Hot answers tagged

135

Sexism isn't a yes/no kind of thing, and it's a mistake to treat it as such. Saying that a story or an idea is "sexist" is shorthand. What it means is that it creates, encourages, or reinforces sexist stereotypes, and that those stereotypes have real-world consequences. So, a good way to come at this issue is to use these: Guiding Questions What are the ...


84

I would suggest looking at the women in your life (family, friends, co-workers, etc). I have a problem with the ideas of 'feminine qualities' and 'femininity'. They imply that without those a woman isn't a real woman. Much like a man won't be a real man unless he is and can do a set of things. You could perhaps think about the stereotypes for 'manly ...


75

If you want to avoid showing a character as "not like other girls" then make sure your "other girls" aren't stereotypical. The trope shows up with female characters who don't fit in. They don't have a lot of female friends, if any. When they do the stuff they like to do, they're surrounded by men. You can praise these characters all you want but the ...


68

If you are submitting to a professional journal that (like many) puts a short blurb about the author(s) somewhere in the article or journal, you could provide a suggested blurb and ensure that there is at least one feminine pronoun in it somewhere. If they don't, or you don't know, you could say, "in case you need an author's introduction, here is a ...


59

As a person of color, I've sometimes had a version of the same dilemma. Is there a professional organization for people of your gender and expertise? If so, you could join the organization, and then sign as follows: Morgan Meredith American Women Tech Writers Association or Morgan Meredith Member, American Women Tech Writers If there is no such ...


57

The absence of representation in a single story is not harmful. The absence of representation across all media is harmful. On of the trickiest things to understand about discrimination is that a story that is not in itself discriminatory is capable of fueling a larger trend which is discriminatory. No book or movie can tell every story. It's simply not ...


42

Don't describe the character's body. Let the action and the other characters do it for you. "Have you met Lydia yet?" "No, why?" John and Andy exchanged a knowing look. "Let me just say that once you do, you'll forget all about what's-her-name". Later Without any apparent shame, John and Andy leered at Lydia as she stormed off. "Man! ...


41

Assuming you aren't a woman yourself, I would suggest talking this idea through with several women to see how it strikes them. It can be difficult to see through the eyes of a group you don't belong to, and all too easy to overlook your own biases. On the other hand that doesn't mean you need to take every piece of feedback as gospel truth. "Women" are ...


39

I am a woman, and I don't find this sexist. It is only sexist if the implication is that women are somehow inferior because this process renders them infertile. I don't read that into this idea; merely that there is a cost for summoning a familiar. You could think of it this way: if males can't summon familiars, then is that sexist towards males that ...


39

Each writer is of one gender, and one sexual orientation, and in order for their stories to reflect real life, they have to learn to write from the POV of other genders and other sexual orientations. Don't be sexist on yourself, male heterosexual writers have written about homosexual males and homosexual females. Heck, people write convincingly about ...


34

I also have a confusing first name. When I want to clarify, I sign email as "Firstname Lastname (Ms.)". That conveys my gender as effectively as "Ms. Firstname Lastname", but by putting the title at the end and in parentheses, I don't look like I'm insisting on being addressed by that title. I strongly recommend against putting your photo in your CV, cover ...


34

This critique is always complicated because of how nuanced gender actually is. This is actually a frequent problem with male authors. We tend to have experience and methods of thinking that are typically considered "masculine" and take them as the baseline. This does not mean, whatsoever, that your MC should spend time sitting in her cabin painting her ...


33

I once saw someone in your situation address the problem by adding a (gendered) middle name to signatures. This could either be your real middle name if you have one, or a nickname that you're prepared to answer to. If it's your real name, just write it normally: Morgan Ann Meredith If it's a nickname, that is, a name you're happy to have people use ...


33

No, your story is not sexist. Please free yourself from the ideological chains that other people have heaped on you to the point where you ask question after question about whether or not your stories are somehow offensive or suffer from some ideological sin. Hint: they're not, and they don't. All the shaming about 'not addressing the issues' or being '...


32

This might not be terribly PC but this behavior doesn't have to be misogynistic or mansplainy. It can very much seem like it is. And it can be aggravating as hell. It just doesn't have to come from where you think it comes from. It can turn out he's simply an old school know it all. You can reveal this when you show how he acts with other people. Yep, some ...


30

You have a number of options: If the narrator of the book is a human, it would be entirely acceptable to use "he" or "she" (no point in switching between them) throughout the book as standard, with an explanation for this usage by the narrator. Ursula Le Guin's "The Left Hand Of Darkness" used "he" throughout the book, and referred to her androgynous ...


28

First of all, thinking of some conversations as solely the domain of women and some as solely the domain of men is not going to get you anywhere. For example I know of many female computer programmers, women in a male-dominated career field, who can talk circles around most guys when it comes to discussing computer hardware. I know men who enjoy sharing ...


26

Embrace the opposite of the trope. Is there some reason Supergirl cannot love talking fashion, and own ten pairs of shoes? Is there some reason a brilliant chemist must also be mousy and withdrawn? There is no reason a brain surgeon can't be emotional about receiving unexpected flowers on her anniversary. Whatever a woman's superpowers are, there is ...


26

Men do wear skirts: kilts, sarongs, hakamas, fustanellas... If your world is culturally diverse, any and all of those might have become common enough. In sci-fi stories in particular, new fashions is something we take in our stride. But skirts are not really the focus of your question, they're just an aspect, an example. For the broader question, to write a ...


26

While it's okay to gender your robots if you really feel the need, it's not necessary. The first version with "it" instead of "he" read just fine. It's a bit awkward writing it, as we're trained to use "he" or "she" when speaking of beings with volition, but reading it went smoothly. Because you make it obvious they're robots! If you didn't, it would be ...


25

It's extremely important for media to depict people out of the gender/sexuality mainstream as normal. So your best bet is to do exactly that: have a diversity of characters and show it all as perfectly normal. Most people don't talk about other people's trans/cis status unless 1) they're jerks or 2) there's a specific reason for it. Sexual orientation is ...


25

I think what's tripping you up is the idea that your male characters need to be characters that could not possibly be female. This probably comes from traditions of valuing what men do and devaluing what women do. So many women aspire to do "male" things. Showing them succeed at that can be a way of showing their uniqueness. But very few men aspire to do ...


24

Use a courtesy title which reflects your gender. Sign your submission as "Ms. Morgan Meredith." Subtle but unambiguous.


24

It might seem stilted to try, but English has had a gender neutral pronoun for awhile: one. If the story is limited omniscience using Tom's inner thoughts/feelings, then using phrasing like "this one" and "that one" might work to break the monotony and confusion of it. Phrase some of the narration as actual thoughts. Tom found itself alone with its ...


23

There have been some observations of business writing/interaction that suggest that women apologize more in business settings and interrupt less. But I wouldn't consider that to be especially useful in building voice. I have 3 or 4 female characters and their voices are about as different from each other as they are from my male characters. The tool I've ...


22

Normally the purpose of fiction is to let the reader immerse into your story - to get him caught deeply into the world you have created. If the reader is wondering about the narrator's gender all the time, there will be no immersion. If he assumes a gender and it is wrong then he will be ejected out of your story when he discovers his error. If you want to ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible