Posts Tagged ‘gender’

A riot grrl manifesto

You can buy this very interesting feminist manifesto from the riot grrl days for the Kindle or the iPod! Warning, not for the faint of heart or anyone who minds cussing.
The Slut Manifesto

It’s a long, ranty, somewhat incoherent manifesto about women, gender, sex, and capitalism. Whether you agree with everything in it or not, and I’m guess for most people that’s “not”, it’s definitely thought provoking.
Enjoy!

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Vital gender under-class lessons from a sabretoothed squirrel

Just like I enjoyed Twilight while noticing its perturbing elements, I can appreciate the fun animation in Ice Age while REALLY hating the sexist cultural referents its humor depends on. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Here, we have a host of assumptions underlying the narrative of the guy squirrel and the girl squirrel. Which we know is a girl squirrel because it’s wearing blue eyeshadow and acts sexually manipulative. (Hint! Little girls! That’s all you need to become a Woman! Start practicing today!)

The guy squirrel possesses the fruits of his labor, which he has rightly earned and which he needs to survive. The girl squirrel uses a combination of sexual manipulation and faked distress to trick the guy into entering an implied contract to share resources based on love and sex. This would not make sense unless we understood and accepted that the girl is unable to get an acorn through her own labor. The girl then screws the guy out of his earnings. He has been a fool! (Little boys, take note! Don’t let this happen to you! It’s just how girls are!) The end.

Let me unpack it a little bit more for you. Women’s efforts and labor doesn’t actually count. If they do anything, or work at anything, or achieve anything, that can be instantly invalidated by saying they stole that tangible success through sex, ie through a transaction with a man trading the only thing women have of value, which is their sexual availability to men. Or, in this case, to goddamned sabre-toothed cartoon man-squirrels. That’s either just the way girl squirrels are because of their essential nature which results in wry romantic comedy hijinks, OR they’re that way because society has denied them the ability to make a living or if they (barely) have it, the actual credit for making that living is denied them and it must have been due to some man in the background who they’re blowing on the casting couch (or the VC board room, or whatever). Therefore, it makes sense to believe, and to base humor that “we all can understand” on the “fact”, the weird, powerful, and false idea, that there is a huge category of women with no legitimate personal interest in any particular subject who are just looking for some powerful man to fuck in order to access (and steal) his power (though how are they stealing it if they are actually exchanging something of value, ie, sex?) These women are looking to sleep with you, the powerful (!?) man to get a tangible benefit because they can’t (legitimately by your standards) benefit from their own labor. Given the slightest opportunity they will turn on you (the man who has earned everything justly, even if it has been by exploiting others’ labor). Unfortunately there is NO woman so powerful and accomplished that this misogynist patriarchal myth cannot discredit. Go ahead and think of one and let me know if you come up with any answers.

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Getting rid of some books, part 2

Another small round of decluttering. I spent most of the day in bed reading 5 Miss Marple novels. They are so classist and racist and sexist and full of horrible gender stereotypes but they are oddly satisfying because there are so many active women characters in them who are smart, powerful, shrewd, or who have other positive qualities – usually, they pass the Bechdel test very well. I kind of enjoy the classist bits because they make particular attitudes about class very clear – as in girls’ series books.

- The Mirror Crack’d. The neurotic American film star at the top of the stairs whose baby was born “mentally defective” and was put away in a home. Ugh! Makes one appreciate how times have changed. Sly blackmailing secretary with a nasal atomizer. Scatterbrained, gardening Mrs. Bantry whose house it use to be. Arty photographer girl from London. Busybody self centered organizing woman who does a ton of charity work (victim). Stupid parlormaid (victim) though not actually a parlormaid, is temporary help from, uh, the village. Or something.

- A Carribean Mystery. Miss Marple on some tropical island. Casual racism. Nice young couple who own a hotel. Stuffy old bore who tells stories of shooting lions in Africa, and murders (victim). Black parlormaid (victim) blackmailer. Cantankerous semi-paralyzed old man, Mr. Raffiel, who is insanely rich and who teams up with Miss Marple. His snoopy male secretary/valet/masseur. His widowed assistant/nurse/attendant.

- Nemesis. Sequel to Caribbean Mystery. Mr. Raffiel leaves a mysterious mystery to Miss Marple. Gardening tour. Middle aged ladies (I liked them.) Three sisters who live in a decaying old house. Many interesting references to a bad girl from the village who has been running around with boys since she was 12 (victim). Pure schoolgirl with heart of gold from days of yore (victim). Saintly, powerful headmistress of a school (victim). Miss Marple seems quite old in this book and it is suggested she might die in the next year or so.

- What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. Miss Marple’s friend witnesses a murder on a passing train. Good character of the insanely competent university educated woman, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, who chooses to be an incredibly high paid domestic servant instead of academia, in order to have an independent life. Big family. Cantankerous old Mr. Crackenthorpe and his various children who want to inherit his cash and estate.

