caitri: (Books)
The Dangers of Reading in Bed by Nika Mavrody

In his history of masturbation, Solitary Sex, the historian Thomas Laqueur draws a direct link between 18th-century distress over solitary, silent novel reading and masturbation’s new status as a public menace: “Novels, like masturbation, created for women alternative ‘companions of their pillow.’” These “solitary vices,” as Laqueur calls them, were condemned for fear that individual autonomy would lead to a breakdown in the collective moral order.

...

People feared that solitary reading and sleeping fostered a private, fantasy life that would threaten the collective—especially among women. The solitary sleeper falls asleep at night absorbed in fantasies of another world, a place she only knows from books. During the day, the lure of imaginative fiction might draw a woman under the covers to read, compromising her social obligations.
caitri: (Chris Vocabulary)
Viet Thanh Nguyen Reveals How Writers' Workshops Can Be Hostile


What Nguyen says about writing workshops I want to apply to printing and bookmaking workshops:


As an institution, the workshop reproduces its ideology, which pretends that “Show, don’t tell” is universal when it is, in fact, the expression of a particular population, the white majority, typically at least middle-class and often, but not exclusively, male. The identity behind the workshop’s origins is invisible. Like all privileges, this identity is unmarked until it is thrown into relief against that which is marked, visible and outspoken, which is to say me and others like me.

We, the barbarians at the gate, the descendants of Caliban, the ones who have no choice but to speak in the language we have — we come bearing the experiences and ideas the workshop suppresses. We come from the Communist countries America bombed during the Cold War, or where it sponsored counter-Communist efforts. We come from the lands America occupied, invaded or colonized. We come as refugees and immigrants, documented and undocumented. We come from the ghettos, barrios, reservations and borders of America where there are no workshops. We come from the bedrooms and the kitchens of the American home, where we were supposed to stay, and stay silent. We come speaking languages other than English. We come from the margins, where English is broken. We come with financial aid and loans and families that do not understand what “creative writing” is. We come from communities we do not wish to renounce in the name of our individualism. We come wanting to do more than just sell our stories to white audiences. And we come with the desire not just to show, but to tell.

But what is that art that is also political, historical, theoretical, ideological and philosophical? How is it to be taught? It must be taught not only as an isolated craft or a set of techniques. It must be taught in relation to, or within, courses on history, politics, theory and philosophy, as well as ethnic studies, gender studies, queer studies and cultural studies.
caitri: (Books)
 #thanksfortyping has been trending on Twitter. It's a tag full of people uncovering the often unnamed wives and secretaries who are acknowledged as typing male academics' manuscripts: basically, that's literally what invisible labor looks like, folks, some poor wife typing up some asshole's book FIFTEEN times, and his editor gets all the thanks.
caitri: (Books)
Over at Bustle: "Why Fan Fiction Shaming Is A Feminist Issue" by Emma Lord

Snip:

The two most "famous" fan fictions aside, the shame associated with fan fiction originated long before these works reached readers outside of their usual sphere. Unfortunately, fan fiction at large lends itself to mockery in a much safer and subtler way than other forms of female desire-driven works: the writers are, for the most part, anonymous and unpaid, with little training. They are often young women, subjecting the works to the same dismissive attitude society frequently takes over things that young women enjoy. And while there is a wide range of writers and types of fic on the internet, a majority of fic — the fic that most people are aware of — is written primarily by women, for women, holding it to the kind of scrutiny from people who do not consume it that makes it all too easy to mock. ...

If you don't think that fan fiction shaming in particular is a feminist issue, then consider what we're really doing when we shame fan fiction writers: we are shaming women — often young women, who are just starting to get a sense for what they want not just in a narrative, but in their adult lives — for expressing their desires. We are setting up women to apologize for their writing before it even leaves the keyboard. We are attacking them not only personally, but professionally; we are discouraging them owning a part of themselves, and from profiting from it, should they ever decide to write their own original work down the road.

