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Author Topic: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy  (Read 13693 times)

Offline Conan

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2015, 03:09:17 AM »
I just started reading the Mirror Empire too, I have to say that in the first couple pages there is an awful lot of info to digest. I will try to stay optimistic for now.
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Offline JamesLatimer

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2015, 06:10:58 PM »
I too found the book hard to get into--there's a lot of info thrown at you and you have to get used to very different worlds with a lot of different cultures, which is a big change from the rather comfy (European) history based fantasy that is a lot of what's out there and doesn't require a lot of brain-stretching.

I think a point that needs to be made regarding complaints that the book is overtly 'preachy' or political, is that writing the status quo is in itself a political act.  So all those writers portraying a world that is either strongly representative of current societal norms or some supposedly-historical social situation are (perhaps unconsciously) supporting a system that many people find problematic.  Yes, some present it in order to examine it, subvert it, etc, but others try to pretend it's 'just the way things are'.  Just saying we shouldn't present that as a sort of 'neutral' position.

Offline Roxxsmom

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #32 on: March 17, 2015, 09:41:25 PM »

I think a point that needs to be made regarding complaints that the book is overtly 'preachy' or political, is that writing the status quo is in itself a political act.  So all those writers portraying a world that is either strongly representative of current societal norms or some supposedly-historical social situation are (perhaps unconsciously) supporting a system that many people find problematic.  Yes, some present it in order to examine it, subvert it, etc, but others try to pretend it's 'just the way things are'.  Just saying we shouldn't present that as a sort of 'neutral' position.

This. I'm surprised how often people assume that there's a way we can world build, characterize or spin stories that is neutral or value free.

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #33 on: March 17, 2015, 10:13:21 PM »
I think a point that needs to be made regarding complaints that the book is overtly 'preachy' or political, is that writing the status quo is in itself a political act.  So all those writers portraying a world that is either strongly representative of current societal norms or some supposedly-historical social situation are (perhaps unconsciously) supporting a system that many people find problematic.  Yes, some present it in order to examine it, subvert it, etc, but others try to pretend it's 'just the way things are'.  Just saying we shouldn't present that as a sort of 'neutral' position.
While that may be true, there's still a difference between a book having a political message and a book being overly preachy. If handled well, the former need not necessary lead to the latter. And if most people do feel you're being overly preachy, that's a problem with the way you've written your book, not just a case of other people taking exception to a political theme.
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Offline Arry

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #34 on: March 17, 2015, 10:17:59 PM »
I think a point that needs to be made regarding complaints that the book is overtly 'preachy' or political, is that writing the status quo is in itself a political act.  So all those writers portraying a world that is either strongly representative of current societal norms or some supposedly-historical social situation are (perhaps unconsciously) supporting a system that many people find problematic.  Yes, some present it in order to examine it, subvert it, etc, but others try to pretend it's 'just the way things are'.  Just saying we shouldn't present that as a sort of 'neutral' position.
While that may be true, there's still a difference between a book having a political message and a book being overly preachy. If handled well, the former need not necessary lead to the latter. And if most people do feel you're being overly preachy, that's a problem with the way you've written your book, not just a case of other people taking exception to a political theme.
I agree. Mirror Empire is not preachy at all. I've read some books that were overtly trying to cram some message down the readers throats, maybe brainwash them with blatant propaganda. I've not seen it often, but to me that's preachy. Giving an alternate example that might make people think a bit and extract their own ideas opinions (for or agains), that to me is not preachy.
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Offline Anna Smith-Spark

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2015, 08:55:40 PM »
Ah, damn, here we go...

I really don't think it's sexist to dislike a book on those grounds because the author is female. If you dislike rape and eternal gloom, you um, sound like quite a nice chap really.  But, as many others have pointed out, part of what the book is doing is making a political statement that these things are uncomfortable, that the world, especial the female part of it, can be a thoroughly painful and uncomfortable place and we should realise that and try to confront it. Reading a nice safe book where those kind of questions aren't raised is arguably more sexist, to be extreme about it - it's a failure to confront the world as it is, a reluctance to engage with the reality of a lot of people's lives.

Most of my favourite female fantasy authors do engage with issues around male violence towards women to an extent - Le Guin in The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu, Elizabeth Moon in Sheepherder's Daughter - and the overly violent, stylised world of fantasy allows for this in a way genres like chick lit just don't. Female crime fiction, too, is heavily preoccupied with these issues. And there are fairly obvious reasons for that in both cases. The fact that it's fiction allows us to ask these questions in a safer way, and play with possibilities and outcomes. 

