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21 December 2014 @ 05:50 am
Should be obvious  
A lack of female characters is always a choice.

Thanx to james_nicoll
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Smofbabe: snoopybookssmofbabe on December 21st, 2014 09:09 pm (UTC)
Sorry but in this case I agree with the author - well, not the author's obnoxious tone but his essential point. I don't think all stories need to have female characters. (For example, in the case of Heinlein, my favorite stories of his are ones where female characters are largely absent because when they're there, the author's iggies regarding women are on view...) If you want to tell a boy's adventure story with only guys, then I think you should feel free to do that and people shouldn't expect that women should make an appearance just for form's sake. Not every story is meant to reflect society as a whole.
browngirl on December 22nd, 2014 05:19 am (UTC)
When I was younger, people often told me that a girl couldn't do X or a Black kid couldn't do Y because all the people in stories who did X or Y were White and male.

When taken on the level of the individual story, of course there are some stories that are less likely to have women in them than others. The Master and Commander movie had one woman in one scene, which makes sense: although there were female sailors in the Royal Navy in the Age of Sail, they were few and far between, so an all-male cast has some logic. But relatively few stories fit such criteria. There's no reason why a story about computer programmers or medical students or chess players or orchestral musicians needs an all-male cast, except that the author doesn't think women are worth including. To say nothing of stories about starship pilots or terraformers or professors of magic or soldiers in 2200CE.
Smofbabe: snoopybookssmofbabe on December 22nd, 2014 06:42 am (UTC)
I agree that ethnic and gender diversity is an important value, and I think that it's especially important to show women and ethnic minorities in non-stereotypical roles. (I tend to think this is even more urgent in media-delivered content than in books.) However, at the same time, conscious-raising goes only so far.

Authors are often told "write what you know" and if an author - after clearly having been told that it would be more realistic if his stories reflected society as a whole where women are 50% of the population - doesn't feel that he wants to or can write women characters, then I don't think that it should be an obligation on his part to do so to meet a quota or other people's ideas about the story he feels most competent or most interested in telling. The fact that it won't be as well-rounded or as reflective of reality as a story that includes women characters is, as noted above, a choice. Although it means that his work is not likely to be something I'd be drawn to read or recommend, I still think it's a legitimate choice even if it's not the best choice.
eub on December 23rd, 2014 08:43 am (UTC)
if an author - after clearly having been told that it would be more realistic if his stories reflected society as a whole where women are 50% of the population - doesn't feel that he wants to or can write women characters

An author who feels he can't write women, they aren't "what he knows", seems like that kind of guy who thinks women are an alien species. How does the author interact with women in his life? Does he... get inside their heads sounds creepy here -- does he empathize with them?

I can take it as a possibility that avoiding female characters is in fact the least bad option for an author, in terms of the quality of what he writes. But... if you could see inside his life, don't you expect he's choosing, a little bit every day, to be the person that's true for? I do think we have some obligation not to do that.
Smofbabe: snoopybookssmofbabe on December 23rd, 2014 08:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do think there are many, many men who do not truly understand how women think - even some who sincerely try - and therefore cannot write convincing female characters, even minor ones.

But my main point is that no, I don't think they have an obligation to do so. I think that consciousness-raising about including more women in fiction to more truly reflect the world is a good thing. However, I don't think there's some universal obligation for authors to do so. If people want to write more limited fiction that doesn't portray a well-rounded universe, they have a perfect right to do that, and the rest of us have the right not to buy it or want to read it.

I think there's a big difference between saying "Authors should think about why they're not including more female characters in their work and consider doing so to more truly reflect the world around them" and "How dare authors not include women in their work."

Edited at 2014-12-23 08:48 pm (UTC)
et in Arcadia egoboo: Sacred Chaoapostle_of_eris on December 23rd, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)
A lack of female characters is OFTEN BUT NOT always a choice.
The overriding contingency is always: it depends on the story.
Billy Wilder's female leads (I'm a big Billy Wilder fan) included Greta Garbo, Ginger Rogers, Anne Baxter, Jane Wyman, Joan Fontaine, Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson, Jan Sterling, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elsa Lanchester, Shirley MacLaine, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis, Kim Novak, Judi West, Geneviève Page, Juliet Mills, Susan Sarandon, and Paula Prentiss. But he also made Stalag 17, set in a prisoner of war camp. It has no female characters at all.
Imnsho, judgement needs to be made on at least two levels: the individual story *and* the story teller's whole career.