“Realism”

Oh, realism, why won’t you just crawl into a hole and die already?

See, in light of my previous post where Scott Lynch tears a sexist bigot a new one for being a sexist bigot, I thought I’d devote a whole topic to the “fandom fallacy” of “realism”.

I Am Aware of My Own Hypocrisy puts it like this:

Fandom Law Of Realism. If a work of fiction takes place in a world in which there is magic, supernatural beings, weapons that in reality wouldn’t work, people with hair colors that don’t occur in nature or people with supernatural abilities, nobody accuses it of being “unrealistic”; but if it also has female characters who are physically strong or have ever won a fight against a man all by themselves, this automatically makes it completely unrealistic. Because the laws of the physics and common sense can be constantly defied without repercussions, but how dare you meddle with bullshit gender difference myths that have already been debunked that.

QFT. [The entire post can be found here.]

Seriously, breaking the laws of physics? No problem! But a female character who can kick ass and take names? NO SUCH THING EXISTS!

Oh wait, history says you’re full of shit. In fact, history has plenty of legendary (and, most importantly, not-so-legendary) women who kicked ass, and how much more realistic can you get than real life?

As soon as you start introducing things like magic, dragons, good men, and other fantasy creatures, and deities know what else into your world, as far as I’m concerned, all pretense of “realism” is out the window–with the possible exception if your work is a deconstruction, but the majority of works where folks complain about “realism” that I’ve seen are not, nor are they claimed to be, deconstructive in nature. If I’ve already made a world where everyone has crazy natural hair colours and can do magic (and I have, see: my “Tithe-Boy” posts), why would I suddenly draw a line in the sand when it comes to gender or sexuality? Fantasy in particular isn’t about drawing lines, it’s about saying “Your lines don’t fucking matter!” Seriously, science fiction authors actually need to work with rules that at least somewhat make sense, so why the fuck does the article on Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction at Wikipedia only talk about science fiction?  (Look at the “see also” part as well, all the articles specifically say “science fiction”.)

I mean, really now. In a world like the one I created for The Eldermaid, where spirits live in trees and volcanoes and occasionally decide to partner up with a human because, I don’t know, they have green eyes, the fact that it has a female-dominated military just seems kind of small on the realism scale. The country also has a queen, who rules alone, and she also has a daughter. I know, what was I thinking? Putting a single mother on the throne when I have beings who can throw fireballs around with wild abandon! How unrealistic!

I’ll tell you where you can shove your realism–in the “literature” section–now leave my sword-swinging, magic-using, ass-kicking characters (male, female, intesex, or otherwise) alone!

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