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sunandshadow
01-30-2013, 03:22 AM
If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think? How about, "I avoid books with female main characters." Or the opposite - preferring books with female main characters, and/or avoiding books with male main characters. In the area of video games it's expected that the majority of gamers (but not all) have a fairly strong preference one way or the other. Many games choose to put a noticeable portion of their budget into giving the player a choice of playable characters because they feel players want this choice strongly enough to justify the cost. But for a novel which isn't interactive fiction, you can't just let the reader pick at the beginning. Does it matter if some readers choose not to buy or read a book based on the sex of the main character?

From the reader's perspective, if they know that they have a much higher success rate with one category of book than the other, it would be unstrategic to not take that data into account when trying to select what to read next. Is it different if you substitute the word "author" for the phrase "main character"?

lilyWhite
01-30-2013, 03:49 AM
If someone prefers a specific gender of main character, I don't care. That's their choice; some people just don't care to put themselves in the shoes of a certain gender.

There'll always be people who won't read a book, for whatever reasonóbe it genre, lack of interest in the storyline, or characters. Most works of fiction have more people who don't care for it than people who do care for it anyway.

virtue_summer
01-30-2013, 03:50 AM
If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think? How about, "I avoid books with female main characters." Or the opposite - preferring books with female main characters, and/or avoiding books with male main characters.
To me there's nothing wrong with a preference and if someone says they tend to prefer reading books about women or books about men I see no issue.

On the other hand, if they tell me they "avoid books with female main characters" or with male characters I will start to see them as being more close minded and I'll be more likely to suspect they do gender stereotyping (this based on my experience with people who I know who have said that).


In the area of video games it's expected that the majority of gamers (but not all) have a fairly strong preference one way or the other. Many games choose to put a noticeable portion of their budget into giving the player a choice of playable characters because they feel players want this choice strongly enough to justify the cost. But for a novel which isn't interactive fiction, you can't just let the reader pick at the beginning. Does it matter if some readers choose not to buy or read a book based on the sex of the main character?

I think it can, depending on their reasons for not doing so. They might be perpetuating faulty assumptions by avoiding the material that would correct their assumptions (for instance, if they avoid books about women because they assume all books about women are romances then they avoid ever reading a book about a woman which is not a romance and thus understanding these books exist).


From the reader's perspective, if they know that they have a much higher success rate with one category of book than the other, it would be unstrategic to not take that data into account when trying to select what to read next. Is it different if you substitute the word "author" for the phrase "main character"?
You mean is it different to say "I prefer books about men" than to say "I prefer books written by men"? or to say "I avoid books about women" as compared to "I avoid books written by women"? I think there's a huge difference. One actually has something to do with the content (the main character) at least. The other is based purely on the author's gender (or perceived gender) and is even more likely to be based on assumptions and stereotyping.

quicklime
01-30-2013, 03:54 AM
If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think? ?


That they are an idiot.

I'm not saying people don't do this, or the same thing in terms of authors, but I think it is beyond stupid.

shadowwalker
01-30-2013, 04:29 AM
I can't say I won't read books with female MCs, but I tend to be skeptical of them. I happen to have several authors who write female leads that I grab as soon as the next book comes out - but typically I find female characters uninteresting or downright irritating.

If that's dumb, so be it.

Unimportant
01-30-2013, 04:32 AM
If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think?
I would think that they are telling me, in honesty, what kind of books they like to read. That in turn probably tells me something about them.

Some -- perhaps most -- readers like to read books with characters who are like themselves. Some -- again, perhaps most -- readers like to read books with characters who have problems that the reader can identify with. Readers extrapolate: a reader who has experienced sexism can probably relate to a character who has experienced racism. Some readers also, or instead, like to read about characters who are utterly unlike themselves, to experience something wholly out of their own realm.

So, it's not unexpected that gay men like to read about gay men, black women like to read about black women, children like to read about children.


How about, "I avoid books with female main characters."
Again, it tells me something about the person. Readers tend to avoid reading about characters who they can't identify with or who they dislike/despise/have no interest in.

Paul
01-30-2013, 04:33 AM
Well sdwwlker, hopefully you'll be grabbing mine some day. novel that is. (female MC, two in fact)

sunandshadow
01-30-2013, 04:59 AM
That they are an idiot.

I'm not saying people don't do this, or the same thing in terms of authors, but I think it is beyond stupid.
It's not immediately obvious to me why it would be stupid for people to have a preference among types of main character. Do you feel the same way about other types of main characters, like an adult MC vs. a child MC? If I observe that over the past 10 years I have enjoyed 60% of books with adult main characters but only 40% of books with child main characters, wouldn't it be logical, and even smart, to focus my energies on seeking out new books with adult main characters?

ArachnePhobia
01-30-2013, 07:04 AM
That seems kinda... random, arbitrary, and nonspecific to me, actually, like a reader being wary of stories where the MC has hairy toes or insisting on MCs who sleep on their sides instead of their backs. I'd figure it's their TBR list and they can construct it however they want, but I'm not sure how the random arbitrary nonspecific thing they're using to make selections could possibly impact a plot they'd otherwise like, and I'd wonder how many books they'd just love they wind up never even trying.

I say this as someone who's hardly guiltless. Once upon a time, I had such an allergy to things that were... horror of horrors... popular, I wouldn't touch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone until a month before Prisoner of Azkaban's release, and I only picked it up then because it was the only thing in the school bookstore's fiction section that week that didn't look totally depressing. Boy, did I feel stupid when I discovered what a great book it was.

ios
01-30-2013, 07:58 AM
If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think?

I'd say, in a state of true eagerness: "H*** yeah, me too! Now there are two of us! Got any recs?" Because it's true. I prefer male MCs even though I'm a woman.


Does it matter if some readers choose not to buy or read a book based on the sex of the main character?

I have no problem with readers making a decision based on that. Because people make reading choices based on all kinds of reasons. For a non-reading example, I refuse to watch the James Bond movies just because I dislike womanizers--and more importantly, I hate the belief that since he saves the woman he gets to have her. Other people refuse to read the fantasy genre because "they want something real." (Can you tell I know someone like that?)


Is it different if you substitute the word "author" for the phrase "main character"?

It would leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, but honestly, people can choose to read what they want. But I'd likely avoid that person as much as possible in real life.

Jodi

AshleyEpidemic
01-30-2013, 08:15 AM
If some one told me they want one over the other, I would be hard pressed not to ask them why. Mostly because there is often something deeper behind it. But i really wouldn't care beyond that. Personally, I don't care if the mc is male or female. And I would say my reading is split down the middle and choosing a book is entirely unrelated to the gender of the mc, but the plot.

Chasing the Horizon
01-30-2013, 08:18 AM
I guess it would depend on why they felt that way, but I tend to have an easier time connecting with male MCs, especially in the old-fashioned, repressive societies so many fantasy novels take place in, so I'd understand why someone else might've turned that into a full-fledged preference.

Besides, the novel I'm querying has two MCs, one of each sex, so I'm covered both ways. :D

quicklime
01-30-2013, 08:27 AM
It's not immediately obvious to me why it would be stupid for people to have a preference among types of main character. Do you feel the same way about other types of main characters, like an adult MC vs. a child MC? If I observe that over the past 10 years I have enjoyed 60% of books with adult main characters but only 40% of books with child main characters, wouldn't it be logical, and even smart, to focus my energies on seeking out new books with adult main characters?


I guess because for me writing and story trump penis.

I read a lot of Stephen King, but that includes plenty of stories with a female MC. Ditto books like Rebecca. Should I prefer a different, weaker brooding haunted house story because, gee, the MC was male? No, i think that's silly. Everyone is free to buy what they choose, but yes, in the vacuum of any other clues or info, I'd start with the suspicion that person was an idiot, either captive to their own biases or not especially well-read

ios
01-30-2013, 08:39 AM
No, i think that's silly. Everyone is free to buy what they choose, but yes, in the vacuum of any other clues or info, I'd start with the suspicion that person was an idiot, either captive to their own biases or not especially well-read

But why does reading bias = idiocy? In that case, wouldn't a genre preference also equal a reading bias?

Jodi

quicklime
01-30-2013, 08:46 AM
I don't believe so, although you're free to argue the case. Genre deals with preference, gender plays to stereotypes--you may not care for potboilers but can you say you don't like women MC or men MC as though all men are rugged and stoic and women are shrinking violets? I'm not convinced you can unless you're stereotyping.

ios
01-30-2013, 08:55 AM
but can you say you don't like women MC or men MC as though all men are rugged and stoic and women are shrinking violets? I'm not convinced you can unless you're stereotyping.

I'm not sure I quite get your meaning here. Are you saying that the bias comes from a stereotype?

As a personal example, if I have two equally fascinating fantasy books to read/buy and one has a male MC and the other has a female, I'll buy/read the male MC. Why? Because I like to read about men more than women, and I attach to male characters more than I do female characters. I am biased, but I don't feel like an idiot :-) Nor do I feel poorly read. :-)

Jodi

Dorky
01-30-2013, 08:59 AM
"I prefer books with male/female main characters."
I would not think anything about this. I would just say, "Okay," and then get on with life.

"I avoid books with female/male main characters."
I would think they have some strange things going on in their heads. Maybe they think that books with female MCs are all one way while books with male MCs are all another? I really have no clue.

Overall, it doesn't matter. People are free to have whatever preferences they want. Personally, I don't care whether a MC is male, female, or something else entirely.

Mr. Anonymous
01-30-2013, 09:06 AM
I tend to identify more easily with male protagonists, so yes, I guess I have a slight preference for them. It's a preference for that which is more familiar. That said, there are tons of amazing books that have female main characters, and I would never limit myself to reading only from the male perspective. Gender is a very minor, even negligible consideration. But I don't think it's wrong to be a little biased toward the familiar--otherwise it would also be wrong for immigrants to prefer immigrant stories, for Jews to have a slight bias in favor of Jewish protagonists, for LGBTQ readers to be more predisposed to reading about LGBTQ main characters, and so on.

ChristinaLayton
01-30-2013, 09:39 AM
I don't know because not once has someone told me that they prefer one gender of MC over the other. All I've heard was "Don't write a story like Twilight because both MC's are too perfect and Bella Swan is the best example of a weak and spineless FMC."

meowzbark
01-30-2013, 10:50 AM
I think that it's my right as a reader to have my own preferences. It doesn't matter if I won't read your character because it's from a female POV or if it's in a genre I don't like. Maybe I like to read m/m erotika. Then, would it make sense that I don't like female POVs?

Freedom of speech. It goes both ways. You have the right to write whatever you want and I have the right not to read whatever you write.

Mr Flibble
01-30-2013, 01:25 PM
I kinda prefer reading MMCs*. I like to see the inner workings of a bloke's mind (that's the sexy part, see), crush on them a little bit perhaps...

But I can't say I avoid books with FMCs. That would be silly, and I often enjoy them. I avoid books where the premise doesn't appeal, or the writing style.

Thinking about it, it probably depends what I'm in the mood for. But there's always time for a literary crush :D

People not reading a book because of the author's gender....that's stupid, but it goes on. A lot. Almost always due to stereotypes/preconceptions or 'I read this one book once and....' I've seen a fair few guys say they won;t read a UF book by a woman 'because it'll be that paranormal romance shit', or women who won't read books by a guy 'because they don't do people's emotions properly' or 'too violent'. Which is why men use pseudonyms in the Romance genre for starters, and some women use male or gender neutral pseudonyms in SFF.


* I prefer writing them too - for many and varied reasons, one of which is, it's easier not to put myself in there cos I R Not Bloke.

Kittens Starburst
01-30-2013, 03:04 PM
I'd think it's either (a) a simple preference or (b) the reader is a bit closed-minded.

If the latter, then in the case of female MCs I'd wonder whether the reader might be expecting a female mc to be preoccupied with romance/sex and shopping. I have a friend who assumes exactly that and who homes in on any glimmer of stereotypical behaviour she deems frivolous. She is all but incapable of enjoying even the most rounded of female MCs. Such a shame.

Ken
01-30-2013, 03:55 PM
... doesn't really matter to me. I enjoy books with male or female leads equally well. Julie of the Wolves by Jean George was just as awesome as Hatchet by Paulsen, staring Brian Robeson. Overall, I probably prefer George over Paulsen to a small degree, but that's b/c she was a bit better of a writer and a bit more prolific.

NeuroFizz
01-30-2013, 05:09 PM
Most readers will have some kind of preference in their reading lists. Any attempt to reach all readers will be a futile exercise. Since this thread comes from the writer's perspective, I think it is counter-productive to worry about this. We should focus on the stories we want to write and choose the best MC for that particular story. There will be some readers who will be attracted to a book by the gender of the MC. There will be some readers who will be attracted to a book by the storyline. And I certainly hope there will be some readers who may not prefer the gender of MC in a book, but still will be attracted by the story. All we can do is write the best story we can, choosing the best characters for that story. Some readers will like it and some won't.

A couple of my stories have male MCs and a couple have female MCs. In each case, the choice was made based on what the story called for.

Buffysquirrel
01-30-2013, 05:14 PM
I think it depends. Is this an ordinary reader expressing a preference? Then meh. Is it a reviewer from a major outlet who is part of the reason why books by women with FMCs are the least likely to get reviewed? Then it matters.

quicklime
01-30-2013, 05:15 PM
I'm not sure I quite get your meaning here. Are you saying that the bias comes from a stereotype?

As a personal example, if I have two equally fascinating fantasy books to read/buy and one has a male MC and the other has a female, I'll buy/read the male MC. Why? Because I like to read about men more than women, and I attach to male characters more than I do female characters. I am biased, but I don't feel like an idiot :-) Nor do I feel poorly read. :-)

Jodi


Nor do you have to be. But as I said, that would be my first thoughts on the matter....

