(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Indicators of Sexism in Fiction

  • Powerful women are threatening to men (see “overbearing wife,” “femme fatale,” “punitive matriarchal leaders”)
  • Male heroes talk down to women
  • Female bodies are casually violated (see rape, pregnancy…any kind of sexual coercion)
  • Women live to serve others
  • Women are missing
  • Heroes obsess over “natural” beauty
  • The [secondary] world has strict gender roles (i.e., segregation)
  • Nudity occurs without justification
  • Protagonists use gendered insults without reason
  • Female characters are forced to demean themselves

Chris Winkle, “Five Signs Your Story Is Sexist,” Feb. 2016; and Oren Ashkenazi, “Five More Signs Your Story Is Sexist,” Mar. 2016, Mythcreants.com

I’m reminded of Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay on the “Carrier Bag” model of fiction, which speaks to some of the basic assumptions that inform the patriarchal narratology:

The novel is a fundamentally unheroic kind of story. Of course the Hero has frequently taken it over, that being his imperial nature and uncontrollable impulse, to take everything over and run it while making stern decrees and laws to control his uncontrollable impulse to kill it. So the Hero has decreed through his mouthpieces the Lawgivers, first, that the proper shape of the narrative is that of the arrow or spear, starting here and going straight there and THOK! hitting its mark (which drops dead); second, that the central concern of narrative, including the novel, is conflict; and third, that the story isn’t any good if he isn’t in it.


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This entry was posted on March 31, 2016 by and tagged , , .
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