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Topic: Question/Poll/Whatever

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Subject: Question/Poll/Whatever
Date Posted: 11/3/2009 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2009
Posts: 624
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In Asimov's books there are very few women, and I've heard people say that they were upset by that.

I'm reading a book (Space Doctor by Lee Corey) where any time a woman is mentioned, her level of attractiveness is also mentioned. If he had called the nurse "an extremely beautiful woman" one more time, my head would explode. That extremely beautiful woman turned out to be a basketcase (because he only hired her to work in space because she was beautiful), the redhead is "sassy", and the only slightly attractive woman is very efficient and down-to-earth.

I'd honestly rather not have women in a book than have to read about their physical attributes and suffer through the main character saying "you're a beautiful girl! Don't think I haven't noticed!" It would be different if the author also described men that way- then I could just say "oh, well, clearly this author has a thing for physical descriptions." I cannot wait to be done with this book!

Anyway, what to you guys think? No women or objectified women?

Date Posted: 11/3/2009 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I once would have said I'd rather no women at all than the objectified women some authors put in (though I tend to give authors writing pre-1970 a bit of a pass, because I go in expecting that kind of treatment) but I actually read a fantasy novel that had no women in it a few months ago, and the effect was just. . . creepy. I mean, it was particularly creepy because it was a modern author (the book was published in like 2005), but also because he inserted a female character and made her one of his fairly major minor characters, but her only real purpose was so that he could write this little paragraph showing how enlightened he was (it went something like this: "[female character] grew up knowing that she could never be equal with men in this society, but this society's women work around that inequality by learning to run house really well, and sometimes making their menfolk be more than they would otherwise be, so of course smart women who can do that are extremely prized as wives") after which point she disappeared altogether.


I mean, there weren't even any prostitutes in the book, and somehow none of the men (and the cast list at the back was five pages long) had wives, mothers, sisters, or daughters. It really felt like the authors just didn't see women AT ALL, and after reading that, I think I'd rather just be the token love interest/female in danger needing rescue than to be completely erased again.

Date Posted: 11/3/2009 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Date Posted: 11/3/2009 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,550
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Not serous response:  So if a writer describes all male characters with adjectives such as "rugged," tough," good-looking," etc -- and this means they are "objectifying" all men. Ahh, would that female writers would "objectify" me and other males thusly. Forgive me Bill, but methinks thou protests too much.

Serious response: 
To deal with any group of people or any person in terms of stereotypes is not ony a serious technical deficiency but a serious artistic flaw. As I used to tell creative writing students, "Read any  first-rate novelist. Read even the likes of Tom Clancy. When do the big boys and big girls generalize? NEVER."  The only exception I can think of is when a writer describes the way a person talks or thinks in racist or sexist stereotypes in order to reveal their character. And only the real big boys and big girls can bring this off.

Date Posted: 11/3/2009 9:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2009
Posts: 624
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John- beyond a "he was tall" this guy NEVER describes how a man looks. Yet every single time Angela is mentioned he just has to mention how beautiful she is. Honestly, if he was talking about a man the same way, I'd be just as annoyed. I mean, it's insane the number of times he talks about how beautiful she is.

Date Posted: 11/3/2009 10:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Sarah S., I haven't read Space Doctor, or anything else by Lee Corey either, so I don't know for sure about it. But I can certainly understand how a relentless treatment like that would get annoying. -Tom Hl.