Reading for Fun and Compromise—My Ongoing Search for Feminist Literature by Sara Frykenberg

What I mean to say is, what if, when I wanted to read for fun or simply for the pleasure of reading, I were to put down any book that demonstrated buy-in to kyriarchal ideas, overtly or even in micro-aggressive ways? I have flippantly responded to this question, “then, I may never read any piece of fantasy literature again.”

Sara FrykenbergI love reading fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy literature. However, since the birth of my daughter I have been pondering the stories we tell and the language we use a great deal; and I have begun to feel a little bit like my ‘fun’ reading almost always involves some kind of compromise. For instance, when I first started reading  Song of Ice and Fire by George R. Martin (the series which inspired the HBO hit series Game of Thrones), I greatly enjoyed the series. The five competed books are ripe with intrigue, complex interpersonal and political relationships, the rebirth of magic in a world, and characters you love to hate. But, continuing to read and watch this series unfold, I have grown to suspect that Martin may hate women because he seems to punish them over, and over, and over again. The most recent book, A Dance with Dragons is so full of sexual violence it is actually hard stomach.

Continue reading “Reading for Fun and Compromise—My Ongoing Search for Feminist Literature by Sara Frykenberg”

Feminism and “The Force:” Thinking Through “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by Sara Frykenberg

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), on the other hand, works to resist the call of the “light.” The Force Awakens puts emphasis on the villain’s perspective; and my question is, is this because many of us who are in the audience need to see how we are also like this villain?

Sara FrykenbergSci-fi fan that I am, I would feel remiss if I failed to discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens here on (warning, spoilers ahead). Yet, despite the fact that I have seen the movie two times since its release and the many, many discussions of this movie already out there, I have yet to form some conclusion as to the relationship between feminism or religion, and Star Wars.

Image sourced from here.

On the one hand, The Force Awakens is just like the other Star Wars movies. ‘Good guys’ fight the ‘bad guys,’ a hero/ine emerges and some characters are tragically lost, either by choosing the wrong side or when killed by emerging villains. Interesting iterations of “the Hero’s Journey,” these movies fulfill standard mythic tropes—mythic tropes that also tend reinforce our existent social structures and ideals… so, often kyriarchal ideals of power. Continue reading “Feminism and “The Force:” Thinking Through “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by Sara Frykenberg”

What If a Woman Played That Role? “The Martian” and Gendered Space Heroes by Sara Frykenberg

Sci-fi fan that I am, I recently went to go see the film The Martian, after hearing overall good reviews from friends and family alike. A ‘stranded in space’ film, The Martian considers the plight of fictional astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon). He is mistakenly left behind by his captain and crew who all believe he has been killed during a Martian surface storm in which they must flee the planet or risk their shuttle’s, most likely, immanent destruction.

This all said, if you want to watch this film without spoilers, stop reading now. I’ll give you a minute…

Okay, you have been warned!

Continue reading “What If a Woman Played That Role? “The Martian” and Gendered Space Heroes by Sara Frykenberg”

Postcolonial Feminist Theology and… Deep Space Nine by Sara Frykenberg

Sara FrykenbergIt’s no secret here that I am a big fan of science-fiction and fantasy. Discussing the NASA Space Program, the shuttle Curiosityvideo gaming and cosplay is fun for me, and I assert that there is transformative and hopeful potential in these kinds of imaginative fictions. I also find that when done well, science fiction offers soci-political critique and encourages us to critically engage our own world without (no pun intended) alienating some part of its audience completely, as many political debates are apt to do. For example, I use a clip from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) in my ethics classes to discuss issues of motivation, intention and end result–as these concepts relate to war and violence. (The clip is from the episode In the Pale Moonlight, and you can see it here.) Episodes like this one can be used to refigure issues we struggle with today, projecting them into a future struggle from which we can draw comparisons to our own time.

Recently I have been reading Kwok Pui-lan’s book Postcolonial Imagination & Feminist Theology; at the same time, I have been re-watching some episodes of DS9. Powerfully addressing the ways in which Western theology helps to reinscribe colonial ideology and practice, Pui-lan argues for (and exemplifies) the creation of new, emancipatory, postcolonial feminist theological discourses. Reading these “texts” together, I was struck with how powerfully DS9 illustrates many of the postcolonial politics and tensions Kwok Pui-lan considers in her book. She describes a “contact zone” as “the space of colonial encounters where people of different geographical and historical backgrounds are brought into contact with each other, usually shaped by inequality and conflictual relations.”[i] DS9 explores this place of contact, imagining how the different parties involved are changed by the encounter. Continue reading “Postcolonial Feminist Theology and… Deep Space Nine by Sara Frykenberg”

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