Upon Hearing a Woman’s Voice


You should buy this book. It’s by Cherie Priest and that’s pretty much a guarantee it’s going to be entertaining. 

Several years ago, my good friend Jambo pointed out to me that nearly all my favorite albums featured male lead singers. I hadn’t really thought about it until then but he was right. Maybe it was because the music that is the backbone of my collection (hard rock, blues, metal, prog) are genres that are dominated by men. Or maybe I just found something in the voices of men I could relate to more. I look at my collection now and while I have a substantial amount of Heart and the Pretenders, there is little else. I do have a few alternative bands that have use both sexes: Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops, the Decemberists, Houndmouth. But there is a severe imbalance there and I suspect that there always will be. My taste in genres fluctuates like a whammy bar but I doubt my preference for a male voice will change.

There’s a thread on Metafilter right now (http://www.metafilter.com/142468/But-I-have-nothing-to-read-no-longer-an-excuse) about finding the best science fiction books to read. It was noted that a lot of the lists of the best SF tend to skew very white and very male. I admit that when I was a wee lad, cutting my teeth on Tolkien, Howard, and Heinlein I probably read the works of mostly men. But I think by my late twenties that changed. In my long phase of reading mysteries I read very little but women writers (PD James, Ruth Rendell, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth George, et. al.). The last fifteen years or so I swung back into more SF/F but I would say the ratio now is maybe sixty percent men and the rest women. I was just as obsessed about Robin Hobb’s Assassin series (and impressed with her level of grimdark) as I had been about Joe Abercrombie. On occasion I have noted that some (but not all) women authors tend to gravitate to a little more towards finding a peaceful solution. I was in a reading group several years ago that read Octavia Butler’s Fledgling and I was a little disappointed that a book ostensibly about vampires climaxed in a meeting of a vampire council. Oh, a little blood was shed but far too little for a vampire book.

The point is though, if white male on the wrong side of fifty like me can read and enjoy female authors, why the hell is there still so much sexism and bias in the genre. We’ve got cons having to deal with harassment by scared little boys, online threats by scared little boys, scared little boys forming their own voting bloc for the Hugo Awards, and scared little boys masquerading as old men acting up in the ranks of the SFWA. Isn’t is time the genres grow up a little? It’s 2014. By almost everyone’s reckoning there is a strong possibility we’ll have a woman taking the oath of office for the White House in 2017. Then again, she’ll probably receive as much of a prejudicial backlash as her predecessor did. And maybe, like my taste in music, we are doomed to never grow up and change. That’s pretty sad. 

About jeroljohnson

I guess I'm the crying on the inside kind of clown
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