I never really gave much thought about sexism until I was off to college. The world seemed a pretty normal place and I didn’t have any qualms regarding the mistreatment of genders. Then I moved to the city and it seemed to be everywhere: school, work, online, around people I knew and had just met. Pretty soon I found myself annoyed at everything concerning the two sexes. On social media, an all out war was brewing–or had been for a long time–and people, I learnt, were quite hostile.
If you have a viewpoint on your life that doesn’t agree with someone else’s opinion or the social standards, you are instantly harassed because of it. I don’t like kids; I don’t want kids, yet people find the need to try to convince me otherwise. “You’ll change your mind” or “You’ll regret it if you don’t”. Guess what? Screw you, I’m fine.
I see the same kind of attitude in writing. Writers of each gender seem to think females and males think only in a certain voice, that we’re all alike and no one is different. I read today an article that explained how each gender wrote and how we should be expected to write and sound. It was complete trash. Apparently, if we write in a female perspective, the woman going on a trip to somewhere she’s never been will spend the whole trip thinking about her family and friends and nothing else, while in a man’s perspective, he’ll think about the trip and nothing else.
Are we to assume the man won’t think about his family back home? His children and spouse and how they’re doing? Is his mindset always going to be, “Great! Out of the house. Good riddance!” I’m sure if a family man was accused of this he’d be outraged by the misrepresentation of his lack of compassion.
And the woman–is she not excited to be on a trip?? Is she not amazed by everything around her?? I find that hard to believe. It’s just another example of reducing a woman to low standards, of making her into a trope and taking away her ability to think, to be intrigued, to have a mind of her own.
Regardless of what some people think, sexism exists on both sides–female and male. And I see it too often in writing to ignore. We’re given the strong male lead with the damsel in distress who can’t think for herself, or the independant female lead who can’t show any sign of weakness and is basically Supergirl (AKA this girl will never get injured, be emotionally distraught, or be helped by–God forbid–a man).
Let’s change this. With every book I write, I drift closer and closer to pushing away gender stereotypes. My newest novel has that strong, independant female lead, but she doesn’t have a heart of stone or skin as thick as iron. She’s stubborn and hates accepting help, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need it. And that’s okay. It’s okay to write a female character who is strong and weak, because that’s completely human. Just as it’s okay to write a male character who doesn’t think crying means weakness–or the fifty other male stereotypes circling the world.
I definitely have a lot more on my mind about this issue, but I’ll leave it at this before I take off rambling. It’s currently sunny outside and–I think–on the verge on warm weather, which is fantastic because winter sucks and spring doesn’t.
Anyway, as always, happy writing!