The International Conference on Masculinities, March 5-8

If you care about men’s issue and gender equality, and you’re the conference-going type, this is one you should check out. A collaborative effort between the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities (headed by Michael Kimmel), the American Men’s Studies Association, the MenEngage Alliance, and the Man Up Campaign, the conference’s theme is “Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality.” The Conference will be held March 5-8, 2015 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

I’ll be performing some of my poems on Saturday night, along with a lineup of other performers. If anyone from Alas is there, I hope you’ll come over and say hi.

You can register for the conference here; and you can get a look at the tentative program here. Here’s the speaker’s lineup for the opening gala:

  • Welcome: Samuel Stanley, President, Stony Brook University
  • Introduction: Michael Kimmel, Director, Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities
    • Ambassador Henry Mac Donald
    • Phumzile Mlabo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN women – Sally Field, actor
    • Sheryl Sandberg, executive, activist, author
    • Gloria Steinem, founder, Ms. Magazine
    • Jennifer Seibold Newsome, filmmaker
    • Amy Zwerdling, filmmaker
    • Carlos Andres-Gomez, author and spoken word artist
Posted in Feminism, sexism, etc, Men and masculinity | Leave a comment  

What Stephen Fry Would Say To God


Gay Byrne: Suppose it’s all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates, and are confronted by God. What will Stephen Fry say to him, her, or it?

Stephen Fry: I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say.

Byrne: And you think you are going to get in, like that?

Fry: No. But I wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms. They’re wrong. Now, if I died and it was Pluto, Hades, and if it was the twelve Greek gods, then I would have more truck with it, because the Greeks were… They didn’t pretend to not be human in their appetites, in their capriciousness, and in their unreasonableness. They didn’t present themselves as being all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, all-beneficent, because the God that created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac… utter maniac, totally selfish.

We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of god would do that?

Yes, the world is very splendid, but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. They eat outwards from the eyes.

Why? Why did you do that to us? You could easily have made a creation in which that didn’t exist. It is simply not acceptable.

Atheism is not just about not believing there’s a god. On the assumption there is one, what kind of God is he? It’s perfectly apparent that was monstrous, utterly monstrous, and deserves no respect. The moment you banish him, your life becomes simpler, purer cleaner, more worth living in my opinion.

Byrne: That sure is the longest answer to that question I ever got in this entire series.

Posted in Atheism | 1 Comment  

Lindy West gets an apology from one of her nastiest trolls

I enjoyed this episode of This American Life. Just pointing it out for anyone interested in the same issues.

Lindy’s troll, by the way, was motivated by a combination of misogyny and internalized fat self-hatred; he at the time was trying to lose weight and found Lindy’s fat-acceptance advocacy intolerable.

Lindy says at one point that she’s the first person she’s ever heard of to get an apology from a troll. I’ve heard of other cases, but they were all people who were brought by to earth by the public revelation of what they’d been doing (see, for instance, Margaret Cho: attack of the stupid racist misogynists). This is the first time I’ve heard of a troll apologizing without being, at least in part, motivated by not wanting their hate mail exposed.

Posted in Civility & norms of discourse, Fat, fat and more fat | 1 Comment  

“You’re a Man. Why Are You Teaching Women’s Studies?”

For me, the most difficult part of refusing to be silent about the fact that I am a survivor of childhood sexual violence has been figuring out when and under what circumstances to reveal it to my students at the community college where I teach. Some of you reading this may think that nothing could justify such a revelation, and, for at least the first half of the nearly thirty years I’ve been teaching, I agreed with you. Not only did I see the fact that I am a survivor as part of my personal life and therefore not at all relevant to who I am professionally, but I also worried that telling my students would, by revealing myself so intimately and vulnerably, violate the professional boundary it is my responsibility to maintain, potentially undermining my authority as a teacher and threatening the integrity of my classroom. Then, in 2001, I changed my mind, deciding to share my history with two students, each of whom chose to trust me by revealing that she was herself a survivor and then asking me to help her learn how to make that identity and that subject matter part of the writer she wanted to be. I wrote about that experience and how it changed my life here.

