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Last month I wrote a Goodreads review of Revealing Eden. I read the book, checked out SaveThePearls.com & concluded (not surprisingly) that the book’s premise was offensive and the writing was terrible. Of course that landed me a spot on the Stop GR Bullies blog. Some of Foyt’s fans found their way to my Twitter account & after a few rounds of “I’m not racist but…” I gave my block hand a workout and moved on. After all the book is self-published, the promo materials highlight the racism, all in all it’s a tempest in a teapot right? Right. Except now there’s an excerpt of the book running in Weird Tales & editor Mark Kaye is insisting the book is thoroughly non racist. I’m not sure why anyone would ride to the defense of Foyt’s book, especially in the age of the internet when a boycott is sure to follow as soon as the story breaks. But hey, I don’t run Weird Tales.

Mind you, Foyt’s book relies heavily on racist stereotypes (It’s like a bingo game of fuckery. Spot the Jezebel! Spot the Sapphire! Spot the Shiftless Black Man!) with more than a hint of fetishization (there’s a black man that turns into a beast, a literal beast & that’s who the protagonist falls in love with eventually, but only after she spends a significant chunk of the book in love with another black man who she thinks can overlook her white skin & save her with his penis!), and that’s just the beginning. Foyt’s protagonist frequently slips up & admits that Coal is a racist slur, but we’re supposed to think that Foyt’s fighting racism with this book? How? Meanwhile Foyt’s videos (a how to guide for blackface?!), and even her ongoing Facebook & blog posts defending her work include plenty of dog whistle racism (the much cited bit about not being sure a community of African American readers exists is just one spectacular example), but all of that apparently doesn’t matter as much as defending a bigot from the consequences of her actions. Apparently as long as Foyt claims she has good intentions we’re all supposed to ignore the execution and the impact. Turns out I’m totally willing to be a bully if that means I don’t have to pretend that bullshit is true. She can tell herself whatever lies help her sleep at night, & her defenders are welcome to join the fantasy if it pleases them. But don’t be shocked when we mock you too.

 

ETA: Looks like Weird Tales has retracted it’s support. I’ll let you read the post & decide whether or not you find the retraction genuine. Here are the screencaps of the original post.


Earlier this week news came down that Joss Whedon will again write and direct the second Avengers movie. This is no huge surprise, despite every geek news site and blog exploding in ALL CAPS GLEE OVER THIS EXCITING AND COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED NEWS, RAAAAAWWWWRRRR! Calm down, people.

What is actually news is that Whedon will also helm a new TV show set in the Marvel universe. There aren’t many details, but given that there are a ton of characters and storylines to play with, the possibilities are intriguing.

Let’s face it, though: this is a Joss Whedon show we’re talking about. And while the prospect of that fills other fannish hearts with glee, I still remember Dollhouse.

Even before Dollhouse I had no illusions about Whedon. I liked Buffy just like everyone else and find the least fault in that show compared to the others. I never could get into Angel in part because every time I poked my head in I saw problematic shit around the character of Gunn. I never did watch Firefly (I did see Serenity) because from the very beginning I read the criticism around the lack of Chinese characters and the handling of Inara.

In the end, I don’t trust Joss Whedon. And nothing he’s said or done — including the Avengers movie — has given me a reason to change my mind on that. I know I’m not the only one.

And thus, in the spirit of this petition to save Whedon’s Marvel TV show1 from being cancelled2, I’m starting a petition to cancel the show right now in the hopes that we’ll have enough signatures by the time something racist or misogynistic or in any other way problematic3 happens to actually get Whedon tossed back to the movie side of things where he belongs.

Seriously, he’s better off cranking out big screen stuff where he only has 2 hours and thus less screen time for fuckery.

Click here to sign the petition and give Disney a smokescreen for the real reason they intend to cancel the show prematurely and also run the episodes out of order: to become besties with Fox and get the rights to Silver Surfer and Galactus back. It’s a fair trade.

Given the general reaction to my post celebrating the cancellation of Dollhouse with champagne and confetti, the reaction from this one ought to be priceless4.

Footnotes

  1. That site is down temporarily. Possibly because angry anti-Whedon fans did not appreciate the petition. However, the Google cache of that post is here.  []
  2. Yes, I know that is satire. It is funny satire. What I’m about to propose is satirical as well. Keep that in mind. []
  3. Like casting Eliza Dushku []
  4. And I bet no one will get the joke. []

I read a post on “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” over on Captain Awkward with growing horror and recognition. It combines two letters asking for advice about dudes in social groups who act inappropriately to the point where sexual assaults have occurred or are very likely to occur, yet the SOs and male friends of the letter writers refuse to step up, back up their partners, and team up to cut these dudes out of the social groups.

