Monday, September 20, 2010

Call for Abstracts: Popular Culture and Political Theory

Homer Simpson and the Promise of Politics: Popular Culture as Political Theory
Edited by Joseph J. Foy and Timothy M. Dale

"Abstracts are sought for an edited volume exploring political theory/political philosophy as presented through popular culture.  This volume is to be published through the University Press of Kentucky as part of their politics and popular culture series, which includes Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture and Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture.  For additional information, please see the attached 'Project Overview.'

The chapters of this book will consider the political theory represented by major works of popular culture, written to examine these ideas in the context of great political thinkers and influential political ideas.  The typical chapter will select a film, television series or musical artist, or a genre of examples from any of these categories, and examine the popular culture artifact in the context of a collection that covers a wide range of popular culture texts organized to provide a relatively comprehensive look at the political theory canon through a popular culture lens.  The book is intended for readers being introduced to political theory (first and second year college students), or readers generally interested in the intersection between cultural and political studies. 

Contributor Guidelines:

  • Brief abstract (100-500) words describing the popular culture artifact employed and the political theory/political philosophy examined
  • Resume/CV for each contributing author
Abstracts may be submitted to  Please contact this address if you have any questions regarding the project.

Although abstracts are currently being sought, authors who have unpublished essays relevant to this collection are encouraged to submit."

Please forward to all potentially interested contributors

Timothy Dale
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Department of Social Change and Development
Mary Ann Cofrin Hall, B310
University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Phone: 920-465-2061 Fax: 920-465-2791

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Interview with Piper Martin at Twin Oaks

This is a continuation of interviews with members of Twin Oaks. The theme is the possibility of using the imagination to collectively challenge gender with various intentional organizations of child care responsibilities. The opinions and recollections expressed are those of the individuals interviewed, and are not necessarily reflective of the community or of the people about whom they speak.

As you can tell, if you have been reading the previous entries, most Twin Oaks members are very busy. They have to keep up with a quota of 42 hours of assigned labor a week, although older members get a pension of one hour off per year per week starting at the age of 50. That is, at the age of 50, you only have to work 41 hours; at 51, 40, and so on down the line.

Nonetheless, no matter what the age, it becomes a challenge to corner a member and schedule a block of time--45 minutes, an hour--which he or she can pencil on on a labor sheet to sit down and reminisce in front of a computer about any topic under consideration.

As a guest, I too have a labor sheet, and am required to make quota, so my time is also under high demand. This Sunday morning, Piper and I have about 45 minutes before I go to water the orchard behind Morningstar, a job Elsa gave me,  and Piper goes to wash and cut apples.

I gave Piper an article I had written from oral history I had done with women in Palestine/Israel while I set up the session, and then organized to begin my questions.

Piper, at the age of 86 and three quarters, having lived on Twin Oaks around 30-35 years, moved here first in March of 1971 but then left a few times and returned. She remembers the time when children lived away from their parents in Degania, a building named after a kibbutz in Israel.  I asked what she could tell me about the Degania system.

Piper: First of all, I think you have to put it in the context of how different Twin Oaks was then from now. We had a much higher quota and less resources. Quota was 49-51 hours a week.

Q: What do you mean by quota?

P: Quota is part of our elaborate system of equalizing the community's work load among all members. Once a year, we vote in the Trade-Off game for our best guess of how many hours of work we want to do to earn our income and to do our daily living chores like cooking, total that up and divide by the number of members, and get the number that is called "quota." In reality, this requires many compromises in the things that we would like to be creditable as quota hours in order to keep the quota, or required number of hours, average, per week. It is perfectly OK for members to "bank" their extra hours and spend them later.

Whenever we were not getting enough work done, we raised quota to get closer to what we wanted. Most of the time just raising the quota left us not yet getting what we wanted. And allowance was very low. It could have been only a dollar a week. Or ten dollars a month. Something very minimal. Now it is minimal by other people's standards but it is  86 dollars a month now. When our allowance was so low, we were making do with a diet inferior to what most of us wanted. That included things like baloney sandwiches. When a cheese sandwich was served, if we wanted an extra slice of cheese, we had to pay a nickel out of that tiny allowance. This was  before we were making our own cheese, before we even had any cows.  So to work more hours meant we could improve our community diet. And there were other things like that. If people needed eye glasses, you pretty much did without them, unless you had parents who paid for your eye glasses. Turn-over was extremely high then. A lot of people came with these wonderful visions and found they couldn't stick it out. But also this many years later, it is funny to think how many people came expecting it to be an easy life with lots of sex and time to play music and life an easy life.

But we had this vision and the parents originally participated in this vision that the children would not be owned by their parents, that the children would be Twin Oaks children, that we would collectively enjoy them being Twin Oaks children and we would collectively take responsibility for them being our children.

Q: What happened with that vision?

P: Well I think one of the main things that happened was that the parents did not feel the community took as good care of their children as they could by themselves, even if they had to go back to the mainstream. Back in the mainstream, they could get grandparents to help them, often grandparents with money. There were only 30-40 members at the time, so lots of complications happened--jealousy, when we didn't believe in jealousy. We believed in equality. We wanted every body to have everything. And here we were. So when the parents  left, they would leave with their children. If they left the community, they took their children with them, which was not the understanding we had started with in attempting communal parenting. The idea was that if the parents left, the kids would stay and other people here would parent them. So it was a very serious job to take on a primary for one of these babies. There were various levels, but the ones who were equivalents to the parents were essentially saying they were taking on the child for life just as the parents were.  So Josie Kincaid and two other young women--one was named Freddie--and a hammocks manager for so long-- were intensely committed to this idea that their children were going to be community children, and their children were going to get super care.