I’m thinking about this issue now because the first question I was asked on the first day of class in the Women’s Studies course I am teaching this semester, Gender in Popular Culture, was how and why I became interested in feminism. Most of the students in the class are women, and I could tell from the nodding heads I saw that the woman who voiced the question was not the only one who wanted to know. I encountered this curiosity the last time I taught Women’s Studies as well, except the woman who asked then was more blunt about it. “You’re a man,” she said. “Why do you even care about this subject?” It’s a fair question. The fact that I sometimes teach these classes is, for the obvious reason of my gender, counterintuitive for many people I meet. “You’re teaching Women’s Studies?” at least two people I know outside academia have asked. “I’ll bet. I’m sure you really like to study women.” My students, both this time and last, may indeed have been wondering about my motivations for teaching this subject, but their questions contained no snark, no implicit accusation of dirty-old-man-sleaziness. They simply wanted to know, and since I think they have a right to know, I gave them the only honest answer I have, which I wrote about in my last post and which I have articulated most explicitly here: my commitment to feminism is a direct result of the role feminist thinking played in helping me heal from sexual violation.

The other class in which I am sometimes confronted with the question of how much about myself to reveal is creative writing. Students, especially those who are serious about being writers, occasionally google my name and/or get a copy of The Silence of Men, my first book of poetry. In either case, once they do so, the fact that I am a survivor is hard to miss. It says so, for example, in the marketing copy on the front inside flap:

Becoming a poet was, for Richard Jeffrey Newman, a matter of survival. “The Taste of a Little Boy’s Trust,” a poem in this collection, dates from the author’s mid-twenties. In it, by naming what the poem names–his experience of child sexual abuse–he defines the difference between thinking of himself as insane and accepting that he is not.

The answer I give when students ask in creative writing, however, where the critical focus is on making art out of language, starts from a very different place than the one I give in Women’s Studies, where the focus is on social and cultural politics. Each answer ends up, however, in the same place: the power of naming.
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Posted in Education, Feminism, sexism, etc, Men and masculinity, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues, Writing | 2 Comments  

Chait Criticizes Exactly The Kind Of Speech We Should Want More Of


Jonathan Chait’s attack against “Political Correctness” is the talk of the interwebs.

He mixes a few examples of genuinely bad, but also rare and unrepresentative, anti-speech efforts (MacKinnon in 1992 (!), a student whose anti-feminist article led to his apartment getting egged, a professor who stole a pro-life display) with a laundry list of people – well, progressives – using their free speech to protest or criticize:

You may remember when 6,000 people at the University of California–Berkeley signed a petition last year to stop a commencement address by Bill Maher, who has criticized Islam (along with nearly all the other major world religions). Or when protesters at Smith College demanded the cancellation of a commencement address by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, blaming the organization for “imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.” Also last year, Rutgers protesters scared away Condoleezza Rice; others at Brandeis blocked Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s-rights champion who is also a staunch critic of Islam; and those at Haverford successfully protested ­former Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who was disqualified by an episode in which the school’s police used force against Occupy protesters.[…]

Stanford recently canceled a performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson after protests by Native American students. UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest microaggressions such as when a professor corrected a student’s decision to spell the word indigenous with an uppercase I — one example of many “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies.” A theater group at Mount Holyoke College recently announced it would no longer put on The Vagina Monologues in part because the material excludes women without vaginas. These sorts of episodes now hardly even qualify as exceptional.

Ken White once called this argument “The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker“:

The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn’t like. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker applies different levels of scrutiny and judgment to the first person who speaks and the second person who reacts to them; it asks “why was it necessary for you to say that” or “what was your motive in saying that” or “did you consider how that would impact someone” to the second person and not the first. It’s ultimately incoherent as a theory of freedom of expression.

