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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Shiny

Meet Windblade, A Female Character Joining the Transformers Comic Canon


It all started innocently enough. Hasbro, who owns the Transformers license, held a fan-build bot poll in 2013 in anticipation of Transformer’s 30th anniversary in 2014. The final chosen bot got a 4 book comic run and its own toy, all chosen by the fans for the fans. Thus was Windblade born, but with just one problem…

Windblade is a female bot.

Ok, so that’s not actually a problem. Unless, well, unless you have a problem with women, in which case there may be an internet shitstorm of embarrassing proportions. Which, much to no one’s surprise here I’d imagine, was exactly what we got. There were cries of unnecessary gender politics, because aren’t Transformers gender neutral? They’re robots after all. They don’t have sex (copious fanfic notwithstanding), they don’t need sexes. They are forged or constructed cold, whole. There are no baby Transformers, because Transformers don’t make babies, so why should Windblade be female just because it was a popular option on some fan poll?

If you could see the face I’m making right now. But you cannot, so let me use my words to elaborate. Transformers are effectively male. They do not have genitals or chromosomes or physical characteristics of men, but gender is often only tangentially related to your actual bits. Transformers who are not specifically female Transformers behave in ways our society reads as inherently male.  So arguing that a female Transformer doesn’t make sense because Transformers don’t have gender ends like this (courtesy Shortpacked!):

Personally, I’m super excited for both the Windblade comics and the new toy, and will be buying the crap out of both. Not just to make some grand sweeping statement about how women belong in Transformers as much as anyone (which, given it was a fan poll that made her female in the first place, seems like it should be obvious that we’re already here), but because I want to see more of myself in the Transformers fandom. I love Optimus Prime like a gentle but stern father, love Bumblebee like a sweet little brother, but I want to see more characters that I love because in them I see myself. Representation matters.

If you want more information on Windblade, the wiki remains frustratingly sparse, but the writer of the comics, Mairghread Scott, did take the time to answer some questions here. If you want a little clarification on Ms. Scott’s position on female Transformers in general, she did write a few comments about Arcee’s canonical origin in the IDW Transformers comics (the version of Transformers canon in which Windblade will be introduced), which may give you a clear idea of how she handles gender with regards to Transformers. Her answer naturally engendered a shitstorm of their own, but one that is, again, somewhat embarrassing to read through.

And stay tuned into the Mary Sue as well, because we have an interview with Scott herself about the upcoming Windblade comic!

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  • Davonne Burns

    The comic does address a core issue with the terminology. What do you call genderless robots when they happen to ‘look’ female? Personally, I find the whole issue asinine. I love the design and think ‘she’ will be a kickass addition along with the other already canon ‘female’ bots. For the tl;dr version of my thoughts, here is a blog post: http://sorrows-fall.com/2013/02/12/im-not-male-im-not-female-i-am-me/

  • Samuel

    Aw jeeze, another jet-bot, I hate the jet bots, they never stick around for a fight, they just show up at the last second to glory-hog-save-the-day after most of the fighting has been done. Jetfire, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Silverbolt, etc… All losers who fly off and fight their own little “dog-fight” and never contribute to the actual course of battle.

  • Samuel

    Aw jeeze, another jet-bot, I hate the jet bots, they never stick around for a fight, they just show up at the last second to glory-hog-save-the-day after most of the fighting has been done. Jetfire, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Silverbolt, etc… All losers who fly off and fight their own little “dog-fight” and never contribute to the actual course of battle.

  • PurpleWillow

    When I was a kid I used to pretend that certain transformers were female to balance things out, so I’m really looking forward to Windblade’s comics. While gender technically should’t matter to a bunch of robots, it sure did matter to eight year old PurpleWillow when all of them were voiced by men and refered to as ‘he’.

  • Anonymous

    In the ‘Covenant of Primus’ they kind of tried to explain the ‘gender’ of the Transformers, by describing it as ‘we saw other planets had gender so we kind of tried to do the same, because reasons.’ (bad summery) and that the disparity of gender (while humans are 1:1) they are 1:12. Which seems like bullshit to me, like they are trying too hard to make up excuses for their ‘boys club’. By saying they are ‘gender-less’ but continue to use male pronouns when referring to themselves, it kind of negates the whole idea of ‘gender-less-ness’.

