Making female characters look “weak”

Warning discussion of minor assault.

I seen on a few threads about female MCs being rescued from dangerous or scary situations and it making them look weak,

I don’t know if I completely agree with that. Don’t get me wrong it’s nice to see someone fight back and don’t like anyone being portrayed like they can’t help themselves . But I think calling them “weak” because someone came to save them is a little harsh and here is why.

While out for a drink on many occasions I’ve come across a few men who have tried it on with me. A lot of these apologies and back off once I tell them I am not interested. However there have been some who don’t listen. I have hit and slapped a few guys after they haven’t listened to me telling them to let go of me some of them listen after I hit out and go away.
But one guy even when I was pulling away and trying to hit him wouldn’t let go and was trying to pull me out of the club.
I started freaking out because he was seriously scaring me. I didn’t want to go outside with him and I didn’t want to leave my friends who hadn’t noticed what was happening and couldn’t hear me shouting because of the music.

Then out of no where someone came over shoved him and shouted “She told you to get off her!”

Now I have a question did the fact that someone came over and helped me out of the situation make me weak?

I was trying to fight back but he was a lot stronger than me and if the guy who helped me didn’t intervene I don’t know what would happen.

There was another occasion I was on a works outing and went to the bar with one of my “friends” this guy walked over and she said it was her boyfriends dad. Then she whispered something to him and then out of no where he grabbed hold of my head and was trying to force kiss me. I started try to push him away, telling him “NO!!” “Get off me!” and in panic I started asking my “friend” to “help me.” To which she just laughed at. I think she had something to do with it if I’m honest but I don’t know…

But did the fact that I was panicking and asking for help make me weak?

I think using lines such as “you couldn’t handle it!” Is offensive but having someone come and help the MC and calling them weak is unfair.

I understand there are ways to go about it but I don’t like the idea of calling someone weak just because someone came to help them out of the situation.


I think it’s more to do with the fact that 90% of the time, the MC doesn’t fight back and theres usually a line about how only the LI could save her- translating to the female MC being too weak to defend herself.

In your situation, no I wouldnt call you weak because someone else stepped in and it is a rather harsh word to use but I think the intent is to cast light on the damsel in distress cliche. I’ve been in the same situations as you described- sometimes it does take someone stepping in, but I’m certainly not waiting around hoping someone notices, ya know? I would call the person stepping in a helper in that situation- if that makes sense. You weren’t-insert scared animation- ‘who’s going to save me’; you fought back.


Everyone has its strengths and weaknesses.
In my opinion, you tried to solve it yourself, but you couldn’t do more, accepting help is a sign of strength, because you know your limits and know when to reach out to others.

However, as Cole said, on most of the stories, the character does nothing, looking uncomfortable, and it’s used to as a way of making the LI look like a knight in shinning armor…


I think it’s so unrealistic to have every MC fight back because in most cases girls will have to go out with a key in between their knuckles and a taser. A lot of girls are scared and I find it ridiculous how some people want every single MC to be some kind of tough muscle girl. Obviously we need to have representation of girls trying to fight back but at the end of the day, it’s not realistic for some big guy to fall over after one punch from the MC.


No you’re absolutely not weak if someone helps you out in a complicated situation. Yes some people call females weak if they cant defend themselves and this is wrong. Sometimes the situations are too hard to handle even for males.
According to me a person is weak if they give up without fighting back. And you my dear friend fought back and thus you’ll never be weak in my eyes :slight_smile:



Thank you for your views I totally get what you’re saying and perhaps the fact it’s over used doesn’t help, I suppose it is all about how it is written and remembering that everyone reacts differently for example we all have the fight, flight and freeze mode and as it’s instinctively done we have little control over it. So where one person may use the fight mode and fight back another may have the flight mode and choose to run, hide etc
And another may just freeze completely. It’s also not uncommon for someone to just go along and comply with the situation in order to survive for example if in immediate danger where they have a weapon fighting them is probably not the best option. Being honest I felt ok trying to fight back as there were people around but had it been secluded and no one else there I may have reacted slightly different but who knows.

I am also the type of woman to walk around with my keys between my fingers, I don’t carry a taster as they are illegal in the UK. I do carry a dud purse which contains nothing in, so heaven forbid someone tried to mug me I could throw the purse and most of the time a person after money would run after that giving me time to make a run, I also carry a travel sized deodorant to which can be used to spray them in the eyes again giving time to make a run if I ever need to.

And I think @darryl_daddy proves a good point as sad as it is it is unrealistic for every character to be able to take someone down single handedly. Be it female or male


I agree that it’s unrealistic for every character to take them down single-handed in every altercation but the way it’s portrayed in stories makes a difference. It’s one thing if they have a weapon, or the MC tries to evade the person (as you said, with a dud purse, {just a heads up- hairspray works well as an alternate to mace, as well.} ) but the authors almost always uses dialogue to convey that he had to save her because she wasn’t capable of doing anything; not giving the inner-dialogue to explain that in the ‘fight or flight’ instinct this person is scared and frozen doesn’t help when all people see is :

-Creeper from the GetWasted Bar corners you-
Creeper: No one’s around now. Give me that kiss.
_MC starts react_terrified_loop
MC : (thoughts) oh no! Who’s going to save me?!
–LI “BAD BOY” rides in like a knight in shining tinfoil-- I’LL SAVE YOU!


