Love and Sexism
What do you think about the relationship between the sexes in romance novels? I encourage you to express your honest opinions.
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Natasha5
I very much disagree that if you're sad it's a choice. If you're r*** by your father and live plagued with nightmares because of it, is that your *choice* to be sad?

If you think so, you clearly don't understand psychology.

We did get a bit off-topic, talking about beauty and shiznit. Sorry.

4/18/2007 #31
Krirobe
Yes, definitely off topic. But we can swing this back to sexism. Relate your thoughts on beauty to the sexes. Like, what do you believe the standards of beauty are and do you think they are higher for men than for women in the fictional world?

Men are definitely given the whole package almost all the time. Beauty and brains, most of them social butterflies without even trying, and sometimes well-off. The girls, on the other hand, are usually average in beauty, possibly discreetly very beautiful (beautiful in terms of society's standards), smart, also a lot of the time discreetly smart, and are NOT social butterflies almost always. I am making generalizations. These are just what the majority of stories I come across happen to be about. This may derive from the fact, though, that the majority of authors may be female recluses, if only recluses in their own minds. Is this our fantasy, the culmination of all our romantic desires? Is Fabio, the stock romantic hero, what we truly want in a partner? Does the hero need to be beautiful for the heroine/reader to accept that he is THE ONE WHO WILL BRING LIFE TO THE GUTTER WHERE SHE LIVED? Why does Heidi Klum, among others, feel she needs to tell Mr. Moviephone (who will tell the world) that she was called Pizza Face as a child? And so many people on this site have begun to reveal that they die for cliched stories.

I am very confused. I don't know the answers to these questions, but if we try to discuss them, I think we may be more sensitive to the problems of relationships between men and women in fiction and in real life.

4/18/2007 #32
Krirobe
Sorry, correction: "... IN relationships between men and women ... " Not "of"
4/18/2007 #33
Serom Kim
Uh, I don't know if that's true, Krirobe, but I think the thing that bothers me most in romance novels is that the lot of the plot is the same.

I've seen a lot of stories on this site in which the setting is in a fantasy land like the medieval ages with princes and carriages and where women had to wear long dresses and stuff. Almost always, the woman is a slave whom the male protagonist, who is almost always of noble standings, takes a liking too. She is at first resistant, but somehow falls in love with him. That's just too repetitive. And for a normal person, if she was that rebellious, I don't think she would fall in love like that.

Another thing that bothers me is that usually, it's the woman with a hard past, hard life, whatever. And the man has to save her. The only time the man really has a hard situation is when it's male/male, which I don't have a problem with but it gives you the idea that men don't need any help from women and the only time they're in trouble is when it's another man who comes to their rescue, which seems ... sexist.

What I'm saying is that the writers on the romance section who are female most likely support equality for women and all that stuff, but their stories always revert to some not-so-obvious form of sexism that paints a picture of all women having the characteristics described above and they need a man to rescue them in some way. And they always want to go back to a time when women didn't have any rights. That's what makes me annoyed about romance.

4/22/2007 #34
Natasha5
I'm writing a story like that. Except the main character is a cat. And he falls in love with an Ethiopean traveller while they're off saving a princess from being kidnapped by gremlins...

Uh... huh. I'm not mad.

4/22/2007 #35
Serom Kim
... That sounds ... unique ...
4/22/2007 #36
Juni Lyn
I've seen a lot of stories on this site in which the setting is in a fantasy land like the medieval ages with princes and carriages and where women had to wear long dresses and stuff. Almost always, the woman is a slave whom the male protagonist, who is almost always of noble standings, takes a liking too.

I don't know about that, most of the stories I have read that are based in that time period offer a range of circumstances. From the heroine being a princess herself or a pauper. The hero is most likely her equal, her lower, or even her higher. I'm not saying it doesn't happen where the guy is social higher, but that's the Cinderella themes story... a folktale that as been around for forever.

