Saturday, 16 March 2013

FeministSF and IWD

As most people who have cause to interact with me over fiction or reviews at TFF know already, I'm running a little behind on everything at the moment, so writing this post only 8 days after International Women's Day is actually slightly ahead of the curve, by this month's standards...

A while ago I found lying around a few copies of a flyer that we made to call for stories for the Feminist Science Fiction themed issue of TFF (published as TFF 2010.19). We did have better flyers, which I think we sent to WisCon 2009 and elsewhere, but this is the only one I apparently still have copies of:

(Click through for a readable version of the text.)

My first thought when I looked at this, nearly four years later, was "Why am I apologising for the word 'feminism' in there?" Maybe that's a bit strong—I just wanted to make it clear that a "feminist SF" issue didn't have to be only stories about and by women—but I think I was a bit sensitive and defensive about the topic at the time. A female friend at the time had recently said something to me like, "I don't think you mean feminist; you mean feminine. Feminism did great things in the 1960s, but we don't need it any more, do we?" (While obviously I disagree with that, and the introduction to that feminist issue in part answered that question, I also don't want to start preaching to women about what feminism should or shouldn't mean for them.)

I'm also not sure I entirely agree with my formulation in that call for submissions that all speculative fiction that addresses issues of sex, gender, sexuality and sexual identity falls under the category of feminist. On the one hand, there are plenty of themes within the gender/sexuality area that are not in themselves specifically feminist (masculinity, m/m queer stories, etc.), so my attempt at a broad church was maybe a bit too woolly. On the other, the most interesting feminist writing is that which is properly intersectional, which recognises that male privilege and discrimination against women do not exist in a vacuum, but intersect significantly with racism, trans- and homophobia, classism, linguistic dynamics, cultural imperialism, colonial privilege and ableism. So yes, all of those things belong in feminist science fiction.

There will never come a time when feminist science fiction is not welcome at The Future Fire.

Although the CFS for the themed issue was from several years ago, and in some ways it served its function which was to raise awareness of the fact that we're very interested in including more fiction from a feminist perspective and featuring a more equitable balance of male and female authors, I would like to end this IWD post with a call for submissions—or a call to arms—of sorts: we'd love to receive more feminist speculative fiction, especially intersectional feminist stories, in TFF. Come up with stories that challenge not only one but several hierarchies; write stories that show in a radical light the full variety and beauty of the world, rather than just the straight, white, anglo males who fill the Masterworks and Mammoths of our genre; send us stories that are militant, angry, amazing, pushy, hilarious, challenging, mind-blowing, astonishing, useful, beautiful, feminist, postcolonial, intersectional and new.

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