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  1. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    Does the gender of the Protagonist affect who will read the book?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ice Queen, Apr 27, 2011.

    This is just something I thought about last night. Now, my protagonist is a female, and at the moment I'm thinking the genre is YA / Fantasy. When I was younger (and currently)- when I read any book, I couldn't care less what gender the main character was, as long as I could relate to him/her.

    Yet I noticed that most Romance novels have female Protagonists because of course they are mostly aimed at women. And a high percentage of Crime / Fantasy / Sci-Fi (the more gender neutral or aimed a little more at men) novels have male protagonists.

    I don't think it really matters for adults, but I was wondering whether in YA, having the main character female would limit the relatability of her to males. I mean, in my own experience it didn't matter but I wonder what anyone else thinks of this.

    I'm genuinely curious whether guys find anything odd about a girl's P.O.V. Is this a sexist question? XD;

    (I'd ask my boyfriend but I think all he's really read are Warhammer... not a great many females in those books :< )
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    This is an interesting question. I'll read anything at all and I don't care what gender the MC is. My son though, he's 10, he won't read anything with a girl MC unless he has to. He used to not care. In the last year or so he's decided that's not working out for him and saves those that he gets for his sister. Now, so far, she doesn't care, but she's only 6. When I asked him why he said "I don't want to be in a girl's head", lol. I expect that'll change in the next couple of years, but for now he doesn't seem to like it.
     
  3. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    Doesn't for me, but I find I'm mostly using female protagonists anyways.
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was a kid I read a lot of my elder sister's pulp paperbacks. I didn't get on with the romances, but I enjoyed the adventures. I sort of ignored the genders and mentally substituted "male" sports for "female" sports (it was a more sexist time), so the netball team became the basketball team and so on. It probably helped that these were pulp potboilers, so strong characterization and exploration of gender roles were never significant features :)
     
  5. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    I think the bigger problem is as a female writing a convincing male MC or the other way around.
     
  6. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Really? I don't think I have any problems with this. There was a thread about it a little while ago, and I think most people were fairly comfortable writing from the perspective of their opposite.
     
  7. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    Havent tried much myself actually, but I have a felling that I would have an easier time writing male MCs then female.
     
  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    It's kind of beside the point for this thread, though as I said there was a thread about it not long ago, which was enlightening :) Ice Queen is female though, and writing a female MC, so she just wants to know if boys will read it, I think.
     
  9. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    You are right :p

    So to stay on topic, I think it is the story more then the gender of the MC.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. There are studies showing that when you look to overall trends women consuming fiction (be it movies of literature) tend to identify and consume fiction with main characters of either gender, but that men are a bit more picky and overall tend to prefer male main characters.

    These are general trends. Not the individual truth. Generally like in most statistics the expected difference between random individuals is greater then the statistical difference between groups.

    (For example. Statistic might state that people from country X likes hard rock 1.4% more then the people from country Y. But when you ask two individuals "How much do you like hard rock?" the expected difference will generally be greater then that 1.4%. One might hate it and one might love it. Yet that 1.4% statistical difference might be important to a music company when analyzing the market, even if the info is useless on an individual level.)
     
  11. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I'm not male but I don't care what gender the protagonist is. I think the main thing is to not make your female protagonist too girly as that will definitely not appeal to males (and even some females). If you make her feisty, brave, adventurous etc. then it's more likely to appeal to both genders.
     
  12. Evilyn
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    Evilyn Member

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    I agree with Eunoia on this one, as long as the female MC appeals to the male reader I don't see a problem. In my novel the MC is female and my boyfriend and male friends have all said they like the character and the book (they could be biased though :p) but then again I am into a lot of guy stuff and have more male friends than female so maybe that comes out in my writing.
     
  13. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Strange. I seem to have an easier time writing female MCs. The two main characters in my novel are young women, and my sitcom and movie script I've found the women easier to write. Guess that says a lot about me, huh?
     
  14. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    I prefer male protagonists, but I won't avoid a story if it has a female protagonist. Indeed, if the female protagonist is an older woman - 30 or higher - and is, ideally, a mother, then I am right on board. I'm always looking for that in fiction, but alas, it is lacking. Except in harlequin romances, but let's not go there.

    I am sure more children, though, have such preferences. If only because how pop culture raises us. If we grow up with nothing but My Little Pony and She-Ra, little girls are naturally going to associate more with female characters; same for He-Man and Transformers. Could be a cyclic thing.
     
