Sexism in Genre Novels …

Speculative_fiction_portal_logo_transparentI am ever eager to know what other writer’s think, to “listen in” on debates and to find good recommendations.  Happened upon this while rummaging through Staffer’s Book Review …

“How can so many (white, male) writers narratively justify restricting the agency of their female characters on the grounds of sexism = authenticity while simultaneously writing male characters with conveniently modern values?

“The habit of authors writing Sexism Without Sexists in genre novels is seemingly pathological. Women are stuffed in the fridge under cover of “authenticity” by secondary characters and villains because too many authors flinch from the “authenticity” of sexist male protagonists. Which means the yardstick for “authenticity” in such novels almost always ends up being “how much do the women suffer”, instead of – as might also be the case – “how sexist are the heroes”.

“And this bugs me; because if authors can stretch their imaginations far enough to envisage the presence of modern-minded men in the fake Middle Ages, then why can’t they stretch them that little bit further to put in modern-minded women, or modern-minded social values? It strikes me as being extremely convenient that the one universally permitted exception to this species of “authenticity” is one that makes the male heroes look noble while still mandating that the women be downtrodden and in need of rescuing. ” A response by Justin Landon in his now defunct Staffer’s Book Review (18 April 2012) to Michael J. Sullivan on Character Agency.

51GsM8UhdmL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Michael J. Sullivan is a fantasy and science fiction writer. He is known for his popular series, The Riyria Revelations. His Amazon page is HERE, including bio and books.

Justin Landon writes for, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

Landon’s weblog is a good site and I’m sorry to see that Landon is no longer posting; but sometimes we all have to move on. The good news is that he left the site up for us to explore. He said in his closing post:

“This is the last week for Staffer’s Book Review. You are probably weeping uncontrollably. I’m not. It’s not because I don’t love my site. I do. But, we’ve come to the point where it has reached its logical conclusion. I have said much of what I wanted to say, and I have found new outlets for the rest. In addition, I have become increasingly burdened with other responsibilities. My career continues to grow. My work at is ever-expanding (until they get sick of me!). My children need more of me than before. And the truth is I need more time to do those things right. There are also things out there I want to explore and do, and keeping up a blog just isn’t conducive to that.”

Illustration by Nihonjoe under CC BY-SA 3.0 license