I have read a lot of kerfluffles about gender stereotyping, the need for “nerdiquette” panels, and the general unfairness of women being expected to take an essentially defensive stance in the face of offensive behavior–by which I mean that we’re supposed to expect it and learn how to handle it, rather than declaring it unacceptable and working to make society change its tolerance of said offensive behavior.
Full disclosure: I’m a semi-rabid feminist. I totally believe in changing the social mores, the overwhelming acceptance of stereotype, rather than telling women to learn karate, carry pepper spray, and guard their drink at parties, because “that’s just how things are.” When a guy routinely has to go through a party with their hand over their drink every time they look away from it, and keep a “buddy” along to get them pried out of a corner when some drunk has them pinned down, and a dozen other social hazards women face, then I’ll feel like that’s just the way things are. But I digress. This is a post about gender roles in writing, and how you as a writer–and an artist–can fight to change society’s mores.
Awareness always comes first, of course. Blog posts like “Striking A Pose” by Jim C. Hines, takes a pretty straightforward look at the problems with how women are routinely posed in genre book cover art, as opposed to the guys. Others take a more lengthy examination of overall stereotypes, as in the Fantasy Faction 3-part series on “Writing Fantasy Gender Sterotypes“. (In part two of the series, there’s an excellent question raised: How can you avoid writing stereotypical men or women if you’re not sure what the stereotypes actually are?)
And discussion only expands awareness. So I’m going to cheat a little on this post, and throw open the door to comments and discussion…instead of saying anything myself. What are you doing, in your writing, to avoid stereotypes? What research are you doing to be aware of the issue, and how severe do *you* think the problem is, across various genres? Could it be argued that, no matter what book one picks up by which master-of-the-trade, eventually anything can be lumped into a “stereotype” category, although it was perhaps shiny and new at the time of printing? When does a certain depiction become a stereotype as opposed to a bold new way of writing characters, and should we, as writers, actually worry about that–or just concentrate on telling the best story we can and let the sterotyping take care of itself?
*sits back to listen*…. :)