A Throwback Read and A Few Thoughts on Women in Narratives

I can’t stay for long; there’s so much that needs to be done. But since I don’t want to miss posting here on a Thursday either, I figured I should cobble something together.

First: the throwback read care of an old post by Kameron Hurley on how women are treated in narratives.

I do find myself concerned by the writer’s focus on women who fight and lead – after all, there are other means by which a woman can show her strength. But I do agree that sometimes the narratives that we allow ourselves to buy into can do more harm than good in a world full of human beings.

Why? Because we’re hooked on (to use a Terry Pratchett term) narrativium. We’re designed to think in stories, to believe in stories; with enough repetition, even a FALSE story can become true in our heads.

“But come on!” you might say. “We’re all too smart to mix up stories with reality right?”

Itim the Black Kitty

Sadly, there are two things I can say to that:

  1. Some people AREN’T smart enough
  2. Even perfectly intelligent people find it easier to make the stories real

Look, I’m not saying that every damn woman or person of color or whatever should be written as some kind of special freaking snowflake of a unicorn that everyone respects/no one can defeat. I’m not even saying (and I could get lynched for this) that a female character should not be sexually exploited in fiction – if the story calls for it, why not?

What I’m saying is that there are certain narratives that have been ingrained in all of us – both women and men – that make us act like freaking assholes.

Some men grope women without invitation, assume that silence/an inability to say no is consent, and that the world OWES them superhot women because that’s what they grew up believing is okay.

Some women constantly play the victim card, bite the heads off of men who politely compliment them, and believe in the effective genocide of men (too lazy to find the link) because they grew up believing that they’ve ALWAYS been victimized and it’s time for some payback.

I’m inclined to blame this on parents who don’t know how to raise their children; but I’m also aware that there is a cultural component in all of this. And perhaps a huge part of culture really has to do with the stories we tell and the way we react to them.

Again, I’m not saying that we should stop reading or writing stories with women who are sexual or sexualized because who are we kidding? They exist, they are real, and trying to erase their existence in fiction won’t really help anyone either (because NOT COMMUNICATING PROPERLY is actually what gets us into trouble). What I’m saying is that we should maybe stop being surprised at a woman doing something amazing, or even designating something as “female-oriented”.

Maybe we should just…I don’t know. Act like both the women and men in narratives are actual people.