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bad day kitten
I am going to direct them here, to a study that finds that men, even if they are animals, are the main characters in 57% of books that are published per year, contrasted to 31% women. (Don't ask me where the other 12% went.) Adult men or animals show up in 100% of books, adult women or animals 33%. Male animals are central characters in more than 23% of books; female animals in 7.5%. 36.5% have a male in the title; 17.5% have a female in the title.

Most of you probably know it burns my bacon to be asked, as I so often am, why I write so many books with girl characters. This just rubs salt into my burn. In terms of children's books, with their large numbers of female writers (though a number of the stars in the industry are male), this just burns me worse. We need intelligent, lively, fun, real female characters in every aspect of kidlit--why are we writing in a majority area that isn't our own?

I know the answer: to make money. But we aren't going to make money writing female characters unless a lot more of us stand up and say, hey, there are more books out there for guys, when girls are the big readers. Isn't writing even more guys shooting ourselves in the foot? Let's write for the bigger audience, what do you say?

Or at the very least, fight for the damn girls, for cryin out loud!

Comments

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sirriamnis
May. 4th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
Can I just say how much I think you rule?
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
::blushes:: Thank you!

And I love your icon! I just realized it's different from the first Feminazi icon I saw!
bookblather
May. 4th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
I've always thought "why do you write so many girls" to be a stupid question, particularly since no one's asking "why do you write so many boys."

Also, you're awesome, and your books were incredibly formative to me when I was a wee little girl-geek just learning how to be badass. So thank you for writing them.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much!
beccastareyes
May. 4th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
Add in that many readers, including male readers, might want to read about women as well as men. Most girls will read about boys since, they don't really have a choice, but there's this idea that any book with a female lead, or a group of female leads must be 'for girls'.
tereshkova2001
May. 4th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
Joss Whedon's take on strong women characters, which makes me tear up just a bit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYaczoJMRhs
dragonmagelet
May. 5th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
*tearing up a little, too*
WOW, thank you for sharing that.
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telaryn
May. 4th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
When my daughter was applying for college, she had to write an essay on the person - real or fictional - who most influenced her growing up.

She wrote about Keladry of Mindelon.

I surrounded her with books about strong, capable girls and women growing up because it's one of the best weapons we have in the parental arsenal to help our daughters grow up to be strong, capable women themselves.

We may not all be able to write books ourselves, but we can do our part to influence the market with what we choose to buy.
mybrokenlocket
May. 5th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
I wrote the exact same essay when I was applying for college! I was lucky that my parents, like you, took the time to look for books with great female characters for me to read.
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jessikast
May. 4th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
If I wonder this it's only because you create awesome male characters too and I end up wanting to know more about them! (For instance, I really enjoyed the story from Nawat's POV in your book of short stories - I think of all the stories in the book it's the one that's stuck with me.)

Not only is it fun to learn more about the male characters, it's also interesting to see our favourite girls from their perspective.

Sometimes I come across books where the strong female main character is only that way because all the guys in the story are infuriatingly dumb or emotionally stunted - I think that this kind of thing is just as bad as doing it to female characters, and I love that you don't need to make the guys weak for the women to be strong.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
it's only because you create awesome male characters too and I end up wanting to know more about them!

This is one of the reasons I get cross--there are plenty of guys in my books, and I do as much to make them real as I do my female characters. Questions like this ignore the fact that I manage to create male characters who appeal just as much to my readers. I have nothing against guys--I love them. I just don't see why every book has to be principally about them, and so many place women in such tiny roles that you need a magnifying glass to see them. (And then their scanty clothes put your eye out and their words make you want to cover your ears.)

the strong female main character is only that way because all the guys in the story are infuriatingly dumb or emotionally stunted

Television is so guilty of this.

If the woman is really strong, she needs strong guys to keep up with her and test her. If the guys are really strong, the same holds true.
fisher_queen
May. 4th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
You know, this makes me more determined than ever to work on my novel, featuring female leaders, and an amazingly awesome space marine commandant, and to have it out there at some point soon. I have a hard time writing women, mostly because the girls all shunned me when I was in school and my best friends were the guys, but I want to make a conscious effort to write more women and to get the practice in as I churn out my drafts. Seeing these statistics reminds me of something really important that I want to participate in, and see you doing all the time.

Girls AND boys need to see strong female characters and role models. How else are they going to understand that both men and women can make that contribution? I often think about your characters in tough situations, and while Neal will always be my favorite, I often catch myself wondering What Would Aly Do? in lots of tough situations that require me to think fast and be strong and smart. I'd someday like to let both boys and girls see my Cas in a similar light.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
You know, this makes me more determined than ever to work on my novel, featuring female leaders,

Good! This guarantees I will always have something to read!

I have a hard time writing women,

Other books help with this. I also met better girls in college and at work, and I was usually lucky enough to have at least one female best friend.

What Would Aly Do?

I'm afraid to say, most times!

I'd someday like to let both boys and girls see my Cas in a similar light.

X (crossed fingers)
curseangel
May. 4th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
This is just so important. So important. When I was a kid, your books were seriously some of the only ones I could find with strong, central/main female characters. I'm still reading them today, cos they do it the best.

So... to echo some of the other comments here, thank you for writing your books the way you do. Thank you. ♥

And now I go back to trying to get my best friend to read the Circle of Magic books, and doing mini-essays on why Daja Kisubo is so amazing. :3
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome!
christinenorris
May. 4th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Well, not to be a fly in the ointment, since I write girls too, but it's been proven that girls will read a book with a male main character, but boys are much more reluctant to read a book with a female one. Hence the explosive popularity of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson for both genders. Male MC's with good strong female supporting characters.

And I don't know that it's anything that's outwardly encouraged - I've never seen it, as much as cultural phenomenon. I tried to get my son to read Amelia Bedelia and he said those were 'girl books'. I have NEVER distinguished books by gender, so I have no idea where he got it from. He's a great reader, but you have to find something he wants to read--boys want to read about boys. He loves Stink Moody, 39 Clues (boy and girl), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Boys go mad for Alex Rider, because they can identify with hem. Girls are just more flexible in their reading.

Boys, already being much more reluctant readers than girls anyway, need things to encourage them to keep reading and catch both genders in the market share.

I think some people take the easy route and continue to write boys rather than try and change the culture that tells them it's not okay to read about girls. Librarians and parents are desperate to keep their boys reading and they'll take what they can get.

Which is all okay; everybody has to write and read what suits them. I'll keep writing about girls. Though I did write a boy last go 'round and it was pretty fun. ;)
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poetic_pixie_13
May. 4th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
But what about the poor boys who will have less to read? /sarcasm

Growing up with your books, I have to say that they were a godsend. Your characters were unapologetic about their gender and what they could do. I loved it. They didn't take crap from anyone and taught me to do the same. We very much need badass girls in our kidlit, for everyone.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
Your characters were unapologetic about their gender

Thank you for this!
kestrelct
May. 4th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
Amen.
brownkitty
May. 4th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
Whatever your reasons are, and I understand there are more than the ones you've listed here, thank you! From the mother of a fourteen-year-old daughter, thank you!
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome!
goldjadeocean
May. 4th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
67% of children's books have no female characters whatsoever?

I know it's true, but I still can't believe it.

ETA: Ah, no female character who gets focus. That, I can utterly believe.

Edited at 2011-05-04 11:55 pm (UTC)
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
I know it's true, but I still can't believe it.

Me neither. It's an appalling statistic.
archangelbeth
May. 4th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
*cheers you on*

I am very annoyed with myself because, when writing a short story to shop around (in the same setting as a novel that I hope to eventually place...), I picked an incident in the male co-protagonist's past. I mean, okay, the situation fascinated me, and there are some very important female characters in it, but... why did I pick the guy? Why am I just so blanking on a way to pick something interesting for his co-protagonist, when I know interesting stuff happened to her?

*beth headdesks, but brightens up a bit when she realizes that she's working on tidying up some fanzine stories, for publishing, that are primarily female-protagonists*

Anyway, thank you for the girl-stories. My daughter prefers them, and I know I preferred them when I was a girl.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
I picked an incident in the male co-protagonist's past.

But we're allowed to write guys! It's just the people who write only guy heroes who chap my butt. We have to be allowed to spread wherever our creativity takes us!
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karma_aster
May. 4th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
I always liked Robin McKinley's comment about growing up reading things like Tolkien and Mallory and whatnot and deciding that she was going to write books when she grew up about GIRLS having adventures because there was a horrifying derth of such in the widely-available literature.

Robin McKinley is just kind of an awesome lady all around, really. Honestly, you're the writers I think of first when I'm describing writers who create real and very vivid heroines.

Personally, as a girl who likes adventures, I'm all for reading books about girls who have adventures. Adventures are excellent thinga to have and I'd far rather encounter girls in the thick of them rather than relegated to being the irritating, cringing, damsel-in-distress type.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
she was going to write books when she grew up about GIRLS having adventures because there was a horrifying derth of such in the widely-available literature.

This is exactly my experience as well.

Robin McKinley is just kind of an awesome lady all around

I think so!
dianapoulsen.wordpress.com
May. 5th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
I'm surprised that people ask that question. It had never occurred to me that having a female lead was an odd thing.

Oh wait, that's right, we are suppose to just get married to Edward Cullen. :P
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
we are suppose to just get married to Edward Cullen.

Or Harry Potter!
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angel_9_lives
May. 5th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
*blinks*

meanwhile, I write female characters because, well, hello, I AM female. I can relate to the female mind (sometimes, anyway).

anyway, my book has lead female characters who are completely badass~ I wish you read the first chapter or two of wips:( You're someone I'd love to get input from. *sighs*

but, anyway yeah...the next person that asks that, just smack them upside the head with your latest book and be done with it, lol. Or send them my way, and I'll smack them for you:P

~Angel
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
I wish you read the first chapter or two of wips

I'm sorry, Angel! It's the whole lawyer/covering my behind thing! Once you find a publisher, I'll read it! Then you can ask your editor to send it to me!
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oneminutemonkey
May. 5th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
I may be an oddity among male readers, but I've always loved female protagonists, especially yours. Alanna definitely made an impact on me. :)

I've actually seen a HUGE groundswell of girl characters in the YA genre, especially the paranormal field. The trade-off for that? The vast majority of them seem locked into a pseudo-paranormal romance set. Bella-clones, dark forbidden romances with immortal bad boy anti-hero love interests, and so on. Kick-butt heroines who take charge of their lives, and don't overly angst over their fallen angel/vampire/etc would-be boyfriend? Not so much.

We totally need more girl heroes.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I may be an oddity among male readers,

You are, but we love you for it!

The vast majority of them seem locked into a pseudo-paranormal romance set

Yes. Only a minute few of these make me happy (Diana Peterfreud's and Maggie Stiefvater's women).
nonnycat
May. 5th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
And that's actually why I didn't read a lot of kid's books past a certain point. Yours were some of the few I could find that had girls in lead roles that weren't ridiculous stereotypes. I just couldn't find that in most kid/YA lit, especially since I was interested in fantasy and not so much in contemporary stories.

People like to quote the anecdotal evidence of boys that won't read "girl books". Well. I was the reverse. There are a lot of books I didn't read because they were about men, and they didn't have women in any role except the wimpy damsel to be saved or used as a reward. I find I still have this bias and am reluctant to read books with male protagonists unless I have a recommendation that the book is good and has strong female characters.

It always annoyed me that I was expected to read about and root for characters that were nothing like me, and totally ignore the fact that there existed very few books about people like me, at least in kid's fantasy lit. I'm really freaking glad that is finally turning around. I'm actually at this point reading more YA than adult fiction, because there are some AWESOME girl power stories coming out now.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
why I didn't read a lot of kid's books past a certain point.

Same here.

I find I still have this bias and am reluctant to read books with male protagonists

::whispers:: Same here. Tell no one!
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naomikritzer
May. 5th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
When my daughter Molly was six, she went through a phase where she LOVED science fiction, but was not at all interested in fantasy. (She got over it, eventually.) She was particularly into some of the classic golden-age-style kid SF of the "kids build a rocket in their back yard and go to outer space!" variety, like the Voyage to the Mushroom Planet, and Danny Dunn.

I went looking for SF like this that featured girls and came up pretty much empty-handed.

So I wrote a shipwreck novel in space that had a girl protagonist. (There's a boy in it, too, but he's not the viewpoint character.)

Molly thought it was AWESOME....but it hasn't sold. Neither has the middle grade fantasy novel (with a girl protagonist) that I wrote after that. I'm hesitant to blame my lack of sales on the sex of my protagonists, though, because I really want to sell books again someday and I really don't want to quit writing about girls and women.

I was really shocked at how little girl-centric SF there is, though. (It's out there, but a lot of what I did find was not appropriate for a six-year-old the way Danny Dunn is. I loved H.M. Hoover's dystopic post-apocalyptic SF when I was a kid....but not when I was six. I was nine or ten when I picked her books up.)
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
She was particularly into some of the classic golden-age-style kid SF of the "kids build a rocket in their back yard and go to outer space!" variety, like the Voyage to the Mushroom Planet, and Danny Dunn.

I loved Danny Dunn. I wanted to be him, as a girl. 8-\

it hasn't sold. Neither has the middle grade fantasy novel (with a girl protagonist) that I wrote after that.

::frowns:: If I may ask, who have you tried?

I was really shocked at how little girl-centric SF there is, though.

There's more in teen nowadays, though it's virtually all distopian. Still, Robin Wasserman and Gemma O'Malley have some pretty strong heroes, and John Marsden's Tomorrow, When the War Ended saga has strong female leads. In the "let's build a spaceship" genre, I recommend Annette Curtis Klause's ALIEN SECRETS. It's wonderful!

Hoover, sadly, is out of print, as is her fellow Canadienne, Monica Hughes. For six there is next to nothing, even for an accelerated reader.
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live_momma
May. 5th, 2011 06:20 am (UTC)
You know what I love about you writing kick-butt girls? You make it easy for me to recommend wonderful stories to my son with girls kicking butt. He's 13, and he does like your books. (My 11 year old daughter likes your books, too.)

Maybe we need to stop saying, "Boys won't read ____," and start asking, "How do we get boys to read more ____?" Don't publishers have advertising departments?
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
He's 13, and he does like your books.

Thank him and your daughter for me, will you?!

Maybe we need to stop saying, "Boys won't read ____,"

That would be nice! The negative thinking by those who should know better is really annoying!
(Deleted comment)
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Write what you know
you're a woman what's wrong with you writing female characters?

Ya got me!
lyrainverse
May. 5th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
I often worry about the publishability of my own YA novel because it has two strong female leads, the only males are adults, and there is no romance. Doesn't mean I'm not going to stop writing it, but still. There's a lot of progress to be made in literary gender balance.
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
I often worry about the publishability of my own YA novel because it has two strong female leads

All you can do is write it and find out. And good luck!
searchingbuddha
May. 5th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
You know, this morning as I was knitting on the subway on the way to my (exclusively-male-except-for-me) workplace, I was thinking about the moment on the boat where Goodwin pulls out her gloves and starts working on her embroidery and what that meant to her.

I read that book months and months ago and yet...thinking of Goodwin in her gloves, I felt a real moment of solidarity and companionship. And it was awesome.

The world needs more books with not just female protagonists, but awesome female protagonists who go out and change the world. Just being a female character is only a small part of it - the Goodwins and Bekas and Alannas are so wonderful because they're fighters. There's not *nearly* enough of that in literature/film/TV/etc.
mauvedragon
May. 7th, 2011 10:31 am (UTC)
I have to agree about that moment of solidarity and companionship with Goodwin. Then again embroidery is my prefered medium
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mac_arthur_park
May. 5th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you. My youngest has asked why there aren't more girls in SF/Fantasy. He finds male characters annoying and overly prone to violence.

And he LOVES your books. He did a book report on 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man.' :)
tammy212
May. 17th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
He did a book report on 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man.

Please thank him for me!
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