|Jun. 2nd, 2015 @ 06:30 pm Gold-plated misogynist? Not exactly.|
|this article, someone called Robert Heinlein a "gold-plated misogynist" and one of his fans jumped to defend him. I will agree that the description is not accurate, but even so ...
According to |
I like Robert Heinlein; the first science fiction book I checked was by him - The Star Beast, but I already knew I liked his writing because I used to ... umm ... "borrow" (I always put it back in the same place, that counts as borrowing, right?) my brother's copy of Boy's Life in order to read his boy scout short stories.
However, his depiction of women made me uncomfortable.
He minimized them in his youth fiction, which was actually all right. I didn't mind that. But he idealized them in his adult books and pretty much fantasized them in his later novels.
There's a point wherein the author of the article (Cedar Sanderson) claims that that woman who cast the aspersions on RAH said that she was quoting something Isaac Asimov had said in his autobiography. Sanderson snorts (metaphorically) at the irony of the accusation from that source because, apparently, Mr. Asimov had once stated that male fans didn’t want females invading their space. In his opinion, this means that Isaac Asimov MUST be more of a misogynist than Robert Heinlein.
As a woman who has been reading science fiction since 1968 (the year I was allowed to start checking books out of the main stacks in my elementary school), I have to say that my experience is that most male fans don't want females invading their space.
In 1973, one of my friends (male) told me I shouldn't be reading a specific book because, he said, "girls don't read science fiction." Ironically, the book was by Andre (aka Alice) Norton and ... it was one of her witch world books - which, to be fair, I didn't know. I thought it was SF (I never cared for the witch world books). That was the last time he and I walked home together.
So, it was true when Isaac Asimov started writing science fiction, it was true when I was reading it and, as the recent GamerGate debacle indicates, it's true now.
Isaac Asimov created one of the most believable, most capable, most INTIMIDATING female characters in science fiction - in my opinion, that is. Susan Calvin. Unfortunately, she probably turned more girls off science than otherwise, but part of that is because ... well, she pretty obviously has Asperger's syndrome, which means that she is socially awkward, single-minded, obscessive and dedicated to her professional aims. Considering the times, I suspect that he was drawing her from his observations of women who had succeeded in the sciences; that those are the qualities needed.
In comparison, and in my opinion, Robert Heinlein's female characters are more akin to the avatars of many computer games. They are over-intelligent, over-qualified and over-sexualized. The science fiction equivalent of Barbie, in a way.
So, to recapitulate, I like Robert Heinlein's early works. I respect his works and writing; but I don't like the way he wrote women. I much prefer Susan Calvin and Asimov's few other female characters; they're more honest. More real.