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mark211Should we be worried about sexism in SFF? (Part 2)2018-02-25 12:34:02
mark211I had not intended last week's discussion question to have a part 2, but as interesting comments came up from both Rick Tornello and Michele Dutcher, I thought we could carry it over to this week.2018-02-25 12:35:04
mark211In response to Rick's comment from last week: "First, give us your definition of sexism. Then maybe we can answer your question." As this is an easier question to pose than to answer, I was on the brink of throwing the question back to Rick - but then I came across this: "The patriarchal race to colonize Mars is just another example of male entitlement" As well as being inane, I would cite this as an example of sexism - although admittedly it was not what I had originally had in mind.2018-02-25 12:37:26
mark211In response to Michele (1): "When I have people contact me online, they assume I am a guy" Huh? 2018-02-25 12:38:09
mark211In response to Michele (2): "an absence of female authors and editors on the front lines of sci-fi. For instance, when I attend a sci-fi meeting or convention, very few female authors are behind the table." Why is that evidence of sexism? 2018-02-25 12:39:38
Modelling_MushiOk, you've baited the hook so this fish will bite Mark. So to post #3 "The patriarchal race to colonize Mars" Id say that sexism (like racism) can be found absolutely anywhere dependent upon the viewpoint of the offend-ee. Im not sure why the exploration of Mars would be seen as a 'patriarchal race' unless the commenter views the Mars1, The Chinese or the USA space agencies as male dominated bastions of testosterone (and I did notice when Elon Musk wasted a nice car - Hey Elon, I coulda used it my man - most of the mission control specialists and on tv types were female, so bag goes that theory). Thee other option I guess is that we should forget about Mars and fix the trouble with rampant sexism in its violent form in some of the worse places on the globe. Not going to touch that, its the old Moon Mission thing popping up again. But then again, I was booted from one position and missed out on one job specifically because I was a man - and I was told to my face that it was to allow them to increase their "quota" of women. Even though in the same breath they told me I was better qualified and more suited. So that's sexism isn't it, bias on the basis of gender? So its all in the eye of the beholder (and yes, 15 year son I am still royally pissed over that particular pair of events).2018-02-25 22:40:11
Modelling_MushiSo to Michele 1, perhaps they think you are French, I dunno, Le Count Michele de Corvouisier perhaps? Or they expect to see a second "l" in there (and I have trouble with Kim vs Kym). No idea on that one.2018-02-25 22:43:26
Modelling_MushiTo Michele 2 Id have a look at the Fantasy side of the genre. There are an awful lot (and I mean a googolplex) of female authors, writers and editors out there. It could be perspective maybe. To me it seems that 6 out of every 10 young aspiring and capable authors are female. I'll readily admit that in the more mature age bracket there were less - Ursula LeGuin and Nancy Kress et al being the exceptions, but not now. Its perspective I think. Or maybe you're going to the wrong conventions? Or the right ones:) ?2018-02-25 22:46:52
IronspiderSexism, like politics and religion, is a subject I prefer not to get involved in, as I always seem to say (or write) the wrong thing - or something that can be misinterpreted. Thinking back to some of the books I've read, yes, there was an element of sexism in quite a few, escpecially fantasy. In most of the Conan stories, for example, women tend to need rescuing, rather than being able to fend for themselves. There's likely to be an element of "well, that's how things were perceived back then" as a reason for this, but don't forget RE Howard also wrote the story 'Shadow of the Vulture', which featured ‘Red’ Sonya, later made into a more standard fantasy heroine by the comics of Barry Windor-Smith and Roy Thomas. So, if even a pulp author like Howard was able to see woman as strong characters back in the early 30s, why are they not more prevalent thereafter. But, perhaps they were and I just didn't read the right stories. As regards modern publications, I certainly don't think there's a lack of female authors, and I can't name all those I've read., Maybe there's a lingering attitude that women aren't likely to be as successful as men, but that, I suspect, is more to do with publishing company attitude than reader preference. I always look for what might be a good story, rather than at the gender of the author.2018-02-26 03:42:46
IronspiderOn another point - personally, I tend not to write too many female characters into my stories, as I'm not comfortable that my skill as an amateur writer is up to the task. Creating a fully-rounded female character - as opposed to superimposing a male character on to a feminine frame - I find to be quite daunting. So, rather than lay myself open to criticism, I just avoid the problem.2018-02-26 04:01:16
rtI do write female characters into my stories. I was Mr. mom to my daughter and watched her as she grew into woman hood. I was taken aback by some of her comments when she was young, for example, at about 8 or 9 she asked why there were no female presidents. I was coach to a girls soccer team. That was an eye opener. And being on the left side of social politics, growing up in the 60's and college in the 70's, the subject was there much of the time.

None of the above gives me broad license to claim I know what I'm talking about, but based upon my experiences I do make an attempt to convey an accurate picture of any character I write about.

2018-02-26 11:31:24

Just a point of argument:if this is your forum to present the statement that posed the question, then its incumbent upon you to define the terms o matter how difficult. And maybe we should all discuss the definitions by which we point back as we write, otherwise there's a good chance we're talking past one another.

If not this time maybe next time.

2018-02-26 14:31:46
dandrew72Here's the problem. Do we reach a point - intentionally or not - where we force our creative impulses to conform to momentary perceptions of this ism or that ism at the expense of a really good story? If we want to present really good material I think it's up to each of us to put what we need into our stories to make them work. As for me, I have a hard enough time with character development let alone making character content conform to one point of view or another. I tend to make abstracts like time the real central character in a lot of my work for that reason. Anyway, great discussion and one of the more robust we've shared in a while. 2018-02-28 14:47:37
dandrew72By the way everyone, you all are fantastic writers and I admire your work here on QM. 2018-02-28 14:49:47
Ironspider@dandrew72 - good point. I know I try to ignore outside influences when I write. I've scrapped a few pieces of work when they haven't gone the direction I'd intended (by 'scrap' I mean save for future use), but I've never stopped, thought, "whoah, that's sexist/racist/ageist/scientist(?)" and not finished a piece of writing. My baseline attitudes are a function of my gender, upbringing and age - I'd like to think they evolve based on the things I've learned as I've grown older. I don't cling to any specific attitude just because it's embedded in my culture or is expected of my gender or age. We grow as individuals all the time - unless we choose to close our minds and go "La, la, la" when new information is presented to us. Perhaps 'isms' are, like your favourite ice cream flavour, a choice.2018-03-01 00:53:20
Modelling_Mushi@Ironspider & @dandrew72 - Yeah, and the thing that you have both pointed out is correct, your "stance" on whatever ism is being referred to (be it racism, sexism, ageism, whatever) will come out in your writing unconsciously as it is part of your upbringing, beliefs and experiences. Everything that flows out of us is "tainted" by what we are, like light through colored glass. So @rt might be able to wrap his brain around the female character pov because of where he's come from, me I try my damnedest and fail each time - so I sit down with a close female friend and let her shred my work, then sticky tape it together. I think it raises a point I aspire to in writing, one day I want to be able to lift my brain up and out of what and who I am and truly into my character and what and who they are. It's a bit of @Ironspiders comment on evolving over time as Ive grown older, I've had to do it in the real world so why not here. As for forcing creativity to adhere to social conformity and norms @dandrew72 I'd say heck no, the best SF IMHO has been written in quite the opposite manner to produce some of the most profound and relevant pieces in the genre. So @mark211 perhaps its not sexism (or any other "ism" for that matter) in SF we should be worried about but more the lack of awareness in ourselves as authors about the "isms" and "taints" we bring to our writing.2018-03-01 04:32:00

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