4/22/2007 #37
Serom Kim
People seem to like the old stories where the woman needs the man's help and stuff.
4/22/2007 #38
Natasha5
I like cats. :-)
4/23/2007 #39
This.Texta.Is.Blue
.. i don't know. i've read a lot of stories where the guy saves the girl, but then again i've read a lot where the girl saves the guy, and then i've read some where they both need to save each-other. And there all good. I think the whole yin and yang theories work in every situation we need a guy to be whole, as with a guy needs us.

But it does suck that in a minority of stories, girls are the more weaker ones. When guys can be, or ever more so week as well.

... i hate cats.. they stole my sound... now whenever i "meow".. people look at me weirdly.

4/23/2007 #40
Serom Kim
Minority of stories? Don't you mean the majority if it bothers you?
4/23/2007 #41
This.Texta.Is.Blue
it bothers me sure. But its not in most stories.
4/24/2007 #42
ihrtbks
As I see it, it's not sexism so much as stereotypes like the ones below. Stereotyping inherently involves sexism.

Guy is a blond player. Girl is 'lower-class'. Why are males allowed to sleep around while women who do that are called names?

Overprotective brother has a best friend whom he's been with since elementary school. Best friend falls in love with sister; brother gets overprotective, but eventually accepts it. Are all brothers that uncomfortable with their best friend and sister together? Sisters whose best friends fall for their brother never do that; nobody writes stories about falling in love with your best friend's BROTHER.

Best friends start falling for each other but refuse to admit it. If they're your best friend, you would have probably fallen for them a LONG time ago. Male friends get super jealous but females just stand around, not doing anything or telling him how they feel.

Enemies start falling for each other and question it. Childhood enemies usually become high school enemies. Usually male is impossibly arrogant while female is beyond sarcastic. Most of my male friends use sarcasm as well as Shakesphere, and don't have huge egos.

Apologies if any are offended.

5/8/2007 #43
WaterFox
Hmmm this might be coming out of the deep end of my thoughts but I see when people write the girls as plain, poor, from across the tracks...etc...and the guys, handsome, rich, perfect...

I think it had a lot to do with conquering not love. They don't approach each other as equals yet in the end the girl and guy are together. The girl really overpowering the guy and making him a part of her...

Now...I don't believe ever story is like that but I'd say a majority of them subconsciously are.

For writing is a fantasy and people write what they can't normally have.

5/15/2007 #44
ihrtbks
Yeah, it does seem like that. The stories portray people "winning" the other whom they supposedly "love". The majority of stories have characters realize how much they want the another character by having them leave or date somebody else, usually the rich guy has another equally rich and often with one character trait: b***. So basically what "they can't have" due to social expectations and norms.

Then the "rich, handsome, perfect" guy starts wanting the "plain, poor, developed-character" girl and gets her. Very few stories have a "plain poor" guy loving a "rich, beautiful, perfect" girl. Only geek girls end up with football-playing players; geek guys aren't even mentioned unless they are friends of said geek girls.

Most angst stories are written from a girl's pov, because the guys USUALLY (not always) get whomever they want. The girls are also shown as just standing by, watching "him" with someone else while guys will usually go and kiss "her" or something. More sexist stereotyping.

5/15/2007 #45
Serom Kim
You know, you're right about that. A lot of guys seem to be the one who want the girls, and in most cases, they seem to do so without gaining much respect for the girl. Funny thing is that most writers of these kinds of stories are girls, so you'd think that they'd want a strong girl as their main character ...
5/19/2007 #46
Limited Edition
Hahahaha yup, most stories are like that. The thing is that in reality, there isn't much difference between guys and girls at all. But I think that in stories they write so because it's expected that the male is more experienced and therefore goes "after the girl", but in reality, it can be the complete opposite; that the girl has to get the guy and she has to make him want to have sex and so on XD
5/19/2007 #47
ihrtbks
Most writers are unconsciously slightly sexist or at least stereotypical. That's why stories in which the girl is popular or charismatic while the boy is geeky, nerdy, or otherwise in the 'lower ranks' of high school society are almost rarer than penguins in the tropics. It's not as if females don't experience lust or as if guys don't ever have a first girlfriend, but a girl making the first move or a guy with no experience is almost scandalous. For some unidentifiable reason, a story with a hot cheerleader wanting the male captain of the academic team doesn't possess nearly as much drama or potential as a hot football player wanting the female captain of the academic team. Guys wanting lower-status girls is more acceptable than the other way around. Shy guys don't exist except in slash; most guys are arrogant and extreme flirts and are considered hot because of it, but flirty girls are usually viewed as immoral.
5/19/2007 #48
Serom Kim
Shh! You guys are going to give other writers my idea!
5/20/2007 #49
Nova Light
If you mean well proportioned by pretty, then I can say that I’m perceived as pretty/beautiful/hot.

And no, I don’t like it. Neither the attention nor the benefits of being ‘pretty’.

People always makes presumptions about you, you being dumb, you being shallow, you being easy, you being slutty – even though you’re none of the above.

I've earned my place in life - by working hard for it.

I have hard time trusting the males (read: man-w***) in my life, as I think that the only reason they'd want to be with me is because of the way I look. That they are smitten by the glitter, like everyone else, not being able to see me - the person under the shell. So I went an made the proclamation: "I don't do relationships", which led people to think that I'm easy (one-night-stand-girl!)

The girls hate me because they think I'll steal their boyfriends, and the boys- well, they can't see that I'm only interested in a platonic relationship! Yup, I can see it's a blast!

5/28/2007 #50
Nova Light
If you mean well proportioned by pretty, then I can say that I’m perceived as pretty/beautiful/hot.

And no, I don’t like it. Neither the attention nor the benefits of being ‘pretty’.

People always makes presumptions about you, you being dumb, you being shallow, you being easy, you being slutty – even though you’re none of the above.

I've earned my place in life - by working hard for it.

I have hard time trusting the males (read: man-w***) in my life, as I think that the only reason they'd want to be with me is because of the way I look. That they are smitten by the glitter, like everyone else, not being able to see me - the person under the shell. So I went an made the proclamation: "I don't do relationships", which led people to think that I'm easy (one-night-stand-girl!)

The girls hate me because they think I'll steal their boyfriends, and the boys- well, they can't see that I'm only interested in a platonic relationship! Yup, I can see it's a blast!

5/28/2007 #51
Limited Edition
Hm...I think people who are percieved as "dumb, shallow" or whatever, do have something to do with it. It's not just being pretty that makes them getting percieved as such. It's how you act and talk and the general way you come off too. I can say that heck, I look damn good, but seldom people percieve me as being easy, slutty, dumb or shallow. It has to do with how people carry themselves. Also, how you make yourself look. If you simply look unfresh and complain that pretty people have merits in life, just...geez, fix it; buy some new clothes, get a haircut and learn make-up. Quite much everybody look good if they only care to.

Personally, I love being pretty. I absolutely love it. I feel good, I have confidence and I'm not afraid of interacting with people.

5/28/2007 #52
Serom Kim
I'd rather be average-looking than pretty, which I am, because it's easier to be recognized for your skills or expertise in a certain area rather than your looks and it's easier to be taken seriously. If you're on either end of the extreme for looks, then people don't give you much of a chance because either they think you're not worthy of looking at/listening to or they just care about the way you look.

Not to mention that not everyone likes being hit on. If you're pretty, there's a higher chance of being hit on because people are at first attracted by looks. I'm not pretty, I know it, and my self-confidence is great. I just think that society places too much emphasis on looks.

What does this have to do with sexist stereotypes anyway?

5/29/2007 #53
Nova Light
Well, it was rather a reply to It.Hurts.You.Know (I think, that's her screenname anyways...) She emphasizes the advantages of being pretty, where as I don't see any advantages, because the way you look doesn't say a thing about your personality. And I feel the same way you do, I'd rather be recognized for my archievements and personality traits rather than looks, which is just based on luck (you don't exactly get to choose your genes)

And to get back on the topic: Somehow love is portrayed as something, which you have to fight for... Well, there are real-life stories that doesn't take that much effort from either of the parts involved, but those stories aren't that interesting, are they now? I personally have never experienced, nor will I ever -I think, experience any of the plots written here on fictionpress.net Maybe we're setting ourselves up for failure, believing on the "true" love, waiting for the man, who's supposed to be prince charming outwards, towards others, but someone entirely different when you're present? Well, it doesn't work like that... well, maybe it's because I live in Denmark (everything is SAFE here). And the gender-distiction in Denmark isn't all that typical- The woman often times do have the same or higher economical income than the man, she's with. But also I think it's only human instinct to expect the man to be bigger and make more money, being a bit dominating, because after all women want to be protected? To know that your man can take care of you? In some way or the other? Or at least have one trait that compensates for all his failures?

