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"Strong" men; gender roles in a fantasy culture and strength of character

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Alile, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    While there are stereotypes about male fighting men looking and acting a certain way, I don't see it as much of a crisis or cause for alarm for two reasons.

    Firstly, if you want a character, or story that is based around combat, you do need a certain amount of physical and mental strength and prowess to do that. It is freakin' hard to do a sword fight, in or out of armour, with or without a maille wedgie.

    Secondly fantasy literature is full of main characters who do not have traditional looks or physical prowess. Perhaps more than any other genre that I can think of.

    I don't think Frodo would make the cover of men's health. Elric, surely would not. Thomas Covenant was a leper. How about Raeodin in Elantis?

    Now from time to time, I quite enjoy a read of say Conan, or Sojan, or some crafty muscle bound killing machine, but I think if you are somehow finding your reading filled with muscle bound characters who you don't like or are too traditionally masculine for your taste, I think you are making bad decisions on what to read.
     
    Demesnedenoir, glutton and cydare like this.
  2. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    ...Did the OP read like satire or sarcasm to anyone else, playing off the "strong female characters" thread? If that's the case, though, I'm not entirely sure what the intention was. No, I think it's pretty clear that there's a lot more leeway in male characterization than just "strength"--perhaps that was the point here?
     
  3. Could be. If so, the weird thing is that male roles in fantasy actually do have some limiting cliches and stereotypes that we have yet to shake off.
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Unless appearance is important to the story.. nope. Or, the scars are the result of an in story event, such as Tyrion. Jaime getting his hand cut off, that sort of stuff. Basic non-story description is white noise reading to me.

     
  5. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    Ah, well some of them are self-conscious about their scarring and/or have other characters react to it such as their friends comforting them, enemies mocking them, strangers being intimidated or people being amazed they are still alive... not sure if that is enough to be considered important.

    Weapon size probably is fairly important for the type of stories I write XD
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  6. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, I thought about Maille vs Maile but didn't bother to confirm, too little sleep, heh heh. But at least the usage was correct if not the spelling, LOL. And besides, maille pronounce with spanish rules would sound funny, heh heh.

     
    Russ likes this.
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yes, that would do it, it would become part of the character and their psychological makeup. Too often that sort of description becomes more like stage makeup.

    I won't go all Freud on weapon size, heh heh.

     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  8. Loric

    Loric Dreamer

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    That's because, physically speaking, women generally are the weaker sex in that regard. What is the problem? that is reality. And what is wrong with tough male characters? is this to do with writing or do you have an underlying problem with men? you don't sound particularly positive in your post. Can't help but wonder.
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    We have already closed one thread on a related topic due to people turning it from a discussion of issues to a discussion of people in thread. Don't be the person to take this thread down that path.
     
  10. Loric

    Loric Dreamer

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    We'll when you are saying you're sick of ''strong men'' in literature then that doesn't really give off positive vibes, so you have to ask the question, what is the agenda behind this statement?

    I'm not attacking the OP at all, they are free to write or read whatever they please. I'm just saying, when you post your opinion on a public forum, you do open yourself up to criticism and questions. Anyways, I'm not really bothered at all, I just wanted to know the intent behind the OP's statement. If you don't want to be questioned or criticised, it's probably not best to post such strong opinions about either gender on the internet. You can't be too precious.

    Anyways, no problem Steerpike.
     
  11. "Strong" can mean lots of things. I don't think the OP meant a broad definition of "strong", and referred to a particular stereotype.

    I don't think a man or anyone has to be physically strong to be a strong person or character. When applied to make characters our idea of strength can be narrow.
     
  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Fact is, when writing and someone says the words strong male/female character/lead, physical strength is not what I'm going to think of, which is why the opening of this thread got an immediate eye roll from me, but I tried to take it seriously even though it comes off as trolling. It also came off as a cliched reaction to an archetype, while using the term strong in a way not really used in writing circles. Pretty much all successful stories have a strong lead, whether in Hollywood or paperback.

    It was a lame start to a conversation that simply promised to get more lame as it went, as is typical of these topics.

     
  13. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Both my male and female MC's both are strong, emotionally and physically. They can hold their own in a fight, but they aren't super soldiers. They're just people in my story, with no gender being more powerful or useful then the other.
     
  14. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    Well, not to be a downer, but biologically speaking, men do have a tendency to be stronger than women and woman do have biological tendencies towards childrearing and being "weaker". That's why societies organized gender roles, as some genders tended to be better at stuff than others. We live in a time were there is overlap in these roles, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    I feel your anger is misdirected toward something that is a normal standard. It has little to do with societal conditioning, but everything to do with biology. It's just that if you're creating a world with the same parameters as ours, you'll end up with men that are biologically more likely to be physically strong and women that are more likely to be physically weak.

    Sent from my SM-G386T using Tapatalk
     
  15. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    The points brought up here are Precisely why flaws can be so powerful in a story as well as there being a need for character development outside of the archetypes or tropes through interactions and reactions to obstacles. I'm going to leave it at that.
     
  16. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

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    In my WIP I have a protagonist that is pretty anxious. He's physically quite strong and fast though never described, but there are people around that just trounce him in a fight. He gets seriously injured a couple of times to which he's in agony and is in tears.

    Many, many alpha readers have found him very unlikable pretty much because he is a "wuss". They point out his tears in particular.

    I'm close to giving up on the idea of having an anxious, sensitive protagonist and going back to a fearless brute who grins at pain.
     
  17. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    I love my rough barbarian types, but you shouldn't just change your characters because one type of reader said it was annoying. Maybe the problem is that your anxious hero is TOO anxious, and is not showing any character growth. Remember, the issue might not be that readers don't like anxious characters on the whole, but that you're not giving a sense of progress to that character.

    Maybe you should try having his plot arc go in a direction in which he grows more sure of himself at a gradual pace. This way, his anxiety doesn't feel stagnant. As for the tears, your character is your character. In my first book, my main male protagonist cried a lot, but it fit how I wanted to build him up. You just have to remember that people want to see your character making progress.

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  18. It's fine for male characters to cry...some of mine are very unemotional and don't readily show their feelings, others less so; but many of them get pushed to such a breaking point that the tears come, at least once. Not from physical pain, though, which generally seems less manly...though in the case of grievous battle wounds it might be realistic. War is hell.

    Don't let one person's advice get you to change your story to fit their preferences. But if lots of people are saying the same, you may want to tone it down a bit.

    I've found that it sounds much less wimpy to say that a character's eyes were watering from the pain (or something) rather than they were crying, though.
     
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  19. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I think that with men it's important to remember that they also have emotions. The only times I've seen men cry was when shit was really, really bad. Our culture/society teaches boys that they shouldn't cry, that they shouldn't be emotional, but fact of the matter is that men are humans, too! When my son cries because he's being a butt and wants to have his own way, then I tell him to knock it off. But if he cries because he's upset about something and he's showing emotion, I encourage it.

    Men showing vulnerability is a strength. The image of a sturdy, muscular, super six pack ab man with a warhammer is no more unrealistic than a size 0 pin up. Not every man is like that. Hell, most aren't. But, as a sister, wife, mother, and daughter...I'll say that when men show emotion it makes me emotional, too lol. There's nothing more sexy than a man showing he's human.
     
  20. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    One thing I like about writing female main characters is that I can have them cry without worrying too much about them seeming wimpy... especially if they've proven to be a wrecking ball of a warrior throughout the rest of the story XD
     
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