The Colosseum

where we call 'em like we see 'em

Writing Women Right

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George Stroumboulopoulos: There’s one thing that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from?

George R.R. Martin: You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.

HBO interview with A Song of Fire and Ice author, George R. R. Martin

I had to take four sections of Humanities classes in college. The classes divide important and influential literature into eras. Up until that class we had not read anything written by a female author even though we had ready almost 20 texts. The most recent one I took covered the 1820’s to present day. I was excited at the prospect of FINALLY reading some texts written by women. To my surprise and unhappiness there was only ONE text assigned that was written by a woman and it was during the week themed “Feminism.” It was a single short essay assigned ALONGSIDE two other short essays written by MEN. I asked my professor why we weren’t reading more texts written by women. Brace yourself for his response. My humanities professor claimed that, “Women did not write anything as major as the texts written by males on the syllabus.” I was shocked and actually laughed, thinking he was joking. My thought process was that in the past two centuries women had published amazing articles that were relevant to numerous fields, especially feminism. He was not amused by my response.

That situation made me think of a quote by Dr. Rebecca Erickson, a professor at the University of Akron, “One year, I taught this (Sociological theory) class and only used female writers. The journals were written by women, the textbook was written by females. Do you know what kind of responses I got on my student evaluations that year? {…} That I was biased, that I was only looking from one point of view… that I was basically a man eater. That’s the kind of things I’d get from the students… The semester before, I used only male writers. Do you think I got any kind of feedback like that then? Not a single word.

Men and women may claim to be feminists or forward thinking but at the root of it their formative years were in a culture much less accepting and some effects must have seeped into their ways of thinking. My humanities was aggressively angry when I claimed he could have made the class more culturally well rounded by featuring female writers, especially because one of the week’s theme was feminism. This is also the same professor who claimed that Heart of Darkness had admirable female characters, an opinion that made me question if we were reading the same book or considering the fact that the author was indeed a white male. We already talked about how history affects how women have been documented. My viewpoint is that women have been written and written about by men for so many years that stereotypes from the male point of view have taken over and shaped the society viewpoint. Women should be writing about all types of women to show how diverse we are.

Lori, a tumblr user, summed it up perfectly and her quote was turned into gifs by tumblr user ConsultingPiskies:

Lori continues, “THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.”

Women should not be limited to just one archetype. I, personally, just want to be treated like a person and written like one, too. I don’t want a different set of rules because I am female. I want the good and the bad to be shared. Women in real life make up polar opposites. Some are kind, some are cruel. Some are self conscious, some are confident. That deserves to be reflected in writing. Don’t box women in literature and film to just one kind of person. That’s so boring and if women are NOT one thing it’s boring.


Author: Savannah

a modern day gladiator battling against public spectacles

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