On Writing Mental Illness in Speculative Fiction

I’m not sure if write what you know is the most common piece of writing advice out there, but it’s got to be in the top three. And taking that advice, one of the themes I usually include in my work is mental illness and wellness. I struggle with it. I have an anxiety disorder, and I am no stranger to depression either. And a lot of people in my life deal with depression, anxiety, bipolar, and a smattering of other more arcane diagnoses.

So you’d think mental illness and wellness would be a natural pairing with my interest in creative writing. Especially since writing is one of my favorite coping mechanisms. And yet, I have found it to be an incredibly difficult theme to handle. It takes a deft touch to handle a suicidal or deeply anxious major character without the reader losing interest, or disliking that character.

I think that’s the nature of mental illness. It’s a stopping force, and a story (and the characters in it) need to go go go. Especially in speculative fiction. Maybe Holden Caulfield can mope around in his depression for a hundred pages, but Harry Potter sure can’t. Which is probably why Potter doesn’t seem to have PTSD despite nine years of abuse and neglect at the hands of the Dursleys.

That said, mental illness is something I’m going to keep including in my stories. I want to write about it, and I need to write about it. The trick I’m working on now is keeping a plot moving even when my depressed or anxious characters would rather just hide in their rooms all day. Through trial and error, it seems like the key is to not let a character’s state be static. If a character is struggling with mental illness, they need to be either getting better, or getting worse.

Which isn’t how mental illness works in real life. It’s a never-ending slog of medication, therapy, and maintaining healthy habits (like exercise, writing, and knitting) while avoiding unhealthy behaviors (like overwhelming myself with my own expectations). “Better” or “worse” is something that can happen quickly, but more it can take months. Or years. So it becomes a balance of mentioning the slog, but keeping it “off page”, and then forcing the depressed or anxious character into action through events out of their control.

The young necromancer spent years repressing his unsettling, unwanted powers. But outlaws just kidnapped his little sister. So who cares about upsetting people any more? It’s zombie time! He’ll just have to deal with his issues later, once things settle down and several months fly by in a brief passage.

It’s not easy to get that to work over the course of a novel. But I like how it’s turned out in a couple of short stories I’ve written (links below). Check them out if you’re interested in finished examples of my writing theories in action, or if you just enjoy short speculative fiction and have a few minutes.

“Saint Peter” — an artificial intelligence reaches out to a suicidal young man in an attempt to save his life. I posted this one not too long ago, but here it is again anyway.

“She Swallowed a God” — a family’s dysfunction and mental illness reframed as a fairy tale. This one is a flash fiction contest entry that didn’t win, but I really like how it turned out anyway. So there.


Is It Sexist to Hit Her? Deadpool Reviewed

Deadpool is fantastic! Five stars, two thumbs up, new Facebook Wow FaceTM. Go see it before reading this, because you’ll laugh your ass off, and avast, thar be spoilers ahead.

Alright, so first I want to give a big shout out to my favorite joke: “Written by The Real Heroes”. Because it’s true. While the effects team worked pure magic and Ryan Reynolds knocked it out of the park (and dat ass…), without top-notch writing this movie would have been a big, obnoxious mess. My hats off to you, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

And the runner-up jokes:

–The little figurine of “Deadpool” from X Men Origins: Wolverine.

–Going to meet Professor X. “Which one, Stewart or McAvoy?”

–Angel Dust’s boob popping out of her bustier mid-fight, and Colossus freaking out.

There are, of course, many, many more fine jokes from Deadpool to reminisce about. But at this point I’d rather take a long look at that last one. The boob, the gentlemanly freak-out, the coy acceptance of Colossus’s chivalry. And then Angel Dust hits Colossus hard with a sucker punch, because you don’t look away from your opponent in a life-or-death battle. Not even if she’s a pretty, and partially exposed, woman.

Thanks to Reese and Wernick, this movie gets exactly where we are in this conversation. Is it sexist to hit a woman? Is it more sexist not to hit a woman? Deadpool himself asks this question mid-movie. He answers by shooting the woman in question with comedic timing; perfect Deadpool. But yes, there is an automatic cringe upon seeing such a cute, petite woman gunned down by a masked maniac.

But we just saw Deadpool treat a dozen guys the same way. They’re all “bad guys”, they all work for Ajax/Francis, and Deadpool isn’t portrayed as heroic for killing them so it’s okay. His brutality is funny. Dark satire pratfalls.

