Gender, Fantasy & Female Pirates

Some great posts doing the round this week, some in response to my Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy post, and some being independently awesome but theme-relevant.

Foz Meadows follows up on my post with an incredibly impressive horde of links about women in history, in support of the very important point that Your Default Narratives Are Not Apolitical. Writing sexist or male-centric narratives into your stories is a choice, regardless of how much thinking you put into that choice.

Hoyden About Town, meanwhile, called for some recommendations of fantasy novels that treat women like people, and they haven’t had nearly enough of them yet. Go, recommend, and read!

J. Michael Melican talks about his own personal revelations about gender, sexism and fantasy – some thoughtful stuff there, particularly in how to take uncomfortable feedback as a writer that you may not be doing it right yet, despite the best of intentions.

Sean the Blogonaut follows up on one of the points raised in the comments field of my essay over at, in which it was stated by a fervent believer that the large majority of SF & Fantasy readers were men – having recently read Helen Merrick’s The Secret Feminist Cabal, Sean has a lot to say about that idea, and how destructive it is for each generation to keep repeating the myths that women liking SF/Fantasy is somehow a new thing, and that OBVIOUSLY things are getting better genderwise in the field without anyone actually having to change their behaviour.

And finally the link passed on most often to me this week is that of Scott Lynch passionately defending middle aged black pirate captain mother-of-two in his latest book from people who think that lady pirates didn’t exist, and it’s somehow a weird and unrealistic political choice to include one in a MAGICAL STORY ABOUT MAGIC.

EDIT: Cheryl Morgan on “Women in Sensible Social Decisions” points out some recommendations for fantasy with great women characters in them which should absolutely be the next stage of this discussion. There’s LOTS of great fantasy out there that recognises that women are people, and that there are as many of them doing stuff and being affected by Epic Things as men.

3 replies on “Gender, Fantasy & Female Pirates”

  1. It should be noted that the Scott Lynch post is from 2005, proof that this stuff needs to be thrown up into the public sphere continually.

    Thanks for the linkage btw. Just completed a fascinating interview with DR Helen Merrick

  2. tansyrr says:

    Wow, I hadn’t twigged to that at all. It has been doing the rounds so much lately!

    Dr Merrick is a most excellent speaker, I look forward to listening to the podcast!

  3. The problem stems from the fact that Boing Boing didn’t reference the original post. Still quality stuff.

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