Here’s another one of those topics worthy of an entire book, and I’m trying to address it in a little tiny blog post.
But the fact is that there is a great big pile of fantasy novels whose depiction and treatment of women suggest that the author has major problems with half the human race. Not all of these authors are B Team hacks you never heard of. Some of them have written best-sellers. In Robert Jordan’s enormous Wheel of Time series, almost all the women characters are shrews, resembling nothing so much as a passel of academic feminists in funny clothes. And in George R.R. Martin’s even more enormous Game of Thrones series, all of the women seem to be either scheming witches, insatiable sex addicts, or idiots, or some combination of the three. (Well, OK, there are a few pitiful female victims in perpetual need of rescue.)
Behind these two we find a vast army of damned fools who hate women and use their art as an excuse to indulge in misogynist daydreams. Here we find an infinite procession of dark images, all of them centered on female characters being abused in nasty ways. I won’t bother to name any of these authors or their works. I couldn’t sleep at night if I thought somebody bought one of these books because of anything I said.
I suppose, if you delved deeply into some other genres–maybe film noir, or hard-boiled detective novels, or spy thrillers–you might find almost as much depiction of women as mere sex objects, deserving of maltreatment. You won’t find it in the great fantasy novels of Tolkien, Lewis, Eddison, et al. But the back ranks of fantasy are chock-full of it.
Why is this? I throw it out there as a question, because I don’t know the answer. Is it original sin and human depravity playing out in fiction, or some evil aspect of an imperfectly-Christianized culture? Or both? Beats me. All I know is, if I wrote stuff like that, I’d be a bad guy.
Any thoughts, anybody?