As a man, I am, and many others are, deeply indebted to feminism. Whether we choose to identify as a feminist, or pro-feminist, or nothing at all, we must recognise that feminism has progressed important dialogues about intimacy, education, politics, religion, health, law and culture. Instead of repudiating feminist labels then, we should embrace feminist dialogues to help build more inclusive politics and communities.
The characterization of fantasy as “boy fiction” is offensive to the genre and offensive to women. That we for the most part will only read what Oprah has picked, and especially if a woman wrote it, is a stereotype that is not only demeaning to women — it is also untrue. Like Bellafante, I can offer personal anecdotes to back up my assertion, some of which involve stunning young women dressing up as Martin’s characters at Worldcon. Sometimes in very tight spandex. But that would be beside the point.
When we categorize books as “boy fiction” and “girl fiction” it’s just another way to promote gender stereotyping. It is predicated on the assumption that people will only read books that reflect their personal experiences, so therefore women will only deign to read about dating, shopping, and kitchen intrigues. This is patronizing to women and undermines one of the core purposes of literature, which is to take us on voyages beyond the scope of our personal experience so that we expand in our understanding and capacity for empathy. And I think most women get this; I think most women are willing to read novels with male protagonists in worlds apart from their own. To imply otherwise is an offense to the gender.