- The Body in the Library. Mrs. Bantry, much younger and still living in her enormous estate which was later bought by the neurotic film star in Mirror Crack’d. Arty, scandalous film people. A hotel in a nearby village or town where idle people seem to come and stay for an entire season, dancing, playing bridge, taking tennis lessons, and being secretly scandalous. Hotels seem to routinely keep a staff of “hosts” who mix with the guests and play up to them (as in Caribbean Mystery)

Why am I poisoning my mind with this crap! I have so many nice books to read!

Other books on the way out:

* Our National Parks vol. 1 and 2 (from the 50s, with cool illustrations)
* Several other very old guidebooks to parks and regions and beaches
* Sew Simply, Sew Perfect (for its 1960s-ness and basic concepts)
* Comparative Mythology by Puhvel (textbook?)
* How the Irish Saved Civilization
* The Voice of the Whirlwind: The Book of Job (???)
* The New Golden Bough
* Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga
* The Book of the Dead – dover thrift of the Wallis Budge version. Tempted to keep this one.

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Lovely lovely databases

SF Chronicle and LA Times have made available a searchable database of donors supporting and opposing Proposition 8. I just searched on donors from Utah. Fascinating stuff. You can sort each column, so I tried sorting on amount donated to find the big spenders. Bruce Bastian donated a million dollars opposing it, i.e. in support of people’s right to marry. I looked up his name figuring anyone who could afford to donate a million bucks must be googleable. Sure enough, he is one of the founders of WordPerfect.

Here’s the weird thing. I did the same search to see who supports Prop 8 and there is another million dollar donor named Alan Ashton. I looked him up and for god’s sake he’s another founder of WordPerfect.

What the heck? Did one donate first, and the other one get so mad and embarrassed he had to match it, but on the other side? I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that Ashton was first. I’m trying to imagine their fiery history together writing that code that gave us the chalky blue screen with the chunky letters… Maybe they were college roommates… Friendship and shared hackerdom, undermined by years of software company tomfoolery and financial competition, then… by homophobia?

Someone needs to write the slash fic for this, clearly.

It’s nice to see that my own neighborhood is about 95% “oppose” with their donations. Then… where did all those Mormon “Yes on 8″ rally people come from, who have been out on the corner near my house? Utah?

*** Update*** have now actually read their bios in Wikipedia. Bastian was Ashton’s student as well as his fellow programmer and business partner and WordPerfect tycoon! The RPF writes itself.

*** More updating *** I was wrong! Bastian donated a few times first, and donated his million back in July! Ashton only donated once, 1 million on October 28! The drama of it! And Bastian came out as a gay Mormon and is way involved with the HRC. So what happened that Ashton felt like he had to jump in and donate his own million?

******** STILL LATER ************
So, I realize people are likely pulling all this data to do creepy stuff with it. But I still love it. I love the transparency. Just put it out there! Fine, say we’re all gay! We’ll point and say, y’all are homophobes and bigots!

Imagine if we had this level of transparency into who donated what in the 60s towards (and against) the civil rights movement? Wouldn’t that be fascinating? Maybe we’ll have this data 30 years from now when today’s level of homophobia seems unthinkable to a new generation.

Creepy, right? But when there’s data to be had, I’d rather we all have it than only giant corporations and the government have it.

The message is this: You do not have to change your beliefs. You do not have to budge an inch on your views. You are still free to hate black people, still free to fear gay people (or demean women) all you like. It’s simply that we as an Obama-led, gender-inclusive nation no longer have any real use for your brand of poison. We are done with you. (from Mark Morford’s latest editorial)

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Riot Grrl Nostalgia show

There was a good crowd at the Center for Sex & Culture last night last week for the riot grrl SFinX reading. Here’s my notes!

Carol Queen read an intro for Gina de Vries.

Gina wrote Curve mag’s “Hey Baby” column. In 97 she was called “jarringly precocious” by Time Magazine.
Carol (interrupting herself): I did not know that. That is AWESOME! When I was jarringly precocious Time magazine never noticed! There was a photo… gina what were you wearing in it?
Gina: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society
Carol: How old were you?
Gina: 14
*everyone cracks up*
*more intro*

Gina: There will be cupcakes at intermission. chocolate bergamot… Homemade! I made them! *audience cheers*

Gina read a memoir piece in 2 parts. The first part was about when she was 14 and bought her leopard print mini skirt. “It was the sluttiest thing i’d ever bought.”

Her deep friendship with a very serious queer femme riot grrl, Lila. We talked about veganism, bands, racism, and pornography. (They had class differences. Lila and a lot of the other girls were richer.) Making mix tapes and trading them. Gina read “The Persistent Desire”. Traded zines with every girl I met and hundreds of others through the mail. Starstruck at meeting Kate Bornstein. The overwhelming joy of finally being taken seriously as a queer girl.

