Gender and rantings.

Have been puttering around the Internet off and on today as I pore through books for my exam paper.  First, a random comment from –E on Scalzi’s blog, one that may have been intended as a joke, but very much got me thinking.

A hierarchy:

Nobel laureates
Booker prize winners
Pulitzer prize winners
Mainstream literary writers
Dead White Guys
South American writers of Magic Realism
Realistic War Fiction
Mainstream male writers who are writing chick lit but it isn’t called that; e.g., Nicholas Sparks, Robert James Waller, Arthur Golden
Bestselling male writers who “transcend” their genre, but are actually writing genre (where “genre” = crim fic, spec fic, or horror)
Bestselling female crime fic writers
Midlist male crime fic writers
Bestselling male SF/F writers
Midlist male SF/F writers
Bestselling female SF/F writers (they may be a slot higher, depending on who’s writing the review)
Midlist female writers of any genre except romance
Bestselling romance writers
Horror writers (except those who transcend the genre)
Romance writers
Erotica writers
YA writers

I don’t know how true this is, or how much it’s intended for entertainment value only (YA being the punchline, hur-hur).  But however true it may be, it’s depressing as hell on the gender front.  And it also seems like you could invert the list and, with only a few minor switcheroos, have an accurate picture of the marketplace in terms of sales.  So once again we have Franzen’s prestige v. contract dichotomy writ large.  Ugh.  Makes me hate the universe, and with the VIDA stats to prove it…

And then there’s Cat Valente‘s rant on sexism in videogames.  I genuinely enjoy her feminist criticisms; she’s funny and hyperbolic and her style just does it for me.  This one hits especially close to home.  I feel terrible nostalgia for PC games of my youth, most especially the Kings Quest series.  KQ 4 and 7 even featured female protags.  There was a fairly fleshed out quest plot and hundreds of individual puzzles to solve.  Once of my very favorite holiday presents ever was the companion guide (re: cheat book) to the entire series, because half the guides were written like standalone novelettes.

I quit WOW in large part because of how disgusted I got with the rank sexism of…oh, everything.  But the worst part was the rampant misogyny in chat (aka, other real people, not just sexist programmers’ creations) that cropped up any time I had to group for a quest or dungeon.  It was never directed at me, but that actually made it worse: the assumption that everyone hated women, and that I must be a dude playing a chick, and therefore all-holds-barred woman-hating bullshit was fine and dandy?  Ugh.  It made the game more stressful than fun by the end.

It’s probably for the best that videogames aren’t much holding my interest–it’s certainly helping with time-management of the exam process.  But if someone would update KQ7, I would be first in line to buy it.


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