November 20th, 2009

Kal Writes

Writing Female Characters.

I'm in a reflective mood today and was thinking about the writing of female characters/protagonists. Someone mentioned recently they found it odd that I mainly tend to write from a male protagonist's point of view.

Of course, one main reason is because the character that captures my imagination the most happens to be a male character. But that doesn't answer the whole question because even for my OCs, the ones that I tend to do the POVs for are the male characters. The females tend to be 'appendages' who only interact with their male partners and seem to 'disappear', like a light in a fridge that turns off when the door is closed.

I'm actually quite bothered by this now that I think of it. When I look around at TV series/movies/books, IMO, it seems to be the norm and any departure is the exception. The majority of the most interesting and most developed characters are the male ones. Any females that fall in this category, usually tend to be caricatures of what a women is.

Let's face it. In B7, the females are all given interesting backgrounds and skills but the moment anything interesting or important happens, they usually get shoved to the side and end up sitting behind the teleport, waiting and wringing their hands about what the men are up to. Even ones who supposedly have the smarts and skills to make positive contributions, all of a sudden, in the presence of one of the men, and one man in particular, seem to be unable to make decisions on their own, or even attempt to, or leave you scratching your head because you would think that someone with their ability wouldn't have to ask anyone about something that should be their specialty. The few exceptions where they shine, are just that, rare exceptions.

How many fics are written where one of the B7 females are the protagonists and show smarts just as equally or more than their male counterparts? And how many of us bother to read such fics or given the choice of those stories as opposed to ones focused on the men, would actually pick a female-focussed one, unless it's a sex fic?

Why is this? Is it because most of the writers in the popular media are male and don't have a clue how to portray women? Is it because the tv series/movies/books I'm interested in are mainly geared towards men and they really don't care about female characters except for a few narrowly defined functions that do little justice to them as real characters?

I did write a major scene recently to develop one of the female characters, giving her a strong POV. It is doable and turned out a lot more interesting than I thought it would be but I had to make a real effort to do it. Maybe I should try to write a female character that is a main protagonist.

I want to make an effort because I don't want to make the same mistakes and do a misjustice to the way female characters are portrayed, become a party to the marginalization of women in fiction or to encourage the stereotypes.

It's one of the reasons why I don't tend to read slash, apart from being turned off by really explicit stuff of any orientation. I'm not opposed to those types of relationships but it just seems to me that women are even more minimalized and marginalized in those types of fics than other ones. And even worse, they become completely unimportant because even the one use they have in adolescent male minds, is completely done away with by glorifying the male-male interactions as far more desirable.

But that is just my opinion. Maybe there are slash fics that don't do that to the portayal of women and actually treat them with the same respect and don't push them down or make them invisible in order to glorify the male interactions.

But as a female, I'm highly offended at what is done to female characterizations. I fact, the more that I'm thinking about it, the more I'm becoming sick of it.