Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Call to the Fathers of the World

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Those of you who follow the SF/F genre may be aware that SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America, has had quite the explosive last couple of weeks with controversies surrounding sexism in the genre--and some authors who've been particularly virulent in expressing their opinions. I've been following the explosions with interest, and have even had to put on my rantypants about what's been going on. And I'm here to tell you, people, rantypants are not particularly pleasant to have to wear. I'd much rather be breaking out the comfypants, myself.

A lot of this, too, is going to sound very familiar to romance writers who're used to having their work sneered at and dismissed as "chick books", particularly writers who have one foot in SF and the other foot in romance. Because hi yeah, that'd be me. And it'd be several others at Carina, including several who post right here on this very blog.

Since I've been posting about this in depth over on my own site, I'm not going to repeat myself too much here. Instead, since it's Father's Day, I'd like to come at this from another angle: i.e., a call to the fathers of the world.

Gentlemen, I'd like to challenge you to read a book written by a woman. Maybe even a romance novel. Go in with an open mind, and who knows, you may actually enjoy it. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, post about it! I commend to your attention the efforts of DocTurtle and Patrick, as featured over on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books in the category of Dudes Reading Romance.

But if you're not up to tackling a romance novel, try an SF/F one. Try one of those urban fantasies with a badassed or grim-looking woman on the cover, or something steampunk, or how about epic fantasy? Kat Richardson, C.E. Murphy, Cherie Priest, Martha Wells, and N.K. Jemisin are some names that can get you started.

Or how about some books that have a foot in romance, and another in SF/F, and another in mystery/police procedurals? (Yes, that's three feet.) I first discovered Nora Roberts in her guise as J.D. Robb, and the long-running Eve Dallas series has plenty of action in a futuristic setting. It also stands out for me as one of the best examples of a long-running married relationship between the two lead characters, as well as the developing relationships of all the supporting cast. Some of the best books in the series raise questions that would be absolutely at home in any SF novel--like Born in Death, which features cloning.

If you have sons, encourage them to follow your example. Teach them not only that reading is awesome, but also that reading books about people who aren't exactly like them, written by people who aren't exactly like them, can be fun too.

If you have daughters, teach them the same--but I'd like to ask you as well to be ready to show your daughters that you support what they like to read. Especially if that means books with a woman on the cover, books where a woman is the main character, and books that are written by women.

Far too much of the publishing world is oriented around the idea of books by and about women--"chick books"--being inferior. Changing this starts with you. Thank you.


  1. Well said, Angela!

    I have three daughters who read a wide selection of genres, and two toddler grandsons who I'll be encouraging to read as widely as their mothers and I do.

    I was about to guess that my favourite authors are split about 50/50 between men and women, but thinking about it the ratio is more 75/25 with women being the bigger group. Not because they're women. Simply because they're great writers.

  2. Wonderful call to action. I did my share of ranting about this same topic this morning. Well said.

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  4. The men I know who read don't seem to discriminate between male or female authors (or main characters), but I would challenge any of them to pick up a romance novel! Maybe they could learn a few things...I do think it's so important to make sure that reading is encouraged and that readers are encouraged to step outside of their favorite genre/ author/ subject every now and then. You never know what you might like!


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