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How much sympathy is left for people who still like traditional gender roles?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mythopoet, Nov 23, 2015.

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  1. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I love a good "impression" as much as the next guy. But has anybody actually said that?
     
  2. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    One does not have to explicitly state an idea in order to communicate that idea. And there have been entire threads devoted to fantasy having certain progressive ideals and the many virtues that entails.
     
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I thought so.
     
  4. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Meaning what?
     
  5. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    I resent your implication that anyone who isn't a social justice warrior "sticks their head in the sand when others are being harmed" like some sort of coward. I do believe in bettering society, I just have a different view of what that would be and therefore a different method of achieving it.

    I suppose I may have written this in somewhat of an unclear way, but my point is that too often I have seen social justice warriors trying to get something censored or banned because they find it offensive which is utterly unacceptable in my opinion. (I'm not trying to say all social justice warriors do this, but it seems quite common in the movement from my personal experience with them).

    If you think something is wrong and want to fix it, that's your business. If the existence of this wrong causes you discomfort, then why wouldn't you try to do something about it?

    If you think that fantasy has a problem with sexism/ racism as a whole, that is something I can understand. The way to remedy this would be to write books that don't have these issues so that people have a choice in what they read and one would hope they would choose books that portrayed diversity in a positive light over books that didn't. The way to remedy this should never be to prevent people from reading or writing offensive material, but rather to offer them a better option.

    The truth is books don't actively hurt anyone. There is no such thing as a damaging idea. Ideas are neutral. What is damaging is a single narrative, the idea that there is only one right idea. If all fantasy portrays is women in one role, this is a problem, but the problem is not a single book, but the genre as the whole and the answer is to introduce other ideas into the genre not to boycott books you find objectionable. If you don't how a book portrays women, close it and find something you do like. Don't try and stop other people from enjoying it or demand the author change it. That is incredibly entitled.
     
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Going back to the original question (because I too am late to the conversation), I'd like to say that I tend to write different things based on my goals. I think even if an author, whether he be an Agnostic gay white male, or she is a Catholic housewife and mother, has a comfort level, that is their comfort level and it's no one else's business to say they should or must write outside it. There are multitudes of career-women who make a decent living writing historical romance, and their books do not at all reflect their personal lives or professional pursuits. Just as there are many straight white men who have made great writing careers out of writing completely made-up worlds of fiction where gender roles are abandoned and the characters aren't even human.

    If YOU want to write books about elves who are genderless and procreate by creating children out of sand and asking the gods to bless their sculpture with a soul, GREAT! If YOU want to write a story about a convent in 14th century France that is attacked by a demon and the nuns hire a band of brutish mercenaries to protect them, WONDERFUL! If YOU feel like writing a gay man as an airship captain, and he's black and has an opium addiction, AWESOME! The thing is, it's about an individual's comfort level, and while I could see myself writing any of these, my tone and style would be adapted in each to perform a specific job and deal with the issues at hand. My genderless elves might have a view of sexuality very contrary to my nuns or my airship captain, and that's fine if I FEEL I can accomplish my goals. But if YOU feel like you can't write it or have no desire to, that's okay. NO writer should ever feel like they MUST include any elements in their fiction that they're uncomfortable with. Readers have comfort levels too!

    However, I think what the majority of people are trying to say, is that if you don't FEEL like writing a gay captain and a bunch of scared nuns who hire men to save them, or elves who have more problems than the continuation of their species, then don't feel like you MUST pander to people who desire to read about something you don't feel you could produce.

    There are readers who probably specifically search out stories with homosexual main characters, as there are readers who would immediately shun those stories and favor something with more traditional family values, and that's not meant to imply they're Christian readers or whatever. It's up to each writer to decide what their comfort level is, and while I take a pretty open viewpoint of what my own comfort level is, I'd never call a writer "limited" for choosing material within their own comfort level. If we look at books that sell, there are arguments for any viewpoint, and I think it's up to each individual to not only be true to their own personal beliefs, but to push the boundaries if they feel inclined to. Consumers will speak if they feel a line has been crossed, or not crossed far enough, but that's not why we write, is it? I mean, if I had to write a book that felt sympathetic to an issue to which I wasn't sympathetic, I imagine the resulting story would just suck.

    If you feel traditional gender roles is important to you (I'm a housewife and mother of four kids, too), then leave gender roles as you see them. I appreciate the life I have. Without an immensely supportive and hard-working husband, I wouldn't have any of the freedoms I currently enjoy. But that's not to say I believe my traditional role is the only valid one. I appreciate all the women who make great strides to promoting equality in the workplace and in society.

