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Posts Tagged ‘The F Word’

Revenge of the Blogosphere: Haters & Comment ModerationRevenge of the Blogosphere: Haters & Comment Moderation

I started this blog back in 2004 as a place to mouth off about my life. It was a natural extension of the long and winding emails I was sending out to groups of friends. Back then, only the “cool kids” were on the Internet anyway, so I didn’t feel so strange about posting things in public. Geeks and freaks stilled ruled the net. It was pushing into the mainstream, but I can guarantee that nobody at my day job back in Chicago Googled me in 2005 or even 2006.

There’s some fun stuff that comes with blogging. I remember going to a Wiscon the year after I started and how people came up to me and introduced themselves – total strangers – saying they read and followed the blog. It was… weird. As a writer, the cliche is that everybody asks you, “Where do you ideas come from?” In the blogging world, the first thing other bloggers ask you is, “How do you deal with negative comments?”

Blogging is a great way to prepare yourself for when your first book comes out. If you haven’t started a blog and you want to be a writer who actually engages the world, I highly recommend it. Because, if you’re lucky, you’ll say plenty of things on your blog that make people who don’t even know you hate you. And people hating you, for a writer, is a very similiar feeling to people hating your book. So you’ll grow some thick skin real quick.

It’s funny that people who read your posts get far more personal in their attacks than people who read your fiction. If you’re lucky, they engage with your actual argument, but more often, they feel it’s necessary to personally attack you. Which is weird, since they don’t, you know, know you. But blogs are far more personal spaces than books, in part because of the fiction/nonfiction divide and in part because there’s not the status confirmed by mega-publisher standing between me and the reader. We read stories differently if they’ve been published vs. unpublished. I expect published stories to be better. It doesn’t mean they are. But I have different expectations. The web has become a great equalizer, and it means there’s no longer any ivory tower for you to hide behind when people throw stuff at your crappy arguments.

Now, there are all sorts of things I can infer about a writer from what they write. But I don’t know that I’ve outright called an author a woman-hating faggot, for instance, because of something he’d written.

But when you’re loud and offensive and explicitly tackling feminist issues on a blog, the odds of a day going by in which you’re not called a man-hating lesbian go up the more you post. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with being a man-hating lesbian. There are certainly women I find attractive, and certainly some men I strongly dislike. And I suspect the vast majority of people in the world find some women attractive and strongly dislike some men, and vice versa. What gets me is how this stuff is brought out to silence the speaker. To invalidate what they’re saying. You could have the best argument in the whole world, but one scream of “man-hating lesbian” and some weirdo thinks they’ve cut you down.

Um, no.

See, here’s the thing, folks. If you choose to live publicly, you have to deal with the haters. And there will always be haters. Far more haters if you have an explicitly political blog. They will send you nasty emails and threaten sexual violence and call you gay, because this is about the extent of the scary stuff they can think of.

That’s the good news. Because if it you know how to throw a good right hook and don’t find being gay offensive, the world is your oyster.

Yes, really.

I’ve gotten all sorts of hatred spewed over here in the six years I’ve been posting to this blog. Thing is, all everybody talks about is the bad stuff (look at this post, even!). What we fail to talk about (and what nobody ever asks me about) is how to deal with the *good* stuff. I’ve had fan letters and thank-you letters and some really good stories about folks who changed their lives because of a personal story I shared here. I’ve had letters and comments that literally leave me speechless (or word-less at least). In the face of strong, heartfelt emotion I always have trouble responding, and it’s no different with blog comments.

We continually focus on the bad. I know a handful of female bloggers who’ve deleted their blogs due to harassment. That’s a tragedy. I understand it, sure, but it’s a tragedy nonetheless.

When you start thinking about quitting, pull up the good conversations. The fan emails. The amazing comments. Remember the lives you’re making better.

And just know that harassment comes with the territory. Harassment means you’re doing something right. It means you made somebody uncomfortable. It means you’re freaking them out and shaking up their worldview. It doesn’t mean you need to shut up.

