March 3rd, 2011


Gender-swapping characters

So timprov and I were having a bit of a sigh and a bit of an eye-roll about Ursula LeGuin's post on The Tempest, and we got to talking about gender-swapping characters. I firmly believe that any particular character can have that done, but not always without altering the story immensely--sometimes the entire setting has to be redone in order to make it work. And timprov brought up Jean Valjean as an example of this: you can write a woman Valjean, but Jeanne Valjean needs a different setting completely to be able to do the things Jean did.

This brought him to suggest that Katee Sackhoff would make a truly awesome Javert, and I loved the idea: the girl born to prison life instead of the boy, the tough-as-nails young woman for whom the law is not mocked. (For those of you not keeping score, Katee Sackhoff was Starbuck on the new Battlestar Galactica.) I don't even know if she can sing. I don't even care. I just really like this idea. "Men like you can never change, a man...such as you...."

(I had a conversation that made me aware of some of my conversational assumptions this morning, and I'm now noticing that I feel the need to flag a popular actress but not the characters from Les Miserables. Oh, assumptions.)

Also: Dr. Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds is a very different person if she is Dr. Stephanie Reid, the team's little sister figure and the daughter of a mentally ill medievalist, and yet a lot of the Reid-peril stuff in early seasons plays out exactly the same.

Anyway. Anybody else have some ideas for what stories would shift interestingly if a character's sex was swapped, and which ones would actually look substantially similar?