Sunday, March 08, 2009

Managing my inputs

I've been reading a string of male-written SF novels lately, mostly military SF to boot, and the experience is reminding me why I've been focusing on women writers.

The books have been almost uniformly well written, exciting stories that I enjoy. Even more characterization than I expect from either male authors or military SF, but not so much as to take time away from chase scenes and battles. More than once I've had that bright feeling of discovery of talent and the pleasure of the unexpected.

But I started reading mostly women writers because I didn't like the effect on my perspective, on my world view, of reading male authors. In most of the books I've read by male authors, there are very few women (they certainly don't pass the Bechdel test). I don't exist, in these novels; I'm not even possible in some of them, there's no awareness of or place for a person like me in the worlds created by these authors.

While I'm sure there are some women authors of whose books this would also be true, it's not my experience. I can always find myself somewhere in the societies women write, at least so far.

I can't find myself in novels written by men, at least, not someone like me who is a woman: there are plenty of men I identify with in them, at least partly. But the attitudes toward women in most of them are destructive to my sense of self. This is already a world in which I struggle to exist as a woman, in which I deal with the subtle sexism in my own psyche as well as in the behavior of others, both as individuals and institutions.


jaylake said...

That is not universally of novels by male authors...

Kai Jones said...

No, it's not universal. Your clockwork books are a good example of the exceptions.