Friday, February 18, 2011

Sex is so last century

Not like that. Honestly, you people.

I don't want to say there's an obsession, because that would be untrue, but I think there is still a decent degree of focus placed on the sex* of a protagonist. A lot of focus placed on what's more popular, what sells more, why there's so much of male heroes in Story Type A and females in Type B and so on and so forth. And then I also see people stressing about writing protagonists of their opposite sex.

It's something I myself was guilty of. Over the summer, when I first started working on one of my two current WIPs, I would stress about whether or not I was writing females accurately. My concern was more about the protagonist's friend than the protagonist herself, and I thought by observing my female friends (who far, far outnumber my male friends (make of that what you will)) that I could get a better idea of things.

And I don't want to say this didn't help, because it did. In fact two of my friends formed the entire base from which I worked to construct Ashley's best friend. But as I tried to work on the first chapter stressing about this, I realised something.

It's pointless to worry about the sex of your hero.

A character is a character. Media is full of tropes and assumptions about both sexes and genders, and yes it would be lying to say there are no differences at all, but at the end of the day what do those differences amount to? Nothing of any significant capacity. One wears a bra and one doesn't. I know men who act radically different from some women I know, and I know women who behave radically differently from other women I know.

There are no hard and fast rules for how a man or a woman should act or think. For every five examples of a rule you can find, I can probably find five people who subvert it.

Lately my protagonists have been female. My most recent one is also a (closeted) lesbian. Had I tried this most recent one back in June, or had I just been trying to write two stories with heroines back in June, I would be wigging out of my skull right now. But anymore, I just don't care what they are. At the end of the day, all the matters is that you have an amazing character.

*Yes, I mean sex and not gender. Sex is physical, gender is psychological/identity. Although how much fiction is there with a transgender hero?

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