This is something I didn’t know about: the women in the refrigerator trope. Anita Sarkeesian offers an illustration in three panels from the 1992 arcade game Dead Connection.
Wikipedia provides some background.
The term “Women in Refrigerators” was coined by writer Gail Simone as a name for the website in early 1999 during online discussions about comic books with friends. It refers to an incident in Green Lantern #54 (1994), written by Ron Marz, in which Kyle Rayner, the title hero, comes home to his apartment to find that his girlfriend, Alex DeWitt, had been killed by the villain Major Force and stuffed in a refrigerator.
Simone and her friends then developed a list of fictional characters who had been “killed, maimed or depowered.” The list was then circulated via theInternet over Usenet, Bulletin Board System, e-mail and electronic mailing lists. Simone also e-mailed many comic book creators directly for their responses to the list.
Oh yes, that trope.
Simone received numerous e-mail responses from comic book fans and professionals. Some correspondents reacted with hostility at the creation of the list and assumed a radical feminist agenda on the part of Simone.
Sigh. Because it’s so “radical” to think that tropes about women (and men, and blacks, and whites, and you know how to fill out the list) matter. It’s so “radical” to think that people learn anything from cultural tropes, and that what they learn can be bad or good.
Several comic book creators indicated that the list caused them to pause and think about the stories they were creating. Often these responses contained arguments for or against the use of death or injury of female characters as a plot device. A list of some responses from comic book professionals is included at the site. Marz’s reply stated (in part) “To me the real difference is less male-female than main character-supporting character. In most cases, main characters, “title” characters who support their own books, are male. […] the supporting characters are the ones who suffer the more permanent and shattering tragedies. And a lot of supporting characters are female.”
Ohhhhhhhhhhh good point. That totally makes it all right then. It’s just because men are always the main characters, who matter, and women are always supporting characters, who don’t. Obviously that’s perfectly healthy and fine. Obviously women just are less than men – less real, less there, less complicated, less filled out, less significant, less everything. On the mattering map they are a little dot down in the corner.
Sarkeesian has a bunch of damsel in distress tropes at a tumblr.