As I work to get Mesh into the hands of an agent, let me take a second to talk about something Mesh definitely does not have: Disrespect for women. We don’t do the ‘Male gaze.’ We don’t objectify female characters, or look at them like creeps. I treat all of my characters with the same level of respect and dignity. No sexism, no racism; full stop.
Does that sound unusual? It shouldn’t. And yet, stuff like the ‘male gaze’ is a thing. The casual sexism, creepiness, and misogyny that flows through male-written fiction is too common to be ignored. For anyone who says ‘this isn’t a big deal,’ you can say “Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is.”
Here’s the deal: writers are people. Authors’ feelings come through their own writing and not always in a good way. Every writer comes from their own experience, their own perspective. Sometimes their perspective is skewed and it comes through their writing. Sexism in writing isn’t just an old-world concept. It’s still happening. If you start to pay attention, you see guys like this …, or this … , or heck, even this, from the Chicago Tribune.
Someone taught these guys that women only exist as plot devices in a man’s universe. I don’t know how this started. I’ve never seen that memo, but I know it’s there. It’s real, it’s happening. Little details seep into their narrative. The focus on female characters turns them into sexualized objects for … I dunno, somebody’s entertainment but it sure isn’t mine.
I’ve known many strong women in my life. It would be a disservice to them to let Mesh treat female characters with any level of dignity and respect lower than the male characters. Some writers do that, but I don’t and I think it’s important to say – Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here.
I’m not alone in this quest. Other male writers, like Terry Pratchett, Hayao Miyazaki, and Brandon Sanderson, follow the mandate to give every character the same level of well-rounded, unsexualized, character development. I strive to do the same with Mesh, it’s that simple.
I wasn’t thinking about sexualizing my characters when I wrote Mesh. Maybe it’s me, but I see that as a good thing. I have a guiding principal when it comes to writing my female characters and I think it’s time to share it with you. Are you ready?
Girls are people, too.
Yes, women are human beings. That shouldn’t be a revolutionary thought. This shouldn’t be a novel concept. Yet, it seems to be the exception not the rule. So I want to take a moment to assure you, dear reader, that Mesh and any other story I write, sees you as a real person who deserves respect and dignity. The Mesh cast of characters are boys and girls from many different backgrounds and circumstances. Male and female geeks, from all parts of the world, who look through the world with a post-racist lens. They’re people. Not things.
And by the way, none of this is written like a political statement. Treating people with respect isn’t about politics. It’s about being a decent person. I’ve spoken about this before, but I’ll say it again. I want to write stories like Gene Roddenberry did; tell stories where the future we want just is. Get past the hangups of sexism, and racism. If we can do that, we’ve accomplished more than almost any other civilization in history. That’s a future worth fighting for.
So if there’s one takeaway from this discussion, it’s this. Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here.
When you read my stories, you’ll get treated with respect and dignity. I made sure. There are a lot of exciting things in this universe, but racism and sexism don’t exist here.