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sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Saturday, October 20th, 2012 06:45 pm
A while ago I had a brief conversation with Shreen Ayob about her pdf "Pick Your Battles: a practical guide to social activism" and promised to give her further feedback...then didn't. (Sorry Shreen /o\)

Having been reminded about this promise I think I have to give up on the clear summary I was hoping to produce, so instead here are some rambling general thoughts. I'm making this a public post since she said she's after feedback leading up to the next edition and this way other people can have a look and comment.
Read more... )
sqbr: (existentialism)
Monday, October 1st, 2012 12:07 pm
Bullying & Goodreads I found this interesting because it's such a blatant example of people using "bullying" (aka criticism) as an excuse to be actual bullies.

On being considered a Fake Geek Girl I like this in particular (as opposed to various other similar essays by geekier women, which make different but equally valid points) because she really ISN'T a "real" geek by some definitions, but that doesn't mean she's fake. She's just who she is, with the interests she has (which are kind of geeky and kind of not), and she can't help it if people insist on a false Geek/Mundane dichotomy and then complain when she doesn't fit.

In general I've been thinking about "real fans". And as much as part of me kicks and screams that they are Not Real Fans and Don't Love Canon Like It Deserves, I think I have to accept that people who are only into (a)Jane Austen through the adaptations or (b)That Popular Thing I Love (Homestuck, for example) for the generic slash are totally justified in their tastes. Especially since there are plenty of books I'm only into from the adaptations, and canons where I vastly prefer the OOC schmoopy fanfic (sometimes even the juggernaut slash pairing! I find fanon John/Rodney way more entertaining than Stargate Atlantis the actual show, for example. YES, I KNOW, I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM) How the different forms of fannishness can coexist without stomping all over each other quite so much I am less sure.

The golden age Interesting take on how to head towards a truly equal society. I think that even if we ignore global warming and other similar practical hurdles, it glosses over how and why public attitudes have changed worldwide, it's not ALL The Capitalist Conspiracy brainwashing us with Fox News etc, and also seems focused on the abstract instead of looking at various approaches to social democracy worldwide (OUTSIDE EUROPE/THE US EVEN OMG). He does update with, for example, an acknowledgement that childcare is work too, but I think a more thorough analysis of disability theory etc would greatly benefit the analysis. One thing I've heard is that a more heterogeneous society erodes public support for egalitarianism, because people think "I'm ok supporting people like me, but not people like them" Not sure how to combat that, beyond trying to fight racism etc (which are obviously good goals regardless :)) Still, becoming disabled has really made me notice and question the emphasis on "being productive".
sqbr: (duty calls)
Friday, September 21st, 2012 08:32 am
So, Pictures for Sad Children is a webcomic full of wry, self aware melancholy about dysfunctional people. I get linked it a lot but have always found it hit and miss.

The creator recently put up a post on his Kickstarter saying that he had been pretending to be depressed this whole time because that's just what artists do. Cue many depressed fans who had really connected with his comics feeling betrayed, and many ableist fans rejoicing at a chance to go on about how depression isn't really a thing.

But it was apparently all a joke, which anyone who was friends with him or familiar with his other work would have recognised, so all that outrage was for nothing HAHA TUMBLR. (The other, much more understandable "ARGH TUMBLR" reaction is to all the people who have been told that it's a joke but are still acting like it was meant literally, and the inevitable death treats etc. ARGH TUMBLR)

This attitude really pisses me off. I'm all in favour of satire and sarcasm (see: the title of this post, the previous paragraph), and not all humour has to be accessible to everyone. But if you tell a joke where it would be really bad if people took you literally, and most people DO take you literally, then you told the joke badly and you are responsible for the consequences.

Sure, there's only so much you can do about overly literal minded people, and it I think it's justifiable to cause SOME pain with art/humour, or we'd never get to use them at all. But having patchy reading comprehension or "not being a true fan" doesn't somehow make a person unworthy of compassion. Afaict most PFSC readers thought this was real, and a great many were deeply hurt. This could have been avoided if he made the satire more obvious, and I can't see any real advantage to being so opaque except...making the joke funnier for the people who get it? Being more effective on the tiny sliver of bigots who got the joke? Woo.

And even if we decide that everyone who doesn't get the joke is a humourless moron unworthy of respect, think of all the bigots who took it as support for hating on depressed people. Not actually being on their side doesn't magically make the pro-bigotry effect go away.

