megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
1. Writer Nalo Hopkinson talks about being a writer with a non-verbal learning disability. But really, this is about her telling us why it's a learning ability, and why her brain is a good brain to have for a writer. If you've ever read her work, you'll know she has a fantastic brain for a writer, or for anyone! I recommend watching it ASAP. It's amazing.

2. Claudia Kishi, my Asian-American female role model of the 90's - Not just a nostalgic look back at a series of books that were awesome, and kind of important because hey, it was about girls. Lots of girls. And things girls do and not making them look frivolous or silly. This is why books like this matter. In case anyone wonders why having characters that are LIKE YOU matter, especially to young girls and young women of color. Warning: image heavy.

3. If the Internet wrote your summer reading. Yeah, yeah, it's collegehumor. I'm not their biggest fan either, but this article actually is somewhat funny. Also, anything that strips away the mystique and elevated status we give to Old Dead White Western Dude Literature is good by me.

4. How to Fold Fitted Sheets. Image heavy, but definitely will help you solve that fitted sheet problem if you have one. Or: yes, thank you! I, too, have always wanted to do this.

5. magic vs science, the fucking singularity, and anti-intellectualism by RequiresHate. Amazing post about some issues with U.S./Western white-dominated SF/F and how it's actually quite anti-intellectual.

6. Duty of Care by Justine Larbalestier. I have some strong and not happy feelings about this post, especially when it comes to this quote:

To be totally honest I mostly write for the teenager I was and the adult I am. I write stories that interest and engage me. That those stories fall into the publishing niche that is YA is a happy accident. And that some teenagers find them entertaining/useful/inspiring/whatever is an even happier accident.

I am sorry that we YA writers are not portraying the kind of world you think is suitable for your teenagers. But I have a solution. Why not write your own books?

I don't have an organized response to this, but I do have some basic gut reactions. Reactions beneath the cut to spare those who don't really care. )

Like I said, I don't have an organized response to this and I'm still feeling out why that rankles. But there it is. Thoughts, internet?
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: Grace Park. Because yeah, she IS that awesome. (grace park)
On Permission and White Writers - A great read, and also kind of hilarious. White writers, book mark this and keep it handy, yeah?

12 dozen places to self-educate yourself online for free. I can't speak to the quality and accessibility of all these links, but I do know that learning new stuff and researching is part of being a writer, so if this helps anyone out there, there you go.

[community profile] help_for_ephemere is still going strong! There's lots of stuff to bid on, including some books and journals from yours truly as seen here and here. If you've got a few extra dollars, there's lots here to find. And if you don't, well, signal boosting is also helpful. The more bids, the better!
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: A pair of brown glasses on a worn wooden table with a shadowed white wall in the background. (glasses)
1. Something awesome: [personal profile] ephemere is taking preorders for a book of calligraphy and art entitled Kandila. If you've ever seen the breath taking work that she's posted before, then you already know that this is definitely a worthy addition to any library. Plus, the more you pay, the more extras you get. The basic package starts out at $25US, which I think is more than reasonable for something this beautiful and obviously made with great talent, love, and dedication.

2. Re: The #YesGayinYA thing, [personal profile] deepad has a really, really great post asking for critiques of the books on the list here in her post: "In which I am derailing and contrary and also unsupportive of the Market".

A lot of what she says were things that were really front and center in my mind when I compiling the books for the #buyabiggaynovelforscottcardday list from Twitter and comments. And things that I think are essential to this conversation. And other conversations, frankly. Especially about the US-centrism of the discussion, and about the work that goes into critiques and reviews of books.

I also highly recommend you check out: this post about it from [personal profile] colorblue, who says:

More often than not, I find representation unaccompanied by critical analysis (that takes into account underlying hierarchies) worse than the alternative. The representation of minorities that most often gets past gatekeepers is the representation least challenging and most flattering to the status quo, and I don't see how this will change if it isn't even acknowledged.

And, on a personal note: I'd rather not see myself represented at all than see myself represented in that fashion by major publishing houses, because it hits too close to home, leaves me in the most awful headspace. That said, I've always had access to stories about people somewhat like me, and my privileges have ensured that there are quite a few stories like this (outside the big name US publishers, that is).

The fact is that we don't need to create a glut of literature that is rubber stamped by the establishment and then act like we've done a favor to either GLBT+ youth or the world in general.

Thus, I urge anyone who was checking the Big Gay Book List for recs to immediately head over to deepad's entry and look at the comments and see what people (especially people who are talking from their lived experiences and actual identities) are saying about books that you might think are good - but remaining willfully unaware helps nothing.
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.


Apr. 20th, 2011 05:08 pm
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
1. I'm looking for recs of SF/F and urban fantasy and paranormal romance that come from small presses. I'm thinking that maybe I might find more of the stuff I'm looking for from there. So any recommendations of books, presses, etc that would be good to check out, especially for diverse fiction would be great. I just...I'm getting to a point where the usual stuff in a genre that I like in principle is burning my brain.

2. A terrific post about Steampunk Post-Coloniality by [personal profile] jhameia.

3. A most excellent poem because it is still poetry month (via guerillamamamedicine):

I Must Become a Menace to My Enemies
By: June Jordan

Dedicated to the Poet Agostinho Neto,
President of The People’s Republic of Angola: 1976

I will no longer lightly walk behind
a one of you who fear me:
Be afraid.
I plan to give you reasons for your jumpy fits
and facial tics
I will not walk politely on the pavements anymore
and this is dedicated in particular
to those who hear my footsteps
or the insubstantial rattling of my grocery
then turn around
see me
and hurry on
away from this impressive terror I must be:
I plan to blossom bloody on an afternoon
surrounded by my comrades singing
terrible revenge in merciless
I have watched a blind man studying his face.
I have set the table in the evening and sat down
to eat the news.
I have gone to sleep.
There is no one to forgive me.
The dead do not give a damn.
I live like a lover
who drops her dime into the phone
just as the subway shakes into the station
wasting her message
canceling the question of her call:

fulminating or forgetful but late
and always after the fact that could save or
condemn me

I must become the action of my fate.

How many of my brothers and my sisters
will they kill
before I teach myself
Shall we pick a number?
South Africa for instance:
do we agree that more than ten thousand
in less than a year but that less than
five thousand slaughtered in more than six
months will

I must become a menace to my enemies.

And if I
if I ever let you slide
who should be extirpated from my universe
who should be cauterized from earth
(lawandorder jerkoffs of the first the
terrorist degree)
then let my body fail my soul
in its bedeviled lecheries

And if I
if I ever let love go
because the hatred and the whisperings
become a phantom dictate I o-
bey in lieu of impulse and realities
(the blossoming flamingos of my
wild mimosa trees)
then let love freeze me

I must become
I must become a menace to my enemies.
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: 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: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
So, I had a pretty long, angry (maybe even self-righteous) response post to this completely bullshit that Elizabeth Moon posted talking about citizenship (in the U.S.). I had a lot of points made, maybe some of them were even post worthy.

Then I read "Dissimilation" by [ profile] shweta_narayan, and I realized that nothing I (as a white, privileged citizen of the U.S.) could possibly say would be better or more important or truer or more powerful than what has been said by someone who's lived a vastly different experience than I have.

And that if there are voices that needed to be centered in the wake of such abject asshaberdashery, its voices like hers.

That entry? Is still bouncing off the inside of my head. It is powerful, it is true, and I highly recommend reading it, re-reading it, bookmarking it and returning to it regularly. Really. GO READ IT NOW.

Also, I recommend this: post from the same author.
megwrites: Beast, from Beauty & The Beast looking coiffed and unhappy. (WTF?)
Because some people really never learn.

Usually I have a policy of ignoring Elizabeth Bear and the things she's involved under the Fuckmuppetry Doctrine, which I reserve to myself and all other human beings as the right to disengage from people who conduct themselves as Fuckmuppets on or off the internet.

But sometimes, the fuckmuppetry just cannot be ignored and needs to be called out, pointed at, and told "NO!".

Her response to someone telling her how hurtful the use of the "deathmarch" tag and phrase to describe the act of WRITING A BOOK?

I am aware of that history, and I'm sorry that this use of the word causes you discomfort.

I have very mixed emotions about political correctness in language: I believe that it's our responsibility to be aware of the language we use, but I also have a sense that mythologizing language only gives it power.

I think part of the process of winning free of a history of blood is, indeed, common use--compare "decimated," "witch hunt," "massacre," and similar words, all of which refer to real atrocities, but the sands of time have worn them clean(er).

I think by refusing to allow terrible things to be banal and mundane, we mythologize them.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I'm pretty sure avoiding the phrase "Soup Nazi" isn't it. I'm going to go away now and think hard about it, though, because I'm also not keen on causing random damage to well-meaning passersby.

In which there isn't enough FUCK YOU in the world )

ETA: I will be moderating comments closely and carefully. Check yourself for privilege and then CHECK YOURSELF AGAIN before you comment. If you don't, I will shut down the thread and possibly ban you. I make no apologies. You want to spew your *isms, you can take it elsewhere.

And if anyone wants to try to Bear-'splain to me (oh yes, she's an adjective now) why that reply isn't as bad or horrible as I think it is? Just DON'T.

ETA 2: Spelling mistakes corrected, and I apologize for not having been more diligent about the spelling of Bataan.

ETA 3 (7-August): A cursory look seems to reveal that EBear has removed the deathmarching tags from her tags list and edited the offending entry to remove that word. However, no statement that she understands why it was offensive and will be making any effort in the future not to repeat her actions does not seem to be forthcoming.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
You definitely need to go read this post about the whitewashing of the new covers of Cindy Pon's "Silver Pheonix" and "Fury of the Phoenix" books from [personal profile] inkstone. And then, you need to go buy the book in it's original cover if you can. I certainly am. It's book time.

Oh, and for those who don't want to deal with the Amazon monster:

Powell's has the on sale, original covered hardback. NOTE: The paperback version, however, is the one with the NEW cover.

Barnes & Noble has the hardcover for $15.38 and the paperback version for $8.09, though I wouldn't trust it's availability. (ETA: NOTE: These WILL eventually have the new covers, and while the art on the website is still the original cover, you might not get that version. Check when ordering!)

If buying the book isn't an option for you, you can request the your library get a copy of it if it doesn't already stock it. You can also, if you feel like signal boosting, link to [personal profile] inkstone's post, or you can post a review of Silver Phoenix and mention about the new covers. All these things would be helpful. I know people have different things they can and can't do.

So that's the signal boost. On to your promised ranting with a side of teeth gnashing! I recommend reading inkstone's link first. Much better than mine! )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
In case you hadn't already seen it linked hither and yon (as it rightly should be):

On Wiscon... by [personal profile] deepad.

This is how satire is done right. To wit:

My school didn't have a single white person in it. I was always warned to be careful about US-ians, because they would try to sell you corn syrup Coca-Cola and capitalist free-market ideology and sexually promiscuous movies with dead or evil black and brown people. And when I am surrounded by large groups of them, even when they are well-meaning and friendly and nice and interested in the same books I am, I still have an irrational fear that they might colonise me.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
One of the things I'm really liking about this new move to DW is that my reading page is a bit better organized (simply because it is new). But it's brought to my attention some really, really good links.

The Niger Delta's Half A Century Of Oil Catastrophes from [personal profile] al_zorra (thanks to [personal profile] ithiliana and [personal profile] delux_vivens for the link). Oil companies have been recklessly letting oil spill into the Niger Delta for years now, and nobody has noticed. From the Guardian article cited:

It is impossible to know how much oil is spilled in the Niger delta each year because the companies and the government keep that secret. However, two major independent investigations over the past four years suggest that as much is spilled at sea, in the swamps and on land every year as has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico so far.

Privilege hates us, but doesn't know what hate is from [personal profile] yeloson. I think this is one of the best things I have read concerning comments made about people feeling unsafe at Wiscon and about what that means. Posts like these really make me glad, because he doesn't just examine the incident, but the larger context and why it isn't just this one comment, this one time, by this one guy and how this is about the ways that privilege substitutes "being treated like everyone else" for "being victimized/threatened" - and what that means.

And the most powerful thing I read today: What we remember from [personal profile] ephemere, talking about how international media has clung to only one aspect of Imelda Marcos, to the point that they have forgotten the things she was part of, that media has talked so much about her shoe collection that they have forgotten the tragic, bloody history behind this woman. This, particularly, hit me dead center.

Listen: every time you reduce Imelda to frivolity and excess, you spit on countless unnamed graves. It's so easy to forget. And, perhaps, it's easy to say such things without knowing the weight of the history behind them, from a distance that has the luxury to regard the Philippines as a whole nation that's home to beach resorts, OFWs, and the greatest pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Or if one speaks here, it's easy to dismiss past sins and bloodshed in light of our propensity to forget, to shut our eyes to past wrongs, to re-elect the family of a dictator who killed our people, plundered our wealth, and plunged our country into debt that even our grandchildren will spend their lives repaying.

This isn't just about glamor or harmless notoriety, and that is why Imelda Marcos is not just a controversial collector of shoes. Certainly those are things that may command more attention than outrage or the ruin of law, but every time careless mention of the excess of the Marcoses is made it wrongs their victims even further.

This post? Is testimony. You need to go read and, as [personal profile] ephemere so simply but searingly pleads: listen. We all need to listen to this. When things like this go unheard, when stories of shoes eclipse the truth of human bodies, human tragedy, then I think we all lose something, all of us, everywhere.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I told myself I shouldn't/wouldn't post this, because I'm not looking to draw down wank or unproductive, spiraling conversations that amount to nothing and only make people tired and repeat the same old crap.

But then I thought, "No, I need to post this. If only for myself."

I am here to address a comment by a person I have no intention of engaging with, and that's not the norm for me. I like to try to give people a chance to respond because I do believe in the power of respectful dialogues, but in this case, I really don't see how any kind of respectful response is possible.

I do know that in this case, I'm not going to change this person's mind, I'm not going to persuade them of anything, and frankly, I'm not interested in trying.

I am interested in examining the comment (not the commenter, let's be clear on that) that was made because this person is not the sole holder of such beliefs, and it's something I want to address because it's something that I think holds back progress.

The comment in question is from Will Shetterly and can be found in the comments of this entry. ETA: The owner of the LJ in which this conversation took place has removed the comments. I unfortunately do not have screen caps.

This is the comment (in it's entirety)

Keep it simple: I'm the racefail asshole here. That I've been marching against racism since childhood in the '60s (when people got killed for it) to the recent march in Tucson against the latest stupid racist Arizona immigration law is irrelevant.

Out of curiosity, were you at that march? I didn't see you. But I'm sure your antiracist creds on the web are impeccable.

The things I object to in that comment and the ways they reinforce various privileges beneath the cut )
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
This powerful, powerful post in response to Charles Tan's essay by Ephemere entitled No Country For Strangers is something I think everyone, and I mean everyone, who is a writer, a reader, a fan, or just a human being should be reading and re-reading. Bookmark this and return to it frequently.

And I quote:

So (and I address this now to the theoretical audience of those on the other, privileged end of the inequality) if you, as a white person, are afraid of writing about us: then be afraid. Carry in your heart the fear of doing further injustice to a people into whose blood oppression has become so incorporated that our institutions and our media echo with the dual strains of self-loathing and adulation for those who are not us. Live with the anxiety of questioning your assumptions about a people that is not more American than America, not a race composed only of tourist guides and call-center agents and overseas foreign workers and shoe-crazy society matrons and celebrity politicians, not your "little brown brothers and sisters"; whose richness and diversity and pursuit of individual identity all too often escape the surface view to which most observers are confined. Confront your blind spots and your privilege in having the luxury of overlooking this inequality because you aren't disenfranchised by it.

I cannot begin to express how righteously right that essay is, how it is a deeply spoken truth. It is something that we privileged writers (including and especially me) need to listen very, very carefully to. Because that listening thing? This is the time to sit down and do it.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
After reading Charles Tan's essay "No Foreigners Allowed", I'm left trying to figure out how anyone thinks it would be a positive if we were to encourage writers to pen more works like Heart of Darkness. In fact, I can't say how the world would be worse off without that particular book.

I have read it, as part of a literature class in high school with a teacher who, like many others, considered it to be great literature. The same as they taught Mark Twain's works without remark or comment upon the many problematic issues with those books, and not only that period in American history, but it's ongoing effects. The same as they taught me a lot of books and along with them, snuck in no small amount of lessons on how it was okay, indeed, praiseworthy to think and write about those Other people in such ways, without regard to whether it was accurate or compassionate or respectful or ethical to do.

Were these bad teachers? No, I don't think so, but these books and the attitude that the things in them were something worthy of being transmitted to a new generation of students was and is. The system was bad, and part of changing this system is with discussions like RaceFail, and making it clear that no, such works are not okay. No, it is not praiseworthy to write such things. Dehumanizing other people because they are not your people because you live in a system that allows you the privilege of doing so is NOT OKAY.

I don't think I'm saying this very well, but luckily, a far wiser soul than I, Deepa D., has said what I don't think I have quite the brainpower to express right now in An Open Letter to Charles Tan.

Also [ profile] delux_vixens expresses a similar opinion with a very relevant quote, and [ profile] lanning says oh charles tan no.

Charles Tan's response to Deepa D.,which can be found here, does not inspire any kind of hope in me that this will turn out to be anything productive - but check this comment from Jha, which beautifully and wonderful encapsulates, in amazing brevity, the fallacy in Charles Tan's approach and indeed the entire "damned if you do, damned if you don't" false dichotomy. Likewise this comment from N.K. Jemisin shows why it is particularly obnoxious to step into this discussion without having done any research and hold out one's hand or cry "educate me!".

Like many others, I am not swayed by any argument that places writers above readers - or in this case, the development of writers or potential writers coming from a place of privilege above the results their works will have on the readers and the world those readers inhabit.

If RaceFail09 makes a privileged writer that much more cautious before they say "good enough!" in regards to writing about marginalized people, before they decide that watching a special on the History Channel or just checking Wikipedia suffices when writing about such things, I cannot see how that is a bad thing. If it makes them wary of releasing their works into the world before thoroughly examining them, and perhaps examining themselves, all the better.