“Dykes and fags! Working together! Biphobia sucks! Transgender revolution! Fuck shit UP!” *cheers*
We were so earnest…

Melissa Gira reading from draft of Girl Out of Order … i liked best the bit about how she would work until she passed out, and the process of taking photos of cartoons on tv with a disposable camera, getting them developed at the drugstore, carefully scanning them with a sort of squeegee scanner into the huge, beige, computer at her friend’s parents’ house, then printing it out, cutting it up into bits, writing on it, and pasting it with rubber cement into a zine.

The dangers of the postal service. Sending naked photos of herself. “Parents, lock up your stamps!”

A bunch about sex. Playing out age play with her boyfriend. Pretending to be a virgin (in one of the best asides of the night Melissa added, “Of course it had only been having sex for 4 months”)

Celeste Chan – Riot Grrl was before my time but i was inspired by it, read Sassy, checked Bikini Kill albums out from the library, watched the Yo Yo gang, moved to Olympia in 2000, I imagined it all fantastic and full of fierce eyed women, like it was dyke march every day….*cheers from audience* Instead, it was like getting too close to a dream best friend. You see their flaws. Huggy Bear, Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, thrifting… loved the ethos of diy and you can do anything. It was one of the very few subcultures dealing with violence against women, homophobia, fatphobia and the masculinist nature of punk culture. Addressing competition and jealousy that women are socialized into. It was great. Bring back riot grrrl!!!!!

Zuleikha Mahmoud. Femme shark. ***FEMME SHARKS!!!!!**** yell from audience. Omar and the lesbians band. Going on tour with Mangos with Chili. *cheers*

I, like Celeste, was a little too young. Was in hard core rural Pennsylvania. It didn’t quite make it there. That was the only thing that helped me imagine another life. When I was a little kid I was a strong feminist and I didn’t have a word for it. Then I started going to the library and the librarians had a really intense stockpile of feminist books.

So now I’m writing a book about slutty muslim girls. To reflect myself and the girls I love. A novel. I could read that or, *cries of “BOTH!!!” from audience* AND, I was going to read a piece about the first pride i went to, 2005 in new york.

“Jess is on her way over… she was going to bring her bass to teach me how to play. “I’ll teach you some fingering” and then we laughed but she said she really earnestly wanted to start a band with me. I hope to god she also wants to fuck me. I ran around my apartment hiding all the mainstream shit. The beauty mags and nikes. (phone call with friend) What’s up bachaim. (Farsi for “baby, dear friend”) (explanation of girl coming over) “Text me if you lose your lesbian virginity.” “Inshallah”. God, I wanted her, as much as I wanted shoes or drugs, as much as I wanted to move out when I lived with my parents. (she comes over) “Take your shoes off this is an asian house.” Jess eats a banana. DO THEY KISS OR WHAT OMG I CAN’T WAIT you will have to read the book when Zuleikha finishes it. (Note my subtle implication that she WILL FINISH IT DAMMIT… because it rocks)
2nd story from Zuleikha. First pride march. The night before. Homophobe violence. racism. a fight. I knew the parade was corporate but wasn’t prepared to have Macy’s celebrating my gayness or whatever!
Emotional moment of a parent filming their kid in the parade proudly…

(break) (cupcakes!) A bunch of us stand around and bond on how back then we learned how to do menstrual extraction and were all ready to start smuggling RU-486.

Then me

I talked about my zines and how I started identifying with riot grrl stuff, and showed a folder of a jillion letters, April – June 94, from all over the country. Then read some bits of the Slut Manifesto, which got a lot of laughs. (omg, i must find a better home for that manifesto.) I edited out a lot of the long ranty bits, warning everyone that during edits I’d say “Rant rant rant”. I had not timed it and have no idea how long I read, am hoping not too long. I enjoyed reading it so much. It was tempting to edit the hell out of it and also go back in time and argue with myself. Still I felt a sudden wave of affection for my fierce little self of years ago. Carol asked me if I had written in in irony or not. In retrospect, sure, there was plenty of irony in there but I also meant everything.

This was the first reading I’ve done since disabled again where I felt like I had a reasonable amount of energy and verve. Now, I can pull it off even when I feel like shit and have to fake it, but it feels so great to get a little of my mojo back. whew! and to feel connected with people. I don’t think I’ve ever read to, how should i put this, such the right target audience for anything i’ve read out loud. (though the capitol punishment story at years-ago-SFinX was similar!) how nice was that!!! and my riot grrl stuff does not really get integrated with the other bits of my life, very often. (though i do feel like blogging and even working with blogher are my continuation of all that.)

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha – growing up in (amherst?) – ad in the back of MRR – “I love janes addiction, i cut myself, write me” and getting a ton of letters. riot grrl wrote to her and had gone through MRR to write to every girl who had an ad. Leah was touched… parents didn’t let her out of the house… (next town over might as well have been on the moon.) Moved to NY – then was like “oh, crap, i’m really poor” also tough being mixed race punk in ny… met unsuitable guy way older – blew him off – “some guy who looked like freddy kruger at the bookstore wanted to fuck me” crazy guys breathing on you and trying line after line… 13th street squat getting busted. mystical hippie earth firsters trying to hold down a chapter in midtown manhattan where there pretty much wasn’t an ecosystem left anywhere… She was 19… admired an older 24 yr old woman who was so tough and had been living in squats for 10 years but who would not talk with her… Cops, a tank, assault rifles, it felt like us or them, 500 bodies, no matter how much we blieved in non-violent resistence… dragged off one by one… The guy was a brilliant storyteller… the way people are who have been on the street or in prison since they were kids… he was bi and assumed she was… (I forget what funny queer punk tshirt he had on but it made me laugh) took off their shirts on wall street… fucking in another squat with the guy… not really quite feeling it as sexual … though enjoyable… “like the promise of some day having a body” (I loved that description of sex)

I forget who it was (Leah?) saying something hilarious about west coast queer punk girls being all tra la about it but NYC punk girls being all like FUCK YOU I HATE WOMEN.

Nomy Lamm – old spoken word stuff from 93 – but here instead is stuff that i didn’t read in public at the time. “the ain’t” was my band and this was our song. sing with me… (we sing the bass line) … easy target… piece about living with her best friend who she was in love with. Their messy house and the junk food and fruit flies! Stuff about jealousy, about punk scene hierarchies and how could we have this movement and still have that and so many things being about conforming or conventional attractiveness. (She and another woman whose name I did not catch but who played bass did a song – Nomy played the accordion)

A whole lot of us went to Chow afterwards. I was not sure if I was at the grownup table or the butch table. we talked about Steven’s anarchist anthropologist book and i forget what all else, some about the readings, i went over and talked a bit with everybody else… I think they were going to Rebel Girl at the Rickshaw Stop.

tonight hazelbroom and I were gossipping on IM about all this and we were just listing off 90s dykey zine people and telling funny stories. I told her how I wished I had met Stephanie Kulick who I traded zines with and then later saw Mark’s page about her and realized she was likely a major kindred spirit right down to her woman symbol necklace matching my woman symbol earring which I lost in the ballerina pie fight.

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Hostile Takeover trilogy, book two

Somewhere along the line in Partisan, I noted particular moments of the female protagonists being pretty decent, but there were some flaws. Tetsami the plucky hacker chick spoke up to Dom the tortured wealthy genius cyborg hero to demand that he treat her as an equal partner in their military operation / corporate espionage. I loved it that she *noticed he was dissing her*. In other words she was savvy enough in the world of “Games Mother Never Taught You” to notice subtleties of power politics. On the down side, she didn’t have much to negotiate with other than “You owe it to me for some nebulous reason we cannot quite articulate but that we are both aware of” and that reason is romantic love or sexual tension or both, which I thought utterly sucked as a motivator in anarchist politics. Or, maybe the story’s trying to get across that anarchist politics gets a sort of humanizing rescue from patriarchal romantic love. It wasn’t very convincing politically or romantically though it fit fine in a pulp genre tale. Their “romance” goes like this:

OMG we’re in Danger! Quick, be clever and reckless! Wait, I hate you! Damn you! You bastard! Taxes and damnation!! (anarchist planet cussing) But I only was reckless because you’d really hate me if you knew who I really was! (WANGST MOMENT ALONE WITH MIRRORS CONTEMPLATING CYBORGIAN NATURE) No, I really hate you because you ignored my agency and hid information from me and hogged all the power and don’t communicate or say what you really think, you fucker! That’s why I can’t resist you, James Bond Spock Daddy! *KISS* *something blows up again* *tragic separation*

Oooookay! Sort of works, sort of annoying!

Back to why Tetsami is awesome. She thinks and fights. Fine, she thinks damn near every thought about how she wants some cyborg man-love. But, she also plots, is good at tactics, saves her wounded soldiers, hacks, is brave, gets her own dark secret and angstiness over her genetically modified heritage and cyber-brain-implant, etc. And so far (FINGERS CROSSED) she has not been raped, stripped of all her thoughts and powers and skills, held hostage and rescued while being completely helpless, put into a coma, or mind-wiped a-la-Vernor-Vinge. How extremely unusual for a military sf book. I appreciate that.

