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Why Females (Girls, & Women) cannot win Pokemon League?

Shadao

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If we look at characters individually, then it's easy to say "oh yeah the writers can give them whatever personality and interest they think fits." But no character exists in a vacuum. They have to be analyzed in the context of the universe they are placed in as well as how they and their respective show fit into the real world. This is where we start seeing patterns, and the patterns are where the issues lie, not so much with individual characters (for the most part that is). On their own you can easily argue any of Ash's female companions are fine characters and that their goals are ambitious and compelling. But when you lay out all 5 of them (Misty, May, Dawn, Iris, and Serena) you see the patterns of none of them challenging gyms like Ash, none of them really being as battle oriented as Ash in general, 3/5 of them participating in the 'girly' option involving performing and dressing up, the list goes on. Zooming out slightly you can also see that Ash has never had a competent or consistent female rival, and most of the strong, anime-exclusive trainers he meets are men.

In response to Muur's comments, the anime writers aren't responsible for the champions, gym leaders, or any other game canon characters. I don't think it's fair to say the anime is excused for the patterns it introduced just because it didn't change decisions put in place by another party. Plus we never saw those champions fight through the league on-screen. They had an opportunity with Iris where they could have had her goal to become champion, like she does in the games, but instead they gave her the vague goal of becoming a "dragon master."

Also I think that having a female winner, or even top contender that gets screentime, is important. If the only awards the female characters ever get are things like top coordinator, but the focus of the show is always the battles, then you're really sectioning off who is meant to fill what roles. It's one thing to try to appeal to your target audience, which the games seem to do fine with their mostly equal representation. But what the anime does is tell its audience what they should be interested in rather than letting them find their own interests organically.
And there be the problem. No matter what series he'll be in, Ash always occupies the main player's goal as he is the main protagonist of the show. Could the girls partaken Gym Battles and fight the League? Yes, of course. But it creates a redundancy as those female trainers will have to battle the same Gym Leaders as Ash, and it will get repetitive seeing two of the same Gym Battles at very least. And unfortunately, that's why I have difficult time answering the question: Why can't females win the League?

Because this is ultimately Ash's journey and we the audience want him to win the League tournament even when the executives constantly deny him. And Ash has gotten to the point where he could easily reach the Final Round of the League if he really puts his mind to it. Simply by that, the thought of making him lose just to allow another trainer to win for once is almost unthinkable when he has no victory to claim for his own. By this point, people have become cynical about the League tournaments. It does not matter if a girl or boy wins the League, because if it's not our 20-year old main character, there is no interest to stick around.

I remember my thoughts when the Kalos League was near. I had no desire for Ash to get another Top 8 or Top 4 again, and have someone else win. I wanted Ash to win because he has shown himself to be at his finest and most experienced yet. And that, unfortunately, overrides my desire to see anyone else win.

It would be nice if Ash won the Kalos League, and next series features Moon as our new main protagonist competing for the Alola League.
 

henrymidfields

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In this aspect, and also others, BW onwards was quite a missed oppourtunity; we could have had Iris do the league instead of Ash. The latter, and for the matter, Misty and Hilda could take part in the actual PWT similar to the games. There's enough story justification for Ash to be upgraded to be a mentor as early as Gen 3. This was part my proposal in a blog entry months ago anyway, while the XY/ORAS/VC!RBY arc after would have both Serena and Ash competing for their respective region's leagues culminating into a final championship battle in Tag Form against Diantha and Lance as part of the 20th Anniversary. (See sections Season 4 and Season Finale in this entry.)

Thinking about it now, I really could write up my proposed XY arc from that entry, crossing over both shonen and shojo, and with a feminist narrative. Basically telling sub-plots of:
  • Mistreating your girlfriend (or any friend in general) is NOT okay under ANY circumstances. (It's basically about my Calem in said proposal.)
  • Girls can and should be able to do stuff in the same way that boy can. (Hence my proposal having Serena battle alongside Ash against their regions' champions.)
@Kyriaki: I'm going to transfer my counter-response to what I think is your bottom response over to my said blog entry. Keep in mind, I've got a whole lot of other changes to propose too.
 
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Kyriaki

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Girls can and should be able to do stuff in the same way that boys can - that I agree.

