Saturday, April 6, 2013

#WomenInGenre Month

This is relevant to my interests.

Author and editor Harry Markov kicked off April with a question: "Where are the women in genre?". It wasn't an April Fool's joke, and it wasn't one of those clueless articles  that usually flail about completely missing the huge history of women in speculative fiction. Harry knows (part of) the answer, and he wants to share it with us and push the wider conversation forward.

Every day for the month of April Harry is blogging about one woman in the speculative fiction genre. He wants the conversation to go to social media, and we took up his cause immediately with the #WomenInGenre hashtag on Twitter.

Fantasy Café is also in on the #WomenInGenre month discussion, running a "Women in SF&F Month" blog series, with one women genre author talking about their experiences.

The conversation goes deeper than this for me and other authors. I was pondering how to articulate beyond the gender binary inclusivity in such a discussion, but Polenth Blake beat me to it. "Women and Others in Genre" is an excellent discussion about genderqueer and non-gender binary people and where they fit.
So, here we are in April with #WomeninGenre month. And those mixed feelings are there, because every month gets to be #MeninGenre month, and occasionally it's #WomeninGenre month, but it's never #UnbinaryinGenre month. I face the issue of either asking to be included as a woman or not being included at all.
And while there are some fantastic conversations going on this month, some people within genre took it upon themselves to remind women and others just where they should stand, taking delight in making us April Fools. For April 1, a Locus Online contributor made an ill-advised post, "joking" that all participants at this year's WisCon will be forced (wow) to wear burquas, chucking in body policing along with the racism and sexism for good measure. And in the latest members edition of the SFWA (our International writer's union no less) magazine "Bulletin", an article asserted that the Barbie doll was the epitome of a "perfect women". Yes, she who is white, pretty, plastic in every which way, and of the impossible measurements, was what a women should be because she is "nice" and has a good boyfriend. Oy vey.

Author Carrie Cuinn summed up both GenderFails succinctly in "Barbie, Burquas, April Fool's Jokes, Writer's Advice: Small Failures Hurt Us in Big Ways"
These two great institutions – SFWA and Locus – which have done so much for writers, in one week announced to the world that:
  • we can feel free make fun of women, because if they don’t like it, that’s their problem
  • we should mock conventions designed to encourage women to be part of the science fiction community
  • we should be offended if anyone wants us to follow Islamic custom, because, ewww
  • feminists are fat, or so ugly they should be covered with black fabric from head to toe
  • women with Barbie-like proportions, white skin, blue eyes, and blond hair are perfect (therefore, women don’t look like that aren’t)
  • women should be quiet, respectful, and appreciate their place in a man’s world
  • women who meet the current standards of beauty are happier because they like being objectified
  • women who aren’t sexually active are nicer than those who are
  • a child’s toy can be considered a “tramp” or “whore” 
Another favourite author of mine Jim C. Hines, he of the brilliant male feminist ally, also took up the call out against the bullying of women in genre:
The backlash against the Locus article isn’t about someone taking cheap shots at Muslims and women. It’s about yet another person taking those shots, lining up to bully those who are already a popular target for abuse. And it’s about everyone else who stands around, encouraging and enabling that bullying.
This April it's a great chance to talk about #WomenInGenre - as it is at ANY time - and I say be more inclusive too. It's just such a damn shame that we have to have our voices muted by the shouts of anachronistic outrage, such stupid, petulant shenanigans, from the White Dude Brigade over and over again (yes, I see the same names coming up again and again). But I'll be damned if it's going to gag us. We're loud, we're amazing, we're here. It's the sort of behaviour that makes it even more important to make our history loud and proud, that makes me write and speak up even more fiercely.

Turn the volume all the way to eleven, ladies, women, wymyn, girls, butches, bois, and friends.

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