There’s this thing that happens where people love to excuse all the bad isms in things. I’m currently reading a book, a second in a series, that has a bit of problem with ideas on female agency and what it means for the males around them. Often times we get this “getting beat by a gurl is so degrading” shtick. This stinks, it’s just something dumb and unnecessary. It hardly needs stating that this sentiment just reaffirms the ideas we have that women are lesser beings and that men being topped by them in any regard is unseemly.
The excuse given for this from people; It’s the setting. We love writing these faux regency fantasy books where so much is absolutely different than regent times but we have to stick to the same ideas of gender and race that we have today. We can’t progress that any because it wouldn’t be authentic. Authentic like fucking magic and shit. Dragons and special swords and shit. That’s cool, but progressive ideas of gender and race are just too far away.
Here’s the thing, everything is fake. We don’t do authentic fiction. It’s fake to begin with. Especially these fantasy novels. There’s no excuse for it other than you hold these ideas yourself. If you’re reading this and you defend it you’re just saying that you think there’s nothing at all wrong with that stuff. When you’re like “it’s authentic that there’s no one but white dudes who do anything in these societies” you’re just supporting a busted system. Also, you’re wrong.
There’s a fundamental lack of historical understanding when it comes to statements like this. It’s only historically accurate in the sense that the people who write European history are elite white men, and it’s been proven over time that they don’t have any reason to think about the other people in society, their existence or their importance. Did stupid ideas like that exist? Absolutely. Those ideas exist right now. Does that mean everyone thinks like that? Does that mean we need to continue pushing this idea? Again, absolutely not. We do it because we’re lazy. We do it because we’re sexist and racist and ablist and homophobic and every other bad thing society teaches us to be.
This is the kicker. We spend hours and hours and hours trying to figure out different things to put into our fictional societies. So much time figuring out governments, classes, magic systems, mythical creatures, different societies, types of city state (well, this less often. normally we see one small sliver of a world), and the little parts, except the social constraints we hold dear. We super stress gender binaries. We handle race in one of three fashions, by making a culture where we claim there’s lots of different colors of people who all act the same because there is no racism and then we focus on our core of white people, by keeping them strictly separated without much thought or reason and allowing one or two different colors of people to bleed in, or we ignore it all together (surprisingly this is somehow still the #1 choice of fantasy writers). Hard to see gays and we never see trans characters. Usually at the most we go LG..b. . . . . .and yeah. We will put in our societies a distaste for people who are not able bodied, but most characters aren’t physically disabled in any way. As far as mental things go we just butcher mental illness. It’s soo soo bad. I don’t think anyone knows medical definitions of insanity, asperger’s, sociopath, autism, psychopath, or schizophrenia. When these characters show up you’re in for a show. They’re often aloof geniuses or murderers. It’s so bad.
Why is it like this though? We’re making everything else from scratch, why do we have to hold to the absolute dumbest parts of these old societies that weren’t any good?
This got away from me. Basically what I’m saying is this. “It’s of the time” is bullsiht. It’s not of that time. Even if parts of it were, that’s not why it’s being included. It’s included because we want it there. We still think that these are right and proper ideas. We think women are weak, non white people don’t exist or are super exotic, the gays are gross, Tqqia don’t exist at all, non able bodied people are a problem, and neurologically atypical people are quirky smart murderers. This is what we think of the world and we are all too lazy to do anything about it so we rest on bullshit excuses.