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Do you have the desire to save (or be) a damsel in distress?

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  • Do you have the desire to save (or be) a damsel in distress?

    I was playing Dante's Inferno last night, and I got to thinking that the mission of the game (saving his wife who was taken by the devil) is a pretty common theme in video games (saving a damsel in distress). Then I was thinking that this is a common theme not just in video games, but in movies, fairy tales, pretty much everything.

    So, this got me thinking that if this is such a common theme, it must be because this is some kind of universal, innate desire that men have. Then, I wondered, does this mean that women have an innate desire to be saved?

    I'm trying to figure out if this desire (for men) is driven more by the need to feel powerful and strong, the need for blood and violence, the need to have a woman put in a postion of being grateful (and likely to repay the debt with sex) or a combination of all three. Or, some other factors I haven't considered.

    Also, I'm wondering if women who desire to be saved do so because being saved by a man will somehow prove his loyalty and strength, hence filtering potential mates.

    I realize that not everyone fits neatly into these categories based on their sex. I, for one, sort of have both the desire to save and be saved, which is perhaps related to being bisexual.

    I'm wondering what other people's thoughts are on this.
    Last edited by BestBetter; 10-17-2012, 04:04 PM.

  • #2
    I recognise the desire to be rescued in myself and the hope that a man will come along and save me, but in my marriage I am the knight and my husband is the powerless princess; we both struggle with that. I have no problem with rescuing other damsels in distress (I too am bi), just men it seems. I've never thought it through fully in those terms, but there you have it. The power and gender roles we are indoctrinated with do tend to stick around to haunt us.
    I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

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    • #3
      Eff that. I want to be capable of rescuing myself. I think that one should be ready to support and sometimes "rescue" a partner and be open to asking/accepting those things when you need them, but I do not want to be dependent or expect that a man will come along and rescue me.

      I've had dudes try to be the white knight when I was successfully taking care of myself, and it's just plain irritating and (to me) illustrates a belief that women are not capable of taking care of things themselves. If I already have the flat tire off and the new one on and my tire iron out to tighten the lug nuts, I don't need you to come along and make a big man fuss. I've got this, back off and let me do it. I welcome someone offering help and will accept it or not politely and graciously, but if I decline it, taking the heavy bag out of my hand without my agreement is uncool.
      “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

      Owly's Journal

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Owly View Post
        Eff that. I want to be capable of rescuing myself. I think that one should be ready to support and sometimes "rescue" a partner and be open to asking/accepting those things when you need them, but I do not want to be dependent or expect that a man will come along and rescue me.

        I've had dudes try to be the white knight when I was successfully taking care of myself, and it's just plain irritating and (to me) illustrates a belief that women are not capable of taking care of things themselves. If I already have the flat tire off and the new one on and my tire iron out to tighten the lug nuts, I don't need you to come along and make a big man fuss. I've got this, back off and let me do it. I welcome someone offering help and will accept it or not politely and graciously, but if I decline it, taking the heavy bag out of my hand without my agreement is uncool.
        This was my attitude when I was dating a woman; I was really into being self-sufficient and tough and kind of saw traditional female roles as being weak. Somehow, now that I'm with a man, I don't feel the need to be the strongest one anymore; it's kind of nice to be 'saved' once in a while, since I'm so used to being the one who 'saves' everyone else.

        I think we can agree that most women don't in reality want to be dependent on men (or whoever), but this idea came from somewhere, and I'm trying to understand what it's all about, not argue that it's the way we SHOULD be.

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        • #5
          You know it could just be that the guy is nice and doesn't like seeing women being abused. Put that as a mandatory 4th option since without it he'd just be a rapist (need to feel powerful, need for blood and sex? Yeah, recipe for being the guy who put the damsel in the tower, not the handsome prince).
          And I'm perfectly good with saving or being saved. Heck, my mother has fixed loads of problems for me throughout my life. And I've fought for her whenever a guy got violent towards her. I think it's more about doing what you can for the people you care about. Damsels just can't do much.
          In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

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          • #6
            I had several guys try to pick me up by playing the knight in shining armor card. It never worked. The few guys I did date "landed" me because they recognized that I was not a princess and played to it. I married Geek because, among many other reasons, he not only let me rescue myself, but when I did need help, found ways to not do it as a prince in shining armor.
            I also never wanted a knight in distress. If the man could not save himself from danger, he was a helpless child, and I wasn't interested. That's not to say I wouldn't help them if they needed it, but that I prefer that to be the exception that proves the rule.
            Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, steak in one hand, chocolate in the other, yelling "Holy F***, What a Ride!"
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            • #7
              I've been married ten years. Life throws up situations and you deal the best you can, but it's not easy. Over that time the roles have swapped and swapped about - which is as it should be - but we both find it culturally and emotionally easier when he is contributing financially to our wellbeing. I guess I was thinking of the question with that filter on.
              I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

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              • #8
                I think that healthy adult relationships are about give and take and mutual support (and even taking turns as rescuer/rescued). I think the damsel in distress concept infantilizes women and also interferes with men being able to get support and help when they need it. I don't think it's an inherent human trait; I think it's one that's instilled in us through repeated cultural messaging through things like Disney movies and rescue-the-princess video games.