Personally, I found The Kingkiller Chronicle, and especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, far more problematic and uncomfortable to read as a feminist than a lot of 'rape and ultraviolence' grimdark novels. The character of Auri, in particular, I find profoundly voyeuristic - here's this damaged, clearly mentally ill young woman, and we're supposed to find her, what, kookie and appealing and romantic. The descriptions of her in Silent Things are clearly highly sexualised and objectified, yet somehow we're asked to assume it's fine to read lengthy descriptions of her naked because she's a child of nature. Not because she a vulnerable hotty in a very short dress, oh no. 

All writing cannot help but be political - writing interpolates the world, so it cannot not be ideologically charged. And all writing will on some level be about gender politics, because we're all trying to navigate gender identity and interpolate that too. And then the reader interpolates that interpolation, with their own ideological framework and gender identity.....

But no, disliking a book and its author being female doesn't make you sexist.
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Offline TravisGGAnderson

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2015, 03:21:19 AM »
Ah, damn, here we go...

I really don't think it's sexist to dislike a book on those grounds because the author is female. If you dislike rape and eternal gloom, you um, sound like quite a nice chap really.  But, as many others have pointed out, part of what the book is doing is making a political statement that these things are uncomfortable, that the world, especial the female part of it, can be a thoroughly painful and uncomfortable place and we should realise that and try to confront it. Reading a nice safe book where those kind of questions aren't raised is arguably more sexist, to be extreme about it - it's a failure to confront the world as it is, a reluctance to engage with the reality of a lot of people's lives.

Most of my favourite female fantasy authors do engage with issues around male violence towards women to an extent - Le Guin in The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu, Elizabeth Moon in Sheepherder's Daughter - and the overly violent, stylised world of fantasy allows for this in a way genres like chick lit just don't. Female crime fiction, too, is heavily preoccupied with these issues. And there are fairly obvious reasons for that in both cases. The fact that it's fiction allows us to ask these questions in a safer way, and play with possibilities and outcomes. 

Personally, I found The Kingkiller Chronicle, and especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, far more problematic and uncomfortable to read as a feminist than a lot of 'rape and ultraviolence' grimdark novels. The character of Auri, in particular, I find profoundly voyeuristic - here's this damaged, clearly mentally ill young woman, and we're supposed to find her, what, kookie and appealing and romantic. The descriptions of her in Silent Things are clearly highly sexualised and objectified, yet somehow we're asked to assume it's fine to read lengthy descriptions of her naked because she's a child of nature. Not because she a vulnerable hotty in a very short dress, oh no. 

All writing cannot help but be political - writing interpolates the world, so it cannot not be ideologically charged. And all writing will on some level be about gender politics, because we're all trying to navigate gender identity and interpolate that too. And then the reader interpolates that interpolation, with their own ideological framework and gender identity.....

But no, disliking a book and its author being female doesn't make you sexist.

Definitely like and appreciate your points, though I can't remember the depictions of Auri in the Kingkiller Chronicles and I haven't read The Slow Regard For Silent Things so I can't really comment on that. The only thing I will say is in regards to the "Am I Sexist?" title for the thread, because I think it's caused a slight amount of confusion. I meant it more as a title and to start the conversation and then point out my feelings in regards to the book and its content in the initial post. I feel I was a bit vague or perhaps too general in my question about "how do you feel with this book and female authored books?". I don't write on forums a lot.

In either case, thank you for saying I am not sexist and for your awesome response :) 
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Offline Rostum

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #37 on: March 27, 2015, 12:20:26 AM »
Quote
Personally, I found The Kingkiller Chronicle, and especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, far more problematic and uncomfortable to read as a feminist than a lot of 'rape and ultraviolence' grimdark novels. The character of Auri, in particular, I find profoundly voyeuristic - here's this damaged, clearly mentally ill young woman, and we're supposed to find her, what, kookie and appealing and romantic. The descriptions of her in Silent Things are clearly highly sexualised and objectified, yet somehow we're asked to assume it's fine to read lengthy descriptions of her naked because she's a child of nature. Not because she a vulnerable hotty in a very short dress, oh no. 

