From notes, so there may be errors. This was a really lively panel.

Kate Elliott (author): There’s a lot of discussion of the roles of women in epic fantasy.

Andrea Horbinski (academic): It’s the epic fantasy discussion that continues in perpetuity.

Kate: I saw one guy write, “99% of all women in history were illiterate peasants who were always pregnant and never went more than two miles from their village, so why write about them? They didn’t do anything.”

Robin LaFevers (author): YA gets a lot of crossover adult readers because women get to do more in it, and can play all the roles. Romance is another genre that’s more female-centered. About that “the average woman never did anything,” fantasy is either about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, or about extraordinary people. The magnitude of the cop-out there is breathtaking.

Kate: [Defends ordinary lives.] I was on a panel once where I said, “We have novel after novel about war. Why none about childbirth?” A man on the panel said, “Because every battle is different, but every childbirth is the same?”

Robin: Is he still in possession of all his body parts?

Kate: Raising children can be a heroic choice. And not seeing it as such is also a choice.

Guadalupe Garcia McCall (author and teacher): I teach eighth graders at a 99% Hispanic school. The girls are caught up in romance and being pretty. I try to teach them that there’s other ways to be. I taught them about the women in the Mexican Revolution. They had guns. Some were pregnant. Some had their children with them. They were tough! Girls have the warrior instinct in them, in their culture.

Andrea: In the 1400s, Mexico City was the original cosmopolitan metropolis. A lot of fiction doesn’t express how different the past was.

Gillian Chisom (academic): Witchcraft confessions are some of the few extant narratives by illiterate women in that place and time. There’s one from 1570s Scotland, by a woman who had a fairy guide, a dead nobleman.

[“Early Snapewife,” I thought.]

Gillian: She’d just given birth, her husband was sick, and she had to drive the cows home. A fairy appeared to her and offered her an escape.

In the 1640s, England had its only mass witch hunt. It was led by one man, a witch finder. He asked one woman on trial to describe the Devil. She said he was a proper man, “like you.” He asked her if she’d rather have sex with him or with the Devil. She said, “With the Devil!” These stories don’t have happy endings, but they do show how women exercised whatever agency was possible to them.

Kate: You don’t need to be a ruler to have agency.

Robin: In some times, if a husband died, his wife would take over his trade and be admitted to the guild.

Women often died in childbirth. Think how much courage it takes to get pregnant, knowing that.

Kate: And they did often have that choice. There was withdrawal, and other methods. Family planning existed in early times in Southeast Asia.

Andrea: Also in China and Japan. People see everything pre-Meiji as dystopian. People didn’t have that many children, so we think it was because everything was horrible. It was actually very prosperous. People deliberately limited births to limit household disruption.

Kate: Women’s histories are forgotten and erased.

Robin: Is there still resistance in academia to women’s history?

Gillian: It’s acknowledged but many people don’t do more than that.

Andrea: Professors give lectures with very few revisions for decades. Doing gender studies gets you pigeonholed and less respected. Textbooks insert sidebars on women, but the narrative’s overall focus is on men.

Kate: If you write about women in fantasy, then you’re not writing about a “universal experience.”

There’s a narrative I think of as “The Hollywood Victorian Middle Ages.” George R. R. Martin writes a lot of interesting female characters in varied roles, but the gender roles aren’t actually medieval – they’re 1970s.

Gillian: The Victorian idea of separate spheres is entrenched as everyone’s idea of “the past.” Before that, roles were often not so clear-cut.

Robin: Even “medieval times” is inaccurate— What times? Where? People didn’t have separate bedrooms in earlier periods – that came later. In early Brittany, there was a war between a 12-year-old girl leader of Brittany, who inherited when her father died, and Anne, Regent of France. But there’s no book about this. It’s mentioned in passing in various sources.

Andrea: Recs Mary Gentle’s Ash series, about a medieval female mercenary captain.

Robin: The question I keep coming back to is, how can we get men to stop thinking that if we tell our own stories, that means that men always lose.

Guadalupe: My 3rd book is about a Mexican-American boy during the Mexican Revolution. It’s a male protagonist, but the women in his life are very strong. Women were completely involved in the war, with the agenda of protecting their families. I worry over how it will be received.

Kate: Why do some people desperately not want women in their stories?