    If they where gender-less they would be Neuchacho. (futurama reference)

  • locuas

    Poor Arcee, no one remembers that she exists…
    Now seriously, female transformers are not something new. they have been since the first movie(yes, the one with a number of on-screen death that make it look like an episode of Game of Thrones) and have been in plenty of series in the franchise. Animated, Transformers Prime, the live-action movies(who did not have any lines, which means they were saved from the fate of being in the live-action movies…).
    Second, yes, if he was called a “male” transformer, people would have jumped to arms. as they would have if they had say “gender neutral”. or if they just have presented the new characters and had said nothing. that is the beautiful thing about the transformers fandom. the slightest news always lead to fan outrage.
    (and no, i am not ocunting the female transformers from Beast wars. those are transformers fro the far future of cybertron, after they had been exposed to the humans, so you can say the “female” transformers started to appear after the transformers learned about th existence of “female” humans, so it is not that transformers would have male or female robots, but that they had robots that identify themselves as female and robots who identify themselves as male)

    Now, if it was a female sontaran…

  • Anonymous

    But… sorry if I’m not Transformer expert – but Arcee! You know, the pink Transformer (because of course). Isn’t she canon? She was in plenty of animations at least.

  • locuas

    not only pink, there is a white arcee and Transformers Prime’s BBB Arcee(Badass Blue Bike Arcee)

  • Anonymous

    I remember!! How could I not – the only female in that lineup. She was pink but I gritted my teeth and accepted it.
    Windblade looks awesome though!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. Missed that incarnation. Must google…

  • Joanna

    “Male is also a gender.”

    Heehee. So true! When people hear “gender issues” they immediately think about women. It’s another way of saying male is default and female is the exception.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking the same thing. There have already been female transformers. A quick internet search confirms it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_Transformers

    BAM!

  • Travis

    Trying to explain the hows and whys of female transformers is just an effort in futility. They’re robots with a social structure comparable to humans. There’s no need for a complicated origin story explaining why supposedly “genderless” robots got different genders. Just accept that they do and move on.

    Beast Wars never had this problem.

  • Anonymous

    I would’ve expected most, if not all, Transformers fans to be familiar with Arcee, Airazor & Blackarachnia, maybe Strika, Slipstream, even Elita-One, Chromia, Moonracer, Firestar. And this isn’t even like some extremely esoteric knowledge: Arcee’s been in Transformers Animated, Transformers Prime, and had a big part in the 1984 movie people get all nostalgic for. The Transformers haven’t been gender-neutral for a LOOOOONG time, not since the first few runs of the G1 comic, before Arcee was introduced.

    I’m not accusing Mary Sue of manufacturing outrage, I just cannot fathom how ANY self-respecting Transformers fan could possibly pull the “No Girl Transformers” line. Hell, the fact that Windblade was chosen BY THE FANS would seem to show that a majority of fans are well aware of the existence of female transformers.

    I think the story here is much more uplifting in a girl geek way: when Hasbro offered polls for fans to build the first ever “fan-built” Transformer, they deliberately picked a female option. Transformers FANS picked a FEMALE Transformer to be the FIRST EVER by-the-fans, for-the-fans design: isn’t that pretty darned awesome?

  • Gregory McIntyre

    Them having genders makes as much sense as their natural machine forms that they transform into look exactly like earth machines.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Yeah, it’s wacky. Like going into a “gender studies” class and expecting an even representation of studies.

  • Caravelle

    Apparently (I am working ONLY from knowledge of transformers gained from It’s Walky’s tumblr) in IDW canon Arcee is THE ONLY female transformer, was made female in a one-off experiment by a mad scientist and became insane as a result.

    In other words, an exception that proves the rule if there ever was one.

    I believe the link to Mairghread Scott’s comment on Arcee’s origin explains the issues involved and what Windblade implies for the IDW canon.

  • Bryant Francis

    Gonna pretend I never heard about that IDW Arcee story, because if I think too hard about it I’m probably going to wind up breaking all my old Transformers toys.

    (Also, shoutout to Blackarachnia and Airazor from Beast Wars)

  • http://discord-inc.tumblr.com/ James Fletcher

    I’ll confess that there was a time long ago that I agreed with the “Transformers have no gender camp”. Eventually I realized that not only did that not actually reflect the reality of how Transformers were designed or depicted, but also really didn’t make sense if you thought about it.

    I mean Transformer fiction routinely shows that they have emotions, a soul, religious beliefs (based on gods that they actually live on), and a very fluid definition of death. So with that all in mind, why is the concept of female Transformers so unbelievable?

