Feminism in Fiction

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(click image for source)
(click image for source)

Feminism is not a dirty word.  (I actually read a book recently with that statement in the title, and I stand by it.)  A lot of people shy away from the term “feminist” because they think it means “insane man-hating career/sex obsessed woman (who may or may not be a lesbian.)”  Even I’m careful hen using this term, lest my meaning be misconstrued.  While such people do exist, they are the extreme end of the spectrum and have no bearing on what I consider feminism.  That is, that women should be treated politically, socially, and economically as equals to men.

Fantasy and science fiction are wonderful because you can break so many stereotypes.  With a lot of realistic fiction, especially in historical fiction, there are certain limitations, certain expectations and roles that people play that can be difficult to change without losing a sense of authenticity.  But science fiction is usually set far into the future, often on other planets.  Fantasy deals in alternate realities and fairy tales.  The potential to explore and turn traditional gender/racial/economic/sexual roles upside down is all around!  And I’m sorry to say that a lot of writers who deal in science fiction and fantasy don’t take advantage of that potential.

Since a lot of fantasy is set in medieval look-alike worlds, we tend to get medieval values.  Women are passive objects to be won while men do all the fighting, rescuing, political maneuvering, and pretty much anything else interesting.  Science fiction often has male military leaders, male soldiers, male explorers…  Women are very often not present at all, or, if they are, they get regulated to sexual roles or are presented in a very wooden or unrealistic manner.

Obviously this isn’t the case for every fantasy or science fiction story.  And I should point out that while there is nothing inherently wrong with having characters fill traditional gender roles, that shouldn’t be the only role that they can play.  (And that goes for men as well as women.)  Older science fiction and fantasy often get a pass from me because the social mores of the time necessarily colors the way the plot and characters are presented.  But even in modern stories, I rarely see the envelop pushed.

We can be so much more than this.

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Gender, Color, and Sexuality in Characters

I’m currently working on the script for my manga project Astral Rain for the April edition of Camp NaNoWriMo 2014.  Well, more accurately, I’ve been working on a lot of background notes, plot notes, and world-building because I noticed that a lot of that hadn’t been worked out in advance.  As I was writing, I came across the article “I’m Demanding Better Representation For Black Girl Nerds in Geek Culture” by Chaka Cumberbatch.  And that’s when it hit me:  all of my characters in Astral Rain are white.

Granted, it’s supposed to be an OEL (Original English Language) manga, and most anime and manga lack people of color.  I have no problem featuring white characters, but what surprised me is that the idea of any of the cast of Astral Rain being anything but fair-skinned never occurred to me.  And that concerns me.

Image via What If Books Etc (click for link)
Image via What If Books Etc (click for link)

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Fighting for Green Lantern TAS

I had the creative wind knocked out of my sails this morning by the news that Green Lantern: The Animated Series has been canceled.

I’ll admit, I started sobbing.  When the tears faded, rage replaced them.  The utter unfairness of it shakes me to the core.  If a show is bad and gets no views, it gets canceled.  If it’s bad and gets lots of views, it lives.  If it’s good and gets lots of views, it gets canceled.  If it’s good and gets no views, it gets canceled.  Anyone notice the unfair pattern emerging?  Why does SpongeBob live and Green Lantern get canned?  I would much rather have my kids watch Green Lantern than half the shit that’s put up on television.  In fact, after watching the first season (packaged as “Season 1, Part 1”), I actually said that I would have kids, just for the chance to have them grow up watching Green Lantern.  (And that’s coming from someone who has said on many occasions that kids are the last thing I want.)

To Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network:  I can see no reason why Green Lantern: TAS should be canceled.  Both kids and adults love it, the ratings have been high, there is a massive amount of fan support, and it was even nominated for Best General Audience Animated TV Production at the 39th Annie Awards.  The characters are wonderful, relateable, and interesting.  The plots are engaging, well-written, and tightly knit.  It has breath-taking cinematography and a neat visual style.  (A lot of people complain about the “cheap-looking” CGI animation.  Really?  It’s stylized, but not bad, perhaps more reminiscent of a video game animation than traditional, but that doesn’t make the emotion less compelling or the action less cool.)  The music is beautiful.  And we love it.  WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT?!  WHY ARE YOU CANCELING THIS SHOW?!  WHY?!  IT MAKES NO SENSE!  (There is a horrible kind of sense, but it’s so materialistic and sickening that I refuse to acknowledge it.)

Right now I’m going everywhere I can find places to get the word out about this petition:  “Cartoon Network; Warner Bros: Bring back Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series.”  Please, if you hate seeing good shows get canceled, please sign this petition and pass it along.  If you don’t want to sign it, please just pass it on.  There may be friends of yours who don’t realize what has happened and, like me, don’t want to let this go without a fight.

Fighting for Green Lantern TAS

Preserving Public and Private Libraries

I still have my first library card.  Granted, it’s long expired and returning to that library would be an hour commute, but I still have the card.  I’ve been going to libraries my entire life, and it baffles me when adults enter the library and ask to get a library card, “but I’ve never had one before.”  (And for at least half of them, it’s not like they just moved to the area.  They’ve lived here their whole lives and never had a card.)  I know I can’t keep the look of surprise off my face, although I do refrain from asking, “How have you lived?”

My family already had a substantial collection of books; both of my parents are avid readers.  However, a public library has more resources and more space than a private homeowner, so it’s a perfect resource if you don’t want to break the bank and fill your house floor to ceiling with books.  We also never had commercial TV of any kind (never have and never will.)  We went to Blockbuster a few times, but it was always so expensive.  Why spend $3 to rent a movie for three days when you could go to the library and rent a copy for free for two or three weeks?  Libraries allow you to check out favorite books and movies over and over, plus you can sample hundreds if not thousands of new material to see if you like it.  And then, if you’re like me and you enjoy something enough, you go buy a copy for yourself.

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We Are Grammar Nazis

Have you ever gotten a message from someone via a text or e-mail or post on Facebook that was illegible?  One that you couldn’t understand, or one you misinterpreted because you couldn’t read it?  Or perhaps you receive messages like this on a regular basis.  “How is that possible?” some may ask.  After all, with the advent of typing, you don’t need to worry about translating bad handwriting, so how could you not read a typed message?

Easily.  If the person sending you the message failed to capitalize, punctuation, or write a grammatically correct sentence, you honestly may not be able to understand what they said, regardless of your intelligence.  I’m sure you’ve seen it all over the web, the decline of the capital letter, the lack of any punctuation beyond the exclamation point, the abysmal state of spelling.  More and more sentences are sent with net-speak abbreviations rather than complete thoughts.  And, what’s worse, nine times out of ten, if you correct any of these mistakes, you will be called “a grammar Nazi.”

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