So, in context, is it sexist to hit the woman? She’s just another hench(wo)man. No super powers to even out nature’s muscular imbalance — but those other henchmen weren’t powered up either. In context, it really seems more sexist not to hit her.

And that, oddly, is what makes Deadpool the “hero” in this film. He’s the only man on screen who isn’t sexist. Okay, yeah, so he encourages the cabbie Dopinder to treat the object of his desires as an object. But Deadpool is comfortable talking about masturbation with his roommate, Blind Al. Which is normal for male roommates, but Blind Al is a woman.

Similarly, Deadpool doesn’t get jealous about the chosen profession of his lady love. They never talk about it once — we have no idea if Vanessa is still turning tricks or not. Because it doesn’t matter. Deadpool and Vanessa love the heck out of each other. Whatever their relationship looks like, it’s working for them, and that’s what matters.

And there’s a streak of Bugs Bunny’s transvestitism in Reynold’s Deadpool. He never wears a dress, but he’s impressively comfortable with his own sexual objectification. His cross-acting (what else can I call it?) is used for comedic effect on screen, but it’s clear the character himself really doesn’t give a damn about gender norms. Unless he can use them to crack an excellent joke.

Meanwhile, Francis totally forgets about the Vanessa in the Fridge behind him. So when she escapes, grabs Deadpool’s sword, and stabs Francis…I can’t even call that a joke. That was cosmic justice for every damsel in distress who hasn’t waded into the fight the moment she could.

To acknowledge the naked elephant (stripper) in the room, yeah. We have a little full frontal female nudity in this film. But we also have a long shot of Ryan Reynold’s muscular butt, and another long shot of Everything when Francis leaves him to die in the burning laboratory. That, my friends, is gender equality.

It must also be mentioned that this movie is dark, intensely violent, and vulgar. It’s not the kind of movie I expect to find myself thinking good for people. Not good for kids, no. To the mom and dad who brought their two little boys to see Deadpool with them and sat in front of me — your boys are super well behaved, but what the heck is wrong with you?

For adults, though? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with depictions of violence in media, so long as the writers, directors, actors, etc. are honest with the audience. Violence is shocking, disgusting, and holds the possibility of dire, even mortal consequence.

Once that is stated (and it is, in spades), why not make fun of what squishy meatbags we are?

In short, if it’s fiction, just hit the girl already.

You’re Not Yuccie, You’re an Artist

I came across this article this morning on my Facebook feed.

TL;DR*?  That’s okay, I’ll summarize.

In “The hipster is dead, and you might not like who comes next”, David Infante coins a new word to describe himself and people like him; Millennials living in urban areas who are willing to take uncertain, poorly paid positions so long as they allow for some form of creative expression/fulfillment/validation.  These folk want to start their own artisanal businesses, and hopefully get rich quick off their creative talents.

And despite their financial struggles, these folk are ultimately privileged.  They trust the system (and their families) to carry them through hard times.  They’ve never been screwed over enough to give up their dreams and take a sensible job.

Infante calls himself, and those like him, Young Urban Creatives, or “yuccies”.  (Like “yucky”, get it?!)  More sensible than the hipster, poorer than the yuppie, but full of “creative entitlement”.

This is myopic, self-hating nonsense, and I’m tired of it.

The problem is not the “yuccies” themselves, but a dwindling supply of good, stable jobs on “traditional career paths” coupled with a complete lack of respect for creative types.  I’ve experienced this lack of respect first hand, and it nearly destroyed me.

I can’t just watch this crap go viral without responding, so here’s my story.

At fourteen, I discovered my deep love for creative writing, specifically long, speculative fiction.  I had always been good at writing, I loved to read, and I had a penchant for literary analysis — maybe I should have figured out who I was sooner, but I managed it at fourteen.

I started telling people.

My high school was entirely unprepared to help me achieve this kind of goal, and actively worked to quash it.  A surprising number of people thought it was supportive to talk to me about “day jobs” and “alternate careers”, and to remind me that the odds would not be in my favor.  It’s no wonder I wound up clinically depressed and burdened by generalized anxiety by the time I was fifteen.

I spent the next decade “finding myself” — that is, turning into a failure.

I dropped out of my prestigious university.  I moved back into my parents’ home, jobless and unable to function.  I took random classes at a community college, hoping that bit of structure and the achievement of completed classes would galvanize me into… something.  I floated, cushioned from real hardship by the incredible luck of having a generous and loving family, but bleak and barren inside.

And my psychiatric medication killed my creativity, the very thing that would eventually help me pull myself back together.

From my perspective, Infante’s “yuccies” are functioning much better than I did.  Privileged or not, they’re making pragmatic choices.  They’re walking a thin line between self-expression and “making it”, and managing it as creative work is increasingly outsourced overseas, underpaid, or divorced from any kind of stability.

Infante decries his own choices and the choices of other young, creative types — but that’s just whining, wishing he could have his stable job cake and decorate it too.

He decries the privilege of “yuccies”, but just how useful is all that child-of-middle-class guilt?  It isn’t going to break down income inequality, raise minimum wage, strengthen our social safety nets, get us universal health care, bring paid vacations, sick leave, and family leave to American workers, end racism, classism, or sexism, or even feed, clothe, or house the needy.  Know you’re privileged, be grateful for it, be generous to those you meet who aren’t, and vote socialist so we can share the privilege around.

He decries his need for constant validation — well, that’s almost a good point.  “Yuccies” may be needy, but that’s a perversion of their natural creative drive.  We’re told we need to make something of ourselves — and make money — and are given few opportunities to do it without killing our souls.  Public funding for the arts is pathetic.  Try to talk STEAM instead of STEM, and everyone but Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks you’re coddling drug-addled theater majors.

It isn’t easy to be an artsy, creative person.  If you can be something else, that might be in your best interest.  But if you can’t, if your soul will sicken without self expression, take your genius by the horns.  Every career path is uncertain now, so get that artsy degree.  Turn down that boring job.  Don’t worry so much about the opportunities you’re missing, focus on the ones you have.

You’re not “yuccie”, you’re an Artist.  And don’t let anyone tell you differently.


*for those who aren’t hep to internet acronyms, this one means “Too Long; Didn’t Read”

How to Build Your Bestiary

In the earliest stages of building my world of Endrion, I took a lot of inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons.  Specifically, The Monster Manual.  I liked the idea of a world filled with every kind of imaginary creature, and I wasn’t the only one.  Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms were big.  Brian Froud was big.  JK Rowling even came out with a bestiary for the Wizarding World.

So I filled up my world with everything I could think of.

I had six mortal “races”; humans, elves, dwarves, goblins, trolls, and ogres.  I had at least a dozen types of types of faerie, ranging from the great Aes Shi lords down to housekeeping brownies.  I had scores of magical beasts that traveled in and out of reality via The Mists.  I ended up with notes detailing more than a hundred different mythical species, some borrowed from world mythology, some cribbed from other writers.

And then I scrapped most of that nonsense on my second draft.

No, I didn’t lose interest in mythozoology.  It just wasn’t practical to have this Gygaxian cornucopia of beasts and beings.  It gummed up my story.  It took too long to introduce all six mortal “races”, and the faeries and their Mists — while fun — were so whimsical and powerful that they distracted from the seriousness of the perils faced by my mortal characters.

So I cut out the dwarves — all but one, who is now just a human afflicted with achondroplasia, because as much as George RR Martin frustrates me he still has some ideas worth stealing.  Goblins, trolls, and ogres became one “race”; orks.  All the faeries and more nebulous beings vanished along with their Mists into a cauldron on the back burner in my mind.  Someday I’ll recycle them, but they just didn’t fit in Endrion.  Most of the monsters also disappeared, or got themselves reclassified broadly as “chimera”.

A few, like duwende and merfolk, became myths within Endrion.  Because why would people stop making stuff up just because there’s magic in the world?

This is today’s lesson: streamline your bestiary.

Don’t throw it all out, just be smart.  Choose magical creatures for their symbolic potency, not just their cool factor.  Describe the ones you do include, even if you think everyone should know what a “dragon” is already — Smaug and Saphira may both be “dragons”, but every fantasy novelist has her own twist on just what a “dragon” is.

Be aware that the less human your major characters are, the less your reader will connect with them.  My elves used to live for hundreds of years; now, they have ordinary lifespans of eighty years, give or take.  Why?  Because you can’t feel empathy for bad life choices if the character always has more time to try some other walk of life.

Fantastic beasts and magical peoples are an intrinsic part of speculative fiction, and done right they will enhance and color your story.  Just remember, you’ve got to have a story too.

Tainted, Kilted Love: Outlander & Dragonfly in Amber Reviewed

Considering that Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series stretches across eight novels (and two novellas, one short story, and one graphic novel), and I’ve only read the first two, maybe I’m about to put my foot in my mouth.  But I did promise my fellow blogger kestrelforaknave some words once I finished Dragonfly in Amber, so here they are.