There are responses to speech that I think are genuinely anti-speech – harassment (Anita Sarkeesian recently posted the harassing comments she gets on Twitter in a single week – extreme trigger warning on that link), threats, attempts to get people fired.1 But Chait’s examples of unreasonable speech are… well, just unreasonable. More often than not, Chait objects to people using their free speech to criticize what others have said. It’s hard to make what he’s saying into anything principled or even coherent.

Chait sometimes attacks the kinds of political arguments we should value the most. For instance, Chait puts on his laundry list “Stanford recently canceled a performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson after protests by Native American students.”

The real event was much more complex. For one thing, no protests took place; for another, it was voluntarily cancelled by the student thespians themselves, not cancelled by Stanford.2 Instead, Native American students met with the theater students and had a series of long discussions in which the groups tried to resolve their differences.

“[‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’] more or less uses Native Americans as a prop to tell the story of Andrew Jackson and his controversial presidency,” Brown said. “It uses Native people as a foil, or a backdrop to tell his story, which we felt took away from the legitimacy and historical narrative that is very real and exists for a lot of Native students on this campus.”

Stern and her team proposed a variety of potential solutions to ensure that a positive dialogue came out of the show, including cutting certain songs and making small script changes, or finding a show written by a Native American author to be funded by ATF and put on in conjunction with “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

After a month of meetings, which included Stern, the co-producers, SAIO, ATF and various faculty moderators, it became clear that the problems of representation in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” could not be fixed.

This process – in which two groups that disagreed sat down for in-depth discussions – is exactly the kind of free speech that we should admire. When they walked away from the table, the two groups still didn’t fully agree with each other – but they both praised the other sides’ good intentions and willingness to talk.

When a local newspaper, The Fountain Hopper, published an article making a Jonathan-Chait-like article about freedom of speech under threat, one of the theater students objected:

Knarr expressed equal frustration with the article.

“No one from the Fountain Hopper contacted anyone from our team,” she said. “I think the whole process does bring up questions about, ‘When is it okay to say that something artistic should not be put up?’ but I did not come away from this process feeling like my freedom of speech had been restricted.”

I’m not saying what went on at Stanford was perfect in every way. But it was good enough so we should consider it an example of conflict and speech to strive for – and Chait should explain why this is the sort of speech he wants less of.

Angus Johnson makes a similar point:

When someone protests a campus speaker, they’re engaging in an act of speech. When they complain about microagressions, they’re engaging in an act of speech. When they challenge their professors, or trend a hashtag on Twitter, or write trigger warnings into their syllabi, or accuse each other of racism, or criticize our country’s conception of free speech, they’re engaging in acts of speech.

Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Isn’t that what [Chait’s] looking for?

A quote from Chait:

Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing.

What I find interesting about this quote is that it remains perfectly true even if the first three words are deleted.

Some good blog responses to Chait I’ve read, in arbitrary order:

  1. Chait Speech I’d call this a “steelmanning” of Chait’s position; that is, it restates Chait’s argument in a way that is stronger. (And much shorter.)
  2. What exactly do you want, Jonathan Chait?
  3. Jonathan Chait and the New PC | The Nation
  4. All politics is identity politics – Vox
  5. ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: The Language Police Is Coming To Get You
  6. The truth about “political correctness” is that it doesn’t actually exist – Vox
  7. Some Thoughts on White Anti-Racists and Angry Black People |
  8. Amanda Marcotte: P.C. Policeman Jonathan Chait Can Dish It Out, But He Can’t Take It
  9. But Wait…There’s More! — Crooked Timber
  1. Scott Alexander discusses this in more detail. []
  2. To be fair, if the production had gone ahead, there would probably have been protests. []
Posted in Civility & norms of discourse, Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc. | 19 Comments  

Desk Space Available in SE Portland, $135-$185 a month

(Bumping this back to the top, because we’re once again seeking new co-spacers!)

I draw my comics at a shared office space in Portland (Oregon), on SE Foster and Holgate.

