Tor bravely fights wrongthink

Scifi writer Jon Del Arroz left a comment pushing back on one of Tor’s latest pieces, in which women writers are once again incorrectly portrayed as victims of the dreaded Patriarchy.

Hat tip to Jeffro for this one.

In case you’d like to read the article, here’s an archived link. I hope you’re in the mood for a good lamentation that every hero in scifi has a penis. Except when the lead is a woman, like in Rogue One. But even then, there are far too many dongs surrounding our strong womyn!

Also, what happened to great women writers like Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, Andre Norton, etc? Younger readers today have no idea who they are. The Patriarchy strikes again!

andre-norton-in-chair-with-cat
Stricken down in her prime by the Dick Lords.

Except for the fact that this isn’t a gender-specific problem. Many of us in the Pulp Revolution crowd / Appendix N cult have been pointing and shouting about this generation gap for some time now. What happened to Jack Vance? Do young readers today know who Poul Anderson is? Or Lord Dunsany or William Morris? Or Clark Ashton Smith? How about A. Merritt or E.E. “Doc” Smith or Gordon Dickson?

445655

It’s not that women are oppressed and have been memory-holed. It’s that many of the old greats have been forgotten and buried in a mudslide of new crap. I tried to point this out at Tor, but my comment doesn’t seem to have made it past the moderator. Can’t have people challenging your narrative, eh?

-Bushi

bushi

 

 

Tor bravely fights wrongthink

Badass Womanly Women in SFF

A popular grievance of the Left is a lack of “inclusion” by either the Powers That Be or the population in general. As if we happy associates of the white, Christian Patriarchy have the time to step away from counting our piles of gold coins and smoking fine cigars long enough to actively knock the undesirables (or deplorables, if you will) down to the base of the ladder where they belong. This idea is usually born either by recently enlightened members of the aggrieved class or else sufficiently apologetic, self-appointed proxies. Self-righteous pensters have been decrying a lack of diversity in X for quite some time now.

Though it wasn’t the (original) central issue, there was plenty of talk focused on this topic during the whole Gamergate affair. Plenty of people pointed out that there are many prominent female video game characters – something easily ascertainable to those who have actually played video games or done some cursory research.

What about women in other media?

We’ve been told how great it is that we’re now finally getting some diversity in TV and film. With strong women like Rey in the Force Awakens and the Ghostbusters reboot, who needs traditional gender roles? Indeed, who needs men?

This dreck has been percolating for a while now. Is there a pushback coming?

tumblr_mxjpb0i8ee1s6l9jdo1_400

For the greater American culture, I’m not so certain. The pendulum swings both ways for sure, but it’s not easy to predict the full range of the cultural fulcrum. In a more limited arena, at any rate, the battle rages on.

To counter the cries of discrimination, I’ve noted several bloggers and online literary critics highlighting female excellence within the scifi-fantasy arena – pertaining both to writers and characters. Leigh Brackett and Margaret St. Clair are familiar names to Appendix N scholars or those fans on the farther side of the SFF Generation Gap. CJ Cherryh, Ursula Le Guin, Madeleine L’engle, Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, and Katherine Kurtz are some other big names who have been around for decades. Hell, JK Rowling is one of the best selling authors of all time, with Agatha Christie (a different genre, but still) topping the chart in a tie with William friggin Shakespeare. There are many more to name.

In light of this topic coming to the fore, I’ve been thinking about “strong” female characters. And you know, the recent brand is boring. The Left advances the ideas that gender is fluid and non-binary, and that traditional gender roles are outdated and discriminatory. And we wind up with bland characters like Rey, who wear formless potato sacks and can do everything better than men. She is woman, hear her roar.

JC Wright has written extensively on the subject of the strong female character. Physically and psychically, men and women have different strengths and weaknesses. While social crusaders may not personally like or accept this fact, minding it goes a long way toward developing well-written characters.

I’d like to briefly highlight a number of female characters I’ve identified who serve to exemplify this point. Note that these characters range in time of origin and in source medium. We can even draw from back in the Dark Ages when the women’s voices were suppressed and they were forcibly excluded from literature.

The Blood of Heroes (1989), Kidda

4oif7wzbdxnrqtglvd0ogkgtus2

In a post-apocalyptic world, a roving team of juggers hop from town to town playing the Sport (one part football, one part gladiatorial bout) as they make their way to the capital city, where they will fight to join the League. Along the way they pick up the scrappy Kidda – a small but quick woman who becomes their quik (the runner who tries to carry a dog skull to the opposite team’s end of the field without being savaged by the enemy defenders). Rather than brutishly pummeling the much larger men, Kidda had to rely on her natural agility, speed, and size to make it in the brutal game.

 

Star Trek Voyager (1995-2001), Captain Janeway

janeway-star-trek-voyager-30990629-500-382

Star Trek Voyager gets a lot of flack, and many Trekkies seem to consider it the worst or one of the worst series. I’ll have to write a defense sometime, because it’s actually my favorite of the bunch. Janeway is Exhibit A for me. She exhibited the best qualities of Kirk and Picard. She was a skilled diplomat, leader, and scientist, and yet she was quick to kick ass and take names when shit hit the fan. I found Janeway’s femininity striking. Although she did have some romantic subplots that never went anywhere, Janeway was extremely maternalistic. When it came to protecting her crew, she was a mother bear. She was no physical powerhouse, but she repeatedly displayed great courage and emotional strength.

 

Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)Six, Eight (Boomer and Athena), President Roslin

1ce326c52c18a6e8fdb54b47bedff8b9

There were a number of great female characters in the reincarnation of Battlestar. Of course Grace Parker was engaging as both Boomer and Athena, and Six as Caprica and other roles. Roslin was written a little unevenly, but she usually made a fine leader, relying on her forceful personality, wiles, and resilience. I’d contrast these characters with Starbuck, who was crafted to be a brawling hottie but more often came across as obnoxious and destructive.