Roger J Carlson
01-30-2013, 05:39 PM
I like main characters who are tough, smart, resourceful, and proactive. I think that in many genres (urban fantasy being one exception) characters with those qualities tend to be male. But I've no issue with female characters with those qualities. In fact, it makes a nice change of pace.

bearilou
01-30-2013, 05:41 PM
In thinking about this...

My own preferences are a bit complicated. Depending on genre, I do have preferences and biases. Within the genre, I do have certain things I will set a book down quicker if a female character does something idiotic than if a male character does. This occurs mostly with thrillers. If a female character does something idiotic, I get tense when the male has to come in and get her out of hot water. Not much tolerance there for me on that. If a male does something idiotic and a female has to come in and get him out of hot water, I much prefer to read that. Which pretty much leads to my bias for male MCs in that regard.

Another for example, (and hoping this doesn't get me into hot water) I tend not to want to read paranormal/UF with a female MC. The book, usually, ends up drifting to the romance side of the spectrum and I am truly picky about the whole 'she's hooking up with the alpha wolf/vampire and even if she's not a wolf/vampire herself (or half one or the other) all the other male characters in the 'pack/ (den/hive) will automatically show her deference because their alpha chose her, now giving her leave to get all up in their face and be bossy and act like she could kick their asses when it was shown in the book prior that she could not and it's clear she gets deference because she's banging the alpha'. Honestly, this is more of a romance aversion bias than anything but it hits two irritations in one swipe.

Not to say that I won't read them, I have, I do and I even have a favorite or two. I'm wary about them, though and will more likely not pick them up unless coming highly recommended first.

On the other hand, I have no preferences for female or male MCs in supernatural/paranormal/UF books in general except to say that I do gravitate toward supernatural/paranormal/UF books where the female MC is very much a warrior/fighter and/or the male MC is the mage/magic user/druid. Just an aesthetic I like.

In fantasy, I do tend to prefer male MCs if the character is supposed to be about brute strength; no preference of male or female if the story calls for more wiley machinations. Science fiction, no bias at all.

/bearilou's thinky thoughts on the matter

ios
01-30-2013, 05:50 PM
Nor do you have to be. But as I said, that would be my first thoughts on the matter....

Funny thing is, I used to be the opposite. My first fantasy book? I was probably in my early teens, and it was Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen series. Then I read anything like hers I could get. And I branched out from there. But over time, my taste narrowed; I started digging male MCs more and more until a switch flipped and I actively began seeking them out (or hunting down scarce prey is what it more felt like).

Lately, I've been getting into my latest kink more and more. Regency fiction. I have Heyer to thank that for that--though, really I have Austen and P&P to thank first. Though I really love the ones that are a little more male centric, there are very few of her Regencies that I don't adore. My favorite is Friday's Child because of all the trouble the FMC gets into and because of the hilarious male secondary characters. I think that book made me laugh more than any of the others.

And then there was a nice fantasy series set in Regency times that I adore. Cecilia and Kate. (Though I haven't yet read the third book; it's set quite a ways later, and I don't really want to read about their children). But it makes me hunger for more Regency-like fantasy. It's to the point that, yes, if I saw a fantasy set in a Regency-like time and a fantasy set in modern time or medieval-like time, I'll pick the Regency-like one. (ETA: I'd prefer medieval over modern times too, btw.)

But no one would ever suspect any of that of me, what choices I made over the years, because of my current tastes. My current tastes lead people astray--or maybe not in their opinions. Who knows. But I imagine it is that way with a lot of people who have odd reading-selection criteria.

Jodi

ETA a PS: I'm leaving this conversation now. One, because it makes me want to defend against judgements, which is derailing the thread. Two, it's adding more books to my straining to-read pile. May it add a few to those with open spots in theirs. :-)

shadowwalker
01-30-2013, 06:01 PM
I don't think it's silly or stupid to have a preference at all. I've lived my life with mostly males surrounding me - siblings, neighbor kids, work environment. I feel more comfortable reading about them. I 'understand' them much better than I do women. The girls and women I've known, with notable exceptions, made my brain tired. So when I pick up a book with a female MC, I want them to be like those notable exceptions - much like Roger mentioned above - strong, resourceful, smart. Most that I have read are not. They tend to be either bitchy (instead of strong) or manipulative (instead of resourceful) or stereotypical 'helpless female'. Bleh. Which is why I watch for "my" authors who do write female MCs well.

Having said that - not even looking at books with female MCs does seem rather silly, just like ignoring female (or male) authors. It's so limiting, which is to the reader's detriment.

ios
01-30-2013, 06:11 PM
... doesn't really matter to me. I enjoy books with male or female leads equally well. Julie of the Wolves by Jean George was just as awesome as Hatchet by Paulsen, staring Brian Robeson. Overall, I probably prefer George over Paulsen to a small degree, but that's b/c she was a bit better of a writer and a bit more prolific.

Slightly off topic, but both of those are some of my favorites. Once of my first ebook purchases was the Hatchet series. But I still remember reading and loving Julie of the Wolves and (not mentioned, but similar) Island of the Blue Dolphins. Out of the three though, I think Hatchet has a slight win just because the author is drawing on actual experiences in some cases, IIRC. That makes it more fun to read, wondering maybe what he actually went through. Either way, they are some of my favorites, and I really need to re-read them now that you brought them up.

Jodi

calieber
01-30-2013, 06:23 PM
That they are an idiot.

I'm not saying people don't do this, or the same thing in terms of authors, but I think it is beyond stupid.

Depends on the genre. Noir? Makes a huge difference. UF? Doesn't have to. Erotica? Well....

ios
01-30-2013, 06:27 PM
I don't think it's silly or stupid to have a preference at all. I've lived my life with mostly males surrounding me - siblings, neighbor kids, work environment. (SNIP)

Having said that - not even looking at books with female MCs does seem rather silly, just like ignoring female (or male) authors. It's so limiting, which is to the reader's detriment.

We have similar experiences. As a child, I was closest to males. The neighbors I played with? Males. For the most, part the cousins I played with? Males. The cousin I'm still closest to? A male. Not that I didn't have female friends, but I had far more male companionship.

As far as the "not looking" at FMCs at all? I don't go to that extreme myself, but I have limited $$, so it does factor into what I buy. I'll seek out non-modern fantasy first over modern fantasy (modern meaning setting = urban/paranormal for the most part). I'll seek out MMCs over FMCs first.

But male or female, modern or not, the stories still have to pass a similar inspection based on likeability of character and interesting plot and unusual world. I have to have some balance between those. As I trend more toward the weird, I like unusual instead of the familiar--but I totally understand craving similar type stories. I'm the same with zombies. I'll try almost any zombie movie or story. Just because I can't get enough zombies.

