“The War on Science Fiction”: A Rebuttal

My friend May posted on her LiveJournal about this atrocious article, and I managed to read it all (despite rage blackouts that threatened to destroy my ability to retain what my eyes were seeing). And even after some pumpkin pie, and some calming tea, I couldn’t get these remarks out of my head. Nobody gets between me and my Science Fiction, nobody. So I read it again, but this time I picked out some of the choice idiotic/homophobic/sexist quotes and tore them apart with my intellect and wit tried my hardest to refute them accurately.

This may also help those of you who couldn’t make it through the article without having severe urges to throw things at your computer!

– – –

“Science fiction is a very male form of fiction.”

  • when did we start applying gender labels to forms of fiction? I know there are ‘chick flicks’ and ‘Action Movies’ with lots of explosions that are more traditional seen as ‘guys movies’ but I take offense at the term ‘male form of fiction’. It’s exploring the human condition, and by virtue of that must include women. (Also, I love movies in which stuff gets blown up. Do you know how many times I saw the new Star Trek? Or how much I enjoyed Terminator? Or both Transformers movies??)

“Science fiction traditionally is about men doing things, inventing new technologies, exploring new worlds, making new scientific discoveries, terraforming planets, etc.”

  • perhaps historically, but then again, history is about those types of things too, because it was written by men, human history is actually about PEOPLE doing these things, just because women weren’t recorded doing them does not mean they didn’t
  • science fiction is about the future, what the possibilities of the future could be, and if that doesn’t include notions of strong women and women in general, I don’t want any part of it.

“The biggest change was in the feminization of the programming shown on the Sci-Fi channel.  The re-imagined, re-delusioned Battlestar Galactica is a good example….The new Battlestar Galactica was so feminized that one of the main characters from the original series, Starbuck, (who was a man) was turned into a woman.”

  • First of all, I would bet any amount of money that Kara Thrace (the female character in question) could KICK YOUR ASS so hard you would be sent back into when these comments were thought of as remotely legit
  • Secondly, BSG is a in depth look at how Humanity would react to a cataclysmic event such as the near annihilation of  our race, and so many other things, Humanity, in this regard has to involve women. We are half of the equation here.
  • One of the main themes of BSG was centered around the need for humanity to reproduce itself, and become something new.  How would any of these storylines work if women were sidelined. Humanity’s struggle (here, as well as in BSG) is about more than just blowing up things, it is about such things as love, relationships, the importance of children, etc, etc)
  • There was a huge lack of women in the original run of BSG, in today’s world that would have been just unacceptable. I notice that you didn’t mention that the president of the Twelve Colonies in this re-imagining of BSG was also a woman, no witty comments on that?
  • One of the incredible things about BSG was, that for all intents and purposes, it laid aside questions of gender in order to focus on questions of race. While many gendered issues such as reproductive freedoms, etc, were introduced, women generally throughout the series were accepted as an integral part of the society. No one questioned the ability of Starbuck, Boomer, or any of the other women in the military’s ability to fight, they were questioned for other reasons, such as race, etc. Laura Roslin was more criticized for being a teacher than a woman, and her inexperience, not her gender raised questions as to whether she was fit to lead society or not.

“The Sci-Fi channel even changed its name to “Syfy”.  While the issue there was trademarks, this name change effectively represents the death of the Sci-Fi channel.”

  • This one I agree on, but for entirely different reasons.  The change from ‘Sci-Fi’ to ‘SyFy’ offended me as a fan of the Science Fiction genre, and as a proud Nerd.
  • It’s definitely not more appealing to me ‘as a woman’ but less appealing to me as a Sci-Fi nerd.

“This season three gay characters will be added to various shows on “Syfy”, one of which will be part of a “communal marriage” with “heterosexual and homosexual couplings”.  This will mean less programming where men actually do things and more relationship drama, driving away even more men from the channel.”

  • Yeah, because as we all know from reading this article, if women are not legitimate members of your society, neither are LGBTQ persons.  And because neither women or the LGBTQ community are relevant to your precious sci-fi boys only club, there’s no reason to include them in progressive shows about what the future of the human race could look like. None. At. All.  OH WAIT. Society. Humanity. Women are part of the human community, so is the LGBTQ community. So let us into the science fiction community. Give us representation, show us in different lights, open a few minds!

“Things are worse in Britain.  A few years ago Doctor Who was brought back.  The man who brought back Doctor Who was Russell T. Davies, a gay man who proceeded to add a recurring character called Captain Jack who comes from the 51st century that was omnisexual…the BBC gave Davies another show called Torchwood which is basically close to being “slash fiction” on television.”

  • I almost couldn’t respond to this part. It’s DOCTOR WHO for goodness sakes, it’s a British institutions, and what is wrong about teaching children that no matter who you are, what your background is, or whether you like boys or girls, you can still save the world on a weekly basis!
  • And I’m sorry that you find a canonical representation of a gay couple on TV so offensive. Do you have any idea how many gay couples there are in Britain? In the Western World? I guarantee you they are horrendously underrepresented on mainstream television and mass media in general. Plus have you seen Jack and Ianto together? They’re Hot.

“Sure the moronic relationship drama is in space, but…its not science fiction anymore, and men are not interested in moronic relationship drama in space.”

  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Science Fiction is a representation of the human condition, whether its set in space, the future, or in an alternate world, it’s exploring the ways in which humanity interacts with each other, and reacts to certain external factors. There will always be ‘relationship drama’ whether it’s in space or not.
  • If men are so not interested in ‘moronic relationship drama’ how do you explain any of the modern day interactions between men and women. Sex is a very important part of the human condition, and it will continue to cause ‘relationship drama’. Especially when you lock a bunch of super-fit men and women into a space ship and threaten them with death and danger on a daily basis.

“As we know science fiction has inspired boys to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology as men.  With women killing science fiction on television, the current generation of boys won’t have this opportunity to be inspired to work in these fields.  There is still a great deal of written science fiction that is real science fiction so all is not lost.  However, many boys who would have gone on to make scientific discoveries and invent new technologies will not do so since they will never be inspired by science fiction as boys.”

  • No we’ll just inspire female engineers, astronauts, physicists, and technological whiz-kids.
  • And we all know that boys and girls cannot possibly be inspired by a shared passion, common interest or influence. Science Fiction has to be either a boys only club, or a girls only club. It’s only exploring the Human condition, that’s all. And we all know that boys & girls don’t have any shared experiences of that.

– – –

And that’s about all I can manage tonight. I’m reminded of this excellent comic by XKCD…

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10 Responses to “The War on Science Fiction”: A Rebuttal

  1. Alex says:

    To add to the BSG pool- the female Starbuck on BSG was just as kick-ass-take-names as the male version. The female version was also very much the cigar-smoking, booze hound that would shag anything that moved and then go blow shit up. (Okay, I don’t know if she ever smoked, but smoking has become so frowned upon in today’s society that a male Starbuck also would not have been permitted a cigar.)

    I’m done for now. I have homework to do. And an article writer to track down and disembowel.

    P.S. For the record- the change to SyFy also offends me on the basis that it is no longer Sci-Fi, and I too am a girl. But you know that.

    • coincidentalreality says:

      I totally agree Alex, she was the best Viper Pilot, could take on anyone, and gambled and screwed around like all the Viper Jocks – and wasn’t judged any differently than the men on that basis. And she did smoke in the first season! But then stopped when Katee Sackoff realized what a role model she was becoming for young girls, some of whom told her that they wanted to be just like Starbuck – so she had the character quit…also they probably ran out of tobacco with always being on the run from the Cylons, etc 😀

      Good luck with the homework!

      ps. I haven’t met any Sci-Fi fans who liked the name change…

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  3. Rollory says:

    (ok, I start off snarky, but I do try to get serious)

    “just because women weren’t recorded doing them does not mean they didn’t”

    Just because it isn’t recorded anywhere that Jesus was a velociraptor, doesn’t mean he wasn’t!

    It ALSO doesn’t mean that they DID do any of the stuff men did. Actually the fact that women haven’t been recorded performing the vast majority of these accomplishments is a pretty strong indication (not proof, but evidence) that they DIDN’T.

    “if that doesn’t include notions of strong women and women in general, I don’t want any part of it.”

    Ok. Reality will hereby adjust itself to suit your emotional needs.

    No, actually, it won’t.

    ” Kara Thrace … could KICK YOUR ASS ”

    Good counterargument. Well-founded in observable fact and reality, and relevant to the points made. Yes indeed.

    Regarding the rest of the BSG stuff: the point is not that women were involved. It’s HOW they were involved, and the purpose of their involvement. BSG stopped being about survival somewhere along the way in the second or third season and started being about religious mumbojumbo and relationships. The abortion plotline was the last throwaway gesture in the direction of the survival theme. After that – well PM/AFT covered it, really, but you seem to have skipped right over all his evidentiary points.

    “There was a huge lack of women in the original run of BSG, in today’s world that would have been just unacceptable”

    Because today’s political and social climate is the be-all and end-all of human society for all previous history and all time to come. Yes indeedy.

    If you’re saying that it was a requirement of the modern entertainment business to include ass-kicking female characters, failing which the show wouldn’t get made, I wouldn’t disagree. Point is though that that’s part and parcel of what the article was pointing out as being a problem: that ass-kicking female characters exist in a bubble of wishful thinking and male objectification of women (in this case, the dream of a woman so wonderful the man can abdicate his inherent role as protector and just let her do all the heavy lifting. Maybe you think you want that right now, but that’s inextricably linked to men allowing themselves to be lazy, drink beer, and play video games all day).

    “didn’t mention that the president of the Twelve Colonies in this re-imagining of BSG was also a woman”

    It’s a minor point that is part and parcel of what the article was complaining about.

    “it laid aside questions of gender in order to focus on questions of race.”

    Which is relevant to PM/AFT’s argument that the female-targeted entertainment doesn’t work as _science_ fiction, how, exactly? I mean, if you want to seriously discuss how BSG addresses issues of race such as the measurable difference in average IQ, predisposition to certain genetic conditions, or physical ability in certain roles, between races, ok – but that’s not the same thing as discussing the differences between men and women.

    “because as we all know from reading this article, if women are not legitimate members of your society, neither are LGBTQ persons.”

    Ok, I’m going to be outright chauvinist here, skip to the next paragraph if that gives you the vapors. This is a very typical female response, completely illogical and completely beside the point. The problem is not what role women or sexual freaks have in a society. The problem is that women like stories about people sitting around talking to each other, and men like stories about people doing things, and SyFy is becoming more about the first than the second. Your answer does not address this at all. Instead it uses shaming language to hide the fact that it is, in fact, completely beside the point. If you want to stop seeing men say things like what PM/AFT said, you need to take his points on directly, responding to them specifically, and not go off into the weeds like you did here.

    The Dr. Who discussion is the same thing: it’s not about sexual preferences, it’s about the difference between talking and doing. You’re ignoring this completely.

    “There will always be ‘relationship drama’ whether it’s in space or not.”

    Well, this is the crux of it. Your definition of the term is different than his. It is different from what the common definition USED to be. Is your definition the “correct” one? Why do you have more of a right than he does to make that decision for everyone? Men want SF without relationship drama. Women want SF that is a setting for relationship drama. This is the argument. What the term SHOULD mean is beside the point.

    “If men are so not interested in ‘moronic relationship drama’ how do you explain any of the modern day interactions between men and women.”

    Men do not, by and large, spend a lot of time or money on relationship drama. They live it, sure, but for fun they go to stories about DOING things. I am repeating myself a lot here, but apparently it is a point that needs repeating, because you totally missed it.

    “No we’ll just inspire female engineers, astronauts, physicists, and technological whiz-kids”

    You hope. The male predominance at both ends of the bell curve still exists.

    Hell, I hope too, I have a sister with a master’s in biochem. I have reasons to think the hope will, on average be disappointed. I would also like to discuss those reasons, but most women who are at all invested in the subject aren’t interested in evidence contrary to their hopes; it gives them the vapors.

  4. Pingback: “How many heterosexual Doctor Who fans does it take to change a lightbulb? Both” « Crimitism

  5. bellatrys says:

    Men do not, by and large, spend a lot of time or money on relationship drama. They live it, sure, but for fun they go to stories about DOING things. I am repeating myself a lot here, but apparently it is a point that needs repeating, because you totally missed it.

    Right! No men read Dickens. Or Dostoyevsky. Or Patrick O’Brien (bozhemoi, the interminable discussions and examination of interpersonal relations between action scenes! where’s my ship-to-ship combat was all I could think) or Jane Austen, either. Or watched Sharpe’s Rifles. Or the new BSG! EVAR!

    And there never was an Ada Lovelace. She’s a feminist myth.

    Doof.

  6. Pingback: The Saga Continues « Our Reality Is Purely Coincidental…

  7. kevmoore says:

    Wow, lone male ventures into scary, feminist blog!

    Okay, three things really…..

    1. It is just wrong to change the Starbuck character to a female. He wasn’t. Create a new, great female character.
    2. No problem with having female leads in Sci-fi to be honest. Liked Janeway on Voyager, totally believable as the Captain, which is as it should be.
    3. Don’t feel women have any worries about portrayals on TV nowadays. There are far, far more female-led shows than I can ever remember before, in sci-fi, and Cop shows.

    I see Sci-fi today like the rock music of the 70’s , hard for the women to get noticed in, but becuase it was hard the women had to be damned good, and I for one loved bands like Fanny and Birtha, even though they were unfashionable at the time.
    Anyway. there you go……live long and whatever…
    🙂

  8. DenzelWk says:

    Hello there, HAPPY HALOWEN! A little late..!!

  9. Jacob says:

    Okay, while I have to say that (on the whole) I liked this lotses, putting the new Transformers (or the old ones, for that manner) in the realm of good science fiction is very offensive. That is all.

    J

    PS: Although I’m very impressed at your self confidence in admitting you liked it. Remember — admission is the first step to recover =)

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