Kathy Shane, the ex-Marine and one of the tanks of our Adventuring Party (where Tetsami is the thief or rogue) has some good moments as well. She does try to off herself in a blaze of guilty soldierly glory but instead gets some cyber legs and spends most of book 2 on a dungeon crawl (Swiniarski, I can spot your rpg roots a MILE away) chasing her former soldier and escaped prisoner Houghton whose magical sudden art history background leads her through a 2 day spelunking expedition to the freaking heart of the planet miles below sea level to the ALIEN ARTIFACT CACHE. She didn’t do much else but it resolved her angst neatly, she had some nice banter with Random Walk, the remote drone of the AI of the Adventurers. Again, notably not raped. She gets a love interest too; from moment 1 of meeting Ivor (Tetsami’s adopted father) they have a soldierly little undercurrent of unconscious swoony destiny. They have not yet leaped into bed together but Destiny calls. So that’s nice too actually, while romantic subplots make me throw up a little in my mouth and I hate them as motivating or defining characteristics of female characters, it’s also nice that Shane doesn’t get de-sexed or doesn’t get to have the potential of getting laid just because she’s the tank of the party.

The story has continued moving along. It’s exciting! It’s pulpy! There’s a giant war and a bunch of local star system politics becomes clearer with 4 main arms of the Confederacy vying for power with Bakunin the anarchist planet as the prize. Nanotech! Giant laaaasers! Armored giant transformer-like vehicle porn lovingly described!

Oh I must also note the naming of one of the Vehicles. There is a funny car-buying scene where Tetsami realizes the awesome RV she’s about to buy is Loved by its owner to an extreme. He fetishizes it and caresses its shiny curves and has named it The Lady. Further evidence that Bakunin is not a post-patriarchy anarchy. (And how can that be… I ask in all seriousness.) Tetsami uses that knowledge very well in negotiating with the vehicle’s owner. So she ends up with “The Lady” which is basically the best RV ever with giant battle weapons and an autodoc and mining equipment and everything you could wish on your futuristic wish fulfillment survivalist pave-the-earth mobile living capsule. I took the naming and fetishizing as evidence of post-patriarchy while Zond-7 thought it meant sort of high status or respect of women ie “Lady” but I pointed out that still conflated property with women and vice versa and owning a high status (or named to be) woman/vehicle was a way to confer status (and not to the owned party) and also the trope of naming a slave or pet with a name like Duke or Cicero (which he was not aware of at all). Again a passage that would be illuminated by complete regendering. If it sounds hilarious regendered, it’s probably not post patriarchy.

The moment where Dom is looking at himself in a hundred reflections of reflections of himself in the polished walls of the obsidian cave would also be somewhat “off” if regendered. It might make a nice literary experiment.

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Thoughts at the beginning of The Hostile Takeover trilogy

A hundred pages in to The Hostile Takeover trilogy I have the basic idea of what’s going on. Cast of characters:

* Dmitri who is super super old and lives on Mars and has lots of replacement organs.
* Ambrose is his cyberslave Jeeves. If you get robot body parts you are no longer human. Oh no!
* Klaus Dacham who is EEEEEVIL and whose mom Helen died. Head of TEC which stands for uhhhh The Evil CIA, or something. Sucks the blood of kittens.
* Captain Kathy Shane, interstellar marine in the Confederacy. She’s tuff and has a cool punk haircut.
* Dominic Magnus which is a pseudonym and who killed Helen and who is on Bakunin the anarchist planet. Used to be in TEC. Started GA&A megacorp. OMG has robot parts. Stares at self in mirror a lot. Gothy.
* Tetsami who is an industrial espionage superhacker and rides a flying motorbike on the anarchist planet. She has a cool sexy haircut.
* The mystery assassin on Mars. (There are hints in a couple of chapters to who it is and how/why.)
* The AI (s) who have their own mysterious motivations.
* We will not “spoil” things for you by pointing out that of these characters some of them might be BROTHERS OMG MAYBE EVEN TWINSIES!! Angstorama!

So far my main thoughts are,

The anarchist planet horrible paladin church with TV game show killings and ransoms are AWESOME and funny. There is a good bit of Tetsami and Dom discussing how the socialist anarchist atheists who founded Bakunin’s colony would be rolling in their graves at the Techno Paladins. The paladins run around in shiny cyber armor rescuing people and slaying criminals. Or they stun everyone and take them hostage to be on their holo tv game show where the audience phones in money to kill, ransom, or perhaps maim the rescued or the criminals. This is great – you can totally picture it happening on the anarchist planet.

I want to write funny bits where Dom is staring at himself in the mirror thinking of suicide because he’s half robot and stuff (as has done already several times in 100 pages and will clearly do again) and then some horribly funny over-gothy sex happens. Or his thoughts as he broodily contemplates his robot dick in the mirror in all its throbbing cyber glory. Slash with the *cough*brother*cough*! Or a scene where he shows his partner in crime his “hardware specifications”! Maybe it’s just me. I’m waiting to see if the author will actually go there himself to write a tacky robot sex scene. Why waste ink if it’s already in the book?