This is not someone's private blog that got taken out of context. It was a public and actively promoted kickstarter aimed at people who read PFSC, and it clearly failed at being clear to it's intended audience.

Since this apparently does need to be said: I'm not saying we should all go chasing after John Campbell with pitchforks, and the people who are harassing him need to step down. I do think he's a bit of a pretentious douche, but to be honest I kind of thought that anyway. Mainly I'm defending the people who are fans of PFSC and felt hurt from having their feelings dismissed.
sqbr: (faith)
Thursday, August 30th, 2012 10:05 pm
There's been a lot of discussion recently about Atheism+ as a better alternative to the existing sexist and generally bigoted Atheist community.

I've been reading with interest. Cam was all "pfft, it's just Humanism", the two counterargument I've seen seem to boil down to
(a) Humanism may be pro-equality on paper, but the Humanist community does a pretty bad job in practice.
(b)Not all atheists want to be humanists. For a start, Humanism tends not to be sufficiently anti-religion for anti-religious atheists.

Now (a) is a good argument for me not getting involved in humanism. Alas, (b) is a good argument for me not getting involved in Atheism+, since I am not anti-religion, and find broad strokes anti-religious argument irritating.

In the comments to one of these posts I saw people talking about how alienating they found the post The New Atheism +, the main response to which seemed to be "But if you're against bigotry why do you feel alienated?" And I have to say I found it pretty alienating myself and not because I am pro bigotry.

I really dislike the framing of there being Good People and Irrational Dead Weight. In general I am very uncomfortable with the way Irrational is used as the worst possible insult amongst atheists, even if it is at least being more accurately applied by including sexism etc now.

I mean... Our compassion entails we will and must always be the enemies of the uncompassionate. When for me compassion means trying not to think of people as enemies at all. Sure, some people are so totally opposed to what I stand for that I am unlikely to ever find compromise with them, but they are far outnumbered by the people I currently oppose on on or more issues but would like to think could be my allies one day.

The cynical part of me thinks this kind of rhetoric appeals to male feminists (or white anti racists etc) because then they can draw a bright clear line between themselves and the Bad Guys. And if you disagree then clearly you are PRO SEXISM. Then when they are called out for their own sexism (and they will be eventually) they often get all huffy because zomg they're not one of THEM.

(nb this is me slowly crawling back to sentience after SUCH a stressful few weeks, including a tumnmy bug, cold, and my cat being temporarily BURIED UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS. So this post may not be entirely coherent)
sqbr: (existentialism)
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 10:17 am
This grew out of discussions with other people and inside my head, dealing with that little voice that tells you you're mediocre, not living up to your potential, without value etc. I'm specifically coming at this from the point of view of someone who was "gifted" as a child then became increasingly unable to work or think very well, I'd be interested to hear from people with very different POVs.

Something I've been trying to get my head around since getting so ill is a broader understanding of what a person's "capabilities" really are. I am in many ways exactly as "clever" as I was when I was at uni, but I struggle to follow one or two lectures a week on Coursera because of my cfs related difficulty concentrating, and had to quit my really-not-that-challenging job because my brain just couldn't handle the work (neither could my body, but that's a different issue and in some ways was easier to accept)
some personal context )
It's silly to blame myself for my limitations now, so did it make sense to blame myself for them then? Should I feel "proud of myself" for being less overwhelmed than I was two years ago now that I am on anti anxiety meds? In some ways it's depressing to admit your limitations, and obviously you shouldn't give up on your dreams out of misplaced "realism", but it also makes no sense to despise yourself for being "inherently mediocre" AND feel guilty for having failed to live up to your "brilliant potential". Everyone has a mixture of gifts and weak points, and we shouldn't feel guilty for not maximising the former without feeling proud for not being totally overwhelmed by the latter.

And why do we have to "live up to our potential" anyway? Life isn't a competition, not with each other and not with our "potential". Personally, the things I aim for are to maximise (a)My happiness (b)Everyone else's happiness (both by being polite etc and working on social justice) (c) Seeking truth and expressing things noone else is expressing (though maybe that's a subset of (a)? These goals are always open to change, anyway :)). I used to think (c) meant I had to pursue Science but for now it means making art. Is it great, popular art? No. Am I really all that inherently "gifted" at art? No(*). But it gets the ideas out of my head. Of course finding a balance between maximising the things I value and not beating myself up about missed opportunities is still difficult, but at least I'm worrying about things that matter and not holding myself to impossible standards (except when I am. This post is aimed at myself as much as everyone else!)

endless_murmur made a good post about the danger of telling people to be extraordinary which in turn inspired this post. As I said in my comment: we are told to be "extraordinary", but also told not to be weird, and the difference between the two is incredibly subjective. And not everyone is drawn to be either, and that's fine. Pluralism=good, elitism=bad.