I have seen a few if them :joy: they are very cringey in my opinion. And once again I agree if the author gave some insight as to how the character is feeling and their thoughts on the situation it can give the reader the understanding as to why they reacted that way saying;
“Who’s going to save me” is very unrealistic :joy::roll_eyes:
Where as if the author wants the MC to not fight back it’s more realistic for them to perhaps think “my mind was telling me to fight but my body just wouldn’t move.” It shows that the MC wants to fight back but her body has reacted in the “freeze” defence.

Also thank you for the hair spray tip, I’d say I’d try it out but I’d probably blind myself :joy: I have been sprayed by air freshener by accident and omg that is sooo painful!!
It’s a sad world we live in when many people feel the need to carry something for defense.

I hate it when I hear noises downstairs and no one is awake. I usually grab a can of spray or I used to have a metal pole from a curtain rail that we never used. I never had the intent if using them as I plan to see if anyone is there and call the police, unless they spot me looking at them :joy: usually find out that no one was downstairs and then just go bed.


I live in the US. It really is sad that women have to carry weapons to feel safe. That said, I have two children. There is a knife in my diaper bag, I have a concealed carry license for my gun and promise my “fight or flight” is geared towards fight. I will protect my kids with my life, so I take precautions and I carry weapons that guarantee that my kids have a mom tomorrow.

(I’ve accidentally gotten sprayed by hairspray- it hurts and burns wayy worse and the effect is longer-lasting than the deodorant spray- more chemicals.)


I think when it comes to loved ones especially children fight mode kicks in majority of the time. I don’t have children but believe me no one will ever hurt my cousins and makes it out alive :joy:
But seriously the fact that we are prepared for these types of situations is quite sad and shows how times have changed :confused:


Same. Hopefully, in the future, this will change. But, until it does, I’m 100% behind learning to protect and defend yourself - however you choose to do so.

On topic, my MC has abuse in her background where she doesn’t fight back, then a “now” moment where she’s attacked again, she fights. I think that there is room for growth when it comes to fight/flight. Yes, it’s instinct- but when push comes to shove- you’d be amazed what some people are capable of.


I think that’s where most of my fight back comes from, I never stood up for myself at school and just let things happen and then when I left school I was just like “No I’ve had it with people trying to take advantage of me”

So definitely agree with you it really is amazing how we can react


I definitely agree. In situations like that, some people do “freeze” and do nothing. Unfortunately, that’s what i did when i was faced with a similar situation as the OP. And then there are people who do fight back.

I think it has less to do with the MC’s fight or flight response and more of people using sexual assault in stories in order to strengthen MC x LI’s bond. It’s uncreative and lazy. And not only that, but to portray sexual assault like that is harmful. I would delve deeper but this post is already kinda long.


this is a whole 'nother petpeeve for me. and it’s something that almost EVERY ‘romance’ story has on this app. And don’t get me started on the toxic personalities of the “bad boys”. :roll_eyes: it’s like people are so desperate to get recognition that they take all the problematic things that are in trending stories and just repeat it with different character names. (Rant.Sorry.) Which is why I feel like my story won’t ever get ‘popular’: My MC isn’t a waitress/bartender/shy/stripper waiting around to meet the bad boy-mafia-Vamp/Were Hybrid-Billionaire and My LI isn’t an ass- He’s sarcastic and a little condescending at times, but not a complete ass.


If you want to read an extremely popular webcomic that portrays sexual assault badly, read coughLoreOlympuscough

You know, just in case anyone wants some really good examples on what not to do in a story :eyes: :greentea:




You’re not weak because you tried to defend yourself which means your protecting yourself.
And also, women aren’t weak. There are just many authors that portray sexual assault stupidly, so they can make the female mc appear weak and so that the bAd BoY can jump out of the dark alleyway to save the “gOrGeOuS GiRl” :roll_eyes: :roll_eyes:.
And I know this will come off rude and harsh but, you need some better friends, because they clearly don’t respect you :neutral_face:.


I agree it’s all about how it’s written. Honestly it doesn’t sound rude or harsh I only have a few friends that I consider proper friends xx


I understand where you’re coming from. I do think females do need help when it comes to certain things. For example, if a female’s car stops on them while they’re on the road, they may need to call their husband, boyfriend or another male figure in their life. So, female characters being weak is kinda realistic. Females need help from men in many situations.


That’s a little stereotypical…lol but I agree if their care breaks down it’s understandable to call someone because me personally, I don’t know shit about cars :sweat_smile: