LESSON Feminine/Girly Characters

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Minibit, Jan 10, 2015.

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  1. Quick Disclaimer: this is a guide to help write more feminine/girly characters, that is, characters tho display traits perceived as traditionally feminine. This is a list and explanation of feminine traits. Not "things girls/women do/should do". Gender is a very complex identity, and this is not about writing characters of the female gender. This is about characters you would like to be perceived as feminine.

    1. Sentiment
      Sentimentality is perceived as a feminine quality. Some examples of being sentimental would be: Assigning as much importance to resolving one's feelings about a situation as to resolving the situation itself; hanging onto things that are mentally associated with certain memories, feelings, or other aspects of sentimental value; the need to feel understood and sympathized with instead of only heard, etc.
    2. Appearance
      Paying close attention to one's looks, fashion statements, and perceived attractiveness is also considered feminine. Examples of this trait include: Going through a longer daily process to prepare one's appearance, paying attention to colours and styles; keeping up with fashion trends; using extras such as makeup or accessories in getting dressed; altering one's physical appearance in ways such as styling hair, getting piercings, colour contacts, etc.
    3. Intelligence: Acting a bit ditzy can be considered feminine; possibly deriving from the ancient model of masculine parties having an obligation to protect feminine parties, and intelligence being a big part of strength and independence. Some examples of appearing less-than-bright include: using lots of filler words like 'umm' and 'uhh', 'like' and 'kinda' and 'y'know?', and being ignorant on topics perceived as masculine such as construction, mechanics, etc.
    4. Strength: Physical strength is widely perceived as a masculine quality. Characters who are especially bulky or physically strong are not usually perceived as feminine. Additionally, these traits are commonly seen as attractive in men and unattractive in women
    5. Sex drive: Sexual aggression or pursuit is considered to be masculine. Femininity is associated with being submissive and timid, as well as a certain aspect of daintiness. An above-average level of eagerness to do the nasty is contrary to these traits.
    6. Skillsets: Some skills, careers, and actions are assigned as masculine, and some as feminine. In particular, cleaning, cooking, organization, design, artisticness, and other home-maker type skills like hand-washing laundry are considered feminine.
    So, to those of you who struggle to write believably feminine characters, I hope this peek into the expectations of femininity was helpful to you.

    I'm probably not going to write a 'Masculine/Manly characters' follow-up, for two reasons
    1: this guide already outlines a few areas where feminine/masculine traits diverge
    2:Springhole has already said everything I could say on the topic!
    #1 Minibit, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
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  2. When writing a woman. Just write a charachter. what is the culture surounding her like, what is the expectations regarding her role in society? what is her goals. That is legit all you need to keep in mind. Write a PERSON.
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  3. Stealing from extra credits; a character is compromised of how they respond to their surroundings. A good character neither fully rejects not fully accepts societal pressure and expectations, and their relations with their surroundings change with the situation.

    Take for example;
    Certain environments have this expectation. Whether a character accepts or rejects this says a load about their personality. Let's take for example a business tycoon sorta setting. One woman may fight to climb the ladder and absolutely reject this in order to be taken more seriously for promotions. Maybe another woman embraces this, exploiting the expectation of being less intelligent to her advantage during business deals. Or yet another embraces it because she is fearful of the ruthless competition and occasionally uses her gender as a shield. Woman A is prideful and ambitious, woman B manipulative, whereas woman C submissive.

    Keeping in mind that many cultures view men and women differently, this article can be quite useful. You just gotta ask yourself a couple why's. It gives us some of the more typical responses to an implied culture, but because it discusses a number of expectations I'd argue this is useful to look into for the very reasons you mentioned.
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  4. I agree 100%, this guide is, again, for writing feminine characters, femininity being a character trait with a lot of different aspects to it. *copy pastes the disclaimers about how these aren't defining traits of woman and that gender is a complicated identity.*

    We're definitely not completely defined by our genders; lots of women enjoy traditionally masculine activities and visa versa, butuIf you ever want to write a character that is perceived as a little more feminine/girly, I only hoped that these points would be helpful to bear in mind :)
  5. You might want to change the word female to feminine then, cause I honestly thought the entire OP (The post, not the person) was fucking retarded because of the word use you decided to use, which lead me to believe that you thought all females were meant to be exactly like, or at least similar to what you stated even though you clearly just stated you know and believe otherwise. If talking about only feminine characters than you might want to make it more sex neutral unless you're planning on it only being feminine females, which isn't really all that hard to write since it IS the cliche'.

    A guide on how to make a female is really simple when we're considering all species (dragon females, human females, alien females...) and sexualities (Straight, gay, bisexual...). 1)Have the natural female parts and no male parts. 2) Done. That's it. All is said and done and 100% female. She have be Hulk Hogana's body structure, but as long as she carries XX Chromosomes and is born a woman, She's a lady.

    That is all.

    And again, I highly suggest a name change to your thread since your current title really doesn't suit the guide you're trying to make here.
    #5 Drakel, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
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  6. A name change would probably help prevent misconceptions a lot, thanks for that advice!

