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This scale examines how the relationships between men and women are portrayed in fiction. The common positions on the scale vary by culture in time, distance, and medium.

True equality, which is near the center of the scale, is rare. The edges are taken by positions where the opposite sex doesn't exist, or exists in only a contemptible form. Note that Level 1 is not the exact reverse of Level 9, as there are far fewer works in which the writer simply fails to include male characters, or in which a setting is intentionally created as a female-free paradise. [1]

See also: The Bechdel Test.

Level 1: There are no women

There are no female characters in the story, or there are very few, but they serve as nothing more than background for the male character, and don't do anything of note. None of them are more than a minor character. There may be nothing sexist about it - there can be a legitimate reason for the lack of women, such as stories being set in places where women are not allowed (a men's prison, a WWII era military submarine, etc.)

Level 1 Examples

Anime & Manga

  • In general, the majority of Boys Love Genre anime and manga have very few and / or largely insignificant female characters.
  • Both Crows and Worst by Hiroshi Takahashi feature no females whomsoever aside from occasional mentions (one of the main characters has no less than 6 girlfriends). This is a seinen manga about inter-school fighting and manly friendship and, despite the premise, even the most rabid Yaoi Fangirl would be hard-pressed to get any Ho Yay out of it.
  • Likewise, the satirical manga and anime series Sakigake Cromartie Koukou. The mother of one character is seen in at least one episode... And "she" looks exactly like her son but with a skirt and longer hair.
  • Kaiji. There is one woman on the show, but she only appears in a single scene in one episode and says no more than two lines.
  • Akagi has zero women onscreen in the entire show.

Comics

  • Most Tintin books feature no significant female characters and in the series as a whole only Bianca Castafiore can be considered an important female; and she's relevant to the plot in only a few of the stories.

Film

  • Gettysburg; there is talk of wives left behind, but the only women that actually appear in the film are either waving to the troops or tending the wounded in the background.
  • Likewise, in Master and Commander, the only women that appear in the film are part of a party of native traders that resupply HMS Surprise.
  • John Carpenter's The Thing. No women among the main cast, and the only female presences are the voice of a chess computer (which short circuits less than a minute after it is introduced) and a few women visible in a pre-recorded game show that one of the scientists briefly watch. This may be Truth in Television, however; there aren't many women stationed in Antarctica. The commentary for the movie reveals there weren't really any females on the production crew either.
    • Actually, the IMDB trivia page did mention that there was one woman in the production crew who had to leave due to pregnancy and was replaced by a man.
      • Also Susan Turner, who built several of the models used in the film including the spaceship in the opening scene and The Blairmonster.
    • The prequel goes up a few levels, seeing as the base had two women - one a professional French scientist and the other an American student of paleontology.
    • This is also true in the original story Who Goes There, which was written in 1938. While woman's rights movements had been going on as early as World War One, there were still only a few jobs available by that point that were considered acceptable for women, and being sent to do scientific research in Antarctica was not one of them.
    • But in the 1951 film version The Thing From Another World one of the main characters is a woman (and in fact the actress who plays her, Margaret Sheridan, is topbilled - although admittedly the real stars are Kenneth Tobey and James Arness).
  • The Good the Bad And The Ugly: A prostitute appearing in a single scene is the most important female character and the only one given a name. Every last woman in the film besides her is someone's wife, and all their appearances are within the first hour of the nearly 3-hour film. Rape, incidentally, is on Tuco's Long List of prior offenses, which is entirely Played for Laughs.
    • This happened with a lot of Sergio Leone's films. Out of his main body of work (which consisted of two trilogies), only three had women in a notable role. The first one (A Fistful of Dollars) had two women in supporting roles - except neither got much screentime. One was running the gang whom the story puts less focus on, and the other is just a Distressed Damsel whose only purpose is to give Clint Eastwood a Pet the Dog moment towards the end. The only two films of his that actually had strong women in significant roles were Once Upon a Time in the West, which had the nerve to include a female protagonist, and Once Upon a Time in America, where the love story plays a major part in a much larger epic. As for the others, For a Few Dollars More has one credited women who only appears in two brief scenes, and one girl who only appears in a flashback and has no lines, and Duck You Sucker again has one women who appears in flashback with no lines, and the only other woman is an annoying racist who is out of the picture in the first 15 minutes.
  • Lawrence of Arabia, famously.
    • Actually, just about any war movie tends to fall under this, especially when it focuses exclusively on the battlefield. Somewhat justified with any story set in a war before the 1970s (i.e. World War One, World War II, The Vietnam War), as women wouldn't have been allowed to serve on the battlefield. However it does seem a bit odd that there are very few films dealing with modern wars that show women in uniform.
      • Operation Petticoat blatantly subverts this, albeit in a patriarchal way.
        • Actually, the movie pretty much goes up the scale as the story progresses. It starts off at Level 1, with an all-male submarine crew (which is Truth in Television, as women weren't, and in some places still aren't allowed to serve aboard submarines), then once the nurses are introduced the story reaches Level 3 before gradually progressing towards to Level 5.
      • Enemy at the Gates inverts this, not only portraying women soldiers in the Red Army, but in a higher proportion than there actually were.
  • The Shawshank Redemption, being set in a men's prison, has only Andy's barely-glimpsed murdered wife, from whom he was estranged anyway, and a few extras when Brooks and Red are paroled. A good case could be made that the poster and film clips of Rita Hayworth are the film's strongest female presence; an even better case could be made that this is why it flopped, despite nigh-universal critical acclaim.
  • Glengarry Glen Ross.
  • Reservoir Dogs. There are three women in the movie: the waitress who doesn't meet Pink's tipping standards (who is never seen), the girl that Mr. Pink pulls out of the car while running from the cops, and the driver of the hijacked car that shoots (and is immediately killed by) Orange.
    • There was originally a scene involving a female cop, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
  • Dr. Strangelove has precisely one female in the movie, a secretary, who is also a Playboy centrefold.
  • Twelve Angry Men. The only characters are the members of an all-male jury.
    • Some modern versions try to correct this by making the judge a woman. Others simply opt to retitle the play "Twelve Angry Jurors" just so that some of the jury can be women.

Literature

  • The Hobbit.
  • Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara, probably because it was just a ripoff of The Lord of the Rings; it should be noted the next book has the world saved by a girl and in the third one of the trilogy, one of the protagonists is a girl.
  • The stories of H.P. Lovecraft: there are virtually no female characters across such a vast body of work. Only one of his seventy-plus stories has a female protagonist.
  • Lord of the Flies, chronicling the adventures of the students from an all-boys school.
  • The Discworld novel Small Gods (since it's about a church that doesn't allow female priests)
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Later books in the series have female characters, including a female protagonist in Second Foundation.
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The original story had practically no women aside from the unnamed witness who saw Mr. Hyde commit a murder. A huge difference from most, if not all adaptations, which usually tack in a Love Interest for Dr. Jekyll.
  • The first half of Watership Down. The second half revolves around trying to find some females so the warren doesn’t die out.
    • Interestingly the four warrens in the book seem to work at four different levels. In the Sandalford warren… no female characters appear and females are never once mentioned, in the Warren of the Shining wires there isn’t much information to go on but as they live in a messed up Utopia Justifies the Means world where neither males nor females do anything, equality or near equality seems to be the case, Efrafa is a military dictatorship run entirely by larger males were females don’t have the right to choose their own mates and are becoming infertile due to stress and have to be controlled and repressed or they’ll cause trouble, so a Level 2 or 3, and at the Watership Down warren Males are More Equal than females, but this is fixed/ retconned out in the sequel to total equality.
  • In World War Z by Max Brooks there are 37 men yet only 5 women in what is presented as a UN report.

Live Action TV

  • Thomas the Tank Engine used to be like this until characters like Daisy, Mavis, and Emily came along. Apparently, as the show goes on, it goes up a few levels in the scale.
  • Deadliest Warrior - Being a show about historical warriors battling to the death that's Rated "M" for Manly, it's to be expected. Briefly became a type 4 in one episode of Season 2 (CIA vs. KGB), where both sides had one female operative, and one of them (The KGB) kicked quite a bit of ass.
    • Recently got its first female warrior in her own right in the form of Joan of Arc who fought against William the Conqueror, she even (won)
  • Red Dwarf's plot hinged entirely on three guys (four once Kryten joined the cast) getting stuck on a spaceship in the middle of deep space 3 million years from Earth (though for a little while they did have a female computer). There were even a few episodes where the guys tried to get women on board, only for something strange to be revealed. The series finally gained a female lead half-way through Season 7, but even then Season 8 largely took place in the ship's prison, and her role was greatly overshadowed by the other male characters.

Toys

Video Games

  • In Punch Out, the only women ever seen are Super Macho Man's fangirls in still pictures, and Aran Ryan's sister who is mentioned and nothing else. Justified though - it is a male boxing circle, after all.
  • Many of the past decade's video games have featured a watered-down version of this trope out of pragmatism: The differences between male and female skeletons means that a female character model will look noticeably wrong if it's moving the same way as the male characters (and animation rigs are fairly costly in terms of development resources). This hurdle doesn't stop you from including women in motion-captured cutscenes and the like, so many developers partially avert this by having female characters in prominent supporting roles (e.g. Cortana, Anya, and the female helicopter pilot in Call of Duty 4). And since the male characters whose screen time exceeds theirs tend to be "blank slate" tough guys, said women often wind up with more depth and personality than anyone else.
  • Maverick Hunter X - the only female character in the game is a navigator who helps X in coordinating the robot masters but plays no significant part in the story.
  • The original Sonic the Hedgehog games bar Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball, which fall on Level 3.

Web Comics

  • The warcamp in Goblins is males-only by mandate of the goblins' deity, with female spellcasters the only exception. Justified in that the "warcamp" is an expendable decoy settlement, which diverts adventurers' attention away from the hidden village where the noncombatant women and children can live in safety.

Western Animation

  • Metalocalypse. Only a small handful of episodes give female characters any lines; mostly they're just nude or semi-nude groupies.


Level 2: Whores, Whores, Whores...

In this kind of fiction, all female characters are either complete sluts who will screw around with anything that moves or helpless and disposable sex slaves whose sole purpose of existence is being raped or taken advantage of by male characters. Of course, they ought to enjoy the rape and thank men for it. Needless to say, in such fictions, women are also commanded to grovel at men's feet, Stay in the Kitchen, Et Cetera... or else.

Level 2 Examples

Advertising

  • Most beer ads, where women exist solely as sex objects/status objects for men.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

Fan Fiction

  • Naruto Veangance Revelaitons is among the most extreme examples of Type 2, to the point of being openly misogynist. It is stated at several points that Sakura is nothing without Ronan, and while everyone from canon suffers Badass Decay compared to Ronan, Sakura is completely unable to even try to fight after losing the first battle against Orochimaru, addicted to sex and dependent on Ronan. Mei, the Mizukage, is defeated in one attack, with Ronan stating that it's no surprise she can't defeat him because she's a girl. Among the original characters, while Taliana has special powers as an antagonist, she's unable to defeat Ronan, and even gets beaten up by Sakura when the author was going through a breakup with the girlfriend he based her on. Two out of five (later retconned to four) of the Council members are female and somewhat more vocal than the males, their being feminists is portrayed as evil.

Film

  • The mad scientists trying to take over the world in Our Man Flint hypnotize the majority of women into "pleasure units" who serve, flirt, canoodle, and presumably sleep with any man without question. For his part, White Knighting Flint manages to undo this by uttering "You are not a pleasure unit" in a woman's ear.

Literature

Live Action TV

  • The Dothraki women in HBO's Game of Thrones are only ever seen being active, gleeful recipients of the men's lustiness. This is played with when Daenerys succeeds her husband as Khal (it seems subverted at first but then again, most of his Khalasar abandons her).

Tabletop Games

  • FATAL is here, among its many other flaws (including the very fact that it exists).

Video Games

  • The first Lost in Blue game has the almost totally-useless Skye as your sole companion.

Web Comics

  • Warmage.
  • The Ciem Webcomic Series and its Ultimate Universe counterpart both have shades of this. Yes, the women outnumber the men, and get to have more adventures. But a lot of their adventures can best be described as "almost got raped/killed/whatever today, but got away in the nick of time." Men hold nearly all the positions of authority, and the few women that have any authority are either useless or psychotic. With exception of a small handful of good guys, all the men are either mindless sex addicts or depraved sadists or sleazy manipulators, all bent on enslaving women and usually abusing them sexually. The women are completely obsessed with their romantic/sexual reputations, and the damage done from all the times they're raped and/or nearly killed.


Level 3: Male Superiority

Women are useless and most of the time don't contribute anything. If they are in trouble, they can only wait to be rescued. Also, they are never in control of anything - males are always patriarchal leaders and their actions can be questioned only by other males. Most of the purest and straightest (which means those that will never change) examples of The Chick and Distressed Damsel are here.

Level 3 Examples

Anime & Manga

Literature

  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories generally alternate between this and Level 2 above, though there are notable exceptions in Belit and Valeria, who are treated as Conan's equals, and superior to the average man. Same with Zula from Conan The Destroyer. Although she needed rescuing toward the beginning she more than manages to hold her own in combat with and against men. Female monarchs are about Level 4: they have the same level of power and influence as their male counterparts, but story considerations often cast them in the role of damsel-in-distress. It goes with the time period (both when it's supposed to have happened and when it was written).
  • Most of the stories in the 1920s-era Pulp Magazines were at this level; the only role female characters ever had was Damsel Scrappy.
  • At first, War and Peace seems Level 4ish, but this is mostly due to the strength of the characterization. It is not stretching to say men are the characters of War and women the characters of Peace.
  • The original Tripods trilogy fits squarely here. There is only one notable female character, and her only real influence on the story is to provide a Heroic BSOD for the protagonist when she is handed over to the Tripods, stuffed, and put on display.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire is a huge subversion of this type of setting. While the world is quite obviously patriarchal, there are several prominent female characters. The books have several viewpoint characters, and many of them are female. Female characters either adhere by gender expectations and find ways to obtain or assert their power (Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Margaery Tyrell, Arianne Martell), completely subvert them by being action girls (Arya Stark, Asha Greyjoy, Brienne of Tarth), or follow gender expectations and suffer (Sansa Stark).
    • It should also be noted that the kingdom of Dorne is the only kingdom in Westeros that allows females to be in the line of succession, even if they are the eldest. Several action girls in the series (the infamous Sand Snakes) are from Dorne. Bear Island is similar in that the females take up arms to defend their homes while the men are off fishing. Wildling women fight as well, being called spearwives, and women of the mountain clans can fight and are allowed positions of power.
    • Dothraki culture is very patriarchal, but the dosh khaleen, the religious leaders of the capital Vaes Dothrak, are all widows of the male Khals.

Live Action TV

Oral Tradition

Video Games

Western Animation

  • TUGS kinda falls between this level and Level 4.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar - there are very few females and they only show up when the plot of the episode revolves around their character, which isn't that often. It's no surprise to know that the lead male Skipper can be a sexist jerk.
  • Transformers has about 300 male characters and 3 female characters. The few females are VERY gender-stereotyped as either the Damsel in Distress or The Vamp.