When people ask me how to moderate comments, I actually find it to be a trivial question. It’s not about how to moderate comments. It’s how to have the courage to keep talking when everybody wants you to shut the hell up. Hatred is exhausting. And we focus on the hatred, of course. We give negative comments three times the attention of positive ones, which always makes it seem like there are more than there really are.

The kind of blogging I do, I realize after my long hiatus, really is about courage. I was worried all the time about what people would think. I was worried about strangers at cons. Stalkers. Potential employers. Work colleagues.

But there’s also a lot of good that comes from it. A lot of people who find some value in it. Who take courage from it.

And that makes it all worth it.

You have to figure out what’s worth it for you, too. I don’t envy the bloggers who’ve been targeted with hate campaigns from the big conservative or MRA blogs. I don’t envy folks with exes who stalk them via their blogs. I don’t pretend that “just ignore the haters” works in every instance. But the majority of the time, what we need to go forward is, simply, courage.

And a willingness to hit the “delete” button.

Why I Fucking Hate Dollhouse

So I’ve gotten through all the Pawn Stars available on Netflix, and now I have a stack of gender and Islam books to get through, and you know, hey, sometimes I need a break.

It’s been a long week here already and its only Wednesday. I’ve got a new dog that won’t crap outside, bad weather, unresponsive city officials, and lots of day job.

So last night I turned on the TV. Drank a couple beers to get up my courage, and watched a couple more episodes of Dollhouse.

Why? Why oh why?

Because there are, in fact, people who like this show. Who talk on and on about how Whedon is doing this amazing transgressive things with it. Who say it really hits its stride in season 2, and if you can just sit through all the used and abused women until then, it gets really interesting.

Also, of course, I was exhausted and vegetative.

That’s always how they get you.

I stopped watching initially after episode 2, when our supposed heroine is hired out to some guy as a whore/target practice. Yeah, I’m serious. It’s The Most Dangerous Game. Again, this might be more interesting if I wasn’t around to endure this whole “ha ha hee hee isn’t that funny” hoax.

As it was, it creeped me the hell out, and I stopped watching.

I wanted to give Whedon credit. You always want to give folks you see as allies credit for stuff. But here’s the thing: just because you were responsible for writing and producing the majority of the Buffy series and Firefly was a lot of fun doesn’t mean you get a free pass when you’re creating bad TV.

Last night I squigged through three more ponderous episodes of misogynistic hate. Sexy ladies being used, abused, wiped, and bought like so much merchandise. You can go on and on about how this is really an in depth critique of modern day human trafficking, or tell me that Whedon really is just building it all up and showing you how bad it is so he can tear it all down.

But the fact is that 1) The Madam isn’t actually in charge. She answers to a guy, which she’s on the phone with in ep 3 or 4 and 2) Alpha, who plays around with folks and also wipes folks, is a guy 3) And Topher, of course, the genius wiperoo of them all, is a skeevy, nasty sort who I hate more and more as each episode goes on 4) Echo’s protector/body guard is a guy 5) the “good guy” trying to save Echo from all these bad people is, of course, a guy. 6) the only female regular character outside of Dollhouse is obsessed with our “good guy” in a romantic way and even brings him meatloaf or lasagna early on (I suspect she’s likely a Doll, too).

It’s gross.

Really.

It’s a bunch of women being used, controlled, and abused  by guys. Orbiting guys. Serving guy clients. They aren’t always whores. Whooop-dee-doo. Sometimes they are safe-crackers who suddenly become mind-wiped cucumbers. At. every. single. step. along. the. way. these people are people manipulated and controlled. And it doesn’t get better. Telling me, “Alpha will help inspire them to be freeee!” or “that FBI guy will help set them freeeee!” or even, “Echo will someday become a super weapon!” are all stupid, boring, cliched, hackneyed things. There is nothing at all redeeming about this show. Not one single thing.

