Too many women? Not even close.

17 Jun

Originally posted to the Community section of MyMedia

A while back there was some discussion on the lit general discussion forum about whether or not women (and not-straight, not-white people) were fairly represented in literature, specifically science fiction.

Some of the responses were, “well, women have won these many awards in the past decade, so yeah, they are more than fairly represented.” I am not convinced, and I certainly hope that someone with more energy and time than me will go to the trouble of finding the truth, backed up by actual numbers, soon.

In the meantime, I continue to hear that women are now ‘over-represented’ all over the place. For example…

Anyone familiar with the “Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcast? Well, it so happens that they keep getting these complaints about becoming a ‘women’s history’ podcast. Poor men are so under-represented, after all. (Which is why there are no women in US currency, and why so many are freaking out that Harriet Tubman will finally* replace a slave-owning white male on the twenty dollar bill.)

At any rate, the good people behind the “Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcast have grown just a wee be weary of receiving the same, baseless, complaint. Their response is glorious–and includes pie charts illustrating the gender split in shows, going back to 2013.

Behold!:

“Even though it should not be a problem to talk about women more than we talk about men, we’ve gone back into the archive and looked, and what we’ve found is that a sound majority of our shows that could be classified as “men” or “women” are about men. Even through dedicated, continual effort to talk about women, we still don’t even come close to a 50/50 split. (We also make a concerted effort to talk about other underrepresented groups, which does include men of various races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, etc., which accounts for a big chunk of why we’re nowhere close to parity in terms of gender.)”

There will always be people who will dispute facts, but I for one find it lovely when things are in black and white (or, as is the case here, pink, blue and grey).

As for the line, “it should not be a problem to talk about women more than we talk about men,” I can see how some people, mainly men, will feel their hackles raising. My response? Women make up roughly half the population on earth. Women have lived with conversations centered on, research geared for and about, decisions made by, MEN, for centuries. I wonder how, exactly, it would be a problem, or unfair, or discrimination, or sexist, to have an even split, or even to have a few more conversations about women now.

~ * ~

*and by finally, I mean, sometime in the next four to six years.

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14 Responses to “Too many women? Not even close.”

  1. Art Kaufmann 17/06/2016 at 11:16 PM #

    The loss of privilege is always confused with oppression. The whiners are complaining that their monopoly is being reduced, even though it’s by a tiny amount. As far as the SciFi thing is concerned, my opinions of Milo and Teddy and their ilk aren’t repeatable, even on a swearing-friendly blog.

    Studies have shown that in situations where women talk exactly the same amount as men, they’re still perceived as talking more.

    • Helen R-S 18/06/2016 at 5:00 AM #

      Even worse, studies have shown that when women are talking just 30% of the time, they are perceived as talking more than men. http://www.cios.org/EJCPUBLIC/003/2/00328.HTML

      So it wouldn’t surprise me if the awards results are nowhere near as “dominated” by women as those complainers think.

      • azteclady 18/06/2016 at 6:49 PM #

        I am convinced, myself, that the actual percentage of women and non-white, non-straight writers published (let alone acknowledged with awards), for the vast majority of the genre’s existence, is tiny. I just don’t have the spoons, nor am I read in the genre enough, to state that as fact.

    • azteclady 18/06/2016 at 6:47 PM #

      Exactly.

      What’s baffling, when you think about it, is that this is not a zero sum game–increased participation on any field by a minority/previously marginalized group expands that field, it doesn’t kick people out of it.

      • Art Kaufmann 18/06/2016 at 8:33 PM #

        But that’s the whole point. They don’t *want* it to expand. They think it’s their private club and they want to keep it that way.

        When the Sad Puppies showed up the first time, I was laughing. Somebody wrote a blog post whose burden was “SciFi is about ray guns and whooshing doors, not that SJW stuff.” I laughed because I ran through a list of classic SciFi that had social justice themes. From the very start, say Frankenstein, SciFi has addressed serious questions of morality. Unless you look at pure space operas from the days of the pulps (like E.E.”Doc” Smith), you’re going to get social questions. So not only are they misogynists, they’re also bone stupid.

      • azteclady 18/06/2016 at 8:36 PM #

        They *are* bone stupid.

        At least, the most vocal of them.

        Many people, if not most people, simply don’t question how things are, or that things don’t need to be a certain way. I keep hoping conversation sparks at least a bit of self-examination on that vast majority.

  2. Kat 18/06/2016 at 11:48 PM #

    When people stop noticing whether there are more men or women in whatever it is they’re talking about, then I’ll know we have parity.

  3. Valancy 20/06/2016 at 7:32 AM #

    The bit that blew my mind???

    The study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups: ‘if there’s 17 percent women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50. And if there’s 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.’

    WTH??? It’s just so —- I can’t even.

    • azteclady 20/06/2016 at 7:52 AM #

      Women as a group have been invisible to both men and women for thousands of years, so whenever women stop being invisible, is a shock to system–and yes, it’s a lot harder for men as a group to accept women’s visibility.

      When discussing something similar at MyMedia, many/most of the male commenters felt that, if they could name three or four female science fiction writers, then there was parity–never mind that everyone was naming the same women over and over.

  4. Alex Hurst 20/06/2016 at 1:08 PM #

    This isn’t really related to anything in your post except for the last line, but I am currently reading a book about Women’s Basketball in the 1930s, and how the regulations for the game were made based on the idea that basketball contributed to harder child bearing, and that, loosely quoted “if women played the sport too hard, their uteruses might shrivel and actually turn them into men.”

    Representation is a difficult thing, but I agree with you. I also don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like where there used to be a somewhat natural diversity in television (90s Nickelodeon, as an example) now it -feels- very forced, like they are checking off diversity boxes, rather than letting the cast “naturally” be that way, so perpetuating stereotypes of certain minority groups.

    • azteclady 20/06/2016 at 1:49 PM #

      On sports: not too long ago, women were not allowed to participate in marathons, because they were considered ‘physically incapable’ of doing so. (And when a woman proved them wrong, she was physically attacked by a white male.)

      As for the representation issue, I just posted about this at MyMedia (on the literature side), but what I see is mostly a push to ride the diversity trend. For example, while the cast of Orange is the New Black is fairly diverse, ALL the writers are white–and I’m willing to bet none of them have visited a prison, let alone been in one.

  5. Bona Caballero 20/06/2016 at 5:14 PM #

    the impression with which I stay is that , in the end, every public space we women conquer is thanks to a fight , because there is always resistance. There will always be insults , assaults , etc. Nobody gives up its privileges kindly . These things show that equality in the law is not enough. We need to achieve real equality in society. And this will require to keep on fighting , resisting , and not give in , not to step back .

    • azteclady 20/06/2016 at 5:31 PM #

      Nobody gives up its privileges kindly.Exactly–and even leveling the playing field, aka, treating everyone as human beings deserving of respect and opportunity, doesn’t diminish that privilege, the people on top fight like rabid dogs to preserve that top spot exclusively for themselves (see Art’s comment at the top of the thread)

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