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No more “Lord of the Rings”: Feminist denounces “sexism” in science fiction

August 18, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Lutgendorff: “Shocking…misogyny”

What I hated, and dreaded the most as I continued to read through the list, was the continued and pervasive sexism – even in seemingly progressive books for their time. I devoured science fiction and fantasy when I was younger – the idea that I was also devouring patriarchal and sexist ideas made me deeply uncomfortable. The fact that these were all supposed to be the best of the genre, was even more shocking.”

The “list” in question is a list of the 100 best science-fiction and fantasy books compiled by NPR back in 2011. It includes such classics as The Lord of the Rings, 1984, I, Robot, and George R.R. Martin’s five Game of Thrones novels to date. New Statesman contributor Liz Lutgendorff just got around to reading the books–and, well, it seems that Tolkien, Orwell, Isaac Asimov, and the rest of them ought to be on a blacklist, not a “100 best” list, as far as she’s concerned.

“In anger, after I read the first 10 books or so, I made my version of the Bechdel test, adapted for books. I thought I could ask for a bit more than films because there is more time for exposition and exploring complex ideas.

“The test had three simple questions:

“1: Does it have at least two female characters?

“2: Is one of them a main character?

“3: Do they have an interesting profession/level of skill like male characters?

“It was staggering how many didn’t pass.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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