Tweet of the Day: Empathetic Characters
This trope appears to be straight forward on the surface: a woman or women serving as bodyguards for a third party. But a closer inspection brings three aspects to the forefront:
- Gender dynamics
- Power dynamics
- Trust issues
Gender dynamics are the most obvious ones. This type of work that requires several things, including an imposing demeanor (to deter possible attackers), strength (to either outfight or muscle the charge out of danger), and combat prowess. All of these are associated with men. A female bodyguard may (or not) rely on not being noticed by a possible attacker does allowing her to react when others would be under fire. Speed might substitute or complement her strength. Modern bodyguards have the advantage of using firearms which are easier to handle and disguise. Anyone with the right training and aptitude can fire a gun.
Power dynamics come into play when you look at the, “babes,” part of the trope. A man may choose to surround himself with female bodyguards that show, a) his sexual prowess since one or more of the women double as lovers/concubines/courtesans and b) that he is so powerful that he can command the strongest women available this making a not so subtle comment on the power of his enemies. But with this trope also comes the third aspect linked to trust. Perhaps the man in question believes that he can bind the women through love/affection/sexual prowess, or that women have a maternal instinct to protect that overrides their ambition to rule (thus tempted to take power unto themselves), or the person protected is a woman who feels more comfortable in the presence of females than males who she views are power hungry or simply untrustworthy. This last one may fall into a form of Author’s Appeal if not an Author’s Tract when it comes to the gender roles in society as reflected in their worlds.