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Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

18lp5c9jxqj7rjpgEsoteric horror brought to you courtesy of ironic sexism.

In the twenty-some years I studied at the Miskatonic I came to realise the importance of the university in relation to the safety and security of the planet as a whole. Scholars at this fine institution, with its collection of rare tomes and artefacts and with its association to exploring the furthest reaches of our planet nowhere was better suited to battle the elder horrors which threaten this world – in secret of course.

Since at least the nineteen-twenties, and likely as far back as its founding, the university has been a centre for a number of professors and investigators risking life, limb and sanity to preserve fragile humanity from destruction at the hands of cosmic horrors.

But no more.

Our little cabal of professors and assistants, explorers, scholars of ancient languages, parapsychology, science and antiquities was outed when an overzealous assistant registered our society with the university authorities – seemingly on a whim. There were some benefits to this, we no longer had to masquerade as something else when we needed to use facilities and money was made available, which greatly improved the quality of the coffee we were drinking but had we known the consequences this would have we would have never gone along with it.

Things proceeded as normal, albeit with better coffee, for perhaps a month until we received a visitation from the campus diversity officer who had been checking into the various university groups and societies to ensure they conformed to a set of rules so changeable, esoteric and confusing that even I – who has mastered the incantations of the Dark Pharaoh – could not decipher them.

What it appeared to boil down to was that we were all too old, too white and too male and that we would have to induct more people from what she referred to as ‘minorities’. Women, persons of colour and so forth.

This delighted professor Abernathy, who has long argued that we need ‘more chicks in eschatological disaster prevention’, but it presented a problem for the rest of us, whose classes are still mostly inhabited by white men as well and the few women we did have in our classes showed little or no interest in tackling shadowy monstrosities from beyond.

It was then that we made our second mistake, in explaining this difficulty we asked for help.

And we got it.

Professor Bentham was not au fait with any of the fields necessary for our work, only with ‘Gender Studies’, but since she simply disappeared into the stacks and did not bother us this was little worry.

More concerning by far was the application – which we could not deny – of a foreign student, a pygmy or ‘little person’ which I’m given to understand is the preferred term – of the Tcho-Tcho tribe, originally from Tibet before their diaspora.

Na-Na, for that was his name, much to the amusement of Professor Abernathy, was a problem from the start. He would scurry, disconcertingly, through the stacks and leap out at the most inopportune moments. When he attacked Professor Carnegie with a blowpipe and dragged him off into the stacks, never to be seen again, we protested only to be told that was his culture and we should not be so judgemental, that we should ‘decolonise our attitudes’ towards his rich heritage. Even when we found a human hand, gnawn upon, laid atop a leather-bound folio of The Yellow Sign, which we suspected to belong to Professor Carnegie, nothing was done. ‘Dietary requirements of his culture’ we were told.

We had other problems by then of course. Female interns from the Gender Studies course who had joined our group as aides and researchers walked out en masse having read – in passing – a tome of ritual magic attributed to Dr Dee and having taken offence at talk of esoteric principles of ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’ utilised in the rituals within. They would listen to no explanation and it mattered not one jot to them that this was centuries old.

Thanks to them to university paper ran an ‘expose’ on us as a hotbed of sexism and we were besieged by constant protest, culminating in the pulling of a fire alarm as part of the protest. In the ensuing confusion with the fire brigade over a century’s worth of meticulously referenced knowledge was lost, along with many first editions. A great loss to our great work.

Besieged by angry furies, sniped at constantly by a cannibalistic half-man and with our work exposed to the world we did the best we could as the stars began to turn right.

During our most delicate preparations Professor Bentham made herself known to us again, forgotten for so long. Only she was different, she had degenerated – no, sorry, transitioned – into something other, an avatar of Shub-PoCurath (you can’t say the ‘N’ word or anything that sounds like it). Hooved. Tentacled. A hundred breasts and dozens of gaping, suppurating vaginas covered the knotted trunk of her body, indistinguishable from her many babbling mouths.

Professor Abernathy attempted, heroically to intercede and shove her back into the stacks. We thought he had been devoured, but it was worse.

