The Abstracts — Femspec 10.1, Vol 10, Issue 1, 2009
Excerpts from: The quotes on the back cover from this issue are from Miss MacIntosh, My Darling. In the seventies, I studied writing in NYC with Marguerite Young, the author of the picaresque, psychological novel of the road from which these quotes derive — a journey of the human spirit in which a grown woman looks for her lost nanny who had abandoned her as a child depicting a search for a bizarre reality in a fascinating world intertwining illusion and nightmare that had been heralded by international underground readers as the Arabian Nights of American life. Li Weinbaum's review of Going Under keeps up our connection to the fantasy genre, and her review of The Gay Gene Discovery (GLG, 2008) will keep our readers abreast of futuristic SF caricaturizing the Clinton family with Hillary as Lady President, and Ellen “Generous” as psychiatric social worker, and where AIDS activist, Linda Jones Feinberg, depicts an analysis of a society threatened by a wave of abortion of gay fetuses.
By Batya Weinbaum
An introduction to the journal is presented in which the editor discusses an article on fighting the cases of incarceration by rape victims for murdering their rapists, by Joanna Russ, seeing India as a westerner by Hindu practitioner Phebe Beiser, and the female voice in Brazilian science fiction by Elizabeth Ginway.
LETTER FROM A FRIEND:
By Robert von der Osten
The article presents the author’s views on the journal Femspec. According to the author, the journal is part of a “crucial feminist, gender and queer struggle and it would not merit the effort to sustain it nor have any claim on the loyalty of subscribers if it is a mere academic journal with academic articles.” Furthermore, he adds that the journal is an important site for a social struggle, visible loci and symbols for communities and centers for alternative discourses.
“Reproductive Futurism and Feminist Rhetoric: Joanna Russ’s We Who Are About To...” By Rebekah SheldonAn essay is presented in which the author presents her views on the novel of Joanna Russ entitled We Who Are About To... The author argues that “often-toxic assumption that the refusal to procreate is a repudiation of futurity which resulted from the conflation of reproduction with procreation.” Furthermore, she adds that the novel is “shocking in a way that it reveals the shared commitment to human futurity that bend together couples’ resistance to oppression and political movements of all kinds.”
“Interview with Nava Semel” By Batya WeinbaumAn interview with Israeli author Nava Semel is presented. When asked about what is the difference of her book IsraIsland to other books with regard to gender, she refers to her exploration of the chapter of modern Jewish life or Israel identity. She notes that “many gay people and women react to the non-sexist, non-homophobic society depicted in IsraIsland.” She adds that she finds out about Mordechai Manuel Noah in an old book at the New York (NY) Public Library about Noah and Ararat.
“Excerpt from IsraIsland: Part Three” By Nava Semel (Translated by Anthony Berris)“The time frame remains September 2001, prior to 9/11; nonetheless, it is a mirror image: everything that would have taken place had the state of the Jews been established on Grand Island. All the channels were showing the results of the primaries and her face filled the screen-on it the smile her political spin doctors had designed for her, conscious of the importance of the occasion, wearing a top-designer suit that Lennox informed me was red, matching the color of the hair that had become the presidential candidate’s trademark. Because the last time you hustled me and didn’t even buy a single frame, and that’s after I busted my balls for you chasing that porn star whose silicone implants exploded.”
“Excerpt from And the Rat Laughed: Part Five: The Diary” By Nava Semel (Translated by Miriam Schlesinger)“...pardon this little girl, who has no name because she is the unwitting source of my despair. Years ago, someone in the big city told me that Jews regard the ransom of captives as a sacrosanct commandment. First I peeled off the rags that stuck to them, begging her forgiveness for the pain I was causing her, but she has yet to make a sound... she pillowed me with her stare.”
Finisia Fideli: Finding the Female Voice in Brazilian Science Fiction By M. Elizabeth GinwayThe article discusses the approach of Finisia Fideli on the examination of the female voice in Brazilian Science Fiction. It states that Fideli approaches gender roles through humor, often “parodying machismo and the male attitudes unlike other feminists.” It adds that her approach portrays the struggles of women from the unique perspective of science fiction and represents an attempt to be faithful to the experience of women in the Brazilian society.
The Resurrection of Lazarus By Finisia Fideli (Translated by M. Elizabeth Ginway, with help from Thais Ribeiro)“Graduating from the top university in the state capital as a trained cardiologist, he had already done post-doc work at the Heart Institute when he decided to return to his hometown. Because of his love of family-he was his father’s pride and joy-the old man had left him the largest part of the inheritance... I’m a bit jealous of him.”
Encountering Kali By Phebe Belser At the Durga Temple a priest’s assistant walked us through everything: leave your shoes, buy offerings of flowers, then pay rupees at each visitation. First the outer circle of the courtyard...”
Selections from Banaras Art CultureThe Art Gallery (with editorial notes by Batya Weinbaum) A personal narrative is presented which explores the author’s experience of being able to visit the women who are illiterate but found expression through their paintings from the village of Madhubani in Banaras, India.
Life as Art and Journey: Keeping the Vision By Meg EaslingA personal narrative is presented which explores the author’s experience of creating a sculpture of Inana, the Queen of the upper world or dimension of love, beauty and fertility.
WisCon 2009: From Where I Stand By Miriam MossInformation about the WisCon 2009 conference, a feminist science fiction convention, hosted by the Madison Concourse Hotel in Wisconsin is presented. Topics include science fiction as inherently speculative, how society could and should be run, and existing genre doing with race, gender and class. The event featured several authors including Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman.
“Review of Dina Lenkovic” By Barbara Ardinger“According to Silvano Levy and Stanko Spoljaric, who wrote the commentaries in this book, Lenkovic is a surrealist. Of more than ninety full-cover reproductions and details of paintings in the book, almost thirty of them show skeletons doing interesting things like playing cards or musical instruments and wearing fabulous costumes.”
“Review of Distances” By Ritch Calvin“Since they cannot solve the puzzle, they ask the mathematicians in the Temple, and Anasuya in particular, to assist. Distances illustrates the gaps between/among individuals... the Sagarans and every description (usually in the form of a poem) with the line “My poem is incomplete” (20).”
“Review of Mothers and Other Monsters” By Phillipa Kafka“In The Cost to Be Wise, McHugh combines history and current events with horrifying depictions of male warriors’ ancient, historic, and current tribal internecine and genocidal warfare-with sci fi- imaginary Encounters of the Third Kind galactic explorations and landings—and with futuristic technology-a cellphone device that an ancient female tribal elder embeds into the narrator’s ear. There are also stories where McHugh describes as ineffectual, or worse, future scientific, technological and medical attempts based on contemporary efforts to clone humans, end aging, cure Alzheimer’s, implant tracking devices, and catch up with ever-evolving venereal viruses.”
“Review of Chicana Art” By Gloria Feman Orenstein“Chicana art transforms the alter, the marginalized “other” into the altar, by reframing and rescripting ancient myths and images that imaginatively metamorphose both pre-Columbian and modern colonized icons of women into images of empowered contemporary feminists, carrying their past traditions proudly as they transgress the old stereotypes and conventions to create a new vision of gender equality, and social justice. An important contribution Lopez has made in this outstanding work is that she has for the first time, studied both the visual arts and the literary creations of Chicana weavings, performance art, film and fashion.”
“Review of Seers, Witches and Psychics on Screen” By Derek R. Sweet“Unlike Cassandra, argues Beeler, post-feminist characters—Cordelia Chase, (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), River Tarn (Firefly and Serenity), Phoebe Halliwell (Charmed), Thelma Bates (Hex), and Tru Davies (Tru Calling) - challenge the traditional archetype of the powerless madwoman resigned to her tragic fate by reconfiguring the female visionary as an active heroine capable of transforming not only her own life, but also that of others. In Part Three of Seers, Witches and Psychics on Screen, the author shifts away from women of prophesy and divine inspiration, and focuses on films and television programs (fiction and reality based) featuring psychics and mediums who use their talents to solve crimes, investigate hauntings, and bring closure to those who have lost loved ones.”
“Review of Milk” By Kyra Glass von der Osten“Gus Van Sant’s treatment of Henry Milk’s struggle to achieve the office of city supervisor, his work to encourage and grow activism in the Castro, and his eventual death at the hands of Dan White successfully captures the formative role this moment in time had for the gay and lesbian movements, as well as the symbolic power of Harvey Milk as a figure.”
“Review of Going Under” By Li Weinbaum“Lila Black, our main character, was blown to bits in a personal catastrophe more recently, and re-tooled in best Inspector Gadget style. The mysterious Cyborg bits of her body are developing at a frighteningly fast rate, and those CIA-type bureaucrats who created her--ahem, the machinery—don’t trust her too much since she married a demon.”
“Review of The Gay Gene Discovery” By Li Weinbaum“With gay referring repeatedly to both men and women (though not bisexuals) in this context, the piece provides a far-ranging analysis of society’s prejudices and loves, passions and machinations.”
“Review of Technologized Desire” By Antoinette Winstead“Because of this “Cog in the Wheel,” soul-sapping system in “some of the postmodern science fiction,” one sees characters who wish “to escape the production powers of capitalist technologies,” termed a terminal choice, and return to nature, both illusionary concepts created by the system from which to free themselves (18). According to Wilson, what “distinguishes this ideology” is a “metaphorical and actual violence that stimulates desire, determines postmodern reality, and dictates the course of psychological, behavioral and social patterns (107).”