                Also, where did I say I always have to be the strongest or that I devalue traditionally feminine roles? I'm the cook in my home 90% of the time. I have a strong partner and am happy to let him carry things and fix things when he's more competent at those things than I am (he built our cabin, I fix our computers). What I dislike is someone trying to take over when I am perfectly capable and competent and obviously successfully doing something for myself. If I need help, I will ask for it and/or accept help that's offered, but some guys will almost rip a heavy box out of a woman's hands despite being told "I got this".
                “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                Owly's Journal

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                • #9
                  I am usually the damsal in a damn mess. I usually can figure it out, fix it etc. but it would be nice if I did not have to all the time.
                  Karin


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                  • #10
                    I've never thought it through fully in those terms

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                    • #11
                      Side note: classic fairy tales before they were Hollywood-ized and Disney-fied had a lot of heroines saving their families and/or themselves. If they didn't die. They were pretty gruesome tales.

                      I have a complex of sorts about this kind of thing. I think. In the throes of my depression in high school, I was convinced that the only thing that could relieve me of the mental pain was an outsider. In time, I taught myself that I was the only person I could count on to rescue me. It's now really hard for me to accept or ask for help from others, though I still revert to wanting other people to "save me" in dark times. I'm kind of a whiny, but capable, damsel.
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                      • #12
                        Not so interested in being the damsel anymore, but that's probable due to bad experiences with men who can only function in the role of knight, I.e. I'm not much good to them self-sufficient. Unhealthy dynamic right there, so I have learned to never need money from someone if I can help it - I have my own job and can pay my own bills. Well, now I am married and the primary breadwinner and yeah - it would be nice to have some of that pressure lifted, since I still do most domestic kthings and organizing what the kiddos need for school and other activities. My hubby has definitely taken a lot of that pressure off me, but it would nice to have someone else putting as much forward financially as I do.

                        I think what I take exception to is the whole damsel/knight/saved lingo. If there is a heavy piece of furniture that needs moving, it's awesome to have the man of the house get in there and do it. But I don't need or want saving -what floats my boat is having a full partner in life and all of the good and bad life throws you.

                        ETA that the damsel lingo is less relevant now that women can and often do make more than their spouses. We need less saving but I don't think the desire to have someone come and 'save' the day ever goes away, regardless of whether you are a helpless maiden dependent on men for everything or a strong, independent woman who wants to even out the workload. Or get a heavy box lifted
                        Last edited by Zanna; 10-17-2012, 07:23 PM.

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                        • #13
                          I guess it's a common theme in older games (Mario games, Legend of Zelda, etc), but not so much in new ones. Well, unless you count Cortana (the "female" AI in Halo that you have to rescue from a Covenant ship in Halo 3). I'll go out on a potentially flame-igniting limb and make the observation that games where rescuing a "damsel in distress" tend to be produced by Japanese developers -- by people from a culture with a much stronger emphasis on the traditional roles of males and females in society. Though I guess Dante's Inferno might be an exception to this, not sure who developed it but it was published by EA. Still, it doesn't seem to be a recurring theme in a lot of highly successful modern western games (Halo, Elder Scrolls, etc).

                          Annnnnnnyway, I don't want to save someone or be saved. I mean, if someone were trapped in a burning house, I'd probably consider trying to help them get out, but I don't have any romantic fantasies about it. Also, my personal independence is very important to me, so if someone came along and tried to "save" me, it'd probably piss me off to no end.
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                          • #14
                            I don't think that people should get their worldviews and opinions of other people via pop culture. Actually, it's really kind of insane (and even scary) when you research it and you realize how much people get their sense of the world nowadays from TV and movies.

                            Separately....I do think that, generally speaking, many women have a huge pull toward men who stand up for them. I say this because I was once lightly dating a girl. We went to a party where her friend's boyfriend was drunkenly saying mean shit to her, and I literally stood up for her and told the guy to leave her alone (acting physically tough in doing so). The guy tried to save face a little, but soon just drunkenly stumbled away. At this point, this was no big deal to me: just another incident dealing with a drunken American jackass. However....later that night, my (then) girlfriend let me know, in no uncertain terms, how much she'd been aroused when I stood up for her (even in this pretty minor situation). For several months afterward, I could do no wrong, and she doted on me endlessly. I believe that her response displays just how much women want a man who can stand up for them - not necessarily physically (because that's rarely in jeopardy nowadays), but just for their dignity and character.
                            Last edited by DavidBrennan; 10-18-2012, 12:59 AM. Reason: Anecdote

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                            • #15
                              I think from a Grok point of view, "rescue the damsel" has primal roots. Groks were (are) generally larger and stronger than Grokettes, and Grokettes have the responsibility of caring for the children. Evolutionarily, it was much more likely for the man to save the woman and children from physical danger.

                              As societies evolved and sheer physical size/strength wasn't as necessary, Grok retained his position of rescuer via other kinds of power. It all had roots in physical size/strength, but that was translated into other areas. Women being the "weaker sex" came to mean weaker mentally, emotionally, etc., as well as physically. This evolved into societies where women were (are) seen as the property of men, as being sub-human, etc.

                              Many of today's societies have the game field leveled because we have weapons and ways of defending ourselves that don't depend on actual size or strength. That's not to say that size and strength aren't necessary, but I can pull the 10 lb. (DA) trigger of my Sig P226 just as easily as any man. Because a small female can be just as successful as a large male in providing for a family, protecting others against (most modern) danger, etc., it's more socially prevalent/acceptable to portray women as the rescuer.

                              Plus, the companies that sell the games want to market to as wide an audience as possible.

                              I think that the "rescue" inclination is also partially individual. Some people are naturally drawn to be police, firefighters, military, while others are not, regardless of sex. Some people become counselors, religious leaders, social workers, which is another kind of rescue profession.

                              For me personally, I have no desire to be "rescued", but I appreciate help when I really need it. I have no particular desire to rescue anyone else, but I am glad to help when I can.
                              Last edited by Goldie; 10-18-2012, 04:58 AM. Reason: Typo

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