The next day we were awash with campus police and a worried looking person from the office of the Dean. Professor Abernathy was being held up on molestation charges. In the struggle his hands had touched at least four breasts and three vaginas and Professor Bentham, now operating under the preferred pronoun of ‘Ia’ was holding him up on rape charges.

The siege – and the fire alarms – began again.

Despite all this, as the stars came right, we held out hope that we could stave off the end. We had everything prepared, meticulously, to heal the tear in the world that would admit the dark ones to this reality. All we needed was a virginal incantrix for the climax of the ritual. We had a volunteer and at the right moment she recited the words perfectly, but nothing happened.

There could only have been one possible cause, and she had cost us the world through her dishonestly.

But, apparently, that was slut shaming.

So now, as a black sun devours the sky and shadow tentacles devastate the planet, as the campus police come to arrest me for insensitivity, even as our world comes to an end, the conspiracy becomes clear.

We were the victims of a new cult, a cult that listens and believes, a cult that will live on until the very end because they made a deal with the dark powers beyond.

#KillAllMen

Or at least #KillMenFirst

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dasha-square_2797507aA chair, of all things, has caused an enormous amount of opprobrium and comment of late.

Here it is:

I don’t think it’s an original, but it’s certainly a copy after the style of Allen Jones series of BDSM sculptures of women as furniture from the Pop Art era of the 1960s. 1969 to be precise.

There’s layers to this manufactured scandal, all of which annoy the living piss out of me.

Race

Jones’ originals are of indeterminate white-ish face and since there have been copies and the inspired of every race. It seems peculiarly telling that the objection seems to be on the grounds of racism, rather than objectification of women, which would seem the more obvious choice and – indeed – the point Jones’ appears to have been making with the pieces.

Placing it in a racial context and ignoring the gender/sexual one is idiotic and has knock-on problems.

  1. The prioritisation of race over gender as a source of objection.
  2. Ignoring the fact that such a piece represents broader inclusion, increasing the variety of representations.
  3. Disempowering and shaming persons of colour from the kink scene who already have a hard enough time processing it given the history of slavery.

Chair 1969 by Allen Jones born 1937Bad Reporting

A few stories seem to have missed that this is related to Allen Jones at all, whereas I – despite dodging Art History as much as possible while being educated – recognised it immediately. The reporting has also failed to note the piece’s history of controversy and its status as an iconic piece of Pop Art, perhaps the reason for using it in the shoot.

Jones was not a racy exploiter, but rather a cynic of what he saw as the increasing commodification of peoples lives and the sexual revolution of the 60s. The piece is a critique as much as a salacious parade of kink. A fact that was also missed by one feminist critic who attacked his ‘chair’ piece in 1986 by hurling paint stripper at it. This, and its standing as a piece of art, got it included in an exhibition at the Tate of art that had been attacked.

All of this is relevant, all of it gives context, all of it is lost under the cheap and (ironically) exploitative cry of ‘ZOMG RACIST!’

Outrage Culture

Art, writing, culture, photography (even/especially in commercial forms) – it all needs to be free to provoke thought, discussion and self examination. That’s been replaced by a simplistic ‘I’m offended’ and forced, insincere apologies. This is not healthy ground to be on, unable to talk, unable to think, unable to investigate or take the time to absorb and reflect.

Stop feeding it.

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Pearls

On reflection, I probably shouldn’t have done an image search for ‘pearl necklace’

Or, perhaps more properly, The Great Gender Con.

The debate is toxic, whether you’re talking about gaming, genre fiction, technology or anything else where there’s a current gender disparity, yet I still keep coming back to it. I don’t know why really. All it gets me is opprobrium and misrepresentation but I feel that there have to be counter voices.

We are now at the point in this ‘debate’ that merely pointing out that there are any nice guys at all is somehow controversial and problematic.

Off the back of that Sarah got some flak and I, foolishly, felt compelled to stick my oar in.

Why?

Well, we’ve seen the fallout in the atheist and skeptic movements, it rumbles on in gaming. To see it spreading to genre fiction meets and conventions is depressing, for several reasons.