  • Joanna

    Never been so I can’t comment.

  • http://discord-inc.tumblr.com/ James Fletcher

    Yeah, that was a pretty problematic comic issue in retrospect. I’m perfectly fine with whatever they are doing to recon or otherwise change that status quo.

  • http://www.compulsivecollector.com/ Compulsive Collector

    Far from manufacturing anything, there’s been plenty of outrage already. It’s not that fans are unaware of female Transformers in previous continuities; this character is being introduced in the current IDW continuity which is completely separate. Arcee is the only female Transformer in that continuity so far, and her origin was… troublesome, to put it politely. If you want to know more, you can read the links provided in the article.

  • Jason Rye

    Just to point out for the commenters, it’s not Transformers in general, but I.D.W.’s comic universe as originally created by Simon Furmam. In which he made an all boy’s (but not really “boy’s”) club with the exception of the forcibly transgendered Arcee, created as a mad scientist’s experiment. One issue is some fans feel that this is a Hasbro mandated change to comics and that I.D.W. universe will be ruined forever (it won’t be). The other is these fans can’t seem to grasp that Transformers are a lifeform, not a machine. (Neither can Furman, by the way)

    Also there is the sore losers who didn’t get what they wanted for the fan poll. Mind you I did vote for just about everything that became Wingblade, though I wish they went with armored knight design they did over the Kabuki one. Though I would like to point out the mechanics of the poll were bad as you could from the same computer repeatably each day, so some that do feel cheated are kinda right. Hasbro should have made a login for the poll and allow only one vote per person.

  • Travis

    Another problem Beast Wars never had. They were wise enough to not show their characters before adapting animal forms.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I can get behind a transformer identifying as female, but why the female body. Wouldn’t the body design come before the personality? I remember that in D&D, the Forgeborn sometimes gender-identify, but they all have the same basic chassis.

  • Jason Rye

    Furman hates gendered Transformers at Hulk levels, despite him writing Transformers as male, but not really (in his mind anyway) for 25+ years. His Arcee origin for the Marvel UK’s G1 comic was awful too, though no where near the levels he took it for I.D.W.

  • Lup Lun

    The annoying thing about this kerfuffle is that it raises a bunch of interesting points. About the nature of gender as inherent vs. constructed, the nature of the soul, the connection between physical gender and gender persona, the probable purpose of gender within an asexual environment, and so forth. And the debaters ignore all that in favor of fanboy whining and internet bullshit. It’s like trying to teach monkeys Plato and winding up with a face full of poo for your trouble.

  • Lup Lun

    The annoying thing about this kerfuffle is that it raises a bunch of interesting points. About the nature of gender as inherent vs. constructed, the nature of the soul, the connection between physical gender and gender persona, the probable purpose of gender within an asexual environment, and so forth. And the debaters ignore all that in favor of fanboy whining and internet bullshit. It’s like trying to teach monkeys Plato and winding up with a face full of poo for your trouble.

  • Brian

    You do get an even representation of studies in a gender studies class. You’re just so used to the female side not being mentioned at all that it looks skewed to you.

  • Brian

    You do get an even representation of studies in a gender studies class. You’re just so used to the female side not being mentioned at all that it looks skewed to you.

  • Brian

    “Now, if it was a female sontaran…”

    Given that Sontarans can canonically lactate, they might all be female.

  • Brian

    “Now, if it was a female sontaran…”

    Given that Sontarans can canonically lactate, they might all be female.

  • Brian

    I suppose that excuse might work if the first humans they encountered were the military, and heavily skewed male? Something like that? I’m probably giving them too much credit.

  • Brian

    I suppose that excuse might work if the first humans they encountered were the military, and heavily skewed male? Something like that? I’m probably giving them too much credit.

  • Brian

    Or Gladys the Golem from Discworld.

  • Anonymous

    Was she from Feet of Clay? I don’t remember her.

  • Brian

    Going Postal. One of the ladies at the Post Office complained that a nameless Golem was in the women’s bathroom, so Moist started calling it Gladys. While this was intended to point out that the Golems were genderless created life forms and the woman’s objection was silly, Gladys wound up adopting a female gender identity of her own volition as a free Golem. This being Ankh-Morpork, her lifestyle change was pretty much accepted.

