matociquala: (jarts: internet lawn defense league)
I woke up this morning irritated by everything, but especially the "fake geek girl" meme, the dearth of female characters in epic fantasy, and Objectivist/ev-psych claptrap.

You would be proud of me. Rather than taking out my frustrations by picking fights on the internets (well, okay, there was a little bitching on twitter, and this blog post last night over at the Wordpress blog) I went out and applied my belligerence to our &^%(*^%*&^% 2/3rds of an acre of lawn. (We have a tiny little 20" push mower. It's a workout.)

End result: lawn mowed, my exercise for the day accomplished, multiple funnel-web spiders discommoded (poor things), and 0 slapfights engaged in. *throws horns*

Yesterday I ran 7.6 miles in 85 minutes, which is an accomplishment. It would have been closer to 82 minutes, but I had to walk up part of a hill. I consumed half a bag of lemon energy chews and a bottle of Sobe in the process, and determined that my cheap-ass water carrier works better than expected. I don't recognize the me that uses such consumer tchotchkes, but a little carbohydrate along the way really did seem to help.

So that was worth 1100 calories.

Best features of the run included a blue heron, a calico kitty, and a metalhead walking along the sidewalk playing air guitar to his headphones. Rock on, metalhead.
matociquala: (criminal minds prentiss try me)
Some further thoughts on Readercon, and its signal failure to deal responsibly and within the boundaries of its own guidelines with the case of Genevieve Valentine's harassment.
  • A lot of folks--some of whom I know and respect, a few I consider good friends, and many of whom who have never been to a Readercon--are swearing never to attend, denouncing the convention broadly, or calling it an awful con. While I would never encourage anyone to attend a convention at which they felt unsafe, those last two arguments are, I think, a misreprentation of the facts and unfair to the Readercon community. Whereas the fact of the matter is that this is an unhappy turn of events in part because Readercon has dealt with similar cases much better in the past. Because Readercon is in general a progressive convention, with a focus on exploring the boundaries of the genre... because Readercon has promoted awareness of science fiction's diversity and literary merit by honoring guests such as Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nalo Hopkinson, Geoff Ryman, Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Hand, and Greer Gilman... that is why this is a terrible disappointment.
  • I believe that the Readercon Board has made a serious mistake in their handling of Valentine's harassment claim. It seems--and my information has all come secondhand!--that the Board may have honestly believed that the perpetrator, RenĂ© Walling, was contrite and horrified by his own behavior, and so they felt it was appropriate to make an exception. Of course I was not in the room or privy to any of these discussions, but I do not believe that this was an appropriate choice. People who push other people's physical and sexual boundaries in that manner--he put his hands on her uninvited, and ignored repeated requests to back off!--may not believe they mean anything by it, and when it's called to their attention they may be tremendously contrite--but it's my experience both as a former domestic violence counselor and as a survivor of abuse that contrite or not, such people are recidivists, that the behavior will reoccur, and that in many cases it will escalate. People who abusively violate other people's boundaries in this fashion are never safe to be around.
  • It is my understanding that the re-writing of Readercon's harassment policy was in part driven by the urging of Rose Fox, a member of the concom who was opposed to the board's decision to be lenient. If my understanding is correct, it was her position that if they weren't going to apply the zero-tolerance policy, they needed to revise it. (ETA: Rose explains in detail in comments.)
  • I think normally it would have been inappropriate for Readercon's Board to change their decision at this point (but in this case there is a detail that makes me feel differently--see below). That does not mean there is no ameliorative action that can be taken. For example, Readercon could issue a public apology to Valentine. They could also take the opportunity to create a holistic and sensible harassment policy that they are willing to commit to adhering to. I also think it would not be inappropriate, in the light of this failure, for further such decisions of the board to be made in a manner more transparent to the Readercon community.
  • However, there is another pending harassment claim against Walling, filed by Kate Kligman, which the Board, to my knowledge, has not yet responded to. This claim does not involve Readercon, per se, but it is evidence of the pattern of Walling's behavior. If this claim is supported (as, I admit, I expect it will be), I believe that the Board must, in order to regain any credibility, consider it as additional evidence, reopen proceedings, and extend the ban on Walling to a lifetime suspension of his membership. This is a serial pattern of behavior, and my experience and training tell me that it is very unlikely to cease.
  • If Walling wishes to truly demonstrate contrition and make some amends for his action, some of the steps he could take might include issuing a public apology to Valentine and to the Readercon community. He could likewise voluntarily choose to ban himself from Readercon for life. He should understand that Valentine has no responsibility to accept or even listen to his apology, or to interact with him further in any way, shape, or form. The only possible amends he can make at this point is to leave her strictly alone from this point forward. Respecting those boundaries would be the beginnings of corrective action.