Level 4: Men are more equal

At this level it looks like both sexes are equal. Then why do only males have all the cool and most offensive powers and equipment, while their female teammates do things like providing first aid, being Mission Control, working in the laboratory and you would be damned if you will ever see any of them in an actual fight? And even if they go into a fight, they end up either defeated easily, insignificant in the overall victory, or end up fighting another girl. Every unlucky Action Girl that lives in a world set at this level will suffer from Chickification and eventually turn into or be revealed as a Faux Action Girl. At this level, men and women are equal, but some things are still a man's job.

Level 4 Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Yu-Gi-Oh - Most of the time a girl wins in Duel Monsters, it's an unimportant duel that we see only in a cut-scene, and those on which the plot is focused and have been won by girls can be counted on one hand.
  • In Macross, humans are here. A major plot point is how subversions of this status quo begin to appear.
  • Gundam series directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino tend to go here (we're looking at you, Shrike Team). In some cases, those by other directors backslide toward Level 3.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam fits better here than in Level 3. Most of the female characters have strong personalities and shown to be competent and capable, but still revolve around the more numerous male characters (often because it's their their job, which then evolves into affection). Although there are two female Gundam pilots, Allenby and Rain, they don't get the same specialty techniques as the male protagonists and the second spends the majority of the finale episodes as a Distressed Damsel. Allenby is notable for avoiding Designated Girl Fights (being the only female Gundam Fighter in the Finals her opponents are male, and she goes after big, burly male thugs on several occasions) and her fighting skills are shown to be on par with the rest of the Shuffle Alliance.
  • Rurouni Kenshin, where the female characters are supposed to be very competent and can look big and impressive, but all supposed Action Girls are actually Faux Action Girls who nearly always fail in the line of battle.
  • Naruto ends up being this way. All of the Rookie Nine are composed of teams of two boys and one girl. Granted, the girls are allowed to be plenty Badass -- often with the caveat that she fails in a suitably plucky manner and is either defeated or rescued by a man -- but it's still a man's world. Although with how egregiously the older (read: over 21) female characters are treated, sometimes it feels almost like Level 3.
  • Dragon Ball falls under this level as well. The female characters are however competent and most of them are great fighters, but become less significant as the series goes on and make room for the male main characters. Unfortunately, all of the characters aside from the saiyans got less significant as well.
  • Street Fighter belongs to either this level or Level 5. Though the female characters are as equally capable of fighting as the male characters, they are still a lot fewer compared to the male cast.
  • Parts 2 through 5 of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, since there are a lot fewer female characters and that they contribute somewhat less to the overall plot, except when they have to be rescued. They get better about it over time, until part 6 which is Level 5 (having a female main protagonist helps). Part 1 is straight-up Level 3, though.
  • While Bleach is more focused on Ichigo and we have two Distressed Damsels, there's justification why both Rukia and Orihime aren't doing anything while being imprisoned and we have Yoruichi and Soi-Fon, two powerful female shinigami who proved themselves in a fight with very strong enemies.
    • Another woman, adult form Nel, almost killed Nnoitora, an Arrancar who gave Kenpachi a hard fight in a fight, but it should be noted that her powerup didn't last, and her opponent had not activated his Super Mode at the time.
    • Vizards' power rank is based on how long he/she can stay with his/her masks on. The first time Ichigo lasted three minutes, while Mashiro took 15 hours to reach her limits.
      • Three seconds. He could do 8 by the time they got to Heuco Mundo... Ichigo is a really bad Vizard
    • Those rare examples of female competence still don't change the fact that the majority of effectual fighters on the show is male, though.
  • Death Note barely makes Level 4. A few of the female characters, such as Misa and Rem, are okay, but the vast majority pale in comparison to the men, or come across as almost Too Dumb to Live. We're looking at you, Naomi Misora.
  • Texhnolyze may belong here. There are only two female characters in major plot roles, Doc and Ran. And while they are perfectly good at the jobs they perform (and Doc is a Mad Scientist, which is an unusual role for a woman), both of them answer to men. There are also no women with any combat ability worth speaking of, like there are with men.
  • Muhyo and Roji. There are skilled females of various trades in the Magical Law Society (Biko, whose skill at making tools is crucial on several occasions, her teacher Rio and Imai, a skilled Judge) and Ark (Ivy, Rio, again and Panza), but the majority of the most influential and powerful heroes and villains are male.

Film

  • Ever since The Spy Who Loved Me, most James Bond movies have fallen under this level. The older ones are entirely Level 3.
  • Many mally action movies such as Con Air, which had two women with supporting roles, they were the protagonist's wife and the female prison guard.
  • In Star Wars (the original trilogy, anyway) Princess Leia had a less active role than the major male characters and only played a major combat role in Return of the Jedi (which, of all the movies, comes closest to Level 5, though it loses points for the blatant fanservice). Even there, Han rather than her led the Endor strike force even though she'd been with the Rebellion a lot longer and was among its top leadership. All the fighter pilots in all three movies were male, and the only other female character, Mon Mothma, was in a leadership but non-combat role.

Literature

Live Action TV

  • The West Wing is here. The vast majority of the important characters are male, and one of the select prominent female ones is sometimes known as a "sex kitten". Others include the first lady's Chief of Staff who's then director of legislative affairs, the president's executive secretary, the deputy chief of staff who's Josh's love interest, and a prominent one as press secretary who manages to pull it out of Level 3. But at the end of the day it's the men who are the leaders who most of the action is around.

Toys

  • Bionicle goes here, primarily as a result of being a boys' toyline that is heavily affected by The Smurfette Principle. Women can be powerful warriors, but the focus is always on the male characters. Female Toa also seem to be given the least interesting mask powers, ranging from the Boring but Practical Underwater Breathing, to the Blessed with Suck Mask of Detection (which gives its wearer headaches as she gets closer to the MacGuffin). The Bechdel Test is rarely passed. In the early years in particular, the females were portrayed as the calm, gentle ones, while the males displayed much more diversity, although in recent years this has improved. It's unlikely that the franchise will ever make it to Level 5, however, even with the story now being independent of toy sales.

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, this seems to be more story based rather than gameplay, which is more even.
  • Final Fantasy IV had mostly male characters, there were a handful of prominent female characters, including 3 female plyable characters and a handful of female villains. The kingdom of Troia had an all-female army and was ruled by a group of women. The sequel added several more playable female characters.
  • Final Fantasy VII falls squarely here, with the few female characters being strong but mostly used for plot devices. Most important NPCs are male even then.
  • Dragon Quest II had three playable characters, two males and a female, which was a step up from the previous game.
  • Kingdom Hearts straddles Levels 3 and 4. The earlier games have the whole 'Princesses of Heart' and 'rescue Kairi' thing going on, but there's never shown to be any sexism in the various game worlds. Aqua was a big step forward, being a fully playable badass, but even then she's the only major female character to be properly playable.
  • Most installments of The Legend of Zelda go here. Zelda is more capable than the average Distressed Damsel, but at the end of the day, it's always Link saving her from the male Big Bad. Side quests and subplots involve every combination of genders imaginable, but again, it's always Link, a man, who ultimately saves the day - and even there, women are noticeably more likely to be Distressed Damsels than quest givers or troublemakers.
    • Although let's be fair, most of that is because it's Link who's the protagonist, not Zelda. There's kind of a reason why he's saving the day every time, and it's not out of sexism.
  • Tales of Graces only just fits in here. Okay, yes, Cheria is a Distressed Damsel, but there's also Sophie and Pascal; the former of which is actually the only one who can destroy the Big Bad. Also, Asbel balances things out on the guy side of things due to a few scenes that take the "failure" part of his Failure Knight status a little too far (read: having his ass handed to him early on and completely failing to stop his childhood friend from falling victim to the Big Bad's Demonic Possession. Similarly, there's a Climax Boss of each gender (the female one actually being directly responsible for causing the Big Bad's Start of Darkness, along with male and female knight instructors. What stops it from making the full jump into Level 5 territory is simply the fact that none of the major world leaders are female: men are still calling the shots as far as politics are concerned (except Fodras, but that might reach into Unfortunate Implications territory when you consider how it's the only ruined land in the game and was run by a woman).
  • Tales of Symphonia seems to do this intentionally. In the beginning, Lloyd's personality is balanced with Collette's. We have Raine and Kratos, both portrayed as sensible and intelligent, and when Sheena joins up, she and Genis are considerably more idealistic than Raine and Kratos, but also considerably more pragmatic than Lloyd and Collette. When Kratos leaves, his place is eventually taken by the equally respectable Regal. Overall, people of both genders are represented with a wide range of personalities, viewpoints and intelligence/skill levels.
  • In both Inazuma Eleven videogames and manga/anime, there are girls who play soccer (especially in the second game, where almost every team has one or two females on it, and there are the Osaka Gals too). However, the boys have far more focus than their female counterparts and the only two girls who have joined the Raimon so far are not very strong in comparison (heck, Touko´s The Tower ends up destroyed most of the time) Of course, this is only plot-wise, as you can make an all-female team in the games if you want to and Curb Stomp Battle rivals with a good training