    I also appreciate how people who are affected by gay marriage feel, because it's something that is important to them, even though it doesn't affect me personally. I want all people to enjoy freedom and equality, but when it comes down to my own writing, I can only write what I think is right for a character. And for the record, I've never written a gay main character into a novel, not because I am somehow against the thought, but because when I write, I tend to stick with my instincts, and I just don't want the story to somehow become a study of that aspect of the human condition. I don't personally feel like it's my inclination to publicly explore something I don't personally feel I can relate to.

    And one last note, I think all writers come across this in some form or fashion. One of my personal feelings revolves around alcohol. I have friends who drink a lot. I have friends who can't have fun without a bottle in their hands. But I personally don't drink often if at all, and that affects my writing. I do mention drunkenness, but it's usually a negative sentiment in my stories. I can imagine this is something many people don't give a lot of thought to, but I consider very carefully how I portray things like vice, and while I've written a fair amount of addicts (of various substances) and drunks, I wouldn't expect it's a subject that gets a lot of attention on writer forums (compared to sexuality and race...and I know these things are not equal because substance abuse is a choice vs. inborn trait, so please don't read too far into this message), but my point is, it's impossible to write without sometimes putting your own personal thoughts into your work. Would anyone be offended that I take a negative view of an opium-addicted young lady, or a character choosing to drown his sorrows, or a character ending up in a situation he can't control when he's drunk? I hope not. But because sexuality is a thing that's so personal, it's easy to find objections to portrayals. It can anger folks who have opposing views. And let's face it, some folks are just unhappy with a lot of things.

    Basically, if you have traditional family values and you feel that's something you aren't willing to compromise, look then to works that feature those values, and see what's important to those readers. It doesn't in any way take you out of the game. It's just who you are, and there are loads of people just like you out there. Just as there are a lot of people who believe portraying gay characters is important, or people of their race, or people who thwart traditional gender roles. If you write a good story with whatever values you choose, the right readers will pay you for your efforts. Just like I hope they will pay me for whatever inspired me to write today.

    Best wishes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I have zero issue with your position. They are your stories, your worlds, your books, your characters. Fantasy fiction has had a bad rep with Christians in general, Tolkien had to deal with that... all magic is magic of the devil, that sort of thing. CS Lewis tap-danced around it too.

    As a fantasy writer/reader I believe in being true to your world and yourself. And if writing the real world, be true to that also. I once was writing a Western screenplay in a UCLA class that used real world historical figures. One of them was a black guy known by the name N***** Jim. He is actually a relatively famous black cowboy, and he had zero problem with the N-word, but then, in the 1870's it just wasn't the same. Even his tombstone has that name on it. So, when writing the character I gave his name, and immediately I got the 20-21st century reaction of him getting into a fist fight with anyone who dared call him that... and I was like, nooooo, the real person did not care, it was what they called him on cattle drives, it simply was not offensive. This was a running battle I had with that script, but at no point would that have kept the thing from selling. That reminds me I should actually finish that script or novelize it, it was really a good tale of historic fiction. But I digress!

    The moral is, you always get a certain amount of flack no matter what, even when speaking of historic fact! but be true yourself, and be true to your story, those are the things that matter.
     
  8. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Devouring, jut to take issue with your last paragraph. Actually there are ideas that can cause harm. Immense harm. Nietzsche's uberman was the idea used as a justification for the rise of the Third Reich / Hitler and his ideal of the ayrian man. Marx's ideals about communism etc have been used as the basis for any number of corrupt political agendas / tyrannies.

    My thought is that ideas do have power, and as authors we have to consider that. To think what might be potential impact upon readers of what we write. I'm not saying don't write it. But I am saying think about the message your work sends. Do you want to be glorifying pedophilia? Justifying personal drug use? Promoting racism?

    Writing objectionable characters doing objectionable things is one thing. But promoting objectionable ideals is another.

    I think as authors we always have to consider the impact of what we write. Remember Stephen King pulled his book Rage from the shelves after the sudden advent of school shootings was rightly or wrongly attributed to it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    A misreading of Nietzsche, I'd submit.
     
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  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I think that is true of any fan community. The voices you tend to hear are those that are the most strident. Were you to go to your local library and simply buttonhole patrons there, I believe you would come away with a rather different impression.

    I'm male, straight, 64 years old. I'm a historian. I play guitar. Not sure any of that is relevant, but since we're discussing people by groups, I figured I'd join in.
     
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  11. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Actually no - not in my opinion. An unintended consequence of what he wrote. Freddy you have to remember was highly influenced by Wagner and he was thinking in terms of the ideals of the Greek heroes. He never foresaw how others would interpret his work.

    But rather than getting into a debate about Freddy, he still wrote the basic idea of the ubersmensch and it was used to cause immense harm.

    To use a personal example. I'm just in the process of editing my new book Banshee Hunt and in it one of the scenes is a sort of torture scene where a man is chained up has petrol poured over him, and then has matches thrown at him. Nasty I know. But in the original draft I explained that the reason it didn't light was that it was diesel that was actually used. So he was safe and it was just to scare him. Double checking revealed that there are certain circumstances under which diesel can actually light when matches are thrown at it - eg absorbtion into soil and fabrics. So I rewrote it to become "magic water" just to make certain that no one got the idea of trying it. Not from me anyway. It has been used elsewhere - "Vexed" for a start.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  12. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    Yes, there is. There's clearly many Christian readers. That said, I would advise against the writer - regardless of what they believe - from being too in the limelight. We're supposed to be the people behind the curtain. Ideally the readers shouldn't know that much about you, because the goal of the writer is to disappear from the reader's consciousness when our characters are being read or viewed.
     
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  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Intentionally misused by his sister, as I recall. I don't think you can fault someone for the intentional distortion of their work.
     
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  14. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I wish many actors would take this same position... But this one is kind of old. I don't mind dragging them back out, but I suspect many of the attitudes on them have not changed very much.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  15. i don't know why this thread is back from the dead and my comments are probably totally out of place by now, but i am caught by the idea that personal beliefs about homosexuality being wrong have to mean that there are no homosexual characters. It interests me. Personally, I wouldn't feel that, by writing a LGBT character, I was necessarily saying anything about LGBT people other than that they exist. And...they do.

    I guess if you don't feel comfortable writing one, it's best to avoid; that's understandable.

    But i just thought about the idea that content of world/story=views of author. Must it be this way?

    Say I wrote a character who was racist. I didn't even paint them as an antagonist or a particularly unsympathetic character, apart from them being racist, of course. I don't think this character's existence would say anything about whether I was racist or not.
     
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  16. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    That brings up a very interesting thought. We have a character in Faerie Rising, a protagonist, who is racist. Deeply, openly so. Granted, it's towards a variety of fae, but still, he's racist and he gets called out on it time and time again.

    What strikes me as surprising is how many of our readers never trip on it. And when I ask readers their thoughts on his racism, the most common answer is, "Well, I'm sure he has a reason." He doesn't. It's a kneejerk, ingrained response to his upbringing.
     
  17. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Woah, look at this ancient thread back from the dead.

    I would suggest that this is mostly because the racism is toward a creature that isn't human. It seems, in my experience, that readers are less likely to see it as related to real world racism if it involves a fantasy race. And this is probably due to the very complicated nature of racism which would really need its own thread to address.

    You know, it's been a long time since I wrote this post. I feel like the original post was partly my own knee jerk reaction. My beliefs haven't changed at all, but how I relate to these issues in the real world has, I think, developed. Part of me is cringing as I read the OP. For one thing, I would no longer say that I would never write LGBT characters or relationships, though I'm still not likely to. But I wouldn't rule it out.

    Though the type of stories I write tend to be stories that focus on magic and mystery and adventure. Not stories where social issues like racism and gender are likely to even come up at all. Though part of the built in nature of my world is a worldview without our society's arbitrary associations of gender and what constitutes "feminine" or "masculine". And I also intend to build a different worldview about relationships in general into my world. I don't want it to be a world where any kind of physical touch automatically means romance or any type of non-blood related love automatically lead to sex. I want to subvert such assumptions and but also not make a big deal about it. I want a lot more nuance, but I also don't want that to be what my stories are about.

    And I don't like labels. If I have a couple of girl characters who hold hands and cuddle when they desire physical affection, I don't want them to be labeled by default as lesbians. I don't want to label any of the relationships in my book. I don't think labels do any good in any world. Labels are for things, not people. People should never be treated like things.
     
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  18. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

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    To answer the original question of this thread, I don't care whether the book I'm reading is LGBTQ or not. Sometimes it's interesting if there is a gay POV character, but otherwise, it changes the story very little.
    It is complex, and applies any time two groups get together. My Grandmother is a great person, but she is racist in many ways. It is interesting to watch how she deals with friends of hers who should be "evil" in her book according to her racism. She writes them off as "not really" whatever, or if she's really stuck, she says they are an exception. Many people, possibly including myself are racist and don't know it. Racism is a far more complex thing than many people will admit.
    .
    People give things labels. People understand things by chategorizing them and comparing them to other things. That's just how it works.
     
  19. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Yes, give things labels by all means. But not people. People are not just part of categories or groups. Every person is too unique for that and it's precisely this labeling that leads to racism, etc. I know it's the human tendency. But that doesn't mean it's good. We should resist the urge to label when it comes to people.
     
  20. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    Short answer: yes

    Being able to write a sympathetic racist character implies a level of empathy. It implies you don't believe racism to arise from inherent evil. But ask yourself honestly if you could write a sympathetic, balanced portrayal of a pedophile, the head of a corporation, someone who doesn't care bout the environment, bullies, ect.

    If you can really do all of those sympathetically you are a more compassionate person than I will ever be.
     
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