For a couple of years we had had no children at Twin Oaks after blaming ourselves for the poor care of the children at Twin Oaks who had left with their parents. So this time we waited until we had completed Degania and had what we thought were super super conditions for children to grow up.  Meaning that before these babies were born, we had handles to the doors down low where toddlers could reach them and electric outlets up high where toddlers could not reach them--all sorts of things to make life good for our children. And we even had a glorified crib. Do you know about the Skinner cribs? For example, a soft mesh mattress was used so that urine could go straight through and  the infant did not have to wear diapers 24 hours a day.  There were other things about the crib such as a fan attached to the outside so that the child would be cool. We were basing this all on the fictional book Walden Two by BF Skinner. When Skinner came to visit, we started proudly showing him the crib. We just had one of the special cribs and were wondering whether we could make another one ourselves.  Skinner looked very flustered as he tried to explain to us that the crib was supposed to be right in front of a large window so that the child could see birds coming and going, the weather through the sunshine, clouds and rain, etc.  And instead, we had placed the crib in a small special room up against blank walls with windows, high above the crib, that the child could not look out of. And then we tried to make up for it by putting commercial mobiles in the crib. I don't remember the year.  Skinner only made that one visit. He wanted to come earlier, but we said, we don't feel ready yet. Would you first wait for us to invite you?

Walden Two was about a thriving large community that already had lots of resources. And here we were a little struggling community with maybe 4 per cent of the number of members that the Skinner community had, trying to see what we could provide for our children. So some mild degree of disagreement between the parents and the non-parents started as soon as the first metas got labor credits for watching and recording the actions, and the number of hours the infants slept, and the number of times they peed, and all that, while the rest of us worked "much harder".

Q: What is a meta? And why did they have to keep records?

P: Metas are a name we picked up from Israel. The Israeli name is longer but it started with those letters, of the name of the person watching the children in the kibbutz. Record keeping was part of our idea of how to take super care of the children. People took childcare shifts and we wanted each shift to be well informed to do a superb job. 

I never was a meta. I was part of the non-parent, non-meta group.

Q: How did you view the situation?

P: I was extremely disappointed when it failed. I actually had been seriously considering the possibility of adopting a child to raise under these experimental conditions, although I was over 50 by this time. It was supposed to be security for the children, the best possible life for the children. But the program wasn't enough to fulfill the metas, some of whom went on to have their own biological children to add to the roster of Twin Oaks children.  Some metas tried especially hard. One I remember in particular was Eve. She wanted to be the kind of meta who would not have her own child but would spend her life as one of the mothers of these communal children.  But, apparently after a lot of soul searching, she did leave the community.  And left the children feeling as if a mother or father had left them.  This was a warning to all the biological parents and to the community that we could not count on anybody to stay and feel as responsible as the real parents did. This is where the vision hit the reality. Eve made it known to the community that she was feeling unfulfilled.  I think she tried to get pregnant and couldn't.

But by that time we also discovered that the biological parents wanted to have a bigger say in what the children ate or didn't eat, whether the children brushed their teeth or not, whether they dressed in gender-specific clothes. Some people thought we should train their kids from the beginning to wear girl clothes and boy clothes. For the boys to wear girls clothing---that was a big leap. Some of the community was in favor and some not.

Q: So it broke down over gender roles--the parents did not want their boys wearing skirts?

P: No, they did not want the community deciding whether their boys would wear skirts.  It was also over whether  their kids could eat sugar....was it important to have supervision over tooth brushing...little daily things.  Too many by far to have community meetings over all these things.  Remember there was no precedent anyplace. Walden Two did not talk about details like this. As far as we knew we were the first ones trying to benefit our children by behaviorist methods in a group setting. We didn't have any resources to go visit kibbutzim to learn how others had done things until after our whole effort was history.

Q: Had you already raised your own children before this?

P: : Oh yes. My youngest was in college at Antioch.  After the first year, the students there were self-supporting. I had no financial obligation any more. My older daughter had graduated from college and had a job in NYC, and my son, who had stayed with his father after our divorce, was on his own at that time.

Q: Having raised your children in a nuclear family, what was the appeal?

P: It was a major appeal of the community in the first place that we were going to do a better job than on the outside raising children.

Batya: Thank you for being such a good resource.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Barbara Ardinger's "Transmutation" Will Enchant You

Barbara Ardinger wrote an enchanting story about a beautiful woman who seemed to have everything, yet does not possess a soul, and in which an Alchemist must find her a soul, lest he be destroyed by the Lord Bishop's orders.  Although the author has mentioned that the story is an "alchemical version of Beauty and the Beast," I can't help but also be reminded of The Wizard of Oz due to the girl in this story lacking something vital (in this case, a soul), something that would obviously be impossible to live without. 
As the Alchemist was trying desperately to locate or create a soul for this woman, in the back of my mind I of course wondered whether she already possessed a soul, thus also carrying a similar moral to the story as the one in The Wizard of Oz ("you've always had it, my dear"). 

The story is beautifully written, and does seem to contain a moral within it.  When the Alchemist's housekeeper tells the couple to go and be together in their home in the wilderness (a home the soulless woman dreamed of), she also stated that she would show the Lord Bishop how they have found their souls.  It's possible the housekeeper, who appears to be a good witch, will either trick the Lord Bishop to save the couple, or actually performed a spell in which a soul would be provided to the woman, thus sparing their lives.  But I actually feel the story implied something more meaningful, which is that the woman already had a soul within her all along... for one could not possibly love another without one. 

To read this beautiful story, click here. 