First, to clarify, I have not seen the Starz Outlander show.  I have no idea how closely it follows the books, or if it has reached the Point of Contention yet.  If you want to read about the show, I’m afraid this isn’t the post for you.

Second, SPOILERS!!!  I will try not to reveal too much about the overall plots of Outlander (Book 1), or Dragonfly in Amber (Book 2), but I will be talking in depth about the relationship between the two main characters.  If you want to start this book series without knowing anything at all, read no further.

Okay, did I chase off all my readers?  Good.  Here we go.

The Outlander series follows the historical, romantic, and marginally sci-fi adventures of Claire Randall/Beauchamp/Fraser, an Englishwoman and World War II nurse.  In Book 1, Claire accidentally leaves her husband, historian Frank Randall, behind in 1945 when she stumbles through some Scottish standing stones that send her back to 1743.  She is first assaulted by one of Frank’s ancestors, Captain Jack Randall, an English dragoon, and then is kidnapped by a band of Scottish cattle rustlers.

The Scots take Claire to Castle Leoch, stronghold of the MacKenzie clan, and far away from the standing stones and her hopes of reuniting with Frank.

Claire looks terribly suspicious to the English as well as the Scots.  (It doesn’t help that the English and the Scots really don’t like each other in the 1740s.)  Claire’s nursing skills give her a chance — armed with germ theory and practice from stitching up WWII wounded, she quickly gains reputation as a healer with uncommon skill.  But she is still assumed to be someone’s spy.  The MacKenzies are ordered to take Claire to an English prison, where she will likely be tortured by Jack Randall himself.  To save herself from this, Claire is forced to marry Jaime Fraser.

This isn’t so terrible — Claire already has the hots for Jaime, red maned Scottish Adonis that he is.  And Claire is a pragmatic woman.  She must remain free and whole if she is ever to return to Frank.

Yet by the end of Book 1, Claire CHOOSES to stay in the very dangerous past with Jaime instead of returning to “modernity” and Frank.  And at first glance, the choice doesn’t make any sense, considering the Point of Contention.

Just what is the Point of Contention?  One time, after Claire acts recklessly and puts her few allies in danger, Jaime beats the crap out of Claire.

Personally, I applaud Gabaldon for having the guts to write this twist into an otherwise perfect relationship — and to write it happening largely on page, in the first person of the victim.  I applaud her for not patronizing her readers with a sanitized version of history — in her 1740s Europe, constant illness and physical and sexual abuse is the norm.  But admittedly, Gabaldon didn’t stick the landing on the Point of Contention.

Jaime gets back in Claire’s good graces within days, and she chooses to happily follow him into outlawry, murder, treason, and mortal peril.

I’ve read a number of reviews on Book 1 where the reader could not get past this.  And that’s fine.  The book is frequently billed as romance, and as I understand it romance is not supposed to be risky — it’s supposed to be safe.  For the more adventurous romance fan, or someone who came for the history, or the sci-fi, the beating is totally icky and deserves a trigger-warning.  If this kind of morally gray place isn’t somewhere you want to be, I can respect that.

But in Gabaldon’s defense, CLAIRE IS NOT OUR CONTEMPORARY!  Book 1 was published in 1991, but Claire is from 1945.  Perhaps a little spousal abuse doesn’t seem like anything to get worked up over to her, especially since Jaime makes a great case for himself (his own self-aware history of beatings at the hands of his father and the English government).  He also promises never to strike her again — a promise he does keep, at least through the end of Book 2.

Still, it’s too perfect.  Except if you read on, it isn’t.  Jaime does respect and adore Claire, but then completely disregards her.  He comes back with apologies, but he does knowingly and willingly betray her first.  Jaime’s a big, strong man, and he does shake Claire and physically intimidate her.  Book 2 reveals another problem — since Claire is a woman (and the first person narrator), she (and we) get left behind sometimes while Jaime carries the plot forward.

And there’s the whole mortal peril thing.

If Claire is as savvy as she seems, why does give up her chance to go back through the standing stones?  Why does she stay in the past with Jaime who abuses, and not return to the “present” and Frank?

Well, there are hints that life with Frank isn’t all that Claire hoped for.  She grew up on archeological digs, roughing it, so the quiet life of a history professor’s wife might look dead dull  to her.  Frank bores her in the few chapters they actually spend together.  And Frank seems to have secrets.  They loved each other before the war, but maybe after it their relationship is heading for a breakup anyway?

