Does Gender Matter?: 6. Self-representation

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6. Self-representation

My questions about gender and authorship offended some people, while others felt it was a legitimate question to ask. I ended the survey with the opportunity for each survey participant to speak her mind, phrased as “If there is anything else you would care to include please write it!” The eloquence of many comments received should not be surprising given that this survey was posted to writers, many of whom indicated that writing is what they do for a living. A few replies that provide insight into the mindset of some writers within this fanfiction community are below:

    “Why has my gender as a writer got anything to do with what I write? Am I not a person first? Why shouldn’t female authors write male characters? Are men not people too? Why get so het up about this gender divide? Surely *everyone* can appreciate heroism, doubt, sacrifice, bravery etc. whatever set of private parts it comes with?” Marnie Goodbody

    “Tolkien has LONG been considered the province of geeks only. I was a geek a long time before the movies came out and Tolkien got ‘trendy’. I think it’s only the TRUE geeks that really understand Tolkien’s writings, rather than the story as its told in the movies. It’s ‘us’ that actually have READ his writings and know the background to it, the whys, the fact that he had certain limitations to his writing (which really can’t be considered ‘good’ by some standards), and the fact that he STILL managed to create such an incredible book, overcoming these obstacles. Unfortunately there is a lot of fanfic out there written by teenage movie groupies that take what Tolkien did and warp it to something that is not just ‘bad writing’ but not ‘Tolkien’. They don’t bother with anything BUT the movie view. And this, in my view, is a damn shame. They don’t realise they are missing out on something really wonderful by reading and understanding the books. They see the movie as the be-all and end-all of Tolkien, and while the movie was astounding and wonderful in its holding to the world of Tolkien, there is so much more it can’t possibly show.” Anonymous

    “I honestly don’t ‘get’ much of the fanfiction that’s out there, since it seems boring, flat, and shallow in the extreme. I want a story, and I want challenging ideas—I don’t want someone else’s erotic fantasy, clumsily written, thank you. I’d buy a bodice ripper if I did, and at least get some humor out of the historical bloopers […] I also disagree - vocally, but with supporting evidence - with all of the Sexist!Tolkien claptrap that is put forth, and my first published foray into the fanfiction world contains a number of suggestions for exploring canon or canon-compatible female characters in Middle-earth. (What about all those many ‘lads and lasses’ that Gandalf got to leave the Shire and go climb trees, visit Elves and even sail to other shores, for instance?) […] Like Lady Vaire, I try to weave *all* the stories, within my limited ability and time […] I’d rather read a well-told story on the experiences of those good-hearted folks, Barliman Butterbur and his employees, dealing with the Shire meltdown, than a Legolas romance with any character, be it an AU Aragorn or an equally AU tragic half-Elven princess fleeing an arranged marriage -- though I fear that I never shall unless I write it myself!” Philosopher At Large

I also asked whether these writers shared their passion for writing Tolkien-based fanfiction with others in the question “Have you told your friends and family that you write Tolkien fanfic?” The predominant answer was yes, as 36 people (58%) indicated that they did, albeit with varying levels of acceptability.

    “I’ve told my brother and my best friend. My parents will just give me grief about not writing ‘Real’ stories, or things of my own creation.” Zetta

    “Some friends, yes, and my family knows I write quite a bit […] Fanfiction is something I write when I need a break from *really* writing, because I know that it will never truly be *mine*. It is part of someone else’s universe, and it is easy to ‘stand on the shoulders of genius’ than to write something else.” Liezl Ang

The next most common response were the 14 people (23%) who replied “some” or “yes and no,” as the authors indicated that they had chosen to reveal their writing either to friends or family, but not both. Their replies indicated varying levels of support from friends and family, and for some, the ability for anonymity is key to their writing.

    “I’ve told my close friends and my boyfriend. I wouldn’t tell my family, or less-close friends because they’d be interested in reading it (and hence, would find out it’s slash). It’s a personal thing for me, because it’s fantasy. That the internet makes it easy to remain anonymous makes it more acceptable to discuss it in this kind of forum.” Anonymous

    “Haven’t told anyone I write /fic; friends too old & stuffy to understand. Family too, really. Don’t actually know anyone with an LOTR fixation! Thank heavens for the net.” Tiriel

The remaining 12 writers (19%) did not share their own writings with anyone close to them. When a reason was given, it was due to it being seen as unacceptable by the friends and family of the author.

    “No, they consider I waste enough time on nonproductive pursuits as it is. I should be finishing one of my original novels instead.” Philosopher At Large

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Thevina Finduilas

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/04/04

Original Post: 03/19/03

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