Author Topic: Is Science fiction feminized or is it Sexist (headline from i09)  (Read 19406 times)

lowky

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Talia

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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

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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).

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Boggled Coriander

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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.

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lowky

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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.



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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

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Talia

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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. 



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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

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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

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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.



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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.



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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

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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.

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deflective

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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

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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

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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

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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.
 ::)

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wakela

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Reply #25 on: October 28, 2009, 12:13:39 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.

I think if you make it good they will come, my girlfriend's not that into science or SF, but loved Galactica.
My wife does, too.  She also likes 24 and Law and Order.  She LOVES Grey's Anatomy.  I think the trouble is defining "good."  TV execs are like the makers of any product, they want their product to be more popular to they break it apart and analyze it and find what works for whom. 

Quote from: Sgarre1
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.
You're right.  Now that I remember, the boyfriend was trying to be supportive in this one.  I would still argue that the relationship conflict of Graffiti was more prominent than those of stories with male protagonists. 

Quote from: deflective
Quote from: wakela
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.
LOL.  I listened to the first half of this in my car on the way to work.  I had completely forgotten about my little project to listen for the boyfriend in stories about women, but then the boyfriend enters as soon as I pulled in to the parking lot, and I laughed out loud.  I checked, and the writer is a woman.  I'll find out what happens to their relationship on the way home.  Whatever it is, it cannot possibly be as interesting as teaching an alien human art. 

Quote from: Sgarre1
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.
Well, I don't want to get them to submit stories they don't want to write.  Also, I am learning about how women think from the stories they write.  What troubles me is that what I am learning and what women are telling me are at odds.

I had a story idea where a young girl is raised by a coven of witches and when she comes of age the witches take her to their demon lord who rapes her.  My feminist friend objected to the girl being a victim.  But the way I see it, the girl is a victim through no fault of her own.  So the fact that she is mistreated makes no comment on her as a person or as a woman.  But in "Kindness of Strangers" the woman is a victim because she had unrealistic expectations about a relationship with a married man.  Reality is full of both kinds of victim.  Why is it more acceptable to women to be a victim because of something stupid they did?  I get impatient with women characters who spend the whole story empowering themselves when they could have been empowered from the first sentence, and I could be reading a story about someone, man or woman, dealing with aliens or something.

To the women reading this:  I know all women don't think the same.  I apologize for lumping everyone into one category.  I know all stories about women are not the same.  I've just noticed this trend recently, and I'm trying to figure out what it means.  If the trend doesn't exist or if I'm reading it wrong, by all means set me straight. 



wakela

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Reply #26 on: October 28, 2009, 12:19:29 AM
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.
 ::)


Right!  You're a guy, so you write about people -- men and women -- who find themselves is less than ideal circumstances and deal with it.  The woman supers don't become persuaded to join the Union, become disillusioned, uncover some kind of conspiracy, and then wonder if Megaton really meant what he said and is going to call her back or whether he was just using her. 

I think both men and women write about strong, decisive characters who deal with the problem at hand.  But the "problem at hand" is different. 



deflective

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Reply #27 on: October 28, 2009, 12:35:42 AM
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'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.
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.

have you heard the drabblecast story?


I'm also unsure about lumping "hurt" in with "oppressed." I imagine many male protagonists get hurt, too, and have to deal with it.

the key word there is many male protagonists.  not all, maybe not even an overwhelming majority.  i can think of plenty of stories where the driving force in the story is the protagonist's curiosity or desire to explore (friction, exhalation, mr. penumbra’s twenty-four-hour book store) but not one where the protagonist is female.


I think Podcastle does a fair job of running stories with female protagonists that are much more than victims of relationships.

that was never my position, i just mentioned there is some similarity between wakela's point and mine.  i will say that the stories you mentioned (the ones that i remember anyway) were driven by things that happen to the protagonist.  the goblins & Hallah were attacked, arties were genetic rejects oppressed by society, the ship in navy brat was a fascist society suppressing the past and preventing people from knowing what's going on outside.

if there are a couple in there i don't remember then it's outnumbered dozens to one.



jrderego

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Reply #28 on: October 28, 2009, 12:37:09 AM
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.
 ::)


Right!  You're a guy, so you write about people -- men and women -- who find themselves is less than ideal circumstances and deal with it.  The woman supers don't become persuaded to join the Union, become disillusioned, uncover some kind of conspiracy, and then wonder if Megaton really meant what he said and is going to call her back or whether he was just using her. 

I think both men and women write about strong, decisive characters who deal with the problem at hand.  But the "problem at hand" is different. 

