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Strange . . . sexism?

bad day kitten
I don't know what else to call it, and it's REALLY starting to bug me. Tim and I are clearly listed as co-writers on the cover of the White Tiger books, and in the credits, but nine times out of ten, when the books are discussed, I'm named as sole writer. This really burns my bacon. We did all the interviews together; we've talked about the book in blog posts as co-writers, and yet people seem determined to forget there's two of us in this. It gets really interesting in the slams. It's almost as if people want to forget there's a guy in this, too, so they can heap extra scorn on the girl. On the praise side, they want to give me all the credit, never mind that Tim writes the whole first draft (after we bash out the outline together)--a pretty serious contribution.

What is this? With a female involved, people want to go blind to the man's share? Or--just as insulting to Tim--because I'm the Name--people assume he's my Arm Charm, and I do all the heavy lifting? His contribution is getting ignored, for any reason, and it's pissing me off.

As far as the blame thing goes--it's not that I want him to get the hosing I'm getting because people find parts of the books "lame," or "unconvincing," or insulting to Latins, or because they feel they've seen it before. But would they have posted Tim's photo and said he looked like a frumpy old white guy? Would they have accused a man of being too talky? Would they have smacked him around for a single line ("That's a girl!")? (Which, he reminded me, was actually one of his lines.)

I knew I would get the jumping-on, particularly after my Civil War critique. But I didn't think Tim would be ignored for everything, including the praise.

Part two of Weird . . . Sexism:

More and more these days I am being asked why I choose to write female heroes, and/or when will I write male heroes. I'm polite in my answers, because people honestly seem puzzled by my choices, but I'm starting to boil a little, and I'm definitely building up a head of frustration. Why does no one ask male writers why they write male heroes?

Worse, why do girls and women ask me this? Okay, I can understand it--sort of--when moms of boys ask me. They want female-positive books with heroes their kids will read. And I point out the truth. I have a boy hero, Briar, in the Circle of Magic universe, and in fact he's one of my most popular heroes, though I think it's more because he's just plain fun, and he knows how to deal with girls. His three co-heroes are female, after all. Moreover, because my other female heroes tend to be involved in primarily masculine fields of endeavor--knighthood, war, policework, revolutions--they are surrounded by boys and men who are friends, teachers, rivals, and foes. My male fans read my books because they are adventures, not classically categorized "girl books." I just have always believed that girls want adventures, too, and since none were available when I was a kid, I have always written adventure novels with girl heroes. Boys, once they get past the girl on the cover, almost always respond.

And for the rest, it used to be that seven out of eight novels had boy heroes. Now the figure is more like six out of seven, though I have a feeling that the number of boy heroes may be rising with perception that boys don't read, and we must save our boys! (and jettison our girls, or feed them clique novels with makeup and girls and boys sabotaging one another).

It really hurts when girls ask me this. Are they so beaten down by our culture's superior value on boys that they don't understand why someone would prefer to write for them, showcasing their strengths and possibilities? Do they find it so strange that someone would willingly showcase them? So brainwashed that they think there's something wrong with me that I prefer it, or that I prefer girl heroes, and not princesses, or princesses in disguise, or orphans in quest of families, or loner socialites, or rocker wanna-bes, or girl victims? (Not that I don't value the books in which girls begin as victims--I read them myself, and really like the way the characters learn what's going find strength and a way out. But I prefer a different approach, and when girls ask me why I'm doing it, I need to start asking, "Why aren't more people doing it? Aren't you worth as many heroes as the boys get?"

When the adults ask me, that's when I really start to burn, though I always stay polite. Again, I have to wonder if they ask male writers who specialize in boy heroes why they do that. I want to ask the media people whose side they're on, though I do wonder if they don't wonder if they ask me the question to allow me to make the point that there aren't enough girl heroes out there, and why not? But honestly, why is it strange to like to write for girls?

Aren't they worth it? Look at them on the soccer field, or bent over a book. Watch them in the mall, looking at music or clothes, or at home or in gym, practicing headstands and somersaults. Do you see them in class, getting all fired up about injustice, or in a club, dancing to set the world on fire? Do you see them bent over sketch pads or lap tops, working away, or read their internet posts, where being unseen sets them free to say what they think? They're a more tremendous resource than oil or water, and they are trashed, ignored, lectured, talked down to, shoved aside, told they're hos/sluts/technoignoramuses, tied up and abused in games/movies/comics/television, handed diets until they collapse from the weight of them--and yet they are still thinking, still active, still passionate, still idealists. They are world-beaters.

Why aren't more people writing for them, and I mean "for", as in, in ways that makes them feel like what they are: a powerful force. People who make a difference. Not toys, not negligible quantities to be shoved aside every time people get their panties in a bunch about boys, but serious players on the world stage. Serious contributors to everyone's lives.

Comments

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sanna17
Dec. 17th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
"Or--just as insulting to Tim--because I'm the Name--people assume he's my Arm Charm, and I do all the heavy lifting? His contribution is getting ignored, for any reason, and it's pissing me off."

I think that's probably the most of it...I have to admit that at the back of my mind when I heard you were co-writers I sort of thought "Oh, Tim helped her," not "Oh, they worked together."

"But would they have posted Tim's photo and said he looked like a frumpy old white guy?"

Did someone say that??? That's horrible, rude, untrue and way too bitchy.


"It really hurts when girls ask me this. Are they so beaten down by our culture's superior value on boys that they don't understand why someone would prefer to write for them, showcasing their strengths and possibilities?"

I think most girls aren't, since many, many girls adore your books. I read the first Alanna book when I was ten/eleven, and I adored it. I LOVED that it was about a girl kicking butt. I actually rarely read books about male heroes anymore (except for, of course, Harry Potter!) because I like being able to identify with the main character--a girl.
tammy212
Dec. 18th, 2006 04:32 am (UTC)
>>Did someone say that??? That's horrible, rude, untrue and way too bitchy.<<

On a thread where my credentials for writing a Latin superhero were being questioned, one member posted my picture, saying something like, "Yeah, this person looks like she could totally write a Latin character," and someone else called me "a frumpy old white lady." (Someone else pointed out that I could easily be Latina, and posted a picture of him and his blonde Colombian wife, but somehow it didn't draw the sting.)

>>I think most girls aren't, since many, many girls adore your books. <<

I don't know if the girls who ask me this are my fans or no--I talk to a lot of school groups. But I suspect some are, and they are still affected enough by the culture that they wonder why I do it, when they've heard the same stories I have, of the authors who have been warned off of writing girl heroes, because they will make more money writing boy heroes.

>>I read the first Alanna book when I was ten/eleven, and I adored it. I LOVED that it was about a girl kicking butt. I actually rarely read books about male heroes anymore (except for, of course, Harry Potter!) because I like being able to identify with the main character--a girl.<<

We spend so much time identifying with male heroes, because that's what we're given. It's nice to have female action heroes for a change. I was delirious when more and more active female heroes started showing up in fantasy, because now I didn't have to envision myself in a guy skin. I do read books with male heroes, still, and I love those with heroes of both sexes, but I gravitate to female heroes, because I don't think we've come near to exploring the limits of what female heroes in fiction can do.
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thebfg
Dec. 17th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent post (hi, just reading it on arcana_j's friends page), well argued and lacking in the frenzy that the inevitable trolls like to feed on.

The reason the question gets asked of course, is that not following the established "norm" is challenging the norm and We Fear Change.

Similarly, the female writer of a traditionally male genre is a novelty because it's a challenge to the norm so again it seizes all the attention. It's not so much that Tim is being specifically ignored, as that people just can't get past you not being a Tim.

You should keep right on challenging those norms, though, until people aren't scared of the change anymore because it's happened. Only then will nobody ask anymore, unfortunately. Obviously there's a hell of a long way to go but people with your passion are the ones who make it happen.

Good luck, you have a new supporter in me, anyways!
tammy212
Dec. 18th, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC)
>>well argued and lacking in the frenzy that the inevitable trolls like to feed on.<<

Thanks! There are times when I want to vent spleen, and times when I need to sort out my thoughts and try to make a point. This was the latter.

>>The reason the question gets asked of course, is that not following the established "norm" is challenging the norm and We Fear Change.<<

But it's 2006, already. If it were the 40s, the 60s, maybe even the 70s, I'd get it, but now? I'm not expecting everyone to smile and eat cheesecake, but dignified resignation would be nice. And when it comes to some parties, this pathetic and never-ending attempt to turn back the clock really grates my cheese, you know what I mean?