At this point, I am not making any sweeping claims about my own future participation in Readercon. I am not about to toss my hair and stalk off in a huff; Readercon has always been a good con for me, and I am committed to the New England fandom community it (along with Boskone and Arisia and the smaller local cons) represents. 

My feelings on the subject of Readercon may change depending on the Board's actions over the next few weeks, however.

matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)

If you're not up to speed on the current Readercon harassment flap. I invite you to read here and here and here.

Readercon is my home convention, the con I have sold to friends from other parts of the country as a delightful change of pace and a chance to relax and talk about books. Most of those friends, over the years, have been female, and many of them have come back.

Most recently, I brought my boyfriend.

I am absolutely heartbroken and dismayed by the Readercon Board's decision to assess Rene Walling only a two-year suspension for stalking and harassing Genevieve Valentine.

I am deeply disappointed in and saddened by the con that is, in a very real sense, the con of my heart.

Walling may regret his actions, but that does not change the fact that his undisputed actions made Valentine feel afraid for her safety. As a woman, perhaps I need to explain that when a woman complains of a man harassing her, she is not complaining about an annoyance or an inconvenience. She is complaining about a potential threat to her personal integrity, her well-being, her very life.

Well-meaning men need to understand that women respond to male stalkers in this way because in large numbers, men kill, batter, and rape women, and for no better reason than perceived ownership, sexual jealousy, and issues of control. If women react to such reports convulsively, it is for one reason: the only significant natural predator the human female has is the human male.

We are defending our lives.

This is not hyperbole. This is not hysteria. This is a hard fact that every human woman--gay or straight, cis or trans--lives with every time she is confronted with a human male. He may try to kill me.

It's not paranoia to think so. In a small, but statistically nonzero set of cases, this is true.

I once met a guy at a Rocky Horror screening. I found out later he had called every house in my neighborhood to find out where I lived.

I once said Hi to a male neighbor at a bus stop. He invited me to his place; I declined. I found out later he had sexually assaulted another young woman.

My uncle murdered my aunt because she asked him for a divorce.

Did you hear that?

My uncle murdered my aunt because she asked him for a divorce.

And that is why women are guarded. And that is why Readercon really, really, really screwed this up.

Women are not angels of the house. We are not fading flowers who cannot look out for ourselves. We are not frail crystalline things that can't handle a sexual come-on.

We are physically smaller, physically weaker human beings who live every day with the knowledge that the only lethal predator we have is a random selection of human males.

And we can never know which ones.

We are not calling for Walling's punishment. We are calling for the right of Valentine and other women to exist in an environment without predators.

It's not about the man, Readercon.

It's never about the man

matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)
Oh, obliterative majority culture.

I was just talking with a friend about Alexandre Dumas, and it made me wish I had a couple hundred thousand to drop on advertising. Because I would go around major markets and buy billboards. Nothing fancy. Just black serif text on white. Possibly with a high-contrast black and white image.

It would be called the Great Writers Of The Western World Series.

And they would say things like:


Alexandre Dumas was also a brother.

Edna St. Vincent Millay also liked girls. And boys. Sometimes at the same time.

Christofer Marlowe was also a queer atheist.

Ursula K. Le Guin is also a woman.

Kurt Vonnegut also suffered from clinical depression.

Octavia Butler was also a black woman.


...add your own, really.

The point being, I am tired of obliterative majority culture and its bully kid sister, exceptionalism.

Alexandre Dumas was not a great black writer. He was a great writer. He was black. These are two complementary identities, and they should both be honored in equal measure. His greatness is not independent of his blackness--I do not mean to suggest that--but what I meant to say quite plainly is that Alexandre Dumas does not somehow fit into a smaller wading pool of greatness because he was black.

