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I’m not that tuned in to YA because I live under a rock, so this was the first I heard about Bergstrom poking YA authors as a whole in the eye. Went and read the interview linked in that post. Have some serious fucking problems beyond the general feeling of dude have you just managed to sleep through the existence of Katniss Everdeen?

A couple quotes from the interview:

As the father of two daughters, I became pretty appalled at the image of women they received from the culture. It was all princess-this, Barbie-that. It was almost a satire of femininity. My wife—a very strong, highly-motivated attorney—was appalled too. What century were we living in if the feminine ideal little girls learned about was still a woman in a pink dress and a nineteen inch waist? I decided to create a female heroine who was the opposite of all that—a young, strong female who discovers real heroism within herself.

And

I knew I wanted to create a strong heroine for The Cruelty, the opposite of the cheerleader-prom queen. She starts as a lonely, introverted girl, bullied by her prettier, richer classmates. After her father is kidnapped she transforms herself into a cunning, strong warrior.

As the auntie of two fantastic little girls, one of whom has already gone through a princess phase that left me feeling like I was going to be vomiting pink rainbows for the rest of my life, I have serious fucking problems with this. Because you want to talk about the shit society does to young women that leaves us fucked up forever?

It’s telling us that pink and the trappings of stereotypical femininity are signs of weakness while simultaneously punishing us if we eschew those trappings.

It’s convincing those of us that develop an allergy to pink that we’re “different from other girls” and therefore better, and encourages us to shit all over the women who should be our allies in the struggle because obviously if they’re feminine, they’re losers.

It’s conflating the feminine with the misogynistic bullshit view of the feminine. There is nothing wrong with liking princesses and makeup if you derive personal strength from them. The problem isn’t the makeup. The problem is the societal narrative that says you deserve to be dismissed because of it. The problem is the poisonous bullshit that says women are lesser and attacks the outward appearance of womanhood as if that’s the root of the problem. Because you know what? Not wearing pink and not wearing makeup isn’t going to save you from the pay gap.

It’s telling us that the only heroism that counts is the sort that girly girls can never exercise. It’s telling us that heroism is connected only with violence when some of the most impressive heroes in the history of our species have been those who exercised radical non-violence. It’s telling us that the lone wolf is the real hero when the greatest movers of our societies have been the organizers.

Oh, and you know what else? Some of the most fantastic fucking people I’ve known in my life were cheerleaders in high school, and I’m ashamed I started out believing the stereotype of them as queen bitches. And the cheerleaders I once knew who were jerks? How much of that was because they, like every other woman in this fucking society, got fed the bullshit notion that being female is a zero-sum game that someone has to lose?

So yeah. Problems. Major fucking problems.

I spent years getting told I “wasn’t like other girls” because I didn’t like the feminine stuff. And I spent years thinking that made me better, which is such bullshit I’ll carry that shame until my dying day. And this is how fucked up that narrative has left me. I have to constantly question myself and my own gender presentation because of it. Do I not like dresses because of internalized misogyny, or because I really don’t like dresses? Do I hate being called miss and ma’am because there’s still part of me that believes to be female is to be lesser, or is it really because I feel more like a goddamn sir? Is my knee jerk, emotional reaction of I’m not a girl because I’m really not a girl or because I’ve been taught to hate girliness and still haven’t expunged that cancer from my brain? Is the queerness of my gender an internalization of the shit that’s been fed to me my entire life, or because I’m just bent this way? I don’t fucking know. I’ll never fucking know. At least now I’ve finally figured out that it doesn’t make me better. It just makes me different and that’s okay.

But I resent the promulgation of these poisonous narratives. I resent that in 35 years there’s probably going to be another person like me who’ll be asking these same questions and having these same conflicts because people can’t figure out the problem isn’t pink, the problem is that we’ve all been taught to hate women.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 7.21.04 PM

Proposal:

From now on, there will be one token male panelist on all feminist panels. At the beginning, as every panelist is introducing themselves, he says:

“Hello, my name is _____ and I do ______. I’m a feminist. And in the interest of presenting an example as a good ally, I will now do what male feminists ought to do at times like these: I will listen.”

