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Go Ask Alice (about her fishnet stockings and black high-heeled boots)

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by , 29th August 2013 at 11:11 AM (1012 Views)
Y'all should know what a Sue is by now. It's the Internet, and it's a common accusation for any character someone dislikes. Heck, there was a Mary Sue witch hunt in the anime section back in 2011. But let's look at the traits of a Mary Sue. Specifically, how gender affects how characters are written and viewed.

Is The Concept of a 'Mary Sue' sexist?

This has been brought up on Tumblr a few times, mostly because of this post. I'm going to ignore the other arguments and responses by the author because there's so much drama on both sides, and I don't want to shift through it all. But I will say this: I don't think the concept of a Sue itself is sexist, but I agree with the author in that female characters are more often targeted by people and accused of being called a Mary Sue, and people will usually focus on calling girls Sues than guys. The author uses a lot of flawed logic and assumptions (I do that a lot, too. But I can because I'm cute.) that ultimately bring down the essay as a whole, but the message about sexism and how a lot of people view female characters does have some merit. I can write up a huge essay tackling this essay and giving my opinion, but doing that would be irrelevant towards making my own Sue.

And note that "Mary Sue" is the default term used to refer to Sues and Stus. The female Mary Sue came first and "Gary Stu/Marty Stu" is still relatively new in comparison. Had the original Mary Sue been male, would we use 'Mary Sue' more, or resort to calling girls 'Gary Stu,' too? Probably, probably not. But I'll use 'Sue' as the default term because it's easier than writing "Sue or Stu" all the time.

Most people expect a fanfiction author to be female. It's the archetype, the norm, and the default. But I'll try and save commentary on the authors of Sues and how they can be a character in themselves in another installment. But a female Sue is usually the default, and

People will expect a female Sue more than they would a male Stu. But it's easy to write both, and we've seen Stus surpass many Sues dozens of times in the past. We'll cover how gender usually effects how Sues are treated based on their gender. The author's gender will probably be covered in the post talking about the author as a character of their own.

The Gary Stu: Gender Differences

If there are two things TvTropes has ever done for me, it's introduce me to terrible things. (And let me indulge in my need to organize, but that's neither here nor there.) While I've known about MI before I found its article here, it did introduce me to some other fics. Notably, some fics staring male characters.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, Light And Dark The Adventures Of Dark Yagami, and soulless shell all feature Stus as protagonists. They're also geared towards being powerful and ridiculously strong and tactical. Generally, overpowered badass MANLY man.

Compare them to MI, Twila The Girl Who Waz In Luv With A Vampyre, Forbiden Fruit: The Tempation Of Edward Cullen, My Inner Life, and quite a few Sues here. While many of the Sues are overpowered, even possessing powers not even available in actual canon, more focus is put into their romantic life and their sense of fashion. Usually they're dating the handsome and dangerous guy who would never give them the time of day in real canon at best, and at worst flat-out kill them. More action-oriented stories, like One Piece and Fairy Tail, while give them a reason to be overpowered. But romance will always be a persistent theme and big influence on their character.

Yes, male Sues do get into romance, but it doesn't drive them as much. Is it because the Stu is meant to fulfill a role of power and command respect, while Sues fulfill a wanting to be loved and admired? Is it because females are conditioned by society to focus more on romance than action? Would a male Sue focusing on his romantic life and taking a more passive role be acceptable, or would it be too unbelievable? I don't know, I don't take any gender study classes. Ask someone else.

Now that the differences between Sues and Stus has been shallowly addressed by someone who knows nothing about sexism, your homework (should you choose to accept) is to decide whether we use a Sue or a Stu for this project. Talk about your ideal Sue or Stu, what powers or looks they might have.

That's it for this installment. Tune in next time, where I'll bullshit my way through the handling of canon characters. And later, how legitimate are Mary Sue Litmus tests? The answer may or may not shock you when we come back.
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