In my current WIP, RA2, my protagonist comes from a long line of military people. She’s American and her family has long ties to the various entities connected to the Marine Corps. I am neither American nor a part of any military branch, though a fascination with both cultures has helped to keep me informed. However, from day one of fine-tuning my character, I knew I needed to bolster my knowledge.
Like any male dominated body, the military has its dark side when it comes to women in its ranks –that I was prepared for. I’m an open eyed, realistic feminist. Men’s clubs don’t come without their dangers to women.
Doing my research and reading the myriad of different material I could find that was designed exclusively for men that projects misogyny, homophobia, and hyper-masculinity was what I was not prepared for. Even as I write that down I have to sigh at my own naivety. Boys clubs are boys clubs and those three things are heavily tied to most of them.
I won’t point fingers at any specific reading material, but I’m not overly impressed by any of it. There’s one item in particular though that I find exceedingly difficult to swallow, but I have to remind myself that (some) men really do connect with their fellow men by projecting the top dog image whose core is misogynistic, homophobic, and hyper-masculine. I am very much not the intended audience for such pieces. I roll my eyes, scoff, shake my head, and remind myself of that constantly.
I’m learning a lot, that’s my positive. I’m a big believer in learning from and about people you don’t see eye to eye with (an understatement in this case) because that’s the only way you’ll ever see the whole picture. Reading stuff that offends you, makes you mad, or even makes you a little sick to your stomach is definitely the downside of research. Just make it useful in the end.
Personally, for my own sanity and satisfaction, I’m subverting all my anger onto my villainous character who is a monumental jackass. I hate him but he has more ties to my main characters than either of them knows so he’ll be around far more than they know. I feel bad for her, but such is life.
For the record, I have enormous respect for all military branches. I have enormous respect for anyone who serves and protects their country. Every entity out there has dirty laundry they’d rather the world didn’t see. I would love to see a monumental mind shift in all boy’s clubs, that’s all.
When have you experienced a research downside?