1. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    Is this sexist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by R-e-n-n-a-t, Jul 11, 2011.

    So, humans are a powerful space empire. They lost Earth. Never mind how they lost a planet for now, but they need a new homeworld.
    One human leader is in charge of the Spiral Empire, a very scientific, militaristic faction, while the various human nobles seek to usurp power.

    Meanwhile, the aliens are deeply religious, unified under their 'Goddess'. The problem is they use religion to justify keeping slaves. Their slaves are brainwashed to some extent and totally convinced that they deserve whatever their masters do with them because, hey, the Goddess says it's okay.

    So the question is this:

    One of the female characters is an alien slave. Because of the slave-religious brainwashing they completely lack confidence or a sense of self-worth early in the book. They struggle with finding their place throughout the book, and she comes off as very weak. I'm worried people will find the book sexist because one of only two main female characters (and the only female mc to survive) is very weak and insecure for most of the book. Of course, the other female mc is an assassin with a questionable sense of humor, so maybe they'll balance?

    That's not to say that the male characters don't have problems! It's just that this character has the most problems. (NO, those problems are NOT resolved by meeting some magical guy, ugh, I hate it when books do that)
     
  2. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Well first no mater what you do somoen is going to call it that
    have a girl who is weaker then the guys? Sexist
    Have a girl who is just as strong? your trying to had not to be sexist and they will still be just as mad

    have no girls? sexsit
    Have all? sexist

    Can't win man, you can't win

    Whew, I needed that off my chest. Anyways, back to the real awnser

    As I said before someone will most likely say yes
    but I'll say no, but if it bugzs you enoguh have a guy going though the same thing (not 100% of couse(
     
  3. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think so. I could see people considering it sexist if the men in her position came out of it strong and unscathed, but if everyone in her situation is experiencing varying degrees of the same problems, I can't see a legitimate argument being made for it being sexist.
     
  4. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    Well, not the same problems. Character background is the root of the problems, so the former slave (female) has severe self esteem issues, the biologist (male) is guilty of helping create a weaponized bacteria, the assassin (female) is confident and elitist, the emperor (male) gave up everything to lead and regrets it bitterly, and the bystander (male) is fighting a battle with his own perception of morality.

    All of this takes place as the two intelligent species' political relationships deteriorate rapidly. Only two characters are really 'main characters', but the rest are important as well. Let the opinions of sexism resume!
     
  5. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I meant the other slaves...you said "they completely lack confidence or a sense of self-worth..." so I'm assuming this one female isn't the only one with those issues? That's what I meant.
     
  6. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    To be claer we are asking

    Do the men go though the same thing? if not then you will have pepole say you are sexist


    Do the male slaves go though the same thing or at least close to it?
     
  7. [ESCAPE]
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    [ESCAPE] Member

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    I wouldn't call that sexist. If all the males were strong or if all the chicks were weak, now THAT would be sexist.
     
  8. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Maybe not, if there are alien races maybe the females CAN'T be strong, for exsample if its a insect like planet then the females may eat the males, thats not consider sexist (i hope) its just how things work
     
  9. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Do you glorify women being weak and insist that if they step out of those bounds they are not women anymore?

    If not, then its not sexist.
     
  10. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    All slaves have those issues, yes. Not just the female ones.

    EDIT: But the only main character who is also a former slave is female. None of the other main characters were ever enslaved.
     
  11. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  12. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Neither would I.
     
  13. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not sexist.

    But of course you will find a group of people who thinks it is, but it's not. Slaves both male and female would both be weak and submissive. It's not a gender thing, it would be a slave thing.
     
  14. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't worry about labels. Just write what you want, always.
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, at least you give an explanation for why the woman is so weak - it's not just because she's a woman.

    Statistically speaking, some books must have weak female characters too.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A writer should not be afraid to create certain kinds of characters because they might intersect with negative stereotypes (which, in this case, I don't see hapening at all). We create characters and we create their stories, and if some people choose not to like them...well, then they choose not to like them.
     
  17. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    I think that if someone wants to pin your work with a 'cateogory' or 'slur' or other type of tag they will find one regardless of how innocently you write. Your finished work may well be called sexist or maybe classed as noir with a femme fatale (based on the strong female character) or it may be too masculine or too feminine in its writing, too far fetched or mundane in plot, lacking substance or too burdened with detail... etc etc.
    It depends who is reading it. Would the intended audience of your story be likely to get upset about your use of the slavery for the female or see it as an important part of the story you are trying to tell? You've only got two options if you want a slave, female or male (unless you create a new option:confused:).
    On a slight tangent, but I hope you see where I go with this, I remember reading some negative reviews about Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) about her main female character, Bella, being weak and helpless and yes, she does have a bit of a 'please save me' vibe going on but that kind of makes the story what it is. I'm pretty sure Stephenie Meyer wasn't be crying about those reviews as she went to the premier of the film and signed copies galore of the novel. :D
    Sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant reading it back :eek:.
    Good luck with your work ;)
     
  18. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    I think that the easiest way for you to write your story without being sexist is to understand the issues that sexism addresses, and make sure you write in a way that doesn't glorify them.

    Sexism is a complicated thing--so is feminism. So there is no simple answer to whether or not something is sexist. And yeah--anyone can argue anything is sexist. The only thing you can do is avoid giving them meat for their argument.

    If you don't want to do the work of studying the issues of feminism then I wouldn't worry about it. Just write your book.

    From what you said, your idea doesn't sound sexist to me. Having a female slave lack in confidence sounds absolutely normal to me. Gaining confidence and autonomy would be a struggle for anyone who was previously enslaved.
     
  19. breeksy
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    breeksy New Member

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    I'm not sure that it can be regarded as sexist when they worship a goddess. What are the goddess' traits?
     
  20. NomadQueen
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    NomadQueen New Member

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    no its not sexist, aspecially sinse the alians worship a godess.

    oh i just realized that was just already said lol ^
     
  21. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    It's not sexist. You can portray women, or men for that matter however you want. It is fiction, after all.
     
  22. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    I have to say that the story could still have sexist connotations regardless of whether the aliens worship a goddess or not.

    I mean, if you were to write a story where the aliens worshiped a hideous, giant green god with three eyes, who eats babies and smashes people with his giant cross--and you were to name the god "Jesus Christ", it wouldn't automatically discount the argument that you have anti-Christian sentiment in your story just because they worship "Jesus Christ".

    But really, you're going to write what you write...you have to decide if it is consistent with your views on sexism. You're the author.
     
  23. pyrosama
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    pyrosama Member

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    I don't understand the problem here. Are you (the author) not wanting to come across as sexist? Why should you care? It's fiction and the best characters are the ones that are flawed anyway.
     
  24. Evilyn
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    Evilyn Member

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    I think as long as you balance it out by having the assassin as a strong minded female then it will be fine. Take conan the film for example (the first one) the daughter of the king who is brainwashed by the main baddie (can't remember the names and don't have time to google it as am at work) she comes across as very weak willed and a tad annoying if I'm completelt blunt.. but then you have the main female character, conans love interest who is strong, funny and intelligent. The key my friend is balance...

    Sounds an interesting concept by the way ;)

    Evi
     
  25. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If there's a reason for her weakness and she's not weak because she's a woman, but because of other factors - which seems to be the case in your story - then it's fine I think.

    I mean, I didn't think it was sexist when I read your post, certainly. And I'm a girl. But then again, I find this whole PC thing with genders really ridiculous anyway.
     

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