More than that, though, we are discouraging them from engaging in the incredibly diverse and open learning environment that fan fiction provides. Fan fiction has historically been a safe place to experiment with and read about all kinds of romance — no matter the gender or the orientation, be it the cheesiest trope or the most specific kink. It is a place without judgment, and a place that introduces young writers to perspectives outside of their own — sometimes normalizing diverse relationships for writers who would otherwise not be exposed to them, ultimately making them more accepting and empathetic not just as writers, but as human beings.

With that in mind, it is all the more disheartening that the judgment of others so critically affects the writers and readers of fan fiction, which itself is such an open, nonjudgmental place. But once that misplaced shame is there, it never really goes away. Even now, fully aware of the root of my feelings, I see it in motion in myself and the people around me. I write my own fiction now, and whenever somebody asks about it, I frequently preface any plot descriptions with "it's silly," or "it's dumb". I hide my fiction writing with the same kind of crippling embarrassment that I shielded my fan fiction usernames. And I hear the same apologies from other female writers everywhere I go — be it with other fic writers on Tumblr, or fiction writers who write in genres targeted at women that I meet out in the real world, there is all too often a disclaimer to soften any exchange of their work. The very work that should empower us and embolden us, the same work we feel safe celebrating in anonymous corners of the internet, often makes us cower in the light of day.

Of course, ending the fan fiction shaming isn't going to solve everything; fan fiction shaming is just one of countless things lurking under the umbrella of things women are conditioned to feel shame for. But it is high time to recognizing fan fiction shaming for what it is at its core: the shaming of women's desires, and their daring to take control of them.
caitri: (Default)
Bookmarking because it's beautiful, and apparently this is the only freaking poem you can get in English from this author because it was shown on a kdrama. >_<

“The Physics of Love”
by Kim In-yook

The size of a mass is not proportional to its volume
That little girl as small as a violet
That little girl that flutters like a flower petal
Pulls me with a mass greater than the Earth
In a moment, I
Like Newton’s apple
Mercilessly rolled and fell on her
With a thud, with a thud thud
My heart
From the sky to the ground
Continued to swing dizzyingly like a pendulum
It was first love
caitri: (Is this a kissing book?)
"Full-body reading: Literary criticism taught me to scrub my feelings out of my reading, but a medieval mystic showed me how to put them back in" by Anna Wilson

The Book of Margery Kempe challenges what it meant to critically engage with a text. Amid Kempe’s loud weeping and marriage ceremonies with Jesus, there was her rebuke to the priest about his closed-mindedness, her challenge to the Archbishop of York about his hypocrisy, and an assertion that she – an illiterate woman – had the right to teach others what the Bible meant.
Reading The Book of Margery Kempe alongside fanfiction makes it clear that physical, imaginative reading is still associated with women, still considered embarrassing, and still employed as a form of resistance to mainstream narratives. People, in short, are still using this style of reading to elbow their way into texts from which they are restricted, just as Kempe and other women did with religious texts.

Just as important, Kempe’s Book argues that writing is also reading – transforming other texts, enriching them for readers – and it evidences a long intertwined history of women’s education with alternative literacies of power and resistance. Through Kempe, I came to realise that fanfiction, qualitatively so different from the literary criticism I learned in the classroom, is itself a powerful critical tool. My fanfiction community gave me a healthy disrespect for the ‘author’ in ‘authority’, teaching me to notice where a text dissatisfied me and to dig deep into my own feelings to work out why. I learned that identifying with characters can be valuable. Indeed, my identification with Kempe helped me notice something about her mysticism that hadn’t previously been studied: the importance of ‘Mary Sue’-style self-insertion into Bible stories, which formed the starting point of my PhD dissertation.
caitri: (Cait Yatta!)
Revenge by e.c.c.:

Revenge
Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.
I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending
the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;
I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel
and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;
I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.
With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,
my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck
and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,
because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.
You just delayed our coronation.
We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;
we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business
because it’s still nobody’s business;
there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic
for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,
and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:
we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,
the buildings here are not on your side just because
you make them spray-painted accomplices.
These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.
Even the earth found common ground with us in the way
you bootstrap across us both,
oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,
and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them
but I won’t, because they’re my family,
in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.
If you’ve never loved someone like that
you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.
I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;
I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,
I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down
and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.
But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.
We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder
the longer they spend burning us,
we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?
We know everything we do is so the kids after us
will be able to follow something towards safety;
what can I call us but lighthouse,
of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.
And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,
anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.
This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.
You cannot deport our minds; we won’t
hold funerals for our potential. We have always been
what makes America great.
-e.c.c.

