Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trifecta of Neat Stuff Part I: A quote

Today, I'm going to post a trifecta of neat stuff in three short entries, staggered through the afternoon and evening.

The first thing is an entry about sex & sex work in science fiction, which is smart and interesting, but which is totally eclipsed by the cleverness of this quote/propsal. Thene writes on Aaru Tuesday,

I would like to propose a measure called The Frank Miller Test. It will test how much male sci-fi writers are obsessed with whores; if the proportion of female sex workers to neutrally presented female people in his story is above 1:1, he fails.

Hear, hear.


But it would be unfair not to give you a taste of the smart, interesting entry, too. Thene's entry looks at sex & sex work in science fiction and fantasy. "There's a lot of supposedly 'speculative' fictions where it's still 1958," she says.

Summarizing one story that poses an SFnal frontier, she writes, "It's 1958 again. The men have a quest, and the women are the questers' prostitutes. (Anonymous homosexual intercourse is suggested as the cash-free alternative). There's also, of course, this narrative about how 'vices' of all kinds are brought by the evil capitalist enterprise to the virgin wilderness."

She quotes the story to illustrate her point:

There are several like her, some boys but mostly young women, utterly charged by the arrival of these tough roustabouts and the breathing pistons of the trains. Their families lament while they let their flocks run, or sell them for meat to railroaders for scrimshawed trinkets from the tool-rooms. The goatkeep young men join the grading teams and fill the rivers. The young women find other outlets. [...] There is bad blood among the camp followers. The whores who have dutifully followed these men, splitting from the perpetual train to work with these mountain diggers, are affronted by their new rural rivals, these farmgirls who expect no pay. Some of the workers themselves are threatened by these newly voracious young women who do not sell sex or even give sex but take it. They know no rules. They have yet to learn taboos... [emphasis hers]

And her smart analysis: "Part of me adores that bolded line, and the energy of the passage in general. The other part is saying waitacottonpickingminute, you're appropriating vaginas to demonstrate your philosophy of technology? You're using the gender-neutral word 'worker' to mean 'man who pays for sex'? You're drawing lines between 'untamed' rural amazons and prostitutes who are Slaves Of The Patriarchal-Capital-Whatsit? Prostitutes who (as the story goes) 'corrupt' those women through violence, enforce their taboos and turn them, vampire-like, into prostitutes themselves? The shit?"

Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip: Ide Cyan at Whileaway)

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