>>Similarly, the female writer of a traditionally male genre is a novelty because it's a challenge to the norm so again it seizes all the attention. It's not so much that Tim is being specifically ignored, as that people just can't get past you not being a Tim.<<

And thus, in their eagerness to stomp the interloper, they ignore one of their own, and a really talented one at that. I do understand what you're saying. I just hate the injustice.

>>You should keep right on challenging those norms, though,<<

I wasn't planning to quit. That would be somewhere in the realm of ceasing to breathe!

>>Good luck, you have a new supporter in me, anyways!<<

Many thanks! It's good to be listened to and heard!
shivi
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
Part Two reminds me of Joss Whedon's "Why I write strong women characters" speech. There's a video of it here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=cYaczoJMRhs

When I read the Alanna books for the first time, I remember being completely thrilled that she wasn't a victim, and that she was able to be sexually active without being punished for it within the storyline.

(Hello, I'm Shivaun. We met at Alpha this summer: you wore typewriter keys on your ears, I wore buttons on mine.)
tammy212
Dec. 18th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
Shivaun, of course I remember you! How goes your writing?

Thank you so much for posting this! Bruce Coville suggested I start asking the same questions Joss asked at the end--why are you asking me this? Do you ask male writers this? The question is, why aren't more writers writing heroes like this?

And I promply went into SheroesCentral and changed my signature quote to "We need equality, kinda NOW."
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wyvernfriend
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
I like the female characters you have and reading about female characters who don't just need a "good man" to help them (gah).

I don't know that it isn't a trend in our society at the moment to create more rigid pidgeonholes for people. All that pink for girls that would have made me gag as a kid. Then again people are surprised that I can do simple DIY.
tammy212
Dec. 18th, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC)
We do need good men--just not in a way that limits us and them.

And the more rigid the pigeonholes get, the more people will want to break out, I hope.
jhyanmar
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
The perception of "female bias" is really bizarre in some places-- as though giving _any_ attention to women is somehow "female biased". I'm a teacher, and one of the things they told us to watch out for is the fact that even teachers who -think- they're giving female students equal time tend to favor boys like 2:1. It's something I do my best to keep an eye on (it helps that I have a lot of really, really smart girls in my algebra classes and the ones getting it in geometry outnumber the boys by a large margin, but...) but I can't tell really, whether or not I am, and it worries me.

It's everywhere, too-- geek culture as much as mainstream. For example, White Wolf, an RPG company, has always published with a large amount of female pronouns. However, in the most recent edition of Exalted, their epic High Fantasy setting, they switched over to a 50/50ish male/female ratio-- an increase in the male pronoun by a large degree. And _yet_, one of the complaints I heard about the writing for it in various forums was that they had "too many shes"-- too much more, somehow, of the female pronoun. It really boggled the mind.

Also, speaking as a guy who picked up with your Daine stuff in Junior High and then quickly ate up the Lioness stuff and everything else I could get my hands on-- thank you. Your books are wonderful adventures with lifelike characters that invoke an entire world of wonder. I loved the wild magic concept, and the Chamber of the Ordeal (and the kind of knights it produced) filled my head with all sorts of adventures that I could project my fantasy life (and gaming adventures) into eagerly.

And-- more than that. They were a part of my development into a lifelong feminism and egalitarianism that I am so glad I started on early. Your books gave me a perspective on women and girls my own age that the pedestal-bias 'chivalry' that was pervasive in a lot of the fantasy and even sci-fi that was available. I didn't always live up to it (I had my 'obsessed with white knighting' stage and some really dumb crushes, I admit it), but always in the back of my head was the ideal that my friends could be women without being romantic partners or passive; that I could rely on them interact with them, and hang out with them, not "just as good as" my male friends, but as _friends_, period, without reliance on gender as a category for it. Your work was a good part of that, and I thank you for it.
tammy212
Dec. 19th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC)
>>The perception of "female bias" is really bizarre in some places-- as though giving _any_ attention to women is somehow "female biased". <<

And this perception does exist. It's why, every time I hear someone say feminists are just whining, we've achieved our goals, and all we have to do is "cash in," I want to haul off and smack that person.

