Author Topic: Is Science fiction feminized or is it Sexist (headline from i09)  (Read 17727 times)

lowky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2717
  • from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142

Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Ooh boy, open a can of worms will ya. :)

Boy i really should have bothered to read the rest of that Io9 post before replying. Heh.

That being said, I shall delete almost everything I wrote because its not the point.

actually everything. I feel a bit dumb.ANYWAY

the original poster said this .. "We can celebrate how far we've come from our sexist past when women and men are equally represented in the pages of science fiction anthologies"

Well you know what. Right now there are more male science fiction writers then female. Who's to say it will ever be 50/50?

And is it really so bad if one gender or the other is overrepresented? What does it matter?

There was a big controversy about this over on tor.com about some hard sci fi anthology that had no women writers and no minorities. People were flipping their lids over it. Just seemed like overreaction to me. Sometimes a genre has more writers of one gender or ethnicity than another. Its just how it works. There's not some cosmic affirmative action thing sorting people into whatever career they wish to pursue.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 03:09:34 AM by Talia »



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Ooh boy, open a can of worms will ya. :)

Boy i really should have bothered to read the rest of that Io9 post before replying. Heh.

That being said, I shall delete almost everything I wrote because its not the point.

actually everything. I feel a bit dumb.ANYWAY

the original poster said this .. "We can celebrate how far we've come from our sexist past when women and men are equally represented in the pages of science fiction anthologies"

Well you know what. Right now there are more male science fiction writers then female. Who's to say it will ever be 50/50?

And is it really so bad if one gender or the other is overrepresented? What does it matter?

There was a big controversy about this over on tor.com about some hard sci fi anthology that had no women writers and no minorities. People were flipping their lids over it. Just seemed like overreaction to me. Sometimes a genre has more writers of one gender or ethnicity than another. Its just how it works. There's not some cosmic affirmative action thing sorting people into whatever career they wish to pursue.

I'm just not sure that science fiction is exactly like, say, pink (which, for the purposes of this example, I will assert that girls of a certain age are attracted to like neodymium to ferrous metals (and of course, a small subset isn't)). I think there are some real cultural factors that make it more ok for boys to be interested in science than girls, and so guys get spaceships and girls get unicorns. And that leads to one gender overpopulating a field, and that overpopulation can make it harder for the opposite sex to go into the field (even when there's no organized [gender] club thing going on).

So promoting female SF authors and scientists is as much about making sure that children aren't being put into boxes and coming out all the same based on gender (or anything else for that matter, boxes, excepting the cardboard spaceship/castle/time machine kind, are bad).

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Boggled Coriander

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
    • Balancing Frogs
I (white hetero male) pretty much agree with the io9 post, although I think the overrepresentation of male SF writers is a symptom of imbalances in the culture at large.  The preponderance of men is more pronounced in harder SF and less so in softer SF, which I figure is almost certainly due to the fact that there are still many more men than women going into math, science, engineering, etc.  As the gender balance slowly rights itself in society, I expect the same will happen among SF writers.

That said, I personally find it crazy and unbelievable that anyone could come out with an anthology in this day and age that's supposed to be representative, and have it just happen to be all male authors.  I'm sitting here with the Year's Best Science Fiction collection from the year 1994 - that's 15 years ago.  23 stories by 22 authors (Ursula K. Le Guin got included twice, because Ursula K. Le Guin is just that cool).  Of 22 authors, 7 are women.  Not 50%, but not an unreasonable figure for a genre with a reputation for male dominance, and I didn't get the sense that any of the stories by women were included solely due to the author's gender.

