I want to add a message into my book about Men's Rights, but I don't want to do it in an obnoxious way. I want to add it in without it being told. I want to show, not tell. This one book I was reading, Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout, had a feminist message, but it was being told, not shown. It seemed kind of obnoxious, the way it was being presented. She had her main character say a very obvious message, multiple times.

I don't want my message to be out there, obvious to anyone who reads. I want people to be able to read the story without a direct Men's Rights message, but I want it to be there enough that people can take it home with them. How exactly should I incorporate it into my book?

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    This doesn't deserve as many downvotes as it has. This is a well-written question and approaches the topic in a neutral way.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 11:50
  • @F1Krazy Thanks. If you see any English mess-ups, please let me know so that I can further improve my question. Commented May 19, 2020 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


Show, don't tell.

I get that it sounds trite and unhelpful given how common the advice is, but in this case it's true. The way you get such a message across is to show it in the context of your narrative rather than having one or more characters act as mouthpieces.

  • Show a male character who is a father and show that they can be as nurturing and loving to the child as the mother
  • Show a man being abused by their spouse and have other characters react with the same appropriate horror they would for the reverse, rather than denigrating him for "letting a woman take advantage of him" or outright not caring about his situation or believing he could be abused.
  • Show a man who like non-traditional masculine things, but then show his way of life as just as valid as a more stereotypical guy.

The best way to do it is always remember that this is supposed to be a theme of your work, it's not supposed to be the only thing your work is about. This is why a lot of pro-feminist works like Wonder Woman and Avatar: The Last Airbender are remembered so fondly, they have more to say than just a feminist theme. At the same time, looking at well-done examples of feminist literature and applying them in the same way is a good idea.

But the big thing is don't make your work anti-female in order to convey this message. This is a big problem you see in a lot of supposedly pro-feminist pieces today like Captain Marvel or the Charlie's Angels remake (hence why I said, "well-done"), in which in the process of trying to elevate women the movies often make men look like incapable idiots who can't do anything at best or "rapebeasts" at the worst. In your context, it would be "avoid portraying women as vicious harpies who hate all men". You should work to have your female characters be as complex and interesting as your male ones (unless the setting is one where the cast is expected to be all male like a foxhole in World War I), even if they aren't as much of a focus.

The way I've heard it say is that if you are trying to write a pro-X piece and can't get people both from group X and not from group X to stand up and applaud at the end, you're doing something wrong. Writing like this isn't just about catering to group X, it's about expanding empathy for people who aren't in that group and breaking stereotypes.

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    I get the not being anti-woman part. Why would I be? I know some people are, but most people who focus on Men's Rights or are Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) are pro-female. Now, I'm not saying that you think that MRAs and people who focus on Men's Rights are anti-woman, that's just what I kind of read. I will make some good female characters, but I'm not as good at writing female characters as I am male characters, so they may take a little more work. The story I'm working on has a matriarchal society that treats men poorly. That's not the main theme, but in it I show how females are considered Commented May 19, 2020 at 3:46
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    above men. Fertile women are the most valued in the society, infertile females the second-most valued, children third, fertile men fourth, and barren men fifth. I want to make my characters (the important ones) the ones looked down upon in society or just have a lower position in society. The female character I have so far is a soldier, because she felt guilty about men being forced into a position of expendable. I want to make more female characters, but I don't know what I should create. Can you give me some ideas? And thanks for the advice by the way. Commented May 19, 2020 at 3:49
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    What I'm saying is: there's an issue in writing where people who are members of a certain group and want to write positive portrayals of that group tend to vent their hatred towards people that are not of that group that they see as more priveledged or oppressing them, even if it's on a subconscious level. You see this with feminist works that have derogatory portrayals of men or works with POC protagonists that portray all white people as evil bigots. It's not just MRA. Avoiding that pitfall is how you incorporate the message "properly", to paraphrase your question. Commented May 19, 2020 at 4:06
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    Ah. But can you still tell me anyway that I could make some good female characters out of this story? I would like to include more female characters. And I am mostly experimenting with how a matriarchy would most likely turn out. I see your point, but society in real life is a little different, with both men and women oppressed in different ways. I just want to focus on the male oppression, not the female oppression brought up so often. And whether they are true or not, right or wrong, I still want to experiment a little. Commented May 19, 2020 at 4:31
  • Oh, on my previous comment, I meant "But can you still tell me how I could make some good female characters out this story?" not "But can you still tell me that I could make some good female characters out of this story." Sorry for the miss-wording. It made me sound obnoxious, so I apologize if that's what you perceived of this question. Commented May 20, 2020 at 23:17

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