Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gender Awareness and POV

So I was reading an article the other day, and at one point it quoted this scene from George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones:
"When she went to the stables, she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest ..."
This is a man writing a woman's POV.  Not to knock on the esteemed Mr. Martin, but I this bit goes right to the heart of one of the problems I had reading Game of Thrones, and in general a problem men seem to have writing a female POV.

I'm not a woman*, and never have been.  But I'm fairly certain that they don't go around hyper-aware of the size and movement of their breasts.  And, I mean, it's not like Mr. Martin has his male characters walking around thinking about their penises and how they move in relation to their pants.  Of course not.**

And it's not like it's just Martin.  Lord knows plenty of men-writing-female-POV have done that sort of thing. 

I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I've tried my best to write female POV as well and as honestly as I could.  Maradaine Constabulary is roughly half in Katrine's point of view, and at no point in the book does her chest size come up.  I just did a search of the manuscript, and the word "breast" never appears.  Nor any appropriate (or inappropriate) synonym.

Now, did I get a female point-of-view correct?  I hope so, but I probably screwed something up.  I do know that my critique group, which is mostly female, didn't tell me, "I think you need more breast thoughts.  Not once does she think about how her breasts feel."

*- As a white, middle-class, heterosexual, average-height, able-bodied, areligious, right-handed male, I am pretty much embody every aspect of cultural privilege.  Always something to be aware of.
**- Mind you, if one is writing porn or erotica, then have at it.  Have everyone hyperaware of their sexual characteristics. That's the point, in those works. 

1 comment:

A. Lockwood said...

I read that article too, and I've been thinking about it today. Even standing naked in front of a mirror, a woman will most likely be thinking about something else. In fact, there's a good chance she'll either be standing in profile lecturing herself for eating that second piece of cake, or she'll be leaning forward to check whether she's got something in her teeth.

Just remember, everyone woman is different. Many women make decisions based on emotional intuition... but not all. Many women think more about relationships than action... but not all. With such a wide range of possibilities, a lot of personality types are valid. If your critique group didn't notice anything, you're probably in pretty good shape.