Literature, whether mainstream or genre, has apportioned a good deal of its content to formidable crones, matriarchs and dowagers, both benign and malign. There is one genre, however, which if read exclusively conveys the impression that men live for ever (and get ever more potent and interesting as they do so) but a disease fells women the moment they go past the “peak attractiveness” so beloved of evopsychos... Two items have prompted me to revisit this literally hoary topic. One is the constant much-heat-little-light argument about representation and diversity in SF, from which discussions about age are conspicuously absent and primitive in the rare instances they occur. The other is the recent “PC censorship panels” petition to the SFWA – a crude intimidation attempt disguised by its originator as a fight for freedom of speech, with responses to it mostly (though not exclusively) split across age lines. The young(er) hopefuls on the Side of Good opined en masse that all “isms” will disappear from SF “when the old dinosaurs die”. If only. You have much to learn, grasshoppahs... The real determinant is not age, but entrenched power hierarchies and the sense of entitlement they foster. Age, particularly in the US context, rarely translates to power – especially for women, who are still considered disposable beyond decoration, un/underpaid labor and reproduction. Age may bring hardening of the arteries and softening of the upper and lower heads, but closed minds correlate far more tightly with automatically vested authority and membership in dominant groups. Clinging to power, rather than an attribute of age, is in fact a refusal to really grow up: even kids eventually learn to share their toys.
Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Indispensable Athena Andreadis
Speaking as someone who re-reads Dune for the Bene Gesserits and skims the arias to its serial boy-genius messiahs and who thinks the hero of Holy Fire is not Maya but the Widow (possibly the character in sf with whom I personally identify the most) and who has long theorized that Cranford is really located in a Culture LSV (and that's just SF from the boys, Octavia Butler's Anyanwu remains for me SF's greatest protagonist), Athena Andreadis' Where Are the Wise Crones in Science Fiction?is a pleasure and a provocation even more keen than her usual offerings for me. There's even an illustrative storylet appended at the end. A taste for context, but read the whole thing and then read it again: