I’ve been watching a few Goodreads threads this week, and also a few threads on Facebook in a couple of group I participate in. They’ve been about a variety of things, but mostly about sexism and exploitation.
I was struck by the variety of reasoning used by the various posters.
There were discussions about historical accuracy in the treatment of women in literature and visual media, versus the gratuitous exposure of flesh in rape scenes, particularly in visual media like television and film, and the points were made with passion on both sides of the argument. That particular discussion is quite fascinating and still ongoing. There were comments about choosing to read/watch certain things because of the explicit content, and the way that it’s portrayed in the media of choice, and whether sometimes titillation tips the scales in popular culture, and then whether that’s good or bad.
Other threads have covered discussions about the issues around objectification of women and girls. Again there’s been a huge variety of responses.
Some have argued that all women playing sport are strong and empowered, no matter whether they’re not allowed to wear the same protective clothing as men, have ‘accidental nudity’ clauses in their contracts and no medical cover. Others have vowed to keep working to bring down organisations that have such (in my opinion) exploitative views of women.
I was pondering the role of Speculative Fiction writers in being part of the change around the stereotypical hero/heroine divide, and particularly the portrayal of women and minorities. It was a subject that was covered at some length at Continuum in Melbourne. If speculative fiction writers can’t or won’t choose to change stereotypical tropes, then who will?
This week we had our writers group meeting. Each month we write 500 words on a topic, and then read it to each other. It can be any type/genre/style or form of writing. This month’s topic was ‘Natural Disasters.’ As I was thinking about the topic, I realised that I had a choice to make. I’d already decided that I’d write fiction, so the choice was about who would be my main protagonist. We’d talked about female stereotypes at Continuum (I was on that panel!) and I’d had a few ideas rumbling around my mind for the last couple of weeks.
I sat down with my laptop, and then I decided. My protagonist wasn’t going to be particularly young, she was going to be female, chunky, and wearing the wrong bra for the disaster about to descend upon her. So I wrote, and now I have a great desire to continue her story. Hopefully one day, I’ll find out whether she strikes a chord with my readers. In the meantime, I’ve just about finished the first draft of Book 3 in the Frontier series which is taking up quite a bit of my time.
We’ll see what happens when I write the rest of her story.