Or not.  In Book 2 we learn that Claire does eventually go back to the “present”, and has 20 years with Frank before his death.  But we don’t see this relationship, we can only infer it.   Considering that Frank and Claire were together during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, and Claire becomes a doctor, and then chief of staff at a large hospital, I can’t believe they never had any Mad Men era marital strife.  It’s hinted that they stayed together for their daughter (well, Claire and Jaime’s daughter), and to avoid the scandal of the good Professor Frank Randall abandoning the wife who went missing for three years.

Perhaps the other books in the series will explore Frank and Claire’s relationship.  Maybe I’m right about them, maybe not.  But for anyone claiming Gabaldon is a false feminist — you’re wrong.

Sure, the main villain of Book 1 — Jack Randall — is gay.  He displays a consistent choice for men (or boys) over women, although his real turn on is pain and suffering.  He certainly isn’t the effeminate, showy, Disney villain sort of gay, which is a triumph considering this is a ‘90s book.  And I hear there is a prominent gay character later in the series — a good guy this time.  Does that make up for it?  Is a gay villain (or any minority villain) necessarily a bigoted thing to write?

I don’t have any hard and fast answers here.  Feel about Jack Randall as you will.

But Claire and Jaime’s relationship troubles are not grounds for taking away Gabaldon’s feminist card.  For one, Claire may put up with Jaime’s flaws, but she doesn’t make excuses for them ala Bella Swann, or Anastasia Steele.  For another, Gabaldon’s overall thematic thrust is that there are plenty of situations out there with no good choices.  Frank, or Jaime — either is a chance for happiness or misery, and there’s no telling which, if either, will be good for you in the long run.  Sometimes the right choice seems obvious in hindsight — but maybe it wasn’t really the right choice.  Since it wasn’t the choice made, you’ll never know.

It’s Catch-22, but with time-travel, sexy Scots, and spousal abuse.  And no, I guess that’s not necessarily feminist.

What is feminist is that Gabaldon is grappling with women’s issues the whole time.  Marginalization.  Witch hunts (figurative and literal).  Limited resources.  Reliance on men.  Fears about childbirth and childlessness.  And hey, spousal abuse!

There’s a lot more to these books, but I don’t want to spoil any more of them for you if you’re still interested.  And if Outlander’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay too.  But it’s still feminist.

GRRM is Not a Feminist

George RR Martin claims, “I’m a feminist at heart,” but I don’t believe him.

Neither do his many angered fans.  They dealt with Joffrey forcing one whore to murder another.  They weathered the Red Wedding and a pregnant woman being stabbed in the belly.  They continued watching, despite Jaime’s last-character-arc-negating rape of Cersei.  And now Sansa has been pointlessly raped by the pointlessly sadistic Bastard of Bolton, and many of the feminist fans are done.  Just done.  They can’t let themselves tacitly condone the sexism any longer, and have sworn off future episodes.

What’s that?  None of that happens in the book, and GRRM doesn’t have complete creative control over the show?  And he actually griped about (but didn’t exactly apologized for)* some of its deviations from his work?  Alright, that’s a fair point.  The show has actually turned out to be more sexist than the books by a long shot, despite the initial promise that it might tone that crap down.

So let’s focus on the outrages GRRM himself has actually penned.  How about the raping stocks in Harrenhal, or Arya being pointlessly threatened with rape in the same location?  Or Brienne’s inability to save herself, relying ultimately on one-handed Jaime to rescue her from a mere bear?  Or the fact that the ruination of the Starks is almost entirely Catelyn’s fault?

And Cersei…hmm, I don’t believe that’s happened in the show yet.  Well, at the end of book five, that was a complete break of character, and it wasn’t at all like the actual Middle Ages either.  It wasn’t even consistent with GRRM’s own work, considering what happened to poor Lollys just for existing at the wrong moment in the wrong company.

Okay.  Deep breaths.  NK JemisonDiana GabaldonNicola Griffith.

I do think GRRM means well.  I do think that he WANTS to be a feminist, that he believes the feminists are right (as, generally, they are).  He’s a smart guy, he wants to be in on that.  He has created a number of memorable female characters, and writes frequently from their point of view.

And he seems sympathetic to their plight, as women.

But while inclusion is great, it’s only the first step in creating true diversity in your work.  Step two is giving your minority characters some agency, and GRRM’s ladies rarely have much of that.  Instead, they’re all plight.  Forever beset upon by the men and other women in their lives.

