As an asexual woman in stem— WRITING ACE WOMEN IN STEM IS NO BAD. We appreciate the representation
i’m a lesbian and a comp sci major and for some reason no one ever headcanons women in stem fields as lesbians :))) wonder why that is :))))) again, i’m not saying there’s something WRONG with asexual representation, but the ways in which fandom and content both skew make the vast majority of women in stem asexual in fiction. this is just…not the case in the real world.
obviously, like you, there are women in stem who are ace, but not all of us are, which you wouldn’t know from looking at portrayals in fiction. it plays into harmful misogynist stereotypes, and there’s absolutely a reason that women in science (among other groups of women, such as black women, autistic women, and others) are the ones who get headcanoned as ace and written as ace. it’s not a coincidence. it’s not as though there’s some infinite pool of stem women in media and like, 1% of them are ace or something. there’s a very, very limited pool and people take out of that pool and deny us our sexuality.
if creators want to write an ace woman in stem, they should write five women in stem and make one of them ace, instead of writing just the one. but that’s not what creators do, and that’s not what fandom does.
The LEGO Movie was my favorite movie of 2014, but it strikes me that the main character was male, because I feel like in our current culture, he HAD to be. The whole point of Emmett is that he’s the most boring average person in the world. It’s impossible to imagine a female character playing that role, because according to our pop culture, if she’s female she’s already SOMEthing, because she’s not male. The baseline is male. The average person is male.
You can see this all over but it’s weirdly prevalent in children’s entertainment. Why are almost all of the muppets dudes, except for Miss Piggy, who’s a parody of femininity? Why do all of the Despicable Me minions, genderless blobs, have boy names? I love the story (which I read on Wikipedia) that when the director of The Brave Little Toaster cast a woman to play the toaster, one of the guys on the crew was so mad he stormed out of the room. Because he thought the toaster was a man. A TOASTER. The character is a toaster.
I try to think about that when writing new characters— is there anything inherently gendered about what this character is doing? Or is it a toaster?
Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg commenting on how weird gendered defaults in entertainment are, and why we should think twice about them. Excerpted from this longer original post.
here’s to the women with fire in their eyes, the ones who sing too loud and love too hard. the one’s who know what they want, the ones who know how to get it, and the ones who will do whatever is needed to get it. here’s to the fighters.
here’s to the women with clouds in their eyes. the ones who hum under their breath, whose smiles can light up a thousand cities, the ones who love gently. the one’s who don’t want for much, but they will take what they do want. here’s to the lovers.
here’s to the women with cities in their eyes, cites of their very own. here’s to the ones who make things before other can even imagine them, the ones in love with creation. the ones who find what they want for themselves. here’s to the dreamers.
here’s to the women with civilizations in their eyes. the ones whose knowledge encompasses galaxies and centuries, the ones who thirst for knowledge. the ones who love recklessly and think rationally, who are the tacticians in a fight. here’s to the thinkers.
here’s to the ones who fight back, every day. here’s to the ones who persevere, no matter what. here’s to the ones who don’t take abuse and intolerance lying down.
Women speaking of mirrors and prettiness make it all too clear that even for pretty women, mirrors are the foci of anxious, not gratified, narcissism. The woman who knows beyond a doubt that she is beautiful exists aplenty in male novelists’ imaginations; I have yet to find her in women’s books or women’s memoirs or in life. Women spend a lot of time looking in mirrors, but the “compulsion to visualize the self” is a phrase Moers uses of women in her chapter on Gothic freaks and horrors; the compulsion is a constant check on one’s (possible) beauty, not an enjoyment of it.
Joanna Russ, “Aesthetics,” How to Suppress Women’s Writing (1983).
one day i’ll have coffee with Jesus ask Him all the questions swimming around in my head like “do you take cream and sugar too?” and “why did he hurt me?” and “are you proud of me?” and “do you see the good in everything or do you get sad sometimes too?” and “can i do both? because most days i do.”
i’ll hug Him and He’ll hug me the father the son the holy spirit all three
Some days you’re going to feel so unbeautiful. Some days the one you need most is not going to want to touch you, hold you, see you, be around you when you ache, when you need them to choose you without having to ask them to. Sometimes your being a force of nature will go against you. Sometimes putting others before you is going to go against you. And you will hurt darling, how you will hurt. On those days remember how high you have climbed just to feel the sun on your face. How brave you are. Remember sitting on the ledge of that building looking at how far down the ground was and having the confidence in yourself not to fall. Remember staring into the eyes of those who have hurt you and taking away their power by never allowing them to hurt you anymore. Remember clawing your way out of every abyss that you fell into. Now channel that girl, that lioness again. You can conquer anything.
Stereotyped vs Nuanced Characters and Audience Perception
Writing with color receives many questions regarding the stereotypes Characters of Color and their story lines may possess.
There’s a difference between having a three-dimensional character with trait variance and flaws, versus one who walks the footsteps of a role people of their race/ethnicity are constantly put into. Let’s discuss this, as well as how sometimes, while there’s not much issue with the character, a biased audience will not allow the character to be dimensional.
But first: it’s crucial to consider the thinking behind your literary decisions.
When it comes to the roles and traits you assign your characters, it’s important to ask yourself why you made them the way they are. This is especially true for your marginalized characters.
So you need an intimidating, scary character. What does intimidating look like on first brainstorm? Is it a Black man, large in size or presence? (aka a Scary Black Man) A Latino with trouble with the law? If so, why?
Really dig, even as it gets uncomfortable. You’ll likely find you’re conditioned to think of certain people in certain roles on the spot.
It’s a vicious cycle; we see a group of people represented a certain way in media, and in our own works depict them in the way we know. Whether you consciously believe it’s the truest depiction of them all or not, we’re conditioned to select them for these roles again and again. Actors of Color report on being told in auditions they’re not performing stereotypical enough and have been encouraged to act more “ethnic.”
This ugly merry-go-round scarcely applies to (cis, straight) white people as they are allowed a multitude of roles in media. Well, then again, I do notice a funny trend of using white characters when stories need a leader, a hero, royalty, a love interest…
Today’s the day to break free from this preconditioned role-assigning.