About the scene where Dom is being attacked by a gang of thugs. The writer takes the time to set up all the thugs as separate people with different haircuts and outfits and little personalities like roleplaying game NPCs and then they all get SHOT DEAD in half a page. It has a timeless trashy-beautiful quality about it like the scene in a war movie where the guys in the submarine or the trenches all have cardboard personalities set up so that you can appreciate the pathos of their deaths. But here, more so that you can feel you are in Pit Fighter kicking the ass of Slightly Futuristic Stereotype #5 with an eyepatch, and remember him as a different death than Slightly Futuristic Stereotype #6 with the mohawk. In Hostile Takeover so far, this happens a lot, part of what makes it satisifyingly trashy.

One more thing. Like most science fiction books that think out a politically and culturally different far distant future there is not a very good gender analysis. On the anarchist planet in theory everyone has these giant fucking laser cannons and motorbikes, or whatever, and so why do we still have some kind of fundamental patriarchy such that Tetsami thinks instantly of her main value as sex work? What the hell? Gender essentialism I guess. If you have a society where an industrial espionage black ops hacking expert who has survived against all odds by being incredibly tough and having a giant motorbike and blaster bazooka things or whatever she has in her arsenal, why would your main selling point to ransom yourself be to fuck the guy who ransoms you? (Minor spoiler: She doesn’t – it is just her big plan. Don’t worry.) Why wouldn’t you be like OH HAI I HAZ MAD SKILLZ AND CAN FIX YOUR COMPUTERZ. Why assume it would be a man who ransoms her and that anyone (male or female) would care to pay that much to fuck her? If that’s what instantly springs to her mind it has all sorts of weird implications that don’t seem to really hold water – it would mean women are terrifically oppressed and disempowered in Bakunin’s anarchist system (for some strange reason) and that also somehow, there aren’t enough prostitutes (which there would be if women were that disempowered) so men are so desperate to fuck this one hacker chick with a hot haircut that they would pay a king’s ransom to do so. Also, it’s idiotic that she is made to say it sort of bravely like it would be difficult and the other dude was shocked and impressed that she might just square her jaw and go “Because I’d promise to fuck him” like she should squeal at the thought with maiden delicacy and horror and he admired her pragmatism. Dude…. just NOT. All you have to do is regender the scene in your mind, and the politics and culture don’t make any sense.

Zond-7 has reassured me that no one gets raped and the situation of women in the book is balanced and not what one might expect though there is some denial of agency which is then later rectified. We’ll see! I noticed in the Paladin game show the audience votes to fry a captive who was caught “raping a teenage girl” so I suspect rape culture will pervade this sf novel – so disappointing – you can imagine interstellar travel, yet you think that patriarchy is permanent?

I give a huge amount of credit for the entertaining setup. I love the horrible yet still attractive anarchist planet! The anarchists are sort of the good guys! That part’s great so far.

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Uneasy need for rest

I spent yesterday in bed writing drafts and abandoning them, watching feeds, absorbing too much information. After the long intense weekend, complete rest might have been a better idea. Last night in sleep and waking I scrabbled an endless round of anxiety dreams about airports, schedules, missed trains, my wheelchair being taken away from me, being lost in cars, and stressful arguments. I don’t want to get out of my pajamas. My mom and dad are here, planning to take Moomin to the giant complicated indoor playground-inside-a-swimming pool in the East Bay, meeting Minnie and her baby, going back to her house, so I also feel torn and sad and want to be with them and that I am letting my family down, my child barely missed me, I am not needed, I did not organize, I didn’t invite, I didn’t cook or shop or prepare, I’m not participating, I’m not paying attention, I’m letting the moments slip away.

I made hundreds of shallow connections, but not enough deep ones. Nothing felt like it bore fruit in the moment. But, it will, and I trust that. Instead I was a conduit and a connection point. I didn’t do anything, make anything, fix anything, build, create, even in my imagination it all remained inchoate — but I took the quick evaluations & shallow connections and said here, you talk with her, you need to know this, read this, are you aware of exactlywhatyouneed.net, and people lit up as they connected, as if I were a telephone switchboard. If I am invisible in that, I have to still be satisfied with my role and abandon my ego. It is hard to be visible, but invisible. A sort of conspicuous mascot, seen but not known. I could cry on the shoulder of everyone I met but did not get to know. Is it possible to love everyone? Maybe, but not to love them right. There is too much, there are so many of us, I am starving to know everything and everyone.

Oh poor me, a weekend of hundreds of people telling me I’m super awesome!

Ugh! But am I… I’m so not… they don’t know… Is it enough? Am I enough? Can I ever do enough to be satisfied with myself? Can I at least finish a few projects, follow through on anything? How do I know that people like me for the right reasons? What if it’s all flash and show and surface, and false?

Where is my discipline?

What if I am making all the wrong choices?

But back in real life and out of my theoretical identity tailspin:

Aside from catching up with some regular work, I want to continue trying to synthesize this weekend and some general thoughts about blogging, gender, class, and digital divides. And I’d like to look forward as well into planning some things to do or suggesting directions.