Robin: Real history is seen as “revisionist” compared to fake history that people learned in school.

Guadalupe: Teachers aren’t allowed to write their own curriculums – it’s set by the state.

Gillian: I had a college student ask me, “Were people prejudiced against women back then? Why?” I blamed Aristotle.
recessional: an owl cup without a handle with tea inside (Default)

From: [personal profile] recessional


I was on a panel once where I said, “We have novel after novel about war. Why none about childbirth?” A man on the panel said, “Because every battle is different, but every childbirth is the same?”


*waves a little flag for Call the Midwife*
enemyofperfect: silhouette against a low sun, someone at a microphone (Default)

From: [personal profile] enemyofperfect


These write-ups are so interesting. Thank you for giving those of us not in attendance a glimpse!
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid


That sounds like a fun session. I saw Kate Elliot talk on a similar topic at Aussiecon and she was great.
lovepeaceohana: A tilted artist's rendition of a clear blue ocean with sky and clouds above; text reads "now bring me that horizon..." (Default)

From: [personal profile] lovepeaceohana


I was on a panel once where I said, “We have novel after novel about war. Why none about childbirth?” A man on the panel said, “Because every battle is different, but every childbirth is the same?”

I nearly spat milk through my nose. Good gods, what ignorance.

From: (Anonymous)


What kills me is that this kind of ignorance is not just okay to the majority of people, but expected. But if you expressed ignorance about men's experiences, you'd be laughed out of almost every room in the world. [/Feminist rage]

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


Wow, some interesting ideas thrown out. I'm glad I wasn't there--I would have had my hand up constantly.

From: [identity profile] lorataprose.livejournal.com


I am soooooooooo jealous of you right now

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


The question I keep coming back to is, how can we get men to stop thinking that if we tell our own stories, that means that men always lose.

I see this fear a lot--directed against women, or against LGTBQ folks, or POC, or even simply against people who want to write something that varies the standard tale in some other way. People seem to think that having new voices or new types of tale means that the old versions--the ones in which everyone is white and heterosexual and conforms to very clearcut gender roles, etc.--are going to vanish. But they're not! People really don't have to worry. It's like worrying that legal gay marriage is going to somehow limit heterosexual marriage.

From: [identity profile] anglerfish07.livejournal.com


Wow, so many things I want to comment on. Loved this discussion! :D Thanks so much for your notes, Rachel!

I taught them about the women in the Mexican Revolution. They had guns. Some were pregnant. Some had their children with them. They were tough! Girls have the warrior instinct in them, in their culture.

LOVED this. :)

A man on the panel said, “Because every battle is different, but every childbirth is the same?”

Robin: Is he still in possession of all his body parts?


Ha! *laughs* How can someone be so thoughtless and assume every childbirth is the same?

Kate: Raising children can be a heroic choice.

AMEN. It's weird how so many people seem to forget this. Plus so many men are too afraid of being in the same room as their wife when she is giving birth. It takes enormous courage to give birth too.

Loved the line that you don't need to be a ruler to have agency.


From: [identity profile] negothick.livejournal.com


"I had a college student ask me, 'Were people prejudiced against women back then? Why?'”
I just had a college student, a woman who has taken a gender studies course, begin an essay with (I paraphrase), "unlike today, in the past women had to publish under male names or use initials because of the prejudice against female authors."

I had to comment: "Unlike, say, J.K. Rowling or James Tiptree, Jr.?"

From: [identity profile] anait.livejournal.com


So much food for thought here.

Raising children can be a heroic choice. And not seeing it as such is also a choice. :D Yes!

Witchcraft confessions are some of the few extant narratives by illiterate women in that place and time. That's really rough.

In some times, if a husband died, his wife would take over his trade and be admitted to the guild. I'd never heard of that!

People see everything pre-Meiji as dystopian. People didn’t have that many children, so we think it was because everything was horrible. It was actually very prosperous. People deliberately limited births to limit household disruption. Or of this! History is always cooler than I know. :)

There’s a narrative I think of as “The Hollywood Victorian Middle Ages.” George R. R. Martin writes a lot of interesting female characters in varied roles, but the gender roles aren’t actually medieval – they’re 1970s. This made me laugh, in light of watching HBO's Games of Thrones! :D
.

Profile

rachelmanija: (Default)
rachelmanija

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags