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Women in fanfiction (or not)

Apparently, discussions are happening around fandom about the lack of female characters in fanfiction and a similar problem in original (published) fiction. They're also discussing the problem that one may become hyper-sensitive about making women too strong, too flawed, too anything because one is too self-conscious about perpetrating stereotypes. (Something I am not always careful enough about, la.)

I've only seen a few of these posts. I am flitting at the edges of the discussion, since (a) I use fanfiction and LJ  as a brain break (b) most of the discussion seems to be about lack of women in the m/m slash fanfiction community, where I'm not active. When I do speak up in those discussions, I'm afraid I sound too smug/preachy/insensitive. ("Well, just write them!" or "Hey, read some of ours, then...I know some authors who can show you how it's done!")

So I don't have many insightful things to say on that discussion, other than the fact that I'm very glad that people are having it.

Here's what I want to say.

Dear Flist.

I love you folks. Never do I have to look far to find stories with plausible and interesting women of many kinds. Yuri, het, gen, whatever -- women are an integral part of the stories you tell, and it would never occur to you to excise them. Those folks on my flist who write m/m also have many stories with well-developed female characters.

Because of you, I didn't realize that we might be existing in a somewhat atypical bubble of fandom/fanfiction where *gasp* women exist. (Although I'm not quite sure of that -- a wide-angle view of fandom is very dependent on vantage point).

I just wanna say...thank you for being! Keep writing! 




( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 29th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
Hear hear!

I am happy to be able to second everything you say in your open letter.
Jan. 29th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
I think the dearth of good female characters in fanfic is a direct descendant of the dearth of good female characters in mainstream media. And I'm puzzled by the discussion of female chars in m/m slash, given that there's been significant discussion of how the men in m/m slash are often coded women who behave very little like "real" gay men and much more like women.

Anyway. It's kind of sad that our extended friends are, in fact, an atypical bubble of writers, but it's nice for us.
Jan. 29th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Heh. I could have written this.

Jan. 29th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)

I mean, it's logical (which is something that frequently escapes fandom discussions). The body of fic with the largest ratio of strong female characters has something to start from. Buffy, for example, or Xena, or Voyager, or Sailor Moon, for pete's sake. Getting good female chars to play with in many fandoms is a matter of inspiration and hard work in gathering up the sops thrown and weaving them into something believable and compelling. Some fandoms have done an excellent job of this: Harry Potter, for all its myriad flaws, provides us with shreds of good female characterization dropped like chaff among the bad, with which some people pull together completely awesome Hermiones and Ginnys, etc. But one of my favorite anime series, Yami no Matsuei, gives us nothing in terms of female characters unless you happen to read the manga as well, and then one only has a few threads here and there.

Blah blah blah, sorry, didn't mean to go on.
Jan. 29th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
^^^ This poster has stated my position. Every fandom I have inhabited has been full of strong female characters from the beginning, so I have had to do very little work in order to include them. :-) Though I prefer writing them, anyway.
Jan. 29th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
Jan. 29th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
*big hugs* I think thats why I thought a Lulu/Dax suggestion might be interesting, both strong women characters.

Speaking of which, I was checking out something and have been talking with a friend about Xena and Gabrielle from the Xena tv show. Xena was a strong female who had her history and vices too while there's innocent Gabrielle tagging along but she really comes into her own in discovering her own strength by the end of the show.
Jan. 29th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Xena/Gabrielle is canon, not fanon, as far as many fans of the show are concerned.

A lesbian family I know up in Camarillo has the biggest collection of Xena props in the U.S.

I never watched more than a couple episodes, and heard that it had a severe endingFAIL, but it was a great dynamic between those two whether you see it as a women buddy story (doesn't have to be sex) or the best lesbian couple on TV in the 90s.

Alas, I haven't seen DS9 since 1993, and don't think I could write Dax anymore!

Edited at 2010-01-29 09:13 pm (UTC)
Jan. 29th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
yea, I missed out on a lot of the show because I was in the middle of finishing up my final years in high school and lots of AP classes, doing homework, etc... so that was right around the same time I also missed out on the final season of DS9. I didn't see the last two seasons of Xena but I did hear about what happened and I was a bit sad about that. Bah, my two fave shows at the time having serious ending FAILS.

and agreed on the Xena/Gabrielle thing, one of my favorite parts was when Xena lived in Bruce Campbell's character's body after she had a death thing going on. She was talking with Gabrielle and went to kiss her and that's when Campbell 'came back to his body' and was kissing Gabrielle. He had this moment of... um... guess you girls worked it out? in a "whatever floats your boat" sort of way. *snerk*
Jan. 30th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC)
Come on over to Stargate fandom, and watch as the women disappear... *is sad*

That's one reason I've always loved FF10 fandom. Whether it's YuRiPa being featured, Lulu kicking ass, or Yuna being awesome, the ladies never seem to disappear.
Jan. 30th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
Which is not to say that FF games have gotten everything right (dresspheres augh; fathers named but mothers almost never) -- but at least we've got material we can work with!

Edited at 2010-01-30 07:19 am (UTC)
Jan. 31st, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
I must be rather insulated, or else I instinctually gravitate towards anime with strong female characters. I had no idea such a discussion was going on. But now that I think about all the anime on my shelf, there ARE several titles where the women are absent - Saiyuki comes to mind immediately. Very interesting.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
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