And then he won’t speak again for the rest of the panel unless asked a direct question. But he will nod and make sympathetic noises without ever being tempted to mansplain/condespalin or try to tell us how to “fix” things.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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So there was another one of those articles going around. I’m not going to link to it. It’s bullshit clickbait misogynistic trolling and you can find it via my tumblr if you desperately want to. But come on, you know how those articles go:

Women do a thing I personally do not find attractive! I am shocked that they do not care deeply about my opinions on how they look. In fact, the only possible reason for their not caring about this important topic is that they’re mentally unstable and unfeminine! I will now back it up with a series of bullshit anecdotes and call it a day! Knock it off, women, or no man will ever want to fuck you–and by no man I mean me, only I totally would if you’d just acknowledge I exist please please oh pretty please oh god I’m so alone there’s a literal layer of rust on my penis help me I’m going to die and get eaten by my pet reptiles one of these days and no one will even notice I’m gone–and the very idea of that should shake you to the very foundation of your being.

idgaf

i dont care

Yeah, yeah, whatever. It’s good for a game of name that logical fallacy, but that’s basically it. This kind of nonsense really just boils down to the supposition that everything women do should be with pleasing men in mind, and the very idea that we might be doing it for ourselves is too shocking to consider.

I’ve got my own anecdotes, and one thing I’d point out is that most of the women I know who wear makeup? Don’t do it for guys. They do it because they like how it looks and it makes them feel powerful. It’s like social war paint.

And me? My decision to have short hair has nothing to do with latent masculinity, psychological damage, or a desire to scare the shit out of insecure little boys on the internet. (Though god if I’d known short hair was going to make penises shrivel up and fall off with its mere existence, I would have shaved my head a decade ago.) I used to have hair down to almost my waist. Then I had to spend close to a month helping out on a drilling rig. In Wyoming. In the summer.

Do you know what kind of pain in the ass it is to try to wear a hard hat with hair that long? And how freaking dirty your hair gets? You bet your ass I cut that shit off, down to an A-line. And then I spent a summer in Houston, where I didn’t have a car. I biked everywhere. And I discovered that even chin length hair is just Too Damn Much Hair when you’re that sweaty (oh right, proof that I’m not an actual girl, because I sweat EW GROSS), so off the rest of it went.

At which point I discovered that I look pretty damn good with short hair, and that it’s actually faster and easier to get short hair to look cute to my satisfaction. Three minutes with a hair dryer, a teensy bit of product, and I am more than satisfied. I like how it looks. I like that it’s easy to maintain. I like that I can completely dye it in less than ten minutes and don’t spend time better used writing our sleeping out playing with my cats trying to pick tangles out of it. I like that my fucking hair doesn’t control my life.

Maybe that’s why this is so existentially threatening to people who are inclined to pen articles complaining about women and our personal beauty decisions. I didn’t cut my hair because I hate men, or because I needed an outward expression of my deep psychological issues, or because I want to destroy western civilization and replace it with a dystopian gynocracy. This isn’t about them and never has been. No matter how much time I might choose to spend with someone else, when it’s the middle of the night and the monsters are howling on the doorstep, I’m the one who faces them wearing my own skin and in that moment it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

I cut my hair because it’s my hair, growing on my head, and I like it that way. And I really couldn’t give less of a shit about outside objections.

Guys, we like you, we really do. Or at least some of us do, whether in a sexual way or not. And this might be difficult to grasp, but try: even if we like you, you are not the center of our worlds. I know it’s a horrifying revelation, especially after most widely available media has spent your entire life telling you that you are totally the most important thing on the planet. But I think you’ll live a happier and more fulfilled life if you can manage to grasp the simple idea that we don’t care if you want to fuck us. In fact, if you’re going to write stupid shit like that, we’d really rather you didn’t.

Thank you.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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With apologies to Elise, Kathy, and Mike, all of whom told me to not write this, but you know how crap I am at letting things go and NOW I CAN MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE OKAY I’M GOING TO EAT SOME CAKE NOW.

My friend Andrew linked me to this, because, I don’t know. He’s an evil bastard and likes watching me suffer: Saving Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters – Part 1

Initial reaction: Wow, Andrew, you asshole why would you do this to me I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS.

Secondary reaction: …there’s more than one part?

Tertiary reaction: Holy geeze that’s a long post why do I hate myself.

Quaternary reaction: Please tell me this is all just a joke and the end will say LOKI’D in blinking text.

But at that point it was just kind of a car wreck and I COULDN’T LOOK AWAY.

Look, I’m not going to write some kind of clever point by point take-down of the post, because frankly, it’s not even worth my time. When you have a blog post full of things like:

Like it or not, nature has oriented female thinking to make them generally better at teaching a child how to volunteer to do a task, so that he will naturally and willingly do his tasks once he is grown; whereas men are generally better at commanding and punishing, so that the task gets done whether the child is willing or unwilling.

And:

The sexes are opposite, and culture should exaggerate the complimentary opposition by artifice in order to increase our joy in them, including artifices of dress and speech: when women dress and speak and act like men, some joy is erased from both sexes.

…with all sorts of contemptuous references to political correctness and ‘sexism’ in scare quotes.

