wiscon report

I’ve never BEEN in an enormous ballroom full of people who scream YAY! and wave their hands around like crazy when the person on stage says, “Are there any feminists in the room?”


Why are they suddenly bidding in prime numbers?

yes bill, i’ll tag this later.

p.s. This is going to be my sloppiest speed-writing ever. Be warned.

** it’s later now. is this thing on? tap tap… **

sat., freakishly early, and all morning
I read sarah orne jewett’s “The Country of the Pointed Firs” which immediately rolls me in glorious melville-ish-ness and then seems like it will be a certain thing – that ghostly town with the fog and cobweb people of ultima thule – then I realize it’s swedenborgian – then that it isn’t doing that hting at all – then, well, what? I start to grasp it… I have detailed notes on this book offline that i took while reading it as well as marking up passages. i’ll just say for now that if I know you well and you don’t shed a tear at the crucial scene in the queen’s twin chapter, I’m surprised. by that time i was crying crying crying at the excellence of the story and with passionate crazy love for sarah o.j. Granted – i’m super pms-y but I could read this sstory over and over. it was deeply comforting to all the uncomfortable feminist-consciousness awareness – it was really recognizing… urgh, I will write more later, but what a fantastic experience it was to read this and think about it all morning long. it was very much like glimpsing that swedenborgian heaven over the wall like in “uncle silas” (in a nice not a creepy way) and in fact lately i’ve been reading books that keep surpassing each other so that I feel like i’m continually arriving into more and more wonderful places. if you are the sort of person who suddenly realized that, say, Middlemarch, is really cool, but you also were disappointed by it,well, sarah orne jewett is like perfection incarnate. it is about women and the connections between them and their connection to the world – the way they all casually refer to their whaling voyages to china or wherever; it’s not like they are “limited” to some male-concept of domesticity and the ways the men are talked about were surprisingly excellent and new and perfect, sympathetic yet putting them in the subaltern position constantly as they are cut off from the sociality, they take their reality or any verbal qualities from the women who even if dead are more vividly real than those men. and their physical qualities – the way their voices singing are described or they seem important narratively but then clearly aren’t (put in their place neatly by mrs. todd) ( And the end – i’ll just say I never saw thelma and louise on purpose because it annoyed me so much to know they drive off a cliff for fuck’s sake but I was thinking on the last pages of Pointed Firs that no no no I’m just going to sort of pretend that it happened differently. not that it was bad or unfeminist ending but you’ll be going no no no! with me in a cheerleadery way, I think.) (also, like the cheesy end of narnia where they keep getting into more and more real countries or countries that are becoming more and more real)

Sat. 1-ish.
Minneapolis airport. I felt that it was ennobled, enveloped in a golden halo of being in the city that is forever the home of Layne Johnson, Plain Layne, and the incomparable Odin. Somewhere in this town there’s the Applebees where she had her date with that unsuitable guy!
I eat a sandwich, edit that latin article some more, and play “spot the person going to wiscon”. There are 2 possible candidates. One sits next to me on the plane – something nerdly about her – I try to make eye contact a couple of times but she looks out the window steadily, occasionally sniffling and possibly crying. I make up a whole thing where she is going to Wiscon and is cryingn because pat york just died and they were great friends. In my imagination we figure out our vague connection and share a cab. This doesn’t happen. I still wonder if she is here.

sat. 3:00-ish
on reg packet written “badger is a hot babe. i’m in room 437” well! i guess we didn’t need that panel on how to flirt and get laid – after all. that’s the kind of registration packet that should be at every conference!
alex formerly aliena spun me about…
dropped off giant armload of books
peeked into reading by kelly link and carol emshwiller
settled in identity/consciousness what makes a mind, rebuilding a mind panel. amy thomson, john m. scolsi, andrea d. hairston, beth A. Plutchak. andrea hairston talked abotu her novel Mindscape – it sounds quite interesting w. double consciousness (whether feminist or race other consciousness raising, andrea mentioned henry louis gates… also thoughts very much along the lines of how i think about continuity of identity. She’s so loud and bouncy and excited ! I’ll read her book.

personality changes thru meds.

constructing biological constructed intelligences. genetic engineering, dna, evolving….
a.t. – buddhism and not needing a substrate for consciousness….

[what i think is that in having our Grand Conversation that is a way of non-individual consciousness. like when peopel keep talking about integrating different bits or synthesizing, well, what for – what the big anxiety about integrating and having this one consciousness…]

panel and audience becomes very boringly about people’s “I know someone who has alzheimers or is autistic” anecdotes. sorry y’all… damn boring.
empathy – if you lack it you lack consciousness? humph. and ….


i’m running into the entire bay area here in wisconsin… donya… ellen k….
sudden semaphoric excellent conversation about feminist history and the Pointed Firs with oursin, in the Green Room. we made a pact to meet to go to dinner and escape the overstimulation – very smart of her.
i babble incoherently at Amhar…
I’m bouncing around blurting things to anyone who pops up in front of me – I’m popping up in front of people like a raving prairie dog…

Debbie N. moderating panel on women and the draft. hmm, just as at the potlatch panel i saw her do, it is moderated with pleasant balance and skill.
i missed the very beginning of the panel
david haseman. was in military. in favor of universal draft but training expectations must be same. no 5 extra minutes to put on makeup or doing only 15 pushups instead of 75. hardass, all he wants to care aboutis, will this person watch my back, will they be trustable in combat. interestiong. eliz. bear making good points… it’s all going too fast. nonie also. there is less disagreement… no one is saying “it’s inherently unfeminist to be in the military” nonie saying “universal service – even if conscientious objector or whatever)
someone in the audience brings up ptsd – affecting men and women differently? (hrm, what’s the point of bringing that up?)
jeanne g. in countries where they have a draft does it mean that more people, more citizens, everyone, is involved in the decision to go to war or not – i.e. more people care because more people are affected.

david h. – draft law going into effect this summer. men and women must register for the draft.
women not in combat zone…
nonie – speaks a little bit to what jeanne g. said – universal service might make people more connected to the military so they care more.

ack, i keep interrupting but not making any point… i get too excited…

is it in some way unfeminist to support war.
empowerment, or brainwashing? rioting? makes criminality of underclass more prone to violence? makes revolution? destabilizes society?
isn’t the hierarchical setup of the military inherently patriarchal… obey w/out question… making of yourself a tool for someone else to wield and spend.
could there be a feminist military training?
what would a feminist military look like?

wwii – guy in yellow yelling about how every woman was in uniform unless had kids or a job? everyone talking… some yelling.

sex and birth control. “sexual intimacy is immaterial as long as i can trust you not to get me shot and to watch my back in combat…” (david again) A good point…

person in audience – and what about between ranks because people have power over each other. nonie: what happns in military right now is senior male and junior female and it’s a problem.. becuase of societal imbalance of sexual politics…

person in audience…. her attitude is pretty basic ew icky military … etc. andwhat about women and kids jmore likely to be beat up by returning soldiers (i’ve read this too) what about then less victims b/c then the women have training too and can’t be beat up so easy. can defend themselves. all really good points…

nancyjane moore talking about boys and girls.. differencesnow… in sf we can change that and say what if it were different.
alan b. even tho the women in military are self-selected but we don’t “expect” them to be able to do the same things as the men. but these women don’t know… the men don’t know what they are capable of.

Debbie – if we’re saying that the army’s job is conversation, negotiating… etc…. these are the things that supposedly women are good at. so why … as a culture we’re failing men and boys more than we’re failing women in the educational system. this maybe partly why more boys go into the military – there are less choices for them . (hmmm I am not sure if I agree with that – military? or housewife/childbearing slave?great choice. women also failed by educational system…)

guy in audience with point about gender and gayness and being beat up for it and that not being fixed by being in army
david h. says that black guys in military helped civil rights in this country.
eliz. bear – make military more attractive to people – health care, adequate pay, etc.
nonie also thinks vietnam helped racism in this country (Hmm again – did it? i think of my dad giving lip service to beign in service with black guys and how it made him less racist – but he’s still darn racist, and what’s the stat, something like 1/3 of black men still end up in jail at some point in their lifetime – )

david – our job as sf writers is to prepare our socity. sf is explicitly educational. (here i disagree)

dinner with oursin! she’s splendid! Suddenly London sounds like a nice place to go!


auction. ellen klages in a darth vader mask…. space babe! saving the galaxy from outmoded gender roles in speculative fiction!

monster women lunch box… well, it quickly went over $100!
diptych of the space babe entering the secret feminist academy! “area restricted”…
a bottle of lydia pinkham’s vegetable fcompound. yes, really! 120 bucks.
a copy of how to suppress women’s writing. ooooooo…. russ might! just might! come to wiscon next year!
bidding now turns to your very own “you@spacebabe.org” forever as long as the tiptree shall last…
My heart goes out to the poster of space babe for wwII… perched on a book of Secret Feminist Tales asking “What are YOU reading?”
And the small posters – Whump got them. “I don’t need to bid against him! I can visit him and see it for free!” “You are not getting the point of a charity auction…” Secretly I resolve to try to bully Whump into giving me the postcard triptych of Amazing Stories Spacebabe covers! After all – it’s almost my birthday. Perhaps I could push him into the hotel pool. Give us the precious! It’s our birthday presssssent! Oh – whoops, it got wet. Darn.


I wish that these posters would get printed for all of us… wouldn’t a hundred people paying 10 bucks be better than one original, auctioned? One could still auction the original. The audience seemed so sad.


now in panel on little-known women you should be reading…
Everyone’s going on about Karen Traviss with high praise! 2 3 panelists and much of the audience agreeing. complexity… ethics… feminism… interesting science…


Of all the books being recommended – the one that I want the most is “A Field Guide to Bacteria” by Betsey Dexter Dyer. I can’t WAIT. (I know it sounds gross – but think of E.O. Wilson’s giant book on ants – and how great it is! Okay, you can’t think of it very effectively if you haven’t seen it – but it’s great even if you have no particular interest in ants. )

vague flitting about. exhausted. why am i not in bed?

Some people are very dressed up for the Tor party.

Hot tubbing. 4 or 5 of us had funny-colored hair so that I felt like gonzo with the funkified alien gonzos from the big spaceship in Muppets in Space. Home! My people!

the Con Suite has fortune cookies. mine says “A long life has its effect. If you live long enough you will see a wrinkle… in time.” Did they get these specially made? I’m impressed!

I can’t get the hotel wireless from my room so i’m in my purple batik nightgown with turtles on it on the 2nd floor, doing some soothing midnight blogging before bedtime. I can’t talk to another person! Everyone’s so nice…

introducing people is very easy. Cool feminist nerd, meet another cool feminist nerd. See how simple that was?

5 Responses to “wiscon report”

  1. Ide Cyan

    Do you mind if I index your WisCon posts on Whileaway?

  2. Liz

    A link to it is fine. Hey, where are you? Are you here?

  3. Ide Cyan

    Alas, no. No WisCon for me. I’m just home and trying to collect other people’s reports of the con.

  4. elswhere

    Oh it does sound great! I’m not even a big SF person, but it just sounds like a blast.
    btw– the “failing boys in school more than girls”– statistically girls are doing better in school the last 5-10 years, getting higher grades overall, going to college more, getting more college degrees. But yeah, schools are probably failing girls in different ways. not so much academically, though.

  5. Orange Mike

    Elswhere, there is no trip like the trip which is WisCon. Any good SF con, for an SF reader, is about as much fun as you can have without getting arrested. WisCon is as much fun as you can have without getting arrested EVEN IN MADISON! 700-800 fun and funky feminists of all genders sexual identities, etc., intelligent and well-read, aged 3 weeks to 80+ years, spending an intensive four days immersed in each others’ mindspaces! I praise God every year that I live so close to this wonder (and I’ve been to SF cons from Den Haag to L.A.). And if you don’t think you’re a big SF person, WisCon is likely to introduce you to SF that makes you think otherwise!

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