Because I apparently can’t help but over schedule myself, I’ll be part of five panels for my first-ever WisCon experience. I’m beyond excited to be a part of this – I’ve been hearing about WisCon for years, and the idea of getting to participate in a conference about feminism and science fiction/fantasy where I’ll likely get to meet or even be on panels with people who I’ve admired and been inspired by is both thrilling and not a little intimidating.
Yes. This is totally going to turn out well. In any case, I’ll be part of the following panels:
Reconciliation Within SF/F
Friday, May 23, 9-10:15pm, Assembly
N.K. Jemisin’s Guest of Honor speech at Continuum 2013 included a call for a Reconciliation within SF/F. “It is time that we recognized the real history of this genre, and acknowledged the breadth and diversity of its contributors.…[I]t’s time we took steps—some symbolic, some substantive—to try and correct those errors. I do not mean a simple removal of the barriers that currently exist within the genre and its fandom, though doing that’s certainly the first step. I mean we must now make an active, conscious effort to establish a literature of the imagination which truly belongs to everyone.” What would a Reconciliation look like? How can we start one? How can we grow one?
Be Firm, Be Pithy, Be Gone
Saturday, May 24, 10-11:15am, Conference 5
Discussion aimed at strengthening or discovering our ability to maintain boundaries around our identity. Do we respond with bitterness to egregious examples of public aggression—such as the stranger who demands to know “where are you really from?!?” or “what race are you?” or “why can’t you walk?” or “so are you a girl or a boy, really?” or “want some sugar honey, I got it for you.” We strive to explain strategic use of language to stop the aggression while not harming ourselves. Participants may engage in role-playing exercises.
Women of Color in SF/F
Sunday, May 25, 10-11:15am, Senate A
How have women of color been portrayed as characters in science fiction? Has this changed over time and if so, how? What are the most successful portrayals and the least successful? What are our favorite SF works that feature women of color?
SEQUEL OF COUSIN OF RETURN OF SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL
Sunday, May 25, 2:30-3:45pm, Wisconsin
Back for a sixth go-round, by popular demand! Writers of color working in F/SF face unique challenges, it’s true. But, at the end of the day, being a “person of color” is only one aspect of what makes up our identities as writers. While it’s very flattering to be asked to be on panels, most of these panels never crack the ceiling of Race 101. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice for multiple writers and fans of color to sit on a panel that isn’t about race at all? Here’s our chance to do just that. So, what are we gonna talk about, instead? Practically anything! Presented in game show format, SEQUEL OF COUSIN OF RETURN OF SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL brings together writers and fans of color to get their geek on about any number of pop culture topics—none of them race related.
Rediscovering Worlds Beyond Whiteness*
Monday, May 26, 10-11:15am, Assembly
In too many works of science fiction, the landscapes and characters reflect the assumption of white culture as the default. Many fantasy worlds reflect a distinctly Western European look and feel, with characters of color few and far between, and non-European-based civilizations that are a predictable mish-mash of stereotypes and Othering. How has this affected writers’ ability to imagine and create worlds outside the boundaries of white culture? How has it affected the ability of fans to relate to and find interest in characters and stories that challenge rather than unconsciously reflect white-dominated narratives? How can we, as writers and readers, move beyond whiteness?
This year’s Guests of Honor are N.K. Jemisin and Hiromi Goto, two authors whose work I’ve admired greatly. Jemisin’s Continuum speech in particular has been a great source of inspiration and I look forward to meeting both her and Goto.
Also, WisCon is partnering with the Science Fiction Research Association so both conferences are overlapping, so it’s going to be a very full five days of academic discussion, geeking out over SF/F, fandom and social issues, and lots and lots of chocolate and cheese (I’ve been informed by several experienced parties that chocolate and cheese are an essential part of the WisCon experience). I’m probably not going to get much sleep, but as long as I’ve got coffee, I should be fine, right? Right??
*I’m particularly excited about this one because it’s one of two panel ideas I submitted, and both were accepted. The other one is The Problem of Women and Perceived Authenticity, May 25, Saturday, 9:00–10:15pm, Senate B: Women are often accused of being “fake geeks.” This is part of a larger cultural idea that women in general are fakers and untrustworthy: Women don’t write “real scifi.” Women who say they’re gamers but don’t play “the right games” are posers. Women exaggerate or lie about rape and harassment. Women can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies. Women wear clothes and make-up to “trick” men into thinking they’re pretty. Men don’t listen to women as the authorities on their own experiences but listen to other men if they say the same thing. How does the perception of women’s lack of authenticity contribute to the barriers that women face in fandom—as creators, consumers and characters—and how do additional factors such as race or gender identity further complicate perceived authenticity?