Conversation on IRC tonight is following the same train of thought that’s been on my mind all evening. What books influenced your view of the world? Especially gender roles came up today — The Berenstein Bears in particular came up negatively, but nightlarke mentioned Dragonsinger, which was overwhelmingly positive for me, as were the characters of Killashandra in Crystal Singer, Sassinak in Sassinak and Generation Warriors and Petra in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

Stereotypes are something I’ve always been highly sensitive to, and had my own perceptions of. I definitely grew up in a post-feminist era, but in a house with my dad bringing home the tofu, so to speak, for most of my life. Mom was an at-home mom, perhaps so enlightened as to believe in mothering-as-an-important-job, not the post-feminist we-can-work-too. My sister (whom I’ve looked up to as I might an older sister, despite her being younger) is very much can-do, as well. There’s no notion of “feminine weakness” in my family. I was exposed to a very healthy (in my mind) idea of femininity early on — not sheltered from negative versions, as one might expect of homeschool-socialization.

The characters of Sassinak and Petra were both amazingly strong, wonderful, rich characters without making the characters around them weak — male or female. They didn’t carry the manipulative, nasty stereotypes that female characters have so often in science fiction.