Tag Archives: feminism

Problem Daughters Guest Post: Rivqa Rafael Interviews Nicolette Barischoff

Problem Daughters will amplify the voices of women who are sometimes excluded from mainstream feminism. It will be an anthology of beautiful, thoughtful, unconventional speculative fiction and poetry around the theme of intersectional feminism, with a specific focus on the lives and experiences of marginalised women, such as those who are of colour, QUILTBAG, disabled, sex workers, and all intersections of these.

In the lead-up to publication, Rivqa Rafael talks to her co-editor Nicolette Barischoff about disability, autonomy and community, and how they relate to feminism. Futurefire.net Publishing is fundraising for the project until 14 February.

Rivqa: The intersection you seem to focus on the most is that of disability and sex positivity. How do you think your experiences in that space will inform your editing of Problem Daughters?  

Nicolette: I think I have always gravitated toward stories in which female protagonists have a strong sense of ownership of their bodies and their sexuality. Because sex positivity isn’t just about overturning the old gendered double standards. It’s about true bodily autonomy. It’s about recognizing the personhood of the person who’s having sex.

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Mary Vindicated: The Life & Politics of Mary Wollstonecraft

Great Ladies of History is a Patreon-sponsored essay series for tansyrr.com! One of the rewards at the $10 tier (Great Ladies Patron!) and at the $20 tier (Deluxe Super Special Queen-Emperor of Glorious Patronage) gives you the magical ability to choose any woman of history, fiction or art (yes, superhero comics count) for me to write about.

You can check out this and many other exciting Patreon rewards at my sponsorship page.

This essay is sponsored by Patreon supporter Marina Anderson.

Mary Vindicated: The Life & Politics of Mary Wollstonecraft, Feminist & Intellectual

“But what a weak barrier is truth when it stands in the way of an hypothesis!”
— Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

john-keenan-portrait-of-mary-wollstonecraft-1759-97-c-1793Mary Wollstonecraft was a radical writer and thinker of the 18th century, who not only published her revolutionary thoughts on the need for women to be educated and treated as fellow humans with their male counterparts, but lived out many of her theoretical ideas about what constituted equality in the household. Her political focus on women and their rights was unusual at the time; she was writing during the Enlightenment, a time when ideas about class and rational thought were undergoing a massive revolution, and yet the effect of this on gender roles had remained largely otherwise unexamined.

After her death at the age of 38, Mary’s widower William Godwin published a book as a “memoir” which was intended to cement his wife’s historical legacy, but also detailed her troubled mental health (including suicide attempts), financial woes and unconventional lifestyle. The resulting scandal meant that her words were all but drowned out for nearly a century, Godwin’s book providing all the mud that critics required to denigrate not only Wollstonecraft herself, but the concepts of gender equality and female education which she had advocated throughout her lifetime. The importance of her work and her ideas were finally re-established at the turn of the early 20th century as a cornerstone to the feminist movement, and then thoroughly reclaimed by feminist scholars from the 1970’s onward.

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Galactic Suburbia 95

New episode is up a day early! Get it here.

In which, the Hugo host debacle online conversation became a many-tentacled AI that wants to steal our souls, and ladies are cranky.

Speaking of Cranky Ladies – check out Tansy and Tehani’s crowdfunding campaign.

News In Depth: The Hugos v. Jonathan Ross, Safe Spaces & Online Discussions

Foz Meadows laying out the original drama in her usual inimitable style.

Cheryl on the arguments for & against Jonathan Ross as host as particularly on the importance of Intersectionality – how to be a good ally, and why you LISTEN to why people are upset, even if it’s inconvenient to you or your community.

The Chairs of LonCon apologise for the situation – weirdly, this graceful and thorough acknowledgement of their responsibility for how the chain of events went is often not being mentioned in coverage of the discussion.


The downside of recording several days ahead of broadcast is that sometimes the conversation we are contributing to moves on without us – in particular with the “Hugos and Jonathan Ross” conversation we recorded on Wednesday night there has been some serious reframing of the narrative, some of it highly gendered.

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On Influence

shapeWhich writers are important to you? Those of you who write, which authors most influenced you?

And before you answer that question, stop and think about the gender thing.

Juliet McKenna has written a brilliant piece about one of the key reasons that female SF authors often struggle to build their careers: how easily their works disappear because they’re not being pre-ordered, promoted or pushed nearly as much as those of their male counterparts.

The meme that the female author in SFF is somehow a rare, precious, unlikely object, persists to this day. But you know what? There were women writing SFF in the 70’s, and not just a token handful. There were women writing in the 80’s and the 90’s and the 00’s and oh look they’re writing RIGHT NOW.

And yet when booksellers (and it’s not just booksellers) put out lists or displays of what to read after George RR Martin, how often are those lists all male?

Of the books I read in my teens, it’s extremely noticeable to me that many of the titles by male authors are still in print, still turning up in bookshops around the world (hello Stockholm!) and yet the titles by female authors… well, let’s just say it’s a good thing I hung on to those yellowing paperbacks, isn’t it?

On Twitter today, there were some responses to Juliet’s article.

Foz Meadows (@fozmeadows) said: What bugs me is that these are meant as *beginner’s* guides – like there’s nowhere else to start but with dudes.

Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) said: beginner’s guide! If I was young woman interested in SF& presented that I’d feel so welcome!

and: it’s endless.Why don’t more women write/read SF?Shocker is we still do even tho we’re erased

I (@tansyrr) said: Frustating how many female authors I read in the 90’s you don’t see on shelves now.

Kate Elliott (@KateElliottSFF) said: For me most frustrating those women never spoken of as influential/important.

This is something that’s been burning a hole in my brain for a while now. It’s so rare to hear about the female writers who have influenced those working today. I know that I read a bunch of stuff that changed the way I thought about the genre, and a lot of it was by male writers, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Because while the male writers of ‘yore’ often get critiqued by today’s standards, somehow they don’t get swept under the carpet quite as efficiently as the female writers, whose flaws and failings are often held up as the reason WHY they’re no longer read today. The male authors get forgiven for their quirks and ‘of their time’ silliness and behind the scenes scandals, while the female authors do not.

So today I want to talk about a bunch of female writers (and editors) who were early influences on me and my writing.

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Friday Links is Not a Dirty Word

tiara__by_furbelows-d3hn2spThe last few days have been a mighty era of internet commentary about diversity, gender issues and other fun stuff in genre, much of it inspired positively or negatively by recent convention panels and in-person discussions.

A lot of the commentary happened over Twitter, quite annoyingly while I was asleep because, Australian. Still, worth checking out the #DiversityInSFF hashtag and from last night (where I did catch some of it thanks to being woken up at 2am for the Great Blankie Hunt) this splendid, thoughtful collection of ragey-tweets from Seanan Maguire.

Post of the week for me is undoubtedly this clear, sharply-honed essay at Apex by Deborah Stanish: Fangirl Isn’t a Dirty Word. Deb works through some of the issues we discussed at greater length in a recent episode of the Verity! Podcast, but has transformed the conversation into a very effective piece of writing about gender, ageism and the destructive nature of fandom gatekeeping.

Fangirls are not only being told they are doing it wrong, they are also being mocked and marginalized within the larger fandom community.

Madeline Ashby writes about the ageing population of Worldcons, and its “youth problem.”

Tobias Buckell responds with some further thoughts about conventions and how useful they are for authors.

At Strange Horizons, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz writes On Escapist Literature and Being Dangerous in response to a recent Nine Worlds conference panel about the various RaceFail discussions across the net.

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Why It’s Important (And Why We’re Still Talking About the SFWA Bulletin)

bulletinI’m coming in late to discuss this particular issue on the blog, for one fairly specific reason – as a member of the SFWA and an incoming Board member (I don’t officially step up to my position as overseas regional director until July but it’s hovering there on the horizon), I’ve been spending a lot of time on the private member forums, discussing the issue, reading member comments and joining in the plan for ‘where to go from here’ as far as making constructive change to the SFWA publications. I’m also trying to figure out in my own head the delicate balance of ‘conflict of interest’ as far as me personally making any kind of public contribution to the discussion. Which is, I imagine, something I’m going to have to get used to.

For those of you just joining us on this one, you can probably catch up on the SFWA Bulletin topic by looking at this link post from Jim Hines (and whoa, he’s been updating that one, so many links, a very useful page to direct anyone to who thinks that the anger about this issue belongs to a ‘minority’), the column under discussion scanned here, and especially Foz Meadows on “Old Men Yelling at Clouds” – a breakdown explaining exactly what was wrong with the Resnick/Malzberg column, point by point, so no one else has to.

The SFWA’s official response (so far) includes an announcement of a task force to address problems with the Bulletin, and the President, John Scalzi, taking responsibility for (but not in any way defending or excusing) the recent issue.

If anyone is wondering, by the way, why a whole task force might be necessary, I would direct you to Mari Ness’ excellent breakdown on the many ways in which The Bulletin hasn’t been meeting its own stated mission, let alone the needs of the SFWA membership. There’s a lot of work to be done here, and it’s far too much to put on the shoulders of a single person.

So, that’s the background.

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You’ll Get Smeared

redbook_coverNormally I’d save this one for my Friday Links post but honestly I don’t want it to get lost in the long list of things other people are saying.

This article by Deborah Copaken Kogan, My So-Called ‘Post-Feminist’ Life in Arts and Letters, is simply extraordinary. It may be the most important and soul-kicking thing that I have read since I discovered Joanna Russ.

Upon being shortlisted for the Women’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize) for her novel The Red Book, Kogan addresses the many and constant criticisms of the existence of the prize itself by calmly examining the many and various ways in which institutionalised sexism have affected her life, from graduation through several careers (war photography, TV news, novelist and writer of memoir) and the many ways in which her reputation and professionalism have been worn away.

The threat of ‘stay silent, don’t speak up, they’ll smear you,’ is a constant theme and now she feels “old” enough, safe enough, confident enough, to say to hell with it, and tell her story anyway.

I consider throwing in the towel. The lack of respectful coverage, the slut-shaming and name-calling, all the girly book covers and not-my-titles despite high literary aspirations, has worn me down, made me question everything: my abilities, my future, my life. This is what sexism does best: it makes you feel crazy for desiring parity and hopeless about ever achieving it.

The Nation


hugologoThe Hugo nominations are out today! And the big news for me is that not only has Galactic Suburbia received a nomination for Best Fancast (for the second year running, giving us a perfect score for this category) but I’ve also been nominated (for the first ever time) in my own right as Best Fan Writer.

Seriously, I was so freaked out when I read that second piece of news, I had to go stand in a room other than the room my computer was in while I dealt with it. BIG. But thank you to everyone who has congratulated me today, it’s really a genuine and surprising honour to be on this list.

I’m so delighted for many of my friends, respected and colleagues and those famous people I like to fangirl from afar, who are on this year’s ballot. Hooray for you all & extra special hoorays for those of you who are on there for the first time (I KNOW, RIGHT?) or like me, eyeing a brand new category with trepidation and occasional skepticism. (ARE YOU SURE YOU MEANT ME?)

For those of you who have dropped by the blog to find out who this random person on the Hugo ballot you’ve never heard of is, Hi! *waves* I’m Tansy and I write about stuff.

Here are some of the fan writing pieces I’m most proud of:

history authentically sexistHistorically Authenticated Sexism in Fantasy: Let’s Unpack That. This was undoubtedly the piece from my blog that made the greatest splash in 2012, forming part of a wider dialogue about the use of “realistic” history in fantasy fiction. It was even crossposted on Tor.com and gathered over 250 comments adding to the conversation in (mostly) constructive ways. Hooray!

I also wrote pieces on Motherhood in Disney’s Brave, Gender & Sex in Season One of Game of Thrones, and why What Geek Girls Wear is None of Your Business.

Then there’s the Doctor Who writing. I do a LOT of that. In particular:

Domesticating the Doctor, a series of essays looking at the Doctor’s conflicted relationship with the domestic sphere. Only the first four essays in this series were written in 2012 (first published over at Doctor Her, then republished on my blog this January):

Domesticating the Doctor I: Cocoa, Test-tubes and the Classic Years
Domesticating the Doctor II: The Missus, the Ex and the Mothers-in-Law
Domesticating the Doctor III – John Smith’s Human Nature
Domesticating the Doctor IV: Marrying the Ponds

02chase2 I started my Doctor Who anniversary blog series ‘WHO-50’ in 2012, covering 1963-1969. I think my favourite of these is the one for 1964, Barbara Wright at the Brink.

The other big essay series I began in 2012 was my Where The Wonder Women Are series looking at the awesome and interesting female superheroes that are out there (or have been out there) over the years at DC and Marvel, and the highs and lows of how these women have been written and drawn. I wrote, um. Thirty four of these in 2012. I’ll highlight Batgirl and Supergirl as two of my personal favourites, though.

My Pratchett’s Women series included several essays in 2012: Pole Dancers, Goblin Girls, and the Family Man, A Wonderful Personality and Good Hair, Has Scythe, Will Teach School and The Truth Has Got Her Boots On.

If you get through all that, you’re probably okay to navigate the rest on your own. Happy sailing!

batgirl party

Gender, Fantasy & Female Pirates

Some great posts doing the round this week, some in response to my Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy post, and some being independently awesome but theme-relevant.

Foz Meadows follows up on my post with an incredibly impressive horde of links about women in history, in support of the very important point that Your Default Narratives Are Not Apolitical. Writing sexist or male-centric narratives into your stories is a choice, regardless of how much thinking you put into that choice.

Hoyden About Town, meanwhile, called for some recommendations of fantasy novels that treat women like people, and they haven’t had nearly enough of them yet. Go, recommend, and read!

J. Michael Melican talks about his own personal revelations about gender, sexism and fantasy – some thoughtful stuff there, particularly in how to take uncomfortable feedback as a writer that you may not be doing it right yet, despite the best of intentions.

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A Year in TansyRR.com

The response to my Tor.com post on “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy” has been pretty overwhelming. Not only have there been many, many readers over there (the comments thread is still going strong, though it has turned overnight into a discussion about gender in children’s fiction which… is not a bad thing to be talking about?) but over 2500 people have tuned in to this blog to check the post out here, since Thursday. That’s… a lot, by my standards.

So if you’re here for the first time, hi, I’m Tansy! I write books, and talk a lot.

Here are some other Gender & Pop Culture posts from this year that I’m quite proud of:

Sexing Up the Classics
Mothers & Daughters, Battle-Embroidery & Bears
Babies & Bicycles: Watching Call the Midwife
Hack, Slash, Squish: Gender and Sex In Season One of Game of Thrones
What Geek Girls Wear (is none of your business)

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