  • Brian

    Going Postal. One of the ladies at the Post Office complained that a nameless Golem was in the women’s bathroom, so Moist started calling it Gladys. While this was intended to point out that the Golems were genderless created life forms and the woman’s objection was silly, Gladys wound up adopting a female gender identity of her own volition as a free Golem. This being Ankh-Morpork, her lifestyle change was pretty much accepted.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Incorrect on both counts.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Incorrect on both counts.

  • Blizz Az

    Uhhh… female transformers only date back to …oh…. 1986 or so. One need only look back to the original cartoon and original animated movie to see this, so I’m not sure what the fuss is all about;

  • Blizz Az

    Uhhh… female transformers only date back to …oh…. 1986 or so. One need only look back to the original cartoon and original animated movie to see this, so I’m not sure what the fuss is all about;

  • Brian

    Did you know that studies indicate that when men watch something with a 3:1 ratio of male to female characters, they report it as having equal amounts of both? And when they see something with 2:1 male to female ratio, they say there were more women than men? We’re so accustomed to media being men and only men, that when it approaches equality, we view it as being skewed in the other direction.

  • Betty Anne

    Watch me date myself while I explain to fans who’ve only seen IDW comics and the Michael Bay movies all about the Female Autobots (yes, with capital letters). :D (TF Wiki has a somewhat sparse page/summary if you want to skip to that and look at the pretty pictures: http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Female_Autobots ) Seriously, folks – Google the G1 episode “The Search for Alpha Trion” and sit back to enjoy one of the most awesomely f*cked up TF episodes ever (if you think about it too hard, instead of just smoking pot while you watch it) – female bots, old creeper!male bots and Optimus totally doing his sister, all in one episode. XD

    That said, female bots (or “femmebots,” if you prefer) have existed since the first Transformers cartoon series aired on television, and well before the 1986 movie came out – Arcee was actually a NEW bot we were introduced to, and she confused a lot of us who were regular watchers, because we wanted to know why Elita-1, Chromia, Firestar, and other femmes we’d gotten to know weren’t in the movie. (As adults, of course, we understood that they ignored or killed off MOST of the original bots to make way for the new toys that came with the post-movie series.)

    Hasbro has always walked a fine line with gender politics in their products. That’s part of the reason they’re the successful children’s entertainment enterprise they are today – they don’t make waves, and every once in a while throw a bone to progress. While they wouldn’t have Ratchet, the “medic” figure of the G1 series be female because of his/her back-talking, drinking, partying, no-shit lifestyle, they did eventually include female characters in the series – including the no-nonsense Elita-1, female counterpart to Optimus Prime. The series went so far as to have the Female Autobots rescue a number of the hard-hitting male Autobots, which was promptly snarked on by Starscream as “Look, the girls are coming to rescue their boyfriends,” as though Ironhide and the others should be shamed by that fact; and then turned it around again when Starscream was forced to flee and Shockwave was defeated by the Female Autobots. This was as “rebellious” and “shocking” as Princess Leia wielding a blaster and battling to save her love interest, which was likely the reason Arcee had a very Princess Leia-like character design when the 1986 movie came out. After the Female Autobots were introduced as “a thing” in the series, later episodes included female bots as background characters, both in stereotypical roles such as stage performers dancing with fluttery strips of cloth and in non-stereotypical roles such as general laborers/factory workers in a foundry. However, the number of apparently male bots has always and consistently dwarfed the number of apparently female bots, and the female bot population has appeared to decline over Cybertron’s “history,” leading to those ratios such as the “1:12″ ratio thrown out today.

    Female bots occasionally popped up in canon since then, especially when an alt mode was created that “suited” a female, such as happened with the spider-bot, Blackarachnia. (Go through any canon from any fable, legend or series and count how many spider characters are female vs. how many are male. Seriously, go for it – it’s not limited to the black widow spider.)

    It was also made clear in the G1 cartoon series that humans prefer the svelte, “feminine” figure on female bots with the human-created bot Nightbird in “Enter the Nightbird.” (Some of the Autobots didn’t mind, either, as demonstrated when Optimus had to chastise them for wolf-whistling and cat-calling her, and one of the best interactions between Starscream and Megatron took place when Starscream declared, “She’s not so hot!” and Megatron came back with, “She’s hot enough to replace YOU any time I choose.” The innuendo was intentional – Nightbird was to be seen as both a remarkably talented fighter and attractive to the eye. (Again, the contrasting messages this sent made Hasbro uncomfortable enough the character was retired at the end of the episode. She was shut down and put in storage for being “too dangerous” according to her male, accented English-speaking, Japanese creator.)

