1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How can i make this character portrail not come off as misogynist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Oct 3, 2015.

    For my story, I feel that the reader has to have a lot of faith that the pay off is going to be good, in order to not get a bad impression of the first act.

    The first act opens with a woman being rescued from being kidnapped and raped. She does not want to speak to the police about what happened to her, or what she can remember, in order for the police and the prosecutor to take the suspect to trial.

    The prosecutor wants the case bad, for ambitious reasons of his own, so in order to secure her testimony, he has the police place her under arrest with a material witness warrant, until the trial.

    Now that is quite the cruel thing to do to a victim character of such a crime, and that comes after the opening of being rescued from the crime.

    So I don't want the reader to think that too much cruelty is being done to this woman by the writer for the first act, but I also do not want the reader to think she is a weak character for not having the guts to testify. She is suppose to be weak and flawed, and not an ideal stand up character.

    But is there a way this character, and what is done to her in a way that will not come off as weak or misogynist to the reader? The reader could easily role their eyes and say, "Oh look, another mistreated female character, who does not have any guts... again...". But I mean to portray it as a realistic situation and not a cliche.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's very realistic that she won't want to talk about the rape and it's nothing at all to do with weakness. It's about shame and powerlessness and all kinds of emotions that come with sexual assault and have nothing to do with how strong or weak a person is.

    I have no idea what a material witness warrant is or if such a thing could be realistically used to force her to talk about it. I really don't see how that would work.

    Do I think this cop is an arsehole for forcing a rape victim to relive her attack to a bunch of policemen? Yep.
    What would make me NOT think of him as an arsehole? Him doing all he could to get her the support she needs to talk about her attack without pressure, fear or shame.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Tenderiser it can be done. In theory, she could be jailed for not testifying. The reader is going to think the prosecutor is a complete asshole, of course.
     
  4. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There are times I could see a prosecutor doing it. Maybe a serial case where the one witness they need to really secure a conviction is the one who won't testify. So you either compel them or let the guy go. The prosecutor does not represent the victim, she represents the State.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If your concern is about the female character only, then I don't think this is a misogynistic portrayal of her. The way she is treated is arguably misogynistic, depending on how it's handled. But I can't see her as coming out of this as anything but a sympathetic character. If a reader thinks she's weak because she doesn't want to testify against her rapist, they need some education about the effects of rape.
     
  7. Jeff Countryman
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    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

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    My impression wasn't a 'bad' one of the female character as described, it was 'sympathetic'. My 'bad' impression was of the prosecutor who had "ambitious reasons of his own" for doing what he did. I'm not sure if that's what you're asking but that's what I felt. I think you can easily defeat the "Oh look, another mistreated female character, who does not have any guts... again..." by playing up the prosecutor's role/actions/ambitions and thus putting the blame/focus on him. It's an interesting twist you've come up with (putting her in jail)!
     
  8. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. The prosecutor is a minor character though. He is only in a couple of scenes so far, in order to get the plot going a certain direction. It's okay to hate him. Since he is a minor character, it doesn't really effect anything. But is that okay, or do I have to give him more story time for reader to accept his motivations?

    And yes it is more of a serial case, and since this victim was found at the scene, unlike the others, she is the best chance of putting the villain away, since she was found at the scene, and rescued, and can actually identify where she was taken therefore, along with other details.

    As for her, perhaps I being self conscious because one of the criticisms of modern writing I keep hearing, is do not create weak female characters for the reader. Or I have also heard that readers are tired of women being victims or damsels in distress who do not take control of the situation. And since this one is not wanting to testify and put her captor away, I was worried she may be seen as such.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  9. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    There are weak women in the world. To not write about them is disingenuous if such a character serves your story.

    One of my characters is a once-weak woman who is finding her inner strength. She comes from a background that could be a cliche: former stripper, single parent raised her who was an alcoholic, etc. I chose not to worry about it because such people really exist. It is my task as an author to make them believable. Obtaining sympathy from the reader may be part of that.

    If we did not have victim characters there would be no Law & Order episodes. The weak are necessary to give the heroes something to do.
     
