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Partial quote:

What sort of things were they saying before? No, expelling Correia or Torgersen is easy, but it’s not enough. Not enough! We have to investigate the entire science fiction field and the publishers, we need to find out how the field could have allowed an unsafe environment to thrive in which these cisnormative, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic authors could operate with impunity. I think, comrades, that we need to send a Hate Crimes commission to Worldcon. And to identify all the unsafe elements that may be present.

So, the field is essentially returning to its Marxist roots. But the starry-eyedness is mostly gone. Now we’re down to the raw hate of the thing: the vengeance-minded outliers and weirdos, determined to punish wrongdoing and wrongthinking and wrongfeeling. Which means, of course, smoking out all the wrongfans having all the wrongfun with their wrongstuff.

If they could clap us in shackles, put us into the boxcars, and send us to the icy wastes to die, they would do it in a heartbeat.

My friend Paul reposted that borderline incoherent comment from Brad on his own blog; read it in its entirety there.

Frankly, I am not interested in wading into the sea of strawmen and attempting to dismantle them. (Shaun Duke’s already taken a shot at it at his blog.) Nor am I at all interested in trying to present the positions of my “side” and offer gentle correction, as has been done nicely here.

All I have to say is this: how dare you, Brad. After you helped garner John C. Wright, a man who not-at-all-coyly talks about gay bashing as an “instinctive reaction” to “fags” a record number of nominations, how dare you project your paranoid fantasies of people wanting to harm you on us. How dare you wrap yourself in a blanket of imagined persecution when to this day transpeople are being murdered for simply existing. How dare you whip up false fears about people wanting you to die over a fucking literary award when right now black men and women are being killed by the police for simply existing. How dare you imagine yourself a second-class citizen when underprivileged women and girls are suffering because their male-run government has decided they have no right to bodily autonomy.

How dare you talk about people being shipped to frozen gulags when, today, gay and trans youth are still subjected to the very sort of reeducation you claim we want.

How dare you.

Real people are harmed every day by the positions those with whom you associate yourself espouse. Real people, who experience real pain, and real suffering, and all too often real death. The number of your faction that has been sent off to a reeducation camp is zero, and it will remain zero.

I’m sure if you dig hard enough, you can find some crazy, leftist asshole out there who says something in line with your beloved delusion. And then you can go ahead and compositional fallacy-it up if it makes you feel all warm and squishy inside. No one can stop you. But this insulting, despicable lie of yours will still not be true.

I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the paranoid fantasies. I’m sick of the pathetic attempts to play the victim in the same world where I suffer the real fear that one of my trans friends will drop off the internet and I will never know what happened to him or her because someone decided ignorance and hatred justified violence. Because this is the real world, you fucking asshole. This happens to real people.

So no, Brad. I do not want anything bad to happen to you. I never have. I have never wanted any harm to come to anyone. Even now, with my hands shaking with anger, I don’t. All I actually want is for you to take a step back, listen to yourself from outside your echo chamber, and understand how basically insulting this melodramatic persecution complex over a goddamn literary award is while outside, tire irons are not a coy little non-metaphor.

Failing that, I want you to fuck all the way off. Because that is an expression of my anger that suggests no action and has no power to do real harm.

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

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As with so many blog posts, it begins thus:

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.09.49 PM

Storify: accomplished. Pissy blog post: engaged.

I haven’t made a big deal out of the Amazon v Hachette thing mostly because I do not have a LOOK HOW HUGE MY SALES ARE WHY ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED BY THE SIZE OF MY SALES FIGURES BOW DOWN BEFORE ME dong to wave around, but back when the Authors United thing got started, I signed on to the first letter. Because I’m a slave to a corrupt and terrible system spineless sheeple teetotaler when it comes to Amazon kool-aide fucking human being who can make my own decisions, thanks. My reasoning is not the point of this blog post. (Really, just go read this thing Scalzi wrote or this thing Chuck Wendig wrote and basically yeah, what they said.)

The point of this post is why I ended up asking to have my name taken off the most recent Authors United letter. The letter you now see there is actually not the letter as originally conceived, which is what I read when I said no, thanks, I don’t want to be on this any more. However, after reading this new version, I still don’t agree, and I don’t put my name on letters with which I have disagreements.

The original point of contention was this line here:

Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to China. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on that book finding readers. This is the process Amazon is obstructing.

Which has been replaced with:

Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. But books are not mere consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to another country. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers. This is the process Amazon endangers when it uses its tremendous power to separate authors from their readership.

Courtney Milan wrote an excellent blog post about the yick factor of the original paragraph.  And basically: word, sister. Her post was actually what prompted me to go and read the letter carefully in time and ask to have my name removed.

Though I do want to be clear here, that while Douglas Preston and I obviously have some disagreements (upon which I will expound shortly) he is operating very much on the up and up on this thing. He sent everyone involved an e-mail with a link to the proposed letter in it so we could give feedback and ask to have our names taken off if we wished, and when I responded negatively to him he was very polite and didn’t fight me. I’m just such a lazy piece of shit I wouldn’t have gotten around to reading the letter if I hadn’t seen someone else set their trousers on fire first and gone huh, I should probably look in to this.

Shame on me.

Anyway, while I think the new draft of the letter is better, I still don’t agree with it, and I’m glad I asked to have my name taken off. My problem stems from the entire argument that books are not mere consumer goods because of the artistic struggle of the writer. (I’m also not a fan of that outsourcing writing to another country comment for reasons mentioned in Courtney’s post, even if we’re no longer specifically throwing shade at China.)

Now, trust me. I don’t for a second buy bullshit arguments that posit forcing book prices lower will cause people to buy more books. You know what’s stopping me from buying new books? Not having the time to read the ones I already own. I’m not going to consider two $9.99 ebooks interchangeable because they both have unicorns on the cover; they won’t be the same book. And let’s not forget that authors have followings; I’ll run out and buy something by Naomi Novik because I’ve read and liked her other books; I’m not going to pick up something with a dragon in the description just because it’s cheaper.

