For centuries, mankind has been putting words down in written form as a means of communication.  At first it was all very useful, very practical information.  Tallies for merchants and noble households mostly.  Inventory, how much was owed to a merchant or how much a merchant owed them, etc.

Then someone came up with the idea of telling stories and writing them down.  Thus began the great world of fiction literature.  Stories that were never meant to be real.  Stories that were meant to be just that.  Stories.  Meant to inspire, teach, and to entertain.

So it frustrates me when people just read way too much into a book, and then start complaining about it.

For example, I was writing a review for one of The Iron Druid Chronicles (can’t remember which one specifically) that I had read a few months back, when another review someone else had written caught my eye.  Now I didn’t read it all because it was really freaking long, and it frustrated the hell out of me halfway through.

She (I assume) was complaining about the book being too sexist.  How the female characters were all depicted as sex objects, and were either evil to be destroyed, insipid, or weak willed.  She also accused the author of being sexist and made comments about how typical it was of male writers to depict women in such a way.

Now first off, I agree with her.  To a point.  Yes, most of the female characters are depicted as being very attractive, and most of them are evil and destroyed in the end.  However I would like to point out a few discrepancies.   These points are also based on the series as a whole, rather than just one of the books.

1: The reviewer made the complaint that all the villains were sexy females.  Who ever heard, despite the sex of the author, of a female villain being anything but drop dead gorgeous?  It’s much easier to ensnare underlings if you flash your boobs at them to distract them while you cast your spell.  Just because the author is male doesn’t make it sexist.  I’m a woman, and if I had a story with female villains, they would be drop dead sexy.  It’s just more fun that way.

2: The ‘weak willed’ sexy women that the reviewer complained about were goddesses.  The reviewer complained that they were petty, vain, and were jumping into bed with the main character, or at least trying their best to do so.  One of them happened to be essentially the queen of her pantheon, and she basically asked the main character for assistance in taking out her consort who also happened to be a god from the same pantheon.  This also upset the reviewer.

Ummm…hello?  They’re immortal goddesses.  They live for eternity, and get bored easily.  Of course they’re going to be petty and vain.  Of course they’re going to back stab each other, primp themselves to one-up the other goddesses, and jump into the bed of any mortal that catches their attention.  What else have they got to do?  And anyone who has studied mythology in truth or fiction, knows that gods play political power games with each other.  So when a queen goddess needs help thwarting her king/consort/brother/whatever, of course she’s going to enlist the help of an outside source.  Politics people!  She’s not going to risk her pretty neck directly to thwart another god in her pantheon in case the other gods come hunting for her.  Get the outside source.  If the source fails, nothing comes back to her.  If the source succeeds, there might be rumors and innuendos, but no concrete evidence and she’s down a rival.  Win-win with little to no personal risk.

3:  The reviewer complained that the only non-evil female character, being sexy, frolics around in her sexy underthings in front of him and plays dumb when he sees this and acts uncomfortable.

…Ok I don’t have much of a rebuttal for this one, except that I personally think it’s pretty obvious that there is a 90% chance that this woman is going to be is love interest, and there is a 50/50 chance that she knew exactly was she was doing.

4.  What the reviewer forgets is that the main character is a 12 CENTURY year old Druid.  Of course the character is going to be a tad bit sexist.  He’s spent most of his life living in a world where that was the norm.  Men were the big thing in town (heh…), women were to be seen and not heard, so it only makes sense.

5.  What the reviewer might have chosen to ignore is that sexy women is his weak point.  And most of the women know it. Especially one of the goddesses.  She basically uses him for sex and power, because he knows a few secrets she doesn’t and obviously wants them so she can be the meanest kid in her pantheon’s playground, and she uses sex as a way to help her get around his defenses about sharing stuff like that.

So all in all, I honestly do believe that the reviewer had a point, but I’m afraid a lot of her arguments have to go swirling down the hole when faced with these…y’know…FACTS.  And calling the writer sexist is just plain wrong unless you know them personally.  Male and female writers can be sexist to their own or the opposite gender in their writing if it works for the story, character, plot, etc.  Just because they write about it in their books, doesn’t make them the same way.

Alrighty then.  Now that my rant is over, lets get down to the meat of things.  When you pick up a fiction book, I for one feel strongly that you should go into it anticipating enjoying the story.  Don’t analyze every little bitty thing.  You like the story?  Good!  Were the characters a little weak?  Oh, that’s too bad.  Maybe the next book you pick up will be better.  If you have the kind of analytical mind that would pick up on these kinds of things to the point where it would most likely ruin the story/series for you, then maybe you shouldn’t be reading fiction in the first place.

The point I’m trying to get across here is that it’s fiction.  F-I-C-T-I-O-N.  Fik-shuhn.

As defined by Dictionary.com: (key words highlighted)

1.  the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, especially in prose form.
2.  works of this class, as novels or short stories. Detective fiction.
3.  something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story. We’ve all heard the fiction of her being in delicate health.
4.  the act of feigning, inventing, or imagining.
5.  an imaginary thing or event, postulated for the purposes of argument or explanation.
In other words, not real.  Untrue.  False.  Rife with personal thoughts, ideas and viewpoints.  You want objectivity?  You want realism?  Try hitting up the non-fiction section.  And even then, good luck.
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