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  10. Aerisfullofwhimsy
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    Aerisfullofwhimsy Member

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    I don't think you would come off as misogynistic with what you got so far. A lot of crime authors would be in hot water constantly if a large amount of people got offended that easily . I think it should be fine. To echo ddavidv, people like your female character do exist, just like people like your male characters exist. Sometimes a characters personality takes off on its own, and you just go with it. I think Truman Capote had a point when he said “You can't blame a writer for what the characters say.” I think that also applies with how your character reacts to things too. Of course you are ultimately the God of your written universe and have the ultimate last say on what goes on there. I also think there are limits on what direction your character goes in, but you know, it is what it is.
     
  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't really see the misogyny.

    Or, like, are you asking is writing a woman who doesn't want to talk about her rape misogynistic? 'Cause, no, it isn't. It's actually pretty darn accurate. You're lucky she's reporting it to begin with!

    Or are you asking is writing any other female character except some kind of superwoman that meets every point in the checklist of Tumblr feminists that-actually-doesn't-even-exists misogynistic? 'Cause, again, no, it isn't.

    Women are people with people's weaknesses. Sometimes we are tired. Sometimes we are hurt. Everyone's got their weaknesses and strengths, really. I think nowadays there's plenty of space in fiction for women of all kinds, even the dreaded "weak women" (what that means may vary).
     
  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. She doesn't report it begin with though. The kidnapping is discovered by someone else who calls the police, and she is rescued, but does not want to talk about it or get involved after, if that's okay.

    I was just told by other readers that they felt it was in bad taste towards women. I am not sure if those readers were women or not because it was online, and I didn't ask, like here. There is a scene that was criticized also where the female character, wanting to get over her kidapping and rape ordeal, decides to go to a bar, and drown her sorrows about it and parties with some male friends. The detective in the case goes there to try to get her to talk about it, but I was told that her behavior after such an ordeal came off in bad taste, and that the detective would not try to get her to talk about it, when she is at a bar, compared to in a sober environment, even if she was avoiding the detective and never wanting to meet.

    What do you think? Should I change that scene to something else? Is it too unrealistic for a cop to get her to open up in that type of environment? Is her behavior too 'dumb'?
     
  13. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Alcohol is a great lubricant to get the truth.

    As an example, there is a vast difference in the sexual willingness of my partner after several glasses of wine vs completely sober. The lowered inhibitions release the sexual creature she really wants to be vs the one she believes is proper.

    If I'm a police detective I would like to obtain my information in any legal way possible. I'm not sure how admissible in court such statements would be but as a tool for gaining information to further my case I think it would be advantageous.

    Sounds like you have some overly-sensitive, PC readers. There are a lot of them out there that should stick to Nancy Drew books. I avoid most of them by having cautionary notes in my book descriptions in the instances where there are some potentially offensive contents inside. Even readers who normally dislike such things have a more open attitude when they go in knowing something ugly potentially lurks within.

    What offends one person who leaves a review may be a good marketing tool for another who enjoys something more edgy.
     
  14. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Yeah the readers told me that no cop in real life would ever use alcohol to obtain information from a witness, but perhaps they did not understand that the detective was just trying to get her more comfortable to talk about it so she could come in later perhaps. I could write it so that the detective buys her a non-alcoholic drink, or should I stick to alcohol? In order to for the reader to buy it, so the cop is not stupid, should I have the witness make a comment, about how he is not suppose to give a witness alcohol?
     
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  15. Aerisfullofwhimsy
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    Aerisfullofwhimsy Member

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    Then those readers have not met the cops I have. A good, decent cop probably would not, but there are some sleazy, anything-to-get-the-job-done types. It probably is not common, however it would not be completely outrageous to suggest it has happened. It is good to be realistic for authenticity, but a story has to be interesting, and sometimes interesting entails unusual actions, characters, and incidents. I mean if you had the cop drag them to closet, inject him with sodium pentothal and drip hot wax on their nether regions, that might be a bit unbelievable. Although with all the police issues in the news today, maybe not. But maybe, who knows?

    I think it may help if the cop character mentions it that he shouldn't be given out alcohol, however. I think it may possible to get away with the character just giving her alcohol like you originally had, if you somehow show that maybe the cop knows it is wrong/unprofessional to do so, but he really wants to to get his way. It depends on how you write it, you got to make the readers aware that you know it is highly irregular to do, but by god, it's going to happen anyway. That is my take on it though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If the prosecutor has a noble reason, he's worried about the potential victims and the girl is his best chance to stop the guy, the readers will get it.
     

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