So books are arguably consumer goods that might resist quite the same models as toasters and candy bars, but they are still consumer goods. Writers, editors, and manufacturers produce the books so that consumers can buy them and read them. And we sure want to market them like they’re consumer goods, don’t we? It’s capitalism, man. Charge what the market will bear.

Arguing to a retail company that books should get some kind of free pass from their shitty, strong-arm tactics because books are special, artistic butterflies? You’re kidding me, right? Courtney Milan made this point in her post already, and better than I could, I think. I’ll just say in short that I think making a non-economic argument at a company that is acting purely out of economic self-interest (no matter what it claims) is a weak position that we’re ill-served by. And kind of makes us sound like assholes, besides. While I think art holds a unique and important place in culture, I’m really not comfortable trying to justify special treatment for books on the backs of the toaster makers. We all deserve to make a fair wage for our labor, whether we’re slapping “hamburgers” together behind the counter at McD’s or writing the Most Important And Transformative Novel Of This Century, and I will not support tacitly abandoning other workers under the suspiciously ego-wanky notion that my skill is way more special.

Anyway if you signed on to the original letter, make sure you read this one and see if you agree with it. It’s important, man. That’s your name on it. (And hey, if you read it and agree with Douglas where I disagree and are a published writer who hasn’t signed on to it, I’m sure he’d like to hear from you.)

I actually want to step past the entire Amazon/Authors United thing and address a much bigger issue, because this is really just another episode in the ongoing adventures of oh hey look we’re getting fucked by corporations again.

Being an artist in a capitalism-obsessed society like America kind of blows. Or really, no kind of about it. It blows. Even producing commercially viable art isn’t any guarantee of being able to make a steady living without a side job, and that makes it a hell of a lot harder to practice one’s craft. But frankly, appealing to the better natures of companies is not the way to fix this. Companies, with rare exception, don’t have better natures.

Now, I’m fond of pointing out that companies are composed of people, and run by people, and excusing corporate malfeasance by shrugging it off as “hey it’s a corporation, what do you expect?” is accepting the most banal sort of evil as part of life. We should expect more from our fellow humans. And hey, we know that it’s possible to have a successful company that doesn’t act like it’s run by total shitlords. (Hello, Ben & Jerry’s.)

Shrugging off corporate evil indicates a profound lack of responsibility and vision for society. It indicates either a conviction of helplessness or an unwillingness to expect better out of ourselves. But you know what? So does expecting corporations to fix our problems our of the goodness of their non-existent hearts. I don’t want to live in a world where corporations are our social conscience.

Capitalism is arguably one of the motors that run our society. But it’s not some kind of miraculous fix-all, and every time a politician (or anyone else) talks about how the magic of the free market is going to swoop in and save us (presumably while riding pillion on a unicorn with Jesus) I just really want to scream. And flip tables. And bite things. We’re not here to serve capitalism. It’s supposed to serve us, and we managed to lose sight of that somewhere along the way.

The real problem here is that we as a society treat artists like shit, and art like it’s widgets, and scorn what is ultimately skilled and important labor. Then those values get reflected back to us by the economy we supposedly own and we go wow that’s ugly could you please not?

Artists aren’t the only profession that gets offered either the shitty end of the stick or no end at all. We don’t even value what we claim to value, or else teachers, soldiers, and artists wouldn’t need government and community assistance in order to survive. Somewhere along the way we allowed ourselves to be convinced that there is such a thing as a person who does not deserve to make a living wage, no matter what their profession.

Companies are not going to value us or our work as long as we treat it as a thing without value. This is our problem to solve, because we let this happen. When corporations shit on people, that’s not because they’re corporations and that’s just what they do. It’s because we’re too fucking cowardly and blind as a society to smack them with a rolled up newspaper and say NO. And asking a corporation nicely to please just stop shitting on people is like asking the doberman with diarrhea to kindly not poop on your rug.

We claim that science is important, creativity is important, that teachers are important, that soldiers are important, and they are. Art is important too. Art is the heart of our society. It’s time we started acting like it instead of effectively praying to Zeus for help and hoping he kisses us before he fucks us and ruins our lives.

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

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Okay, someone hold my hat, I am about to come unglued here.

So yeah, by now you might have heard that Ridley Scott is making a movie called Exodus: Gods and Kings, which is based off the Bible story. Which takes place in Egypt.  Allow me to illustrate, briefly, where Eqypt is located:

Egypt: It's a place in Northern Africa.

Egypt: It’s a place in Northern Africa.

Okay? Now. Some people, including me, are kind of pissed off about some of the choices he’s made. Allow me to summarize why with a picture:

Notice anything, here?

Notice anything, here?

And here, have a bonus:

Even Christian Bale looks unimpressed.

Aw, they’re building a statue.

Just for reference, in reality land:

Here, some actual Egyptian statues. (Per source, Ramesses II, even.)

Here, some actual Egyptian statues. (Per source, Ramesses II, even.)

Now, if those don’t explain why a lot of us on the internet are breathing fire, just… tell you what. Go read this.

All right. We all caught up now?

So then Ridley Scott “explained” his casting decisions. Which he described as careful. (Hoo boy.) Like, to a certain extent I get, hey I like this actor and want to work with them and they are perfect for this role. Trust me, I now totally get that urge. And as many people have pointed out, if the casting seemed truly colorblind (Ken Watanabe as Nun! Benicio Del Toro as Rameses II! Viola Davis as Tuya!) I could go for it. I really could. But let’s look at the first ten actors listed on IMDB:

  • Aaron Paul – white (American)
  • Christian Bale – white (British)
  • Joel Edgerton – white (Australian)
  • Sigourney Weaver – white (American)
  • Ben Kingsley – non-white (British)
  • Indira Varma – non-white (British)
  • John Turturro – white (American)
  • Ben Mendelsohn – white (Australian)
  • Maria Valverde – white [spanish (literally from Spain)]
  • Emun Elliott – white (Scottish)

I would like to say, first, I feel gross and horrible after writing that list out, and awkward, and ugh. But I also feel it serves an important point, which is basically, out of the first ten people on the case list, there are two actors who could really be considered non-white (both Ben Kingsley and Indira Varma have an Indian parent) and Maria Valverde, who as an actual spanish person from Spain to my understanding should be considered white for the purposes of what we’re talking about. The point here is that the top listed actors are 80% white. If you go with the actors that are really being used to advertise the film, which would pretty much be the top five, you’re still at 80%.