5/30/2007 #54
Serom Kim
Sometimes, I'd like to live in another country just to see what it's like. My background is Asian (but I was born in Oregon) and Asian culture and history doesn't necessarily stress the importance of women, so there's a strike there.

Living in the U.S.A. is the second strike when it comes to romance. Here, there are media portrayals of bad boys and meek women and which gender is usually the victim and so on. It might not be as obvious nowadays, but you still see it. Things like that are a bit annoying. I don't like to be cliche, so I try to mix it up. I'm trying to write a story where a "geek" guy and a popular girl are attempting at romance with the girl being the one who pretty much takes charge. Some of my reviewers think that my main girl is too masculine and my main boy is too feminine. Maybe they're just not ready for a swap like that because it is possible. Anything's possible.

I don't know what to make of your comment about all women wanting to be protected. Maybe subconsciously, but the truth is that I don't feel it. I think my stories kind of stress that. The girls there can be sensitive and stuff, but not everyone has to lean on a guy. And the boys are also sensitive and a bit more respectful of other people as well in addition to being more in touch with their feelings, but I think that most of my characters just need a true friend and not a relationship.

What I think is a bit sexist in romance stories is exactly what people have been saying. The male always makes the first move, is popular, has experience, richer, bigger, more dominating, etc. There are women like that in the real world but they don't seem to exist in romance stories. So what's wrong with giving my female character a few masculine traits? And why can't I give my male character an inferiority complex that might make him seem feminine? After all, one of my friends who's a guy can talk about some pretty deep things that a woman wouldn't expect from a man along with the fact that some people on the Internet mistake me for a guy probably because of the way I write out on the Internet.

Above all, I think that people might not be ready to see a reversal. Too bad, because I'm ready to write about reversals. People who don't like it can either find something else to read, wait until I finish the entire story before criticizing it, or point out grammatical mistakes or anything obvious like that.

5/30/2007 #55
ihrtbks
I read your story, Serom Kim. It's not bad, just different. I like it though. I've been dying to see a story like that. I might have to steal your idea but make it my own. Just kidding.

Jokes aside, the reason women are perceived as weaker has to do with roles from when humans were hunter-gatherers. Women would stay at home taking care of the children (men can't exactly breastfeed and routine was established) and men would go out for food and stuff. As time progressed, these roles became more established, and men, who got the food and therefore were more crucial to survival, became 'better'. Women were not given any chances and it progressed until a few women took the initiative to change it. Women who tried to become men were often persecuted, furthering the belief that a woman should be a woman.

They preach 'no discrimination between genders' but it's still very much there. Though women are allowed men's jobs and education, there's still a tolerability difference between a "lady's man" and a "w***" though both engage in the same behavior. Jocks are always written as arrogant but still lovable on the inside while cheerleaders are always b*** and possessive.

What I'm trying to say is it's hard to change the past and generations try to pass down what they consider good culture down. Males could and still can get away with a lot more than females.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving masculine traits to women and feminine traits to men. It makes them real instead of cardboard cut-outs. Whether or not we like to admit it, our world does have meek men and forward women.

5/30/2007 #56
Serom Kim
Haha ... if you want to steal my idea, then go ahead.

I know exactly what you're saying about the whole men and women stuff. It's just that ... well, I'm just trying to make a story where everything is different. There are lots of "geek" or unpopular guys, and there are popular non-cheerleader girls (where did that one reviewer get the idea that Katrina is a cheerleader? She's not). In my story, Katrina's basically this spoiled brat who thinks she can get everything she wants just because she wants to and Bryan has low self-confidence because people in school don't like him. Aren't students the most fragile about their self-confidence during junior and high school?

