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Because history is NOT all SWM

I want to share with you this absolutely splendid article on A Dribble of Ink titled: "`We Have Always Fought': Challenging the `Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative" by Kameron Hurley. It's really interesting to watch a writer tie herself up in so many ways as she tries to write female action heroes contending with men for equality of place. I really feel I should send her some liniment as she confesses to an inability to create conflict between women and men that doesn't become all about Teh Menz with the female hero sidelined. She confesses to inadvertently introducing our society's sexism into the worlds she has created which don't have it. And she talks us through her discovery of the need for leadership in the modern, real world--the need to overcome the helplessness we have been taught. She cautions us not to write ourselves into an aside.

There are many fine links to other pieces here, particularly Foz Meadows' "PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings are Not Apolitical". These are articles that will both enrage you and give you great good cheer.

As to why I am so excited: these articles addresse information that I searched for everywhere since I was first told that Maid Marian was girly, that girls didn't fight in wars, and that Mary Read and Ann Bonney didn't do much as pirates except dress like them. In other words, I have looked for every story of female power and discovery I could find for fifty years, give or take. It's wonderful to see a new woman get the chance to discover what took me years to find: that women were fighting, discovering, ruling, and being ignored through all or recent history (well, recent as history goes). This is the first time in a century that we have enough scholarly backup to shove back in the faces of the SWM who tells us "those are only legends," "those are just stories," "that was blown way out of proportion," and most recently, "this fantasy is realistic to history." Being treated like possessions in our common history is true for women; it's true for people of color, and it's true for LGBTQ people. Our society can't bury us under the achievements of straight white men, though, because we are too much a part of history. We need to include ourselves in mainstream fiction and in speculative fiction, because we have always been here, all of us, all of us holding different, important roles. Don't let them ignore us anymore.

I've caught my fifth or sixth wind, I think. I've been so discouraged of late, but this may give me the push I've been needing to get my warrior suit back on again.


( 72 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 23rd, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - bookblather - May. 23rd, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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May. 23rd, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
When you need a future pickup in that vein, the following tumblrs are excellent go-to's for what I like to call 'Badass Women in History' RPF inspiration:

TheReconstructionists [dot] org

The Reconstructionists, a collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova, is a yearlong celebration of remarkable women — beloved artists, writers, and scientists, as well as notable unsung heroes — who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender.

Every Monday in 2013, we'll be publishing an illustrated portrait of one such trailblazing woman, along with a hand-lettered quote that captures her spirit and a short micro-essay about her life and legacy.

HistoricalHeroines [dot] tumblr [dot] com

A Blog Celebrating the Women Time Forgot

[often with awesome original art deco-style posters]


And less 'historical awesome', and more 'making the present more awesome for women [via tackling anatomically impossible visual stereotypes in comics]':

theHawkeyeInitiative [dot] com

The Hawkeye Initiative

"How to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing." -Gingerhaze


(fyi, I consider your LJ a source of 'Badass Women in Current History', and you very much an authorial Badass inspiration yourself. thank you for that.)
May. 23rd, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
::blush:: Thank you so much! And I'll try to check these out, as soon as I figure out how to use Tumblr. There are plenty of people here who will help me!
(no subject) - idhren24 - May. 23rd, 2013 08:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
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May. 23rd, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC)
I did see this article earlier today and it TOTALLY made me think of your and your writing style!
May. 23rd, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
Oh Tammy, these are WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for sharing these!!!
May. 24th, 2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
I live to share wonderfulness. It gives me a megahappy!
(Deleted comment)
May. 23rd, 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
*My high school English teacher and I had a conversation once where he told me that boys don't read books about girls
Funny how in my high school English class, a higher percentage of the boys said 'Pride and Prejudice' was their favorite novel [of the ones we had to read that year] than of the girls!

(And we had to read so many male POV books that year, oh 18th-20th century british lit why.)
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(no subject) - lied_ohne_worte - May. 23rd, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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May. 23rd, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
more stuff, from the flist
User bookblather referenced to your post from more stuff, from the flist saying: [...] For the musically inclined. My personal hero Tamora Pierce talking about [...]
May. 23rd, 2013 11:03 pm (UTC)
I read and re-read the Alanna books every school year when I discovered them in my school's library as a kid (an all girl's prep school). I am currently reading the Kel books as bedtime books to my children (2 daughters and a son). They love the story, my oldest (8 yo) daughter wants her own set to read, and we have great talks about gender discrimination.

Also for good nonSWM reading for grown ups, I like Elizabeth Bear, in particular her Jenny Casey trilogy and her Eternal Sky books (not a white person in site, set in a fantastical Asia) and her Iskryne books she writes with Sarah Monette (it's about boys and men in a good, gender and sexuality role bending way). </p>

As an aside, I was sorry to see Confluence was cancelled this year. I want to bring my kiddos (and myself) to meet you. Maybe next year.

May. 24th, 2013 01:55 pm (UTC)
Maybe next year indeed. You can't keep the Pittsburgh fans down!

I <3 Bear. And I adore Jenny Casey, as well as Bear's other work.
(no subject) - morning_glory - May. 24th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 23rd, 2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
I too get tired of historical accuracy being used as an excuse for a lack of strong female characters. As I recall, not only was Maid Marian not girly, she was good enough with a sword that, when she and Robin Hood fought, he was the one who said, "OK, enough!" Though, you know, not in those words. :)
May. 23rd, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Ha, found it!"