There’s so much good stuff about solving these problems in that post that I don’t even want to quote because you really do need to read it all

The post is particularly apropos right now since the issue of sexual harassment at conventions and conferences is getting much attention due to recent happenings at ReaderCon (a literary science fiction/fantasy focused convention) which led to some other cons (both genre and not) reiterating, bolstering or creating anti-harassment policies. This is good news and an unexpectedly good outcome for the whole ReaderCon thing. 

Not everyone is happy about the outcome, as this post and subsequent comments show. When I read the Captain Awkward post it struck me how the situation those two women find themselves in where a creeper guy is excused by members of the group who haven’t ever been the targets of his harassment and thus don’t see what the big deal is (plus, he’s fun to hang out with and has the best table for gaming, GOD WHY CAN’T YOU STOP BEING A BITCH?) tracks so closely to the shit coming from the convention crowd who defend the ReaderCon harasser and any number of other dudes who harass.

Though the people you deal with at conventions may not be your regular social group, it’s just as important to deal with the creeper guys there (and in a similar fashion) as it is to deal with them where you live. Beyond having good anti-harassment policies at the executive level of the convention, you and your friends or peer group should have an anti-harassment policy amongst yourselves. No matter how much that creeper guy is cool or fun to hang out with, no matter if he’s an editor or an agent or a SMOF or someone else you feel you should know and be nice to for career purposes, that person should not be allowed to creep on, touch, and harass your friends (or anyone else). 

When you go to conventions, have each other’s backs. Keep track of the dudes who are too often noted for being creepy and close ranks to shut them out. Guys, don’t let your female friends be the only ones looking out for each other like this (because we often are, even if you don’t know it).

And if that creeper does something out of line and you know about it, give the harassed person your unconditional support and make sure they know that if they choose to report it, you will back them up. Some people aren’t comfortable coming forward, but if there’s a way you can do so on their behalf (with their permission), please do so. It helps, it really does.

Any time you have someone’s back in cases like this you’re fighting back against rape culture, which allows these kinds of creeper guys to get away with their behavior. 


BlogHer 12 was this weekend and, as always, I was happy to be around a bunch of women who take blogging seriously and meet the many awesome people who attend. Plus, I love that tons of black women attend this event as I always discover wonderful new blogs and powerful voices.

But, of course, one cannot go a whole conference without some ratchet mess going down. 

Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie relates a real life “Sh*t White Girls Say” moment:

I was standing in a circle with Chescaleigh, Nicole Blades and Tina Shoulders… [t]hen a woman joins us and goes “carry on with your conversation.” She happened to be white… She was holding a glass of wine and semi-slurring when she spoke… Then foolery happens.

“Oh my gosh I just love Black women. I LOVE you all. You’re all just so fun and sooo… spicy.”

…I look at the rest of the ladies to gauge their reactions and to see if they were in their heads freaking out too. And they were. I looked at Chesca and her face was a literal O_______O. And she pulled out her iPhone and started typing with vigor. I knew she was headed to Twitter to share the comment. And Nicole was looking like O_o while Tina was just like “Ummm…”  Then it continued.  

“And I love you natural hair. It’s just… yesss. I just love Black women. In fact, I’m actually a Black woman myself. I just left my spray tan at home.”

… It was like “Punk’d” except without Ashton. Or the “I’m just kidding” part.

It gets worse from there and the entry and comments are worth reading, so click over.

I think I saw part of this conversation go down but heard enough of what the Cooking Lady said to swiftly move on because: no. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter much stuff like that during the weekend. Most of the women were wonderful.

But Luvvie’s post got me wondering about your best “Sh*t White Girls Said To Me” stories. What’s the funniest (in restrospect), the most O____O inducing, the weirdest?


A little while ago Neil Gaiman fucked up. on Tumblr. Shortly after, this post went up and I reblogged one of the replies because it’s so very true:

‘dude…stop, you, you don’t know where you’re at, this is tumblr, we will wreck your shit in this place for such a bad response to a matter of social justice.’ … This is like thunderdome, you gotta know what’s up before you open your damned mouth.

Because I need to be up all night for reasons and because I think I’m going to be asked shortly what exactly is wrong with what Neil Gaiman said, I decided to take it chunk by chunk and extrapolate. Not because Gaiman is particularly special, but what happened here happens so often I figure this makes a good explainer post in general.

