megwrites: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
1. A six year old guesses the plots of classic novels based on their covers. Well, classic Western literature. Favorite reinterpretation? The Great Gatsby.

2. Now your e-reader is reading you. A fairly scary prospect that makes me want to only ever read paper books and also invest in tinfoil and perhaps think about going off the grid with my paper books. The thing is? It's not that I consider how and what and the manner in which I read so secret and sacred. I'll gladly give that info out, I'll tell you all about it. It's just that I want to be asked up front about it.

What I don't trust about this is that these companies are going to do anything useful or even good for consumers and that they can be trusted at all to gather any data in this sneaky kind of manner.

Especially since it seems like they're willing to invest more in getting data like a kid trying to sneak a cookie from the jar rather than just, yanno, asking readers what they want and then fucking listening. I find the "well TV and movies have focus groups" statement disingenuous. Yes, they have focus groups, but the people in the focus groups know they're in the focus group and are aware that they're there specifically to be a data point for producers.

3. Brave from a trans man's point of view. I really like this reading of it, and it had occurred to me a few times during the film.

However, what bothers me (about movies in general, not this article) is that while we have films about women doing masculine things and wanting to be less "princess-y", we don't have a lot of films or movies about boys (or at least AMAB people) wanting to be less masculine and wanting to be very princess-y. Or about a princess who has been wrongly called a boy and a prince her whole life. Not to take away from this very good reading of it, it's just, well. I think it's not just about having more women but more types of women. There are plenty of women filled TV shows and movies. It's just they're all filled with white cis straight ladies.

4. In case your blood pressure needed to be raised (TW: blackface, dire racism and bigotry and white supremacy, and all around fail): Save the Pearls. It's just...yeah. It's as bad as you think and worse. And there's some very good commentary here about why even calling white people "pearls" while referring to PoC in the book as Coal, Tiger-Eye, Amber, etc is problematic as hell. Feel free to use Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook to register just how disgusted you are. Also, keep in mind the press is a vanity press and the awards are all bought.

5. I definitely want to pick up Salsa Nocturna the minute I get the chance. It's gotten praise from people I trust (like N.K. Jemisin) and I like what I'm hearing. So, quick book rec there.
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
I'm sorry that I haven't gotten around to all the comments on my last post. I went out on Friday for Spouse Man's birthday and it went well, until I got really ill around eleven o' clock and got no sleep until 4am. At which point I woke up about three hours later with a respiratory system in full revolt.

Yesterday I made it from the bed to the couch and ate two meals and read a bit of a book and that was the limit of what I could do.

I'm feeling better today, but not 100%. Plus, I have two back teeth that badly need to be removed because they are killing me and laughing off the ibuprofen I took.

That said, let me make a list of things for people just checking in or coming in through links about that post:

1. I am a *white* woman. Read the profile for other descriptors of me. I am not a PoC and will never pretend to be. I am white. Yes, I am a white woman who vocally hates whiteness. I consider it a point of pride to be told I'm racist against white people or reverse racist or that I hate white people or that I'm a self-hating white person.

Whenever someone accuses me of hating white people, I know I'm doing something really right. I live for those moments, really, when I can really piss whiteness off and make it clear how much I intend to betray it and tear it to shreds as much as I can in this life.

Because fuck yes I hate whiteness. I hate white supremacy. If I had my way, I'd set white supremacy on fire by launching flaming bricks at it from a canon, bricks filled with pepper spray and pissed off wasps and then I'd take it's burning, flailing corpse, roll it in honey and berries, drag it to the zoo, stuff it in a giant picnic basket and throw it into the bear enclosure and watch the grizzlies have lunch. And just to finish off, I'd hang it's skeleton up in a public place and dress it funny. I'd have that fucker wearing an earflap hat, speedos, cowboy boots and Madonna's cone boobs for eternity.

2. The basic rule around here is, "You do not get to pick on the underdog. Picking on the big dog is fair game and greatly encouraged, however." Which translates to - if you have privilege, especially the kind that's intersectionally cumulative (ie - being white AND cis AND straight AND male), you better watch yourself very, very carefully around those without those privileges. Check it or wreck it, folks. And when oppressed folks point out the obvious and easily observed behaviors that a vast majority of people in your privileged group engage in that hurt them, you shut up, listen, and take notes. If you have to have a privileged person cry about it, do it privately and once it's out of your system, come back and re-read what is ACTUALLY being said.