I mean at that point, there’s not really much of a reaction I can even have beyond would you get a load of this fuckin guy? I honestly don’t see a reason in going point by point over what is basically gender essentialism/evo psych bingo run amuck. And it’s not like I expect it would have even one bit of impact on Mr. John C. Wright (yes, he’s wearing a fedora, because of course he is) when he has posts titled things like “Chik Fil A Day For Orson Scott Card.” (I have little doubt I fall into the ‘barbarian’ camp of sexual perverts, and I am proud of it.)

But I do want to say something to the idea of strong female characters and the straw man that Mr. Wright has built, because I’m just so. Fucking. Sick of it.

In other words, when reviewers urge writers to put strong female characters into their works, they are asking the writers, in effect, to add Amazons, women with stereotypically masculine behavior patterns, values and attitudes. The only difficulty with the idea is that Amazons are as mythical as gynosphinxes.

That might be what “strong female character” means sometimes. There’s a lot of conflation between “strength” and “kicking ass” probably because, I don’t know, we live in a patriarchy, “kicking ass” is considered very masculine, and thus all the most awesome characters are viewed as having that quality of ass kicking-ness. So the male characters have been hogging ass kicking all this time, and why can’t female characters have some as well?

But let me tell you something. My two favorite strong female characters of all time? Alanna of Trebond, the Lioness Rampant, and Phedre no Delauney de Montreve. Alanna secretly became the first female knight of Tortall; she exerts power over others by fighting. Phedre is a courtesan, and exerts powers over others not just with sex, but by loving them. I suppose you could argue those characters are opposite ends of the spectrum, spectrum being the operative word here. But both of them are very much active in their own stories, the drivers of their own destiny, and they have rich and complex internal life.

They are both strong female characters.

I suppose what makes me the most frustrated about Mr. Wright’s post is that he almost, almost has a good point in there–female characters can be strong without being ass kickers. (To which I’d add: Just like male characters can be strong without being ass kickers either. And–holy shit–not all “ass kicking” characters are actually that strong! Ward is the biggest ass-kicker in all of Agents of SHIELD but I would never call him a strong character.) But since he wrapped it all up in the lengthily bloviated notion that women perforce must be feminine, that pretty much invalidates his reasoning as far as I’m concerned.

Mostly, this entire thing, with Mr. Wright’s post as the latest spasm to which I’ve subjected myself, just makes me feel sad. It makes me feel sad for Mr. Wright, and it makes me feel sad for people who agree with him, because their views of humanity, sex, gender, etc, are so narrow. It makes me feel sad because they seem to want to limit other people–and characters–into two very narrow boxes where many of us simply do not fit.

You know what makes a strong character? If they are well-written, have an emotional center, have agency, are complex and real, make decisions, and grow. It’s true whether the character is male, or female or anything in between. Whether they are human or elf or alien.

My particular brand of feminism (which is pretty darn mainstream, Mr. Wright’s straw feminists aside) is about seeking for humans in general to be free to reach their greatest potential and happiness in whatever role they prefer. If a woman1 finds happiness in being a hyper-”feminine” stay at home mom, then I want her to be able to do that. If a man wants to do the same thing, I want him to be able to do that as well. And so on, forever, for all the possible combinations along the spectrum that is humanity.

Because I know and love the fact that humans are far more complex and beautiful than can be contained in the sad, old-fashioned binary of masculine versus feminine.

So yes, I want there to be strong female characters. I want there to be strong female characters of all kinds. And I’ll keep asking for them until, say, the majority of lead characters on television aren’t white men. And if some of them do turn out to be “masculine” Amazons? You’ll have to forgive me for really liking that, because everyone enjoys seeing characters in whom they can find themselves. Because I am unabashedly one of those women whose happiness involves dapperness and occasionally punching things.

And by the way? I love dancing. And the last time I did it, I lead. And it was amazing.

 

 

1 – And please note here, I intend “woman” and “man” to encompass both trans- and cis- men and women…and also anyone who doesn’t wish to identify themselves in that fashion to begin with.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I’m okay at math. Or at least I was. I haven’t done anything more difficult than long division and some statistics in years, and the thing about math is that it’s a language. If you don’t use it, you tend to forget how to do it. (Though conversely it’s easier to pick back up on the second go round.)

I almost ended up going for an applied mathematics minor to go with my bachelor’s degree. The reason I didn’t was because one of the geologists I worked with at the time pulled me aside and laid down some truth: How much do you really like math, Rachael? Eh, not that much. Well, if you get any kind of degree, even a minor in math, and it gets around the office you’re working in, you will be The Math Guy. All of the other geologists will fling the math at you in the hopes it will stick, so they don’t have to do it, because geologists are lazy. So unless you want to spend the rest of your life doing math, get a minor in something else.

I followed his advice. I didn’t get a minor in something else, I got a second major in Japanese Language and Culture. (Still waiting for the other geologists to fling their Japanese stuff at me. So far, no luck.) I might have been okay at math, with the potential to be good at it, but I never really liked it. Not enough that I wanted to keep doing math outside of a context that involved a hot Russian doctoral candidate teaching us three dimensional solids.

I was telling my friend John Dee about this while we were hanging out in the Oklahoma City airport and waiting for our flights. Yeah, John, I was almost the math guy. And I was trying to articulate to him how I still sometimes feel a little guilty that I’m not the math guy, entirely because I’m a woman.

It’s a weird, weird thing to think about, but there can be a lot of pressure you feel, if you’re a woman who is even peripherally interested in math, engineering, or science.

Because this is the thing. When you’re a woman, you spend a lot of time getting told by the media, by your peers, even by teachers, that girls just aren’t good at math. Our ladybrains can’t handle it, because logic! And masculine things! And we’re diaphanous right-brained creatures of art and emotions (and presumably bullshit). Math is a Man Thing. And then from the other side you hear over and over and over again that there are not enough women doing science, engineering, and math. Because no shit we can do it, so we have to overcome the institutional barriers in or way.

(And then this traitorous voice in your head asks, do I not like doing math because I don’t actually like doing it, or because the patriarchy has convinced me in its horrid, insidious way that I shouldn’t, just like I’m still deep down emotionally convinced that I hate my body?)

I was actually interested in doing geophysics instead of pure geology, when I went back to Uni for my bachelors. Then the undergrad counselor pulled me aside and basically said the program was just way too hard, and way too much math. I have no idea if he ever gave that line to a man who was interested in geophysics. Ultitmately, I’m also glad I didn’t decide to keep going and beat my head against those physics classes (because I would have, I’m damn stubborn sometimes, and it would have been miserable), but thinking about it still makes me so angry I could spit nails.

It feels almost like, if you can prove people wrong, then you should. Like there’s some kind of obligation to not let the side down and give the essentialist nonsense more fuel. Like you have something to prove on behalf of an entire unfairly maligned gender. Only you know it will never be enough proof to get those guys to shut the hell up.

I don’t want to do math. What’s wrong with that? Why should I feel compelled to spend my life doing something I don’t like just because some impotent, bald asshole wants to believe he’s superior by grace of chromosomal lottery? (And where did this secondary bullshit narrative come from, that math as an academic topic is somehow more worthy a pursuit than geology, or literature, or dance for that matter?)

There are days when I really do wish I had a math minor on my diploma, just so I could wrap that paper around my fist and then punch anyone who says girls can’t do math. Fuck you, I can do math. I just choose to not. Which is a million times better than being an condescending asshole and choosing to open your damn mouth.

Life is really too short for this nonsense, and I resent that it’s still got its claws sunk into my brain. Do what you’re good at, as long as it’s what you love.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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A friend of mine is doing a research project and is looking for female gamers and male gamers who have played in mixed gender groups that she can survey. We’re talking gamers of all kinds – tabletop, board games, CCGs, MMOs, all manner of RP.

If you are interested in helping out, please answer the following questions and e-mail them to Ivona Elenton AT ivona.elenton at gmail dot com . You can make your answers as long or as short as you want.

Please have your answers to Ivona by 10/10/13! Thank you!

ETA: (From Ivona) “Though question 5 is only directed toward 2 genders, I’m absolutely interested in the experiences of queer and gendervariant people as well.”

QUESTIONS FOR FEMALE GAMERS

1. How long have you been gaming?

2. List the games that you enjoy or have enjoyed playing (table top or on line rpgs, computer/videogames, MMOS, board games LARPS or others)

3. Tell the story of how you started, what or who drew you into gaming? How were your first gaming sessions? Etc. etc.

4. Do you enjoy playing with others or alone the most?

4b. If you have a clear preference, could you please motivate why you prefer one over the other.

4c. If you do not have a clear preference, could you mention some strong points with either or both ways of gaming

5. If you play or have played in groups, do you have any preference on gender balance in a gaming group? (somewhat equal in gender ratios, mostly females, mostly males) Please motivate why you have a preference, if this is the case.

6. Have you ever experienced, in any gaming setting, being treated differently as a gamer because of your gender. Please tell the full story if the answer is yes.

7. Do you think there is a general difference in style or culture between female gamers and male gamers? (if yes, please elaborate)

8. What about the games themselves, have you ever experienced that games or game developers cater to a specific gender? (if yes, please elaborate)

9. Recent studies have shown that about half of all gamers are female, and yet some male gamer groups have expressed surprise at these statistics. Why do you think this comes as a surprise to many? Could female gamers be less visible in various settings, and if so, how come?

10. Would you please share your favorite gaming anecdote here, if you have one.

QUESTIONS FOR MALE GAMERS WHO HAVE PLAYED IN MIXED GENDER GROUPS

1. How long have you been gaming?

2. List the games that you enjoy or have enjoyed playing (table top or on line rpgs, computer/videogames, MMOS, board games LARPS or others)

3. Tell the story of how you started, what or who drew you into gaming? How were your first gaming sessions? Etc. etc.

4. Do you enjoy playing with others or alone the most?

4b. If you have a clear preference, could you please motivate why you prefer one over the other.

4c. If you do not have a clear preference, could you mention some strong points with either or both ways of gaming

5. If you play or have played in groups, do you have any preference on gender balance in a gaming group? (somewhat equal in gender ratios, mostly females, mostly males) Please motivate why you have a preference, if this is the case.

6. When did you first game in a gender mixed environment? Please elaborate on this experience as much as you want.

7. Do you think there is a general difference in style or culture between female gamers and male gamers? (if yes, please elaborate)

8. What about the games themselves, have you ever experienced that games or game developers cater to a specific gender? (if yes, please elaborate)

9. Recent studies have shown that about half of all gamers are female, and yet some male gamer groups have expressed surprise at these statistics. Why do you think this comes as a surprise to many? Could female gamers be less visible in various settings, and if so, how come?

10. Would you please share your favorite gaming anecdote here, if you have one.

Just for fun, once I get my answers to these questions finished, I think I’ll post them here on this blog. I’ve been a gamer for years and years and I love talking about it.

Originally published at The sound and nerdery of Rachael Acks. You can comment here or there.

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So before Monsters University yesterday, one of the previews they played was this one for Frozen.

Now, this is still the description of the movie from the Disney site for Frozen.

Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” presents “Frozen,” a stunning big-screen comedy adventure. Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

The trailer above is underwhelming to say the least. I am completely un-whelmed, really. If nothing else, it gives the impression that it’s a movie about Olaf the snowman. Or possibly just the cute animated short that will lead for the movie, since that seems to be a thing now for Disney. For a bonus, Olaf is also the character who shows up on the story page. (Though in the art there are some nice pictures of Anna and Kristoff.) Kind of makes it seem like this is a movie about a doofy reindeer and snowman combo (Ice Age-esque, really) and involves no humans, let alone any girl ones, at all.

The reason this gives me no warm fuzzies whatsoever reaches back to the debacle with the Rapunzel movie’s title being changed to Tangled because otherwise people would assume it was a girly movie or something. Yes, this is just a pre-pre-pre trailer, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, like they’re trying to disguise what the movie is really about. Because girl stuff is yucky and we all know boys won’t watch girl stuff. (But girls totally watch boy stuff all the time. Because that is the natural order of things.)

Another bonus! This is what the Japanese trailer looks like!

Hint: Anna spends a lot of time in the trailer mentioning her sister and her sister’s magic. And Anna exists in the trailer! And is plainly the heroine of the story!

DOUBLE BONUS: The Japanese title of the movie is 『アナと雪の女王』–Translated: Anna and the Snow Queen. Not something as non-specific as Frozen.

Disney, why the fuck are you now trying to pretend women are not present in–nay, CENTRAL TO–your movies? Is it the same utter, contemptible bullshit that motivated the title change for Rapunzel? Well, little girls watch boy movies and then we can hook them in with the princess thing, but we shouldn’t even try to get little boys interested in movies with women? Is that the thing now?

This just infuriates me. I get that it makes marketing sense, if you think that’s what’ll get butts in the seats. That doesn’t make any less infuriating. Before The Princess and the Frog, there were plenty of Disney movies that had a title centered around the leading lady. But the issue has now been made into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Way to reinforce the idea that women in lead roles just don’t get butts in the seats by making them vanish.

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.

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I was kind of surprised when I got a request for an interview for Laurel Zuckerman’s Paris Weblog. Turns out I caught her attention with my strongly-worded ire about the SFWA Bulletin issue #202 mess. This is actually the first interview I’ve ever had (even if it was by e-mail) and I was very nervous about it. But I think it turned out all right! Dimitri Keramitas asked me some really good questions, and I think I managed to not drool on myself as I typed. The topics ranged from the issue #202 thing to women in writing, women in science, and out from there.

I had a lot of fun, and hopefully you’ll find it interesting! (…and then I found out it was online by the President of SFWA tweeting about it and I may have peed just a little.)

Funny enough, right as I was working on this interview, Waylines also asked me to do a much shorter interview for issue #4. So you should check that out too for more interview-y goodness. It’s under “This Month’s Writers & Filmmakers” in the TOC.

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.

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This may come as a shock, but I am not a “Lady Geologist.” I do not examine women visually and use lab tests in order to understand their physical properties, provenance, and environment of deposition. I have never gone up to a female stranger, hammered a chunk off of her, and sent it to the lab so I could determine the abundance of her constituent minerals. That kind of thing would, I assume, land me in jail.

I’m a Sedimentary Geologist. I commit those sorts of friendly acts on sedimentary rocks, which are mineralogically more interesting and also don’t mind if you take a hammer to them. (Okay maybe they do mind, but they have no legal standing under current US law.)

I would likewise think that “Lady Lawyers” don’t limit themselves to female clients. And “Lady Engineers” don’t spend their time designing more durable women in AutoCAD. And “Lady Writers” (this I can speak to personally) don’t just write women or about women. And “Lady Editors” don’t leave trails of women in their wake, panting and covered with marks made in track changes.

Oh, right. The “Lady” is supposed to indicate that we’re a professional of some sort that happens to be a lady. And what’s wrong with that?

It’s simple. By feeling the need to point out that holy shit, that engineer is a woman, you are paying lip service to the idea that it’s only normal for men to be engineers. That women are the exception instead of just a normal part of the professional landscape. When you append or job titles with the unnecessary flag of gender, it effectively removes us from the work ecosystem and marks us as an invasive species, abnormal and not belonging.

Maybe I could have understood that more back when women were just starting to claw our way as a group out of the role of housewife, but our presence in the workforce hasn’t been a surprise in decades or far longer. (At my ripe old age of 32, I literally do not remember a time when women were not doctors, lawyers, and engineers, though admittedly not without struggle.) It isn’t shocking–SHOCKING!–that women write scifi. You have heard about this little book called Frankenstein, right?

And using the word Lady instead of Woman? Just makes it sound more cutesy and condescending because it’s a callback to all that chivalry bullshit. I’m not a lady, guys. I’m a woman. I’ve yet to hear someone referred to as a Lady Anything when her accomplishments or her gender weren’t then subsequently (if subtly) belittled. Wow, look what she did, and she’s a lady! Look what that lady did, unlike all those other women! Pretending to be amazed over and over again that we are here and working and doing just fine effectively erases our presence in the past.

Do you get what I’m saying? Do you get why I (and many of my fellow women, though please don’t think I am in any way claiming to speak for all women) are getting a little tired of that shit? Do you get why, even if it wasn’t meant to be patronizing or paternalistic, it might sound that way?

Good. Now kindly knock it off.

When I’m at work, I’m a goddamn Sedimentary Geologist. I’m a Writer. The presence or absence of tits does not change either of these facts.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

I have seen Twitter exploding over this for the last two days, and to be honest I had no idea what the hell it was about, other than it had something to do with abortion. In case you’re in the same boat as me, here are some links to get you started. Because while this is very, very disturbing stuff involving extreme medical malfeasance, abortion, and infanticide, if you can handle reading about it you should.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell ran a “clinic” (I use the scare quotes on purpose) where mostly low-income women went for late-term abortions. PZ Myers summarizes the retch-inducing details here. The full grand jury report here, not for the faint of stomach.

I’ve already seen it used several times as an argument for regulating abortion even more or making it illegal. On the contrary, I’d say it makes even more of a case for keeping abortion legal, and points to the hideous inequalities in healthcare faced by poor women.

Gosnell is (allegedly) a criminal. He’s on trial because what he (allegedly) did broke the law. Part of why he remained free for so long was because his victims were afraid to report due to their own part in these illegal late-term abortions. (So yeah, making more abortion illegal will surely put a stop to that problem.) But moreso, it was a hideous failure of the government that he was not stopped sooner. Hell, the only reason he was caught was because he was illegally prescribing drugs, not because he was destroying the health and lives of the women who resorted to his “care.”

Gosnell is the one on trial here, but the terrible inequalities that put these women in such an untenable position and the utter negligence of the government were what made his so-called “clinic” possible.

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (No gurlz allowed Loki)
Raise your hand if this is a familiar source of tooth-grinding frustration: "Shame on you for being concerned/upset/worried about thing X, because thing Y is way worse."



(This post started as a comment over at a post Jen wrote about comments Richard Dawkins made. But this annoys me enough, I want to just make it a post all its own. And also, I want to detach it from GettingHitOnInAnElevator-gate. Because really, it's a more general complaint and what Richard Dawkins said is just one example.)

Now, I've run across this faux-argument mostly when I bring up an issue as a feminist, but I'm sure that it happens on other topics1. In one instance (among many), a couple of years ago I got in to the middle of a dogpile on the World of Warcraft forums because several of us female type humans had the audacity to say that we thought there was a particular thing in the game that was probably intended to be cute, but we found it sexist, creepy, and insulting. And immediately, that argument got pulled on us. We're not allowed to complain that something in the game sexist and insulting because women in less socially liberal countries are under the thumb of some really horrible misogynists.

