Tag: feminism

Linky linky


-Rose Lemberg on Feminist Characters (aka how agency isn’t only limited to the Warrior Woman trope), and Alex Dally MacFarlane on Female Friendships and Why They Matter.
Master of the House of Darts is up against The Wise Man’s Fear in Book Spot Central’s Annual tournament: vote early, vote often, etc. (especially since I suspect it’s going to take me a miracle to reach the second round given the competition…)

Meanwhile, I think I have a first scene for the book, except that it doesn’t have enough magical fireworks. Will go add them in.

Sherlock: the Case of the Invisible Women


So we watched the last episode of Sherlock season 2 today, and I was really struck by how much of a men’s story it is: it’s all down to a confrontation between the two (male) leads on a rooftop, while the remaining (male) lead rushes to the rescue and comes too late. The H and I identified 5 women in the entire storyline, and there were so few women with so little screen time that we had to struggle to come up with them. The women (whom you barely see) fall into the broad roles of: the moral support (Molly/Mrs Hudson), the evil bitch (Donovan), and a couple supporting characters (the helpless kidnapped girl whose only role is to scream her head off, and the housekeeper who gets 20s of screen time before we move on to more important things). Everyone else is male. I mean freaking everyone else, up to the superintendent and the contingent of assassins that conveniently move in next to Baker Street.[1]

Meanwhile, those few women are all… bit parts? People far removed from the centre of the narration, who total very little screentime and have so very little importance overall. As a cumulative effect, it’s rather unsettling, and ends up being alienating (even the H balked). And I wish this was a one-off effect, something that happened only in this episode of this particular show, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had the feeling that TV shows only show us major women characters through a great effort of will (A Scandal in Bohemia, for instance, basically only had Irene Adler as a major female lead); or if they happen to need a handy victim (in which case said women tend to be dead, or to wind up dead in very short order).

And, you know, we were talking about it with the H, and I actually started making excuses for the show, going “but of course they’re going by the original short stories, and those were misogynistic as heck…”. Then some dim memory of reading the short stories struck me, and I checked myself, and went to the bookshelves to get our thick volume of Sherlock Holmes stories. And sure enough, those are full of women. I’m not saying they’re good women roles (they mostly conform to Victorian expectations), but at least they’re here, and they’re not only here, but up-front and centre in a great majority of the stories. You have heiresses to fortunes, and adventuresses (hello, Irene Adler) and spies; but you also have wronged wives, and wives trying to protect their children from grasping husbands and insane sons, and spinster ladies struggling to make a living; and sisters living together in their old ages, and dozens other women who have a strong presence in the narration and that don’t give you the feeling that the writer just happened to erase those bits of humanity that he didn’t approve of [2].

I thought about it some more, and mentally called up other 19th-Century “realistic” novels (excluding adventure novels, which are a really particular subgenre), and you know what? Most of those are horribly misogynistic, but they almost always give some space and some roles to women. Les Miserables has Cosette and Fantine and the Thenardier daughters; Charles Dickens’ books have plenty of prominent women characters. And, all in all, it ends up being a little of a paradox.
Women had a clearly defined place and clearly defined sphere in Victorian society, even though that place was deemed inferior to men. If you were a 19th-Century writer and wanted to write a story that took place in a realistic society (again, excluding “adventures abroad”), then you could hardly write something that had no women in them. It was expected that upstanding members of society would be married and have children, or have relatives which would include women (aunts, cousins, sisters). And those characters might well be subservient to men and have little freedom, but by and large, they’re always here. The wife, the maid, the daughter–they have a place and a role; they exist. The world isn’t 100%-male.

Whereas in our modern 21st-Century Western world… women have gained more rights in a general fashion, but we’ve also been moving towards a more individualistic society. Sherlock Holmes, a confirmed bachelor with no outward interest in the opposite gender, was an anomaly by Victorian standards (notice that Watson, the staunch everyman of the narration, gets all but engaged in the second ever Sherlock Holmes story, The Sign of the Four); by our modern Western 21st Century standards, a man who gets married/into a serious relationship too quickly is the oddity, rather than bachelor Sherlock Holmes. This means that you can put a male character in the narration; and said male character can be a bachelor with distant/non-existent female relatives, and no one will blink an eye. Et voilà, you’ve just managed to handily remove women from the narration.

There is also a very clear separation between our daily work spheres and what we get up to at home: compare this with the Sherlock Holmes stories, in which this line is more blurred. It’s not that people didn’t have day jobs (there are several stories with tradesmen); but you get far more examples of gentlemen of leisure, or housewives, or people who work from home. Many stories take place on weekdays in households, which, again, would be a rarity today [3]. Most people are assumed to hold an office job. Why do I mention this? Because this means that it’s acceptable today to tell a story that is entirely in and about work settings, with very few inklings of relationships. Cop shows are a prime example of this (and Sherlock owes a lot to cop shows). Since the workplace is already almost entirely male (why bother with putting women on screen, they’re just distracting), you can also skip on showing women onscreen altogether: even if your male characters do happen to be married (like Lestrade), you can skip on showing their partners altogether.

All of this makes it, paradoxically, really easier if you want to cut out women out of the narration altogether: you make the characters not be married, or have casual flings you refrain from showing on-screen (like Watson’s girlfriends, who don’t really feature in this season. It’s telling that his only girlfriend with a significant role was solely there to be kidnapped in The Blind Banker). You set the story away from people’s homes, in a male-dominated workplace, and no one blinks an eye.
And this is why you end up with an adaptation of Conan Doyle for the 21st Century that ends up even more misogynistic than the original short stories. Or maybe a different flavour of misogynist, but just as bad. *headdesk*

What do you think? Am I off-base here? Did things really get worse in terms of screen-time for women, compared to the original stories, or am I misremembering my Conan Doyle/19th Century novels? Do you think not showing women at all a worse thing that showing them in subservient roles, or is it a different flavour of erasure?

[1] I won’t get into how much everyone is lily-White, but that was also a significant problem in that particular episode. And, hum, OK, maybe one of the assassins was a woman, but we only ever saw her picture, and never her in the flesh.
[2] The Conan Doyle stories also have POCs. Their depiction is as racist as heck (fiery, temperamental South Americans, untrustworthy Chinese, and so on, including a particularly lovely bit about a mixed-race South American/English that traumatised me when I was young). But at least POCs are here, they exist and they’re acknowledged, which is more than can be said the POCs in the Season 2 episodes (and few of them actually die in the stories, which is also pretty amazing compared to most mainstream Western TV).
[3] I’m not saying everyone commutes to an office job today–just that it’s become far more common and accepted in our current society.

Linky linky


-More “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” linkage: Two Dudes in an Attic (in an analysis that is not only gushing but starting to rival the story in length, wow), Jonathan Crowe, and Marina
-Warpcore SF reviews Master of the House of Darts
-Jim Hines tries to duplicate female poses on genre covers, and posts pictures. Hilarious. (even though, yeah, women do move a little more easily at the hips than men, it’s true that none of those poses look exactly comfortable for men). genreviews does the same thing comparing male and female poses on covers.
-Related: Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits, or why boob plates are the most impractical idea ever.

Linky linky


-Jim C. Hines blogs on sexual harrassment here, here and here

-Broad Universe publishes stats on diversity in genre

-The World SF blog Tuesday fiction is “City of Silence” by Ma Boyong (translated by Ken Liu): part 1, part 2. Incidentally, the blog is also looking for fiction they could showcase–preferably set outside the US/UK, or by authors from outside the US/UK (note that this overlaps with, but is not *quite* the same thing as fiction by US/UK PoCs). No payment, unfortunately–everyone’s a volunteer and the website runs on a shoestring, but you’d be contributing to a worthy cause; and they take reprints and stories that have been hard-pressed to find a home elsewhere.

Linky linky, the WFC edition


-The tireless Charles Tan puts together a links roundup for WFC, which includes several recordings of panels as well as reports. Really annoyed I missed it this year, especially as it didn’t conflict with Utopiales (which I end up missing for another reason entirely, mind you). Ah well, maybe next year. Toronto sounds nice.

