The Evil Woman

Evil woman, don’t you play your games with me

-Crow

I’m slightly hesitant when it comes to writing about this subject even though I think I’ve got a lot to say. One problem is, how to define ‘evil’? Another is, why would I write about women? Not humans in general? Why do I have to differentiate between the sexes here because we’re all equal blah-dee-blah-stop-demonizing-women!

But as a fellow-blogger/writer Jian pointed out,

“It’s also a subtle way of having a female character that does evil things, but is not evil. Albeit, a very easy way to do it. It allows them to be redeemable, yet bad simultaneously.”

so could it be somewhat unnerving for a writer to even write a truly evil woman? Should, for women, a chance for redemption exist? Is it “safer” to write her mentally unstable than downright evil? In a way, especially for male writers (yes, I said it, sex/gender matters, don’t even bother pretend otherwise) this might save them from proverbial crucifixion by angry feminists… or not.

But bad things are done by janes and joes all the time all over the world. True evil, the way I see it, is done by mentally unstable. Sociopaths. Murder, torture, and rape being their favorite gummibear flavors. To not understand or grasp (as much as it can be) morals, right and wrong, to not feel remorse, perhaps not much anything aside of pleasure, sounds to me really quite mental. So I’d say evilness and mental health go hand in hand here.

Back to the woman. So the Evil Woman (i.e. the female villain) is, most likely, the Insane Woman as well. But still there are more character tropes for the villainous lady than there is for a sole nutjob sans obvious evilness. Here are a few (from tvtropes.org, what a depressing place!):

Alpha Bitch, Black Widow, Dark Chick, Dark Action Girl, Dark Magical Girl, Dark Mistress, Evil Diva, Femme Fatale, Fille Fatale, Evil Matriach, Lesbian Vampire, Psycho Lesbian, Vain Sorceress, The Vamp, Woman in Black, Violently Protective Girlfriend (evil? At times), and many more. There are a few things that most of these have in common which seem to boil down the essence of ‘The Evil Woman.’

So, let’s take a look how one can write a nasty lady, and how they compare to evil men.

Look at my rack, my rack is amazing!

For one, I can see that the Evil Woman must be attractive (Poison Ivy, Elle Driver, Faora…). That’s the number one rule. Yeah, realistic. Look up these beauties: Ilse Koch, Aileen Wuornos, and Anneli Auer (I added the last one ’cause not only is she suspected of the murder of her husband, but of abusing her children sexually as well. Now that’s effed up). I’ll admit it, T. K. Trian has written evil hotties–men and women–in the past (Blood Calling, Bricks), but we have fuglos and plain janes as well (Solus).The men, well, to them it’s the brains rather than the looks that matter. In fact, the men have turned evil ’cause they’re so butt-ugly they never got laid which then turned them evil (e.g. in Buffy it was the Trio who wanted to become supervillains so as to get laid). Evil men must have brains, evil women must have beauty. I think this would work quite plausibly the other way around too. Anyway, if you’re writing an evil chick, make her pretty. Because beauty and admiration do not equal happiness, ergo you may end up on the dark side. (I mean, at least the heroine can be an unassuming, hidden beauty like that Anastasia chick in that trilogy I never read and that has nothing to do with Russian royalty!)

I’ve got the whole package!

Secondly, the Evil Woman displays her crazy more than the Evil Man (Bellatrix Lestrange, Drusilla from Buffy). Sure, the guys are nuts too, but they often appear outwardly normal if cold and calculative. The Evil Woman is all over the place violent, giggles manically, neglects to comb her hair, and dresses flashily though usually in black. Of course, Joker wasn’t a cool-as-cucumber type of a bad dude. Batshit crazy. Yup. But does it make the villain more sympathetic if they’re blatantly crazy? Well, in Joker’s case, no, even when played by Heath Ledger. Like how Jian pointed it out:

“…whereas an insane man is downright creepy. Don’t get me wrong. He’s cool to us guys, but to most women, he’s reeeeeal creepy. For example, the movie Psycho. Norman Bates is creepy. Cersei from Game of Thrones is insane… but she’s kind of attractive.”

In Bellatrix’s case… maybe a little more sympathetic. I mean, at least she’s still a looker despite the crazy hair.

You even get a nifty certification!

Third point: The Evil Woman gets away with her evilness (Willow and Anya in Buffy, Ruby and Meg in Supernatural). Either the guy falls in love with her or she turns her back to the dark side at some point and everyone and their dog forgive her. And I mean, pretty much they all forgive her, and their sanity is not questioned. The male villain turned hero is treated with less civility. It’s usually the masochistic girl who forgives him while her (male) friends suffer of lesser cases of amnesia. I don’t quite get this. I’d just punch the villain regardless their sex and be done with it. Wait, would that then make me evil? So, if you want to write a bona fide shady lady, make sure she will be forgiven at some point. Especially nowadays it may be considered of bad taste to burn the evil witch. I mean, they have rights.

