You go (SciFi) girl.
September 18, 2015 § 4 Comments
I’ll admit it; I’m all for equal rights, equal pay, and appreciation of the abilities and talents of women all over the planet, but when it comes to science fiction writing, the occasional bout of blatant misogyny doesn’t bother me too much. But don’t jump on me yet! Let me explain what I mean.
Do I approve of writers appropriating female bodies as shallow tools in their plots? Do I think limiting female characters to over-sexualized descriptions and domestic roles is right or fitting? Are women less valuable in science fiction texts than men? As a woman myself, I answer all these questions with a resounding no!
Women are obviously more than just bodies and I think the potential for captivating female heroines and adventurers is still underutilized in science fiction. And let’s be honest, if Princess Leia was allowed to take charge once in a while, Hans Solo and crew might have been saved several of their misadventures.
However, all these things being said, I think that the ability to recognize negative-female imagery in written works is a powerful tool, both for the analysis of our own society and for the impetus for future change. When women are reduced (sometimes in comically exaggerated ways) and constrained to simple stereotypes, readers can be reminded of the reality of female representation in modern culture. Women, after all, are not simply forced into these roles on the pages of Science Fiction texts, but rather as a symptom of the culture at large. Look at television ads, NFL cheerleaders, billboards, pop music etc. etc. etc. if you don’t believe me.
When a reader is able to recognize this occurring within a science fiction text, it forces him/her to pause and fully consider the reality of how women are treated in the modern day. Sure, it may seem silly that a woman only silently bring lunch to the table or serves as a servant, but is this really far from fiction in a world where we don’t have gender equal pay?
Thoughts? Is allowing for stereotyping in Science Fiction perpetuating bad ideas or raising needed debates?