Regardless of whether space opera (and similar action adventure SF) is written by men or women, the roles of women have changed over the years. SF written by celebrated writers as late as the 1950s and 1960s is now generally considered misogynist and sexist. Women’s roles consisted of supporting their man and looking pretty as a damsel in distress. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, stout women began to appear in the literature. Early examples include Supergirl, Red Sonja and She-Ra. Soon the woman bad-ass had taken over everywhere, in often highly unrealistic action scenes and with highly unrealistic results.

Unfortunately, a lot of that old sexism seemed to cling to these women characters. They’re generally portrayed in skimpy costumes with pumped up attributes. Cue the sexism scandal in the SFWA, circa 2013. So where do we go with this now?

Clearly a sizable portion of the SF&F audience has a taste for this kind of character. Are they offensive to women? Growing that way? Should male writers be more sensitive to how these characters could be perceived by women? Should women just ignore it?

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