Speculative YA, the invisible women of SFF and the trouble with Twilight bashing

First of all, a happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers. Enjoy your turkey and side dishes. In fact, I always think the vegetable side dishes sound like the best thing about the whole affair.

Cheryl Morgan has a great post, in response to this rather stupid Independent article (Barbarella? Honestly?), about how many women writing SF are ignored by the SFF community, because they happen to write YA SF, even though writers like Allie Condie, Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Catherine Fischer, Lauren DeStefano, etc… sell a gazillion copies and vastly outsell the serious SF darlings du jour. Cheryl Morgan also has a follow-up post discussing ways of making YA SF more visible at Worldcon and elsewhere.

And it’s not just speculative YA fiction, whether SF or paranormal, either that is ignored by the SFF community. Urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk romance, time travel romance, futuristic and SF romance, any kind of epic fantasy that doesn’t match very narrow masculine tropes, the sort of futuristic police procedural romance written by J.D. Robb (probably the most successful SF writer we have at the moment, though the SF community has never read her) are also ignored at best and the subject of sneering posts about how “those books” are all the same and all crap and are ruining “our genre” at worst. Bonus if there are Twilight comparisons made by someone who has never read Twilight.

And yes, the fact that the authors working in those fields and subgenres are overwhelmingly female, that many of the books have female protagonists and feature romantic plotlines and – gasp – sex has a lot to do with the fact that they are ignored. Watch the shit fly, though, if you ever dare to suggest to a male SFF writer/critic that the reason why he declares a whole subgenre “commercial bubblegum crap” without ever having read a single example of said subgenre might be due to subconscious misogyny. Then you get outraged declarations how male SFF writer/critic loves women and is in a relationship with one (or more) and how he really likes women writers, too, the good ones at least. And then you get the inevitable list of women writers anointed as good writers by male writers/critics. The list inevitably consists of the same five or seven names, too, the women that men like.

On a related note, at Sinescope Lynda E. Rucker tries to dispel the myth that women don’t write horror and asked several female horror writers to name their favourite horror novels by women. Found via Charles Tan.

Talking of Twilight hate, with the first installment of Breaking Dawn now out in US cinemas, the Twilight haters are out in force once again. Apparently, there are still people who don’t know what happens in Breaking Dawn, so we get a lot of outraged complaints like this one from Linda Holmes at National Public Radio.

But there are other voices as well: Erika Christakis at Time wonders why female fantasies are disparaged so much more than male fantasies and also notes the fact that subjects like menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth rarely appear in popular entertainment at all. She should watch Misfits, because there you have menstruation (experienced by a man, no less), pregnancy and childbirth in all their messy glory. Even the afterbirth, something you never see in most childbirth narratives, becomes the focus of a hilarious scene.

Finally, Holly Black points out that entertainment aimed at women and teenaged girls has always been placed under particularly strict scrutiny, because women and girls are obviously unable to think for themselves and must be protected from the unrealistic content of gothic novels, sensational fiction, romance novels, Twilight, etc… And I must confess that those whole “Wah! But what message will teen girls take from Twilight?” laments are supremely annoying, particularly since they are usually made by people who have never even talked to a young Twilight reader.

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