ETA: LJ is being LJ and not showing the text breaks properly, so go to the link to read it properly and in rhythm. But this is so beautiful I want it on a poster, you guys.
caitri: (Tony OCD)
http://idlewords.com/talks/fan_is_a_tool_using_animal.htm>Fan is a Tool-Using Animal, a transcript of a talk by Maciej Cegłowski from 2013 on fans, tags, the Delicious blow-up, and how his perception of fans changed over time. Basically he created Pinboard and reached out to fans after Delicious died so that they could use the tagging system there, and then fandom did.

In 2009, when I started my own bookmarking site, called Pinboard, I really wanted to lure over fans with their amazing tag collections.

But fans are loyal people. And they were really attached to Delicious, especially to a very elaborate Firefox plugin that made life a breeze for people with thousands of tags. I didn't have much success in getting them to cross over.

Until in 2010 Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, the founders of YouTube, came along and made my career. I don't know them personally. Maybe they're lovely people in person—kind to animals, beloved by children.

But they bungled their way through acquiring Delicious so badly that the site never recovered.

Chad looked at Steve and was like:

“Bro, you want to buy Delicious?”

And Steve looked at Chad and was like:

“Bro let's totally buy it!”

And they high-fived and that was it.

A few months after the acquisition, there was a grand uncloaking of their new design, much of which involved destroying features of Delicious that fans were utterly dependent on.

The new Delicious removed the ability to see your full list of tags, which as you can imagine for someone with an intricate tagging system is the end of the world.

They got rid of tag bundles, a crucial feature for fans.

And in an inspired stroke, they took down their support forum, so no one could complain about anything on the site itself.

But the single change that killed fandom dead on Delicious was no longer being able to type "/" into the search box.

There is no God, life has no meaning, it's all over when you can't search on the slash character. And fandom started freaking out on Twitter.

Being a canny businessman, I posted a gentle reminder that there was still a bookmarking site that let you search on a slash tag.

So fandom dispatched a probe to see if I was worth further study. The emissaries talked to me a bit and explained that my site was missing some features that fans relied on.

In my foolishness I asked, "Could you make me a list of those features? I'll take a look, maybe some of it is easy to implement."

Oh yes, they could make make a list.

I had summoned a very friendly Balrog.

For three days, I watched this collaborative Google doc grow and grow before my eyes. It ended up being fifty-two pages long. I want to show you some of the highlights.

At times, there were so many people editing the document at that it tucked its tail between its legs and went into a panicked ‘read only’ mode. Even the mighty engineers at Google couldn’t cope with the sustained attention of fandom.


My favorite bit:

Here I've shown a paragraph where someone asks me if I can build a user search feature, and I reply at length about why that's not trivial. At that point someone decides that it's easier for them to just go build the feature on the spot. They set up a little app in Heroku that mapped Pinboard usernames to Delicious usernames.

In the time it took me to explain why I couldn't build the feature, someone did it for me and stuck a hyperlink into this document that is spiraling out of control.
caitri: (Gamora)
Re-Queering Sappho by Ella Haselswerdt

Once, at a small dinner party with some fellow classicists, a genuinely lovely and brilliant male colleague floated a pet theory of his: Sappho was actually a man. It’s a perverse idea, but not an outrageous one. Sappho has long been celebrated as the lone female voice of Ancient Greece, and none of the writings of her many ancient fans ever questioned her gender. But one of the first things students of classical literature are taught these days, once they’ve learned how to decline a noun or two, is to rigorously detach the authorial persona you find in a text from any sense of historical biography. ...

