The War on Science Fiction and Infantile Assholes
Today, I read something hilarious.
In fact, the entire opening paragraph of that post is a masterpiece of tragicomedy. I’ll quote it here:
Science fiction is a very male form of fiction. Considerably more men than women are interested in reading and watching science fiction. This is no surprise. Science fiction traditionally is about men doing things, inventing new technologies, exploring new worlds, making new scientific discoveries, terraforming planets, etc. Many men working in the fields of science, engineering, and technology have cited science fiction (such as the original Star Trek) for inspiring them when they were boys to establish careers in these fields.
Now, the thing is, when I read that I expected it to be the opening paragraph of a very different post. (I should learn to pay more attention to the author tagline on blog entries.) The fact that somebody could think male-dominated, male-centric sci-fi is somehow a good thing still strikes me as more than slightly fucked. So listen up, Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech: this is the post that might have been.
Science fiction is traditionally very male-dominated. No, let me rephrase: science fiction is traditionally dominated by straight white able-bodied neurotypical conventionally “normal”-looking cis men, the same people who dominate every other fucking thing in our culture. Am I bitter? Yes. Why? I fulfil quite a few of those criteria; I’m welcome in the sci-fi club.
The thing is, science fiction should be a genre full of stories that explore what-ifs, that shake the status quo, that offer us glimpses of many possible futures and let us see our own lives from strange new angles. It should be wonderful: evoking wonder. It should be awesome: evoking awe. It should be new and exciting. It should be about the human experience, and maybe the nonhuman experience too.
Straight white &c &c male stories aren’t anything new. We’ve got bucketloads of them. They don’t, as a rule, make me wonder about anything except why the standard selection of protagonists in this field has to be so goddamn limited. And when yet another story about Heterosexual Cisgender Able Boringface McWhitepants manages to catch my attention, it’s because the author is good enough to write something that grabs me in spite of their uninspired choice of main character.
And it’s not as though there aren’t any women or queer folk or people of colour writing and reading and producing and starring in sci-fi. To a significant extent, this “no girls allowed” status quo exists largely in the minds of the Het Cis Able McWhitepants readers and writers and editors who think that sci-fi is and always has been and always should be their special little sandbox. But it’s a dangerous beast all the same, because some of the people who think this way have the power to decide what gets published in their particular sand castles.
So let’s welcome all of the human experience to science fiction, not just the straight white able et cetera male experience. We need Octavia Butler’s Lauren Olamina. We need Lois Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan. We need KJ Parker’s Ziani Vaatzes. We need Elizabeth Moon’s Ofelia. We need Samuel R. Delany’s Rydra Wong. We need Isaac Asimov’s Susan Calvin. We need Jack Harkness and Toshiko Sato. We need Kara Thrace and Felix Gaeta. We need Charles Xavier. We need Nyota Uhura. And we need more people like them, not less.
As an aside: that website is called “the Spearhead”. Really. Hyuk, hyuk.