Recently on a friends facebook page, they expressed a sentiment basically saying “Why in 2016, are things being made that have all dudes and no women in it?”. It was a good question and it got an interesting response, mostly by their male friends initially and I could break down their responses into several general categories:
- Why are you restricting stories you can tell about men?
- Surely it’s bad to just write in token women?
- I don’t care about who is represented, a good story is just a good story if it’s a bunch of guys only or not.
All of these have some interesting things to unpack, but I want to start by addressing the elephant in the room first. Of all the comments on this particular thread, the most striking was the assumption that writing anything other than a male as the default normal character required special justification. It was interesting how often we see an unstated assumption that the default normal for storytelling is inherently male. Nobody was arguing that stories featuring men are in any way exceptional or including male characters was tokenism. Likewise, why do women need a comprehensive story reason to be included in anything, while male characters got a free pass? Do we make demands that every male character in a story is justified for their position, however major or minor?