There are a few things that are over used, misrepresented, stereotyped needlessly, or otherwise beginning to bug the everloving heeby jeebies out of me. Granted, Sturgeon's Law states: 90% of anything is crud. However, even the “crud” would be less cruddy if a little more thought went into the things we create, from costumes to carryalls, art to fiction, etc, ad nauseum. First, lets talk about labels, descriptors, categories, etc.
So this has been bothering me for a few days. Ever since I heard the term Bustle-punk Now, let me be very clear, I don’t want to talk down to anyone who uses the term to describe what they do or how they do it, or anyone who has had the term used to describe them. But it's a symptom of something larger that bothers me a lot.
Why do we have to have so many labels and descriptors and subdivisions? Isn’t it all Steampunk? The definition I heard for bustle-punk was Steampunk written by a woman, and one person added that it had a strong female empowerment.
Correct me if I am wrong, but one of the goals of Steampunk is to re-imagine the Victorian Era, and/or the time periods you set it in, with social inequities addressed, such as racism, sexism, etc. So, if we are all equal, why does the plumbing of the author or protagonist matter?
I think the last line is going to get me blasted in short order, but it needed to be said. I am not some misogynist neanderthal, determined to keep women in the kitchen by any means, but I am absolutely opposed to feminism. Before you get out the torches and pitchforks, let me explain. I am not talking about the whistleblowers and activists who are trying to make an equal opportunity where ability and determination and skill and training are the only limits on how you can succeed. We have had major inequities in the history of this nation that have and should be addressed. That fight is still ongoing, and the efforts of those opposed to arbitrary advantages of birth, skin color, age, sex, or other irrelevant criteria should be championed and supported.
When I use the word feminism, I am speaking about the extremists, not the activists. The ones who feel that reversing repression means they get to repress others, now that they enjoy power. From this point of view, Feminism is simply justifying another view of sexism on the basis that since females have been repressed, it is now OK for them to repress men in return. Repression is never okay, no matter who is repressing who, male, female, black, white, Injun, purple and pink polka dotted, old , young, gay, straight, rich, poor. NEVER.
So if its never a positive, why would we want to promote it as part of our Steampunk movement and community?
That's how I feel about what I have understood about what is represented by the term bustle-punk, but I think its part of a larger issue. A separate one entirely, in fact, although related in several ways.
We have too many labels. Too many subdivisions. When we draw lines to separate ourselves and each other, we are no longer a unified whole. We have enough resistance from without, to be generating friction from within, everyone. Abraham Lincoln told us, the center cannot hold, a house divided against itself cannot stand. If we want to break down barriers and social inequities in historical anachronism and the present day, why are we creating new ones among ourselves?
Some sub-genres make sense. Dieselpunk for instance. Its a slightly later period of history, with a slightly different source of power, and less of a tech-fantasy element. In Dieselpunk the technology is often straight forward, if unexpected in direction, but the story often isn't. Tesla-punk (electrical power, with less steam), and Clock-punk (clockwork and springs and gearing replacing the steam). Weird West, to separate the Victorian/Edwardian/Imperial (bet the French and the Spaniards thought I forgot or ignored them) from the American West varieties of steampunk. Arcano-punk or mage-punk is probably the best term I have heard for fantasy/magical based steampunk, with varying degrees of real world or historical influence. Khem-punk, which uses Egyptology to explain its technology, rather then the Industrial Revolution.
So, why do we need zero point punk? Isn’t that just Tesla-punk, narrowly focused on Zero Point theories? Isn't that like saying a cold fusion reactor is Steampunk, because it generates steam and is, at this point in time, still mostly fictional on a large usable scale?
What is the difference between rust-punk and dust-punk? Both are describing a dystopian Steampunk setting, using scavenged technology either after an apocalyptic event, or the castoffs of society using the discards and debris to build themselves back up.
If I write a story that is based on the American Midwest, centering on the Mississippi River, and focusing on trains and riverboats, is that Twain-punk? Rail-punk? What about adventures of Josey Wales, Jesse James, the Sundance Kid, and William Bonney? Is that Outlaw-punk? Because they were certainly smart enough to want to use steampunk technology if it was available. Not to be confused with Trainpunk, which would be dubstepping violins and the sound of grinding gears and hissing steam into the song Drops of Jupiter. (Please don't hit me in the face...)
HipsterPunk, since I was way into it long before you knew about it, but now it's getting too mainstream-punk for me.
Dreadpunk, which is either rastafarians who smoke ganja in copper pipes, or zombies eating zeppelins.
How about Mob-punk as a sub-genre of Dieselpunk, romanticizing Al Capone, Gentleman John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde?
What if we put the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci in the hands of William Kidd, Edward Teach, Jean Le Fitte, and Henry Morgan? Is that Pirate-punk? Perhaps it is Tudor-punk?
So, if I take all these different sub-genres and mash them all together, am I now a Chaos-punk?
Oh, wait... That's Steampunk.