CasaCon December 2023

Three days of geekery and craft talk, all free online!

Laura and Alena will be presenting the following panels:

Saiyūki: History of Journey to the West

Cosplay On Stage: Presentation & Performance for Cosplayers.

The “Problem” With Strength and Femininity

So a couple of weeks ago there was a little cluster of complaints again online about why can’t we just have women characters embracing their femininity instead of doing all these hero things.

This could be puzzling at first, because a lot of these complaints come from folks who also espouse things like “motherhood is the ultimate heroic act” which seem to suggest that femininity can be heroic, but of course the actual meaning is about traditional gender roles.

And this is boggling to me, because women can be pretty darned heroic while being extremely feminine.

The Women of Weinsberg. (King Conrad III occupied the town Weinsberg in 1140. The women carry their husbands after being granted to leave and allowed to take their belongings.) Lithograph, c. 1910. Sarotti-chocolate picture.

The Women of Weinsberg.
Lithograph, c. 1910.

I’ve covered a number of historical examples before, so this time let’s take the legendary women of Weinsberg. When their town’s conqueror announced the men would all be executed but the women could leave with whatever valuables they could carry on their own backs, the women marched out carrying their husbands. How many of those husbands, d’ya think, were up there piggyback thinking, “Geez, I wish my wife was more demurely feminine”? Or do you think he might have at that moment valued her extremely feminine protectiveness, strength, and even stubborn defiance of authority? Continue reading

#WIPjoy for Shard & Shield: Music and Playlists

Today’s #WIPjoy topic is “songs on your MCs’ playlists,” which is frankly too big to answer effectively on social media (sorry, Twitter), so we’re doing it here on the blog.

I have a bonus to this post, too. First I have my own playlists for primary characters, and then I have a guest DJ Kayla, who beta-read Shard & Shield last week and told me then she had made character playlists, which of course meant I had to ask her to chime in on today’s #WIPjoy topic.

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Doctor Who, Writing Female Characters, and Equality.

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

Jodie Whittaker in 13th Doctor announcement photo

On the one hand, I can’t believe we need to have this discussion of how to write female protagonists and balance. On the other, since clearly we do need it, let’s have it.

With the announcement of the 13th Doctor as a female regeneration, the internet slightly exploded. I was actually at a fandom convention during the announcement and heard not only discussion of the announcement itself, but of reactions to the announcement.

We’re going to ignore those who were horrified to discover their Doctor now has girl cooties. They’re easy to ignore — or just borrow for humor, where they’re most useful. Anyway, the haters are vocal but seem to be a minority, or maybe I just have a better-curated network, and I don’t intend to waste blog space on that sort of thing.

But one repeated protest I heard repeatedly in several less-hysterical discussions was, now that the Doctor is a female, the male companions will be written down to idiocy so that she looks clever, and so everything will be less cool and the storytelling will suffer. I found myself saying or typing the same thing repeatedly, so let me just save time and put it here.

This is indeed a huge problem, only the problem is not the Doctor’s personal plumbing. Continue reading

A Little Feminist Check Re Discrimination

I botched it tonight.

Someone asked our panel about writing in a traditionally male-dominated (both as authors and heroes) genre, as a woman. And several women writers were invited to answer, but with the clock ticking on the last moments of our chat time.

I was discombobulated by trying to formulate both a comprehensive and brief answer under the countdown, and even more so by another panelist’s previous assertion that white males were the cause of the downfall of society — a statement I found untrue as well as unfair to the white male panelists sitting on either side of me at the time, not freaking out about being outnumbered on the panel. Continue reading

Writing Women.

Let’s talk about lady protagonists.

No, this isn’t another rant about needing more strong female characters, nor the problems with Strong Female Characters (TM). (That’s an easy problem to solve, really: you write good characters, and some of them are female. Done. Not every character needs to carry the impossible weight of universal representation.)

No, I’m going to talk about just the number of females, and my own part in the current state of affairs. Yes, this was partly prompted by Jo Eberhardt’s “The Problem With Female Protagonists,” but I think I’m going to add some additional data and personal takes.

First, let’s look at a statistical truth: There are more books and films with male protagonists than female. (The very fact that we call out but-look-a-female-lead! is proof of it being outside the norm. Nobody needs to point out gravity, because we’re all used to it.) But because we’re all neurologically programmed to notice the abnormal more than the normal, when we do start seeing “diversity,” it feels bigger than it is.

This is why research shows that if 17% of a given group is female, the men in the group report an equal number of men and women, and when the number of females reaches 33%, the men report a majority of women. The “excess” of women over the “norm” is what’s perceived, not an actual count.

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Lady Voices in Audiobooks

I listen to a fair number of audiobooks, mostly because I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car and reading a paperback while driving is both illegal and stupid. Audiobooks keep me alert and entertained. I listen mostly to fiction, but I also enjoy audio non-fiction and some recorded lectures, especially if I’m researching for a story.

I have some favorite narrators, of course, but I don’t choose books just for the narrator. I have, however, quit books because I did not like the narrator. A reader can really set the tone and influence the flow of a story.

One pet peeve is when male readers indicate a female character primarily by going all breathy. It can make a political thriller or sci fi adventure sound more like a 1-900 sex line. Continue reading

Never Peeve a Writer

Seat belt on an airplane, buckled-up
Seat belt on an airplane, buckled-up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One Christmas I received a t-shirt which reads, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.”

It had already been repeatedly announced that our flight was 100% full, every seat sold and occupied, no upgrades, no seat swaps, and no room for everyone’s carry-ons. So there was no excuse for the guy occupying both his seat and my own, one butt cheek planted firmly on each cushion, legs spread to encompass both seats fully. He wasn’t a particularly large individual who needed extra space, and he wasn’t resting there temporarily while tucking a bag beneath the seat; he was settled and just claiming extra territory.

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