-Several people, including Kate Elliott, Juliet McKenna, Sherwood Smith, report on the WFC “The Glass Ceiling” panel about women vs men in the field. Nothing very new, sadly, but I find the concept of male vs. female gaze fascinating (even though the dynamics that are used here are, I suspect, mostly US or UK. It’s occurred to me recently that French and Vietnamese culture probably don’t have quite the same sexual dynamics or problems, though I’d be hard pressed to pinpoint the bits that are different. Bit hard when you’re submerged in the culture to analyse it) . Also, see an older postby N.K. Jemisin, which raises some interesting questions on the same topic, especially RE sex scenes. (I tend to avoid sex scenes in my writing because reading them bores me, but I can totally understand why other people would want them in their books)

Linky linky


-Tansy Rayner Roberts on Pratchett’s Women: the Boobs, the Bad, and the Broomsticks:

How rare is it to have a fantasy novel BY A MAN which is entirely about female characters? How rare to have a story with so many women in it that you don’t even need a romance because the women already have plenty to do?

-N.K. Jemisin on The Limitations of Womanhood in Fantasy

Why is it hard for a female character to be considered strong if she’s self-effacing or modest, for example? Lots of women who are trailblazers and asskicking heroes are modest. This is all of a piece with America’s ongoing devaluation of traditional women’s gender roles, like being a housewife. (Or a househusband; we also devalue men who chose “women’s work”.) I can’t remember the last American fantasy I read that starred a housewife. I’m hoping there are some out there — recommendations welcome — but offhand, I can’t think of any. But housewives can be great characters, if they’re written right.

Here’s the problem with this wholesale rejection of both societally-imposed and self-chosen “typical” women’s behaviors — in the end, it amounts to a rejection of nearly all things feminine. And that’s definitely not good for women.

-Max Barry on Dogs and Smurfs:

Let me walk you through it. We’ll start with dogs. I have written about this before, but to save you the click: people assume dogs are male. Listen out for it: you will find it’s true. (..) People assume animals are male. If you haven’t already noticed this, it’s only because it’s so pervasive. We also assume people are male, unless they’re doing something particularly feminine; you’ll usually say “him” about an unseen car driver, for example. But it’s ubiquitous in regard to animals.
Then you’ve got Smurf books. Not actual Smurfs. I mean stories where there are five major characters, and one is brave and one is smart and one is grumpy and one keeps rats for pets and one is a girl. Smurfs, right? Because there was Handy Smurf and Chef Smurf and Dopey Smurf and Painter Smurf and ninety-four other male Smurfs and Smurfette. Smurfette’s unique personality trait was femaleness. That was the thing she did better than anyone else. Be a girl.
Male is default. That’s what you learn from a world of boy dogs and Smurf stories.

Meanwhile, work is chugging along on the Novella that Wouldn’t Die. One more scene, and some recurring characters are finally started to show up (I know, it’s a bad sign when the Named Characters in your cast number above 10–for this length, at any rate).

Women in SF, redux


Tricia Sullivan, and Liz Williams on Women in SF, and the Solaris Rising controversy . Well worth a look. I’ve been really crazy busy, and sort of missed most of this one… But let me add my voice to the fact that I don’t think it’s fair to blame Ian (who’s a great bloke) for the lack of female representation in the previous Solaris books (in which he had no part at all). The Solaris Rising TOC (4 women authors out of 16-17 stories) doesn’t strike me as particularly horrifyingly sexist either–there’s just no way you can guarantee you’ll have 50-50% female representation in anthologies, both because of the sample (less women writing SF for a variety of complex reasons), and because of the way things shake out (as an anthologist, you can try invite 50-50% men-women, but you can’t even be sure the responses will be balanced).

Which isn’t to say there’s no problem with the genre in the UK (and indeed, with the genre in general). I think we can all agree there is one. But I don’t think specifically blaming Ian is the right strategy.