The drama starts here, when Neil gets an ask in his box:

Recently, many promising Youtube vloggers such as Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green were given death threats (taped to pictures of their homes and addresses!) and just plain internet hate for doing what they do (Anita does a feminist web series and Laci does a sex-positive web series.) According to, John Green, the Internet hate is forcing more and more brilliant young women to leave the internet because these are strong women speaking out, rather than strong men. Thoughts, sir?

Whoever sent this ask needs to be banned from the Internet for 24 hours because this person led Gaiman right into the middle of a conversation he didn’t need to be in the middle of.

Gaiman’s response was pretty general about how it’s terrible women are being harassed. Then someone decided to tell him why any defense of Laci Green is problematic:

No. Laci, at least, received hate and criticism for using a slur against trans* people, for posting fat-shaming videos, and for a particularly problematic post in which she said she hated Islam and thought it was misogynistic. It’s not right to go that far and send death threats, but the people giving her criticism for that are NOT trolls.

I’ll pause here to say: If you don’t know what’s been going down about Laci Green recently, there is some context here, here, here, and here. It’s clear that Gaiman didn’t know any of this. Yet he decided to respond.

The only one I’d researched was the Anita Sarkeesian case – from the New Statesman, here.  I’m utterly ignorant on Laci1.

You seem to be saying that sending hate across the internet is okay as long as it stops short of death threats, if the person is saying something  wrong or stupid or evil or misguided.

Problem #1 – The asker didn’t actually say this. Gaiman misinterpreted the askers words and, coincidentally, misinterpreted them in a way that mirrors much of the conversation about Laci from those who are defending her.

I can’t believe that hate is justified even if you’re sure you’re the good guys and even if you’re hating the right people.

As I said, we should call people on their shit: that’s criticism. It’s one of the things the Internet does. But we shouldn’t hate.

Problem #2 – This right here can easily be construed as patronizing, especially when it’s coming from a white male in Western society. Here we have someone with a bunch of privilege markers telling someone else that a person who has done real harm to marginalized people that the marginalized shouldn’t hate.

Not-hating is harder than hating. Rational discourse and persuasion, and, if people are not prepared to listen to persuasion or to discourse rationally, going away and not rising to their bait, these are things that it’s hard to do, but which might make the internet a safer, saner, more pleasant online place for everyone.

Problem #3 – This is the Tone Argument. Classic TA, actually. Like there’s a handbook next to his desk.

I think that’s why I responded to, and linked in the last post to, Erin Kissane’s essay on How to Kill A Troll. She quotes Martin Luther King in there, and talks about love. I hope people will read it.

Problem #4 – White people quoting Martin Luther King is almost always a red flag because they often like to quote the bits that suit their need to dismiss angry reactions as if King never got angry or ever condemned white people for doing exactly this. (Hint: he did.)

Problem #5 – He quotes a white woman who is professing one way to deal with situations like this that may well work for her, but doesn’t necessarily work for people who are not white. He does this without realizing (apparently) why his privilege leads him to think that this is some sage advice that must be followed instead of some other path. Everything about this post speaks of unexamined privilege, including the things he quotes from someone else.

Problem #6 – He’s lecturing people without understanding the situation at hand, without knowing the background of the person or why people are being critical or “hateful” of her. He’s inserting himself into the conversation not in a way that indicates that he wants to listen and understand what’s going on, but instead indicates that he wants to set the Internets straight, despite his lack of knowledge on the particulars of this case.

Problem #7 – Gaiman seems to think that this lecture is applicable to Laci Green’s critics despite all of the above.

I don’t think Neil Gaiman is being intentionally privilege-y or douchey in these posts. But intent and $0.25 might buy you a piece of candy. Maybe.

But hey, people fuck up sometimes. And as many of us always say: It’s not that people fuck up that causes a problem, it’s what they do after they fuck up that’s usually a problem. This time, maybe not.

Since his initial post went up Gaiman did change the wording, as I indicated, and he posted this apology2. That’s a good step towards making up for an Internet fuckup. And it didn’t take days nor require seven fauxpologies. Thumbs up.

It will be interesting to see where this goes from here. Judging from the replies to the apology post, certain people are already upset that he dared apologize to those awful people (that they know nothing about). It looks like Gaiman is ready to let this one go and and let his apology stand.