"The meteor formed a crater, vampires crawling out of the crater." -  The Lyttle Lytton contest


lowky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2717
  • from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142
Well no offense meant to anyone but I would say that the largest group of women I know into scifi/technology/science hereto after "geeky things" also follow the stereotypes of those into geeky things.  They care more about their geekiness and less about their social awkwardness.  There are definitely stereotypes for reasons and in the Geek WorldTM. It leans towards overly thin/overly fat, cokebottle glasses, not always the best hygiene (not necessarily dirty or smelly but no matter what they seem to have bad hair greasy or frizzy or that sort of thing), social awkwardness, etc.  I know I fall into some of these categories so as I said no offense meant.  It seems unusual to get the kind of women that are in costumes at Con booths, or that are not so socially awkward to be interested in these things.  Maybe for that to happen we need some of the Soap Operazation of things like BSG like many people on i09 were complaning of to attract more people to the genre.  I have to agree that unless the cooking show is for recipes from SF then ScyFy should just give up on saying they have anything left to do with the genre and just show Soaps.  I want the PanGalactic Garggle Blaster, Elven Bread, How to cook tentacles, Debates like do Giant Radioactive Mutant Insects taste more like chicken or more like Lobster in my Scifi cooking show.



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Ooh boy, open a can of worms will ya. :)

Boy i really should have bothered to read the rest of that Io9 post before replying. Heh.

That being said, I shall delete almost everything I wrote because its not the point.

awww ... I liked "raging vat of douchebaggery"  :D

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Ooh boy, open a can of worms will ya. :)

Boy i really should have bothered to read the rest of that Io9 post before replying. Heh.

That being said, I shall delete almost everything I wrote because its not the point.

awww ... I liked "raging vat of douchebaggery"  :D

darnits. SO much for my hopes I'd deleted my page long rant before it was perused. :P



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Well no offense meant to anyone but I would say that the largest group of women I know into scifi/technology/science hereto after "geeky things" also follow the stereotypes of those into geeky things. 

In other words, women who already defy the cultural norms for whatever reason. 

The problem is, well, pretty much what Heradel said.  There are a lot of factors that go into sculpting preferences, and some things get programmed into children, often without anyone noticing.  There's nothing inherent in the color pink, for example, that attracts young girls, but young girls are supposed to like pink.  Everything that is made just for them is generally pink, and they pick up on the expectations of adults that they will enjoy pink and pink things.  At that point, it pretty much writes itself; it doesn't take a lot of reinforcement to form habits, and if those habits fall into culturally-expected patterns, then no one challenges them.  It would take an unusually strong-willed girl child to resist the constant subtle pressure to like pink.

There's not much absolute difference, if any, between male and female performance in math and science classes, but science and math are "guy things," and subtly discouraged in girls.  It's hardly surprising that science fiction, a genre pretty much predicated on scientific speculation and extrapolation, ends up heavily weighted in favor of males.  It won't change until we get better about the stupid cultural crap we foist on kids.  It has an impact, a big one, and far outside relatively minor genre concerns.  I had a conversation just this evening with some fully-grown women who earnestly discussed how much harder it was for them to work outside the home because of their inherent need to sit and raise children.  It's kind of depressing to see.

Maybe for that to happen we need some of the Soap Operazation of things like BSG like many people on i09 were complaning of to attract more people to the genre. 

Indeed.  Heaven forfend we have stories about characters and their interactions.  Relationships are only for soap operas, soap operas are only for women, and women have cooties.  >:-P



Bdoomed

  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5891
  • Mmm. Tiger.
Ooh boy, open a can of worms will ya. :)

Boy i really should have bothered to read the rest of that Io9 post before replying. Heh.

That being said, I shall delete almost everything I wrote because its not the point.

awww ... I liked "raging vat of douchebaggery"  :D
AWW! I wish I saw it before it was deleted now! 

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


lowky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2717
  • from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142

Indeed.  Heaven forfend we have stories about characters and their interactions.  Relationships are only for soap operas, soap operas are only for women, and women have cooties.  >:-P

Yes women have cooties.    :P It's fun trying to risk not catching cooties though.  How close can I get without catching cooties.  It's a good thing that condoms are 99% effective in preventing the spread of cooties.   ;)  It's one thing though to have interactions it's another to make it all about affairs like some soap operas seem to feel is the only way to have drama.  If everyone's having affairs, then just say the hell with it and turn it into a giant pr0n orgy.  We need more interspecies orgies in our SF, just not normal mundane having affairs crap. :P


Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #10 on: October 15, 2009, 03:00:46 PM
If everyone's having affairs, then just say the hell with it and turn it into a giant pr0n orgy.  We need more interspecies orgies in our SF, just not normal mundane having affairs crap. :P

I sense the potential birth of a new Escape Artists podcast here... Pr0npod - all X-Rated, all the time.



lowky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2717
  • from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142
Reply #11 on: October 15, 2009, 03:11:24 PM
If everyone's having affairs, then just say the hell with it and turn it into a giant pr0n orgy.  We need more interspecies orgies in our SF, just not normal mundane having affairs crap. :P

I sense the potential birth of a new Escape Artists podcast here... Pr0npod - all X-Rated, all the time.