3. It exasperates me how quick privileged white dudes on the internet are to jump on anyone who dares to connect their annoying, hurtful, dangerous, aggressive, or otherwise unwanted behaviors with their privileges. Sure, you can call a person a jerk, but once you point out that the jerkiness is like peanut butter to privilege's jelly, well then you're racist and sexist and then the wahhhmbulance turns on it's sirens and somebody's gotta make a call to Whine-One-One and it gets ridiculous.

4. I use the banhammer like a madam. I love it. I named it Smooshy. I like to take Smooshy out and give it exercise whenever I can.

5. Not enough attention is being paid to how cute my dog is. She. is. extremely. adorable. Seriously. LOVE MY DOG Y'ALL. LOVE HERRRRRRRRRRR. She knows how to sit and stay and even spin and touch my hand and she goes right in her kennel once I say "kennel up".
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I post this mostly as a cautionary tale to any eager beaver new authors who want to get into the self-publishing game and also as a warning, in general, of how not to approach people.

Three days ago, a person I didn't know came up to me, held out three one dollar bills (US) and wanted to pay me to download his self published books from Amazon.

The tale of the most awkward attempt to shill a book I've ever seen in my life. )
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
Oh my god, it's like someone has finally heard my cries and gnashing of teeth: Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor.

I am now swooning. No ridiculous high heels! No chainmail bras! No unreasonably short leather halter tops! None of the things that have made me want to find the people who do cover art for fantasy books and throw implements of destruction at them

There's even helmets and real armor (although, to be fair, I'm dubious about how much armor any human being of any gender could reasonably carry without collapsing under the weight, but still!). And boots. Boots that you could walk in without damaging the skeleto-muscular structure of your entire lower body!.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
The full explanation and situation can be found here at this link, but the basic story is that a person blogging about the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (which has been noted for it's anti- trans women and "womyn born womyn" shenanigans before) has put up on their blog a hitlist of trans women.

Not just a list, but a list containing their legal names, photos, where they might be at the festival, and in some cases, places of employment. Everything a hateful stalker needs to hunt them down and hurt them. And none of them (so far as I or the original poster know) have consented to this.

In addition, Wordpress is refusing to stick to it's own terms of service when people have complained that revealing such private information without consent is an egregious violation. They are instead claiming that they're waiting until they get a court order to force the person to take down the information.

I just can. not. even right now. I am enraged at seeing fellow women - women who are among the most vulnerable of gender and sexual minorities - not only having their true genders denied by people who think that but for a vagina go we as women, but being put in a position where their chances of being attacked, beaten, raped, fired from their job, or otherwise harmed are increased. And by the by, those chances are already abysmally higher than cis women's chances.

So please, signal boost and make sure that Wordpress knows that this is not okay. That they don't get to decide to enforce the TOS only when they want to. Make sure that everyone knows that it is not okay to deny anyone's gender based on what they were assigned at birth, and that making hitlists and giving away private info is even less acceptable.
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
I know I'm late to this party, but N.K. Jemisin, in her unending awesome, says what I've always wanted to say, but says it much better in her post The Limitations of Womanhood in Fantasy.

I'm tempted to quote the whole thing, but that's not cool or ethical to do, so I'll try to quote the most relevant part. Note: All the parts are relevant.

By the same token, readers need to stop embracing only superficial examples of strength in women. We need more than ice queens, or femme fatales, or feisty gun-toting redheads juggling harems of men, or mighty-thewed chainmail bra-wearing Conanettes....

I want to see female characters who are judged strong based on their choices, their determination, and their refusal to be limited by what others think — not what they look like or do for a living/hobby.

Yes, thank you N.K. Jemisin. Thank you for that. I could not be more right if it tried. I just want to hug that entire post and tell everyone about it.

Especially as it relates to the reasons why I am so frustrated, fed up, and enraged at a lot of the urban fantasy and paranormal genres. Genres which do not lack for women writers and readers, and yet? It seems like we keep falling into the same patterns outlined above.

Want an example. I just put down a book which starts out with our half-vamp heroine going to question a vampire who has killed his two servants for attempting to steal from him. That is, until she finds out that he sired her vampire ex-boyfriend who she is relentlessly pining over. Against said ex-boyfriend's will. At which point, knowing that he murdered these two human beings, she decides to let him go. Because she's sentimental.