I have an awful lot of blogging cards to look at. Blogs to consider and link to. Notes from conversations to write up. Thoughts to gather and express.

Meanwhile the book project is on the back burner, a constant torment and source of guilt.

I am comforted yet perturbed as the hypothetical of “at some point in next few years Rook might switch career tracks and have a break” becomes “Now I support the family for a while and switch roles myself.” Can I do it? I’m a little scared. It might be a very good thing in many dimensions.

I might need in a big way to migrate all my blogs back into a single one, clean up this one big time with proper tags and categories even if most of the categories are nebulous like “Long Philosophical Rant Mixed with Daily Life and the Juicy Bits Buried Baroquely”. Badgermama and Composite feel so cramped and sterile and thank god I still ramble on at length without trying to narrow the focus here, where I say whatever the hell I want (barring a couple of limitations which i will keep trying hard to think of as Tact).

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Action movie preview rant; racism in Indiana Jones

I went to my friend’s steampunk beach wedding with Rook and Zond-7 and all and sundry!

there is no charge for awesome

Aren’t they cute as hell?

Held a giant chiton (described in post below, but here’s the photo to show how huge it was!)

Went to RoboGames! Drove all over hell and back! Drove to Oakland and hung out with Minnie and Moomin and small Mr. Screamypants!

I saw the Indiana Jones movie, loving it and hating it. I was steeling myself for an inevitable ancient-Harrison-Ford romance with a plucky yet needing to be rescued 24 year old actress, and indeed the movie had all the pain of Smurfette Syndrome, ie, a bunch of male characters of varying kinds and one plucky girl. BUT…. it had the saving grace of having TWO female characters. The plucky girl was older than one would expect from craptastic sexist ageist Hollywood, like actually old enough to have a young adult son, and old enough for it not to be completely stereotypically annoyingly prize-like for her to be involved with Indiana Jones. And she got to kick ass some of the time. The other female character was the totally awesome Evil Psychic Communist in uniform complete with shiny black gloves and obsession with aliens and mind control. She was okay.

There was a really stupid and unnecessary racist bit with the …. clay-covered “naked savages” springing out of the masonry to defend the temple. Why, why, why? Why was that necessary? “Insert mob of non-white naked howling irrational people here.” What??? Why?! Covered in MUD! Wearing GRASS SKIRTS! HOWLING! I believe even ULULATING! Inexplicably kept alive for 5000 years! Fanatically DEVOTED! Mayan, yet Peruvian, yet grass skirt wearing yet wielding BOLAS! Then awe-struck, and bowing to the Artifact! Arrrgh. Rook and I sat there groaning and scoffing. Come on! More skulls, giant insects, sword fights, stone mechanisms rolling shut just a hair too late, waterfalls, yes, Racist Crap no. Anyway!

The pulp-like “ooo mayans” and “ooo nazca lines” and “ooo now we’re in the amazon” was just funny and overblown. I didn’t even get annoyed by it like I did with the weird stuff in Emperor’s New Groove. It was so bad it was hilarious. Same with the “magnetism”!

Back to the villain – I enjoyed the bit where

SPOILER!!!!!

She was going, “I WANT TO KNOW” and staring at the alien skeleton and the aliens began to beam stuff into her head! Yay! I wanted her to know! Go, Hero of the Order of Lenin! Go, psychic scientist crazy woman! My higher level analysis was that her gender was being conflated with communism and the “hive mind” of the aliens. Manliness was the independent thought and maverick status of Indiana Jones and his little rebel boy sidekick. The communist villain spoke at length about her evil plot, which was to gain enormous psychic powers so that everyone in the world’s thoughts would be like hers, they would be taught right thinking, but they wouldn’t know it wasn’t their thoughts. They’d think they were having their own ideas – but it would be communist mind control. Then, she ended up marvelling at the beauty of the alien hive mind, and merging orgasmically with it and squirting up into an interdimensional portal. You can see why I cheered. I don’t think I was meant to and instead it was meant to be punishment or comeuppance and a fit ending. I think also the idea of women in authority, in positions of equality and authority, in communist countries, was mixed up with current (and past) anxieties about feminism, PC-ness, and women’s rights, so that woman in authority = hive mind = evil.

Onward and backward to the previews!

