dagas_isa: Akiyama from Liar Game (akiyama get it together)
There are so many guides and resources out there for writing complex and dynamic female characters, and I was thinking that maybe the male characters and their writers are feeling a bit left out. In a sea of white male characters, there needs to be something about each particular one that makes them complex and unique individuals worthy of an entire narrative. After all, if there's one thing we've learned from studying female characters, it's that the merest whiff of a stereotype or archetype on them can condemn a character to the pile of uninteresting paper dolls.

So if you are, in fact, a male character who is perhaps a little doubtful of your status as a well-developed and three-dimensional fictional being, the following list will help you and your creator develop you into a nice, round character that everyone can relate to.

Male characters are so complicated. )

*Footnote is footnotey. )

Oh, and just to let people know, I'm really not up for debating whether or not male characters are inherently more nuanced than female characters in this space. Nor do I care that the male characters you like the most are an exception to the points on this list; I know the male characters I'm actually interested in tend to be. If you really want to let the world know how awesome he is, you can make a "Fuck You He's Awesome" post in your own journal. Nor do I care that my list doesn't completely encompass every possible male/masculine narrative.

Anyway, I'm probably not going to answer every comment that comes my way. Between some RL issues, and some fannish stuff, I'm not hugely into wasting my time and energy on male characters.
dagas_isa: Kanzaki Nao from Liar Game (Default)
I has a rant.

This flow chart provokes in me an irrationally angry reaction.

That chart has 75* different "stereotypes" for female characters. In other words, pretty much any female character is going to fit onto that chart. Not a problem. You know because pretty much anyone will loosely fit into one archetype or another. But then there's tone in the article that implies that all of these 75 stereotypes (and the women they've chosen to represent, including Tsukino Usagi, Azula, Zoe Washburne, and Yoko Ono) are somehow representations of poorly done female characters. Yes, one of those is a real-life figure.

*facepalm*

I'm all for critical examinations of source material, but seriously? This is the kind of critique that says, "Hey, there's no right way to ever write women," and takes for granted men are more nuanced** because seriously, trying not to write a woman who calls to mind one of those tropes is well, a nightmare, and something of a useless effort.

Oh, and seriously, most male characters wouldn't even make it through the first gauntlet if someone decided to turn a critical eye to them, so why do people set that as a minimum standard for female characters? I don't even know. We already have so many rules and codifications for what makes a good female characters, why is this flowchart needed? And why is the point being proven in the accompanying blog post that somehow there is a lack of development/variety/nuance in female characters? Why don't male characters get the same level of examination?

I may be a touch bitter because it's the type of thinking displayed in the making and presentation of that flowchart that also seems to fuel the excuses for not wanting to read/write/watch female characters.***

*sigh*

This touched a huge sore spot.




* I counted. Even if I'm off, it's still a lot of archetypes/characteristics that are being painted as stereotypes. Also, if you're curious, 56 of those "stereotypes" don't even require a love interest.

**Oh, you do not want to hear me rant about much of a myth the "nuanced male character" is. Really.

*** I honestly have no problems with people preferring to focus on male characters, but it's definitely something I'd rather not see people not try to justify beyond "This is what I like," and how they personally relate to male and female characters.

ETA: I've been linked on the metafandom delicious. The text accompanying their bookmark is irrelevant and kind of hilarious.
dagas_isa: Kanzaki Nao from Liar Game (Default)
Thinky-thoughts of the navel gazing kind based on this post by [livejournal.com profile] rawles.

This is not meant to be a post of self-congratulations. Nor is it somehow saying that I'm a good-feminist/better-feminist because I'm more drawn narratively to women and their relationships, both with other women and with people of other genders.

This is just some musing about preferences and I guess, my thoughts on yaoi, if my list of fanfiction don't already make it fairly clear where yaoi/boy-slash stands in the rough hierarchy of "stuff I want to read/write."

Generally speaking, "Your preferences are inherently wrong and damaging" and "My preferences are inherently right and empowering" are both problematic statements regardless of who is saying it and what they're saying it about. I'm not going to say that expressing and displaying one's own preferences isn't empowering, especially in a community space where those preferences are welcomed, but to say that the preferences themselves, independent of context, are better than another set (that you just so happen to not respond to) is problematic.

Also, ignoring the existence of yet other preferences that show how the supposed dichotomy between two sets of preferences (For example, the invisibility of femslash when talking about [boy]slash, het, and the treatment of female and/or queer characters) is actually a false one is not cool either.

Here's how I explain the lack of m/m slash in my works, and my general apathy towards reading it: I like reading and writing about about women and women in relationships (both with each other and people of other genders). Not better. Not worse. Just there. It works for me. The end.

My stories might be feminist, sometimes. They sometimes might not be. It can be as queer as all out or painfully heteronormative. They might take joy in women's agency and sexuality, and sometimes they might be a perpetuation of an internalized male gaze. I also have plenty of stories featuring men alone and/or male PoVs. They're not all about women.

And sometimes, I wonder if I need to apologize for any or all of these things. For the lack of boyslash. For the bouts of sexism or heteronormativism. For the times when the character I want to explore is a man. For the fact that the fandoms I write for are pretty obscure.

But then, I shrug.

So as much as I might like to read that post as a validation of who I am and my preferences for het and femslash, it's really not. The actual social value (or lack there of) of any fannish activity lie in the execution not the intent or preferences. And more so, while fic can totally be subversive and progressive, and deal with Serious Issues, it doesn't have to be and it doesn't need to pretend that it does.

There's also such a wide range of preferences and ideas of what empowerment is that to pretend that the specific experiences and dynamics that one person finds empowering is going to be what everyone finds empowering is imho, ridiculous. And that tying specific hind-brain preferences to empowerment at the expense of other hind-brain preferences is just a little skeezy.

Like I can understand boyslash as feminist from the perspectives of women enjoying an aspect of their sexuality that's normally invisible, or creating something that's largely by and for a female audience, and even from the perspective of reclaiming male experiences and male space. However, the first part isn't relevant to the expression of my sexuality, the second part is also largely true of het and femslash communities, and as for the third, I think it has more to do with how people negotiate power dynamics and how they choose to own them, than any particular act. I don't want male spaces and experiences, I want non-male spaces and experiences to be treated as valuable and worth writing about.

So, while m/m slash can be empowering and feminist for some people, I can't say with any honesty that it is for me. And I think (hope) a large amount of the joy found in having a community of people is that people are bonding over a common interest, not that someone feigns an interest in hopes of being accepted by that community.

P.S. I'm not going to say that I never read/write/enjoy/ship m/m slash and will never do so, just that it's generally not what I seek out, or what's relevant to my fannish tastes. I do occasionally read it, sometimes enjoy it, sometimes ship m/m pairings, but don't necessarily think I'll get around to writing them.
dagas_isa: Kanzaki Nao from Liar Game (Default)
Inspired, in part, by this post in [livejournal.com profile] ffrantsrants.

So then what twists of characterizations would get a female character to be labeled "boyish" or "masculine" in a decidedly negative way?

The original post:

Thinky thoughts of the gender stereotyped types. )
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