Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Girls Not on Film

I've noticed a trend in my writing lately that honestly hadn't occurred to me until I read a rather lengthy, and extremely poignant, article on the lovely interwebs.

Article Here.  Yes, it's quite long but the importance of what it discusses cannot be understated on a blog that purports to be about writing.

Back on point, I went back over the unfinished works that I have in my folder and realized that I'm writing a lot about women lately.  Greenhorn has a female protagonist in a setting that doesn't usually boast them.  Soulless has one as well.  My short piece of frontier horror fiction follows a thirteen year old girl's struggle to drag her father's body back to civilization.  My colonial sci-fi piece features a female war hero turned convict.

Looking through the stories I had to ask myself if I was writing about women simply because they were women.  Would each story change if the gender of the main character did?  In a world where it is common to suggest that everyone is equal it becomes that much more important to remember that being equal and being uniform are not the same.  Characters, like people, should be unique and to suggest that gender doesn't have an impact on our behavior and personality is disingenuous.  I believe that the female perspective does bring something different to the table than the male perspective.

I'm not sure when I started to put women in the most prominent positions in my work but I think the article makes it pretty clear that women are horribly underrepresented in most forms of popular fiction.  The fact that finding a well crafted female protagonist in a work of fiction that isn't romance or some hybrid of romance is so refreshing should be a brightly lit warning sign.

That said, it is also true that some male writers struggle with presenting the differences in genders appropriately.  Some female writers are equally unable to overcome that hurdle.  Perhaps it isn't a matter of difficulty representing the other gender, but difficulty with writing in general.  Just because it is harder for someone to present a cross-gender viewpoint isn't reason not to pursue it.  We only advance our ability by challenging our weaknesses.

I hope that my stories present their protagonists as three-dimensional, fully realized people regardless of the gender I've chosen.  I hope that my presentation of female characters come across as believable and honest.  Mostly, though, I hope that others out there are making the same efforts.

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