Feminist Science Fiction: An Author’s Perspective

A few days ago I wrote a basic introductory post on making feminist art.

And for one of my college keystone courses, I’m writing a science fiction novelette (shooting for 12,500 words, give or take), very loosely based on the Classical Greek play Lysistrata, attributed to Aristophanes. There is a certain amount of difficulty in adapting any work of the ancient Greek stage through a feminist lens, because classical Greece was very decidedly not a feminist-friendly environment. Its philosophers at best didn’t think much of women and at worst thought much ill. Pandora, who we often think of through a Judeo-Christian lens as the “Greek Eve,” was blamed for both loosing misfortune and holding back hope, which prevented Man from killing himself in a fit of species-wide despair at all the world’s ills.

Much of the humor of the play lies in its portrayal of the situation – then seen as absurd – of women taking over the machinery of government to force an end to a war. This translates poorly to modern audiences, of course. Any adaptation of this work into a modern feminist viewpoint must necessarily be a loose one. And yet it must be grounded in the Greek dramatic traditions in order to make sense. In ancient Greece, of course, drama, poetry, and prose were more or less the same genre – drama was staged poetry; while prose (i.e. written language imitating the rhythms of spoken language) existed after the 4th Century BCE, it was used only lightly and inconsistently until the middle of the first millennium, CE. So one of the challenges of writing my adaptation is going to be in using modern prosaic language to render the rhythm of Greek poetry.

And with that… I write.

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