As of 5/15/11 Rogue Blades removed all comments that accused the writer and any commentators of sexism. Note that the sexist comments still remain.
I've been temporarily distracted by the TIO threads on Absolute Write, but now I'm here and ready to write yet another post on sexism. However, this isn't your run of the mill sexism.
I've been following the comments on this article for two days now. I've determined that the sexist attitudes of these male fantasy writers are why I prefer to read Science-Fiction over High Fantasy.
Instead of continuing on a repetitive rant towards the outrageous disgusting attitudes of sexists, I will assume that all of you are well versed in that discussion. I want to talk about the way women are portrayed in fantasy.
Over on Rogue Blades, we have many misusing the word Anachronism. An Anachronism is when the Ancient Egyptians are shown to use Gameboys and play Violins. A women shown to be a strong fighter in a fantasy novel is not an Anachronism. Firstly, fantasy takes place in another universe. Secondly, women warriors often disguised themselves as men to fight in wars and many women fought in wars or led battles.
With this same attitude, we can infer that women, Hispanics, Asians, and African-Americans shouldn't be portrayed as anything but slaves, barmaids, and inferior human beings in High Fantasy simply because they were at one point seen as such in history; notwithstanding that Dwarves, Elves, and Dragons are allowed to exist, but a 110 lb 5'4 women is not allowed to kick major ass. To certain writers, that's simply not plausible.
I want to read more fantasy. Really, I do. But I'm unable to read it when women are constantly oppressed and seen as lesser beings in a world based on fantasy. Writers, you can create a world with any rules you choose. Yet, you continue to write sexist worlds to have your characters overcome the sexism. Can a girl fight monsters without having to deal with sexism? Does every girl have to disguise herself as a boy to fight in a war? This has nothing to do with cultural or social constructs. In your world, you don't have to have those.
I know this comes off as harsh, but please, see where I'm coming from. As a black reader, I purposefully avoid books that claim to present the "black" experience. I don't want to read about slavery or racism on a constant basis in contemporary fiction, so why would I want to read about it in fantasy? You have the opportunity to create a world that doesn't follow the cultural restrictions of our own. Please, take that and run with it. Not female warrior has to face sexism to prove that she's just as good as the guys. Not every female warrior has to be harassed, raped, or overcome the 'horrible men' to prove that she's a woman.
I'm not saying that sexism doesn't exist or that we shouldn't combat it in fiction. I'm saying that in a fictional world, you don't have to follow the same restrictions of this world. Nor am I implying that every single fantasy book with a female warrior can't have sexism in it. I want the genre to get mixed up a bit. Also, I wouldn't mind having some people of color there either. The SWASP version of America doesn't exist in a fantasy world. Just remember that.