~Posted by Kelly VanBuren

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Femspec announces Femspec Books

New start up of the publishing imprint Femspec Books.
So far this imprint has published a trial run of one full-length novel in the genre that Femspec usually publishes and a second book just off the press.  Contact us for review copies.
The journal is starting this press because after ten years positioned in the publishing business, bringing out 500 plus artists, critics and authors, we have been approached numerous times with full-length manuscripts. Thus we feel  uniquely situated to bring out authors who will already have an audience with us (our readers) and to whom critics and reviewers will already turn, on our recommendation.
 Not only will we increase our profits, but we will enlarge our impact on the literary universe, which was our goal in the first place---to broaden the understanding of the speculative genre, to make it more inclusive, which most feel we have done.
We will offer the same sort of peer-review we do for the journal and will retain our integrity as a respected press.
Our first two trial run publications (to get out the quirks) are my own:
The Nightmares of Sasha Weitzwoman, a 583 .p novel about a woman who goes to Jerusalem to cover the first Intifada and gets caught in a haunted hotel in West Jerusalem, previously excerpted in the Jewish issue. Available for $26 plus shipping and handling, $35.
Opening Palms, a book I have been selling at festivals which is based on a column I wrote for the Santa Barbara Independent for a year and a half. $10. Plus shipping and handling, $15.
Contact us if you have manuscripts of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Look soon also for Fermspec Productions, producing music cds and books on tape.
                                                                                                Batya Weinbaum

The "Primary System" at Twin Oaks

Here I am in the Rainbow Room in Morningstar at Twin Oaks, the community in Louisa, VA where we are interviewing people about childcare because a member has given us a thesis on sf and feminist theory she wrote a few years ago that we are considering for our motherhood issue. The room is named for the large rainbow prism on the window made by a member in the south facing window of the living room where Elsa, age 35, lives. She is nursing Ridgely, age 8 months, as we speak. She is also the mother of Luuk, age 6. She moved here in order to raise chuildren collectively, among other reasons.

I asked Elsa to speak about the primary system because I first met her baby on some one else's body. Rick, a recent new member, wore her baby on his belly in the dining hall and I was surprised not realizing Rick had a child. I saw other children strapped to the bodies of people I did not realize had had children since my last visit. Then I realized I was looking at babies on the bodies of people who were not their biological parents. I asked Elsa how the system of primary care being provided as labor credit hours that all members  can perform effects her life as a mother, and the lives of her children.

Elsa: The kids here at the age of 6 or 7 need to start doing a tiny bit of community work (one hour a week). So teenagers need to work several hours a week, and one teenager here was interested in forming relationships with the younger kids. So one particularly responsible fourteen year old cares for my six year old once a week for two hours and takes labor credit for his time and takes labor credit towards meeting his work requirements.

Batya: How does this effect your life as a mother?

Elsa: I get a lot more free time than other mothers of a baby and a homeschooled child without having to pay money, although you can get childcare on the outside world. Here I pay labor because the commodity we trade at Twin Oaks is hours.

Batya: How do you trade hours?

Elsa: Well, I was just using that figuratively instead of trading money. In truth, the child gets hours for his care so the more hours I give away to other people to take care of him, the less hours I can take to take care of him myself.

Batya: So what work do you do for the community to substitute for the child care hours the community gives you to care for your own kid?

Elsa: I manage the fleet of 16 automobiles. This is a substantial amount of time. This takes all told to deal with the maintenance of the cars with me and a few helpers 15 hours of work a week.

Batya: So who are these people who help you?

Elsa: There is one man who worked as a mechanic on the outside before he moved here, but doesn't want the responsibility of management. There is one who is learning as he goes, and there one woman who knew absolutely nothing about cars when she started. Nothing. She couldn't check her oil level.

Batya: So when I see Rick wearing a skirt with your boy baby strapped on his belly, I can think of you teaching a woman how to change oil on cars?

Elsa: Yes. That sounds about right.

Batya: Thanks. I think that makes my point that Twin Oaks is using the collective imagination to challenge gender! But how do you think this primary system effects the lives of your two boys?

Elsa: Let's continue this later because I have to get some money and a bra and shoes to leave the farm.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Call for Papers: Sexing Science Fiction

Editors Sherry Ginn, Ph.D and Michael G. Cornelius, Ph.D would like everyone to know:

"A scholarly treatment of the issue of Sex in Science Fiction is currently under consideration for publication by McFarland Publishers as part of its Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy series (series editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III).  This book, tentatively entitled Sexing Science Fiction, will be a collection of articles, with the general objective of filling the gap in the literature about this topic.  Although treatments of the issues surrounding sexuality have been published, none has been so recently, and this book aims to explore the myriad ways in which authors writing in the genre, regardless of format (e.g., print, film, television, etc.), envision the ways in which different beings express this most fundamental of behaviors.

At its core, the construct of "science fiction" is something of an oxymoron.  "Fiction" denotes fantasy, fancy, that which is divorced from "reality."  Certainly fiction has always spoke to and explored what is considered to be real or reality, but in its very construction one sees the seeds for a departure from the tangible and into realms that exist beyond this real world.  "Science," however, suggests a specific discipline grounded in reality, based on predictable principles of action and inaction.  Science is the study of the physical world in all its varied manifestations; it relies on observation, experimentation, and the judicious recording and interpretation of reality and fact.  The two together then, create that aforementioned oxymoron: "science fiction," which for all intents and purposes could be translated into "real unreality."  More than a genre like fantasy, which creates entirely new realms of possibility, science fiction constructs its possibilities from what is real, from what is indeed, possible, or conceivably so.  The fact that science fiction and its most common manifestations--space flight, technology, alien realms--are so connected to the future, and to our visions and re-visions of the future, suggests that the genre is concerned not with what is unreal, but rather with what may be real, or may soon be real.  The flights of fancy that govern science fiction are grounded in the tangible, in the realm of what is possible, real, hoped for, and feared.

Of course, in life and in fiction, few things are more "hoped for" or "feared" than sex, and sex's many manifestations in our world delight, confound, and enrage.  Debate about sex, its role and its function, its form and its meaning, permeate every aspect of our culture--philosophically, ideologically, culturally, religiously, politically.  Sex is both "real" and "unreal" or perhaps, "surreal."  We discuss the future of sex and sexuality quite vociferously.  It is part of us, something we both acknowledge and dissuade, something we are both prideful of and ashamed of as a culture, as individuals, as members of sexually-based relationships.

This collection then, looks to understand and explore these two areas of "unreal reality," to note ways in which our culture's continually changing and evolving mores of sex and sexuality are reflected in, dissected by, and deconstructed through the genre of science fiction.  The editors would like to see papers that challenge and affirm the ways in which sex and sexuality relate to the genre of science fiction itself.  Both of these fashioned notions--sex and sexuality and the genre of science fiction--should be forefront in the work, as ways in which to interrogate specific texts, symbols, movements, writers, subgenres, or other like areas.

The following is a suggested grouping of topics, but it is by no means exhaustive.  This list is meant merely as a preliminary guideline.  All relevant topics related to Sex in Science Fiction will be considered.

  • Manifestations of female or male sexuality as differentiated or highlighted by the genre of science fiction
  • Sexuality in general as it relates to the genre as a whole
  • Un-or non-gendered sexuality found in science fiction
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexuality and reproduction (both inter- and intra-species)
  • Sexuality and technology
Deadline for formal proposals is 1 December 2010.  Send abstracts of 500 words to Sherry at  Use this address for any questions you may have concerning the project as well.

Editor Sherry Ginn is the author of Our Space, Our Place: Women in the Worlds of Science Fiction Television (2005).  Her monograph on power and control in the Whedonverses will be published by McFarland in 2011.

Michael G. Cornelius is the author/editor of eleven books, including two previous collections for McFarland Press, three works for Chelsea House, and several works of fiction."

Sherry Ginn, Ph.D.
Rowan Cabarrus Community College
1531 Trinity Church Rd
Concord, NC 28027

Michael G. Cornelius, Ph.D.
Department of English and Mass Communications
Wilson College
1015 Philadelphia Ave
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are you teaching a feminist sf/fantasy book? Blog it!

Tell us a bout your blog and we will link it....

Angela Carter. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

Agata Szczeszak-Brewer is teaching Angela Carter's 1972 novel The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman at Wabash College, a liberal arts college for men in Indiana, North America. There's an active blog here: where the students are discussing their reactions and insights to the book.

Paula Gunn Allen Issue: Sample CFP

This issue is now closed, but shows you what is coming up, and also, how to structure a cfp if you are interested in writing one:

CFP: Special Issue to Honor Paula Gunn Allen

FemSpec, an “interdisciplinary feminist journal dedicated to critical and creative works in the realms of SF, fantasy, magical realism, myth, folklore, and other supernatural genres,” is accepting submissions for a special issue to honor Paula Gunn Allen (PGA) tentatively scheduled for Fall 2009. (now, Fall 2010).

Topics may be stimulated by, but are not limited to, concerns raised in her interview with John Purdy in 1997 ("And Then, Twenty Years Later . . .": A Conversation with Paula Gunn Allen, by John Purdy, Studies in American Indian Literatures, 9(3), 5-16, Fall 1997 retrieved 8/19/2008 from 20 years after the Flagstaff conference that resulted in the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, PGA identified continuing issues in Native American literary criticism in the context of a major shift:

1] “There was nothing then, and now there's everything.” We welcome essays that detail or engage her contributions to that shift, and/or that identify, assess, and/or remedy problems in the field.

2] “Something was said today, something about answers. And I wanted to say, no, no, no. That's not the point. It's not about answers; it's about good questions.” Building on any of the questions PGA’s work asks us to consider, how can we develop continuing lines of inquiry? For example, in Sacred Hoop she demonstrates that we need not reinvent the wheel with imagined gynocracies. How does the paradigm she describes inform Native American women’s literature?

3] “Very little of our literature is the literature of protest, of oppression … Most of it is the literature of the spirit or the literature of ritual. Almost all of it is, call it political voice and drama, is always informed by the presence of this knowledge that there is always this other world, with which we are always engaged. It isn't over "there" somewhere; it's in our presence and our midst and we are in its presence and its midst.” Feminist speculative literature is predicated on “what ifs.” If we were to continue as we are – what would future dystopias be like? If we were to dismantle oppressive cultural schemata (race, class, sexuality, ability, gender) and live according to an egalitarian paradigm – what could future utopias be like? PGA’s work can push these queries further. For example: what are the implications of an equi-present spirit world for the dystopia/utopia binary?

4] “My own calling has always been of the spirit ...” What are the relationships between women’s speculative literature, criticism, and spirit work?

We seek critical articles, artwork, poetry, and fiction. Articles and fiction can be up to 15 pages. All submissions should conform to MLA standards (see For further information, please contact special issue guest editor, Menoukha Case, at

Submissions marked "PGA" should be sent to:
Menoukha Case
POB 51
Gt. Barrington, MA 01230-0051
(now also co-edited with Stephanie Sellers)

Please submit 4 copies on which your name, address, and contact points do NOT appear, accompanied by a separate page that includes title, genre, your name, address, phone, and email. Submissions with insufficient copies will not be sent through the review process. To submit, you must be a subscriber for calendar year 2009. To subscribe, include a check made out to FemSpec or subscribe on line and send a print out of the receipt with your manuscript. Full price is $40, low income price is $25. Ask your library, public or institutional, to subscribe.

