You are viewing sarahtales

Previous Entry | Next Entry

writing1
There is a picture I look at when I am feeling generally useless, or terrible, or unmotivated, or despairing, wishing that I had depth perception so I could be a truck driver or you know, any sort of mathematical ability so I could be an accountant.

I find anger very motivating - look at that!

Ms. Magazine did a piece on young adult literature and feminism in their fall edition, and they interviewed me (I felt so fancy. Mum, Ms. Magazine, check me out, are you proud?) They also interviewed smarter people than me, including the editor of the Demon's Lexicon series, Karen Wojtyla. She also edits Holly Black's books, so you can see she is clearly a fabulous editor and all mistakes I make are on me and not her.

I haven't read the piece yet (curse you Irish postal system, always losing my things) but I do remember saying at one point that I loved young adult books the best, and was proud to be writing them at this time, because it was thrilling that teenage girls, who are pretty often denigrated - seen as silly, shrieky, with girly being an insult, and so on - have created this golden age of a genre by loving literature. (Which is not to knock the guy or the grown-up readers of young adult, of course!) It makes me happy to think about people getting profoundly engaged and profoundly influenced by media.

I myself am very influenced by media. Okay, so let me admit to being gross sometimes. I think we all are, sometimes: the last time I realised I was being gross (both sexist and racist, actually) was... earlier today. But let me admit to a time I was specifically gross. At one time in my late teens/early twenties I wouldn't have thought I could be sexist. Because I was a feminist, and all! And yet I clearly remember discussing the female characters in the Harry Potter series and saying such things as 'She's too perfect - but I don't like the faults she has.' It took seeing people say the exact same things I'd said, but about girl characters in books/movies/TV shows I really loved, for me to realise 'Oh, wow. I was being pretty sexist, right about then.' And then I felt awful. But I'm really glad I got to read and watch the girls in books, movies and TV shows that I loved, just the same.

(Memo: this is not to say criticising fictional girls is bad! But one rule for me is seeing different criteria applied to guys than girls - if a guy character never gets criticised for being too perfect/who he's dating/what he's wearing, for instance, that's an indication that Younger Sarah might be doing it wrong.)

The thing about the picture that makes me angry - it doesn't make me angry just because it's sexist, which hey, it is. (Gentlemen: a world of adventure awaits! Ladies: well, you're ladies, right? That is your ONE ONLY POSSIBLE job? Leaving alone the fact that, say, schemer or match-maker might be a better description of what Emma actually does with her time.)

What this picture is really about to me is a portrayal of limitations placed on awesomeness. (I'm not making a call about the shows it portrays, just talking about the portrayal.) And the fiction I like the most is that which says 'There is no limit on awesomeness.' Because, and this seems a ridiculously obvious thing to say, having no limit on awesomeness means more awesomeness.

Like, my very, very first fantasy novel of all time was Tamora Pierce's In the Hand of the Goddess (I think my mother thought it was historical) and I didn't think much about the way the heroine being the action-heroine star of the show, who uses contraception and has sex with several dudes and it's all good. I just thought 'that is an awesome book.' Because I didn't have to trip on any limits to awesomeness put there.

Another example of limits put on awesomeness: books like What Katy Did and The Secret Garden. I love them. I love The Secret Garden so much it's kind of embarrassing. But in both of them a main character gets a seemingly-almost-magically complete healing, and that's a limit placed on awesomeness because it does tend to suggest a character cannot reach their full awesomeness without said healing. But those books were written a while ago, whereas R.J. Anderson's Knife (Spell Hunter in the US) was written quite recently. The wheelchair-using hero, Paul, is offered magical healing, and he says 'Yeah, thanks, but no, there's something else I want.'

The past is another country. We're learning to do things better here.

In Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix I learned stuff about Asian myth that I didn't know, and that was awesome. I spent a good deal of time explaining and doing imitations for a monster made out of the bits of dead people to my increasingly upset friends.

There is a lot of room for improvement in media. I was horrified to read this post on Elizabeth Scott's blog talking about the LGBTQ landscape in YA - less than ten per cent of submissions have books with gay characters? Not even protagonists, though there should be more - less than ten per cent have them even there existing at all in a whole cast of characters? Methuselah on a bicycle.