To add insult to injury, Eliza Dushku just doesn’t have the acting chops to pull this off. And the overt sexualization of all the women just gets annoying. And the wiping and wiping and wiping gets old. He had a couple episodes to give us the script that she then unpacks and rebels against. I’m just not going to sit through half a dozen or a dozen or two dozen episodes of abusive hate in order to get around to the point.

Knowing that Whedon produced it makes it even more insulting. You always react strongest when somebody you perceive as a part of your “in” group appears to betray you. I still feel the same way about Dollhouse as I did after the second episode: Whedon could have been spending his time creating far better shows. And instead, wasted several years of his life putting together this piece of crap.

Did anyone get past the first two episodes? Why did you keep watching? I only made it through three more because I was a little buzzed and hoping to find something redeeming; you want to be able to find what others find. Was that the only reason ya’ll kept watching? Because you kept hoping it’d get better?

Because I have to tell you – it’s a physically painful show for me to watch. Every episode, you’re just waiting for somebody to sexually assault the heroine. Every. Single. Episode. That gets really exhausting and nerve-wracking. Folks might say, “Hey, good TV should *make* you uncomfortable!” But to what end does my discomfort serve? Will it teach me more about myself or the world to watch a heroine manipulated, controlled, and assaulted for hours on end? Even if she rebels against it later because she gets her special powers? Cause like the UF stuff I gnawed on earlier, she’s never going to escape being a doll. She’s absolutely surrounded by men manipulating and controlling her.

Smacks a little too close to home for a lot of people, you know? And her getting superpowers as bestowed by somebody else (Alpha or whoever) just isn’t going to make up for all the gross human trafficking stuff.

I realize these are interesting things to you, Whedon, and that you’d like us to be uncomfortable. But there’s being edgy and transgressive and then there’s Hunting for Bambi. Five episodes in, there’s still little to nothing to distinguish one from the other, except yours is TV and there’s was a marketing ploy.

Here’s to hoping that Pawn Stars season 3 shows up on Netflix soon.

Why I Don’t Read Much Urban Fantasy

Daniel Abraham had an interesting post up about rape and urban fantasy that I’ve been chewing on for awhile. To sum it, it’s some thoughts on women and power as they’re portrayed in urban fantasy. Or, “urban fantasy is a genre sitting on top of a great big huge cultural discomfort about women and power.”

True and true.

Much of urban fantasy, he argues, exists to explore and unpack – among other things – women’s fear of sexual violence. So the best way to explore the issue of women and power and sexual violence may be to not state it explicitly. After all, once you state a book’s overall theme out loud, “Why yes, I am immune to sexual violence and find it quite liberating, but I am also interested in how it has re-shaped my life” it loses some of its power.

I thought it was an interesting thesis, and mulled on it for awhile. I was reminded of the Buffy episode – one of the most disturbing for me – when she loses her powers (taken away from her by a guy, her mentor, as a test. Talk about worst nightmare) and walks down the street, small and afraid, as a group of guys leers and heckles her. It was a profoundly unsettling moment, to see the heroine you love so much for her physical strength get demoted to, well… a woman like us. She doesn’t confront her hecklers like she would have done when she had her superpowers. She just does what we’ve all done at one time or another – hunches up her shoulders, doesn’t make eye contact, and scurries quickly away back into her house.

What Abraham came to realize over the course of the dialogue that ensued after the post went up was that, actually, urban fantasy and its predecessors (i.e. the warrior woman books of yore – which I have a much firmer grasp on, and will talk about more than UF here) pretty much all explicitly use rape and/or sexual violence in the narrative more than you might think. It’s a big old honkin’ cliché that in order to give your heroine an “excuse” to be violent, you have to give her a good, violent reason – like a past rape or intense fear of sexual violence.

There is a long history of literally weaponizing your heroine in response to attack. It happens to guy characters all the time, too (you know, the ones whose wives and daughters are raped and killed in order to spur him on to revenge. Once again: we all get weaponized in response to rape, which is THE WORSE THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN!!).  So on the one hand, powerful female characters are weaponized because their guy counterparts were. The thing is, they’re just more likely to have personally felt the violence themselves in addition to acting out violently in retaliation against violence done to others. We made weaponized women heroes who were also victims. The first couple times you read it, it’s interesting. And then it’s not.