Maya Angelou does not fit into a smaller wading pool of greatness than Robert Frost because she is a black woman and he was a white man. They are fish in the same pond, and if you aren't measuring her as at least his equal, you need your ears checked. She's not pretty good, for a girl.

But more than that, I want to put these billboards up across from junior high schools. Because I imagine how nice it would have been to be thirteen, and me, and look up and see a billboard that said something like Virginia Woolf also got beat up in school.

And maybe I would have understood then that I didn't have to be a straight, white man to be a great artist. And not a second-stringer in the pretty good for a girl wading pool.
matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)
Oh, obliterative majority culture.

I was just talking with a friend about Alexandre Dumas, and it made me wish I had a couple hundred thousand to drop on advertising. Because I would go around major markets and buy billboards. Nothing fancy. Just black serif text on white. Possibly with a high-contrast black and white image.

It would be called the Great Writers Of The Western World Series.

And they would say things like:


Alexandre Dumas was also a brother.

Edna St. Vincent Millay also liked girls. And boys. Sometimes at the same time.

Christofer Marlowe was also a queer atheist.

Ursula K. Le Guin is also a woman.

Kurt Vonnegut also suffered from clinical depression.

Octavia Butler was also a black woman.


...add your own, really.

The point being, I am tired of obliterative majority culture and its bully kid sister, exceptionalism.

Alexandre Dumas was not a great black writer. He was a great writer. He was black. These are two complementary identities, and they should both be honored in equal measure. His greatness is not independent of his blackness--I do not mean to suggest that--but what I meant to say quite plainly is that Alexandre Dumas does not somehow fit into a smaller wading pool of greatness because he was black.

Maya Angelou does not fit into a smaller wading pool of greatness than Robert Frost because she is a black woman and he was a white man. They are fish in the same pond, and if you aren't measuring her as at least his equal, you need your ears checked. She's not pretty good, for a girl.

But more than that, I want to put these billboards up across from junior high schools. Because I imagine how nice it would have been to be thirteen, and me, and look up and see a billboard that said something like Virginia Woolf also got beat up in school.

And maybe I would have understood then that I didn't have to be a straight, white man to be a great artist. And not a second-stringer in the pretty good for a girl wading pool.
matociquala: (writing carnival)
Just for the record, [livejournal.com profile] blackholly is right again, as usual.

The "I'm too lazy to click a link" version: it's frankly misogynistic to identify a competent female protagonist as a "Mary Sue" because she's at the center of her story. She's at the center of her story because she's the goddamn protagonist.

Why is The Lord of the Rings about Frodo? Because he's the hobbit with the ring. If a different hobbit had had the ring, the book/trilogy would have been about a different hobbit.

When I pick up a book called The Great Gatsby or Anna Karenina or The World According to Garp, I'm pretty sure that Gatsby/Anna/Garp are going to be central to the narrative. This works for books with titles like The Wind-up Girl and Who Fears Death (a name, if you have not read it) and The Lies of Locke Lamora too. Hey, there's a name or an epithet in the title. Maybe this book is about this person!

So... if you find yourself uncomfortable with a lot of books by female authors, with female protagonists, and identifying a high percentage of those female as "Mary Sues," well... it is possible that the fault lies not in the protagonists, but in the reader*.

Sometimes a book is about a female character because there are female people in the world.

Crazy talk, I know, but there you go.



*This also applies if you find yourself often dismissing books with queer central characters as "slash."** Sometimes books are about gay people because gay people exist.

**If you are a slash fan, and trying to sell a book to your friends, letting them know it has the manlove is different. I'm talking about the "Straight boys need not read this because it has The Ghey in it" reviews. They say more about the reviewer than the book, is all I'm saying.

2012

Jan. 14th, 2009 08:33 pm
matociquala: (bad girls marlene make my day)
So as I was driving home from the climbing gym tonight (two ascents and downclimbs of a new 5.4 or so on the slab wall, the second ascent no-hands except the one step that was too high for me to make; a resend of a 5.7, and a flameout on an unrated route I've done before which I think is a 5.8--also, they rated a route I sent on the slab a while back as 5.9, which makes it my second 5.9. yay!) I was thinking about Hillary Clinton, and how if she is confirmed as Secretary of State it will be the second time in US history the third and fourth people in line for the Presidency will be women.

And I was thinking, you know, she's going to be awfully close to too old in 2012, nevermind all her family baggage. But after last year, for the first time, I am really starting to think I might see a female president in my lifetime.

And then I thought, I wonder if the Republicans would be smart enough to run Condoleeza Rice....

And then I thought, oh, hey.

President Michelle Obama.

Yeah. That improved the driving in traffic a lot.
matociquala: (problem cat)
If you are not supposed to be in a position of power, you are also not entitled to get angry about it. 

I have had the experience of being told I was overemotional or panicking in a work situation when what I was was losing my temper with somebody who was refusing to do work in a very busy office. Those of you who know me, know it's pretty difficult to mistake when I am angry with someone, and I generally handle it in a fairly polite fashion until I totally lose my lunch.



You know, this does not apply only to women. It applies equally to disenfranchised (disprivileged) persons of all sorts. Anger--the right to get angry and be heard--is one of those white male heterosexual privilege things that supposedly don't exist. As a woman, I have experienced this in terms of being called "shrill" or "panicky" when I was angry.

I have never actually had someone tell me "you're beautiful when you're angry," probably because I'm not beautiful under any circumstances, but that maneuver is the same kind of nonsense. It's disempowering. Your anger--your emotional response to unfairness--does not matter. All that matters is The Male Gaze.

I just understood something today that I never quite managed to understand before, and it's [livejournal.com profile] willshetterly's fault. Because he posted this yesterday, and it finally made me understand exactly what white male privilege is. Now, Will is a good guy; he's decent and caring and he tries really hard to be fair and honorable to all persons.

He's also--imho--unbelievably wrong, this time out, and in reading the comments to the post I realized that I can't even begin to explain to him why he's wrong, because his privilege is so bulletproof on this issue. He honestly can't imagine the sort of automatic dismissal that women and people of color experience on a daily basis. It's completely foreign to his experience, what I've experienced as the only woman in an office full of men, where I was also the only person who could maintain the LAN or fix a modem or explain how to use Powerpoint... but somehow, when the (small) company I worked for held staff meetings to discuss the direction of the company, it was expected that I would not be present because I would be covering the phones. (Nevermind that I was doing the same job as a male counterpart and I was about as good at it.)

Yeah, I didn't last there.

So it took the illustration of Will's incomprehension of his own privilege (that the difference in his life if he had been black would have been that any one of those accomplishments would have been made in the face of dismissal; that you walk in with the knowledge that people will be judging you not as an individual but as a representative of everybody "like you;" that you are going to be made constantly aware that you do not fit the default--you are "a black writer," as I am "a woman writer," and Will gets to be "a writer.") to let me understand mine.

And it also made me understand why so many of the well-meaning bearers of privilege (be it white, male, or whatever)--the ones who don't stand on their entitlement--become so very defensive when confronted on it. Some of it is, I think, not wanting to be the bad guy. But that's easy; it comes as a surprise to nobody. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. And it's not about being afraid that the darkies and the bitches are coming to pull us out of our comfy place in The Patriarchy, either, because I think that most reasonable people would agree with Toni Morrison's statement, "If you can only be tall because somebody else is on their knees, you have a serious problem."

But there's more to it than that.

It's because even if you don't want it, you can't put it down. Because it's not something you ask for; it's something that is laid upon you. And if you've never been dismissed simply for who you are, what you look like, what your chromosome arrangement happens to be, it's almost impossible to imagine what that kind of powerlessness feels like.

And it's terrifying. Because one of the benefits of that privilege is not having to know that you are powerless in so many daily situations; not having to pretend you're not angry; not having to bite your lip about the unfairness; not having to find ways to express things politely when they are so unfair and make you so angry you could spit.

So here I am, all full of white privilege I'm not really sure I want, and I have no idea what the hell I ought to do with this stuff.

I suspect, like Freon, it can't be legally disposed of.

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