While I don't disagree with you that I am a guy, I do disagree to a point that the "problem at hand" is defined, or at least outlined by, gender. I write what I write because I'm a writer, that's it, period. I can, if I so choose, write under a female pseudonym, and nether you, nor anyone else, would be the wiser were you to read, or hear it.

From the writer's perspective, there's three ways to deal with this perception of female vs. male storytelling.

1. Use it as a hammer to hang your story on so that the gender perception in the story is more important than the plot.
2. Completely avoid making gender even a sub-issue in your story, even by accident.
3. Tell whatever story you want with whatever characters you want and everyone else can kiss your (or my) ass.

See if you can guess which one I take.

The character, all the parts of that character, including gender, help add needed dimensions to them and make them real. The closer you get to having real people in your stories, the better the stories are. Not everyone overcomes adversity, not everyone is right, not everyone is smart, or capable, or pretty, or thin, or strong, or whatever. It's those things that make the drama happen, that make the plot be more than an essay. Sure, I've written stories where the main female character is evil. The story needed an evil female lead. Shit happens. Have I written ones where the main character is a childlike idiot? Absolutely. It's how those characters, with all those dimensions, handle the challenges that the plot sets up that makes the story. If I wanted to write an essay about how unfair some science fiction tropes were to women, I'd write an essay.

As for the perception that women approach science fiction differently? Sure, why not? Who gives a shit? Stories either work, or don't. Women, irrespective of how some would like them to be treated in society, live in a society that values them differently than men. Therefore, they probably have a different perspective on the society by virtue of their position within it, same as any group or subgroup. I don't comment on stories posted here, I've never complained about a story (that I can remember). The ones I don't like, I forget before the outro is even finished. The ones I do like, I keep. I approach them like a writer, I guess.

Harlan Ellison said "Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself."
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 12:39:33 AM by jrderego »

"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


deflective

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Reply #29 on: October 28, 2009, 01:01:26 AM
Yeah, the whole reason I write the Union Dues stories is to enjoy oppressing my female characters...

...and here comes the strawmen.

if you never checked out the thread in podcastle where i spend a lot of time carefully addressing each comment that tries to paint me as slandering authors & editors i'll just say this: i don't think it's a malicious decision (or even a conscious one in most cases).

my point is similar to wakela's here, union dues is like military fiction where people are locked into a large, rigidly structured organization where you receive orders.  there are more proactive female characters in this subgenre, and it is predominately written by men.



DKT

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Reply #30 on: October 28, 2009, 01:13:12 AM
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.
 ::)


Erm...perhaps I wasn't clear enough, Jeff, but I was using your stories as examples that don't opppress women... ???


jrderego

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Reply #31 on: October 28, 2009, 01:24:43 AM
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.
 ::)


Erm...perhaps I wasn't clear enough, Jeff, but I was using your stories as examples that don't opppress women... ???

Don't you oppress me!!! (kidding... but seriously, it was a 50/50 gamble on my part, I chose poorly). I thought it was the other way. I swear I read your post like 10 times.


"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


wakela

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Reply #32 on: October 28, 2009, 01:34:54 AM


Right!  You're a guy, so you write about people -- men and women -- who find themselves is less than ideal circumstances and deal with it.  The woman supers don't become persuaded to join the Union, become disillusioned, uncover some kind of conspiracy, and then wonder if Megaton really meant what he said and is going to call her back or whether he was just using her. 

I think both men and women write about strong, decisive characters who deal with the problem at hand.  But the "problem at hand" is different. 

While I don't disagree with you that I am a guy, I do disagree to a point that the "problem at hand" is defined, or at least outlined by, gender. I write what I write because I'm a writer, that's it, period. I can, if I so choose, write under a female pseudonym, and nether you, nor anyone else, would be the wiser were you to read, or hear it.

From the writer's perspective, there's three ways to deal with this perception of female vs. male storytelling.

1. Use it as a hammer to hang your story on so that the gender perception in the story is more important than the plot.
2. Completely avoid making gender even a sub-issue in your story, even by accident.
3. Tell whatever story you want with whatever characters you want and everyone else can kiss your (or my) ass.

See if you can guess which one I take.

The character, all the parts of that character, including gender, help add needed dimensions to them and make them real. The closer you get to having real people in your stories, the better the stories are. Not everyone overcomes adversity, not everyone is right, not everyone is smart, or capable, or pretty, or thin, or strong, or whatever. It's those things that make the drama happen, that make the plot be more than an essay. Sure, I've written stories where the main female character is evil. The story needed an evil female lead. Shit happens. Have I written ones where the main character is a childlike idiot? Absolutely. It's how those characters, with all those dimensions, handle the challenges that the plot sets up that makes the story. If I wanted to write an essay about how unfair some science fiction tropes were to women, I'd write an essay.

As for the perception that women approach science fiction differently? Sure, why not? Who gives a shit? Stories either work, or don't. Women, irrespective of how some would like them to be treated in society, live in a society that values them differently than men. Therefore, they probably have a different perspective on the society by virtue of their position within it, same as any group or subgroup. I don't comment on stories posted here, I've never complained about a story (that I can remember). The ones I don't like, I forget before the outro is even finished. The ones I do like, I keep. I approach them like a writer, I guess.

Harlan Ellison said "Thank your readers and the critics who praise you, and then ignore them. Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: Write to please yourself."

If you wrote a story under a female pseudonym I would never know the difference.  If you wrote a story under a male pseudonym and it I found myself reading about a woman who encountered something fantastic but instead is talking about her boyfriend, I would say "huh, I would have that the writer was a woman."  I'm not saying that all women write stories about relationships.  I'm saying that of the stories about relationships with reactive instead of proactive women characters* most are written by women.  This isn't a bad thing or a good thing.  I think it's interesting.  Also, I think it's at odds with the message that I am receiving from women about how they want to be perceived. 

Quote from: jrderego
...I do disagree to a point that the "problem at hand" is defined, or at least outlined by, gender.
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers" the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

* Thanks, deflective. I think the proactive/reactive dichotomy is a more accurate way to express what I was getting at. 



jrderego

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Reply #33 on: October 28, 2009, 01:35:17 AM
Yeah, the whole reason I write the Union Dues stories is to enjoy oppressing my female characters...

...and here comes the strawmen.

if you never checked out the thread in podcastle where i spend a lot of time carefully addressing each comment that tries to paint me as slandering authors & editors i'll just say this: i don't think it's a malicious decision (or even a conscious one in most cases).

my point is similar to wakela's here, union dues is like military fiction where people are locked into a large, rigidly structured organization where you receive orders.  there are more proactive female characters in this subgenre, and it is predominately written by men.

Now, admittedly, I overreacted to a misread post (I acknowledge that above). But my outburst is not a straw man, you should really look up what that term means if you're going to use it. I was, in fact, making an appeal to spite, whole different animal there. Meanwhile, you are begging the question and making an appeal to authority at the same time.

Your friendly neighborhood logician.


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Also, please buy my book - Escape Clause: A Union Dues Novel
http://www.encpress.com/EC.html


lowky

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Reply #34 on: October 28, 2009, 02:06:07 AM
Quote from: wakela
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers" the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

* Thanks, deflective. I think the proactive/reactive dichotomy is a more accurate way to express what I was getting at. 

I have to say this may be a very unconscious/subconscious decision.  Think about it a couple thousand years of women being told they are the "touchy-feely" sex while men are the "strong hunter/protector".  Women don't want to be seen as being reactive in their relationships etc.  They want to be seen as strong and independent.  It's not the role model they have had much of for over 2000 years, and when they get a female that is strong and independent she's not necessarily a role model/likable.  People tend to write about what they know/observe around them.


jrderego

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Reply #35 on: October 28, 2009, 02:14:03 AM
Quote from: wakela
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers" the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

* Thanks, deflective. I think the proactive/reactive dichotomy is a more accurate way to express what I was getting at. 

I have to say this may be a very unconscious/subconscious decision.  Think about it a couple thousand years of women being told they are the "touchy-feely" sex while men are the "strong hunter/protector".  Women don't want to be seen as being reactive in their relationships etc.  They want to be seen as strong and independent.  It's not the role model they have had much of for over 2000 years, and when they get a female that is strong and independent she's not necessarily a role model/likable.  People tend to write about what they know/observe around them.

You said that better and more concisely than I ever could! Well done!

"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


wakela

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Reply #36 on: October 28, 2009, 02:22:59 AM
Yeah, the whole reason I write the Union Dues stories is to enjoy oppressing my female characters...

...and here comes the strawmen.

if you never checked out the thread in podcastle where i spend a lot of time carefully addressing each comment that tries to paint me as slandering authors & editors i'll just say this: i don't think it's a malicious decision (or even a conscious one in most cases).

my point is similar to wakela's here, union dues is like military fiction where people are locked into a large, rigidly structured organization where you receive orders.  there are more proactive female characters in this subgenre, and it is predominately written by men.

Now, admittedly, I overreacted to a misread post (I acknowledge that above). But my outburst is not a straw man, you should really look up what that term means if you're going to use it. I was, in fact, making an appeal to spite, whole different animal there. Meanwhile, you are begging the question and making an appeal to authority at the same time.