Western Animation

  • Arthur started at this level but has become close to Level 5 - 6 in later seasons.


Level 5: Almost Perfect Equality

Stories that portray both sexes as an equal or are at last trying to balance The Chick and Distressed Damsel with Action Girl or subvert/justify them fit here. Both men and women may be protagonists. It's almost impossible to achieve a perfect balance of both sexes, especially in stories aimed for one specific audience (like Shonen Demographic or Shoujo Demographic) - sometimes girls don't get full respect only because story is just too focused on boys and vice versa. That's why many of the examples here are works that, while it is still impossible to tell whether they portray both sexes as completely equal, are just more balanced than Level 4 or 6.

Level 5 Examples

Anime & Manga

  • In Yu-Gi-Oh 5 Ds, you have a Faux Action Boy and two Action Girls who actually show they can win duels.
  • In Shugo Chara, later on they let the boys transform but occasionally focus issues come up. Nagihiko gets focus but he's Nagihiko!
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Part 6 breaks the series' tradition of male protagonists with Joelyne.
  • Code Geass. Although the two most important characters in the show are male, there are female protagonists that manage to be just as cool and competent as them, or even moreso. There are also females in every major group and organization in the story (Ashford Academy; the Brittanian royal family, the Brittanian army, the Black Knights, three of the story's four engineers, etc.) whom everyone accepts and who seem to be equal to their male counterparts in plot importance and what they do, or sometimes even better.
  • Slayers has a 2:2 ratio between male and female main characters for most of its run, though it varies from arc to arc. In every version of Slayers--the novels, manga, TV series, movies, and OVAs--the protagonist is an extraordinarily powerful young woman. No one seems to think it odd for a woman to have adventures within the setting, either.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has both males and females working with NERV and the other organizations. There are also both male and female Eva pilots, and Shinji's mother was a great scientist.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fits here, tentatively. There are many more male characters than females, but the female characters you do see in the various ensembles (especially Yoko and Nia, and Adiane on the villains' side) are perfectly independent and capable -- with a few Faux Action Girl exceptions.
  • Soul Eater has a pretty well rounded cast of both male and female. The female characters (both meisters and weapons) are just as capable as their male counterparts on the battlefield. All the main characters have had their own Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Baccano, despite being a gangster anime set primarily in the 1930's, actually seems to treat its female characters very well- female characters are allowed in roles about as diverse as the male characters, and some are very capable fighters, who can and do stand up to the men.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist ensures a fairly stable gender equality ratio, as men and women are frequently shown to be equally competent in terms of tactical and physical fighting skill. For every badass State Alchemist like Roy Mustang, there's an equally skilled Badass Normal like Riza Hawkeye.
    • However FMA seems more of a stage 4, considering that out of the whole cast in which 20+ alchemists are seen there are a grand total of two female alchemists, and neither of them are State Alchemists.
      • That said, they're not state alchemists because they don't want to be; they would be eagerly welcomed if they chose to join the military.
    • Seeing as there is a fairly strong vote for Izumi as Most Badass Alchemist, I'd say it's pretty well balanced.
      • And Four-Star Badass Olivier Armstrong can and has whupped her State Alchemist brother's ass, so it's not like non-alchemists (or women) Can't Catch Up.
  • Although his female characters occasionally stray into Level 4, the vast majority of Hayao Miyazaki's works treat female characters as equal to their male counterparts, if not superior in one way or another. This is quite intentional on the part of Miyazaki, an avowed feminist. To Miyazaki's credit, when there is any clear superiority of female over male (for example, it's heavily implied that only females can perform magic in Kiki's Delivery Service), it's never treated as a failing on anyone's part; that's just the way it is.
  • One Piece either falls here or Level 4 (Level 4 qualification because the franchise leans towards The Smurfette Principle in terms of how women are distributed), but 5 could be more appropriate because the women are generally competent and are represented at all levels of the power structures (women Celestial Dragons, a woman among the Four Emperors, a woman Supernova, a woman Warlord of the Sea). The series treats the attractiveness or unattractiveness of women similarly to men (Gonk women have their looks played for laughs, but that works the other way in many cases, and Bishonen men are fawned over in quite a few cases). The two female members of the main crew have both had whole arcs devoted to them being distressed damsels, but in Nami's case she was in trouble because the Pirate she had been stealing for had double-crossed her and was holding her village captive to keep her in perpetual slavery, and in Robin's case it's because she has been a dangerous fugitive for 20 years. The only time women really play up a "useless" angle is when they're Ojou, like Kaya or Shirahoshi, but then Vivi averted that as well. Also, one of the most manly men of the series had an entire two arcs dedicated to rescuing him (granted that didn't end well...).
    • Another argument toward Type 4 is that the women in those groups tend to be weaker than their male peers, albeit not in comparison to other characters. Nami is arguably weaker than most of the other Straw Hats (except Usopp, who Word of God states will always be the weakest in the crew) even after getting her Clima-Tact, Kalifa has the lowest power level of the CP 9 operatives, and Jewelry Bonney gets defeated by Blackbeard.
      • Though Bonney getting defeated by the person that beat Ace (a whitebeard division commander) and is shaping up to be - if not the main big bad - at least a major threat to the world. Losing to him isn't anything against your status.
      • Though in regards to power levels, Robin is one of the main strawhat fighters as well as one of the few main cast members with a brain, so not quite as unequal.
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam fits this category, having quite a lot of female pilots, most of which can fight just as well as any male. If any woman is defeated in combat, it's more than likely due to having a less than powerful mobile suit. For bonus points, one of the greatest themes of Zeta is the dissonant and controlling relationships between men and women. Paptimus Scirocco, for example, manages to manipulate so many women that one actually defects from his opposition. Examples of misogyny in the series cause in-universe reactions that range from outrage to the women actually turning it around on the men. Summarized aptly by Reccoa Londe:

 "Men are perhaps born to fight each other. And women are perhaps fated to be their tools."

    • To make things more complex: the aforementioned woman that defected to the Titans was Reccoa, who did it either because Scirocco manipulated her or because she didn't want to be a tool for men, even though that is essentially what she became when she turned over to the Titans. Emma calls her out on this, as she herself defected from her original faction for better reasons.
  • Though there are relatively fewer female characters in Axis Powers Hetalia, the ones that do show prominently generally fall into either this or Level 4. Hungary is shown to be just as competent as, if not even manlier than the males while others such as Liechtenstein and Belarus are by no means submissive pushovers. There's an overall even-handedness to how gender is treated, even on the side of the males (case in point: Finland, Poland, and Austria).
  • Bakuman。 arguably falls into here. While the editorial department is entirely male, the female manga writers are not presented as inferior to their male counterparts, and are able to establish series in Shonen Jump and keep them running. While Mashiro and Takagi are once admonished for trying to take ideas from (mostly female) fan mail, it's pointed out that this is because the female readers are also looking for shonen manga. While Iwase is sometimes thought of as petty in-universe and among the fanbase for pursuing manga as an extension of her rivalry with Takagi, Takagi is ultimately forced to acknowledge her skill, particularly when his and Mashiro's manga Tanto gets outperformed by her and Nizuma's Natural+.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing actually has a one-to-one gender parity among the principle cast; even the women who aren't pilots are still important to the plot, and in fact it could easily be argued that female lead Relena is more critical to the story than male lead Heero. One character does come off as a He-Man Woman Hater, but it's due to a combination of Values Dissonance and Freudian Excuse, and he eventually gets over this attitude. And though the Gundams are only ever operated by men[2], Team Mom Lucrezia Noin manages to keep up with all five Gundam Pilots while using a mass production machine -- for that matter, at one point The Rival Zechs implies that she's a better pilot than him, saying that she always held back to make him look better.
  • Pokémon Special. Even with the main characters for each generation having a Two Guys and a Girl ratio, the girls are shown to be just as well-developed and strong as the guys and the secondary cast also has a healthy amount of females in various roles. Yellow and Platinum, both girls, even get to star in their own arcs.

Comic Books

  • Most Superhero universes fall here. While heroes (and villains) tend to be male, the female ones we see are just as competent. The only problem comes when the writers try to introduce some angst or remove a supporting character- who is often female- resulting in cases of Stuffed Into the Fridge.
    • Wonder Woman is an interesting case. Originally created precisely as an empowerment example, she is considered today to be one of DC Comics' "Trinity" of main heroes, the equal of Superman and Batman. Her supporting cast also features many strong (and some funny) female characters. However, in recent times, her main background element, The Amazons, have, over the years, lost their scientific and philosophical achievements, and been in fact reinvented as man-haters. See Amazons Attack for a particularly gross example.

Fan Works

  • Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light stars a full-fledged Action Girl who gets into fights with supervillains on a regular basis and always gives as good as she gets. Most of her Rogues Gallery is male, although every single one of them Would Hit a Girl and have no problems going after Spider-Woman with everything they have. In her civilian identity, Mary Jane Watson also has to deal with the same kind of bad luck, money problems, and bad grades that frequently plague male Triple Shifters.
    • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams doesn't apply quite as much, given that the protagonist is male, but several of his enemies are Dark Action Girls and Sleepwalker has no compunctions about hitting them just as hard as he would any of his male enemies. The female characters in Rick Sheridan's and Sleepwalker's supporting casts also get a considerable amount of development in their own right.

Film

Literature

  • In Harry Potter, the wizarding world seems to be more gender-equal than ours; there have been female Ministers for Magic, headmistresses of Hogwarts, and female Quidditch players for centuries. In fact two of the four Hogwarts founders were women.
    • Like Star Wars, most of the important characters are still men, although there are several strong female characters (and two villains we love to hate -- Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange).
    • The fifth book in particular added several prominent female characters that are fan favorites, including Luna Lovegood, Tonks (who was also the first female Auror identified on page), and the aforementioned female villains.
  • Warrior Cats: The Clan society is set up for almost perfect gender equality with both toms and she-cats receiving equal training and equal opportunity to become medicine cat, deputy, or Clan leader. Not to mention that there has never been a point in the series where there were no female leaders, all the Action Girls throughout the series, and how more recently most deputies have been female. The only difference between toms and she-cats is that she-cats have to nurse their kits for six months, which is more a biological necessity than discrimination. On top of that, there has been an almost equal number of male and female protagonists. The only real difference between the genders is that female deputies and leaders are not allowed to have kits, because it is believed that it will leave them unable to perform their duties. Leafstar challenges this idea in SkyClan's Destiny, citing the warrior code rule "The word of the Clan leader is the warrior code" as the reason: she's the leader, so she gets to say what's okay and not, and she says that it's okay for female leaders to have kits.
  • The Honor Harrington series mostly falls in this category. The Star Kingdom of Manticore, the (People's) Republic of Haven and most other Honorverse societies are more or less perfectly gender-equal; even the Space Marines have many female members
  • The Wheel of Time is all over the shop on this. It could be regarded as Level 5 because both sexes are equally stupid. The women are Closer to Earth, but also tend to be nagging shrews, misandrists, end up in chains with some man lording it over them, or all three. Men, on the other hand, are all woolheaded lummoxes idiots and deserve to be abused. Witness Mat being raped at knifepoint, which is apparently considered hilarious.
    • A key note for non-readers: in The Wheel Of Time, all male members of the Witch Species are doomed by their powers to go violently insane, and so have to be "gentled" before they can do (much) harm. As a result, the balance of power is shifted way over towards the female side, and many women are convinced of their inherent superiority (in fact, most men are inherently stronger in magic as well as physicality); Straw Feminist characters espouse the Level 8 philosophy seen further down, while relatively sane ones subscribe to Level 7. Conversely, a lot of men subscribe to Levels 3 or 4. So, as the above troper noted, it arrives here not because of gender parity, but because both sexes are equally sexist. Two Wrongs Make A Balance.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo depicts a lot of evil men, but Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist share time as co-protagonists and are both skilled.

Live Action TV

  • The crew of Serenity in Firefly appears this way. Zoe, the first mate, is just as respected as Captain Mal, and perfectly capable of leading if he is indisposed.
    • Also, no bones are made at all in the show that she's an Action Girl, nor is her Non-Action Guy husband treated as being any less of a man just because his wife could kick his ass.
  • Colonial society in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica Reimagined appears to be this, more or less. Men and women participate essentially equally in both government and the military (the President is a woman for most of the series, and the head of the Fleet is a man, but the Quorum of Twelve is mixed and there are high-ranking officers of both sexes).
    • In some cases, they're even more open-minded than modern society. For instance, public restrooms, at least on Galactica, are unisex. Also, in one episode Sam mentions to Apollo that Kara proposed marriage to him, and there is no indication that a woman proposing to a man is unusual in their society.
    • The original Battlestar Galactica Classic hovers between this and Type 4. While most women are relegated to support roles; several get to upgrade to full kickass Viper pilots. One of the best pilots in the fleet, Sheba, is female, and she easily holds her own against her male counterparts, even commanding an elite squadron. Females are the minority on the Council, but they are easily as formidable as the men, in some cases even more so. One, Siress Belloby, even manages to cow Adama of all people.
  • Power Rangers at its best is around here.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which has a female protagonist and competent male and female characters, though Slayers are always female. The Scoobies are typically fairly gender-balanced.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons, in statistical terms anyway. It can differ according to the setting, with allowances for the fact that it's mostly medieval-level societies. Planescape, Eberron, and Forgotten Realms are probably the most egalitarian, with plenty of powerful, competent women who hold the same roles men do.
    • D&D has an interesting relationship with this trope. As explained in the v3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide II, the makers of the game have gone out of their way to ensure gender equality, both mechanically and within the (generally assumed) game universe--even when this clashes with players' initial expectations of a medieval-ish society. There is a simple and compelling reason for this: they don't want barriers for female player characters. However, since D&D is possibly the biggest Trope Codifier of the fantasy genre, a lot of other fantasy works that didn't have the same practical need for egalitarianism picked it up anyway. The result is that today, completely gender-blind fantasy worlds are the norm, unless this trope is actually discussed in the work. This applies even if the world is otherwise based on a medieval or otherwise non-gender-equal real-world culture.
    • 1st Edition AD&D, sadly, fell firmly into Level 3 for this trope. Females' Strength scores had a lower ceiling than males', which effectively barred them from being fighters by making them undesirable, and literally barred Small female demihumans from classes with a high minimum Strength score.
  • Played painfully straight in {Paranoia, where hormone-supressing drugs and Computer-directed education means that most clones see no distinction between the genders other than a different set of superficial attributes. Characters in Secret Societies that study the mangled relics of the past might get some glimpses of gender inequality, but it's always filtered by misguided understanding of those relics and played for laughs.
  • Applies to the Deadwood campaign setting, since the dangers of the west means most communities need everyone they can get and can't be picky. If a woman wants to guard your caravan and at least knows which end of her gun is which, you hire her. The same thing has done a good job of erasing racism.

Video Games

  • In Disgaea men and women of various classes have the same base stats and aptitudes in the key stats, but vary in weapon proficiency, other stats, and evil acts. The cast is usually relatively equal in terms of gender ratio and there are just as many badass women as there are badass men.
  • Fire Emblem fits right in here. The main protagonist is male more often than not, but there are quite a few women who take that role as well. Story-wise, there are as many females in positions of power as males, and functionally, the genders are equal in combat. For every uber-powered male character you run into, there's an uber-powered female somewhere (e.g., Ike and Hector are regarded as powerhouses, but so are Titania and Tanith).
  • Dragon Age actually mentions that men and women are pretty much equal in Ferelden. Nobody seems to find anything odd about a woman leading the grey wardens, Queen Anora is a great political ally, and in the dwarven kingdom of Orzrammar, the female dwarf warden is named heir to the throne along with her older brother (And because she and her brother are removed, that's why the Succession Crisis happens). And it's not just authority, Fereldan women excel at ass-kicking, too: e.g. in human noble origin, the PC's supposedly frail defenseless mother dons combat gear and proceeds to tear her way through the besieged castle alongside the PC.
    • Although it is debatably a type 4 at times, as some characters find it odd when they see a woman warrior and, naturally, rape is not all that uncommon.
      • Then again, as the female city elf origin shows, it's most definitely not without its dangers...
  • Pokémon may have leaned towards Level 4 to start with, but more recent installments are more at this level, with the option to play as a male or female. The gym leaders tend to have an even split between genders, and Diamond/Pearl has been the first to introduce a female champion the player must beat at the end of the main storyline. Furthermore, Pokémon Black and White is the first to introduce a female Pokemon professor.
  • In the Fallout world it´s pretty common to see women as soldiers, carrying weapons (and knowing well how to use them), in charge of units and fighting like their male counterparts, you can even see female raiders and bandits, and female ghouls. Looks like that, when you live in a Crapsack World full of mutant animals, merciless criminal gangs, radiation, enormous and scary super mutants and extremely deadly creatures like the deathclaws, sexism is a stupid and pointless thing and every human able to use a weapon must do the work.
    • Though there are few if any female Enclave soldiers. Most of them are given seemingly safer jobs as scientists and leaving the dangerous wasteland duties to the men. Most likely because of their wish to preserve the human species.
    • Fallout: New Vegas does have as one of its main factions Ceasar's Legion, who are quite enthusiastic about wanting to push back the setting to Level 3 or even 2... But then, they're kinda bad guys, so it's not really surprising.
  • World of Warcraft is somewhere between here and Level 4, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, player characters are of Purely Aesthetic Gender, having all the same abilities and playing the same roles. On the other hand, most faction leaders and important NPCs are male; although there are some major female characters as well, like Jaina Proudmoore and Lady Sylvanas. Basically, WoW tries their best to be Level 5, but opinions vary on whether they succeeded.
    • It is sometimes pointed out that sexism was indeed prevalent in the past. Aegwynn is revered for being the first recognized female mage and faced an uphill battle for that, and Warchief Thrall personally declared the sexes equal in the New Horde.
    • The games originally started out at Level 3 for the first game, with only 2 notable female characters (Griselda and Garona) in game. The second game was Level 4, having a playable female hero character, Alleria.
  • Final Fantasy V falls here with not only the main playable cast being 3 out of 5 females, all 3 are figures of authority and just as capable as the male cast.
  • Final Fantasy VI has a debate going over which female party member is the main character, said two female characters are the only ones who learn magic naturally, one of them used to be a general, and the plot focuses just as much on the female characters as the male ones in total... due to there being that many more male characters.
  • Final Fantasy VIII uses the same trick as The Wheel of Time, not in both genders being stupid, but with giving the females the cool magic powers. Other than that, the various roles are split very well among the cast, with both genders shown to be equally emotionally weak. This is also the first game in the series where the main playable party is split 50/50 between the genders (disregarding temporary party members), a tradition that's been (mostly) carried on since.
  • Final Fantasy IX hands super powers of mass destruction and Heroic BSODs to both genders equally (if you take Kuja into the consideration, if not then the girls win on the superpowerful magic side of things). With several competent females in positions of power, and an amazon army for Alexandria.
  • While the universe of Final Fantasy X may be less equalized, the story itself is definitively gender-balanced. With the focus of the story being on Yuna's journey instead of Tidus's achievements, and the only insignificant party member being a male one (Kimahri). And the stretch through the ruins of Zanarkand shows that the setting's past has been strewn with strong female figures just as much as males.
  • Final Fantasy XII gender-balances well with princess Ashe being more recognized as the main character than viewpoint character Vaan (though Basch was originally designed as the main character, until it was decided that the game's demographic wouldn't go for a middle-aged male lead). The focal point of the story is not centered so much on the characters as it is on the political climate of Ivalice as a result of the Archadian Empire's control over Ashe's rightful territory of Dalmasca (and, in the background, their struggle with the neighbouring Rozzarian Empire). The only real gender issue that is ever brought up within the game is the apparent segregation between male and female Viera (of which only the females are even seen ingame); outside of this, gender roles appear to be more of less balanced. With that said, Judge Drace, the sole woman within the ranks of the Archadian Judge Magisters, was the only one to directly call out Vayne for killing his father, Emperor Gramis, and was executed for it. The fact that she was the only major female character outside of the protagonists' team in the game doesn't really help.
  • Final Fantasy XIII continues on the by now-tradition of having just as many well-fleshed out female characters as male characters. It's the second in the series with a female main character and gives the females both of the more iconic recurring summons (Bahamut and Odin). The males, as a balance, get the cooler Synthesist roles.
  • Star Wars the Old Republic has both men and women serving in combat roles in both the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. The Jedi Grandmaster Satale Shan is female and so was her predecessor. By end game, the Republic's Supreme Chancellor is a female Twi'lek. The Sith Empire drafts any non-Force user of age into the Imperial Military for both combat and non-combat roles. Also the Sith more concerned with Fantastic Racism to non-humans and non-sith purebloods than gender inequality.
  • Rift's resident badasses are about evenly divided between genders.
  • Starting from Dragon Quest III', female characters are much more prominent. All of the playable characters can be male or female.
  • Although Dragon Quest is usually very good at gender equality in playable characters, the only games with female main characters are the games where you could choose between male or female. Even then, promotional art usually featured the male character more often. There is also not many female villains in the series, either.

Web Comics

  • The Word Weary has a lot more male characters than female, but all of the female characters are treated with the same respect and agency as the males.
  • Homestuck - the cast is evenly divided between male and female characters, everyone can kick roughly equal amounts of ass (fashion-designing girly girl Kanaya fights zombies with a chainsaw; Roxy loves kittens and stuffed animals but is both a competent hacker and scientist and doesn't even need a weapon to fuck shit up), and Alternian society, while terrible in most ways, made basically no distinctions based on gender and both members of their imperial line were female.
  • Haley and Miko of The Order of the Stick are just as badass as their male teammates and receive just as much character development.

Web Original

  • Darwins Soldiers has several female combatants and men in distress. In general, a combatant has an even chance of being male or female.
  • In The Guild there are three women players and three men players in the main cast, as they wanted to point out the high number of girl gamers in online games. The girls are shown to be just as powerful and skilled as any of the guys they face in the game. Even if they're all equally idiotic.
  • That Guy With The Glasses. While still a bit of a sausagefest, everyone loves fighting, everyone has varying levels of intelligence, and everyone's a lunatic.

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the genders are represented fairly equally.
    • To break down the main group, in the first season and part of the second, there was Aang (male/bender), Katara (female/bender), and Sokka (male/normal). In the second season they pick up Toph (female bender) and the group stays as that until the third season. Then, halfway through that season, finally finishing his Heel Face Turn, Zuko (male/bender) joins and several episodes later helps bring in Suki (female/normal). That brings it to an even representation in overall numbers and combat abilities for both sexes.
      • Not to mention that Azula and her all girl team of antagonists are far more successful in general than the previous male antagonists (succeeding in their conquest of the Earth Kingdom where Zhao failed at the North Pole, and striking down the Avatar himself after Zuko failed so many times).
    • It's also a bit odd to note that the villainous Fire Nation seemed to have a more gender equal military (or at least police) than the good guy Earth Kingdom (we only ever saw male Earth Kingdom soldiers or police/city-guards, while the Fire Nation even had mixed gender prisons and prison guards). The Water Tribes turned out to be even more sexist; Sokka was something of a He-Man Woman Hater, at first, and the waterbenders at the North Pole turned out to be a societally enforced Level 4--much to Katara's chagrin. This resulted in a Jackie Robinson Story, which ultimately worked out for Katara. [3]
      • This mimics Real Life, where militaristic nations have a tendency to be more gender-egalitarian than peaceful ones. (There are exceptions, of course.) This is probably due to necessity; when you're sending a lot of your population far away to fight in foreign lands you can't afford to be picky with arbitrary restrictions on what jobs are unsuitable for certain people.
    • It's also worth noting that of the six Avatars we know of (Korra, Aang, Roku, Kyoshi, Kuruk and Yangchen) there's a perfectly even three to three gender balance.
      • The The Legend of Korra brings us another female Avatar, series lead Korra. Her main crew are two male benders, and her Air Bender master is male as well. However, joining the female members are Pema, Ikki, Jinora and especially, Chief Bei Fong a kick ass earth bender who doesn't take crap from anybody, and Asami Sato, a rich girl who is perfectly capable of kicking asses without a bending ability.
  • In Archer, male and female characters are generally portrayed at about the same level of (in)competence. Pretty much everyone is screwed up emotionally or mentally, with no overt correlation between level of competence or emotional state and gender.


Level 6: Women are better than men

In this trope, women often prove their superiority and are always the protagonists. Men, while still competent (usually), are only supporters at best.

Level 6 Examples

Advertising

  • Pretty much any TV advertisement for household products, which tend to feature men being idiots and women being competent. Still plays into all the old sexist tropes by reinforcing the idea that women should be the ones who do the housework and/or are particularly suited to housework.

Anime & Manga

  • Most of the Magical Girl series fit here. Boys cannot be the chosen ones, or fight evil with magical powers (except if they get Gender Bender). However, they can still be helpful by being themselves and provide a source of "something to fight for" for heroines. Most Maho Shoujo is simply the girl version of Superhero stories, since most girls are either not human (which explains why they are special ala Superman, or simply the circumstances lead to only magical girls in the main cast a la Nanoha, where there are magical boys, and most of the Red Shirt members of the TSAB appear to be men, but due to the circumstances we don't see them doing much).
    • The most prominent example of this is Sailor Moon, with Mamoru helping by just encouraging Usagi to never give up (and actually being more of a liability to the Sailor Senshi by being repeatedly brainwashed or kidnapped), and three boys who help Sailor Senshi via turning into magical girls themselves. Later in the series, Mamoru becomes more of a Badass Normal, but still lacks the sheer power of the Sailor Senshi.
      • In the manga (which is the source material) the Star Lights never turn into women, they are women. They are simply cross-dressing in an effort to find their princess faster. Mamoru also gets his own attack and crystal making him basically equal to the other Senshi (excluding Moon, who is on her own level) in the manga.
    • Puella Magi Madoka Magica borders on Type 9, with only three named male characters- Madoka's father, Madoka's younger brother, and Sayaka and Hitomi's love interest Kyosuke Kamijou- and only Kyosuke has any impact on the plot.
  • In the anime of Claymore, only women can become the eponymous badasses, and the few men in the series are either evil, ineffectual, or both. The manga is Level 5.
  • In Rozen Maiden the female dolls get in on all the action, and Jun, the sole main male character, just takes care of them the entire time.
  • Kiki's Delivery Service.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena is commonly considered to belong here, since all of the male characters seem to be either evil or fairly ineffectual compared to Utena (or both). Then again, nobody in the show is without serious stains, and the gender dynamic is one of the points discussed.

Literature

  • Book Frostlover and Thorn by Phyllis Ann Karr.
  • Tomoe Gozen by Jessica Amanda Salmonson.
  • Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Morgaine by C.J. Cherryh
  • Sheri S. Tepper ranges from Level 6 to Level 9 in her work. A good Level 6 example is The Arbai Trilogy, starting with Grass. Men are consistently shown to be either too incompetent and ineffectual, or self-important and arrogant, to figure out what is really going on on the eponymous world. Most of the females are little better; but the few that the novels actually focus on, particularly the protagonist, are far and away more competent and effective than the men.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Among the Vistani of the Ravenloft game-setting, only women can be the spiritual/mystical leader of a tribe, as males with the Sight are killed at birth to avert their becoming that culture's version of The Antichrist. Men do direct the mundane day-to-day activities of a caravan, but only with the female raunie's approval. The overall setting probably averages at 4 or 5, though (quite a number of domains are socially backwards by D&D standards, or have darklords with varying degrees of sexism, among them The Bluebeard - yes, that one).

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Tex from Red vs. Blue: Oh my lord Tex, one of the only female characters is also one the Most. Badass. Characters. EVER; just take a look at this (she's the one in black armour).
    • Then subverted when we later learn that Tex is actually an AI modelled after someone her creator once knew, and because of a few factors riding on that distinction, she's hardwired on a psychological level to always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
    • Further exemplified by Agent Carolina, who was recognised as the best Freelancer before Tex came along. And boy does she kick ass.

Western Animation

  • The Powerpuff Girls epitomizes this level. Though one episode featured a villain who was a Straw Feminist trying to convince the girls that all men are dogs and that women are superior, as a lesson that this isn't the case.
  • Kim Possible. The eponymous Extraordinarily Empowered Girl "can do anything" while her Sidekick, Ron, is mainly used for Plucky Comic Relief, although he does have a few heroic moments. Meanwhile, her main nemesis, Dr. Drakken, is far less competent than his sidekick, Shego.
  • Executive Meddling-enforced version in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Although it's not that females are explicitly better than males, it's that since the show's target audience is little girls there are barely any male characters at all, so it's up to the females to do everything whether they like it or not. Socially it's a type 5; on occasions when male characters do show up, it would appear that they're more or less on equal footing (hoofing?) with the females.
    • Starts to approach type 5 territory in terms of writing in the later seasons, as Spike and the other male characters (including the two males (Gallus and Sandbar) in the young six) get more character development and stories


Level 7: Can't stand men, can't live without them!

Men are jerks and there's nothing good in living with them, because they only think about sex and how to get a partner under their thumbs. However, living without them is hard too - there are things that should not be the concern of women, or simply require brute strength to get accomplished. Also, there's one thing that makes males necessary - procreation. Simply, you need a man if you want to have kids, and if there's one thing they're good at, it's making kids.

Level 7 Examples

Film

  • One (or thirty) too many Lifetime movies Of The Week. Made worse because they're supposed to be empowering for women, but it fails by portraying men as Always Chaotic Evil for no other reason than to "make women look good".
  • Many romcoms shoot for this level. However, whether they make it or not is a different story. Many of the worst flop back down to Level 3, where instead of making the female protagonist(s) look empowered and feminist, instead makes them helplessly sit around for the whole movie until Prince Charming shows up.

