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Misinterpretations of "Strong Women"

One disturbing submissions trend, which I already wrote a bit about, is the tendency of authors to a) send stories about women being abused, or b) send stories which completely misinterpret "strong women." It's formulaic. Here's how it goes.

1. Story about women means "story about women being oppressed" (much like story about Black people means "story about Black people being oppressed" and story about Native people means something equally bad). Gee! How could a story about an "oppressed group" mean other than a "story about them being oppressed"???

Alternative- "I'm going to romanticize sex slavery/sex trafficking. Because there's something sexy about it."

2. Story shows women getting raped and abused and all. In lots of detail. It's usually clear from the writing that this is how a "not very thoughtful" man or woman might think about the abuse of women, not how a battered woman actually thinks.

3. Oh no I feel so guilty writing about all this abuse!

4. This woman is "strong." She gets away from the abuse and saves others from the abuse or finds a way to shut down the abuser. (Now I don't have to feel guilty any more for writing this since the "point" of the story was not to show the abuse, but how she got away from it! And she's all OK now anyway.)

5. Happily ever after!!! The oppressed people discover freedom!!!

This is not what we mean by "strong women" and "feminist speculative fiction."

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
supermouse
Oct. 22nd, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
My interpretation of feminist speculative fiction is speculative fiction in which all the women get to be fully rounded human beings in the same way men currently do.
sinauthor
Oct. 22nd, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
My definition of "strong woman" is pretty much "strong character."
julieandrews
Dec. 21st, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
You just described Dollhouse to a T.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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