Your friendly neighborhood logician.



Correct use of "begging the question" for the win!



deflective

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Reply #37 on: October 28, 2009, 02:29:09 AM
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.

i'd definitely like to see more stories where women take an active role instead of just reacting.

I think Podcastle does a fair job of running stories with female protagonists that are much more than victims of relationships.
Yeah, the whole reason I write the Union Dues stories is to enjoy oppressing my female characters...

i had a clearly defined position which was ignored in favour of refuting positions tenuously related to mine.  what definition of strawman do you use?


if you never checked out the thread in podcastle where i spend a lot of time carefully addressing each comment that tries to paint me as slandering authors & editors i'll just say this: i don't think it's a malicious decision (or even a conscious one in most cases).
you are begging the question and making an appeal to authority at the same time.

Your friendly neighborhood logician.

it looks like you're suggesting that referring to a post where i clarify my position is an appeal to authority, you might want to check up on those logic definitions yourself.  i don't even know how you got begging the question out of this.  remember that you had reacted to DKT's reply to me so it looked like your remarks were directed at me.

this probably spun off that original misunderstanding which made you think that your stories were being targeted.  i don't think it holds up once that's cleared up but if you still see a logical argument then bring it.

super-logic-attack!!


Correct use of "begging the question" for the win!

it's the correct definition (instead of the colloquial usage) but i'm not convinced it was correctly used.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 02:34:34 AM by deflective »



wakela

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Reply #38 on: October 28, 2009, 02:59:12 AM
Quote from: wakela
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers" the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

* Thanks, deflective. I think the proactive/reactive dichotomy is a more accurate way to express what I was getting at. 

I have to say this may be a very unconscious/subconscious decision.  Think about it a couple thousand years of women being told they are the "touchy-feely" sex while men are the "strong hunter/protector".  Women don't want to be seen as being reactive in their relationships etc.  They want to be seen as strong and independent.  It's not the role model they have had much of for over 2000 years, and when they get a female that is strong and independent she's not necessarily a role model/likable.  People tend to write about what they know/observe around them.

You said that better and more concisely than I ever could! Well done!

I agree.  I think I know why they write stories about being dominated in relationships, it just seems to go against "[not wanting] to be seen as being reactive in their relationships."  But in these stories even though the woman character spends 90% of the story being reactive in her relationship, the fact the she becomes proactive at the end is what's important.  It just seems to me to be a step backward because the woman could have been proactive for 100% of the story.  I don't think I'm right because we live in a time when stories are picked a part to find aspects that are offensive, and I haven't seen anyone offended by this. 



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Reply #39 on: October 28, 2009, 04:10:42 AM
Quote from: wakela
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers" the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

* Thanks, deflective. I think the proactive/reactive dichotomy is a more accurate way to express what I was getting at. 

I have to say this may be a very unconscious/subconscious decision.  Think about it a couple thousand years of women being told they are the "touchy-feely" sex while men are the "strong hunter/protector".  Women don't want to be seen as being reactive in their relationships etc.  They want to be seen as strong and independent.  It's not the role model they have had much of for over 2000 years, and when they get a female that is strong and independent she's not necessarily a role model/likable.  People tend to write about what they know/observe around them.

You said that better and more concisely than I ever could! Well done!

I agree.  I think I know why they write stories about being dominated in relationships, it just seems to go against "[not wanting] to be seen as being reactive in their relationships."  But in these stories even though the woman character spends 90% of the story being reactive in her relationship, the fact the she becomes proactive at the end is what's important.  It just seems to me to be a step backward because the woman could have been proactive for 100% of the story.  I don't think I'm right because we live in a time when stories are picked a part to find aspects that are offensive, and I haven't seen anyone offended by this. 

The one thing i would say about a woman being strong or proactive from the start is 9 times out of 10 she is labeled Bitch or even the C word. 


wakela

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Reply #40 on: October 28, 2009, 08:00:03 AM
Quote from: wakela
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers" the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

* Thanks, deflective. I think the proactive/reactive dichotomy is a more accurate way to express what I was getting at. 

I have to say this may be a very unconscious/subconscious decision.  Think about it a couple thousand years of women being told they are the "touchy-feely" sex while men are the "strong hunter/protector".  Women don't want to be seen as being reactive in their relationships etc.  They want to be seen as strong and independent.  It's not the role model they have had much of for over 2000 years, and when they get a female that is strong and independent she's not necessarily a role model/likable.  People tend to write about what they know/observe around them.

You said that better and more concisely than I ever could! Well done!

I agree.  I think I know why they write stories about being dominated in relationships, it just seems to go against "[not wanting] to be seen as being reactive in their relationships."  But in these stories even though the woman character spends 90% of the story being reactive in her relationship, the fact the she becomes proactive at the end is what's important.  It just seems to me to be a step backward because the woman could have been proactive for 100% of the story.  I don't think I'm right because we live in a time when stories are picked a part to find aspects that are offensive, and I haven't seen anyone offended by this. 

The one thing i would say about a woman being strong or proactive from the start is 9 times out of 10 she is labeled Bitch or even the C word. 
I don't know if I would go 9 times out of 10, but I agree that it happens.  If a woman is mean or goes around with a chip on her shoulder then she could be called a bitch.  But women can rise to the occasion without being mean and still be feminine.  Sarah Conner, Ripley, Jamie Curtis from Halloween.  Those seem like good, strong female heroes that feminists would admire.  And all those characters were created by men.  The female leads from these EP stories come off as weak to me even though the stories were written by women.  Maybe they were intentionally creating a weak protagonist, but that seems unlikely.  What I am gravitating to, is that I'm seeing these characters as being weak because they spend the story thinking about their relationship instead of the bigger picture, but the authors may be thinking of them as strong because they eventually take command of their relationship. 



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Reply #41 on: October 28, 2009, 10:15:57 AM
One problem I've noticed crop up a fair amount in many stories (not just here at the 'pods) is the conflation of "strong woman" with "acts like a man."

Take "God Juice," for instance.  Think back to that story.  Now reverse the genders again, and have a hard-partying male protagonist, a self-made man bootstrapped up from nothing to a fortune, who goes to a casino planet, gets talked up by a flirty and attractive female prostitute less than a third his age, and goes to "buy" a priceless alien relic.  He's waylaid by his ex-wife, a cold and bitter woman (whom he calls "Ice Princess") who has explicitly-stated "issues" with all men, inherited her fortune rather than "earning" it like Our Hero, and who is prepared to murder her ex-husband to steal what he knows.  Then the rugged protagonist, having been rescued by a quick-thinking youth he hired to play a prank on his ex-wife, realizes that the key to the alien relic is, of course, the super-hot alien girl who first told him about it.  He accosts her, forces his affections on her, and they live happily ever after.

Seriously, that character is really unlikeable.  It's all the worst tropes of the old pulp magazines, but somehow inverting the gender makes it empowering?  Overlooking your main character's vices and foibles is the same, whatever the character's gender, and just changing what bits they have between their legs doesn't make the behavior any more or less excusable.  It really bothers me to read stories that would be sexist and borderline offensive save for the fact that their main character is the right (or wrong) gender.  I don't think it does a lot to actually expand the borders of the genre; all it does is give a glossy coating of "feminism" without addressing the underlying issues of gender imbalance, cultural indoctrination, and the "boyzone" of science-fiction authorship. 



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Reply #42 on: October 28, 2009, 02:14:21 PM
The one thing i would say about a woman being strong or proactive from the start is 9 times out of 10 she is labeled Bitch or even the C word. 

"Charlie" ?

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Reply #43 on: October 28, 2009, 02:29:18 PM
The one thing i would say about a woman being strong or proactive from the start is 9 times out of 10 she is labeled Bitch or even the C word. 

"Charlie" ?

Yes Charlie but only spelled with four letters, one being a U and the others are n and t.  You figure out the order


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Reply #44 on: October 28, 2009, 03:15:19 PM
Quote
Quote from: Sgarre1
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.
Well, I don't want to get them to submit stories they don't want to write.  Also, I am learning about how women think from the stories they write.  What troubles me is that what I am learning and what women are telling me are at odds.

Well, that wasn't a reply to your post, it was a reply to Deflective's (sorry, should have included the quote box).  And that wasn't a call to get women to write stories they don't want to write, it was meant to address the stated disbelief that the Pods can only publish work that is submitted.  There's an implication that somehow stories by women that don't feature relationships or don't feature women who start at the bottom/are oppressed are being screened out somehow, which has been nicely flipped around into this "they tell me these are the stories that get submitted, so someone tell me why women are so down on themselves and why feminists aren't outraged".  

Also, I think that  "learning how women think" by reading stories on the pods is a fools game, as you're only learning how women who write think, and specifically only women who write fiction think, and specifically only women who write genre fiction think, and specifically only women who write genre fiction that gets submitted to the pods think, and specifically only women who write genre fiction that gets submitted to the pods and accepted by the pods think.  Doesn't seem like a wide enough sampling to encapsulate a sex's thinking patterns, and thus reductive (without even going into how concepts like an editor's age, reading habits, and consciousness of market are influencing their decisions).  But then you've already addressed (and pre-apologized for) it seeming like you're applying this to all women, so, really, I guess I'm at a loss....I don't feel there's enough here to label this as a "trend" in any way, perhaps more just the wider understanding that all kinds of people write all kinds of things (which we like or dislike but none of which is inherently "wrong" in apporach) but that some groups (and some part of some groups) write with (unconsciously) or about (consciously) influences that do not affect all of us.

