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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Serom Kim
But what if it's in a world like ours today, in our society (usually the U.S. or Canada or even Europe) where women have equal rights? They're either some sort of poor excuse for a teenage "punk" or has a depressing past. It's really boring, actually. Yours sounds like it's not in our universe, so you could do anything you want with it, just as long as it adheres to some principles of physics.

I don't know much other things I have to complain about romance stories. Just see it like this: no matter how much I complain, it's not going to change anything.

10/29/2007 #121
deep in the high
writers write what they desire.

That's really true.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.

Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970

People who fear love fear life because you should love your parents, your friends, your husband/wife, and if you are scared of that, what's the point of your life? Misery?

11/2/2007 #122
deep in the high
writers write what they desire.

That's really true.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.

Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970

People who fear love fear life because you should love your parents, your friends, your husband/wife, and if you are scared of that, what's the point of your life? Misery?

Edit: Also, I'm not a weak person, but I'm not strong. I'm more quiet, and I don't like asking things, so I'd prefer the guy be the strong person. Everyone is different, and you should realize that some characters will be weak, too, and some can be strong.

11/2/2007 #123
ihrtbks
Our argument isn't against strong guys and quiet women. It's against arrogant men, weak women, and characters being out-of-characters. It's against guys who use women and girls who let them. It's against the resistance to accepting loud/popular women wanting a "lower-class" guy.

We understand that not everybody is loud and extroverted. We understand that some people are naturally more shy and less talkative than others: We're against the portrayal of only females as the shy, quiet nobodies because we believe guys too can be shy and quiet; ie, they don't have to be loud, arrogant, obnoxious womanizers to be considered attractive.

I LOVE THAT RUSSELL QUOTE. Here's something that kind of goes along:

To love someone means to risk your entire soul, but to not risk is to not live.

11/3/2007 #124
deep in the high
Who said that? It's really smart.
11/3/2007 #125
Serom Kim
Looking back on some of the earlier posts on the first page, I realized some people said that for a female writer, it's easier to make a female character than a male character. It's the opposite for me. I'm female, but I create more male than female characters (at least three of my stories are an all-male cast, but none are all-female), the guys have more ethnic diversity (usually a lot of the girls are Asian American, but the guys are a large range of ethnicities and mixes), etc. It's something I still haven't figured the reason to. But I have a slight suspicion that it's because of these three reasons:

1) As of this point in my life, I met more interesting guys than interesting girls, in real life, at least. Internet, I'm not so sure. I've had about equal numbers of each make an impact on me.

2) Several girls I run into nowadays in college are Asian American. But not as many boys I run into are the same.

3) I act more like a boy than a girl sometimes.

It's strange, really, but I'm trying not to do that as much. But I've realized that in my most recent story, World in a Soccer Bag, the main character is a girl and she's Vietnamese American. The two boys who come in later in the story are German American and African American. It happens like that several times, and I don't know why, but I have a lot of Asian American/part-Asian boys in my stories.

Writing about what we know about? It could be the answer to all of my questions. But who knows ...

11/4/2007 #126
ihrtbks
To FD, it's actually two common quotes combined, both of them anonymous 'internet wisdom'.

SK, if it makes you feel better, I feel the exact same way. My friends insist I have a mutated 'X-chromosome' because I act so much like a guy. I grew up around the boys, so I never quite learned how to act like a girl; ie, tears, drama, appearance, searching for boys, etc. Yes, I'm being stereotypical.

I like to write with a wide range of ethnicities and histories and cultures because it's boring reading about people in an American/Australian school who believe that hot soccer/football captains have undeniable rights to every girl in the school and that sexual attraction can substitute for love. Stories written about different cultures are, at least to me, so much more entertaining than stories about the same old high school drama with unfaithfulness, backstabbing, and loads and loads of fornication. And even if you try not to, your own background is going to show up in your story, so you might as well exploit it and make a full-fledged story of it, like I *tried* to do with "For You".

11/4/2007 #127
Serom Kim
Problem is, I've never actually been to Korea. I barely know about the culture, just slightly more than the average person. I've had a few characters like that, who don't really know much about their ethnic backgrounds, but I do try to put characters in other places. It just happens that a lot of stories take place in the same area because I know it well and I don't want to offend anyone trying to write about places I've never seen.

High school stories, it's a bunch of teenagers. Nothing there is true love. I wish writers would be able to see that. They're not writing about two teenagers who truly love each other. They're writing about two teenagers who think they love each other but will probably break up before they graduate. It's just life. People romanticize too much.

