I’m currently signed up for a Goodreads Challenge to read 40 books this year, which either seems like a CRAZY amount to people or not at all impressive to others. I’m on bookbub, so I get a lot of free and discounted books. Even if I read 40/year, it will take me 4 years to get through my TO READ list.
I was reading a Paranormal fantasy the other day as it’s one of my fave genres. No shock there as I write in that genre too. My problem is, I’ve noticed lately that I’m becoming extremely sensitive to sexism in my books and I’m finding that it’s really:
- cutting into my enjoyment
- shockingly prevalent in the genres I read. [Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Romance [historical and contemp].
What do I mean by sexist? It’s probably stuff that doesn’t ping most people’s radar, although I think it should. It’s things like:
She wasn’t like OTHER girls – this usually gets applied to our heroine to set her apart from ‘other’ women but the problem is, this is a really insiduous way of putting other women down. Usually this is being attributed to our heroine in a way that indicates the qualities that most other women possess are lacking, frivolous, uselss or ‘bad.’
HE CAN’T HAVE YOU – Men fight over our heroine and there’s no declaration from her or sense from her that they can fight all they want, SHE is the only one with the agency to choose who she ends up with. Don’t get me wrong. I love the plot device of two men wanting a woman and she can’t decide, but what I can’t stand is when the woman is a passive participant in that struggle and just WAITS for the men to sort it out. The men end up saying something like, ‘HE CAN’T HAVE YOU’ or ‘I WON’T LET HIM HAVE YOU.’ Excuse you, bucko. You don’t get to make that call. If I choose him, then I choose him. You can throw your cap in the ring and I’ll listen to what you have to offer, but so far, all I’m getting is eau de testosterone.
Women making bad decisions that put them in jeopardy to prove they are strong – the classic example of this is when the hero tells the heroine to wait in the car because there’s a shoot out going on or something. and she’s like “I’M NOT WAITING IN THE CAR. I’M A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO DOESN’T WAIT IN THE CAR.”
NOT putting yourself in danger just to prove something isn’t a weak choice. It’s a SMART choice. You can try to be safe and be strong and independent. I find the above lazy writing. The author wants to show us our hero is strong and independent. So then she makes this horrible decision based on proving herself ot someone? No. Now, it’s not the heroine being in jeopardy that I have a problem with [although I should probably do a whole separate post on Fridging Female Characters], and it’s not the damsel in distress. It’s the CHOICE this character made to put herself in jeopardy for what I consider to be a poor reason. A reason that would go against the very thing she is trying to prove – strong and independent. strong and independent people don’t have to go around proving they are strong and independent. Maybe she gets out of the car because she remembers something vital to the plot, maybe she gets out of the car to push a baby out of the way of another speeding vehicle, maybe the car gets shot at and she has to get out to protect herself. I don’t know. She can get out of the car if the plot needs to move forward. But she shouldn’t be doing something foolish and stupid to advance the plot just to advance the plot.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down, internets? Ugh, is any of this making sense?