People of color are often seen as the exceptions in predominantly white societies' mass media, like US literature. Let's look at race and gender in two dystopic young adult scenarios in which the exceptional group is not people of color, but clones they've created.
Kat Zhang's What's Left of Me takes the mass suspicion, xenophobia, and hysteria that's become normalized since 9/11 and sets it in an alternate United States where people are born with two personalities inside one body.
Last week, I looked at how Malinda Lo and Marie Lu, adult Asian-American authors, wrote race and gender into their worlds. In this post, let's look at how a NYC Asian high school student writes race and gender in his dystopia.
Fifteen-year-old Isamu Fukui wrote Truancy while attending Stuyvesant High School, one of New York City's most competitive and demanding public high schools. In many ways, the book reads as a critique of the public school system.
"I'm looking for a book for my 12-year-old daughter. She likes dystopic fiction," I said not too long ago to the clerk in a children's bookstore. As her eyes began to scan the wall of Teen Fiction, I added, "With people of color as the protagonists."
"I feel you," sympathized the clerk, who was also a woman of color.
GeekRadical.org is in its final push in a Kickstarter campaign to publish a Feminist Speculative Fiction anthology through PM Press. The goal is to "emphasize women's speculative fiction from the mid-1970s onward, looking to explore women's rights as well as gender/race/class/etc. from as many perspectives as possible."
In a recent interview with Samantha Burton for Bitch, Kenyan writer-director Wanuri Kahiu recalled a lovely endorsement she received from a film festival attendant in Zanzibar. Speaking of her 2009 short Pumzi, he said:
"If you ask everybody here, 'What exactly happened in that film?' they wouldn't be able to tell you. But if you ask everybody here, 'What was that film about?' they would be able to tell you."
I'd like to talk to the man quoted above—as well as Kahiu—because I'm not sure if I know what this film is about.
Tropes vs. Women is a six-part video series by Feminist Frequency that explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.
The Mystical Pregnancy is a trope writers use to create drama and terror by invading, violating and exploiting women's reproductive capabilities. Often these female characters have their ovaries harvested by aliens or serve as human incubators for demon spawn. Sometimes they are carrying the Messiah and other times Satan himself.
I fall more in love with the work of Catherine Eyde every time I look at her art. Her colorful renditions of women, creatures and landscapes both ordinary and fantastical walk the line between twee and haunting, like a gorgeous, uneasy mixture of Grimm's fairy tales, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and feminist sci-fi.
I am an enormous fan of Joanna Russ' work. The feminist science fiction author is best known for her dense exploration of the effects of parallel societies on a given character, The Female Man, but I swear by We Who Are About To..., about a woman fighting to die rather than colonize an unknown planet, and The Two of Them, about a traveler who feels superior to a gender-regressive realm only to realize her own life is not as free from patriarchy as she wants to believe.
I was saddened to learn of this great talent's passing last week after a series of strokes. Russ was seventy-four years old. There is an endless amount to be said about her influence, her fearlessness, her distinct and sometimes meta modes of writing, and her triumphs and limitations as a feminist role model. Today, though, I'd like to discuss an unsung heroine of sorts: Russ' one book for younger readers, Kittatinny: A Tale of Magic. I only managed to find this bildungsroman recently (and you can imagine my elation, as both a Russ-ite and a YA connoisseur) and have rarely been so enchanted by a story.