I would have a final conclusion but like I said, I'm not good at formal essay structures any more :)

(*)Seriously, I was middling ability as a kid. I just kept at it because my parents are artists, and even then didn't really get any good until my late 20s when I had literally nothing else to do.
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sqbr: (happy dragon)
Saturday, July 21st, 2012 09:01 pm
Following on from my post about monster women and again via [community profile] the_school_of_philosophy: the seam of skin and scales, in which a trans woman refuses to be see her body as a trap.

She doesn't mention disability explicitly, but almost everything she says rang very true for me, and trans people and disabled people are both very much left on the outskirts of white-young-feminist ideas about "loving your body". (In different ways of course, and I don't mean to flatten out the differences, especially since my disabilities are frequently invisible)

I am having a very interesting discussion with capriuni on a post she made about disability and monstrousness, and realised it may not be entirely a coincidence that I felt like drawing monster girls shortly after starting to go out more in my wheelchair and having to deal with the way that makes people look at me (and the way it makes me look at myself).
sqbr: Trust me, I'm a doctor (of maths) (doctor!)
Saturday, July 21st, 2012 07:24 pm
So! Via my network I came across [community profile] the_school_of_philosophy, which is maintained by [personal profile] the_future_modernes and thus not your usual run of the mill philosophy. And that linked to "How to want to change your mind" at Measure of Doubt, one of the very few "rationalist" videos/essays etc I've seen which captures the sort of rationalism I aim for (eg actually trying to figure out the truth, not prove how much smarter I am than other people or dogmatically defend the scientific establishment from all who question it)

Below the cut is a transcript. I used the Youtube automatic transcript as a starting point, it was right often enough to be helpful and hilariously wrong often enough to make the task amusing :)
Read more... )
sqbr: (genius!)
Thursday, July 12th, 2012 08:25 pm
So, over on my art blog I've started a meme to draw 30 Monster Girls.

Both to keep it interesting and for Great Justice I like the idea of moving beyond the fairly narrow box of typical depictions of "monster girls" (or female monsters, which aren't quite the same but are close enough for my purposes) you usually see eg as on fuckyeahmonstergirls. Thinking about what that box really is has been instructive, and I'd love to get some suggestions for things you guys would like to see (can't guarantee I'll draw them, but more inspiration is always good!)
Read more... )
EDIT: Managed seven! I plan to do more later. Anyway, some things from the comments and elsewhere:
Femaleness is personified by cuteness as well as sexiness.
The definition of monster and the way it's used really does tie into disability a lot.
Markers of biological femaleness for monsters and non-humans can differ dramatically from ours (a mane-less lion for example)
the seam of skin and scales is a trans woman talking about "a feminism of the monstrous".
sqbr: (existentialism)
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 07:35 am
There's been yet another white-cis-feminist-vs-antiracists/trans activists etc imbroglio recently, this time on tumblr and twitter. I don't have anything to say on the conflict itself that hasn't been said better by other people, but I found it interesting as an encapsulation of various broader dynamics I've been thinking about.

A short unsympathetic summary
A longer more sympathetic summary has some inaccessible images
A masterpost of criticisms of Laci Green
Read more... )
sqbr: (existentialism)
Thursday, June 7th, 2012 08:07 pm


I did a meme on tumblr offering to do a video post on any requested subject (the other one is on maths so got posted to alias_sqbr) and was given the topic "being a queer, disabled, feminist writer". I didn't talk much about feminism in the end! I'm wearing a Kate Beaton "Brontes" shirt and key earrings (and pants. You can't see them, just letting you know they're there)

It's interesting seeing what assumptions and stuff show up when I can't go back and edit the first thing that pops out of my head eg the idea that queer fandom = femslash fanfic which is all written by women, which...no :) Also, as a kid I actually did like the idea of a husband/boyfriend being like a best friend but better. But I knew not all relationships were like that.