I have to admit that I’d love to read a novel or watch a TV-series with a female villain who is not gorgeous, obviously crazy, or over-sexed. I don’t personally care if it’s written by a man or a woman (you know this one: “There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is ‘idiot.” Check out Niven’s Law), as long as she comes off realistic. A character of her own, not a plot device. Even better if she broke to the mainstream, plowed way to the other non-willows, bellatrixes, and poison ivies. Don’t know why, but it’d just be quite interesting. I know there are such characters out there… so if you know some interesting stories, let me know!

-K. Trian

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “The Evil Woman

  1. Really glad you decide to write this post. Thanks for all the quotes. I feel so cool right now. : )

    You make some very interesting points. I actually never noticed how differently the male and female bad guys are treated once they “see the light”. It’s also very important for the writer to supply an adequate reason as to why they’d even forgive the villain.

    I always hated how in a lot of stories, they never kill the villain. “I will not stoop to his level by killing him… even though he’s murdered my entire family, desecrated my children’s grave, and betrayed the citizens of Earth to the aliens… and gave me syphilis. Long story.”

    I assume T. Trian will write posts concerning the Evil and Insane Men? xD

    This actually gave me an idea to have a female villain whose face is never revealed, and wears clothes that disguise her body shape quite well.

    Heroes: “So… Is she hot? Maybe we should take a flamethrower and see? Let me tell you, I will be so pissed if she’s not hot after I let her live.”

    #Firstworldheroproblems.

    Great post.

    • Well, you gave the idea about writing this! Female villains are interesting also because women aren’t usually associated with bad deeds, at leat not irl. I don’t like that either when the hero spares the villain. Usually on the way the hero(ine) has killed a bunch of grunts to get to the villain, so basically they’re pretty bad anyway ;P I don’t really mind giving reasons to the villain’s behavior, making him/her sympathetic can be cool, but the hero’s/heroine’s behavior has to make sense, and I’d torture and kill the guy who hurt any of my loved ones. Haha, yeah, the veiled female villain is quite interesting x) come to think of it, in our stories anyone can be a villain. Except Lise in Solus. I mean that girl’s squeaky clean if there ever was one!

      • Can’t argue with that. 😀

        In your opinion, what would the male villains have (besides the obvious genetic stuff) that the female villains won’t?

        If we’re talking about a fantasy story, the female villain could even be stronger than the male. If we’re talking about a sci-fi one, the female villain could be a master at long range shooting.

        The only difference is how they’re treated by the “good guys”, huh?

      • If by genetic you mean looks (i.e. the evil chick’s pretty, the evil guy can be an uglo just as likely as a hottie?), I’d imagine there might be differences in why they became evil. Men didn’t get laid-> evil (like in Buffy), or they wanted power (like most supervillains). Women may have some traumatic abuse thing by men in their past that made them villanous (and possibly psycho lesbians). Unless they’re vampires, but even then e.g. Drusilla was sired by Angel, a man. Willow went evil cos a man killed her gf. In Scarlet-comics, the heroine becomes a killer cos her bf got killed. Irl women are often drawn into evil acts by their male spouses because of love and desperation, or sometimes they turn dark side cos the man cheated on them. But of course, in addition to vengeance, there’s always the power & money thing with women too (and vice versa, men seek vengeance). In any case, while men and women are studied as these separate entities with all kinds of differences, we’re obviously still quite similar and have similar motives.

  2. Ah, it’s been awhile since I’ve read about a villain in it entirely for money. It’s sad because that’s my favorite type of villain. : )

    So what do you guys have in plan for another post? How’s the editing of Solus going, by the way? I’m currently writing a flashback of Warren’s past for LoC, so the editing has been put on hold for a little bit.

    • Yeah, those are great, and kinda exciting too cos they might change sides whenever, depending on how much they get paid 😀

      Well, the next post will probably be about Top something of mistakes in fictional fight scenes. T’s good at that stuff, and I guess the point is to show that even if done realistically, fights can be just as entertaning as flashy fights (even more so), but it’s not to claim flashy shouldn’t be done as it’s got its time and place too.

      As for Solus, whew, we’re editing like no tomorrow. It’s so much work cos we really raised the bar for that one and are being super-nitpicky with the grammar and technique side of things (previously we merely edited the content and plot). We’re also doing plot stuff. Adding a new character (Sasha, a Russian detective) and fleshing out some side characters. Oh, and we’ve been adding/improving description especially regarding space, you know, built the world more (as you pointed out there wasn’t enough description). It’s nice you flesh out Warren more! He’s a great character and deserves it!