There are a multitude of reasons that this "argument" is a steaming pile of bullshit:
Now with extra added sarcasm. Mmmm, sarcasm. )

1 - Hm, maybe along the lines of "You shouldn't whine about 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance because there are countries where being an atheist will just get you executed!" And so on.
katsu: (Default)

ETA on 11.9.14 to note that wow I basically disagree with everything I said in this. WTF, self. Well, other than the fact that this movie is super, super pretty.

I saw Sucker Punch yesterday.

And I really liked it.

Which actually came as something of a surprise to me, since I generally tend to agree with the reviews over at io9 when it comes to saying mean things about movies, and Sucker Punch got a solid thumbs down there.

Now, part of it might be that I went into the movie with extremely low expectations. I’d already read a couple of reviews which, to summarize with nice words, characterized the movie as completely vacuous. And boring. I actually felt more than a little shocked that I found it neither boring, nor vacuous.

Now, to be clear, I am in no way claiming that Sucker Punch is a great movie. It’s no Inception. But as Zack Snyder movies go, this one was – as expected – extremely pretty, and much, much better than, say, 300. If you like that sort of eye candy, I think it’s worth spending the money to see it. If you don’t like that kind of movie, don’t waste your time.

Also, the soundtrack is excellent.

I’ve got a few thoughts about it, so there are going to be SPOILERS all over the place. You have been warned.

In General
I don’t regret spending $8.50 or two hours of my afternoon to see this movie. In fact, I really enjoyed it, and found most of the action sequences quite exciting. A lot of the movie – and not just the action sequences – really did make me think of anime. While the action, especially the first sequence with the huge samurai robots, obviously owe a lot to the tropes of anime, a lot of the narrative logic put me in mind of anime as well. And since I have a record of really liking anime, I think I was a lot more willing to to just accept certain things about the story and the way it went. I also most definitely did not find the non-action sequences boring.

So, About That Whorehouse Thing
I’ve seen a lot of snippy commentary about Babydoll “escaping” into a bordello as her first layer of fantasy. I would agree that it doesn’t make sense for that fantasy to be an escape. However, it also really didn’t strike me as an actual mental escape for a character, but rather a fantasy in which she was attempting to make sense of the way she and the other women were being treated in the mental institution.

It’s made very clear at the end of the movie that Blue Jones, the super creepy orderly that sports a sad little pornstache in Babydoll’s bordello fantasy, has been sexually abusing Babydoll in the real world. Which I think also heavily implies that the other girls who are shown being abused or used by men in the bordello fantasy were also being abused by those same men in reality. I think that in light of the story, it’s reasonable for Babydoll to make sense of that real-world sexual abuse by transforming the hospital into a bordello – because while the bordello is still a prison, it’s at least a prison environment where it makes some kind of twisted sense for the men to be using the women in that way.

Blue Pornstache was incredibly creepy. Beyond his basic concept as an orderly that abuses powerless mental patients, he had some excellently evil dialog in his guise as the bordello’s owner. In a scene near the end, he scares the hell out of the women (and then murders two of them) while going off on a classic abuser rant that left me squirming in my seat – not because it was badly done, but because the character was just such a horrific person. He verbally sets up a false situation where the women are somehow in a “partnership” with him (instead of being his victims) and not keeping up their end of the “bargain,” which means they’re forcing his hand and giving him no choice but to, you know, shoot them.

Ugh. The actor did a good job. It’s a wonder he could stand to be in the same room as himself.

I also think it’s interesting that we don’t actually ever hear Babydoll speak outside of the fantasy bordello world. (At least not that I recall after a single viewing.) I think that’s partially because in her own fantasy, she has more strength and control. While obviously she and the other girls are still very much abused prisoners within the pretend bordello, turning them from mental patients in to whores at least allows them to use their sexuality as a weapon. Because in most [patriarchy-owned] narratives, the only women who get to make use of their sexuality in any way are whores.

So with the bordello as the coping-fantasy, then the action sequences become the actual escape-fantasy. I suppose it’s where Babydoll mentally runs off to when she’s doing something so personally destructive that she can’t even handle it in the context of bordello. And that’s the place where the women are all a kick-ass, elite team that are accomplishing their goals in a way that they can perhaps feel some pride in.

Though I Will Say One Thing About the Sexy Costumes
In the action sequences, there were sexy costumes. But what struck me was how… unsexy everything but the sexy costumes were. Which I actually really, really appreciated. The sexy costumes just sort of became the idea of a uniform for each of the girls. I found that very interesting… because it made the thing feel stylized rather than titillating.