Deadline: June 15, 2009

Sample disabilities CFP for future special issue editors, and work still needed on disabilities

Sample of cfp, issue on disabilities needs material

Although this one only received one submission, we are considering that submission at this point and would talk with you about any material you have that might still fit. We decided to post this as a sample for future editors of special issues, but, two birds with

“Extraordinary Women” “Extraordinary Women”  Femspec, an interdisciplinary feminist journal dedicated to SF, fantasy, magical realism, surrealism, myth, folklore, and other supernatural genres, welcomes submissions for “Extraordinary Women,” a special issue or themed section dedicated to women and disability.

In her book Extraordinary Bodies, Rosemarie Garland Thomson establishes that “Many parallels exist between the social meanings attributed to female bodies and those assigned to disabled bodies.”

We are interested in critical and creative works, including memoir and nonfiction narrative, that explore these parallels.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:  Aliens and freaks Disability, technology, and the cyborg Adaptation and survival Women with disabilities in myth and folklore Disability and feminist spirituality The “alien” experience of being a woman with a disability Intervention and accommodation (alien, supernatural, technological, or other) "(Un)natural” women Ability/Disability in Octavia Butler’s work Writing, feminism, disability “Coming out” as non-normate (disabled, queer, other?) Passing” as normate

Please submit three copies of your piece to Deborah Bailin at this address: 2101 Susquehanna Hall, English Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.  Submissions must *exclude* any indication of your name on them so that your piece may be read anonymously.  Include a separate sheet with the title and genre of your piece, your name, address, email, phone and a two sentence abstract.  Also, include a disc with your document in Word and RTF format. All submissions should conform to MLA standards, as found in the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA guidelines can also be found on-line at  Any submission that does not come in with sufficient copies will not be sent through the review process.  Please note that only subscribers may submit to Femspec. To subscribe, go to  All editorial enquiries should be e-mailed to Batya Weinbaum at

Issue 10.2 is Now Available

Femspec is happy to announce that our newest issue 10.2  is now available to order.  This scholarly journal covers a range of intriguing topics, such as speculative imagery that challenges gender and people's views of gender, gender experimentation or role switching such as female masculinities, witchcraft, the Tarot, transcendence, the goddess and the Divine, and themed space. 

The content within this compelling issue provokes questions about the meaning of gender and how it's presented in literary works of not just science fiction and fantasy genres, but all works of literature in any genre.  The journal can prompt one to examine what we've been taught about gender, and the rules or stereotypes that seem to box us into a tight role or identity in which those of the free-thinking variety wish to break free from.  We cannot be true to ourselves, nor have a true voice if we succumb to such labels and limitations.

The authors in the issue allow an awareness to take place within the reader, in which one may learn to grow from experiences to develop into a more cohesive self, and that cultural oppression, sadly, still exists as we struggle to overcome traditional and narrow views on gender.  The journal may cause one to look at both male and female points of view which exist in society, and how differing assumptions can complicate objective examinations of feminist literature, as well as what feminism is all about.

The issue also presents material that is strange yet entertaining, and unusual yet compelling and reflective, such as a fiction piece about love shared between two beings from different planets.

The issue poses such questions as: Why does female masculinity exist in children's fantasy? Why are female characters in literature considered powerful or adequate only when they exhibit characteristics that are traditionally male? What effect does fairy-tale literature have on gender theories within different cultures? Is it too late for us to change our thinking regarding gender, or are the rules, roles and meanings too much set in stone?

As a collective whole, issue 10.2 portrays how gender has significant contributions to the world and how we choose to live in it, how we identify ourselves and others, and how we may be able to break free from existing gender constraints, initiating a change in outdated and current mindsets or ways of thinking.

~Kelly VanBuren

10.2 Contributors/Authors:
Emily Auger, Anne Balay, Ritch Calvin, Shari Evans, Ardys Delu, Daniel Hill, Phillipa Kafka, K.A. Laity, Gillian I. Leitch, Lani Ravin, Maria Shine Stewart, Susana Sussman, Batya Weinbaum, Li Weinbaum.

Femspec journal is edited by:
Batya Weinbaum

Contributing Editors:  Diane DiPrima, Marleen S. Barr, Samuel R. Delany, Gloria Orenstein, Darko Suvin.

Advisory Board: Suzy Charnas, Florence Howe, Joanna Russ, Pamela Sargent,
Editorial Board:
Cristina Bacchilega, Beatriz Badikian, William Clemente, Kathe Davis, Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Phillipa Kafka, Sylvia Kelso, Laurel Lampela, Lynne Reed, Gina Wisker.

Prepress Production by Ritch Calvin

For more information on this issue, visit

To subscribe or make a donation, you can do so at

Note: Our new Femspec site is still currently under development

Reviewing roots, rock and revolution byEmma's Revolution

This morning I stretched my back on a yoga ball at Twin Oaks in the collective dance/music/film/relax space, listening to Pat Humphries and Sandy O sing about how the earth was a living planet, following a star, and we don't know where we are going but we can change the universe just by being who we are. What a way to stretch!

