Tag Archives: gender

Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About–by Magpie Killjoy and Professor Calamity

The Victorians invented sex.

Okay, okay, there’s biological evidence suggesting their forebears figured it out too, but our cultural understanding of sex in the western world is more steeped in the late 19th century than even us steampunks would care to admit. Sure, they were notoriously prude, but the Victorians were obsessed with sex. They just lied about it, constantly.

[Read "Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About" on Tor.com]

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Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality–by Lisa Hager

Illustration by Keith Thompson

As an academic who specializes in Victorian literature and a steampunk who enjoys taking on the persona of Dorian Gray on occasion, I get a lot of questions and not a few strange looks from my colleagues and students when I explain what steampunk is (or at least try to) and why I so thoroughly enjoy being part of this subculture and avidly devour its fiction. Though most people are definitely interested in steampunk or pretend to be for my sake, I often get the sense that they wonder why a “serious” academic like myself is interested in steampunk culture and literature – that I have crossed some sort of academic nerd line in the sand and may be slightly strange for doing so.

What this attitude misses is how speculative fiction and the subcultures that embrace it, most especially steampunk, can welcome diversity and difference in ways that rare in mainstream culture and give both energy and verve.

[Read "Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality" on Tor.com]

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#95 The Sworn Virgins of Albania–Guest blog by Historicity (Was Already Taken)

Note: This was cross-posted with permission from Historicity (Was Already Taken).

The Kanuni i Leke Dukagjinit (The Code of Lekë Dukagjini) is an oral law code which ruled the lives of those residing in the Northern Albanian area for at least five centuries. It was first codified in the 15th century by the Albanian Prince Lekë Dukagjini, but it was not written down until the 19th century. For this reason, scholars are unsure as to its origins.

The Kanun is divided into 12-14 sections (depending on which version you are looking at) dealing with church, family, marriage, house, livestock, property, work, spoken word, honor, damages, criminal law, judicial law, and exemptions and exceptions. In short, it governed every aspect of daily life.

Of women, the Kanun says: “A woman is a sack made to endure.” Under the Kanun, women are the property of their fathers, and later of their husbands and their husbands’ family. There were very few jobs women could hold, and many establishments they were not allowed to enter.

However, what is fascinating about the Kanun is that it provides a way for women to regain control over their lives; it is a loophole, of sorts. In fact, you could even call it empowering if you are speaking from a pre-feminist standpoint.

The loophole was that women had the ability to become a man in the eyes of both family and society. The women who became men were, and still are, known as sworn virgins. Upon taking a vow set forth in the Kanun, a woman would dress like a man, act like a man, work like a man, and command the respect accorded to a man; the only thing she was not allowed to do was to engage in sexual activity.

Sworn virgin Shkurtan Hasanpapaj worked for many years as a high ranking officer for the Communist Party. She supervised many men, and none questioned her authority as a man even as the government body they worked for strove to stamp out adherence to the Kanun.


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QUAINT #2 Buena Rejon from “The Mexican Ranchero” by Charles E. Averill

Rejon the Ranchero from The Mexican Ranchero. Image from "American Sensations." Click for link.

Buena Rejon was created by Charles E. Averill and appeared in The Mexican Ranchero; or, The Maid of the Chapparal (1847). Averill (?-?) was a popular dime novelist. He is best known for his Kit Carson, Prince of the Gold Hunters (1849).

The Mexican Ranchero is set in Mexico in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, after the American troops have occupied Mexico City. The truce between the Mexicans and the Americans is broken when Raphael Rejon attacks a squad of American soldiers. Raphael Rejon is the “Lion of Mexico,” the “mortal foe” of Americans. The American soldiers burned his home, his parents died in the fire, and he and his sister were left both orphaned and homeless. Since that time Raphael and his sister, Buena Rejon, the “Maid of the Chaparral,” waged a guerrilla war against the occupiers; “hundreds of Americans…have become the victims of her unerring lasso.”

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#39 Epic Adventures at Dragon*Con & in Salem

Note as of 9/21/2010: Since the posting of this report, I have received feedback that a reader had been offended by my comments below for ignoring the presence  of mixed race and Native steampunks at Dragon*Con. I take full responsibility for the offense made and apologize for my oversight. As noted in the comments of this post, I don’t wish to make a marginalized person feel that they have been rendered invisible when they visit this site. The lightheartedness in which I made the comments below in “The Count” about race, representation, and physical appearance ignores the very painful experience of being a person of mixed race/Native descent/light complexion who passes for white, but does not share the same experiences as someone from the dominant culture. I won’t change my initial comments below–because it would be hypocritical of me to cover up my mistakes–and I hope to receive further feedback about how to improve upon my reflections –and in turn, the content of this site– to be more open and welcoming in the future.

My first Dragon*Con experience can be described in one word: overwhelming. Not surprising, since an estimated 60,000 attendees come to this convention every year. Since its humble beginnings in 1987, Dragon*Con has become one of the largest multi-media & pop culture conventions in the US, and there’s frequent debate in the geek world about whether Dragon*Con outmatches San Diego Comic Con.

Though I’ve heard about Dragon*Con, I never considered going because of distance and cost. Outland Armour begged the Wandering Legion of the Thomas Tew to attend this year, however, and so I decided to tag along with my ruffians-in-arms for the journey.

Thus, unlike other conventions I had attended, I had no set plans and didn’t intend to actively scout out the con specifically for steampunkery. I had plans on attending some of the panels listed on the alternative history track, and some other events, like the dark fantasy panels and seeing a couple of performers.

My initial schedule plans shifted, when Austin Sirkin contacted me about speaking on the Race & Gender panel, and Emilie P. Bush (who I worked with for the Race, Class & Gender roundtable at the Steampunk World’s Fair) touched base with me about speaking on the Women in Steampunk panel.

Another twist was added when the Day Job requested that I cover the convention once I told them I was attending. I try to keep a professional distance between my Day Job and my steampunk, especially since the two have so much relevance to each other. My plans for Sunday, though, changed entirely when I was scheduled to interview several authors and film the con. I was psyched about the people I got to interview (most relevant to this blog being Cherie Priest).  Because of filming, I missed out on a couple of steampunk events I wanted to go to– most notably, the Steampunk Exposition (though the Peacemaker ended up being displayed in my absence).  Sticking to the premise of the blog, though, I’ll only mention the steam events. ^-^

So I had two panels to prep for, along with making arrangements for work, in order to tackle a con I’ve never gone to before (and somehow figuring how to get down to Georgia at a reasonable price!) In the end, my experience was less steam-focused than I intended, but I did learn several valuable lessons about attending Dragon*Con. My list, plus the rest of the report after the jump.

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