I Like Stories In Which All The Men Are Dead

I wore my Clarion West shirt to Readercon. It reads "I like stories in which all the men are dead."

Some people loved it. Others scratched their head, said wow, and moved on. One guy looked like he was ready to take out all his pent up rage about the direction Sci fi and fantasy is going on me.

Let me explain. At Clarion we taught each other a lot. One of the things we grappled with was the portrayal of women in writing. This included critiquing and facing issues of abuse, consent, using women as a man's motivation, and more.

So, no, our quote isn't literal. We don't want to remove all men from fiction. But it embodies the thought of thinking of women first in fiction. What happens when they are not just set pieces? What happens when we stop looking at them from the male gaze? Maybe if we 'kill' our men characters (in whatever metaphorical way you choose, this is writing btw!), our women can live more on the page.

For me, someone at clarion, after my third or so story, said she would like to see me try a woman protagonist. Before that, in my head Afiya was a man.

Best advice I've taken up so far in writing.