If I may borrow Tricia’s words for a moment:

I want to see change but I don’t want to work in a climate where individual people are at risk of being brought to ground, cornered and shamed for issues that arise out of a much more nebulous problem in society–and in this case, in the peculiarities of the SFF scene in Britain. I don’t think editors in Britain are chauvanist pigs. I’ve worked with several book editors in this country and have never had a whiff of old-school sexism from any of them. Do we live in a sexist culture? Yes, absolutely. Fucking yes.

Because of this and for other reasons it seems to be impossible to precisely identify the problem in SF in this country. I’ve said again and again in personal conversation that I believe it is systemic. I don’t think it’s merely a case of mistakenly attacking the branches instead of the root of the problem (as I’ve seen the attacks on Ian described) because it’s not a rooted sort of problem. I suspect the whole ecological cycle is messed up and I doubt there is any one action or plane of action that will ameliorate it. As I said to Juliet McKenna at the AGM: the whole is dumber than the sum of its parts. And I think it would be good to address this on all levels but perhaps only in small ways in some situations because sometimes that is all you can do for the moment. The main thing is to keep it going and move it forward. The scene didn’t get like this in a day and it’s not going to be fixed in sweeping strokes.

Women in genre


Following excellent posts by Nicola Griffith and Cheryl Morgan on Women’s invisibility (if you missed the twitter storm, this started off as a Guardian article asking people to name their favorite SF–which mentioned more than 500 books in the comments, out of which only 18 women…), it’s high time I play my part in redressing the balance…

Part of the problem, as Cheryl and Nicola both point out, is that best-of lists tend to be made by men, and that it’s been proved that while women will read men and women equally, men tend to read and remember men (and women tend not to volunteer for voting or for making such lists in the first place). So it’s a vicious circle in which men continue to predominate on awards lists, and to be enshrined in history while women mostly slip by the wayside.

Accordingly, I’m making my list of favorite novels written by women. Pretty much no criteria (I’m no good at Golden Age SF, since the only authors in that batch I read were Asimov and Zelazny; and I came very late to fantasy): only that I read and enjoyed the book. Here you go, my recs:

Dust, Chill and Grail, Elizabeth Bear
Moxyland, Lauren Beukes
Miles Vorkosigan series, Lois McMaster Bujold
Golden Witchbreed, Mary Gentle
The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin
China Mountain Zhang, Maureen McHugh
The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
The Snow Queen, Joan Vinge
Empire of Bones, Liz Williams

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley (as Kari Sperring points out, the history in this one is rubbish. Nevertheless, as a revisionist version of a well-known myth from a female POV, it’s definitely seminal)
The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
Crown of Stars series, Kate Elliott
Tamir trilogy by Lynn Flewelling
Ash, Mary Gentle
The Liveship Traders, Robin Hobb
Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones
Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner
Cyrion, Tanith Lee
The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Patricia McKillip

What about you? What are your favorite genre books written by women? Feel free to make your own list! (whether you’re a woman or not, BTW. We need more people celebrating women in the genre)

ETA: additions suggested in comments:

Virtual Death, Shale Aaron
Happy Policeman and Brother Termite, Patricia Anthony
Catherine Asaro
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
All the Windwracked Stars and sequels, Elizabeth Bear
The Darkover series, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (and other books)
Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh (and other books)
The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins
The Mount, Carol Emshwiller
Sarah Canery, Karen Joy Fowler
C.S. Freidman
Slow River, Nicola Griffith
God’s War, Kameron Hurley
The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Lear’s Daughters duology, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg
Nancy Kress
A Different Light, Elizabeth Lynn
Dragonriders of Pern, The Talent series, Anne McCaffrey
The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon
The Healer’s War, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Virtual Girl, Amy Thompson
Star of the Guardians, Margaret Weis
Uncharted Territory, Connie Willis
Looking for the Mahdi, N Lee Wood