I’m re-reading Jennifer Roberson’s Sword Dancer series right now, which I read back when I was 14 or 16, and there it is right there: the ass-kicking female heroine was raped and her family was killed, which spurs the entire arc of her narrative. She becomes cold and hard and goes on a blood rampage after the guy who raped her and killed her family. Red Sonja gets her powers from rape, too. Ash gets raped. Hell, even Veronica Mars gets raped (yes, yes, I’m mixing my media – stories are stories. I am also reminded of “That was the end of Grogan… the man who killed my father, raped and murdered my sister, burned my ranch, shot my dog, and stole my Bible!”).

In Tamora’s Peirce’s Alanna books, she said she created the character with the explicit intention of NOT having her become a warrior based on past experiences with rape or violence. It was just so incredibly overdone, in her reading experience, that she wanted to do something different. She wanted to create a heroine who wanted to be powerful because it felt right and made her feel powerful, not because of what someone had done to her

One commenter in particular took issue with Abraham’s post, and I followed the dialogue with interest. I didn’t find anything he’d said particularly offensive (not loving UF all that much, myself), though the more I thought about the “books about women and power don’t talk about sexual violence” thing the more it seemed weird to me.

Why’s it weird. Well, because UF exists in a version of this world. Even if you can defend yourself from a rape… you are still going to fear rape. Why? Because, you know, you’re a woman. And our society pretty well grinds it into you from day one that rape is THE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN TO YOU. Worse than dying, even. You see it much more explicitly in other cultures where women are literally stoned to death or hang themselves after being raped, but you still see it here a lot too. There’s a lot of cultural baggage around rape, which is yet another reason women don’t like to report it. If you report it, you’re presumed guilty in one way or another. Even if you didn’t wear a short skirt, and you fought back, and you weren’t walking “somewhere” alone, or going to your car without pepper spray, or whatever reason people make up so they can make it your fault that somebody attacked you, just being raped still carries the stigma of taint. Of badness. Of brokenness. Dishonor.

So, you know: you are going to carry a lot of internalized stigma around about being raped, even if, you know, on some level, your new shiny powers protect you from it.

After much back-and-forth, Abraham’s anonymous commenter got there, too. She said it much more pointedly than I did, tho:

“As a privileged male, you have the unique opportunity to throw yourself into a situation where your power is taken from you. You feel safe, secure. You don’t think of yourself as a victim. You don’t have a cultural script running through your head about how you should act, dress, talk in the same fashion as a real life woman does. In all probability you’ve created a female protag who mimics more of your real life privilege than a real life female.”

I don’t read much urban fantasy, as stated (the heroines have all started to blur together for me), but I’ve suggested Abraham’s MLN books to others, and I had a few people say that it sounded like it was written by a guy – folks who didn’t know who the pseudonym was for. When people say things like this, I always wonder what they mean. Nobody could really articulate it. But I suspect it has something to do with the above. Because even if you’re Superwoman… you’re still a woman. And the world you live in makes certain that you remember it – superpowers be damned.

Urban fantasy is, indeed, about women and power. Learning to wield it. Negotiate it. Have meaningful relationships while wielding it. In a world where women are starting to make as much or more money than men (in some areas), and are pushing ahead in terms of formal education, this weird power sharing is something we’re all trying to negotiate in real life, too.

Why are guys so intimidated by strong women? Not even Mad Men knows.  But urban fantasy books are interested in exploring those themes, too.

The thing is, even with all this perceived power, we still have a lot of cultural baggage trying to push us back down. Outdated ideas about virgins and whores, continued hysteria over what women do with their uteruses, sexual violence and the stigma around it (still primarily for women – when was the last time you heard the epithet “rapist” used against a guy in a negative way?), tricky power negotiations, social baggage around pregnancy and taking time off to be with your kids, stigma around being a stay-at-home mom and stigma about being a working mom (basically, if you’re a woman, you must be doing SOMETHING wrong), and etc.