BUT they shouldn't be forced to do stuff if it's not what they want. Forcing an aspiring fashion designer girl into a basketball court and locking up the doors until she becomes an NBA basketball player is not the way gender equality should be achieved! That's basically reverse stereotyping. If they're aware of what they can and want to do, then let them pick their way, not shove things on their face or tell them seemingly feminine careers are the wrong life choices. No one has any right to say about how one makes independent choices on what they like and care about. Serena is aware of what being a trainer is and how battling is done yet she chose the path to be a performer/actress. She chose not to be a professional battler and instead chose to be a professional performer. She made her decision herself. She made her career choice with what she loved to do.

I'll stop bringing up this issue here since I'm getting way off-topic from what the thread is supposed to be about.
 

SinnohEevee

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Imagine the backlash if Iris beat Ash at the League.
I doubt even the most anti-Ash-winning executive would have wanted that.
 
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Because people have more of a problem with having a kid be stuck in an eternal loop of not growing up despite the fact his character is clearly meant to grow up.
You know, if Ash is just a marketing tool rather than a character, why not make a new incarnation of Ash and change his gender?

You'll hit two Pidgey with one Geodude. Win-Win. That is if Ashley Ketchum can win the League this time.
It would be nice if Ash won the Kalos League, and next series features Moon as our new main protagonist competing for the Alola League.
Spot the pattern.
Not everything needs to be all gender equal or whatever.
:sick:
I do appreciate your post as it has a point but I would like to see some proof of the bold. Did the writers actually express they had such detrimental intention?
Not exactly on this matter, but it's not an unreasonable hypothesis based on what we know about the show makers' attitudes towards the main females and Serena's own motivations.

Exhibit A: Masamitsu Hidaka's interview with Pokebeach.
So then I said, “Why can’t you just ditch Brock, have Ash, have Misty, and then bring in a new boy? That would be switching up things instead of having a new girl.” His following answers made me laugh my head off I had to pick it up off the floor and reattach it. He stated that they like to switch up the girls because it gives the boys some new eye candy every once in a while. He also said girls are more customizable and you can change their outfits, like when they are in their bathing suits (yes, he specifically said that). He also said Ken Sugimori designs a new girl with each generation and that gives them another excuse to switch the girl, though I reminded him that there is also a new boy with each generation too, and it wouldn’t hurt to use them.
Exhibit B: Serena's parting words to Satoshi.
You are my goal, and until we meet again, I'm going to become a much more attractive woman.
Serena is aware of what being a trainer is and how battling is done yet she chose the path to be a performer/actress. She chose not to be a professional battler and instead chose to be a professional performer. She made her decision herself. She made her career choice with what she loved to do.
Really, this thread is not about Serena's goal and let her choose who she wants to be.
Serena is not a real person with independent decision making faculty. Can we please stop confusing real life decisions (made by show executives) with made-up decisions in a story? No one is accusing "Serena" of anything here, because "she" doesn't exist!!
 

Shadao

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I do wonder how long will it be before the thread goes off-topic again. There's nothing much else to say, especially with no League in sight.
 

SinnohEevee

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1. It should have been clear that the show is sexist with XY. Pokémon Performances were only for girls.

2. What's worse is that if the show brings up a female League winner, they will hand her poorly. They will make it clear she will be in the League only to make Ash lose.
 

kantoskies

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I do appreciate your post as it has a point but I would like to see some proof of the bold. Did the writers actually express they had such detrimental intention?
Even if they didn't sit down and explicitly decide they wanted to contribute to harmful stereotypes, every decision they made with Serena was a conscious one. Barely ever battles? One of her like 2 storylines is her crush on Ash? Performances are female-exclusive? Then there's the fact that the writers sat down and wrote the words "After all, girls should always attend to their appearance and make themselves cute" and "My goal is to become a much more attractive woman for you".

So do I have any actual, concrete proof that the writers decided to make Serena this way? Technically no, but looking at their work speaks for itself.

Girls can and should be able to do stuff in the same way that boys can - that I agree.

BUT they shouldn't be forced to do stuff if it's not what they want. Forcing an aspiring fashion designer girl into a basketball court and locking up the doors until she becomes an NBA basketball player is not the way gender equality should be achieved! That's basically reverse stereotyping. If they're aware of what they can and want to do, then let them pick their way, not shove things on their face or tell them seemingly feminine careers are the wrong life choices. No one has any right to say about how one makes independent choices on what they like and care about. Serena is aware of what being a trainer is and how battling is done yet she chose the path to be a performer/actress. She chose not to be a professional battler and instead chose to be a professional performer. She made her decision herself. She made her career choice with what she loved to do.