But to get off the zombies for a moment before they infect my brain ;-), that's not to say I don't stop and just buy a book because of some oddball factor of plot or world. After all, though the cover might give a hint of gender of characters, most books I see are spine out. So title and color of the book and font snag me first. Heck, I've been known to pick one book over another just because of a nicer font.

So that all boils down to odd tastes for me. Which is good. I love odd.

Jodi

Phaeal
01-30-2013, 07:20 PM
There's no arguing with taste, and also no arguing with people's reactions to your taste. Tell me you only read books with male (or female) MCs or male (or female) authors, and I'll think, Huh, what a sad limitation to impose on oneself. If you're a ship passing in the night, I'll just shrug the statement off. But if you're someone I'm thinking of getting closer to or someone I'll have to deal with on a regular basis, I'll ask questions to find out whether this preference indicates a deeper gender bias.

As for reading books because the MC is like you? That's cool, but I like books in which the MC is unlike me just as much. Sometimes better.

Susan Littlefield
01-30-2013, 07:28 PM
I don't care what gender the main character is. A good story is a good story.

I don't know why anyone would prefer once gender of a character over another.

DeleyanLee
01-30-2013, 07:40 PM
People will read what they want to read. I'm generally just happy to see people reading, actually. That there's a book on that screen instead of some video game where you're tossing crap into some poor guy's butt-crack or tossing birds at pigs or slicing fruit or whatever else is out there is a HUGE big happy for me.

ladybritches
01-30-2013, 07:58 PM
If I'd have answered this without thinking about it first, I'd have said I prefer female characters. But then I looked at my reading list from the past two years and realized that's not true at all. All I ask for is a character I can care about, and root for, and sympathize with.

What I won't read are female characters who stand around crying and screaming while the 'hero' fights all her battles for her, or male characters who are overly confident and far too sexy for their shirts.

kkbe
01-30-2013, 08:04 PM
I think characterization trumps just about everything. If the character is interesting to me, I'm more inclined to invest my time in reading that character's story. Doesn't matter if that character is a man, woman, child, or gerbil. I feel that way about my own writing, too. I'm drawn to quirky characters, or characters that are "off," or damaged in some way. (Hoping my inclination toward such characters doesn't mean that I, the author, share similar traits although I guess one could make the arguement that, ahh. . .)

:)

Putputt
01-30-2013, 08:25 PM
If you're a ship passing in the night, I'll just shrug the statement off. But if you're someone I'm thinking of getting closer to or someone I'll have to deal with on a regular basis, I'll ask questions to find out whether this preference indicates a deeper gender bias.

This.

Also, I think there's a difference between "I prefer books with M/F MCs" and "I avoid books with M/F MCs". With the first statement, I'd just shrug. With the second statement, holy hell I am gonna be judging the crap out of that person.

It's okay to have preferences, but when someone avoids perfectly good books based on gender alone, I think that is really effing weird and it would make me wonder if they have a gender bias.

Same goes for "I prefer books written by M/F authors" vs "I avoid books written by M/F authors". The first statement, eh, I don't care, it's your preference. The second statement leads to a very judgey hippo.

Happily, I haven't met anyone irl who consciously chooses books based on gender. Nobody has said to me, "This sounds like such a good book, but ehh, not gonna read it cause the MC's M/F..." which is good for the sake of my blood pressure.

seun
01-30-2013, 08:28 PM
No preference at all. I look for the story and characters, not whether the main person has one set of genitalia over another.

Riley
01-30-2013, 09:04 PM
To be honest, I prefer male MCs if only because I've read too many books where the female MC is (a) stupid without consequences; (b) starts off strong, then wilts as soon as love interest/child/fluffy dog comes into play; or (c) obsesses about too much "girly stuff". Maybe I'm an idiot, but it just offends me so much when writers do that to female characters. (Edit: And yes, I know this happens to some degree with male MCs, too. Just. . . less often.)

That said, if the character is one I can really sink my teeth into, I don't care if it's female, male, third gender, trans*, or whatever. I guess I've just been bitten by too many bad books. *toddles off to his idiot corner--I prefer the term "moron", myself*

Moose
01-30-2013, 09:19 PM
I prefer female main characters.

My preferences mainly comes from simply being tired of male MCs. I've spent decades reading about male leads. It's not just books though. Most movies I watch and most games I play are male MCs because that's all there is. That's why I find it so refreshing anymore to read books with a female lead.

I do still read plenty of books with male MCs (some of my favourite books have a male lead) but if I was in a store and I wanted two books (one FMC and one MMC) but could only afford one I would pick the book with the female MC.

CQuinlan
01-30-2013, 09:43 PM
No preference.

Although I agree with Moose that, because there are so many male leads that female characters have to be well done without trying too hard to dismiss what are considered feminine traits. There is also an issue with girls who want to distance themselves from 'girly traits' and insist that they don't get on with other women and are 'different' from other girls. Not saying that these woman don't have points or a right to their preference. I'm just saying that, in my experience, woman will reject other women who aren't what they think they should be.

I can't speak for men.

For them: http://claudiagray.livejournal.com/64600.html

Saying that, I'll drop a book with a female MC faster than a male MC if something they do annoys me.


With the whole author thing, we talked about this recently on YA forum and if someone told they avoided male/female authors on some weird principle...I would show them this:

http://teresafrohock.com/blog/2013/1/7/gender-bending-the-big-reveal.html

kkbe
01-30-2013, 10:02 PM
ETA: I withdraw my comment on the grounds that my attempt at humor was ill-advised. I see now this is a most serious discussion. I hang my head in shame.

shadowwalker
01-30-2013, 10:27 PM
I'm just saying that, in my experience, woman will reject other women who aren't what they think they should be.

I think that's a universal human trait. Why would anyone stick with a person (or character) who isn't compatible with their personal preferences/beliefs/world views? It doesn't make sense.

CQuinlan
01-30-2013, 10:34 PM
I think that's a universal human trait. Why would anyone stick with a person (or character) who isn't compatible with their personal preferences/beliefs/world views? It doesn't make sense.


Because just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean you can't understand it?

Because looking at the world through a POV that's the opposite of yours helps you to understand others better?

Because you should challenge your preferences/beliefs/world views to see what you feel passionately about?

Maybe it's just me, but what's the point in reading at all if you only do so if it co-insides with your limited view of things? (And everyone has a limited view of things.)

But maybe that's just me.

bearilou
01-30-2013, 10:47 PM
Because just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean you can't understand it?

Because looking at the world through a POV that's the opposite of yours helps you to understand others better?

Because you should challenge your preferences/beliefs/world views to see what you feel passionately about?

Maybe it's just me, but what's the point in reading at all if you only do so if it co-insides with your limited view of things? (And everyone has a limited view of things.)

But maybe that's just me.

That's all presupposing that some of us read to have our 'horizons expanded'. Sometimes we read just for fun and for some of us, reading for fun doesn't mean reading something that has this Great Societal Value (as determined by someone else) placed on it. And certainly for those of us, reading for fun becomes less fun if we are expected to read only with the intent of expanding said horizons and no other reason as dictated by someone who seems to think we should be reading for Other Reasons.