The momentum flowed into me and with a jolt I was back on Fenn Fes, the post-Mich gathering in August where we all sat around in a talk circle after the festival and discussed the state of the world and politics, all of us, all the women and even a few men in the circle. No division into backstage for performers, paying festigoers kept out by ropes and security guards....the merging among us all as women and people striving to make a change in the universe was expressed in this circle, and in this CD that the two of them gave me to review after the small gathering ended.

Produced by James McVay and a product of Moving Forward Music in 2006, the well-produced CD with  a great photo of the two young rising folk music/women's music stars has a long thank you that really lets folks into the feel of what it means to get into your music and to get it out. Acknowledgements for fundraisers, cashews, input musically, and so much more imparts a flair of where the two women are coming from.

I had to laugh as I danced to the lyrics of "Vote," where the enumeration of how many numbers the government can keep--of wars, investments, interest--really calls into question why it is so difficult to count our votes.

The fluctuation between critiques of harsh political realities and softer gentler croonings about where did you sleep, did you have some peace indicate how you get through this political world that is so crazy--find and nurture the vibration of love..

I think you will love this CD if you get your own, at many festivals where they vend or

-Batya Weinbaum

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Ethics of Editing---A Feminista from 1998

This is the compilation of a discussion that occurred on the Women's Studies listerv around the time of the founding of our journal. We revisit it from time to time to refresh ourselves in what our intention was in founding a feminist journal. We ask that all editors who work with us either on the board or as editors of special issues or sections read this, to bear in mind that we see our role as supporting authors rather than as gatekeepers. Thank you very much. And a special thanks to Ritch Calvin who relocated it from an archive so we could use it on this new blog.


This feminista was developed by consolidating responses to the following post
on the women's studies list on LISTERV.  We would ask editors, writers and
publishers to be aware of the issues discussed, particularly feminist editors
of journals. Please copy, spread the word, post, and contact me if you are
interested in developing this into a publishable article.

"I recently had an article cut by a collective before they had even read the
revisions they had asked for, which took me some time doing.  There was no
commitment to publishing even though they asked me for extensive work two
times.  That was a feminist collective.  My co-editor was asked for revisions
four times by a feminist journal that then did not use her work.  We are
starting a journal partly because of negative experiences of articles being 'rewritten' at the editorial level by people we assumed were not steeped in
feminism or in our content.  Can anyone out there who has experience editing a
feminist journal, or anyone who has contributed to a journal,  help in
formulating a 'feminist ethics' on the editorial end?  I would hope this
discussion would relate to many experiences that many of us had, and could
lead to better responses than 'don't bug me for details' when things like page
length after extensive requests for expansions and deadlines are requested of
the editorial board by the author.  I have read some sociological analysis of
the editors of journals seeing their role as gatekeepers to academe, trying to
make it easier for the would-be's to drop out.  Well, we 'wanna be' better--fairer to authors--and want to hear the rationale that some 'feminists' might have for such spurious treatment of authors as a group."

We are young faculty members, professors emerti, founders of journals, journal
editors, editors of presses and anthologies, conference organizers, writers,
authors, feminists, and frequent contributors to edited collections and
feminist media/platforms, including online lists.  We have experience we would
like to share.  In some ways, our experience has spanned a continuum from what
we perceive to have been sheer thoughtlessness or total insensitivity to our
points of view as authors to what we perceive to have been male-like  power
efforts to silence us as women.  In consideration of the limits of our upaid
time as working women and in some case as working mothers seems highly
hierarchical, un-grassroots and unfeminist.  Frequently we experience power
moves--if you don't like it, this is how we are and shove onward.  Some of us
have gotten the distinct impression that some feminists (for whatever reason)
just don't want to hear/read some points of view from some women authors.
So--they simply cut you off, cut out what you've written, or otherwise try to
silence you.

The ethics of the publishers, which we believe is the essential point to
discuss, some would say, arise from the present economic situation involving
both the "publish or perish" assumption which makes it possible for editors to
believe we will put up with anything, and the mega-mergers going on.  Yet we
believe that there is a feminist ethic for editors & writers.  Formulating a
feminist editorial ethics would start with fundamental respect for any woman
author's point of view as she has crafted it in her writing. 
Editors can
strive for accontability with good footnotes and references. That said, once a
paper is accepted, editors can ask that it fit to a certain length -- but the
author should have right of final edit.  Trust the author, give the author the
power to say what she wants to say the way she wants to say it.  Particular
issues are:  editing for clarity vs.editing that changes the meaning of what
the author wrote; suggestions that enhance the author's intended meaning
vs.suggestions that change what the author is saying or sends into irrelevant
topics; honesty as to what the editors are looking for in their issue/volume;
non-negotiable demands after the article/chapter has been accepted andrevised
as requested;timeliness.
Sometimes, since manuscripts can work with only few minor changes, authors
decide not to send it their manuscripts back to feminist journals who are
asking for revisions again and again again and instead submit them  to
journals that, to be honest, will look better for tenure review.  Many young
scholars in other fields who want to publish in feminist journals to broaden
our audience to include a feminist-minded community, might decide to stick with
discipline-based journals (which will be better for us professionally anyway)
because we get tired of doing revisions for a year and half on 25 page

On the other hand, we have even more unhappy stories about no editing
being offered at all.  And that, too, is a problem not only a problem among
feminist publications, but everywhere.  Publishers don't seem willing to pay
for editors to edit anymore, as so many of us have complained about when we
read overwritten books filled with errors that cry, "Oh, please, someone edit
me before anyone sees what I am in this raw state!" Then there are those
people working at publishing houses on both books and magazines who are
diligent and brand new and think that in order to earn their wages they must
change every word you've written.  The ethics of has to discuss not only the
ethics of the people actually doing and receiving the editing, but the ethics
of the publishers.

