Another Thought on the Motivations of Female Villains

So the husband and I have recently started playing Hyrule Warriors together again. Plotwise, it’s not much to talk about, but it’s a game about killing things with a Zelda skin, so I don’t much care about the plot and care far more about the fact it’s a two-player game at which I don’t completely suck (like Half Life Decay) and can therefore enjoy with my husband.

Speaking of which, if you make games, MAKE MORE GAMES WIVES AND HUSBANDS CAN PLAY TOGETHER!

Anyway, playing it again has got me thinking more of the original villain, Cia, and her motivations. If you’re not familiar with the plot, let me go through it briefly:

Once upon a time, the Hero of Time (Link) defeated an ancient evil (Gannondorf/Gannon) and split him into a bunch of pieces because that’s always a great idea. He sealed each of the pieces in a different location, one of which he left with this timeless oracle who also was guardian over the Triforce of Power.

Here’s Cia in the Oracle’s costume.

This Oracle was supposed to watch over all of time in addition to the other crap the Hero of Time dumped on her and so she watched Link through time, and fell in love with him. Despite all her Facebook stalking of Link, she failed to notice he already had a timeless girlfriend (Zelda, who let me remind you is a freaking goddess who fell in love with Link first) and decided that she had a chance. The Piece of Gannon she was supposed to be guarding but wasn’t really because fangirling saw an opportunity to corrupt her heart and encourage the selfish teenage girl in her until she became almost totally corrupted and decided to just…idk, kidnap Link or something. Whatever creepy stalkers do. The “almost” part of her corruption split off from her, becoming a protagonistic character, leaving the evil part, Cia. Cia uses evil magic to get some followers and attacks Hyrule and then gets sidetracked trying to get all of the Pieces of Gannon because I guess he’s controlling her sorta, and then The Good Guys decide to get the Master Sword even though it’s keeping the last Piece of Gannon sealed and it’s An Incredibly Bad Idea and then Cia wants to…kill everyone and take over the world? and then The Good Guys defeat her and then Gannondorf shows up screaming “You fools thought that Cia was the main villain? You fools! YOU FOOOOOLS!” until he turns into Gannon and The Good Guys beat him up again.

It’s actually easy: the gerudo is Ganondorf. The pig demon is Ganon. Pulled from shannonsketches.tumblr.com.

Here’s the thing. There are some women out there who would say that a female character should never be motivated by wanting a guy in her life. I think that’s a pile of crap for several reasons, the biggest of which is that real women in real life are actually  motivated by wanting a guy, sometimes a specific guy, in their life. And we women should be allowed to want to have a guy in our lives. I tell you what, my husband has drastically improved my quality of life. (Of course, there are more mild arguments about dependency on men and whatnot that I’d agree with, but I don’t want this to be a discussion about that.)

However! I do take umbrage when it’s the sole defining characteristic or sole motivation for a woman. That’s a problem for a couple of reasons. One, if a person is going to be motivated by one sole factor that defines their entire life, that dips into creepy obsession territory for any other motivation, and therefore probably for this one too – and if it doesn’t, the character becomes unavoidably cardboard. Two, it’s sexist because it unavoidably sends the message that women are defined by men, need men, are made for desiring men, etc. I mean, when all a woman does is want to get with a guy, that’s all she’s for, and that’s wrong. There’s nothing – nothing! – wrong with wanting to have a guy in your life as a woman, but that’s not what women are for, wanting men. Women aren’t “for” anything. They’re people. 

So Cia. She literally would not exist were it not for her infatuation with Link. I mean it was in actuality the fact that she fell in love with him that created this evil, boob-touting monstrosity.

Seriously? Like, WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU DRESS FOR WAR.

I have a lot of conflicted feelings about Cia. I mean, on the one hand the idea of this timeless oracle falling in love with Link is not without merits. It’s an intriguing idea! But I just can’t say I was fond of the ultimate execution. Especially because Cia’s way of dealing with things wasn’t even consistent. Towards the end she was more just kind of broken “kill everyone even Link” and “Take over the world!” and guuuh. (In all fairness, she did start using evil magic to a point where it started eating her mind but I feel my point still stands.) I’m so tired of villains who want to take over the world because that’s the evil thing to do. Do you know how much freaking WORK taking over the world is? It’s not just the effort to conquer it – but RUN it. Ridiculous. Also I feel like eventually she should have realized that her biggest obstacle to “having” Link, aside from the fact she was friggun evil, is that Link has a girlfriend and therefore she should have been more focused on killing Zelda to death. Which certainly would have allowed Zelda insisting on pretending to be Sheik make a lot more sense as there was literally no real reason for her to do so as is. No, it’s fine, just keep Impa sick with worry about you, Zelda. THAT’S the kindly, wise thing to do.