There are many reasons to read books, not all of them have to be for higher causes or to challenge our mind set/world view/belief system.

Indicating that as the (implied by suggesting there should be 'a point' to what we are reading) only reason to read possibly contributes (it did in my case at least) to why many people get turned off of reading to start with.

CQuinlan
01-30-2013, 10:57 PM
That's all presupposing that some of us read to have our 'horizons expanded'. Sometimes we read just for fun and for some of us, reading for fun doesn't mean reading something that has this Great Societal Value (as determined by someone else) placed on it. And certainly for those of us, reading for fun becomes less fun if we are expected to read only with the intent of expanding said horizons and no other reason as dictated by someone who seems to think we should be reading for Other Reasons.

There are many reasons to read books, not all of them have to be for higher causes or to challenge our mind set/world view/belief system.

Indicating that as the (implied by suggesting there should be 'a point' to what we are reading) only reason to read possibly contributes (it did in my case at least) to why many people get turned off of reading to start with.

Not at all.

I was asked why someone would choose to read outside of their beliefs/preference/world views and I answered. It is a reason to read that kind of book. I said nothing generalizing all reading.

bearilou
01-30-2013, 11:28 PM
Not at all.

I was asked why someone would choose to read outside of their beliefs/preference/world views and I answered. It is a reason to read that kind of book. I said nothing generalizing all reading.

:e2tongue::box::e2flowers:e2arms:

CQuinlan
01-30-2013, 11:30 PM
:e2tongue::box::e2flowers:e2arms:
*Hugs and runs. :P

shadowwalker
01-31-2013, 12:21 AM
Because just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean you can't understand it?

Because looking at the world through a POV that's the opposite of yours helps you to understand others better?

Because you should challenge your preferences/beliefs/world views to see what you feel passionately about?

Maybe it's just me, but what's the point in reading at all if you only do so if it co-insides with your limited view of things? (And everyone has a limited view of things.)

But maybe that's just me.

Please note the specific statement I quoted and was responding to. Yes, people will talk to people who don't share their views; they will read books that offer a new POV. However, that doesn't mean they will embrace that person/book, or like them, or want to have anything more than a casual relationship with them. They may actually reject that person/book and never go near them again. And that is universal, meaning that it's not only women who behave that way.

thebloodfiend
01-31-2013, 12:28 AM
I agree with quicklime. Here's why:

A bit of editing has been done.

If someone said to you, "I prefer books with white main characters." What would you think? How about, "I avoid books with black main characters." Or the opposite - preferring books with black main characters, and/or avoiding books with white main characters. In the area of movies it's expected that the majority of moviegoers (but not all) have a fairly strong preference one way or the other. ... But for a novel which isn't interactive fiction, you can't just let the reader pick at the beginning. Does it matter if some readers choose not to buy or read a book based on the race of the main character?

I think it's pretty ridiculous, tbh. I have never cared one way or the other about the gender or sex of the character. It matters not. Just like race matters not. I like interesting books. The character could be a genderqueer hermaphrodite for all I care. As long as the book sounds interesting.

Note: In the case of race/sexuality, preferring/=/wishing there were more.

Susan Littlefield
01-31-2013, 01:31 AM
ETA: I withdraw my comment on the grounds that my attempt at humor was ill-advised. I see now this is a most serious discussion. I hang my head in shame.

:ROFL: :poke:

shadowwalker
01-31-2013, 01:39 AM
I think it's pretty ridiculous, tbh. I have never cared one way or the other about the gender or sex of the character. It matters not. Just like race matters not. I like interesting books. The character could be a genderqueer hermaphrodite for all I care. As long as the book sounds interesting.

But if many of the books you picked up with non-white MCs had those characters written in ways you found boring, stereotypical, or OTT, wouldn't you be less inclined to read other books like that? That's what I'm saying when I say I prefer male MCs. I don't count out female MCs automatically - but I've read enough badly done females that I think twice about it, especially if I don't know the author. I'm just tired of being disappointed and/or irritated by them.

sunandshadow
01-31-2013, 02:36 AM
I've been thoroughly impressed with how mature the response to this topic has been. ^_^

Unimportant
01-31-2013, 02:43 AM
This seems to have two aspects: readers' preferences, and the reasons that drive readers' preferences.

"I only read books about male characters" is a preference. The reason why determines how we 'judge' the reader. (And an absence of a given reason is likely to lead to assumptions, often erroneous.) "I only read books about male characters because I think girls are stupid" is wholly different to "I only read books about male characters because most female-character books I've read have been badly edited and not kept my interest, so to reduce the chance of me wasting money on a book I end up not reading I stick to the tried-and-true".

buz
01-31-2013, 02:47 AM
I've been thoroughly impressed with how mature the response to this topic has been. ^_^

fart boogers!


/ruining it

ArachnePhobia
01-31-2013, 02:48 AM
fart boogers!


/ruining it

Yeah, that's what your mom said, all right.

/helping

Ken
01-31-2013, 02:52 AM
Slightly off topic, but both of those are some of my favorites. Once of my first ebook purchases was the Hatchet series. But I still remember reading and loving Julie of the Wolves and (not mentioned, but similar) Island of the Blue Dolphins. Out of the three though, I think Hatchet has a slight win just because the author is drawing on actual experiences in some cases, IIRC. That makes it more fun to read, wondering maybe what he actually went through. Either way, they are some of my favorites, and I really need to re-read them now that you brought them up.

Jodi

... Island of the Blue Dolphins was awesome too. Sequel #2 was surprisingly good as well. Same with the ones for Hatchet and Julie. The third in the sequels, not so much so, but they were still okay. I enjoyed O'Dell's other novels too. He was a great writer. It's also time for me to give them a reread. Besides being great stories, the prose is rather flawless.

kkbe
01-31-2013, 03:02 AM
buzhidao: fart boogers!

Perhaps withdrawing my post was premature. :)

thebloodfiend
01-31-2013, 05:42 AM
But if many of the books you picked up with non-white MCs had those characters written in ways you found boring, stereotypical, or OTT, wouldn't you be less inclined to read other books like that? That's what I'm saying when I say I prefer male MCs. I don't count out female MCs automatically - but I've read enough badly done females that I think twice about it, especially if I don't know the author. I'm just tired of being disappointed and/or irritated by them.No. I still find that ridiculous. I'd just look for the good ones and try to help other writers portray POC characters better.

If I judged all black MCs in movies from all of the terrible portrayals I've seen, I'd have a preference to all white movies due to having watched a greater number of good movies with all white casts. But I don't. It's about simply recognizing suck-factor has nothing to do with race or sex or gender.

There are so many different kinds of books, I'm not going to limit myself on the basis of gender or sex. I've read so many bad books period that the only common denominator they share is that they sucked. Not that the MC was female or black or gay or straight or male or white. Simply that they sucked.

