A short writing update (yes, I’m still boring you with 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf news) and some musing on gender.
At least this time you can stop rolling your eyes at my boring you to tears with the first draft. Yup, I finished the first draft of 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf! (For those who don’t know a novel set in the Alex Jones’ world that is only incidentally connected. Alex herself doesn’t appear in the book but other people mentioned in her stories do.) Having been ably alpha read by Foxie [External Link], the manuscript is now out with a handful of beta readers who will get formally name dropped at a later date. All of which basically means that the odds of hitting the Angry Robot Books’ [External Link] open submissions (March 31st deadline) has improved from not at all to slim to nothing.
Now the slightly less self-obsessed diary content. I’m not generally one for blogging or passing on opinion on the website. For me, my website does two things: it allows me to present my genealogy data in a relatively stable and readable form, and it allows me to do the same with my writing. In the past, it’s also covered other subjects and no doubt will again. In other words, it’s intended to be quite static – a product of a slightly older Internet generation than the current sea of blogs and opinions that change at a drop of a hat! While I admire people who express their opinion’s well, I know mine are changeable and I prefer to gather facts than to sound off. I live in fear of looking like an idiot because I missed one vitally important piece of information before I stood up. So today is a bit of a hi-jack. Except it’s not.
Gender identity and sexuality are huge subject areas that intersect and are very often confused with each other. It’s very choppy waters for someone who tends to just watch wide-eyed and bewildered. And, yes, I find other people much more eloquent and intelligent on the subject than I can ever be. However, some bits really interest me and this is why I’m going to point you in the direction of some interesting chatter. Do read the comments on each link, as they’re all interesting, even though you may want to follow links through, first.
The first entry point for me was this blog page: [External Link] That should take you to a page titled “As Weak As Woman’s Magic”, written by Athena Andreadis. The linked blog entry references two pieces, although the first link doesn’t actually work properly.
The first link Athena gives is to the Ursula K LeGuin opinion piece here: [External Link] called On Prospero’s Island. This is Ms LeGuin’s feelings on Prospero of The Tempest becoming Prospera, as played by Helen Mirren in the latest film of, well, The Tempest. Ms LeGuin has written some very famous science fiction and fantasy, and challenged a lot of gender biases in how those stories were put together. On the other hand, she also wrote some very famous science fiction and fantasy that was less, shall we say, challenging to the same gender biases.
The second link Athena gives is to her essay, also titled “As Weak As Woman’s Magic” [External Link], published in the latest Crossed Genres.
The short short version of the whole discussion is to say that the gender of a protagonist can vastly change the relationship between them and the world, whether these differences are perceived or actual. What do I mean by that? Well, to bring this back to me for five minutes, I always wanted to be a boy growing up. I wanted to grow up to be a man. I don’t mean I wanted to chase women or anything like that, I just realised that there was a social difference. However, the social difference is largely a result of perceived difference. There are biological, obvious differences: I could bear a child if I wanted to (or was, you know, seduced, raped, forgot contraception, etc, etc) and boy-me could have peed standing up and / or written his name in the snow. (A few who know me have heard this speech in various forms before.) Boy-me would also have had a bit of a head start on the upper body strength. The perceived differences are that people wouldn’t have been quite so surprised that I have more of a mathematical / scientific / engineering bent, when I can be persuaded to think, or that I’m not enamoured of the idea of being a mother.
So, in fiction, does it matter what gender a protagonist is? To some people, with regard to established, traditional stories, yes. But the issues reflect more on the mind of the audience than that of the artist. The whole thing got me thinking and I’ve been looking back through various fairy stories and mythologies while trying to turn another half-formed short story idea I had into the actual story. It’s surprising how many versions a story can go through and how different characters can get shoe-horned into different genders depending on what the social expectations are when it’s being told.