svollga: (granat)
[personal profile] svollga
I haven't posted here in ages, mostly because I had a very hard-working autumn, and then I felt as I'm unused to posting to several social network sites anymore. Also, my circle here is mostly social justice feeds, and I was a bit tired of thinking about this stuff all the time. I know it's necessary, but sometimes it's so exhausting to care. But I'm back on track now.

Anyway, mostly I just want to talk about what I'm writing right now, and how all I've read so far about representation and stuff is working out. I'm writing a huge, epic novel-length fanfic thing, which is rare for me because I tend to write short stories and novellas. Another rare thing is that usually, my narrative is focused on the main characters, and all the other canon and original characters are just a background functions. But I can't do it in an epic thing with an actual plot, so I'm having a couple of dozens characters running around.
And here comes the representation thing. Because before I got caught in this whole social justice/equality stuff, I would follow the stereotypes. I need a bodyguard? I take a strong big man. I need a rape survivor? A woman or (being in a slash fanfic) a young slight boy. Older men for the authority figures. A good guy to die in a mission heroically saving someone.
Now, I still have the stereotypes in my head. But I also have a stop button. Every time I need a character for some function in the plot, I stop, and I think about which stereotype fits, and then I do any other thing that is stereotypical, or I subvert it. So there's a woman as a chief of security, and another one as a sexually assertive buddy/wingman for a main character (and also his first officer), a big manly man as a rape survivor, and other people in places where the stereotypes don't fit them in. And the best thing about it all? I didn't have to think about in consciously. It's not that I actually stopped and thought about the choice. It was all my brain working somewhere deep, so I just had to think 'who is the security personel in this scene', and I saw not a big manly man, but a blonde curly woman with a mean right hook. Or an Indian beauty with a no-nonsence attitude. Or maybe there was a big strong man, but there weren't only big strong men in security.
Okay, I still have a clingy-going-evil woman, and a leacherous/treacherous man, but I think it's okay because there are enough characters around who aren't following any stereotypical narratives and tropes for those two to exist. Because while I am all for subverting the stereotypes there's another thing going on in the subversive circles that I don't quite like: turning against any character that fits the stereotypical trope even when it's a thing that happens to people. In a fandom that praises the diversity and subversion in there show, there is a lot of annoyance if a victim doesn't fight, but freezes, though there are a lot of people freezing at the assault. A woman showing any 'stereotypically female' weakness is considered 'bad work' because she's stereotypical, though there are women like her. This troubles me, as a 'strong woman' stereotype going circles. So I think this is how this whole representation thing should work: subvert and dissolve stereotypes until they don't exist anymore, and include those very stereotypes in it's tollbox when they are from the real people's life, just see that they aren't overrepresented.

P.S.: Criminal Minds does all this stuff brilliantly. Can't stop watching.

on 2011-12-28 08:21 pm (UTC)
bzero: birthday greeting icon (birthday)
Posted by [personal profile] bzero
Your approach to fanfic sounds awesome. I often design characters first, then assign gender near the end, then add how their gender informs their character per experience after I have most of their personality worked out, so I avoid either stereotype or simple anti-stereotype, if that makes sense.

Happy birthday!

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svollga

December 2010

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