>>I'm a teacher, and one of the things they told us to watch out for is the fact that even teachers who -think- they're giving female students equal time tend to favor boys like 2:1.<<

They do tend to be noisier and more forward with themselves. I have to watch at school question and answer sessions. At bookstore sessions it's the opposite, but usually because there are far fewer boys, and they feel cowed.

>>It's everywhere, too-- geek culture as much as mainstream.<<

ESPECIALLY in geek culture, where all the women the guys remember are the pretty ones who snubbed them. An adult friend asked me some years back, when we were first becoming friends, where were women like me when he was in high school? I said, "Sitting in the background while you guys ogled cheerleaders." And yet, I never begrudged the geek guys, because when I wasn't eyeing the hot popular guys (and that did wear off by the end of middle school, I did want to be the hot popular girls.)

>>And _yet_, one of the complaints I heard about the writing for it in various forums was that they had "too many shes"-- too much more, somehow, of the female pronoun. It really boggled the mind.<<

Yep. Give us skirts an inch, and we think we're the ruler.

>>Your books are wonderful adventures with lifelike characters that invoke an entire world of wonder. I loved the wild magic concept, and the Chamber of the Ordeal (and the kind of knights it produced) filled my head with all sorts of adventures that I could project my fantasy life (and gaming adventures) into eagerly. <<

::blush:: Thanks!

>>And-- more than that. They were a part of my development into a lifelong feminism and egalitarianism that I am so glad I started on early.<<

This is really gratifying. One of my goals with my books is to show guys that girls aren't alien--that they are people, reacting in these classical situations in a way a man could understand. And it's my hope that it would get a guy to thinking about a companion who's a friend, not an ornament, a person, not an alien species.

>> I didn't always live up to it (I had my 'obsessed with white knighting' stage and some really dumb crushes, I admit it),<<

Don't we all?

>> but always in the back of my head was the ideal that my friends could be women without being romantic partners or passive; that I could rely on them interact with them, and hang out with them, not "just as good as" my male friends, but as _friends_, period, without reliance on gender as a category for it. Your work was a good part of that, and I thank you for it.<<

I think this is one of the best compliments I've been paid in a long time, and I won't soon forget it. Thank you so very much. I always wondered if I'd managed to do this one hoped-for part of what I'd set out to achieve with my books, and you just told me I did with at least one person. You've given me a great gift--I hope the New Year brings you one equally as great!

Tammy
nycshelly
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
First, I have the comics but haven't read them yet. I promise when I review them on my comics blog, I'll mention Tim. He's been nice enough to leave a few comments there, which is how I found your LJ, so I can't forget him!

Second, I'm shocked that people are sexist or reverse sexist these days in the way you describe. I'm very much female, but as an aspiring sf writer, I prefer to write male characters. The protag of my WIR is male, with a strong supporting female character who looks like she's going to be the protag of the sequel, which came as a surprise to me.

Better would be for people to ask which you prefer writing, male or female characters, and ask that of all writers regardless of their sex. I have seen that in venues like Publishers Weekly interviews, but comics creator interviews are lagging behind the times. I've yet to figure out why, or if I'm even imagining it's better in the book world.

Anyway, I love your LJ.
oneminutemonkey
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC)
All I can think of, speaking to the first part of your post, is that (to be brutally honest, so forgive me), you are THE NAME. The series was publicized based on you writing it. For those that have heard of either of you, 9 out of 10 (99 out of 100?) will have heard of you, Tamora Pierce. They're aiming the series at your fans, and that's where the marketing has gone. Poor Tim falls into the cracks based on that effort. I mean, -I- know the two of you write together. You guys know it. Anyone who actually listens to the interviews knows it. But I suspect the blitz of "OMG TAMORA PIERCE WRITES COMIC BOOK" is strong enough to overshadow the contributions of the mighty Tim. Which is sad, I'll agree, and I'm sorry. But because he doesn't have nearly the Name Brand Recognition you do, he naturally takes second fiddle, if any fiddle at all. The only solution I can think of is to make him famous as well.

FWIW, I've really been enjoying the comic so far. It's got good energy to it, and I'm looking forward to seeing where you two go with it.

I won't touch upon the rest of your post, at least not until I ponder it some more, but I will note one thing. It seems to me that I have seen a LOT more female protagonists in YA fiction/sf/fantasy in the past few years. My current YA stack is a fairly even split between female lead characters, male lead characters, and one or more of each. (A rough count reveals 13 books with primarily male leads, 10 with female, and 7 where the lead seems equally split.)

