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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Writing Women: Part 1, Or: THE VAGINA! IT DOES NOTHING! (Girlcember 4)

Hello hello!

So, it's common knowledge that in addition to writing my own books, I'm an editor. Obviously, I also like to read. I try to avoid writing about, well, writing on my blog, but I've been sitting on this topic for a while. Literally, if you like--because the thing I've been meaning to talk about since December is writing women. Depression, migraines, and a nasty flu have interrupted that, but I figured better late than never. So! Writing women. Let's talk.

One thing I've noticed a lot with male authors (or people who identify as male, anyway) is that they don't seem to 'get' female characters. This is often an excuse cited when the dearth of active female protagonists outside of romantic fiction comes up. "But women are hard to write," I hear, with much hand-wringing and sorrowful moaning. "How do you write a woman?"

Similarly, I find that female authors are actually just bad at women. Overly-idealised, often thin characters who are supposed to be rebellious but end up bland wish-fullfilling self-inserts...well, I've criticized Mary Sues in the past, and I'm not re-treading that. I'm not saying self-insert Gary Stews (the dude version) don't exist; they're just as obnoxious. However, female characters get the brunt of the difficulty, and I like writing and reading about women, so that's what I'm focusing on. Please note that this is mostly targeted at sci-fi/fantasy/cross-genre works, but the advice still applies to romance.

Source.  'Ensign Sue Must Die' is the original source and is now on my to-read list.

What's a woman?

Let's be clear on my definition of gender first, though. For most intents and purposes, people usually have either a vagina or a penis. Some people would prefer to have a different bit between their legs than they do, some would prefer both, some could do without either, etc, etc. Most of the time, the stuff between someone's legs lines up with how they see themselves. For example, I have a vagina (shocking, I know) and I see myself as a woman. This is called your sexual identification. As you can see from the link, most people don't get to (or need to) choose the bits they'd like to have. Believe it or not, it does not always line up with having XX or XY chromosomes, as chromosomes don't determine sex as neatly as we used to think. Sex is assigned based on what's between a person's legs, and one's identity may change with time or become fluid, but assigned sex does not define who a person is. 

However, the bit between your legs and what you choose to do with it (your orientation is the 'what you choose to do with it') may not be related to your gender role (stuff you do, according to society) or self-perception (how you think of yourself).

Right, so, still with me? If you're not familiar with some of these terms, there's no harm in asking. I can wait for a research break. Meet you back here in five for part 2!

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

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