I just got my session details from the WisCon programming committee. If you haven't heard of WisCon -- it's about the coolest conference out there -- dedicated to feminist science fiction and feminism in general. It's held every Memorial Day in Madison, WI and attracts a lot of the coolest people!
Anyway, I'm on three panels, and the reading group I'm part of was accepted! Yay!
I'm really excited about the panels:
On Friday evening:Pick one! Both/And in an Either/Or world
Bisexual, transgender, intersexed, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national: those of us betwixt and between society's many great divides are often told to pick a side. What if we don't, won't, can't? And where does this connect to feminism and SF? Me, along with Victor Raymond, of Carl Brandon society fame, Aaron Lichtov, Lou Hoffman, and Ursula LeGuin. (!!)
Needless to say it's a bit daunting to think of sitting on a panel with someone like LeGuin, but it should mean a big audience, and as an American Muslim feminist science fiction writer, well, I think I have something meaningful to contribute to the panel.
Sunday afternoon:Coming out
In what ways have you come out? SF reader, feminist, pagan, christian, jewish, muslim, agnostic, devout, democrat, republican, independant, green, hetero, homo, bi, monogamous, polyamorous, celibate, kinky, vanilla, writer, space babe memoribilia collector? Who have you come out to and how did it go? Who have you not come out to and why? What does it mean to be out? What does it mean to be in the closet? How do you bring up the subject? When do you bring up the subject? Are you an activist or do you wait for safe spaces? Speakers: me, Aaron Lichtov (once again), Vylar Kaftan, Lisa Cohen, and K Tempest Bradford.
I think this is a fascinating topic and am really looking forward to this particular panel. It was very difficult for me to come to an event like WisCon -- I was sure I would meet hostility from diehard feminists because of my headscarf (in actuality I encountered almost none, or I'm just perpetually oblivious...), and I dreaded people coming up to me and asking, "What character are you dressed up as." Myself? Or should I choose one of the Muslim characters from my own writing? But it's been great connecting to this community -- which gives ample food for thought.
Additionally, there are certain places where I'm not "out" as a woman imam because that would create problems. Of course, that in and of itself creates problems. Both personally, as I have always made it my policy to have complete transparency, and in terms of having to refrain from mentioning certain articles I've published, etc. Again, plenty here for food for thought.
Monday afternoon:Was Margaret Mead full of s***?
Mead is famously quoted as saying "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Does this sentiment have any basis in reality? Many intelligent and well-informed people, including some of the luminaries who have attended WisCon in previous years, would have us believe that Mead's philosophy was the purest fantasy, and that no single voter or group of activists can bring about any kind of meaningful change. Let's invite a panelist or panelists who can debate and discuss this topic from the perspective of their own experience in the realm of public service, as well as one or more private citizens who believe that Mead was full of poppycock. Speakers: me, Pamela Sargent, Karen H. Moore, Suzanne Alles Blom
Again, I think I have a lot to say about this subject -- I'm one who firmly believes in the power of small groups. Just look at what a handful of women imams have achieved! It hasn't rippled yet to the wider Muslim world, but it's only a matter of time. I predict in twenty, thirty years, women imams will be as common as women rabbis.
Finally, I'm slated to do a reading with some excellent folks... Theresa Carter, Nora Jemison, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Nisi Shawl.
Our theme is Scarabs and Sandstorms: Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Middle East and Africa.
If that isn't the coolest title, I don't know what is! I haven't figured out yet when the reading will be, but I'm really looking forward to hearing from the other writers. Now I just have to figure out what would be the best selection for me to read. Choices, choices!
May seems a long way away, but I know the time will fly!