A COMPANION TO NANOSODE 04
As a follow-up to our January 13th Nanosode, and to Madeleine’s brilliant post about it, I thought I’d take a minute to think a bit more about why I almost exclusively write female POVs. I thought about writing a nice hefty dissertation on gender issues in society and the difficulties females often face when entering a designated male sphere, but as my co-worker constantly reminds me: it’s best to make information snackable. Ain’t nobody got time for a dissertation. So here we are: a snackable list (YUM!) plus some pretty pictures because we are all children at heart.
1) Because I am a Woman
Dundundun. I know, right? OBVIOUS! Except, it’s clearly not quite that obvious since many women, like our own beloved Madeleine, are happy to write male POVs or even prefer it. For me, I think writing women as a woman matters for a few big reasons. The first is that I like being a woman, quite a bit. I’ve always wanted to be super special and I grew up as the only girl with two brothers, so from a very young age I took a lot of pride in the fact that I was female. I proceeded to attend a women’s college for undergrad, where I got to celebrate my woman-ness and become aware of it in a way that many of my peers aren’t, and it makes me want to celebrate other women and bring them to life, even in my dark and dangerous fictional worlds. It just boils down to the very simple fact that I enjoy being female and thus, by extension, find it more natural and enjoyable to create and write from the female perspective. Whatever that means.
2) Because I read women.
You are what you eat, you know? You write what you read. I mean, not verbatim because there’s this pesky thing called copyright infringement, but you get the picture. I am drawn to books with female leads, and usually those books are written by women. Not always; I do love me some Garth Nix and some Philip Pullman, who write female leads pretty flawlessly. I am also more likely to pick up a book by a male author if it is about a female character, or maybe, if I’m feeling particularly generous, it has two main characters and one of them is female. I will, on occasion, read a book by a female with a male protagonist, but I’ve found that these books often have women characters that are extremely present so I get to focus on that (think Hermione or any of the phenomenal women in the Lumatere Chronicles). My absolute favorite books, however, are almost entirely stories about women written by women. I guess it’s not so surprising that I would try to mimic that in my own work, then. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Juliet Marillier? Check out that adorable dog!
3) Because women are taught to believe they can’t write men.
Thank all the heavens that this trend is changing; I see more and more female authors writing male characters and not being questioned about it. But I did grow up in a world where JK Rowling was told to use initials instead of her first name so that boys would actually read her book even though she was a woman. In that same world, my brothers, lovers of Harry Potter though they are, found ways to criticize Rowling for her inaccurate portrayal of Harry’s maleness, as it were. While I hope dearly that we are moving away from this sort of thing as we continue to talk about gender as a construct and all that comes along with that, I do know that I have always felt as though I wouldn’t be able to write an authentic male because I am not one, and because experience has taught me that men will criticize me for that. And I mean, lordy, if people were criticizing Rowling then what chance would I have anyway?
4) Because I write romance.
I mean, guys fall in love too. Sometimes with other guys. Girls don’t even have to be in the mix. And girls fall in love with each other, too! As a pansexual woman, I have loved women and I have loved men, but I have never been a man loving a woman or loving another man. I suspect it’s probably not so different. Love and attraction are fairly universal things, after all. But I know what it’s like to love as a woman, so when I imagine love and the building of relationships it’s very natural for me to imagine that from a woman’s perspective. To be fair I have exactly one character in my collection of, um… lots of characters that I am writing at the moment, who is a man that loves a woman and I’m writing his perspective. Perhaps in the future I will do more of this, but it’s more likely that I’ll continue to do what I do and let exceptions be exceptions. Don’t fix something that’s not broken, right?
So really, the point is, I write women. There are reasons for that — some listed here, some discussed in the podcast, some that I probably haven’t even thought of. I’m not too worried about it.
If you need me I’ll be at my computer, writing some lady stories about some ladies. Peace!