Why Every Book is Not a Great F-Word Manifesto (But Should Be)

I had somebody complain about my post on The Cabin in the Woods, saying that, yanno, not EVERY book or film needs to be some great feminist manifesto. Not every book is ABOUT feminism, they said.

Which kinda made me wonder if they knew what “feminism” meant.

Cause this is all it is, folks: feminism is the revolutionary idea that women are people, and should be treated as such. Every book, regardless of what it thinks it’s about, says something about what the author and/or characters think about this idea. Sometimes, as in the case of, say, a John Ringo novel, it says it pretty explicitly.

Because let me tell you a secret: every great story is about people, about characters, and if you’re writing female characters who aren’t real people, you’re not writing about people. You’re writing about non-people, about agency-less objects who merely exist to further someone else’s story.

But sometimes the world is SEXIST, people might say. I should be able to show SEXISM, shouldn’t I?

Let me tell you a secret: people who are discriminated against? STILL ACT LIKE PEOPLE. They are still the heroes of their own stories. They make decisions which impact their lives, and the lives of people around them. They have thoughts! That aren’t even about the protagonist! In fact, sometimes (GASP!) these people ARE the protagonist! Even people living in sexist, racist, classist, fucked-up societies are human people with human stories. They are not spear carriers. They are not (usually) zombies. They do things for their own reasons, to satisfy their own ends (and even the zombies have to eat).

And as soon as everybody realizes that – that the people in a story, regardless of their race, class, gender, or whatever fucked up fantastical background you give them – are PEOPLE then stories will get more complex and interesting.  In fact, stories will get (GASP) MORE FEMINIST. That is, they will acknowledge that women are living, breathing, shitting, fucking human beings with quirks, interests, desires, anger, and ambitions that go beyond pole dancing and finding a proper husband.

Feminist fictions should be the norm, the default, the expectation – not the exception.

Because I’m sorry, folks, but I’ve gotta say it – despite what you may think about feminism because “it doesn’t affect me” everything is about feminism, from how and where you were born, and when, to how you were raised, where you went to school, how you learned language, who/how/why you have sex, attitudes and traditions around marriage, how you’re treated by health care professionals, who’s allowed to treat you, where, and even your workplace interactions, how much money you make, who you date, everything, all of it, from cradle to grave – that all involves women and attitudes, laws, and social conventions regarding their behavior. Yes, even if you’re a guy. Because over half the world is, you know, MADE OF WOMEN.

How women are treated and portrayed, and expectations of what women can and should do and how they do it impacts every single aspect of your life, regardless of gender.

So if you think that this ranting I do about the lazy writing in books and film is just for the womyns (only half the world!), or just for the lefty womyns with dried up wombs and advanced leftist degrees plunking out stodgy old papers full of rhetoric that nobody reads –


We’re all fucked by stories that dehumanize people. Those stories make us less human.

And I, for one, sure as hell don’t have a care for stories that do that.


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