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Why is it that not many girls like Fantasy?


rumple9

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When i was a kid it was either reading the fantasy shelf (which was pretty equal, Jordan, Eddings and of course, Tolkien, but also Katherine Kerr, Janny Wurtz, Maggie Furey, Elizabeth Moon (ugh), that woman who wrote about weirdo animal people (only read the first book) Marion Zimmer-Bradley, a bunch of celtic fantasy (there was one with a stone that could call lightning I know) Susan Cooper...

Triple post, but fuck it.

You youngsters. I started reading WoT in high school. When people tell me they read GoT in JR HIgh, it makes me feel SO OLD.

And I'm with you on the ugh for Elizabeth Moon, although mainly because she's a Islamophobe.....but that's another thread.

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Honestly, I kind of do feel bad for not making an effort to read more women SFF writers, but I don't want to read someone's stuff just because she's female either.

I actually did this last year, when I tallied up my books on Goodreads and realized i'd read about six books by a woman, ever. I didn't go for things I didn't like the sound of, but I did make an effort to get over the ingrained little voice at the back of the head that would whisper that this is about girl stuff and actually sure to be not that good, otherwise why haven't I read it already?

It was quite the experience. I read books by (- none of which I had before -) Le Guin, Russ, Valente, Kate Griffin, Paula Volsky, Kate Elliott, Kameron Hurley, Jo Walton, Catherine Asaro, Bujold, RA McAvoy, Mary Doria Russel, Justina Robson, Nicola Griffith, Cherie Priest, Kage Baker, Sarah Micklem, Sophia McDougall, Carrie Vaughn, Steph Swainson, and a bunch more (about 40 books in all, maybe a quarter of which I would have picked up otherwise.) Even Gail Carriger!

Heres what I learned: I did (probably still do) have a bias against women writers. It took concious effort to pick up a womans book and not a mans, all else being equal AND even when the blurb sounded better. I had some not-terribly-subconcious expectations about what women's writing is sort of generally like, and a vague sense that not so much was it not my cup of tea. One of my favorite writers, and the only woman in my personal top tier before last years experiment, was Connie Willis, who seems to get lambasted for her particularly womanly writing and concerns. I like stories about feminism, don't like huge amount of action, can appreciate quite a bit of romance, etc, etc.

Rather I had a sense that women in general didn't write particularly good books, on whatever subject. Womens writing was...less serious, in my mind, less intense, some kind of hobby thing driven by pet subjects and whimsy and not, for the most part, the complex investigations of character and idea that I like. (I never really thought this conciously. I would - and did, probably - have argued that it's all stereotypes and social conditioning and whatever and believed myself too, but the fact was I wasn't reading women. I'm trying to parse a very vauge, very personal sensation into something communicable.)

Anyway, i'm not sure i'm cured, (and i've noticed a downtick again now that i'm not conciously picking out women's books) but I think I got a bit better. I'm putting this out there (i'm not particularly proud of it) becuase I do think theres forces at work at the backs of our heads even with all the best of our intentions. I know there are in mine.

For whatever reason, women get less respect in the genre. Thats a fact, and I think that broad fact is made up of all of us individual readers who just so happen not to read that many female writers, or are just about to get to reading them once they finish this other book by a man, or only read them when we're in our brainless popcorn mood for the properly approved girl subgenres but when we get serious, we turn back to men. Or at least, thats me, but something is clearly driving other people also to make up this pattern, and here we are, with the rape threats and the 'girls don't like fantasy' stereotypes. :dunno:

All I can recommend/beg/demand is that if you keep thinking you should read more women but aren't doing it - do it. Force yourself. Next time you look at that tbr pile, insist that it be a woman writer. Trust me, you'll read some great books.

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I've made a point of branching out into Urban Fantasy, but it really is hard to navigate the pitfalls of vampire/werewolf porn and only get the decent stuff, especially if you are looking for things written by female authors.

Have you tried Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift books? They're Urban Fantasy and I'd say they're some of the best books I've read so far this year.

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I dunno, I tend to not read a huge amount of stuff from female writers either, and it's not really for lack of trying. My reads tend to come from this literature section since well, I need to order them online due to living in the Pit Of Satan etc. so I need to be relatively sure it won't be a waste of time and money. Library stocks old poetry, classics (translated) and the latest Dan Brown, so no point trying there.

