Recently I read yet another book where the character I most identify with ended up sad and alone after the death of her beloved partner. Reader, I am fucking done with these books. DONE. Done done done.
If you nodded along to Ferrett's post about how the "logic" underpinning all-white and all-male award nomination lists is suspect, then nod along to this. Every time a lesbian dies, every time a wife is widowed, every time a mother grieves the death of her child, every time rape is used to define a woman's character, it serves the story that the author wanted to tell--the story the author chose to tell. And I am no longer content with "it makes sense in the context of the story" as an explanation or an excuse. That "logic" is just as suspect.
TELL DIFFERENT STORIES.
Tell stories where it doesn't make sense for her husband or wife to die. Tell stories where her child dying is unfathomable. Tell stories where women live happy fulfilling lives. Tell stories where women find love and don't lose it again. Tell stories where women and their bodies aren't treated like objects.
Tell stories where women are happy, where a woman's happiness makes sense in the context of the story, where a woman's happiness serves the story, where a woman's happiness is integral to the plot. Tell stories where women's hearts and minds and bodies and families and vocations are healthy, and treated with respect by other people.
Tell stories where women are happy.
This should not be such an outrageous suggestion. But take a look at recent SF/F, at the books that get awards, at the books that get talked about, and it is entirely and utterly radical.
Tell stories where women are happy. I dare you. And I'm begging you, please. I can't handle any more unhappy women. I can't. It's why I read romance more than SF/F these days. I don't identify as a woman anymore, but that doesn't stop me from identifying with women, and they are all so sad and I can't do it. Stop showing me how tough and realistic your grimdark is by making the women as miserable as the men. Stop showing me how exciting and dangerous your space adventure is by putting the women through as many trials as the men. I believe you, okay? It's tough and realistic, it's exciting and dangerous, I believe you, you can stop now.
It will be hard the first few times, because it's so alien, this notion of women's happiness. But you'll get used to it, once you can adjust your ideas of what's "logical".
Tell stories where women are happy. Go on. Give it a try.