It is common for feminist writers to feel the need to focus only on stories that preoccupy themselves with the marginalisation of women. Other writers don’t necessarily dwell on the representation of their own demographic, so why should women (and other marginalised groups) feel the need to?

Feminists, like us here at Breaking the Glass Slipper, aim to promote female writers and feminist themes within speculative fiction, raising their reputation out of the ‘literary ghetto’. But this in itself becomes a problem. We feel like the topics we cover and the writing we produce must cover feminist issues. A straight, cis, white man can write about anything he wants to, should we have that same privilege? If we don’t continue to further the feminist cause with everything we do, is that not a failure on our behalf, simply perpetuating the social norms we are hoping to break down?

It has, in some ways, become a no-win situation. If we focus our efforts solely on creating fiction that tackles feminist issues we are limiting ourselves, but if we don’t make these issues central themes of our work, we are letting the side down.

In today’s episode, Lucy asks us to think about the obligations we have to represent ourselves in fiction and whether we ought to be bound by rules of authenticity or representation quotas. When it comes to creating interesting characters that offer diverse representation, what you are is not who you are.

Further reading:

Texts and writers mentioned in this episode:

  • The Copper Cat Trilogy by Jen Williams
  • Starborn by Lucy Hounsom
  • Doctor Who
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Charlie Parker Mysteries by John Connolly
  • Kate Elliott
  • Jane Austen
  • Joe Abercrombie
  • Shattered Minds by Laura Lam
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Homer