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Author Topic: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)  (Read 4538 times)

Offline Saraband

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UK's newspaper The Guardian just published an article on Science-Fiction and Gender/LGBT matters. Here's an excerpt, followed by the link to the full text:

"Science fiction novels have gone much further in exploring queer futures. From the 1960s onwards New Wave authors like Joanna Russ, Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin and Thomas Disch began to push forward the representation of LGBT themes in science fiction. Russ's 1975 novel The Female Man used the tool of alternative universes to explore how gender roles are socially constructed. As liberal democracies like Britain welcome their first gay marriages, queer visions of the future look prescient. But despite the success of these authors, SF still clings to an unrealistically straight vision of the future.

When author and historian Alex Dally Macfarlane made a call earlier this year for a vision of post-binary gender in SF, her intelligent argument was met with predictably intractable ignorance from conservative sci-fi fans. For writers and fans like Larry Correia, whose virulent attack on MacFarlane was excellently dissected by Jim C Hines, sex is a biological imperative and the idea of gender as a social construct is a damn liberal lie! But Correia boils it down to a much simpler argument. However accurate a queer future might be, SF authors must continue to pander to the bigotry of conservative readers if they want to be "commercial".


Article here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/11/science-fiction-needs-to-reflect-queer-fluid-gender-identity

What do you think?
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2014, 10:56:39 PM »
Queer and gender theory is just way over my head. As much as I love to debate stuff, I think I'll pass on this one for now...

Oh woops. By posting, I just got myself involved. Silly me.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 11:03:16 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline Saraband

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Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2014, 11:05:25 PM »
After reading the article a couple of times, I actually don't think the author says much that may be particularly relevant or interesting. Yes, he points out the misogyny that has plagued the genre for many decades, but most people are becoming aware of that - it is a subject that has been discussed in these forums.

Still, it is interesting to see such a specific subject being addressed in The Guardian. I wonder if it may have anything to do with the recent start of the new GoT's season, though.
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2014, 11:12:50 PM »
After reading the article a couple of times, I actually don't think the author says much that may be particularly relevant or interesting. Yes, he points out the misogyny that has plagued the genre for many decades, but most people are becoming aware of that - it is a subject that has been discussed in these forums.

Still, it is interesting to see such a specific subject being addressed in The Guardian. I wonder if it may have anything to do with the recent start of the new GoT's season, though.

It makes quite a few assumptions too, without a lot of facts. This part kind of stood out to me:

Quote
  take comfort in the idea that most of the young men telling others to get a haircut today are rushing home to play at being buxom dark elf warrior maidens in World of Warcraft. Gamer culture has gained a bad reputation for misogyny, but it seems male gamers are more than a little curious about playing out female gender roles.

I'm not so sure this has as much to do with 'wanting to try different gender roles' as it does aesthetics.

Offline Saraband

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Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2014, 11:18:39 PM »

It makes quite a few assumptions too, without a lot of facts.


I felt exactly that.
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2014, 11:29:16 PM »
Hah, as so often seems to be the case, the comments are almost more interesting than the article.  ;)

By coincidence, I did happen upon this article today, which is somewhat along the same lines.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/04/10/in-medical-first-scientists-implant-lab-grown-vaginas-in-human-patients

Pretty amazing stuff.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 11:54:08 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline Mark Lawrence

Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2014, 12:17:34 PM »
These things get very polarized and the Guardian columnist is as firmly entrenched in his extreme as the 'opposition' are in theirs. It's rather telling that anyone who isn't fully on board with the call is immediately guilty of "intractable ignorance" and described as a conservative.

He is, for example, fully convinced that the readership for my books and those of Joe Abercrombie overwhelmingly comprises shallow young men. The fact that the hard data shows an even gender spit in our readership simply enrages him and would never make it to his column. It's very hard to deal with (or pay much attention to) people burdened with such bias-blinkers, whichever extreme they're ranting from.

Additionally, while it's great that sci-fi explores many futures and isn't constrained by current social thinking (and let's remember Ursula LeGuin moved past two-genders in her commercially successful work 30+ years ago) it does seem wholly unreasonable to say that anyone who happens to just write a book where people are ostensibly male and female is pandering to the bigotry of conservative readers to be commercial.

If books that focus on these topics turn out not to be commercial then it's probably because the readers felt they were reading a sermon. Write a good book and people will buy it, whatever number of genders you care to include.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 12:27:05 PM by Mark Lawrence »

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2014, 06:57:36 PM »
*gasp* Such blasphemies Mark, didn't anyone tell you that authors are indebted to every cause and concern of the age?  ;)

Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2014, 06:07:36 AM »
Additionally, while it's great that sci-fi explores many futures and isn't constrained by current social thinking (and let's remember Ursula LeGuin moved past two-genders in her commercially successful work 30+ years ago) it does seem wholly unreasonable to say that anyone who happens to just write a book where people are ostensibly male and female is pandering to the bigotry of conservative readers to be commercial.

If books that focus on these topics turn out not to be commercial then it's probably because the readers felt they were reading a sermon. Write a good book and people will buy it, whatever number of genders you care to include.

Could you point to where in the article you're getting this from? Because I've read it at least three times now and have no idea what in this article you're referring to. As for your first quoted paragraph, the author is responding to an argument that some other dude made, in which Larry Correia (the dude that the author of this article responded to) said that SF/F must be straight to be commercial.

The author of the article is actually refuting this by pointing out that LGBT-friendly SF/F is quite commercially successful, and indeed uses the example of le Guin that you point out.

Also, nowhere did I get the impression that the author was writing either explicitly or implicitly that SF/F that doesn't include post-binary gender is bigoted or pandering. Again, the "pandering" argument was posited by a completely different dude.
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Offline tonyelliott777

Re: Sci-Fi: Gender boundaries and LGBT issues (article in The Guardian)
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2014, 07:30:08 PM »
If this is true about pandering to be commercial I am truly up that unpleasant creek without a paddle. 
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