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Representation, Part II

Posted by Sumiki , in BZPower, BIONICLE/LEGO, Rants, Not Essays!, Writing Apr 21 2014 · 314 views

Specifically, with regards to the gender imbalance in modern media:
 
I'd like to see a story where, during the writing process, the characters are completely fleshed out and developed. Genders would be assigned at random at the end by computer generation, so as to avoid any unwanted author-based prejudices.
 
Obviously this example refers to a book, but the same process could go for anything.
 
(I was going to say more, but I think this pretty much speaks for itself.)


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Adds to "possible writing experiment" list. 

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Engineer Alexandra Humva
Apr 21 2014 10:15 PM

Tbh more or less what I do, except I go in alternating order.

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I recall hearing something about the screenplay for Alien actually being written without deciding characters' genders, with that being chosen at the end, and Ripley specifically chosen to be a woman to balance gender in the movie.

 

~B~

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-Toa Lhikevikk-
Apr 22 2014 04:22 PM

That sounds a lot like what goes on in Mock Trial events, actually. The relevant figures of each case are almost always gender-neutral so that anyone can play any role.

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An interesting idea, but many aspects of the story would have to be crafted to provide some degree of separation from the real world or vagueness. In a story set in the modern day, with real world influences on gender expression, not all characters will have their gender interchangeable. A lesbian in the deep south is going to be affected by her setting in a far different way than a straight man in New York. So unless you're writing a story set in an ideal world where sexism and homophobia are nonexistent, you'll have to purposely write your story in such a way in which all the characters have interchangeable backgrounds. That, or you randomize the genders earlier in the writing process, so that you're still free to take your randomized characters and adjust them for how their gender or sexuality (and how others perceive it) has shaped them over the course of their lives.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for greater diversity and representation in media. At the same time, I think that gender and sexuality are in many cases inseparable from good, realistic characters, especially for minorities who are subjected to real prejudices and stigmas that can affect how they perceive and respond to the world.
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~Shockwave~
Apr 23 2014 04:54 PM
I think it would be interesting to see a story where the Main characters gender isn't revealed. Like a first person narrative thing. If it was done right it probanly wouldn't even be noticed.
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An interesting idea, but many aspects of the story would have to be crafted to provide some degree of separation from the real world or vagueness. In a story set in the modern day, with real world influences on gender expression, not all characters will have their gender interchangeable. A lesbian in the deep south is going to be affected by her setting in a far different way than a straight man in New York. So unless you're writing a story set in an ideal world where sexism and homophobia are nonexistent, you'll have to purposely write your story in such a way in which all the characters have interchangeable backgrounds. That, or you randomize the genders earlier in the writing process, so that you're still free to take your randomized characters and adjust them for how their gender or sexuality (and how others perceive it) has shaped them over the course of their lives.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for greater diversity and representation in media. At the same time, I think that gender and sexuality are in many cases inseparable from good, realistic characters, especially for minorities who are subjected to real prejudices and stigmas that can affect how they perceive and respond to the world.

 

I was talking exclusively about gender, not sexual orientation or gender identity. It's pretty much the only representation issue I didn't really touch on that much in my last entry on the subject, which dealt with the representation of more marginalized groups (as opposed to, in this case, over 50% of the population).

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An interesting idea, but many aspects of the story would have to be crafted to provide some degree of separation from the real world or vagueness. In a story set in the modern day, with real world influences on gender expression, not all characters will have their gender interchangeable. A lesbian in the deep south is going to be affected by her setting in a far different way than a straight man in New York. So unless you're writing a story set in an ideal world where sexism and homophobia are nonexistent, you'll have to purposely write your story in such a way in which all the characters have interchangeable backgrounds. That, or you randomize the genders earlier in the writing process, so that you're still free to take your randomized characters and adjust them for how their gender or sexuality (and how others perceive it) has shaped them over the course of their lives.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for greater diversity and representation in media. At the same time, I think that gender and sexuality are in many cases inseparable from good, realistic characters, especially for minorities who are subjected to real prejudices and stigmas that can affect how they perceive and respond to the world.

 
I was talking exclusively about gender, not sexual orientation or gender identity. It's pretty much the only representation issue I didn't really touch on that much in my last entry on the subject, which dealt with the representation of more marginalized groups (as opposed to, in this case, over 50% of the population).


While you didn't mention sexual orientation, it would inevitably come up as an issue if any one of the characters showed any romantic interest in another character (since different outcomes of the randomization would affect which genders the two characters are, leading to an implied sexual orientation). Of course, you could easily write a story without any romantic attraction, but that's yet another limitation on what your experimental story could contain without breaking suspension of disbelief. Romance, after all, is a significant aspect of the human condition.

I'm not saying that your hypothetical story would be bad or implausible. There are loads of stories where gender is hardly relevant (including The Little Prince, a personal favorite). I'm just musing on what limits there would be on such a story, and to what extent gender affects characterization in general.
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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

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11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
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12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

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7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
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8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
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9/11/12 - Orange Guy
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10/2/12 - None
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10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/12 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.

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Cyrix

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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle
 
so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra

 


 


 


You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.
 
It's a long story.

 

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