Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Genderbend Trend

Genderbent art is everywhere. If you want to find a female Loki or a male Hermione, look no farther than a quick Google or Pinterest search. (Do not hold me accountable for the rating/appropriateness of that search, though.) It’s interesting to wonder how the dynamic of a favorite story could have been changed by the main character’s gender, but I think we should look farther than movies when the urge to genderbend strikes us. I think we should look at . . . our own characters.

This is as artistic as I get.

How are your stories going? I did write mine, I promise. It’s in the editing stage and will be posted before the end of January. I have to admit, this project is looking more daunting than I originally planned. But onward through the daunting-ness! We can and shall succeed!

But anyway, in my limited spare time which I didn’t spend story-writing or YouTube-surfing, I came up with the inklings of a fantasy novel that I maybe perhaps might write someday. I was toying with a female MC and playing with a couple minor characters as well.

Then I came across an article online that suggested writing male main characters into YA fiction, and just to see what would happen, I genderbent my MC.

Entire. Dynamic. Changed.

Character traits that had once been stereotypically female became interesting male quirks. A prospective love interest is now toeing the line between friend and rival. Instead, another minor character took the romantic role.

This could have something to do with the fact that the male point of view has always come more easily to me. However, genderbending is awesome for the following reasons:

  1. Destroys stereotypes. No matter how hard I try, some stereotypes always creep into my writing. (Especially with girls.) If, after establishing a character, you swap their gender, you turn unconscious stereotypes on their heads.
  2. Challenges gender roles. This kind of goes with the first one, but it also plays into worldbuilding. Say your male MC is a general of a large army. Genderbent, you have a female general, which is not unheard of, but definitely more rare. The nice girl who works in the nursery becomes a guy with a love for kids.
  3. Opens new doors. As I mentioned above, romances can blossom between characters you never thought were compatible. Perhaps the gender roles in your world forbid a woman from living her life at sea, but encourage a man to do so.
  4. Reveals more about your character. There are more differences among the genders than between them. Genderbending will probably result in further discovery about a character than actually changing their personality. Guys and girls express themselves in different ways, but at the end of the day it’s ultimately a unique self that they’re expressing.

I’m definitely going to try this with some more of my characters. I might even re-bend my MC after more of his/her personality has developed. Leave your thoughts below, especially if you’ve ever genderbent a character, and tell me what you think are the benefits (or disadvantages) of genderbending!

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