  15. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I've gone about twenty pages into a book without knowing the mc was female before, so it's really not much of an issue for me.

    I'll usually be a little more interested in a book about a male mc, as he might be more relatable, since I'm a guy, but I've also never left a book on the shelf just because the mc is female.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes... some may say it shouldn't, but reality isn't a matter of should/would/could/if... only the often unpleasant 'what is'...

    while women do read novels featuring male protags, many [i think most] men won't even pick up, much less buy and read novels with female leads... kinda falls into the category of 'real men don't eat quiche'!
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I like protags of either gender. And I like quiche, too.

    I hope you aren't planning to choose your protag's gender based on marketablility. There are biases among readers, but they lean both ways. Besides, be true to your story and to your writing skills.
     
  18. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Well, it depends...I do slightly prefer girls as the MC because I can relate to them more. But if it's a guy MC, I won't complain, as long as it's written well.
     
  19. thalorin19
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    thalorin19 Member

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    I don't mind what gender it is, as long as he/she is a good character and fun to read.

    I've read books that are told through multiple third person POV's, and I've enjoyed some female characters better then males, and vice versa.

    Personally, I'd write with what I feel is better for the story and myself. You can't please everyone, so go with what you are most comfortable with.
     
  20. katnip
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    katnip Member

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    if you asked me that last year, i would have said "completely, i can't relate to a male character and i can't follow a male narrative" now, i think its more about the plot the authors style
     
  21. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it does.
    But then, so do other factors, genre, author, content (as in violence, sex etc.) age (as in age group the book is aimed at).

    Imo, It wouldn't make any difference to a female reader. But to some male readers it will.
     
  22. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    Thanks for the opinions guys, it wasn't that I was going to change my MCs gender at all- it was more a question of curiosity, because I was wondering what others thought about it. I've read a lot of YA or younger books in my time which were clearly aimed at a more gender neutral / male spectrum and almost all (well All that I can remember) featured a male or several male MCs, though some did also have female ones if it was multiple POV- whereas most if not all books aimed at the younger or YA females I've read have had a female lead. D:>

    I just thought it was weird considering that "the Classics" which are read by both males and females are more or less evenly distributed amongst the genders- with Males writing females, and females writing males- like Thomas Hard's Tess, Eustacia and Tamsin and Emily Bronte's Heathcliff, Lockwood and so on...
     
  23. elopial
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    elopial New Member

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    I tend to not care whether the protaganist is male/female but i guess it depends what they're doing in the story.
     
  24. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I somehow think it does matter. In the end it helps if you can identify with the character you're reading and sharing the same gender helps somewhat.

    Me personally, I've been reading a good few YA urban fantasy books recently and I can say that I've been enjoying the the ones with male protagonists better, simply because of the focus. Urban fantasy and especially YA urban fantasy tends to be tilted towards female protagonists and that comes with with a lot of female 'issues', the most obvious would be the romance aspect that always seems to get roped into the story. Oh how nauseating it can be sometimes to the average male reader ie. me. And I'm not talking about the paranormal romance genre. I'm talking about clear clean cut YA Urban Fantasy. Think Cassandra Clare Mortal instruments.

    Other genres aren't so polarising it would seem. I would gladly read a mystery or thriller with a female lead without fear of throwing up.
     
  25. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I'm honest will you all call me sexist? That happened on a chat board I used to use.

    Personally, I find the gender of the protagonist will effect my decision to read the book. In case it makes a difference, I read mostly psychological horror/thrillers, GLBTQ romance/erotica and contemporary fiction (I know that last one is too broad to really make an impact).

    I hate how most writers, especially female writers, portray women in protagonist roles - especially in romance. They're often too dependent and whiny for me to take seriously. Or their back-stories are so "deep" that it makes the characters themselves feel transparent, clichéd and predictable. Plus, the shy "plain Jane" character has been done to death and annoys me the most. For a female character to get my attention she needs to be confident in herself: many female protagonists in fiction aren't; this type of character is usually reserved for love rivals or they melt around the male lead (ickkk!).

    Also, just for the record, I'm not saying I dislike feminism in writing. One of my favourite thriller books, Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino, deals with feminism as one of it's key themes. Kirino is a woman and the protagonist of her book (and the others by her I've read) are women. She's definitely written what I think are some of the best female characters. Ever. Another amazing female protagonist has to be Blanche DuBois of the stage-play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.

    I prefer to read about male characters. It's just preference. I don't care about the gender of the writer though.
     

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