I am not an anti-feminist.

Continuing in my series of super-creative titles for blog posts…

I predicted that my last post would stir the pot somewhat,  or at least that it would if I had a significant readership. I knew, as I wrote it, that the claims I was making within could be easily misinterpreted, from both sides of the camp I was speaking to. It was, at its heart, a critique of second-wave vs. third-wave thinking regarding women and choice, and how fiction writers (among many others) will always be caught in that crossfire. However, it seems it drew the attention of at least one individual who seems to believe that it was a critique of feminism as a whole, and that my expression of frustration as a writer was, in fact, a rejection of feminism entirely.

This fellow has his own blog, where he makes claims like “the wage gap [between men and women] doesn’t exist” (to this end, he cites various statistics that unanimously indicate that there IS a wage gap, just that it’s smaller than it used to be, because as we all know, when things stop being as bad as they used to be, they stop being bad altogether), “sometimes women really are asking to be raped” (in which he pulls out that old chestnut of evolutionary psychology that claims that some men can be triggered into a proto-sapien state by the visual ‘symbol’ of a short skirt and low top), and “prison rape jokes will never not be funny” (prison rape is actually an extremely serious issue that gets swept under the rug in the name of the Just World fallacy, and continued levity on the subject merely prolongs the time before people start acting on it in a constructive way). The more I read, the more I’m thinking “yikes, I can’t have a guy like this thinking I’m on his side”. So here’s yet another stream-of-consciousness post made in the middle of the night, to make one thing very very clear.

I am not an anti-feminist.

Quite the opposite, in fact. I consider myself to be a rather ardent feminist. I am minoring in Women and Gender studies. I volunteer for the Campus Women’s Centre at my university, which entails my involvement in feminist activism within the community. I am also president of the university’s LGBTQ club, which is officially a pro-feminist organization, and is also involved in much more activism, both queer-positive and feminist in nature. My long term goals are to become a clinical psychologist with a strong emphasis in queer and feminist issues facing youth, young adults, and adults. I know what the word ‘kyriarchy’ means. This may sound a bit like I’m just rattling off my feminist credentials, and perhaps that’s exactly what it is, but I feel the need to emphasize the point that I am a feminist, through and through. Furthermore, I believe that to NOT be a feminist (if not in name, then at least to not recognize and oppose the systematic inequality between the genders) ought to be socially unacceptable in the 21st century. 

But just because I call myself a feminist, doesn’t mean that I never recognize some of the problems that arise within the movement. It was in this spirit that my earlier post was written, and that other posts in the future will also be written.

That’s all I have to say about that, for now. I promise my next post will be more light-hearted.

~Joselyn

No one will ever get a female protagonist right.

On this day, I am glad I have a small readership, because today’s post is not going to make me any friends. But there’s something that I need to get off my chest.

No writer in the world will ever get a female protagonist right.

No one. Not one person ever. No, not even THAT writer that you’re thinking of. I’ll go so far as to say ESPECIALLY not that writer.

Here’s why:

  • If your female protagonist behaves in a culturally recognizable “feminine” manner, she will be criticized for reinforcing traditional gender roles and perpetuating female stereotypes.
  • If your female protagonist behaves in a culturally recognizable “masculine” manner, she will be criticized for having to essentially “become” a man in order to be strong, inviting the implication that there can be no inherent strength in femininity. This will also be the case if your female protagonist behaves in a manner that is not culturally recognizable as either feminine or masculine, with the added bonus that she will also be criticized for promoting gender erasure and assimilation.

So what do you do? To be honest, there’s nothing you can do. If you write something with a female hero, you’re going to provoke one of these reactions. Maybe even both! So my advice is to write your characters – ALL of your characters – as actual, living, breathing human beings. Do not write characters to serve merely as props for your other characters, nor as props the story. Make them real, make them complex. No one in the real world fits completely perfectly into a stereotype, and people who don’t exhibit at least one stereotypical trait of their group are extremely rare. So write your characters accordingly, and embrace them for who they are, warts and all. That’s really the best you can do.

If I were in a better mood, I’d expound on this idea more. I’d provide examples of characters that receive each kind of criticism, and quote the critics who espouse these ideals. But I am tired, I am cranky, and I don’t feel like writing more than 350 words.

‘night.

~Joselyn