In a movie. That takes place in Egypt.

Scott was not asked about the racial component of his casting decision, but he did answer a question about how he formed the international cast — which has been criticized for only featuring colored performers in small roles, such as servants, thieves and assassins.

“Egypt was – as it is now – a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” Scott said. “We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs. There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture.”

Yeah, all different ethnicities. You know. American, British, and Australian.

If you want to actually see most of the different ethnicities Scott’s talking about, when you go to the IMDB page, click “see full cast list.” Most of them are hidden in there. Which indicates much, much smaller parts. But we kind of already knew that from the pictures, right?

Oh and?

There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture.

I did a little googling around because I was curious. And yeah, there’s controversy, most of it seeming to stem from much more openly racist times when people couldn’t handle the idea that someone who wasn’t snowy white made something white people think is awesome, like the pyramids. While at this point the science apparently boils down to:

There is no scientific reason to believe that the primary ancestors of the Egyptian population emerged and evolved outside of northeast Africa.

While that’s no doubt an oversimplification considering yes, the area is a major crossroads, using that as an excuse to justify the vast majority of your principle actors looking like they didn’t mind the gap on the Tube and fell through a rip in space and time to land in ancient Egypt is pretty fucking disingenuous.

(Actually, that’s a bad joke on my part, since apparently London is ~60% white and thus would not be well-represented by Ridley Scott’s casting.)

I imagine when you’re a director of Ridley Scott’s caliber, you can end up getting a lot of your principle actors by just calling them up on the phone and telling them you have a script you want them to read. So it’s really on him to take a step back and ask himself why most of the people he thinks are the best man or woman for the job are white rather than doing elaborate mental gymnastics to justify it later.

Because I really, really am not down with the implication that somehow, the best actor for the job is almost always white. Because there are amazing actors out there who aren’t white, and I’d bet you anything even more amazing actors who are just waiting for a chance to shine, if people would just fucking give them that chance.

And it’s not hard to do, by the way. All you do is write a casting notice like this:

[Gender], 20s to 40s, non-white

Or if you don’t want to close the door all the way, fine:

[Gender], 20s to 40s, preferably non-white…

And trust me. You will get a response, from amazing actors, and I bet you anything one of them will be the right person for the job.

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

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Sameer Rahim, are you fucking kidding me?

I know people rarely get to write their own headlines, so I tried not to just punch my laptop in the screen when I saw this one: Whatever happened to writing for love, not money?

But the article isn’t any better.

I know they have to eat, but when did it all become about the money? The time when writers could live comfortably off their income was an anomaly of the Eighties and Nineties. These days, apart from a few big-money payouts for the next big thing, publishers are going back to being as cautious as they were before. And why shouldn’t they? Everyone else is tightening their belts.

I know you have kids and a mortgage, guys, but why should you expect to be able to make a living off a craft you’ve been perfecting for years? The art should be its own reward! Starving is awesome, it makes you all thin and waif-like and then maybe you’ll get consumption and it’s so romantic.

Call me a romantic but it might actually benefit a writer not to rely on books as their main source of income.

There is nothing in that sentence that I would call romantic. Because there is nothing in the least bit romantic about having to work a shit job to make ends meet while you attempt to write in your rapidly dwindling spare time. There is also nothing in the least bit romantic about working an awesome office day job like I do and then attempting to write in your rapidly dwindling spare time.

I would actually argue that there’s some good to doing a bit of work, volunteer or otherwise, outside your field at all times just because it gives you a chance to meet people and be in new situations and talk to others you wouldn’t necessarily talk to. That’s idea fuel right there. But trying to work two full time jobs is a good way to destroy your health and sanity and never have time to recharge.

Alternatively, I have heard it suggested that, rather as the bankers were bailed out by the, state so authors should be given public subsidies – the perils of which should be obvious. This isn’t China.

Yeah, I know man. Writers and dancers and sculptors won’t stop trying to crash the economy with their irresponsible gambling. (Also, special bonus for gross China reference. A+)

Luckily, the freedom offered by the internet offers a chance to resurrect the idea of writing for love, not money.

The notion was never dead. People have always been writing for love rather than money. The internet just makes distribution easier.

So far online self-publishing has been the preserve of fan fiction and erotica but it can’t be long before high-quality fiction starts to emerge.

Wow. Every time I think you can’t get more insulting, you do. Frankly, there is plenty of fanfic out there that is of publishable quality. And there’s also some damn good erotica out there too.

Right now there is a distressed writer sitting in front of her computer somewhere, worrying not about whether she’ll make enough money to give up the day job or how many copies she will sell, but obsessing over form and language, meaning and truth.

Yeah, and you know what helps the writer hone those skills that go into the art? Having some fucking time to practice them. If you’re working 40+ hours a week (and heaven help you if you have kids) your time to practice the actual craft of writing is severely limited. And then on top of it when more and more often you’re having to act as your own publicist? Eats up even more of that time. And what your readers want are books, regular as clockwork, and those books are damn hard to write and much slower to produce if they are not the main focus of your energy.

So what, people should only get paid for doing work they find hideous and agonizing? The only people who should get paid, then, are perhaps janitors, garbagemen, soldiers, and so on. Not politicians or professional athletes or scientists. Certainly not successful actors or dancers or fashion designers. Or are artists just the exception to the rule because we don’t actually produce something you deem personally worthy? Or is it just writers who are the exception, because we’re not real in our art unless we’re fucking miserable?

(This ignores the fact that being fucking miserable and depressed is not a good way to produce art.)