Genre? That's different. I don't care for some genres than tend to portray women or men in certain lights. YA PNR being one of them I just don't care to read anymore strictly because most of the women in that genre are boring and needy and the guys are class-a douchebags. My preference is for interesting characters. I will avoid certain kinds of books about women or certain kinds of books about black MCs, but it's not because they're about women or black MCs, it's because the portrayals are set up to be cliche and/or sexist/racist. But it's not about having a preference for white male MC's.

shadowwalker
01-31-2013, 05:53 AM
There are so many different kinds of books, I'm not going to limit myself on the basis of gender or sex.

But I'm not talking about never ever reading a book just because it has a female MC. I'm saying I'm more cautious about them because I've seen so many badly written female MCs. You yourself said "I'd just look for the good ones" and you avoid some books "because the portrayals are set up to be cliche and/or sexist/racist." So if I look for the good ones, where the female isn't bitchy or manipulative or stereotypically weak, why is that ridiculous and what you do is not?

thebloodfiend
01-31-2013, 06:07 AM
But I'm not talking about never ever reading a book just because it has a female MC. I'm saying I'm more cautious about them because I've seen so many badly written female MCs. You yourself said "I'd just look for the good ones" and you avoid some books "because the portrayals are set up to be cliche and/or sexist/racist." So if I look for the good ones, where the female isn't bitchy or manipulative or stereotypically weak, why is that ridiculous and what you do is not?I call it ridiculous because I see no reason to say "I have a preference for male MCs." I avoid bad books period. I assume you do as well, correct? Or do you like reading bad books featuring male MCs? Because women and POC have a history of oppression in this country, there are less books about us, and an even smaller segment of those are what I'd call good. And because of that history, there are certain negative stereotypes attached to women and POC more frequently than they are to white men. Which makes it harder to find good books written about us or even featuring us.

But I don't say I have a preference for books with white males because that simply makes no sense and sounds, IMO, very, very stupid. I have no preference for books with white males. It just so happens that because the greater majority of books are written about white males, there will be greater variety within those and a better chance of finding a good one. If you're given a pile of 100 books vs 10, of course you're going to find more "good" than bad in the larger pile.

ETA: I don't have a problem with your reasoning, btw. It's the phrasing I abhor.

shadowwalker
01-31-2013, 06:43 AM
Just my own experience (ie, not at all scientific)

If I have read 100 books with male MCs, and 100 books with female MCs, those 100 books with male MCs would contain a higher percentage of well-written characters than those 100 books with female MCs. So it has nothing to do with oppression. It has to do with fewer authors able to write female characters in ways I find realistic and thus, enjoyable.

meowzbark
01-31-2013, 07:51 AM
Just my own experience (ie, not at all scientific)

If I have read 100 books with male MCs, and 100 books with female MCs, those 100 books with male MCs would contain a higher percentage of well-written characters than those 100 books with female MCs. So it has nothing to do with oppression. It has to do with fewer authors able to write female characters in ways I find realistic and thus, enjoyable.

I think you need to elaborate.

In order to make a statement like that without getting grilled, you should:


Increase your sample size - 100 books of each is too small considering how many books are published in a year. Also, are these the top 100 selling books or random books?
Seperate by genre - some genres are more prone to stereotypes and one-dimensional characters
Seperate by publishing (self, indie, etc) - the slush pile in self-publishing is obviously bigger than with a Big 6 publisher.
Author - is the author writing their own sex or the opposite sex?

shadowwalker
01-31-2013, 09:31 AM
I think you need to elaborate.

In order to make a statement like that without getting grilled, you should:

Increase your sample size - 100 books of each is too small considering how many books are published in a year. Also, are these the top 100 selling books or random books?
Seperate by genre - some genres are more prone to stereotypes and one-dimensional characters
Seperate by publishing (self, indie, etc) - the slush pile in self-publishing is obviously bigger than with a Big 6 publisher.
Author - is the author writing their own sex or the opposite sex?



As I stated, this was from my own experience, not a scientific study, so grilling is hardly appropriate. The sample size was simply to respond to the idea that there are more books written with male MCs than female - so I leveled the playing field.

If your experience is different, well and good. The OP was asking for individual's opinions and that's what I gave.

meowzbark
01-31-2013, 09:47 AM
As I stated, this was from my own experience, not a scientific study, so grilling is hardly appropriate. The sample size was simply to respond to the idea that there are more books written with male MCs than female - so I leveled the playing field.

If your experience is different, well and good. The OP was asking for individual's opinions and that's what I gave.

I probably should not have used the word "grilling", however, I wasn't sure how else to say it. It seemed like your previous statement was a blanket generalization and I was interested in details about the books chosen for this generalization. It's like saying the sky is pink. Well, if you're talking about the color of the sky during dawn or dusk, I can see why you'd believe that.

A.P.M.
01-31-2013, 05:21 PM
I have a lot of shallow peeves, but MC gender isn't really one of them.

I have, however, put books back on the shelf after reading some variation of "and then main hero meets the beautiful insert-FMC-name here."

Blech. Another straight male-gaze romance. These tend to bother me less from a female MC's point of view, however.

BethS
01-31-2013, 07:32 PM
I don't care whether the protagonist is male or female, black, white, brown, or purple. The protagonist does not even have to be human. (Dragon's Egg, by Robert L. Forward, is one of my favorite SF books of all time. And then there's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings...)

What I do care about is good writing and a good story.

But I do have my biases. I no longer read novels written in present tense. They're just too annoying and distracting. And the brain of a psychopath is not one I care to explore, so I won't read a novel written from the POV of one.

CQuinlan
02-01-2013, 04:52 PM
I think you need to elaborate.

In order to make a statement like that without getting grilled, you should:


Increase your sample size - 100 books of each is too small considering how many books are published in a year. Also, are these the top 100 selling books or random books?
Seperate by genre - some genres are more prone to stereotypes and one-dimensional characters
Seperate by publishing (self, indie, etc) - the slush pile in self-publishing is obviously bigger than with a Big 6 publisher.
Author - is the author writing their own sex or the opposite sex?



I think I may have a new project.

folkchick
02-01-2013, 05:10 PM
Willa Cather had a problem with female authors (so I am assuming she disliked a female protagonist as well). From Wikipedia, Cather: "regarded most women writers with disdain, judging them overly sentimental and mawkish."

shadowwalker
02-01-2013, 05:53 PM
I think I may have a new project.

Of course, the problem with such a project is the subjectivity. For example, what one reader considers a strong woman another reader would consider a bitchy woman - so is that a 'good' characterization or a 'bad' characterization? That's what makes this whole discussion of character preference only a matter of opinion, and thus, no 'right' or 'wrong' answer.

Phaeal
02-01-2013, 07:28 PM
So if I look for the good ones, where the female isn't bitchy or manipulative or stereotypically weak, why is that ridiculous and what you do is not?