If RaceFail09 makes writers more aware of the consequences of their words on other human beings, of the consequences of privilege and oppression in relation to those words, this is not a detriment to writing or the SF/F genre. It would be rather the opposite, actually.

I'm not interested in encouraging writers to just write any old thing and let the chips fall where they may, let whoever is hurt be hurt. I'm not interested in a genre where we encourage writers to believe that because they make up stories, because they have the privileges that allow them to even get a piece of paper and pen in hand and have the time and space and physical safety to tell a story, that this is more valuable than the readers who will be hurt by those words, or those who will never read their works but will still feel the affects.

I'm not interested in more stories for the sake of more stories, I'm interested in better stories for the sake of a better world.

If Racefail09 keeps the careless, clueless, disrespectful, and willingly ignorant from adding to the veritable ocean of racist, misappropriated, colonialist, HURTFUL works that other careless, clueless, willfully ignorant writers have been creating for centuries, that's nothing to mourn. That's cause for celebration.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I'm taking time out of my frantic rush to finish the last few chapters of Soul Machines to blog about this because a) it's important and b) it has me so pissed that I want to throw things and damage furniture and start putting my fist through the door.

Yes, I'm talking about What Neil Gaiman Said and the enraging "a few dead Indians" comment he made during a 2008 interview pertaining to The Graveyard Book and his responses to the criticism of it.

I think one of the best responses I've seen come from [ profile] yeloson who speaks of words, context, and power. This, especially:

They might be offended by a little invisibility or absence, after all, it's just like being the survivors of a centuries-long genocide that covered two continents along with being written out of history and being silenced to this day? Right?

"A few dead Indians" is exactly the history told in this country, every day.

Context. Without context, nothing means nothing.

Germans gassing Jews might as well be Aliens vs. Robots*. Product placement is just as bad as lynchings.

"I don't see what everyone's upset about!" (You people don't matter anyway!).

Of course, there is [ profile] kynn's righteous, so spot-on takedown of the entire thing concerning neil gaiman's racist fail.

I just, I don't know where to start with the bad or the wrong or the privilege or the ways in which this is just another privileged author who thinks that Native Americans/First Nations/Indigenous/Aboriginal peoples don't really count.

We did this dance with MammothFail and it made me sick and tired then. To see the same old song being replayed with new verses has me so angry I can't begin to articulate it in a way I think worthy of such an important, vital topic.

Because we do need to be having this very conversation. We need to talk about the textbooks and literature our young people (of all races) are being handed concerning Native American/First Nations peoples here in this country, we need to talk about the language that erases and excuses and even rewards genocide, we need to talk about the benefits to the privileged, and more importantly the cost to the oppressed. We need to talk about the stereotypes, the prejudice, the racism, the ill-treatment.

We need to stop acting like it isn't important, because it DAMN WELL IS IMPORTANT. It is vitally, crucially important.

All I have is rage right now, and there needs to be more than that. Especially from me as a privileged person who benefits each day (and always has) from the atrocities that my nation was founded on.

ETA: (because I realized I hadn't finished that sentence) - and that continue to this very day is a wide array of forms.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Art has a price, both for the artist and for the culture in which that art is created. Sometimes that price is higher for one than the other, especially into relation to what a culture gets out of it. For me, as an artist and viewer of many types of art, this factors into whether that art is what I would consider 'good' or not.

For the record, I believe that ethics and artistry not only do go hand and hand but when divorced create nothing but monstrosity. You can explore the outer darkness of ethics-free art if you like. You have that right, at least in the place where I live (up to a point), but I won't be there with you and I definitely don't think it will ever be anything that's worth what it will cost.

Case in point?

Let us do a study in Amanda Palmer vs. Erykah Badu and the cost of their art.

For those who don't know, there is controversy around both these artists. Amanda Palmer for both her Evelyn, Evelyn project and a statement on twitter critiquing product placement in Lady Gaga's and Beyonce's video "Telephone" and Erykah Badu's video for "Window Seat" in which she walks through Dealey Plaza, the site of President Kennedy's assassination, stripping until she is completely nude and then shot [Trigger warning: disturbing image of a simulated assassination, may be disturbing to some viewers.].

Both have generated their detractors and supporters, both have raised hackles, both have been there to make statements, both are part of what these artists consider their art or their theory of how art should be.

I will say now I consider Badu's works and statements to be what good art should be. I think Amanda Palmer's to be the opposite.

Comparison and contrast of these works, their cost, and who pays for it under the tag. Cut for some length. )

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