    Skip forward 30 years or so, and along comes Windblade. The hack job the comic writers have done on femmes in general aside, it has been some time since Hasbro was willing to take a risk on what the fans want vs. what sells toys. While fandom and its creations are rife with female characters, sparklings (baby Transformers), and diversity in shape, form, and function, the canon has stuck to what works – Optimus Prime is as recognizable today as he was in 1984. I have my own personal concerns about the legitimacy of the polls and my opinions on Windblade’s design, but the one thing that’s undeniable is that even with the advancement of creating a new femmebot for the franchise, they fell back on the stereotypically “feminine” features (small waist, larger bust and hips, arranged loosely in the “hourglass” configuration) and the Japanese-inspired look reminiscent of Nightbird. (Nightbird was a “ninja” robot, whereas Windblade has fans arguing over whether her design is more “geisha-like” or “kabuki-like” – both of which migrated into our contemporary popular culture from Japan.) They’re essentially falling back on that older model that was ‘hot enough to replace Starscream’ with a character who’s (presumably) a talented fighter and in-line with what’s pushed as conventionally attractive.

    Personal take: I’m not overly impressed with Windblade’s design, because she’s not terribly different than 90% of the OCs 14-year-olds on deviantART design. :/ (Not trying to slam any of you kids who do that, but…seriously. There ARE more shapes than that for the female body.) I am reserving judgment on her characterization until I actually read the story she’s featured in, but at the same time, I’m not getting my hopes up for anything amazingly awesome – the IDW comics have been hit and miss for me when it comes to writing quality. (Some parts I love, some parts I hate, most of it I toss down with, “Okay. :|” ) At this point in the game I’m apathetic leaning toward disinterested in her.

  • Skol Troll

    Yet no one wants to discuss that Starscream was really transgendered?

  • http://thewrongdrum.wordpress.com/ Jeanette

    I’m excited for this. I may watch Transformers Prime, with it’s awesome incarnation of Arcee, to tide me over. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRVt5SsM3y8

  • Joanna

    That’s really interesting and sadly not at all surprising. I find that if there’s a good mix of characters of any gender, race or age I don’t really notice the demographics. I only notice it when there’s an overwhelming number of one over the other.

  • http://www.nyteworks.net/ LBD “Nytetrayn”

    This is true, and something people note, but it’s not true for the specific IDW incarnation of the franchise, which has only had Arcee– the aforementioned forcibly-made-female character who went insane as a result.

    They existed before, but not in this particular universe. Sort of like how Robin has existed before in many various branches of Batman, but not in the recent Nolan movies.

  • http://www.nyteworks.net/ LBD “Nytetrayn”

    They typically have other forms they turn into before scanning Earth vehicles.

  • Jason Rye

    You would have liked the beefed up armor knight design they had for her at one point before going with the kabuki one. I can only think it was Takara that forced issue to make the kabuki design so she would appeal over in Japan.

  • Samuel

    The people who think that Transformers shouldn’t be gendered always get fussy with me when I suggest that, technically, they shouldn’t have faces, and should communicate via data packet transfers and LOS laser communication.
    Technically, the only “true” robot in most of Transformers fiction is Shockwave, who’s personal dream of a united Cybertron is like him, practically voiceless, faceless, and logical. Shockwave’s Cybertron would be more like the Geth from Mass Effect, and is probably the most “realistic.”

  • Betty Anne

    Hey now – just because Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker had some of the sassiest T&A in the Decepticon army, it doesn’t mean they were transgendered – they just had it and flaunted it. ;)

    Tits McEyeball, I mean, Shockwave, wasn’t exactly lacking in that department, either. He’s even cute enough for Thriller-esque zombie-bots to pursue: http://youtu.be/-T4uQ-CYgiA

  • Betty Anne

    Yeah, I was going for the knight look myself, of the options, but I didn’t spend a lot of time voting and re-voting, because I could tell it was a poll that was A) easy to skew and B) easy to over-ride by claiming it was skewed. I’m always suspicious with fan polls like that. :/

  • locuas

    Not really. while strax said he can do that. it seems to be because he was genetically altered(or whatever you want to call it) to be able to given that his position was that of a medic soldier, but that is something really minor that is created out of necessity instead of them identifying themselves as male or female. It is more of “Bizarre Alien Biology” than gender traits.

