on the hidebound misogyny of (some) science fiction fans… and pros

Silly me. I always thought that science fiction is a genre that encourages freethinking, that lets the imagination roam to places that the “ordinary” world couldn’t even see, that serves as an outlet for those among us who feel somehow excluded from the mainstream.

Apparently, though, some male geeks have very limited imaginations. Because a whole buncha them have been demonstrating this week that when it comes to flights of rational fancy and daydreaming about the world being a bigger, better, more inclusive place, women need not apply.

There’s this, for one: a thread at Doctor Who TV polling readers about whether they’re happy to see Matt Smith leave the show, the comments thread of which descended into guys mansplaining why there’s no chance in eternity that the next Doctor could possibly be a woman. Because ick. A few examples:

sexist Doctor Who fans

sexist Doctor Who fans

Not wanting a woman playing the Doctor isn’t about being sexist, you see. It’s about the integrity of the show. A woman would ruin that integrity, by being not a man. It’s about the dynamic, and about how little boys could no longer run around on playgrounds pretending to be the Doctor. Those little boys would be emasculated, either by having to pretend to be a subordinate male companion or — worse — by having to pretend to be a lady! (It’s not a thing worth worrying about that little girls on playgrounds have had to pretend to be female companions, though perhaps someone should be concerned that little girls are getting a head start on learning the mighty powers of empathy and imagination by having to pretend to be a man when being the Doctor themselves.)

And this:

sexist Doctor Who fans

Imagine the horror of an all-female cast! Won’t someone think of the 12-year-old boys for once?

Finally, it’s just tradition:

sexist Doctor Who fans

I mean, clearly it’s tradition. If it weren’t traditional, it wouldn’t have been traditional all this time!

I’m sure there are lots of reasons fans may have to reject the notion of a female Doctor that aren’t sexist, but this is the gist of the objections I’ve seen, and they’re pretty disgusting in the context of the fandom of a show that has more potential, at least — even if it hasn’t been fully exploited — for pushing cultural boundaries. If ever there were a pop culture character who could change gender and have it make sense within context, Doctor Who is it. It’s like these people have learned nothing from the show’s ethos.

And then there’s the professional organization Science Fiction Writers of America, which deemed it appropriate to put this image on the cover of its Winter 2013 bulletin:

sexist SFWA Bulletin cover

This was apparently not ironic, not part of a commentary on how images of women in speculative fiction have evolved over the years, nothing. This was simply something that SFWA thought would appeal to its membership, some of whom dare to be women themselves.

Wait. It gets better. Within the recent pages of SFWA’s bulletin, SF writer C.J. Henderson (a man), explained that Barbie is popular

because she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should.

And two other male writers, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg, have discussed

at length how the campaign to raise awareness on how women are depicted in SF/F art is nothing more than thought-control and censorship.

But they’re not sexist, oh no, because they’ve mentioned

lady writers… and lady editors and publishers

in other issues. Apparently without even asking the ladies to make them a sandwich or anything. Though they did see fit to describe one lady editor as

beauty pageant beautiful… [a] knock out.

Because of course that impacted what sort of editor she was.

(SWFA stuff via the Guardian, Betsy Dornbusch, Jason Sanford, Radish Reviews, and e. catherine tobler.)

This sort of crap depresses me when I encounter it in the mundane world. But it’s worse when it happens within the realm of science fiction. These guys can conceive of starships plying intergalactic wormhole lanes and alien cultures, but their vision does not extend to women as fully human in the same way they perceive men as.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap