staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
Lis ([personal profile] staranise) wrote in [personal profile] thedeadparrot 2010-04-13 07:14 am (UTC)

I actually really agree with you. This is kind of complicated to explain.

To me, Mary Sues in the way everybody "really" means them (as the terrible overpowered insert of a juvenile author) aren't all that great; they don't contribute much to the fannish discussion, to fandom's body of work. Their essential purpose is as training pieces, to teach new authors how to do a whole bunch of different things. The problem with smacking Sue-authors down is because we teach them a lot of bad habits that restrict their writing.

Your points have been kind of hanging around this discussion for a year but never really coming out There have been criticisms made about Sues in the discussions I've been having over the past year, which is, most Sues do conform to kyriarchal standards. One of the really good differences I've seen pointed out between Sues and Stus is that Sues have attributes, like beauty and talent; Stus get possessions, like magic swords and laser rockets. Because the basic assumption is, you could pick a regular twelve-year-old boy off the street and he could be a hero; but no girl could ever succeed as just her. She's always too flawed, and needs to be pumped up beyond recognition before she can take on the enemy.

And you're right, that is really fucking problematic. In the middle of female empowerment, it says, "No girl could actually do this."

My argument, which I guess I felt I had to make really strenuously because there are so many people saying, "But I HAVE to be able to rip a thirteen-year-old to shreds! It's GOOD for her!" is that by shutting down authors, by mocking them and flaming them, which is acceptable behaviour in fandom, we are hurting all of us. What inspired me was not actually the plight of thirteen-year-old Suethors; it's women I know now in their early twenties who came into fandom, took one look at Deleterius, and said, "See if they ever catch ME writing a woman in public."

I think we need to find a way to catch Suethors and teach them how to build realistic female characters who can achieve things without being superpowered; while being fat or disabled or an ethnic minority or just plain normal. Which involves something different than what we've been doing for years, and needs people saying, "Okay, why are they all perfect and white?"

(Edited because my original comment sounded like I was saying, "Oh, nice points, but they've already been made before" when you're actually saying really intelligent and interesting things that I haven't heard before, and I don't want to diminish that.)

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