  • Jason Rye

    Yea, I mentioned that about the poll above. Though the final design between the knight, the valkyrie, and the kabuki was never put up for voting. So Hasbro still managed to find a way to piss off the voters that won. As for the overall body design, the general guess is for an eventual remold/repaint in to Slipstream.

  • Dessa Brewington

    So Hasbro’s 2 biggest franchises seem to have fans of female (the other being Ponies). Yet I’m sure in the end they’ll still conclude that you can’t sell “girls” to boys

  • Anonymous

    They are also all born in clone batches. I suspect that their reproductive system is, well, alien. I am okay with Strax simply being Strax. Because Strax is awesome.

  • Anonymous

    TFP is one of the best transformer animated series I’ve ever watched. It’s on netflix and I finished it in 2 and a half days. It brought back memories of watching Beast Wars as a child. And Arcee’s incarnation was AWESOME! Also, how about Arachnid? Awesome female villain who was played by Firefly’s Gina Torres.

  • Nick Gaston

    There’s a perfectly valid reason why Transformers skew “male,” really…

    …they’re the alternate-universe counterparts to one of Hasbro’s OTHER properties, the My Little Ponies; mirrored segments of a universe divided since the exact moment the Big Bang, perhaps not unlike Gott’s Matter/Tachyon/Antimatter cosmological theory.

    I kid, of course…according to Buzz Dixon’s script plans for “My Little Pony: The Movie,” G1 MLP and Transformers actually take place in the same universe.

    “Primax 984.17 Alpha,” to be exact. Now you know…

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I hadn’t heard those statistics, though I disagree with the “we” you used, unless it was a generalized “as a people” sort of thing. I’d like to think that I’m fairly knowledgeable and I like approaching these discussions without making too many definitive statements based on hearsay and the opinions of people I’ve never met. In my opinion, “gender issues” usually means “problem” and gender is usually taken as “women” because those “issues” are more prevalent or, at least, better documented, more well recognized, or accepted. I approached “gender studies” expecting a more rounded experience but should have assumed it would represent the usual and generally accepted uses of the words. So, I roll my eyes and continue living life, no less cynical but no more so, either.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Didn’t know there were fates worse than ‘fridged’ for female characters.
    The more you know…

  • Anonymous

    Me at age seven or so: “I wish some of the Transformers were girls!”

    My Dad (who had never seen the show, I think): “If they’re robots, how do you know they’re boys?”

    Me at age six: ” I don’t know, but they are.”

    Me a couple years later: “They have male voices, male color schemes, male proportions, etc… and dammit, there was never an Elita One toy, and she only showed up in like one episode! What is this fuckery?! Does Hasbro not realize that plenty of girls like robots too?”

    Me when the Bay movies came out: “Oh, ew. Really?”

    I can only hope the new female robot is a harbinger of things to come.

  • Nigel Bradley

    I have been mixed about this–I’m a Transformer fan, as the avatar probably shows. One of the things I enjoyed about the IDW take on TFs was that it didn’t get into gender too much. The characters were robots, and thus did not need gender. When the TFs got to Earth, there were some that, while they looked male, identified more with female humans, as thus used them as their holograms avatars (Bumblebee and Ultra Magnus, for example, while “male” in appearance, saw themselves as female humans). It also allowed for relationships that could be considered “homosexual” with the likes of Chromedome and Rewind (his “I love you” on his message to Chromedome is still an “awwe” sad moment to me) without worrying how it will affect toy sales or such. Is Rewind the “girl” in the relationship? It doesn’t matter–as there are no genders. They are not organics and thus do not have gender.

    At the same time… I know my wife and daughter always ask about female Transformers. They liked Arcee in the cartoon movie. I know that many women feel that they need to have characters who clearly identify as female. In Beast Wars, Black Arachnia is still one of my favorites, and I’m still ticked she doesn’t have a decent action figure. The way Arcee is handled in the IDW comics is “problematic” and basically boils down to personality rape. Female Transformers “can” work well in TF fiction… but only if done right–there needs to be a point and purpose for gender beyond just having thing legs, big hips, red lips, and breasts.

    So, for the tl;dr crowd–I’m torn. Hopefully it will work well and make sense.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    The Transformers are a ridiculously good example of that.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, didn’t realise the controversy was mentioned in the links provided. In any case, I stand by the “what’s wrong with these idiots” sentiment regarding “no girl Transformers”

  • Anonymous

    When informed of the existence of a female fictional character, the male reaction basically falls into one of two categories:
    - Ew, girls!
    - Anywhere from indifference to “Cool! What’s the character/story about?”