But despite this rather cardboard motivation, Cia still had a lot of personality. It was…weird how they pulled that off. As long as she wasn’t trying to say any villain lines – you know, like the “I’m about to do battle with the hero and now I must say something to initiate battle” kind of lines, for example – she had a lot of fun spunk. And there’s a rather touching moment when you defeat her when Lana – her good side – runs over to her as she dies and Cia is like “how can you stand it? You love him but he’ll never love you back” and Lana is like “Sometimes you don’t get who you think you deserve and it’s okay” and just – they really got across the pain of unreciprocated love.

Kinda funny that a timeless oracle who apparently KNOWS she loses tries to change her fate anyway, eh? (I like it.) And yes, sorry it’s poor quality. Also the blue-haired chick is Lana.

When it comes to real life women, those who let needing a guy define them usually come across as pathetic and or desperate. That or they’re a teenage girl, and that’s oodles of all sorts of complicated to write anyway. Teenage girls, even the more mature or intelligent ones, are still a mess. But then, even the fourteen-year-old who says she “needs a man” is still preoccupied with other pursuits as well.

So while it’s realistic for a woman to be motivated by wanting a boyfriend, even a specific man, it’s not realistic and it’s even sexist to have that be the sole, defining characteristic and motive of a female character. If everything she does, thinks about, talks about is about getting the guy, maybe you need to spend more time around single straight women who would like a boyfriend and see what else they do. I know, sometimes it really does seem like that’s ALL they care about. Especially if you’re 21 and LDS. (Thanks for all the pressure to get married. All us young adults love it. Yes yes, say I don’t have room to talk because I AM married, but it still sucked when I was single, and I still understand.) But it’s not and if that’s all you’re getting, try talking to a handful of ladies about themselves.

When I was single and alone, I wanted a family, but I also wanted to write my books and get published. That was a huge motivation for me. I also wanted to get my PsyD in criminal psychology and work with sociopaths until I developed a treatment that worked for those with ASPD. I now have a husband, which happened mostly by accident, and I’m now motivated by strengthening my marriage and getting to be with my husband, and taking care of my baby. But I’m still motivated by those other two things too, even if the PsyD is on hold until we have, say, money. I’m also motivated by helping others. By being a good friend. Those are important to me. A big reason I hope to be very rich one day is so that I can afford to have a big house so if a friend or two are in a rough spot, I can fly them to my  house and they can crash there until they can get into a better situation. I also wish I could help out with worthy causes. I’m also motivated by pie and sushi. Seriously. My ward did this activity where each apartment in the ward got a pie pumpkin and whoever stole the most pumpkins (using craft and NOT force) by the end of the game got a pumpkin pie. I stole 10 pumpkins in the first week in one day. I’m highly motivated by pie, especially pumpkin pie.

For one Thanksgiving, my ward had a pie-making contest that only the Bishopric was going to judge. Somehow, I managed to finagle my way into becoming a judge as well. Worked out since they had no idea how to best go about figuring out the best pie and my organizational pie-eating skills made it easy. I take pie very seriously. (I take getting pictures of myself very un-seriously.)

Motivation not to be alone – that’s a big thing. It’s important. Precious few of us want to be alone, truly want to be truly alone. And so that’s why it’s good and sometimes even important to have a character be motivated looking for a significant other – for a straight woman, that’s a man. And that’s good. Intimacy is beautiful. But when it’s the only aspect of a person’s life, it’s shallow, it mocks the beauty of intimacy and human closeness. It ignores the humanity of women, at worst making them out to be nothing more than tools of pleasure for men and at best, making them out to be less than whole, less than a person, without a man. But it’s not as fine a line as it sounds because it’s just about good writing and dynamic characters.

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About Rii the Wordsmith

An aspiring author, artist, avid consumer of storytelling medium, gamer, psychologist (insomuch as one with her bachelor's is a psychologist), wife, mother, DM, Christian, a friend to many, and, most importantly, an evil overlord.
This entry was posted in Female villains, Making Villains (Making Villains la-la-la!) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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