Fictional Violence and Women – a pledge

I tend to write stories with action. Which, in this context means violence. Since the majority of my stories feature female main characters, this means that a lot of that violence involves women. In fact, of my six short stories that are out there (I’m counting one currently being considered for publication), five of them include attacks on women. And of those five, two involve abusive husbands and one involves predatory males.

In light of the #yesallwomen hashtag in response to a young man targeting women, I find myself considering why half of my stories involve violence targeting women.

I like to say that tropes are a great tool for a short story writer. They are a quick and easy shorthand, especially when you’re struggling against a word limit. For that reason, an abusive husband/boyfriend is an instant bad guy. I tell you he hit his wife, his girlfriend, his daughter, and instantly the audience recoils with a collective “Oh no he di’int!”

Also, like every woman I know, I’ve been the target of harassment. I won’t share the stories here, but if you want to hear stories of harassment, ask any woman you know. So perhaps I go to that because I know how frightening those experiences are.

I’m not trying to make a point here, I’m more making a pledge to myself. I will be more thoughtful about the use of violence towards women in my stories, both to be more sensitive to the reality of the problem and to avoid seeming to demonize men.

Be good to each other.


5 thoughts on “Fictional Violence and Women – a pledge

  1. Good thoughts, Donna. I think that for me, violence against women is in my sphere of awareness at all times because I’m a woman and I know I have to be aware of it. Anything you have to think about on a regular basis ends up in your fiction sooner or later. It’s inevitable. What I like about your stories is that you approach a very real problem women face with a certain thoughtfulness that brings it above the level of an easy trope.

  2. It’s always interesting to read how #YesAllWomen has changed the way people think about everyday scenarios, no longer accepting the way things are, but making a personal effort to ensure they change.

    • Yep, that’s true. It’s a good thing to be challenged in this way and ask ourselves how we can help improve things. If we all commit to making changes in our personal lives, the world will eventually change, won’t it? Thanks for sharing!

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