Blood and Iron and sequels, Elizabeth Bear
The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
Santa Olivia, Jacqueline Carey
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susannah Clarke
Deverry series, Katherine Kerr
The Farseer trilogy, Robin Hobb
The Fox Woman, Kij Johnson
His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik
The Earthsea Cycle, Ursula Le Guin
Lavinia, Ursula Le Guin
Magic for Beginners, Kelly Link
The Riddle-Master trilogy, Patricia McKillip
The Folding Knife, KJ Parker (assuming KJ Parker is indeed a woman)
The Orphan’s Tales, Catherynne Valente
Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner

The mistressworks of SF


There’s been a discussion on the blogosphere recently about women in SF, and their tendency to generally get ignored, whether by readers, awards or critics. In order to remedy this, a number of people have started discussions (see Torque Control for discussions of Justina Robson’s Natural History, Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark, and other future classics written by women), as well as lists. I’m linking to Ian Sales, who compiled two such lists: one of “mistressworks” (the female equivalent of Gollancz’s Masterworks series in the UK, which showcase classic SF but end up with a strong male dominance); the other one of works by 21st-Century women writers. (Kev McVeigh gave me a more complete list of 150 female SF writers, but it’s not online that I can find, which is here).

So, without further ado, my bit for the first meme (will get around to the second at some point):

You know how it works: bold those you’ve read, italicise those you own but have not read. (If you’ve read the entire named series, you can even emboldenize that as well.)

1 Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
2 Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
3 Orlando, Virginia Woolf (1928)
4 Lest Ye Die, Cicely Hamilton (1928)
5 Swastika Night, Katherine Burdekin (1937)
(6 Wrong Side of the Moon, Francis Leslie Ashton (1951), removed because Francis Leslie Ashton is a man)
7 The Sword of Rhiannon, Leigh Brackett (1953)
8 Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, Zenna Henderson (1961)
9 Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)
10 Witch World, Andre Norton (1963)
11 Sunburst, Phyllis Gotlieb (1964)
12 Jirel of Joiry, CL Moore (1969)
13 Heroes and Villains, Angela Carter (1969)
14 Ten Thousand Light Years From Home, James Tiptree Jr (1973)
15 The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin (1974)
16 Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)
17 The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1975)
18 Missing Man, Katherine MacLean (1975)
19 Arslan, MJ Engh (1976)
20 Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)
21 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)
22 Islands, Marta Randall (1976)
23 Dreamsnake, Vonda N McIntyre (1978)
24 False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)
25 Shikasta [Canopus in Argos: Archives], Doris Lessing (1979)
26 Kindred, Octavia Butler (1979)
27 Benefits, Zoe Fairbairns (1979)
28 The Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
29 The Silent City, Élisabeth Vonarburg (1981)
30 The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (1981)
31 The Many-Coloured Land [Saga of the Exiles], Julian May (1981)
32 Darkchild [Daughters of the Sunstone], Sydney J van Scyoc (1982)
33 The Crystal Singer, Anne McCaffrey (1982)
34 Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1984)
35 The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)
36 Jerusalem Fire, RM Meluch (1985)
37 Children of Anthi, Jay D Blakeney (1985)
38 The Dream Years, Lisa Goldstein (1985)
39 Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind, Sarah Lefanu & Jen Green (1985)
40 Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton (1986)
41 The Wave and the Flame [Lear’s Daughters], Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (1986)
42 The Journal of Nicholas the American, Leigh Kennedy (1986)
43 A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski (1986)
44 Angel at Apogee, SN Lewitt (1987)
45 In Conquest Born, CS Friedman (1987)
46 Pennterra, Judith Moffett (1987)
47 Kairos, Gwyneth Jones (1988)
48 Cyteen , CJ Cherryh (1988)
49 Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack (1988)
50 The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy (1988)
51 The Steerswoman [Steerswoman series], Rosemary Kirstein (1989)
52 The Third Eagle, RA MacAvoy (1989)
53 Grass, Sheri S Tepper (1989)
54 Heritage of Flight, Susan Shwartz (1989)
55 Falcon, Emma Bull (1989)
56 The Archivist, Gill Alderman (1989)
57 Winterlong [Winterlong trilogy], Elizabeth Hand (1990)
58 A Gift Upon the Shore, MK Wren (1990)
59 Red Spider, White Web, Misha (1990)
60 Polar City Blues, Katharine Kerr (1990)
61 Body of Glass (AKA He, She and It), Marge Piercy (1991)
62 Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
63 Beggars in Spain [Sleepless trilogy], Nancy Kress (1991)
64 A Woman of the Iron People, Eleanor Arnason (1991)
65 Hermetech, Storm Constantine (1991)
66 China Mountain Zhang, Maureen F McHugh (1992)
67 Fools, Pat Cadigan (1992)
68 Correspondence, Sue Thomas (1992)
69 Lost Futures, Lisa Tuttle (1992)
70 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis (1992)
71 Ammonite, Nicola Griffith (1993)
72 The Holder of the World, Bharati Mukherjee (1993)
73 Queen City Jazz, Kathleen Ann Goonan (1994)
74 Happy Policeman, Patricia Anthony (1994)
75 Shadow Man, Melissa Scott (1995)
76 Legacies, Alison Sinclair (1995)
77 Primary Inversion [Skolian Saga], Catherine Asaro (1995)
78 Alien Influences, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1995)
79 The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (1996)
80 Memory [Vorkosigan series], Lois McMaster Bujold (1996)
81 Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon (1996)
82 Looking for the Mahdi, N Lee Wood (1996)
83 An Exchange of Hostages [Jurisdiction series], Susan R Matthews (1997)
84 Fool’s War, Sarah Zettel (1997)
85 Black Wine, Candas Jane Dorsey (1997)
86 Halfway Human, Carolyn Ives Gilman (1998)
87 Vast, Linda Nagata (1998)
88 Hand of Prophecy, Severna Park (1998)
89 Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
90 Dreaming in Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (1999)
91 Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle (2000)