Having superpowers doesn’t peel away all the social baggage. In fact, it actually HIGHLIGHTS the social baggage so it stands out starkly and ridiculously for what it is. Superpowers say, “Hey, I’m buff and tough, so… why do I still think all these made-up rules apply to me? Why do I still care so much about being skinny and having a boyfriend?”

It’s a lot easier to critique society when you obviously no longer fit within its confines. It’s also easier to talk about how lonely you are in it because you don’t fit in it.

So, women and sexual violence. A lot more of it in your woman-power fantasies than you might think. Because, women with superpowers are still women.

Which, if you think about it, is also a really good sum up of women’s places now: We can make our own money, get great high-power jobs, take boxing classes, mouth off, have sex outside of marriage (and even enjoy it!) and take on all the trappings of power… but… well… at the end of the day, we are still women – and being called “Women” means we get to deal with all that that means to our culture. And there are still men (and other women) who go to great pains to remind us of this, and who try and use those reminders to strip away our power.

Now, all that said, and understanding Anon’s issues with a guy boldly stating that his heroine just wasn’t going to worry about rape because she was just never going to get raped cause of her powers… I have to say that I’ve got a pretty similar stance in my fiction – though I’ve had to take my heroines off this planet in order to do it in a way that I feel is believable, sadly.

I have that stance in direct reaction against the “strong woman got raped and now she’s allowed to be violent!” cliché. I prefer working in worlds where rape carries no stigma. Or carries some other stigma (preferably a horrifically negative one for, you know, the person perpetrating the crime as opposed to the victim). I want worlds where rape makes no sense. Where it’s not a weapon of war or control. It’s a violent thing, certainly, but not socially acceptable as it is in this society (yes, it is. I just skimmed some recent rom-com where the heroine turns down our hero half a dozen times – he shows up at her work, her apartment, and calls her a lot. She turns him down every time. Then, at time number eight, changes her mind and they hook up. What message is this kind of story sending to guys? Mass media still markets “passion” and “romance” to guys as “not giving up when she says no.” And then we all wonder why there’s a disconnect).

Committing sexual violence – which is a particular type of violence that goes out of its way to remind women that they’re women, and Other – has ridden off into the world of cliché for me. No doubt that, as Anon says, these books are helpful for survivors of abuse, which is still 1 in 4 in this country. They help us realize that yes, in fact, life does go on, and we can grieve, and go forward.

But I’m tired of reading about abused women. My master’s thesis looked at how the African National Congress recruited female fighters during the war against apartheid. I have stacks and stacks of real-life stories about violence perpetrated against women in every country. I’m a feminist blogger, and read the stats and facts and figures every day. I get images of women being abused all the time. Yes, it’s real life. Yes, terrible things happen.

But that’s not all there is to life. And I feel that seeing only negative images of women – of women abused, hurt, scared, exploited, harrassed – every day all the time is only going to make you hate being a woman even more.

Think about that. If all you ever saw about, say, an imaginary country called Valynna were sad, unhappy people, would you want to become a citizen of Valynna? What if you already were a citizen? Would you feel better or worse about being a member of that country if all you saw all the time was the worst of what could happen to you?

I made a conscious choice in my work on this blog waaaay back in 2004 that I wasn’t going to post images of women being abused. I was going to post images of happy women, strong women, powerful women, successful women. Yes, I would talk about the unique challenges we have, the abuses, the power struggles, the objectification, but I carefully chose those sidebar images to portray strong, vibrant, happy women. I am tired to see suffering women all the time. Because though it may be *a* truth, it is not *the* truth, any more than any one experience stands in for all experiences.

When I look for heroines, I look for heroines who choose violence as a tool because it works for them, not because it’s thrust upon them. I want heroines who are powerful for power’s sake. Who are honestly, truly, really, scary. Not sexy-scary. Not girl-next-door-scary. But genuinely someone who you’d be terrified to bump into in a dark alley. Because they are so good and unapologetic about what they do.

