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Bad feminist. No biscuit. - helen-louise — LiveJournal
Bad feminist. No biscuit.
I realised last night, I'm on page 37 of my novel and there hasn't been a single female character yet. Not one with actual dialogue. One's mentioned in passing and the other is a horse - I hardly think this counts. The only exception would be if you don't know that I Only Write Slash and assume that the first-person narrator is a woman. Damn!

This is doubly annoying since it's fanfiction, so I'm stuck using the characters who exist in canon. In the scenes with the Blades (the Emperor's bodyguards), I've tried to use the female ones, but there are only two of those. Even worse - and for this I really am a bad feminist who won't be getting any biscuits, my original character Alix moans about a couple of female Mages Guildhall heads. Both of them are incredibly annoying & incompetent in the game: one, who only cares about her own research, not about the welfare of her fellow mages; and another, who has virtually no magical ability whatsoever and only got the job because of who she knew.

This really sucks and I don't know how to fix it. There is a female alchemist, and Oleta, the country's best Restoration trainer, who both have to be written into the chapter I couldn't face writing - oh, and a woman town guard. That's about Chapter 3 of this, if the novel was structured like that. Oleta comes up again in the second-to-last chapter when Alix is completely broken following [MAJOR SPOILER]. There's also a female archivist in the Mages Guild Library who has a part somewhere around the middle. Apart from those, I'd be adding women for the sake of adding women. Hmm.

In other news, I will be at neither the bisexual activists' weekend nor Birmingham BiFest. My body is beyond broken right now. In fact, I've had so much time for writing due to being completely unable to sleep because of pain :/ Right now I can walk about 5 m, and it's fricking agony. Dragging my arse into College today for the first time in two weeks, then home to collapse with the laptop. Urgh.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
firecat From: firecat Date: 12th November 2012 23:36 (UTC) (Link)
I assume that writing the characters gender switched isn't an appealing option?
baratron From: baratron Date: 12th November 2012 23:58 (UTC) (Link)
Empress Martina Septim? The thought of that makes my brain break.

To borrow stellarwind's description, "That makes me think of one of those over-sexualized RPG female characters - but STILL WITH SEAN BEAN'S VOICE!"

Also *shuffles feet in embarrassment* I have A Thing for Hot Boy On Boy Action, and do not have A Thing for Hot Girl On Girl Action, unless I happen to be one of the girls. It's very odd, that.

And I find hurt/comfort squicky if the person being hurt and then comforted is female. It's too... close to real life. Whereas it's the biggest kink I have if they're male.

So, in short... the only way I could write it genderswitched would be to leave Alix and Martin as male, and then switch some of the minor characters. Which I think would just be Odd, and would change some of the dynamics (especially if the monks ended up as nuns - do there exist anywhere orders of nuns who are retired soldiers and keep swords stashed away under their habits? Actually, that in itself is awesome enough that I might have to write a short fic just with the monks).
firecat From: firecat Date: 13th November 2012 04:55 (UTC) (Link)
I totally want to see fic about retired soldier nuns with swords under their habits. :)

That aside, I think you should write your fic exactly the way you want it even if it doesn't have female characters. Writing exactly what you please is feminist in and of itself.
elynne From: elynne Date: 12th November 2012 23:57 (UTC) (Link)
If you can, plan a future scene in which two female characters have an important conversation? Hmm. Is there some kind of female administrator, house/clan leader, ambassador, or something, who can have a conversation with the bodyguards?

I'm very sorry to hear about your pain, and I hope it clears up as soon as possible.
baratron From: baratron Date: 13th November 2012 01:04 (UTC) (Link)
It's rather difficult since the story is entirely in the first person, so any such conversation would have to be observed by Alix (the narrator) without him taking part in it... Also, I can only think of one combination of characters that it would work for, and it wouldn't be a very long conversation, and would not pass the Bechdel Test due to being about a man :S

treacle_well From: treacle_well Date: 13th November 2012 01:48 (UTC) (Link)
Would it be possible at some point for Alix to have some kind of encounter/conversation with one of the the woman he moans about, that would give them a bit of depth and perhaps some background that would show some of that annoyingness/incompetence from a different perspective. I'm thinking, for example, some kind of insight to experience and personality that would make "only cares about her own research" be an over-simplified observation, and the truth being more complex and feminism-friendly.
baratron From: baratron Date: 13th November 2012 02:50 (UTC) (Link)
Alix, at the back of my mind, says "If I'm going to have an indepth conversation with any woman, I'd rather that she was competent and friendly than incompetent and annoying!". When everyone in that branch of the Mages Guild moans about the guildhall head for the same reason, including other women, you know it's not just sexism. She sent a really low-level mage off to live in a cave by himself for months on end because his research was "smelly", and then he got trapped there by monsters that were too powerful for him, poor sod! The characters that Alix moans about really are unbearable.

Sorry. It must seem like I'm shooting everyone's ideas down when people are only trying to help, but the only reason I've managed to write 15,000 words is because I've been letting the story happen without too much input from me. The characters have just been telling me what happens and I've been typing it into the document. I'm now sitting here procrastinating and stuck because I've started trying to interfere with the story's own organic growth. Oops.

I think he's right, though - focusing on the women who are clever, loyal, friendly, and competent at their jobs has to be better than trying to redeem the ones who aren't. Jena and Caroline (in the Blades), and Oleta the healer, are worth writing about. The Skingrad and Bruma Mages Guild heads can be brushed aside with one line.
treacle_well From: treacle_well Date: 13th November 2012 03:02 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, there's writing, and then there's editing and rewriting. For now, just do the writing--go with the story's organic growth. When you finish it, if you still like the story enough to spend more time with it, and feel up to re-reading it with a critical eye and getting feedback from others, that's the time to think about what parts need tweaking or deletion, or addition, or substantial reworking. And if you're happy with it after all without changes, then that's fine too.

Edited at 2012-11-13 03:53 (UTC)
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