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Feminist Rage Page
Equality never looked so pissed.
I am a bitter Fantasy fan (now with recs) 
26th-Dec-2009 01:05 pm
I have been reading Fantasy written by English and American authors ever since I was fourteen. It is my favourite genre, and most of my favourite books are Fantasy books. This genre was my cure for sadness, loneliness, and boredom ever since I discovered it. And even though I love that genre and spend quite an amount of time defending its literary merits, most of the writers who do write Fantasy suck at the same thing, keep on sucking and make pots of money while doing so. Especially male writers are, when it comes to their few female characters, by and large, lazy, unapologetic morons uninterested in any kind of realism.

The only male Fantasy writers I can think of who manages believable female characters are Gregory Maguire and Terry Pratchett (and I'm grateful if any of you can point me towards others who manage to not fail). It never ceases to amaze me that it would be so bloody hard to write about human beings that, given that they easily comprise fifty percent of the population, one is certain to have interacted with at some point. Both do have strong female characters that are strong on their own terms without necessarily being eye-candy or supporters of male characters only. What is more depressing is that many female writers copy those parts of the genre that are hell-bent on turning female characters into brainless, decorative, supportive tokens (Anne McCaffrey ARFFF).

Even readers with a background in feminism seem so depressingly easily pleased and make a point of noting that there are female characters who are not decoration as soon as they are there at all. As long as these characters are there, as long as they do something at all, writers get kudos for including "strong female characters". I think that term has been used so often it has been rendered meaningless. If they do feature "strong female characters", one or two strong female characters that are included for whatever reason are really not enough to tip the balance for the rest of the book. If, throughout the story, female characters are treated as decoration, pieces of flesh or house elves, even the most bad-ass female will not rectify the fail when it comes to the other characters (looking at you again, Anne McCaffrey).

And fandom, which in many cases easily offers a break from canon fails due to the creativeness of readers, is no help here. Judging by a rough look at numbers of fanfiction submissions by pairing especially with regards to Harry Potter, most female readers don't seem to care as long as there are ~* hawt *~ male characters they can write trivial, character-exploring fanfiction about that centres on one taking care of the emotional and sexual needs of the other. Only about male characters, mind, because "the female characters in that fandom are so uninteresting". A baffling excuse, given the creative self-confidence of fandom - fandoms that manage to write novel-length stories about characters that never spoke more than three sentences together in a novel ought not to have a problem with that and welcome the challenge. 

But apparently, characters tainted by femaleness are not worth writing or thinking about, because there are no interesting stories to tell about women that aren't about the fact that they are women in a male world, and because fetishizing male-on-male interaction is just "more interesting"/"my personal preference".

EDIT: You guys are awesome, thank you so much for all the recommendations! 

I'll list them here so we have them in one place.

26th-Dec-2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Well, with fandom, it depends on where you go and who you hang with. There's a whole group of (mostly) ladies out there who are interested in analyzing fandom, writer/reader desire, and stuff like why women like slash. (Incidentally, I like slash. And I think about why I like slash.) There's also a whole pile of people who whine, "You think too much!" whenever someone tries to think critically about either a specific canon, or how fans interact with it. Places you might want to visit are Metafandom and Fanficrants. The latter is a rant community, but there's a fairly high political consciousness there.

Yeah, women have been conditioned to be easily pleased with male behavior in all venues. If a dude doesn't rape us that day, we wanna give him a cookie. The analogy works in television, books, movies, whatever. It's how people like James Cameron came to be seen as "feminist," you know? Ridiculous. It's just that the world sucks so much that any little relief from the misery seems like a much greater sign of hope than it really is. That's how Nice Guys get by so easily. We don't want to call out the few guys who at least pretend to be on our side, although they're often as bad as their so-called opposites.
26th-Dec-2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
It definitely depends whom you hang out with. IRL, luckily, I have a lot of people who have similar interests as I do, but online I found it rather hard to find people who have similar outlooks on fandom- and the sheer prevalence of people who are happy not ever analysing anything does get frustrating after a while.

I lurk on both sites you mentioned. :)
26th-Dec-2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
Cool. :) Do you have a DW? Lots of acafen moved over there, too. The Metafandom there is apparently a different comm...I think? I get confused. I'm very much on the edge of fandom. :)
26th-Dec-2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
I do have one, but I'm never over there. Maybe I ought to start. :)
27th-Dec-2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
It's how people like James Cameron came to be seen as "feminist,"

James "these aliens need tits" Cameron is considered feminist? By whom?
27th-Dec-2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
It's one of those ongoing things, you know, since he let the savior-kid's ma be "strong" in that Terminator movie, maybe? It's so self-evidently bullshit that when I heard it I sorta rolled my eyes and moved on.
28th-Dec-2009 12:33 am (UTC)
Sigourney Weaver, apparently, but she probably has to say that because he pays her. But yeah, he's known for his "strong female characters."

Which...I don't know. But I pretty much can't stand him (although I have a guilty fondness for Dark Angel, even though it is full of James Cameron showing us his id).
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