Books by Women: Doomsday Book

I’ve taken the challenge to read only books by women (and non cis men) for a year. Though one of my favorite authors is female (Sarah Monette and her Doctrine of Labyrinths series), most of my other favorite authors are male. David Anthony Durham, J.R.R. Tolkien and when I browse in a book store my eye wanders to the titles I’m interested in and most of them are written by men. The covers of the books written by men are typically darker, grittier, and appear more intense and riveting: exactly what I want in a novel or story collection.

But I want to take the time to read female authors. Otherwise, I become part of the culture which ignores the work of female authors as chick lit, fluff or all about emotions. Especially because I blog for Luna Station Quarterly, a spec fic journal dedicated to emerging female writers, I need to support these writers as writers and not just female writers. Ideally, women would not be marked in every profession they enter.

One of my best friends explained to me that she can’t get interested in super hero stories because the stories are nearly all written by and about men. The industry isn’t interested in telling the stories of women because women are considered a niche market. Stories are dominated by men in the movies (take a look at movie trailers for instance–most women in the trailer are taking off their clothes and rarely have any speaking lines in the trailer), books (even books written by women tend to have male main characters) and television (programs meant for both genders have male leads). We are essentially saying that women’s stories and women’s voices have no value.

And so I’ve taken the challenge to read books by women for a year. This is a simple way to show support for female authors and the stories they create. Even if you’re still in school and cannot commit to the challenge for a full year, try it for a summer. Build your summer reading list around female authors.

I’ve started off with Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book (1992) winner of the Nebula and Hugo awards. It’s a blend of both science fiction and historical fiction. The novel is comprised of parallel stories one in the future where historians are sent back in time to conduct research and the other where a female historian Kivrin is sent back to the Middle Ages. I would recommend it for its plotting and pacing though the writing is not always the strongest.

Doomsday_Book

I’ll be keeping an updated list throughout the year with each new book I read. Keep a look out for future posts. Next up: Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Who are your favorite female authors? What books can you recommend? I’m especially interested in finding female-led comic books.

Advertisements

People Aren’t Movies: Don’t Rate Them

I am a very harsh judge of films and I freely admit that 9 times out of 10, I leave a movie disappointed because I want perfection. I was having a conversation with my brother today and he told me how he realized that I rate movies the same way he rates women.

This floored me. I can rate a movie, pick it apart and critique it as much as I please because no matter how many individuals worked on the film, I am not making a numerical judgment on a single person’s worth. I feel as if this doesn’t need to even be said anymore, but apparently it’s still common practice for people to rate each other based on some unknown scale of hotness. This scale is the ultimate deciding factor in a human being’s worth. Because all people are ultimately worth is how good a partner they would be.

Women are just as guilty as men, but women are under a microscope to always be perfect in a way that men are not. The added pressure of women feeling that every time they walk past a man he is silently rating her based on how she dresses and the size of her breasts vs the size of her waist and hips is disturbing.

It makes me feel violated just walking down the street. I dress in superhero shirts and jeans (or shorts during the summer) and one day I went to high school in a jean skirt, leggings and pretty rocking combat boots. There was no reason for the outfit, I just wanted to look different. I remember one of the guys I was acquainted with kept looking at me. If I remember correctly, he said something along the lines of “Wow” because I was suddenly an attractive female and not just a quiet body to fill the space. I had gained worth by dressing more feminine and my rating went up as a result. Lucky me, I was now the proud owner of worth.

Lucky me.

I know this gets dangerously close to the people are not what they wear argument to combat slut shaming, but I feel it is also necessary to address here because I think slut shaming and ratings go hand in hand. It’s part of the cliched-but-true double edged sword. Women must be sexually available in order to be rated high, but if they appear too sexually available then their rating goes down because they must be a slut.

This logic infuriates me. I don’t know if I’m saying anything that hasn’t been said before, but I was disgusted by my brother’s comment about rating women because he said it so casually. His idea is that people have always rated each other therefore it must be natural, therefore it must be morally okay. Except it’s not. Killing people has also always gone on and there’s a conscious effort to stop that. Harm doesn’t need to be physical or blatant.

I don’t care if rating is a thing people do, or even it’s the norm because it’s wrong and reduces a person to a single number that is so arbitrary. I know I never want to feel that type of judgment and if you agree with me stop rating others if this a habit you have, or tell your friends the reasons why this a sexist practice that perpetuates oppression. Rating people needs to end if sexism is to end.