One of the first SF authors I was introduced to was Heinlein (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!” – the reference for those who get it). And for years and years, I fondly remembered the short story “The Roads Must Roll.” It was a story I’d recommended to others. Fun. Interesting. Awesome starter for anyone who wanted to read SF. I looked back on it and loved it.
Then, almost 20 years later, I read it again, this time for a grad-level class on SF. And oh my god! Suddenly I realized that this excellent, amazing, classic of a story was awful. No, not the writing or the plot. But the treatment of women!
As an uber-feminist, I was shocked that 12 year old me didn’t notice just how badly the women were treated – and ignored – as human beings in the story.
Amazing what happens when we read something from a new perspective. Which is why I now find myself in possession of the 75th Anniversary Edition of “Is Sex Necessary?” by James Thurber and E.B. White. This version, unlike the one I read as a child, has a forward by John Updike that discusses many of Thurber’s issues and sheds light on why this comedic masterpiece may not be as funny as all that after all.
So here I go, plunging into the depth of another memory and seeing if I’ll emerge unscathed or soaking wet. Wish me luck!