1. B055man

    B055man Member

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    Would this character be considered male or female?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by B055man, Mar 7, 2021.

    A man is hunting a giant female bird on a faraway continent so he can earn fame and money. He succeeds in killing the bird but is engulfed in a bright light which destroys his body. When he wakes up, he finds himself standing on a perch, inhabiting the body of the bird he killed.

    Would this character be considered male or female? He has the exact same body as the female bird and her name. He has all his memories from his days as a human but no memories from the bird's previous life.
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    It would have female biology with male psychology.

    It reminds me of Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep, featuring a female character (human) who has been taken over by an ancient sorcerer from beyond the grave. At times she's more feminine and seems to become herself for a while then suddenly she's hard and merciless and driven the way he always was, and her goals change.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
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  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Actually I thought a little more about it, and it's largely up to you as the author. If you want to say that the female biology overtook him and he became female, then that's what happened. Or if his psychology overruled the female body, then the resulting creature becomes male. But with female body and biology.
     
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  4. alw86

    alw86 Active Member

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    I would say male. Imagine it for yourself: If you, right now, were transported into the a body of the opposite sex, with all your current thoughts, feelings and memories, would you call yourself male or female?

    If this is going to be a major character, you might be interested to read Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent. It's a non-fiction book by a woman who went undercover as a man in several male dominated institutions. I can't actually remember the purpose of her experiment, but I do remember that she talks about the unexpected mental toll it takes on her to be constantly perceived as the wrong gender. It's similar to what transgender people report, but her experiences might be particularly interesting to you because she experiences the contrast between being perceived correctly as a woman in her normal life and then being perceived as a man.
     
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  5. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

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    I'm not sure why it has to be one or the other? Also aren't there other questions to consider, like whether he or she or they are a human or bird? Or how that change (in addition to the gender change) would affect their psychology/character?

    This is all hand-waving aside the question of how you can even have a human mind in a bird brain, without changing the way it thinks just because of that. But it seems to me that even if this guy's mind was perfectly, wholly, instantly transferred then this would still be a pretty fundamental change to this character, along a lot of dimensions.

    Sorry if you already have answers for all this, but this just seems like the kind of question you can't answer easily or in isolation from other factors.
     
  6. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Contributor Contributor

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    Why not ask them? Let the story unfold - it may not matter, but if it does, you might get a clue; though of course the significance of any clues would be up to your interpretation. But then, it's your story
     
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  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    It doesn't matter unless you have some plot point or some themes that make it matter. As far as reproduction, the original consciousness is in a female body. His psyche would be shaped, presumably, by a male experience, but note that human gender roles and animal gender roles don't always match (in some animals, females do the hunting, and in other animals family units are more solid while others the male may be more absent).

    You have to decide if it's a major concern for the book or if this gender bender cross species stuff is a minor element of the story.

    If you can find it online, watch the origins music video for Bonnie Tyler's 'If You Were a Woman (and I was a Man)'. This theme, which popped up in a few of Jom Steinman's projects is apparent in the video, not just the music (you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it). By the way, Desmond Child would later rewrite 'If You Were a Woman (and I was a Man)', becoming 'You Give Love a Bad Name' by Bon Jovi, but I digress.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  8. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Is the man slowly accepting their state as the bird? If so I'd do a slow progression towards identifying themselves as female.
     
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Ok, what's it like @GrahamLewis ? :cool:
     
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  10. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I hear this about lions, and one day I did a big forehead slap. When you're a lioness, hunting isn't really a very dangerous job—they hunt prey animals after all. meanwhile, I think the males stay behind and protect the cubs from hyenas, leopards and other lions, which are far more dangerous. Not entirely sure about that though, it's just a theory.
     
  11. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Funny you mention the lions have to protect them from hyenas because aren't the females the hunters in hyena packs? I know they are considered the more dominant sex and are bigger than the males.
     
  12. Mannadew

    Mannadew New Member

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    I respect your creative intellegence and am only replying to assist in your question. The mental male state of the man would deteriorate once the biological functions of the feminine body begin to press sore agaisnt it.
     
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  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Like I say, it's just a theory, I haven't researched it or anything. But my intuition is that nature puts the biggest strongest ones where they're the most needed. That might be different for hyenas than lions? I mean, hunting hyenas will encounter many things bigger and fiercer than themselves, so maybe you need the strongest ones hunting?

    All just theory though.
     
  14. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe I was too glib.

    What I meant was simply that rather than for the author to assign a gender, it might be best to set the question aside and develop the character; then its nature will become obvious, and to the extent it matters, those traits will be out there for the reader to decide based on his, her, or their views. To label its gender seems unnecessary to me.