In the past couple of decades, crusaders against the colonization of the past with our modern contemporary assumptions, models, and categories have cautioned against using the lower-case “lesbian” label to describe the poetess who resided in Lesbos. These critiques (always by male philologists) generally contain some entangled combination of the following assertions: the poems themselves are not as gay as you think they are; the term is anachronistic, and describes an identity category that did not exist in antiquity; and, in the raunchy genre of Athenian comedy, the character “Sappho” was obsessed with dick. These critiques betray a narrow and masculine misunderstanding of the nature of queer female erotics, a condescending assumption of naïveté about the nature of identity and identification, and the uncritical transmission of the deeply misogynist ancient reception of the Poetess. The supposedly progressive resistance to the colonization of the past begins to look an awful lot like the colonization of its narrow female margins by men. ...

the earliest contemporary reference I can find to the term [Lesbian] is a journal of sexual dysfunction, an imposition of male physicians on women they perceived to have been disordered. It’s not entirely clear to me when women started using “this classification” for self-identification (though a trip through the OED’s historical definitions of ‘lesbian’ and ‘sapphist’ was highly entertaining).
I would imagine that these brave women found in the imposed name of their supposed sexual disease a tradition worth embracing — a set of beautiful fragmented poems about the love of one woman for another, full of detailed imagery of flowers, women, and fruit, with an attention to private, embodied experiences of lust, loss, and longing. Slurs assigned to marginalized categories of people have often been taken up as proud identity markers. The doctors who pathologized women for displaying same-sex desire did not invent lesbianism. ...

When I first read Sappho (and as I read her even now) the thrill of recognition was not that of encountering the writing of someone who claims the same identity markers as I do. Instead, it is in the expression of an embodied desire that is free from the gendered hierarchies that saturate both of our societies. After being steeped in Homer, Thucydides, Sophocles — all authors whom I love, and in all of whose work the personal labored to be expressed under the heavy burdens of patriarchal convention — Sappho’s fragmented musings about the pleasures of female homosexuality were a revelation, one not dissimilar to my own after being raised in a conservative small town, exposed only to the romantic narratives of novels, television, and popular movies.
caitri: (chris vocabulary)
The Mysterious, Anonymous Author Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels

I’ve noticed that the critics who seem most obsessed by the question of your gender are men. They seem to find it impossible to fathom how that a woman could write books that are so serious—threaded with history and politics, and even-handed in their depictions of sex and violence. That the ability to depict the domestic world as a war zone and willingness to unflinchingly show women in an unflattering light are evidence that you’re a man. Some suggest that not only are you a man, but given your output, you might be a team of men. A committee. (Imagine the books of the Bible…)

Have you heard anyone say recently about any book written by a man, It’s really a woman who wrote it, or maybe a group of women? Due to its exorbitant might, the male gender can mimic the female gender, incorporating it in the process. The female gender, on the other hand, cannot mimic anything, for is betrayed immediately by its “weakness”; what it produces could not possibly fake male potency. The truth is that even the publishing industry and the media are convinced of this commonplace; both tend to shut women who write away in a literary gynaeceum. There are good women writers, not so good ones, and some great ones, but they all exist within the area reserved for the female sex, they must only address certain themes and in certain tones that the male tradition considers suitable for the female gender. It is fairly common, for example, to explain the literary work of women writers in terms of some variety of dependence on literature written by males. However, it is rare to see commentary that traces the influence of a female writer on the work of a male writer. The critics don’t do it, the writers themselves do not do it. Thus, when a woman’s writing does not respect those areas of competence, those thematic sectors and the tones that the experts have assigned to the categories of books to which women have been confined, the commentators come up with the idea of male bloodlines. And, if there’s no author photo of a woman then the game is up: it’s clear, in that case, that we are dealing with a man or an entire team of virile male enthusiasts of the art of writing. What if, instead, we’re dealing with a new tradition of women writers who are becoming more competent, more effective, are growing tired of the literary gynaeceum and are on furlough from gender stereotypes. We know how to think, we know how to tell stories, we know how to write them as well as, if not better, than men.

Because girls grow up reading books by men, we are used to the sound of male voices in our heads, and have no trouble imagining the lives of the cowboys, sea captains, and pirates of he-manly literature, whereas men balk at entering the mind of a woman, especially an angry woman.

Yes, I hold that male colonization of our imaginations—a calamity while ever we were unable to give shape to our difference—is, today, a strength. We know everything about the male symbol system; they, for the most part, know nothing about ours, above all about how it has been restructured by the blows the world has dealt us. What’s more, they are not even curious, indeed they recognize us only from within their system.

As a female writer I take offense at the idea that the only war stories that matter are those written by men crouched in foxholes.

Every day women are exposed to all kinds of abuse. Yet there is still a widespread conviction that women’s lives, full of conflict and violence both in the domestic sphere and in all of life’s most common contexts, cannot be expressed other than via the modules that the male world defines as feminine. If you step out of this thousand-year-old invention of theirs, you are no longer female.
caitri: (Dorian)
Text-To-Speech in 1846 Involved a Talking Robotic Head With Ringlets
Meet the Euphonia, a machine that boasted the ability to replicate human speech.


The Euphonia was the product of 25 years of research and an undeniably impressive feat of engineering. Fourteen piano keys controlled the articulation of the Euphonia's jaw, lips, and tongue while the roles of the lungs and larynx were performed by a bellows and an ivory reed. The operator could adjust the pitch and accent of the Euphonia's speech by turning a small screw or inserting a tube into its nose. It was reported that it took Faber seven long years simply to get his machine to correctly pronounce the letter e. ...

The answer may lie in a thought experiment put forth by the roboticist Mashahiro Mori in 1970. Mori proposed that “as [a] robot became more human-like there would first be an increase in its acceptability and then as it approached a nearly human state there would be a dramatic decrease in acceptance.” This dip in public approval represents a Goldilocks zone for robotic anthropomorphism: Robots who find themselves in it are simultaneously too human and not human enough. Faber's Euphonia seemed to have gotten lost somewhere in what Mori called “the Uncanny Valley.” ...

Sigmund Freud defined the uncanny as “that class of terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar.”  The Euphonia, in spite of its familiar and quintessentially human ability to speak, was still undeniably inhuman; A mechanical imposter in a rubber mask.







caitri: (books)
"Dark books:
What’s more wholesome than reading? Yet books wield a dangerous power: the best erode self, infecting readers with ideas" by Tara Isabella Burton


In his condemnatory tract Popular Amusements (1869), the American clergyman Jonathan Townley Crane cautioned his flock against reading novels: ‘novel-readers spend many a precious hour in dreaming out clumsy little romances of their own, in which they themselves are the beautiful ladies and the gallant gentlemen who achieve impossibilities…’ only to find themselves ‘merged in the hero of the story’, losing the sense of who they really are. ...

And it’s not just toxic notions of gender that novels have the power to reinforce. Historically speaking, control of narrative and language has been inextricable from notions of political and cultural control. The power of the writer is to decide which characters, which worlds, he treats as fully human, and which as reducible and other.

In a 2009 TEDx talk, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie highlighted the dangers of the ‘one story’, explaining how she, as a Nigerian, found her self-understanding dominated by collective narratives – the ‘single story of Africa’ – in a manner not so different from Cordelia’s possession by Johannes. As a child, Adichie wrote exactly the kinds of stories she had access to:

"All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out… I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to."

To be a fully formed character, in the stories Adichie read, was to be white and British; the story of Africa, by contrast, was a story ‘of negatives, of difference, of darkness’.

Here, too, the act of reading is an act of experiencing another kind of danger: in this case, the danger to the self posed by writerly erasure. ‘Like our economic and political worlds,’ Adichie says, ‘stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: how they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.’ ...

At its most fundamental level, to read is to put our selves at risk, to make ourselves vulnerable by welcoming the presence of an other into our psychic space. This can be a radically transformative experience, challenging us to reformulate our own self-understanding. But at worst, we become like the dinner-party guests in The Torture Garden or Don Juan ­– our ‘possession’ by a storyteller awakening our inner violence. Or else we become like Johannes’ Cordelia, the books we read reinforcing existing societal threats to our being. Either way, the act of reading is an act of acceptance of power: a power that, if not god-like, is nevertheless – within the sphere of the text – absolute.
caitri: (books)
No, J J Abrams – Star Wars was never “a boy’s thing” by Elizabeth Minkel

Women who like things such as Star Wars, or comics, or anything else that leads journalists to write those painful “not just for boys anymore” trend stories, have had to take it from all sides. Enthusiasm for something seen as the province of men clashes with mainstream perceptions of femininity. Even women liking this stuff in the context of traditionally feminised fan spaces, like fanfiction, find themselves fending off assumptions from men and women alike, perhaps the accusation that they are sexualising something too much, or they are placing too much weight on the emotional elements of a storyline. Basically, that they’re liking the thing the wrong way.

But women’s enthusiasm for perceived “male” spaces is always liking the thing the wrong way. The plainest illustration of this is the Fake Geek Girl, in meme and in practice: the barriers to entry are raised immeasurably high when women try to join in many male-dominated fannish conversations. The wonderful Noelle Stevenson illustrates this beautifully – and then literally, when a guy challenges her on her work. I’m sure that just by writing about Star Wars, I’m opening myself up to the angry gatekeeping-style pissing contests that men like to toss at women who claim to like the things they like. (Let’s get it all out in the open here: Star Wars isn’t my fandom. I saw the three original films on dates with my first boyfriend – our first date: Star Trek: First Contact, because we were clearly the coolest kids in town – and upon rewatches as an adult nothing grabbed me. But I am also a fandom journalist, so that’s kind of how this works.)

There’s a persistent myth – and I say persistent because I keep seeing these deluded boys get mad in new viral posts – that women who claim to like geeky things are just pretending, the somewhat confusing notion that they are doing it for attention. (And then there’s the inevitable anger that in this supposedly desperate plea for attention – why else would a woman claim to like their beloved characters?! – these women still don’t want to sleep with them.) And what never seems to occur to any of these gatekeepers is that these women were there all along, liking these things just as much – and are finally being given the cultural space to be open about their interests and passions. But that space is given haltingly; plenty of women, tired of waiting, are going out and taking it. The result is the tension (and, at times, outright hostility) that has marked certain corners of the fannish world in the past few years.
caitri: (Gamora)
I'm reading an interesting, older book I've never heard of until recently by Jane Marcus called Art and Anger, which is basically feminist criticism about women's reading and criticisms of women's reading. Anyway in an essay towards the end she reproduces this fascinating poem by Catherine des Roches (c. 1555-84), from an unpublished translation by Tilde Sankovitch. Art and Anger was published in 1988, and I haven't done much to track down whether the translation of the poem has since been published. Anyway, it's an interesting meditation:

To my Spindle

My spindle and my care, I promise you and swear
To love you forever, and never to exchange
Sweet domestic honor for a thing wild and strange,
Which inconstant, wanders, and tends its foolish snare.

With you at my side, dear, I feel much more secure
Than with paper and ink arranged all around me,
For, if I needed defending, there you would be,
To rebuff any danger, to help me endure.

But, spindle, my dearest, I do not believe
That, much as I love you, I will come to grief
If I do not quite let that good practice dwindle

Of writing sometimes, if I give you fair share,
If I write of your goodness, my friend and my care,
And hold in my hand both my pen and my spindle.
caitri: (books)
"The Poet Laureate of Fan Fiction" by Adam Carlson

In which a poet writes a book, the internet assumes it's about Supernatural fanfic, he thinks it's cool, and it becomes a transformational lovefest on both sides.

My 20th-century intention was to make a place where I could articulate my thoughts and feelings. I thought it would be a place where the reader and I could meet. That’s no longer the way storytelling works. Now readers enlarge the places an author has made, include themselves in this larger space, and meet with each other without the author. ...

In the driest language possible, I would say that fan fiction successfully undermines the traditional American heteronormative dynamic in ways that can’t be undone. In wetter language, fan fiction sexualizes. It’s transgressive because it suggests the possibility of the erotic. It’s political, because it complicates power structures. And it’s personal, because it grants permission for range of previously unacceptable expressions and interactions. I think my poems enact a space for complicated, multivalent relationships. I think that’s the draw.

And yet, the Wincest and Johnlock fandoms put their attention to very different kinds of interactions. In Wincest fanfic the relationship is aggressive and incestuous, forged in life-or-death battles with angels and demons. The brothers are young, handsome, similar, fated to be together, and on the run. In Johnlock fan fic, the relationship is tender and between friends. They are older and dissimilar. They don’t share a common history. They are not fated to be together. Instead, they choose each other.

Here’s the biggest question and the biggest problem: What are the consequences of sexualizing these relationships? The possibility of erotic desire may or may not be hinted at in the original work—but ignore that. The probability of romantic love could be low or high—but ignore that. The suggestion that these partnerships are necessarily monogamous, supersede all other potential loves or lovers, and could be considered a type of marriage—ignore that. The question, the problem: How can I possibly convince anyone that I could like my best friend for non-sexual reasons? How do I make room for the possibility of deep care and tenderness between men who aren’t fucking if I sexualize every male/male relationship I encounter? Perhaps the subtleties come later. Perhaps we need to push all the way into highly erotic realms to allow ourselves the room to pull back into places of possible non-sexual tenderness.
caitri: (books)
"Let’s have a year of publishing only women – a provocation" by Kamila Shamsie

In the five years in which slightly under 40% of the submitted books have been written by women, the percentage of women on the longlist has been slightly over 40%. The percentage of women on the shortlist has been 46%. The percentage of women who go on to win the prize has been exactly 40%. In this period, although four out of five of the chairs of the Booker juries have been men, there has been an almost even split of male and female jurors. The picture that starts to emerge from these statistics is one of judges who judge without gender bias but are hamstrung by publishers who submit with a strong tilt towards books by men. But, as is so often the case with statistics, there are other figures that complicate the story. The author Nicola Griffith recently published a study of prizewinning books on both sides of the Atlantic, broken down by the gender of their protagonists; it revealed that in the last 15 years, 12 of the Booker-winning novels have had male protagonists, two have had female protagonists, and one has had both male and female protagonists. The Booker does well compared with the Pulitzer across the Atlantic, which has had no female protagonist among its 15 winning books.

I could go on with the statistics and observations – the 64 male versus 36 female authors who make up the World Book Night picks of the last five years; the gendered decisions about how to package and describe male versus female authors; a recap of the Vida statistics that show how much more space male writers and reviewers receive in literary publications on either side of the Atlantic; the far greater propensity for male writers to pick other male writers when asked to recommend books. But at this point, I’m going to assume that the only people who really doubt that there is a gender bias going on are those who stick with the idea that men are better writers and better critics, and that when men recommend books by men it is fair literary judgment, while when women recommend books by women it is either a political position or woolly feminine judgment. To these people I have nothing to say except, go away and read some Toni Morrison.

Enough. Across the board, enough. Let’s agree that things have improved over the last 50 years, even over the last 20, and then let’s start to ask why. Was it simply the passage of time? Should we all sit around while the world continues on its slow upward trend towards equality? Or should we step outside that fictional narrative of progress and ask what actually helped to change literary culture in the UK? Two things come to mind: the literary presses of the 70s, of which Virago is the most notable; and the women’s prize for fiction. In part, what both the presses and the prize did was to create a space for women in a male-dominated world, giving voice and space to those who wouldn’t find them elsewhere.