I'll have to think on this more.
prydera
Dec. 17th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
The only solution I can think of is to make him famous as well.

We should make him famous as well!
morchades
Dec. 17th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
In terms of crediting Tim, I'd look to Marvel for causing some of that. Yiou're the name here. They sold it as a book written by "Bestseller novelist Tamora Pierce" not "Husband and wife team Tamora Pierce and Tim Liebe" more often than not. I'm sure I saw some advertisements with just your name at the top (actually, I think there was one in the back of Anite Blake like that), and I've never heard any previous writing accredited to Tim, but I knew your name from my school library. It's like reviewing the parts of The Flash that were written by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn together. Mark Waid had top billing, Mark Waid was the writer DC advertised, Mark Waid was the writer who got the credit.

I think very few reviewers actually look at the credits. I know when I did my own review I mentioned him, but that's mainly because I knew about him from blogging.

As for the second question? Yeah, that's muxed up.
arcana_j
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Ah, the comics industry. I've seen this happen before. Something about this fecking industry that can't seem to understand what partnership means.

I'd tell you not to take it personally, but I don't know if that's possible. Besides, ignoring one of you for the other is crap.

I will say though that I applaud you for speaking up.
janni
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
Having just done a season of book signings for my new book, I'm so, so tired of being asked, "Is your book about a boy?"

As if that's the only criteria that matters, if you have a son.
tammy212
Dec. 18th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
I guess asking them, "Why, are you training yours to be a misogynist?" would be Wrong.

::sigh::

You have my empathies, Janni.
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dewline
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Apologies from the Stupid
This will be remedied. Post-haste.
tammy212
Dec. 18th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Apologies from the Stupid
Thanks so much! It means a lot to me!/Tammy
dragontail
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
When it comes to the criticism/praise, I think it has less to do with Tim, less to do with your being "the Name" and more about your point or origin. You've come from outside comics, into comics, claiming a long-time fandom of comics. That makes you a target for the scorn of others who are outside comics (from professionals to nerds), those who want to get into comics (and can't for a variety of reasons, from lack of courage to lack of talent), who also have a long-time fandom of comics (and therefore suffer the "I know more and I could do so much better than some best-selling novelist" disease).

In other words, jealousy. This industry is cannabalistic... there's an element of "loner" and "geek" and "outsider" in every fan, else we'd not be drawn to these images and stories. Yet the sadly vocal minority of fans/supposed critics leap upon any hint of those "weaknesses" in others and especially in professionals (look at the criticism heaped upon Heinberg, Marz, JMS and others) out of jealousy. And the reaction is 10 times worse when you're a woman (the crap Devin Grayson endured, for no good reason) or a bona-fide success (again, JMS - who could possibly argue he has chops? - and yourself).

Worst of all, this same breed would look at Tim - who has the "right" qualifications of being a Spidey fan who decrys the iron suit and the marriage - and not want to attack him. It's bs, in other words. Utter, pure bs.

You're a paid professional working in the industry of little names/no names, and they'll judge you more harshly for it because of their own jealousy. Your status as a woman and a best-seller makes you more of a target, but it would have happened anyway, sadly. Think about what Jodie Picoult is going to cop when she starts on Wonder Woman.

Ignore 'em, I say. Those of us who have long appreciated your work... like my housemate... and those of us who have come to your work with a fresh eye... like myself... and those who are causing the book to sell out at my local LCS are more than happy with the book the two of you are producing.
sdn
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
interesting data point i've read: when teachers call on male and female students equally, 50/50, the guys think they are being discriminated against and ignored.

thus your answer. you know how i feel about this, especially in children's/YA, a field in which men get disproportionate attention, imo ("my god! it's a man! we are all women!" ad nauseum), making me want to stab.

also, guess what? boys do read. just not what everyone wants them to.
dewline
Dec. 18th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Apologies from the Stupid
Seeing anyone pressured into seeing reading as Something Not to be Done for Fun -- which I have seen -- also contributes to the problem, I think. But that's a subject for another rant altogether.
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jessikast
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I'm one of the people who sometimes wonders when you're going to write more books from a male POV. Not because I dislike the ones with female POV - I adore, adore them all, and I love the fact that every one of your main female characters is a distinct person with uniqure faults and virtues, not just a cookie-cutter girl!hero. (Also the fact that your women are sensible and have common sense - there's nothing more frustrating than a story where a girl acts hysterical or irrationally to advance the plot.)

