From the Observer blog
But the appeal of the sci fi system to the ordinary fan lies not just in its orderliness, but in its finiteness. As with any holy text, the science fiction universe is knowable in its entirety. You can watch every single episode of Star Trek and learn everything there is to know about it. You can contain an entire universe in lists and DVDs. The kind of universe that is knowable by heart is much less threatening than the real universe outside, off screen, full of unpredictability and disorder.
It is my contention that the reassurance offered by a system of order, internal coherence, completability and collectability - a universe that can be put in alphabetical order - is particularly appealing to men.
It is always dangerous to draw stark gender distinctions, especially when, as here, there is no basis in science to back up the theory. These are just my observations. Obviously there are female Star Wars/Star Trek geeks, but nowhere near as many as there are male ones. Not by a mile.
Where to start?
Firstly, it's probably true that the appeal of Star Wars
, for many, is that it offers a knowable universe. Secondly, it is probably true that canon can be treated as a holy text by some fans. I'd even be prepared to go so far as to say that maybe the most critical cases of this syndrome are predominantly men (although to suggest, as the article does elsewhere, that 'Star Wars
loyalists didn't hate The Phantom Menace
because the acting and script were so bad, but because it contained canonical travesties' is overstating the case, I think).
there are more male Trek
fans than female, I'd be inclined to suggest it says more about the nature of those two universes--with their emphasis on adventure and exploration by men--than it does about science fiction in general. Given that Revenge of the Sith
features a grand total of two female characters and that one of them gets shot in the back without having a chance to defend herself while the other spends the entire film Just Being Pregnant, it's hardly a welcoming universe, after all. Trek
has Janeway, but it's not clear to me that that's much of an improvement.
But I'm far from certain that that 'if' is
true (I don't know how many people actually have serious trouble relating to characters of a different gender, for example) and certainly I can't imagine that the writer of the article has had much contact with, say, Buffy
fandom and the factions contained therein. It might easily be true that the women outnumber the men there, and it's a place where, for all the easy jokes about fangirls obsessed with Spike's cheekbones, the women are certainly just as capable as the men of citing chapter of script and verse of writerly interview. Plus, you know, The World's Only Gynarchist Plausible-Fable Assembly
, going on even as I write.
For additional amusement, the comments on the original post give us this utterly moronic gem:
It's also a necessary social filter. Good looking chicks don't like science fiction; so you over the course of time you'll get a race to the bottom amongst sci-fi geeks as they have to mate with uglier and uglier women until they eventually join the neaderthals
I think I speak for us all when I say: s'yeah, right.
On a related note, SFX
--the magazine infamous for obscuring part of its logo so that it appears to say 'SEX' --recently started running a column by Jayne Dearsley with the stated aim being 'to redress the balance and to give a female viewpoint on all aspects of sf'. You can view this as cynically as you feel is appropriate, but she makes some good points:
Some male readers get upset whenever SFX prints pictures of James Marsters looking sultry; it's as though they feel their territory is being invaded. Which is funny, 'cause us girls don't mind when Jolene Blalock lights up a few pages with her lips--she seems like a nice gal. It's a strange double standard that annoyed me for the four years I worked in the SFX office, and will probably annoy me beyond it. Why do men get irritated when SFX acknowledges its female readership?
After all, we all like sf. And judging by the SFX mailbag, many women enjoy waxing lyrical about everything from the charms of Spike to the moves of Hellboy or the hard sf of Stephen Baxter--as many women as men put pen to paper . Women can't be pigeonholed; yes, we often like films/shows/books for different reasons than men. But so what? We still love sf and fantasy or we wouldn't be reading SFX.
Which I think is one of the most sensible things I've ever read in SFX
. The fun backwards implication of this, of course, is that holy texts are 'knowable in their entireity' and offer a universe that is 'much less threatening than the real universe outside, off screen, full of unpredictability and disorder.'
 Although in the interests of fairness, the magazine cover that caused me the most embarrassment in the kitchen at work at lunchtime was the lesbian tentacle porn issue of The Third Alternative.
 When I read this I was seized by the strange urge to test the theory that there are women Baxter-fans writing letters to SFX by sending in a personal ad. 'Malenfant seeks Emma Stoney', anyone?