How does this sound:
When women disqualify a man, they feel as if they’ve increased their own value. This is what women get out of the “badass babe” nonsense: It’s a fantasy of disqualifying men.
The Last Psychiatrist got very close to this in his piece about The Hunger Games:
What makes her a badass is that men underestimate her. If you don’t believe me, what scene did you pick? The same one the audience did, the one that made them cheer the loudest, “wwoooooooohhhh!!!!!!”
There’s a banquet and the contestants have to show off their skills, but the overlords are eating a roast pig and bored with Katniss (because she misses a target) so Katniss turns her arrow towards them and shoots an apple. Katniss says, “you better recognize, mothafuckas!”, flashes a gang sign, and the audience swoons. That’s when she’s a badass. Yes, she was wonderful in the Games, I’m sure, but what got your adrenaline going, what made her a badass, is showing off her abilities — to men. That’s why more than half of this movie takes place before the Games — it’s all about showing what you can do, showing your capabilities. Badass = showing she can compete on a male level.
In the actual Games, Katniss is continuously saved by men — Haymitch, Peeta, Peeta again, Thresh — but you don’t notice that she saves no one, including herself, you think she saves herself all the time. You think this because of the first half of the movie told you she’s a badass, so you don’t realize that during the second half she shows less agency than Princess Jasmine.
Her skill at archery doesn’t win her any status by letting her take the lead on archery issues. She doesn’t use it to contribute materially to the group. The skill adds to her status by allowing her to realize a narcissistic fantasy of displaying herself in front of an audience of men as an unattainable female (which in her mind translates to highly desirable). It promotes her out of the need to contribute anything to the group at all. It promotes her to Princess by rendering all the local men undesirable to her, and so naturally they orbit and sacrifice themselves for her.
Of course it’s men who do the actual work of saving her! That’s what “badass” means. To a girl.
A side point here is that when Katniss disqualifies men, she’s not unambiguously making herself more desirable. The chip on her shoulder may make her an interesting challenge to an alpha who figures he can bring her to heel for a pump’n’dump, but it makes her a poor long-term prospect. Women only see the first half of that tradeoff, and they’ve hamstered themselves out of knowing just how hot a “challenging” girl has to be for the challenge to interest the alpha.
Manosphere men tend to focus on “poor long-term prospect” and forget that women — at least the hot ones — may have sound genetic reasons for trying to attract five minutes of alpha attention that way.
OK, let’s try to prove ourselves wrong. Anecdote, or data? Any counterexamples? Let’s nominate Resident Evil and the Iron Man franchise.
TLP compares the Katniss character to that unspeakably hot chick in the Resident Evil flicks. Katniss struck a chord with women and spawned goofy chick-journo lifestyle articles; Resident Evil girl never did. Scarlett Johansson in the Iron Man movies doesn’t. R.E.G. and ScoJo’s character are a different archetype: They’re actual killing machines. They’re not Disney princesses who win their “badass” bones by social interaction with men. Those characters have virtually no internal life. They appeal to males, not women. They represent a completely unrelated fantasy. God only knows what that one is about, but it can’t be anything good.