This is exactly what Jemisin is talking about. This protagonist the very walking definition of the fiesty redhead. Though she has knives instead of guns. Point of interest: she actually throws five knives at once during the opening scene. Five. Because that totally convinces me that this is a believable scene in which I should invest as a reader rather than something that's just for show. Which, if I wasn't eye rolling enough because of it's over the top nature really got me giggling at the book and not in the way intended.

All that physical prowess contained in a person who apparently can't see past herself or her romantic entanglements enough and lacks the moral (or practical) compass to see that letting a murderous vampire go for "sentimental" reasons is a seriously weak action to take, and that any further kills that he makes will be on her head as well since she had the chance to stop him and didn't take it. Furthermore, it isn't clear that her ex-boyfriend wouldn't want to kill the bastard anyway.

Thus, you have a protagonist who throws five knives but then orders wine instead of a gin and tonic on a date (because apparently wine makes a better impression or something? Hell if I know!), who abuses her position with little consideration, because her strength seems to be entirely external and supernatural, not innate and internal.

I put that book down, because I'm aware of all the skewed visions of women out there in the world. I don't need to spend another 300 pages stuffing my brain with another portrait of an essentially empty character, as though conventional good looks (to say nothing of how holding up white/thin/able/cis/unscarred characters reinforces so many ugly cultural norms) and some weaponry and some fancy trappings and maybe a sexually charged but otherwise emotionally void romance with the Alpha Male are equal (or better) to a woman's inner self and inner strength.

It's almost as if it's a way of saying that women are so unimportant, so unequal, so utterly unworthy of close consideration that it doesn't matter you replace a conscience, an inner strength, an emotional fortitude with decorative trappings, with show pieces. It's all the same. Because the strength of women - the strength that doesn't come from physical power but from the will to use our agency in ways that change the world, ways small and silent sometimes, ways that come from just existing as ourselves in the face of a world that wants us obedient - just isn't worth writing about.

I don't know about you, but I disagree in the strongest possible terms. I think that exact thing is exactly what's most worth writing about.
megwrites: A moon rising above a darkened landscape in front of a starry night sky. (moonrise)
1. Author Malinda Lo (Ash, Huntress) has a post on her thoughts about writing race in speculative fiction.. ETA: I should have noted when I originally posted this earlier this morning that I think the article has it's deep seated issues and is problematic. I blog it because it had been going around my f-list/twitter feed and I did want to discuss it. Which is my fail for not specifying that, because I realize how just saying "here are this person's thoughts" could be taken as me agreeing with them.

2. And author Mitali Perkins wants ot know What your process of creating characters across cultures is. Comments seem to be okay for now, but that might change.

3. Navigating The Waters of Our Biased Culture, which deals with gender bias in literature. While a lot of it seems sort of gender 101 to me, I think it's a good breakdown of why the Bechdel Test is such a useful tool, especially for those who aren't used to looking critically at such things. Though I have to say I'm not happy with the piece's conclusion that "we can never get ourselves or anything else permanently clean" when it comes to sexism in our culture. No, maybe not permanently clean - but that's not that point. The point is we may not be able to reach perfection, but we certainly NEED something better than what we have.

The thing is? I think people misunderstand sometimes what's useful about privilege lists and Bechdel type tests, because a) the Bechdel test and things like it have their limits, they only look on one axis and b) the point is that people cannot change or improve that which they're unaware of. Awareness has to go somewhere, has to cause action to be taken.

We have the Bechdel Test, I like to think, so that we not only can measure how badly something is doing, but we know how to improve it (by giving women in film not only more screen time and agency, but giving them interaction with each other). ETA 2: Fixed the spelling. Spelling is so not my strong suit.

4. This may be the cutest, best thing ever and not to mention the most wonderful vampire film I've ever seen. Seriously. This may actually be the Perfect Vampire Novel that I've been searching for. Except, yanno, it's a short animated film. Tomato, tomato.

Vampire Gastelbrau from Hannah Ayoubi on Vimeo.

megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
1. Livejournal's DDOS and Russian politics. I found this over all a very good explanation of how LJ for U.S.ians and LJ for Russians are almost two different sites entirely. Although I disagree that it's legitimate for the English-language userbase to be upset when, *gasp*, development isn't solely geared towards them. Especially given that, in the case of Russian language bloggers, there's a much wider context for their use (in general, not saying that no other bloggers of other languages engage in political blogging).

2. Because female-identifying Doms don't exist and The Flame and the Flower is to be taken as a reliable source of scientifically valid information on the sexual wants and needs of all women - there's this piece of epic fail. Oh, the cissexism, the misogyny, heterosexism, the bad science.

3. Oh, Stephen Colbert. I don't know what I love more in this clip. That you break character by laughing or that you so beautifully take down people who think that here in the U.S. women can just drop by Walgreens for a pap smear or a breast exam: the video is here. I don't know what I love more. The fact that adding "not intended to be a statement of fact" can get you out of anything or the fact that Colbert can't even keep HIMSELF from laughing at this.

4. jaded16india, who is ever full of awesome, win, and truth, posted Writing Over Bodies. Read. Every. Single. Word.

5. Poem because it's still Poetry Month! This is my all time favorite poem from e.e. cummings:

"touching you i say (it being Spring"
by: ee cumings

    touching you i say(it being Spring
    and night)"let us go a very little beyond
    the last road--there's something to be found"

    and smiling you answer "everything
    turns into something else,and slips away....
    (these leaves are Thingish, with moondrool
    and i'm ever so very little afraid")
           i say
"along this particular road the moon if you'll
notice follows us like a big yellow dog. You

don't believe?     look back.(Along the sand
behind us,a big yellow dog that' it's red
a big red dog that may be owned by who
    only turn a little your. so. And

there's the moon,there is something faithful and mad
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
1. Dear Hollywood, How's that Bigotry Working Out for You? from the ever awesome, ever righteous, ever asskicking N.K. Jemisin. I kind of want to quote the entire thing, but since that would be redundant and a little sketchy, I'll excerpt the sweet justice for you:

But I have a question. How's that whole bigotry thing working out for you? Financially, I mean.

'Cause, y'know, from where I'm sitting, it doesn't look like this strategy has been especially effective lately. Last year, one of your biggest flops was a beloved children’s TV show that in its original form was chock full of brown people — which you whitewashed. People are still making fun of the monstrosity that resulted. This weekend past, your “female empowerment action fantasy” got the crap beaten out of it by a wimpy kid, in part because it wasn’t empowering at all, and was actually pretty damn misogynistic. Wow, not even your usual demographic, the straight white guys you’re trying so hard to appeal to, liked that one. And I’m already seeing storm warnings on the horizon re a few new projects coming down the pipe.

I can't nod my head enough to show how much I agree with this, with the entire post. How much I want to point to it every time people want to come to me with the argument that whitewashing or manwashing or any other kind of [insert thing]-washing is just good business sense, that well, it's not that moviemakers don't want POC and women (or women of color) or PWD or GLBT folks on screen (or those characters that are all of the above), it's that audiences just prefer white, straight, cis, thin, conventionally attractive folks, that's all. It's just business.

And for that matter, I want to ask the same of the U.S. book industry, especially the genres I read. I want to ask if those stacks and stacks of nearly identical books is really netting them the big bucks (and judging by the recent state of both publishers, presses, and brick'n mortar bookstores in this country, I'm thinking the answer is "Not really"). Is the "let's not scare the nice privileged folks with scary brown queer disabled fat women-type people" policy doing all that they'd hope, are the profit margins getting that much bigger and better?

I've had this fight/discussion/endless go-round before, with people who have worked in the business who try to justify why they need a cover to have a white face when it's not about a white person, or why it's totally okay for an anthology that's 50% women authors to have only men's names on the cover, or why they can't let a gay romance in a YA anthology even when the author has conformed to all the other standards for sexual content.

And yet, I see a book industry in the U.S. that is not doing all that well. I see a book industry where prices keep getting hiked, where bookstores are closing, where authors are testifying about their diminishing returns and the rise of illegal/unpaid e-book downloading.

And I really want to ask the same question: Is it working out for you the way you'd hoped?

2. Semi-related: HarperCollins Puts 26 Loan Cap on Ebook Circulations (link via @tinytempest on Twitter).

I think K. Tempest said it very aptly on Twitter: "this kind of thing is exactly why people pirate eBooks...and I can't say I blame them.".

As both a reader (and lover of libraries) and a writer this makes me give HarperCollins some serious side-eye.
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
If you want to know what prompted this, it's that people keep calling these pictures of the Sith!Disney Princesses awesome, and all I see is someone who decided to give the Princesses bigger breasts, skimpier clothes, and a technogoth makeover and call it Sith, even though the male (or male presenting) Sith in the Star Wars movies (note: I'm working off movie canon, not expanded universe canon) never wore anything even remotely that revealing.

For instance, take Darth Maul's costuming. How much of his ass do you see hanging out?

I said as much on my Tumblr account when it made the rounds on my dashboard, but it's still pissing me off to see people geeking out over it without stopping to think about what it means, or pretending like it's this great thing instead more Sci-Fi Bikini Babes with Disney Princess heads and why that's part and parcel of the same geekish misogyny that I've been putting up with.

Yes, Disney + Sith is a weird and possibly cool combo, but aside from the lightsabers in the picture, there's precious little that actually has to do with the actual Sith from the Star Wars 'verse.

And when in the name of George fucking Lucas have you ever seen any Force imbued persons EVER pull out teal and magenta as their colors? EVER?

Even if you could find instances of more scanty woman warrior attire in the expanded Star Wars 'verse (it would be equally problematic, btw) - I'm STILL not sure how imbuing these characters with the dark powers of the Force would cause their bust sizes and body types to suddenly morph into what I see there. Every single one of their body shapes has been deeply modified from the original to emphasize thinner waists, larger breasts, rounder butts, and longer legs.

Nor am I clear on how such a physiological reinvention emphasizes their empowerment as a dark warriors fighting for the forces of evil, but I'm thinking it has less to do with actually crossing over two works and more about gratuitously over-sexualizing three female characters because, well, you couldn't really dress them like this in the actual movies where they have lines and stories and ACTUAL young kids look up to them.

Oh, and just to be EXTRA gross, notice that the sole woman of color is the one with the MOST exposed breasts and most body hugging costume. Though Ariel's bikini-cum-black shower curtain costume comes in a close second.

And maybe I'd be okay with this, because you know what, people have been sexing up Disney characters since they first came around. But when someone holds this artistically uninspired picture to me as though it's this great thing and it seems like nobody's examining what it means that changing them into Sith also entailed dressing and drawing them like this and why that's deeply problematic, I get really fed up.

But hey, extremely large breasts and metal bikinis are totally empowering to women, AMIRITE OR AM I RITE?

Which means that we have to have The Talk again, don't we internets?

You know the one I'm talking about. The one where I have to sit you down and ask you why it is that when you depict female heroines in a physically aggressive role, you seem to dress them in the most ridiculous attire and consider it empowering to women as a whole (as though women can be summed up by gender despite the diversity of that group in other intersecting aspects of their identity) - but don't do the same thing to male characters.

After this, we'll have the talk about only portraying binary-presenting characters when human beings are not strictly binarily gendered. But that comes later.

Here's the thing. I'm glad when writers or artists come up with female characters who are capable of applying well placed kicks to enemy posteriors. Really, I am. And I understand that there are going to be times when the universe you write or draw within is going to be stylized and that certain realities of, say, physics or biology or chemistry are best left swept under the rug. I'm not asking for hard, gritty realism here. I'm good with flying kicks and fantastical backflips and vampires and zombies and spells and the laws of physics sort of disappearing.

What I am asking is that when you consider how you costume or dress these women - and indeed when you pick out the other details of their fictional lives - you not only ask yourself about the practicality of such details, but compare them to the details you assign to the male characters.

For instance - is your kickass male hero wearing a sensible pair of camo pants and sturdy boots and a protective jacket while your heroine is wearing what appears a leather body suit or leather pants, a shirt that offers less coverage than your average sports bra and heels so high and spiky that even S&M leather fetishists are tilting their heads going, "Wow, that's gotta hurt to wear"?

Or, maybe you drew a picture of three heroines wearing skimpy attire when their male counterparts would be far better and more practically clothed as evidenced by the very source material from which you are drawing?

Does your heroine hold a large phallic weapon that's actually far too large for anyone who doesn't have extreme upper body strength to wield efficiently while your hero holds a sleek weapon specifically designed for his size and abilities?

Or, perhaps your hero is allowed to wear a bulky coat to keep out the cold, but your heroine is wearing a shirt or jacket that exposes a lot of cleavage, is always open and pants that had to be painted on?

Because the problem with such a dichotomy, dear internets, is that it shows your priorities where different genders of characters are concerned. It shows that when it comes to female characters, your priority is on presentation over substance, in pleasing a specific gaze (the male gaze) rather than creating a whole character who can be attractive (or at least interesting and engaging) to a WIDE variety of people.

It shows, in essence, that the idea of an actual warrior woman is so fantastical to you that you cannot truly imagine or portray it in a way that shows a lot of thought and planning, but can only imitate it with women who's attire and narrations make it clear that you don't really take them seriously and don't expect anyone else to. You're not really mapping out what would be useful to a woman who finds herself up against zombies or vampires or supervillains, what it would take for her to be successful.

Because if someone did take it seriously and delved into what it would actually mean if a woman went out into a physically dangerous situation wearing a red leather halter top, leather pants, and five inch heels to fight the forces of darkness, they might find it totally absurd and then decide your work is not worth their time.

Clue: I'm one of those terrible Debbie Downers who does all that silly thinking and analyzing stuff.

And by the by, actually take some time to look at the heels you're putting your heroines in. Look at what shape the feet must take to fit into them, and how that would translate into being able to run. Also keep in mind that part of why high heels are so fashionable and so valued in our society is because they're specifically NOT practical, because they're not meant to be worn for physical labor or practical purposes.

So ask yourself, when you're adorning your heroine in such things if you're doing it for a specific reason (perhaps the heroine has a job that requires dressing in a certain way, which is legitimate enough) or if you're doing it because it looks "cool" or "pretty" or "kickass". And if you're doing it for looks, ask your self why the heroine's looks are THAT high on your list of priorities.

I'm glad we've had this talk, internets. And I hope that when you seek to create your feminine kickers of various assi, that you think about these things, because when you do, you start coming to that strangest of all conclusions that women are people. Not people too, but people. And there's not really a good damn reason to treat them as less real or less important or more easily used as decorations and ornaments than men.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[ profile] delux_vivens never fails to bring the righteous, sweet justice. Especially with posts like this and statements like this:

I'm particularly tired of the idea that muslims and feminism are somehow mutual opposites, and for some reason, that people cant be both. Also, the complete ignorance of people who *are* muslims doing gender equity work *in* islam is appalling, from so many individuals who consider themselves well informed and deeply knowledgeable.

Some of my thoughts under the cut. You should probably just go read what Delux-Vivens wrote. It's so much better and righter than what I have to say )
megwrites: Beast, from Beauty & The Beast looking coiffed and unhappy. (beauty&thebeast)
I've got a lot of posts I want to make about vary and sundry things, but right now I'm on a streak of productivity and creativity that I don't want to break.

That said, I kinda had to get this letter out of my system. Trigger warnings for discussions of rape.

Dear Author Who I Will Not Name,

Letter to a paranormal romance writer. Trigger warnings for discussions of rape and sexual assault in books and in real life. Exercise discretion and self-care when choosing to read. )
megwrites: Picture of books with quote from Cicero: "a room without books is like a body without a soul" (books)
Right now I'm having a lot of thoughts about gender representation in the media, and it seems like the internets is right there thinking about it with me.

I read this morning: the difference between intention and what actually happened by [personal profile] manifesta (warning: discussion of rape and rape culture, non-graphic) and has a really good bit on intentions vs. results:

This is why intentions do not matter. Regardless of what someone intends, we are the sum of our society. You may not have intended to write a scene that involves victim-blaming, it may insult your very being to even consider that you could have done so, but rape culture is by nature so insidious that it permeates our lives, our relationships, our writing. You may not have intended anything, but intentions fall flat in the face of what actually happened.

Then there was Hot, Creepy, and Movie Physics from [ profile] ursulav with this quote:

Also attempts to emulate many of the whimsical romantic acts portrayed in chick flicks will get you pepper sprayed, since there are many things that we accept in movies that would be unbelievably freakin’ creepy in real life.

The reason these things were clicking around in my head is because I'm currently typing up my review of Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole, and I'm at the bit of the review where I look at how gender and rape culture issues were handled in that book (spoiler alert: they were handled so fucking badly I nearly didn't finish the book).

It seems to me that part of rape culture is breaking down women's sense of not just creepy but ability to recognize and react to discomfort in a way that keeps them safe. We're ingrained with ideas of politeness and kindness and hospitality, so much so that we will do these things at our own peril. And when we don't, we face scorn and derision.

I remember an exchange with a male friend of mine in which he was angry that two women in a mall (strangers to him) that he approached were suspicious and not friendly to him when all he wanted was to ask the time. I didn't know how to articulate it then, but now I realize that what angered me about him using this as evidence that "suspicion of men has gone too far in feminism" is the assumption that the women were under an obligation to make HIM feel welcome and happy and well-received rather than protect their safety or react in a manner that was actually appropriate.

Because if you go up to someone you don't know, no matter who you are, you are not entitled to instant politeness or friendliness. You are invading THEIR space, and if they have the ability and the willingness to be friendly, then consider it a gift. Not a right, a privilege, a gift, a generosity extended to you - but not something you were owed.

Rape culture wants to hide that simple fact. They want women to forget that they always, by virtue of being human beings, reserve the right to safety and to disengage from interactions that they don't like. And furthermore, they reserve the right to do so with no explanation.

Maybe the woman in question is unfriendly because she's tired and in pain, maybe she's been the victim of an assault and feeling unsafe, maybe she's having a bad day, maybe you interrupted her thoughts or something she was doing, maybe she just had a fight with her boss, maybe Mars is in fucking retrograde or she doesn't like people wearing blue shirts.

It doesn't matter. Her reasons remain her own and she is under no obligation to run them past anyone or even reveal and explain them.

You can think she's a mean, horrible, unfair person if you like. Your opinions are your own. But what is NOT yours, whoever you are of whatever gender identity, is her space, her time, her privacy, and her safety.

Yet we have hordes and hordes of movies and books and TV shows that tell us differently. They train us not to interpret someone invading our space, our privacy, and our autonomy as a fucking invasion, but rather as a romantic gesture. As something we should accept and welcome, because it's not someone asserting dominance over us, it's someone showing just how much they love and care for us.

We're taught over and over again that we can be desired or respected, but never both at the same time. To be the object of desire must be to sacrifice expectations that potential suitors or admirers will recognize clear, bright lines and keep well away from them. To enforce those boundaries and to reject imposition on them is to be a "bitch", to put men off, to make yourself unwelcoming to men.

That's the lesson after all. You must be desirable to men on their terms, because those are the only terms that matter. And if you don't want him watching through your window at night or standing over you as you sleep or following you around - if you want to be able to conduct your life without his constant gaze and/or intervention in it, if you'd like him to go away because you're not interested, then you're the one at fault. You're not recognizing how romantic and in love he is.

Because you are a woman, you are not entitled to expect that people who declare their love for you will actually show it by not doing things that hurt, demean, upset, or otherwise disrespect you. And when they do these things under the banner of "True Love", you won't just tolerate, you'll damn well like it, you'll tell other women that this is what they should want, you'll give them funny looks and shout them down if they should dare to raise an eyebrow, or worse yet, an objection.

Rape culture is good at putting the burden on the wrong shoulders. The burden is not and never will be women's to stop people from assaulting them. It's on those who approach women to make sure they're not assaulting her.

Which is why I think it's important that we women keep our sense of creepy, icky, and skeezy. I think it's important that the books written by us, for us don't break down that innate sense, that intuitive understanding of when a person is about to go too far, or doesn't show the signs that they're going to respect us.

Because that sense of creepy, when you listen to it, is what tells you to get to a well-lit public place when some person approaches you and something just isn't right, but you don't have time or space to spell it out. That sense of creepy is what tells you that this person is not going to make a good partner, because their behavior on the first date or the first meeting indicates that they're going to cause you a lot of pain down the road, that if they take a little now, they'll take a lot more later. That sense of creepy is an alarm that's been tripped, but like fire alarms in a school building, we've been conditioned to ignore it, to think of it as nothing serious rather than a warning of imminent danger.

That sense of creepy? That's the part of our brains designed to help us survive and thrive telling us that somehow, someway this thing or person or situation in front of us is not going to help us meet our goals in life of not dying, not getting attacked, and being happy.

That's why rape culture wants us to shut that alarm down, to ignore it. Because rape culture, in the end, is about making some human being suffer so that others can be raised up unfairly. That's what all bigotry and prejudice and dominance is about, in one way or the other.

Which, coming back to the literary side of this, is why it's important we stop writing about these creepy behaviors as though they're not creepy. It's why we need to stop giving signals to both men and women (and indeed, every human being of any gender identity) that these behaviors are all right. And I think it's why we need to call it out when we see it in our media, because rape culture thrives best in the dark and in silence, but it hates the cold light of scrutiny and it hates to hear that one little word: "No." Which is why we have to keep saying it, and keep telling others that they, too, have the right to say it and expect it to stick.
megwrites: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
BoobieShips & TitRockets, a proper SF magazine in the true spirit of the genre.

