The October 2011 issue of Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) is out. CSZ, published by Aqueduct Press, is a literary quarterly covering the feminist science fiction beat. This latest issue drops a few BVC names so I thought it warranted some attention here at the blog. Here’s a recap:
The focus this time out is on women in science. It hits the ground running with an enlightening article by Ann Hibner Koblitz entitled Gender, Society, and Narrative Inversion. Koblitz makes the argument that, contrary to western thought, women do not always have an unrealistically tough time when they take up science as a life study. According to Koblitz the idea that they do is based on the experiences of women in the U.S., England, and other European countries. Around the world, other cultures see higher percentages of women in the sciences. By science we’re not just talking biology or psychology. Latinas and Asian women flock to pure mathematics, a subject that everyone knows girls are just not good at and really should just stay away from lest they hurt themselves.
One wonders if the dearth of women scientists in America is due to the dearth of women scientists in the media. They say the business of America is business, but I think the mantra actually is the business of America is media. We live for our media. Are addicted to it, and where goes the media, so goes the American consumer. Maybe other cultures are not so crippled. At any rate, here in the good ol’ US, if media would get on board with women as geeks, maybe we would all flock to mathematics like they do in more enlightened parts of the world.
Helen Merrick wonders the same sort of thing in her article on Women in Science and Science Fiction: A Mutual Relationship. Merrick posits the gender gap in science could be narrowed by offering more positive role models in our science fiction. She cites a number of science fiction writers that do provide such models. Among them she includes our own Ursula K. Le Guin, Sarah Zettel, and Vonda N. McIntyre. (BTW, She mentions Vonda’s Starfarers series specifically and that just happens to be available here at BVC as an ebook).
And then comes the highlight of the issue for me. BVC’s Nancy Jane Moore has a timely article on Bad Science: The Flawed Research into Gender Difference in the Brain. When I say “timely” I mean, Time Magazinely. Time has a collector’s edition out now, dedicated to all things human brain. Of course there’s the obligatory article on just how different in fact women’s brains are from men’s brains. The upshot? Women’s brains are really good at… wait for it…nurturing. Yay! Wow, I didn’t see that coming.
Moore’s article in CSZ was refreshing in that she cites work done that points out the flaws in brain research. Yes, Moore states, there are differences, but there’s so much overlap that you really can’t say for sure what a person is capable of based on gender (or race or other things people get divided by).
I’m all for celebrating La Difference, but have you ever noticed that celebration seems predicated on women somehow continuously relegated to jobs they’re “good at” and those jobs just happen to be low or no-paying.
When somebody says, “you know, women are good at communicating,” they mean, they’d be good at social work, childcare, administratively assisting. When I hear “women are good at communicating,” I think they should be running corporations with thousands of employees. Who better to run a huge organization with tons of people than someone who is good at communicating? Oh, but that would be no good because you know how women get at certain times of the month. There’s no talking to them on those days.
Do you hear the disconnect? Women are good at communicating, but there’s just no talking to them.
And let me tell you something, women already use their fabulous communications skills to run everything, they just don’t get paid for it.
But let me not go on. CSZ continues with a nice interview by Nisi Shawl of Julie Czerneda on where the juice is. Juice being energy, inspiration, creativity.
The review section of the issue includes books by Lynn Margulis, Julie Czerneda and Susan MacGregor, Susan Heyboer O’Keefe, Joan Slonczewski, and Katy Stauber.
The issue ends nicely with the whimsical art of Jennifer Mondfrans. She’s put together a series of portraits of historical women scientists. Subjects such as Barbara McClintock (gene transposition), Lise Meitner (nuclear fission), and Henrietta Swan Leavitt (astronomy). Her wonderful pop pictures incorporate images of the scientists’ areas of expertise as part of their attire. It’s a funny way of assuring us that no matter how high-minded, brainy, and leading edge our gals are, they are nothing if they don’t accessorize properly. For instance, Kathleen Yardley Lonsdale worked out the ring structure for benzene. She’s shown sporting a pair of hexagonal-shaped eyeglasses. Maria Mitchell won a medal from the King of Denmark for discovering a new comet. The comet becomes a scarf in her hair. Colorful and fun.
I’m sure Mondrans’ paintings will disturb some with their irreverence. And rightly so. No jokes please, we’re feminists.
Find the October ish at the Aqueduct Press website.