Sexism is alive and well. It's no secret. It's bilateral, on both sides of the fence and somewhat not entirely tangible. There are lines so fine they're practically invisible until some idiot trips over them.
I'm doing the foundation work for my first Fantasy novel. Naturally, I've been reading much of the genre lately and following many of the authors I read and like on Twitter. They all seem to know each other, which is kind of cool. I follow them all and feel only slightly voyeuristic as their conversations about the industry fill my feed. It's interesting, engaging and I really like it. I'm learning a lot.
Like how the older generations of well known Fantasy authors don't like women and minorities funkin' up the genre, for one. These are the "good ol' boys" of the industry, acclaimed, award-winning authors. There was some blow-up about the cover of SFWA magazine (issue #200) that was tore to shreds (figuratively and maybe even literally, I suppose) in which a sexified female warrior is standing over what appears to be a yeti on a snowy mountainside in basically a shiny gold bikini.
And I get it. It's ridiculous.
But so is Conan the Barbarian. It's unrealistic, but you could argue that the entirely Fantasy genre falls under such a category. Perhaps I'm supposed to be offended but I'm not. If a 'roid raging half-naked man with biceps like mead barrels is the hero, then what's wrong with an aggressively FEMALE female being his counterpart? I grew up in the 80s. I've seen He-Man in his furry banana hammock and chest harness fight in all sorts of inclement weather, his bulging thighs impervious to the heat of lava and the chill of snow. To me, there is feminism and then there's being offended for the sake of being offended. Question is, if the cover of the same issue featured a half-naked man, would anyone find it offensive?
|Seriously, look at this guy. I'm actually a little suprised by his sensible footwear.|
Sexifying a woman isn't sexist anymore than sexifying a man. The cover of that issue is no different from the cover of THOUSANDS of romance novels. That is equality. Women like beefy men showing the hollows of their hips, men like women in shiny gold bikinis slaying mountain trolls. What's the problem? I very much doubt a man would look at a cover of a bare chested male with a snowy background and cry foul because, "He must be freezing! Your sexist agenda sexualizes this man, and now he's very, very cold because of you!"
The thing is, I do consider myself something of a feminist. I wasn't raised to be a housewife. I happen to be one, and it chafes a little bit. I have three brothers. I'm their equal in competence and intelligence, and a couple of them might agree I'm slightly their better in one or both of those areas. A shiny gold bikini on a mountain doesn't offend me. She slayed a fucking yeti, that's all I see. That's powerful, that's strong, that's fearless. Would I personally dress more sensibly? Of course. Then again, maybe it's a matter of pride, like how some football players refuse to wear sleeves in freezing conditions. If He Man can say fuck the elements, why can't a woman? If she was wrapped up tight in furs and blankets next to a shirtless barbarian, would we claim she was being shown as less capable, less raw, more needy?
See, in my view sexism isn't a physicality thing, it's mental thing. I don't care if the character is fully-clothed or running around buck naked. Is she smart? Is she capable? Is she respected and intelligent, or a dumb little chit? Can she keep pace with the men, is she valued for her abilities? Those things matter to me. Is she in constant need of saving, or does she get herself out of a tight bind? So, the lady's wearing an impractical, sexy outfit...don't care. She slayed the beast and there isn't a man standing next to her taking the credit. That is cool. That is equality.
Some women find power in their sexuality, some don't. Women argue amongst themselves over the issue, which is ridiculous imo. We're not a single blob. We're individuals. Find your power, whether it's in your mind or in your body, in your art or your beliefs. Saying a woman should be treated according to the clothes she wears is in itself sexist. The brightest female scientist may enjoy scandalizing short skirts while the blankest among us lives in a conservative pantsuit. (Not a Hillary Clinton joke, I swear.)
Whether I'm in lingerie or a snowsuit, I am who I am. I am smart, I am capable, I am able.
And I also happen to look real snazzy in a shiny gold bikini.