The Truth of Women in Sci-Fi
For my Web highlights I am curious to critique and explore past student’s Essay 2: personal/ professional interests. I will be looking at the common theme of women found in science fiction and what my fellow past peers have said. I will be looking at Ashley Idema’s Narratives of the Future: Making Women More Badass, Timothy Morrow’s All Lilies Wither: Analyzing Sexual Representation and Violence towards Women in Sci-Fi, and Ashley Rhodes’ The Science of Feminine Fiction 2.
Ashley Idema argues that she has noticed that female authors create better female character, whereas male authors create ‘less than stellar’ female characters. Idema’s opening paragraph pays tribute to all the great that science fiction male authors have done with their male leads. They are no longer categorized into the ‘Prince Charming mold’. The men now come in all shapes and sizes, yet women are overly sexualized. However Idema notices that now, “women are finally starting to stand out in less predictable roles…thanks to female authors.” Idema then discusses characters like Octavia Butler’s Lauren, where she is not waiting for someone to rescue her Lauren acts on her own accord. Rye, also from Octavia Butler, is another character that Idema brings up who does not need saving, she protects herself. Drapes and Folds is another example she brings up about the community of only women that find a way to survive and reproduce without men. Lastly Idema ties up her essay with Terry Bisson’s quote, “they’re made out of meat.” This signifies that behind race and gender we are all meat, we are the same.
Ashley Idema brings an amazing point, now we do not see it that often women being the damsel in distress. She has used exemplar examples of women author’s and how they show women. However, I am curious to see if all male authors truly degrade women? In Somebody Up There Likes Me we see two strong female character Snookie and Janet who talk with confidence and strength to the male characters. What I loved about this short story is that the male characters respected them and followed their advice. Also in The Onion and I we see the mother character dominating the whole experiment and pushing her family to do as she wishes. This is another strong and confident female character written by a male. Therefore I feel that her essay would have been more interesting if she looked at male authors and analyzed how they portrayed their female characters.
Going on with the same idea that woman are only deemed as sexualized objects Timothy Morrow goes further in analyzing the sexual representation and violence towards women. He first opens his essay with an interesting concept from Karin Blair, femme-objet which means “caught in the constructs of the male imagination.” Going with this idea of women primarily being femme-objet, Morrow notices this in Stone Lives. Morrow states, “June is in his story, not of a flesh out character that can help further the plot, but a character defined by her flesh and the fantasies of the man that wrote her.” This is true, June was just written to be ‘eye-candy’, at the end the reader finds out that June committed suicide making her an incompetent character that had no specific purpose in the short story. Morrow then makes a daring comment about Parable of the Sower, while those who read the novel agree that the author wrote a strong female character Lauren. Morrow is right, “the first opportunity the author has in representation women of the future, she presents them as victims to their sexuality and prisoners to a world that views them by their bodies.” Yes, Lauren is a strong female character, but in the novel Lauren had to change her gender to not be condemned to what happened to the other women. Therefore Lauren being disguised as a male provided her safety, however she was still not able to be a strong female character.
Timothy Morrow brings up excellent examples that show the concept of femme-objet. Looking at the concept of femme-objet, as a female I feel disgusted of what truly lies beneath the surface. Starting with Genesis, the first story ever told, women are portrayed as sinful and evil. We were created to taken care by a men and be an object of their desires. I found Morrow’s essay inspirational and eye opening; he truly looked within the short stories and identified the entire negative and repulsion that is truly found for female characters. I appreciate this coming from a male writer, that he is not being bias and seeing the truth of female characters. Like he states at the end of his essay, maybe yes all of this was just meant to ‘attract the male crowd’ but should one degrade the female character.
Ashley Rhodes now takes the idea of women in science fiction further in noticing the significance and portrayal of women in the science fiction literature. Rhodes acknowledges the truth within, like how Timothy wrote, that the only way for Lauren to survive us to dress like a man. In Stone Lives, Rhodes goes deeper in her analysis by addressing the surprising suicide of June, “if June were alive in the end of the story there would be reason to assume they would run the company together. In this ‘guy fantasy’ the men prevail and the women are terminated.” I still see the notion of femme-objet present in what Rhodes is saying, which is very true. In a ‘man’s fantasy’ the woman cannot be a dominating figure like the man. Rhodes then goes on talking about Weena and how The Time Machine, “dehumanizes women by making them seem irrational and frail.” Weena is written almost like a lost puppy wondering around with her owner. This is degrading for women and just sad. However Rhodes does agree with what Idema said, “Drapes and Folds is by far the most feminine text we have read.” Rhodes then ends the same way as the other writers, wishing for an unprejudiced novel towards gender.
To conclude, in Ashley Idema’s essay we learned that female authors do tend highlight a little bit better on female characters. In Timothy Morrow’s essay we looked within the pages and saw that women, even to this day, will fall under the femme objet. However there are promising women that authors did not degrade. Ashley Rhodes agrees with me saying “The Onion and I [can be seen] as a gender reversal story. The mother is dominating over the decisions.” In the end woman are part of the minority group, men will always be the dominate figure in our society, but slowly we are changing our world and becoming all inclusive.