girlie jones (girliejones) wrote,
girlie jones

The Matter of Tongues

Many thanks to meteordust who linked to L Timmel Duchamp's Guest of Honour Speech at Wiscon last year, The Matter of Tongues

What a great speech well worht reading. Here she talks about finding stories that reflect who you are:

But in 1970, the stories I needed weren’t there for me. You see, I had no trouble believing him when he let me know that he’d agreed to teach me because he wanted to fuck me.


For most of my twenties, I especially sought out stories that could show me who I was and might some day be. But gradually I became more interested in the stories that offered me a way of understanding my experiences and feelings. I had always sought such stories, but these became more important as my need for role models diminished. It was around that time that, as I began to figure out aspects of my childhood experiences that puzzled me, I noticed how limited and narrow the range of available stories actually is. Very little of any of the experiences of my family were well-represented in fiction, for instance.

And this bit resonates for me both as a feminist, and as a scientist in how I was trying to express myself in the last post:

Intelligibility. I keep using that word. It’s an important concept for a writer, intelligibility. Another way to think of it is in terms of translatability. Can all concepts be translated from one language to another? Some people claim that they can, but certain ways of looking at the world, embedded in culture, are in practice incommensurable. And concepts always partake of assumptions about the world and how it operates.

and this:

I see three distinct political aspects to the issue of story and stories for feminists. First, it is tremendously important that we expand the range of stories we tell and re-tell. It is not good enough that people—especially children—who do not see themselves in the stories they read and hear and see must make do with bits and pieces of stories that don’t quite fit their identities or experiences. Second, the problem of intelligibility reflects the usually imperceptible influence of privilege that allows those who are “normal” and unmarked by difference to assume that whenever they don’t get a story or understand the other’s anger that there’s nothing there to get. Third, the intelligibility of stories depends on community. Community—both imagined and material—provides the basis for shared stories, shared narrative conventions and tropes, shared meaning.

Great speech.

I realized that stories based on the most common narratives, usually about white heterosexual males, were the ones that were least likely to be misread.

Go read all of it.

Tags: breaking through the glass ceiling of sf, feminism
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