Nightspore

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Gender bias in fantasy characters

A couple of months ago, I highlighted a list of “the best fantasy series”. As always, such lists are personal opinions. However, a writer friend from the SFF Online Writers Workshop, Kathryn Jankowski, wrote a comment on how ” very male-protagonist oriented” the list was and offered another list to balance this.

I have to be honest here that I had not noticed how skewed the original list was when I wrote the post (but then I am an elderly while male which does not excuse me but perhaps explains the omission!). However, it set me thinking and I have kept my eye open for more on this topic.

I have just come across a blog post that explores this bias by Freda Warrington, an excellent British fantasy writer I have admired since I read her first novel, “A Blackbird in Silver” in the mid-’80s.

If you are interested in this topic, check out the rest of Sarah Ash’s blog on Women Who Write Excellent SFF under the heading of Nobody Knew She Was There.

1 Comment so far

  1. Kathryn Jankowski May 16th, 2016 7:06 pm

    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    The struggle to create strong female characters is especially relevant to those of us who consider ourselves feminist. I am appalled that best sellers like OUTLANDER, for example, include rape as part of the buildup to ‘love’.

    With all due respect to Warrington’s arguments, I think she had things a bit easier, in that she already had an established readership when she decided to go “rogue”. Even so, I applaud her decision to write the types of characters she wants to read, create worlds in which women can shine.

    I also think the surge in self-publishing allows writers to branch out beyond what is deemed commercial or marketable. It’s quite liberating.

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