We’re currently looking for mild-mannered, friendly writers, cartoonists, visual artists, programmers and anyone else who wants a affordable workplace, to share a quiet, heated, air conditioned work space.


– Large desks (approximately 5 x 2.5 feet).
– High speed internet and utilities included.
– 24/7 access.
– Microwave, refrigerator and half bath.
– Close to food, gaming shop and other assorted awesomeness.
– On the 14 and 17 bus lines.
– $135 or $185 month (depending on the size of the desk) — incredibly affordable.

There are currently a few desks available.

I can say from experience, working from a place that’s not a desk in my bedroom is totes gratifying and boosts productivity. If you’d be interested, drop me an email.

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments  

Two Opportunities for Writers I Thought Worth Publicizing Here

I subscribe to the Creative Writing Opportunities List. It’s a Yahoo group called CRWROPPS-B. These two opportunities showed up in my inbox today that I thought would be worth letting people here know about. Since they do not concern the kind of writing I do, or the venues where I usually publish, I have not done any due diligence regarding them. The list is reputable and, as far as I know, generally reliable in the opportunities it publicizes. If it turns out that they are not worthwhile, I apologize, but I also hope the people who find this out will comment and explain why so that we all can learn something.

Time Traveling is Not for Everyone

The lack of diversity in the time traveling world is the reason filmmaker Koji Sakai and  New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky Heidi Durrow are putting together an anthology, Time Traveling is Not for Everyone, that explores the other side of time traveling.

We want to hear your time traveling story. From your perspective—whatever that might be. We are looking for writers to submit proposals for short stories (five to ten thousand words) featuring a character from an underrepresented community traveling to some time period before this one.

The deadline for proposals is February 14, 2015. EXTENDED TO MARCH 1, 2015.

What we are looking for in your proposal:

  • One page proposal featuring a main character from an underrepresented community going back to a time period other than ours
  • Writer biography or resume
  • Writing sample

Please send your proposals or questions to: Time.Traveling.4.All.of.UsATgmailDOTcom

The Creative Team behind: Time Traveling is Not for Everyone.

Heidi Durrow is the New York Times best-selling author of the The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, the winner of the PEN/Bellwether prize. She is the founder of the premiere book, film and performance festival, the Mixed Remixed Festival, which features stories of the Mixed and multiracial experience.

Koji Steven Sakai has written four feature films that have been produced, Haunted Highway,The People I’ve Slept WithMonster & Me, and #1 Serial Killer. His screenplay, Romeo, Juliet, & Rosaline, was optioned by Amazon Studios. His debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, will be released in the spring.

The SLF Working-Class / Impoverished Writers’ $750 Grant

Working class, blue-collar, poor, and homeless writers have been historically underrepresented in speculative fiction, due to financial barriers which have made it much harder for them to have access to the writing world. Such lack of access might include an inability to attend conventions, to purchase a computer, to buy books, to attend college or high school, to have the time to write (if, for example, you must work two jobs simply to pay rent and feed a family, or if you must spend all your waking hours job-hunting for months on end). The SLF would like to assist in finding more of these marginalized voices and bringing them into speculative fiction.

You are eligible for this grant if you come from a background such as described above, if you grew up (or are growing up) in homelessness, poverty, or a blue collar / working-class household, or if you have lived for a significant portion of your life in such conditions, especially if you had limited access to relatives/friends who could assist you financially. We will give preference to members of that larger pool who are currently in financial need (given our limited funds). Please note that while we are based in America, and some of our language below reflects that perspective, this grant is available to international writers; please assess your own situation as appropriate for your home country.Please note that, unlike our other grants, you may receive this grant anonymously or pseudonymously. Application materials will be kept confidential to the grant committee and SLF staff.

What Do We Mean By Working-Class / Impoverished?

Here are some examples; they are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to offer some guidelines to help you determine if you might be eligible. We mean to cast a wide net for this grant, so if you think you might be eligible, you probably are. If you have specific questions about your financial situation’s applicability, please don’t hesitate to write to us and ask.

