Monday, August 31, 2015

In the margins

I'm no connoisseur of science fiction and fantasy novels, but nevertheless this article by Liz Lutgendorff for the New Statesman makes for depressing reading. Setting herself the challenge of ploughing through the top 100 as claimed by NPR, she found herself disappointed, troubled and angered by "the continued and pervasive sexism - even in seemingly progressive books for their time".

After a while, she started subjecting novels to an adapted version of the Bechdel test - and the results certainly weren't pretty. Women characters are few and far between, are largely peripheral, lack individual identity and agency, and are frequently victims of sexual violence.

As Lutgendorff suggests, surely when you're inventing a whole world or worlds, it doesn't take a great feat of imagination to create some strong, rounded female leads?

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