exactly what feminists asked for. What did they expect would happen?
The character type they prefer is boring. Nothing of interest will happen to the character because she has no flaws, makes no mistakes, and does nothing that could make her look bad. She is nothing but a snarky Mary Sue. There can be no character development from that position.
Feminism is boring. This should not be a surprise, so are feminists.