Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gender, POV, and Sex in SciFi/Fantasy.

I've been having this discussion with some of my fellow writers.  Fantasy and SciFi have a heavy male readership.  Male or Female POV matters a little, and is easily overlooked....But when you throw in sex, suddenly if it's a female POV, they want to plug your story into the pararomance section.

Wanting to keep as much of my male audience, while still telling an authentic story...I've been going back and forth on how much sex to put in my book.  Because my MC is female I worry about men not wanting to read (and have some evidence from the male beta readers)

So what is it about 1st person female POV and sex scenes that turns men off?   Is it the descriptive writing...describing what the man is doing to 'me' (1POV)
Is it the fear that once we introduce sex that the book will rattle on about angst-y love feelings and menses?

Mike Licht,

It's not like men haven't sexualize women in Science Fiction and Fantasy for years.  So what's the rub?

I found this blog post (and the one early) particularly eye opening on author gender and Reviews in general.

Women writers of speculative fiction find themselves open to accusations of writing too much about feelings and having too much romance–and that these things are actively detrimental to speculative fiction (why is this? and “I don’t like it” is not an acceptable answer; there’s lots of stuff I don’t like and I wouldn’t necessarily call it detrimental to an entire genre). I’ve seen this in reviews of books by women–books where, if the author were a man (or if they simply appear to be male), the romantic plot would have been described as “nuanced” and possibly also as “subtle” or “sublime”–but since the book was written by a woman, the fact that there’s a romantic plot is suddenly a flaw.

Furthermore...I have a new hero!

Then let’s say that. Let’s say “I don’t really like reading sex scenes” instead of saying “Urban fantasy is not a good example of strong female characters because they’re having too many damn orgasms.”
 I'm not necessarily saying a good UF needs to have or not have sex.  But it also doesn't mean that the main characters should be celibate.  Most UF is current fiction, right now, and let's face it... sex is a big part of our lives, whether we're getting any or not.  It's in movies, on TV and in our magazines.  Not to have our characters talk about and think about sex is unrealistic.


  1. Thoughtful article! I think it's a combo of everything you said. Game of Thrones has a lot of sex, multiple POV's of men and women, and male and female readers. I think men might be more responsive to books that have at least one male POV, and that they trust won't get sappy. Good luck!!

  2. Interesting article. And yes, I believe that there is a double standard when it comes to men and women in literature. Not just when it comes to sex, but also in 'strength'. Why is it that women are expected to be exactly like men in their thinking and actions? And why is it that they become 'feminine' they lose their appeal? I had a similar problem, not with sex, but with motherhood. That's when I realized it's more important to portray real women than try to conform to society's ideals.