"I agree—I’m definitely a root-for-the-underdog gal. It’s what I identify with. My experience was slightly different in that the battle for self-realization began at home. The disappointment of women who gave birth to girl after girl was a constant presence when I was growing up. The mothers around me, of cousins and friends, were desperate to have boy children, especially if they already had one or more girls. I was told I was a “luck” child because a boy was born after me. My mother got off okay because she was the mother of sons, but I remember, vividly, the torment of women who could not bear boy children. I remember the tears these women cried on my mother’s shoulder, their self-hatred, the sometimes extreme conditions they faced with their in-laws. It’s something that has seeped so deeply into my bones – the crying of these mothers, or soon-to-be mothers, and their heart-wrenching desperation. My mother going to console women after they’d had their second, third, fourth, or whatever number daughter, is something that lodged itself pretty deep into my psyche. It had a profound impact on my worldview.
The impact of the battle over control of my own body was no less profound. I was not allowed to cut my hair because it was against our religion. However, it seemed our religion only applied to me and my mother as my brothers and father and uncles all had shorn hair. What I wore, who I spoke to, where I spent my time—all were strictly monitored and controlled. I could not wear jeans that were too tight, shorts of any length, skirts or dresses, yet my brother wore what he pleased without so much as a passing glance. He was also enrolled in martial arts classes because he needed to learn to defend himself. No such classes were necessary for me because I would be protected by someone else. I was a smart girl, but that mattered less than my looks and the fact that I was not light-skinned, which would make me a harder sell on the marriage market."
"This question brings me to WisCon, the annual feminist science-fiction and fantasy convention in Wisconsin. This year was my third year there and I truly love the hard-won space. I feel completely at home in feminist spaces and this is no different. Except that it is. It’s very different from the feminism that I came out in. While there have been great strides in the presence of people of color at the conference (through the tireless efforts of a handful of attendees who initially spoke up and organized and kept pushing for change), the percentage is still small, overall, and there is still great work to be done. At the same time, discussions about power imbalances and justice and equal rights can take place in feminist spaces. Feminism is about representation and the battle for control over bodies and psychologies, so it’s not such a huge stretch then (one would think) to inject the same awareness into issues of race and class and sexuality and other intersections where power and privilege play huge roles in the rights of marginalized peoples.
In a landscape where the mere mention of race puts people on edge, spaces where conversations about power and privilege can take place at all is where the hope is."read the rest of the interview and leave your thoughts in the comments!