Last July, I wrote an article about the Women’s Canon. This is a collection of works that are discussed primarily among women, that do not come up when male critics and film buffs are discussing movies. Obviously, this is not restricted to film; less obviously, perhaps, I did not mean to restrict the canon to one developed by cisgender women. Frankly, I was looking for a shorthand version to explain what I meant.
This month, instead of doing Year of the Month, we’ll be exploring what I meant in a little more detail. And it will not solely be my project. With the kind assistance of various writers, none of whom identify as male, we will be spending the month looking into works that are part of this canon, both specifically and as a genre.
The Solute, I have to tell you, skews heavily male. In case you hadn’t noticed. Some of our writers for this series have never contributed to the site before. We heavily recruited from the Ladies Who Dissolve, a subgroup of the Dissolve Facebook group. Some of us have also asked friends with no connection to The Solute or the Dissolvespora to contribute. It is my personal hope that these writers will stick around and give the site as a whole more gender balanced.
Guys, this cannot happen without your assistance. You can’t write for the series, it’s true. We discussed this before settling on what was going to happen this month—either we’d be letting guys decide what belonged in the Canon, which seemed wrong, or asking me (since I’m editing this little shindig) to be the ultimate authority on what did or didn’t belong, which also seemed wrong. I’ll admit there are one or two interesting possible takes from men, but we hear takes from men all the time, and it’s time for the rest of us to have our turns.
What you can do is be respectful. Hey, Ladies rules (for those familiar with them) do not apply here; if you want to comment on an article, you may certainly comment without waiting for a non-male-identifying person to comment first. However, remember that this is still not about you. Don’t argue with our contributors about whether or not their perceptions are accurate. Your lived experience is different, and you might want to think about whether it’s a good look for you to argue with a writer during Women’s History Month about what it’s like to experience life as a woman.
You can disagree with the thrust of the article. That’s your right. What we are asking you not to do is tell the person writing it that she/they doesn’t know what she/they is talking about. Correcting factual errors is fine, though I’d ask you to both be polite and cite your sources. But if you find yourself wondering if your post is mansplaining? Maybe don’t post it. Remember that the people writing these articles have done research before posting, and remember that much of what we will be posting is personal to our experiences. We will be telling our stories in addition to the stories of the works in the Canon, and I would ask you to take our stories seriously.
What’s more, guys, I would ask you to encourage each other to be respectful. Don’t put all the work for policing men on us. If you think something a guy says isn’t cool, speak up. You know, if you’ve been paying attention, how the internet can treat people who have an opinion while not being male. Don’t let The Solute turn into one of those places. We have a reputation for decency for a reason, and you can help us keep that reputation.
This month will not be comprehensive. There are many more works in the Canon to explore than we will have time to get into here. Given time and research materials, I could fill an entire month on my own. I’m sure many of our other contributors feel the same way. But this will give you a place to start, if you’re interested in learning more. And if the end of the month leaves you interested in diving deeper, I’m sure every woman here could give you a viewing/reading list. If you ask nicely.