Welcome to the 17th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans, class. Since it's back-to-school month, and because I'm formerly an aspiring academic, I thought I'd drag some of those types of posts into the carnival too, along with the important things the rest of us are adding to the discussion. No clever framing conceits, just the chalk and the chocolate (and yes, I brought enough to share with everyone). So, first, the submissions from the summer reading list:
spiralsheep points us to Deformed? Male? No problem! posted at Ami Angelwings' Super Cute Rants of DOOOM XD, saying, "This post talks about appearance from a feminist perspective but, unusually, Ami also includes disfigurement as a normal part of the spectrum of appearance. Ami's posts are always worth reading but this post is outstanding and includes aspects of this subject which most people seem to shy away from discussing."
Anna also sent in Because Women Feel Things and Men Just Do Them, over at her blog Feminists Don't Bake Bread (if that's the case, I'm really in trouble): "In a world of the author's own creation, why is it so rare for the Aunt to search the woods for her lost nephew, wielding her earth magic against her enemies, as opposed to being kidnapped and threatened with rape and enslavement? Why does it seem, so often, to be the Uncle?"
This post on Medieval Fairies as Other over at Lisa Spangenberg's Digital Medievalist is interesting for a couple of reasons: one, because so much fantasy literature comes out of both medieval history and literature—including, often, the medieval attitudes toward women—but also because it points to a set of posts by MacAllister Stone about the Other (women, queer characters, people who are Not White, Straight Males, basically) in spec fic, where she defines "other" as "how we examine and define our squick and squee." That starts here.
Oh, that assumption that sexiness is everything, and that it only comes in one flavor. Good characters ≠ sexy characters, sez LJer Philippos Fourty-Two in Sexy? So What? And that's really about who gets to write the definition of what a good character is. So often it has nothing to do with looks, if it's a woman character, at least to another woman.
Meanwhile, it's easy to moan about what's wrong with mainstream comics from a feminist point of view (Aieee, the costumes! Aieee, the anatomy! Aieee, the constant violent rub-outs!) but Kalinara over on Pretty, Fuzzy Paradise, has a list of 10 Mainstream Superhero Comics THIS Feminist Likes. You may not agree, but she makes some interesting points. Sometimes it's useful to make lemonade outta the lemons. And maybe it's a sign that we're subverting from the inside.
Or maybe not. Sigh. Karen Healey over on Girl Wonder.org's blog, Girls Read Comics—And They're Pissed, once again finds it necessary to refute the idea that women don't read comics in Invisible Women, where it's always assumed that both the reader and the critic are male, even in academic circles. Is this magical thinking on guys' part? Do they think if they say it often enough, it'll come true? "Lalalalalala, I can't see you"? Karen's example is especially annoying:
So I’m doing this Batman essay for a book, right? My editor just sent me the proofer’s comments, and he refers to the author (me) as ‘he’ throughout it. Despite my name being RIGHT THERE.
Of course, it’s difficult to assign a gender to some names, but “Mary” is not generally considered to be one of them.
Can I just say, ARGHHHH! I've had this happen to, but at least "Lee" is a little more androgynous. There's no excuse here except willful blindness.
Here's a little antidote, maybe, over on BlogHer. Super Jive lays out her list of Where My Ladies At? Strong Women in Graphic Novels Part I and Part II, which deals with webcomics.
But it's not just strong women, it's what they do. And as Life on Queen Street points out in Bright and Shiny People Don't Buy Your Sexist Crap, The Sequel, violence by women against their partner's isn't sexy or acceptable either. "Here's the thing about equality - it cuts both ways, hence the word 'equal'. It isn't wrong for a man to hit a woman because she's smaller than him - it just makes it that much more heinous - it's wrong because violence is wrong. And if it's wrong for a man, it's wrong for a woman."
How important is it to have women on the editorial boards of gaming mags? Does it change the assumptions and the subject matter? That's a question that represents a microcosm of all the other places where men dominate the field, so it's no wonder there's a loooooong intense discussion of the question started by MyMindIsLost over at Girl_Gamers On Game Informer's Editorial Staff.
Cammy Bean talks about the new manifestation of the glass ceiling in gaming over on Learning Visions: Women, Gaming & the Guild Master Ceiling. "I'm concerned that women will be excluded if such a focus is put on gaming skills -- or at least the gamer label. Have you heard the urban legend regarding the big executive who was hired because he was a World of Warcraft Guild Master who had attained some really high level? The traditional Glass Ceiling will be replaced with a new, but invisible and invincible Guild Master Ceiling."
Fandom and Media Studies
Ragnell, Willow, and Anna all offered What Do You Do About A Problem Like Elizabeth? - Heroes, Heroines, and Fandom posted at Trouble: The Whole Shebang!, saying, "TroubleinChina discusses the need for multiple strong female characters in SF plotlines so that they can be viewed for what they do for the plot and not judged against other women who have even less agency."
Men defining women in Fandom. Why is Henry Jenkins still the predominant voice here, when so much of fandom, especially in the fanfic and vidder arenas, is women? I say, blame it on the academics. That gender bias is still running strong there, and whining about women asserting themselves. See for yourself over at Brandthroposophy in Battle of the Sexes: Francesca Coppa Versus Robert Kozinets. Part II starts here. Definitely worth reading for the insights, but love that it's billed as "battle of the sexes"? Not.
Vidders and fans of vids among you should go take a look at Women's Art and "Women's Work" over at Ambling Along the Aqueduct, done by vidders Sisabet and Luminosity (not affiliated with the site). It includes a spectacular and disturbing vid set to Hole's "Violet" with clips from the show "Supernatural" showing women as both victims and scary things with teeth (hmm, Madonna/whore anyone?). Along with it is a discussion of vidding as a gendered activity: "Vidding, like a lot of women's art, exists in the chinks of the world-machine; and the world-machine will crush it out of indifference as much as malice. Recent academic work on fan films has left out the history of female vidding. . . ." Whoa, big surprise, that! (Thanks to Ide for correcting my content and attribution info, too.)
Along the same lines, there's an interesting discussion about women writing about sexual violence in fandom, over the on the new LJ community It's a Woman's World: Gender Studies in a Female Domain.
Writing SF, Writing Life
Vandana Singh, also at Ambling Along the Aqueduct, gives us a shocking (but not all that surprising) rumination on the SFs male Old Guard's lack of feminist consciousness in On Writing, Life and Gender. It's a little outside the deadline, but the discussion is one that cuts across genres and media. And you would expect (or I do, anyway) that people in spec fic would have a little more progressive thinking. Isn't that the point?
Over on Bold As Love, author Gwyneth Jones asks the oh so relevant question, post 9/11, "What should a feminist do, in war time?" in the context of writing science fiction and in particular Kathleen Goonan's In War Time. "I didn’t start writing feminist sf because I wanted to see more women in power in the genre. I was one of the writers, inspired by the giants of the seventies, who genuinely wanted to change the world. To shift the whole rope of braided possibilities that constitutes sf/f towards a better place. . . I wasn’t asking for much, just a quantum leap."
And BlogHer has done a nice roundup of posts discussing the late Madeleine L'Engle as feminist SF author. Personally, I think she was probably the first pro-girl writer I was exposed to, and I think Meg Murry is still one of the best role models for girls.
There's the bell. Do your homework and submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of feminist science fiction and fantasy fans using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.