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Mother's Day Special: 'Bionicle: A Story of Female Oppression

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#1 Offline Cupcake Tyrant Dar

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:21 PM

QUICK EDIT: Apologies, the title has cut off, the full title is viewable in the URL bar. Else, this post is entitled 'Mother's Day Special: Bionicle: a Story of Female Oppression and Male Vulnerability?'



The following conclusions do not in any way reflect my own thoughts towards gender equality etc. but is rather an interpretation of Bionicle's storyline, and what I believe it stands for. For the record, I find equality swaggy.


Not too long ago, I was reading a thread which covered Lewa’s many instances of misfortune (all of those mind control mishaps,). Not long after, I was chatting with some friends about how another female member of the original Mata team would’ve been interesting to see.


I suddenly had an epiphany. What I realised was… jarring, to say the least.


It seems that directed misfortune does not only befall Lewa but a large proportion of the male Bionicle cast. Let’s look at some precedents:

  • Lewa having his mind taken over (by infected kanohi, krana and Tren Krom.)
  • Tahu becoming corrupted by the one of the Rhakshi’s oozings in the Mask of Light movie.
  • Onewa, Whenu and Nuju (and I suppose you could count Lhikan,) being apprehended by Nidhiki and Krekka in the Legends of Metru Nui movie.


Where does such a scenario happen where it is a female character being controlled? Is it because the authors think it is too exploitative to have a female character be subjected to another’s control, or because the authors are making a point that those male characters are weak and susceptible to mind control? Something else? It seems to me that Bionicle, in this way, is quite sexist.


The all too convenient immunity to mind control is just one thing I’ve noticed. A study of the vortixx shows they are a matriarchal society, generally draconian or villainous:


  • The dynamic between Sidorak and Roodaka in the Web of Shadows movie; her scheming and plotting effectively leaves Sidorak as a pawn in her power plays. The movie seems to imply that Roodaka is the real power behind Sidorak.
  • Adding to the above, we should note that the island of Xia in the MU is the worst kind of matriarchy – a nation which enslaves its males and forces them into dangerous, taxing labour.


Additionally, in the Toa empire parallel world, it is again a female character (Toa Tuyet,) in command, exercising an equally as draconian rule. The character of Annona, who is considered female, is another example of a woman in the Bionicle universe with 'dangerous' power (she was the source of the Iron Tribe's 'Dreaming Plague' on Bara Magna). She has a relationship with the female skrall collective, who intended to slay their male counterparts after meeting the being Angonce. Is this just another layer to the idea that female collectives inevitably turn against the opposite sex? It is likely that this motivation arose out of the male skrall collective's decision to abandon the sisters - but what prompted that? A fear of the power that the females exclusively held?


When compiling all of these notions, it seems to me that a major thread running Bionicle is female empowerment. However, these presentations are often far from flattering and if anything, portray women as being manipulative or only too eager to take advantage of any power they have to a malevolent end – typically that of male subjugation. In fairness, the above examples typically show this as a result of when females are gathered in a group - the likes of Gali, Helryx and so on are considered 'good' because they are part of largely male institutions.


Insults are not just directed at one sex as males are portrayed as being weak minded fellows who aren’t robust enough to resist their would be female oppressors.


Does Bionicle promote ideas of underground, exploitative matriarchies? Does it deny the equal opportunity for females to be subjected to the same risks of combat as male counterparts? Is the universal gender critique (as I’ve observed it,) simply a nihilistic statement on society?


Let’s hear your thoughts on this serious subject.


(apologies for any conceited/contrived language or sentences, my writing style is much too turgid)

Edited by Darney Calhoun, May 11 2014 - 12:23 PM.

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#2 Offline MT Zehvor

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:24 PM

This is...staggering.


You've uncovered the real truth behind Bionicle. Props to you, good sir.


I can't believe this was really the point behind it all along.



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#3 Online Brooklyn Pace-Carlisle

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:43 PM

for the love of



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#4 Offline Palm

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:45 PM





Edit: Please link to images over 500 kB.


Edited by -Windrider-, May 11 2014 - 01:39 PM.

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#5 Offline Arc

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:45 PM

i can't believe this


you cannot be serious

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#6 Offline Princess Anna of Arendelle

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:53 PM







Edit: Please link to images over 500 kB.


Edited by -Windrider-, May 11 2014 - 01:39 PM.

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#7 Offline Octodad

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Posted May 11 2014 - 12:53 PM

I'm not going to humor you too much on this, just point out that Roodaka is a character cliche called the femme fatale (that's foreign for "fatal woman"), a female character who uses her ~feminine wiles~ to get what she wants. She's not really a "strong matriarch" of any sort; just a pair of boobs with a flimsy plan, made to uphold gender stereotypes while seeming like a strong woman.

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#8 Offline Willy Brandt

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:04 PM



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#9 Offline Sumiki

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:09 PM


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#10 Online Geardirector

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:15 PM

This isn't what I needed on a Sunday Evening.

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#11 Offline Kilgore Trout

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:19 PM



i'd give you points for effort, but



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#12 Offline Octodad

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:23 PM

okay here's another response just in case anyone seems to be missing it here



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#13 Online Geardirector

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:35 PM



Edited by Gyro Gearloose, May 11 2014 - 01:37 PM.

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#14 Online Yaldabaoth

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:37 PM

Hey, she/he has half a point, you know. Knee-jerk reactions of "No" and "BIONICLE can't be sexist, honestly everyone who says that should just go home" aren't going to help anyone.


BIONICLE didn't handle its female characters well, no. For the most part, this is because it didn't have many female characters. When you only have a meager few female characters, it's very easy for people like Calhoun* here to see them as representative of all females. BIONICLE could have gotten away with only a few female characters if each was written as a unique individual, but most of them weren't (with the exception of Krahka -- she's awesome).


Calhoun has stumbled across a pattern that does exist: that of several female characters with authority being very domineering and oppressive. I don't think this is indicative of a nebulous "fear of women in power" among the writers, though. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a clumsy attempt to "empower" the few female characters who did exist. However, Greg missed the point that empowerment of female characters doesn't mean literally giving them authority and superpowers, it just means breaking away from stereotypes and writing females to be actual characters. (As for Annona, I think Greg decided that he should make her female just to "balance" the gender ratio. Note that Sahmad's Tale never refers to her with feminine pronouns -- we only got that information from asking Greg himself.)


I'm aware this is probably "bait" -- it seems to be laying it on a bit thick at the end -- but there's still a glimmer of truth in there. Perhaps BIONICLE wasn't "sexist", but it didn't do female characters well. That's something we have to accept, as painful as it might be. If we all settle for the BIONICLE standard of female characters, neither will society.


*Wait, seriously? Calhoun? Who the heck would use the name of such a nasty guy?

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#15 Offline -Windrider-

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Posted May 11 2014 - 01:37 PM

I'm not about this life.

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