Transcript below the cut, there are also closed captions through the magic of Youtube. A few errors but I can't be bothered fixing them right now, sorry!
Read more... )
sqbr: (up)
Sunday, January 8th, 2012 11:10 am
No Disability at the Final Frontier: Science Fiction, Cures, and Eliminationism reminds me that I've been meaning to make a post about disability in "perfect" disability-free societies for a while, waiting until I can write the Perfect Post, but I think it's time to admit that's not going to happen and just ramble for a while, with the option to return to the topic later it later.

I'm not really addressing s.e.smith's point but riffing off a different aspect of the same broader topic of depictions of disability in scifi. I also covered some of this in Disability in Speculative Fiction: Monsters, mutants and muggles.
Read more... )
sqbr: (homestuck)
Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 03:28 pm
I'm currently reading "The Making of the English Working Class" by E. P. Thompson. I'm almost certainly not going to finish it all 800+ pages before I have to return it to the library, but what I've read has been interesting. I keep finding parallels with the current situation. Reading #OccupyOz captures the mood, but its critics are too busy demanding the possible to be realistic and Occupy Australia and the Antipodean “bubble”, which criticise criticisms from the Left of the Occupy movement within Australia, there is a common paradox: that the most effective way for those outside the ruling class to effect change is to join the ruling class, and that this is used a carrot to get people to focus on being upwardly mobile and just trust that those in power have their best interests at heart.

Reading 17th century politicians arguing that property owners are the only people sufficiently invested in the country to be able to vote responsibly reminds me rather of certain modern Republicans :/

Two half finished thoughts:
Read more... )
sqbr: And yet all I can think is, this will make for a great Dreamwidth entry... (dw)
Saturday, October 15th, 2011 08:59 am
Does anyone else feel really uncomfortable making critical reblogs? If it's some meme with 20,000 notes I don't feel like my opinion makes much difference either way, but if I'm disagreeing with someone I follow, or agreeing with their take on some ongoing argument/criticism with like 20 notes, it's hard not to feel like I'm dogpiling and/or encouraging my followers to dogpile. Which I can live with if the thing being criticised is Just That Terrible, but not if it's a more every day sort of wrong, or not entirely without merit. Even if my response is good natured, there's no guarantee the reblogs following me won't go to a bad place, and that's not always something I feel comfortable setting in motion, especially if the person I'm responding to is a friend.
Read more... )
sqbr: (dagna)
Thursday, August 11th, 2011 12:36 pm
This is less an attempt at a coherent post and more a continuation of a discussion that got too long for twitter. Overall this is a lesson in why asking me "my thoughts" is a bad idea, I'm tl;dr enough when asked to answer a specific question :D

So: Tim asked me what I thought of the article Leave FemShep Alone: An Open Letter to BioWare.

EDIT: Why the Mass Effect 3 FemShep vote was the wrong move makes some good points I feel a bit embarrassed for not thinking of.
Read more... )
sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Thursday, May 12th, 2011 09:53 am
So, the politics of fanworks panel at Swancon got me thinking. I left a comment on cupidsbow's post on the subject with some further thoughts, and one of the things I noticed while writing that comment is that despite most of my fanworks being fanart I was having real trouble thinking of transformative fanart with an overt political message that weren't race/gender/etc swaps. (Not that's anything wrong with such swaps, but surely there had to be more variety I was missing)
And then I thought about it some more… )
sqbr: (homestuck)
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 01:37 pm
I just read this post: Oops, she's dead". Once more with no feeling:
I'm fed up with stories (and Buffy S8 isn't the worst example of it out there, I can also point to Torchwood, many superhero comics, and, quite overwhelmingly, Heroes) with central characters who treat protecting other people's lives as self-expression, who make no attempt to practice and improve their skills or to truly form a team that works like a well-oiled system, who demand that they be given the respect due to those who protect society but who fuck up and fuck up and have hecatombs happen on their watch and then expect us to sympathise with them afterwards because it was just so horrible for them, even tough they're usually still alive and walking at the end of it, unlike hundreds of others who weren't in the opening credits.


...and was reminded that I had a locked brainstormy post about class in speculative fiction I never got around to tidying up. Thus, a summary of the main ideas and some links since I have a follow on post I'd like to make (eventually)
Read more... )
sqbr: pretty purple pi (I like pi!)
Friday, November 12th, 2010 09:47 am
So I was reading ‘Too Asian’? which says The upshot is that race is defining Canadian university campuses in a way it did not 25 years ago. Here's a post about it by angry asian man.

I have encountered anti-Asian attitudes a lot as a maths major and tutor, I think the dynamic here is moderately similar to Canada.