I'll stop bringing up this issue here since I'm getting way off-topic from what the thread is supposed to be about.
If we're talking about a real life person who makes their own decisions, I agree 100% I hate when straw feminists try to force a girl into a hobby she clearly doesn't enjoy, which completely goes against the rules of feminism. But as has been said countless times, Serena is not real. She's not a 10 year old girl who decided to partake in Performances. Any real little girl who wants to pursue a feminine pastime should. As has been said multiple times in this thread, Serena is the culmination of numerous adult production staff members (many of which are male) picking and choosing what she should be. And if there were multiple important female characters in the show who had a range of hobbies and goals, there would be nothing wrong with Serena. But the fact that she was created to continue a trend that has been seen in this show and countless others by perpetuating harmful stereotypes is a problem.

Though I do agree this is starting to get off-topic wrt the league, maybe this thread could be re-purposed into a general "gender representation in Pokemon" one?
 

Shadao

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Though I do agree this is starting to get off-topic wrt the league, maybe this thread could be re-purposed into a general "gender representation in Pokemon" one?
I second the notion. The debate about having a female League tournament victor has just devolved over the same old argument over Pokémon Performances and Serena (again)...

There's nothing else going for it other than whether or not people are willingly to put up with another League tournament and have Ash lose instead of win.
 

SinnohEevee

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Ash isn't going to win anytime soon. There's no way he will win in SM neither in the next series. So while they are make Ash lose over and over (which the executives are dead set in doing), they may use this opportunity to get a female victor.
 

Shadao

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Ash isn't going to win anytime soon. There's no way he will win in SM neither in the next series. So while they are make Ash lose over and over (which the executives are dead set in doing), they may use this opportunity to get a female victor.
And as a result, the "progressive" female League champion would anticlimactically amount to nothing. A hollow gesture to a bigger issue. Because in the end, she is not main protagonist of the League format, Ash is. That's why I saw no purpose in making Astrid the Kalos League victor. She didn't have any character build up and is at best a glorified cameo that references a movie. If she won, it's a half-hearted step.

Now you might say that if the female League challenger was introduced early and had proper development, it may be significantly different. I agree, but at this point, why would anyone care about the League anymore? You need the feeling that Ash may win for once, just as much you need the villains to be on the verge of success to maintain audience attention. Without that, no one gives two cents about the League. And much of the hype has been used up for the Kalos League, a League that is nearly impossible to top. The producers better learn from the last League, because that will haunt them just as much as the new Mewtwo.
 

SinnohEevee

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And as a result, the "progressive" female League champion would anticlimactically amount to nothing. A hollow gesture to a bigger issue. Because in the end, she is not main protagonist of the League format, Ash is. That's why I saw no purpose in making Astrid the Kalos League victor. She didn't have any character build up and is at best a glorified cameo that references a movie. If she won, it's a half-hearted step.

Now you might say that if the female League challenger was introduced early and had proper development, it may be significantly different. I agree, but at this point, why would anyone care about the League anymore? You need the feeling that Ash may win for once, just as much you need the villains to be on the verge of success to maintain audience attention. Without that, no one gives two cents about the League. And much of the hype has been used up for the Kalos League, a League that is nearly impossible to top. The producers better learn from the last League, because that will haunt them just as much as the new Mewtwo.
Members of their target audience are always changing, so they won't see a new to care. They can make Ash lose for 20 more years.
 

Shadao

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Members of their target audience are always changing, so they won't see a new to care. They can make Ash lose for 20 more years.
Oh that would be the case... if it weren't for the fact that a few channels broadcast and even talked about the previous shows. Such as the April 1st special. As well as the new 20th movie. Don't know about you, but if you remind the audience of older episodes and shows, getting away with League losing starts to shrink quite drastically.

Going back on a League female victor, I still find it to be a hollow gesture. A half a step if you will. Now if we can expand the topic to Ash getting a female reoccurring rival competing for the League... that's a step in the right direction.
 