If the stories are well done, I'd listen. (hint hint Steve)


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #12 on: October 15, 2009, 03:54:41 PM
If everyone's having affairs, then just say the hell with it and turn it into a giant pr0n orgy.  We need more interspecies orgies in our SF, just not normal mundane having affairs crap. :P

I sense the potential birth of a new Escape Artists podcast here... Pr0npod - all X-Rated, all the time.

Actually, I'm pretty sure the idea has been suggested by Eley before...(different name, though :) )


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #13 on: October 15, 2009, 03:57:43 PM
Maybe for that to happen we need some of the Soap Operazation of things like BSG like many people on i09 were complaning of to attract more people to the genre. 

Indeed.  Heaven forfend we have stories about characters and their interactions.  Relationships are only for soap operas, soap operas are only for women, and women have cooties.  >:-P

Yes, I found myself absolutely frustrated by this, too. If I don't care about people or their relationships, I'm unlikely to care in general.


gelee

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 521
  • It's a missile, boy.
Reply #14 on: October 15, 2009, 04:05:46 PM
I enjoy stories about relationships, but stories about romantic relationships just bore the shit out of me.  Of all the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of relationships I've had, relatively few have been romantic.  Further, I've found my favorite romantic relationship, and I've suckered her into marrying me.  I don't do those anymore.  Reading about other people doing it just doesn't get any traction with me.
Now, stories about relationships between friends, family, colleagues, etc. will definatley get my attention, at least to start with.
I should confess that romantic stories about older, established relationships (like mine) don't usually bore me. 



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #15 on: October 15, 2009, 04:11:31 PM
I hear that. Just to be clear, I was talking about relationships in general (including the romantic kind, but not excluding everything else) :)


wakela

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #16 on: October 27, 2009, 07:58:17 AM
I'll paraphrase what I wrote in the Kindness of Strangers EpCom thread.

Recently I've noticed with stories like "Almanac for Alien Invaders", "Kindness of Strangers", "Graffiti" on Pseudopod, and "Toast" on Drabblecast, that stories with female leads are usually about whatever otherworldly thing the story is about PLUS boyfriend troubles.  Has anyone else noticed this?  I liked some of these stories more than others, but in each one I found the relationship aspect tiresome.

To me the women in these stories start off needing a man to function.  By the end of all four stories the guy turns out to be a jerk and they break up.  I guess this is supposed to be empowering.  The woman gets to say, "see I can stand on my own two feet, I don't need you after all." but I can't help notice that male protagonists start their stories on their own two feet and simply get on with the business of alien ass kicking.  Am I reading this wrong?  I would prefer to think about women as not needing needing a man to function and being able to prioritize their relationship versus the Apocalypse, but each of those stories above was written by a woman, so maybe I'm wrong. 

I'm kind of surprised feminists aren't more upset about this.

Next time you come across a story with a woman protagonist look for a prominent relationship thread.  Militaristic SF seems to be an exception (Ripley, Sarah Conner).




wakela

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #17 on: October 27, 2009, 08:01:47 AM
More on topic, it seems very clear to me that TV producers are trying to get more women to watch SF, because historically it has been a male-dominated genre and that's only half the viewers.  It would not at all surprise me if they occasionally went too far and made a show less appealing to men.  That sweet spot is pretty elusive.   But I don't think it's a problem.



Sgarre1

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1214
  • "Let There Be Fright!"
Reply #18 on: October 27, 2009, 01:09:19 PM
I guess I'd have to listen to it again but that doesn't match my memory of "Graffiti" at all - supportive boyfriend who's not a jerk (or turns out to be a jerk) and the problem isn't their relationship, it's that she has a history of being unbalanced and he's trying to incorporate that into her present actions.  But it has been awhile, maybe I'm misremembering.