You would potentially be eligible for this grant if any of the following apply:

  • you’re American, and qualify for the earned income credit,
  • you’ve qualified for food stamps and/or Medicaid for a significant period of time,
  • you live paycheck to paycheck,
  • your parents did not go to college,
  • you rely on payday loans,
  • your children qualified for free school lunch,
  • you’re currently being raised in a single parent household,
  • you’re supporting yourself and paying your own way through college,
  • you’ve lived at or below 200% of the poverty line for your state for at least one year,
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments  

Reading The Veil and The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam, by Fatima Mernissi

On and off over the past year or so, I have gotten into some pretty heated discussions here about Islam. In August of 2014, I wrote a two-part post called “Trying to Be an Ally: Thinking About Hejab, Muslim Invisibility, and the Casual Hatred that is Cultural Appropriation.” (Part 1 and Part 2)1 I wrote those posts in response to this one on Ms. Muslamic about “hijab tourism.” I put this one up about Sahar Amer’s book What Is Veiling? in response to some of the discussion on the other two posts; and I posted this one , about Reza Aslan’s response to what Bill Maher said in this clip because I was tired of listening to Maher trying to pass off his anti-intellectual Islam-bashing as some kind of crusade for justice.


For me, perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the discussions on Alas that these posts engendered was what I perceived to be some people’s inability to distinguish between criticizing the oppressive behaviors of Muslims–whether as individuals or governments–and characterizing Islam itself as somehow inherently “barbaric,” which is not the word they used, but is consistent with the emotional tone of Maher’s (and some of Sam Harris’) rhetoric.

One of the points I kept trying to make in these discussion was that there are already Muslims addressing on Muslim terms many of the critiques that we in the West have of religion. There was some not insignificant pushback against this point. So, for example, when I linked to evidence that there is at least one Muslim scholar, Dr. Amanullah De Sondy, who argues that being gay might in fact be compatible with Islam, G&W responded with this:

In all seriousness: so what? Who cares that there are some people who are deliberately promoting a view that contradicts the plain language of the text? Why on earth are they relevant in a general conversation, since they are a tiny fraction of all Muslims?

To be fair, I have taken G&W’s comment a little bit out of context because I am not really interested in reopening the precise conversation that was going on at that point. Rather, I have quoted him here because it was this comment that brought home to me my own ignorance about the very discussion within Islam that I was insisting we had to acknowledge and respect. Obviously, unless we are reading the Quran in Arabic, and also have access to the necessary and appropriate etymological, historical and other commentaries, we have to be very careful about what we actually mean by the phrase “plain language.” Nonetheless, granting for the sake of argument the aptness of G&W’s question and phrasing, the fact is that I had no idea, and I still don’t know, if Dr. De Sondy’s argument is or is not based on the Quran’s “plain language.”

Realizing this, I decided that I would take down from my shelf a book that I have owned for more than twenty years but never read: The Veil and The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam, by Fatima Mernissi. My plan was to read her book and post a kind of reading journal as I went, but a host of circumstances intervened, making my reading a far more disjointed experience than such a project would have required. It’s only now, two or three months after I first picked the book up, that I have finally finished it. One of the things I learned as I read was that, even if I’d been able to devote the time to the book that I’d wanted, a single reading would not have been enough for me to post in the way I originally had in mind. Mernissi’s argument is subtle and complex and relies not only on a textual analysis of passages in the Quran, which I have never read, not even in English, but also on a body of religious and historical research and commentary with which I am completely unfamiliar. I simply don’t know enough to do what I originally wanted to do in the way that I wanted to do it.

Continue reading

  1. The images in Part 1 are a little messed up on Alas, so if you want to see the post with the images, here’s a link to the post on my blog. []
Posted in Islam, Islamaphobia | 61 Comments  

13 Notes About #GamerGate


1) Gamergate started out with a huge misogynist outburst against (female and feminist) game developer Zoe Quinn. The term “gamergate” itself was coined by right-wing actor Adam Baldwin (of Firefly fame), endorsing a Youtube video which falsely accused Quinn of sleeping with a male journalist in exchange for a good write-up of her game. The misogyny was not subtle.

