Throwing Pasta at the Wall
So Chally was doing that interview meme, and because I enjoy talking about myself, I decided to go for it. (Chally, btw, had a great post on Octavia Butler linked at io9 recently–some feminist redemption for them, ne?)
If you would like five questions from me, please leave a comment and I’d be glad to ask.
- What do you find valuable in blogging?
If I’m being perfectly honest, blogging for me is to get my opinion out to the greater public; if Anglocentric society is a wall, my thoughts are the pasta I’m throwing at it to see if it sticks. But I also find that in blogging, I end up formulating and articulating my opinions about various things, instead of just having nebulous feelings. I have a lot of feelings about a lot of things, but I haven’t always been able to explain why. Doing so makes me feel more secure and validated in having an opinion.
- You’ve got a degree in cultural studies. How does that inform your daily life? Is it hard to switch off from analysing the world around you? How has it influenced your participation in the blogosphere?
To be honest, it’s…I guess the word is frightening. I don’t turn on all the time, because if I did, I really would fear for my anger and stress levels; I would be so incredibly frustrated by the constant barrage of social control that I wouldn’t be able to function very well. Actually, the bullshit is manageable, most of the time. What really gets to me is the history, the context, the provenance, because it’s such a massive pile of disenfranchisement and disrespect of non-dominant people. It’s definitely a butterfly effect, and if I think about it for too long, I fear it will be impossible for humanity to ever claw our way out from under the kyriarchy.
But I like having the ability to have that perspective, though obviously I have my expertise limited to American (and a little UK) culture. It can get me in trouble, though, as cultural analysis is a fairly new field in academia, very pomo and focused on everything being relative. A lot of times that’s the kind of thing people who are more hardcore theorists don’t like to hear.
- You’re in control of the planet. (Not really, sorry.)
What are your first three actions as Bene the Great?
That’s tricky, because as I noted in #2, everything has so many ripple effect reactions. I would say…enforcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for everyone on Earth. Rights and agency for all! I don’t think I’d need any other specific actions after that that weren’t reactions…
- Because your taste in feminist SF is so incredibly full of win, what are your top five picks and why?
Awww. I’m not nearly as great as the WisCon people or the bloggers at Feminist SF or the Hathor Legacy, believe me. And I don’t know if I can do a top five; here are five that I’d deem fairly essential both from a critical and an enjoyment perspective:
- Nicola Griffith, Slow River. This was the first book I ever read that had LGBTQI people in it and their being queer was not the crux of the story. It was just a matter of fact, and the (very good) narrative goes on alongside it.
- Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories. This collection had a lot more to say to me in terms of realization and thought-provokation than Butler’s novels (except for perhaps Parable of the Talents). Along with ‘Bloodchild’, ‘Speech Sounds’ and ‘The Evening and the Morning and the Night’ really get to me in terms of understanding disenfranchisement on an emotional level.
- Suzette Hadin Elgin, Native Tongue. I’ve seen criticism of this on several levels, but I find a lot of value in it. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is a personal interest of mine; I took a linguistics course in college, and while it’s somewhat problematic and not universal as a theory, the general gist of it–that one’s language and terminology and usage shapes one’s perception of the world–is true on a general level, in my mind. I also like women working together constructively.
- Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time. I’d probably go with this over Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale if given an ultimatum, because it’s about injustice in terms of race, class, and gender, and the consequences of that injustice, both bad and good. Piercy gets points for her imperfect utopia, too.
- Ursula K. LeGuin, Always Coming Home. To be honest, while I like Left Hand of Darkness, I find ACH to be far more vivid and touching in its understanding of personal journeys and social equity.
A few other books I recommend can be found at the end of this post.
- Can you outline a bit of your feminist philosophy? As a whole or any aspect you wish.
I’d say my feminist philosophy is a firm part of my own personal philosophy, which is to say that there are either no absolutes or human minds cannot comprehend said absolutes. I don’t believe a radical destruction of a society will do much for establishing a greater good, that the master’s house has to stay standing until structural supports are replaced one at a time. But at the same time, I don’t buy into all of the trappings of the kyriarchy, because they’re hurtful and painful. I think it’s about adjusting the POV through negotiation while trying to be the strongest and best person you can be in the meantime.
More feminist SF reading behind the cut!
The lists that are at Feminist SF are pretty good, but I’d like to specifically point out some other stuff I’ve liked:
- Eleanor Arnason, A Woman of the Iron People
- Raphael Carter, The Fortunate Fall
- Suzy McKee Charnas, Holdfast Chronicles
- Kelley Eskridge, Solitaire
- Nicola Griffith, Ammonite
- Andrea Hairston, Mindscape
- Nancy Kress, ‘Flowers of Aulit Prison’
- Louise Marley, The Child Goddess
- Sheri Tepper, The Companions
- Joan D. Vinge, The Snow Queen
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Tags: feminist thought, sci-fi means science fiction, second class fan citizens, the lady is a geek