Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Women's Press Science Fiction

first pile
I’ve had a couple of these books on my bookshelf for many years, and I'm not sure I even read them. I think I tried at least one, and may have found it a bit hard to get into.

But just recently I stumbled across another at my local op shop, and something about it appealed to me. I was something like 10 cents short of the marked price and the lady was happy to accept my pile of change. I was at pains to promise I would make a donation next time, not wanting to seem to be trying to rip off a charity. Whereas she was seriously concerned to make sure I would be ok, having spent all the money in my wallet. It made me aware of the level of privilege I have, knowing I can always get more money from the ATM. I’m probably a little too relaxed about how much is left in my wallet – which is how I even ended up going into the op shop with less than $2 on hand.

I started reading Marge Piercy's 'Woman on the edge of time' straight away and really enjoyed it. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m better equipped for reading science fiction than I used to be (though I was always attracted to it and did read quite a bit). And I know my brain is increasingly wired for feminism.
last three
A few days later I found a few more at the book fair and I decided I would keep collecting the series. Since then I’ve found a couple more from Lilitu’s books and music - we were at Gold Creek for a wedding on Saturday and had time to kill before moving on to the reception. I’m not even bothering to read the descriptions on the back first – I’m sure I’ll like some and not others, but they go for just a few dollars each and I love a good collecting challenge.

This is the logo inside the front cover of every book in this series.
steaming ahead

My first reaction was that it's hilariously wrong. I couldn't believe that a logo and slogan ("steaming ahead") based on ironing would be chosen for The Women’s Press. Yeah, I was a bit slow to get the pun on the word "press", but still. The women's press was set up in 1978 to publish feminist writing by women. Why would they want to use ironing as a symbol?

But when I showed K, he didn't see anything odd about it, he just thought it was deliberately ironic. Which echoes what founder Stephanie Dowrick says:

"Then, of course, we brought in the jokes too, which centred on the emblem of the Press, our little iron. This was a joke about not being oppressed. Ironing is extremely repetitious and typically women's work and we were asking you, with this little iron, steaming ahead and red hot and all of that, not to be quite so oppressed."

I wonder if my lukewarm reaction is a sign of the times. Even my much-increased interest in feminism in recent years is probably a reaction (I have to be different) to the current mood of conservatism in these matters.

I guess it was expected and even assumed that the audience would totally get the irony. But today in 2010, I think it looks iffy. Is it just me?


Bells said...

oh i love this collection already! Great work. They look so severe don't they!

As soon as I saw it was the Womens Press I had to write and tell you why I like them. They were the publishing house that asked to read more of my novel when I lived in England in 98. They turned it down in the end but I fondly remember them as the people who at least showed interest.

Bells said...

also, i think it'd be iffy now, but it's a cute joke on reflection, really.

nettie said...

I read Women on the Edge of Time years ago and really enjoyed it, despite being a science fiction non-fan. I never thought to hunt down more. I'll be interested in hearing how you continue to enjoy them.

Rose Red said...

I love how the book titles glow in the first photo! very sci-fi appropriate!

I like the logo (and always have, since I first came across them at uni)! But I think I'm not really up on current feminist theory so maybe I'm old fashioned!

I think sometimes feminism (or any -ism) takes itself too seriously, so I like the pun.

Donna Lee said...

I totally missed the "press" inference there. Maybe since I stopped ironing 2 years ago (I let the local dry cleaners do my ironing. It's the chore I hate the very most).

Kate Wilhelm writes wonderful scifi. I love her work. I think women writers tend to focus on the people in the story, which I like.

Anonymous said...

i am intrigued by this collection and pretty sure i really want to read I Vampire! do tell if the books are actually any good. as for the logo, i liked it years ago and like it now. im taking it as ironic!

Denise said...

That logo made me pause in a bit of shock too, but I get the "press" pun now :) I don't iron on a matter of principle ...

I'll keep an eye out for any of the series when I'm op shopping, for you.

Alwen said...

I thought the iron looked like it had been left behind and was burning through the clothes!