Reasons that you've pointed out are probably why some people may not like my story ... or maybe they're just not ready for it. And I'm glad that you also think that there's nothing wrong with making women and men have traits associated witht he opposite gender.

Take my friends and me for an example. One of my friends who is a girl is really aggressive. She will kick a person in the shins at even the slightest offense. She also has low self-confidence, but we'll touch on that later. Another one of my friends, Peach Flavored Octopus on this website, is a guy and he seems to have a low self-confidence problem as well. He's also passive and won't fight back even if one of our other friends (who is a guy and really aggressive) will start beating up on him. PFO is also very sarcastic.

What I'm trying to say is that I agree with you. There still seems to be expectations for how women and men are supposed to act, but there do exist people who act noticeably as the opposite gender. I'd, however, much rather read a story where the situation is reversed and it's the popular girl going for what she wants rather than a popular guy going for a normal girl. How many of the same stories can we read before being bored?

My story might stand out more because it's different, and that's a good thing! And ihrtbks, I should have more time to work on chapter three over the weekend.

5/31/2007 #57
writerwithoutacause
I have a story like yours. Well it's a little bit like yours. Mine is much more femme fatale. It's basically about a girl who I guess could be considered a female "player", it's more like she needs to manipulate though. And she likes breaking boys hearts, or so she convinces herself. The male however is not effeminate, but he does have a white Knight complex. He needs to save her and meanwhile he's got issues of his own. Hah I also have a quite likeable "s***" character, stupid stereotypes.

I agree with what alot of you guys are saying. Some stereotypes are just things people don't even register, it just is. Although I pride myself on saying that I make most of my characters equally confused and forward.

5/31/2007 #58
ihrtbks
Change is always resisted and considered evil before it is accepted and then seen as a self-evident truth.

I, a h*** sapien with double X chromosomes (aka a girl), am aggressive, something usually consider a masculine trait. I do not hestitate to voice my opinions and defend them. Sarcasm is often used only by girls; I have some male friends whose responses are sarcastic at least 75 percent of the time. I also know a couple of meek guys who won't do or say anything remotely riling.

A cliche becomes a cliche because it at first sells but is then overused to the point where it's impossible to make it unique. Cliches can be cute, but they can also be boring. Like you said, how many of the same stories can we read before becoming bored?

Then there's the 'right brain-left brain' problem. People who are the most creative tend to have the most disregard for rules and conventions. They, being human, are afraid of being seen as inferior because of the style flaws in their writing, so the people who do write, the ones that know they have inbuilt grammar and spellcheck, have stong left-brain tendencies which get them to repeat what they like instead of coming up with something new. I'm not saying anything against anybody because everybody on here has to be brave to even want to submit, but unique stories are very hard to come by...it's impossible to avoid some kind of cliche because of the sheer number of stories on fictionpress.

I have no idea what the above paragraph has to do with sexist stereotypes but it is important to understanding why they fly and why they seem to have the most reviews. Familiarity breeds comfort.

If I have offended anybody, I apologize.

5/31/2007 #59
Serom Kim
First of all, writerwithoutacause, I'll have to read your story sometime to see how it is. If I get around to it, though, it won't be until school ends. Glad that somebody else can write stories that are not as cliched as others.

Second of all, ihrtbks, about the right brain-left brain problem, I guess I see what you mean. But I don't think that people should have to worry about what they write. Just as long as it's not garbage with horrible grammar, everything should be readable. In addition to this, it seems to annoy me a little because most of the stories that have a lot of reviews are the cliched stories. The stories don't always have to be well-written, either. Meanwhile, other good non-cliche stories go unread with not as many reviews because people aren't interested in the story. I think my first and complete story, Hurricane Wind, is good. But I've only had two constant readers there.

What the above paragraph has to do with sexist stereotypes is that people don't want to think that a girl can be dominant or anything like that or a guy could ever have low self-confidence. That's the problem, really.

5/31/2007 #60
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