I would argue that is time for everyone, male and female, to sign up to a concerted campaign to redress the inequality. Last year a number of readers, critics and at least one literary journal, the Critical Flame, signed up to a “Year of Reading Women” (for the Critical Flame it was female writers and writers of colour). Why not take it a step further? Why not have a Year of Publishing Women: 2018, the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote in the UK, seems appropriate.
caitri: (Gamora)
"It’s-A Me, Mary Sue: Why She’s An Important Figure For Fanfic And Fangirls" by Sam Maggs

Maybe part of the reason we hate reading Mary Sue fics now is because they remind us of the very first fics we ever wrote as teenagers (admit it, we’ve all written a Mary Sue fic or seven). While it’s true that a large number of Sues are written by first-time ficcers, the fic community might want to consider helping new writers grow through constructive criticism instead of off-handedly dismissing the fic as a Sue. All other characters in fic are subject to personal scrutiny, so why not leave detailed notes about what could improve the story beyond “Oh, she’s a Mary Sue?” Suggest the need for growth in the main character; a more conflicted love story; better female friendships. Don’t forget, we were all that first-time fic writer once! Being too dismissive of Mary Sues also discourages girls from writing strong, original female characters, and that’s the last thing we need in fiction. Also – it might be worth questioning why we suddenly become so embarrassed about a character that’s basically just a perfect, super-beloved version of us.

Because the Sue is always “perfect,” what exactly makes us hate her so much? Is it that she doesn’t have any flaws? Or that she has the wrong kinds of flaws? Or too many flaws? That she cries all the time and needs to be comforted? That she’s incredibly-powerful and no one can defy her? Is it that she’s way too nice to everyone? Or she’s the most anti-establishment of all the angsty girls on the scene? I’ve seen Sues dismissed for all of these reasons, which honestly makes it seem like we’re just dismissing all original female characters outright. The Sue breaks women out of the nice corner in which lady characters often exist in fiction, and that makes people uncomfortable. Let’s not be those people, okay?
caitri: (printer)
There is a Fonts & Boobs Tumblr that is what it says it is (NSFW). I am fascinated by it to the point that i'm probably going to end up rewriting the paper I'm giving next month because I am ridiculous.

also: ATF's How to Make Love To Your Type

Sexism and Fonts
caitri: (Gamora)
"Post Secrets,Young women face the dangers of the post office" by Angela Serratore

Communication of and by women has always struck fear into the hearts of men (see: novels; epistolary), but until the middle of the nineteenth century it was largely manageable—husbands and fathers, even servants, monitored a lady’s letters, and the wild fluctuations in cost of mail kept all but the wealthiest of girls and women from taking pen to paper on a regular basis. That changed with the standardization of postal prices in 1845. The cost of mailing a letter was reduced to three cents, making the mail accessible to working women, middle-class housewives, and schoolgirls with pocket money. Suddenly, wide swaths of women had access to two dangerous things—the mail and the post office. Anthony Trollope’s 1852 invention of the pillar-box had given British girls a chance to subvert the authority of their scandalized parents by mailing letters in secret, but their New York counterparts who visited the post office could both send and receive mail almost entirely unmonitored by those who might want to regulate their epistolary lives. ...

A Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine report on women and children in America points out to its British readers that while the fair maidens of Europe must rely upon a town businessperson to mail and receive her letters, a girl in New York has a freer hand:

"[She] has the privilege, if she chooses to exercise it, of her own private box or pigeon-hole at the post-office of the town where she resides, where she can have her letters addressed, and whither by a “Ladies Entrance” she can resort when she pleases and unlock her box from the outside, and take away her letters without observation."

It’s the lack of observation that made the New York Post Office such a source of fear—private communication is one thing, but to carry it out in a public space, away from the watchful eyes of protector figures, leaves women and girls open to assaults on their chastity, both in print and in person.




I love everything about this, I really really do. I wonder what arguments we could make about this as a precursor to women's activity on the web--private writing and reading, safe spaces, etc.

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