Sunday, 8 March 2015

On International Women's Day

On International Women’s Day 2015, I recall something my editor pointed out to me recently: that a female member of the Night Vigilance Division – Scion’s police – features in The Mime Order. It intrigued me that she noticed it, because including her was something I had to make a conscious decision to do. 

Originally, “she” was “he”. My default mode, when writing a brutal dystopian police force, was to make its members male. I always typed “he” and “him”. And that bothered me. It bothered me that something in my brain had made me think like that; that I never typed anything else. And so I typed “she”. I didn’t change the original text in any way, except to make the NVD officer a woman. 

My editor picked up on it because it was unusual. Fantasy, a genre informed by history, still so often places women in “traditional” roles and men into the traditionally “masculine” role of the aggressor, the warrior. But even in fantasy, representation of all sorts of men and women is important. In Caitlin Moran’s words, “I cannot be what I cannot see”. The joy of fantasy is that anything can happen. The characters can be or do anything. It doesn’t always have to be “historically accurate”. So often in fantasy, homosexuality is bad, women are commodities, and men are brutal. I love this genre, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

1 comment:

  1. Aaah -- what a meaningful, personal post. Let's not forget: you also chose Terebell to be the leader of the resistance.

    To think -- when I was elementary school age March 8th was "women's day", and "Valentine's day" and "mothers' day" all bundled into one. Its advent was invariably announced when teachers started dropping (not so) subtle hints about the beautiful vase or perfume they had received as gifts in years past. Sounds like speculative fiction -- somewhat off from what it should be, but imaginable. However, it's not ...



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