And I just don’t find that in any believable character in UF. Not anybody who’s got an interesting setting, at any rate. Because the setting… our world, even Changed… is still our world. With all the same bullshit.

Joanna Russ once said that the reason she started writing science fiction was because it was the genre where you were allowed to imagine how “things can be really different.”

UF lets us address issues of power and sex and violence as women in a changing world. Our changing world. I deal with that every day. I’m not so interested in writing it or reading it.

What I’m interested in is what makes us women. And who we’d be… with the same parts… but somewhere else. I want to pull off all the baggage and put on some different loads and see how people interact. I am tired of rape and leering and cat calls and expectations to have kids or not, or get married or not, or whatever.

I want to imagine how things could be really different.

My turnoff with UF is pretty much the exact opposite of what Abraham argued as being not there (or what shouldn’t be there): women in these books are still bound by the cultural rules of being women, including the threat of sexual violence. They are merely exceptions when people know about their powers. If they don’t know about their powers, they are still going to be treated like women. And though there is endless delight in watching them combat people’s stereotypes, there are still far too many of those moments when the heroine creeps away into the night, hunching her shoulders, leery of cat-calls.

It’s a not-fun world. An uncomfortable world. A world we’re certainly working on making a better place.

But not the world I’m primarily interested in writing my spec fiction in.

Because it’s the world I have to live in and write non-fiction about every day.

I am tired of seeing women getting beat up and crapped on. I want to imagine something different.

Defenders of shows like Dollhouse would say that you have to show all the bad stuff before you show the rebellion against it. I respect that.

Trouble is, people get lost a lot in the bad stuff, and they forget why it was it was bad in the first place. Instead of being “bad” it just becomes the “norm.”

Moonfail: Or, Why I Look Forward to Being a Dinosaur

I’ve followed the whole crazy E. Moon debacle since September, and experienced much the same reaction others did to Moon’s initial post. Some nodding along for awhile, raising eyebrows at a bit of the one-for-all view of citizenship, and then gaping at the bizarre turn it took with “Assimilate or you’re just asking for what you get” rhetoric. And then it launched into something akin to, “You don’t know how good you have it! We’ve been so tolerant! We could have thrown you all in concentration camps like we did to the Japanese!” (no, those are not direct quotes. Please read the link to the original post)

Weird.

Yes, it was certainly weird, and if it had been an essay about feminism and how women should just assimilate into patriarchal culture if they didn’t want to have stuff thrown at them, I think there would have been a stronger and clearer response from the Wiscon committee up front. But then, any big decision made by committee is an epically long, bitter, drawn-out process. It’s why I don’t like going to neighborhood committee meetings. You get the same kind of dynamic: one or two people ranting on about their own pet projects/beliefs, one or two people actually contributing something useful, and a silent minority slowly seething with resentment of the committee’s incompetence while another half dozen people check what’s happening on Facebook on their smart phones.

I’m pretty surprised the con had the guts to step up and recind Moon’s GOH status.  You have to figure out who you are and what you stand for in order to do that. And you have to be willing to piss a lot of people off. People are worried about what this means for future GOH’s. And they should worry. Because if you’ve got some intolerance built into you (and anybody who’s been raised in a racist, misogynist, fearful, intolerant society like, you know, pretty much all of them, is going to have some), at some point it will leak out. And there will be some places you aren’t honored at.

Big deal. Get over it.

Yes.

Get over it.

I don’t expect to be invited as a guest of honor by the Tea Party, either.

What hurts for Moon – and what worries many Wiscon-goers – is that it was their own community which they felt turned on them. When your community makes a leap forward and you don’t… well, you get left behind. That’s how it is.

Today’s radicals are tomorrow’s dinosaurs.

Yes, that’s a good thing. I want tomorrow’s society to be far more tolerant and progressive than I am with my in-built biases and knee-jerk misogyny (you have no idea how difficult it was to give Nyx female friends in the bel dame books. Or how weird it was to not make every token spear-carrier a guy. There are a lot of biases I had to be hyper-aware of, and on re-reading it now years after writing it, I can see a whole lot of misogyny in there. And let’s not even get into the whole “holy war” thing. That’s the subject of another post).

This wouldn’t have happened five or ten years ago. For some reason it reminded me of when David Moles posted all those quotes from Harlan-apologists from the private SFWA boards to a public forum (David took this post down some time after the fact, but I found an old post regarding the issue by Gwenda). Back then, the big outrage was about the breach of privacy on an internet forum (even more laughable today, I know, with the Facebook privacy fiasco. Nothing on the internet is ever really private), not a backlash in response to the sexism of some of the public’s most beloved SF/F authors.

In this case, of course, Moon posted her own thoughts to a public forum, so there was no one to blame for her comments but herself. And, true to her convictions, she stuck by them even after learning why others found them so appalling.Which, again, is fine. Nobody’s saying you can’t be a bigot. I say bigoted things all the time. But I shouldn’t be suprised when somebody calls me on it. And – at the very least – I can sit down and think hard about why I’m being called out as a bigot, and re-think my position in light of new evidence and/or arguements against my position (a very good recent example of how a civil dialogue and rethinking is up here about Daniel Abraham’s thoughts on rape in Urban Fantasy. Do read the comments. Anon really nails it in the line-by-line deconstruction. This is also something I’d like to tackle in another post).

Moon didn’t do that. This is why, in large part, I think the invitation was rescinded. We’re all bigots. What makes Wiscon cool is the fact that it’s a space where we can talk about why we’re bigots, and figure out ways to combat our skewed worldview.

Cons are notoriously bad at making controversial decisions, especially ones that have to do with pissing off their much-beloved writers. Much of Moonfail shows the strength of the LJ POC community and allies inside SF3. Fans decide what a con is and who should be honored. Wiscon wouldn’t think to invite Orson Scott Card or Harlan Ellison, no matter how progressive they personally believe themselves to be (ahhh, sorry, let me stop laughing).

Wiscon is a political con. But, more specifically, Wiscon is a feminist con, not a con about combating racism and encouraging religious tolerance – even if the new mission statement makes a nod to that (it’s been pointed out that the U.S.’s latest freak-out about Islam isn’t racism, but intolerance of religion. If the two weren’t linked, however, we wouldn’t be seeing the 20% of Americans who fervently believe that our bi-racial president is a Muslim, despite all evidence to the contrary. Part of race and ethnicity is religion, culture. See anti-semitism. Racism and anti-semitism are taboo in most circles now, but it’s now OK in a LOT of circles to spew hatred and fear of Muslims. The hilarious part about that is that this country was founded on religious tolerance).

I’d argue that everybody who attends Wiscon enjoys the idea that they’re supporting diversity, but what we saw in the Moon fiasco is that when it comes down to critiquing one of their own, about half the Wiscon crowd will support the cause of feminism over racism and religious tolerance. Looking at the comments in the SF3 thread, this is pretty obvious. Wiscon is a feminist con, they say. Bigotry be damned.  So, in their view, Moon should still be honored at a con whose mission statement is, among other things, about eliminating racism and promoting peace, love, understanding and all that.

Sorry. That’s not how change works.

As one of the biggest racist, misogynist bigots I know (having grown up in a racist, misogynist culture I’m not sure how anybody can honestly say anything else), I recognize that I’ll be among the writers who never goes to Wiscon as GOH. That’s cool. And Moon and others who this will likely happen to in future should also be cool with it. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other non-political cons who are going to honor you with a GOH invite. Just not Wiscon.

Wiscon made a stand for something. It let folks know what was acceptable and unacceptable in a GOH. Are they silencing anyone? Did they delete somebody’s post? Bar Moon from coming to Wiscon all together? Of course not. They just said, in essence, “This is no longer someone who we see as supporting the mission of Wiscon.”(though I do wish they had made a more clear statement of *why* the invite was rescinded, instead of just saying it was rescinded).

And, see, that’s the deal, isn’t it? In Serenity, the assassin chasing our heroes notes that in the perfect society he’s building, there will be no place for him. His actions, he knows, will make his job – and killers like him – obsolete. In a a world where race and class and gender don’t matter, we’re all dinosaurs. And though I certainly hope that distant future looks more like the happy-go-lucky Star Trek universe than the fascist Firefly universe, I have to acknowledge that there’s no place for me in it.

I hate to tell you this, kids, but think about all those “old folks” who we look at as being big bigots. Guess who those bigoted “old folks” are going to be in 30-40 years?

They will be us.

And you know what? If society’s come so far that some of our most progressive people today are seen as tomorrow’s bigoted assholes, I am cool with that. Because it means we’ve made some progress.

And that’s the whole damn point of all this screaming and yelling and ranting and grief, isn’t it?

For the Record

… the nearest Meetup group that shows up when ones searches for “feminism” is in Louisville.

I suspect searching for something like “women’s studies” would end up with similar results.

There is a gay Christians group, however. Go figure.

You’ve got a long way to go, Ohio.

Things Which Are Great

I’ve been busy with the new day jobbe, but wanted to share some things which are great:

Alice in Wonderland
Never been a fan of Alice in Wonderland. Annoying little kid wandering around a crazy place eating and drinking indiscriminately and poo-pooing about like it’s all a great inconvenience. Tim Burton’s take (with a lovely script by Linda Woolverton), was absolutely stunning. Not just visually, which you expect from a Tim Burton film, but a fantastic coming-of-age-and-finding-yourself story about a 19 year old Alice whose destiny it is to lead a rebellion against the Red Queen. Yes, really! Check out the Joan of Arc armor! There were some heavy-handed moments, but nothing so egregious as you wouldn’t expect it in a fairytale. It was wonderfully cool to see a girl-comes-of-age movie (she even ends up on the prow of a ship at the end… like Titanic!) where she gets to pick up a sword and slay a real dragon. The performances are all amazing, too. Anne Hathaway as The White Queen takes herself just-not-seriously-enough to make her incredibly likable. Helena Bonham Carter is a perfect Red Queen, and though Depp is often over the deep end, it’s not too terribly annoying because he’s not on screen the whole time.  Mia Wasikowska is a strange Alice – I especially like the dark circles under her eyes – but the strangeness is what makes her so interesting. Great story, great actors, great visuals – and, have I mentioned? – Alice gets to slay? Yeah. Highly recommended.

Dragon Age: Awakenings
This is the sequel/expansion for Dragon Age: Origins. I am a sucker for a lot of Bioware games, primarily because they’re full of great stories, great characters, and a level of interaction with other characters that you just don’t get in any other game. It’s a tough followup to Dragon Age: Origins. Origins was longer, had more in depth relationships with the characters, and all that. Awakenings got off to a rough, slow start, with lots of installation issues, game crashing, and annoying lack of access to character conversations. Once you figure out their new system for character interaction, it gets easier (basically, you can’t talk to your folks any time you want. When you unlock a prompt, it either automatically starts the dialogue, or you have to select an object to trigger the conversation). But, you know, the gear is better, you make more money, and the choices are sacrifice this or sacrifice that. Lots of ambiguity. Lots of gray. I love that. Also, ass kicking female characters. There’s still the requisite “chick with boobs hanging out,” but as with Origins, they’re not *all* that way, which is what makes the difference, to me, between a lazy, sexist game and one that acknowledges that hey, yeah, woman have different characters and personalities, too! They don’t all run around with their boobs hanging out! Was also pleased that my golem armor didn’t have the obligatory boob-enhancements. What the hell kind of armor forms a breasplate with two custom boob-protrusions? Really? Nice to get away from that at the end with my warrior and the Sigrun the dwarf rogue. Also, very nice Buffy moment there at the beginning with Mhairi. Love you too, Bioware. Overall, A-.