More on Storytelling, Teamwork and Gender Balance
The importance of the presence of women as storytellers has been an ongoing discussion at the blog. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve found a least a few occasions to go back to that point, which seems to be resonating elsewhere, too.
Last week feminist Liz Williams wrote an essay in The Guardian defending the all-male prize shortlist for the science fiction Arthur C. Clarke Award, for which she served as a judging panelist.
This has been a catch-22 for female genre writers for a long time: as my fellow judge Juliet E McKenna points out, the lack of visibility and discoverability of female writers “perpetuates the misconception that women can’t write SF – for people who don’t understand that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.
I’ve noted repeatedly that the contributions of female creators in Star Wars went into a period of contraction, which might be a reflection of a broader problem across the science fiction genre, as Williams discusses.
FANgirl contributor Kay shared Colin Stokes’ TED Talk “How Movies Teach Manhood” on Twitter, noting that she felt he “did underestimate Leia a bit.” While I agree with Kay, Stokes’ point is that, as a father, he doesn’t see stories inspiring his son to be more than a conquering hero who is rewarded with a kiss from the girl at the end, as opposed to his daughter who aspires to be wise mentors like Glinda and Obi-Wan. What Stokes is looking for are stories that show men and women working together to achieve their objective. When his children get a little older I hope he tries The Legend of Korra, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Warehouse 13, The Hunger Games, The Avengers, or books like the X-Wing series. [Update: Stokes pointed out on Twitter that he reconsidered his position on Leia after comments to his talk.]
Storytellers like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams have made their marks bringing fierce, diverse women into their tales to fight alongside their male characters. Words from another male creator of note, The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman, were revisited by The Guardian this week after the show’s season closed.
[Kirkman’s] response, from issue No. 289 of The Comics Journal: “I don’t mean to sound sexist, but as far as women have come over the last 40 years, you don’t really see a lot of women hunters. They’re still in the minority in the military, and there’s not a lot of female construction workers. I hope that’s not taken the wrong way. I think women are as smart, resourceful, and capable in most things as any man could be … but they are generally physically weaker. That’s science.”
Kirkman seems to imply that being the weaker sex is the reason women are a minority in the military, when truly they have not been allowed to participate in combat roles by policy until this year. There aren’t as many women in STEM careers, either, and that’s not because women are generally stupider. Let’s just call Kirkman’s logic flawed, and leave it at that. Apparently he hasn’t been exposed to enough strong women in real life or fiction to reflect them in his stories. All the more reason to keep the pressure on the entertainment industry when their creative teams don’t reflect the gender balance of their audience.
- Tricia Visits The Cantina Cast
- The Intangibles: A Conversation About What The Clone Wars Brought to Star Wars
- More on Women in Fandom
- Fans Talking Star Wars, Madness, and Fan Fiction
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl.
In her spare time, Tricia puts the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
For updates on all things FANgirl follow @FANgirlcantina on Twitter or like FANgirl Zone on Facebook.
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