2) On the other hand, it seems likely that Zoe Quinn was, in fact, emotionally abusing her boyfriend Eron Gjoni.1

3) But that in no way excuses Gjoni’s abusive acts against his ex-girlfriend (publishing tons of private correspondence and encouraging gamergate), or the huge misogynist flood against Quinn, which Gjoni encouraged while maintaining a very thin shell of deniability.2

4) I don’t see how it’s possible to look at something like the wildly disproportionate, almost incomprehensibly numerous, violent,3 misogynistic overreaction to Anita Sarkeesian criticizing sexism in games, and not conclude that there’s a misogyny problem in the gaming community. And yet, many gamergaters deny that there’s a misogyny problem there at all. To me, this saps them of credibility.


5) Gamergate got huge – too huge to be any one thing. I think there genuinely are gamergaters who aren’t misogynists, don’t participate in abuse, report abuse when they see it, etc.. I’ve met some Gamergaters who seem to be not at all woman-hating (although imo they are making the wrong call by associating themselves with GG). There are tens of thousands of gamergaters, and I’m not comfortable with painting them all with a single brush.

6) But on the other hand, it’s not like Gamergaters couldn’t simply choose another label. They could very easily disassociate themselves from their misogynistic beginnings, if they wanted to, just by creating a new name for “anti-corruption-in-gaming-journalism-but-not-rooted-in-misogyny.” Instead, they choose to associate themselves with a name that is obviously rooted in large-scale misogyny.4

7) There’s abuse from both sides. The death threats referred to in my previous post almost certainly came from anti-gamergaters. Less seriously (because not threats) but more seriously (because thousands of times more common), I’ve seen a huge amount of mean and dehumanizing tweets from both sides.

8) But it’s my strong impression (albeit one I cannot prove) that the abuse and death threats are more extreme for female, feminist developers in gaming than for anyone else involved in gaming.5

9) But after a certain point of mindless and mean tweets becoming commonplace on both sides, as well as death threats and the like being used repeatedly by the outliers on both sides, I no longer want to associate myself with either side, even if one side is worse.

10) On the substantive issues that they claim to be concerned about, Gamergaters are, imo, mostly wrong. It is not corrupt for critics to discuss sexism in their written criticism of a game. It is not corrupt for an award for indy game design to go to a game that most gamergaters don’t like. Etc, etc.

10½ ) I think gamergaters are also wrong to say that it’s corrupt for a critic or reporter to write about work by someone whose patreon or kickstarter they’ve supported. Supporting a patreon is not a friendship relationship, or an investor relationship; it’s more like supporting someone’s zine by subscribing to it. There is nothing corrupt about critics writing about work that they passionately support. However, this is a somewhat grayer area, and what gamergaters are asking for here – disclosure – seems harmless.

11) The gamergaters I’ve spoken to have a truly terrifying lack of depth in how they view art and art criticism.

12) Some Gamergate actions are – although not literally censorship – doing pragmatic harm to freedom of speech. Gamergaters attempt to use economic coercion to shut up reporters and publications with opposing views. This is contemptible. I have not seen a single gamergater disagree with this common and much-publicized gamergate tactic.6

13) I think gamergate has vastly increased the number of feminists and nerds who parse these issues as “feminists vs nerds” conflicts. Unfortunately, this parsing erases the existence of feminist nerds, who comprise approximately 99% of everyone I’m friends with ever, so I’m really annoyed by this.