Anyways, it's actually hard finding good recs for female authors, or they tend to get bogged down in other, more highly regarded works (although I have taken a vow not to bother with Bakker more, honest!).

I've made a point of branching out into Urban Fantasy, but it really is hard to navigate the pitfalls of vampire/werewolf porn and only get the decent stuff, especially if you are looking for things written by female authors.

Off the top of my head, I have this year read: Le Guin, Stephanie Meyer (haha), Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong and a couple of native ones that nobody but us northerners would know. But not a huge amount by any means.

I'm not saying I read a huge amount more than that, and probably a random nobody I wouldn't be surprised, I was just surprised to find it from Sciborg given how involved he gets in wide-ranging discussions, including majorly those on gender issues.

I mean, this year my list of female fantasy writers read goes: Kate Griffin, Lauren Beukes (who I'm kind of cheating with here because one of her two books is a fantasy, but it was the SF that I read just now), Courtney Schafer and probably KJ Parker, so I'm not exactly on a high horse here.

And between your and Grack's comments I guess it can get difficult to know who to read since woman authors get far less discussion in this sort of forum. I'm prone to going potluck (a risky strategy that often wastes me money and/or time but did lead me to, among others, Kage Baker, not to mention Steven Erikson longer ago which pretty much changed my geek-life for ever, so I still keep it up occasionally) or buying on the basis of one good review, so I'm perhaps more likely than people who want strong recs from people who's tastes they know well before they take the plunge.

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Mandy,

Haven't read Ilona I am afraid, still new to the Urban Fantasy lark and after slogging through Kelley Armstrong and Twlight in the same year...I feel a bit exhausted. :(

Back to GrackRage™

Try and bring up an author that's not part of the accepted few, see if you can get it to go anywhere.

I mean I asked about Paula Volsky once and I got the feeling that I had just walked into British Parliament and spoken iin ancient greek. Shit.

I won't even get into the response Kate Elliott and Elizabeth Haydon get(yeah I like Haydon suck it).

I love Paula Volsky, both the Grand Eclipse and the Gates of Twilight.

I mean, this year my list of female fantasy writers read goes: Kate Griffin, Lauren Beukes (who I'm kind of cheating with here because one of her two books is a fantasy, but it was the SF that I read just now), Courtney Schafer and probably KJ Parker, so I'm not exactly on a high horse here.

I agree, it's hard. For instance, I was considering K J Parker, but got very, very conflicting reviews from some of my most trusted reviewers and female friends. So I might get to it...or not.

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And between your and Grack's comments I guess it can get difficult to know who to read since woman authors get far less discussion in this sort of forum. I'm prone to going potluck (a risky strategy that often wastes me money and/or time but did lead me to, among others, Kage Baker, not to mention Steven Erikson longer ago which pretty much changed my geek-life for ever, so I still keep it up occasionally) or buying on the basis of one good review, so I'm perhaps more likely than people who want strong recs from people who's tastes they know well before they take the plunge.

This is why Kindles are great. Free 5% sample to see if you like it.

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OH snap, how the hell did I forget KJ parker.

I've never had a problem picking up books by women writers, but my first big OMG I LOVE THIS AUTHOR FOREVERS was Melanie Rawn in the early 90s, so that might have played a part. There was actually a time where I didn't read MALE authors, because after a bad run of classic scifi, I figured they all sucked.

@datepalm I hope you didn't take me rape comment as me threating to rape anybody, it was meant as a sarcastic reference to the other thread.

Edit: Kindles give me migraines. :(

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Nuke, i know what you mean. I don't know ANYONE outside of my parents who DOESN'T read fantasy. So someone knowing not ONE female that reads fantasy is mind boggling to me. I just...do you all live in Twin Peaks?

You see this is the polar opposite experience for me. I read fantasy and SFF and I am definitely in the minority amongst my social circle, furthermore I only know two women who read fantasy (let me qualify that as 'epic fantasy' i.e. not twilight). The notion that everybody I know reading fantasy is equally mind boggling to me. Not trying to present this as some universal truth by the way, just an observation of my experiences.

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See, I don't like it when people quantify fantasy as "epic fantasy". If that was true we wouldn't need to call it epic fantasy would we? I also don't include Twilight in that category either though. Twilight is in the Twilight genre. :P

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See, I don't like it when people quantify fantasy as "epic fantasy". If that was true we wouldn't need to call it epic fantasy would we?

I'm sorry you lost me? You don't like 'epic fantasy' used when excluding twilight from the fantasy genre or the use of 'epic fantasy' as a term in general? Or something else entirely?

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Yeah I lost myself there.

I don;t like it when people say fantasy but actually MEAN epic fantasy. Fantasy != epic fantasy.

I think you're looking for a proper subset there buddy, instead of a logical not. ;-)

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Triple post, but fuck it.

You youngsters. I started reading WoT in high school. When people tell me they read GoT in JR HIgh, it makes me feel SO OLD.

And I'm with you on the ugh for Elizabeth Moon, although mainly because she's a Islamophobe.....but that's another thread.

I started reading Jordan when I was... 12 I think? It was before Jr. High anyway. Read GoT in high school.

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It is BIZARRO for me to talk about the series with people from my regular life after this long. I have to, like, tone it WAAAAY down. No "what. does. Littlefinger. want. with. the. tapestries." But I like to act all shocked at the R+L=J. You know, OMG, you are RIGHT!!! I never saw it!

Really?

Please.

Think you're the only one? Ever since the show many of my RL friends have picked up the books and as they know about my passion for the series I am often bombarded with all sorts of questions. Only yesterday a friend started reading GoT, he finished the first chapter (turns out he meant the Prologue *facepalm*) and his question was: "Ok, so who are those Others?" It took me perhaps 5mins to properly answer without spoiling ahead of the story he knows (he follows the show). But another friend was in the skype conf. call and he interjected: "Wait, the Others DO put an on-screen appearance in book2", and so firm was his statement that for a few seconds I thought I had somehow forgotten something ... then it turned out he's referring to the scene at the end of S2E2 *double facepalm*.

P.S. If you find out about them tapestries you'd tell us, right? RIGHT?!

I probably wouldn't say anything? Gender is an identity construct. If you think you are, you are. Who is anyone else to tell you? What if I say I feel very feminine because I like to wear a lot of red?

Gender is an identity construct, but masculinity and femininity transcend gender and have a rather definite meanings in modern language. A person can have masculine and/or feminine features, both physical and behavioural and that would in no way affect his gender. Wearing red doesn't really signify masculinity or femininity, at least in my culture. I don't think even pink is that significant a colour - I own an awesome light-pink shirt.

And I think if more women knew how much anger/stress you can release through gaming (especially military games) they would probably be more inclined to get into it.

Well we definitely perceive games very differently. Personally I don't play any of the games you mentioned, nor any shooters at all. And for me games don't release stress or anger and often they can generate it, so I limit my time spent gaming.

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And for me games don't release stress or anger and often they can generate it, so I limit my time spent gaming.

Had a roommate who would fucking screech when his Star Wars tie-fighters in some flight sim fucked up.

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Yeah I lost myself there.

I don;t like it when people say fantasy but actually MEAN epic fantasy. Fantasy != epic fantasy.

Okay I'm with you. Fantasy is a pretty big umbrella to be fair so I understand the distinction, then again breaking it down into lots of subsets presents its own problems.

My use of 'epic fantasy' was intended to exclude twilight from my observations. Whilst I only know two women who read fantasy, I know a lot of women who read the twilight books.

Grack, is it your location that makes it such a hotbed for geeks? You live at MIT? I was able to round up a Texas BWB meet ONE TIME. Once. Lacey is my only other pal from this state who I've met and is still ON this board. It's a HUGE state, and yet... yeah. Guess there's not too many geeks.

Looking at readership in terms of location might be interesting. Both in terms of who reads what and also in terms of the social circles available to the average fantasy reader. I would imagine trying to start a fantasy book club in Texas (I know it's huge but I'm using Mandy's state as an example, hope you don't mind Mandy) might be little more difficult than say, starting a club in New York state?

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...

[great post]

...

All I can recommend/beg/demand is that if you keep thinking you should read more women but aren't doing it - do it. Force yourself. Next time you look at that tbr pile, insist that it be a woman writer. Trust me, you'll read some great books.

Great post Datepalm! In the context of science fiction this was brought to the foreground in the Russ Pledge.

This is something I have been trying to do in the recent year, And it is so easy to just pick up a male author you have heard about more. It was a strange experience thinking back to the authors that I read growing up, realizing how many were women and then looking on how few female authors I was reading in the last decade.

Something that has helped me with keeping an eye on the variety in my reading is some podcasts I follow, both galactic suburbia, and writer and the critic are good at reminding me. While the coode street podcast also keeps trying.

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