That doesn’t sound quite feminist to me.  It doesn’t even sound “realistic”.  We’re not all damsels 24-7.  And really, we’re talking novels, worlds and people created by a truly omnipotent god.  Why couldn’t Brienne just jab the bear’s eye-socket and stab into its brain with her wooden sword?

And then climb on its mangy back, climb out of the pit, and plant a kiss on Jaime Lannister?

Now that would have been feminist.

*                 *                 *

*first comment on GRRM’s blog post “Author, Author!”

Fury Road, Genisys, and Men’s Rights

What a week for speculative fiction movies and gender role discussions, eh?  On the one hand, some of my fellow feminists are having trouble dealing with the problematic backstory Marvel has always had for Black Widow and the fact that Iron Man is a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” who would totally crack a rape joke in poor taste.  On the other, the so-called “Men’s Rights Activists” are going nuts over the new Mad Max and Terminator movies.

I’ll be candid — I haven’t seen the original Mad Max movie (shame on me, I know; it is, like so many books, video games, comics, tv shows, and movies, on my list).  I also haven’t seen Fury Road yet, and I certainly haven’t seen Genisys* (‘cause it ain’t even out ‘til July!), so there’s really only so much I can say.  But let’s start with what an MRA is.

An MRA is a person (male or female) who thinks that feminism is out to strip men of their rights.  And they have a point.  Before feminism, men got to keep their kids and their stuff when they got divorced from their wives.  After feminism, it is easier for women to collect alimony and take custody of their children than it is for men, no matter how deserving he or she is.  Fortune was historically unbalanced in favor of men, now (in some ways) it is unbalanced in favor of women, and really we should work to have fortune balanced between the sexes.

(Pssst, I’m totally with you there, MRAs.  That’s why I’m a feminist!)

There are a couple of different flavors of MRA.  Some call themselves Men Going Their Own Way (MIGTOW), and they say they’re after equality in their relationships, splitting the bill and such.  Others, like Pick-Up Artists (PUA) believe they have been denied their right to sex, and are interested in learning how to manipulate women to obtain sex.

Some MRAs seem like they are actually decent people.  They’ve been hurt by the women in their lives, and are trying to find ways to cope together, and that’s fine.  But a lot of the individuals involved in these groups are trolls and haters, some are openly and proudly misogynistic, and they bring that toxic energy into everything MRAs try to do more collectively.

Like find excuses to troll, dox, stalk, and make things generally miserable for female video game journalists and designers (Gamergate).  Or stuff the ballots for the Hugos in favor of less aware literature (Puppygate/Sick Puppies/Rabid Puppies).  Or cry out at the unfairness that is bad-ass women in post-apocalyptic, big budget movies, as we see here.

Seriously, that’s the complaint.  Hot women running around on screen, doing cool stuff.  Why is that a problem?  Because it means the man in the plot isn’t doing all the cool stuff.

I do get it.  For a whole bunch of political, social, and economic reasons, men are in a bind.  More women are graduating college than men.  More women are turning into the breadwinners of their household.  Catcalling is wrong, draw lady superheroes in more dignified postures, enthusiastic consent or it’s rape.  The definition of what it is to be a man and the rules about appropriate behavior are changing under your feet, so why can’t you at least have your manly movie franchises to yourselves?

Well, you can’t.  Slowly, slowly, Hollywood is getting it that women like big, action-packed movies too.  We’re a demographic with cash — thanks Disney’s Frozen for getting the point across at last!

So what can you do?

Enjoy the movies.

But how can you, with a woman potentially doing just fine on her own without a man to stomp faces for her?

What, do you think I’ve never enjoyed a movie without a woman in it?  I love Venture Bros. and Better Call Saul, and those are totally dude-centric shows.  And in books, I’ll take The Dark Tower over The Mists of Avalon any day.

It’s easy for me to empathize with men, to experience a story as a male main character.  It’s easy, because men and women aren’t that different.  We’re both in fleshy bodies that require near constant upkeep and care.  We both want to protect our loved ones.  We both like to be awesome, be the hero.  We both want to be loved.  We both can react badly to being hurt.

With that in mind, go watch Fury Road, and be Imperator Furiosa.  Go watch Genisys**, and be Sarah Connor.  Just like you would otherwise be Mad Max or Kyle Reese.

After all, going and enjoying these movies anyway is the manly thing to do.

*                   *                   *

*most awkward “cool” misspelling ever

**ugh…seriously that’s bad…