    I'm glad you find writing girly/extra-feminine females easy, but I know from experience that what's easy to me, or even easy to the majority, is not easy for everyone. Even if someone is writing a feminine character well, they may not be confident that they are doing a good job, or it may have been harder for them to do than it looks like, so I thought a guide like this might be handy for people who usually write more masculine characters.
  7. You're welcome. C:

    That's a good point since there are some people who might not be able to follow up with the helpless feminine female cliche'. Even if it's a major cliche' people just don't understand how to completely follow it up and not be self-dependent or completely rely on others for her own safety, so yeah, I suppose I can see some sections of it that people forget to do or fail to accomplish these days.
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  8. I'm working on rephrasing the body of the OP; I really should have let this one sit a while before posting lol
  9. I am afraid, this guide makes me furious. Not just because of the traits which are considered feminine - because to be honest they are considered as such, regardless of the facts - but also because of all the people who would want to aim at writing specifically feminine/masculine characters. People writing in categories have some of the most boring characters and play awfully most of the time.
    There is only an excused exception and those are the very rare players who takes stereotypes on purpose and make something not stereotypical out of it.

    People should really go for characters, people and traits rather than categories.
    Needless to say that each and every personality trait on its own is a wide spectrum, usually mixed and fused with many others, at least in people, that is. I for example care about the tshirt I want to wear for the day, I also would like to have a good variety of colours available, themes are also highly important, and sometimes I paint or draw on them, so in a certain way even designing (or hiding stains) my own clothing. Still I would not stand in front of my closet for 20 minutes thinking which one to pick, or think all day long about how it looks on me, asking people for opinions and compliments. So does this mean I care for my appearances, as in a feminine trait? Or do I do it in a masculine way?
    Just one silly example of how people (or good characters) can not be marked and categorized that easily.

    I don't know if I'm the only one here, but I have seen way too many character sheets with »very feminine«, »always dresses up«, »stylish and sexy«, »emotional, kind, caring«, »loves cooking, art, plays the piano« where it feels like the same girl is taking possession of all these players, making them design shallow, stereotypical characters with a certain narrow range of interactions.
  10. 0_0

    I definitely didn't intend to infuriate anyone in writing this, and this guide is certainly not intended to help people write flat stereotypes. But just like a guide on writing loner characters doesn't mean 'loner' should be the only trait of a character, a guide on writing feminine characters doesn't mean femininity should be the only element to a character.

    Some of us write a lot of characters that come off as masculine, and struggle to incorporate feminine traits; this workshop was intended to help people who want their characters to come off as feminine to some degree.

    I can only put so many disclaimers on each workshop I write; I have to give the people who read these the credit that they can look at a workshop and be able to discern when something doesn't apply to their situation, or that there are other things to consider as well. This is not a complete character builder, it's just some tips on ONE ELEMENT of SOME characters.

    I apologize if it came off like I wanted people to write feminine characters as flat stereotypes, but like I said, I can only put so many disclaimers on; this is a guide for one part of some characters, if people wish to incorporate that element to any degree and could use some pointers.
  11. Here's some food for thought: the fact that personality traits are a wide spectrum does not mean that every character must sit somewhere near the center. There are real people who are hyper-feminine, and there are real people who are hyper-masculine. Some people, and by extension some roleplay characters, can definitely be placed at or near one end of the spectrum for a given trait. There is nothing wrong with this, and it does not automatically mean the character will be shallow. You can make very shallow character even without using clearly defined categories.
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  12. Femininity is such a broad subject, it's hard to describe a person just by saying they're feminine. It could mean they're elegant and look good in heels, or it could mean they're very caring mother-figures, etcetera. This is hardly an end-all guide. It's a reference. To expand on your painting metaphor, consider these primary colours. Nothing stops you from mixing them and making something unique.

    This typically reeks of self-insert, which, ironically, makes these characters with the same traits rather different from one another. Just try pushing the boundaries here a bit. Throw some controversial shit in there. You will see different reactions, because their players are different. That's not to say self-inserting is a roleplay practice we have to appreciate, but honestly.
  13. There seems to have been a huge misunderstanding. I have nothing against people playing feminine/masculine characters. The problem is when people aim to make their characters squeezable into a certain category. Sometimes we go for a person who happens to be the true centre of that broad feminine/masculine spectrum of whatever norms and expectations the community has for such. There is no problem with it, because there are also real people out there who do match the image, or at least try hard to appear as though they were matching the image. There are also shallow people, there is nothing wrong in playing a shallow person, which is still very much different from a shallow character.
    And I am not mad at you, or at the guide. Maybe I did not express myself correctly. It rubs me the wrong way, that people still feel like they want to make their characters more feminine/masculine.
    Again: I have no problem with going for one or more such traits which would make a character fit for feminine or masculine category, my problem is with people thinking, "I want a feminine/masculine character." I am also not suggesting that this would automatically be all there is to a character. If I have already built in my ideas and wishes for a character, and it does not come off as masculine/feminine, then what should the problem be?