But one of the most popular YA series in the world right now (The Hunger Games) centres on an action heroine. I saw a whole crowd of (mostly teenage girl) readers let out a spontaneous cheer at the mention of the gay couple in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments books. There are books like Malinda Lo's Ash with a lesbian romance front and centre, and also teens can watch a video of someone saying 'hey, I'm okay, I'm awesome, I have this great partner, I wrote a book!' And that matters. (And since I have mentioned both Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo, I wish to link to their Diversity in YA, because I think it's an excellent thing that I am really proud to be part of.)

So, I've got to believe it's getting better, it's getting better all the time. And I look at Awesomeness-Limiting portrayals of media and I think 'that's not all there is, there is going to be more and more awesomeness until the awesomeness-limiting is eliminated.' And creating (to the best of one's ability, which I do, though I've been deliberately not mentioning my own stuff in this post) and appreciating awesomeness?

That's really important. So I think about that, and I feel better.

In fact, I feel awesome.

Comments

( 139 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
ias
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
Humm, maybe I'm too much of an historian but the ad doesn't make me angry because they used lady (well, she is a Lady, that was her role that was her job and being a Lady was an important social function in her time, possibly more socially important than the male version of being a Gentleman).

It's just a shame they couldn't have used one of the other female leads as well, say one of the women from Spooks (which I thought had done quite well in the States).
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)
The fact she is the only girl and that everyone else's roles are active - and indeed supernaturaly - things, as well as offering a Buffet of Choice, that frankly sound more appealing makes me very upset.
(no subject) - ias - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kerrypolka - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ias - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kerrypolka - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ias - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kerrypolka - Jan. 25th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ias - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
lizzylafosse
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
I cannot tell you how much I loved this! Like you, I found that ad to be appalling. I watch most of those shows, and this is how BBC wants to represent to their audience? REALLY? 'Lady' was the best they could do? The 'vampire' is from being human, and one of the other main characters, a ghost, is female--they couldn't use her?

Sorry for the mini-rant but this piece really hit home with me. Adore your writing; always fantastically done and really makes you think. Keep on doin' what you do :)
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, Annie is my favourite character in Being Human (I think she and Mitchell the Vampire should have a great love) so I was like 'Whoa, at least one of those shows has a lady protagonist who gets to be supernatural and active too.'
(no subject) - evewithanapple - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - be_themoon - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evewithanapple - Jan. 25th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
blamebrampton
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)
That ad is ridiculous, but the commenter who says s/he looked at it and saw the cast of a heist story makes things enormously better!

Emma: Right, Mitchell, you will use your devastating good looks to distract the teller while Merlin magically opens all the locks on the safety deposit boxes and The Doctor takes the TARDIS inside the area and empties them all out.

Sherlock: Brilliant! And then when I am called in, I lead the police down the wrong path using a complex yet eminently plausible set of inferences, yes?

Emma: Er, yes. OR, I have this lovely friend you could take out for a cup of tea ...
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Reminds me of when Karen Healey and I were designing the heist movie version of Inception we wished we'd seen - less angst, more twisty dream hijinks, Leo diCaprio and Marion Cotillard's characters as joint crimelords, Tom Hardy's character eliminated and the other three given fun subplots of their own. Ah, but one cannot live on imaginary heist stories alone. ;
(no subject) - blamebrampton - Jan. 25th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fatty_bumsticks - Jan. 26th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mary_j_59 - Jan. 25th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blamebrampton - Jan. 25th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ashkitty - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - be_themoon - Jan. 25th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blamebrampton - Jan. 26th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
thegreatmissjj
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
I'm less appalled by Emma's description as "Lady" (because it was almost as much a career as a description of the female sex in the 1800s--it's better than "Maid" or "Wench", I suppose) than the fact that she's the ONLY WOMAN. Where are the other female protagonists, I ask you? Are there really no female protagonists on television these days? (I wouldn't know--the last time I watched TV was LOST, and before that, it was The X-Files.)

