Women In Science Fiction And Fantasy – Why are women treated so differently than men?
Over the last couple of weeks, I read several articles about gender disparity in SF/F. It all started with the article “I Hate Strong Female Characters” by Sophia McDougall published in The Statesmen.
Pretty soon, I had also come across articles like “Sleeps With Monsters: Reading, Writing, Radicalisation” a two part article from blogger Liz Burke over at Tor.com and then “Gender Bias in SF/F Round Table” a two part article from blogger Matt Gilliard at 52Reviews.com
All three of these bloggers had a lot to say about gender disparity in science fiction and fantasy. The general gist of everything is that there is a significant disparity in how men and women are treated in fantasy. Women tend to be put into one of two categories. They are either a superhuman bad ass or the stereotypical damsel in distress who drags the hero down at every turn or worse – someone the hero or villain beds then discards or unceremoniously kills.
“About 2,550,000 results (0.28 seconds)”
The search for “badass women” returned “About 34,100,000 results (0.30 seconds)”
Really? That’s kind of a “Wow…” sort of social commentary.
Women do not receive the same treatment as men in SF/F.
Why aren’t women treated the same in SF/F?
Or any other genre, for that matter? THEN…
Not Just Women in science fiction and fantasy
I don’t watch a whole lot of television. But one thing I’ve noticed is that there have been quite a number of females either killed off or exiled in several of the shows I watch and this pisses me off. I don’t know why NCIS sent Ziva David back to Israel and Cote de Pablo isn’t talking but I’m not happy about it. At least they didn’t kill her off like they did the character Kate.
Then the show, Person of Interest, kills off the character of Detective Joss Carter! Why? Why was this necessary? I read the interview with Jonah Nolan and I still want to know why this character? There was any number of male characters the writers could have killed off! But whom do they kill off like a Brutus on the steps of the forum? Taraji P. Henson’s character, Joss Carter. At least after seasons of being the pseudo damsel in distress slash competent cop who is frequently rescued by John Caviezel’s character John Reese, they let her have a few scenes as a bad ass. And yes, the snark is fully intended!
Which brings us back full circle to the articles I mentioned above. Check them out, the articles are definitely worth the read.
I’ve made a promise to myself to look at the authors on my bookshelves, both real and virtual, to see how many are male and female. I think I will see a discrepancy of considerably more men than women. But, before you start to think I’ve gone all radical feminist on you, I think this discrepancy is the genre. After all, if I was reading romance or cozy mystery, the authorship would be skewed the other direction. I think. And, because I don’t know, I’m going to have to do some research. See that image over hereon the left? This will be me over the next several weeks and I look into women authors in Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror as well as female characters in genre fiction.
While I’m obviously not done with this topic, I do want to say that writing a good female character doesn’t mean she has to be a damsel in distress, one of the boys or the biggest bad ass on the planet. A female character just has to be real and honestly, that’s not so hard to do.