Tropes That Annoy Me: I Have Brothers
It's usually a feature of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but sometimes your Action Gal explains her usually manly feats with "I have brothers". The brothers are almost always older, and numerous, and our female lead has learned to hold her own against them as some form of survival skill.
Sometimes, there are no brothers, the mother is usually out of the picture[^1], and the father "didn't know how to raise a girl" so did all the boy stuff with her.
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Looking at these old comments reminded me of your story with the inappropriate aunt who teaches her niece how to pick locks and handcuffs and subdue a kidnapper.
THAT is the trope I was hoping someone will/would build for this! Everybody should teach their daughters to protect themselves the same way their sons do. I did. And I'm still not sorry.
I was thinking about this again just recently. How hard is it to build your own trope?
Like have a few stories where one of the badass characters is a girl. Have someone sort of probe towards the "I have brothers." excuse, and have her be baffled by it and answer "Both my parents thought everyone should know how to defend themselves," Or maybe "What. You didn't take Krav Maga while you were in junior high? I thought everyone did that." But basically say that there is no reason a girl has to be the damsel in distress. That needs to be a trope.
I probably WOULD have taught her a lot of self defense-type stuff because I think everyone should know how to protect themselves. But I'm not so sure I would have focused on the kind of things that I did, without the situation of the jerk brother five times her size.
Until one of her friends told me about her 'going all Batman on an attempted rapist' to protect her, I'd never really considered that she might still retain the stuff I'd told her as a first and second grader. I mean, how much do your kids REALLY keep of what you tell them? Apparently, when it involves pressure points and joint locks : more than you'd suspect.
The point I'm trying to make is that as a reason for a woman to have traditionally 'manly' skills, it's almost over-used to death.
If your elder son had managed to bypass being a teenaged jerk, would your daughter have learned to fight at all? Probably not. If you hadn't had a son, but only had daughters, would you have thought of these 'generally useful things to know'? Again, probably not.
Girls are not routinely taught these things. They're given dolls, and shown fashion. They're told to be quiet and generous and to retreat from aggression rather than confront it. Hell, girls are routinely taught through assorted media to romanticise being abused. That's... not right. At least to my mind.
I just want to have a strong female character who can kick arse and take names without needing an excuse.
Or. You know. More than one.
My daughter is the 'Enforcer' in her group of friends. She's a big girl, but not the biggest in the group. She and her brother are most of ten years apart. So when he got to the 'teenaged jerk' phase while she was still pretty small, I thought it worthwhile to teach her ways to deal with a larger stronger opponent, should physical mayhem arise. I thought these were generally useful things for a girl to know.
What I didn't figure was that at the age of twenty three, she's the one who protects everyone in the group, male AND female. She had a job for a while as a kickboxing teacher, until the man who ran the school discovered she had no actual formal training, just a dad who wanted his daughter to be safe. I don't see why that can't be a trope as-is. I'm not sure what you call it. But I can't be THAT unusual for doing it, can I?