And look, they're all white, but to ask for a protagonist of a different race is probably too much. Sigh.
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Her being the only girl and therefore there not being options was a chief part of the Limits of Awesomeness Imposed, yes. And that they chose the 1800s-lady as said only-choice while the majority of other characters are in modern times.

One of the protagonists in Being Human, which was advertised via the 'Vampire' is a female ghost? Which is why I was like 'Portrayal rather than taking issue with THOSE SPECIFIC SHOWS.' Though man it would've been nice to see character-of-colour Gwen as an advertisement for Merlin. Of course it would be a stretch to describe the show as about her.
(no subject) - ide_cyan - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
jumbled_words
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
My friends sometimes tease me (in a good way, they think it's awesome) because I'm incapable of writing a story without at least one (or more, I think my record is seven) queers in it. It always amazes me that there are so few books with gay people out there, but possibly it's because I hog them all.

And maybe one day one of my books will get to live in the real world (as opposed to my harddrive), and I can add a tiny little fraction of a percentage to those ten percent.

But first I must give up my addiction to parentheses and semi-colons. Seriously.
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
I was appalled by how many brackets I had liberally scattered across this post. Happens!
(no subject) - jumbled_words - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firynze - Jan. 25th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jumbled_words - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firynze - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jumbled_words - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firynze - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - funwithrage - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firynze - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - funwithrage - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - azurelunatic - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jumbled_words - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
write straight people? eh? - katherynne - Jan. 26th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
firynze
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Okay, I officially need to go read Knife, if for no other reason than I HATE magical healing of crippled characters, and would love to see a character turn it down.

Also, wow. I suddenly feel really proud of my authors, because every single book I've dealt with thus far has a non-heteronormative character somewhere, even as a background throwaway (in Erekos, two of the major characters are in a non-heteronormative situation, while in the other books, LGBTQ is just there as a fact of life, something normal, oh, he's gay? Whatever - which i LOVE). They also tend to have people of colour appearing as a Normal Fact of Life at the very least. Again, proud of my authors for, you know, writing what life IS, instead of some whitewashed heteronormative version thereof.

Hurrah for Diversity in YA! Hurrah for not limiting awesomeness!
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC)
I hate it too: I hate it so much that in my books I had it both turned down and once done, reversed just to further stress 'None of that.' I highly recommend Knife.
(no subject) - firynze - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - azurelunatic - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firynze - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
eyelid
Jan. 25th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
Gentlemen: a world of adventure awaits! Ladies: well, you're ladies, right? That is your job? Leaving alone the fact that, say, schemer or match-maker might be a better description of what Emma actually does with her time.

Emma doesn't really do much with her time except mess stuff up.

I think the problem is less what they titled Emma and more that Emma is apparently the limit of their female characters. If you're a guy you can be a wizard or a doctor! If you're a girl you can be... an 18th century "lady".
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)
You are addressing entirely the wrong person here, since I am a big Emma fan.

But yes, the reason that picture makes me angry is because it limits awesomeness in so many ways, as stated by both of us!
(no subject) - eyelid - Jan. 25th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
bloodbelieve
Jan. 25th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Why couldn't they use Annie for the Being Human ad and have 'ghost'? She's easily as much of a main character as Mitchell imo.

