Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

The Ghettoization of women

I posted a short take on this on my author page on facebook, but I think it deserves a longer look.  First I want to recommend this excellent article about Margaret Atwood.  The subject reflects heavily, not only upon women in general, but women in genre especially. When I was a teenager and just starting to write with serious intent, I watched the New Wave spread its influence through Science Fiction and Fantasy. It was part of a transformative process that acknowledged that speculative fiction was no longer just for adolescent boys. There had always been women readers and a tiny handful of women authors, often writing under a male pseudonym. But in the 60s and 70s we were allowed to come out of the closet.

The New Wave was a renaissance for genre. It was still a ghetto (and genre continues to be a ghetto), but it was a bright and daring time. Some of us even managed to gain mainstream acceptance when people like Tanith Lee and Ursula Leguin started landing on the New York Times bestseller lists.

The last holdout for women in genre fiction was horror, but we cracked that one open also. Mary SanGiovanni and Tananarive Due are good examples of this.

Wikipedia’s decision to move women novelists from the general category into a sub category of fiction is symptomatic of the changing attitude toward women that is rampant in certain segments of the general population.  Out of sight, out of mind. Women are to be seen and not heard. Our freedom of choice, equal pay for equal work, and of course contraception, are in danger of being taken away from us unless we stand strong.  And this trend is reflected in attempts, like the one made by Wikipedia, to put us back “in our place.” We are being shoved backwards into another century’s morality and imprisoning conventions.

As authors, we may not be able to fight the larger fight, but we can fight all the smaller skirmishes such as the one with Wikipedia and win them. We won’t be shoved backwards into a tinier and tinier ghetto where we can be disparaged and belittled by the Great White Wh(m)ales.


7 comments on “The Ghettoization of women

  1. Georgina Merry
    May 9, 2013

    I too have noticed a regression in attitudes towards females. It seems that throughout history, whenever women start to be considered as equals, something is orchestrated to repress them. The same thing is happening now as you said, but it’s not just down to conventions, it’s down to how women are portrayed in the media. Sadly, women are just as much to blame for it as men, if not more so.
    Beauty, or at least what we’re told by the media to think is beautiful, has once again taken precedence over brains. Images of digitally enhanced females are everywhere, and serve little purpose other than to make women feel inferior. Then, when we see these same celebs without make up, we’re urged to stare, to poke fun, and ultimately bring them down to make ourselves feel better.

    What concerns me is how wide spread it’s become. Get ‘em While They’re Young is still a method that is adopted in marketing, and the kids are buying into it. The so-called “popular” media objectifies even the younger girls, such as those who act (poorly) in bubble-gum-perfection “sitcoms” like iCarly. Not only are these shows appallingly written, they perpetuate superficiality and intolerance. They should not be allowed on children’s television. Only today I read an article on how there are plans for the Disney princess in Brave is to be sexualised for promotion. It is repression, pure and simple.

  2. Anne Stone
    May 10, 2013

    Ah, but I’ve noticed in the new generation a very, very different attitude toward women, a kind of awe rather than that patronizing “all men are better just because” attitude. But women are as women act, and if you look them in the eye and laugh at their compulsion to hierarchy, well, you might get shunned, but not all of them will respond badly. I believe that most men are downtrodden, too, so equal rights for the 90 percent who don’t control the world. And let’s not forget kids; if any ghetto is more oppressed, it’s kids.

  3. Georgina Merry
    May 10, 2013

    Either way, Emmeline Pankhurst didn’t throw herself under a horse for this shit.

  4. Georgina Merry
    May 10, 2013

    My mistake – it was Emily Davison, not Pankhurst. Either way – she flung herself under a horse for women’s rights, and this doesn’t see worth it.

  5. Georgina Merry
    May 10, 2013

    Type in haste, repent on the internet.

  6. uppitymonkey
    May 10, 2013

    People love their labels and love their brackets to put groups in. Especially when marketing and money come into it.

  7. cussedness
    May 10, 2013

    agreed, Monkey. Anne, I was not implying that all males were part of this situation, but that the White Corporate Male mentality is.

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