11/4/2007 #128
ihrtbks
Last time I went to India was seven years ago. I've never been to Spain. I still try to write about the culture of these places. You can get away with just about anything about those places because there's not very many writers from those places that write/read English.

True love in high school is very possible. I have a pair of friends who've been going out since I think third grade. Another one of my friend's parents met up in high school and ended up married with two kids.

This might just be me and my Cinderella complex, but I do believe in the "True Love" philosophy. I see it just about everywhere, but then again my definition of PDA and everyone else's definition of PDA is probably light-centuries apart.

11/4/2007 #129
Serom Kim
I guess it's because a lot of my stories take place in either the U.S., South Korea, or even Canada. There's not really too much I can do if people there decide to point out my mistakes.

All right, so true love is possible, but not likely. I've had a few friends who went out with each other and everything seemed to be going well, then one day they broke up. They're still friends, but not dating. And the idea of people dating each other at third grade scares me. Back then, I was still playing Pokemon with guys and girls who liked that Japanese animation stuff.

True love? I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm a scientific person who is grounded in logic. My major's environmental science. To me, it's about what you can see, what you can prove. It's not easy to prove true love, and with the crazy divorce rate, break ups, and true love only happening in novels, it's pretty much a romantic's ideal. I don't think I believe in true love. This could be because I haven't found anyone I love, but it could also be because I'm too clinical. I meant to say clinical, not cynical. Scientists like facts, not fantasy. So maybe I'm just like that.

What's a PDA?

11/4/2007 #130
candid
Well speaking as a 5'9" giantess, I find tall guys incredibly attractive because I'm pretty damn tall. At my height, I consider it a major turn-on if I can wear heels and still be shorter than my date. It feels good to be the smaller one for a change. :]

I totally understand where you're coming from, though. It seems like the female leads are super petite - like 5'6" and below, and the guys are 6'1" and above. Someone who's 6'4" is about five inches taller than I am, and that's a HUGE difference from my perspective. A girl that small would look simply ridiculous next to a girl that size. I suppose it's a dominance thing. Height is a cheap way to show power and authority.

2/27/2008 #131
candid
I meant "a guy that size". Whoops. :P
2/27/2008 #132
concerto49
On that note, character wise I really like having taller females than males. I like your point about wearing high heels and still being shorter than the date. That was way cool! It should be a catch in a story.

There's a bit of both though - I have often seen very short female leads so to speak and way taller guys as you said. Oh well, it all depends on trends, and the times.

2/27/2008 #133
deep in the high
Personally, I would like to be about an inch or two shorter than I am, and I'm average for my age. I would love to be my friend's size, but she doesn't want to be short.

Height is a cheap way to show power and authority.

Sometimes not. I read this story where the main character was short, but she wasn't less powerful because she was shorter--she was just shorter. That was the way she was. I believe in one chapter she said, 'don't say it. I'm short, I know' and then she threatened the guy. Probably not exact words, but you get the drift.

A girl that small would look simply ridiculous next to a girl that size.

Absolutely. You have to know when to draw the line. A girl barely five feet would look ridiculous next to a boy who easily clears six feet.

2/27/2008 #134
ihrtbks
Yes, tall guys are hot. But I'm still struggling to find out how every guy in nearly every romantic story ever written is over six feet tall while the heights for the leading lady vary grandly. It seems like we can't handle short guys, like a 5.6 guy is naturally inferior to a 6.1 guy...

Yes, guys have to be of a reasonable height compared to their girls. Just because they play football doesn't mean they're gymnasts.

Yes, there is nothing wrong with short people. Napoleon was short. It seems people tend to feel safer when led by tall people they know are on their side.

And while we're on the topic, I am short by the standards of where I live, but I'm fine with my height. I think it might could be a case of wanting what you can't/don't have.

3/19/2008 #135
concerto49
Well, I mostly have things opposite.

I happen to have taller girls usually than guys. Ha, maybe I'm a little different :(

3/21/2008 #136
Ligeia de Valois

My favorite highschool English teacher once said that every story has already been told. I feel that he's right. I mean, the plot outlines do differ conciderably, and the character's arn't all exactly the same, but in retrospect, they're all the same. Hell, even "10 Things I Hate About You" was baised loosly on a work of Shakespeare (I can't recall if it was "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or "The Taming of the Shrew." I think both work though, to some degree. :) )

At any rate--On to my theories on cliches!:

I use writing as a really cheap form of therapy, and I usually make my hero/heroine a lot like myself. The story I'm writing right now is basically me trying to work through my abandonment issues. I think a bitter/jaded character that pushes people away before they themselves get pushed away may be a bit cliched (particularly in a love story) but that's what I'm writing because that's what I am: A Comitmentphobe. I also tend to make the man in the story considerably older, but that has nothing to do with some might think as my character's need to have a man who's well-established or dare say Rich! It's just what I'm attracted to because of the maturity level there. I make all my characters equally flawed because I don't think weakness or meekness is a gender thind, I think it's a HUMAN thing.

I do think some writers tend to make their female characters more flawed than the male characters (and female writers are just as guilty of this, though I don't know why. If anything, we should be struggling to break down the steriotypes more than anyone.)

4/7/2008 #137
Nova Light

Well, I think that the reason the female characters are more flawed, might have something to do with self-perception. In real life men and women might be equally as self-sufficient and have a high selfesteem, or the opposite, depending on genes, environment, the way they were raised etc. But the truth as I see it, is that women generally focus more on their own flaws and comparing themselves, their weight, boobsize, hair colour, educational level to others. Thus maybe feeling inferior, or just coming off as such.

In comparison to this, men tend to focus more on whatever they got going for them. Not to say that men are more simple, because they are not, but just that we as genders operate on different levels.

And as a side-note to that; I once had this incredibly emotional guy as a friend - oh my god, what a cry fest. But some women like their men to be emotional. On the contrary, I want my guys to be equally as masculine in nature as me. Wouldn't want to be in a relationship, where I'd percieve him as a "wuss". Might have to do with the fact that I have a tomboyish personality. But again - that's my preference.

4/7/2008 #138
Ligeia de Valois

I could just kick myself for not taking that into account, Nova Light! Women do seem to rely on others (more so than often) on how they feel about themselves. If I (an average looking gal) walk into a room full of guys and girls that I consider to be...less pretty than me I'm going to have higher selfestem. I think it might also have to do with the way our culture is today. You can't turn on the telly without someone telling you you're not good enough & you only will be after you buy their product. I think it might be three parts enviromen and two parts genes.

I think it's tough to get into this subject of the sexes and gender roles and what have you without also getting into science and psychology a bit too.

4/8/2008 #139
Krirobe

I agree, it is tough to enter into this without a background in psychology. Do you think it's a scientific fact that women think differently from men or are our differences in thinking determined more by the culture in which we live or ARE there differences in the way we think? I'm really not sure, but I would prefer to think that it's determined by culture. Women are still perceived as the weaker sex in our society, which has in a way been proven by this forum.

A girl is strong if she's more like a man, if she prefers men's company to women's. My best friend in high school thought that girls in general aren't fun or too catty or boring or stupid, and she made a point of having mostly male friends. If you're more inclined towards males, that's ok, I guess, as long as it's because you're not friends with him solely because of his sex. I'm more inclined to make friends with females partly because it was my way of responding to my friends' approach in thinking of women and so many of my other friends' thoughts on women. Why do we (women) hate ourselves? Why are we expected to have "masculine" traits of logical intelligence, a well-developed sense of humor, and a casual disregard for fashion while at the same time we are expected to still retain "feminine" traits of flirtatiousness, modesty, grace, and just a general softness and sensitivity. It really bothers me. It also has made me feel inferior to men, so I compete with them, aggressively, and I don't try to buddy up with them because I think THEY think women are inferior. Sometimes, my behavior and feelings are irrational, but most of the time, I truly believe this. This is what stops me from developing the romance in all my stories on and off ficpress.

Have any of you ever felt similarly? Do you see evidence for this in our stories online? Or am I just paranoid and have an overly developed inferiority complex? Do you think this is what drives women? Do women hate women? Do men think women are inferior? Do we really classify traits by gender? So many questions. One more: will my response engender debate?

4/9/2008 #140
Ligeia de Valois

"A girl is strong if she's more like a man"

I must agree. I've never actually thought about it like that until you brought it to my attention, but I do think that our society does group traits into "masculine" (tough, resilient, stoic) & "feminine" (graceful, sensitive, soft) and if the traits you display doesn't match your gender, then you're looked at strangely. It's like it's a crime against god if a woman is strong, or if a man sheds a tear every-once-in-a-while.

"Why do we (women) hate ourselves?"

I think that's what society teaches us to do. They tell us that we can't be tough, because men don't like that. They have to be the stronger gender. We also can't be too smart, because men also have to be the intellectual gender. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that men are to fault. I think our mom's (not meaning to) and our grandmothers, and so on and so forth had a little bit to do with it. I remember my mom cringing at my affinity for Tonka trucks & deep seeded hatred for Barbie. (But oddly enough, my Grandfather thought it was a hoot. He'd even buy me baseball cards.)

"Or am I just paranoid and have an overly developed inferiority complex?"

I think you're just hyper-sensitive to the things that go on around you. You're aware. But I don't think you should feel inferior.

"Do you think this is what drives women?"

I think each woman, (just like each man) has her own reasons for proving herself.

"Do men think women are inferior?"

I don't know. I mostly hang out with gay men. & they worship us. lol.

4/10/2008 #141
Serom Kim

Stereotypes ... ugh, I don't know what to say about them anymore. So I'll just state that they're a simple way of looking at things, for good or for bad. Maybe stereotypes hold some truth for a general portion of that population, but you can't use a stereotype to define every person in a certain group. Stereotypes used in stories sometimes make a character seem less human because it only shows what we expect. 2-D, not 3-D, see?

About how men and women feel, personally, I think I just get over things. About the whole prettiness thing, I don't want to be pretty. Being average or even funny-looking means that when people want you around, it's not because of your looks and there's something else such as intelligence or personality that defines you in front of others. Makes me feel better to be smart. And anyway, being pretty won't get you far if you're as dumb as a brick.

Forgot to write this: in my case, I don't think it's so much that I don't like women, or I'm hard on myself because I'm female. I just don't like what I see in a lot of women. Things I can't stand but still see in a lot of women are feelings such as needing a man who's taller/older/more whatever than they are, wearing clothes that are much too revealing, especially if the weather is freezing cold, and being moody or unreasonable for stupid reasons with their boyfriends, and some other stuff. It's just that I see these traits more often than not, and that makes me not happy.

4/13/2008 . Edited 4/13/2008 #142
Quautzel

I personally think that many of these cliches and stereotypes are based on Western European ideals, which have been taken as the prime standard in America and the world. Not saying that it is the only standard, but obviously it has been played up a lot. Maybe we should think about men and women from other points of view, other cultures, and we might find something new to write on.

5/27/2008 #143
Serom Kim

You know, I think my main problem with ... well, everything, is that I'm not much interested in romance. I read fanfictions and original fiction and I just don't understand why nearly everything has to pair two characters together, why two people of different (or in some cases, the same) gender cannot just be best friends. In my perspective, having a boyfriend or girlfriend is just unnecessary. At least, not for people in high school or college. Maybe some people can handle it. But I've had two people in high school and their brief time of "dating," if it can even be called that, fall completely apart and now one completely hates the other. And in college, two people who seemed to be doing okay, but were fighting every other hour or so and with falling grades, dropping out of classes, etc. Ugh. Not to mention the awkwardness when two friends start dating for their other friends. Should I just let them hang out by themselves, and what if every time I see them they're together with no outside company? Romance and dating just makes my life much more difficult than it should be. Concentrating on my studies is all I want to do. And in the end, strong and true friendships will triumph over a romance built on no foundation. And when two friends start dating, at times they get so flustered that friendship won't even hold them up in the end.

Maybe it's just because all my writings are mostly to remember the good times with my friends. Lots of random incidents that I put in my stories actually happened to my friends and me. Everything always turns out with a moral, though. It's one thing I can't just not do. A simple story inspired by anime that I watch turned into a bit of an environmentalist story.

Point being, everyone has a different perspective on romance and stereotypes and men and women. Causes more problems than they're worth to me. Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone just stuck to being smart and not trying to look for the "love of their lives" who don't exist almost ninety-nine percent of the time.

6/25/2008 #144
Gonzogrig

I think you have a point about love and dating generally causing problems, and it is arguable that people would be better off just staying friends without romance. Personally, i think that's exactly why romance is one of the best topics to write about, because stories thrive on conflict. Romance is almost guaranteed to be rife with conflict and those stories are easier to relate to than say an action-adventure or a fantasy. Personally, I don't have a problem with 'falling-for-your-best-friend stories because for one, they have a lot of plot potential and two, it's a fairly realistic concept compared to a lot of the romance plots out there. If you're friends with someone that means right off the bat that there are things about them that you like. Also, if you're friends with someone chances are you spend a significant amount of time together which is excellent for a story line because that way you don't need any ploys to force the characters to be around each other. Those pairings are also great if you want to write about unrequited love, because often (and I know this from experience) when you fall for a friend you won't do anything about it for fear of destroying the friendship.

