I just read A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony (published 1977). It's the first book with only a male protagonist I've read in awhile, and usually I get bored and stop reading. I have decided that I am very confused about his portrayal of women. Within the first few pages, you already have women who are thought of badly by Bink, the protagonist, but I thought it was satire, because Bink is an idiot at the start of the story. There is no way I can see a Bink as anything but an idiot in the first part of the book.
I managed to convince myself it was satire for a really long time (even through the farcical rape trial) until the end of the book, where Chameleon is revealed as being three women depending on her monthly cycle: one beautiful and dumb, one of average beauty and intelligence, and one very ugly but extremely intelligent. She's seeking a spell to cure this, but Bink decides he loves her just the way she is. It seems that Piers Anthony is saying you can't have both beauty and intelligence, and settling (or taking advantage of a woman who cycles through multiple manifestations) is the way to go. I am still confused, however, because there are multiple occasions before where Chameleon (as the beautiful but dumb manifestation) propositions Bink, but he turns her down because she doesn't seem to understand the ramifications of her actions (although it is made clear he would love to take her up on the offers). I think I may have missed some key events, but these are the ones I remember.
So, Xanth, what is going here? I am on the fence about whether I should like this or not, and it really all depends on how I am to interpret the portrayal of women.
Help? (I'd appreciate a share to O-deck, if it can be managed.) and thank you.
eta: this title was edited several times so Kinja didn't cut off the trigger warning
eta2: well, it looks like my question has been answered. Thanks! I would now like to open this up to a request for funny, lighthearted SFF books that do not portray women in a problematic manner. I would also prefer that there _be_ notable women in these books - that's why I stopped reading a lot of SFF.