Ariel asked:

Am I the only one who found Mark Watney (and well, the rest of the book too really...) to be rather sexist?

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Justina Yes, I completely share your point of view. I felt engaged, and even started doing my own personal research into astronomy and engineering just out enthusiasm for the technical development in the storyline. But then I got to those misogynistic lines and wondered if Weir was aware that he was excluding women. Yes, a woman is commander. But that does not override the blatant misogyny throughout the book.

1. Beth is the hot chick on the ship. Everyone wants to sleep with her. She is “won” by her colleague Beck. But Mark still expresses how he (and every male he knows of) fancies her. There is a passage where she is having a conversation with her father and it is disgusting. He implies that she was the chaste, good daughter. He praises her for her CHASTITY over her computer genius. It is only worth making her a genius because she is hot.

2. Mindy Park (a Korean-American) is perceived as less than Annie Montrose, because she is not beautiful. There is something sexist AND racist about the depiction of Park. She is the stereotypical meek Asian girl, whose brains in engineering don’t matter because all Asians are great as this subject. What she really wants is to be white; to exemplify eurocentric standards of beauty. Whether Weir meant this or not, he is admitting his own preference for eurocentric features. As well, Park remains subordinate to men. She never uses her voice.

3. Park and Johanssen (Beth) both cry and tear up. The men don’t cry. The women do. Only Commander Lewis does not because she is a commander…seriously.

4. More about racism. One of the NASA guys, either Teddy or Mitch refers to the whole Chinese population despicably. He says “these chinese nerds are a weird bunch”. Seriously. How must it feel, being Chinese and reading this? It undermines the great alliance between the Chinese and the American government….It makes them seem again, almost subordinate to the U.S. government.

5. Dr. Kapoor is a Hindu and apparently it is funny that he is one. When asked if he believes in Gods he replies “lots of them”. Yes, Hinduism is polytheistic, but the context is weird. he also says “Oh gods!” …this seems to remind me of Apu from the Simpsons. The already established trope of the funny Hindu man. Seriously…what Hindu says “Oh gods”. This is pathetically racist.

6. Martinez asks Beth who she would eat first if she was alone on Hermes after the rest of her crew died. She obviously did not want to answer this and Martinez says that he’s meaty. Then he says “what you don’t like Mexican”? He’s referring to his ethnicity as something delicious…this is how white people like to exploit others. It’s like saying “I love sushi” when you meet someone Japanese.

7. Back to misogyny, the use of the word “rape” is absolutely abhorrent. He might as well stick in a Holocaust joke in there. I mean, there is no reason to use the word rape. He’s a writer, and he couldn’t think of another word? I almost puked when I read it. Immediately lost respect for the author.

8. And then of course, the pangs of not sleeping with women. He could have written about an actual woman from home that he loved and missed. He could have written about relationships and intimacy and feeling less alone in the world. He could have written about kissing a woman or holding her in his arms. He could have mentioned sex ALONG with love instead of independent of it. And a lot of people have already picked up how he compared a Martian goddess to a human woman. Women are as real as hypothetical alien monsters huh? No wonder his character is single.

9. The comment, as another person pointed out, about the gay spacecraft coming to save him. Why casually throw in the word “gay”? There was nothing empowering about it. I’m LGBT and I felt excluded and condescended to. It’s like saying “that’s so gay”. Weir is very behind the times.

There’s a lot more disgusting anti-humanity sentiments in this book, which is such a shame because I felt more inspired to become a scientist after reading it. It gave me mixed messages. His narrative is privileged and demeaning. I get the feeling that women and people of colour are jokes to him. That this is nerdy white cishet male novel and is not meant for anyone else.
Margaret Mae Absolutely not. People get offended by anything these days.
Martin Burrows It's hard to understand how you could consider him sexist, when he was the only human on Mars, where the majority of this took place. In his references to his female commanding officer, I saw nothing but respect in those comments.
Beatrice I agree.

I DNFed the book when I read this part:
"When they'll inevitably blame Commander Lewis, be advised I'll publicy refute it. I'm sure the rest of the crew will do the same.
Also, please tell them that each and every one of their mothers is a prostitute.
- Watney
PS: Their sisters, too"

But honestly I couldn't bear any more joke: his locker room humor wasn't for me, at all
Ruby I did not find this book sexist at all, at least not deliberately... You would really have to dig through the context and dialogue to find any evidence of Weir being sexist as some of the more prominent characters in the book such as the commanding officer are women. I actually thought that some of the references made, though unnecessary, worked well in the context, after all... Watney was a man in his mid-20s stuck on Mars for days on end. He probably started to lose his mind a little and missed women.

Although I understand where you're coming from, I disagree.
Melissa Williams See this blog post. It really hits all the nails on the head:

And this:
Read On! I didn't find him deliberately sexist. Though all physical jokes were made about women's bodies and not men's. But these were few and far between.
I thought Mark came across as a young, 25ish year old (hence the immature jokes) geek chic type character that probably has trouble attracting women, but isn't particularly bothered by that.
b. t. I found some of the humor sexist, yeah. Immature boob jokes, that kind of thing. It did take me out of the story at times, and I'm glad to see some reviewers pointing it out. On a positive note, none of it was targeted at actual characters (from what I remember). The female characters were treated with respect... they had distinct personalities, important jobs, and their authority & competence was never questioned on account of their gender.
Other than the occasional obnoxious joke, nothing else struck me as sexist, but you may have spotted things that I missed.
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by Andy Weir (Goodreads Author)
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