By Rhonda Parrish.
Oh my goodness. It’s release day. It’s release day! I’m so ridiculously excited to be able to share Fae with the world. Though I’m not a big fan of comparing books to babies, if Fae were a living being, today would mark the ending of one stage of its life and the beginning of the next. On such days it’s normal, I think, to look back at and contemplate what came before. That, and answering interview questions, has got me thinking a lot about some of the stories which were submitted to Fae.
While I was reading submissions I remember being struck by two different themes which kept recurring. The first was fairies getting their wings torn off, and the second was female empowerment. Now, given some distance from the stories I can see that actually, those stories might be two sides of the same coin.
Before I go on, understand that I’m speaking in generalities here, of course there were exceptions to these ‘rules’ and I’m not suggesting every story about a fairy getting their wings ripped off had misogynistic overtones nor that the stories which had misogynistic themes reflected the writer’s personal beliefs. At all. Okay? Okay.
That being said, I can’t think of a single one of the de-winged fairies who was male or genderless. They were always female fairies. Also? I’m not going to re-read all the stories submitted to me, but I don’t recall a single one of the characters pulling the wings off the fairies being genderless or female.
So, on one side of the coin we have dudes pulling the wings off women. You don’t have to dig very deep to see how that might be disempowering and sexist.* [Also consider how in Maleficent, for example, Maleficent losing her wings is actually a not-so-subtle metaphor for rape]. In many of those stories the fairies just die. They lose. The end. However, in some of them, the victims find a way to save themselves, to reclaim their power, to lift themselves up.
That’s the other side of the coin. And we see it in more than just the de-winged fairy stories. Again and again as I read submissions I found stories about women who were being (or who had in the past been) oppressed by society, abusive ex-boyfriends, family or gender-based stereotypes finding empowerment, somehow, through their interactions with the fae. It was fantastic.
None of the stories of fairies having their wings ripped off made it into the anthology (although one was on my short list) but several of the ones about empowerment and equality got in. None of them are preachy and I didn’t chose them because they were about empowerment, but there they are.
And thinking back now, I’m glad that’s the side of the coin which landed face up, as it were. This is a collection of stories about fairies, not empowerment, and not all of the tales have happy endings, but I’m glad that all of the fairies who started out with wings got to keep them.
More or less ;-)
Rhonda Parrish is a master procrastinator and nap connoisseur but despite that she somehow manages a full professional life. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief ofNiteblade Magazine for over five years now (which is like 25 years in internet time) and is the editor of the forthcoming benefit anthology, Metastasis. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.