I guess some of us like bitchy and manipulative women. And men.

<--

[Ducks farther behind Six, bitchily.]

Dave Hardy
02-01-2013, 11:24 PM
Interesting, I never thought about MC gender being a particular preference. I tend to read action-adventure fiction in many different genres (SF, Fantasy, Crime, etc). By and large the MCs are male, tough-guy machismo pretty much goes hand in hand with these types of stories.

When I write (I admit I'm a slacker) I tend to write tough-guy stories. It's what I'm most comfortable doing.

But I think some of my best writing was Crazy Greta where the titular character is indeed a woman, and fairly bellicose one too. I recently read Wade Miller's Branded Woman and loved Cay Morgan, the female MC out for revenge. Modesty Blaise, Jirel of Joiry, Red Sonja of Rogatino, and Dossouye have been favorites of mine for years now.

Tocotin
02-03-2013, 04:21 AM
When I saw the title of the thread, I assumed it was about writing, not reading.

At first I was pretty surprised, because I thought I didn't have any such preferences. A good story is a good story is a good story. Some of them don't even have one distinct protagonist.

Then I realized I *sometimes* would like to avoid novels with women MCs in my fav genre (historical), because:

a) many authors feel the necessity to have a female MC who is "strong" according to contemporary standards, and thus anachronistic and annoying;

b) many authors feel the necessity to show in extensive detail that life in the past was particularly hard for women, and I don't like to read about women getting constantly put down. Plus, it's not that it was a walk in the park for men! Come on!

(The latter is true also for other genres, I think.)

Manuel Royal
02-03-2013, 05:24 AM
I like main characters who are tough, smart, resourceful, and proactive. I think that in many genres (urban fantasy being one exception) characters with those qualities tend to be male. But I've no issue with female characters with those qualities. In fact, it makes a nice change of pace.
That's pretty much what I was going to say. In the genres I read a lot of (science fiction, crime novels, historical novels, etc.) I think there are just more male protagonists than female. (And, probably, too many female characters who are defined by whether or not they have a man.)

In my own writing, I often think of several aspects of a character before deciding on gender. I've got several ideas for upcoming projects that could work with either a female or male protagonist; right now, because of this thread, I'm wondering if the pulp adventure I'm working on could work with the hero being a woman. Hm.

ETA: Starting to think that would work.

crunchyblanket
02-03-2013, 01:58 PM
I often write female MC's because I feel like the kind of female MC I like to read is sorely lacking in fiction, and I want to remedy that. For the same reason, I find myself seeking out books with female MC's - because I want to find the ones in which the MC's subvert the 'badly written female' expectation.

But preference? I just like a good character.

OJCade
02-03-2013, 02:36 PM
I tend to prefer female MCs.

The main genre that I like to read is scifi/fantasy, and really there's only been some attempt made at getting more (unstereotyped) female protagonists in SFF in the last few decades. I believe Anne McCaffrey said of her earliest book, Refugee, that she wrote it because she was so sick of not seeing decent women characters in speculative fiction.

So overall in SFF there have been far more male authors, most of them writing male MCs. Compare that to the amount of women writing SFF, many of whom tend towards female MCs, and from the get go there'll be more good SFF books with male MCs. There'll be more bad SFF books with male MCs too - that's just a function of having decades where women were love interests if they were present at all. The market, comparatively, is oversaturated with male MCs for my tastes.

So I tend to look for books with decent female MCs because SFF has so many male protagonists that I want something different, and also because I like to read books with competent, complex women that aren't fridged or whatever. I'm not a fan of romance, paranormal or otherwise, so my options when looking for decent women characters are cut down.

Still, there are plenty that I enjoy - authors like Ursula LeGuin, Elizabeth Bear, Ekaterina Sedia... I actively search them out. Partly because I like what they're selling, and partly because I want to support female authors who write women that I don't feel embarrassed to share a gender with (Bella Swan, I'm looking at you).

CChampeau
02-03-2013, 09:07 PM
I'm late to the party here, but I think it's worth mentioning that there was a poll like this on gamefaqs.com that asked "Would you not play a game because of the gender of the main character?"

The results were actually very impartial: about 70% said they didn't care at all, 15% said they'd rather be male but would still play, 5% they'd rather be female but would still play, and the remaining 10% said they refused to play if it was not male (8%) or female (2%)

....if memory serves. The gist of the results are right, though the actual numbers probably aren't. I wish I could find that gamefaqs poll of the day but, as this was a "poll of the day" and I saw said poll many many days ago, it's unfindable as far as I know.






If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think? How about, "I avoid books with female main characters." Or the opposite - preferring books with female main characters, and/or avoiding books with male main characters. In the area of video games it's expected that the majority of gamers (but not all) have a fairly strong preference one way or the other. Many games choose to put a noticeable portion of their budget into giving the player a choice of playable characters because they feel players want this choice strongly enough to justify the cost. But for a novel which isn't interactive fiction, you can't just let the reader pick at the beginning. Does it matter if some readers choose not to buy or read a book based on the sex of the main character?

bearilou
02-03-2013, 09:24 PM
I'm late to the party here, but I think it's worth mentioning that there was a poll like this on gamefaqs.com that asked "Would you not play a game because of the gender of the main character?"

The results were actually very impartial: about 70% said they didn't care at all, 15% said they'd rather be male but would still play, 5% they'd rather be female but would still play, and the remaining 10% said they refused to play if it was not male (8%) or female (2%)

....if memory serves. The gist of the results are right, though the actual numbers probably aren't. I wish I could find that gamefaqs poll of the day but, as this was a "poll of the day" and I saw said poll many many days ago, it's unfindable as far as I know.

This one? (http://www.gamefaqs.com/poll/index.html?poll=4935)

cmi0616
02-03-2013, 09:31 PM
If someone prefers a specific gender of main character, I don't care. That's their choice; some people just don't care to put themselves in the shoes of a certain gender.

There'll always be people who won't read a book, for whatever reasonóbe it genre, lack of interest in the storyline, or characters. Most works of fiction have more people who don't care for it than people who do care for it anyway.

This, exactly.

CChampeau
02-03-2013, 10:45 PM
This one? (http://www.gamefaqs.com/poll/index.html?poll=4935)

Yes!
Hm, I remembered the "gist" of it alright (38% don't care at all, another 55% don't care very much) but there were a lot more options than I remembered (the rest of what I half-remembered was pretty off). How did you find that?! You're magical. :tongue

EDIT TO ADD: Alright I see where the list of all polls was on the site.

butterfly
02-03-2013, 10:47 PM
If someone said to you, "I prefer books with male main characters." What would you think? How about, "I avoid books with female main characters." Or the opposite - preferring books with female main characters, and/or avoiding books with male main characters. In the area of video games it's expected that the majority of gamers (but not all) have a fairly strong preference one way or the other. Many games choose to put a noticeable portion of their budget into giving the player a choice of playable characters because they feel players want this choice strongly enough to justify the cost. But for a novel which isn't interactive fiction, you can't just let the reader pick at the beginning. Does it matter if some readers choose not to buy or read a book based on the sex of the main character?

From the reader's perspective, if they know that they have a much higher success rate with one category of book than the other, it would be unstrategic to not take that data into account when trying to select what to read next. Is it different if you substitute the word "author" for the phrase "main character"?

Readers may or may not buy a book for reasons other than MC gender, for me, it's Scotland. Any book that takes place in Scotland I cannot read. I have no idea why, something from a past life maybe.

What would interest me is the gender of the person that made the statement and a few titles of their booklist. That and their favorite flower.

bearilou
02-03-2013, 10:53 PM
Yes!
Hm, I remembered the "gist" of it alright (38% don't care at all, another 55% don't care very much) but there were a lot more options than I remembered (the rest of what I half-remembered was pretty off). How did you find that?! You're magical. :tongue

EDIT TO ADD: Alright I see where the list of all polls was on the site.

I was lazy. Instead of trying to find the list of polls, I just took your statement:

gamefaqs.com that asked "Would you not play a game because of the gender of the main character?"

Amended 'poll' on the end and googled it and taadaa!

My google-fu is strong, today.

Kittens Starburst
02-03-2013, 11:09 PM
Readers may or may not buy a book for reasons other than MC gender, for me, it's Scotland. Any book that takes place in Scotland I cannot read. I have no idea why, something from a past life maybe.

Ah, then you'll never know the joys of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Or Stevenson's Kidnapped, James Kelman's Nice to be Nice, Iain Bank's ingenious The Bridge ... It's not all haggis-muncing and och aye the noo, the stuff that what's-her-name writes, the American who wrote those corny time-travel romances. You just need to find an authentic Scottish writer. ;)

sunandshadow
02-04-2013, 02:49 AM
Readers may or may not buy a book for reasons other than MC gender, for me, it's Scotland. Any book that takes place in Scotland I cannot read. I have no idea why, something from a past life maybe.

What would interest me is the gender of the person that made the statement and a few titles of their booklist. That and their favorite flower.
Their favorite flower? :tongue The friend who made the statement was female and strongly preferred male main characters. The actual conversation we had was about the distinction between preferring one sex vs. avoiding the other. She said for her it would vary by mood; in a bad or non-optimistic mood she would avoid the female main characters because she wouldn't feel enough empathy with them to get into the book, and would instead have her temper set off by them. But in a good mood she would be more inclined to give a female MC book a chance if it otherwise looked appealing. She did not have anything against female authors, estimating that the authors she read were perhaps 60% female, but because both were often good she didn't bother considering that unless she was otherwise really dubious about a book. Me, I said I had a mild preference for male MCs, but I've seen a lot of terrible ones of both. My collection is even more heavily slanted toward the female than hers, mainly because I rarely read anything that isn't at least halfway a romance any more.

Her booklist includes a lot of gay male romances (perhaps not surprising given the above). Also a lot of science fiction and fantasy, some mystery, some drama. I can't go into that much detail about her favorite books because I'm that familiar with the topic, but I know she'd have a clear preference for something like Mercedes Lackey's Last Herald Mage trilogy and a clear distaste for something like Storm Constantine's Wraethuthu books. She specifically dislikes "female action heroes" because they "are either men with tits or the most assholish testosterone-overdosed women she's ever met." [direct quote] She dislikes alpha males, but says that "inappropriately importing one's soul into a female body makes it even worse somehow". [direct quote]

My book collection runs more to comedy and historical than hers, and I'm not much of a mystery fan. I read a pretty high amount of fanfiction, all romance or comedy. I don't really have any idea what specific books to list. If I tried to express the heart of my interests in one book it would probably be one of those ones where a group of attractive and intelligent alien men (not all big and muscley though, slender and with long hair) have a shortage of alien women for some reason, and want to court and marry earth ones so they have have love, homes, and heirs. The female main character would be clever, diplomatic, a bit sneaky :D , but not a fighter at all unless pressured into a warrior role against her preferences.

Her favorite flower is probably irises, because they are multicolor and complicated in structure. She likes columbines too. She might prefer dahlias if they were winter-hardy here, but instead feels some contempt for them because they are weak. Me I like hybrid tea roses (that shape with lots of rows of vaguely pointed or slightly curled petals in a perfect crown), not the white or pink ones but I love the deep reds and purples, and rich yellows are ok too. I like them because they smell really good to me, and also particularly like the ones with velvety-looking petals. The thorns and rose hips add to their personality too. Such trouble with black spot though, ugh. I'd fill half my yard with roses except it would become a plague zone. I also like pansies, poppies, peonies, and irises; mainly the double varieties instead of standard ones.

So you have to tell me, what do flowers have to do with it? I'm really curious about that.

Reziac
02-14-2013, 10:26 AM
I tend to prefer female MCs.

The main genre that I like to read is scifi/fantasy, and really there's only been some attempt made at getting more (unstereotyped) female protagonists in SFF in the last few decades. I believe Anne McCaffrey said of her earliest book, Refugee, that she wrote it because she was so sick of not seeing decent women characters in speculative fiction.

So overall in SFF there have been far more male authors, most of them writing male MCs. Compare that to the amount of women writing SFF, many of whom tend towards female MCs, and from the get go there'll be more good SFF books with male MCs. There'll be more bad SFF books with male MCs too - that's just a function of having decades where women were love interests if they were present at all. The market, comparatively, is oversaturated with male MCs for my tastes.

I'd never really had a preference, and I remember the initial novelty of female protags in SF/F, back a few decades... but the other day I was thinking about how lately I'm becoming quite weary of these female protagonists, stereotyped or not (and weary almost to the point of instant-back-on-the-shelf syndrome). They seem to presently dominate SF/F, and I think the problem is they no longer seem quite real to me. If I want one that seems real, I have to go dig out some Cherryh or older Bujold.

I wonder how much of this is by-damn shoehorning in a female protag when it doesn't quite work; IOW doing a forcible gender-change on whatever the story really wanted to be. (I imagine there are some male protags square-pegged-into-round-holes as well, but they're evidently less obvious.) Or sometimes making sure by-damn we realise she's a her, just in case we missed that.

Papaya
02-15-2013, 01:26 AM
I can't help but wonder if there is something deeper going on when someone actively avoids reading a book based solely on gender, race or sexual preference.

For me, the most important thing is the quality of writing. Good characterization, combined with a good story, trumps everything. That being said, at this point I have a greater appreciation for any POV that is not a white male, mainly because I have read so many books from that POV already.

There are genres I will never read, such as horror, and types of characters that I have no desire to get intimate with, but I share quicklime's opinion on this.

I don't believe so, although you're free to argue the case. Genre deals with preference, gender plays to stereotypes--you may not care for potboilers but can you say you don't like women MC or men MC as though all men are rugged and stoic and women are shrinking violets? I'm not convinced you can unless you're stereotyping.