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  1. Hublocker

    Hublocker Member

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    Problem with women

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Hublocker, Aug 24, 2019.

    I didn't realize it while writing it, but reading my first draft of my mystery (whydunnit) novel I see that I don't portray women very well.

    My protagonist's wife is dead.

    He goes to his old home town and stays with an old acquaintance and the first night she lets him into her bed.

    He finds out that the 40 year old murder he is investigating was over a First Nations woman who was an easy lay for itinerant white guys passing through town.

    Continuing his investigation he meets a younger First Nations woman in a bar and she tries to seduce him.

    The only other women in the story are old and white.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
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  2. ElConesaToLoco

    ElConesaToLoco Active Member

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    Death happens.

    People can have unresolved sexual tension with old acquaintances. Not a big deal.

    Women have sexual impulses.

    Refer to previous point.

    Old white ladies exist.
     
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  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    What's your genre gritty crime? If so I don't see too much of a problem. If it's a light romance/mystery though, then you might have a problem. Also I find these more clich├ęs than it being an issue about women - if you flip the gender and it's a woman detective with an ex who battered her, and men keep falling for her it's the same problem -- kinda predictable.

    The issue will be more on how they're portrayed in the scenes themselves then just the fact that they're bedding people or becoming victims.

    It could also be that writer's symptom of wanting every reader to think their mc is hot and desirable so they're bedding people and people are coming onto them. I have issues with this myself. I ask myself if each scene is necessary and try to find another way of making them 'hot'.
    I don't know what your genre is or where the story takes place but some of this could be just legitimate choices. Not malicious. I find this obsession to include people of all races ridiculous, do what you want and what you can and what makes sense. I live in an area where black people and Mexican's are bussed in for farm work during the summer if I wrote that it might sound racist but it'd be accurate. Tone is the key.
     
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  4. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    What in the heck is First Nations?

    As for women, they (like men) are not all alike. They do tend to be a bit more irrational and socially gullible but not so much that they would blindly go to a glorious death as men have been known to do. First make them human and then factor in the gender. If you actually do get women figured out, would you please let the rest of us know?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
  5. Hublocker

    Hublocker Member

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    That is the term used in Canada for what Americans call "American Indians," what Brits call "Red Indians."

    Funny thing is many FN people call themselves "Indians" but it is forbidden for white people to say those words.

    Indigenous or Aboriginal people are also acceptable terms.
     
  6. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    Not that I'm trying to be one of 'those people', but I think the official correct term for 'American Indians' is actually Native Americans. It does include Canadian natives and Central American FNs, I think.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    theres nothing wrong with an indian* character being easy... but if all your indian characters are easy you are asking for trouble (* see also black, gay whatever)

    The same applies to female characters - there is nothing wrong with some female characters being easy, or otherwise having negative characteristics, however if they all do, it will run the risk of being interpreted as misogyny
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
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  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I think that is the starting point for all of Chuck Tingles books. :p
     
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  9. Hublocker

    Hublocker Member

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    Native Americans. Right.

    And in New Zealand the Maori object to be called "Natives."
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Lets try and keep this on track - It has a number of contentious issues, but if you want to discuss the correct term for various races may be take that to the debate room - experience suggests its semtex lovingly coated with napalm and left to dry in the desert sun... I don't want to wake up a fire of amazonian proportions because someone wandered by flicking his bic
     
  11. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    "Easy" women doesn't have to be a problem. It can be and certainly is in a lot of writing. As has been said, it's all about genre and context.

    If a Charles Bukowski book showed respect for a female character, we could be sure it was ghost written. His protagonist (ahem, Charles himself) had unhealthy attitudes toward women, and the text reflected that. For his fans, it's forgivable, because he never claims to be anything but a lech.

    Surreal crime drama and the like that pays homage to noir and other throwback genres get away with a lot, because in itself, the misogyny is a comment on attitudes from earlier times.

