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Men Are The Expendable Gender: Can It Be Averted?:
The gravestone has been stolenI get tired of seeing this trope almost everywhere, but is it possible to go without? Or is it like making a good anti-war film? I'm considering re-gendering all my villains which will not be redeemed female. I'm considering having Mooks of both genders in a good amount. EDIT: Okay I've seen partial aversions, but never ever absolute aversions. What would the effect be?
edited 24th Feb '13 9:01:08 AM by terlwyth
The time is now,I would say start by reading the 'real life' examples in the 'played straight' on the trope to understand where it comes from. 1) You need less men to repopulate, because a man can impregnate many women, where as women are limited to one pregnancy a year (ok, 4 every 3 years if she is constantly pregenant, and she doesn't allow recovery time- though any mother here can explain why that ISN'T going to happen). Therefore men are more expendable. Bear in mind in many species (eg lions) most males will never mate. 2) Men's greater strength means they have been able to dominate society for thousands of years. Its only in the last 40 years or so routine domestic violence has been considered worthy of police time in many places. In a number of countries it still isn't. This subjugation has relegated women's traditional role to mother/housewife. 3) Women are seen as nurturing and protective. Violent behaviour is not a social norm for women. In the UK approx 90% of prisoners are male. A break down of crimes shows that fewer (as a proportion) of women are inside for violent offences. Violence is seen as a male preserve. 4) Men fight, and we expect higher casualties - evolutionarily speaking we are mostly expendable. Obviously the trope arises out of these- I'm surprised it is marked as 'not truth in television' - female murderers are always villified more than their male counterparts. Don't invert for the sake of inversion - Tropes Are Not Bad. I always caution about writing to a trope: I see tropes as descriptors of what HAS BEEN written, not templates of something that IS TO BE written. In 'Promises' I have inverted and subverted it (I think those the the correct descriptor), not because I was trying to, but because it makes sense for the character development. Lucy learns she doesn't have to be the 'little woman', and Gabriel learns it is ok to ask for help: The last chapter I wrote (which is actually at the 2/3rds point- and led to the 'Oh Bugger I've finished' thread) is something I felt I did well- I completely inverted Lucy and Gabriel's roles, she's the one booking the expensive hotel, charming the receptionist and tipping the porter. Its not inversion for the sake of it- it shows her development, and moves him outside his comfort zone. So do what you like with the characters as long as it makes sense- I think was Tolkein who said "You can say a green sun rises, but you must explain why it is green" (that may not be exact, its somewhere on my bookshelf rather than online). I would caution away fromdoing it out of sheer bloody mindedness.
edited 24th Feb '13 9:43:30 AM by LastHussar
Do the job in front of you.
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I see tropes as descriptors of what HAS BEEN written, not templates of something that IS TO BE written.That...is a good thing for all of us to remember.
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed. ~Cora M. Strayer~
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Or is it like making a good anti-war film?You're more likely to make a good anti-war film than avert Men Are the Expendable Gender well. It's that damn hard to do without coming across as sexist, clueless, or firmly believing in the Mary Suetopia. And this comes from a man! In short, make a good story rather than trying to bust the trope. Because in doing the former, you may break the latter by going a rather egalitarian route.
edited 24th Feb '13 1:11:49 PM by MajorTom
Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
@terlwyth: I would advise you to be careful about explicitly touching on this trope. Both, playing it straight or averting it, carry Unfortunate Implications. And as you can see, with some of the above posts, this can quickly spiral into a Male vs Female debate/issue. But back to the topic at hand, I think it is very doable - and lots of people actually have, without realising it - depending on your interpretation of the trope. The way I see it, Men Are the Expendable Gender consists of two parts: Firstly, the more callous treatment of the fates of men over women. The second part is an audience reaction (namely, in response to said convention). With the latter, averting this trope would be tricky and require good manipulation of the audience to react in the way you want. This would involve careful writing and development of your characters so that your audience is more receptive of the deaths of female characters and more invested in the traumas that are inflicted upon your male characters. As for the Female > Male importance concept itself, messing with it within the story is a much easier affair. To avert the trope, you would simply need to have both, male and female Mooks who die disposably. You could also Lamp Shade and subvert this trope by having a (male) character prepare to sacrifice himself to allow his (female) friend to escape only for her to point out why he is more important than her (e.g. he has information about the Big Bad's evil plans) before sacrificing herself in his place. For an inversion, you could have a Head of State who has an Amazon Brigade for bodyguards (hmm... I wonder who that could be a reference to?).
edited 24th Feb '13 3:32:19 PM by peasant
As for the Female > Male importance concept itself, messing with it within the story is a much easier affair. To avert the trope, you would simply need to have both, male and female Mooks who die disposably.Decent example: The Honorverse. The numbers of male and female military personnel are about even, including on the frontlines, and casualties (Anyone Can Die is in full effect) tend to be equal-opportunity too. This practice is deliberately (some might say...anviliciously) contrasted with the view (initially) held by the Graysons, who very much play this trope straight (women on Grayson aren't exactly oppressed...the problem is that the men are horribly overprotective and go the Gilded Cage route in 'protecting' them).
edited 26th Feb '13 4:14:08 AM by MattStriker
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It's that damn hard to do without coming across as sexist, clueless, or firmly believing in the Mary Suetopia.Because it's only sexist when it's done to women, right?
"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
Thunder, Perfect MindKill everyone equally. All right, more seriously: Don't focus on the gender of who is dying, only on whether they should or should not die in the context of the story. Sometimes this means that no-one will die; other times, many people will die, or just a few; they may all be men or women, or a broad mix; they may be very young, very old, or somewhere in-between. The point is, plot and character are more important here than whether or not a recurring trope happens to exist in other media. Your work is your work, not someone else's.
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