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Gender Benders: Exploring the “Other”
August 4, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Instructor: BettyJoyce Nash
$60 Members | $65 Nonmembers
Sunday, 8/4/19 | 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Suppose you identify as female but want to write a male’s point of view? Literature would suffer if writers failed to explore characters of the “other” gender, male or trans.
Gender refers to individuals’ concept of themselves; sex refers to biological differences. Not every female is nurturing and emotionally expressive; all males aren’t silent and emotionally distant. Not only do socialization and embedded cultural “norms” affect us, personally, and affect the way we write same-sex and different-sex characters, but our biology does, too. I once expressed concern about writing a male character in war, because I’d never fought, and my writing teacher said, “Men have written about childbirth for centuries and they’ve never had babies.”
We want to investigate stereotypes, not promote them. What does it mean to identify as male in our culture? Female? We’ll discuss “typical” gender traits we express through our characters. What are the cultural tropes, and how do we unconsciously further them? Men have written forever from women’s points of view; and, face it, men have largely defined writing standards.
Convening a community of writers to discuss what it means to create believable female and male characters is more important now than ever. And it takes courage to write from a different POV. We risk criticism. As gender roles shift, as writers question their characters’ gender more closely, who knows, maybe we’ll see emotional females in heroic roles, daringly rescuing indifferent males, but, no, what we want for our characters is emotional truth—and that’s different for every character, every situation, regardless of gender/sex.
BettyJoyce Nash is a journalist and fiction writer with an MS in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill Journalism School (1988) and an MFA in fiction from Queens University (2011). Her journalism has appeared in newspapers and magazines in North Carolina and Virginia; her fiction has been published in North Dakota Quarterly, Broad River Review, and C-Ville Weekly. As part of her research for her story, “Laser Vision,” she qualified for a concealed carry permit in 2011. In 2015, she won the F. Scott Fitzgerald contest. Her fiction has been recognized with fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among other artists’ colonies.