Inspired by [ profile] shweta_narayan's equally boobsome cover in the same vein of thought.
megwrites: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
[ profile] yuki_onna on how Realms of Fantasy's "all female issue" is not so great actually. She says it way better than me, though. Her comment about what the cover of the issue might be did stir some thoughts in me.

Mostly about how seeing covers, posters, and other media that feature a sexualized, half-clothed women really disgust me and why, as a woman, that makes me reluctant to keep looking at, much less buy, that certain thing.

Covers like that say to me, "This image of a woman's unrealistically proportioned body gratified our sexual ideals, thus we used it to decorate this product we've come out with."

And that skeeves me the hell out. Because you know what else we use to decorate things? Objects. Thus it clues me in that not only did some artist out there think that WOMAN'S BODY = OBJECT, but that a lot of other people agreed, to the point that this "object" was slapped on a cover and sent out into the world to make a profit.

But at no point was the image of a woman's body thought of in terms significantly different than that which one uses to consider shoes or cars or tchotchkes for one's living room table.

Thus, I am left with the disturbing impression that women's bodies are akin to tchotchkes for certain people. Pretty, decorative, disposable, and existing solely for someone else's viewing pleasure. Which is fine for inanimate objects made of plastic and sold for $3.99.

It is not okay when we're talking about human beings.

Now, I know many of you guys out there will immediately pipe up to tell me that you're not like that, that you respect women highly and would never think of or treat us this way.

Yay for you. But please, if you could, leave off telling me. Because here's the thing about respect for women. I've never had to ask a man whether he respects women or not. Because after a decent amount of time around said man, I can tell by his actions and words whether he respects women or not. Disrespect makes itself evident even sooner.

When I encounter someone who "just happens" to read almost all male authors? Who seems to enjoy things where women are just objects and girlfriends and sex toys? Who uses derogatory language? I know without having to ask EXACTLY what that person thinks about women. At which point I usually try not to interact with that person anymore than I have to.

So if you want me to know you respect women, act like it.

I think that goes for all types of allies. Usually, you don't need to ask someone, you observe what they do and say and that tells you what you need to know.

If you want to be known as an ally, don't just say, "I'm an ally" - act like one.
megwrites: Dualla from BSG. Dualla > EVERYONE ELSE.  (dualla)
[ profile] handyhunter has a must-read Special Guest post on Cultural Appropriation over at Dear Author.

If you need a sample of how true the post is:

It is not diversity to have white people running around in foreign lands without much thought to the people who are native to those lands. I can’t say I find it romantic when they’re in the middle of colonizing another country either; I’m not sure how I’m supposed to root for our heroes when they’re killing or enslaving other people, or condoning/profiting from it

I recommend that you get over there and read it (several times, even) immediately. Bookmark it for later reference. Everything she says is right and true and I couldn't agree more.

Et tu, Amy Poehler? What's so funny about desiring a big, black woman? written by What Tami Said over at Racialicious.

Poehler is about some sort of “girl power.” She launched the “Smart Girls at the Party” Web series to “help girls find confidence in their own aspirations and talents.” Perhaps this kind of empowerment is only for some girls–ones of the right color and size–because I can’t imagine how seeing themselves portrayed as undesireable might empower young, black girls or girls who are overweight. Always being the butt of the joke rarely inspires confidence.

brief comment on the Et tu, Amy Poehler article. Go read the article, it is better and more important than my comments! )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (sex goddess)
This entry about women relating to other women by Ekaterina Sedia sort of upset me.

Especially this bit:

What I found the most interesting, however, was the number of people in comments who said that "well, it's not about sex or romance – I just relate to men better." And these comments really bothered me on several levels.

Or, on the flipside... )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Dear Authors of the World,

If I read one more novel where the only openly gay, lesbian, trans, or bi character in the book dies, somebody's getting a fucking slap. I'm getting tired of this. That makes two books in a row, and I've lost count of how many in total.

I'm not asking that no GLBT characters ever die. But maybe if there's only one in the whole book, they could, I dunno, live to see the sequel. Or you could have more than one token queer. Whichever.

And yeah, same goes with race and gender. If the straight, white males or straight white people or straight males (or any permutation therein) have a higher survival rate than everyone else? Then the problem is with you and not me and you need to get some help for that.

Because I promise you that it will translate into your sales being at least one book less than they would have been.

Love Conditional On Compliance,

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