chromatomancer (chromatomancer) wrote,

Reality, surreality, dreams

Had a very strange dream last night in which I founded a company called QueerSPA, CE, or QueerSPACE. It was a chain of upscale spas offering free health care, good manicures, and for some reason, fountain-shaped cat bathing areas. (I think this last has something to do with the fact that my cat rolled in SOMETHING and had to have his first bath yesterday.)

In that half-lit space between waking and dreaming I was pondering the feasibility of this idea, which seemed like a genius plan, and thinking that, as a woman primarily attracted to men (with some exceptions), I wouldn't be the ideal CEO for QueerSPACE, which in my head was this wonderful space of LGBT empowerment.

But then thought of Adrienne Rich's "lesbian continuum" and all the ways in which women-identified experience is defined -- and under her definitions I'm extremely woman-identified. . . a life defined by strong female friendships, and a life which has moved from matriarchal space to matriarchal space. To the extent that sometimes I forget this is atypical.

I remember once I wrote a story, which, like many of my stories, dealt with the relationships between female characters. The story was workshopped and one of the male workshop participants commented in shocked tones "that there were almost no men in it, and it was all about women, so it was hard for me to identify".

After the workshop I pointed out that almost all of his stories were centered around male characters, with very few female characters (I think the number was actually zero). "But that's different", he said.

I didn't have a second at the time to confront the ways in which that might be "different", but I think the main idea there was that stories about men were not uncommon, and that writing stories about women was inherently politicized. While I was accustomed to reading across gender (in much the same way that science fiction readers are more accustomed to reading across genres), he was untrained in the ways of identifying with female main characters. Really, I had put him out most inconsiderately. On the plus side, the next story he submitted for workshopping included more female characters and was one of his best-received. I don't think it was conscious for him, and like many men who aren't active douches, once the inconsistency had been pointed out to him, he was willing to make a change. To, I might point out, his extreme benefit.

(As a side-note, any science fiction writer who has been workshopped by a group of literary-only readers knows what it is to be on the "other" side of a reading gap. As the minority, science fiction writers have learned to read across their preferences, and perform a mental sleight-of-hand which says "Well, this isn't really what I LIKE to read, but if I accept the story on its own terms, this is how it could be improved." Literary readers are less likely to want to accept the story on its own terms, and wish instead to interrogate the sf writer's abnormal desire to write "unimportant", devalued, and substandard crap. To the extent that, when I once turned in a literary, autobiographically-based story, after submitting many sf and fantasy stories, I was told that "THIS is the sort of fiction you should be writing -- this is what literature really is." Uh, good to know? But don't worry, my many experiences of workshopping were positive on the whole, partially because there's almost always at least one other writer with SFnal tendencies to have coffee with afterwards.)

At any rate, all sorts of questions of identification, identity, logic, reality and surreality, coming up for me right now.

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