Posts Tagged ‘journal6’

Journal 6 – Dealing with the feminist question.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

This is mostly stuff I posted about last time, but clearly, it would’ve been more relevant here. I’ll just keep it a little more brief.

I think the science fiction we’ve read has done a mixed job dealing with women’s equality. The Dispossessed, for instance, I think did a great job. It set up disparate societies that all held different beliefs, and the culture clash between different citizens was really fascinating–especially in the beginning when Shevek and the other doctor (it’s been a while; can’t remember his name) are talking about working with women and they engage in a philosophical discussion about the issue. They each challenge the other’s beliefs–“Surely you can’t believe that…”–and it’s really interesting to read. It comes down to the age-old discussion of whether or not women are equal on a physical level rather than just a social level, and I thought that Le Guin did a great job writing it.

On the other hand, I thought that Sawyer did an exceptionally poor job in Hominids. He introduces a character by having her get raped without any justification of her presence in the story, forever branding her in the reader’s mind as nothing more than “the one who got raped.” He has the men on the human side all functioning as either rapists or chauvinists, all judging Louise for her “incredibly sexy accent” or her beautiful body, and even Louise spends an entire paragraph simply thinking in her head about her bra and lacy panties and how they’re all about to get wet. And on the Neanderthal side, the women all live in a separate city so that they can all have their menstrual cycles at the same time and the men don’t have to deal with it. Adikor thinks he’s in the clear because he can’t smell period blood in the air, and hopes that all the women being on their period at once won’t affect his trial. Honestly, it’s all pretty disgusting. If Sawyer really is a feminist as Professor Rochelle mentioned, he did a pretty poor job expressing his views.

I don’t really remember most of the other stories dealing with equality of women. I guess you could argue that Cold Equations doesn’t do women justice either by treating a 17 or 18-year-old woman like a little girl, but that’s about it.

Journal 6

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Kat Tarr

One thing I have noticed in all our novels for Science Fiction, is that we have not had a novel based around one solid female main character. Despite most of the novels claiming to be feminist (some doing this to varying degrees of success) not a single one was entirely from a female perspective. The thought struck me as odd, considering the novels for the most part had strong female characters in them.

 
Hominids though as a piece of Science Fiction, failed this rather brilliantly. Mary was a terrible caricature and fell flat on her face with the author’s poor introduction and development of what a woman was like. Even his Neanderthal females felt lacking, what with everything they did being directly linked to a man in their life; they had no agency of their own. The author did such a poor job of writing Mary’s point of view chapters that I felt bored out of my mind, and I thought the entire novel was across a few months, not ten days. The fact that she fell in love so shortly after being raped was a poor choice; not realistic at all. If I had to judge the Science Fiction genre by this book alone I would swear off it for being a pile of pretentious junk. The author clearly was too busy smacking his readers upside the head and making his target audience feel like terrible people.

I’m sure there are more Science Fiction books out there with a strong female hero or lead, just not the ones we’ve been reading.  The Dispossessed had Tavek as a strong female character but she wasn’t the main character. We followed Shevek around the entire time, followed his life story and saw things from his eyes.

Journal 6: The Space Traders

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Derrick Bell’s short story ”The Space Traders” is a very good social commentary on what cruelty humans are capable of. It actually takes care of a number of problems non-fantastic fiction would have. It creates an excuse for a couple of deux ex machina (chemicals that can restore the environment, a massive supply of gold, and a new and unlimited source of fuel, as well as a location off-world for a significant portion of a nation’s population): they’re brought by aliens. No extra resources or land is necessary. This takes away the issue of focusing on the aliens: can they deliver? Is this a prank? The focus is pushed onto the people making the decision and the people of the United States. In particular, the whites.

In a normal fictional work, the traders might just be another country. A great deal of narrative time would go into the history of the country, their motives, and capabilities. While the motives of the aliens are questioned (where will they take the African Americans? What will the African Americans do on the alien world?), there is little information on them, so it’s only speculation and pushed onto more important details in the story.

Bell did a good job of touching on the central subject because it went from a lot of viewpoints: the government, African-Americans in support of the move and against, a number of which worked in different ways, other minorities, and those among the “ruling class” who would be opposed to the move. I really liked that the whites in control of the economy were brought in. Bell could have easily ignored them and used the stereotypes: whites who didn’t care about the welfare of African Americans and that “small” number of whites who do care. They could have also made all the whites stupid (arguably, they really were, but I mean stupid as in “blah-racism-blah-drunk-blah-burp”). But Bell actually took the concept further and thought about whites focused on their wallets with intelligence enough to realize how much of an economical loss they would take if they lost the African American population.

Bell also had people have the sense to realize that stereotypical measures like running away or appealing to the better natures of the whites won’t get them anywhere. They had to be subversive to get anywhere. A lot of little details were thought up for this story, which was interesting.

It’s also interesting to bring it up in the particular focus that the problem was brought up. People (and particular whites) have historically put aside morals for the sake of greed and monetary compensation in some form, as well as survival. Morals are put aside (if they even existed in the first place) for monetary compensation in the form of gold and unlimited fuel, as well as survival, in the form of chemicals to fix the environment. This brings up the notion that humans just don’t change. We still make the same mistakes. We’re still very disgusting creatures.