Ok, yeah, so sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake. But the other day as I was walking home from the bus stop (it’s about half a mile), I was daydreaming about saving a grateful Tom Hiddleston from muggers, or lions, or something to entertain myself, and it suddenly hit me like ton of mayonnaise why the whole “SF is a boys’ club” thing pisses me off so badly.
They don’t think women and girls want to or can be heroes.
That’s why they think it’s a boys’ club, because SF is the genre of, as one of the essays in WDSF put it, the tall, handsome, square-jawed hero. The stand in for every nebbishy nerd boy, who’s ever wished he could stand up to the bullies. The iconoclast, rugged individualist who doesn’t need nobody no-how!
They think that women don’t picture themselves as the heroes of their own stories.
They think WE all grow up wanting to be mommies or school teachers (not to denigrate either of those life-choices, both are perfectly valid).
It never dawns on these assholes, that women don’t just spontaneously dream of being the rescued, instead of the rescuer.
First, society has to beat the aspirations of being a rescuer, a hero, an explorer out of us, by mocking us, deriding women who want more, or isolating the ones who do attain it. It has to spend years mocking little girls who announce they want to be firemen, scientists, and astronauts. It has to work hard to deny little girls the fictions that include people like them in those roles. It has to spend years telling us that women who DO succeed in “mens'” careers are special and rare, like unicorns, and that could never be us. And a lot of people, like those old straight white dudes (to be fair, not just dudes, a few women jumped in on the side of Team Fail as well) involved in the brouhaha in SFWA, Vox Day and his pathetic ilk, HAPPILY do that work for society. They happily tell little girls that there is no place for them in a future with star travel, and where all the races are equal, because women will never truly be equal in the eyes of those people .
It is easier for someone like Vox Day to imagine a world with orcs and dragons, than it is for him to imagine a world where women and people of color are people with all the same rights someone like him might have.
That says a very, very, very sad thing about that man and his followers.
It’s pathetic, really.
I’m gonna date myself here, but when I was 7 I loved the original Battlestar Galactica.
Don’t judge. It was the 1970s.
I didn’t imagine myself one of the faithful women waiting back on the ship. I imagined myself piloting one of the fighters, saving Starbuck’s ass, and being celebrated for my victory. I imagined being an explorer, or Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, the Lone Ranger.*
I imagined myself doing all the things little boys imagine themselves doing.
Only, little boys don’t spend a lifetime being told subtly and not so subtly that those things aren’t for them.
Little boys don’t have to search far and wide for fictional role models of their own gender doing those exciting things.
No one tells them that they can’t be a war hero, or a fighter pilot, or a great detective, or a swordfighter, or superhero simply because of an accident of biology.
Their toy aisle isn’t filled with pink household appliances, child-rearing practice units, and make up and jewelry.
That fucking sucks.
And I’m gonna need ya’ll to knock that shit off, mmm’kay?
Little girls and little boys fantasize about a lot of the same things. And yes, sometimes that means little boys fantasize about raising children and being rescued, too. Just as little girls fantasize about saving someone from a burning building, or fighting off wild creatures in a jungle.
And we don’t stop fantasizing about them until someone, society, tells us we’re wrong and bad for doing it. And mostly, even then, we keep doing it, we just feel guilt and shame over it. Or some of us grow up and decide to live our entire lives as a giant middle finger to gender roles, and thank the gods every day that we found someone who feels the same fucking way, and that we didn’t have the misfortune to fall for a douchebag with a giant inferiority complex and a fear of girl cooties.
*Correction: MS. Shirley Holmes, MS. Zorro, and MS. Lone Ranger. My mom was pretty feminist.
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Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want. We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly. Check it out (we’re track 16). We’re going in to the studio to finish the new EP in late August, I caught the plague, so haven’t been up to vocals. We’ll also be in Portland, OR on August 15th for a show.
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