Am I a traitor to my gender?
Congrats to Connie Willis for winning the Hugo. She’s a “new to me” author, and I have her Doomsday Book at home but haven’t had the chance to pick it up yet.
if you are easily offended, you may want to skip this post. seriously, dangerous waters are ahead. to the point where I’m tempted to leave this up for 24 hours, and then take it down and deny it ever existed.
I’m not kidding, you might be really offended. don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It seems like only yesterday I was reading blog posts left and right about how we don’t have enough female scifi and fantasy authors. We don’t have enough women editing, writing, or winning awards for scifi and fantasy, and that’s a travesty. There are scifi/fantasy reading clubs and challenges that focus on female writers, and discussions that go round and round nearly into their own Klein bottles about how SF/F fans are obligated to read female authors or books with strong female protagonists.
you know what? it is a tragedy that women historically haven’t had the opportunities that men have. hate to say it, but that’s been going on for a really, really, really, really long time. We are not the first generation to be talking about gender (in)equality. I’m thankful to the strong willed women who paved the way for me to vote, have a career, have family planning options, to have the same rights as anyone else to pursue a life of happyness. I ain’t knockin’ it. I’m just on a soapbox is all. If we were the first generation to be having this discussion, I hope I’d be one of those suffragettes.
Here’s the kicker tho – is “going out of my way” to read female authors just polite Affirmative Action (shit, am I even allowed to say the pc/un-pc A-squared word?)? When making a decision to read something should I think about the gender of the author before or instead of the quality of the work? i don’t give a shit who or what the author is or isn’t, I just want to read good books. I almost wish authors names weren’t on book covers, or that everyone went by just their initials, so casual readers wouldn’t know if an author was a man or a woman. In fact, I know a handful of authors who do go by their initials for just that reason.
I’m starting to feel like a traitor to my gender because I don’t go “out of my way” to read female authors or books with strong female protagonists. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Hobb and Kushner and Tepper and Beukes and Valente, but if I’m trying to decide between two books to read and one happens to be by a woman and the other happens to be by a man, the thought “I should read this one because it’s by a woman” never pops into my head. Ever. (I’m short, red headed and Jewish, should I go out of my way to read books by people under 5’4”, or are ginger, or are Jewish? don’t they deserve equality too?)
Is there gross gender inequality issues across the globe? Yes, and that fucking sucks. All kinds of discrimination and inequality suck donkey balls. And reading is my escape from all my worldly worries. I leave all that reality suckage behind to get lost in a good book.
Quick slightly off topic story: A homosexual acquaintance of mine was trying to get a feel for my politics before referring to his partner as anything other than his “roommate”. I knew what was going on right away, and beat him to the punch by telling him that I don’t care what’s in someone’s pants, I just want people to find love and happiness.
it’s the same with authors. I’m not knocking book clubs or blogs or articles that focus on books by one gender or another, it’s simply that I don’t give a shit what the author’s (or anyone else’s) plumbing is.
Maybe I am a traitor to my gender. it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called a self-hating fill-in-the-blank.
Do I read female writers? yup. do I read male writers? yup. do I read characters of any race, religion, sexual preference, homeworld, fur quotient, or preference for live food? You bet, so long as the book is good.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while. This whole post feels a little like coming out of the closet. and I’ve never been one to do what society expects of me.
Now, near the end of getting this off my chest, I feel like a total hypocrite, because I’ve read incredible, mind blowing unbelievably written books (and the occasional shitty book) by both genders starring protaganists of one gender or the other that are magnificent, inspiring, and pure wonderful (or on the other hand, flat, boring, or just plain crappy). In a sense, I can easily say that I’ve enjoyed the taste of what I’ve been maybe railing against through this entire post. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, but the judgement is always, always, on quality of work, not who it came from. if you are part of a book club or blog, or whatever, that focuses on one thing or the other, more power to ya. just make sure you are reading good stuff, and please don’t be offended if I don’t join you.
So you tell me: am I a traitor? am I a hypocrite? both? neither? does it matter?