Battle of the Sexes: How Steampunk Should Be Informed by Feminism

During the reign of Victoria, the women’s suffrage movement began and, shortly after her death, culminated in women receiving the same legal right to vote as men. It was a landmark period in history for thinking about gender equity. Informed by such works as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, written by Mary Wollstonecraft almost a half century prior to the Victorian era, it spawned such well-known feminist thinkers as John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and Florence Fenwick Miller. In spite of the oppressive atmosphere created by a focus on eradicating “vice” via the Comstock Laws and other means, as well as the caricature of women as weak and feeble-minded by many scientists of the day, women were making strides toward being recognized as equal to men and having autonomy.

This is the historical background which inspires much of steampunk fiction and we should take its lessons to heart when building our steampunk community.

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In Defense of the Lighter Side of Steampunk

I am glad that the Great Steampunk Debate is coming to a close.

Don’t get me wrong — I loved participating in and helping moderate it for the past two months. It has challenged my opinions about the genre, aesthetic, fandom, subculture; made me think long and hard about why people perceive it in such different ways; and occasionally frustrated me.

The opportunity to get a better hold on the opinions of steampunk enthusiasts everywhere was valuable, but it’s time for a break from all the arguments. Most of them will never be resolved anyway; the community is too diverse a group, geographically, politically and otherwise to ever fully agree on the serious sides of steampunk.

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