Please tell me you're kidding

So I read a lot of blogs, and some of them are on tumblr — and because I can’t figure out how to comment on tumblr without having an account, I’ll just rant here a bit.

Ok, here is the post (bowdlerizing mine):

yesterday i was hanging out with a friend of mine who i really like and we were talking about the hobbit (he’s seen it, i haven’t)

and we were talking about the movie and the book and etc. and i mentioned how disappointed i was that there weren’t any female characters in the book (and therefore likely not in the movie)

and this friend of mine was like “well it’s not like it’s EXPLICIT that there are no women”

and it’s just like

your barometer is so [expletive]

[expletive] [expletive] i should not have to try this hard to find a character to identify with in your series

i should not have to rely on “well the author doesn’t explicitly say ‘THERE ARE NO FEMALE DWARVES’ so i mean, that means there’s probably AT LEAST ONE, SOMEWHERE, and so he’s not a misogynist!!1”

just….. what? are you being serious right now?

ESPECIALLY when the companion series has a seven to one male to female character ratio and all of the female characters are ultimately super [expletive] disappointing

i’m not saying you can’t like tolkien/lotr/the hobbit/whatever,

i’m just saying let’s not pretend it’s not a [expletive] problematic series if you happen to be a woman

(or a person of colour! but i’m not even gonna get into that)

This kind of thing makes me tired.

A short quiz for the post author:

1) Imagine that I change your summary to read “i mentioned how disappointed i was that there weren’t any male characters in the book” and “the companion series has a seven to one female to male character ratio and all of the male characters are ultimately super [expletive] disappointing”:

a) Would there still be a problem here? Or would you just assume you were reading, say, Judy Blume?

b) If you don’t have a problem with a 7-to-1 female/male ratio or “super … disappointing” male characters in a novel or movie, please elaborate: why is it only a problem the other way around?

2) Regarding the term “problematic series”, please explain:

a) Why does the inclusion or exclusion of a certain demographic make a series “problematic”?

b) Seriously, what do you mean by “problematic”? Does it hurt you? Does it hurt women? Is it problematic to write about men? Are men problematic?

3) Regarding “i should not have to try this hard to find a character to identify with in your series”, please explain:

a) Is the author ethically, morally, or otherwise obligated to include a character of any particular demographic in his or her novel, regardless of whether said character fits into the story he or she wishes to tell?

b) Would you really rather have a character of a particular demographic included in a story for the sake of including a character of that demographic? Isn’t that what we call “token characters”?

c) If part of the draw of fiction, especially of the science fiction or fantasy variety, is the ability to encounter and empathize with characters who are not like us, is it possible that you’re missing the point?

d) If we’re only relating to characters based on their surface characteristics (race, sex, etc.) rather than on their interior characteristics (personality, emotions, etc.), isn’t that bit on the shallow side? Not to mention the racist/sexist side which you are trying so hard to position yourself against?

e) If you find it impossible to identify with characters who aren’t just like you, is that the author’s problem, or yours?