Feminist Discussion of Fantasy and Science-Fiction

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Whileaway -- Feminist F & SF Discussion Community

Mission statement:

To provide a forum for the discussion of feminist science-fiction and fantasy.

That is to say, where works of science-fiction are talked about -- not created -- with feminism in mind. This can include other genres that border on SF/F: steampunk, technothrillers, fantastic romance, horror, and other forms of speculative fiction. We wish to unearth works buried in oblivion, resurrect classics, and bring to light the latest works which we might happen to discover. These works must be feminist in one way or another, and/or reviewed with a critical feminist mind by the contributors to this community.

The law of LJ-Cuts:

- Put spoilers behind LJ-cut tags, or else. Triggering content should also be placed behind a cut.

The particulars:

- The works should preferably be literary: we want to discuss written works, from short stories to epic novels and everything in between.

- Movies, television series and multimedia works can also be discussed, but due to the overwhelming gravity pull of some of these fandoms we should be mindful of losing sight of our original subject matter.

- We are talking about fiction. As such, we wish to leave out the hot topics that plague discussions about contemporary life in order to focus on the speculative rather than the actual. Real life can be referenced, of course, since discussion of fiction requires a context, but it should not become the focus of our community. Off-topic posts will be dealt with accordingly.

- We are talking about genre fiction, principally science-fiction. Mainstream "realist" works fall outside of our purview, as a rule, but not to a fault.

- We are a feminist community. The vindication of the rights of women is the theme that underlies our approach to literature here. We want to talk about works which feature strong female characters, and/or feminist outlooks, and/or feminist approaches to fiction, etcetera. This may include subversion of patriarchy, gender-bending, queer theory, transsexualism, and more.

- These stories can be the work of male authors as well as female authors, and can feature male protagonist in feminist contexts as well. For example, take Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lois McMaster Bujold's Ethan of Athos or Virginia Woolf's Orlando.

- Lesbians, gays, bis and transsexuals, whether as the authors or the characters, are par for the course, as are heteros. Homophobia may be discussed, but will not itself be tolerated in this community. Racism and other forms of prejudiced hatred are similarly handled. This is a feminist safe space. Bigots shall earn swift banishment.

- Non-feminist works can be reviewed and discussed from a feminist perspective. Where do we draw the line between feminist and non- or anti-feminist? See the next item.

- Some works are widely acknowledged as feminist. They may be as well-known as Joanna Russ's novel The Female Man or more obscure than her children's book Kittatinny, but undeniably feminist. (It generally helps if the author is a self-proclaimed feminist.) A vast host are not. The same can be said for science-fiction. If you wish to discuss a little-known work, it would be best for you to include a small paragraph or two telling us why something is relevent; what's feminist about it, what's SFnal. That should be easy. If you cannot support your case with such evidence, then tell us what's interesting, from a feminist perspective, in the non-feminist work you wish to discuss.

- Likewise, all arguments should be proven. Cite your sources, or use the tools of logic, such as syllogisms. No sophistry please. In the absence of such, state your opinion as opinion, experience as experience, and so forth.

- If there is a disagreement, vigorous debate along the preceeding guidelines are fine. They're encouraged, even. But take personal disputes to e-mail or drop them.

- If a thread veers off-topic, consider starting a new entry wherein to address the new topic. If the new topic does not belong in Whileaway, take it elsewhere and point to the new forum if necessary. Do not persist in off-topicness unduly.

- This forum is primarily in the English language, but two of its three founders have other mother tongues (German and French), and its members come from all over the world. So we welcome a bit of cultural diversity, although English will serve as the common lingo to favour mutual understanding.

- Finally, in case you hadn't noticed, replies to a post will go in the "comments" section, which becomes coloured once someone has posted a comment.


whileaway was founded by cedara, ide_cyan and owlrigh. The community is moderated by cedara, ide_cyan and polymexina. It takes its name from a world in Joanna Russ's classic, The Female Man.

Final words:

If you utter the phrase "I'm not a [feminist / science-fiction fan], but..." in here, prepare for ridicule. We don't want to know about your vacation in the State of Denial, so what are you doing here if you aren't in the least bit interested in feminism and SF?

Let the discussion begin!

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