IT'S FEMINIST SCIENCE FICTION WEEK AT THE REJECTIONIST!!!!!! ISN'T THAT EXCITING!!!!! Why, yes it is. ALL LADIES ALL THE TIME, over here, is what we like to talk about! Ladies and geek stuff! (Now you know our sekrits!) So THIS WEEK!!! There will be!! Interviews! Guest posts! Leftist propaganda! HUZZAH!
Why science fiction? Here's a story for you: we grew up in a very small and unpleasant town, with parents whom we ADORE, do not get us wrong, but whose politics are very... well, different from ours. We were well on our way to a content middle-class life of fluorescent-lit day jobs, picket fences, and voting Republican (our mom recently unearthed a fan letter we wrote to Ronald Reagan at a tender age). What happened? you may well ask, as we clearly took a hard turn for the road less traveled in between then and now. We wonder that ourself sometimes (possibly drama club?) and the best we can come up with is: Sci-Fi. No, seriously. Bear with us.
Science fiction: it does not have the greatest history. For every Lieutenant Uhura, there are a whole truckload of Kirks, and even Uhura had to wear that fucking uniform. But as long as science fiction has been written, the ladies and the queers and the people of color have been hijacking that shit for their own excellent ends, and the results are what we might describe as transcendent. You take White Man, Captain of the Universe; we'll take Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Sheri S. Tepper, James Tiptree Jr., Samuel Delany, Mary Shelley, and the legions of people they have influenced and inspired. We started reading that stuff young, and it did its percolating somewhere in there under the surface, so that when finally we got out of Dodge and met people doing the righteous work of the revolution, everything just sort of clicked. When you grow up reading about planets without gender it doesn't seem very odd that a person in your real life might feel the gender they live is not the same as the sex they were born with. When you spend your formative years obsessed with a story about transgender mutant prostitutes inhabiting post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., it's not really a stretch to envision an anarchist, self-governing utopian future. When you read Samuel R. Delany as a kid, once you put your brain back in the ear it came out of it's no big deal when someone sits you down and says, Look, kid, pull your head out of your ass and recognize the privilege your white skin affords you.
People bring up "common sense" a lot in the real world, usually when they are trying to tell you there's something wrong with you: it's "common sense" that illegal means illegal, it's "common sense" that marriage is between a man and a women, it's "common sense" that biology is destiny and women are feeble (this last usually illustrated with an allegedly scientific anecdote about the behaviors of cavemen), it's "common sense" that racism ended with the election of Obama/the civil rights movement/some other arbitrary point in history where a random person of color did something radical without getting shot by a police officer. Well, fuck common sense. Common sense is a none-too-subtle stand-in for "shut up and suck it up."
Speculative fiction offers us human beings something different: not "common sense" but a sense we have in common that the world is larger and more filled with possibility than we might be able to imagine, a sense that enlarging the opportunities of other people's lives does not have to mean making our own lives smaller. In fact, quite the opposite. If we're writing the stories, there's room on that spaceship for all of us. There are not many days, any more, that the Rejectionist feels particularly hopeful about the future, but as silly as it may sound, speculative fiction is a reminder that our imaginations are bigger than our histories, that some other kind of tomorrow is still an option. We are the species that invented genocide; but we are also the species that brought into being the written word.
So THAT's why it's feminist science fiction week at www.therejectionist.com! Any endeavor of this nature is an inherently dubious proposition; there's no way we can possibly do justice in five days to the incredible breadth and diversity of women (feminist or otherwise) who write science fiction, and our Theme Week should in no way be taken as representative. It is, basically, a random sampling of ladies whose work in speculative fiction we admire, and it is by no means all of the ladies whose work we admire. For more feminist awesome, check out Feminist SF--The Blog! (they have a great list of links, including a roundup of sci-fi blogs focusing on people of color) and Geek Feminism Blog. Please feel free to suggest other resources in the comments (moderation is turned on 'cause we ain't at the tinterweb all week THANK YOU UNIVERSE. We'll post comments as we are near a computer.)