Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Link to Article About Male Gaze and PoV violations in Fantasy

I just ran across this issue on male gaze and pov (written by Kate Elliot) from a SFF fanzine.
Anyone who's read very many of my entries by now knows that I'm interested in gender issues as they pertain to writing. I'm also interested in point of view in fiction and in the ways authors use (and sometimes abuse) it. Kate Elliot refers to the problem of "omniscient breasts," which is what happens when the male gaze creeps into a point of view that is supposed to be female. Thought it was interesting, as it sums up something that I probably don't notice quite as often as I should, but that still jars me out of a story's narrative sometimes: a female character, written in limited third pov who seems just a little too consciously aware of certain parts of her own body.

I strongly suspect that writers of both sexes are often unaware of the fact that they're doing this. The most interesting part of the article was one male's interpretation of her writing when it was truly written from a female pov.

I remember reading a passage in GoT where one of the female characters seemed to be oddly aware of the size and shape of her own breasts, and of the way they jiggled beneath her vest. It made me roll my eyes a bit, because if a woman wrote a male pov along those lines (he felt his firm, tight you know whats jiggling inside his breeks as he walked across the room), I think many male readers would throw the book down in panic.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to be aware of this in my own writing, and I will have to pay particular attention in the coming weeks when I dig back into my WiP.

  2. Interesting article. I think essentially this is just an example (though a special enough case to be worth emphasising on its own) of the need to understand your characters thoroughly and to be constantly vigilant about staying in POV.

    The book I'm reading at the moment (Ilario: The Lion's Eye by Mary Gentle) has a 1st person MC who's a hermaphrodite. That's a complex gaze.