    If, on the other hand, you can't find excuses for it in the genre, look to the context. Do you present the reader with enough background on the character that we understand the behavior? People in the real world are often desperate for sexual or romantic attention, be it healthy or completely self-destructive. That's extremely realistic. The difference in artistic representation often comes down to sympathy. Does she hit on strangers because her dad was mean (or worse?) Is she just that confident and forward and legitimately thinks he's hot? If the behavior is explained by character traits and background, it not only shouldn't be a problem, it might enrich the reality of the scenes.

    If, on the other other hand, you're reading back over your work and find yourself reevaluating attitudes in yourself you'd rather not have or put into the story, then sure, ignore all this other stuff and do a rewrite. Nothing lost but time, right?
     
  12. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    There is no fixed attitude or personality or reactions that are just male or female. It's not that you don't portray women well and more likely you just didn't understand the character. Writing a woman is the same as writing a male - you invented the character. All men are not alike and neither are women. You get women who are two-timing and men who are the same. If it serves a purpose in your story I wouldn't worry about. People are so worried about offending these days. If you want to write a brassy female you have to write a respectable woman in as well so you don't offend the feminists. If you want a character that portrays religion badly you have to write one that doesn't so you don't upset religious people. I don't agree with that completely.

    I honestly wouldn't worry. If it's the characters personality then it says more about her than about the sisterhood. Just my opinion.
     
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  13. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    You can get away with a LOT in mysteries. I'd be disappointed if there weren't a few cliches in there.
     
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  14. Gallogladh

    Gallogladh Member

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    And?

    Some women have sex. Some women are old. Some women are white. What's 'negative,' and why does it matter?
     
  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    And some old women have sex. This bodes well for my marriage down the road.
     
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  16. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Now that's a mystery to put a cliche in.

    You could try adding some female characters (if there's room) or gender swap some existing male characters to get some better representation. You could also gender swap some existing female characters (I.E. the victim) so some of the negative attributes aren't drawn specifically along gender lines, which could add some interesting dynamics.
     
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  17. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The fact that you are concerned about your portrayal leads me to believe that you might want to reconsider whatever it is you've done. See if you can pinpoint what makes you uneasy. You might want to give what you've written to a trusted beta reader to see if they can help.

    I like what @peachalulu said. A lot of what drives these kinds of perceptions is tone. What kind of tone does your protagonist take towards the women currently in his life? Does he assume all native American women are 'easy?' Has he got something to learn here?

    If you need the two women you've mentioned to be the kind of women who readily go with men, you'll probably need some sort of contrast. Think about it in terms of just 'women.' If you portrayed all women as 'easy,' you'd have a problem. Portraying all native women as 'easy' is simply narrowing the focus ...but it's the same problem.

    Whenever you portray individuals as representative of a 'group,' you are in dodgy territory. If you can portray them as individuals instead, using tone and contrast, you'll be fine.
     
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  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    "Grandma Bangs"

    Chapter 1:

    It was a dark and stormy night, but that didn't stop Grandma from....
     
  19. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Your problem may lie in your neglect at paying enough attention to the story arc of the women involved. How did they get where they were, what happened to them to steer their choices? Otherwise, it seems that all the women in the story are simply assumed to be on the prowl for sex, and while it may be a shorthand way of getting through the action, it leaves me with the impression that they're just caricatures rather than characters.
     
  20. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    This is a very good point. As described here in shorthand, the defining characteristics of your female characters are how much sex they have (and how desirable they are, given that the old ones don't get any specific mention at all). If that's the attitude that pervades the whole work then yeah, you need to rethink things.
    Women can be in control of their sexuality and should be, but they're not defined by it (or if they are, it's their choice).
     
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  21. KerryD

    KerryD New Member

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    I think an easy fix would be to write the scene as if it were a meeting between two guys or girls totally uninterested in each other, and then go back and change the sex if it needs to be changed. You might find it does not matter what sex the supporting character is, as long as you main character gets the info needed to advance the plot.[/QUOTE]
     

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