[From “Nothing Much — And Then Even Less”] On Gender And Science Fiction

A few days ago, some dood published an internets article about females (and gays) ruining the genre of science fiction. Again. Causing yet the next wave of widespread backlash against ’em moronic bigots who dare voice their cock-eyed mind. (I will not provide links to either side of this argument, out of principle)

I tend to stay out of these, because all I usually see are two self-righteous extremes launching crusades at the slightest sign the Other Side may be Expressing An Opinion. Sometimes, the fireworks are fun to watch. Typically, it’s just frustrating to see otherwise reasonable people going feral over inane, often childish insults. But today, I thought I’d share my own thoughts on the topic, especially since I don’t have much else to put on this blog.

First, what I think is common knowledge: save for a few notable exceptions, the genre of science fiction was dominated by male writers and readers for the first several decades of its “modern” existence. A large chunk of the early science fiction was written by non-writers, often giving it a dry, almost academic quality, with a slant towards problem-solving and with a Marty Stu in the spotlight — which readers tolerated and eventually accepted as a norm of sorts. Even when science fiction overlapped with other genres (action/adventure, mystery, westerns, romance, etc.), it still kept its stigma as a geek playground. And, at the time, geekdom was a primarily boy affliction.

Then, these geeks had children (or younger siblings, or protégés, etc.). And because geekdom is, indeed, a non-gender-specific, transmittable affliction, girls, just like boys, fell to it. They too wanted to play. And brought along their non-geek friends. So, as every time the popularity of any given playground grows, the rules changed. And in the case of science fiction, they changed to reflect the tendency of modern western societies to focus less on problem-solving and hard fact, and more on relationships and internal strife.

So, the way I see it, the changes in the genre have little to do with the gender (or sexual orientation) of its writers and fans. I see plenty of bad attempts at relationships in science fiction coming both from straight, man’s-man male authors, and from frilly, girly female authors. As I see the occasional problem-solving focus from both male and female authors.

To be completely honest, I do get frustrated with some of the more prevalent themes in science fiction (and fantasy) nowadays. The engineer in me does want more problem-solving in my stories, and, as a product of my past, I often find the tone of mainstream fiction too naive, detached, and pink (or, alternatively, purple). When this happens, I tend to revert back to 50s and 60s sci-fi, even if I realize that most of it IS pretty bad prose.

But to whine that girls ruined my genre? That’s just silly trolling. If anything, the influx of new blood saved science fiction as a genre. Sure, it’s different than it was fifty years ago. So are people. So is the society we live in. So is our science. If you don’t like where we’re going, debate the facts, propose intelligent alternatives, or contribute to whatever changes are to come. Whining just makes people want to kick you.

To the Other Side — get off your soap box. You aren’t special because you’re wearing the shirt. Especially since your “prefaded” label’s sticking out. By seeking every little excuse to flaunt your Enlightened Mind, all you’re doing is kicking whining puppies. Plus, your buddies from your 2:30pm Wednesday Save-The-Whining-Puppies activist club may take offense to it.

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