It would be nice if instead of handwringing that Asian kids are getting BETTER GRADES THAN WHITE PEOPLE OMG anyone cared about the fact that rich white kids remain and have always been SIGNIFICANTLY overrepresented at universities in Canada/Australia etc.

I hope I'm not being derailing bringing class into it, but I think it's worth bringing up as part of the same overall imbalance.

I imagined how it would look if it was about rich kids in Australia, since that inequality struck me going to a private school and then uni as a white working class kid. Obviously you could do the same thing with race, but I didn't trust myself to do so myself without going to a weird place. Also rich people are a minority who do not fit in with the values Australia was founded on (as a penal colony)
Read more... )
sqbr: (duty calls)
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 06:08 am
Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted by Malcolm Gladwell makes some criticisms of online activism. He does have some valid points but they are lost in disingenuous "back in my day…" illogic, and it annoyed me enough that I felt like ranting. This may seem like a coherent argument but it was written in one sitting at 5am, I'm sure there's aspects I've missed.

The basic structure of his argument, and many similar ones I've seen is to say:
The 1960s civil rights movement and modern day effective activism in countries that do not have much access to the internet worked/works through hierarchy and old fashioned communication etc.
Most people and groups associated with online activism achieve very little.
The internet is mostly used to support the status quo.
Q.E.D. the internet is ineffective and a tool of the Man.

But this is meaningless unless you answer the following questions:
How does current effective activism in the US and other places that do have the internet work?
If we define "people associated with offline activism" just as loosely (and he included everyone who joined a "Save Darfur" Facebook group, which is like counting everyone willing to wear a free "Save Darfur" sticker) then are they any better?
Are other communications media any less inclined to support the status quo?
Read more... )
sqbr: (atlantis)
Friday, September 24th, 2010 11:52 am
So, last week I played Mass Effect and loved it, modulo a few niggles (see these posts). I've been playing Mass Effect 2, and while in a lot of ways it's a better game it's gone for Darker and Edgier and has taken some of the problematic aspects of the old game and crossed the line into creepy badness. I'm still definitely going to finish it, but there's that element of "Why can't I quit you/how long until you upset me again" fear that is, for example, familiar to many fans of Supernatural.

Warning: contains sexual assault triggers (though very vague ones) and also spoilers (though the first section isn't spoilery, and the spoilery section is marked)

EDIT: I played it some more and the next few hours of gameplay were pretty much solid awesome. Stupid Bioware.
Read more... )
sqbr: (bookdragon)
Friday, August 20th, 2010 07:07 pm
So it says a lot about regency romances that when I got "The Duke of Shadows" by Meredith Duran from the library and saw that it was set in India I was going to take it back unread because there was no way it wouldn't be horribly painfully racist. (The last book of hers I read was set in Hong Kong and managed to have no non-white/POC characters at all apart from two very briefly mentioned servants, which was a step up from what I was expecting but still not exactly good)

But I got very bored today so gave it a go: and it's not! It's by far the least racist regency romance I've ever read and is better than some contemporary ones! The hero is OMG of mixed English/Indian descent. (And still an English lord, of course. But he identifies as Indian as much as he does English) He spends a lot of time muttering bitterly about how the English are a bunch of oppressive thugs who should get the hell out of India.

It's not perfect by any means, there's still a moderate amount of "Wow, India sure is exotic!" going on, but for example compare the odious "heroine discovers blonde blue eyed hero is muslim prince, thinks it's sexy as hell, he dresses up in traditional clothes so she can exotify him" scene in "Captives of the Night" by Loretta Chase to the heroine seeing the hero fitting into Indian society while they're hiding in a village from The Plot, her being a bit freaked out and saying "You're Indian then, not English," to which he replies "What nice convenient labels."

I'm making this post now because part of me is sure it's just going to disappoint me (I'm only 1/3 of the way through) and I wanted to enjoy the moment while it lasted. Because my lord I was getting sick of the constant creepy racism in regency romances, and this is probably as good as it's ever going to get. (Oh regency romances, why can't I quit you...)

EDIT: Have finished the book and I actually really liked it. Though partly for having just the sort of angst I like but doesn't appeal to everyone. One could justifiably accuse it of doing the "using momentous and painful events from the history of colonialised peoples as backdrop to white people's angsty romance" thing, it didn't feel overly appropriative to me, but I'm hardly the best judge.