I mean, people say as long as the character is well developed, but through most of literature the whole focus is the guys, so much so that even when the majority of an audience is female, a male protag is considered better since he is relateable to everybody and that is mainly due to the fact that while little girls have female heroes the vast majority of them have no agency and really aren't as admirable in and of themselves.
Girls from an early age are taught (not intentionally but there all the same) that hero=male. My favorite characters in fiction are male, because they are given the best stories. What I wish is a hero I could identify. I mean I love Dr. Who. But why cant this reincarnating character be a woman? I dont want the characters feminized. I just want heroes that are just heroes.
I dont want batgirl, I want everything batman is, but also a woman. I mean read your favorite book and gender flip them. It gets ludicrous for the guys because how people show female characters is ludicrous. Nothing about Aladdin specifically says male.
I would have said "don't care, it's all about the plot," but that's not really accurate to the way I approach stories, especially in regards to the lead character or main perspective. Rather, plot is just one element in the whole I consider really important. There are books I love where plot is somewhat less important than other elements.
Basically, I don't have a strong preference one way or the other. When I was younger, I might have said that I tended to read books with male protags and certainly most of my stories were about them. As I've gotten older and read more widely, that has been less the case, and I have tried to even out the field as far as female protags and writers go. I think even us women cave into ideas about what those things entail, and I do buy the idea in feminism that women often internalize the male gaze and general expectations of their gender.
I recall reading some research that said men tend to have a harder time related to female characters, whereas women tend to be more flexible. Personally, I don't think is innate but the way culture sets up the male perspective as "default" and the female perspective as "other."
Whatever works best. I just don't want to see a lady or a dude for the sake of being a lady or a dude. Same with everything else about them—if you want to write about a character who's disabled or a minority or whatever, make sure it's for a reason.
Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 8, 2012Student General Artist
Hm. See, originally I was going to say, "I don't care," but then I started thinking about my favorite books, and most of them have male protagonists, even the ones written by women. So perhaps I'm subconsciously drawn to male voices because they're different from mine? Or because I'm heterosexual and thus find the male voice more attractive?
Or maybe it's a coincidence, because most of my favorite books are sci-fi, and that's traditionally a male-dominated genre.
I prefer female characters over male characters because from the tons of books i've read they tend to be written with more humor, which I like. Male character's tend to be rigid from everything i've read. But overall, if the plot if great I don't really mind.
I don't know if this is an issue you have when reading, but if a character is badly written but the plot is really good, I still hate the story. The story can be amazing, but if the character is lame, I can't handle it.
Gender's pretty irrelevant to me, so long as the character's well-developed. I mean, the attributes that make a character interesting aren't particularly specific to any gender - are they dynamic? mentally unstable? resourceful? clever? It's not really a boy or a girl thing. There's still probably some difference in perspective with a male author writing a male character vs. a female author writing a female character and vice versa, but considering dA regularly referred to me a as a dude in my first few features, it really doesn't seem to matter much.
I generally don't care in movies either, though I'll admit that lately I've been drawn to female directors with female protagonists - Catherine Breillat, Jane Campion, Julia Leigh, etc. - in large part because of how they handle sex and relationships in their films. But then again, part of that could also be that they're foreign, and the U.S. can be kind of weird about sex.
So far she's only directed Sleeping Beauty (a 2011 modern thing with Emily Browning) which was very odd and haunting and I liked quite a lot. She also wrote the book that the film The Hunter was based on.
I don't care what the gender is, as long as they're well written and the plot is solid. The characters have to be good AND the plot has to be good, strong characters and a weak plot or vice versa and I'm not interested. I don't care what amazing adventures you've gone on if you're a one dimensional flake, and I don't care how cool you are if you never do anything interesting.
For example, two of my favourite characters are Takeshi Kovacs - male - from Richard Morgan's books and Lisbeth Salander - female - from the Stieg Larsson books. Two of the best, most carefully and subtlety crafted characters that I've ever read, and I could care less what gender they were, although they wouldn't fit their roles as effectively if either gender was reversed. In both cases the stories are deep, the plots interesting and far reaching, small arcs interwoven beneath a large arc that sits beneath and even larger one. Either would be good characters in a weak story, but what makes them memorable is that they exist as interesting characters in interesting stories.
I don't care about the gender. But I do tend to get bored and sometimes reject a book when I read the back flap, and it's another, "straight white cis male who's always been an outcast discovers his hidden talent!" Booooring. (Although in that case the plot is usually stupid, too.)
On the other hand, I also tend to reject books about love triangles, even if it sounds like they have an interesting FMC, and about dystopic futures. Dear publishers: people will buy things that aren't Twilight or The Hunger Games. They have done so before, and they will do so again.
Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 8, 2012Student General Artist
Yes! At least love triangles. I'm just done with love triangles. Or romance in general. I like a grand total of two romance books--Jane Eyre and The Fault in Our Stars--and I've started avoiding YA because it's so hard to find a decent book where the romantic subplot doesn't grow to cancerous proportions.
I'm not going to let the gender of the main character put me off from reading and enjoying a novel. I don't care if the main character is male, female, transgender, or completely without gender. Gender won't stop me from relating to the character if we have other things in common, or if the voice is strong enough to get the character's mood and brain across.
However, I do tend to get excited if the book features a well written, strong female character. But that's bonus points for me.
I prefer reading female characters, to be honest. I mean, I know how guys think, I am one. So, to find a solid female character gives me something of a loose schema for the way I should present them when I write, so that they're not cookie-cutter.
The story is more important but I do find myself tending to favour male characters more so because I prefer male authors. Its hard to find good authors let alone good authors who are great at the opposite gender as well. Once again this is merely my preference an opinion not a shot at gender differences or equality.
to be honest, i think my answer is the same as yours. one book that makes me hate both was "Invisible Monsters". cool plot but written in a ridiculously "i have to get out the crayons because my readers are dumbshits" way with shithead characters that I only wanted all the bad things to happen to. I read it over the course of a few hours and I'll never get those hours back.