Literature

  • Many love stories. Especially Harlequin novels and their ilk, though they sometimes loop back into male chauvinism by making the woman a bit too meek or accommodating.


Level 8: Women rule, men obey

Governments are ruled by women, wars are fought by women and all important functions in the society are in their hands. Men are useless and there's not a single thing that women couldn't accomplish without them. Except for one - procreation. That's the only reason men weren't slaughtered already. But they are still reduced to second-class citizens at best, and to sex slaves at worse. In other words, this is just a complete inversion of Level 2.

Level 8 Examples

Literature

  • In A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer, women outnumber men by about 20 to 1 (or more) so polygamy is the norm. This is not the fantasy that men might envision. Society is completely matriarchal. Men are basically property and can be sold or traded for money or a husband for their mothers or sisters. Men also take care of the home and children while women work and fight. Even the male protagonist primarily functions as a Distressed Damsel.
  • Drow society in the Forgotten Realms.
  • Melanie Rawn's Exiles series.

Live Action TV

  • In Incredible Hercules, Artume almost turned Earth into that kind of place, with women in charge since the beginning of time, most males as second-class citizens and the few men that survived, including Hercules, labeled as terrorists.
  • In the Gene Roddenberry TV-pilot film Planet Earth, the PAX team led by Dylan Hunt encounters a society where the women rule the man, and in many ways, reverse 20th Century gender roles, attitudes and behaviors.

Web Comics

  • The government in Drowtales runs under this principle seeing as women have a higher status than men (not to mention being physically larger than the men) and only a few men have fairly important positions. There is a growing male rights movement in the story, but it's mostly been implied and not focused on much.
    • This probably comes from the fact that the original D&D Drow have a strict matriarchal society, created and kept in power by their demonic goddess.

Web Original


Level 9: Men? What men?

Women rule the world, men are all either castrated slaves or extinct. Women live in a Straw Feminist Utopia with superior technology or some kind of nature paradise to emphasize how women are Closer to Earth, and are either happy lesbians or simply celibate. Genetics takes care of procreation. On occasion, there is nothing sexist about it when the fiction takes place in a realistically women-only setting (like a realistic, non-Fetish Fuel women's prison), but this happens far less often than in Level 1.

Level 9 Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Many Yuri Genre works often have no male character of note, especially in works aimed at older readers or at actual lesbians.
  • ICE – The Last Generation takes place in a setting where all men died and remaining women fight over ideological differences (if they should or shouldn't bring men back) and an ICE (which is an only thing that can help them reproduce).

Comic Books

  • Amazons from Wonder Woman comics live on a separate island, without any men.
    • In Planetary, their Expies also have technology a thousand years more advanced than the rest of the world. They were planning to send an emissary that would usher all mankind into new golden age. However, they were still slaughtered by The Four.
    • Somewhat downgraded/averted in Superfriends.
  • Deconstructed in Y: The Last Man. Notably, in a setting that's practically asking for it, it avoids claiming that women need a man to fix things - the world is messed up to start with because half the human race has suddenly died, including most political, business, and religious leaders, transport infrastructure (pilots, sea captains, and truck drivers) and law enforcement, but things steadily improve over the next five years - or that women are better off without men messing things up - there's still no shortage of greed, lunatics, or violence among the women left behind.
    • By the end of the series, however, the trope is played straighter. The world has become a near-utopia, cloning takes care of reproduction, and the only remaining men are the rare clones of Yorick himself. However, there's still international strife. The last issue has France's leader discussing the need for an Atlantic alliance to help deal with a newly nuclear-armed Iran.

Film

  • This level was parodied in Polish movie Sexmisja (English title: Sexmission), where two male protagonists wake up from hibernation in a world where all males were killed by a pandemic and nuclear war. Women live underground and their community denies the existence of males. However, their leader is in fact a transvestite who somehow managed to survive the end of the male race, and the movie ends with our heroes manipulating a cloning machine to create a new male breed. Keep in mind, that this move was directed in the times of communism and was one big Getting Crap Past the Radar about living in a land under the control of a communist party.

Literature

  • Goodmother Night by Rachel Pollack.
  • The world of Whileaway in Joanne Russ' novel The Female Man, is all female, with the men having been wiped out ages ago by a plague[4], and is unabashedly utopian.
  • In Joan Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean, male protagonist Spinel gets sent to a world like this as an exchange student/cultural ambassador.
  • Sheri S. Tepper, again. The Gate to Womens Country incorporates both Levels 8 and 9; but with more of the latter. Males and females are strictly separated, with the exception of a few quasi-eunuch servants. Women live in technologically advanced, walled city-states tending toward Crystal Spires and Togas; while men are relegated to primitive camps outside the city walls, restricted to a much lower technological level, in a caricature of warrior culture. Men are used for reproduction; but only according to a strict breeding program intended to breed out any aggressive or otherwise stereotypically "masculine" traits. While this situation would normally be portrayed as a Crapsack World by most authors; in this example, it is clearly Tepper's idea of a feminist utopia in the making.
  • Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is the Ur Example of this level.

Video Games

  • Microprose's Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender features a planet filled with militaristic women. It's only later in the game that you learn that there was a war involving the two sexes, the end result being the women wiped out all the men via biological warfare. Not only did women have to reproduce by using the aforementioned Gender Bender to temporarily change into men, the virus used had an unintended side-effect of making the women incapable of having male babies ever again.
  • {{{Play Station 2 Play Station 2}} RPG Nuga-Cel informs you outright at the start that absolutely no men will be appearing in the game, not even as NPCs. The (male) narrator who informs you of this is fired on the spot, never to be seen again. Although the player character is male, he is never seen or heard, unless you get a particular ending where he becomes the final boss.


Out of scale level: Full gender separation.

Men and women live separately. There are two divided communities, each with members of only one gender. There are only homosexual relationships (if any at all) and neither gender needs the other to survive. Even the procreation problem was somehow solved.

Full Gender Separation Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Vandread
  • The Zentraedi in Super Dimension Fortress Macross do this in the first series as men (Zentraedi) and women (Meltrandi) are kept in completely separate social systems.
  • A world in Banner of the Stars is gender segregated, being a prison planet after all. There is a part where men and women are allowed to live together...but they must be sterilized beforehand.

Comic Books

  • Marvel Comics character Thundra comes from a future where men and women are in a state of war and use artificial methods of procreation. Her daughter, Lyra, (born in vitro with use of Hulk's cells) gets a little Retcon of this: Her world is set After the End, where women created an advanced society while men degenerated into a bunch of wild tribes who worship old superheroes as gods.

Literature

  • One of the worlds featured in The Female Man by Joanna Russ is one where men and women are at war with one another. Near the end of the novel, the principle characters (four versions of the same woman from perpendicular dimensions) visit the men's side and one of the women tears a man limb from limb. Here, though, each gender does need the other to survive, so they develop a squicky prisoner-exchange program of sorts.
  • Ethan of Athos. Shortly after the invention of the uterine replicator, a religious group that believed women were the source of all sin established an all-male colony world.

Western Animation

Notes

  1. The Lexx episode "Nook" features a "monastic paradise" of male-only clones who believed that they could only have true harmony in a world without women. There are a few other all-male groups in other works as well.
  2. Barring a single Taking the Bullet scene at the end of the series
  3. As a general rule, every society (that gets depicted) tends to have virtues and failings and heroes and villains. Opposite element societies tend to have opposite problems: Expansionist, Egalitarian Fire versus Traditional Water, Robust but Bureaucratic Earth versus Hippie Air...
  4. though there's a hint or two that it might instead be a result of the women winning a global war of the sexes
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