Boy Stories And Girl Stories And, Oh Yeah, Sales

The good news is, I sold the audio rights for my story “A Window, Clear As A Mirror” to PodCastle.  This is awesome, because a) if you’ll recall, it’s my favorite story ever, and b) PodCastle did such a great job on my story “As Below, So Above” I that I can’t wait to see what they do with the more-humorous-but-more-melancholy tone of “Window.”

But their choice of narrator threw me. I wanted a woman to read this; they said it should be a male.

Which is odd, because to me, “A Window” reads very clearly as a female story, even though the lead character is a male.  In fact, when I read it, I read it in a woman’s voice – I have a high voice to begin with, and I spent years working at a receptionist agency where the patients yelled less if you presented as female, so I have a very good female voice.  And both times I’ve read it, I find my vocal tones rising, me adopting a female slant.

Whereas Dave then told me that if I ever sold “‘Run,’ Bakri Says,” then that would need a female narrator.  And to me, “Bakri” reads so strongly as masculine that I can’t envision what it would sound like with a woman’s voice reading it… Even though the protagonist is a teenaged girl.

I dunno.  On the one hand, he has a point about readers expecting a male protagonist to be read by a male voice, and considering that he’s co-editing an insanely great podcast, I defer to his experience about creating an awesome production. Yet on the other hand, I think about how Neil Gaiman said that he wrote gendered stories; American Gods is a boy book, whereas Stardust is a girl book.  And to me, “Bakri” is a boy story, and “Window” is a girl story, and having opposite-gendered readers feels vaguely like indulging in transgenderism.  (Which is not a bad thing – as noted, I love dressing in high heels and stockings – but it is a little odd at first.)

Gini pointed out that perhaps I was being stereotypical – “Window” is a girl-story because the lead character is dissecting a broken romance, and “Bakri” is a military, “let’s-solve-this-problem” kinda tale.  And there’s an element of that in there, even as “Sauerkraut Station” – which is at least ostensibly about a war – is extremely feminine (though that could be because the inspiration that story is derived wholly from “Little House On The Prairie”).  “iTime,” a problem-solver story if ever there was one, is feminine, whereas “The Backdated Romance” is masculine.  “Camera Obscured” is feminine, “My Father’s Wounds” is masculine.

(On a side note, you know how awesome it is to have so many published stories that I can link to them like this? It’s totally awesome.)

I don’t know. In my head, there’s some trigger where a story is female or male, and it has little to do with the protagonist.  Nor is it necessarily that the story is about problem-solving or relationships, although it does stereotypically tilt slightly that way.  It’s just that to me, certain stories are boy stories and others are girl stories – neither better nor worse, but just flavored in a way that I’ve been drawing this distinction all along, and it only comes up now that I see my girl story putting on a mustache and Don Draper’s suit.

I dunno.  If you write, are your stories gendered at all?  If you read, or have at least read some of the stories here, do you think of them as boy or girl stories now that your attention is drawn to it?

1 Comment

  1. Maggie
    Nov 4, 2011

    What a fabulous post!

    Congratulations on the sale! Truly awesome!

    I’m incredibly excited to see you talking about this. This is a theory/idea I’ve had for several years. I truly believe some stories are more male, while some are more female. This quality is defined by the story’s characters, voice, essence, content, themes…

    I wonder if this male/femaleness is unique to Western culture. Is this a reflection of sex (of which there are typically two 😉 or of gender (of which there can be many, but, again, typically two in Western culture.) I’ve often wondered if other cultures, who have several genders, have stories that reflect these genders? E.g., the Navajo, for example.

    I’m so fascinated with this topic that I’ve considered writing some anthros, especially anthros from other cultures, about this question and see what their perceptions are (i.e., research) and then writing a paper on it. And, of course, discuss the topic with other authorities, e.g., writers.

    I’m so happy they bought your story! You’re rocking the world, Ferrett! 🙂

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