Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Women in SF

I was reading Tansy Rayner Roberts' blog, in particular her recent Friday Links post. These are usually interesting and this collection doesn't disappoint. I was especially interested in the links to Kari Sperring's blog where, in Living as a Woman in a Science Fiction Future, she talks about the limited range of women characters who appear in SF, in particular older women, and the follow up, Collateral Damage, where she talks about how older women writers are treated in terms of profile, reviews and prestige. If you are a women, especially an older woman, who has been wondering what happened to your favourite women writers - for me women like Judith Tarr, Tanith Lee, Katherine Kerr and C J Cherryh and so many more - the comments make for depressing reading because some of these women join the conversation.

While their experiences are disturbing, and although this is about writing, I can't help feeling they are also a reflection on the way society treats women as they age in general. You only have to look at the movies in which a man in his sixties is cast as the romantic lead opposite a woman young enough to be his daughter, something that is not common in real life and something that immediately turns me off. Mature couples are a rarity on the screen, whether it's a movie or television but why? This is an important question because it permeates society and because of how people are influenced by what they see and what they read - that is the stories they are told shape their perceptions - we need to have this conversation.

There may not be much we can do individually to change society in general apart from challenging these attitudes whenever we come across them but perhaps we could do something to raise the profile of these neglected women writers by lobbying their publishers for more of their books, buying books that are still in print and reviewing their books on blogs, on Amazon and Goodreads and anywhere else we can think of. Whether it will help I don't know but at least we would be making a point and maybe, as another option, we could make a start by listing women writers whose books we enjoy and sharing that list with others. I think I'll start doing that myself.

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