Blogger "Whiskey" has an article up on men's culture site The Spearhead" today called "The Feminization of Science Fiction (and Fantasy)". The gist of the piece is that (imagine this being said in a little-boy-pouty-voice) girls are coming in ruining science fiction and fantasy for boys with their stupid emotions and even stupider buying power! No fair!
Basically, The Spearhead is arguing that, in the same way we've done with Broadway showtunes and television sitcoms, women are busting into the no-girls-allowed zone of sci-fi and turning it all frivolous and emotional. Says "Whiskey" on this alleged feminization:
This is not to say that the feminized science fiction and fantasy genres of today are "bad" but they certainly are different, and mostly irrelevant to most men. Central to this fact are the profound gender differences in what men and women find appealing in literature, particularly science fiction and fantasy. Broadly speaking (there are exceptions), men prefer the traditional, "Big Idea" science fiction in which technology acts to radically change a society, and said changes are explored from a central (usually male) character.
A "Big Idea"? What's that? I guess women are incapable of wrapping our ladybrains around such notions. Good thing we're feminizing the genre!
However, with the exception of the Lessing novel "Children of Men" (Lessing herself writes in the manner of a male writer), the female written and oriented science fiction and fantasy is very, very different than that of male written or oriented science fiction and fantasy. Female oriented fiction tends to be very personal, oriented towards personal choices of women (and sometimes men) on the issue of children, families, relationships, and so on.
"Whiskey" is careful to point out that he (I am assuming the author is male-identified based on the point of view of the article) feels men and women approach science fiction differently (which may be true) but that he is not saying that one approach is better than the other. Except that he is.
According to this article, women, with our predilection towards "porn-light tales of fantasy" and our insistence on writing male characters as "either sniveling beta losers (think Pete Campbell in "Mad Men" or most of the male characters in "Dollhouse") or hunky but violent Alpha males that treat women badly (but the women love them)." Oh, and we write women as "'beautiful victims' who love the men who abuse them, even if they are capable of kicking their asses."
Of course, we women can't blame ourselves for men's inherent dislike of our work in the science-fiction genre. Men are homophobic, and they can't help it. When reacting to a Washington Post article on women and sci-fi and the prevalence of bisexuality in women-authored work, "Whiskey" claims
Men, young and old, find gays and bisexuality (among men at least) about as attractive as a "fabulous" Broadway show followed by a viewing of all three of the "High School the Musical" movies. In fact, the more "gay" Broadway has become, (and the more technically excellent), the more repellent it has become to men and boys. Indeed, metal and rap's popularity stem from the hostility both have to gays, making male sexuality not "questionable" the way the love for Broadway showtunes would be.Women generally like gays, and find gay sex fascinating the way men do lesbian sex. However, men know well that most young women, if presented a magic button that would make most men (average joes) "gay" they'd break their fingers pushing it. The chief objective of attractive young women being turning off male desire of all but the most Alpha of men.
Get me to that magic button, ladies! I can't wait to make nearly all men gay!
I don't even know if it's worth examining the rest of this article. "Whiskey" goes on to lament the demise of The Rockford Files (the last manly show on TV, apparently) and the appearance of emotion-driven Vampire fiction (because no guys ever watch True Blood or read Twilight, and the new film Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant that was written by a team of men and directed by Paul Weitz must be a whopping exception here).
The conclusion of "The Feminization of Science Fiction (and Fantasy)" is that men have been relegated to the world of e-books – that last frontier where a man can truly write about "Big Ideas."
This means you won't find niche stuff, and the relentless focus on the New Girl Order (helped along by the depression) will end. Men now have for entertainment, absent the gender stereotypes, focus on domesticity, and female themes, professional sports and video games.
I know I have quoted the sci-fi lovin' guts out of this article (though it is quite long), but I have to include the final paragraph here for discussion purposes. By writing e-books (away from the predatory female authors who have ruined science fiction), men can finally be creative.
Rather than explore issues of personal sexuality or hunky Alpha males, they can address pressing social issues such as nuclear terrorism, selective sex abortion, and more. Fantasy writers can explore the fall of the Roman Empire (still the most historically traumatic event in Western History, and the most grievous loss) within the context of today's decadent society (where leading cultural creators support freeing Roman Polanski). All without the soft tyranny of feminized PC/Multiculturalism, and crowding out of the "Big Ideas" for domestic issues. There will still be a place for women in science fiction and fantasy. But it will no longer be "theirs" — an exclusive clubhouse where expressions of nerdy male ideas are as welcome as a Star Trek Convention at a Sorority House.
In some ways, it is a brave new world.
Even though "Whiskey" makes some pretty outrageous claims in this piece (women don't know anything about the Roman Empire! Only men can write about selective sex abortion!) I am paraphrasing it here in the hopes of starting a discussion. Is science-fiction in any way excluding men? Or is it just that even a small number of women at Comic-Con who want to talk about Edward Cullen is causing the gatekeepers of this historical Boys' Club to panic? I think it's valuable to discuss the different ways in which men, women, queers, straight people, non-white people, old people, young people, etc. approach science-fiction and fantasy, but isn't there room in that "exclusive clubhouse" for everyone? What gives?