Personally I've always preferred falling-for-the-enemy stories, 'cause I think that when people are enemies they are aknowledging each other as equals and I think the best relationships are between equals. Plus you get a lot more conflict in that kind of story than in most other plots. I'm heavily influenced by Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" (which was the inspiration for "10 things I hate about you", just to answer an earlier question) which I think is a very misunderstood play not to mention a perfect example of sexism in literature. On the surface it's very sexist, but I think if you look closely it's really promoting equality in relationships and kind of mocking the dominating ideas of the time. Plus the banter is fantastic. I'm actually writing a falling-for-the-enemy type story right now. In plenty of ways it's cliche at least to start, but then I don't really have a problem with cliches as long as they're well utilized. Although romance is excellent for conflict it's rather limited when it comes to plotlines, therefore it's hard to write a truly original romance. So instead of insisting on originality i think it's better to insist on complexity. I love to write characters that are a little flat at first glance, but are revealed as very complex as the story goes on. I think that's fairly realistic, 'cause you only see a persons complexity once you get to know them. So why can't it be the same in literature? I think some writers forget that and decide that the only way to show characteristics that vary from the characters image is to make the character change. The typical bad-boy-redeemed story. I hate those stories. A tough guy can be capable of vulnerability, it's not one or the other, but I don't think the average person is entirely prepared for that level of complexity. It's easier to categorize and stereotype people and therefore easier to write stereotypical characters which is why it's such a problem.

.....I just went on one hell of a rant didn't I? Ok. I'm done now

6/26/2008 #145
Change

I think that if you're writing a romance story, it's impossible to avoid stereotypes. I totally agree with Juni Lyn's original post that women tend to be portrayed as innocent and meek/tough and independent/naive but extremely smart and men tend to be portrayed as strong and silent/domineering/ jaded & slow to trust others. For a reader at least, it's not necessarily a turn off to have these kinds of stereotypical characters, because it is these characteristics that appeal to us. That's why people read romance. If people are looking for unique characters, they should probably read something else instead. The thing is, romance can never be ideal in real life, so we tend to idealize it in stories with all these harder than life characters who are easier to fall in love with than real people.

7/15/2008 #146
Serom Kim

That could be the reason why I don't like romance much, and it clears things up a lot because those characteristics don't appeal to me.

I really dislike enemies becoming lovers stories because it makes no sense to me. Okay, so there's this person you claim to hate. Then you fall in love. You can learn that the person you hate isn't as bad as you think over time, but I don't see why you'd fall in love. Makes no sense. A person cannot be that dense so that their one true love is the person they claimed to hate. Girls in most of these types of stories don't seem to really hate the guy they claim to do so, and it's like one look at the handsome male character's face and the girl doesn't know why she hates him.

7/19/2008 #147
Gonzogrig

Well I think in may cases love/hate doesn't work because writers don't quite present things properly. In a lot of cases love/hate stories are very pride&prejudice where characters hate each other because they don't know each other very well and end up making assumptions etc, but as they learn the truth about each other they start falling. Less common but just as effective if written properly is when characters are are afraid or or biased against relationships etc which causes them to be hostlie towards someone they're actually attracted to. Then of course there are stories where, rather than hatting each other, characters are aware that their partner is bad for them but for whatever reason they are still attracted to them. but tormetted love stories are another matter entirely....

7/20/2008 #148
Serom Kim

I think this thread has been inactive for a very long time. But if ihrtbks is still on here, I just want to say that I rewrote the romance story that I was working on. The one with Bryan and Katrina? It's under the name Popularity Show now. You know, I'm bringing this up because I wanted to compare it to the original version (which is still up and as bad as it was before). Bryan toughened up, but still he doesn't lose his charm. He's more awkward in a relationship than Katrina, because he's never really thought about having one until she came along. And she did take the first step, but she actually has a reason now. You'll see in chapter two, which I haven't written yet. If anyone wants to compare the original and the current versions, tell me what you think about Bryan, Katrina, and how they act in the relationship.

12/3/2008 #149
Rosegirl18

This thread is too interesting!

I'm a feminist and a writer, and something that I've noticed is that the heroines in my romances are radically different from the girls in my horror, thriler, fantasy and sci-fi stories. I cannot help but see the romance heroines as more submissive and committed to emotional values.

I suppose it's because love makes a girl that way. Personally, I am very against the "sarcastic tomboy" type that goes oh-so-well with "smirky hot witty dudes." That's just so conventional. Boooring. My besotted protagonists turn out much more angsty. It's against my ideology to have the girl act so driven by emotion. But what can I do? Unfortunately, once the plot is chosen, it's the characters themseves that lead their own development.

2/6/2009 #150
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