    And that, has charged me guilty over and over again, with ruining nice roleplaying, meaning bringing something more than romantic rosy concerns into the daily lives of the characters. Not that I would change my ways, though. I enjoy smearing the dirty reality all over the games. A romantic person trying to win their one and only could still have a heck of hard time, getting through all other battles in life.
    #13 Perry, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  14. And to that I say that there is no problem with someone knowing where they want their character to end up on the feminine/masculine spectrum from the outset. Maybe you don't include that parameter in your ideas and wishes for a character, but others do. There's nothing wrong with playing into stereotypes if that's the kind of character you feel like making. Tropes and stereotypes are tools, not evil things to be avoided. Building a character to purposely be masculine or feminine is no better or worse than purposely building a character to be a charming thief or a zealous paladin or a geeky computer whiz; it's all just a matter of using a stereotype and its associated set of tropes as the foundation of a character.

    It all comes down to a concept that I like to phrase like this: different strokes for different folks. What you like and prefer may be different from what other people like and prefer, and that's okay. Other people having likes and preferences that differ from yours is also okay. You make your characters without caring one way or another whether they're masculine or feminine, and other folks will make their characters with femininity or masculinity in mind. It's not wrong, it's not a problem, it's just different.
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  15. I already said that there are some players who can really nail stereotypes and still offer an exciting play - needless to say that these are the ones critical of stereotypes and stereotyping themselves, but then again they would not need a guide.
    I generally agree with your point about different tastes... but no matter how openminded I try to be, I can not see it as not a problem. Maybe because I have a genuine problem with femininity/masculinity. I do not see them as real traits in people, but much rather a false image each community imposes on their members. How many people grow up concerned of how feminine or masculine they are and trying to have it approved or change it one way or the other. Maybe that is it, I see the whole concept as a problem. Of course, it is foolish of me to expect roleplayers to all criticize and go up against destructive social standards, but knowing how much real life damage comes from it, I just could not get over the negative feeling towards the agenda.

    P.s. It took me your quote to see some of my mistakes in the text. ^ ^
  16. @Perry I'll try to clarify some shit here. Some things to understand about gender from a logical/scientific point of view.

    Males and females in the human species have this thing called sexual dimorphism, like many other dual-sex species on Earth. Some things off the top of my head include...
    • Males have significantly greater levels of testosterone and adrenaline, which serve as steroids for muscle growth.
    • Males have greater overall muscle strength, including upper body mass. This is why men were warriors throughout the ancient and medieval periods of history: Men had larger body mass, ergo in shield to shield combat, the one who has larger mass and strength can knock the other person down and beat their skull in. Ergo, men had a biological advantage at melee combat women did not possess.
    • Women have greater levels of estrogen, which as a side effect increases their emotional sensitivity. Ever wondered why male fantasies are generally physical and female fantasies are generally emotional? This is largely why.
    • Biologically speaking, women have less upper body strength than men to make room for mammary glands (milk-producing breasts), and less lower body strength to make room for the uterus and other such organs.

    Overall: The reason masculinity and femininity exist is because men and women are, strictly speaking, biologically different from each other. This gives rise to certain societal roles and guidelines that people wield to better understand themselves and their environment*. Ex: Men are competitive and must impress upon women to give reason why a woman should choose them over another to spread their genes.

    Is this entirely relevant in modern day society? No. We've advanced beyond the need for tribalism. Does that mean we should pretend it doesn't exist? No. It exists for a perfectly valid reason you've probably heard epitomized as thus: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Rather than pretending that gender roles don't exist, we can instead learn to understand the differences between men and women (ex: women have periods, men don't) and create characters that reflect those differences in respectful ways.

    In short: A woman does not have to adhere to feminine practices, but feminine practices arose as a result of women coming to consensus about what values and characteristics tend to be viewed by the majority as being of interest to them. Women enjoy being pretty, being admired. That's a feminine characteristic, and doesn't imply weakness. Just the opposite: It implies importance.

    I could go on to great lengths about this kind of stuff in a guide actually, if that's desired. There's no way I can squeeze all I know with citations into a single forum response meant to do some quick educating.

    *The environment is part of what defines social roles in society. It's why Asia and Europe both developed similar codifiers for men to adhere to--Honour, Respect, Dignity, Courage--but the fine details of how one adheres to those principles is different. Ex: Eastern cultures are more collectivist, Western cultures are more individualist.
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  17. Thank you everyone for your comments, I think we learned a lot about characters and how masculinity/femininity fits into their design, and that it's fine if you don't really consider this stuff when designing a character. This guide is not helpful for everyone, and I never planned it to be a full-on explanation of characters and their gender identities. But I still feel as I did when I posted, that people who want feminine characters may find it useful.

    But now we're starting to get into battle-of-the-sexes debate topics here, so I'm locking it up before we get too off topic about gender spectrums, social constructs, inner gender identity vs outer gender identity, "boys do this girls do that" stuff.

    I'm being sincere when I say the discussion so far has opened my mind to other perspectives insofar as character femininity/masculinity and its relation to the creation process. I'd like this post to remain an educational read, so I'm stopping it here. Please feel free to continue discussion of these subjects in a Class discussion thread (pertaining to characters) or General (pertaining to real life people)
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