A while back I took one of the Harvard tests to see how sexist I was. Actually my mom had all of my family take the test to see how sexist we were and (not to my surprise) I scored the lowest (meaning I was the least sexist according to their leading questions). This didn’t surprise me because I’m agender therefore my answers don’t really fall in line with what they were testing for. The two kinds of sexism they were testing for was basically micro-agression towards women and putting women on a pedestal. So I got to flaunt my low score on both accounts (my mom was surprise by her own score in the latter category) and go on my merry way.
I haven’t completely given up on my dream to be a science fiction writer, but it’s definitely on the back burner until I get my life together. In the meantime I keep watching YouTube videos that analyze films and talk about story techniques. One video that popped up on my feed was an apology to Stephanie Meyer by Lindsay Ellis (formally known as the Nostalgia Chick) addressing whether or not the Twilight series deserved all the hate it got 10 years ago.
Spoiler alert: it did not.
To be fair, Twilight isn’t a “good” book. It’s still a story basically about two “teens” pining over each other with bread crumbs of plot sprinkled in. I have read up to book three (I think?) when it came out mostly because I was a teenager when the books came out. I had borrowed the books from a friend on their recommendation along with several other urban fantasy romances for comparison. A legitimate criticism of the books is they are very “fanfic-y”. Which, all things considered, didn’t deserve all the hate it got for that. Given that there is more fanfiction on the internet than ever and hundreds of new fics posted online every day that receive upwards of tens of thousands of hits, “fanfic-y” might not be much of an insult. I personally consume an ungodly amount of fanfics on the daily so I have even less excuse to be hating on Twilight.
All the hate Twilight got is actually really weird if you think about it. We don’t generally hate on substandard masculine or male targeted media with as much overt hate and I have to agree with Ellis’ s reasoning that it’s not really Twilight people were hating on, but the target audience; teenage girls.
The idea that any media targeting teenage girls is somehow lesser than the standard more masculine media is very pervasive and one that I unfortunately fall victim to. I’ve caught myself being judgemental towards teen girls for their make-up and mannerisms. Some of my prejudice is from being nonbinary and how I don’t want to be misgendered, but the disproportionate level of my discomfort stems directly from the systemic misogyny of my culture. I think I would feel less discomfort if I was ever mistaken for a man and that’s the problem. I think if Harvard’s little test had asked about teenage girls, not just women in general, I would gotten a very different score.
So, now that I’ve figured out that I’m secretly misogynistic because of my cultural influences I can work to change my perspective and write better stories in the future. The next video I watched was TropeTalk: Strong Female Characters by Overly Sarcastic Productions. Red (who is also ace and awesome so I get a lot of good ideas from watching her videos) talked about the Macho Chick character type where writers don’t really know how to make a strong female character so they just make a really macho girl who is “just one of the guys” and how disconcerting those types of characters are because they go around smacking people down and calling guys “pussies”. I take careful notes about why these kinds of characters are no bueno and lazy writing… or at least they would be if I didn’t know a “macho chick” in real life.
My work place is really understaffed so we have people from another store covering some shifts. One person is a girl, early to mid 20s, five-foot-nothing, slight build, blond highlights, unfinished tattoo sleeves, talks smack, talks back, quotes the bro-est movies I have never heard of, takes-no-shit macho chick and I’m like “OMG, they exist.” It’s even more disconcerting to watch five-foot-nothing call one of my male coworkers a pussy in really life. Is this real life? I’m not sure how to feel about her, but it’s definitely worth the character study. Perhaps, purely for scientific purposes of course, I should ask how she feels about Twilight.
*side note: I wrote this on my phone and I must say that autocorrect is making it very difficult to edit.