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Carly's avatar

Whether or not it's politically correct, do you prefer to read about male or female protagonists in fiction, and why?

Asked by Carly (4360 points ) April 2nd, 2012

I’m asking this question partially for interest, but also because I’m writing a story that needs some help. I started with a female protagonist, then I switched her gender, but know he’s back to a she. The story works with either gender, but the change is significant to the people who have read both versions. Some like the main character as a young woman, some like the mc as a young man.

So now I’m wondering, do other people who like to read prefer male or female protagonists? I have a feeling it might be 50/50, or that the majority of readers don’t mind either way as long as they can connect with the mc—but I could be wrong. Am I wrong?

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26 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Well, I can not read.
I only read Manga, and in that genre, I do not have a preference.

chyna's avatar

It’s always a suprise to me when the protagonist is a female. I have no preference, but when it’s a female, I think it’s a nice change.

lloydbird's avatar

I have no preference.

A protagonist is a protagonist.

Trillian's avatar

No preference.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I prefer good stories. A good story can be written with a male protagonist, a female protagonist, or a protagonist whose gender is never mentioned or non-existent.

muppetish's avatar

I do not have a preference as a reader. As I writer, I often find this such an arbitrary device—particularly since I almost exclusively write in first person—that I try to remove gender from the equation. I have more important things to focus on.

marinelife's avatar

As long as it is well-written and the character is true to his or her gender, I have no preference.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I have no preference. However, when a writer tries to take on a protagonist of opposite gender, and does it badly, I will fling it against the wall.

Earthgirl's avatar

I have no preference. I just want the character to be interesting and fully developed. I want them to feel so real that when I close the book I feel like I met them and know them. In general I want the protaganist to be sympathetic, but sometimes scalawags and neer’ do wells are more fun

DominicX's avatar

I don’t have a preference. I’ve probably read more stories with male protagonists, but I don’t have anything against female protagonists.

His Dark Materials, for example, had a strong female protagonist in the first book. But in the second book, a new male protagonist was introduced alongside her and her role was significantly weakened and she became a much weaker character as a whole in favor of the more dominant male character. I was disappointed in that.

lonelydragon's avatar

It doesn’t matter, as long as the character is relatable and well-developed.

TexasDude's avatar

I like reading about male protagonists, at least in YA fiction and when a story is told from their perspective, because I can typically relate to them more.

tranquilsea's avatar

No preference here either.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I used to read mainly about male protagonists. Then a Jelly asked a question about male or female author preferences, so I started exploring more. Female protagonists are cool too. They’re both good if the author knows their job.

syz's avatar

Almost all of my fiction reading is based on female protagonists.

Blackberry's avatar

It doesn’t matter. I’m really loving the explosion of female protagonists in the media. I watched a tolerable action movie with a female protagonist the other day; watching a woman axe kick a guy in the chest is great.

rojo's avatar

I has been a while since I read fiction but I do prefer female protagonists. They seem to have more depth.

Sunny2's avatar

I’m empathetic to both males and females. Just bring on a good lively story.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Females. Men are so much the default, it’s nice breath of fresh air to find not only a female protagonist, but a well-written one that isn’t incredibly stereotypical.

Leanne1986's avatar

Probably female simply because it is easier for me to relate to a female as I am one myself.

Nullo's avatar

I find that I identify more readily with a male protagonist, being male myself. I have read compelling female characters, though.

Carly's avatar

@nullo, what tends to make a compelling female character for you?

Nullo's avatar

@Carly One who can get past the fact that she’s female and into her role as a protagonist, broadly speaking.

bewailknot's avatar

No preference. Some writers spend too much time describing the wardrobe of female characters – that drives me nuts.

lifeflame's avatar

I think you need to write with whatever gender you feel is right and best delivers the character or the narrative. You can’t build a strong novel based on opinion polls.

@bewailknot : and some writers spend too much time describing the wardrobe or rugged features of male characters… bad writing doesn’t have to do with the gender of the protagonist, but the bad habits of the writer

Aethelflaed's avatar

@lifeflame Some, but not nearly as many, not in the way that makes it a trope for male characters.

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