Because I LOVE Fairytales…please welcome Selah…

 

 

Welcome to guest poster, Selah Janel!  Thank you so much Selah for heping me out here at They say Everyone has a Story while I am traveling with BRISTOL bOYZ STOMP

 

 

 

 

It’s probably improper to start a guest post with a confession, but here goes nothing. My name is Selah Janel and I am a giant geek. We’re talking space opera-quoting, Cthulhu-loving,  fairy tale-studying geek…who may also throw down when a vampire doesn’t use his teeth. I don’t know at what point I fell in love with genre fiction (and film,  if I’m being honest) but I can’t imagine my life without it. Horror,  fantasy,  urban fantasy,  science fiction – each are dear to me in different ways. However,  as I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that it isn’t always easy to be a woman and be into these things. Sure,  it would be somewhat acceptable if I was into genre fiction strictly because of paranormal, supernatural romance elements,  but I’m talking straight up genre stuff,  here (No offense to paranormal and supernatural romance – I love you,  too,  but you’re socially acceptable for a woman to like). I get a very different kind of reaction when I’m bumming around at cons or talking to people and mention that I really love H.P. Lovecraft or that I’m a die-hard Ray Bradbury fan. Apparently I’m not supposed to appreciate Clive Barker or Stephen King,  though thankfully Neil Gaiman is still socially acceptable for me to like in public.  Added to this was a particular incident where I was told point-blank that a woman’s place in the worlds I love so much has apparently been reduced to one purpose that will survive the sands of time: sex object.

After the obligatory fuming and eye-rolling, I’ve slowly let that commentary become an inspiration. Are the worlds of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy really as male-dominated as we’re led to believe? Are female characters bound to only be love interests, teen girls who pine away for their boyfriends, or shapely fantasies? I’m not particularly naïve, so I get that those kinds of themes have always been around and will always be here. I’ve made it a point in the past few months to start searching for books that still have the genre elements I love, but also have women characters I can get behind. What startled me is that in my cynicism I just sort of expected the offerings to be not so much. Instead, I’ve found that there are a lot of great titles to choose from. Also surprisingly, I’ve found titles written by both genders that are absolutely fabulous and versions of the typical fairy tales that we’ve been force-fed that are nothing like the ‘woman waiting for a guy to do the work’ edits that so many people have problems with. For every horror title that thrives on sexual victimization like The Travelling Vampire Show, there are books like Misery and Carrie that take feminine aspects and emotions and use them to genuinely terrify other than sensationalize. For every pulp fantasy title there are complex heroines like those offered in Lord of the Rings and books like Imajica, which definitely brings a lot of gender differences to light and uses it to argue if things would be better in a matriarchal society. For every Padme Amidala there’s a Princess Leia. For every Bella Swan there’s a character like Meg Murray or Poly O’Keefe (from Madeline L’Engle’s books) that proves that you can come of age,  have a romance,  and still legitimately save the universe. For every typical Cinderella there’s a Katie Woodencloak or Allerleijuah. My point is there’s a wealth of amazing,  fully developed female leads out there and authors that are willing to do them justice.

The problem is that they don’t necessarily get the exposure that their more clichéd counterparts do. Blame it on marketing,  blame it on franchises playing to younger audiences who haven’t necessarily been fed a diet of well-rounded characters. People have gotten used to sensationalism,  clichés,  and movie versions that don’t necessarily portray the depth the books they’re based on had. I consider myself well-read and I’m even now discovering new series that I wish I had known about years earlier. It’s frustrating. It’s maddening.

So what’s a chick to do? Like I said earlier,  this dichotomy isn’t anything new. If internet memes are anything to go by,  there’s already a back lash thanks to Twilight. Still,  it’s easy to put together a gag and post it online and not quite as easy to come up with a solution. I’m not saying that we need to boycott certain titles or franchises,  but I do think that being well-read helps. I’ve become a big fan of looking up older titles at the library or asking friends what they think I’d be interested in; it’s a tactic that’s helped me re-discover Tanith Lee and Angela Carter and discover that I actually really like titles by Stephen King and Clive Barker. I’m also a big fan of being a big mouth. I share my discoveries with my friends and readers alike,  and I’m becoming less afraid of debating the issue when it’s brought up.  If anything,  being able to write about this topic for Fandom Scene has helped me really dive in and realize that it isn’t a clear-cut issue or a new one. I’ve developed a huge respected for a lot of writers

And,  of course,  there’s the obvious: I try to take a hard look at all my chick characters and make sure they’re portrayed as people,  first. I’m not against love stories or sensual elements at all,  but I want it to work with my characters instead of becoming a device to sell them. And,  of course,  like I do with anything else I love,  I sing the praises of all the titles that have great female characters!

So what’s your favorite female character of all time? Which genre writers do you think really portray women really well and which not so much? What titles would you recommend?

And as always/ I can be found in the following places:

My blog: www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

My blog for Fandom Scene: www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SelahJanel

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/authorSJ

Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/SelahJanel

 

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