SinnohEevee

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Oh that would be the case... if it weren't for the fact that a few channels broadcast and even talked about the previous shows. Such as the April 1st special. As well as the new 20th movie. Don't know about you, but if you remind the audience of older episodes and shows, getting away with League losing starts to shrink quite drastically.

Going back on a League female victor, I still find it to be a hollow gesture. A half a step if you will. Now if we can expand the topic to Ash getting a female reoccurring rival competing for the League... that's a step in the right direction.
I wish we could see Cynthia when she won the League. :p
She's one of my favourite characters.
 

Kyriaki

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Whoever beats Ash to take the league trophy in the future is going to be the subject of bitter hatred and kicked around for "being OP" and "promo-buffed" regardless of gender. Sweeping with a one-of-a-kind legendary pokemon (Darkrai)? Check. Eeveelution advertising for the sake of advertising? Check. Mega freaking Charizard? Check. If SM has a league I have a feeling the final winner is going to own either the Water Tapu or Celesteela and slaughter Ash's team mercilessly and demote him to 8th place or something. Whether that character is female or male, I don't think that's going to result in anything positive... Fans wanted Ash to win for years and they still want Ash to win even though it is hopeless.
 
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Well, it looks like that from the games of SM then the SM will not take more than 80 episodes, to 100 episodes, and so for this reason then I have feeling that that's it, this season is the final, even if I want that they do my pokemon season story
 
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Likeitornot.

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Yes, I feel the approach to Ash Ketchum's string of losses rather distracts from the real purpose of this thread and does not act as a sufficient reason to exclude a female victor. Firstly, not everyone is concerned about the possibility of Ash winning a League, and while I accept that his quest to collect the gym badges in order to qualify for a league he hopes to win has been the storyline of the past few seasons, it isn't the overall premise of the series - which is to become a Pokemon Master. Not everyone minds Ash Ketchum losing another League as not everyone regards it as a failure, or something hopeless.

There is the suggestion that it does not matter who defeats Ash, as whoever will curb his path to victory will certainly be disliked by the fans. Firstly, I will disagree on that in three points: 1) as mentioned above, not everyone is thoroughly disappointed with a League loss, 2) some fans would actually be rather pleased that there is female representation in the Pokemon league winners, see: this thread, 3) which fans are we discussing - the fandom on the internet which tends not be the target audience of the anime in the first place, or the target audience? As I would feel that many young girls would be appreciative of seeing representation of a female winner and it would benefit boys as well to see girls on an equal footing in the various fields.

Also, if Ash Ketchum's league loss is inevitable - then why not have him just lose to female victor for once; I personally would be grateful for the representation.
 

SinnohEevee

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Yes, I feel the approach to Ash Ketchum's string of losses rather distracts from the real purpose of this thread and does not act as a sufficient reason to exclude a female victor. Firstly, not everyone is concerned about the possibility of Ash winning a League, and while I accept that his quest to collect the gym badges in order to qualify for a league he hopes to win has been the storyline of the past few seasons, it isn't the overall premise of the series - which is to become a Pokemon Master. Not everyone minds Ash Ketchum losing another League as not everyone regards it as a failure, or something hopeless.

There is the suggestion that it does not matter who defeats Ash, as whoever will curb his path to victory will certainly be disliked by the fans. Firstly, I will disagree on that in three points: 1) as mentioned above, not everyone is thoroughly disappointed with a League loss, 2) some fans would actually be rather pleased that there is female representation in the Pokemon league winners, see: this thread, 3) which fans are we discussing - the fandom on the internet which tends not be the target audience of the anime in the first place, or the target audience? As I would feel that many young girls would be appreciative of seeing representation of a female winner and it would benefit boys as well to see girls on an equal footing in the various fields.

Also, if Ash Ketchum's league loss is inevitable - then why not have him just lose to female victor for once; I personally would be grateful for the representation.
The story is about him becoming a Pokémon Master, yes, and this requires him to become Champion.
 

Likeitornot.

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The story is about him becoming a Pokémon Master, yes, and this requires him to become Champion.
That's true - but that isn't the sole requirement. There are several other potential requirements to becoming a Pokemon Master we do not know of at this conjuncture. I can understand people's frustrations at him not completing a step towards this very elusive goal, but my point is that not everyone who watches the series feels a sense of disappointment towards Ash's loss or resentment towards the subsequent winner of the league, and these people might appreciate the female representation.
 
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