It is perhaps no surprise to hear some excellent points of view when a panel includes Gail Carriger, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Glenda Larke, Delia Sherman, Catherynne Valente and Alaya Johnson. AussieCon4 was a great event and it is a shame panel discussions like this one did not receive wider distribution.
Many on the panel write and also read and review a wide range of fantasy and speculative fiction, including Young Adult (YA). Tansy summed up the frustration of noticing a lack of feminist content in many fantasy and spec fic books. Alaya had a strong interest in a female buddy theme but, more particularly, “one that worked”.
Gail‘s approach is to use Victorian settings, and the bias of that age, alongside Isis myths as she prefers not to artificially include feminism before its time. Cat wanted to write positive but noticed it could be easier to describe sexist situations and to include sexist characters rather than create something “honest” that reflects a bisexual modern woman.
Cat summed up the views of many of the panel and the audience comments when she said she has no interest in female antagonism but wants realistic characters. Cat was concerned, also, that our culture as a whole is still at 101 while female speculative fiction and YA writers are at 501 already.