What bothers me most about this piece, which is so full of bullshit the stench will never leave my keyboard, is the idea that you should be happy not getting paid for work so long as it’s work you enjoy. Work is work. It requires time and energy and a big chunk of the limited lifespan you have on Earth if you want to be any good at it. And this same argument has been used for years to try to justify things like keeping the wages of teachers severely depressed. Yeah, you teach because you love it, right? It’s so irresponsible of you to want to make a decent living. The smiles of children and the glow of a job well done should pay for your housing and the clothing of your own children.

Tell me, Mr. Rahim, did you write this piece for free?

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

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So apparently the new Constantine isn’t going to be bisexual or a total fiend for cigarettes, but hey at least they managed to make him blond this time? That’s a brave creative choice there, guys. There is so much about this article that just gets on my pecs that I already ranted about it on Twitter, but I still have more than enough froth to lay it all out in long form too.

I really don’t give that much of a shit if Constantine smokes. Yes, there’s been some plot connected to it. And yes it’s part of the character’s image, but considering smoking is bad for you and there’s a concerted effort to make it less glamorous in the media, fine. I can buy that. But the bisexuality thing? I mean, I get that bisexuality has a long history of being portrayed as glamorous in the media and that there is a definite public health concern Oh wait, no. Wrong paper. Here’s right right one. It reads: fuck you.

When asked about this at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Sunday, executive producer Daniel Cerone ran down the various editions of the character that have existed since the demon fighter was introduced in 1985 to suggest his sexuality is not a crucial aspect of the character (nearly all of the character’s relationships in the comics have been with women). “In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time,” he said. “Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

So let me get this straight:

  1. Being bisexual totally isn’t important to the character.
  2. In fact, it’s so unimportant that we are making a conscious choice to leave it out.
  3. I mean, he mostly bangs women anyway, and that’s all that matters. He’s barely bisexual at all. You wouldn’t even know to look at him.
  4. Sexuality is so unimportant and he screws so few men, he’s basically heterosexual, amirite?
  5. And maybe we’ll make him bisexual in twenty years, so quit your whining.

Am I missing any part of this absolutely scintillating argument? (Also, double bonus fuck you points to EW for spending almost the entire piece on the issue of the cigarettes because that’s totally more important than representation.)

What really chaps my ass is the way this just reiterates and promulgates the idea that bisexuality is something that is defined by outside observation, instead of something we get to define from within ourselves. It’s not math. You’re not bisexual just because you you’ve crossed some magical ratio threshold and they take away your straight or gay card and replace it with a license for wanton promiscuity, confusion, or other bullshit stereotype of your choice. I’d still be bisexual even if I died without ever having a girlfriend. Why? Because I fucking said so.

It’s hurtful. It’s insulting. How can it be anything but hurtful and insulting (and goddamn frustrating) when we basically get told over and over again that we’re lying, mistaken, or just plain wrong about one of the most intimate, personal matters of our own goddamn lives?

Look, I totally get that it’s not easy to viscerally understand how someone can be attracted to something you’re not. But unless you’re a giant asshole, we’re way past the point where matters like love and attraction get discussed as a matter of choice. And here’s the thing: you don’t have to understand how we can be attracted to both men and women. You just have to accept that we know better than you how our own thoughts and emotions work since we’re the ones thinking and feeling and shut the fuck up.

Our sexuality is not defined by interaction with our environment or by your observation thereof. We’re not fucking Schrodingersexual. This is not rocket science. This is basic respect.

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

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Things that are none of your business (a non-exhaustive list):

  1. My decision to not change my last name
  2. The last time I shaved my legs
  3. The conversations I have with my gynecologist
  4. If and when I’m going to have kids
  5. If I’m on birth control and why

Things that are none of my business (a non-exhaustive list):

  1. Your sex life and the consenting adult(s) with whom you conduct it
  2. How many kids you decide to have
  3. Your weight and how you choose to manage it
  4. How you deal with your crippling anxiety disorder
  5. The way you want your end of life care handled

Things that “my” money gets spent on that I dislike immensely (a non-exhaustive list):

  1. Tax breaks for religious organizations
  2. The TSA
  3. No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top (not to be confused with education in general)
  4. Drone warfare
  5. Professional sports venues

I hope you can take a look at the three above lists and catch my drift. But if not, allow me to summarize: My personal life, which includes my medical decisions, is none of your fucking business. Your personal life, which includes your medical decisions, is none of my fucking business. No one gets to pick and choose so that their money only gets spent on things they personally like when they are part of a societal collective, whether we’re talking about a government budget or group health insurance.

You’ll notice the third list is entirely about things the government spends “my” money on that I don’t like, rather than health decisions people make under their insurance that I would decide differently. I tried to make a list like that (for example, if I suffered a traumatic brain injury and thought I even had the right to make those choices, I’d probably cut you off after three kids, max) but I found the entire concept so deeply repugnant I couldn’t do it. Because your medical decisions are none of my fucking business.

As you may have already figured out, this is about the Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court is hearing right now. That this is even a question disturbs me more than I can really articulate. I was under this strange impression that when a company employed me, it purchased my time, my effort, and my skills–not the manipulative right to weigh in on my life outside of work.

I’ve seen people point out a lot in this argument that you know, there are other reasons people take birth control pills. Not just contraception. Which is true, and does point out a nice hole in the moralistic bullshit. But that argument also bothers me, because it can effectively legitimize the unstated claim that it’s anyone’s business to begin with. It can be heard to imply that well, there are certain uses of the pill that are legit, it’s not just for sluts who want to sleep around. Just like the whole “rape and incest” exception for abortion tacitly supports the idea that some abortions are totally more legitimate than others.

Your abortion is none of my fucking business, by the way. Just like your use or non-use of birth control. Just like your sex life. Just like your type II diabetes or your depression. Your health and the maintenance thereof is not mine to control.

So let me tell you a story that’s none of your fucking business. I was on birth control pills for well over a decade, and it wasn’t because I had crippling cramps or endometriosis. It was because I was an adult human being in her twenties who didn’t want to have kids, and who believed (and still believes) that sex is part of being human and living life, as opposed to a crime punishable by pregnancy.

Don’t like that? Good thing you have your own life to live.

