Very very quick post with gifs in lieu of words

For whatever reason, my internet has recently brought me into contact with a number of people who decry a certain piece of media by saying that the female character (or characters) are just Mary Sues. This happens a lot, actually. And it always makes me go like this;

Because, you see, an awful lot of the time it seems like people are using Mary Sue as a shorthand for “female.” (I am not the first one to notice this.) If a girl has too many skills– Mary Sue. If a girl has too FEW skills and yet avoids being a body in a freezer– Mary Sue. If a girl is too loved– Mary Sue. If a girl is too unloved– Mary Sue. If a girl has any kind of history which is not middle-class-suburban-america, she’s a Mary Sue. If a girl is from middle class suburban America, she is also a Mary Sue.

And to a certain point, I thought that was weird but attributed it to people who didn’t know how to read anything in context, or just really enjoyed hating. And then today, I was struck with curiosity and a desire to avoid what I was writing about, so I put MYSELF through the Mary Sue test.

And guess what? I’m a Sue. I am a “character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfilment fantasy for the author or reader. Generally accepted as a character whose positive aspects overwhelm their other traits until they become one-dimensional.”

 

Okay guys, I am a real person. I have no intention of being anyone’s wish fulfillment, and I CERTAINLY have flaws. But yet, my history, and the fact that I have skills, and the fact that I have also lived certain parts of my life without significantly using my skills– this now makes me one-demential and hackneyed.

You guys, I think something is wrong with how we decide when female characters are unrealistic.

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Reading Cross-Gender.

I think I’ve been pretty clear about my tendency to read adventure stories. I read a lot, and I read a lot things which focus on adventure. However, the vast majority of books which will be marketed as “adventure tales” have another word in the genre description. They’re “Boys’ Adventure Tales.” There are exceptions, of course, but at least in most of the books I read, the main character in a perilous drama of strength and wit would be a guy.

And at first I didn’t even notice. There were adventures, I was reading them, I was seven, and so I just read myself into them. I was constantly the main character, daring and smart and able to escape and virtuous and awesome. I was AWESOME.

And then, somewhere in there, I started to notice gender. I started to notice that I couldn’t be the main character in the books I was reading. There was this divide, and I was on the wrong side of it.

I can’t trace it back to any one book, I think it was just a combination of figuring out who I was (and wasn’t), and the sheer amount of adventures, historical fiction, and books written a century ago that I was cramming into my head. Sometimes the characters said explicitly that girls couldn’t participate in the expedition, and sometimes it was the more insidious assumption that girls would never want to come along. And again, the selection of books that I was reading comes down to a lot of factors, (what was available in the local library being a big one), but I took to heart the universal message that guys had adventures and girls were the impetuous for adventures; they were either in need of rescue or there to be impressed by the exploits of the male sex.

And oh, I took that to heart hard. At first I tried to deal with it by fully taking on the virtues of a frontier woman. They were super competent and vital people, and sometimes had adventures of their own. Frontier women were the most badass of the role models available, in fact, because I wasn’t rich enough to be a Nancy Drew and I couldn’t quite wish myself into being a princess. There still exists a terrible picture I have not managed to destroy which shows that my dedication to a frontier aesthetic also extended to fashion. It’s really terrible. Anyways, that attempt worked just about until my temper came in.

Don’t worry, this is not another history of my reading habits. (We’ve had enough of that lately.) My point is that I was still looking into books for characters who were like me, and I kept slamming up against the gender barrier. So, did the writers intend that? In the case of books written 50 or more years ago, I think it’s quite possible. This is, after all, the era of Children’s Literature With Morals, and strict gender roles were certainly a moral good. In books written more recently, I think I fell more afoul of the assumption that “adventure novel” means “novel meant for boys”.

Eowyn is just here to be rescued...

And when I first started thinking about this I spent a great deal of time being righteously indignant that I couldn’t find myself in these books, just because of my sex. How ridiculous!

Er, yes. How ridiculous, self. You should look to that. Because the brainwave that hit today is a two-parter.

