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Too few female characters?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Trick, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    From there I sit, Trick, there are two aspects to this.

    I come from a family of tall women. There's a lot of society pressure that the man be the taller in the relationship. That can be tricky when you're tall. There's a lot of society pressure to be ladylike and dainty and slender and "not mannish". Women who are stronger or tougher often get called "dyke" - in a way that makes it clear it's pejorative. Elite female athletes get called that sort of thing, even though they're women who are clearly the best at what they do and celebrated for it. We're told it's not attractive to be strong.

    There is sadly also, in Australia and, from what I hear, in America and Britain as well, a low level but quite pervasive threat of violence against women by men. Women are taught from a young age ways to "stay safe". In that environment, it might be seen that being bigger, stronger, capable of holding our own against a male assailant would be of benefit. On the other hand, that buys into the "the way to be safe from guns is to have a gun" viewpoint, which seems to me to just lead to more people being shot. Plus, however much you train or lift or learn, there's always the chance your attacker will have trained just as much and then - as has been noted here - all else being equal, the man has an advantage.

    These two points are possibly related.
     
    Trick likes this.
  2. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Thank you cupiscent. Hearing women's perspectives on this is great.

    I was specifically trying to ask, poorly phrased I think, if women ever wished they had simply been born bigger and stronger than average? Many men do, in my experience. And, among the women I know who were born bigger and stronger than average, some seem totally happy and others wish they were more petite. It has always been a conundrum for me.

    Being from North Idaho (famous for a large gun to population ratio) I would softly disagree with this. You are right that more guns definitely can lead to more people getting shot. But, on the flip side, criminals knowing that most homes in this area have guns in them and people who know how to use them (lots of hunting here) has kept home invasion/burglary very low in this area. It's kind of a catch twenty-two, I'll grant. Bringing this back to the original question, being bigger definitely mitigates having crime perpetrated against you in the situations we're discussing simply because the criminal is likely to look for easier prey, since they're all cowards.
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I've got a slightly related comment on the matter female athletes.

    My sister's quite into sports, and keeps up with athletic events of various kinds - specifically when it comes to running, cross-country skiing, and related sports.
    She currently lives in France and one of her pet peeves is how the sports commentators tend to refer to the female athletes in a way very different to male athletes in the same sports. To quote something she said recently:
    Basically, she feels the commentators are focusing too much on the appearance of the female athletes, rather than their actual performance.
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    That's true for females in many areas in which they're in the public eye. Politics, for example.

    My ex is an athlete and lifts weights. She played baseball with the boys even into high school, and played basketball for the U.S. team, traveling around Russia and Europe. She was also in the Army, and while in the Army she was able to meet the men's PT standards, and outperformed some of the males. I've seen her beat men at arm-wrestling. She's also quite small, just looking at her, and what you'd consider feminine in appearance (in other words, she doesn't fall into the category suggested above of simply being a large, bruiser of a woman). She's also ridiculously fast when it comes to things like sparring. The point being, she violates a lot of the typical assumptions about what women can do, or about what women have to look like or be built like to accomplish certain things. There's no need for us as writers to be trapped by those assumptions.
     
  5. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I agree, but if the desire exists in some women, I'd like to know. It might help with insights into future characters I write.

    It's funny, my wife grew up working hard. Being the oldest and the hardest working of her siblings with a dad that needed help on a lot of projects, she used chainsaws and built decks and fences etc. She is, for her size, very strong. Now I'll point out that she is only five feet tall. I am no athlete and haven't worked out ever other than for a few months in high school but I am over six feet tall, if thin. I am so much stronger than her it's pointless to compare us. And I have to say, every guy I have ever met that was even near my height is stronger than me. Usually by a lot.

    Men and women definitely vary quite a bit from each other and among one another. There are so many feelings and experiences that I've never had and I just want more insight from those who have. I know that my wife has wished she was taller from time to time but in her case that is only because she get's frustrated with clothing sizes and, she has admitted, she thinks women of a more average height are more attractive. Damn magazine models. Of course, when I tell her otherwise, she says I'm just being nice.
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong here, but I'll give it a go.

    Let's say I have a decent idea of what an ideal male body is meant to be like. I know I'm too tall/short/fat/skinny to get there, but I know what the goal is. Depending on where I am in life (not just age) the importance of getting as close as I possibly can to that ideal body varies.
    How big a priority my physical appearance is depends on both internal factors and external factors.
    Internal factors can be things like wanting to stay healthy, or being able to move around comfortably. External factors might be things such as wanting to look good in order to impress a mate - or being able to walk around in public with my back straight without being ashamed of my body.
    I'm sure you can identify, at least to a certain extent, with how this feels.


    My impression, and this is where I might be wrong, is that the internal factors are roughly the same for men and women, but that the external factors put more pressure on women than on men.

    I'm not saying there aren't external pressure on men to look a certain way, I'm saying that the pressure to look a certain way is stronger on women, than on men.

    That said, how this affects men and women, will vary greatly depending on where the individual finds themselves in life.
     
  7. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    I haven't had women tell me they want to be bigger and stronger, but in a harsh setting and/or if they or their loved ones are continually bullied, I could totally see it.
     
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  8. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    You may be completely right, I couldn't say. Internal and external factors vary so much just among men that I can't even comment on what they're like for women. I have never cared that much about my appearance (or health for that matter as it has never been an issue) other than wanting to look presentable at work and other important places. At home I couldn't care less. However, I have gained the bad kind of weight recently, for the first time in my life and it has definitely affected my body image, though it's not a lot (yet!). I have always been able to eat and drink to my heart's content and remain under weight. Not so anymore. It will likely spur me to exercise at some point, though it hasn't yet. But that kind of issue isn't really what I'm going for.

    I have often wished that I was simply born more burly, more so when I was a teenager but I know the feeling. I wasn't willing to do the work though, too often preferring to stick my nose in a book. I wanted to be "manlier" just naturally and with some very large brothers, I expected it to happen. Tall happened, big didn't. Fortunately, by that time, I didn't care that much anymore.

    I guess I just want to know if women sometimes have a similar feeling but not towards "womanliness." Do any women wish they had been born bigger and stronger, and if so, why?
     
  9. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    Most of us do live in a relatively civilized society/time... in a 'grimdark' type setting, there would some obvious advantages to having the physical attributes of Alicia the Crimson Boar (a character in my series who is 6'2, 280 lbs, heavily scarred, able to lift a horse and also carries around an axe that could cut said horse in half). Dat criminal discouragement lol.
     
  10. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    True but civilized or not, there is still crime, a lot of which is men against women. And sports are separated in most cases. Are there women who really wish they were big enough to play pro football? I just don't know.
     
  11. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    This isn't entirely relevant to the topic, but sports are separated more due to strength and other attributes males have an advantage in like explosiveness and in contact sports, durability, than pure size. There's plenty of overlap in size between male soccer players and women for example...
     
  12. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    BTW, an alternate way I could see for making top level female warriors more viable in a fantasy setting could be to establish that in that world, women are generally faster and more agile than men, although men are still stronger. Hey, a lot of fighting games basically treated things this way... I prefer my overly stronk and tuff fem brutes though XD
     
  13. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    It is relevant if there are women out there who wish they had those traits, without simply wanting to be a man or feeling that they are a man regardless of the plumbing they were born with.
     
  14. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    I meant that what I was saying wasn't very relevant. And there probably are considering the girls who play ball sports with boys in high school etc.
     
  15. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    Now I have that old song "I wish I was a little bit taller" stuck in my head...
     
    Trick likes this.
  16. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Stuck in my head is They Might Be Giants' "Too Tall Girl." I could only find a YouTube with a low-res shot of Brienne that just… stays like that the whole song. So yeah, I like GoT and I like TMBG but I don't know if they mix well. I mean, she's tall, and I guess Brienne "knows more etiquette than Connecticut" since she doesn't know what Connecticut even is…

    Anyway, song in my head. Tap play if curious.



    LYRICS:

    Fall in love with the too-tall girl
    Deleterious and delirious
    Fall in love with the too-tall girl
    With her magazine
    Dressed in aubergine

    Too-tall girl can see
    Past the rooftops and the trees
    Too-tall girl can see
    Past the crosstown mall and townie sprawl

    There's no kind of guidebook or catalogue
    There's no kind of parallel or analogue
    Soon you'll just be playing some tag-along
    In the world of a girl in a too-tall fog

    Fall in love with the too-tall girl
    Whispers pretty tones in a megaphone
    Fall in love with the too-tall girl
    Knows more etiquette
    Than Connecticut


    Too-tall girl can see
    Past the rooftops and the trees
    Too-tall girl can see
    Past the crosstown mall and townie sprawl

    To get to her a boy's got to calculate
    To get to her a boy's got to estimate
    All the walls to clear and the hills to climb
    As the months turn to days in this too-tall time
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    [​IMG]
     
  18. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    No. No, no no no.

    It boggles my mind that in stories that requires no laborious explanations of why a male character is the best of the world despite not being the hulk it's required that you change an entire gender's physical attributes so it's "believable" to some people.

    I'm under the impression that if a woman dares to excel at something it'd give a heart attack to a lot of guys there, haha! :)
     
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  19. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    Well, the thing is the strongest men are proven to be 30-50 percent stronger than the strongest women of the same size and they're also larger on average, it is a bit of a stretch to think the most skilled female warrior would be 'more skilled enough' than all male counterparts to make up for that kind of discrepancy. Also I'm talking about traditional straight up melee fighting here, if the woman is the best of the best with a gun or there are some fancy martial arts systems in the world that would be more believable. Or at the least, that particular woman is closer to men than others are and is a 'freak'.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
  20. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    Ronda Rousey is a perfect example of a woman who really could beat up a large majority of men and even been stated by some male fighters to be capable of beating male fighters. Interestingly, she also actually IS put together like a She-Hulk... for her height of 5'6... and absolutely rolls through other women.

    'Believe in the power of power' XD. Of course she's super skilled too, but when the skill of both parties is high, the stats begin to matter...
     
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