Society is funny like that. The 1960’s were really the decade for Science Fiction. It was popular, Star Trek and Outerlimits were on the television, and more mainstream people where becoming interested in “those kinds” of books. The changes that started in the 1950’s with Rock ‘n Roll (which had a profound effect on society) continued into the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Racial segregation or integration, women in roles other than the damsel in distress, and the space race/exploration were all things that North American audiences wanted to see and so the genre catered.
In the 1980’s and 90’s it became more common place for women to be seen in what once were traditional male roles. Women became leaders in industry, medicine and finance. Women have a dominating presence in the office/ corporate world, but can be found in positions like welder, pilot and labourer. Women have integrated into the “man’s world” but most are still responsible for the “woman’s world”. Child rearing, cooking, cleaning.
Today, women are learning how to balance their lives in a completely new way. What’s interesting is that statistics show that more women are watching Science Fiction shows. They are reading more genre books. Is this because they are finding something in the genre that they want, or is it because they are looking for something and hoping that the genre will provided it?
During this chaos, a funny little subgenre called “women’s fiction” popped up. Danielle Steel made her millions selling books about strong female characters, timeless values (love, children, home, family), and women’s issues (cancer, divorce, children problems). Her characters are women who face tragedy and emerge stronger. This is a genre unto itself now and it’s picking up speed.
Is this what all those women are looking for? Or is it that they are looking for something similar but mixed in with something fantastic?
For decades, Science Fiction and Fantasy have shown us what could be, what might be. They have been tools for escape, places of retreat from the real world. But perhaps it’s time for a little realism to show through into the genre. Perhaps it’s time for a little bit of “women’s fiction” to find a place within Science Fiction and Fantasy just as Horror, Mystery and Romance have.
What do you think?