Equality in writing

09 Apr

I had a recent conversation with a friend and I posted a loose transcript of it on tumblr, but thought I’d share it here as well.  A lot of what I’ve learned about writing has come from societal influences, and I’ve tried to gear my writing toward a certain demographic.  Here’s the conversation.

  • Person: So, in Rocket Fox, I noticed you only have two male characters.
  • Me: There’s more than that.
  • Person: No, you have only two named male characters.
  • Me: Clarfax is the first one, Sparky is another. There’s Bobby, Gilbert, Philbert, Colonel Nelson Tyrell, Colonel Reginald Pitts, Colonel Fillias Stigian…
  • Person: …who happens to be the villain.
  • Me: Antagonist, but yes. There’s also the barbers, Simon and Hector Longfur, the cook, Angus Longear. Dr. Ringtail, both junior and senior. Nurse Michael Littlepaw. Let’s see…. I think that’s it.
  • Person: Yeah, but you’ve got a lot more female characters in the story. The captain and commanding officer of the ship, the chief engineer, one of the communications officers for the pilots, the squadron leader, a doctor, a nurse…
  • Me: That’s because the doctor and nurse are Procylon, and they work as mated pairs and their mates share their vocations.
  • Person: Yeah, but still. And most of them have positions of authority.
  • Me: Yeah, it’s a change from the usual that’s seen in fiction.
  • Person: How do you mean?
  • Me: Name all of the main characters in the original Star Wars movies. How many were women?
  • Person: One, Princess Leia.
  • Me: Exactly. You’ll find that a lot in most television programs and in movies. Yet, a large percentage of those who watch those shows and movies happen to be women. See, they aren’t being reflected in the things they watch.
  • Person: …oh
  • Me: It gets even worse when you parse it down to people of colour. Take that Lena Dunham show.
  • Person: Girls.
  • Me: The main cast, while all women, is also all white. And any person of colour or woman of colour is relegated to a position which can be described as “the help”. Which is a stereotypical image of African American, South Asian, and even Middle Eastern people.
  • Person: But Asians are always portrayed as smart, computer nerds good at math.
  • Me: Asians are more than Chinese or Japanese.
  • Person: ….I think I have a headache.
  • Me: Take it slow, it takes time to understand. As long as you try.
  • Person: So, what do you hope to accomplish with this story?
  • Me: In the end? I want to write a story that encompasses two things from my youth; Wind in the Willows and Star Trek. I came up with this idea when I was 12. I hope that it will instill wonder in people about space exploration. I also want it to be viewed as hopeful for the future. And I know that all the characters are anthropomorphic, but that still doesn’t change how a person will read the story. Ultimately, I have a story to tell, and the best person who can tell it is me.
  • Person: So, you aren’t trying to give moral lessons of equality with this.
  • Me: No one said I have to do one thing when I’m telling a story. Some things are much more subtle.
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in randomness, Writing


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