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The Woman in Refrigerators Theory: Killing Females in Comics

The term "Woman in Refrigerators" was coined by comic book author, Gail Simone. It is a trope in comics that a female character is killed or brutally injured by a villain, giving a reason for the hero to hate the villain even more. The trope can be insulting to women because of how it uses female violence as a cheep way to get emotion from a reader. What should writers do to avoid this trope? Can this be hard for writers to want to tell a compelling story, without having to kill a female characters? Does this mean you can’t kill any female characters, even though male and female deaths happen all the time in comics? Is there a difference between killing a female character for story reasons, and killing a female character for a cheap gut punch.

  • This is an interesting observation. I agree that the trope is demeaning to women and I believe that an added reason for its popular use is simply that almost all superheroes are male. The death of a loved one provides for a dramatic and compelling plot twist, however, in these stories, the victim is bound to always be female unless the superhero is depicted as homosexual, which, is not common. As for your last question, there is definitely a difference and I believe it depends on the story and how it is written. A perceptive reader will be intelligent enough to distinguish between if the death is integral to the story or if it is meant simply as a cheap thrill. – ArynSkyn 6 years ago
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  • One question that I think should always be asked after the death of a character, be it female or otherwise, is did they die for reasons related to their own story or somebody elses? In short, was their death a fitting conclusion to their story arc, or a speed bump in one belonging to a different character. If the former, all well and good. If the latter, the question that then needs to be asked is, was this an organic part of that character's story which, looking back, we can see it building up to, or was it pulled out of thin air for no other reason than cheap emotion. If the first one, okay so long as you don't do it too often. If the latter, definite fridge stuffing. – Winter 6 years ago
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  • I think there needs to be a fair balance. Simone came up with the list because it was happening entirely too much. A majority of female characters were being brutalized, raped, or killed for the advancement of other character's plots - not their own. While the trope can be used and sometimes might be necessary, it should not be any means be the norm. Writers should push themselves to find more creative ways to help their characters advance, and pay attention to the fans pf these female characters. – SomeOtherAmazon 6 years ago
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