My beef regarding female characters in an action series who use “seduction” as a means of getting things done can basically be summed up in three points.
The first is: seduction is not a valid strategy. Even if your femme fatale can count on the idea that the vast majority of her opponents are going to be specifically attracted to women, which, she… can’t, there’s no way she can guarantee that she’s everyone’s type, or that everyone will drop what they’re doing to ogle / assist a woman they’re attracted to. A tactic is not a useful tactic if it is rendered totally moot in the event of asexual people, those not attracted to women, happily married monogamous individuals, people who are just not really feelin’ the sexy right this second, anyone of particular ethical fiber, anyone of a cautious or calculating persuasion who thinks to be suspicious of one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to coercion, anyone who fights in a manner or environment that makes them unable to discern their opponent, anyone who’s difficult to distract in general, or anyone who fights fast and reflexively and will only realize their opponent is a pretty lady after they’ve thrown all their punches… and that’s not a complete list. Odds are good that the majority of situations any sort of actiony lady encounters are not situations she can seduce herself past.
The idea of female character using seduction as a tactic to disarm whoever she’s fighting is something we often touched upon in our distraction bonus tag, most extensively in this post by wincenworks. Assumption that sexualized appearance and/or behavior somehow will warrant advantage over every (cishet male) opponent is beyond ridiculous.
The closest similar example of strategy which shatters suspension of disbelief this spectacularly is “she’s so great at dodging that she doesn’t need actual armor in gladiatorial combat”. Both are tactics based solely on the idea that, despite all odds, failure is not an option. To have them make any sort of sense, even
you have to literally present a world populated exclusively by people literally too incompetent to live… plus your one overly competent, yet super objectified female character.
Back to the topic of seduction, though, femme fatale warrior is quite an insulting, gender-exclusionary trope. We’ve heard it used as an excuse for quite a few characters, especially ones that fall under “evil is sexy” category and one particular video game character who everyone assumes counts as a femme fatale because of vague black widow spider theme, one undercover assassination and impossibly deep cleavage. Even though she’s a sniper assassin who never uses her sexual wiles in combat.
So yeah, not only there’s a prevailing (and obviously wrong) idea of female sex appeal as a valid battle strategy, it is so ingrained in our culture’s collective consciousness that even characters not meant to use use it in combat are designed to look as if they do.
The above post is pretty long, but we should really highlight this part:
…if seduction is a useful combat advantage (which it isn’t), there is a glaring lack of male characters that use it.
We’ve said this before, but Agent 47 from the Hitman series still has all his suit buttons done even in the latest game. Why isn’t his default suit Fabio-esque, surely that would help him get close to his targets?
Probably because “distraction” is a shitty excuse to put lady characters in revealing outfits.