Thursday, June 24, 2010

Asimov and Women

In the 1970s, critics began to write about Asimov's work, and many feminists castigated him because there were no "strong women" in his early stories. (Even Susan Calvin is hardly a strong woman. In one story she causes a robot to have a nervous breakdown because it lied to her about a male colleague being attracted to her, and so she'd put on some makeup for the first time and made a fool out of herself.)

Asimov's explanation - probably valid - was that he didn't know any women, except his mother, on whom to base characters in his stories. (On the other hand, when it comes to the pulps, E.E. Doc Smith's women are the nadir of female characters. But that's a rant for a different time.)

In any event, in a Black Widowers short story, I believe Asimov reveals what he really feels about women - they all remind him of his mother:

From "Middle Name":
Rubin says, "Come, Henry, are you trying to say that men are afraid of women?"

Henry - the waiter who solves all the Black Widowers mysteries, states:
"I believe many are. Certainly, many feel a sense of relief and freedom when in the company of men only and feel particularly free when women are not allowed to intrude....

It seems to me that most men during their childhood have had their mothers as their cheif authority figures. Even when the father is held up as a mysterious and ogreish dispenser of punishments, it is, in fact the mother whose outcries, yanks, pushes and slaps perpetually stand in the way of what we want to do. And we never recover."

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