  1. There is no indication that sexual harassment is any sort of particular or special problem at any of these events any more than it is for the general public in any social situation. This isn’t to say sexual harassment isn’t a problem, just that making it seem that these sorts of events are hotbeds of sexual misconduct is not correct.
  2. Creating the impression that they are full of harassment reduces women’s involvement in these causes, activities and meet-ups. Completely the reverse of the supposed goal of the crusaders who spread the idea that it is. EG: The Amazing Meeting’s female attendance ratio dropped massively. Not because of any indication of endemic harassment, but rather because of the fearmongering.
  3. The scaremongering is predicated upon a demonisation of male sexuality and is thoroughly gendered, as the response to Sarah’s post shows.
  4. The proposed solutions, such as harassment policies, are unnecessary, negatively impact socialisation at events and cement the fear and sexism towards men in writing, subject to wilful abuse.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to create an inaccurate atmosphere of fear, particularly of something as serious as sexual harassment.

I don’t think it’s a good idea, or in line with what these people say they want to do, to put women off attending conferences.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to tar the male gender with the same brush.

I don’t think it should be controversial to point out that there are also nice guys – or that they’re the majority.

Why do I regard this pearl-clutching pseudo-feminism as a problem? Because it’s a lie, because it’s irresponsible, because it creates a bad impression that doesn’t reflect reality (as does their response to criticism), because it’s sexist, because it’s preying on people’s fears for no clear end.

The Daily Mail and other media create an impression of the rate of crime which makes many pensioners and others afraid to leave their houses and terrified of youths. It makes them afraid to a level utterly disproportionate to the actual levels of crime or the ‘risk’ they take in popping down to the shops. Sure, it sells papers (or webclicks) but if it’s causing unnecessary fear and genuinely causing harm is it a responsible thing to do?

How is this any different?

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$(KGrHqN,!o0E9cz)Z3E7BPm0!92M)g~~60_35Latest internet shit-storm was over a couple of articles in the SFWA bulletin.

I’ll attach the scans of the article below, they’ve been circulated pretty widely but it’s good to have back-ups and redundancy is one of the chief advantages of the internet.

Honestly, I don’t see anything particularly bad with what these chaps are saying. They’re expressing bewilderment at what seems to be a backslide towards the kind of censorship that existed before the 60s and 70s shook up the SF scene and liberalised depictions of sex, drugs, blasphemy etc.

I share their bewilderment and, like them, I worry about the atmosphere of de-facto censorship when someone (a woman even) has to resign because of the presentation of a point of view in an author’s circular. I share their worry about the catch-22 of ‘writing what you know’ and the desire for there to be more women and persons of colour in SF&F and the implicit assumption that you can’t imagine or empathise with someone else’s situation that goes with it.

Troll McTrollington (Vox Day) doesn’t help matters, but nor does notorious ‘Uncle Tim’ Scalzi. These guys are poles of the same magnet and equally problematic in their own way.

We write fantasy, science fiction, we surf the ‘could be’s’ and the ‘what if’s’. We imagine better worlds and worse worlds, transhuman futures and bloody battles for the throne. We need to be free to write good fiction and bad, to write about things we know and things we don’t, to indulge adolescent power fantasies alongside mature and nuanced points of view. We’re supposed to be in the business of dangerous visions.

The landscape will change as we make different art but it is not acceptable to silence other voices for being ‘insufficiently radical’. Old soldiers deserve their rest.

Whatever you think about all this we can’t have any meaningful dialogue, progress or understanding if people are shouted down, if people assume their points are so clear as to not need explaining and if people are forced to resign for airing different, or difficult, points of view. All that’s happening is that people are getting entrenched and embittered, people who – really – believe in much the same things. It’s also possible to explain one’s points clearly and evenhandedly and still be wrong – or at least not believed.

I’ve only written a few games, some short stories, some erotica and an unpublished (as of yet) literary/crime novel, as well as sticking my oar in on censorship issues in the past, so I don’t expect my point of view to be particularly respected but it would be nice just to add my voice to a call for genuine dialogue rather than shouting at each other and then running back to Tumblr to complain about everyone.

Pax

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