Essays,  Random

Gender In Our Narratives

Just recently I was indulging in some Julianne Moore awesomeness when I found this quote:

My friends make jokes that I won’t go see something if there’s only men in it because I don’t know who to look at. Like big war films. I don’t have a way in here. Let me in. Give me a woman to look at so I can enter the story. So I think you want to represent other women and give them access to tell their stories.


The quote led me to think about what I read and I have to admit that for the last year and a half in most of my narratives – I want to include movies here because they are extremely important in my life as well – there is a woman at the centre. My favourite writers are Kate Atkinson and Margaret Atwood who clearly focus their stories on women, but  there are also male writers out there who also list among my favourites: M.R Hall and his Jenny Cooper and the one that began it all: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes. So, with Julianne’s quote in mind and whilst I indulged in some TV last week I came across this super funny scene from the British TV show Sherlock:

As in the original narrative, women scarcely appear on Sherlock other than the amazing Irene Adler and her role in the show as a damsel in distress is quite infuriating for those who love the original character. But, watching that scene, I felt identified with Sherlock. When I am bored, I get grumpy and difficult to deal with although I do not shoot my bedroom’s walls. And I managed to make this connection despite the age and gender difference even though I tend to prefer female main characters.

So, I was wondering if you feel the same regarding your narratives. Is gender crucial when you choose a story?  Tell me!! I’d love to hear your experiences 🙂



  • geekybooksnob

    Absolutely and what a great quote. I just blogged about that today myself, why I choose certain books and the female protagonists that are crucial to my enjoyment and relation to a book.

    • Elena

      I usually seek female main characters too, but I do wonder what the consequences of such a decision are regarding gender equality. Plus, if a man said the same about only reading stories with main male characters, would we condone it? I think this is such an interesting and complex topic!

      • geekybooksnob

        I think we would condone it, I know I would. Why not, we seek to know ourselves in the art forms that attract us. That isn’t to say I don’t read books that don’t have female characters, absolutely, however, I find I learn more about myself when a female protagonist is allowed to be front and centre. What is even more extraordinary is when these books with complex female characters are written by men (and vice versa).

        • Elena

          Great response! I know a few crime fiction authors who write about detectives of their opposite gender and their stories are amazing. However, I was left a little bit shocked when I interviewed Kate Atkinson and on asking her why her main character is a man and not a woman, she said she could not think how to write a female detective. So, maybe women writing about men is -sometimes- a lack of previous role models.

          But in general, I do agree it is extraordinary. M.R. Hall wrote a very insipring coroner!

        • geekybooksnob

          Interesting about Kate Atkinson and you bring up a fabulous point; role models. I know I seek out powerful, independent female characters on two fronts; one my mother was independent and strong and two, I need a little help once in awhile to reminder myself of how powerful I am. 🙂 But lack of same-sex role model growing up – that is very interesting point. Geena Davis said that “if she can see it, she can be it” (referring to gender equality challenges as it relates to our young girls). Great topic you wrote about. This will really make me think further on it.

        • Elena

          100% agree with the role models’ issue.

          And thanks for the conversation! So excited to see what other readers think 😀

  • Alice

    Sadly anything Moffat writes is pretty misogynist, but I’ve come to the conclusion (as you have) that it won’t stop me watching shows I love. If anything, if I want to watch something feminist I should be someone who writes it – not that I know how to write a TV show…..

    For identification I don’t feel I need a female character to enter a story, however if there isn’t one I quickly become bored – a gang of men pontificating is a dull sport.

  • amanda

    I guess I don’t really think about gender when I’m picking out books or movies–I’m looking for something that sounds interesting, and it doesn’t require female characters to pull me in. Case in point, I really love The Hobbit (zero females) and The Lord of the Rings (two, with less page time than the men). That said, some of my absolutely favorite movies and books feature strong female characters, probably because of the “relatability” aspect. I guess that means I try everything but am more selective in my loves.

    • Elena

      That’s great, Amanda. I think that’s they way it should be since we are after all, human beings, but it is also impossible to ignore the “relatability” and how we tend to look for role models or inspiration.

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