I'm not going to somehow be surprised when an African-American writer tends to focus more on race in his stories, because this is something that has been an inescapable and constant part of his/her life, even into an era that finally sees a non-caucasian President (and what is "inescapable" to this writer is "ignorable" by me, being a member of the enfranchised, and thus always seems as if it's being made too much of when it is touched on).  And I'm not going to be surprised if some female writers tend to include relationships issues in stories, and the struggle of power in that relationship forms part or all of the main conflict of the story, just as I'm not suprised how many stories written by men feature parent (specifically "mommy") issues or issues about sex and power.  None of these are "trends" (which implies conscious choice to me), but I would call them "currents".  Of course, the important question is whether the story is good or not, but then, what makes a good story is highly debatable.  Now, if the complaint is that inclusion of these elements automatically makes a story considered good by some with an agenda ("The Burning Alien Bed" gets automatic acceptance from COSMIC KNOCKABOUT WIVES) even if it isn't, well, yeah, that sucks but welcome to the real world - life isn't fair and all kinds of people have all kinds of agendas.  But I don't think the editors at ESCAPE ARTISTS have agendas (other than to print good stories) and I think that the debatable line between what makes "a good story" versus what makes "a story I don't like" is very grey indeed.  

Quote
I think I know why they write stories about being dominated in relationships, it just seems to go against "[not wanting] to be seen as being reactive in their relationships."  But in these stories even though the woman character spends 90% of the story being reactive in her relationship, the fact the she becomes proactive at the end is what's important.  It just seems to me to be a step backward because the woman could have been proactive for 100% of the story.  I don't think I'm right because we live in a time when stories are picked a part to find aspects that are offensive, and I haven't seen anyone offended by this.

Well, if you understand why they write stories like this, then what this might really come down to is the type or purpose of fiction being written and read.  Maybe they don't write stories where women are proactive for 100% of the story because this doesn't seem as reflective of the real world to them (this reason you understand for them feeling this way) and they are attempting to have the story be, at least somewhat, a reflection of the real world as they see it and not, automatically, some kind of wish fufillment.  That "wish fufillment" isn't meant as derogatory, BTW, simply the acknowledgment that some writers are attempting to write worlds and people they want to see, and others are attempting to write the world as they see it.  And neither is wrong (although I know which I prefer).

Quote
I'm not saying that all women write stories about relationships.  I'm saying that of the stories about relationships with reactive instead of proactive women characters* most are written by women.  This isn't a bad thing or a good thing.  I think it's interesting.  Also, I think it's at odds with the message that I am receiving from women about how they want to be perceived.

So, generally "I'm not a victim...now read all my stories about being a victim".  Except, as you say, they aren't about being victims...

Quote
but the authors may be thinking of them as strong because they eventually take command of their relationship.

... they're about the struggle to not be a victim.

So, generally "I'm not a victim..now read all my stories about what I have to face to not be a victim".  How one "wants to be perceived" is usually at odds with the real world (or one wouldn't have to want it in the first place).

Maybe part of the problem is that what some readers want out of science fiction (tales of possibilities) is not how some writers of science fiction want to approach it.  Some writers want to write about possibilities, but not ignore the obstacles some face in embracing those possibilities (which reminds me of all those sci-fi futures in which we're travelling about in space and the conflict is with some alien race, or some deep-seated human character aspect, but all this supposes some point in our future where everyone started working together and things like nationalism, class, population problems, race, economy, etc, all fell by the wayside - which basically says "give me the future fun, not how we got there").  Maybe a larger amount of those "some writers" tend to be from disenfranchised groups.  It would make sense.

Or maybe I'm just babbling again.

Quote
If I had written "Kindness of Strangers"...

But you didn't, a woman did.  There is no "universal person".

Quote
...the central conflict would have been the relationship with the aliens, no matter the sex of the main character.  Nancy Kress took the same situation but decided that the woman dealing with a man she loved rejecting her is more interesting and important than the aliens.  I've seen this pattern several times and every time I've checked the writer has been a woman.  So the conclusion that I draw is the FOR THE MOST PART guys would rather write about conflict with aliens, and women would rather write about relationships.