In the interest of "professional decency," these events should not happen
again.  The behavior we describe is not only unfeminist by our standards, but
also uncivil, unkind,irresponsible, unprofessional, and churlish:

  *a feminist collective cutting an article from an issue before they had even
read the
revisions they had asked for

  *a feminist journal  asking for revisions four times and then not using the

  *articles being "rewritten" at the editorial level by people not steeped in
or even adverse to the author's perspective or content

  *responses like "don't bug me for details" over asking things like
stipulated page length after extensive requests for expansions

 *continuing to ask for revisions after an author has asked to be told if a
decision will be made by a certain time, as if it could be, when it wasn't

 *keeping an article for three years with four revisions, each one different,
continuing to send it to people who didn't think the author did, and then
rejecting it

 *a journal refusing to print a critique of an article that was based on
invented sources, theory and language in their own journal

 *a feminist journal asking an author to revise a manuscript twice, only to ask
for more major additional changes (with no guarantee of a publication) since
it was still not the article that they wanted to read.

 *sending contradictory messages--one reader comment wanting more,going off in
directions which had nothing to do with the point of the chapter, showing she
didn't understand it or hadn't read it; and others wanting pages cut.

 *significantly changing what was said through the editing

 *non-negotiable cuts at the last minute in the interest of page length

 *so alienating the author that she feels what is being published is not
really hers even though she has her name on it

 *accepting everything and making positive responses initially when editors
are not sure they will get enough for a book, and then weeding out what  they
didn't really want over 18 months by asking for revisions and saying the focus
of the chapotr does not meet the definition of the volume, asking for a
different chapter completely

original contributors to the above, although unfortunately Ruby Rohrlich is now dead:

Batya Weinbaum
Jacqueline Thomason <jackiet@SIRIUS.COM>
Myrna Estep <estem@LAKE.OLLUSA.EDU>16022 Oak Grove, San Antonio, Texas  78255
<> JAMI  (Mary Schweitzer)
Ruby Rohrlich <rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU>
Susan Koppelman Huddis <Huddis@AOL.COM> (Barbara Shircliffe) (Nelda K Pearson)

submitted by Batya Weinbaum, East Hardwick, VT

Here I am with Mala, at Twin Oaks...

As announced previously, we will be doing a motherhood issue. Partly this issue, which had as its genesis a panel on kick-ass mothers in sf at Wiscon, was revitalized by my discovery of Mala's 96 pp. thesis done at New College of Florida at the age of 22. Entitled "Post Gender Parenting: Reproduction and Childrearing in Feminist Science Fiction," the whole idea, she explains was "what parenting would be like without genders, or beyond genders." I was inspired to include one of our initial initiatives, which was to write about how the ideas we follow in the sf genre pan out in reality as well.

I discovered she had written such a thesis which applied ideas of feminist theorists to sf writing under the direction of Miriam Wallace, who supervised her, but did not herself specialize in science fiction, when going on a walk around the perimeters of Twin Oaks (, a community I have been visiting over the years and where my teenager was living for the summer on her own. Mala told me she had written her thesis on this topic when she discovered I was editing a feminist sf journal. Having given me a copy, I read it with complete absorption. Subsequently, I wondered how she felt about the theories and issues she discussed back then, having had the opportunity to live the ideas she had read about by now.

Her thesis, which we will publish either in whole or in part, covers such topics as Boundless Nurture Vs Benign Neglect: The All-Female Societies of Herland and Motherlines; Erasing Difference, Overcoming Dualism: The Hermaphrodite Societies of Sturgeon and Le Guin; Reproductive Equality in Marge Piercy and John Varley, and genetic and social engineering in Sherri Tepper and Doris Lessing.

Mala Ghoshal, age 35, has lived on Twin Oaks, an intentional community in Louisa, VA, for ten years. She and her partner of 16 years are the parents of  Zadek, almost 5, and Samir, age 1 and a half. I am interviewing her in her gorgeous spacious room with a view of the woods and a deck in the "SLG" which stands for a small living group building in the community.  Her small living group includes 11 people, including four kids and seven adults. Each has his or her own room, except in this community, the pronoun "co" is often substituted for "his" or "her." We each had to schedule in an hour in our labor sheets to arrange this meeting.

Q: Can you tell me what theorists you chose to use in this thesis and why?

M:  I chose to focus on three feminist theorists writing in the seventies and early eighties:  Shulamith Firestone, Mary O'Brien, and Adrienne Rich.

Q:Why did you focus on these three, and which of their ideas did you find most relevant for how you have lived your life raising your children outside of a nuclear family structure in the community you live in today?

M: Even though I went to college in the mid-nineties, I was very interested in and identified strongly with second-wave feminism and wanted to draw attention to second-wave theorists. Firestone and O'Brien talked more about biology and Rich more about social structures, so her work is most relevant to raising children in a context other than a nuclear family.

Q: What drew you to the second wave theorists, and do you identify yourself as part of the "third wave?" Why or why not?

 M:   I liked the second wave's focus on very tangible issues:  pay equity, violence against women.  When I was in college "psychoanalytic feminism" was the hip thing and I was impatient with that. I felt like we hadn't yet won the struggles the second wave had initiated.  I  felt like, when violence against women is a thing of the past and women are getting paid as much as men, then maybe I'll be interested in reading about feminist appropriations of Freud. I've always been a little skeptical of the term "third wave."

Q: Well, we could keep having discussions about theory, because this is so interesting, but can you tell me more about why you moved to Twin Oaks? Was the opportunity of raising children outside a nuclear family structure part of the draw?

