Kameron Hurley is a terrific fantasy author who wrote a great piece called ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative for the recently retired Dribble of Ink blog. I’m on record as questioning the fantasy genre’s marriage to redemptive violence, but Hurley does a masterful job of asking why fantasy—a genre that should, by definition, not be a slave to history—should have such a laughably simplistic (and historically inaccurate!) portrayal of women:
[W]omen did all sorts of things we think they didn’t do. In the middle ages, they were doctors and sheriffs. In Greece they were… oh, sod it. Listen. Foz Meadows does a better job with all the linky-links, for those who desire “proof.” Let’s just put it this way: if you think there’s a thing – anything – women didn’t do in the past, you’re wrong.
The whole piece is genius. If you like fantasy as a genre, you owe it to yourself to read this.