      -K

      • How do you plan on introducing the Russian detective? I love detective characters. I suck at writing mysteries, but I always love reading about them. I am looking forward to the post about fight scenes. I like to consider myself rather good at them, but I can never really run out of tips when it comes to making them flashy AND realistic. xD

        Sometimes, it’s like I have trouble trying to decide if I’m going for Black Hawk Down or Lord of the Rings. There’s gritty realism and then there’s awesome unrealistic stunts. Agh, super hard to decide! : )

      • There’s this murder case in Solus which is tied to the vicious FDL pirate clan (I think you read far enough to learn Amélie was accused of FDL affiliations, but you didn’t get to the murder stuff) and Reggie, which also explains his special antipathy towards Amélie. The detective worked the case and now he’s Reggie’s bf. So basically the character was always there, we just never wrote him out. That’s another thing we’ve tried to do; flesh out side characters, not necessarily enough to make it to the manuscript, but at least to the degree that we know their past, present and future.

        Fight scenes are hard, and we’re constantly revising them. Especially sword stuff is challenging. We have this medieval fantasy Blood Calling and we actually got this British swords master Guy Windsor to proofread the fencing scenes which was just freaking awesome. Taught us a lot too! But nothing should be taken at face-value, and it’s good to get different opinions from different professionals and hobbyists. Even try em out oneself if possible even though, well… if one tries somethimg, better keep it to themselves up until one knows better with whom to share the information cos there’s always the risk that one will end up disturbing others when they share their knowledge and experiences because some people are so…Serious 😀

  3. Ooh. Cool picture. Where have I seen that before? xD

    Really? You got a fencing master to proofread it? How’d you meet him?

    So how much research did you guys have to do for Solus? Like I said before (about dozens of times since I’m narcissistic and proud of the achievement) I read this book on Organized Crime, Cyber Crime, and Money Laundering as research for one of my books. It was surprisingly interesting. Apparently, the ‘correct’ spelling of the Russian Mafia is Mafiya.

    When I was reading Solus, it wasn’t really that hard to believe all of the technology in it already existed. (Probably do, but it’s all a secret. Shh – we might get silenced.)

    Did you guys make that up on the spot or did you simply imagine it as an advancement of some already existing tech?

    • Yup, that picture completely inspired by someone’s gravatar ;P

      T actually went to his classes, talked with him there, and then he agreed to read them. That was super-nice of him. But it’s surprising really how gladly people share their expertise. We’ve also interviewed a Navy SEAL, an army major, several doctors about gunshot injuries, nuclear safety personnel, the Swedish immigration office, list goes on 😀 it’s fun, cos you also get to learn lots of new, interesting stuff. Books are great sources too.

      “Mafia” comes from Italian, or Sicily, Cosa Nostra and stuff, you probably know this stuff. How you romanize it may vary depending on who’s your target audience, so in English you might want to use transliteration mafiya cos и = i and я = ya/ja. However, for a Finn I’d spell it mafija. Of course in Cyrillic script it’s мафия. We’ve had to transliterate Russian for Solus and an older story, End in Ruins, and it can be a bit tricky sometimes cos you want the English audience to get the correct pronunciation, but the Russian pronunciation… heh, well, T knows more about it, but it’s hard!

      We’ve “enhanced” and detailed the tech in Solus recently. It’s not very farout futuristic cos Solus happens in an alternative universe, not in the future as such. We added an insulting cleaning robot Shiri who pronounces ‘b’ instead of ‘h’ whenever it’s the first letter of a word (so when she says “I clean your halls”, well…) and some other stuff. Some we came up with ourselves, but a lot is “real stuff” to be possibly used in the future.

      Have you been writing the sci-fi story you sent that excerpt of to us? With the Asian male protag? that was funny!

      -K

      • Yeah. I’ve been writing in it on and off. This is actually the first time I wrote from the perspective of an Asian character. (Though I am Asian. xD )

        You guys once mentioned that it takes a long time to die from being gutted. Is it the same with a bullet wound? I have a scene where a character gets shot, and I’m not sure how long he should be able to live – within reason – with a gut shot.

      • It can take long with a gut shot too, and apparently it’s a particularly excruciating way to die because you don’t die immediately, but it’s very painful. As for how long, you might have to google more info about it. One option is to join a writing forum where they have “ask the expert” rooms. Absolute Write has one, though I don’t know if there’re doctors there. There’re also rooms where one can post such questions. Give the parameters that may affect the outcome like did the shooter use FMJ or hollowpoint bullets and what caliber? Or shotgun pellets? The hollowpoint fucks up the insides cos it fragments, in which case bleeding to death internally could happen way faster and possibly even more painfully. FMJ could go clean through, or it could lodge e.g. to the spine, which might fuck up the victim’s ability to move. What were they wearing may affect if it slows down the bullet, e.g. stops it from passing through the body. Then is there any way to control the bleeding? What size is the victim? Big guys can bleed out more than small girls without passing out. There are many variables, so if you wanna be thorough, think up everything that may affect the scenario and outcome, write them down, and post the question to a doctor or to a writing forum (or to us, though we aren’t experts :D) Another option is to look up a real-world case and use it as the basis. We kinda did that with one guts-hanging-out situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s