An erudite, self-aware feminist memoir, in graphic novel form, examining a lesbian’s childhood relationship with her parents – especially her closeted gay father. Fun Home is chock full of psychoanalysis, literary criticism and commentary on gender, sexuality and suicide. You may recognise the author’s name from her Bechdel Test, which ‘asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man’ to indicate gender bias (Wikipedia).
2014 was an interesting year of reading. While I haven’t managed to read as much as I wanted, what I’ve read has changed. A look at format, genre, price, and authorial gender and nationality.
From Earthsea to Noughts and Crosses, The Summer Prince to Akata Witch, children and teens need to see books with characters that represent the diverse world they live in, whether they are dystopian romance or fantasy adventure. Organisations like We Need Diverse Books are helping to promote diversity in children’s literature, but what actions can we take – as readers, writers, publishers, and book-buyers – to help them in their goals? And who are the great authors of the past few years we should be catching up on?
Are genres gendered? Truisms like “women don’t read science fiction” or “men hate romance” abound, but to what extent do these sorts of assumptions determine what we see on the shelves? How have certain sub-genres become strongly associated with writers (and readers) of a single gender? What are the difficulties faced by a writer trying to work in a (sub)genre traditionally associated with a gender other than their own? What role(s) can publishers and booksellers play in creating, reinforcing, or challenging such bias?
Orphan Black is one of the most critically-acclaimed and fannishly-popular SF TV series to debut in the last few years, and is notable both for being a strongly feminist narrative and for sticking (more or less, so far) to a plausible depiction of biological sciences. In the season one finale, the two themes are linked: “We have to control our biology”, one of the clone-sisters asserts. Bearing this imperative in mind, how do the show’s feminism and science interact and inform one another? How successful is the show at balancing commercial and political narrative goals?
The “Bechdel test” for female representation in films is now widely known. To pass it a film should contain two named female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. In recent years, similar tests have been proposed for other under-represented groups, including the Mako Mori test for characters of colour, and the Russo test for queer characters. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such tests? How do they affect our viewing choices? And what does the popularity of such tests say about how popular media are being received and discussed?
Some female warriors represent the norm in their fantasy or science fictional societies and are expected to train and fight alongside their men. Others are “exceptions”, who need to battle the prejudice of their colleagues just as much as their enemies. Panelists will discuss female fighters of every kind, taking examples both from real life and fiction. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the characters under discussion? How has representation of female warriors changed over time? How does the author’s treatment of these characters vary by genre if at all?
8,000 people attended LonCon3 hailing from 64 countries, some as far away as Australia. Roughly 2,000 from the U.K. and 2,000 from the U.S. What the LonCon3 site doesn’t show is something I noticed as soon as I walked through the doors of the ExCeL building: the age, gender, disability and racial demographics.
70% or more of the attendees were over 40 – though over 60 is probably more accurate – and during the four days I was there I only saw two black faces. There were a few Middle Eastern and south and east Asians, but no black people.
Bra-burning, manhating lesbian with hairy armpits and unshaven legs campaigning for the superiority of women, I am NOT.
This widespread misconception of the definition of modern mainstream feminism continues to distort public perception. Radical Feminsim is the extremist camp no mainstreamer wants to be associated with, just like Al-Queda to Islam, but nonetheless it’s continually used as a representation of the feminist “norm” by the ignorant and those opposed to gender equality.