Perth Feminist SF Unconference Invites YOU to attend!

This guest post is by Sarah Parker, who blogs at Saucy Sisters.

* Perth’s longest running Feminist Convention, Gynaecon, is running this weekend!

* Panel Discussion on Strong Female Characters in the Whedonverse and Whoverse

* Discussion on the new Norma K Hemming Award for Feminist Art/Literature

* Worldcon and Gender Representation Round Table Discussion

* Guerrilla programming – come and have your say! Potential topics include Race in Fandom, Race!fail09, Breastfeeding, Individualist Societies…

Who am I?

Hello and welcome to my first ever article for Hoyden About Town! My name is Sarah Parker. I have been attending a local Speculative Fiction convention called Swancon for over 12 years now, and today I’d like to draw your attention to something else Perth Feminists might be interested in – Gynaecon!

What is Swancon?

Swancon is one of the biggest Speculative Fiction conventions in Australia. A five day extravaganza, starting on Thursday the 9th and finished on Monday the 13th. A convention is a celebration of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and includes four panel streams, art show, masquerade, children’s stream and this year we have our first ever crèche. Swancon is celebrating 34 years of fandom this year. This year’s Guests of Honour are the internationally bestselling author Richard Morgan, Australia’s own best selling Fantasy author Trudi Canavan, and professional guest of honour Theresa Anns from Harper Collins.

So what is this Gynaecon thing?

Nine years ago some women were frustrated at the effective obliviousness of fandom in regards to issues they considered important. Together, they decided to form a collective that would run a guerrilla programme, advertised on the backs of toilet doors and via word of mouth. Panels, workshops, discussions were all chosen deliberately to challenge ongoing assumptions and power distribution models. Gynaecon has looked at a large number of issues over the nine years, but also balanced this with regular items such as clothing swaps and activities like belly dancing and dinners. Gynaecon has also fundraised for local shelters and is a starting point for a local Women’s Weekend called Femmeconne.

So what are you doing this year?

This year we have a number of panel items on the main Swancon programme, plus the guerrilla programme is also being discussed at the Gynaecon LJ community. The panel items include a round table discussion on the issue of Women at Worldcon, and what we, as fans, can do to include more women in the panels, in the Guest list, and in attendance. We will also be discussing the presentation of strong women in Dr Who and the Whedonverse, looking at the construction of women in various TV series and the related agency they have within plotlines.

The biggest thing Gynaecon is doing this year is announcing the Norma K Hemming award. This panel will discuss the forthcoming Norma K. Hemming Award to mark excellence in the exploration of race, gender, class and sexuality in Australian science fiction, fantasy or artwork. This is a national award for excellence and is being administered by the Australian Science Fiction Fund. The aim is to have it launched at Aussiecon 4 on 2-6 Sep 2010. This is an exciting opportunity that has come about directly thanks to Emma Hawkes, one of the originators of Gynaecon.

The guerrilla programme is still under construction. If you’d like to come along and have your say, pop over to the Gynaecon LJ, and let us know! We’d love to have you along. Most Gynaecon panels are open to all sexes for the most part, and we are very clear when a panel is open to women-identified persons only.

Topics this year include discussions on Race and Fans, Breastfeeding, Individualist Societies and Western Culture (called Finding Neo), the utilitarian nature of space flight, a history of Gynaecon, the future of Gynaecon, and open discussions on Femmeconne and what people like to see. A roundup of current potential topics is here.

How can I be a part of this?

On Friday the 10th Swancon is having a special cheap rate of $20 for a day pass. This is incredible value, and I urge you all to consider coming along. Not only is there Gynaecon right in the middle of everything, but there is also fantastic panels and workshops and discussions at Swancon. For more information on Swancon, please have a look at the website here.

For more information on Gynaecon, and how you can get involved, have a look here!

[Image: The Gynaecon mothership T-shirt from the first Gynaecon. This logo was chosen as a more yonic alternative to all the cigar shaped rockets that were all over the place at the time.]

Categories: arts & entertainment, Culture, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism, language, media, social justice

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