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This concept cracks me up because much like Karen, it just makes no sense for it to be named after women.

“But PCL, the concept is named after a female character from a Star Trek fanfiction contest! The original one was a female character!”

Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know that this Star Trek fan fiction was written after Les Miserables. Or The Last of the Mohicans. Or Planet of the Apes (that might have been around the same time).

Just look at this video on the history of Mary Sues in fanfiction. You had a whole generation of teen girls terrified to write them and cutting each other down for it instead of just expressing each other creatively the way every little boy did that age with Gary Stus.

I am only ever using Gary Stu from now on.

This concept cracks me up because much like Karen, it just makes no sense for it to be named after women. “But PCL, the concept is named after a female character from a Star Trek fanfiction contest! The original one was a female character!” Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know that this Star Trek fan fiction was written after Les Miserables. Or The Last of the Mohicans. Or Planet of the Apes (that might have been around the same time). Just look at [this video on the history of Mary Sues in fanfiction](https://youtu.be/XMBEK-PPOsI). You had a whole generation of teen girls terrified to write them and cutting each other down for it instead of just expressing each other creatively the way every little boy did that age with Gary Stus. I am only ever using Gary Stu from now on.

26 comments

I’ve never been one to read fan fiction but I always thought the Mary Sue thing was funny because it more or less describes every male protagonist, and in particular Luke Skywalker. It’s considered perfectly ok and normal for a male character to be extremely gifted and “special” for no fucking reason other than he’s the author insert and a power/sex fantasy for the male readers and viewers.

I also connect this idea to gcs who wail on about female characters on television and in movies being unnaturally or unusually strong, that female (but not male) characters should have their wings clipped so to speak as to not give women and girls ideas above our station that are unrealistic. It’s fine for boys to dream and idolize idealized male figures who have abilities far beyond the average man or any man, it’s fine for boys to see themselves represented even as the ultimate being: god with unlimited powers to create and destroy entire worlds, but for a girl to see a fictional woman successfully fight off a male assailant is too damaging for her sense of reality.

Let me tell you, the absolute rush I felt watching Captain Marvel. I was over the moon, I felt powerful, giddy with adrenaline. Walking out of that theatre I thought, this is how men feel all the damn time. Must be amazing to always have media cater to you and lift you up, to see success and humanity and complexity of your being shown in different and artistic ways. No wonder they never let us have that. I imagine if we got more of that type of media, we'd all feel very differently about ourselves and our place in the world. We'd tolerate less, aspire to more and have more drive to fight.

I also connect this idea to gcs who wail on about female characters on television and in movies being unnaturally or unusually strong, that female (but not male) characters should have their wings clipped so to speak as to not give women and girls ideas above our station that are unrealistic. It’s fine for boys to dream and idolize idealized male figures who have abilities far beyond the average man or any man, it’s fine for boys to see themselves represented even as the ultimate being: god with unlimited powers to create and destroy entire worlds, but for a girl to see a fictional woman successfully fight off a male assailant is too damaging for her sense of reality

This! I am so glad to know that somebody here besides me sees it this way. I do, but I can't express myself as well as you can and when I say something trying to do so, I usually get some sanctimonious moron on this site deigning to explain "reality" to me. Pardon the name-calling, but I had come to hate this site for that. I'm glad that not EVERYBODY here fails to see this.

I've always thought this was silly too, and that a lot of people here over exaggerate what a problem it is. At a certain age you should be able to distinguish fiction from reality. If you're watching an action or super hero movie and think real people can do those things then sorry, but you're kinda dumb.. Lol Most people get that, most women and girls know they are physically weaker than men. The ones who claim there are no differences are either knowingly lying because that's the 'correct' opinion to have these days, or they're very naive and actually brainwashed, likely by transgenderism.

Thanks for the name calling. I'm definitely very dumb because I thought I could overpower a man, yeah. And no, it definitely has nothing to do with all these 50kg women in media overpowering bodybuilders and people telling me that I just need the right technique and I can overpower any man. /s

I've said it all my life, but men are the biggest Mary Sue's out there, literally every character is made to be some form of "Chad" or underdog for them to worship and invision themselves as. Another term that is projection. Do women do it? Yeah but not anymore then men do, and certain not as gratuitous as them. For all people complained about Rey, fucking Anakin and Luke had the exact same hero journey arc of bullshit. They were main characters because the author chose to make them such, that's it. That's why the story revolves around them and that's why they're special.

The whole Rey thing drives me nuts. Luke was way too old to be Jedi-trained per the rules established, yet he had no trouble picking it up after the first movie, going on to be the most powerful known Jedi after Yoda’s death, able to face down Vader and the emperor. He made that 1 in a million shot on the Death Star, explaining that he used to shoot womp rats. And that’s all perfectly fine. Yet no one believed that Rey could know mechanics or pilot a craft even though it was established she worked her whole life in her slave masters junkyard. She was established to use a bo staff type weapon for self defense, but it was “unrealistic” that she could fight. (I do wish they’d kept the bo style for her light saber though). The audience picked apart how quickly she picked up the force, when it’s been established that some people have a natural affinity (Anakin, who was literally Jedi Jesus, and Luke as well despite being a farm boy with no training). No, a woman can’t be naturally talented and have that hero’s journey without everyone picking it apart to death.

Honestly, and then she gets blamed for the male writers shitty writing. Rey had the same hero arc as the men before her, she's the only one called out for it. All hero's journey arcs are bs because they're fake. No shit it doesn't make sense, you could say that for every damn fandom, it's fiction for a reason. Men just ruin everything and poison the well of public opinion. Frankly I hated Kylo much more, what a loser. Very much angsty angry violent male with him.

I give Anakin a modicum of a pass for being Jedi Jesus and essentially being groomed most of his life(and a slave before that), but Luke's arc was full of shit. No damn way was he that good at flying and Jedi arts, what an ass pull. And the fact Leah didn't have the same potential?? Nah. She had more gumption in her pinky then he did his whole being. But sexist bs plot hole so only Luke could be awesome at being a Jedi. 🙄

[–] bluff 4 points Edited

I'd encourage everyone to read the original fanfic that created this term. It's a quick read and SO OBVIOUS the author is taking the piss. It's a joke and a funny one at that. Bonus if you're a trekkie.

Link: https://i.imgur.com/uzSJ4cD.jpeg

Edit: also worth noting this was written in 1973. Women have been the funniest since the beginning of humanity.

Yeah, and fanfiction was/is predominantly made up of female writers. We can have grown men getting paid to write Duke Nukem tier quality of fiction for Hollywood, and little boys thinking it's the coolest thing ever, but girls have to police their creative writing to make sure they don't write Mary Sues or sparkly vampire boyfriends.

I don't buy the Gary Stu equivalent because it's still used to criticize female writers who write male characters.

People dog on the female writers making their inserts chase by all the men and being the best at everything. But that's literally male media, every male power fantasy is: a player dude that everyone respects, he can get all the women, he has money and power etc. How is that not the same damn thing. Even the underdog men or the ugly men get beautiful women. The hypocrisy is rich.

[–] VestalVirgin 9 points Edited

So true. If a male character is a Gary Stu, that's just considered normal.

(I mean, let's just take Harry Potter. He isn't a Gary Stu in the sense that he makes the series unenjoyable, but ... he is super-rich in comparison to his peers, has super powerful magic when he applies himself, and was the youngest Seeker in years because he's just that good, without any practice. And of course, he's famous. And very humble about it, too. If a fanfic writer, or perhaps even a book author wrote a female character who was thus elevated above her peers without working for it ... I think she would be accused of writing a Mary Sue. At least a female author would. Some of the most beloved female characters have been written by men - and there may be a reason for that. Roald Dahl's Matilda had some similarities to Harry Potter ... a female writer might have been accused of writing a self insert.)

I despise the term at this point. I rarely even read fanfiction, but it's used for every form of fictional media now. Sometimes it seems like every female character is accused of being one. The term doesn't even have much of a definition anymore, it's used for characters ranging from blatant self-inserts (but mostly when done by female writers of course) to women who are written to be gasp good at two things at the same time (obviously not realistic! /s). I wouldn't have as much of an issue with the term if the male equivalent was used to the same extent but it's really not. I've come across male characters that would have been called Mary Sues had they been female, but they're male so people love the character regardless 🙄

Yeah I hate it too it is often used to shame women especially young women and teenager girls from writing what they want how they want according to their heart's desire... And also to shame women who like to write and read self-insert fanfics like me and from creating OCs in fanfics etc...

Plus like you mentioned most " perfect " characters from fiction were originally male like Superman yet it is a feminine name that is used as the " default " when referring to these types of characters...

Sometimes even male characters get called a " Mary Sue " ... Pretty interesting that this " feminine default " like most feminine default words have negative connotations no?

Yeah I hate it too it is often used to shame women especially young women and teenager girls from writing what they want how they want according to their heart's desire... And also to shame women who like to write and read self-insert fanfics like me and from creating OCs in fanfics etc...

Their fiction is the only time they can make a world where they matter. Why is it shocking they write fics where they're important, and everyone cares about them. Especially when girls start learning pretty damn young that that's not the case, that they don't matter and boys will always be treated better then them. At it's essence, it's an escape and a way to have something denied to them in real life. Have at it I say, way too many things get taken from girls and women.

Generally, I agree. But at the same time I have to say that fanfiction spaces, especially those that young girls frequent, are often a haven full of internalized misogyny. So many self insert fanfictions do absolutely consist of the OC "winning" against other girls because they on the other hand are of course just one-dimensional-beings and borderline stalkers of nice men. I was in a lot of those spaces as a teen and I eventually had to stop consuming fanfictions with female OCs for this exact reason. I just coulnd't stand the way other female characters were portrayed in these fanfictions.

But for the sake of completeness, I have to add that there is not less misogyny when it comes to MLM fics. Although men are the main characters in these, the female side characters are also portrayed as one-dimensional boy crazy airheads. Often also as homophobic against the male main characters.

[–] [Deleted] 1 points Edited

Oh I agree, but I recognize it's just them exerting power fantasies onto their writing. Of course the internalized misogyny and pick me attitude is rampant and atrocious, but they'll never get that sort of control irl so I suppose it evens out in a way. And generally they grow out of those once they hit 20, I don't think anyone older then that writes that kind of thing, or does it that badly at least.

As for the MLM stuff, yeah that happens when only men are portrayed as full humans in media. That's why girls and women's re make attracted and see themselves in male characters. Male characters are people,female characters are stereotypes or poorly written there's always something off about them(the male gaze if you will). It's sad because this thinking is one of the top reasons of the TiF and enby epidemic It's no coincidence they're all girls and women chronically in these spaces, whose favorite characters are men. When you break it all down, you really see the damage patriarchy does played out in these spaces. All the issues being worked through, and how these girls and women see themselves. How they want to escape womanhood.

It's just one more thing women get knocked for, after all shitty writing gets put into film as long as a male is doing it.

The Sue thing goes way way way way back. Stus are equally derided as I recall. Just don't put original characters in fic and you can get away with being as OOC as you like.

Stus are not equally derided! Sure they get their fair share of hate but a lot of people don't even know what a Gary Stu is.

Just don't put original characters in fic and you can get away with being as OOC as you like.

Oof kind of true but kind of not. I've seen readers call out badly written canon characters. Some are so bad they've basically warped into an original character.

This reply is in good fun btw.

To be honest, my first reaction to this post was probably exactly the way you expected it to be: "There is also Gary Stu! And we only hear so much about Mary Sues because more women write fanfictions and write themselves in the story than men!"

But after reading the comments in the thread, I think you are completely right. Men do write a lot of self inserts as well and they are often Gary Stu characters. Maybe less when it comes to fanfiction because this is a female dominated field, but very often when it comes to writing original stories/ books. I've always hated male main characters that were written by men - now I can understand why that is. They write themselves in a very idealized manner, of course being attractive to young hot women as well. Now insert some generic "men write women" sexualization and voilà, we have a book written by a man.

