NYT says fiction is gendered, Geek Girls unite to tell them, “NO.”
Cross-posted from The Carnival of the Random
If you click through, you’ll see the review of Game of Thrones from NYT’s Ginia Bellafante. I take issue with the entire slant of the review, since there is no substantive discussion of the series itself, and it plays more as a, “Oh this is such crap and it’s been tarted up to attract female viewers for the sex, but it’s macho crap and I don’t like it.” The troubling thing, is that as a reviewer, you’re supposed to review the material. Not intent, (unless a creator has told you what that is,) and what you think of the material. I get that Ms. Bellafante dislikes Game of Thrones, I just don’t really know why. I also feel like she’s attempted to bolster her view of it as, “Boy fiction,” by making a sweeping statement about what women do and don’t want from their entertainment. In fact, while I find it refreshing that she acknowledges women are interested in seeing sex onscreen (read more on my thoughts on that topic here), it’s disturbing that she doesn’t think women are interested in genre storytelling. Has Ms. Bellafante met the internet? I don’t think so. She also, clearly – did not do the research.
Lots of people, and lots of different types of people, read the NYT. If you say that no woman would ever want to watch something because women don’t like that genre, it will come back to bite you.
It has definitely bitten Ms. Bellafante.
When the link to the review came across my twitterfeed last night, via @cleolinda, my initial reaction to the tweet, “Women don’t like fantasy,” was, “LOLWUT,” because it was an obviously ridiculous statement.
After reading the review, I was incensed enough to email the NYT, post on my twitter and FB, and in the morning – all hell had broken loose.
I want to be clear – I don’t speak for all women. However, I can tell you that nearly ALL of the women I know, online and IRL, love genre storytelling. Comics, movies, television and books – give us fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and we’re happy.
My question for the NYT, specifically Ginia Bellafante, is this: How is fiction gendered at all? A story is a story. Authors may be gendered, characters may be gendered, but story is neutral. That Bilbo and Frodo Baggins are male, doesn’t make me feel less interested in their stories. That Bella Swan is female, doesn’t make me more interested in hers. Do I want to see strong female characters? Yes, which is why I’m probably going to watch and enjoy Game of Thrones. Do I care if there’s sex or not? Only if it is integral to the story. If that’s where relationships go, that’s where they go. People have sex, even fictional people have sex.
Except when they don’t.
I suppose what I want the New York Times to acknowledge is this – women aren’t one thing. You can’t pander to us, and you can’t allow the publication of misogynistic statements, (even when they’re made by a woman,) without expecting backlash.
Given that the Times’ editors also allowed a heavily-misogynistic and rape-culture sympathetic article on the brutal gang-rape of a child to slip through their net, this gaffe, while minor in comparison, still represents an overall failure in journalism.
If no one Ms. Bellafante knows, would rather read The Hobbit, than Lorrie Moore, I’d say she ought to cultivate a wider circle of friends. I, and most of the women I know, would be just as open to reading Tolkien, Straub, Cherie Priest, E. Annie Proulx, or any of a hundred authors.
Stories aren’t gendered, but this review was certainly not neutral when it comes to what women want. That’s a really entitled and insulting way to address your audience, no matter what publication you are. I’m hoping the NYT sees fit to reach out to their readers, and maybe open up some space for women who disagree with Ms. Bellafante’s characterizations.
In the meantime, for more wonderful responses to this privileged fiasco, please go here for a great aggregated post with plenty of links to what women who love science fiction, fantasy, horror, and who are definitely, (defiantly, based on Ms. Bellafante’s review,) excited about Game of Thrones.
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