Re: the magical-healing thing, that's part of why I loved How To Train Your Dragon so much! Not sure if you've seen it, but the ending was wonderful.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 25th, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC)
Yay I was just thinking about the ending to this film today. It's amazing, also there will be a sequel so we can see how the hero's life continues. Hurray.
ashkitty
Jan. 25th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
My friend writes YA LGBT books (she's not on LJ anymore, but writes under Hayden Thorne), and they are BRILLIANT. She's one of the few writers who make me curl up in a ball being sad that I will never be able to manage that level of spetacular beauty in anything I write; they're REALLY REALLY GOOD. But they're published by a small press and don't get publicity and she finds it all but impossible to get any YA reviewers to touch them. I don't know what there is to be done about that, besides keep pushing and prodding until the markets shift around to make some room. I think LGBT teenagers really need some books that have characters like them and aren't Making A Big Point, but it's hard to bloody sell the things. :(
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
I hear you, I've been trying to sell a lesbian short story for uh, four years at this point, with two anthologies accepting it and folding up with a small sad sound. That said, I do recommend Ash for its Not Making A Big Point.
(no subject) - ashkitty - Jan. 26th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - flamecurls - Jan. 26th, 2011 08:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moia - Jan. 26th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
liz_w
Jan. 25th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
I have to argue with you about The Secret Garden... the character didn't undergo "a seemingly-almost-magically complete healing". The point was that Colin was NEVER SICK, but had spent his whole life being told that he was, so was a frail hypochondriac. The only "cure" he received was eating properly, getting fresh air, and learning to use those muscles that he never had. Nothing magical about it. The "magic" referenced by Burnett (she also uses it in A Little Princess) is the children's imaginations.
erinlin
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, compared to Clara from "Heidi", I have no problems with "The Secret Garden."
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Emma 'Cuneball' Cuneo
Jan. 25th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
Okay first off, Emma (whom I'm named after) is way more than just a woman. That is completely sexist.

Secondly, I LOVE TAMORA PIERCE!!!!!!! I have an entire Tamora Pierce shelf :)
She has an anthology coming out next month and I'm so excited!!!!!
girlofavalon
Jan. 25th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
Hmm... I will admit I always find it interesting that, when discussing female characters portrayals in modern fiction, nobody seems to bring up Star Wars. Personally, I think SW has some of the best women ever, even if they are few and have a secondary role.
flameraven
Jan. 25th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
Man, talking about limits on awesomeness... my friends and I had a whole discussion yesterday about the female characters of Harry Potter and how NONE of them are allowed to be really awesome after Hogwarts. The biggest offender of this is Hermione, who by all rights would like have gone on to University, probably become Headmaster at Hogwarts (and/or open schools and scholarships for inner-city wizard kids) and moonlighted as an Auror helping Harry out with whatever sticky situation he was in. Because she's awesome. But what does she actually do? Gets married and has babies and stays at home. ....what?

None of the other women are any better. Tonks was awesome! But she gets depressed over relationships, marries, and has a kid. McGonegall is old and apparently thus undesirable. Mrs. Weasley turns out to be a secret badass! But is usually stuck at home with the kids. Ginny is clearly bright and resourceful and...also marries and becomes a housewife. Luna is dismissed as being "weird." Fleur is also married and apparently stays at home. Umbridge is evil. Bellatrix is insane AND evil. The one Slytherin girl we hear about is apparently ugly and stupid.

When you think about it, it's a really distressing pattern. There's nothing wrong with being a housewife, of course, but I feel like she has a major failure in that she gives us some strong female characters who could be awesome and then... doesn't allow them to do anything after the story is done. (Hermione is also only usually allowed to figure out the plot, not resolve it.) I mean, I think most fans pretend that epilogue didn't happen, but... could we at least have seen some women who got to have careers AND kids, at least?
imagined_away
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
Did Hermione stay home with the kids? She worked for the Ministry for at least a while after Hogwarts making laws about the treatment of non-human creatures. I just don't remember it ever being said that she stayed home with the kids. And even if she did I'd assume (though this is clearly speculation) that she'd go back to work when Rose and Hugo are both at Hogwarts.

Ginny went on to be a professional Quidditch player and then, after getting pregnant because let's be honest playing a game that dangerous while being pregnant is a bad idea, she wrote the Quidditch article for the Daily Prophet. Maybe I misread the interview but I was at least under the impression that she wrote for the Prophet and raised kids at the same time.

And Hannah Abbott grows up to run The Leaky Cauldron which seems like she's doing pretty good for herself.