[–] SecondSkin 1 points Edited

While there’s plenty of male writers/male central characters I loved when I was younger, the older I get the more I just can’t read anything that isn’t written by a woman, with a female protagonist. Outside of rereading classics/books I’ve read when younger.

So I personally wouldn’t care about the Gary Stu, because I wouldn’t be reading/watching if there was a male protagonist anyways. But I would be irritated if there’s a Mary Sue because I love flawed, complex, real feeling female characters with lots of dimension.

I’m maybe a bit older than some here, but I always thought the criticism of Mary Sue was that the character was one dimensional. The bland-because-too-perfect wish fulfilment of the writer, who ends up with a dull story and no development or growth to draw the interest of the viewer/reader.

Like Elaina in Vampire Diaries, because she’s just so perfect she’s blah, as opposed to Bonnie and Caroline who come across much more real, flawed, relatable and therefore interesting to watch develop and change. Elaina is like watching some teenagers wish for who they want to be, some uber flawless most popular talented beautiful girl ever, who is the girl all the boys want as their perfect sweet sixteen. And she remains that same archetype the whole 673401 seasons or whatever (until they put her in a coffin). And it’s just so dull. I do understand the draw for the writer, especially fanfic, but as a viewer/reader it’s all kinds of irritating. (I like lightweight stress free escapism, that still has characters I enjoy watching- I don’t like that lightweight not deep & meaningful automatically equals shitting writing and lousy character development)

The flawed side characters have much greater scope for interesting growth as they go through challenges, and build strengths and are brought down by their weaknesses. All their story lines and relationships feel like they have more substance and depth, their anger and jealousy and hurt feels more human, their humour more real, and it all adds up to make them much more watchable. The most interesting thing about Elaina by far, is when she’s Katherine (who is a joy to watch, so clearly the actress can act well, so she’s wasted playing boring Elaina).*

*i guess it’s a fairly naff show, but was the one that best illustrates what I meant. (Or maybe I should have just said no one wants to be Sandy in Grease, we all watch for Rizzo & the pink ladies).

**I def wouldn’t comment on others fanfic though. And I think fanfic draws dullness also, it’s almost supposed to. (There is a fanfic site somewhere on my so called life where every fucking entry is Angela getting rid of Jordan and kissing Brian. Which is inevitable given where the one and only series ended)

*edit to say: the male equivalent, that is actually much much worse, and fuck knows how it even got commissioned let alone ran for several years, is fucking Dawson Leary. Yuk yuk yuk bore yuk yuk yuk sum more. Just blah blah blah in khakis. Nothing of any anything, full of not even hot air.

[–] RisingUp 2 points Edited

Mike has rescued a number of nubile college women from rape and torture at the hands of jihadists, slaughtered innumerable terrorists, killed the president of Syria and Osama bin Laden, and plugged the author's favorite bands and movies. Also, the United States has, as a punitive measure, dropped a low-yield nuke on Syria. You would think that would be enough for a book. Hah. As I said earlier, that is JUST IN PART ONE. In part two, Mike, independently wealthy after getting the bounty for Osama, is now doing a lot of fishing on his newly-purchased and heavily-armed yacht. He meets up with two young college girls and invites them onto his boat, where he promptly introduces them to the joys of BDSM

You reminded me of this which I never managed to fully banish from my brain. TW: men and their rape fantasies. But if you can stand it you will discover the ultimate male Gary Stu https://hradzka.livejournal.com/194753.html

The female is the "standard" here (even though, as you mentioned, there is also the concept of 'Gary Stu'), because 'Mary Sues' tend to come from girls who write self-insert characters. Fanfiction does mostly get written by girls and women, so of course the unrealistic self-inserts will much more often be female than male.

That the "mainstream" took that concept and ran with it until the word didn't mean anything anymore, because suddenly every other female character in any type of fiction was labelled a "Mary Sue"....well. That's what always happens, isn't it? Just look at all the words that TRAs ran with it and are now completely deprived of (their original) meaning.

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