ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here's an interesting essay about characters whose gender is not revealed.

Now the fun part is, I have done all the things  here.  I've written male and female characters.  I've written around a dozen sex/gender identities.  Usually I specify them.  Occasionally I don't, and I have done that both deliberately and accidentally.  I've written non-binary genders.  I've even got one whose gender is explicitly identified as "I'm not telling."  All of those things matter.  But they don't matter to every story.  It's okay to get through one and realize that you haven't tagged the character's gender.  It's okay to specify something out of the ordinary, whether that affects the plot or is background parity.  Just know what you're doing.

Gender and social development

Date: 2014-04-23 10:43 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I haven't written nearly as many gender identities as I know exist, in part because I haven't written fiction in around ten years. The mainstream culture in fiction has changed an awful lot (but with an equally long, or longer, road ahead).

But frankly, most of the time, I just didn't CARE. I mean, unless I set out a story where someone's gender identity was important to either the plot or the character interactions as they story progressed, it's a total non-issue for me. Sadly, it also means that I'm not going to hunt out stories specifically because they had this problem-- I ran into enough of that with teachers trying to be "helpful" by giving me books with "disabled main characters"-- some of which were okay, and some of which were horrible pap, and two or three of which should've been labeled "radioactive poison" on both covers, the spine, and every page in between.

Tell me an interesting story. If the person's gender identity matters for a /reason/, it'll work.

Just having spear-carriers who are transgender, non-gendered, multi-gendered, alien-gendered or whatever for the sake of "diversity" -- or worse, "controversy", is actively doing a disservice both to the readers who may identify with that gender, and to the entertainment industries. "Blank readers will take any crap we churn out," can be /proven/ by looking at the initial phases of other groups pushing into the mainstream. No matter how one fills in the blank, the story should be good enough to pull readers toward MORE of its type.

"not caring"

Date: 2014-04-24 03:06 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
For me "don't care" means that I can imagine Will Smith playing Harry Blackstone Coppefield Dresden, or Lois Lane who's polyamorous, a tiny Latina girl becoming the new Daredevil (possibly moving the main settings to high school, as is usual with Spiderman) or, in real life, my kids each settling down with a kewpie, a boyfriend, a girlfriend or alone without "breaking" my central wishes for their adult lives. Gender, race, orientation... I care more whether someone VOTES than those things.

As a reader, I want a story that is internally consistent, makes me THINK about something, even if it's just reminiscing about the months of ramen noodles and baked potatoes when dealing with underemployment and setting out into the world as an "adult". I'm willing to give the author space to tell their story with characters of color, of any gender, of any sexual orientation; I /very much/ like diversity, but I won't sacrifice the storytelling elements FOR that diversity.

I still have fellow geek friends who feel BETRAYED in some way by Samuel Jackson playing Nick Fury, as the "Nick Fury" of the comics they collected as kids was a middle-aged white guy. That's the other thing I don't get.

Re: "not caring"

Date: 2014-04-24 02:01 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Fair enough. I should probably say that while I enjoy the bending aspects of major changes, et cetera.

>>I like Miles Morales from the mixed-race description alone nevermind that I haven't gotten my hands on his comics yet.<<

Miles is the Ultimate Spiderman, and is an Avenger in that universe. YAAAY! I was worried he wouldn't last more than a few issues.

>> It is easy to botch and very challenging to do well. If you get it right, the results can be epic. I bought Elementary just for the double-tap of Asian!Joan Watson. Haven't watched it yet, that's our next intended series. <<

There are some mind-melting OTHER changes. Sherlock is a drug addict, and they do NOT sweep that under the rug. They're in New York instead of London, and the actor who plays SHerlock is not dark-haired, reserved, or skinny as a rail. He is, in fact, a major BERK to most people. I think you're going to love the series-- though they don't introduce Mrs. Hudson at ALL in season 1. (evil, merry giggling) SPOILERS!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-23 10:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catsittingstill.livejournal.com
In my opinion it is okay to not tag a character's gender in a story--but you want to be aware how people will tend to fill that in. If you don't mind that a lot of your readers will assume the character is male, that's fine. But if you want people to perceive women, or ungendered characters, I think you're going to need to spell it out for a lot of readers.

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