Why Sexuality and Gender are Important in Fiction

We’re all pretty used to the ‘normal’ male/female pairing in common fiction. While male/male and female/female have been gaining popularity, fantasy fiction is a little bit behind.

As a fantasy writer, I have to admit, I haven’t been helping. My stories are primarily female protaganist centric. Most of them I’ve put in a relationship with a man. A few with a woman, but not many, and always very normal otherwise.

And I realized that I’m not doing this because I am dedicated to these types of pairings, but because I am catering to my readers and it is causing my characters some issues.

I have characters that fit into all of the categories of sexuality, and so far, trying to fit them into little holes has not worked.

My main character for one story is asexual, panromantic. Meaning that she has little interest in sex for any reason (though she does engage in it), but she is romantically attracted to anyone, regardless of their sex or gender.

Another story, the character is pansexual. This is actually societal for her, as she comes from a culture that embraces sexuality and gender in all their forms.

Out of them all, I have more characters that are either bisexual or pansexual. Here’s the numbers:

Bisexual: 4

Pansexual: 6

Heterosexual: 2

Homosexual: 2

Asexual: 1

Interesting numbers.

Beyond sexuality, there is also gender. While most of my characters fit within the traditional gender binary, this is largely because I don’t have much experience (personally) outside of it.

They defy the gender roles themselves, I am unsure of how this interprets into gender identity.  This is something I am going to have to look into. Most of the women I write are not within their gender role.

Now you may ask why do I bring this up?

Well, the thing is, I do believe that we, as writers, should not only write what we know, but also what is around us.

Life is more than just black and white, male and female. So why do we, or perhaps, why do I, try to make my stories and characters fit into those tiny little categories?

Again, because I am more over-conscious of my readers, it seems. I am not looking to over-inclusive in my stories, but as I have fun examining different points of life, why should I limit my characters because I don’t believe my readers are ready? It’s not like I’m trying to make millions off of my stories.

So I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to worry so much about what I think my readers are ‘ready for’, have a little faith, and simply let my characters be themselves.

And the novel I’m currently working on is actually set to allow for various different pairings. The setting, as a whole, is more accepting of these things than our world is.

Without giving too much away: Many of the characters are not what you might expect, and I’m going to have fun with that. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Why Sexuality and Gender are Important in Fiction

  1. This is a good post. More fantasy authors need to consider this. For example, as much as I enjoy Wheel of Time, the gender critic inside me screams: “SO . . . MUCH . . . DUALISM! THE BINARIES, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

      • Although I’m not a huge fan of her, Mercedes Lackey has always done a good job of having non-heterosexual characters. BTW, the reason I’m not so much a fan is because I feel like her books are 95% development, 5% action, conflict, resolution.

  2. Pingback: Love and Sex in Fiction | A Caffeinated Fantasy

  3. Pingback: LGBT Fantasy | A Caffeinated Fantasy

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