Footnotes

  1. He added this later to clarify the post and possibly to head off the “He’s defending Laci” people. []
  2. Plus we had a short back-and-forth in which I explained a slice of what I just posted here about why I had problems with what he said and he acknowledged that he made a mess of things. []

Over on my personal blog I’ve started doing a thing where I post the short stories i read each month — the good ones, anyway. Since it’s now July and everyone is looking for something to read when it’s too hot to move, I thought you all might enjoy these selections as well.

As the year progresses you can keep up with the new things I add by subscribing to this Delicious Stack.


This morning io9 posted my essay/review about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wherein I criticized the movie for being a White Guilt Fantasy and full of fail. Predictably, the site’s many commenters rose up in protest of my assessment — which I’ll get to in a separate post — and also whipped out the tried and true “But it’s just a movie, you’re not supposed to take it so seriously!” line and variations thereof. Looking through the archives, I don’t think I’ve posted a rebuttal to this line of thinking yet, and now’s a good time since I see many clicks over from io9 today.

The bottom line on this issue is simple: If you think that a piece of media such as a movie, TV show, book, or song is merely entertainment and ingest said media without giving any thought to how it influences or shapes you or the culture you exist in, You Are A Sheep.

What!? You cry. Again:

You. Are. A. Sheep.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are millions of sheep like you in America. You spend most of your day listening to terrible music because it’s there, watching terrible television at night because it’s on, and spending extra money going out to terrible movies because you’re trained to.

I’m sure that you actually enjoy these forms of entertainment. The music has a beat you can dance to, the TV shows have some hot people and maybe some angst or whatever, and the movies have explosions or hot people kissing or some cartoon violence. And hey, these things are made to be enjoyed. Even things classified as “high art” are meant to be enjoyed and people should enjoy them.

The thing that makes you a sheep is that you aren’t aware of how these media products affect you. Oh, I’m sure you’ll say they don’t and it’s stupid to say that TV makes you believe things you don’t really believe. You’ll bring up Tipper Gore and the bugaboo of video games being spuriously linked to violence. I bet you read that in a newspaper somewhere or on a blog that doesn’t challenge your already formed world view.

Okay, okay, I’ll put aside the snarky put downs for a few paragraphs. I can see it’s making you mad.

But honestly, if you don’t spend any time in your life thinking about the messages and world view media presents to you, how can you claim to be anything but a sheep? I’m not even talking about high levels of media criticism here, I’m simply talking about pausing for a moment and being conscious about what your favorite TV show or the latest blockbuster is about on a sub-surface level.

That doesn’t mean you have to take the joy out of your viewing or listening time. You can still be entertained. You should just also be aware.

Because make no mistake, your media is delivering a message to your brain. It’s up to you whether that message flows in there unimpeded and unexamined or if it swirls around in conscious consideration. Movies, television, music, literature and art are products of our culture that are both informed by and inform said culture.

Thus, media might promote stereotypes about women or people of color or a particular religion and do it in such a way that it either plays into already existing stereotypes and prejudices or may even help to create them. You let that pass into your brain unexamined and you may start to believe the stereotypes are real and form the prejudices the media promotes. And you’ll do it without a conscious thought.

It’s never just a show or a movie or a book. Media is always presenting you with a version of the world as imagined by the creator or creators behind it. That’s not always bad, for sure. Sometimes it’s an awesome and amazing view of the world. It’s up to you to make that determination. To say: this is sketchy! Or: This is how I want the world to be!

Another thing to keep in mind is that the backers of mass media are often presenting you with a worldview they really hope you just accept and don’t question, examine or deviate from. This is why the White Guilt Fantasy prevails so well in Hollywood. It’s right up there with the view that women never do anything important, that they exist only to be objectified or to glorify men.

If you don’t see that mass media is sending this any other harmful messages, then you’re not paying attention.

That is what I want you to do, media consumers: pay attention. You don’t have to deeply analyze everything and you don’t have to stop enjoying the things you love. Even if those things are problematic. Humans are capable of being nuanced creatures. You can find fault with a TV show or movie yet still have love for it, or parts of it.

This is how I maintain my love of Doctor Who and why I’ve seen The Avengers 4 times. There are major problems with both of those media entities, and I have no problem acknowledging and even poking at them. But I also let them fill me with squee.

Unlike most white Americans, I can’t afford to be a sheep in our current media landscape. Most of the messages media perpetuates are specifically harmful to me and people I love. I have to pay attention. Perhaps you don’t have to. I’m just saying that you should.

