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Unexpected Gender Bias


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#1 Charlee Vale

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:28 PM

So I've found something funny recently.

My WIP, a YA Sci-fi/Thriller, has a male MC. That's not so weird right? I mean, there are quite a few books with Male MC's and plenty more that have split POV's with one of them being male.

So what's funny is that when people read the first few pages of my book, without it being explained to them, or sometimes before they've even started reading, they refer to my MC as a girl.

I've had several CPs say to me that the voice I've used is pretty distinctly male, so I began to wonder if others have encountered this? Has anyone else fallen to the assumption that all characters in YA are teenage girls?

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#2 Caterina

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:53 PM

If your WIP is the Same one that you posted the first 2k words, I felt the same thing. I thought he was a girl at first. Don't know why

#3 Brighton

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:56 PM

I wonder if maybe the bias isn't so much that all YA MC's are girls, but that they assume a women will likely write a female MC.
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#4 Leigh Teale

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 03:26 PM

I'm having this problem. My current WIP is written from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy. Though I thought it was pretty distinctively male, my husband totally thought it was a girl until the end of chapter one.

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#5 Brighton

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 04:37 PM

Are you guys naming these characters with unisex names?
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#6 Leigh Teale

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 04:40 PM

I wouldn't think of "Ensign" as a unisex name... I mean, technically it's a word that in English doesn't have a gender... But I can't imagine a girl named Ensign.

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#7 Charlee Vale

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 05:25 PM

His name is Mark, nickname 'Cash.' :P

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#8 RC Lewis

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 06:03 PM

I think it only happened in my YA Contemporary, and in reverse (have a girl, people thought was a guy). Possibly because I open with the MC playing basketball with her friend. :tongue:

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#9 Summer

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:57 PM

As a girl and a teen, I've realized that most young adult novels have girl main characters and seem to be written by writers that are girls....for teenage girls. But there are plenty of young adult novels that have main characters that are guys. Generally speaking though, most teenage readers are girls. Just look at the teen section of barnes and noble!

 

There will always be a market for books with guys as main characters.


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#10 MegKassel

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

I had one beta reader think my female character was a boy until the end of chapter 1. I was understandable. The character is a tough, militiant chick and the book's a sci-fi. But I decided to slip in a clear gender reference right on page one, so there was no confusion. But whatever. I wouldn't sweat it. When your book is published, the jacket flap or blurb is going to be very clear that your MC is male, so readers will begin with some info. :biggrin:



#11 Robin Breyer

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:58 AM

I write in 3rd person and I make sure it is clear from the pronoun right from the start. That said, the subject of my first foray into YA is a girl.


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#12 Cat Woods

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:01 PM

I think this can be quite common, especially when the author is a female. I always say it's best to make it clear as soon as possible so your readers don't get frustrated when they find out their beloved chick is really a guy. No use creating confusion when you don't have to.


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#13 Aaron Bradford Starr

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 06:56 PM

Is this a bad thing?  Relating to a character first as a person and a personality, rather than as a gender, seems like a good mistake to have readers making.  How often do people refer back to their own gender, in day-to-day interactions?  As much as it seems like an ironclad rule to establish things like gender immediately, I'd let this one slide.  This is more "meta-reading" than reading, if you catch my meaning.  I mean, as you said, your husband knows you're female, and made an assumption.



#14 Warrior

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:53 PM

I think the gender of a character seriously changes the readers perception of all their actions. I would mine, at least. Males and females are completely different, and one thing said by a girl could be taken completely differently if said by a boy, and vice versa. 


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#15 Aaron Bradford Starr

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Posted 29 March 2014 - 10:04 AM

I think the gender of a character seriously changes the readers perception of all their actions. I would mine, at least. Males and females are completely different, and one thing said by a girl could be taken completely differently if said by a boy, and vice versa. 

 

I'm not sure I agree with this.  As an example, when I read To Kill A Mockingbird as a kid, I was unaware that Scout was a girl until halfway through the story.  And I loved that novel.  I'll agree that the same actions have a different feel when performed by the different genders, but I think of this as socially-instilled discrimination.

 

Perhaps it's because so many of my characters are female that I'm sort of against the idea that they are defined by their gender any more than I am.  Their roles in society might be gender-biased, but their internal views tend not to be.  I try to avoid stereotypical empowerment themes, but also shy away from societies that are continually keeping women down.  If we read for escape, why recreate such a tenaciously odious aspect of our own world?



#16 Warrior

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 07:59 PM

Well, in young children, I would say that the sexes are closer. However... as to men and women, differences, rules in society, and so fourth... We'll just have to agree to disagree.  :cool:


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"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#17 paladinpeter

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 09:33 AM

I can't say I've had this problem with my work.  Maybe that's because my names are generally very gender-specific.

 

One thing I have noticed however, is that epic fantasy seems to be dominated by male-dominated casts, often with only one or two token females, or heroins who are very masculine in their actions.



#18 jls4

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 08:05 AM

Well, in young children, I would say that the sexes are closer. However... as to men and women, differences, rules in society, and so fourth... We'll just have to agree to disagree.  :cool:

 

This is an interesting take. I'd say boys and girls are so different. I write MG, so when I modeled kids I could easily see the differences. Girls mature faster, understand complex thought and tiny details much quicker than boys do. But boys what they pick up seems to stay with them longer. And that's nothing compared to what they may be into as they try to define themselves. But I agree with your earlier post that gender differences change a perspective. It's an unfortunate part of our society that we live in a way that is "****ist" (use any term for ****, sex-ist, age-ist, etc) It's one of the main reasons why I always define characters quickly and explicitly so there is no confusion. 


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#19 Warrior

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:41 PM

Hmm. That's interesting. I see why you say that about younger children. I just always thought that before they developed they'd be more similar physiologically. But, now that you say that, there is a very defined difference between the youths. 


"Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to learn by other people's experience." - Otto Von Bismarck

 

 

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"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#20 CheG

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 12:12 PM

I've read books, first person, male protag, written by a woman, and it was OBVIOUS the author was female. It's an issue with voice rather than assumptions. I could tell the author was female by HOW she wrote from male MC's POV. 


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