Various life complications have kept me from posting as much content as I’d like here lately, but there have been some posts out in the rest of the world that have gotten my mind going. First off, Kate Dacey talks about fabulous Boston comic shop Comicopia in her blog this week. Despite living only a couple of hours away, I have only visited Comicopia once, though it honestly blew my mind with its huge manga selection. What’s most heartbreaking about this, is that my single visit was quite early on in my association with manga, so I am sure I failed to appreciate the store fully, even then. Hopefully my life will calm down enough soon to let me take more trips into Boston!
Secondly, fantasy author Sarah Rees Brennan made a post in her livejournal recently regarding readers’ views of women in fiction that really struck a chord with me. A quote from her post:
Let us think of the Question of Harry Potter. I do not mean to bag on the character of Harry Potter: I am very fond of him.
But I think people would be less fond of him if he was Harriet Potter. If he was a girl, and she’d had a sad childhood but risen above it, and she’d found fast friends, and been naturally talented at her school’s only important sport, and saved the day at least seven times. If she’d had most of the boys in the series fancy her, and mention made of boys following her around admiring her. If the only talent she didn’t have was dismissed by her guy friend who did have it. If she was often told by people of her numerous awesome qualities, and was in fact Chosen by Fate to be awesome.
Well, then she’d be just like Harry Potter, but a girl. But I don’t think people would like her as much.
Having read numerous posts on the evils of Ginny Weasley (Chosen by The Author to be both awesome and loved by the awesome hero), I would be honestly shocked if anyone could present a believable argument against Sarah’s point here. I would also be surprised if anyone could believably argue against the fact that the great bulk of those who dislike female characters in fiction are women themselves! Sure, there are women (I like to think I’m one of them) who love awesome female characters in fiction. Maybe there are even a lot of us. But I am constantly disturbed by the evidence suggesting just how many of us actually despise female characters, both the fabulous, kick-ass ones and the ones who are deeply flawed, which is not, by the way, mutually exclusive (see both of the main characters in NANA, for instance). Misogyny among women is probably my single greatest ISSUE with certain subsets of fandom. It makes me cry. And you can go on and on about how poorly women are written in fiction but there are plenty of fantastic female characters receiving hate from female readers at any given moment, so that argument really doesn’t fly with me.
Anything I could say on this subject, however, is better said by Sarah. Witness her conclusion:
My point is, people will enjoy books and movies and shows more if ladies are in them being awesome. (I know I will.) And people will enjoy them more if they maybe take a step back, examine their prejudices, and relax into accepting that they’re awesome. Even if some girl characters are missteps, even if some of them you just will never personally like because tastes are subjective, it’s worth doing to have them, and it’s worth trying to love them.
Amen. Read her full post here. Please. Especially the section in which she talks about readers’ reactions to the characters in her own books.
There were more links in the works, but I’m out of time! Later, friends!