The other day I came across an article titled “Writing and Gender.” I tried to leave a comment, but of course my internet chose right then to act up. I lost the article and could not find it again, so I decided I’d write my response here. The article discussed the prevalence of gender in writing and the authors hope to write a novel in first person while attempting to avoid making character gender obvious. I applaud the author for their willingness to attempt such a feat (if you read this, I’m sorry but I can’t remember who wrote the post). I also have a similar goal in mind. Gender is a big issue for me, and I attempt to always write characters that defy gender roles. I have also dabbled in some short stories where I avoid gender simply by using gender-neutral names and the singular of they. It is not an easy task, but it’s doable. My end goal is to do a graphic novel where the characters all look gender-neutral. I want to see how people respond when they look at the characters and can’t determine their gender. My curiosity arose from a study done where parents dressed their infants in gender-neutral clothing and refused to tell people their gender. In the study, some people where driven so crazy by not knowing that they would go as far as to try to undress the children to find out what their sexes were.
How would you respond to a story where you were unsure of the characters gender? Would you care? Would it take away from the story or distract you? Why?
Would you be willing to write a story where you refused to gender the main character or all of the characters? Do you think it would be possible? How would you do it?