Sterotyping Men in Novels

Now I know talking about male stereotypes is going to be controversial, but just hear me out. This is not really going to be about why the stereotypes are bad in relation to society, it is going to be about why it is bad in relation to your writing.

If all the men in your novels think and act in the exact same way, you are developing a pattern of predictability that could bore readers.

One really common stereotype is the bad father. The first example is the softy of a dad. He loves his daughter to pieces, but does not put his foot down when his wife(either the mother or the step-mother) is mean to his daughter, or simply leaves for work and leaves the daughter alone with the evil mother. If your wife is treating your daughter badly and you don’t do something to stop it, you are a bad father.

The second example is the father who sells his daughter off to be married. It’s not really so much the marriage that is the stereotype, but how the father acts about it. He treats his daughter as if he is selling his TV off at a garage sale. If he was actually hurt about her having to marry off (be it for political reasons, or whatever else) it would be more surprising.

The biggest offenders of male stereotypes might just be dystopian and fantasy novels. This is because they live in a harsh world, and, arguably, you are more likely to survive in a harsh world by having a harsh personality.

On the romance side of things, in order to show that the love interest “is not like other guys” the writer first makes it look like every other guy in existence is a horrible person. She goes off on her own and is immediately attacked, just so either the male can rescue her, or so that he can be there to comfort her after she kills them all.

There are guys who have a set of unwavering morals that will not change no matter what the outside world becomes. There are thieves who think stealing is ok, but would never even consider murder. There are guys who love animals and would not hurt a fly. There could even be murders who would not even consider stealing something.

Even if being a “cruel and horrible person” might be the logical answer to a bad world, sometimes people do not think logically. Sometimes, their own set of morals sticks with them.

I have briefly talked about most strangers characters come across being evil in another video, so I am not going to dwell on this, but I can say this, male and setting does not always equal evil.

Another issue is the cardboard cut out personality. He is strong, handsome, talented, into sports, thinks of girls as objects and so on and so on. You know the stereotype I am talking about. This actually happens quite a lot in cop dramas; the guys have the same personalities, except sometimes, when they writers are being really risky, they make one of the guys a jerk. *gasp*

What this does is makes your characters boring. You’ve followed the cut-and-paste male character so closely that you might as well have made a novel about clones. The only flawed character in this situation is often side-characters there for comic relief. You know, that guy hiding that we are supposed to laugh at while your male character fights everyone? Yeah, that one.

Now, my mom’s friend in college was a guy called Tiny. He was huge; supposedly the tallest and scariest looking man in the school. Well, Tiny was going to an agricultural school because he loved flowers and wanted to open a flower shop. To me, Tiny sounds like a fascinating novel character because he completely destroys stereotypes.

Long story short, try to think differently. Analyze your male main characters -or the male characters your characters come across- and try to see if you are falling into common(and predictable) stereotype traps.

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