Anyway, back to the point, it's more that characters appear in your stories who I would like to hear more from, regardless of gender, such as Tobe - I think he would be a fun character to read a POV from.
tammy212
Dec. 22nd, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC)
>>Anyway, back to the point, it's more that characters appear in your stories who I would like to hear more from, regardless of gender, such as Tobe - I think he would be a fun character to read a POV from. <<

But then I'd see that as you wanting to hear more from a specific person, not from another class of person who deserves my attention just because he's male.

You're not alone in wanting to hear more from Tobe. I've got him in mind. And he will return with Kel sometime around 2011!
melissa_writing
Dec. 17th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
What a lovely post!!!

. . . when girls ask me why I'm doing it, I need to start asking, "Why aren't more people doing it? Aren't you worth as many heroes as the boys get?"

That is a fabulous answer. As so many of us did, I grew up reading the stories of boy heroes who had adventures & girls who were considered successful by getting married. Ugh. In truth that sort of mentality was one of my big pushes to go into academia and, more recently, to write.

My daughter (13 now) rejects novels wherein the female character is "weak" or fails to make active choices. We are ever thankful for authors like you who offer her alternative reading choices. Still, the number of novels with strong female MCs is not high enough. The numbers are still skewed-- which makes any intimation that authors should prefer to write male MCs (or at least write both) even more offensive.

. . . and quite telling too about how far we have yet to travel to reach equality. It broke my heart when I was teaching and met female students who suggested that there was "no need" for feminism today. So many of them truly saw no reason that we should continue to promote equality, believing instead that we already have it. I still love my Faulkner and Twain; I'm still enjoying reading of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but I want to know that any granddaughters & grandsons will also be able to find a fuller range of choices in both YA and classic lit.

I'm obviously a bit biased, but I just had to say I couldn't agree more.

with warm regards,

Melissa Marr
prydera
Dec. 17th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
1) Fabulous to finally meet you and do dinner last night.

2) I agree with what's been said before about why Tim has been getting ignored. It's such a shame since it's obvious how much of a partnership this is. I happen to agree with the comment above about making him famous and that that would help. The other side is the part where you're a woman writing comics. It's still such a novelty that either your contribution would have been ignored (since common prejudice says that women don't do comics), or his was going to be. Since you had the "name" coming in, it's Tim being ignored.

3) The only reason I've ever thought about your writing a male protagonist is because I think you'd have a unique point of view to it. Plus, I like watching you play with different devices and think of it as just another device. I'd never want you to write more male protagonists than female.

4) Thinking back to when I was young and reading, I'm not sure that I remember my classmates necessarily reading less by gender. In fact, some of the biggest readers I knew were male. It was the athletes (both male and female) who weren't readers. The real difference was what people were reading. The guys were encouraged into more "adult" stuff (most often, it seemed, Stephen King) younger. They were also more likely to be pointed in direction of mystery, horror, and sci-fi/fantasy than the girls were. The Redwall books were quite popular with most guys I knew. Girls were more likely to be pointed in the direction of things like The Babysitters Club or Lurlene McDaniel novels. The only fantasy or sci-fi novels I saw recced to girls were Enchanted Forest Chronicles and A Wrinkle in Time. I was lucky in that my parents read to my brother and me The Hobbit when I was about eight and that really just hooked me into the genre. I used that and the few things actually recced to girls my age to springboard off of when looking for new stuff to read.

An interesting note was that my father, who is generally a good guy, used to complain that most of the things we read in school were written by women regardless of male or female protagonists. In middle school, that may have been true, however, I think there were still more male protagonists than female.
karenhealey
Dec. 17th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
Aren't they worth it? Look at them on the soccer field, or bent over a book. Watch them in the mall, looking at music or clothes, or at home or in gym, practicing headstands and somersaults. Do you see them in class, getting all fired up about injustice, or in a club, dancing to set the world on fire? Do you see them bent over sketch pads or lap tops, working away, or read their internet posts, where being unseen sets them free to say what they think? They're a more tremendous resource than oil or water, and they are trashed, ignored, lectured, talked down to, shoved aside, told they're hos/sluts/technoignoramuses, tied up and abused in games/movies/comics/television, handed diets until they collapse from the weight of them--and yet they are still thinking, still active, still passionate, still idealists. They are world-beaters.

Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Perfect. Yes.
wytchchyld
Dec. 17th, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC)
Ma'am, would you mind if I printed this out and handed it out to my 9th graders to read? Boys and girls alike, I think that they could use this. (And, I admit, eternal optomist that I am, I'd like to think that maybe reading THIS would get a couple of them interested in reading Protector of the Small, or Magic Circle or ... anything, really ...)

I think that part of the problem is that a lot of the people writing don't have a whole lot of contact with or awareness of who these young adults are that are populating our high schools now. It wasn't so long ago that I graduated from high school and the world that I see in the halls where I'm teaching today is very different from the world that I remember being present in the hallways where I used to be a student. If you look at the surface of teen girls, you see make-up and boy-craziness and these female singers and models that these girls like, that are parading around in all but nothing and turn being female into being about sex. So it's easy to jump from seeing that to believing that's what these girls want to read -- Princess Diaries or The It Girl books or whatever other series is out there ... and, really, Princess Diaries at least is largely better than some of the books that I've seen teenaged girls reading. So adults don't always see that there are girls sitting in those high-school classrooms that are all of the amazing things that they are and can be. And, tragically ... the girls sitting there (and the boys!!) don't see it, either. They define and redefine themselves based on the media reflections and their peer expectations and lose the wonder and strength in trying to conform and fit in.

And I think that I stepped onto a platform there ... sorry.

Me, I love seeing strong female characters in books. Also strong male characters. And I've been trying to show my kiddos snippets of both in read-alouds and suggested books to read and hoping that somewhere along the line, I can manage to get them to understand that reading is more than just picking up a book and decoding the words on the page. Reading is about the whole world and making the world what you want it to be.

Oh. Look. Platform again. *blushes*
pixelfish
Dec. 18th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)
I liked the Princess Diaries myself as a full grown adult woman. As do a lot of my friends. We all also liked Tamora's novels. I think most of the sexism weirdness comes in the partitioning of likes, dislikes, roles, and role models based solely on gender. But then the stereotyping gradiates further: girls who are into strong, tough heroines aren't going to be into Babysitters Club or Princess Diaries, people think, not realising that we're complex people with complex wants and desires. So a girl reading the Princess Diaries might find a librarian recommending the Gossip Girl books based solely on the fact that the series look superficially alike, being both non-fantasy and set in modern day NYC. This completely ignores the go-getting attitudes that Alanna and Mia might share, simply because the external stories are in two different genres. (I actually think Mia has a lot more in common with Alanna than she does with Blair Wosshername from Gossip Girl, who reminds me more of Josiane from the Copper Isles if we wanted to go that route. Could not STAND GG, unfortunately.)
(no subject) - almightychrissy - Dec. 18th, 2006 01:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tammy212 - Dec. 18th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jennifergearing - Dec. 18th, 2006 11:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - timeliebe - Dec. 18th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
freyaw
Dec. 18th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
I think the last book I read with a male protagonist (who wasn't Briar *grin*) was... a Georgette Heyer romance. It's not that there aren't books with male protagonists out there, it's just that they tend to be whiny little shits who I want to smack and tell them to grow up. Or they solve all their problems with the application of toys and fail to deal with any social issues (like how wholesale slaughter tends to get the cops called on you, or "OMG I'm so cool how come I don't have any friends" *ugh*). It seems to me that the authors I read most of THINK about their characters, and make them people, whether that character be male or female (it's just that I don't have many male protagonists on my bedhead at the moment - there's only thirty or so books there, I cleaned most of them off when I realised they were falling on my head). People, not puppets, is what I demand of my reading material.
lilacsigil
Dec. 18th, 2006 12:31 am (UTC)
Online comics fandom seems to be a particular gathering-point for trolls, idiots with a one-note agenda and boys who think that he who yells loudest wins (pronoun used deliberately!) I applaud you and Tim for standing up to the slams. I mentioned you both in my review, though I was trying to focus more on the actual comic than the issues around it.

