Why don’t girls (in general) like sci-fi as much as boys? I love Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Dune, and more, so I can’t speak for most girls, but I was grumbling to myself the other day about how none of my girlfriends like sci-fi.
Yup. You got that. NONE. None of them even have a shred of understanding about my love/obsession and most have not even seen all six Star Wars movies. I have one friend who is borderline understanding because she has a twin brother who is really into sci-fi.
So, with my girlfriends, I never talk about anything related to sci-fi. I have great group of diverse friends and all of us have different interests but occasionally, I would like to have one girlfriend who wants to go to cons with me and encourages/challenges me in my love of sci-fi.
I think one of the main reasons that girls do not like sci-fi, whether they realize this or whether it’s subconscious, is that sci-fi has always been geared towards men. It’s hard to empathize with the characters in a sci-fi movie when there are not many female characters actually playing a key part. As a young girl, being brought up to like flowers, pastel colors, and butterflies, it’s hard to see yourself getting dirty and shooting guns. I am generalizing on all this of course – we all know that – and there are always exceptions, myself being one of them since I love the thought of running around in unknown landscapes and fighting aliens.
So if you are raised on The Little Mermaid or Barbies (which my mother would not let me own and even returned ones that I got as a birthday present to my dismay and anger…story for another time), and there are few females to relate to in a science fiction movie/TV show, how can you see yourself in that setting? This is a much more complicated subject than my brief analysis and I’m only speaking from my own point of view. Simply put, I loved movies and books where I could see myself as the main character. Don’t get me wrong – gender did matter to me, I always wanted to be a boy when I was growing up and thought they had it so awesome and had it so easy (sometimes I still think that), but that didn’t mean that I didn’t want to be the main character just because he was a boy. I could easily translate that into my head as a girl playing that role instead.
But if gender was a big hindrance for some girls growing up, then perhaps they could not imagine themselves in a sci-fi setting because there were no main roles for girls. So instead, their parents plop them in front of movies with a female character because they think, “Oh, another girl, so my daughter can relate to her,” and those movies are usually Disney princess movies, Lizzie McGuire/Hannah Montana, My Little Pony, etc. If that’s what young girls are supposed to relate to, well it’s no wonder they shy away from science fiction.
If directors and story writers took the time to carve out strong, relevant female lead characters in a science fiction narrative, perhaps more girls would be interested in the genre. There has been a lot of movement in this area with TV shows/movies by Joss Whedon, Disney’s “Brave”, and the “Hunger Games”. I think the public is recognizing the need to show females in a relatable format on the big screen and in novels, but it will be slow and a long time coming. And even if something progressive should happen for young girls, like Brave, will there be an attempt to mold her into something our male dominated society is more interested in seeing? Think of a curvy figure with long flowing hair and see this article. Thankfully, Disney quickly turned around their decision on that but it still raised a lot of eyebrows and voices against it. Even Joss Whedon was pulled into the madness of marketing a sexier female on his Avenger movie poster…as if Scarlett Johansson is not sexy enough.
Am I making sense? This is just a small, minor theory and there are some excellent, more in depth blog posts out on the internet with a better analysis about why sci-fi has not always been female friendly. (Here are a couple good examples: Lois Lane and the Case for the Female Superhero Movie and Girl Power?)
Based on these musings, I decided to ask around between friends and colleagues to see if I could get any answer on what girls don’t like about the sci-fi genre. I only asked girls because…well, we’re girls. I tried to ask a good range of sci-fi fans and non-sci-fi fans, but it was heavily weighted on the non sci fi fan side since my female sci-fi fans are few and far between.
The questions I asked were, “Why do you think girls are not as interested in science fiction as men?” and “Why are you specifically not interested/interested?”
I’m not expecting anything ground breaking here, just something to satisfy my own curiosity because I’ve actually never asked my friends these questions. It would be interesting to post them and see what the answers are and if my small theory is at all correct.