Re: RARA-AVIS: women PIs/fantasy worlds

Date: 21 Aug 2001


Re your question on the following comment I made in an earlier post:

> >Moreover, the fantasy is, it seems to me, a
> >specifically male one.

> Um, OK. any basis for this statement at all, or
> should I even ask?

I really thought it was pretty self-evident, but I'll try to give you a basis.

1) The "classic/cliche" (depending on your POV) PI image was established in Prohibition/Dpression-era pulp magazines for which the writers were overwhelmingly male and the readership was overwhelmingly male.

2) The things that fictional PIs did, essentially a modern-day version of dragon-slaying was and is specifically a male function in the mythology of most societies. Hercules, Samson, St. George, Theseus, etc., etc. , etc., were all male figures, and all held up as models of what males should be. The
"classic/cliche" PI, like the frontier-era gunfighter, was latter-day continuation of this tradition.

3) The "classic/cliche" PI figure tends to deal with problems violently, or is at least prepared to deal with problems violently if necessary.

Througout history, violent encounters have been overwhelmingly the province of males. In terms of violent crime in the present day, that's still the case. Even with the rise in violent crime among females, it's overwhelmingly males who commit violent crimes.

Fighting "evil" with violence has also historically been overwhelmingly the province of males, and to a large degree, as with violent crime, still is. Notwithstanding the increasing number of women in police work, firefighting, and the military, the great majority of police officers, soldiers, and firefighters are still men. And an even larger majority of applicants (as opposed to those actually hired) for such positions are male. It's men who see themselves as the dragonslayers more than women, despite recruitment efforts, changing entrnace requirements, etc.

That's some of my basis for believing that the PI fantasy figure is primarily a male fantasy figure.


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