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Suspension of Disbelief Is for Superheros, Not Women

The Flash literally dodges lightning, catches bullets, escapes thermal nuclear blasts on a regular basis, yet in a recent episode (#117 Tricksters) a normal every day human (ok, he's also a terrorist) walks up to Flash and slaps a bomb on his wrist. That's fairly silly compared to the prior list of feats mentioned. But at the end of the day it is just more entertaining to see the Flash do some miraculous stunt of super powered shenanigans to remove that bomb than it would if he instantly won every fight in the first couple minutes by rushing the villain right into a jail cell. And that's OK. The real problem is that while the writers can take liberties with farcical things like super-powers they also seem to think the same liberties can be taken with half of the female characters on the show... which is one. Fifty percent of the female cast is one person. Iris West.

Guest stars and occasional recuring character's notwithstanding, Candice Patton is 50% of the females in the principle cast as Iris West. What are Iris' strengths? Weaknesses? Goals? Motives? Who knows? She's said she wants to be a reporter, though the exact reasons are poorly specified. It's mentioned more as an aside - and the only pay-off of this persuit for the veiwers comes from a male co-worker of her's at the newspaper that for some reason hired her. Or I should say, the paper specifically hired to write about the Flash, but it's something she never seems to be doing. And in the latest episode (#118 All-Star Team-Up) the writers have even pointed this out - as a joke! That's right, Iris is such a bad character that the writers of the show have written in jokes about it! And not just one, but two! The second joke took aim at the other terrible conceit of the Iris West character - literally the entire principle cast other than her are aware of the Flash's true identity. The reason no one tells her is to "protect her". Protection that apparently doesn't apply to anyone else who know's that Barry Allen is the Flash, even Danielle Panabaker who plays biologist Caitlin Snow, the show's other female cast member.


Why is this a problem in a world of people who can run as fast as lightning? Because it creates inconsistency that sticks out. Badly. To the point that there are now in-continuity jokes about it. There's no diriving motivation to the character. She's simply a prop in the way Trickster's "speedomete bomb" is. It is integiral to him being a threat, sure - but offers little more than a gimmick. She's the constant "dangling above the pit laser-sharks" damsel. Or the "tied to the train tracks while the villain twirls his dastardly mustache" damsel. In a show where nearly everyone else in the main cast is a competent or somewhat layered character who are risking their (or threatening others') lives to solve problems - Iris is demoted to "that thing we need to protect". She's there to create forced drama by becoming whatever hazard the plot needs. An unrequited love, a jilted lover, something to keep safe, a jealous friend who sabotages relationships - All tired tropes that are typically boild down for a quick fix in story telling that when executed poorly subsequently treats females as objects. Iris is an unitentional embodiement of the objectification of women.

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