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Sirens post, part 2

Saturday was as full of interesting panels as Friday, and I hosted a roundtable, too. Unfortunately my notes are much more sketchy.

The Great Big Interfaith Dialogue
The panel was made up of s e smith, a social justice blogger, speaking on behalf of atheism; Gillian Chisholm, a grad student in history, who was speaking on behalf of Christianity; Kate Elliott, speaking on behalf of Judaism; and Shveta Thakrar, speaking on behalf of Hinduism.

The conversation was very respectful all around and focused largely on not creating sloppy, stereotyped religious (or areligious) characters, not defaulting to cardboard Evil Cultists, etc. The panelists did acknowledge that none of the categories they were representing were unified. This is so true that I kind of wondered about the merits of having anyone trying to represent whole categories at all. On the one hand, I think there's a desire to have someone from whatever the category is be a self-identified member of the category, so you're getting a view from inside, but on the other, when we're talking about categories that are so broad, I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to have limited the remit to something much smaller. ... As I say, though, everyone was very respectful; no one attempted to claim they knew more than they did or that they spoke for more than themselves.

It's too bad there wasn't anyone there to speak for Islam.

One good thing was recommendations of books that do a good job either with fictional religions or with portrayals of actual religions. Chasing Shadows, by Swati Avasthi, was mentioned as a story that made respectful use of elements of Hindu mythology.

Mother of the Revolution
The discussion was more about being a mother and a writer than about mothers in fiction, though it did touch on mothers in fiction (Mrs. Frisby from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was mentioned as a protagonist who's a mother who's heroic and whose story is for a middle-grade audience.) Things I noted down: one of the panelists, Darian Lindle, pointed out that we had to make room for stay-at-home fathers, too, that this was part of changing gender expectations. Another panelist, Jennifer Adam, made what I thought was a great point about the gender coding of sacrifice: that when men sacrifice, it's seen as heroic, but when women sacrifice, it's taken for granted--that's their role.

There was a lot of talk--and not just in this panel, but in the conference overall--about combining writing with raising children. Kate Elliott was adamant (not on this panel; she wasn't on this one, but she talked about it elsewhere) that not giving up writing while she was raising children was in fact much, much better for her children. Constance Burris (who was on this panel) talked about how, as a single mother, there was no way she could write, that it was only after she got married that she was able to write. I felt a bond with Constance because she also is self-published.

Real-life heroines
Then there was my roundtable on real-life heroines who inspire you. I came with a packet of fourteen women, mostly not that well known, whom I admire, but I was hoping to hear from other people about their heroines. An LJ friend had shared with me about a heroine of hers, Nancy Wake, a New Zealander who became a very dashing member of the French Resistance in World War II. Sherwood Smith mentioned Christine de Pizan, a fourteenth-century court writer and champion of women's education. Another participant mentioned Alice Paul, an early 20th-century activist for women's right to vote who went on a hunger strike for the cause. (This gave me a neat segue for bringing up Irom Sharmila.) Another person mentioned Yu Guan Soon (Wikipedia prefers the romanization Ryu Gwansun), an organizer of the March First Movement, a Korean uprising against the colonialist Japanese. In this context, the person also mentioned the novel Dictee, by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, which focuses in part on Yu Guan Soon.

Also mentioned were Rosemarie Zagarri, who led food riots during the Revolutionary War, two current transgender activists whose names I'm not sure I got down right (Heidi Hess and Cocojam Holliday), the novelist Andrea Hairston, and the singer and poet Lydia Lunch.

Favorite fictional heroines

I was all caught up in listening here and made almost no notes. I recall a lot of people mentioning Alanna and other heroines from Tamora Pierce. I wrote down a couple of titles: Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston and Lagoon by Nnedi Orkafor. I also noted for myself that I should go back and look at steepholm's discussions here on LJ of Madoka Magica, a magical-girl anime that my daughters have been into. Sherwood really recommended steepholm's analysis of the series.

Fun with Fans
The next roundtable, also led by Sherwood, was about fans (the objects, not the enthusiasts). She gave a brief history of the development of fans and then talked about fan language--how people communicated using fans. It wasn't rigid--what a gesture meant varied with time and place--but using fans allowed women to communicate their wishes and desires at a distance in situations where speaking might be tricky. The fun part came when she passed out fans to all the participants and we broke up into groups to create codes and then to demonstrate their use via skits. These were awesome and included everything from propositioning to poisoning. Everyone was laughing and having a good time.

I haven't said anything about the wonderful talks that each of the guests of honor gave--these came at the meals we had all together (delicious meals) and were fascinating. I didn't take notes, though! Too busy eating, listening, and talking. And I haven't said anything about extra curriculars--time spent just in company with others--but those times were marvelous too. I really enjoyed myself thoroughly.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2015 02:17 pm (UTC)
Once again - so many ideas! I'd've loved to have been there for some of those discussions. :)
Oct. 28th, 2015 03:28 pm (UTC)
I think you would really have enjoyed it.
Oct. 28th, 2015 03:09 pm (UTC)
This sounds like a wonderful event.
Oct. 28th, 2015 03:28 pm (UTC)
It was most excellent!
Oct. 28th, 2015 03:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you've had a great time! (If you do go back to look at those Madoka posts, it may help to find them if you search using the "madoka" tag. However, you should really watch the series first as they contain numerous spoilers - and also because it's awesome.)
Oct. 28th, 2015 03:46 pm (UTC)
I know I should watch the series first, but I think I might go ahead and read your entries, just because my viewing time is next to nil, and I'm interested! (Plus my kids--at my request; I'm always curious to know these things--have pretty much already given me the big reveals.)
Oct. 29th, 2015 12:21 am (UTC)
What is the event btw?
Oct. 31st, 2015 11:08 am (UTC)
It was a conference, put on and aimed at women writers, publishers, and readers of fantasy fiction. This year's theme was women revolutionaries.
Oct. 29th, 2015 09:35 am (UTC)
The fan talking sounds wonderful. They would be great to have in my office...
Oct. 31st, 2015 11:08 am (UTC)
I can think of lots of circumstances where the fans would come in handy....
Oct. 29th, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you had a wonderful, revivifying time! Now I wish I'd gone. :D

And what a brilliant idea the Fans session was.
Oct. 31st, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)
I haven't been to lots of conventions, so I don't have much to compare this to, but it satisfied me in every possible way. Next year's theme is lovers, which doesn't grab me as much as this year's theme did, but knowing the organizing group and the participants, I'm betting they'll do a great job with it.
Oct. 31st, 2015 02:13 pm (UTC)
Now you've got me wanting to talk live with you, to find out more about the style of the con....
Nov. 1st, 2015 01:21 am (UTC)
Ask away! I don't know how to describe the style well without prompting questions, but here's something telling: I ate with strangers as often as with friends, and it was very easy to strike up conversations with them. People were friendly and unaffected.
Nov. 1st, 2015 01:45 am (UTC)
I don't know how to ask without seeing your face and doing performance jive! :D

But that sounds excellent. :)
Oct. 29th, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC)
This sounds like an awesome conference to get to someday...
Oct. 31st, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)
Absolutely! ... It was pricy, so I won't be doing it again unless I come into money, but it was very, very fun.
Oct. 30th, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC)
Regarding heroic fictional mothers, Guillermo del Torro has a theme that runs through many of his films of the heroic stepmother/foster mother who is willing to die for the child in her care. (Mama is a good example of this where the vengeful-ghost foster mother squares off against the human girlfriend of the children's uncle. In Pan's Labyrinth it was the maid(?) who did everything to protect the little girl. In The Orphanage it was a literal adoptive-mother. Worth checking out.
Oct. 31st, 2015 11:11 am (UTC)
That's interesting! I'm glad to hear it.

I bounced off Pan's Labyrinth, which so many people loved. I should maybe go back and try again...
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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