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Too few female characters?

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

  1. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Sure. But that seems like a false dichotomy. You could ditch the stereotyped notions of gender and try to understand the psychological concepts at a more accurate level.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    This thread is a good example of how default assumptions in society can be firmly rooted and even become internalized.

    "If you want to write a female character, she has to behave in ways X, Y, or Z according to how females are likely to behave."

    Really? But my female character has a background and experiences that make her more typically male in terms of her actions and reaction.

    "Then the character should just be male."

    OK. So to make a character male you don't need a particular justification, and you don't have to follow any preconceived stereotypes from the real world. But if I want a significant female character instead, then I need a justification for it (or should default to male) and a set of attributes that sufficiently distinguish her from what a male is presumed to be like to justify calling her female (or else just default to male instead).

    Doesn't make a lick of sense, but ok :)
     
  3. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    What I was poorly trying to get at is that even if in nature there are inherently 'masculine' and 'feminine' qualities, they don't necessarily apply to human society, and we certainly shouldn't treat things as if they do. Because if we make being brave an inherently masculine quality and caring a feminine one, we are creating gender roles.
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Then you're looking at the character as an individual, which is what you should be doing. And the background, psychology, and everything else about your female may very well make her more stereotypically male in her reactions, or vice versa. As long as you're building it up from the standpoint of the character as an individual, I think the characterization will ring true and it will be fine. But there have been statements in this thread to the effect that the mere fact a character is female necessarily leads to certain attributes being attached to her behavior, which is nonsense in my view.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Not to mention that none of that need apply at all in a fantasy world, where you make the rules.

    Hey, cool dragons and orcs! What, gender roles that don't conform to western stereotypes? That's so unrealistic! :D
     
  6. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    If I want to write the character as female, I write the character as female. If I want to write the character as male, I write the character as male. I'm male, but when I write female characters I don't concern myself with "would a woman say/do/think this or that?" I don't care. I know what this individual would say/do/think because I created her. The characters need to be whoever they are and to hell with demographics. Basing a character on demographics is likely to be counterproductive because it can result in a sexist stereotype and the writer who seeks to placate certain readers ends up offending them.
     
    Jabrosky, Gryphos and Steerpike like this.
  7. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    Well, here is the thing from my particular female POV: Those assumptions that I somehow care about my gender and what means to be a woman pisses me off. Seriously, having a young apparent age and small build (for whatever gender you pick) have a greater impact on my life than my gender!

    The only evident change in my life that happens due my gender is how other people perceive me. There is this trend to praise/demonize the exact same traits when you compare women and men, like acting angry being considered bitchy when it's a woman or "male" when it's a man. He wants to protect the child? How brave! She wants? Motherly instinct (taking away her merit).

    Seriously, we women aren't a walking set of rules, stereotypes and concepts. Our gender doesn't rule our lives as strongly as you'd think. Even "feminine" things as using makeup or liking to use nice clothes aren't rooted in the "female" side—they happen exactly for the same reason you bought that awesome mug/keychain/whatever personal use object there. We liked it. Using it, the pretty or cool thing we personally chose make us happy.
     
  8. SugoiMe

    SugoiMe Closed Account

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    I would say don't worry about it. I'm Nearly in the same boat in that most of my key characters are male. There's a bit of interaction between my MC and minor female characters, but much more between men. That being said, I'm a woman, so it's always been a challenge to write from a man's perspective, but the story for now requires a lot of men. I'd say it doesn't really matter so long as your story's compelling. You don't have to represent every race/gender to write a compelling story, in my opinion.
     
    Ryan_Crown likes this.
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    ^This.....
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    What . . . ? I was only saying that gender has a big impact on a character that we should try to understand instead of dismiss when we write. I'm not really sure where you're coming from. I think maybe BWFoster said something like this?
     
  11. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I'm not saying that we can't write about people who are not average, I'm saying statistically most people will fall into these norms. If every character in a book does not, it will feel false to most people. "Some men have high levels of oestrogen, and some women have high levels of testosterone." is a completely arbitrary statement.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I wasn't pointing out your posts specifically. Just a general comment.

    I think it is more accurate to say that gender may have a big impact on the character. But it may not. And whether it does or not, and whether and how that is expressed in the character, is going to vary across a wide spectrum based on any given individual. So you don't have to do it a certain way for a given character, and depending on how far you want to delve into it in a given story it may not even be applicable, particularly if the effects are relatively limited in that character's world.
     
  13. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    Ok, I've been holding off on commenting on the whole diversity thread because I was having trouble explaining my thoughts.

    Then i read this thread and this.

    Sorry Gryphos this is not an averages thing is, this is a scientific fact of biology. That double XX or XY chromosome determines a lot about a persons personality as explained by Trick. Those chromosomes also determine a lot about how a person perceives the world around them. case in point researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that male and female brains are wired differently. In this case it has to do with the connectors between the two hemispheres (left logic, right intuitive) which are much more numerous in women. Women have more inter hemisphere talk, while in men the connectors are mostly restricted to the individual hemispheres and the cerebellum. If women are hardwired to have those two hemispheres communicate more it stands to reason they would be better at performing tasks that require such inter hemisphere communication. A task such as communication for instance is something women excel at due to logic in the left hemisphere(logic) and empathy in the right, a simple sentence has more meaning to a woman than for a man.

    Writing a character and not taking biology into consideration is a disservice to the character but also to those readers who identify with that sex. Girls are not boys in different clothing nor the opposite.
     
  14. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    It boggles my mind that so many people here don't seem to think that gender wouldn't have any influence on an individual.
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    This again is based on statistical probabilities and forcing them onto your characters. For any set of "more likely" characteristics for males or females based on biology, you can find plenty of exceptions to the rule. So the whole thing is next to worthless when it comes to figuring out how a specific character should react. If you're relying on external factors such as your idea of what biology would dictate, rather than characterization, I think you're making a mistake.

    Unless you're writing a story or world in which biological determinism features heavily, I suppose. Which segues to the point about fantasy worlds and that none of these biological factors even have to be true, or presented in society, in the same manner they are in the real world (even if you wanted to argue they exist to any appreciable degree in the real world).
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I don't think people are really saying that, so the boggling is probably a manifestation of your mistaking what is being said. People are simply pointing out that characters are individuals, and it makes no sense to assume that a statistically most-likely distribution of gender-based characteristics apply to that specific individual. That's basis stats, right? It doesn't tell you anything about the individual.
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    (Drat. Have to head out the door).

    I score it Proponents of Caricatures - 0; Champions of the Individual - 6.

    I could be off.
     
  18. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    No, I really don't think I'm mistaking what is being said, but I do think several people here are arguing against a straw man. No one here was talking about statistics or stereotypes or anything like that.
     
  19. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    My point still stands that not every man has a higher level of testosterone than every woman. About the brain research, it shows some very interesting differences. However, are you saying that all women are better at communication than all men? Clearly that's not the case.
     
  20. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Wow. Just wow. NO ONE here is a proponent of caricatures. That was really insulting.
     
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