I mean, I agree with you, a lot of women in the HP universe are housewives (which is completely fine especially if that's what they want to be) but I feel like we see a lot of women who have awesome jobs and are awesome and at least a few of those women also have families.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 25th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calimazan - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - imagined_away - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calimazan - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - altogetherisi - Jan. 26th, 2011 10:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calimazan - Jan. 26th, 2011 12:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - radioactivepiss - Jan. 25th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - flameraven - Jan. 26th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karaethon - Jan. 26th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - altogetherisi - Jan. 26th, 2011 11:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - radioactivepiss - Jan. 26th, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vvvexation - Jan. 27th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - flameraven - Jan. 27th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vvvexation - Jan. 27th, 2011 04:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - flameraven - Jan. 27th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vvvexation - Jan. 28th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC) - Expand
imagined_away
Jan. 25th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
I love this post.

One of my favorite things about Jamie in your books is that he's gay but that's not just what his character is. He's fine with being gay, and while coming out stories are obviously important is nice to read about a character who just happens to be gay.
Which actually reminds me of something I've been wondering since I read the second book. Is Gerald bi? His reaction to Sin in TDC made me think he might be and I'm just curious. (I think I maybe be the only person to lament just how true the Bi People Don't Exist trope seems to be)

And also, though this is really rather unrelated, I just finished the Hunger Games and holy crap did I love that series. Realistic portrayal of youth reaction to a shit-ton of trauma? Sign me up.

Basically I love how YA fiction if getting more and more diverse. And on days when I'm trying to explain to my dorm mate why "feminism" does not mean hating men, and yelling at myself about slut-shamming, it's nice to know that I can curl up with some of my favorite books where it doesn't matter what people are, just what they do.
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like the post, and even gladder you like Jamie!

I think Gerald is actually pretty messed-up and it's complicated sexually: he's had a touch-deprived childhood, an adolescence that was all about training to be evil among people whose affection he couldn't trust, and now when barely out of his teens has to be the leader, planner, mover and shaker of evil and all the evil plots thereof. I think he's pretty much going to flirt with anyone to get an advantage, and through nobody knowing what/who he likes he both gains an advantage and may not be quite aware himself. I don't think he had any real interest in Sin at all, though to be fair she wasn't interested in him either. ;)

In short, I agree with you completely about there needing to be more bisexuals in fiction, but I fear having Gerald be explicitly bi would be furthering the Evil Bisexual trope in romance novels, and also imagine Gerald's sexuality as a complex thing that just doesn't come up that much in the novels, as people are focused on stopping Gerald's evil plots rather than wanting him to talk out his hang-ups.
(no subject) - imagined_away - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - imagined_away - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - live_momma - Jan. 25th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tommyrotter - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zumie_ashlen - Jan. 25th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 25th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zumie_ashlen - Jan. 25th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 26th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sauntau - Jan. 29th, 2011 06:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - r_hayburn - Jan. 26th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
dwammedout
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
The thing that strikes me instantly about the picture is; why not have TWO adverts? Either one with just ladies and one with just men or mixing up a man and a lady from each show? So Vampire/Ghost: Doctor/Time-traveller*: Magician/Servant: Detective/Landlady(?)***: Lady/Male Character from Emma which I have not read/watched ( I need to get onto that).

*Because Time-traveller sounds more awesome that 'Companion,' and the Doctor's companion's don't just follow him around keeping him company, they travel with him to keep him in line.

**I ... have just realised that Sherlock doesn't really work terribly well as an example of main characters being awesome ladies, however much I may love Mrs Hudson.


On the topic of picking faults with female characters, I don't think it's always to do with hating the female character because she is female. There are generally two reasons that I will dislike a female character; either I don't find them convincing as women (oh too many books! Mainly - but not always - written by men) or because I feel as though the author thinks they're wonderful and expects me to adore them just as much as all the good characters do (the bad ones dislike her, which shows they are bad) even though I would never choose to be friends with them if I met them in real life.

So I only read those books once, whereas books with characters I love I will hang out with over and over again.
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
Well, but aren't 'unconvincing' and 'author thinks they're wonderful' just as likely to be the case with male characters? Especially the second one, I feel like I read way more boys who the author thinks is wonderful. ;) Same criteria for boys and girls is my battle cry!
(no subject) - radioactivepiss - Jan. 25th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dwammedout - Jan. 25th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - radioactivepiss - Jan. 25th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dwammedout - Jan. 26th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
radioactivepiss
Jan. 25th, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)
This is an excellent post, and that advert is very far from stellar, ugh. Doesn't Being Human have a female lead they could use to even things out a little?

