The sexism in SF conversation has gone supernova in the past few weeks. I'm rounding up a few of the more SFR-centric posts that have surfaced recently.
At Its Comic Book Day!, TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN author Gini Koch weighs in on the SFWA Bulletin controversy and Stuart Sharp's controversial Talking Sci-Fi Romance post:
The mere fact that these men are making women around the globe feel that we have to defend our right to write in whatever genres we want is the real crime. And it's both ironic and insulting.
Actual masters of science fiction fought long and hard to be considered something other than trashy pulp writers (and, in fact, that argument still rages), and now some dudes clinging to outdated notions of what's right and proper, all of whom should have learned better long before now, are turning around and dishing out the same treatment -- denigrating anyone who isn't in their perceived club, including authors who dare to have fresh voices, or take the old tropes in different directions. Oh, but only if they're women. GUYS doing this is just fine and proper. Did I say they made us defensive? They have. But what they've really made us is angry.
But you know what the best revenge is? In this case, it’s getting the readers.
At Spacefreighters Lounge, Donna S. Frelick explains why this is an issue Of Square Pegs And Round Holes:
So why be surprised that now when science fiction romance is beginning to find some success outside of the traditional SF community—through digital or small presses or even with romance-oriented houses—the old-school guys in SF are squawking? It’s the same reaction I get when I tell my guy friends who read SF that I write SFR. The kindest thing they say is, “You lost me at romance.”Really? Okay. Because there are these millions of other readers out there who just might be interested in the romance. SFR’s dogged pursuit of the miniscule SF market is just a little too reminiscent of a child begging for the attention of an emotionally-unavailable father. I say we grow up now and seek out a lover who can give us the affection we need.
Also at Spacefreighters Lounge, Laurie A. Green declares No More Jurassic Park:
SF authors from bygone eras need to grapple with the reality that their books and their style of storytelling are not the be-all and do-all for the ages. New writers, new voices, and new ideas are emerging as SF continues to evolve on the crest of forward-thinking writers and SFR gains greater popularity by including human sexuality in the equation.
As a character in Jurassic Park once said, "The dinosaurs have had their day."
Cora Buhlert wonders, Revenge of the girl cooties or Do we need a different writers organization? If you're seeking coverage of the current controversies, her post includes an extensive roundup of posts.
Natalie Luhrs wrote an eloquent essay called Clean Rooms, Messy Bodies: The Intersection of SF and Romance:
And I think this is why the prospect of SF romance is often so divisive. I think some people see SF as a purely cerebral literature–liberated minds, free of that pesky physicality–being invaded by bodies and feelings. And instead of investigating their discomfort they choose to take the easy (and often misogynistic) way out: calling writers of SF romance fake geeks who don’t know how to write SF correctly and who are unaware of decades-long arguments within SF fandom. Which, naturally delegitimizes their place in the genre.
(Thanks to GHOST PLANET author Sharon Lynn Fisher for the link. Read her heartfelt post in which she thanks romance readers for embracing SFR.)
Finally, A. Lee Martinez wrote A Digression of Superhero Chick Flicks in which he addresses "…the lack of female superheroes in film." His post has much relevance in terms of the sexism in SF conversation and provides concrete examples of where fandom currently is and how far we have to go:
Superheroes are, with rare exception, empowerment fantasies. They represent exceptionalism at its most obvious. If you think about it, almost every superhero story is the story of a person who carries the weight of the world on their shoulders just by being so awesome…… Frankly, not many people really buy the image of the empowered female. It’s odd because it’s not as if we’re talking about reality here. We’re talking about bold fantasy, so even if I don’t buy many of the arguments for male superiority in the real world, they make even less sense in a superhero world. It’s hard to argue that, in a fair fight, Captain America would need to go easy on She-Hulk or that in a universe where Batman can fight Superman successfully that there would be no such thing as a powerful female character.
Yet this perception is so ingrained in us that, even in a world of infinite possibilities, it’s hard to find great examples of truly empowered female heroes. Even those female characters without baggage tend to be less powerful than their equivalents. So many female characters are gender-flips of already popular characters that you would think it wouldn’t be hard to apply the same rules, but the fact is, most female equivalents of male heroes are subtly less powerful and capable than their male counterparts.