And more applause for your praise of girls - I haven't read your novels, being a little older than the teen demographic when you started and not having kids of my own. Now I think I'm going to order a few and get started.
remix17
Dec. 18th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, Tamora. I sometimes get self-conscious that so many of the heroes I create are girls. Yes, brainwashing. Thanks for the speech!

Also, thanks for liking the hero I posted on my blog last week. Er...wee villain, as she happens to be. ;)
mabfan
Dec. 18th, 2006 03:28 am (UTC)
For the first one, I think it's the "Name" thing.

For the second, I don't think I ever asked you that question, and I would hope other writers wouldn't have asked the question either.
tammy212
Dec. 19th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
It may be the "Name" thing, but I would like people to start minding Tim's name, too.

Michael, I think Boston could drop into the ocean before such a question would ever cross your mind!
goldjadeocean
Dec. 18th, 2006 04:35 am (UTC)
I know a lot of fans who would like you to write boys because then they can get their male friends (who don't read "girl" books) to read your stuff.

Before I read Alanna, and before I knew about Joan of Arc, I wanted to be Robin Hood or one of King Arthur's knights and obsessed over whether I looked masculine to pass for a boy; I was so happy when I had someone my own height and gender to pretend to be. I make it a point to fight in a skirt and bodice any time I'm out in public (so long as they're hemmed to the right height they're better at protecting my legs and that's half of my body my opponent can't read or anticipate).

You know, in the SCA I try to be friendly with the young women who begin to fight because so many of them get discouraged easily and stop fighting after they learn the basics, so we talk about the difficulties women face, and you know what I've heard, repeatedly? Your name. Your girls and their stories made them want to go learn karate, rapier, longbow, and broadsword, and moreover, told them they could.
tammy212
Dec. 19th, 2006 01:37 am (UTC)
>>I know a lot of fans who would like you to write boys because then they can get their male friends (who don't read "girl" books) to read your stuff.<<

But it's never put to me that way!

>>Before I read Alanna, and before I knew about Joan of Arc, I wanted to be Robin Hood or one of King Arthur's knights<<

Me, too. Or Davey Crockett.

>>I make it a point to fight in a skirt and bodice any time I'm out in public (so long as they're hemmed to the right height they're better at protecting my legs and that's half of my body my opponent can't read or anticipate).<<

The women of the Sterling Forest Renaissance Faire, including Kelly the jouster, also fought in skirts, and looked damned fine doing it--kilted up about calf/knee length to give them the freedom of movement. Kelly, known on the field as Marian, even jousted in them, over leggings!

>>Your girls and their stories made them want to go learn karate, rapier, longbow, and broadsword, and moreover, told them they could.<<

And the glory of it is, once someone tells them they can, they do, because all girls need is the right encouragement.
(no subject) - goldjadeocean - Dec. 19th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - freyaw - Dec. 27th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC) - Expand
the_mouthpiece
Dec. 18th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)
It hurts when people say "So and so can't write because they aren't " And I'm extremely sorry that you've come across those idiots. I could care less if the writer is from Soviet China, if they can write a convincing Latin, then by all means! It's all a matter of research and finding the voice. I'm also pretty sure we don't have any Martian, Asguardian, or Atlantean writers working for either Marvel or DC.

I'm so starved for latin heroes (and villains) that when a new one is announced, it's hard for me to get excited about them because they never stick around. Latins in comic books tend to be either a: Throw-away characters used to add local color whenever the title character goes abroad, or b: the Mexican Wrestler badguy. So yea.. I almost avoided this comic book completely because of my bias. Me, a Puerto Rican avoiding a comic book with a Puerto Rican heroine, because I'm afraid she'd be done wrong.

Anyway, it was a blog post by Tim that made me want to know more about the series, and then an interview with the two of you that really hit it out of the park for me. Thanks :)
goldjadeocean
Dec. 19th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
...Tim has a blog?
(no subject) - timeliebe - Dec. 19th, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
gailsimone1
Dec. 18th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC)
I made the mistake of referring to Tamora as the author a couple times myself. When I realized later that I'd done it, I felt bad about it, but forgot to go back and amend my comments.

Apologies to Tim, that's just stupid behavior on my part.

Gail
tammy212
Dec. 19th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
Gail, like we could ever be unhappy with you!
(no subject) - timeliebe - Dec. 19th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
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