1. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    The effect of gender.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Smoke Z, Mar 16, 2014.

    How does gender affect how you approach your story and your character?

    I was thinking about two of my "sucked into the video game" stories. Both work with the same basic storyline, one is a low-scorer on the Mary-Sue litmus test, I haven't run the other, I'm fine with calling them both subtly unrealistic wish-fulfillment vehicles as long as the subtle is stressed.

    I decided that the one story needed this character to be female. The character begins weak and afraid, spends most of the time being submissive, and apologizes during her "kill me if you want" moment.

    The other story was to be my only Marty-Stu. He's thrust into pants-crapping situations and still manages to snark. Even when he's forced into a servile position, he's still not respectful if he can help it. He explains his actions but doesn't apologize during his "kill me if you want" moment.

    For the girl, her "kill me if you want" moment is her most independent point. For the guy, he is feeling defeated.

    I don't feel like I could replace the girl with a nerd and the boy with a tsundere while still keeping the same story. Both tsundere and nerd are unlikable, but the nerd would grow a pair sooner and the tsundere would be more blatantly a Mary-Sue. Making my characters swap stories would result in both dying before the main characters realize who they are. As for making the characters queer, I don't want to mess with it.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For those unfamiliar with the term tsundere:

     
  3. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    The what?
     
  4. Glen Snow
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    Glen Snow Member

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    I have the feeling you're a fan of S.A.O, if not you should be.

    A great deal. I don't want prospective readers to be put off by the classic damsel in distress nor do I want the cliched Xena warrior princess. With the books today a strong female lead is becoming more and more commonplace just look at The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Mortal Instruments,Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire and more.
    The last thing I wrote/ am still writing is a split POV fantasy with one lead being a boy and the other a girl. In my case the boy is the weak and timid character, at one point becoming enslaved because he was too afraid to fight. The girl on the other hand is much more assertive and kill-y , at one point repeatedly stabbing a man in the eye with a fork.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I admittedly don't understand the setting, but I'm not following why a submissive character needs to be female, or why a female character needs to be submissive. Any human being, guy or girl, who's unexpectedly pulled into a dangerous fictional world is pretty much equally likely to freak out and curl up in a ball. Making your girl weak and whiny and your guy strong and snarky is likely to annoy those who are annoyed by stereotypes.
     
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  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps the question to ask is whether *you* feel that a male character would always be defiant, snarky, and tough, and that a female character would be weak and trembly. If so, they why even consider changing things around? As an author your voice needs to be convincing, and for that to happen, you need to be convinced about your characters.

    It really doesn't matter if what you are writing is politically incorrect or if we agree or not. Write what you feel not what other people say. (Nothing to do with proper grammar, style, spelling, etc.)
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Your mention of the "kill me if you want" moment being a moment of independence for your female character reminds me of this scene in the film The Last of the Mohicans. I watched it a long time ago and seriously don't remember most of the movie, but this shot, it was mesmorising.

    SPOILER ahead for those who haven't seen the film! A very vague spoiler as I don't remember any of the details.

    Towards the end of the film, I remember the 2 women, who were sisters, were being held prisoner and they're walking along a narrow path on a cliff or by a cliff - honestly don't remember anymore. And then came this moment when they were trying to rebel, or something. And the younger sister, who had been whining and complaining and for reasons I don't remember was a very, very weak woman. She was annoying and weak. She walked to the edge of the cliff and her captors were telling her to surrender. She looks into the camera and there was this silence, her eyes soft with an expression that was all at once melancholic and defiant, yet with so much sweetness. Then she jumps.

    That moment redeemed her character - somehow, it gave her strength. Seriously, that one look into the camera and the jump - it's pretty much all I remember of the film.

    SPOILER ends.

    Anyway, yeah gender affects the way I write too, but I don't think it should. There is a fun test you could use to see if you're using gender stereotypes - reverse all the pronouns and see if the character behaviour still makes sense :D From this I realised my female character was very, very gendered. My male characters were generally a lot more normal lol.
     
  8. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    For the story about the meek girl, I really can't see a guy being that subservient for that long without the readers expecting an ulterior motive. There's this guy in Disney's Princess and the Frog. The moment he finds a way to gain power, he jumps on it eagerly. The monk from Dragonheart isn't very bold, but he does stand up for himself. Kronk is ambitionless, but also stupid. The amount of women who allow their husband to control their lives is enormous, even those who would not hesitate to use lethal force to defend their children. She does grow into a quiet strength, but a guy growing a pair would act different.

    For the story about the snarky guy, he probably scores higher on the litmus test than the girl. I usually like to be subtle about my Mary-Sues, and a lady that starts off snarking is probably action-girl enough to move her into blatant sue territory. There is room for her to lose confidence, but stealing the master's time machine is overboard. It also affects a conversation in the story because she'd be talking to someone who will treat her differently because of gender.

    http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm I think this is the litmus test I usually use. Basically it tests for common traits. One thing I'd like to find is a relationship-free test because I tend to lean platonic.
     
