Friday, April 15, 2016

Consciousness Raised; Literary Experience Ruined

Lately, and I do NOT know what is wrong with me, I can't turn off the snarky Inner Feminist Critic when I'm reading.  For one, I've been reading hardly anything written by men.  Books full of dudes doing dude things... don't we have enough real life full of that?

But even when the novels are written by women.... I don't get why the dudes are front and center so much of the time.  As I lamented recently to Dr. S: if there are talking dragons, why are there no women doing things?  If the whole story is about a mythical elf/goblin empire*, why are none of the people in power female?

Why do we keep re-inventing a bigoted, misogynistic history?  Is it that hard to examine social structure in enough detail to subvert it?  Can there at least be female characters who DO things?  (I'm sure it never occurs to some authors, but I don't understand HOW.) Great example: Seanan McGuire.  Without ever being preachy or narratively intruding about it... there are women! There are queer people and people of color!  It's all part of the story and there are still male protagonists!

Related: definitely taking book recommendations that won't make me grit my teeth every ten pages.


*Thank you, Bunny; I did really enjoy it aside from the lack of female characters.  And the future bride is pretty kickass.  I only wish she HAD kicked someone's ass.

12 comments:

  1. Have you read Octavia Butler?

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    1. But of course! I find her daughter's writing inferior though. Picked one up once and went 'What IS this? Oh, Octavia E. Butler.'

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  2. What, you want intelligent books written by women where women take center stage? You totally need to read the Alpennia books by Heather Rose Jones (http://alpennia.com/). Two are published, number three is slated for November -- but I'm lucky enough to be one of her beta readers so I'm reading it now! It is so good, I am using chapters of it as incentives while I grade essays. Every essay I grade, I get to read a chapter.

    I totally recommend them, and not merely because I know the author and would love to see her get the acclaim her books deserve, but because I think they're really good.

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    1. I've just requested the library buy them!

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  3. fizzchick12:14 PM

    Steerswomen series (Rosemary Kirstein)! Even the minor characters are >~50%, and the default assumption is that they are compentent at their job, whatever that job is. Sailing, blacksmithing, hunting, protecting the tribe, whatever. Only downside is that it's midseries and she writes slowly, so if that bugs you than don't read it.

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    1. fizzchick3:24 PM

      Ack. >~50% female, that was supposed to be. Both of the main protagonists are female.

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    2. I read those all! Looking forward to her next book whenever it comes out!

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  4. I read two of the books in your recent review and enjoyed them, so thanks for whatever snark you have time to put out there. I extra appreciate having someone filter out the violence against women and children. So now I have some new things to check out!

    As for why writers keep on writing the same old shit...I don't know. I imagine there's no shortage of people writing different shit, but then there's this whole industry determining what actually gets published. Or at least what gets to the library...

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    1. I have more in drafts! Waiting so they're not all 'Boring, then rape, did not finish.'.

      I admit to going off DJ Older after he had a Twitter rant on HOW DARE people buy books used/ go to the library, that's robbing authors like him! And I went all the way to die in a fire. (Metaphorically.)

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  5. My (9yr old) son is so lucky-- there's a ton of new YA books with great strong female characters and not just the one plucky heroine surrounded by mens. Lately he's been picking them out at the library (along with more standard male hero fare) and I've been reading after or I've been getting them on #2-on-the-blog's recommendation and he's been reading after me. Right now I'm finishing the fourth Ever After series book.

    Not to mention My Little Pony.

    Also getting really sick of violence against women (ran out of good romance authors, now branching out and trying new people... and often regretting it).

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  6. Martha Wells, Tales of the Raksura.

    OK, the focal point character is male. But the females are TOTALLY KICKASS, and the male is not annoyingly typically so, and he also really prefers the kickass females to passive ones which is a point in his favour.

    And the whole 'society of bisexual matriarchal shape-shifting lizards' as the author described her creation is just fun, and refreshingly full of people not dudes and pretty decoratives.

    The previous trilogy Gate of the Gods also has a really great heroine, and a complex, non-dude-dominated society and suite of characters.

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  7. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Have you read the Honerverse series by Weber? There's a great bit in about the third book where the hero encounters a patriarchal, religious world and has to deal with the way that she can't succeed immediately. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say there's a lot of future history after the Honor of the Queen.

    Peter

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