When I was unemployed and paying ridiculous amounts of money for COBRA on my old healthcare insurance, I had to drop off birth control pills because my plan didn’t cover them and I was struggling to make my mortgage payments. I’d just met someone (Mike) with whom I was head over heels in love–but neither of us were in any kind of place where kids were an option, and we still aren’t now. It was pretty scary until I could afford to buy the pill again, which involved Mike helping me out financially. And that’s always fun.

Oddly enough, if I’d been a man who couldn’t get it up, the plan would have still covered my Viagra. Even more hilariously, if I’d become a failure statistic for condoms, the plan would have covered my much more expensive pregnancy. A pregnancy which likely would have made it significantly harder for me to find employment, and probably prevented me from going back to college at that time.

That’s why I was so indescribably happy when the ACA mandated birth control in healthcare plans, because of bullshit like that. These things matter. When you have no money, these things matter a hell of a lot. These things shape the course of a person’s life.

And that should not for Hobby Lobby or anyone else to decide.

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

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Just finished my first panel at ConDFW, “Androids at the Dinner Table: Gadgets, Social Media and Society.” I was expecting to pretty much talk about things like the use of cell phones at the dinner table, the gross creeper potential of devices like Google Glass, and even some of the fun people have been having with stuff like Google Streetview.

It…didn’t really turn out that way. We talked about cell phone issues a teeny bit at the beginning of the panel, but after that the topic wandered a bit into publishing today versus back in the day territory, and also the usual “kids these days” tropes. Which seems to happen often when there’s a panel talking about society in the present and near future.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t count as one of the “kids these days” any more. I’m in my thirties. But maybe I have a different perspective on a lot of these issues because I grew up during the surge of this technology. We went from mobile phones being these hilarious looking bricks or things attached to your car when I was in grade school, to suddenly in high school the rich kids had them, and by the time I had my first career path job (at 19), I’d bought my own and they were everywhere. I cut my teeth on dial-up bulletin boards before the www and browsers were really a thing, and by the time I hit high school we had a computer in every classroom and I was making websites on geocities and posting my terrible Sailor Moon fanfiction online.

And maybe I also have a different perspective about the kids these days because the roundabout way I got my degree (returning to a traditional university after a near decade-long hiatus) and my current social life have put me in a space where at 33, I’m dangerously close to being fossilized.

So, speaking from that perspective: Lay off the kids.

We’d rather text people than call. So what? We establish our personal space in crowded environments using a cell phone rather than a newspaper or book. So what? We meet people we like and get to be friends with them via social media, chatting back and forth in endless instant messenger conversations, watching movies together by live streaming. So what? Instead of sitting down at the local nerd lord’s kitchen table, we roleplay on journal systems or forums or by IM or have players skype in. So. Fucking. What.

I’m beyond tired of hearing about how we’re isolated, how we don’t know how to talk to each other any more. Have you ever considered that maybe, you just don’t know how to talk to us?

I have more friends now than I ever did before the age of the internet. I have more friends who will drop everything and talk to me if I’m having a problem, who will go out of their way to help me, who will create art with me. I have more friends that I can meet online for card games or roleplaying games or first person shooters (like paintball without the cardio component or the injuries), than I ever have in “real life.” I have more friends who have laughed with me and cried with me and been connected to the transformative moments of my life.

There is little anyone can say that will offend me more, and in a more personal way, than claiming that my friends are not real because we are so separated by physical distance that we have to use technology to communicate.

And kids these days don’t read? Don’t create? Can’t imagine?

You literally cannot use the internet without reading, without communicating using the written word. Did everyone sleep through the YA boom that Harry Potter set off? Have you been avoiding the young nerds who will talk your ear off about this amazing world they made up and want to use as the base for a video game or comic or novel? Have you completely missed the massive presence of fanfiction and fanart, a set of interlocking communities that are populated by people of all ages, yes, but mostly young people? Have you avoided the innovative ways “the kids” are expressing themselves on youtube and with podcasts and using services like vine?

Doing something differently doesn’t automatically make it inferior. Living life differently doesn’t automatically make it less of a life.

So let me tell you about the “kids these days” I have come to know. They are smart, and they are creative, and they are empathetic. They are people who are deeply worried about how the older generations have fucked up the world they’re going to inherit. They’re people who are aware of what kind of giant mess the schools are ejecting them in to, and yet they’re still reaching out to each other across unimaginable distance and doing what human beings have always done: create, and connect, and love.

The kids are all right.

/drops mic

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

katsu: (Default)

Or: the most hilarisad thing I heard this weekend.

So, this ties back into the SFWA thing from last year. You know, the bulletin cover that made me sigh profoundly and roll my eyes? And then the wanksplosion that caused me to write a post to specifically say “Fuck you” to Malzberg and Resnick? It is the gift that keeps on giving. Only this time it’s just funny, in the same way watching a cat fall off a desk is funny.

There is apparently a petition circulating in regards to the SFWA bulletin because…censorship! And first amendment! And freedom! The petition is courtesy of David Truesdale. If you’ve never heard of him, read the review he did of Apex Magazine #55 and that’ll basically tell you what you need to know. He’s also, it’s important to note, not a member of SFWA, which makes the entire concept of this petition extra wtf-y.

The link to Radish Reviews really covers most of the mockery that immediately springs to mind. Holy double bonus fuck you asshole points to David Truesdale for his super gross allusions to slavery! Because not being able to belittle entire groups and enjoy scantily clad women courtesy of a professional organization is totally same as the injustices and crimes perpetrated upon countless people throughout history!

But three points.

One: While there is arguably a “female gaze” in operation in movies like, say, Twilight, “men get objectified too” is a bullshit argument. Particularly when the objectification being cited involves the big muscular manly man ideal. I’d argue most of the time, that stuff isn’t made for female consumption; it’s created as the manly ideal men are supposed to want to meet. (Another mention here, and a succinct summation here.) Which is, yes, still incredibly fucked up, but send your thank you note to the patriarchy and its ridiculous love of over-emphasized sexual dimorphism and gender roles.