  1. I’m a little bothered by the conflation of “cheating on your lover and lying about it” with “abuse.” There is a big difference between what a cheating liar does and what someone who beats up their lover does, even though both of them are doing great harm. There is a good reason only one of these two things is a crime. But probably I’m trying to stop a train that actually left the station years ago. []
  2. I’m in agreement with people who say “Quinn was emotionally abusive and grossly unethical and we shouldn’t make her a hero.” I’m not in agreement with people who deny that Gjoni was also emotionally abusive and grossly unethical, or who say that what happened to Quinn is in any way justified by what she did to Gjoni. []
  3. If you don’t think that counts as violent, there’s also this. []
  4. It is true, as I’ve seen some pro-GG folks argue, that the Democrats began as a racist party and we’re mostly willing to overlook that now. But there’s a difference between overlooking a group’s origins in 1782, versus overlooking a group’s origins this past August. []
  5. Adam Baldwin will not be forced to cancel any public appearances by threats of a repeat of the Montreal Massacre. []
  6. And yes, I have looked. I’m sure there are some out there – there are, after all, so many thousands of gamergaters – but any gamergater who questions these economic-strongarm tactics must be an extreme outlier. []
Posted in Civility & norms of discourse, Feminism, sexism, etc, Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc., norms of discourse | 63 Comments  

Rachel Swirsky’s 2014 Publications & Award Reading

This was two separate posts on my own blog, but condensed here for convenience.

First, my 2014 work:

Grand Jete (or “The Great Leap”) came out in the last issue of Subterranean Online. I am honored to have been part of the magazine and saddened to lose it. “Grand Jete” is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, and among the longest, at novella length. I started it during the first February when I was living in Iowa, when it felt like the snow had been there forever, and would always be there, and that didn’t feel so much oppressive as just… like stasis.

I wanted to write about the ways that love can cause pain. It became a story about the ballet Coppelia, Judaism, and Winter. “Grand Jete” is being reprinted in year’s best anthologies from Jonathan Strahan and Gardner Dozois.

“Endless” came out in the British anthology SOLARIS RISING 3. The extremely patient editor Ian Whates was more than generous in dealing with my (seemingly also endless) writer’s block. I wrote a short draft of this story several years ago with the vague aim of selling it to Nature’s Futures, but it didn’t really work at that length; it was just a dry sort of letter thing without any background or character. The published version is five times the length of the original, and I think it really needed the extra word count. It’s about a post-singularity world and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

“Tender” came out in Neil Clarke’s anthology UPGRADED which is about the physical merging of humans with robotic technology. For months, I was working on a story for this about a kidnapped battle robot, but I was just never able to make anything happen. Then, one morning when I couldn’t sleep, I wrote this piece more or less entire (I did revise, later, but the whole structure was there). I love it when that happens; I wish it could happen more. The story is told from the perspective of a mad scientist’s wife whose husband is deploying increasingly desperate mechanical interventions to keep her alive.

If anyone would like to get access to one of these stories, please let me know, and I’ll send you a copy. (This offer is intended for Hugo and Nebula voters, but if someone else who isn’t either wants a copy anyway, do ping–within reason, I’ll try to accommodate.)

And a brief note on my 2014 award reading (slightly modified for clarity to an audience of people who aren’t necessarily immersed in science fiction and fantasy publishing):

Most years, I try to read as widely as possible before award nominations. I like to be an informed nominator, but more than that, I like being an informed reader of the genre; I like knowing what’s going on. I love discovering writers who are new to me which I almost always do, and I love being able to recommend and talk about fiction.

This year, I’m on the jury for an award given to young adult novels. This means I need to read many, many young adult novels. On the one hand–yay! Young adult novels! On the other hand, ouch. Less time for reading anything else.

I will try to blitz-read some short fiction. But it won’t be as much, and it won’t be drawn from as widely, and I’m sorry for that.

However, if you have a piece of fiction that you think I should read, or that you’d like me to read, please link me, or (for attachments) contact me so that we can set it up by email. Recommend me your fiction, or someone else’s. I can’t guarantee what I’ll be able to read, but I’ll try. (This offer is meant to cover fiction published in 2014 that’s eligible for the Nebulas or the Hugos, but I’m always happy to read other good fiction, too. Just please note if you’re recommending ineligible stuff so I know I’m not on a deadline to read it.)

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