As to the rest, I can't say, as I don't do most SF but it seems a pretty meager sampling of examples to be phrasing a heading like that (plus, it also sounds like the old J. Jonah Jameson tactic, "Spiderman, Threat or Menace?".  I mean, "Sexist" could be applied in either direction, right, so why "feminized"?).  What little knowledge I do have of SF could be boiled down to me wondering why there are so many military sci-fi shows on SYFY-lis recently, so there's a random bit of information that means nothing, really.

Most television shows, and a lot of movies, tend to focus on relationships much more nowadays, but I don't see that as "feminization", more as just the desperate scrabbling after jerkneck "drama", part of the inherent High-Schoolification of everything in which everyone, no matter their age, must act like they are 16.



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #19 on: October 27, 2009, 01:10:11 PM
More on topic, it seems very clear to me that TV producers are trying to get more women to watch SF, because historically it has been a male-dominated genre and that's only half the viewers.  It would not at all surprise me if they occasionally went too far and made a show less appealing to men.  That sweet spot is pretty elusive.   But I don't think it's a problem.

I think if you make it good they will come, my girlfriend's not that into science or SF, but loved Galactica.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #20 on: October 27, 2009, 02:00:29 PM
[topic] Is Science fiction feminized or is it Sexist [?]

Both.  Neither.  You're welcome.  :)


I sense the potential birth of a new Escape Artists podcast here... Pr0npod - all X-Rated, all the time.

Maybe Nobilis could host it.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #21 on: October 27, 2009, 09:44:25 PM
Recently I've noticed with stories like "Almanac for Alien Invaders", "Kindness of Strangers", "Graffiti" on Pseudopod, and "Toast" on Drabblecast, that stories with female leads are usually about whatever otherworldly thing the story is about PLUS boyfriend troubles.
...
I'm kind of surprised feminists aren't more upset about this.

yup, that's why i mentioned it in the little ambushes thread.

i've spent time talking about this kind of thing in podcastle but my take was broader, female protagonists are used depressingly regularily as shorthand to create victimization.  in all of the stories you mention the woman is hurt by the man in her relationship and sometimes it's the only source of conflict.

podcastle's response seems to be that they can only run the stories that are submitted.

i'd definitely like to see more stories where women take an active role instead to just reacting.  if we've ever had a story about a woman protagonist setting a goal and working to achieve it then i can't remember it.  it's definitely outnumbered dozens to one by stories where female protagonists are hurt, oppressed or taken advantage of and need to deal with it.



Sgarre1

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1214
  • "Let There Be Fright!"
Reply #22 on: October 27, 2009, 10:47:11 PM
You should get all the female writers you know to submit stories (good stories, of course) that meet your criteria (and meet the particular Pod's genre criteria) to any of the Pods because, yes, believe it or not, the Pods can all only choose from what is submitted.



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #23 on: October 27, 2009, 10:48:22 PM
i've spent time talking about this kind of thing in podcastle but my take was broader, female protagonists are used depressingly regularily as shorthand to create victimization.  in all of the stories you mention the woman is hurt by the man in her relationship and sometimes it's the only source of conflict.

podcastle's response seems to be that they can only run the stories that are submitted.

i'd definitely like to see more stories where women take an active role instead to just reacting.  if we've ever had a story about a woman protagonist setting a goal and working to achieve it then i can't remember it.  it's definitely outnumbered dozens to one by stories where female protagonists are hurt, oppressed or taken advantage of and need to deal with it.


I don't know, Deflective, I think you're selling PC (at least) short. I'm taking issue here specifically with the "only source of conflict," because even in EP's Kindness of Strangers, I'd argue there are other sources of conflict. (We can debate whether they were as intrinsic to the plot as relationship issues, but I'd argue they're still there.) I'm also unsure about lumping "hurt" in with "oppressed." I imagine many male protagonists get hurt, too, and have to deal with it. I think Podcastle does a fair job of running stories with female protagonists that are much more than victims of relationships.

Come Lady Death
Run of the Fiery Horse
Fear of Rain
Spell of the Sparrow (Here you could make the argument the man hurt her, but since the guy was enchanted by a witch or something if IIRC, my reaction would be no, not really)
Goblin Lullaby
Hallah Iron Thighs
Dead Languages
Ancestor Money
In the House of the Seven Librarians
Honest Man
I'll Gnaw Your Bones
Change of Life
The Nalendar
Shard of Glass
In Ashes
The Fiddler of Bayou Teche

(I'm also unsure when Podcastle has ever agreed that yes, they primarily run stories where female protagonists are hurt or oppressed because that's all that's being submitted. But maybe they have. I could be missing something.)

I won't go all the way back through Escape Pod, but here are a couple of stories that come to mind:
Wonder Maul Doll
Chrysalis
Navy Brat
Arties Aren't Stupid
Several of the Union Dues stories, including The Baby in the Bathwater and Freedom with a Small F
The Something Dreaming Game
God Juice

Pseudopod's a different breed. Everyone ends up a victim there.  ;)


jrderego

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 687
  • Writer of Union Dues stories (among others)
    • J. R. DeRego - Writer
Reply #24 on: October 27, 2009, 11:47:33 PM
i've spent time talking about this kind of thing in podcastle but my take was broader, female protagonists are used depressingly regularily as shorthand to create victimization.  in all of the stories you mention the woman is hurt by the man in her relationship and sometimes it's the only source of conflict.

podcastle's response seems to be that they can only run the stories that are submitted.

i'd definitely like to see more stories where women take an active role instead to just reacting.  if we've ever had a story about a woman protagonist setting a goal and working to achieve it then i can't remember it.  it's definitely outnumbered dozens to one by stories where female protagonists are hurt, oppressed or taken advantage of and need to deal with it.


I don't know, Deflective, I think you're selling PC (at least) short. I'm taking issue here specifically with the "only source of conflict," because even in EP's Kindness of Strangers, I'd argue there are other sources of conflict. (We can debate whether they were as intrinsic to the plot as relationship issues, but I'd argue they're still there.) I'm also unsure about lumping "hurt" in with "oppressed." I imagine many male protagonists get hurt, too, and have to deal with it. I think Podcastle does a fair job of running stories with female protagonists that are much more than victims of relationships.

Come Lady Death
Run of the Fiery Horse
Fear of Rain
Spell of the Sparrow (Here you could make the argument the man hurt her, but since the guy was enchanted by a witch or something if IIRC, my reaction would be no, not really)
Goblin Lullaby
Hallah Iron Thighs
Dead Languages
Ancestor Money
In the House of the Seven Librarians
Honest Man
I'll Gnaw Your Bones
Change of Life
The Nalendar
Shard of Glass
In Ashes
The Fiddler of Bayou Teche

(I'm also unsure when Podcastle has ever agreed that yes, they primarily run stories where female protagonists are hurt or oppressed because that's all that's being submitted. But maybe they have. I could be missing something.)

I won't go all the way back through Escape Pod, but here are a couple of stories that come to mind:
Wonder Maul Doll
Chrysalis
Navy Brat
Arties Aren't Stupid
Several of the Union Dues stories, including The Baby in the Bathwater and Freedom with a Small F
The Something Dreaming Game
God Juice

Pseudopod's a different breed. Everyone ends up a victim there.  ;)

Yeah, the whole reason I write the Union Dues stories is to enjoy oppressing my female characters... Of course, The Baby and the Bathwater, Kinetic Girl is OBVIOUSLY more oppressed than any of the other Union because she's female, and in Send in the Clowns, same thing. Although that story seems to be about post hypnotic suggestions and labyrinthine rules, it's REALLY about how Darksider wants to oppress Jenny Chrome. Meanwhile, Freedom with a Small F, absolutely that story is about stripping and only stripping and nothing else. Hell, I don't even give the character a story other than stripper, it was a big giant sexist fantasy about how much I personally love strippers. That's why her name was Strippy Strip Strip-strip O'Striperstrip, and she was definitely oppressed by every male character in the story.

 I need a fucking eyeroll smiley for this place sometimes.
 ::)

"Happiness consists of getting enough sleep." Robert A. Heinlein
Also, please buy my book - Escape Clause: A Union Dues Novel
http://www.encpress.com/EC.html