  9. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Thanks. I think I'll pass on that one. o_O

    EDIT: I just glanced over the questions, the first hundred or so, and I cannot imagine why any writer would waste time with such nonsense.

    EDIT 2: I re-read some of the earlier posts and feel like I've stepped into some weird alternative universe. I'm outta this thread.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure why even write these Mary-Sues unless it's deliberate, like a parody or something. They're like info-dumps; you don't usually want them in your story.
     
  11. Glen Snow
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    Glen Snow Member

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    With this I disagree. Men can be weak and craven just as easy if not easier than women. Not every guy is Conan the Barbarian and not every woman is battered.

    The amount of women in prison for beating people to death for shits and giggles is pretty high too.
    In reference to A song of Ice and Fire for every Sansa there's an Arya, Briene or even Cersei.
     
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  12. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    I like working with Sues, and my fandom has a high population of low-powered ones that work well. Maybe it's because the canon characters still outshine them. (The main two are both chosen ones prophesied to save the world and the other characters have some of the more extreme Sue traits.)

    Looking at Star Trek, Wesley isn't the only character that goes into Mary-Sue territory.

    Mental illness doesn't differentiate. Perhaps you could give examples of men that have opportunity for power but don't take it.

    My character came into the story accepting societal pressures to be girly and demure. She does get roughed up at one point, but even I would be a damsel if that many armored thugs were between me and freedom. She's aware that her rescuers could kill her if she annoyed them, but being compliant is very easy for her. Her life before this was always about following the rules and not doing anything exciting.
     
  13. Glen Snow
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    Glen Snow Member

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    "History favors the bold"
    I point to all the men that don't have power, quite a bit more of them versus the ones who took it. History doesn't record the ones who turn away from power, why would it? The only one that really stands out is Edward VIII of England who abdicated the throne for love.
    In fiction I could go...Luke Skywalker, Aragorn, Frodo, Samwise, Gandalf, pretty much anyone who resisted the Ring, Eragon. That's all I got right now.

    Stereotypes and sexism tend to disallow women from getting to the position in which they can take power. So I can list few in history compared to men. However here are some, Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Various Queens of England, Margret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel (chancellor of Germany), Oprah (power comes in many forms), Catherine the Great, Joan of Arc, Isabella I of Castile, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mary Queen of Scots, Indira Gandhi.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's possible for a female character to be 'react-y' without being assertive. In other words, she doesn't go around looking for gonads to kick, but if somebody threatens her, she's willing to fight with all she has to escape or prevent bad things from happening ...using every physical, mental and moral weapon at her disposal. Even if she loses the fight—which she well may do if she's not trained as a fighter—she's resisted and is NOT a willing victim. I think this makes her a strong character, even if she doesn't 'win.'

    This trait applies equally to male characters, too ...of course. Not every male is out there looking for a fight, or preparing for one. But that doesn't mean they can't or won't fight if survival is at stake.

    And there are odd ways of fighting. For example, being submissive can be a way of fighting. It's saying, right, I'll let you think I'm going along with this, that I buy your position of superiority. But then, the submissive victim starts looking for an opportunity to turn the tables, and when one arises, he/she takes it.
     
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  15. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    I've got to go looking into those women some more, but I seem to remember Hillary backing down a lot for the good of the government and like Indira starting out as an unofficial. That's the temper I'm after. The hobbits are the only ones in the male group that are the right level of passive to match what I'm picturing, where the human males you named (other than Eragon who I don't know,) all had pride padding their burden.

    I'm having trouble with adjusting my character to be at all capable at first and still meek. She might pull a princess Leia and participate in her own rescue after her knights show up. She does have oracle knowledge and holds stuff back, but it's mostly because she's afraid of what it might change.

    My character eventually takes on a role model (what no to do) that the man she's working with doesn't remember. Basically Umah's the wrong execution of a strong female: introduced just to stop AdultFanFic from doing Yaoi by being the girlfriend, and gets herself killed because she doesn't stop being assertive at a crucial moment.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just to clarify my point: Certainly there can be a female character who is passive in this situation. My concern is the risk that you will feel that "she's female" is sufficient motivation for her meekness.

    Societally-demanded meekness is generally about society. A woman who feels that she has a moral or societal duty to obey her husband, or a woman who feels that she has a societal duty to be sweet and feminine, is not necessarily going to allow those feelings to affect her, at all, in a survival situation. You are able to visualize her being strong enough to defend her children. Why can't you visualize her using those same resources, that same ability to put societal demands aside, to be strong enough to defend herself?

    Again, a woman can be meek and passive. But "she's a girl" is not enough of a reason for that. I know that you haven't given that as a reason, but I'm also not perceiving any other reason in your argument.
     
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