  • Mark Brown

    That’s par for the course in Transformers, though. As a concept, the franchise has the potential to blow Ghost in the Shell out of the water (technology-as-life-form, scientifically-confirmed “souls,” socially-constructed gender roles, gestalt entities, cloned consciousnesses, programming as hypnotism, etc).

    Instead we get masturbation jokes and Bumblebee peeing on people.

  • Mark Brown

    And who managed to be genuinely creepy and villainous without being sexualized (unlike Blackarachnia).

  • locuas

    don’t forget “a new character?” RUINED FORVER!

  • Mark Brown

    It’s worth noting that this is primarily a big deal to Hasbro, who (like most major corporations) are still living in the fifties.

    Hell, I “rule 63′d” a few of my toys as a boy because even then I felt there weren’t enough girls around. (And one of them was a Dinobot, because why wouldn’t the Autobots’ team of arch-badasses have a girl on it?)

  • Charlie

    I remember when I was very young I had a mini or a beetle that turned into a white and pink female robot with a skirt. That was my favourite toy for ages. I don’t think it was a ‘transformer’ though although it could have been Elita One.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    I heard about this a bit back and I am still floored that the Kabuki theme was added by Hasbro. I like everything else about the character but…Kabuki seems so weirdly out of place for an alien robot from a techno-organic planet…

    I hadn’t seen the question bit though and the specific comments regarding my one complaint fill me with some how that they make some sense out of that part of her appearance.

  • Jason Rye

    My opinion is that it’s appeasement to Takara and nothing more. As there was no voting on the final design. There was also a knight and what I would call a valkyrie designed done as well.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Hologram avatars? Could you go into more detail?

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Hmm…If this was a beast wars type story rather than a standard Transformers, I would kinda wanna see a Valkerie interpretation…

  • Skol Troll

    On second thought, let’s not click on the interwebz. ‘Tis a silly place.

  • Nigel Bradley

    Sure–in the early IDW comics, it is established that on Earth, the Autobots needed holographic projections to act as drivers (so that they did not appear to be driving on their own). Such holograms actually had physical presence and could interact as a person–thus sometimes the holomatter avatar would interact with people one on one rather than the Transformer themselves. In recent comics, there are planets that are considered hostile to Cybertronians, and thus they will project / send their holomatter avatars instead (my favorite is still Whirl who appeared as a pigtailed girl with an eye patch). For more, see here: http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Holomatter_avatar

  • Nigel Bradley

    Sure–in the early IDW comics, it is established that on Earth, the Autobots needed holographic projections to act as drivers (so that they did not appear to be driving on their own). Such holograms actually had physical presence and could interact as a person–thus sometimes the holomatter avatar would interact with people one on one rather than the Transformer themselves. In recent comics, there are planets that are considered hostile to Cybertronians, and thus they will project / send their holomatter avatars instead (my favorite is still Whirl who appeared as a pigtailed girl with an eye patch). For more, see here: http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Holomatter_avatar

  • Nigel Bradley

    For added giggles, here’s Skids and Rung as Dr. Who and a “Mary Sue” http://tfwiki.net/mediawiki/images2/6/6d/CybertronianHomesickBlues-SkidsRung.jpg

  • Anonymous

    Yeah… her ‘Polygons’ were distracting. But they did finally manage to tone it down a bit it with her Transmetal form, it was better? I guess?

  • Anonymous

    So pleased, so damn pleased. I’ve been in love with Transformers since I was tiny and the lack of women always annoyed me and then going from Transformers Prime where Arcee is magnificent to the IDW comic which is just so misogynist and transphobic was soulcrushing.

  • Jake Mertz

    A female bot? Cool! My reaction now, and would’ve been my reaction when I was a kid. Haven’t got a Transformer figure in a while, might pick this one up though.

  • Anonymous

    To me that falls into “Ew, girls!”

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Wow…..That sounds like an amazing concept for a story…I may have to get into these comics just to see how this concept is explored.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Greaaaaat~ Now ill be spending the day mulling over whether or not Cybertronians can read psychic paper. XD

  • Anonymous

    Wow, who knew the Smurfett of Transformers had more in common with Smurfett than originally thought?

  • Nigel Bradley

    I would highly recommend starting with the More Than Meets the Eyes series that began about two years ago. It starts with the basic premise that the war between the Autobots and Decepticons is over… now what? Removing the war altogether that has defined Transformers for so long has allowed the writers to really get into the characters, while still having engaging stories of adventures and humor.

