More Gender Bias in SFF

io9 remembers that paranormal romance is a part of the SFF genre and runs an interview with Nalini Singh. The interview itself is good, though there is the usual anti-paranormal-romance trolling in the comments.

In particular, we get people complaining about the beefcake cover of Kiss of Snow. It’s stunning how uncomfortable many men – and I strongly suspect the offended commenters are men – are with seeing men portrayed as sex objects, whereas women are expected to put up with that sort of thing. For somehow I doubt a cover featuring a well-built and scantily clad woman would have generated the same response. Though urban fantasy and paranormal romance generally get crap for their covers, whether they feature attractive women or attractive men, because the covers hint at the presence of sex. Meanwhile, epic fantasy covers featuring muscular men in armour and bearing weapons get much less shit. It seems like yet another double standard.

Talking of double standards, Carrie Vaughn picks up on the recent discussion of women writers in SF and fantasy and offers a true story of a man who refused to read novels by women until he accidentally picked one up and liked it. This is how biases develop and how we get “best of” lists featuring 90 percent men.

Regarding “Best of” lists, John Scalzi points out that National Public Radio is asking people to nominate their favourite fantasy and science fiction books.

It will be interesting to see whether this poll gives a more balanced result than the Guardian poll from a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, National Public Radio are explicitly excluding horror as well as what they call “paranormal romance”, which for them includes not just explicit paranormal romance writers but also authors of romantic urban fantasy like Charlaine Harris. This means that most current urban fantasy series and therefore many female writers are automatically excluded, which is a way to keep the bias going. Though I saw someone nominating Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, which made me happy.

Finally, I rather like Mike Swanwick’s proposal for authors to leave their signed manuscripts behind after a reading. We have a newleaf reading coming up in July and this might be an idea to implement.

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One Response to More Gender Bias in SFF

  1. Cara Murphy says:

    Interesting blogpost – More Gender Bias in SFF | Cora Buhlert

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