Saturday, September 7, 2013

Narrative Responsibility: Women in Fiction (A Link)

I can't begin to tackle the (very) large idea of narrative responsibility, but today I read a post that resonated and managed to lay out one aspect of the narrative responsibility of storytellers that I feel compelled to share.

More and more we see writers or memes about writers telling us that the way they write strong female characters is by simply writing strong people, by viewing women as people, gender not impacting the equation of creating them as whole beings. 

Neil Gaiman says, "remember that the most important thing to do is to write people who feel like people, and that women are people."

Joss Whedon had a lot of things to say at his 2006 Equality Now speech regarding the fact that he's constantly asked about his strong women characters, and he raises a good question. "Why aren't you asking a hundred other guys why they don’t write strong women characters?"

Even George R. R. Martin has been turned into an image that seems to have started on reddit from an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos when he answers the question of how he writes women so well:  "I've always considered women to be people."  (The question comes around 18:37 in the interview link.)

All of that leads up to me wanting to share THIS post with everyone. I encourage you to follow the link and read the whole thing. There is nothing I found there with which I disagree. We all know about subtext and how our stories say more than what they say just in words, and we should be aware of those things. 


"'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative" by Kameron Hurley.

Stories tell us who we are. What we’re capable of. When we go out looking for stories we are, I think, in many ways going in search of ourselves, trying to find understanding of our lives, and the people around us.  Stories, and language tell us what’s important.
If women are “bitches” and “cunts” and “whores” and the people we’re killing are “gooks” and “japs” and “rag heads” then they aren’t really people, are they?  It makes them easier to erase. Easier to kill. To disregard. To un-see.
But the moment we re-imagine the world as a buzzing hive of individuals with a variety of genders and complicated sexes and unique, passionate narratives that have yet to be told – it makes them harder to ignore. They are no longer, “women and cattle and slaves” but active players in their own stories.
And ours.