Girls V. Boys

Men and Women

Girls don’t pick their noses. Did you know that?

They also don’t fart, or belch in public, and they all just adore children.

And boys. They never cry when reading books or watching movies, they’re always better drivers than women, they don’t care what other people think of them, and they don’t open up doors for girls because chivalry is dead, right?

Am I right?

No.

I was astounded to learn from someone last weekend that apparently girls don’t fart. Or pick their noses.

Yes, this came from a man. A very naive man, I think.

I found it quite funny, but it got me thinking about all the misconceptions and stereotypes we immediately place our characters into.

Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls. I really hate that! The most interesting characters to me are the ones who break the mold.

Not that I’m advocating for women everywhere to take up nose-picking as a new hobby, or that men should weep at every movie they see, but I find it amazing how, even in today’s “forward-thinking” society, we still have a tendency to place our characters into boxes when they were made to break out of them.

I know I’ve done this a few times, and I always have to bash myself over the head so that my characters don’t end up being too bland. I don’t want people to roll their eyes at what my characters say or do. I want them to laugh out loud at something unexpected, or weep in sorrow when a twist of fate brings hardship into their lives.

Can anybody tell me why we still jam people into boxes like that? It confounds me, honestly.

Do I think chivalry is dead? Yes, mostly. Would I like to see a resurgence of it? Absolutely.

Is there a lack of refined women in society? Yes, I think so. Would I like to see that changed? Yes, again.

But I’m here to tell you that men and women, no matter their cliches and habits, shouldn’t be stripped down into the misconceptions we have towards each sex. There’s a reason cliches were started, but I don’t want to be one of them.

Girls fart. Get over it, guys. They also poop. Apparently that’s news, as well.

And guys do cry when there’s something sad on. But ladies, don’t let that stop you from liking them. You can’t cram men into the always-strong-never-afraid-he-man-macho-man box because, honestly, a majority of them don’t fit in it. And that’s okay.

Have any of you noticed this in your reading/writing? I’ve seen a remarkable number of cliched characters lately, and it makes me wonder how they got past the agent, editor, and publisher.

Am I alone in this thinking?

Btw, apologies for my longish absence. I was maid of honor in a wedding last weekend and, while an awesome experience, didn’t leave much time for blogging. I also stupidly picked up a bunch of hours at my second job in the next two months, so my posts may be fewer. I’m sure you’ll adjust. πŸ™‚

Let’s go break some molds!!

Happy writing!

 

β€œIt is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue.”
― Stephen Fry

β€œLet’s have some new cliches.”
― Samuel Goldwyn

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18 thoughts on “Girls V. Boys

  1. There are a great many things in currently published literature that leave me wondering how it got past agents, editors, etc., and yes cliche characters are definitely one of the problems. Another interesting thing I noticed lately is that while we refer to Barrack Obama as Obama, Bill Clinton as Clinton, and any other prominent males as their last name, we (I mean most people and definitely the media) refer to Hillary Clinton as Hillary. It just sounds wrong to refer to a powerful female as a last name, but too intimate to call her by her first. I think Mrs. Clinton would be appropriate, but basically there’s a name double standard we are using for males and females. I’m not sure if it even matters, but no matter how much we claim to be progressive, we still fall back on old standards.

  2. All right. Now that I’m thinking about it maybe my previous comment isn’t entirely true. I’m thinking of female politicians and I do believe I’ve heard people and the media refer to them by just their last name. Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Stabenow, Jennifer Granholm. I have heard all called by their last name. Maybe calling Hillary by her first is also a distinction from her husband, but I do think there is a tendency to use last names less often in the case if females.

    • I agree with you! Now that you’ve brought it up, I can think of quite a few women who are known mostly by their first names. I don’t know if I could pinpoint the reason, either, but it does seem a bit like a double standard. And we do have quite a few of those these days.

    • Hahaha!! No. Not unless it’s from the perspective of a harried bridesmaid. But it’s funny that you mention that because I JUST dreamt last night about a wedding that would make an awesome story. Kind of action packed and tragic. But also funny. Is that crazy?

      • LOL! As you know, besides being a writer, I’m also a wedding photographer, so there is almost nothing that you can write about at a wedding that is not believable. They can get CRAZY! Last night I dreamed about a zombie apocalypse! The weird thing: I NEVER watch any zombie anything nor anything apocalyptic! How weird is THAT? πŸ˜‰

      • Haha!! Crazy!! That’s a little how I felt about this dream. I’ve dreamed of weddings before, but this one was all James Bondesque. Which is not typical for me. It was kind of fun, if deferent, to be enmeshed in the middle of that dream.

  3. In my first writing workshop, most of my critiquers (including the professor) told me that one of the characters crying seemed out of place because men don’t cry. At the time I thought, well, he wasn’t balling it was just a couple of tears and he was recalling when his twin sister passed away and he had blamed himself for it. Though, his character did try to act macho so I can see then why it would seem out of place, but just the fact that they generalized so badly threw me off. I’ve seen men cry…with my own eyes! I’ve comforted them.

    Of course, I still think it’s important to remember the context in which our characters grow-up. If they’re socialized to act macho or dainty, then it should show in their behavior. But I agree with you in that we should definitely be showing characters who break convention and showing times when even the most conforming of characters show their true selves in times of vulnerability.

    • I think that’s one reason I didn’t get much out of the class I took. Despite what people say, they still want to box everybody into stereotypes, and it drives me nuts!

      Some of my male characters in my MG fantasy series do cry, but not until I’ve built up their masculinity a little bit. That’s what makes it more pathetic and heart-wrenching, you know?

      Thanks for a great comment!

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