Thursday, September 12, 2013

Talk About It Thursday: Sexism and Homophobia in the Dystopian Genre

So this discussion was originally going to be about the pros and cons of audiobooks, and I was going to go into why it doesn't actually work for me (although I am now stuck with listening to one to review a book, but that's beside the point). But then, I started reading Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (review to come), and I realized a trend across most of the dystopian genre (I assume. I actually don't read many dystopian novels, though I'm getting more into it now).

I have found a troubling pattern amongst the dystopian books I have read thus far. Why is it that every government in those books deem that men>women and that you can only have peace and security if you only have male-female marriages? Why is it that the governments deem same-sex marriage to be a threat to society? Is it because many people do believe that in society today? Is it because the author simply wants to spark conversation? Is it because it's become a norm in the genre?

The first issue is of sexism. In many of these books, it's shown and believed in the "ideal, safe" society that women need to be protected. They can't handle anything, and they need men to take care of them when they're scared. I'm not saying it's a terrible thing for a woman to want to rely so heavily on a man. My problem, not with the authors but with the societies within their stories, is that there's the perception that women cannot do what men do. They're too weak. They're too scared. They need to be protected and shielded. They can only do certain jobs. It's a pattern. I think that Crewel handled it the best (of what I've read), as I felt that that made me think about our society and the way we treat women. Maybe that's what the authors are intending to do--start a conversation. Who knows? All I want to know is why is this assumed? Is it because we're assuming that humans can't move past this? That governments and society will never view women as equally capable. (Also, it often seems to be the case that women are used to it and okay with it and are content with their situation EXCEPT for the FMC.)

And the second trend, as I mentioned before is homophobia. In many of these books, governments have some, if not total/all, control over marriages or the enforcement of female-male marriages only. They believe that same-sex marriages will cause chaos and disorder, and that it'll disturb the peace. I DON'T GET WHY. Why is it so irrational to believe that IT'S THE SAME THING? Again, I know this doesn't reflect the author in any way, but why is it assumed that this is how it works in a dystopian novel? I'd like to read about a same-sex relationship that's okay and normal, as well as female-male relationships that are okay and normal. Why is it assumed that just like the concept of men>women, only female-male marriages are good and right and normal?

I guess my question is why has this become a norm in this genre in particular? I'm sure there are dystopian novels that don't fit these traits, but many of the ones I've read recently do. Why is that? Why has this become the assumed position? Is it part of what "dystopian" is? (I really have no idea what dystopian actually is, so if you do know exactly what that entails, I'd very much appreciate it. It's completely possible that this is partially what determines if a book is dystopian. I should research next time...) Is it to spark discussion? (If so, why particularly in this genre, and probably fantasy many times too?)

What do you think? Have you found a similar trend? Do you think you have an explanation? Do you think society, whether in books or in real life, will ever be as equal as we'd like it to be?
Let me know! Let's discuss!
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