I am brand new here so please let me know if I am out of order to comment on a chunk of anothers post (yeah I know it's a forum but they all differ and I am going off topic) but this I find interesting and thought provoking, and I agree with the sentiment of your post I was surprised you felt that way about Slow regard, which I read last night and found a very gentle and wonderfull book and not at all what I was expecting.
I did not find anything sexual in Auri being naked. Nor did I consider her objectified at all. Beyond being the sole focus of the book. I am after all reading from the perspective of a person, and a man at that, the only preconceived values I hold to are I read for my own enjoyment and interest.
Any book focusing on a single character over a week by it's nature could be considered voyeuristic, but so could any writing following a figure real or imagined as they progress through their day. I am comfortable with that as a reader. I don't tend to read red top newspapers, women’s magazines or clickbait links to Z list Celebrity train wreck lifestyles for that reason.
Madness can be very attractive as can vulnerability. Auri is functional not vulnerable or she would not survive living alone under the university. I see no vulnerability in her nakedness and nothing sexual about it either I guess I perceive her as near sexless. Perhaps that is a cultural thing I am British we tend to be less hung up about the whole nakedness is sexual thing than Americans and more so than Europeans. Not sure from whence you hail?
We really don't know if Auri is mad or not. It has been alluded to, but she appears no madder than Elodin. Maybe she is, or maybe she is just a namer who knows the correct place and name of everything in her world.

Questions is would the author have written in the nakedness if the character was male and would it matter? Maybe someone should ask him.
Should I go and wrench my copy away from 13 year old daughter who started reading it this evening as I may have missed a level of subtle objectification or let her get on with reading a book she is finding magical so far?


Offline JMack

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #38 on: March 27, 2015, 01:36:47 AM »
If there's one topic that seems to generate any controversy around here, it's male/female questions in writing. There can be quite a bit of disagreement over things, but my experience so far is that this is a wonderfully polite place - for the Internet, at least  ;) - where we'd rather than tease than fight.
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But yes, it's fine to quote, comment and disagree. Just... politely. As you did (mostly)  ;D
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Offline Rostum

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #39 on: March 30, 2015, 04:38:06 PM »
Quote
But yes, it's fine to quote, comment and disagree. Just... politely. As you did (mostly)  ;D

Yes re-reading what I wrote I would like to apologise to Anna Smith-Spark all you said was the passage made you uncomfortable. I still cannot see how myself, but my response was overbearing and impolite for which I am sorry.

Offline CaitSpivey

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2015, 10:12:59 PM »
Personally, I found The Kingkiller Chronicle, and especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, far more problematic and uncomfortable to read as a feminist than a lot of 'rape and ultraviolence' grimdark novels. The character of Auri, in particular, I find profoundly voyeuristic - here's this damaged, clearly mentally ill young woman, and we're supposed to find her, what, kookie and appealing and romantic. The descriptions of her in Silent Things are clearly highly sexualised and objectified, yet somehow we're asked to assume it's fine to read lengthy descriptions of her naked because she's a child of nature. Not because she a vulnerable hotty in a very short dress, oh no. 

I haven't read Mirror Empire, which is the original book up for discussion here, but I wanted to chime in that I found The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller book one--I haven't read The Slow Regard) problematic in a lot of ways too. My particular issue was with male main character Kvothe positioning his love interest, Denna, as this distant and unfathomable perfect creature, even in the "present" when he's been through his whole story and is relating it all to Chronicler. This concept that men can never hope to understand women seems harmless, but creates a lot of problems, such as contributing to the dehumanizing and objectifying of female characters.

This is not to say, of course, that male characters who view women this way shouldn't exist, but I think this is where the point of view of the novel is crucial. The bulk of Kingkiller is Kvothe telling his own story, obviously, so he's not going to critique his own misconceptions--but Chronicler and Bast are both given POV time, which could have been utilized to at least question Kvothe's "oh I could never begin to understand this woman" posturing.

This is also why, coming at it from an author's perspective, choosing an unusual POV to write from can do a lot to distinguish one's story from others in the genre; and why branching out to those authors who are from or write characters who are from marginalized or uncommon POVs can be really rewarding to readers.
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Offline Anna Smith-Spark

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #41 on: March 31, 2015, 12:12:35 PM »


Definitely like and appreciate your points, though I can't remember the depictions of Auri in the Kingkiller Chronicles and I haven't read The Slow Regard For Silent Things so I can't really comment on that. The only thing I will say is in regards to the "Am I Sexist?" title for the thread, because I think it's caused a slight amount of confusion. I meant it more as a title and to start the conversation and then point out my feelings in regards to the book and its content in the initial post. I feel I was a bit vague or perhaps too general in my question about "how do you feel with this book and female authored books?". I don't write on forums a lot.

