As a result of a blog earlier this month and the paperback publication of Arms-Commander, I’ve received inquiries about and statements declaring that I’m a man-hater and pushing “feminist propaganda.” Now, I’d be the first to admit that I’m fond of women. More than fond, in fact, but then, after having been married three times, if far more years to the lady whose companionship I now enjoy and appreciate than either of the other two, and having six daughters as well as two sons, it would be strange if I didn’t have a great interest in and appreciation of women.
That appreciation, however, has little to do with the facts of the situation on this planet and in the United States. As I noted earlier, even in the relatively more “advantaged” United States, on average, working women make about 25% less than working men do. The differential between men and women doing the same jobs ranges from almost nothing to as much as 40% at the higher corporate executive levels, but women’s pay remains, on average, significantly below that of men in the same or similar positions, as documented rather clearly in the current lawsuit against WalMart currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Although a recent article in the Wall Street Journal declared that working single men and women between ages 22 and 30 earned roughly the same amount, that purported equality doesn’t address the fact that there’s still a huge discrepancy between genders among married men and women and among older age groups. Despite the fact that women have had the ability to vote and run for public office in the United States for roughly a century, less than twenty percent of members of Congress are women.
The situation was far worse in the past, and still is in many other nations across the world. People tend to forget that less than two centuries ago, in the good old USA, married women could own no property, and all a woman’s clothes and her jewelry, even if provided by her family or earned or made by her, belonged to her husband.
Yet… when I write a book, such as The Soprano Sorceress or Arms-Commander, which depicts a woman in a fantasy world fighting against situations such as this, it’s called by some feminist propaganda or ultra-feminist.
Come again? I’ve depicted conditions similar to those which have existed for the majority of the time that human culture has existed on Earth… and I’ve had the nerve to suggest that, first, such conditions aren’t exactly fair to women, and, second, that a talented woman might just do better than a bunch of chauvinistic men. It’s not exactly my imagination that the three British rulers with the longest time on the throne were all women – Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II – and two of those three lived and ruled in a time when ruling wasn’t just ceremonial, and the times that they ruled were among those when Britain’s power was at a zenith.
It’s considered “realistic” when a novelist depicts sword-play and blood and gore in visceral detail, but unrealistic or propagandistic when he or she depicts sexual politics and traditional and historic gender roles in equally accurate detail? But then, those who complain may really be suggesting that I’m pushing propaganda by suggesting that a woman can and would do better.
As women take their places in more and more critical and important occupations, it’s becoming all too clear that very often they can do better than many of their male predecessors and peers, as incidentally that Wall Street Journal points out, and perhaps the fact that I occasionally depict that [as well as occasionally depict some truly competent and villainous women] troubles those readers who seem to think that the past gender roles of men and women were as matters should be and that I should not even attempt to suggest otherwise, either in science fiction or fantasy.
That’s feminist propaganda?