Feb. 27th, 2013

gretchening: picture of my face, looking mischievous, with dyed red hair in front (Default)
On Sunday, my gym buddy and I had just gotten back from the gym, where I'd added weight to my lateral pulldown routine (up to 110 lbs, from 50 when I started working out a few months ago) and realized I'm starting to get a tiny bit burly in the arm and shoulder area, a realization that, combined with other recent developments, filled me with awe that maybe I can *do something* about my gender, and my body, and can actively move towards something that feels more right, and take pleasure in the sweat and sensation of it while I'm at it.

We got back to her house and started heating up some chili, and I checked the emails that had accumulated on my phone while we were at the gym. I boggled at what I found there, an email from Debbie Notkin that made me gasp out loud. I told my gym buddy what it said, and she laughed and high-fived me. For the rest of my visit, we buzzed my hair and I erupted in random giggles of awkward, disbelieving happiness. Was this really my life?

Tonight I pulled up my senior honors thesis, because it's been about five years since I wrote and submitted it, and a lot has happened in five years--my perspective and access to knowledge and wisdom has increased dramatically. I wrote it with no knowledgeable support--my advisor knew nothing of science fiction and little about feminist theory, and I think she just gave me an A because it's kind of the thing you do for seniors.

I titled my thesis 'Humanity on the Edge of Gender', and I wrote it because feminist science fiction was important to me, WisCon had already become important to me even though I was a terrified wallflower who spend most of her first couple of years at WisCon behind the registration desk, just because I didn't know what else to do and I was shy and in awe of everyone around me. I spent hours and hours scurrying around Memorial Library and tracking down titles referenced in bibliographies to try to get a sense of the extant scholarship on feminist science fiction, especially as it relates to sex and gender, bodies and power and relationships. So much of it pointed back to WisCon.

Today I re-read the introduction of that thesis, and it's maybe not that interesting to me now, it's a bit quaint and irrelevant, and I'll probably never show it to anyone but I will keep it as a sort of nostalgic reference point for my own history, the way I try to save old journals and major projects. The relevant thing about this thesis is that I devoted a half a page of my introduction to talking about the Tiptree Award and how important it is to promulgating the conversation and aspiration of sf/f that pushes us to think critically about gender.

For the next five years, through book clubs and conventions, online discussions, long chats into the night, conversations with new and old friends and lovers, to thoughts that strike me when I am about to sleep, I have come again and again to rely on that conversation as not only important to the genre, but important to my sense of self. Even when I haven't actively engaged the conversation myself, I listen to it and am reassured by its process It's not an abstract conversation--its existence, the way we talk and think about gender both in fiction and in our lives, is necessary and life-saving for many of us, including me. It helps us live and react in our bodies in hundreds of tiny ways, that make life not just bearable but, often, livable and even, sometimes, personally *normal*. That multifaceted, varied, sprawling, often fraught conversation has real value to my life.

So. Now it is 2013, not 2008, and, unless the Motherboard comes to their collective senses and rescinds the invitation I accepted on Sunday, I'll be on the actual Tiptree Award jury.

Logically, it shouldn't surprise me, but emotionally... it feels like an enormous recognition from a community that is so important to me. It's an incredible honor to me, and it's been a few days now and I'm still hovering somewhere in disbelief about it. I know once it gets going, just like anything, it'll be plenty boring and frustrating and full of normal humans being human and arguing about their opinions and perspectives, and I will be a professional in my field and bring my expertise to bear etc. And that's good, I actually love that, and I feel pretty confident that that's a thing I can do, in this context, reasonably well. I know the Tiptree Award has a relatively small audience of interest for a literary award, but it's so hugely important *to me*, and right now I get to savor that enormity and feel good about it.

Now, as if I'm not feeling emotional enough, I'm going to go read Bloodchildren and think about my oankali tattoo.

Anyhow. Alice... here's to you.

black and white picture of Alice Sheldon aka James Tiptree Jr writing with great concentration

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