Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

  • Mood:

Gender Roles

Here is an excellent essay about gender roles in fantasy, especially female characters.  It talks about limitations and shifting tropes over the decades.

(My characters pretty much looked at each other and went, "There are limitations?"  And Lian went, "Yeah, they're like undergrowth.  If they get thick enough to notice, just whip out your machete and hack your way through them.")

I particularly like this bit:

Some of the commenters were unhappy with books where the female character can't sew and 'thinks she's better" than other women because of it. Couldn't this character be a role model for those who can't sew and were continually put down because of their lack of this so-called essential female skill?

... because all of my characters tend to be balanced.  Each has a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses.  You can really see this in the Torn World characters I design.  Fala, the consummate wilderness guide, is adequate at her best domestic skills and abysmal at many.  She refers to her efforts at crafting as "tormenting yarn" and "bending some sticks."  Tekura, who started as a ranger before settling as a raiser, is a brilliant trapper but not so good with a sling because he's skittish.  Vlaran is an awesome fisher, but hates snow-unicorns and is lousy at handling them.  Nrath, a boy with a precocious knack for healing, has so little navigation sense that he ropes himself to someone else when they leave the village.  Nleimen, a Southern girl, is only so-so at most homemaking skills and largely indifferent to romance, but keen on art and science.

Nobody gets to be Mary Sue and save ALL the days.  Everyone has a weakness, even the heroic characters.  Everyone has something they are good at, even characters who would be throwaways in most stories.  Rai, a blind shopkeeper, is very observant and deft at putting details together.  Ularki, who is mentally slow, is Itrelir's best ratter.  Marai, who is deaf, is a beloved raiser in Itadesh.  If you look in the character sheets, you can see mentions of when they did something exciting and memorable, and often times when something went horribly wrong for them.  That's life.  And it brings your characters to life, if you let them.
Tags: fantasy, gender studies, reading, torn world, writing
Subscribe

  • Poem: "The Greatest Accomplishment of a Bartender"

    This poem came out of the May 4, 2021 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "feeling out of…

  • Call for Cosponsors

    librarygeek has sponsored "Quicker Than You Can Lower Them" (the second in the latest batch of 4 poems about Warshirt and Spotted…

  • No More Stolen Sisters

    Today is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. This is a longstanding human rights issue. Many…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 12 comments

  • Poem: "The Greatest Accomplishment of a Bartender"

    This poem came out of the May 4, 2021 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "feeling out of…

  • Call for Cosponsors

    librarygeek has sponsored "Quicker Than You Can Lower Them" (the second in the latest batch of 4 poems about Warshirt and Spotted…

  • No More Stolen Sisters

    Today is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. This is a longstanding human rights issue. Many…