Cat Rambo posted notes from Gwyneth Jones’s speech on reducing world machismo. All makes good sense to me. I find this bit especially interesting because it also applies to fiction:
The Overton Window – the extremes of conversation determine the continuum of the discussion. This is why it’s important to have voices at the extreme left, helping expand the window, which has shrunk in recent years to a point where something previously considered moderate can be considered liberal.
Fiction thrives best when you have extremes of fiction modes being written and reaching readers. Expanding the edges gives cover to material that isn’t quite as out there. Otherwise, the “not-quite-as-out-there” becomes the bleeding edge…and we wind up with a more traditional era of fiction–something we’ve spent the last couple of years coming out of, aided by the infusion of fresh voices from here and abroad. Some writers need more cover than others–indeed, quite subversive writing can get published in the mainstream if it has enough cover.
This is related to the feminism issue, generally, because obviously some of those modes aren’t about the structural (or the formally experimental) but about the nature of who inhabits those narratives and where those narratives take place and what conversations take place therein and the ideas embedded therein. It’s important that a certain number of new voices have the room and space to continue to push boundaries rather than simply replace the status quo with what I’d call correctives or renovations. In such an atmosphere, writers who’ve been publishing but gone invisible during trad periods also have a chance to come back into focus.