Honestly, do you want to be a sheep for your whole life? Just doing and feeling and thinking what the TV box tells you to?


[Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape in the post and possibly the comments]

I know I shouldn’t be surprised to find misogyny rampant in the video game industry. But to find it rampant, unashamed, and proud of itself? I guess I still shouldn’t be surprised.

Yesterday gaming site Kotaku posted a short interview with Tomb Raider executive producer Ron Rosenberg. Crystal Dynamics, the company behind the game, was eager to get the word out about it at the E3 gaming convention last week and to let the world know that the Lara Croft we’ll see in the series reboot isn’t going to be as buxom as before. Instead, she’ll be at the beginning of her career and the player will get to see her grow into the badass she’ll become. But until she does, the player will “want to protect her.”

DANGER, JILL ROBINSON.

It gets worse. Not only will Lara exude helplessness and the need for the invisible man at the controls to protect her, the creative team is pulling out a not-so-creative old hat trick for female character development: rape.

In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She’ll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her. “She is literally turned into a cornered animal,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”

Yeah, turning women into animals who have to fight for their sexual purity is awesome. Am I right?

I just want to facepalm over and over again until this leaves my brain forever.

Rosenberg’s language reveals him to be the skeezy sexist he pretends not to be with all this bullshit here:

“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear.”

You can tell he’s going for the female-positive cookies. He promptly loses him in the very next breath:

“She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”

Yeah, you can’t have those women getting too confident.

In general, this narrative of the hero building and building toward being a badass who is then cut down just as she gets too confident is a pretty common one going all the way back to mythology. The problem arises when you consider that male heroes are almost never “broken” by rape or the threat of rape, but female characters almost always are. And that’s misogyny.

Why can’t Lara be captured and almost eaten? Sure, that has some sexual overtones to it, but is something different. Or hey, how about she’s captured and beaten up or nearly killed, just like a male character would be, then overcomes this to escape?

Nah, that would be something like right.

Beyond that, what is this business about the player feeling a need to protect Lara? Why is that necessary or needed? Oh right, because she’s a girl.

Though I’ve seen no media from this new game, I’m going to guess that the characters who attempt to rape Lara will be black or brown peoples. It’s just a guess since fail seems to be the default setting for this game company.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m glad I’m not a gamer.


I Got Your Book: Helping YOU Read a Lot

LaShawn Wanak has a story getting reprinted.

Futuredaze is looking for submissions. 

Gena talks about being a POC and reading fairy tales. 

Samuel R. Delany is reviewed by Locus.

A rising playwright needs help to make the world premiere of her work. 

This game featuring Native peoples looks AMAZING, and needs funding. 

Let’s talk poetry! Here’s an awesome link to Asian American poetry/speculative fiction. 

South Indian steampunk!

The New Yorker SF issue will be out soon!

The Huts of America is one of the earliest SF novels published by an African American. 


I see a lot of “slavery is over, black people should move on” rhetoric on the internet. And mostly I roll my eyes & keep it moving. But I notice that people who say these things lack historical knowledge. They don’t know about the Red Summer in which race riots broke out in 36 cities. The government blamed unions, Bolsheviks, & even the NAACP for what happened since it was apparently impossible to blame white Americans for the lynchings, rapes, & general mayhem that triggered the riots. In fact Attorney General Palmer filed a report that faulted black people for fighting back.

“ill-governed reaction toward race rioting…In all discussions of the recent race riots there is reflected the note of pride that the Negro has found himself. that he has ‘fought back,’ that never again will he tamely submit to violence and intimidation. “the dangerous spirit of defiance and vengeance at work among the Negro leaders.”

Mind you, the Red Summer came after the East St. Louis Riots, the Atlanta Race Riots, some 2400 documented lynchings and countless other acts of violence that didn’t receive much (if any) official attention. The Rosewood Massacre, & the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa followed, and still there was no move on the part of the government to actively change the racial climate in America until the 1960′s. Jim Crow laws (in effect from 1876 to 1965) were the successors to the Black codes that were on the books from 1800-1866, and if think that the Civil Rights Movement fixed everything the day separate but equal was legally abolished? You haven’t been paying attention. Look at America’s track record when it comes to welfare reform (and the mythical Welfare Queen), the War on Drugs that conveniently was more likely to heavily punish black offenders, predatory lending to black homebuyers, treating the pain of black children, & of course police harassment and brutality. America’s got a long way to go, and ignoring the past or the present won’t fix a thing. You want black people to let things? Stop supporting the systems that oppress them.