Mulan actively challenges the idea that girls are weaker than boys.
- in “I’ll Make a Man out of You,” Shang asks, “did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?” yeah. they did send him a daughter. and you know what? she was the first one to master Shang’s training routine. I guess daughters…
Answering this publicly because it might be helpful to others. :)
It depends what kind of story you’re writing! In general, there are plenty of ways to add female presence to a story. It sounds like this is something you’ve already started working on, so with that in mind, here are a few ideas:
- Same plot, genderbend everyone. If real-world gender politics aren’t the main theme or focus of the story, there’s absolutely no reason that a female character can’t have the same basic plot as a male character in the same position would’ve had. (If you’re writing fantasy and you feel restricted by a medieval-based world … why not just make the world gender-equal or even a matriarchy? It’s your story. If you want more ladies, give them room to maneuver.)
- Add female points of view to what you already have. It sounds like you’re writing something with an ensemble cast already … Why not add a female voice to the mix? Giving women a voice in the cast is generally a stronger move than making them secondary characters without their own points of view (unless it’s something where you’re trying to point out how women are marginalised).
- Erase everyone’s demographics and redefine. This kind of goes off the same principle as #1, the idea that female characters and male characters can have similar plots, but it goes farther. If you’re starting with three cis-het-white-able-bodied men, for example, make one of them black and gay and male, one of them Asian and female and straight and blind, one Hispanic and agender and Jewish … any combination you want. Point is, erase the ‘norm’ and start with a blank slate, and recognise that you can still keep your plotline the same (unless the setting is bigoted enough that demographics become an issue, in which case you may have to add a subplot or two when the scary transphobic side characters in the bar decide that your trans character doesn’t get to drink there). Of course, make sure that you’re not just playing straight to stereotypes with which demographics you assign to which roles/personalities.
- If none of that floats your boat, by all means, you can start with a female character and write her a new storyline.
I think the most important thing is to realise that able-bodied cishet white male is not the ‘norm.’ I know that the media wants us to think it is (that all characters are able-bodied cishet white guys unless otherwise noted), but in real life, this ‘normal character’ is really quite a small percentage of the world’s population. In America, able-bodied-cis-het-white men are … what? an eight? a tenth? less? of the population. There’s really no such thing as ‘normal.’ And once you realise that, it’s a lot easier (and more fun) to start writing works from a female/poc/lgbtq+/disabled point of view.
What I’d caution against is adding a minor female character just for the purpose of affecting your male leads (or doing the same with a black character who’s only there to affect the white people, or a gay person who’s only there to affect the straight people, and so forth). That actually ends up worse than not having representation - it perpetuates the idea that women are only here to make men’s stories interesting, that pocs are nice but unworthy of the spotlight, that lgbtq+ people are either oddities or fakers, and so forth. None of which you want to accidentally imply.
Of the six main heroic figures, only one is a white man.
Considering the evil plot that they were fighting against, it has so much more resonance that a bunch of women and black folks were like “Fuck this shit.” And their white friend Steve is there because it’s the right thing to do and doesn’t…
"Why Batman Can’t Be Black" - a great article dismantling many of the arguments people make against increasing diversity in superhero casting. I highly recommend reading it! Here’s an excerpt.
“But why do you have to force racial diversity on readers by changing an established hero’s race?…
Let me start by saying that I loved Pushing Daisies, and I love Hannibal. If I didn’t love Hannibal, I wouldn’t be making this post.
In the last two episodes, you have made a mistake in using the same old tropes that so many other pieces of media have used before: the death of a…
If you dislike Jack because he’s shouts at his staff and if unforgiving, that’s fine.
If you dislike Jack because he hasn’t caught Hannibal yet. Fuck you.
If you dislike Alana because… actually I can’t think of anything.
If you dislike Alana because she’s with Hannibal. Fuck you.
If you dislike Freddie because you could never trust her, that’s fine.
If you dislike Freddie because she does her job. Fuck you.
Basically what I’m getting out of Hannibal this season is that all psychiatrists, even ones who are on the government payroll or who work in education, have an exorbitantly high income level, buy giant houses in one of the most expensive areas of the country, have said houses professionally decorated and cleaned, and then they live there by themselves and feel lonely.