Do you write weak, dependent, or subservient female characters?
February 19, 2014 | 4:23 pm
With the question of sexism, discrimination, and gender choices in genre fiction still going full blast, here’s a question for all the writers out there. Riffing off Joss Whedon‘s now-celebrated acceptance speech for his Equality Now award in 2006, still regularly referenced in more recent debates on the subject, I’m taking the opposite tack to the question he anatomized: “Why do you write these strong women characters?” Whedon counters, “Why aren’t you asking a hundred other guys why they don’t?”
And it’s a question worth asking. Because, as detailed ad nauseam here, and in many other places, some publishing and media executives and editors will want you to write stories with female characters “one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as the boys.” They may actually cancel your series, or refuse your work, if you make your female characters too strong or interesting.
So, outside the psychological dynamics or truth to life of the story itself, have you ever written weak, dependent, or subservient female characters? Have you chosen to do that specifically for reasons related to your chosen genre, to the chances of acceptance for your work, and in general, for career-related motives? Because there looks to be strong gender bias in certain genres. So have you taken that bias on board, and let it influence the kind of women you write? (Bodice ripper romantic fiction excepted, perhaps.) Step forward, writers, waiting to hear from you.