beatrice_otter: Supergirl Victory (Supergirl Victory)
Barry: gets powers: minor angst about danger, then: Awesome, new superhero!

Wally: gets powers: minor angst about danger, then: Awesome, new superhero!

Cisco: gets powers just like his evil twin from the alternate Earth: Awesome, new superhero!

Caitlynn: gets powers just like her evil twin from the alternate Earth: FUCK NO, POWERS MAKE YOU EVIL!

NOBODY else among the main characters has had a personality change due to their powers.  Nobody.  They are the same person, just faster/more psychic.  Why is it that the GIRL--the only female major character to get superpowers--is going to go psycho if she uses her powers?  We have spent SO MUCH TIME this season angsting about how POWER MAKES HER EVIL, SO SHE BETTER SUPPRESS HER POWER!  AND SHE CAN'T DO IT BY HERSELF, SHE NEEDS THE GUYS TO SUPPRESS HER POWER!

This show generally does a decent job with women, so this is such a slap in the face.
beatrice_otter: Men may move mountains, but ideas move men. (Ideas move men)
I've been in fandom for almost twenty years, and here are some things that are true of pretty much every fandom I've seen: There is a lot more sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, anti-semitism, etc., in fandom than most of us would like to admit, and the vast majority of it is unconscious. People (mostly white, etc.) THINK they're being perfectly unbiased and fair, and they really, really aren't. Their unconscious prejudices are shining through. And it sucks. We, collectively, suck.

But here's something I think most people miss: when we talk about this stuff, the point is not to make people feel bad. It's not about who's a "good," non-racist person, and who is a "bad" racist. It's not about proving who's "pure" and who's not. (Or at least, if that's why you're doing it, you're a really screwed-up self-righteous asshole.) IT'S ABOUT CHANGE. Because the thing is, we are all swimming in a sea of racist, sexist, queerphobic crap all the time. We can't change the larger culture (at least not by ourselves), but we CAN change fandom. I know, because fandom has gotten better about this stuff over the last twenty years. There is still a LOT of room for improvement, but it's better than it was. And it can get better than it is. But not if we ignore the problem or sweep it under the rug or get defensive. The first step in sucking less is to realize that you suck in the first place. The second step is figuring out how to suck less.

This post is about that second step. This post is about how to take the knowledge that, yes, we have some problems, and work to make those problems smaller. This post is about how to work through that, grow as a person, learn to suck less, and still have fun in fandom while you're doing it.

There are a lot of posts out there about how to be a good ally. There are also lots of posts out there about avoiding racist/sexist/ableist/whateverist tropes in fic. And there are a lot of good posts out there pointing out that fandom gets WAAAAAY more interested in able-bodied neurotypical cisgender white men than about any other character. We all know what the problems are, or at least, we should. But I think there's a need for "okay, I want to be more inclusive/suck less, how do I do it" on a broad level before we get to the nitty-gritty of "these are tropes I should avoid or be careful about." Namely, how does one get oneself to be fannish about characters that all one's cultural conditioning is screaming at you to ignore?

First, some basic principles.
1) This is fandom. It is supposed to be fun. This should not be like that terrible assignment from your least favorite teacher in school, fandom should be fun.

2) We've all been marinating in a stew of racism/homophobia/sexism/ableism/antisemitism/islamophobia all our lives. Even if, on a conscious level, you disagree with any given ism, your gut has been conditioned to prioritize white able-bodied cissexual neurotypical men over everything else.

3) Racism and sexism suck, and sucking is bad, and it makes fandom NOT fun for those on the receiving end of it. We should all be trying to suck less, both as a goal in its own right and because we want fandom to be fun for EVERYONE.

4) It is possible to work at sucking less while still enjoying fandom.

5) The higher we are in the kyriarchy, the more damage your sucking causes, and the more we are protected from that damage. So, like, a white person is part of the power structure that causes and benefits from racism; we're less likely to see it, more likely to cause damage to others because of it. BUT we also have a lot more power to change things for the better. It's not up to black people or Latin@s or Asians or Roma or LGBTQ people or people with disabilities or Jews or any other oppressed group to fix things--they're not the problem. The ultimate responsibility is up to Whites to suck less. (This doesn't mean that, say, a Black person can't suck--just that they are WAY less likely to damage others through their suckitude.)

So the question is, how do we as White people have fun in fandom while sucking less? Fear not! It's actually pretty simple, you just have to make that a consistent priority.

Let's define Principle 1. How is fandom fun? Well, for me, fandom is fun because there are shows and movies and books that I love, and I love reading and writing fanfic and meta about them, and squeeing about them with my friends. I find all of those activities fun. I hope you all do, too. I want you to keep on finding those things fun.

BUT there is a problem. We are conditioned by our society to value men more than women, Whites more than any other race, able-bodied neurotypical people more than disabled and/or neurodiverse people, etc., etc., you can all fill in the hierarchies that our society has tried to instill in us (and has probably succeeded in instilling more than you realize). The preference for white men in fandom isn't any worse than in other places in our society. It's true, and I think it's important to remember.