Two: At this point, the moment I see the phrase “politically correct” I automatically roll my eyes. Because it is invariably a whiney, impotent asshole defending their supposed right to not only aggressively be an asshole, but to aggressively be an asshole in a sandbox over which they have no control. Here’s your “you tried” gold star.

Three, and by far the most important: SFWA is a professional organization. And it’s not the only professional organization of which I’m a member, so don’t even try to blow smoke up my ass on this one.

I’ve also been part of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) for years (far longer than I’ve been part of SFWA, actually). During those years, not once has AAPG sent me a bulletin that contained pictures of scantily clad women draped on rock formations or pretending to study seismic lines while sticking their pert bottoms in the air. Not once has AAPG sent me an official communication that included dismissive discussions of “lady geologists” and how hot the first wave of women in petroleum geoscience looked in bikinis. AAPG, I will also note, has an online moderation policy for its content that reserves the right to delete racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive comments.

(I suppose this must be because as much as they love oil and gas, they hate freedom. Or something.)

Now, this could be because I just haven’t been reading the bulletins carefully enough. And it’s not because geology as a science managed to completely avoid historical sexism. And it’s not that the G in AAPG actually stands for “gynocracy” because trust me, if you’ve ever been to the national meeting, you’d know that there are still way more men in the field than there are women.

So I’m just going to throw this out there: maybe there aren’t bikini babes in the AAPG bulletin because, I don’t know, AAPG is a fucking professional organization that has women in its membership and wants to maintain its credibility as an organization in the public eye.

How fucking hard is that to figure out?

I don’t give two shits if the historic legacy of an industry is one of bikini babes codified sexism. You know what? One way or another, that’s how it is in most industries! There is a difference between understanding the roots of one’s industry, and perpetuating and celebrating it. There’s a huge fucking difference. Particularly when those historic roots being perpetuated in a modern context are insulting to a big whack of your membership and the public.

The publications of an organization are its face to both the public and its membership. Effectively, what is in those pages is viewed as being in line with the organization’s values and vision because the organization fucking paid to put it there.

SFWA members don’t pay their $90 annual dues to be told what to think or how they should express themselves in the pages of the Bulletin, nor do they want their own thoughts (through their articles or columns) to be deemed “acceptable” or “right thinking,” or adhering to some jumped-up (always subject to change at whim) PC style manual by some hootenanny “advisory board”” of boot lickers. [from here, pdf from main post]

Yeah, you know what I don’t pay $90 for? Being belittled by the professional organization of which I’m a member.

Go fuck yourself.

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

katsu: (Default)

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.

katsu: (Default)

Well I was going to rant about this on tumblr but my app isn’t uploading the post (too much froth?) so fine, it can just live on my blog.

Okay, childless/childfree people, let’s talk for a minute. I don’t have kids. I doubt I ever will. I still vote for every way to fund education that I can, and I pay close attention to school board elections and other education issues. And it’s not because I have nieces that I love, and it’s not because I am so rich that I’m desperate to give my money away. It’s certainly not because I don’t have other things I’d rather be doing with my time and money.

It’s because I am trying to ensure that kids learn how to think and cooperate and socialize, so that they grow into adults who can think, and cooperate, and socialize.

I’m not a fucking island. I don’t run this country on my own. (If I did, it’d be a much different place.) The decisions that other people make effect me deeply–just look at environmental issues and the battle we’re still fucking having about denial. And the kids of today are going to be running this place when I’ve retired.

Allow me to repeat: The kids of today are going to be running this place when I’ve retired.

There is a reason people with wacky ideologies try to pack school boards–look at creationists and their endless quest to fuck up childhood education. This stuff matters. This stuff controls the future in both short and long term.You think your life would be half as good as it is now if fundamental biology education got torn up by the roots?

Education matters. Even if you don’t have kids, and will never have kids, education should matter to you. You are not paying for someone else’s little annoying monster to learn how to add fractions and not eat paste. You are paying to live in a place where the people around you can maybe understand complex issues that affect everyone.

And yeah, right now that doesn’t seem to be working. I agree it’s not fair to hook things to property ownership. It’s damn unfair to kids in places with low property values, and it’s an obviously bad idea unless you have a (gross) personal interest in perpetuating class-based inequalities. But I’ve also yet to see a funding issue of ANY kind pass by popular vote. (Up until this year I lived in Colorado.) And I agree something needs to change if we actually want to pursue that golden ideal of producing people who can reason and think critically and address the challenges of the modern world. But starving schools of funding ain’t it, and ignoring the issue ain’t it, and saying it isn’t your problem because you don’t even like kids sure as hell ain’t it. Why do we even keep having this argument?

Maybe because we still haven’t figured out that education isn’t a product, it should be a public good. Maybe because we’re still having more arguments over how much money teachers make than how much money people who get their living off capital gains make. Maybe because we’re more concerned with test scores than actual end results. Maybe because fiddling while Rome burns should be our national pastime, not baseball.

And we’re also still having this same damn argument about how you shouldn’t have to pay for education if you’re childless/childfree. Whether they sprang from your loins or not, whether you like it or not, you will be sharing the world with all of these kids and their ability to think or not will affect you and all other living things on this planet in ways you cannot even begin to imagine.

Education matters, and funding it matters. If you want humans to stop repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over, it matters.

/drops mic

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

katsu: (Default)

Okay, darlings, I’m getting just a little tired of this shit. Since a thing involving fanfiction happened of course we’re up for another round of arguing about the “worth” of fanfic. Because what is the internet for if not being a long distance dick about things other people like? Well, let Evil Auntie Rachael lay down some fucking truth for you.

First off, define “real” fiction. Unless you’re writing pure history or biographical stories, you are literally making shit up. Define real in that context. I dare you.

Okay, so you mean original fiction? When we’re talking written narrative fiction, I should note that original is a pretty loaded word. Everyone likes to laugh about there only being three (or five, or six, or pick a number) plotlines in the entire world, and it’s really all just about giving it a twist or telling it a new way. Are you telling me fanfiction can’t do that? Even the idea of original characters is a loaded one, since we’ve got archetypal characters for a reason, and you can make a compelling argument for nearly every character belonging to an archetype, with the serial numbers cunningly masked by, say, curly hair and an interest in bowling. (And here, we aren’t even touching the entire issue of licensed tie-in fiction.)

So do you really mean fiction for which someone would potentially pay money? First, please explain to me how assigning monetary value to art makes it more legitimate. Because here I was thinking the true value of art was actually a thing without price, namely the act of creation itself and the idea the art communicates. And second, getting paid for fiction is not that easy. TRUST ME.

But Evil Auntie Rachael, original fiction is better quality than fanfiction. Really? Give me five minutes and Google and I will find you ten fanfics that display more sophisticated writing, better plotting, and deeper characterization than Twilight. Give me a full day and some dramamine, and I bet I can find you ten Twilight fanfics that are better quality than the work upon which they’re based.

The only thing original fiction gets to hold over fanfic in regards to quality is that it’s professionally edited. (IF it’s traditionally published or if it’s self published AND the author coughed up the dough to independently hire a content and line editor.) And sometimes, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Every single one of us has read a book in our lives where we threw it on the floor in disgust and announced that we could totally do better than that.

Fanfiction is an incredibly valuable tool for learning and honing the craft of writing. I wrote fanfiction for years and years. I know other writers who wrote fanfic for years and years (and most of them have published far more than me). Some of us still do. What fanfiction taught me was how to build a plot, and how to plot long, and stay true to character while I was doing it. Writing fanfic isn’t easier or harder than writing original fiction–it’s the same process, the same parts of your brain.

And you know what? Fanfic is fun. You’re not writing it to a deadline, you’re not thinking about how many fucking times it’s going to be forcibly ejected from a slushpile, or which of your darlings the editor is going to expect you to kill. You’re writing it for the sheer joy of writing something because you like it and you can. God, and the feedback! You have an instant fanbase of people who will actually engage with you about your story! I wrote one short little fic after I saw Thor: The Dark World and in the time since I put it online I have literally received more feedback on it than I have in total for every piece of original work I’ve ever published. It’s like pure black tar heroin for the sad little twitching addict that is a writer’s ego.

Two years ago, I sat in on a panel at Worldcon where two editors from large publishing houses said yeah, they know people in publishing who keep track of fanfiction because it’s a way to find amazing writers. Patrick Nielsen Hayden said:

There is no ceiling on how good fanfic can be because it’s all unpublishable. You can find great writers.

So you can shut the fuck up about the supposed inferiority of fanfiction now.

Oh, and if a published writer has the sheer ego necessary to tell you that all fanfic is creatively inferior and doesn’t count, you tell them to go fuck themselves. Tell ‘em from me, too. At the end of the day, we’re all just making shit up.

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

katsu: (Default)

Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick.

So this happened. It’s just part of a long pattern of interviewers basically trying to embarrass both actors and fan writers/artists by bringing them forcibly together. (See also: people showing Tom Hiddleston pornographic fanart during interviews.) These people are dicks. Dicks of phenomenal magnitude. I’d say they should be ashamed of themselves, but the very fact that they’re doing this kind of bullshit pretty much shows that they have no shame.

This is the thing about being a fan writer or artist: your creative space is implicitly under the radar, made by the creators of the original work willingly turning a blind eye to give fans room to play. I wrote fanfiction for years and years (and still do, to be honest, very occasionally) and for the most part you do so on the understanding that the creators of the original work will never see what you’ve done. You’re writing for yourself, and for other fans. That’s what makes it fun and joyful. It keeps fan communities strong, which for the most part is a good thing, since yay loyal fan base. No one gets hurt (outside of shipping wars casualties), no harm, no foul, everyone is happy.

Now, it’s different if a creator (or actor) asks for fanworks to be sent to them (like the amazing Trollando Jones asking for fanfic!) or if, say, you come up with something beautiful and tasteful and want to send it as a tribute*. It’s also different if someone actually goes looking for work on the internet. It’s the internet. Enter at your own risk.

But this pattern of taking fanwork and shoving it in the face of people involved in the original movie (etc) is beyond gross. It’s mean-spiritedly shitting in someone’s sandbox for the sake of being a dick. And I shouldn’t even have to say that it’s gross to force something embarrassing on unsuspecting people in public, and megagross when it’s pornographic.

And it’s gross to search out fanworks just for the purposes of publicly mocking them. I feel like I hit my head and woke up back in high school, when the mean girls were stealing my notebook and staging dramatic readings of my horrible teen angst poetry. Fuck you for trying to make the act of creation feel unsafe. Fuck you for punishing people for loving something. No, really, fuck you guys.

And for good measure, fuck everyone who thinks what is basically cruelty for the sake of being cruel is funny.

(Don’t be ashamed of your fanfic.)

 

*-I shouldn’t even have to say this, BUT: sending pornographic work to someone who hasn’t asked for it is never, ever okay. Kind of like sending other people pictures of your genitalia is never okay. Same principle. Including someone in your sex life non-consensually is never okay.

