Ahead of the Curve: Scifi and the Effortless White Woman

Effortless white women. Where have I been? This has been a thing for over ten years now. I was late to the party, but the resentment against that zeitgeist bubbles forth like a Hawiian volcano, and so it came to my attention. The happy news about this stale trope in our boring dystopia is that scifi has been ahead of the curve when it comes to this self-destructive mindset.

Who or what is an ‘effortless white girl?’ The Medium article explains: “a feminine ideal that has been part of women’s media ever since second-wave feminism made it taboo to publish articles about decorating to please your husband: The Effortless White Woman.”

Ellen Ripley, after someone asked her to make a sammich

As bad as that is, it gets worse: “This seemingly leaves women stuck in the familiar, dreary bind always created by internalized misogyny: hating ourselves, and hating other women because they remind us of how mu ch we hate ourselves, with only a few callous opportunists getting out ahead. But the anger under the Effortless White Woman has, of late, been transforming into something potentially illuminating—not deferred self-loathing, but an actual recognition of injustice.”

All that bad mojo aside, the good news is that scifi was, is, and will always be on the right side of history when it comes to the Effortless White Woman. We’ve never had much use for anyone, regardless of their gender, who does not understand the value of struggle.

Think of our favorite female heroes: Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, River Tam, Trinity. Do we admire them for their effortlessness, or do we admire them because of their strength and their resilience?

I Am Woman: Hear Me Blast a Stormtrooper

Oddly enough, Gwenth Paltrow is at the center of this Effortless White Woman discussion and yet I only know her because I love her as Pepper Potts in Iron Man. Her Pepper Potts is hardly effortless. On the contrary, she’s a strong, determined person, capable of reigning in the mad genius of Tony Stark.

If I were to think of an EWW in the Scifi or Fantasy world, it would be the Childlike Empress in Neverending Story. Sure enough, she was the Ivory Tower girl come to life, waiting to be rescued by Atreyu. Do you even remember her? I had to google her name (Tami Stronach). That’s how little the character mattered to me.

So to wrap up – perhaps the answer to this social issue is not so much extrinsic (“Everyone should stop idolizing the Effortless White Woman”) as much as it is intrinsic (“My value comes from inside, not from a product I buy, and if you can’t understand that then maybe you need a time-out.”).

Just a thought. Just me. Please don’t be angry if I’m missing an important issue. Reach out to me on Twitter or Reddit – I’d like to learn.

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