On the LGBTQ front, so very agreed. I was so pleased to see Jamie as gay for no real reason other than 'some people are!' in The Demon's Lexicon. It's very rare that anything, let alone anything aimed at an audience that might be quite young, does that. On the other hand, the trend of some creators using subtext to be 'edgy' (and maybe appeal to slash fandom) but shying away from actual representation ('Merlin', I am looking at you) is annoying me. People that aren't straight aren't there to be played with by straight people then thrown away when it isn't edgy anymore, sigh. I know there's often a refrain of 'why does it always have to be a big deal?' on such matters, but I sometimes go in the opposite direction- 'actually, sometimes this is a big deal, so could you, y'know, be a bit explicit about it and actually look at possible repercussions?'

Oh dear, I teal deered all over your journal. Sorry! I have Thoughts on such things.
tommyrotter
Jan. 25th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Ugh that image is awful. Awful! I don't blame you for finding inspiration from it, yuck and yuck.

I also appreciate you admitting about being gross, because so much of this stuff is so tightly ingrained through the media in our heads that even though we know and are knowledgeable about lots of stuff, we might be ignorant and awful in one specific instance. It's hard to admit, but I feel like if we can all be like "ugh, my bad, I'll try to learn from this instance of being gross" they we all work towards something better.

And yes, Tamora Pierce! I firmly believe that between her and my mother, I was stealth-taught feminism as a young girl and am forever grateful.

Also, I am very excited about TDS! I think Sin is great (flawed and complex lady, yes!) and can't wait to see her point of view.
deternot
Jan. 25th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
I'm really happy you mentioned the lack of GLBT characters in YA fiction. I don't think I read a single book with a gay character in it until I was 13. I really wish I had. I had a really hard time figuring out I was a lesbian, due to a homophobic school environment, and even having one character I could relate to in that way would have been amazing. Now there are a lot more, but not enough. Also, and maybe this is just the books I've read, but it seems like there are a lot more gay male characters in YA books than gay female characters. I mean, it's great to have any kind of representation, but I wonder why the discrepancy? I have theories, some more charitable than others.
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
I wish you had got the chance to as well! I'm sorry you didn't.

The discrepancy is entirely real, and I wish it wasn't! My theories are along the lines of guys' issues are always prioritised, and guy characters always more popular, but as part of the problem there all I can do is resolve to do better in future, and recommend excellent books out there - Ash, Bermudez Triangle, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend. I'd love a YA like Sarah Waters's Fingersmith, though: I looove that book.
(no subject) - radioactivepiss - Jan. 25th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
blythe025
Jan. 25th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
This is a post full of awesomeness. I completely agree with everything you've said here. Thank you. :)
hanelissar
Jan. 25th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
What REALLY upsets me about that advert is that it's an updated version - a couple of months ago there wasn't any Emma at all, just the guys. So it sort of feels like they realised what many people (inclyding myself) pointed out at the time (ie the lack of the lady-folk!) and then...'lady' was the best they could do? Not that Emma isn't an *awesome* character, and I adored that adaptation but seriously BBC advertising peoples, if you are going to include women in that advert why not put in some who are cool in teh same way that Mitchell and Sherlock and the Doctor are? Why not have Emmafrom Hustle as 'con artist' or Beth from Spooks as 'spy'.

Or they could have replaced Mitchell with Annie. Morgana as witch would have done just as well as Merlin the wizard. I get that the Doctor is probably a better advert for Doctor Who than Amy as he is very much the main character and easier to classify (though I would have died and gone to heaven had they actually put her on there as 'kissogram') but still. I WANT WOMEN ON MY TV AND IN MY ADVERTS. WE EXIST. WE ARE AWESOME. YOU CANNOT PUT US INTO YOUR SHOWS AND THEN PRETEND WE ARE NOT THERE.