The problem comes in when we leave it at that. "Well, it's not my fault, and anyway even if I AM conditioned to pay more attention to whitecock more than anything else, this is fandom so I should be able to just ignore that and go on like always." Aaaaand then you continue to have fun, but you keep sucking, and hurting people in the process.

We have all been conditioned to favor whitecock above everything else. By which I mean, our society privileges stories about able-bodied neurotypical white men above stories about other people. A white man who has super incredible abilities and can do all the things is Batman, a white woman with all the same qualities is a Mary Sue, and is usually depowered to make room for the male hero, to boot. And characters of different ethnicities, or religions, or with disabilities, don't even have it that good. We think stories about white men are interesting because ... those are the stories we've read, watched, listened to the most. We're used to them. We've been taught all our lives that these are the good stories, the stories that matter. And so most of us have learned to prioritize those stories on an unconscious level. And we show that in our choices, which shows we watch, which actors/actresses we think are hot, which characters we write about.

The good news is, that's conditioning. It's not some inborn genetic thing, it's how we've been trained. And we can train ourselves differently!

It starts by being mindful. What we consume shapes us, right? So keep that in mind when you choose what you consume, what movies, what books, what TV shows, what fanfic. I'm not saying "don't watch your favorite show if it's got too many white men." But let's be real: some TV we watch/read because OMG ITS TEH BEST EVAR!!1! and some we watch/read because it's fun and some we watch/read because our friends are and some we watch/read because it's better than other things we could be doing.

When you're making a choice between two shows/movies/books that will probably be about the same level of entertaining, go for the one that's less ALL WHITE MALE. This is the age of the internet, where our choices are much greater than they've ever been before. When you're browsing Netflix on a Tuesday night looking for a fun movie to watch, give higher preference to diverse shows. Not in an "OMG, I can't ever watch anything with white men again, no matter how awesome it is!" way, but rather in a "I've seen so many movies about White Men(tm) in my life--is this one going to just be more of the same? Are there other options I might enjoy?" way. When you've got a variety of options and they would all be enjoyable, go for the ones least likely to reinforce the WHITE STRAIGHT ABLEBODIED NEUROTYPICAL CIS MALE IS THE DEFAULT AND BEST inside your head.

What this can look like in practice: I like Marvel, but I am not a big enough fan to watch all of their shows. I pick and choose and leave myself time for other shows as well. On Netflix there are two Marvel shows I could be watching that are roughly comparable: Daredevil and Luke Cage. Both are about urban superheroes, but Daredevil is white and Luke Cage is black. (Also, Daredevil has some really terrible Yellow Peril stuff.) So I watch Luke Cage. I enjoy it. I'd probably enjoy Daredevil, too, but I don't have time for everything, and so I prioritize. And I don't treat it like I'm taking my medicine and forcing myself to watch something because it's more socially just and not because I like it. I go in expecting to have fun. And you know what? Usually I do.

Another example: back in 2011, I needed something new to be fannish about. I had enough time to be fannish about one television show in addition to the stuff I was already fannish about. There were two shows premiering that fall that looked interesting to me, both rather similar: Grimm, and Once Upon A Time. Both were urban fantasy. One starred a white man, one starred a white woman. I chose the one starring the woman and went in to it prepared to love the show. Not grudgingly, but "ooh, this could be fun." And I loved it. If I hadn't, I would have stopped watching it after a couple of episodes and switched to Grimm. That was always an option; I wasn't watching OUaT to be masochistic about "doing the right thing." I was choosing which of two interesting options to give brain and heart space to, and I was going in to it with a brain and heart open to being pleased. If, despite that, it didn't please me? I'd move on to the next thing. Plenty of other fish in the sea. But I started with the less-whitecock option.

What this does is it gives brainspace to new possibilities. It erodes the assumption your hindbrain makes that white men matter more than other people do. It erodes the assumption your hindbrain makes that white men are more interesting. The more attention you pay to people outside the cultural norm, the more interesting you find their stories. When you do this, you are actively re-training your cultural conditioning about who matters and who is interesting. And you are having fun while you are doing it.

This has two ways that it will erode your suckage in fandom-related ways. First, it increases the number of people likely to be in non-whitecock fandoms, which is a slight counterweight to the overwhelming whitecock nature of fandom in general. One more person reading the fic and (hopefully) commenting. One more person posting about it, whether you do meta/art/fic/gifs/fanmixes/videos/whatever. Second, if you do this consistently over a long period of time, you will find that your instinct to always focus on white male characters will erode. Your background assumption of who is interesting and who isn't will start to shift.

Do this with the fannish content you produce, as well. You have a tumblr? Give preference to reblogging women and people of color. If you see something about white guys that is AWESOME AND SQUEEWORTHY, go ahead and reblog it and enjoy it while you do. But, you know, a lot of times we reblog stuff that's interesting but not full-on capslock squee, right? Stuff where it takes a second to decide if you should reblog or not. Where you could go either way. And in those cases, make a conscious decision in favor of diversity. Stuff about white men? If it's in that "should I reblog this?" category, don't reblog it. Stuff about anyone else? Do reblog it. When figuring out new content to post, do the same thing. AWESOME SQUEEFUL STUFF? Post away! Interesting but not incredible? Give more weight to stuff about women and people of color and queer people and disabled people and neurodiverse people and Jews and Muslims and all the rest. It's not about harshing the squee, or putting your fannish tastes through some kind of quota system. It's about balance. Trust me. The world and fandom both have PLENTY of whitecock stuff, they'll get along just fine without more. But there's a shortage of everything else, so that's where the focus should be.

And you can do the same with fanfic! Again, I'm not saying "never read your favorites!" I'm saying, be mindful. Are you a big Captain America fan? Check out the Sam Wilson and Natasha Romanov and Maria Hill fic in that fandom, and keep your eye out for more. When you do so, consider filtering out Steve/Bucky stuff occasionally. (http://erindizmo.tumblr.com/post/65292624924/7-step-tutorial-on-how-to-filter-out-characters) After all, presumably you already read a lot of S/B. Your goal isn't to find fics where Sam is in two scenes to get the Whitecock together or help them work out their shit, but fics where Sam gets to really shine. As himself, not just the sidekick to the whitecock. And don't do it grudgingly; do it with open heart and mind, ready to embrace Sam in his awesomeness. This isn't to say you should never read whitecock fic, if that's your thing, but rather that there should be a health(ier) balance. This isn't about forcing you to choke down your bitter fannish medicine; it's about expanding the things you love. It's about creating more opportunities for joy and squee.

And when you read those fics, comment on them! Spread the love! Authors who write about women or people of color tend to get fewer comments on those fics than on stories focused about white male characters, which is discouraging. Share the love; kudos and comment. A comment saying "Good fic" is great, it doesn't have to be long and involved. This holds true for all your fic, by the way, not just the fic where you're consciously diversifying your reading habits. Reading a Steve/Bucky fic and the author wrote Sam well, or Natasha, or Maria, or Rhodey, or Dr. Cho? Tell the author! Point that out specifically. Doesn't have to be elaborate; "I liked Sam" is fine. The point is to reward people for being more inclusive.

When you find a particularly good fic based on a certain woman or character of color, check out the author's page. Chances are, they've got more like it. If they do, and you like their work? Subscribe to them so when they write something, you see it. Again, the goal is to still have fun with awesome fic, but shifting what you consume to be more diverse. Because that will shift your internal default away from the Straight White Neurotypical Ablebodied Man that our society tries to push as the default. And that will affect how you see the world both in fandom and out of it.

Part of the fun of fandom, for many of us, isn't just about consuming content, it's also about creating it. I love writing fanfic. And here's where a lot of peoples' asses start to show, and where they start whining about how they just write what they write and they only get plotbunnies for whitecock. And that may be true, but again, this is something you can actually change. If your brain doesn't come up with plotbunnies for characters of color, or for women, or for lesbians, or for a mixed-race canon couple, or for disabled or neurodivergent people? You can work on coming up with plotbunnies on your own and train your brain in the process!

For example! Say you are a fan of The Flash. For every episode you watch, come up with one plot bunny for a non-white male character. You don't have to write it; that's another step down the road. It doesn't have to be something huge. The first step is getting your brain used to generating plot bunnies for characters you normally wouldn't. If Iris had a big part in that episode, think up a story idea for her. What was she doing while Barry was fighting the villain of the week? How's things going at work for her? If Joe had a big part, think up an idea for him. If there was an Iris/Barry moment, think up a story idea for that pairing. Wally, Cisco, Caitlynn, Lisa Snart, you get the idea. If you're a Supergirl fan, come up with a story idea for Hank or James or Renee Montoya or M'Gann each episode. You don't have to write it, the goal for this part is to get you used to thinking of these characters as people with stories. People you are interested in. I mean, if you get a great idea and want to write it, awesome, but step one is to get your gut and your hindbrain primed to think about these people and care about their stories. You've already been primed to care about and think about white male characters by everything you've seen and read and heard since you were a baby, but there's been precious little priming you for everybody else, so a little extra effort is probably going to be needed.

The next step is similar to the choosing-fandoms step, only for choosing plotbunnies. You will probably have some ideas that just yank you over and demand to be written, so write them. But if you are anything like me, there are also times that you want to write and have a lot of different ideas you could write, you just have to decide which. And in that case, you can probably guess by now, give more weight to the non-whitecock options. If you have four plot bunnies you could write, and two of them are about white male characters and one of them is about a white woman and one is about a character of color? Give more weight to the woman and (especially) the character of color. I'm not saying "you can never write white men again!" I'm saying that in your decision-making process, recognize that the rest of the world is weighted WAY THE FUCK IN FAVOR OF WHITE ABLE-BODIED NEUROTYPICAL CIS MEN, so to provide balance, we should be weighting in favor of everyone else, and giving the most weight to the people that society gives the least weight to.

The things I've outlined in this post don't magically get rid of all that social conditioning overnight, and they don't magically fix everything. What they do is they give you a place to start, and aim you in a direction so that, if you work on it over time, you will suck less while still having fun in fandom and making it more inclusive. And the more people who do stuff like this, the less fandom will suck over time.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
For those of you fortunate enough to not know what they are, TERFs are trans-exclusionary radical feminists.  There are a wide variety of them (and some sound reasonable at first blush), but those few "man-hating feminists" who actually exist are all pretty much TERFs.  And part of what their extremist response to men ends up as is a denial that transwomen are women.  (Hence "trans-exclusionary.")  Feminism isn't about equality for all people, to a TERF; it's about advancement for biological females.  These are also the people behind "queer is a slur which can't be reclaimed!"  Because queer is an umbrella category, see, which makes it a lot harder to police who is a "real" LGBT+ person than any other term.  And if you can push some people--aces, genderqueer, transpeople, bi/pan people, and others out or at least to the fringes--you can much more easily separate out who the "real" women are, and who "deserves" support, from those who "don't".

Anyway, I was listening to the On Being podcast today.  (On Being, for those of you who don't know, is an EXCELLENT radio show/podcast which "opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?"  It often addresses issues of religion and spirituality from a broad range of traditions.)  This week's show is a conversation with Joy Ladin, an Orthodox Jewish transwoman who is a professor at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University.  And I was excited.  Queer representation!  Religious queer representation!  I'm not trans, and I'm not Jewish, but I am asexual and aromantic and there isn't much out there sympathetic to the intersection of queerness and religion, and most of what there is focuses on Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Conservative Christianity (which I am not) and homosexuality, no nuance or anything (and I'm also not homosexual).

cut for TERF bullshit )

beatrice_otter: Uhura fights like a girl (Fight like a Girl)
Grace and Frankie, for those who don't know, is a hilarious Netflix show starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as two women whose husbands (Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen) announce that they are leaving them because they've been having an affair for the last twenty years and want to get married now that it's legal.


I enjoyed season one, and although not particularly fannish about it I was looking forward to season 2, which will be out in May.

I was reminded of this because [community profile] fancake's current theme is "older characters," and as I was choosing fics to rec I thought I should check out the Grace and Frankie fic and see if there might be something there, both for me and to rec.  I wasn't expecting huge amounts of fic, but I thought it was worth checking out.

I found four fics.  Disappointing, but eh, it's a Netflix show about older people with no SF/F elements, so not terribly surprising.

Of those four fics, three are about the main characters' husands.  One is about their kids.  Not a single fic is about the actual main characters of the show.

beatrice_otter: Uhura fights like a girl (Fight like a Girl)
Hey, [personal profile] tielan, I read this article and thought about you. The Tyranny of "Do it yourself!" Nothing you haven't said many times, but it's true and nice to know that other people experience the same things.

As discussions about representation in media continue to grow and gain traction around the Internets and through different corners of fandom, we start seeing a lot of repetition: the same unhelpful arguments being made again and again. One of the responses I see a lot, and that I find among the most tiresome, boils down to this: "Stop complaining that other people aren't making the media you want, and just do it yourself!"

I first encountered this response in media fandom, as a pushback against people who wanted to see more content for an unusual pairing, and/or more diversity in romantic pairings (more femslash, more pairings involving people of color, etc.). It was frustrating there, but it's even more pervasive in the wider SF/F fandom, and follows many of the same patterns. And although I don't want to say that this is the very worst response to calls for diversity -- there are a lot of contenders for that title -- it's certainly up there.

I think there are a few reasons that this response is so unhelpful:

And then I saw an article about how Even Mothra, Queen of the Kaiju, has to lean in sometimes, and it is frustrating but not surprising to learn that sexism/misogyny doesn't just affect human-shaped females, it affects even female-coded monsters. Ugh.

If your plan to escape patriarchy involved eating a lot of radiation or surgically grafting frightening animal parts to yourself, just remember: even female-coded flying monsters are expected to sacrifice themselves so men can grow and become more fully realized and achieve self-actualization.


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
One of the great classic movies that I love is Hobson's Choice, a 1954 film about ... well, IMDB puts it this way: "Henry Hobson is a successful bootmaker and tyrannical widower of three daughters. The girls each want to leave their father by getting married, but Henry refuses as marriage traditions require him to pay out settlements."

a fat man clings to a pole

Most places that give a synopsis of the film say something similar.  Promotional materials for the movie (and the play it's based off of) focus on Henry Hobson.  And they are all WRONG.  The movie isn't about him at all.  It's about his daughter, Maggie.

Maggie is thirty years old, strong-willed, knows what she wants and gets every bit of it.  She wants to run the shoe shop (she's an awesome businesswoman) and she wants to be married to Will Mossop (a timid employee that she can see has a lot of potential) and she wants her father to respect them both and treat them well.  Secondarily, she wants her sisters to be able to marry the men they are in love with (which they can't/won't do, unless their father pays their dowries, which he's too cheap to do).  And she gets everything she wants in the end.  It's her choices that drive the story, not her father's.  Henry Hobson is a blowhard, a verbally abusive alcoholic who spends most of his time at the pub while his daughters and employees do all the work.  He wants to marry his daughters off, then changes his mind when he realizes he'd have to pay "settlements" for them, but that's not what starts the plot going.  I mean, it's what most people thing starts the plot off, but actually it doesn't change anything.  He wasn't letting them court before, and he's still not letting them court, and nothing around the shop changes.  What starts the ball rolling is Maggie deciding she's had enough and she's not going to take it anymore, and she's going to marry Will Mossop and her father's going to treat them right.  When he won't, she takes Will off and they start their own shop, which soon becomes a success, and she manages to manipulate her father into giving her sisters their settlements so they can marry the men they want to.  And then the final denoument is when Henry's alcoholism develops to such a point that he can't take care of himself, and Maggie and Will take over his shop--but on their terms.  Henry gets to keep his name over the door, and that's it, and he has to treat Maggie and Will with respect.

Through it all, Maggie is the one who makes all the decisions and does most of the work.  It's all about her wishes, her skills, her plans.  She's the protagonist of the story.  Sure, there are a lot of scenes with Henry out with his drinking buddies, but they're all largely the same, and none of them really enhance the plot or anything because nothing happens.  Henry doesn't advance the plot.  He's not the protagonist; he's the obstacle the protagonist faces.  Despite the fact that he's played by the star (Charles Laughton) and the movie spends so much time on him, it is, fundamentally, not his story.
beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
I love this show, I really do, but there’s some hella problematic things in it. Here's one example.
Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods deals more explicitly with the wolf in Red Riding Hood being a metaphor for predatory sexual exploitation than most modern versions, and Johnny Depp made it even more creeptastic in the recent Disney version.

Red and the Wolf )
image
image
She's pleasant enough when he first says hello, then he spends a song literally yanking her around to get her to pay attention to him, and telling her what she should be doing (that she doesn't want to do and is actively trying to get away from.) In the end, she smiles and says Okay! and picks some flowers that he showed her, at which point he stops hassling her. (And, of course, this shows why appeasing the creep is a dangerous course to take, because he uses her delay to go find her granny, eat her, and set up to eat Red Riding Hood too.)

Here's the video so you can watch the whole creeptastic scene:


So far, it's not problematic at all.  The wolf is a creep, and everyone knows it.  Yay!

Here's the problem.  Later on, when Red describes the whole thing to the Baker in “I Know Things Now,” she describes the wolf like this: “But he seemed so nice.”

I ask you, did the wolf seem “nice”? NO. He was not nice. He was, in fact, the creepiest creep to ever creep. And she knew it! She didn’t like his attention, she didn’t want his attention, she spends the entire song trying to get away from his attention! But a man is giving attention to a girl, she should be pleased, right? He's trying to give her things--flowers even--so she should appreciate it, right? The only way the wolf is "nice" is if you assume that any male attention to a female automatically is "nice" regardless of what kind of attention or whether she wants it or not.

But it's actually worse than that. Here's some context to that line:
"Mother said straight ahead
not to delay or be misled
I should have heeded her advice
but he seemed so nice.”

She tried to do the right thing. She did everything she possibly could to do what her mother told her and keep the wolf from misleading her. And now she’s blaming herself for the fact that he literally yanked her off the path.  And the show just kind of accepts this version, in which Red bears some of the blame for the wolf's "seduction" of her.  When, really, no, that's not what happened at all.

The whole song:




There’s actually some good and empowering stuff in the song, too, and I love it, but at the same time, eeeep!

If it actually reflected what had happened--if the wolf had been ambiguous and kinda nice, if Red had responded to him and chosen to go off the path with him, it would be a great song.  As it is, it's pretty failtastic.
beatrice_otter: Yuletide (Yuletide)
Finally have time to re-read canon for my Yuletide fic.  The things I didn't notice when I read it and loved it as a teen ... it has not, thank goodness, been visited by the Suck Fairy in the meantime, but it does have certain elements that have not aged well.  The two protagonists are wonderfully complex and nuanced women, but one of their mothers is ... well, not quite the stereotypical Evil (step)Mother/Evil Powerful Woman, about as close to it as you can get without being, you know, evil.  (Thankfully, she has a very small part in this book, and will be off-stage soon, to leave me to focus on the two awesome protagonists.)

And I'm only thirty pages in and I've gotten several reminders that, of course, beautiful women can't really have women friends because of course jealousy will ruin everything!  From my vague recollections that stops being A Thing pretty quickly, here, and I hope so, because it's really getting old.

Most of the book (so far) has aged very well.  It's just that thread that runs through this first bit before the Adventure starts that's really annoying me.  (Teenage me, being homely and geeky and having no clue and less interest in makeup and hair and styling, and thus having no clue about what Beautiful Women were actually like, probably just nodded solemnly and accepted it as Received Truth.)

ETA: Hah.  Just spotted a factual/cultural error.  In places with intense sun and heat, wearing long, loose garments that cover your skin but allow a breeze through can be better protection from the sun and even sometimes cooler than shorts and a tank top.  Someone who spent time in the Sahara Desert as a child should know this.

ETA2: The worldbuilding and eloquence of language is not quite as breathtaking as I remember it being, but it's still pretty darn good.  Funnily enough, while one of the heroes seemed so grown-up to me as a teen, she now seems ... a bit juvenile for her age.  Though that may be an artifact of the literary style of the era the book was written in.
beatrice_otter: Poirot: Little Grey Cells (Little Grey Cells)
So, [livejournal.com profile] wiscon!  Which proudly bills itself as a feminist science fiction/fantasy con, and yet in the last couple of years has shown that they have issues actually acting like a feminist con.

Short version: Jim Frenkel, formerly an employee of Tor Books (one of the largest and best SF/F publishing houses in the US, is a serial harrasser.  As in, he's been behaving badly towards women for twenty years, but mostly what's been done is that women "in the know" warn other women to keep away from him.  In 2013, he harassed a woman who a) made a complaint, b) followed through on it, and c) called out [livejournal.com profile] wiscon when they let her report fall through the cracks.  Lots of feminist SF/F bloggers take up the call.  You can read about it on the Geek Feminism Wiki.

Jim Frenkel lost his job over the incident, which shows that Tor Books took it seriously.  Not so, [livejournal.com profile] wiscon, which allowed Frenkel to come to the 2014 con and even had him slated to moderate panels, on the original schedule.  Cue righteous wrath.  (They apologized pretty nicely for letting things slip through the cracks such that the 2013 concom knew about him and the 2014 concom didn't.  It was a pretty good apology, taking full responsibility for screwing up.  Pity it wasn't followed by a genuine turnaround on behavior.)

The final decision is that Frenkel is banned for four years for sure--and if, at the end of those four years, he can provide evidence that he has changed, he can come back.  Note that he can appeal, but it has been made quite clear that his victims can't.  Cue even more righteous wrath in the SF/F blogosphere, and as usual Radish Reviews has both good commentary and a good link roundup of other responses.  I particularly like Sigrid Ellis's post on procedure and how, you know, a con disciplinary committee is not a court of law and why the differences matter.

Which got me thinking.  I am a pastor.  Churches are also places that should be safe where trust has often been abused.  And our councils are also not courts of law.  So, here's what "best practices" are for churches for handling predators once they have been identified.  First, we have to protect their victims from further harm.  That's number one.  But we also, as churches have an obligation to everyone--including predators--to spread the Good News of God's love to all people.  When Jesus told his followers to visit the people in prison, he didn't say "but only the nice people who are falsely/wrongly accused."  So we can't just throw the predators out.  But at the same time, our first priority has to be protecting the victims and possible victims.  So here's the compromise when we know there's a serial predator: they can attend worship, but not any other event (Sunday School, picnic, work day, whatever) where the predator's target group will be present.  And they can only arrive ten minutes before worship and must leave immediately after it--they can't hang around.  And any time they are on the church property, the church has a couple of designated people to stay with the predator and make sure they behave themselves.  If they have already preyed on someone within the congregation, a church may well work with neighboring congregations to find someplace else the predator can attend where the predator will be watched to ensure no further harm is done but the victims don't have to deal with them.  The chances of the predator harming someone are minimized.  That's what you should do when you can't just throw the predator out.

But a con is not a church, and if there is a deep moral imperative to allow anyone (even predators) at a con, I've never heard it.  If there is a deep moral imperative for why it has to be one con in particular and not another, I've never heard it.  And if there's any procedure in place for what to do if Frenkel appeals after four years, gets a couple of character witnesses to swear he's reformed, and gets back in, and how to handle him to make sure he doesn't revert to type, I haven't heard that either.
beatrice_otter: Sometimes you just have to say screw canon (Screw Canon)
Remix 2014 and Rarewomen 2014 are both open for business!  There is tons if fic in tons of fandoms, go read and enjoy and comment!

I wrote for Remix but not Rarewomen, this year.  See if you can guess my fic!

beatrice_otter: Atlantis--And the sky full of stars (Sky Full of Stars)
There is a divide in science fiction and fantasy fandom, dating back to Star Trek.  Media fans (fans of TV shows and movies) are on one side and lit fans (fans of books and short stories and original written works of varying kinds) are on the other, and it's not hard-and-fast but things that make huge waves in one area of fandom often don't even get noticed in the other part of fandom.

There is something huge going on in lit fandom, and it's important.  So here, for your edification, is what's going on with the 2014 Hugo nominations.

First, some background.  The Hugo Awards are the Oscars of the SF/F world.  They're voted on every year by the members of WorldCon, the World Science Fiction Convention, and handed out there.  (This year it will be in London.)  Who is a member of WorldCon?  Anyone who buys a membership for that year!  A full membership is $205, but if you will not be attending in person you can buy a supporting membership for $40.  This $40 investment will get you a) a packet with all the written works nominated for an award that year (which is a pretty good deal--5 novels, 5 novellas, 5 novellettes, and five short stories, each of them ones that a large number of fans think were the absolute best thing published the year before) and b) the right to vote for the Hugos and c) the right to nominate works for next year's awards.  There is wank about this every year, just like there's always wank about the Oscars.  Usually it's nothing.  This year, it's bad.

Second, some background on the major players.  As in all areas of life, there are some SF/F authors who are complete wastes of space on a personal level.  (I can't speak to the quality of their writing as I've never read it, but they are total wastes of space as people.)  In particular, Larry Correia and Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) are vocally sexist, racist, homophobic pieces of trash who think that only white men can be real SF/F fans and that while they can spew any filth they want, anybody who dares to stand up to them is a horrible person who is oppressing them.  I won't be linking because y'all have google and I am not going to waste my spoons diving through their splooge for examples.  (Day/Beale uses both name and pseudonym for a variety of things so if you want to look him up, google both.)

So!  This year, Correia put forth a slate of twelve works (including his own most recent novel) that should get Hugos, and urging people to buy Worldcon memberships solely to nominate and then vote for those twelve works, which Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) then championed as well.  All of them are what he considers "real" Science Fiction by "real SF" (read: white racist sexist asshole) authors.  And seven of them got enough nominations to get on the Hugo ballot.  On the bright side, there are also a lot of women authors and authors of color and people who have never gotten Hugos on the ballot, way more than normal.  (On the weird side, since the last book in the Wheel of Time series came out last year and none of the books in the series have ever been nominated and all of the novels are part of a single story told in installments, the entire series has been nominated for a Hugo for Best Novel.  ETA: Yes, the entire series will be part of the membership packet this year, all fourteen of them.)

Reactions:
Natalie Luhrs over at Radish Reviews

Abigail Nussbaum (one of the nominated authors) on her own blog

Blackgate.com ignores the whole Correia and Vox Day issue but raises interesting points on other things

Far Beyond Reality does a linkspam of the whole issue


John Scalzi, one of the leading writers and bloggers in lit fandom and one who is usually pretty loudspoken about being a feminist and pro-poc, says people should take the high road and vote solely on artistic merit, not the character of the author.

Shweta Narayan
, Arachne Jericho, Rose Lemberg, and Kate Nepveu point out several flaws in Scalzi's position.

Daniel Libris' take.


Polenth Blake on separating writers and their work.

There's two issues with the Hugos this year.  First, Correia's actions in promoting a slate of candidates, and urging all of his fans to buy memberships solely to nominate it and vote for it leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths, and would no matter what kind of a person he was.  There are lots of people in literary fandom who think it's wrong to even say publicly "Hey, guess what, I'm eligible if you want to nominate me for X!"  So even if Correia's actions weren't technically against the rules, it's Not Good Behavior.

More importantly, obviously, are the social justice implications: Correia and Vox Day should not get to dictate what counts as "good" science fiction and fantasy; they should not get to dictate what science fiction fandom is like and who can and can't be part of it.

I am not going to urge anyone to buy WorldCon memberships just to vote against them, but I will note that $40 for a supporting membership will get you all the nominated works, the right to vote, and the right to nominate for next year's Hugos.  The packets aren't yet ready for distribution, because they only just announced who was nominated and are now approaching publishers and authors for the rights.  (Also, they're doing Retro-Hugos this year; it's the 75th anniversary of the first WorldCon in 1939, but the Hugos didn't come along until later, so they're going to give out Hugos for 1939 as well as 2014.  Hopefully, those works from 1938 will also be in the member packet.)

ETA: due to trolling, anonymous commenting has been disabled.  If you're going to call me a racist fascist, you're going to at least need to drum up the courage to sign it.

beatrice_otter: Maria Hill (Maria Hill)
So, that multi-fandom female-focused remix that [personal profile] tielan and [personal profile] theladyscribe were thinking about looks like it will be a go!  [community profile] femmeremix will have signups in May, probably.  Here's the tentative fandom list, in which you must have at least 3 500-word fics focused on a female character.  If there's a fandom you'd really like to see on the list, and you think you will participate, go tell the mods; they're still in preliminary planning stages.  These are fandoms in which they have four or more people saying they're eligible to sign up in it.
  • Babylon 5 (4)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (9) -- does not include Angel (3)
  • DC Comics Movies (4) - Batman and Superman
  • Doctor Who (5)
  • Fairy Tales (6) -- includes Disney Princesses
  • Game of Thrones (5)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe (17) (not including Agents of SHIELD)
  • Pacific Rim (4)
  • Star Trek TOS (5)
  • Stargate Atlantis/SG-1 (7)
  • Supernatural (4)
  • White Collar (4)
  • The X-Files (4)


beatrice_otter: Lex Luthor runs for his life (Run for your Life!)
I can get from the tag line in the trailer:

"Are you the great man come to save us?"
beatrice_otter: Sam Carter against a blue background. (Sam)
There's one big lie that rapists tell. Most of the other lies are just part of it. "Consent is complicated and confusing and there are a lot of gray areas." "She dressed/acted/talked like she wanted it." "She never said no; how was I supposed to know?" "She just regrets having sex." "We were both drunk and the alcohol muddied things." "He sure seemed like he was enjoying it." "I guess I just got caught up in the heat of the moment." "People do this all the time and only paranoid feminists call it rape."

The one big lie at the center of all these little lies is: "If you were in my place, you could have done the same."


Great article with an important point.  I collect links to articles like this so when conversations about rape and such come up on Facebook or wherever (as they do), I don't have to argue it myself I can point and go: here, this!

beatrice_otter: Supergirl Victory (Supergirl Victory)

 

 

Go check it out!  Leave prompts, leave fic, read other fic, should be a lot of fun.
beatrice_otter: Honor Harrington--Flag in Exile. (Honor Harrington)
Books filled my house as a child.  So did science fiction and fantasy.  (Every year, regular as clockwork, my Dad read The Hobbit to me and my younger brother.)  So, naturally, I became a great reader.  I read a lot, and I read fast.  And, in elementary school, oh joy of joys, I discovered the public library, which was only two blocks away from my parents' business.  You can see where this is going, right?  I started devouring the books there.  But, you know, they had a strict limit on how many books you can check out at a time (only twenty!  the horror, the deprivation!), and I read fast and constantly, and YA books are usually pretty short.  So one day, the librarian (who knew me quite well by then) took me over to the adult (grown-up, not porn, get your minds out of the gutter) section of the library and showed me the science fiction section, particularly the Star Trek novels all on the same shelf.  I was probably just starting middle school, by that point; it's one of the clearest memories I have of childhood, that glorious moment when I saw all those books I had never read, and all of them so much bigger--i.e. more-to-read--than the YA and children's books.  It was awesome.

I started out with the Star Trek books, already being a fan of the series.  Once I'd read all of those, I started expanding.  And one of my first finds was Honor Harrington.  (The series as DRM-Free multiformat e-books)

Cover of Honor Among Enemies by David Weber.  Honor at a holo-plot with a ship and a planet in the background.  Image by David Mattingly.

I was in love. Here was a female character like me, with whom I could identify!  Why Honor Harrington is Awesome )

beatrice_otter: Black and white image of Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds, with bulletproof vest and gun. (Emily Prentiss)
Fandom's just getting over the brouhaha about all female characters=stereotypes and stereotypes=bad, and here's [personal profile] hradzka pointing out that the problem isn't stock characters (what might also be called stereotypes), the problem is how they are used and misused, and pointing how this works in practice and how to make the stock characters work for you rather than against.  It's a great bit of writing meta, and useful for far more than just his stated aim of how to get more female characters in fic.

The Bechdel Test: Mechanical Approaches

My favorite bit isn't actually the meta itself, it's where he points out that he's not a feminist himself, but he listens to his feminist friends because he doesn't have to agree with people in order to learn how they want to be treated.  Boy, do I wish more people realized that.

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
It matters when you are part of the audience.

I spent my childhood reading stories about kids who find various magical things and go on adventures, and also just about every children's book ever published in the UK. I couldn't imagine myself in those books - it was obvious that I was never going to find a magic amulet or a secret corridor or a sand fairy; our house didn't even have a basement - but I certainly knew they were written for me.

And then I became a teenager. I was still voraciously reading, and struggling to find the genre that fit me as well as my childhood reading had. I read everything I could find - hard SF to Anne Rice, Dorothy Sayers to Charlotte MacLeod. I also read an awful lot of stuff published before 1900. (My flirtations with plain fiction and romance novels didn't pan out. I'm just not that type of girl, apparently.)

I kept casting around, though. And I kept going back and secretly re-reading the books I'd loved as a kid. Partly that was because, okay, I read like I breathed, and there were only so many books in the world, and I couldn't afford to turn my back on old favorites. But partly that was because I missed something about those books, something I couldn't identify, something I described to myself as a feeling of safety.

When I found fan fiction, I realized what I was missing. I missed being part of the audience.

I know, I know: you read something, you are obviously part of the audience. But I'm talking about the imaginary audience, the audience in the author's head, the one the book is written for.


Go read the rest.
beatrice_otter: Delenn--We are Starstuff (Starstuff)
There's a discussion going around the internet at the moment, about feminism, modesty, and claiming your own achievements. Here's an interesting post by [personal profile] synecdochic with good links to other parts of the discussion.

Go!  Read!
beatrice_otter: Honor Harrington with exploding spaceships (Honor Ashes of Victory)
Gaaah!  I hate misogyny in fic!

People get upset when it gets pointed out that some slashers are misogynists.  I know that many (hopefully most) slashers aren't.

But, people?  When the only women in your fic are horrible, backstabbing, petty, immoral bitches?  If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a fucking misogynist duck.

This brought to you by the Atlantis fic I just read half of, in which Teyla never appeared and in which Keller got her revenge on McKay for breaking up with her by passing a note outing Sheppard to a homophobic Marine she knew to be mentally unstable because she'd altered his records so he could stay in Atlantis and owe her.  There were some warning signs, but when it all started coming together... gah.

(To console myself, I am using my Honor Harrington icon.  The world needs more heroines.)

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