But she did write about conflict with aliens, she just included other stuff.  If you'd written it and went into exacting detail about military strategy against the aliens, or went into detail about the technology behind their weapons or crafts, then I'd consider it Military SF or Hard SF and thus found it boring because those genres bore me.  You're bored by more humanistic SF, maybe? (nothing wrong with that).
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 03:22:47 PM by Sgarre1 »



DKT

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Reply #45 on: October 28, 2009, 03:59:01 PM

Don't you oppress me!!! (kidding... but seriously, it was a 50/50 gamble on my part, I chose poorly). I thought it was the other way. I swear I read your post like 10 times.

Thanks, Jeff. Glad we got that cleared up. And again, sorry I wasn't more clear.

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'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.
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.

have you heard the drabblecast story?

No, unfortunately, I haven't. Sorry, probably should've clarified that above. And it's not on my iPod. I'll have to hunt it down. I have heard all the others, though.

I'm also unsure about lumping "hurt" in with "oppressed." I imagine many male protagonists get hurt, too, and have to deal with it.

the key word there is many male protagonists.  not all, maybe not even an overwhelming majority.  i can think of plenty of stories where the driving force in the story is the protagonist's curiosity or desire to explore (friction, exhalation, mr. penumbra’s twenty-four-hour book store) but not one where the protagonist is female.

Still, I'm not convinced. I think there are stories like that, even those are on these pods, even some that I've mentioned above. That said, I agree more  are probably be written - if not by men - then about male characters.

I think Podcastle does a fair job of running stories with female protagonists that are much more than victims of relationships.

that was never my position, i just mentioned there is some similarity between wakela's point and mine.  i will say that the stories you mentioned (the ones that i remember anyway) were driven by things that happen to the protagonist.  the goblins & Hallah were attacked, arties were genetic rejects oppressed by society, the ship in navy brat was a fascist society suppressing the past and preventing people from knowing what's going on outside.

if there are a couple in there i don't remember then it's outnumbered dozens to one.

Okay, sorry. I guess I lumped your stance together with someone else's.

Still, the difference for me here - and maybe I've misread you - is when you mention women and oppression, I'm thinking more along the lines of women being oppressed because they're women. Say PC's For Fear of Dragons or PP's Heartstrung. Other stories where people, both men and women, are being oppressed for political reasons has a significantly different tone. Like the stories you mentioned above or EP's N-Words or Resistance.

But maybe that's just me?


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Reply #46 on: October 28, 2009, 04:18:46 PM

I agree.  I think I know why they write stories about being dominated in relationships, it just seems to go against "[not wanting] to be seen as being reactive in their relationships."  But in these stories even though the woman character spends 90% of the story being reactive in her relationship, the fact the she becomes proactive at the end is what's important.  It just seems to me to be a step backward because the woman could have been proactive for 100% of the story.  I don't think I'm right because we live in a time when stories are picked a part to find aspects that are offensive, and I haven't seen anyone offended by this. 

I feel a bit uncomfortable saying women in general write a certain way. When I think of some of my favorite EP stories - Cinderella Suicide, Hesperia and Glory, I Look Forward to Remembering You, Ej-Es (Hello, Nancy Kress!), I feel it's inaccurate (at best) to say women write stories about being dominated in relationships and spend 90% of said story being reactive to them.

I've read a decent bit of Sam Henderson's work (she also wrote the Legend of St. Ignatz for those keeping score) that's not on EP and find her to be as breathtaking and exciting a writer as anyone else out there. I've heard everything Nancy Kress has podcasted here and on PC. I think Kress especially is getting a bad rap here on account of a single story. She's written 5 other stories that have been on the pods (unless I'm missing some). I don't remember any of them sharing similar relationship themes that dominated Kindess of Strangers.


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Reply #47 on: October 28, 2009, 04:48:41 PM
I've heard everything Nancy Kress has podcasted here and on PC. I think Kress especially is getting a bad rap here on account of a single story. She's written 5 other stories that have been on the pods (unless I'm missing some). I don't remember any of them sharing similar relationship themes that dominated Kindess of Strangers.

Here are the EP Nancy Kress stories:  :)

Nancy Kress
EP075: Nano Comes to Clifford Falls
EP081: Margin of Error
EP116: Ej-Es
EP125: End Game
EPFlash047: Patent Infringement
EP217: The Kindness of Strangers
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 04:54:14 PM by Swamp »

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Reply #48 on: October 28, 2009, 05:15:18 PM
Heh. I actually used that post when I was looking at the Kress stories. There's also "Clad in Gossamer" over at PC. I don't think there have been any others, but I've been wrong before :)


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Reply #49 on: October 28, 2009, 06:12:20 PM
I've heard everything Nancy Kress has podcasted here and on PC. I think Kress especially is getting a bad rap here on account of a single story. She's written 5 other stories that have been on the pods (unless I'm missing some). I don't remember any of them sharing similar relationship themes that dominated Kindess of Strangers.

