beatrice_otter: Sha're in a blue veil (Shau'ri)
For those of you who don't know, the Barna research group is a group that focuses on researching religious trends in America.  Although they are very DEFINITELY Christian and doing this for a Christian audience, they are also quite firm in their belief that in order to make good choices people need good, reliable information to base it on.  So they're pretty good about being as fair and accurate as they can in their research practices.

Their newest finding?  That in the last year, public opinion in America has swung quite dramatically in favor of immigration, diversity, and refugees, with most population segments adding at least 10% to their approval.  And practicing Christians who believe the US should welcome refugees more than doubled between 2016 and 2017, which is why there are currently more religious leaders across the board speaking to refugee and immigration issues.  (Evangelicals are the lone holdouts, surprise, surprise.)  For example, the Christian community is pretty much united in opposition to ending or limiting the DREAM program.  Even the Evangelicals agree there.

Unfortunately, the shift doesn't seem to be from racists, nationalists, and other right-wingers changing their minds.  Where the shift seems to be coming from is the people who were undecided a year ago moving towards open-mindedness, tolerance, and compassion.  So it's not that the whole country is moving towards tolerance, it's that the people in the middle are moving leftward on this issue.  Which is good, don't get me wrong!  It just means we've got our work cut out for us to reach out to the Evangelicals and the FOX newsers and all and help them see things in a different light.

(Obviously I'm not talking to people who aren't safe or wouldn't be safe if they tried to reach out, whether psychologically or physically.
beatrice_otter: Men may move mountains, but ideas move men. (Ideas move men)
tumblr version is here.

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 whitedude 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 whitedude 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-whitedude 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-whitedude fandoms, which is a slight counterweight to the overwhelming whitedude 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 whitedude 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. ( 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 Whitedude together or help them work out their shit, but fics where Sam gets to really shine. As himself, not just the sidekick to the whitedude. 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 whitedude 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 whitedude. 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-whitedude 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: Finn holding a blue lightsaber (Finn)
Movie poster for Birth of a Nation

Saw Birth of a Nation tonight (the new movie about Nat Turner, not the 1915 KKK one).  SUCH a good movie, I still had chills an hour later.  There's violence and gore and a sad ending (though not as down as I expected, given what happened), and much is made of Nat's Christian faith in really interesting ways, so that's something to consider before watching.  But OMG is it awesome!
Spoilers and mentions of sexual assault )

beatrice_otter: What are we Protesting against? (Protest)
You've probably already read it, but [ profile] franzeska has some EXCELLENT meta on AO3 about fandom, racism, sexism, shipping, slash/gen/het, fandom history, hypocrisy, and counterproductive activism.  It's long but OH SO GOOD.  With a lot of really important points that get completely missed in most discussions of these issues.  I have a few quibbles and one major problem with the piece, but overall I agree with most of it.

Your Vagina is a Bigot; My Vagina is a Saint

beatrice_otter: Luna Lovegood, Hermione Granger, Cho Chang (Girls of Potter)
I imagine you all have heard by now that Jo Rowling has been releasing stuff about American wizarding history over on Pottermore, and that it shows a lack of interest in anything but the pablum white-washed Pro-US Hollywoodized stuff, with bonus appropriation of Native American culture/mythology for a does of the exotic.

NK Jemison has a short post about it.

Native Appropriations does a more in-depth look at it, which I appreciate.

Now, Rowling has never been very culturally sensitive, shall we say, but when she was mostly just layering Beauxbatons and Fleru with every French stereotype she could muster, well, it's not like the French are an oppressed minority.  And the general lack of diversity at Hogwarts and other problematic issues was bad, but at least they were tangential to the core of the story.  This is, well, the appropriative caricatures are pretty central to the pieces she's releasing now.

As a palate-cleanser, here's A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction.  Would've been more appropriate to link to a crash course in Native American Science Fiction, but I couldn't find one.  I found general Native American book lists, and lists of speculative fiction by authors of color, and SF/F stories "with Native American flavor" (?!?) but the best I could find was Wikipedia's list of Native American Speculative Fiction Authors of Note.  And the University of Arizona recently published an anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, of which some of the authors are native American.

beatrice_otter: History will attend to itself.  It always does. (History will attend to itself)
I'm watching Rio Grande, one of the greatest Westerns ever made. But there is something really ironic that was not intended to be so. John Wayne's character's estranged wife, played by Maureen O'Hara, comes to visit because Reasons. She's a Southerner, John Wayne is a US Army colonel. Fifteen years ago, he was a captain during the Civil War, and in the march down the Shenendoah, he gave the order to torch his wife's family plantation. There is a lot of angsting about this from all sides (the general who sent him to do it and is now still his commander, the sergeant who was the one who actually held the torch, etc., etc.) At one point the general wonders what history will make of their actions in Shenendoah.

Well ... not much, actually. The destruction was fairly limited, and civilian casualties were low. Southerners gripe about it, but actual historians and everyone who isn't from the US South go meh.

What doesn't get a "meh", what people care about and shake their heads over, is the persecution and destruction of Native Americans who were forced from their homes and either killed or confined to reservations (i.e. the worst land available that nobody else even wanted). You know, the stuff that's the action plot in this movie, that everybody's taking for granted as the right thing to do.

(Also, I think it's hilarious that the movie takes place somewhere between 1877-1879 (depending on which Shenendoah campaign they're referencing), and at one point an Irish guy requests that old great song, Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men), which wasn't written until 1916 ...)

Still, it is a very good movie.  John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara are at their best, the supporting cast is excellent, the script has a lot of great bits, and the cinematography is gorgeous.
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.)

Natalie Luhrs over at Radish Reviews

Abigail Nussbaum (one of the nominated authors) on her own blog 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: Aim high--you may still miss the target, but at least you won't shoot your foot off. (Aim High)
I'm writing a story for [ profile] oc_bigbang, and that means I get art made for me.  Yay!  And it looks like I'll get the rough draft done on time, even bigger yay!  When I signed up, they asked if I had a particular actress in mind for my OC, Tora Manar.

Well.  That's a problem for me.  I have face blindness; recognizing faces is difficult for me, and so visual cues aren't at all what I write from.  I mean, even when I'm writing characters from a TV show or movie where they already have actors that I have seen many times I don't really picture them at all when I'm writing (or reading) fic.  But, you know, I thought I'd try, which has led me to a frustrating half-hour with Google Image search.  I don't want Manar to be supermodel-gorgeous; just kind of normal-looking is fine with me.  Because she is a kind of Bajoran-girl-next-door who survived the Occupation and the camps and wants to rebuild Bajor and make a better life for herself and her family.  Fairly ordinary, glass-half-full type.  One of my inspirations, back when I thought this was a romance instead of a gen story, was Lalita from Bride and Prejudice, played by Aishwarya Rai.  Now that I know it's a gen story, Lalita's refusal to accept patronization from the privileged people is still a contributor to Manar, although Manar is much less likely to point it out unless it's really big.  She's trying for a career as a Starfleet officer, she's trying to blend in and get accepted and so she's got a lot more incentive to bite her tongue.  But, you know, Aishwarya definitely has supermodel good looks that I don't want Manar to have.  But that got me started with Bollywood actresses (and also, it annoyed me that while we occasionally saw Bajorans of color in the background, I can't think of a single ep that had one with an actual speaking role), and from there several other searches, and here's what I've found.

Vega Tamotia seems to have a good face; pretty enough, but not hubba-hubba.  But her skin is a bit lighter than I described Manar's skin as being.
Karthika Nair is a bit closer, but I'm not quite sure about for some reason--maybe it's her expression in most of those pictures, she looks a bit too cynical or something.  This is Star Trek after all, and so Manar has a bit of that optimistic/Pollyannaish quality that infuses most of the Star Trek universe.
Rula Jebreal is wonderful, but a tiny bit too close to the too-gorgeous, and also possibly slightly darker than I described Manar.

Now, I've never seen any of these women act (nor read Rula's books nor seen her TV show), so this is going strictly off of pictures.  What do you guys think?  Any suggestions?

(The other main character is a Vulcan male, in that indeterminate middle age Vulcans have where they look thirty and could be anywhere from 30 to 100 years old.  He may be distantly related to Spock and to Ambassador Soval from Enterprise, with whom he shares a name.  I don't really care about what he looks like; there are thousands of white actors in the right age range to choose from, and there are probably quite a few who could do appropriate Vulcan dignity.  Besides, it's not Soval's story, it's Manar's.  He's got his own internal life, but we only ever really see glimpses of it.)

beatrice_otter: This looks like a good day for World Domination (World Domination)
Ganked from [personal profile] rydra_wong:
Apparently some people have been complaining about the influx of Russian users on Dreamwidth, and posts appearing on the Latest page which they can't read, horrors.

In response, [personal profile] yvi's planning a fest of/for people posting in their native (non-English) languages. She's inviting help and discussion.
beatrice_otter: Ah, arrogance and stupidity all in the same package.  How efficient of you! (Arrogance and Stupidity)
...because this should probably get linked.  Thank you to [personal profile] megwrites for pointing out the depths of privileged racism in Elizabeth Bear's casual use of the term "death march" to describe writing a book.  And her response to someone who called her on her BS.
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: Men may move mountains, but ideas move men. (Ideas move men)
So, if you're in the Stargate fandom you've probably heard about the massive amounts of fail (multiple different kinds, no less!) inherent in the casting sides for an episode of Stargate: Universe, and the defense from Gateworld, and all that. [livejournal.comt profile] sheafrotherdon has an excellent rebuttal to Gateworld's defense of the fail, and [ profile] cereta has an older post on living in a systematically misogynistic society and why don't "nice" men take a stand which then links to [ profile] khalinche's post on the levels of harassment your average woman experiences on a daily basis, and why men don't really get it. And someone in the comments mentioned the Vagina Monologues, which I've never seen.

And I've been thinking. I love Stargate, but not the fail, and it seems like the fail has been growing over time, and the way they consistently play issues of rape and torture and such for titilation/humor or in other ways abuse white male privilege.

And lo, at 2 o'clock in the morning, an idea has formed for a story I will never write but which would be Made of Awesome if someone else would do it:

Teal'c is sensitive to power issues as they relate to the whole Jaffa/slave thing, but not so much (which is to say, not at all) as they relate to male/female relationships. He's very secure in his male privilege, and uses it, particularly with Jaffa women. He has great respect for Sam, treats her like an equal as a warrior, true, but look at how he treated the Jaffa women he was with. It's not that he's a bad guy, he just responds as his culture has taught him and doesn't really seem to think about the issue that much. And then in the episode Family Ties, Teal'c gets given tickets to The Vagina Monologues.

I want to know what Teal'c's reaction was. I want it to be done seriously, not played for laughs. I want to know how he related that to his experiences of Jaffa life and working with Sam for ten years. I want to explore Jaffa culture and Teal'c's perspective on it beyond the 'Jaffa revenge thing.' I want to see him talk about it with Sam, and with Ishta, and maybe his daughter-in-law Kar'yn. I don't want him to turn into an enlightened feminist Western male, but I do want him to understand.

On Racism

Aug. 6th, 2009 04:36 pm
beatrice_otter: History will attend to itself.  It always does. (History will attend to itself)
For privileged people out there.  When issues of race come up again.  (and again, and again, and again, and again ...)

In which it's not my job to educate you

We Have Feelings Too or The Cost OF Being A POC in Race Discussions

and, for satire,

The Art of Defending Racism
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
So, I didn't post anything about/during Racefail '09 because I'm pretty much generic whitebread middle-class American and had nothing to say on the subject that other people weren't saying far more eloquently and didn't want to add to the signal/noise ratio. Also because I'm lazy and don't like conflict.

But you know what? Racism and productive/constructive ways to deal with it and (as much as possible) prevent it are ordinary, everyday situations that should be thought about constantly, not just whenever it happens to blow up. That way, hopefully, we can make things better instead of worse. I still don't have much to say on the subject that others haven't said better, but I do have a rec: Go read the Spock/Uhura Racefail Prevention Post. It's concise, it's positive, and it's got good advice for how to talk and think about issues of race particularly in the fannish realm but also in general.  With links you can follow which lead to lots of other places where racism in life and in fandom are discussed in helpful ways.

For those of you who don't know, in the new Star Trek movie Spock and Uhura (a character of color) have a romantic relationship. This has led to a whole lot of fiction and fan attention for Uhura and to the creation of a community dedicated to the pairing. Within two months of its creation, [ profile] spock_uhura has had at least one major incident of racefail.  The mods then publicly apologized on behalf of the community to the person who'd gotten attacked, put together a post on how to prevent such things from happening again (and then on how to respond appropriately when they inevitably do), and generally serve as an example of how to be responsible human beings.

I swear.  If the anti-racism training they'd given us in school had been even 1/4 as sane and reasonable and reality-based as the stuff you can learn through fandom ...


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

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