All in all, not a shining example of completeness from me (though, to be fair, I don’t read that much SF, and I suspect my showing on a meme of SF Masterworks would also be dismal). It’s dismaying (and it’s part of the point) that even though I’m a woman and a feminist, I’ve read so little. I’m making notes to improve on that score, by adding a lot of those books to my to-read list. How many can you bold on the list?

Men, women and Important Things


So, by now everyone’s seen Niall Harrison’s article about the (mis)representation of women in reviewing. Not everyone might have seen the followups: Juliet McKenna, Kari Sperring (who has started an awesome list of women to read), and Sherwood Smith, who has a great reflexion on which viewpoints are considered the norm (and great comments, too).

One sentence in what Sherwood wrote struck me:
The sense that men write about Important Things and women write about Domestic or Sentimental Things still appears to be pervasive.

And it did make me want to elaborate, on something I’ve been meaning to blog about but haven’t so far. Sherwood touches on it a bit, I think–mostly in the context of literature–but I kind of wanted to take it a step further.

See, the one thing I hate most about gender perceptions? That Important Things cannot be Domestic or Sentimental: the pervasive notion that the things men do are Important; and the things women do are not (I’m using “the things men do” in a sense of traditional gender roles–which, thankfully, have evolved quite a bit since the 19th Century). That somehow, it’s still more Important to talk about war and fighting as a soldier, still more Important to talk about science and inventing things–than it is to talk about taking care of a household, about raising children, all the myriad things that are the traditional prerogative of women. It’s sort of like saying, “as a woman, you cannot have worth until you do the things of men-essentially until you become a male surrogate.” And it saddens me, because it dismisses so-called “feminine” activities as unworthy: it’s just another way of putting men first. [1][2]

Not sure how clear this is? I’m struggling to articulate it into words.

[1]Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important that women who want to have a career be able to have one; that as a woman, you can be a soldier or a scientist or any occupation that catches your fancy. But I do think that as a man or as a woman, you should be allowed to stay home and take care of the kids, and be a good homecook–and not be ridiculed. That being a feminine boy should have as much worth as being a tomboy–which is so not the case today.
[2]Which is why we need more books that aren’t about traditional male activities such as saving the world and getting the girl; books like Jo Walton’s Lifelode, and Cao Xuequin’s Dream of Red Mansions (which, pretty impressively, was actually written by a man).