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What do you think?

So, the editor of the Warrior Wisewoman anthology, in the submission guidelines, says, “I am looking for stories that shed light on the truth of what it means to be female…”

This got me thinking, because the grammar (“the truth”) suggests that the editor is looking for a universal answer to this question; I am, in general, dubious about “universal” when we all have different life circumstances, and even basic things like “how it feels to be pregnant” vary greatly from person to person and even from pregnancy to pregnancy in the same woman.

Still, I know what it means to me to be female – or at least, what it has meant at various points in my life. Or do I? Maybe I just know what it has meant to be me in my particular circumstances in a world that treats females differently than males…

What do you folks think? What does it mean to be female? What does it mean to be male? Do you have opinions on what it means to be the gender you’re not? Is this universal, or do you think your answer would be different if you lived (for instance) 200 years in the future?



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 2nd, 2008 10:15 pm (UTC)
As to mistaking someone's gender--the things people have learned to use to identify someone as male or female are deeply ingrained; even friendly people who strongly support someone's decision to switch genders have a lot of trouble using the preferred pronoun, instead of the one the automatic identifier in their brains comes up with.

Hanging out with transgender people has also alerted me to the fact that the differences between genders are not only physical (hip size, plumbing, facial hair) but chemical/hormonal in nature. Estrogen helps tear ducts work, for instance, thus women cry more easily. I don't make the mistake of thinking that this must mean men feel things less deeply--but then, some male-to-female transgender people DO report being better able to feel and identify their feelings once they start taking estrogen.

I used to think the question was trivial; now I think it is very complex.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 3rd, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
I did think of this possibility, though I have my doubts whether the editor would go for a trans protagonist. That wouldn't stop me from writing a story if I thought I had a good idea, of course.

Another possibility is an intersex protagonist.

Complexity that is central to (or at least pertinent to) the story would certainly lead to plot and character development; my best stories/songs take more than one idea thread and weave them together; so far, however, nothing has sparked around the thought of using a trans protagonist.

I would want to do something more than just a trans-self-discovery story or a trans-coming-out story...
Oct. 2nd, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
I don't know what it means to be female, I only know what it means to be me. Sometimes I'm not even sure about that. As far as I'm concerned the only "truth" that matters is the one that says be true to who you are.
Oct. 2nd, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
I can certainly agree with that; I don't think most people can be a good "someone else" in any case.

But as to that anthology--would you read an anthology like this, and if so, what would draw you to read a SF anthology that focused on women as warriors and wisewomen?
Oct. 2nd, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
Would I read such an anthology? I rarely read anthologies, I don't like short stories. one like this in particular? no. It seems a little to .... not sure what, feministic? earth mothery? I'm not sure. But mostly I don't do anthologys.
Oct. 3rd, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
More and more, I've found that I'm more likely to strongly enjoy stories by female authors and/or with female protagonists. I'm really not sure why. And there are exceptions. That's probably part of why this question so intrigues me.

I will also admit to hoping that this discussion will spark a story idea for the anthology; I'm pleased with my success, lately, at finishing short stories quickly if I start with a whole story idea, and I figure with practice, this will help me to finish longer works too. But to practice it, I need to have a whole story idea...

Also, I'm tired of doing things like writing a really good trickster song--more than a year after the contest I wanted to write it for had ended. Lately, I've managed to at least write and complete some things for a particular market in time to submit them to that market; another thing I want to get better at.

And also, a good conversation is worthwhile in and of itself. (-: Thanks for joining in.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 3rd, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)
I certainly think that an unfounded belief in God, or Gods, should be socially acceptable. Just as an unfounded belief in No God should be acceptable. And the belief that "we just don't know" (and even the belief that the truth about the existence of a deity or deities is inherently unknowable) should also be socially acceptable.

I also strongly agree that one should not confuse morality with the belief in a deity, and especially with the belief in some particular deity. After all, belief in a deity has historically been a strong force for good in many, many people. And belief in a deity has also been associated with horrendous (I would say "evil" except that using that word that makes so many people too defensive to listen) actions by many, many people.

Sadly, I think that too many people find it sufficiently difficult and unpleasant to *think* about issues of morality to believe that it will become widespread in our culture to think about morality as a separate issue from religion. Heck, think about how hard certain Democrats worked to change people's confuggling the symbol of our country's flag with support for W's war in Iraq. They had to plain out state that "this flag is for all Americans, including those who oppose the war".
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 3rd, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
One of the reasons that separation of church and state is important!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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