Here are the EP Nancy Kress stories:  :)

Nancy Kress
EP075: Nano Comes to Clifford Falls
EP081: Margin of Error
EP116: Ej-Es
EP125: End Game
EPFlash047: Patent Infringement
EP217: The Kindness of Strangers

I really liked Nano Comes to Clifford Falls.

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Reply #50 on: December 07, 2009, 09:20:18 PM

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


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Reply #51 on: December 08, 2009, 06:16:52 AM
Well, this is pretty damning of Marvel.

Interesting. In general, I'm glad I'm not keeping up with Marvel (or DC) too much these days.

That said, I think the writer was a bit mistaken about Cap's motivations for Civil War.

Quote
The first major "Event" CIVIL WAR began when Captain America was asked to submit to the authority of a woman named Maria Hill.

Captain America then initiates an all-out superhero civil war rather than take orders from a woman.

Eh, no. It had nothing to do with taking orders from a woman and everything to do with refusing to disclose people's secret identities so they could be hunted down.

That said, I have 0% faith in Joey Q. encouraging something that would actually come off as empowering for women (including young women).
« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 06:23:27 AM by DKT »



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Reply #52 on: December 10, 2009, 01:19:24 AM
I've not keep up with this thread, and I've not read all of what's been said so far (as there is alot of long comments). But my thought on this is that sci-fi has been abit of a boy's club up until recently (I may be wrong, but generally I recall male sci-fi authors from the classics, not any females). As such, sci-fi (and fantasty, now we come to look at it) has had 2 sets of stories; the stories that are primarily aimed at boys/men (the action, military type stories), and stories for people in general (i.e. social commentaries, exploration of new idea's, etc, etc).

Now, with more female authors coming into the field, the third branch as grown; the stories aimed at women (romances, etc). Because of this, they seem very obvious because they are new and they bring a large market of previously underserved customers (hint hint; this is what Twilight did in fantasty).

Now, the point is, stories aimed at men, and stories aimed at women AREN'T 'true' scifi. The men stories are Action stories with a sci-fi setting. The women stories are Romances stories with a sci-fi setting. Its the other branch, where scifi is at its 'purist' that scifi explores what it can do.

Because of this, these new 'women stories' are seen as fluff because they aren't 'proper' scifi. But we have a double standard because we ignore the 'men stories' are typically as fluffy as the 'women stories'. Women authors are fully able to write good 'pure' scifi as much as the men, I reckon, but their numbers aren't equal because of the historical association of 'men write scifi', which is only lately heading towards a more equal standing.

Just because a story is aimed at men or women doesn't make it a bad story, nor does it exclude them from the field of scifi; for that matter, being pure scifi isn't the same as being a good story

Anywho, some examples of what I mean from Escape Pod - note: its pretty hard, on reflect, the establish hard and fast lines dividing these three 'stereotypes' of scifi story, so you may not agree with my choices, but its late at night when I'm writing this and I don't have time to properly go through the Escape Pod archive, so there maybe better exampled:

"Men" stories:

"Bright Red Star" by Bud Sparhawk - EP136 - Sort Halo-eski themes; space marines, advanced alien enemy, action focused, no really exploration beyond that or beyond what the Halo 'universe' has covered. Alright story, but not a favourite.

"Navy Brat" by Kay Kenyon - EP180 - Not a favourite of mine (and generally not liked from what I've read), but its action oriented and really doesn't explore much outside of standard military fiction. Ironically written by a female author

"Women" stories:

"βoyfriend" by Madeline Ashby -  EP216 - Explores teen/young adult romance in a near future with semi-sentient software and how it can mess with the kids. Could be argued that the exploration of the socialogical effects of bring it into the realm of 'pure scifi'

"People" stories:

"Arties aren't stupid" by Jeremiah Tolbert. - EP179 - Explores a world of specialised individuals and advanced bio-technology through the eyes of young people - argubly not 'pure' scifi as it focuses in on the actions of the characters, not really on the scifi exploration.

"The Legend of St. Ignatz" by Samantha Henderson. - EP203 - Shows the foundation of a mythos agmonst a primitive alien species through the interferance of advanced humans. Covers religious themes and the affects of human-alien connact.

"Exhalation" by Ted Chiang. - EP194 - Just listen to this story, and try and tell me it doesn't explore scifi themes without trying to appeal more to men or women :)