Fabulous post as always Sarah. <3
mybluesunset
Jan. 25th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
I almost think the fact that there are four men and only one woman in that image is worse than the fact that the woman's occupation is listed as "lady." But on second thought the two are connected: it's because there's only one token female that they can get away with describing her identity as just 'a female' in the first place.

Your taste in books is similar to mine, which must mean that it is awesome. The Alanna books were also some of my first fantasy books. I actually think the Kel series is better though, because it deals with someone who faces discrimination for being female armed with only her own composure and strength of character. Not even magic powers! So more inspiring for me. But I love all of Tamora Pierce's books. And Katniss is a wonderfully refreshing character to read because she comes across so naturally and completely as a leader and a fighter. There's something about her that is intense and fierce. I couldn't put a finger on it, but I could just feel all of my implicit gender associations switching around while reading the books. While most of them have since switched back at least partway, I'd like to think that it's done some good for the long term.

Covenant was a wonderful book as far as gender roles go, but you don't need any of us to tell you that, as you already know exactly why that is. I especially like Annabel and how you managed to write a non-demonstrative, reserved, career-oriented woman with children without making her the frigid "unnatural mother."
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
Yes: that picture limits awesomeness on many, many different levels.

The Kel series is my favourite - though actually the Beka Cooper series, I'm really loving, so we'll see if it wins out.

Thank you for the kind words about Covenant! I did try, and Annabel is tied for the position of my favourite minor character. I was thrilled when I was on tour and got fanart of her and her golf club: I have it hanging up in my room.
(no subject) - rockinlibrarian - Jan. 26th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vvvexation - Jan. 27th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
sarahtales
Jan. 25th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
I liked Graceling, but I loved Fire.
(no subject) - funwithrage - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - Jan. 25th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
shveta_thakrar
Jan. 26th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Yes, let's write that change!
Go, Sarah! :)
denisedyoung
Jan. 26th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
Writing toward awesomeness:
Wait: Four men, and one woman. Aren't we half of the population?

I love the Alanna books. I always longed for strong women in fantasy books and fell in love with Tamora Pierce's writing very quickly. I must also say that the lack of strong women in a lot of the fantasy I was exposed to as a child probably spurred me to write fantasy featuring strong female leads capable of vasts amounts of awesomeness.

Thanks for this post!
shanna_souzou
Jan. 26th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC)
There's nothing to write that hasn't already been said many times over and in ways more eloquent than I could manage at the moment.

However, on the subject, I was wondering if you had any YA recommendations for books which utilize gay characters like how you did with Jaime. I loved the idea of having a character who is gay and lovable and its not a big deal. Its just who he is. I think its important to have characters like Alan and Nick who can act as role models for straight teens with gay friends, classmates, and acquaintances.

I live in the southern part of the US so a book with a gay protagonist is a hard sell to my customers, but a straight protagonist with a gay friend could go a long way to combating hate and bullying. Any recommendations?

sarahtales
Jan. 26th, 2011 12:46 pm (UTC)
Yes! Okay, I'm very glad you asked, and it makes me very happy you're searching for a way to do this.

Well, I've already mentioned the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (Alec, one half of the gay couple and a shy, quiet guy, is best friends with the hero). In Holly Black's Tithe the heroine Kaye forms a friendship with her best friend's older brother Corny, who's gay. In Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall the heroine Sophie's assigned to be roommates with Jenna, a gay vampire girl with pink streaks in her hair, and the two make friends. In David Levithan and John Green's Will Grayson, Will Grayson the narrative is equally shared by two boys of the same name, one gay and one straight. In Catherine Murdock's Dairy Queen, about a girl jock, one of the secondary characters is a lesbian. In Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, one of the heroine's best friends and occasional best frenemy is a lesbian. In Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell, there's a reveal that a sympathetic minor character was gay, plus there's a beloved gay uncle (and that one's set in the South, and characters have to deal with their conservative reactions).
(no subject) - shanna_souzou - Jan. 26th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 139 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

unmade
sarahtales
Sarah Rees Brennan
Sarah's Lexicon

Latest Month

September 2014
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930    

sarahreesbrennan@gmail.com

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow