August 22, 2003

I tossed a whole bunch of my stories into the Gender Genie this morning, and it diagnosed me, across the board, as female. I find this to be a source of great comfort.

Aside from the obvious reasons for this (i.e., as recounted here), I have to wonder what's at work here (assuming you can place any stock at all in an algorithm designed to detect your gender, which you can't). Thinking of the influences on my writing, there are at least as many men as women who I could think of as having a direct impact on my voice and style. The implications of all this I leave to folks more hung up about it than myself.

But it's interesting to consider this in light of an issue Steven Brust brought up in his weblog months ago (no permalinks there, so you'll have to scroll down to the entry for 1/30/03) about role models for women, or whoever, in literature. I think I see his point here - and I couldn't agree more with his statements about the supposed differences between men and women - I also disagree that because you it's possible to identify with a person of the "other" gender that it isn't a good thing to have role models who are like you. Especially for women, especially in light of how narrow the popular consciousness is about what it means to be female and what's allowable within that idea. The sad truth is that, without artists making an effort to challenge those ridiculous notions, nothing will change. I'd love to live in a world where all things were equal and everyone had enough heroes to go around. But that's not how things are.

There's a wonderful bit in the last section of Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman where Moore is talking in correspondence with Dave Sim about the purpose of art, and he makes the point that art doesn't reflect the world as it is - it attempts to "imprint" the world and cause reality to reflect it. I'd have to agree (and it's very interesting to read that correspondence in light of the arrogant, moralistic, misogynistic ideas with which Sim approaches his art on the one hand, and Moore's dynamic, magickal, radical philosophy on the other). So I choose to create art for the world the way I hope it would be, and part of that means being responsible about what kind of role models inhabit my fiction. I think the world could use more Jenny Hanivers. Nothing would make me happier than to know my work encouraged one or two to come to the surface.

So there you go: I write like a girl, and proud of it. And I didn't bother correcting the Genie when it thought so too. Just doing my part to ensure the Universe holds on to one or two ambiguities...

No comments:

Post a Comment