The first deals with the older stuff, where gender divides were specifically put in. The authors have expressed their view, do I agree with it? A swift look at reality proves that having your reproductive organs on the inside does not guarantee you a rescuer in all situations, so unless you want to be a tragic casualty, it’s a good idea to be prepared to rescue yourself. Damsel in distress– not a viable lifestyle. Consulting reality also shows that my lack of eye-hand coordination and cardiovascular capacity makes me a poor choice to bring on an adventure, at least as the muscle. Does that have anything to do with my chromosomes? Well, as far as my chromosomes indicate I have weak eyes and like reading, yes, but that’s about it. On the other hand, if an adventure needs a storehouse of trivia and bizarre information I am so there. I think the author and I can agree to disagree on the subject of their quaint gender views, and I can enjoy the adventure for its merits or lack thereof. GENDER ISSUE SORT’D.

And the second part of the brainwave comes regarding books written more recently. They tend to be free of side characters pointedly staying home to cook, so why would I have issues with them? Because I know I cannot be the main character? Yes, and that matters why, exactly?

I think I’ve been reading at a basically basic level. I’ve been looking for myself in stories and rolling around in the awesomeness of me for a while. Which is useful– after all it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in the world, there are people like you– but it’s hardly the only way to read. Only reading in this manner is like only eating chocolate. You’re missing a lot of the essential nutrients needed for living. In this case, empathy.

Because really, gender is only the most obvious and silly place to draw a line. If I say I can’t enjoy books with Male MCs, can I also not enjoy books with Female MCs who are sporty, or social, or interested in romance, or who live in different worlds, or who follow a different faith, or who have a different skin colour, or hair colour, or who don’t have to worry about being blind without their classes, or who aren’t interested in history, or who don’t like tea? I mean, it would be hard to get over the tea barrier, but if I can empathize past that I should be able to empathize past anything.

So delicious...

Ahem. What I mean to say is that I would be severely restricting myself, to solely allow myself to enjoy books “about me.” The reading of the books which aren’t about me is the joy of it! I can see someone else’s experience, and what it’s like to be human in another life. Unless I get new eyes I am never going to be able to play sports: I have neither the depth perception, the eye-hand-co-ordination or the interest in that activity. But I can read about someone who loves sports, and as a bonus I don’t have to experience the pain.

I mean, this realization opens up SCADS of new horizons. And for goodness sake, self, I read science fiction and fantasy like they are the chief balm for my soul. Imagining the reality of another type of life should not present a huge problem for me.

The answer to that question is both yes and no, in a way….

Word Count: 10,280
Words still to go: 21,667
Coherence: “You mean not every sentence starts with a 3rd person pronoun?”
Panic Level: I have ice cream. It’s all good

I should have done this long ago. It makes such a difference to have people to write with; who’ll nag me and I them, who understand the complications attacks by random plots puts your life in, and the importance of putting the story down.

People I know talk about music as their drug. I have a growing suspicion that writing is that for me. I’m not saying that I’m any good, but it’s something I think I can’t not do. It’s just a question of whether I do it poorly in my own head or better as I work out the technicalities on paper.

Life is endlessly interesting.

Delusion? What delusion?

So, the main title, it should have some explanation.

I’m attending Post-secondary this year, and learning much, but the biggest thing I know so far is that I really don’t know anything. That likely sounds either really pretentious or really depressed. An explanation..

This year to date has been an excellent exercise in falling on my face. I’ve realized that some,(many), things I was taking for granted are not so simple. Some ideas I didn’t even see I was right in I have discovered, and I’ve seen some cherished ideas fall down spectacularly. It’s been amazing!

At any rate, once I realized how sparse my information was on certain subjects, I had two behavior options. I could hide away, or I could go out and kick my own conceptions down. There was a time in my like when I could and did hide, but now I’ve decided to take the other option.

It’s just so much more interesting to fall on your face! Particularly if you are flailing for a grip on your way down! I’m sure I don’t have any particular incident in mind, never no way..

Now in the interests of expanding the bounds of my ignorance into new spheres, I shall try to pinpoint a delusion every month. The first painful delusion to fall over, my thoughts on Mac computers. This idea isn’t entirely dead, but I definitely see a delusion going on. (Show it the light of day! kill thedelusion with sunlight!)

I am an avid Mac user, and I’ve only ever used Mac. Until this year. Every time I previously used a Windows computer it felt remarkably like beating my head against a wall, and I therefore determined (deductive reasoning!) that all Windows computers were essentially clever devices for driving their users mad. Now this year, I’ve been forced to use Windows, and it’s, *coughs* not that bad. I still hold that Macs are intrinsically superior, but I can use Windows, and I can actually even enjoy my time on the computer.

There you have it. My first preconceived notion to fall over when tested!