    I'm reminded of a very old joke, which I read somewhere in something by James Thurber: A woman asked a zookeeper if a particular hippopotamus was male or female. The zookeeper replied, "Madam, I hardly think that question would matter to anyone but another hippopotamus."
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  15. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

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    Some of the animals lions hunt can be incredibly dangerous - some of the buffalo can gore them with their horns and even smaller animals like zebra can break bones if they kick right (which is essentially a death sentence). Also bear in mind any injury sustained during hunts, even quite small ones, can kill the animal if they get infected. They would usually leave larger prey unless they are hunting in groups (which lionesses normally do). Males also do hunt sometimes, and have to be able to hunt if the are wandering (like when males are first kicked out of the pride and have to go off to start their own).

    As for the question for this thread, have you seen the Disney film spies in disguise? It's a kid's comedy so probably not the same angle you're going for, but a male spy gets turned into a pigeon and he doesn't realise it's a female pigeon body until he lays an egg halfway through the film and it's just played as a quick joke. I think it's not necessarily something you have to focus on unless it's a plot point, because as others had said a female bird would be a different experience to being a female human so you can have a completely unique way of experiencing it.

    And I think I'd be more concerned with the sudden change of species if it were me. Also may depend on the POV, if it's first person and you're using 'I' it is easier to write around, if you're using third person and want to choose pronouns then see which you think match the character better. Also it depends how other animals interact in your story - are they going to be communicating with other birds? How do the birds perceive gender? Is it different to humans? Are they going to be conversing with other birds or is it all going to be based on animal behaviour, reacting to their smell etc? These will all play into it.
     
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  16. B055man

    B055man Member

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    It's a major part of the story. The bird he becomes is considered a deity on the continent the story takes place in. They interact with humans and other animals and insists to them that he is male. Others notice with the huge change in the bird's personality, unaware of what happened to it.
     
  17. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

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    Just out of curiosity, what happens to the consciousness of the bird while this happens?
     
  18. B055man

    B055man Member

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    What do you mean? If you mean the old bird, that consciousness is gone forever after being killed by the man.
     
  19. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Makes me think of that Borges story where the husband comes back as a parrot to pester his widow.
     
  20. B055man

    B055man Member

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    An immortal witch is cast into the body of a steer and trapped within its bones by a group of shamans so that she can no longer use her magic for dark deeds. At first the steer remains the same but gradually becomes more sentient as the witch gets used to her new flesh and bone.

    Would this character be male or female? The body is male but the mind isn't.

    FYI - A steer is a young castrated bull, his dangly bits were taken away long before becoming the witch's vessel.
     
  21. madhoca

    madhoca Contributor Contributor

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    Must it be either? Perhaps the witch, as she got used to her new body, would take on some male characterisitics...
    BTW, my other language is Turkish, which is a completely ungendered language (everything is like "it"), so it's difficult sometimes to understand the fuss about pronouns and "gender".
    If you're writing fantasy, you can make the character as fluid as you like. It would be interesting to see different reactions warring within the character.
     
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  22. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Isn't this already a thread? I remember the discussion from some time ago, but this was just posted today.

    Why did you use the term gender rather than sex? Are you using it in its original way, to refer to biological sex? Or in the new way, referring to how it feels inside?

    I probably already said this on the earlier thread, but you might want to look up Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep. There's an old male sorcerer who transfers his 'spirit' or consciousness into a young woman before his aging body dies. Sometimes she's herself, sometimes his consciousness takes over. When it does she seems to shift subtly but noticeably. Her face becomes harder and more evil, the way his used to look, and her sort of soft, feminine behavior becomes determined and purposeful, driven in ways that her soft frame seems incapable of sustaining. It's like a severe masculine attitude overwhelms her.

    I think the story helps you to think about the difference between the inner 'spirit' or character and the biological body. And I think that's what you're getting at here.

    Lovecraft's stories can all be downloaded on Archive.org and elsewhere, and might be posted online somewhere.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
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  23. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    As I recall the general answer was before, why are you asking us? As the author, that's for you to determine. I mean, wouldn't that be the main point of the story, or a major one? If you don't have any ideas on it, then why would you be writing the story?

    Or is this more just to spark discussion on the topic?
     
  24. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    Wouldn't a more important question be is the witch even human or not? In the other story there was a person that became a huge godlike bird or something and maybe they embrace it (or have no choice) but how would it matter if the witch is a female character or not if it's a harmless bull? Are you talking about the witch's identity? Emotions? Or are you concerned about which pronouns to use after the transfer?
     
  25. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    We raise cattle, and I'm still kinda entertained by the idea of casting the witch into a steer. You could use the term "it" or if you want to be more specific, "he-it" for when the steer is in control and "she-it" for when the witch has ascendancy. You could also invent new terms by shortening those words into "h'it" and "sh'it."
     
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