In either case, thank you for saying I am not sexist and for your awesome response :)
[/quote]

That you - I got in a bit of trouble on Reddit for saying I find Rothfuss' attitude to women difficult. Was actually worrying a bit I'd get a bit of criticism here too.

The whole 'women and violence' in fantasy is something I think about a lot. The stuff I write can certainly be described as grimdark and I do agonise over the way I present some of my characters  (deleated a rape joke after much thought....) Ultimately, I feel strongly that it's not glamourising it but exploring it, showing it as futile and cruel but perhaps as a product of society and environment rather than innate '(some) men are bad'. But there's a fine line. The point, I guess, is that it has to be addressed in fantasy - these are usually very masculine worlds that women are having to survive in, and sometimes I suspect that's part of their appeal as a female reader.
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Offline madfox11

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #42 on: April 02, 2015, 02:21:18 PM »
I haven't read Mirror Empire, which is the original book up for discussion here, but I wanted to chime in that I found The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller book one--I haven't read The Slow Regard) problematic in a lot of ways too. My particular issue was with male main character Kvothe positioning his love interest, Denna, as this distant and unfathomable perfect creature, even in the "present" when he's been through his whole story and is relating it all to Chronicler. This concept that men can never hope to understand women seems harmless, but creates a lot of problems, such as contributing to the dehumanizing and objectifying of female characters.

This is not to say, of course, that male characters who view women this way shouldn't exist, but I think this is where the point of view of the novel is crucial. The bulk of Kingkiller is Kvothe telling his own story, obviously, so he's not going to critique his own misconceptions--but Chronicler and Bast are both given POV time, which could have been utilized to at least question Kvothe's "oh I could never begin to understand this woman" posturing.

This is also why, coming at it from an author's perspective, choosing an unusual POV to write from can do a lot to distinguish one's story from others in the genre; and why branching out to those authors who are from or write characters who are from marginalized or uncommon POVs can be really rewarding to readers.

Good to know I am not the only one whose eyebrows raise a bit everytime when characters (let alone people in RL) mention they don't understand women or men because they are of the opposite sex. It is often brought as an innocent joke, but I also agree the thought creates issues. It is difficult to understand others regardless of the gender of a person. Gender is no more or less important than a million other factors in determining somebodies personality.

Offline CaitSpivey

Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #43 on: April 02, 2015, 07:36:33 PM »
I haven't read Mirror Empire, which is the original book up for discussion here, but I wanted to chime in that I found The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller book one--I haven't read The Slow Regard) problematic in a lot of ways too. My particular issue was with male main character Kvothe positioning his love interest, Denna, as this distant and unfathomable perfect creature, even in the "present" when he's been through his whole story and is relating it all to Chronicler. This concept that men can never hope to understand women seems harmless, but creates a lot of problems, such as contributing to the dehumanizing and objectifying of female characters.

This is not to say, of course, that male characters who view women this way shouldn't exist, but I think this is where the point of view of the novel is crucial. The bulk of Kingkiller is Kvothe telling his own story, obviously, so he's not going to critique his own misconceptions--but Chronicler and Bast are both given POV time, which could have been utilized to at least question Kvothe's "oh I could never begin to understand this woman" posturing.

This is also why, coming at it from an author's perspective, choosing an unusual POV to write from can do a lot to distinguish one's story from others in the genre; and why branching out to those authors who are from or write characters who are from marginalized or uncommon POVs can be really rewarding to readers.

Good to know I am not the only one whose eyebrows raise a bit everytime when characters (let alone people in RL) mention they don't understand women or men because they are of the opposite sex. It is often brought as an innocent joke, but I also agree the thought creates issues. It is difficult to understand others regardless of the gender of a person. Gender is no more or less important than a million other factors in determining somebodies personality.

Right! And suggesting that understanding another person is impossible or "too hard", whatever the reason, means not putting in the effort, which means character relationships (and real-world ones) end up being selfish and/or superficial, and they suffer for it.
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Am I Sexist?: Males reading female authored fantasy
« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2016, 05:26:03 PM »
I'm reading a book by a female author at the moment and some reviews are saying the book is sexiest to women as there's not enough female characters in the novel. I've seen other reviews similar to this on other female authors books as well.Personally I don't care what gender the character is as long as I can cheer them on against the world. 
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