June 30th, 2012

Karavai

Poem: "A Gift of Time"

This is the freebie for the June 2012 Muse Fusion. It was inspired by a prompt from Ellen Million.


A Gift of Time


The elders tell the stories
Their elders handed down
Like tapestries all woven
With threads of white and brown.

The elders coach the dances
They danced when they were young,
And eager was the necklace
Where hopeful beads were hung.

The elders wear the puppets
And put on quite a show
To teach the little children
The things that they should know.

An elder's time is precious
As light of winter day
So treasure those bright hours
If they should come your way.

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Overtly Feminine Scientists

 ... are off-putting to girls.  

This does not surprise me.  The reasoning mentioned in the argument is that girls may see it as unrealistic to be simultaneously successful in sexual and scientific endeavors.  

I don't see dual success as the issue.  People can be good at more than one thing, and may have multiple achievements in different areas.  However, not all that stuff is necessarily relevant at the same time.

For me it's like this:  1) If I was going to be interested in glitzed-up girlsmut, I would read the crappy teen magazines.  I hate that stuff, and always have.  This is not rare among smart girls.  2) When I'm looking at a woman with an eye toward her skills, I do not wish to be distracted by her body or her body language as if she were coming on to me.  Smart, capable women are hot, yes, but I'd rather be impressed by their abilities than their tits.  I'm disappointed by photos of outdoorswomen posing in skibunny outfits instead of swooping down mountains like their male counterparts.  I am similarly disappointed by "Golly gee whiz a real woman scientist!" rather than "Ms. So-and-So has just made this fascinating discovery."

If you want to get girls interested in science, there are two pretty reliable paths: 1) Figure out what already rivets the attention of girls, and show them science relating to those topics.  2) Pick some exciting news in science, and demonstrate how those things are relevant to the concerns of girls, hopefully enticing them to consider a new field.

Don't, for gods' sake, just dump glitter on it and hope that will work.  It doesn't even work very well for teensqueeze vampires.
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Rape Tropes

Here's an excellent analysis of recent events on TV Tropes with the removal and restoration of tropes about rape.  Yes, we do need to name tropes that objectify people, and discuss them, and give examples of works that have them.  Are you offended by the mountainous prevalence of such tropes?  You should be; they're all over the mainstream media.  So go make something else.  Go buy something else.  Discussions like this are part of what lets a society realize something is badly out of balance and needs fixing.
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Sword and Soul

filkferengi tipped me to the genre of "sword and soul," which is sword and sorcery style fantasy with black characters, usually inspired by African lore.  It spans fiction, art, and other media.  I'm happy to find that this subgenre has a name!  I've always enjoyed it, along with other African-inspired speculative fiction.  Among my early favorites were the short stories about Dossouye and her war-bull Gbo, subsequently gathered into a novel.

A good resource is Wadagu on Ning or on Facebook.  There is also Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology.  Read about sword and soul in publishing.  African Science Fiction has a good description of sword and soul too.

This is a timely discovery for me, because the recent discussion of "Always Chaotic Evil" races in fantasy eventually inspired my poem "A Hole in the Blanket," about a warrior woman whose younger brother is captured by Caucasian-featured demons.  So that's a sword and soul piece.  I think The Steamsmith series is kind of more ... soulpunk, if you will.  I really enjoy exploring cultural motifs from around the world.  Anybody can be a hero; anybody can be a villain.  And when you pick things that haven't been done often before, you get fresher stories.