Before anyone gets up in arms, let me be clear that I support feminism and whole-heartedly believe in the ideals, but refuse to wear the lable for one simple reason. I do not want to see the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction. I am an equalitarian, and I fear that good men are getting tromped to pieces in the fight against the bad ones.
Feminism, by its very nature, is about pointing out the sexism in just about everything. To do this, we often make bold statements. Nothing wrong so far, right? Except that humans are humans, and the reader sees someone say “I really like pink” and thinks that means “so I don’t like blue!” Well, let me assure you, I kinda like blue, and pink, and even green.
After writing Challenge Accepted (on a dare, I might add) I realized something. We often scream about too few females represented in media, and yet I’d just written a story about one girl in a sea of men. The supporting characters were amazing. The culture was so accurate that my beta readers laughed, recognizing conversations they’d had on teamspeak. Men, men, and more men were shown to be intelligent, sensitive, strong, and engaging. And there was just one little girl trying hard to be the stereotype for all women….
Riley is the central figure. She’s a woman breaking into a male dominated culture, but she’s doing her best to drag more women along with her. Initially, the “other women” exist off screen. By the end of the book they begin to make cameos, and let me assure you, in the rest of the series, many more rear their heads. But that doesn’t affect Challenge Accepted (Book 1 of the Eternal Combat Series). It’s still a venue with one lone girl in a mass of diverse male characters.
But the author was trying to accomplish something with those men, too. I happen to know, because **I** wrote it.
The main hero is strong, socially powerful, and financially sufficient. He’s amazingly cliche – at first. But Logan never reacts with violence. His best defence is his intelligence. He’s calm, stoic, and hides his own insecurities, but isn’t ashamed of them. He’s sexy – as he’s meant to be – but much of that is just a mask he wears when he has to. Under all of it is a person just like everyone else in the world.
And he’s not alone. From Fizz the pudgy guy with a sweet smile to Cynister, the freak that just isn’t right, but everyone loves hanging out with, the men in this book are much more than rock hard abs and big wallets. They love their wives, are proud of their kids, and brag about their dogs. Ironically, in a book about sexism in gaming, these guys aren’t sexist – at least not intentionally.
But they are swayed by their culture. Sometimes they do sexist things, but when it’s pointed out that the heroine is offended, they try to change and apologize. Other times, they go out of their way to make fun of it, and tease Riley with their sexist jokes – but all in good fun.
You see, as much as we women hate the misogyny in the world, we aren’t alone. Those sexist pigs are a very small, but oh so vocal minority in our lives. When we try to squash them to bits, we forget about the sweet and supportive men that get caught in the crossfire. Our husbands, friends, sons, and such. The louder we yell about horrible evil men, the more they doubt themselves. The more society pays attention, the greater the chance that they will get caught in the crossfire.
Society taught them to act a certain way. The women they love want something else. In the end, there’s a huge, silent majority of men out there balancing precariously on a tightrope as the world changes around them. The least we can do is cheer them on.