The movie previews promised to be good since they would be action movies. I’m a HUGE sucker for explosions, chases, fights, and other action movie bullshit. Add space battles and I’m extra happy. So, no horrible “romantic comedy” previews I had to suffer through. Instead I got to admire the explosions, while bitching about the Smurfette Syndrome about 5 times in a row. “The Spirit” – Frank Miller movie, made fun of preview already, hilarious voiceover with superhero going “The city screams, she is my mother, she is my lover.” Sooo that makes you a motherfucker then? *sigh* So stupid! So annoying! So unnecessary! Then yet another movie about a Man having Important Man experiences with women as peripheral sex prizes (some movie about a guy living backwards in time. I would prefer they just LEAVE WOMEN COMPLETELY OUT, thanks but no thanks. Give explosions and battles, keep nasssty chips.) Hellboy which looked fucking awesome!!!! Awesome! Hello! Just great! But again, is man having his Man Moments because hollywood if in an action movie has to show how being a Man is all about heroism and heroism is all about being a man! I am so annoyed. I bet if the female characters have any good fighting moments of bravery it will be only because they are defending their man, or their dad, or their brother, or carrying out their father’s last wish, or some other annoying-ass thing whose subtext implies that women only exist in relation to men, especially when they kick ass. Then, Eagle Eye, which looked to be even more of the same. It is all about the profound experience of the lone man who in his lonely way has an Experience. Do I make myself clear, here? Why is this always the plot? It’s like the Joseph Campbell sexist as hell Hero’s Journey just mutated itself into every story possible.

Don’t even get me STARTED on Wall-e. FFS. I mean, I want to see a fucking awesome movie about some robots. In space. Why must it get all messed up with gender stuff? Why not just put some eyelashes and lipstick on that rescue-screamy-flirty-sexy robot girl? WTF with the robot gender roles? You know, if I were a robot, I’d think the nicest bit of would be getting to be ungendered. Like we didn’t go far enough with the movie where all the ants were heterosexual male/female couples (??) and the Bee one, and the one where the (male) cattle had udders? What?

Okay I’m glad I got that off my chest! Otherwise I had an intense few days (and nights) at work, a weekend packed with social events, I am concentrating hard on walking but it’s very hard, and Rook and I gardened a little bit, which was super nice since it’s been so neglected.

I have been noticing how my car is like my spaceship and everywhere I go is like an expensive gravity well. Some places, like the building I work in, or a grocery store, suck you into their enormous gravity well and it is hard to achieve escape velocity. For those, I need the powerful shuttlecraft of my wheelchair. For gas stations, small cafes, and places that can be traversed easily, I can achieve escape velocity handily with only the EVA jetpack of my crutches or cane. You think I am joking about imagining that those annoying slow wheelchair lifts are the airlock? No… I’m really imagining it and enjoying it with a slightly embarrassed smile in case anyone can read my thoughts. I prefer the Belter lifestyle without going near those annoying gravity wells where I am way too heavy, give me the asteroids any day. What this means in practical reality is that I go to the Carl’s Jr. drive through a lot these days.

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Just a silly crazy little babbling rambling random self-deprecation alert from a no-one girl

I would like everyone, including myself, to use less self-deprecation, in their blogs, blog titles and descriptions, posts, emails, conversation, and life in general. How are you gendering your self presentation and what survival strategy is this? Do you need it? Is it working? Are you doing it on purpose? Consider.

We can do this on purpose and reclaim patriarchal judgments on “feminine” discursive strategy and that’s what’s often being attempted – and we can join the “howl” and do the girlpower thing and YET… YET… YET. It doesn’t always work. Out of a context of reclaiming, it is completely misinterpreted.

In many contexts it’s not reclaimable, just as performative sex-positive femininity is not, because we don’t have control. Rather than revaluing uncertainty, subjectivity, non-expertise, un-knowing, as we want to, we’re disempowering ourselves systematically.

Here are some words and phrases to watch out for.

Irrationality
* babbling
* random
* crazy
* silly
* rambling
* ranting (see my tagline, above!)

Infantilization and belittling
* little
* girl
* girly
* mommy

Insignificance
* just (“just a random girl”)
* only
* little
* silly
* tenative
* halfway

Disclaimer phrases to disavow responsibility
* I think
* Maybe
* I don’t really know, but
* I’m not an expert, but
* I’m not sure,
* You’re probably much better at this than I am,
* I don’t really understand,

My mission:

EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

Yes, we are judged harshly as women if we DON’T use these rhetorical strategies to pre-devalue all that we say — whether we’re right or not. And we’re judged more harshly if we make a positive statement and happen to be wrong. SO WHAT. Stand up and be wrong then.

Yes it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” It should be more okay.

It’s also okay to make a strong statement without qualifying it.

I’m resolving to fight this a lot harder.

We should work on both fronts. We need to be calling each other on self-deprecation. Arrogance training.

At the same time, working harder to get men to talk in a way that is less damned arrogant and sure-acting and expert-y when they don’t know any more than we do. Calling them on it, being more aware of it, pointing it out in public. It’s especially helpful when men call out other men on their BS-ing — in front of women.

A combination, a balance, code-switching according to context, could work — but won’t bring down the system that rewards men for overconfident arrogance and women for self-deprecating bullshit.

What do you think? What ways do you notice other people doing this? And what ways do you note your own participation in this gendered communication system?

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