But Robin Hood, hee himself had disguisd,
And Marian was strangly attir’d,
That they provd foes, and so fell to blowes,
Whose vallour bold Robin admir’d.
They drew out their swords, and to cutting they went,
At least an hour or more,
That the blood ran apace from bold Robins face,
And Marian was wounded sore.
‘O hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood...
(no subject) - tammypierce - May. 24th, 2013 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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May. 24th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Well said! A colleague and I (both middle school teachers of many students who love comic books) were discussing the other day how each of us, when younger, had made the delightful discovery of someone LIKE OURSELVES as a character in a comic book...his was a character with dark skin like his, mine was Kitty Pryde in the X-Men (a Jewish girl like me...I hadn't read about Bernie in Captain America yet). Her religion was part of her but not all of her, and it was acknowleged. It was a powerful thing, and I see that when I show a comic to a Latina student who sees Miss America in the Young Avengers or to a recent transgender character in Fantastic Four that had a young friend of mine jumping for joy. "Someone like me." That has such an impact. You are now part of that narrative, have ties to it. I read comics written by women who write complex female characters, and share them with my daughter. I hope things to continue to improve.
May. 24th, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)

This is a cardinal:

And for the longest time, in my mind, that was a cardinal.

But so is this:

And she's beautiful. But for the longest time, I never thought of that as a "real" cardinal. "Real" cardinals were the male cardinals, and the females were... not quite as real. I know I'm not explaining this well.

My epiphany came when I suddenly realized that they're both cardinals. Real cardinals.

This should not have been such a huge realization for me.

ETA: Thanks for those links. Very thought-provoking reading!

Edited at 2013-05-24 03:46 am (UTC)
May. 24th, 2013 01:57 pm (UTC)
Lady Cardinal is very cool. She lets Mr. Cardinal draw the enemy's fire*, then she stokes up on fuel.

* Yeah, it's early, and my blood sugar is low.
(no subject) - kittenmommy - May. 24th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - kittenmommy - May. 24th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 24th, 2013 08:55 am (UTC)
The punch meant more. Anyone could shoot a gun. But now I knew how to hit things properly in the face. Hard.


One of my biggest peeves is people who tell me that women can't/don't/shouldn't fight, or lift weights, or get ripped. Every time, I want to tell them to shut the hell up--they don't know what an insane confidence boost it is to be physically strong.

I got into Roman history in the past year or two, and man, all those claims of no wimmenz are such horseshit. Women everywhere! In political power! Fightin' and shit! Sigh.
May. 24th, 2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
To quote the movie "Young Guns 2," "Encumbered by idjits, we press on."
(no subject) - idhren24 - May. 27th, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 24th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)
I also read the Lioness books when I was 7 or 8, and they played a big part in me doing that decade of research during and after grad school ("Wait. Could a woman really DO that? And get AWAY with it?"). I went on to write a series about a bad-ass-woman-war-vet-bounty-hunter that ended up on the Tiptree Honor list, and won a couple international awards.

So it's kinda cool to see this come full circle. Thanks for writing the stories you do. They're powerful, and they make a huge difference in people's lives.

Kameron Hurley

Edited at 2013-05-24 12:20 pm (UTC)
May. 24th, 2013 02:00 pm (UTC)
Aha, Ms. Hurley! You are proof that my Evil Master Plan continues to work! I help to inspire enough writers, thereby ensuring that I NEVER run out of good books to read!

Congratulations on your own success. Please keep up the good work. With enough people like you out there, maybe we can rewrite the history books at last.
May. 24th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
I read that article, and it made me think of you. It's funny - lately I've been wondering whether it makes sense to even write about women in pseudo-historical fantasy, and hence whether fantasy is worth writing. Reading that article, and particularly your post about it, is reminding me why I love doing just that.

Heh. I never questioned it when I was ten...
May. 27th, 2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
>>lately I've been wondering whether it makes sense to even write about women in pseudo-historical fantasy, and hence whether fantasy is worth writing. <<

Certainly there are plenty of other eras to explore in fantasy writing, including the modern one, and you can create a culture of your own, for that matter, or twist cultures set in our history as plenty of authors have done. If you doubt the worth of medieval fantasy, you have options.

But fantasy is always worth writing. It's a literature that speaks directly to a reader's heart and soul. It's a literature that can discuss moral issues without preaching, and get readers to think about those issues and apply them to issues in the real world. It's a literature that tells us that moral issues are important, despite the belittling those around us may voice when we want to talk about those issues.

And it's a literature that tells us to aspire to greatness. It's a literature that tells us that no matter how important or unimportant we are, there will always be those times when we are alone, lost, and ready to give up, and that the decisions we make at those times will determine whether we are great or small. It's a literature that tells us that those of us who are apparently the weakest may have the power to change our worlds. It's a literature that tells us that it matters to help each other, particularly those in need of help. It's a literature that tells us that if we work hard enough, we can achieve our dreams.

/enthusiastic fantasy sermon
(no subject) - blue_shadows9 - Jun. 3rd, 2013 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 26th, 2013 11:30 am (UTC)
you're already well armed. never doubt that.

you're conviction is you're armore. It dosen't brake, but addapts and grows with that conviction.

and you mind is the keenest blade you will ever posses.

your shield you're strength of will.

blessed be.
stay strong. Got your back.

(sorry, my spelling is fail)
May. 28th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Just read both of them. They're both wonderful, thank you for sharing! I might end up spending the rest of the night following all the links in the Meadows article...
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