Encouragement vs Discouragement?

pddb at demesne.com pddb at demesne.com
Fri Jan 31 14:24:39 PST 2003

On Fri, Jan 31, 2003 at 03:47:28PM -0500, Barbara Baj wrote:

>  I don't want to start up a war of male versus female, 
> but I *am* curious on a matter after re-reading my earlier 
> rambling post about fantasy/sci-fi.
> I'm wondering how many people are lost to a book (or genre) 
> because they either don't identify with the hero(s), or can't? Or perhaps
> lost interest in a book, series or author because of such things?

I almost never identify with a character; it's not one of my
requirements for enjoying a book.  When I do identify with
a character, I find it either disturbing or deeply engrossing
or both.  That said, what puts me off books or series or
characters or worlds is not whether I can identify with any
viewpoint character, but whether I come to feel, over the long
run, that the basic milieu acknowledges my existence, or that
it is indifferent to me, or that it is hostile to me.  Or rather,
since naturally the author mostly hasn't a clue that I exist,
whether the milieu is friendly, indifferent, or hostile to people
who happen to be like me in some fashion that I consider important.

I have been put off writers and series because of the attitude
towards women they evidence.  Being female isn't really very
important to me, but sometimes that importance is insisted upon
by others.  This drives me nuts in real life and it drives me
nuts in fiction.  Sometimes it's insisted upon with a list of requirements
or asserted characteristics that I disagree with vehemently;
sometimes it's insisted upon in subtle ways.  Sometimes there
is no overt insistence, but one will notice a pattern in the
portrayal of certain kinds of characters.  Whether or how
much this bothers me is highly contextual.  But it certainly
can and has.

I've also been put off writers and series because of the attitude
towards other aspects of my character and personality they evidence,
but this does not happen nearly so often.  More people have extremely
strong (and often, in my opinion, extremely stupid) opinions about 
gender than about many other things that really matter to me *in
the context of reading a novel*.

Naturally I am failing to think of any examples, but some will
probably come to mind later.

I don't know how typical a reader I am.


Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet           (pddb at demesne.com)
"I will open my heart to a blank page
   and interview the witnesses."  John M. Ford, "Shared World"