Women Are Delicate

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

An Omnipresent Trope Super-Trope which can be assumed to exist in every form of media unless otherwise stated. In most forms of human society, the assumption is that women are the more delicate of the sexes or are more suited for nurturing than the more active roles undertaken by males of the species. Women tend to be physically smaller than men, possess less musculature, and estrogen (the key hormone that separates women from their opposites) tends to build physical attributes better geared toward nurturing. All of these things, and many others besides, have created the assumption that women are less "hardy" than men.

Nearly every form of media plays around with this in some way. There are some tropes (for example Stay in the Kitchen) which stereotype it while other tropes (such as Action Girl) outright subvert or avert it intentionally. From there, the combinations tend to get tricky. Some tropes treat it ironically (Waif Fu) while others such as Vasquez Always Dies reinforce it by having the stronger of two female characters be the disposable one.

In modern day culture, it is nigh-impossible to not have some sort of variation of this trope. Only in some hypothetical, idealistically gender-neutral civilization would that be possible, and that does not describe the world as it exists today. Even if unintended by the author, the audience will take whatever tropes used and add meaning to them. A girl who puts up a fight alongside her male colleagues will still be considered an "aversion" of this trope while a girl who appears meek and physically lacking will be a straight example.

And lastly, note that the word we chose to define this trope is "delicate". That word is not just about the woman's physical or emotional toughness. Delicate also means "careful, deliberate, thorough", which are also qualities women are stereotyped with such as with Women Are Wiser and Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication. Delicate is the best word which summed up everything this trope is about. Please keep that in mind when adding/editing the subtropes.

No Examples Please. This page should be used as nothing except a listing of tropes which play with this in some way.

Associated tropes

Played Straight

Aversions and subversions

  • Action Girl: She isn't delicate at all, and can kick as much ass (or more) as some men.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Not only is she not shy or protective of her virginity or sexuality, but she seemingly can't get enough sex.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: A woman lifts someone or something equal or greater to her body weight to show just how abnormally Badass she is.
  • Gender Is No Object: A true aversion of this trope. Even with that, however, any gender role variations will appear somewhere else on this list.
  • Fundamentally Female Cast: For some reason, there are next to no men in this setting. Women do everything, including the things they probably couldn't, wouldn't, or shouldn't in Real Life.
  • Ladette: This type of woman enjoys many of the same boorish, vulgar, and physical activities as men.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: The older, more worldly woman is the superior towards her younger, male assistant.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Because we automatically assume this trope, situations where it's the opposite (such as in other species, both real and fictional) are quaint and fascinating.
  • No Woman's Land: Where home sweet home is progressive toward gender equality, but every other place imaginable outright enforces this trope with sociopathic fervor.
  • Plucky Girl: No one would fault her if she became broken, but she refuses to let that happen.
  • Real Women Never Wear Dresses: The trope that tries to defy this trope by going in the opposite extreme.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome Fifties Girl: Where this trope is ultimately subverted, showing that the woman is not delicate at all despite all appearances.
  • Tomboy: When "delicacy" just isn't practical. Traditionally, any girl who likes any sort of job or activity attributed to men is considered a tomboy.
    • Biker Babe: Motorcycles tend to be seen as a symbol of the phallus and masculinity, so a woman riding one tends to invoke Fetish Fuel.
    • Butch Lesbian: A tomboyish homosexual woman who eschews many delicate characteristics; often considered the "man" in a lesbian relationship with a more feminine partner.
    • Lesbian Cop: Since being a cop is "man's work", the woman is thus as man-like as could be.
    • Lesbian Jock: The same as above, but with sports.
    • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: She's more butch than her boyfriend.
    • Outdoorsy Gal: She'll probably be outside getting dirty before the boys.
    • Wrench Wench: Mechanics is sometimes a dirty, heavy business. But she can hang with the best of them.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: Being stronger than her man is her fetish.

Zig-zagged (neither plays it straight nor averts it)

  • Affirmative Action Girl: Deliberately subverts this trope, but only because it was played straight originally.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: She has the power to destroy the world, and more often than not, it's up to a male protagonist to prevent that from happening.
  • Apron Matron: She's in charge of the little ones, but she uses more vinegar than honey (and sometimes flat out violence) to take care of them.
  • Badass Damsel: Yeah, she's delicate enough to get in trouble, but she's also Badass enough to get herself out.
  • Action Mom
    • Mama Bear: She may be a very delicate and sensitive at heart, but God help you if you mess with her kids.
    • Monster Is a Mommy: When you find out a badass, terrifying monsters is mostly badass and terrifying because you messed with the aforementioned kids.
  • The Baroness: Typically the female militant sidekick of the Big Bad. Variations can fit anywhere between sexy and feminine or butch and unattractive.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl/Dojikko: She's considered to be "atypical" of most girls because she's more accident-prone, which in turn makes her seem MORE delicate.
  • Dominatrix: A woman who dominates men for the erotic satisfaction.
  • Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male): Because men have been portrayed as the stronger, more dominant sex, this trope is usually Played for Laughs because the role-reversal is ironic.
  • Girls Need Role Models: In order to avert or subvert this trope, Media Watchdogs and The Powers That Be insert strong feminine characters into a story to act as role models, leading to any of the many tropes on this list.
  • Good Bad Girl: Good girls don't do the things she does, but she's the exception to the rule.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: A girl is unusually huge for her gender, and thus is self-conscious about her size.
  • Is This What Anger Feels Like?: The Pollyanna has just felt anger for the first time.
  • Lady Land/Matriarchy: This could fall anywhere on the scale, depending on the writer's own discretions. There is no way to write such a place without producing some sort of accidental theme or Aesop about gender in general.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: She's either an innocent, virginal flower or a total, shameless slut. There is no in-between.
  • Magical Girl: This genre of Anime zig-zags on the type of heroine which fits the style. In the 70s, Tomboy heroines began making an appearance specifically to avert this trope. The Magical Girl Warrior subgenre was then created to create a more combat-oriented version of this genre.
  • Magical Girlfriend: She's more powerful than her boyfriend, but is usually still subsservient to him.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Her sassy and lively nature is her best asset to nurture and inspire her brooding and lonely boyfriend.
  • Mother Nature: Can be ferocious and deadly, but at the same time, takes care of her "children" (namely all living things).
  • Muscle Angst: Women are not "supposed" to be muscular, so being an outlier tends to result in a lot of teasing and angsting.
  • Pregnant Badass: Pregnant women are even more delicate than normal, which makes a woman who can be Badass in that condition extremely exceptional.
  • Psycho Lesbian: An antiquated (but still persistent) attitude that any woman who doesn't like men has something wrong with her.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: Getting our strong, successful woman out of the way so we can make way for the much more interesting male lead.
  • The Red Sonja: She's a Badass Action Girl, but she will only be courted by a man who can conquer her.
  • Sassy Black Woman: A result of both racial stereotypes and aggressive feminism. More often than not, she is juxtaposed with women of other races and cultures to show how much more assertive, confident, and "real" she is.
  • Sexist Used Car Salesman: Either played straight to demonstrate how clueless women are about anything outside of their "scope" or used to demonstrate the exact opposite.
  • Statuesque Stunner
  • The Unfair Sex: Women are held to a different standard than men for arbitrary things. Most often, this trope is the reason why, even if it's inconsequential.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: She would normally be more delicate, but she's in charge, and can't afford to show weakness.
  • The Fake Cutie