  • athenia45

    Can someone tell me why the female bot looks like a geisha? :/

  • KA

    YES. Thank you. A thousand times, YES.

  • Anonymous

    You’re suggesting that Gender Studies class should, instead of discussing women’s issues more to help the overall imbalance towards men’s issues, instead discuss both genders (and maybe other permutations between the male/female binary) equally as a sort of model for the rest of the world to follow?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Put more eloquently than I could muster, yes. Although, really, every step forward would be better taken as an idealized step, in my opinion, not ignoring the problem but circumventing it rather than re-balancing the scales. I just deleted a very long and personal example that is completely unnecessary to describe my opinion. Basically, I don’t care how unrealistic it is to decide that you’re going to face the world as if it’s a better place than it is nor am I advocating that anyone take that approach since, realistically, some people don’t have lives that would be SURVIVABLE if they did. I DO, however, think that a college classroom is the PERFECT forum for an idealized discussion rather than the base cynicism you can usually expect.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Three dislikes because I agreed that the Transformers have an overwhelming number of male characters. You folks crack me up.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    My god, I forgot about the Bay movies somehow. What a wonderful end to the argument. “They’re not male!” “What about the giant transformer with huge wrecking-balls?” Would the argument be that they’re decorative?

  • Jason Rye

    It’s Kabuki, something entirely different from a geisha. Else where I mention its likely due to appeasing Takara (so it would also sell in Japan), Hasbro long time partner and originator of most of the toys that would become the original (G1) Transformers.

  • Elena

    Ironically, very shortly after kabuki was invented (by a woman) the Tokugawa shoguns forbade female kabuki actors since many of them sidelined with prostitution. Since then, men played both male and female roles (and in the old days, female-role actors also ocasionally sidelined with prostitution, because Old Time Japan).

    Me, I just think she looks a lot like Origami Cyclone from Tiger and Bunny.

  • http://www.compulsivecollector.com/ Compulsive Collector

    Well, anyone who would complain about female Transformers is certainly an idiot, but the “genderless” thing – absurd as it may be – is specific to the current comic continuity.

  • Anonymous

    I would delete the knowledge of Bayformers if I could too. But in response to that they would probably go, ‘The Movie is completely different!’ or ‘Bayformers don’t count!’

    Both IDW comics and the Bayformers seem to fail when it comes to female representation and the inclusion of female fans. Which is sad because when it comes to the animated series I am a big fan of the Transformers. Prime and Animated had fair and wonderful representation of women.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    You don’t think Megan Fox straddling a motorcycle adequately represented half the fanbase?

  • Shauni Farella

    Just a shame the main toy of her was completely awful. Its weird that the £5 legion class toy managed to be better than the £13 deluxe in nearly every way despite the limitations of its pricepoint

  • Anonymous

    The sad thing is, her character was actually more sympathetic, interesting and likeable than the “hero” of the movie, payed by Shia Lebouf. Of course, this being a Bay film, she never got to grow past pinup/prize/totally unbelievable love interest.

    Then there’s the REALLY sad thing: Bay gave the world a Transformers movie where the hero was an annoying twerp human instead of Optimus Prime.

  • Anonymous

    Or they could give a bot that looks like Ironhide a female voice and maybe a girly color scheme. The Transfromers Animated series a few years back (the one with the bad art, huge chins, and Wierd Al Yankovich episodes) had a brief appearance by a female Decepticon like that.

  • Anonymous

    Or they could give a bot that looks like Ironhide a female voice and maybe a girly color scheme. The Transfromers Animated series a few years back (the one with the bad art, huge chins, and Wierd Al Yankovich episodes) had a brief appearance by a female Decepticon like that.

  • Anonymous

    Because they think girls won’t buy robot toys? Which is deeply stupid, if you ask me…

  • Anonymous

    Because they think girls won’t buy robot toys? Which is deeply stupid, if you ask me…

  • Anonymous

    Dude… Mind blown…

  • Mark Brown

    . . . That needs to be her entrance. She just shows up randomly standing behind people.

    Mostly Swerve.

  • Alex Hardison

    When you look up “derailing tactic”, it should just link straight to this comment.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    You’re right, I apologize. Let’s talk about which robots have which private parts some more.

  • locuas

    i was never able to follow the original series propely, so you are probably right.