The New Gender Stereotyping

How do you go about choosing the gender identity/ethnicity/sexuality of your characters?

Question from Writing Forums.

I choose a character. The identity evolves as I write. Ethnicity and sexuality are left up to the reader for the most part. Especially in the case of a short story where character development is as important as the story itself. Let the reader decide who the character is, based on the reader’s own biases.

I’m old school, grew up in the 1970’s when we talked about gender stereotypes rather than conforming to them as people seem to do these days. I knew tomboys. We talked about how incorrect that was. How it limited women, ranking them as real girls or tomboys. As if a girl should not be climbing trees, etc.

Now it seems things have gone off track completely, in the wrong direction. Now we try to put children (and people) into tiny little boxes. Each time they fit into one box we look for an even smaller box to fit them into. Eventually everyone becomes a long string of descriptive words, but they seem to fit in, somehow. A lot of younger people seem to be backing their way into tiny boxes all on their own.

I wonder who decided we all needed to fit into tiny boxes?

I’d rather not. I don’t want to be stifled and suffocated in order to suit an outdated stereotype. Because it is outdated, all that new stuff about gender identity.

Gender is a man or a woman. Either one can climb trees. Why does gender limit people so much more these days?

When I write a character it is male or female. Identity and ethnicity don’t come from the gender of the character. If you carry all that in your crotch, you need to expand your limits. Sexuality is about gender, an aspect of each involves the other. Sexuality should not be limited by gender, any more than identity and ethnicity are.

Why is gender so much more important now than it ever was before?

Do you ever wonder, with so much focus on gender, what you’re missing?

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