1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Crying women cliche'

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by doggiedude, Apr 28, 2016.

    I noticed that there are two women characters in my story that at different points in the story depict depressing scenarios. In one, the girl is a teenager and her mother died recently. She cries. Seems reasonable.

    In the other, the woman is strong a strong willed business executive and she's only thinking about crying over a situation. I have no desire to depict this woman as a weepy flower. Would it still seem out of character for her to even be thinking about crying?
    Here's the passage as written.

    *****************
    For the first time, Chandraleksha really understood why so many people refused to accept what was happening around them. She had never been one to cry. If she hadn’t been in her office, she might actually start. The whole thing was so damn depressing.
     
  2. Fawky
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    Fawky Member

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    I don't think so. It might seem like it at the beginning, but the sentence "The whole thing was so damn depressing," counters it and doesn't make her seem like a "weepy flower".
     
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  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Looks fine to me.
     
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  4. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Well.... If two cats say it's okay, it must be. :D
     
  5. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    Lol third cat says: Don't most people cry once in a while? Personally, I think having women who cry is not as offensive as assuming that crying is bad. I'm not saying that that's what you're doing here, I just know a lot of people see it as a weakness, when in actuality it's not. Being able to express emotion is a sign of emotional health. I'm not sure whether or not the stereotype that women cry more/want to cry more than men is correct or not, but I wouldn't worry too much about having multiple women or strong women cry in your novel as long as you don't portray it as meaning that they are weaker or something.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Doggiedude, you're outnumbered, felines to canines, man....
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    'Nother dog to balance things out!And yeah, don't worry about it. Seems fine to me.
     
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  8. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Camel says good.
     
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  9. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Tropes aren't bad. They just describe things often seen. Often the things being described are so benign and that giving them a name really does a disservice here. Women (and indeed all people) crying as a result of bad things happening to them is just what people do in bad situations. It only rises to a cliche when the women are crying at very slight provocation or no provocation at all. Your women are just doing what is logical for them to do in that situation. No problems at all.
     
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  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I see no reason strong women cannot cry. Just make sure the reason is a serious tear jerker reason. "Depressing"? Ehhh, not exactly crying material, in my opinion of course.

    A passing comment that something depressing was tear worthy, not a problem as long as it was a description and not an, "tears welled up but she blew it off," passage.
     
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  11. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with GC - depressing isn't a reason to cry - its an excuse to drink :) - where are you taking your character? Has she been an evil man-hating, career driven women bashing her head through the glass ceiling and now you want to give her a more human feel and think a few tears wouldn't do any harm?

    If this is the case, give her a real reason for her whole lifestyle - maybe she lost a baby young and that propelled her self-driven motivation to reach the top but every now again, over a glass of red, she thinks about that baby - maybe it was her fault - she drank and drove and hit a tree. Your story - go for it...
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
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  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a cryer, and for me it's rarely about sadness... well, sometimes. But mostly it's about frustration. Somebody does something stupid that pisses me off, I can't tell them for whatever reason (trying to be professional, trying not to get fired, etc.) and the frustration leaks out of my eyeballs. And then I'm frustrated b/c I'm crying and people might see and make assumptions about me because of it, so I cry MORE. It's a nasty cycle.

    The stereotypical male response to frustration is to yell and smash things. I'm conditioned as a woman (AND I don't want to be the kind of asshole who yells and smashes things) so I bottle it up and it escapes.

    I'm not saying it's a great mechanism, but I don't think it means I'm weak. I think it means I'm mad!
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, nice to see you. :)
     
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  14. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Is it? I think the stereotype is the man who doesn't show emotions, who bottles it all up and tries above all else to stay in control. A man who is screaming and punching things is in this context as unmanly as a man who is crying. It's a very classical idea of manhood but it's still hugely influential. The man who loses control loses his masculinity. While we do see all kinds of people losing control in all kinds of situations the ideal of manhood reviles that. Stiff upper lip old boy.

    I agree that we think of men as being more physically demonstrative when they do lose control but I don't think we think of 'manly men' as being people who fly off the handle because of a minor slight. We think of manly men as people who don't want to give them the satisfaction of seeing them react.
     
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  15. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Why can't women ever be allowed to be women?

    It seems everyone tries to pigeon hole them into some stereotype; damsel in distress, sex kitten, bad ass bitch. I see no reason why a woman can't conquer the world, cry on a shoulder, and be good in bed.

    If you want her to cry, let her cry. Then have her put on her favorite bra and go off to conquer the world again tomorrow.
     
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  16. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I like it, after all there is a difference between feeling like crying and actually doing it.
     
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  17. Diane Elgin
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    Diane Elgin Member

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    Considering your username, LostThePlot, I find it disconcerting how many times I've found myself nodding in agreement with your posts!

    Yes, in many avenues, extreme responses to external happenings can be seen as signs of weakness and the idea that one should be composed in the face of both triumph and misery is not exclusive to either sex. It was after all Fergie who sang 'Big girls don't cry', truly, an axiom to summate the Empire mindset of Western Society.

    To answer your initial question, I'd say what you've written is perfectly legitimate for the character and with the narrative voice you've used, its lack of indulgence, you've put across the character's mental toughness and business demeanour while also using the events to show us this in action. In tandem, it really puts across your point.
     
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  18. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the opinions everyone.
     
  19. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Well said.

    Women are people [citation needed]. They do people things. They get upset. They cry. They live lives of quiet desperation. None of this is a cliche. This is just people being people.

    A woman hysterically crying at a spider is a cliche. A woman crying because her child just died is absolutely not. Not even if she's hysterical. Hell, even a woman who is well characterized and written and has a good reason to cry at a spider (maybe your book is about how arachnophobia is ruining her life?) is not necessarily a cliche.

    As a rule of thumb - Nothing is cliched if well written. Nothing is cliched if it's right for the character and the story. Cliches are only cliches when they don't fit; when the writer is essentially saying 'women cry right?'.
     
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  20. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds about like what I'd do in that situation. I'm not a crier.
     
  21. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    I like the idea that the strong woman is thinking about crying. It could even be stronger if she locks herself in the closet and lets it all go. Could be a really powerful moment, but I'm very melodramatic in my writing. I also love to see men cry, and think there should be more of it
     
  22. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I would cry but I'm afraid my penis will fall off and run away if I do. Then someone will show up at my door and ask for my Man Card.
     
  23. Gareth MH
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    Gareth MH Member

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    I don't think crying is a problem. I think that its a way of showing that the character is emotionally invested in whats happening. If something is truely depressing and a character has no physical reaction of any kind I'm likely to assume that the character is either a bad guy, psychopath, or poorly written.

    Also, GO TEAM DOG!
     
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  24. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Welcome to the brethren sir. Also, grammar Nazi mode alert, *truly.
     
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  25. Gareth MH
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    Gareth MH Member

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    Whoops.
     
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