Good morning, Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
You know what’s awesome? Women. Women are awesome.
But if you read a lot of popular fantasy books, you might not think that.
Recently I wrote a blog post about women in the fantasy genre, and it got quite a bit of traffic on Redblr and Tumblit.
Wait, did I mix those up? Yes, sorry. I meant to say I wrote a blog post about fantasies in the women genre.
No, that’s still wrong. Ah well, moving on.
The tl;dr version of the article above is that fantasy authors have a history of having a small minority of women characters in their books, and/or not generally creating female characters of much depth or complexity. We see a lot of stereotypes, and a lot of women who are mainly dependent on men for their character development, which is just … pluh.
A notable exception is what is currently the most popular fantasy series out there. I’m talking, of course, about my Nightblade series.
No, I’m not. I wish I was. I’m talking about Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones has a roughly 50/50 ratio of female and male characters, which is, you know, how nature works, and it also has women of tremendous interest and agency.
Now, that being said, Game of Thrones still takes place in a world with pretty severe gender discrimination. Women are not considered to stand equal to men in most things, and most notably they’re excluded from the battlefield. Brienne of Tarth has to prove her worth by being a totally badass fighter. And she does, but she still has to prove it.
This is totally fine. I’m not saying it’s wrong to write societies where gender politics is still a thing. But one thing I talked about in that blog post is that I prefer to create worlds where gender politics are not a thing. That’s the case in Nightblade, and it’s also the case in my stunningly popular and well-worth-your-money Realm Keepers series.
But in all the discussions about the above blog post, on Redbook and Faceblr and Twitdit and Tumbleter, I started wondering: am I doing more harm than good? Am I, in some way, saying, “Hey, no, everything’s fine! See? No one is discriminated against! Shut up, women, and stop complaining!”
I really hope that’s not what people interpret from my work.
See, in Game of Thrones, Martin shows us that even in a world where men do “wear the pants,” women can still be incredibly important, can still make a difference, and can still be powerful forces for change. These women overcome society’s idea of how they should be in order to accomplish their goals. Whether those goals are “evil bitch-face omigod Cersei is the worst goals,” or “stalwart honorable kick-ass Brienne rocks” goals, they’re still goals.
And I like that his female characters run the gamut of not only societal standing, but ethical and moral fiber as well.
But I think there’s also something valid to imagining societies where such gender biases just aren’t a thing. Rather than say, “Hey, everything’s fine and I don’t know why you’re complaining,” I want people to read my stories and go, “Wow. This place actually sounds kind of cool. Wouldn’t it be great if our world was like that?”
It’s like science fiction books. You can write stories about scientists overcoming the barriers to faster-than-light travel, showing that despite the barriers of physics, we will overcome.
Or you can just jump into the future when FTL is commonplace and say, “Hey, everybody, look how cool it’s going to be when we do this!” And people get so excited about it that they start to make it happen, taking care of the details along the way.
I mean, you could say that’s what happened with traveling to the moon. Science fiction said, “Everyone! Look how cool space is gonna be!” And society went, “Yeah!” And got together and invented a rocket ship that could get us to the moon, and we did it. And then later, we sort of lost sight of that goal and the space program atrophied.
Well, let’s not let that happen here. Let’s continue to show that women are important and vital despite systematic oppression. And at the same time, let’s continue to imagine how awesome it will be once that oppression has been eradicated completely.
Thanks for reading, Rebels. I’ll see you tomorrow. Byyye.