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

katsu: (Default)
  1. The headache. I know, what could be more fun than bleeding out of the crotch for five days? Doing it while one of your eyeballs feels like it’s going to be forcibly ejected from your skull! It helps you prove you’re a REAL WOMAN by enduring constant pain without losing your temper and snapping the goddamn neck of everyone who tells you to smile because it can’t possibly be that bad. GUESS WHAT MOTHERFUCKERS I AM LEAVING A BLOOD TRAIL THAT A DEAF DUMB AND BLIND SHARK COULD FOLLOW IT IS THAT BAD AND I AM STILL UPRIGHT DO NOT EVEN FUCK WITH ME.
  2. Bloating is FUCKING AWESOME. Severe drought could hit us at any fucking time thanks to all those asshole world governments still refusing to goddamn thing one about global climate change. So you have to be prepared. Well guess what. I’m carrying like FIVE EXTRA POUNDS OF WATER with me. Sure my pants no longer fit but when you’re crawling through the blasted wasteland that used to be river country and pleading for a drop of moisture GUESS WHO WILL BE LAUGHING THEN.
  3. Normally if I want my tits to hurt, I have to go kick my own ass with bench press like other mere mortals. NOT THIS WEEK, THOUGH. OH NO. I get all the boobache I could possibly want, no effort needed. MATCH THAT, FUCKERS.
  4. I smell like blood and that’s how you know I AM NOT EVEN FUCKING AROUND. Sure, this time it’s not the blood of your parents, your kids, and your favorite dog. BUT THAT COULD CHANGE AT ANY MOMENT. [Note: Even if I did not love the smell of salty ruin in the morning, you could not fucking pay me enough to squirt shit that smells like flowers down there, I love my ladyjunk WAY TOO MUCH OH AM I MAKING YOU UNCOMFORTABLE? GOOD.]
  5. Normally a cold ass bitch of my caliber would have to watch a kitten being slowly crushed to death by the weight of societal apathy to even feel so much as a pang of sorrow. But not this week. I GET TO CRY AT FUCKING GUM COMMERCIALS. Emotional release, baby. I get it all out in less than a week and then I’m back to the uncaring gaiety of your average Bond villain for the rest of the month.
  6. Tell you what, I fucking love not being able to take a decent shit for nearly a week. Shitting is for pussies and people who lack conviction.
  7. Cramps are nature’s way of letting you know that you have a fucking pain tolerance that won’t quit because you KNOW if science could even PRODUCE something so badass as the genetic love child of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chuck Fucking Norris, if that lantern-jawed piece of pure badassery had a uterus trying to turn itself inside out and crawl out of his [hypothetical] vagina, he’d be on the floor begging for a merciful death by corkscrew. BUT US? We just keep going like the fucking zombie Energizer Bunny and maybe, just maybe, slap a heating pad on that shit if it’s particularly bad this month because AIN’T NO ONE GOT TIME FOR THAT.
  8. I GRIND MY TEETH IN MY SLEEP BECAUSE I AM PREPARING TO TEAR OUT THE THROATS OF MY ENEMIES.
  9. Anyone who thinks life gets more fun than shoving a wad of cotton into your vagina like it’s the cork for a champagne bottle of gore has obviously never lived.
  10. The insomnia is fucking awesome, and then the headache so you like can’t even fucking THINK because thinking is that shit limp-wristed intellectuals do shut up and work with me here. Sleep is for people who don’t got shit to do, and my shit to do I mean sharks to hunt down and murder with your bare hands. I KNOW YOU FUCKERS ARE HUNTING ME I CAN FEEL IT AND I AM READY YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE FUCKING WITH.

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

katsu: (Default)

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: (Loki all the fucks I give)

Dear Sir and/or Madam:

 

Thank you very much for bringing to my attention the important issue of (circle one):

a) white people losing their privileged position/racial majority in this country

b) your deep feelings that gay people getting married somehow renders your marriage less special

c) your barely concealed rage that we no longer live in a fictionalized version of the 1950s

d) your horror that Christianity is no longer the accepted default religious position and those damn Muslims/Humanists/Atheists/Sikhs/etc insist on existing

e) the basic unfairness of a universe that refuses to allow you to scientifically support your religious/crackpot ideas

f) your deep philosophical point that I am fat/a chick/a chick that doesn't wear make-up/obviously some kind of lesbo/a hippy pinko feminazi/etc therefore am incapable of being right

g) [write-in space here for issues not covered]

 

Your opinion is not actually important to me at all. In light of that, please allow me a moment to explain just how little I actually care.

 

Imagine, if you would, that in the deep recesses of the past my blackened, shriveled excuse for a heart was capable of giving a fuck about you. Not because I thought that you might actually have had a point, but rather because I could recognize your basic humanity and thus stir myself to the level of empathy necessary to give a single, lonely fuck about what you had to say.

 

This single, sad little fuck ran up against the crushing behemoth of your entitlement. I attempted to engage in reasonable conversation on the misapprehension that such a thing is actually possible in the comments sections of most websites. But then the jaw-dropping assertion that, say, pointing out that straight white men have it kind of easy is somehow racist hit my poor little fuck like a rocket sled crashing into a block of ice. That fuck I gave was easily shattered into at least one hundred pieces, one or two of which I was able to recover for later use.

 

I would have tried to recover more of my poor, pulverized fuck but you burnt my fingers with your incoherent inability to spell or use even the sophisticated grammar of a second grader and I retreated rather than suffer further.

 

And then that just kept happening. 

 

Over and over again, I attempted to give you what remained of that original fuck, and you continued to crush it under the weight of your certitude that life is spectacularly unfair to you because there are people who, shockingly, want the same opportunities you were born with.

 

Thanks to the internet and the free range of jaw-droppingly stupid opinion available for instant consumption, the fuck I once gave has now been divided and diluted to the point that you could search through every molecule that has ever existed in the universe and find no trace of it.

 

So at this point, the best I can manage for you is a homeopathic fuck at a dilution somewhere past 400C. Which, if you believed in magic, might actually have some kind of meaning. But given that I'm a woman of reason, it means I literally have no fucks to give you at all. In the entire universe, not one single fuck exists of mine that can be yours in regards to your entitled whining. Ever.

 

Have a nice day.

katsu: (Surrounded by assholes)
Stephen Marche wrote a column about the utter meaninglessness of the word 'hero' as currently used in America: We Are All Heroes. The stinger at the end sums the whole thing up nicely: If people living up to their basic obligations are heroes, then we're all failing disastrously.

Ouch.

As I read the column, though, I found myself thinking "Yes, but..." a lot. I think there's a lot more to the issue. Which is not to say Mr. Marche doesn't, because goodness knows it's hard if not flat impossible to boil down a complex issue into a snappy column that comes in at the appropriate word count.

However, since this is the internet, where oceans of text are spilled daily to expound on matters of no consequence that no one's paying attention to anyway, I might as well say what I'm thinking. So, my buts. Let me show you them.

Everyone's a hero in their own way / you and you and mostly me and you... )

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Tetsugawa Katsuhiro

September 2017

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