 

Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), Ripley

aliens-001

Ripley was another maternal female character, at her best when she was protecting Newt. She wasn’t always the strongest, but she was intelligent, resourceful, and determined, as was perhaps best displayed in the iconic Aliens scene in which she takes on the mother alien with the work loader mech.

 

Flash Gordon (1934-) – Dale Arden, Princess Aura

still-of-melody-anderson-in-blixt-gordon-1980abaff3ae47b68e078731c0b70807572f

Flash Gordon was published as a comic strip in 1934 and has been serialized in a number of different media throughout the years. Two major recurring characters are Dale Arden (his companion from Earth and main love interest) and Princess Aura (daughter of Ming the Merciless). Although on the surface they may look like typical princesses in need of rescue, they’re both strong and independent characters. I haven’t personally read the comic strip, but in the 1980s film Aura saves Flash’s life and Dale effects her own escape. They’re both capable, brave, and beautiful (I know, scandalous for me to say!) without having to usurp the role of the male heroes.

 

Willow (1988)  Sorsha, Queen Bavmorda, Fin Raziel

tumblr_n0kyw1qqxw1sg8jd1o1_128073aa8e71872e4b32a1c24043f061f7d8cherlindreas_wand

Ok, so Willow’s Sorsha wasn’t the most well-fleshed-out of characters. She went from basically being an ice cold bitch to eventually deciding to join the good guys against her mom. I guess the ladies just can’t resist the Madmartigen D.

i5kzn9bh

Oh well. At any rate, she was a decently depicted female warrior type – this is what you get when you’re not dealing with abnormal behemoths like GRRM’s Brienne. She can fight; she can stab some old robed men plenty well. But when she’s dealing with a skilled, larger male like Mad M, she’s no match. I guess this is hinted at by her prominent quiver of arrows, though I don’t think she ever has a bow or makes use of any of them.

We’ve also got Fin Raziel, the great magical old dame Willow must seek out because she’s a powerful mage and he’s just a two-bit magician. If woman are going to have equal opportunity, we also need some prominent strong female villains, and so we’ve got Bavmorda, who is probably the strongest magic user in the film. She’s vicious, cruel, self-serving, and good at being bad.

Willow is particularly notable because it gave us the old woman magic battle years before we got the old man magic battle on screen. Revolutionary!

 

The Wizard of Oz (1900), Dorothy

wiz

The story that spurred perhaps one of our most classic, iconic films, and the protagonist is a little girl. She may not have been roundhousing flying monkies or pummeling the wicked witch, but Dorothy’s kindness and charisma aided her in recruiting many friends throughout her journey (especially if you include the other books in the series). Her quest to return home required a fair amount of courage, as well, which you may notice is a recurring virtue on this list.

Again, this is just a small sample of female characters from a variety of SFF. And they were arguably all well done and strong despite not competing with men where men excel and/or just being good at everything.

star-wars-book-before-the-awakening-gives-a-vital-insight-into-rey-s-identity-rey-hasn-7920451

 

-Bushi

bushi

 

Badass Womanly Women in SFF

Women leagues in pro gaming?

There’s a discussion going on at PC Gamer (and I guess among the larger gaming community?) about the possibility of splitting off women gamers into their own leagues. The writer of the piece seems conflicted about the proposal, but I think she does a pretty good job laying out the sitch and the arguments being made on both sides.

SCMP 05AUG15 TP GAME1  ESO_1441A.JPG

Pro gaming leagues are private organizations and they can do as they like. They may be able to make good money off of all-women leagues, and unlike the author of the article, I don’t see that as a bad thing. Actually I think that would be the most compelling argument. After all, pro gaming is a business. I’m sure the all-women teams out there love gaming, but they also want to earn a living, as do the leagues themselves. Money is a legitimate concern.

The harassment issue gives me pause. I’m obviously not a woman gamer, nor have I played with a ton of them online, so I can’t speak to how they’re treated by and large. Anecdotally when I have played with teammates who either identify themselves as female or have female-sounding aliases, I haven’t observed anyone being particularly rude or sexist towards them. To the contrary, it seems like a lot of guy gamers try to impress and “white knight” for girls they encounter in-game.

exotic-peacock
hey gurl, check out my dps.

Back when I played a lot of the original Starcraft, I had a couple of online friends that I’d play with regularly, one of whom was a women. Perhaps those were different days, but I don’t recall seeing her experiencing any kind of harassment. Sometimes people would try to hit on her in-channel (as we called the between-game lobbies back then), but it wasn’t nasty and she would usually just give them a [wink] and jump into a game with us.

Additionally, there’s this one female gamer who runs in some of the same circles as I in Heroes of the Storm. I played a couple of games with her and actually found her more toxic than the other people I usually play with. One of our rando teammates had said something critical of her gameplay within the first couple of minutes, and she flamed him for the entire rest of the game. I mean, this girl would not stop typing for the next 15-20 minutes. We lost. These days our circles are more concentric than overlapping, by my design.

Different games attract different types of communities, but there are assholes and rageaholics of both genders.

That’s not to say female gamers don’t have it rough and that they’re never harassed; it’s just to say I can’t really corroborate that argument. And even if I could, does this leave us to assume that girls are never mean to one another? Have fun believing that one.

As to the diversity argument, this:

Capture

And as to the “hey other sports do it” argument, this:

Capture2

This is a legit conversation to have, and again, I think it could fill a market. I’ve never been big on spectating pro gaming, but I bet a lot of the people who do would totally watch all-girl teams. I just don’t really buy some of the other arguments being made in favor of such segregation.

 

-Bushi

bushi

Women leagues in pro gaming?