A.  Definitely.  I was also drawn here for economic reasons:  I liked the idea of living in a Marxist society, where the workers own the means of production; where there isn't an owning class and a producing class; where we say, "From each according to cos ability, to each according to cos needs."  We also live out the Marxist ideal of not being tied to one job; I can be a  gardener in the morning, a tofu maker in the afternoon, a librarian in the evening.

And I was drawn to the ideal of living in a community that was tribe-sized, manageable, 100 people who all know each other and are connected to one another and feel responsibility toward one another.

Look for further interviews in the special issue on motherhood on how she felt reading this thesis later, and in particular, how she found the ideas from theory and fiction worked out in practice when raising children in an alternative structure. Look also for an interview with Elsa, a mother of two living in the same community.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Special Issues: How to Create One and What's Coming Up

Femspec currently has a special themed section on Octavia Butler in the making, plus an entire special issue on Paula Gunn Allen, another one on motherhood in sf, and another one on Canadian author Vonarburg, edited by Amy J. Ransom, which will contain pieces in both English and French. We had one on disabilities but only received one submission. If you are interested in submitting materials on any of the above authors or themes, let us know; we will connect you to the appropriate editor. And if you are interested in starting up a themed section or issue, here is what you need to know:

1. All contributors, including the editors, need to be current subscribers to the journal.This means in order to submit materials, your authors and you must subscribe at the initial stage of the process. The process will go a lot smoother if you and your contributors actually read the journal and know what kind of journal you are working with as we work to support you to bring your work into print. Read us, get to know us, and be committed to be in dialogue with us.
2. You must send us a proposal of what you intend to do; we circulate this amongst our editorial consensus people and get back to you before the call for papers can be circulated or posted.
3. You are responsible for circulating and posting your cfp, and of notifying us of where you do.  You must also send us a complete cfp for us to use in our issues and on our electronic sites.
4. You receive the papers and submissions, and then you circulate them for anonymous review following the review procedures as described on our web page ( under "review process."
5. When you have received comments, returned them to your authors, and received revised papers back that you are ready to submit as a section or a whole issue, you submit two hard copies to us in which all names have removed from the table of contents and the pieces so we are also doing anonymous review.
6. I read one copy, and send another copy to a selected editor either from our board, or a specialist if no one on our board is willing or able to review the material.
7. We make a decision and send our comments to you. If we ask you to revise, you get your authors to revise and return the entire project with a letter describing how you or your authors met our requests. We may accept the whole project; we may accept most of it but not all. We may ask for substantive revisions, or we may say that we accept the project contingent upon your agreeing to the minor revisions we request. We make these decisions with a view towards the longevity of the journal and keeping to our mission and standards.
8. We do not reprint works previously published in English.
9. We generally retain all copyrights including of creative work and cover art.
10. This process can take 12-18 months.

If you would like to see some of our successful themed issues, look for 2.2, our Native American issue; and 6.2, our African American issue. We also have had a girls issue, a sf film and reproductive technology issue; a horror issue; and a Jewish Women's issue. We consider our special issues some of our finest work, because of the nature of the dialogue that ensues as different communities talk with each other, even though this requires a lot of work. We like each issue to include book and media reviews, interviews, art, critical works, and creative works, as well as something for girls. We don't always hit all those bases, but we like to as we conceive of the audience of special issues as going beyond the general readership of the journal, although also including the readership of the journal. We can make available to  you editors of ongoing or previous special issues to provide mentoring and support throughout your work.

Thanks for your interest!

Batya Weinbaum, ed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here I am at Twin Oaks, an intentional community in Virginia....Batya Weinbaum, editor

What does that have to do with challenging gender, you might ask?

Well, at dinner on the large picnic tables outside ZK the collective dining hall, I heard there was a queer studies study group. And on the labor sheet that I got today, cleaning the dining hall, cooking and doing the laundry as well as food preparation all counted for the same labor credits as packing tofu, gardening, and office work.

In other words, the invisibility of housework is made visible.

I can even claim labor credit for elder care, if I make salt-free food for a woman in her eighties who is having high blood pressure. So I returned ready to cook with my special cook books.

And less than twenty years ago, all the kids under five lived in Dagania, the building I am living in now, which was named for a kibbutz near the Galilee in Israel.

That is how I got here. The place reminds me of a kibbutz and I was very happy when I lived and worked on one when I was 19. Hence the name, Batya. Given to me in the grapefields as I picked grapes at 4 am.

And stay tuned for the revitalization of our motherhood issue, which was once named the Kick Ass Mothers Issue, that started out of a session at WisCon in 2009. Not many papers came in , but we are revitalizing it because a woman here named Mala wrote a thesis when she was in school in Florida about 13 years ago in which she looked at science fiction novels and feminist theory about mothering and reproduction. Now she has been living here and raising her children in a community that was started to test out the theories of BF Skinner, eg, behaviorism, and the place has gotten way more interesting than that. Men wear skirts, women can go topless; for about 25 years there has been a tremendous women's gathering which I came to this year once again. My beautiful goddess paintings were on all four corners of the circle where people ate, and I attended sessions on the women's movement, where has it gone, and radical spirituality. Out of the whole festival circuit I had been to this season, this one was the most grassroots and radical because it was run by a commune rather than by a corporation trying to stay afloat. Instead of charging high price tickets, women bring their own food to put in a collective kitchen for a potluck, and one or two meals are provided a day. And even in the performance on Sat. night, anyone can share. Some sign up, and as the night goes on, more and more women get up and sing or recite a poem or dance or drum. Meanwhile the fire is blazing. You should come next year. A hell of a lot of fun.