How To Get Women To Like Sci-Fi

Tell them it’s good. Convince them that much of it has great storylines, exciting action, interesting characters and uses metaphor to make complex points about human nature/interaction/politics/religion. You’ll find this strategy works much the same way on your male friends who have also always assumed that sci-fi is mainly just childish wish-fulfillment and gadget-driven drivel.

Pardon the exceptionally simplistic title and the snarky opening paragraph, but it’s rare that I find myself able to say anything in so many fewer words than anyone else at all, and this article (which, as usual, I stumble across a week late, at which point anyone who might have cared has already moved on) pissed me off.

The above-described methodology for selling sci-fi to women is based on the fundamental premise that women are people and they like the things that people like. This is well-covered territory (it’s pretty much the driving point behind The Hathor Legacy, to which I continue to hold out hope that I will return as a regular poster/participant, even as my brain is still in its ongoing state of progressive rock-formation). I think what probably frustrated me more about the article was the underlying attitude that it’s the responsibility of women in het partnerships to learn to like what their man likes, because the poor guy has to watch BSG and Dr. Who by himself. Now, personally, I think anyone who categorically dismisses science fiction is likely to be too closed-minded for me to appreciate hir company, because it’s a pretty diverse genre, and like any other, it has its gems and it has its lemons, but I have to admit that there is a simple element of personal taste at work, and variety/spice/life etc.

I’ve read Megan McArdle articles before, so I knew enough to expect exactly this kind of sexism from her, but as a young woman who thinks BSG is by far the best show on television, who has been counting the days until Dark Knight comes out, who has a box at the local comic book store, and who regularly gets told by geeky tech boys that she is a “dream come true”, I have to protest to her enabling that bullshit. Because, see, geeky tech boys who see me as a “dream come true” don’t actually see me as a person. They see me as a trophy that talks, and their interest in me generally extends about as far as a checklist of interests and traits that they can list to their buddies, the white whale they’ve finally managed to capture. Not to mention the fact that liking these things – and being a dream girl – comes with the additional expectation that I will essentially act like a man, but with tits, and that my tech boy won’t have to deal with any of the silly girly baggage that is usually the mandatory, nearly unbearable, cost that (het) men have to pay in order to get any sex at all. McArdle fortunately absolves them of this notion immediately by acknowledging apologetically that she does actually also come with a shoe addiction and an irrational, flighty focus on decorating that will have to be tolerated by any interested tech-boys (fortunately, the side effect of these things is that our male friends can be assured of their ongoing intellectual superiority and greater depth of appreciation for the wonder that is the Dalek).

I find it frustrating to devote feminist energy to thinking about how to negotiate the hetero dating scene, but every so often when I come across something like this and I do think about it, I wonder again why we’re still stuck on this “women = people” concept.


6 thoughts on “How To Get Women To Like Sci-Fi

  1. Sunflower says:

    You rock! You rock like a rocking rock!

    Which isn’t a very content-dense comment, but you’ve already said everything better. Geek feminism in a nutshell.


  2. purtek says:

    Yeah well. I can deal with lack of content density when it’s all about how much I rock. 🙂

  3. observer says:

    What I can’t understand is why we’re still stuck at the woman=person argument? How is it that no-one stuck in this argument has not had a conversation with a woman or two in their lives? It’s just beyond all belief.

  4. purtek says:

    Would that conversation with a woman or two were enough, observer, I don’t think we’d be here.

  5. BetaCandy says:

    How is it that no-one stuck in this argument has not had a conversation with a woman or two in their lives?

    It’s like there’s a generational reset every five years. Every new mini-generation thinks it is the first one that ever confronted these problems, which it will solve next weekend during a bull session at the coffee shop. I was as guilty of this as anyone.

    Because we’re not educated on the history of it. If you taught sixteen year olds how long this shit has been going on, how many cycles they’ve been, how many times sexism and racism have been “fixed”, and how it all just keeps coming round again… they’d approach their 20s very differently.

  6. Sarah J says:

    Ha, oh, I am so there with you on this subject right now. On being the “Whoa, you’re a GIRL? at the COMIC CON? not with your BOYFRIEND?”

    This is why my podcast will be amazing.

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