Looks like I'll be on two panels at WisCon this year. Both of them are about aspects of gender that I find fascinating; I don't have answers to the questions posed by either of them, but am very much looking forward to having the discussions.
- Gender: Required Field (Sat, 2:30-3:45 pm)
- This panel will discuss the ways in which gender is linked to humanness, alienness, and otherness in recent science fiction work. For example, how does Leckie's Ancillary Justice use gender (a culture which refers to both sexes as the female gender; a narrator who inhabits a body we are not allowed to see) to control how we think about the characters? What does it mean when writers choose to give gender to alien cultures? To computers? What writers have chosen to write about gender-neutral, genderqueer, and other-gendered characters, and how successful do you think these projects were? Lastly, how important is it for us to know gender? How can good writing stretch our understanding of gender and what it is to be human?
- What's gender in an equal-opportunity future? (Mon, 10:00-11:15 am)
- In various science fictional futures (Star Trek, the Culture, etc), women and men have, in theory, full or near-full social equality, whether or not the portrayals always reflect it in practice. In a fictional society in which there is no gender discrimination and/or no limiting gender roles, what does it mean to be male, female, or any other gender? Is it all about physical characteristics? Are there likely to be gendered names, clothes, hairstyles, and stereotypical interests in such a world? In a fictional world with uterine replicators, equal sharing of parenting responsibilities, same-sex parents, multiple parents, and/or no stigma against being or not being a parent, what does it mean to be a mother or a father? (Please be trans-friendly in all your answers.)
I proposed that second one, because last time I was on a panel with that general topic, the moderator took it in a different direction. I would normally be a little disappointed that it's a Monday-morning panel, but last time I was on a Monday-morning gender panel at WisCon it was awesome (hi, Aaron!) and well-attended, so I'm hoping that'll happen this time too.
PS: I do know that the Culture isn't our future per se; I had just forgotten that when I was writing the description.