Empowerment
All that said, I think that anyone who claims that this movie is somehow about female empowerment needs to have their head examined. Or possibly needs to get sent to a remedial women’s studies class. Or maybe both.

The basic argument seems to be that there is female empowerment in the movie because:
a) Women with guns
b) Women take control of their own sexuality by the end (NOTE: they don’t.)
c) In the end, the women win because Sweet Pea escapes and survives.

In Sucker Punch, we have Sweet Pea escaping, triumphing over abuse by surviving, and Babydoll also gets her own sort of revenge by being released from the bonds of the real world via lobotomy and sets off a series of events that get her abuser brought to justice. Neither of these things ultimately help out the other women, who all get murdered.

I think that there is something very valid to the narrative of triumph over one’s abusers by surviving them. I think there’s also a lot to be said for revenge fantasies – the desire to take vengeance on one’s abuser is a powerful one, whether the victim is male or female, and no matter what sort of abuse is occurring. But I also think that it’s very sloppy to equate those things with empowerment because it still presupposes a world where abuse is the norm and the victims defenseless.

So, what would the for reals female empowerment version of Sucker Punch look like? Honestly, I have not clue one. Considering the basic premise of the movie – women trapped in a mental institution where they are abused by their male caretakers – I don’t know if it would be possible to write that into a narrative of true female empowerment. At the very least, I don’t think you can call it empowerment if the woman who survives is the exception, rather than the rule.

But the thing is, I also think that’s just fine… as long as it’s actually understood that this isn’t what empowerment looks like.

It’s a pretty movie where women shoot and stab things. Occasionally at the same time. It’s got an interesting concept and a great soundtrack. I specifically bought a small popcorn so I could munch along with the movie, because that’s just the sort of film it is. There’s really no need to make it out as more than that, is there?

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (It's not what you think)
I saw Sucker Punch yesterday.

And I really liked it.

Which actually came as something of a surprise to me, since I generally tend to agree with the reviews over at io9 when it comes to saying mean things about movies, and Sucker Punch got a solid thumbs down there.

Now, part of it might be that I went into the movie with extremely low expectations. I'd already read a couple of reviews which, to summarize with nice words, characterized the movie as completely vacuous. And boring. I actually felt more than a little shocked that I found it neither boring, nor vacuous.

Now, to be clear, I am in no way claiming that Sucker Punch is a great movie. It's no Inception. But as Zack Snyder movies go, this one was - as expected - extremely pretty, and much, much better than, say, 300. If you like that sort of eye candy, I think it's worth spending the money to see it. If you don't like that kind of movie, don't waste your time.

Also, the soundtrack is excellent.

I've got a few thoughts about it, so there are going to be SPOILERS all over the place. You have been warned.

SPOILERS AHOY! )

It's a pretty movie where women shoot and stab things. Occasionally at the same time. It's got an interesting concept and a great soundtrack. I specifically bought a small popcorn so I could munch along with the movie, because that's just the sort of film it is. There's really no need to make it out as more than that, is there?
katsu: (how do they rise)
It's been a busy week... couple of weeks... month... well, from about January on. But I've been doing things with my time, at least.

For example, today I went to Denver, CO's Rally for the American Dream. With 3000 of my fellow Coloradoans - including my husband and my parents - I was in good company indeed.

We did a lot of cheering, a lot of chanting. There were maybe ten or twenty "Tea Party" counter protesters. One of whom wandered around in the crowd and tried to start trouble with his bizarre "Can't get a taxi? Blame the Dems" and "Shame on Colorado Dems for Voting for an African" signs. He was completely ignored by the crowd, and then the cops chased him off.

The IAFF was out in force, as were a lot of other union people - and ordinary citizens. At the end of the rally, the Walk for Choice took off. A lot of us joined in, since it's another important thing to support. We walked from the capital to Writer Square and back, shouting chants like, "Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!"

At the end of the Walk for Choice, there were maybe ten crazy anti-choice people waiting at the capital, on the other side of the street. It was standard "OMG THE BABEEZ" bullshit. It was also the most surreal moment of the afternoon - there was a very odd old guy with the anti-choicers, holding a very standard sign in one hand. His other hand was raised in a fist and covered with - I swear I am not making this up - a sagging latex mask of Ronald Reagan. Overcome by just how bizarre it was, I shouted across the street, "Dude, you've got a severed head on your hand!"

So yeah. The disembodied zombie head of Ronald Reagan doesn't want you to have an abortion. Or something. Weird. Eerie.

I have also been putting a lot of time in at the core lab. If you want to see what's been eating up most of my spare time, here are some pictures from our current core, which is from a meandering river deposit. I've tried to add some description to the photos, and hopefully it's not too technical.

Busy busy!

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Tetsugawa Katsuhiro

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