- Sarah Pinsker on Under My Skin: A Response to Gene O’ Neill’s “Pale Skin, Grey Eyes”
- Pushing Fannish Buttons: Chi Fi vs The Westin River North Hotel of Chicago
- Further Thoughts on Chi-Fi Con, Transparency, and Con Culture
- The big story I was following this week was the Grantland story which outed a trans* woman and lead to her suicide:
- Dead Trans Women in the Print Guillotine
- Sinatra’s Cold is Contagious: Hostile Subjects, Vulnerable Sources & The Ethics of Outing
- Link Roundup: Responses to Grantland’s Trans Outing
- Journalist condemned after trans subject of article commits suicide
- The Rise and Fall of Caleb Hannan’s Grantland Story
- Not directly related, but important: Gretchen Molannen’s legacy: suffering, suicide and a journalist’s responsibility
- Hacked fridge sends out malicious emails
- Kristin Cashore: Seabane Isn’t Real
- When You Should Fire Your Funeral Home
- Abortion, Trans Inclusivity & the Thousand Vaginas
- How the most famous white evangelical with a disability became the public face of the white evangelical campaign against the rights of persons with disabilities
- Do what you love, love what you do: An omnipresent mantra that’s bad for work and workers. Indeed–if we all follow our passions, then who is going to do the work that no one is passionate about?
- In The Absence of Traditional Publishers
- Alex Dally MacFarlane has a new column for Tor.com! Post-Binary Gender in SF
- Kameron Hurley on On Persistence, And The Long Con Of Being A Successful Writer and Rose Fox has an interesting, alternate, perspective: “The one that got away” I’m having thoughts on this but they’re still cooking.
- Writing Reality Love this post from Ruthie Knox
- When mainstream media is the lunatic fringe
- Right-Wing Media: Low-Income Americans Are Inheriting Too Much, Working Too Little (this article busts that headline to tiny bits and pieces)
- This is awesome but totally not worksafe unless your workplace is cool with full frontal nudity: Illusions of the Body
- Photos reveal ‘scandalous’ burlesque dancers of the 1890s
- The Reality Behind Instagram Feeds
- Richard Sherman Explains What People Mean When They Call Him A “Thug”
- How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love
- Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be heading for Britain and relatedly: What Really Happened to the Mary Celeste?
- And then this happened: The Doxxing of Isis: Selected Links
- An old post, but an important one: Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did.
Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress. Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished. He gave this great speech. Or some people say, “he marched.” I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.
At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.
My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”
- 8 Reasons Why The Rent Is Too Damn High
- The Murderer and the Manuscript
- Travers (author of Mary Poppins): “I lived with the Indians…”
- Bullet Journal: An analog note-taking system for the digital age This is interesting but it feels a bit, ah, hipster PDA-ish for my taste.
- Writing hacks: what you don’t get for free This struck me as a really interesting perspective on writing and craft.
- West Virginia spill is a perfect demonstration of externalized costs Yyyyyep.
- I’m From West Virginia and I’ve Got Something to Say About the Chemical Spill
- Chris Christie And Pulling The Red Handle
- Death threats for researcher who demonstrated college athletes read below a third-grade level
- Twitter Regret: First Thought, Worst Thought
- When Does Finishing In Third Place NOT Get You An Olympic Spot? Oh, ice skating.
- The 4 Normal Guys Who Just Happen to Be Olympic Curlers
- Man Poses as Woman on Online Dating Site; Barely Lasts Two Hours
- Seeming Female: Gender In Digital Spaces
- Why I Think Author Eligibility Posts Are Selfish, Destructive And Counter-Productive Of course you do, dude. Of course you do.
- Luckily, Jenny decided to take that particular argument apart: Award Eligibility and What Makes A Reader. And Cora Buhlert weighs in as well: More on the 2014 Hugo nomination dust-up.
- “We don’t need no stinking codes of conduct” may have been a better title for this piece instead of this: ALA’s Code of Conduct.
- Dear Westin Chicago River North: You Have Chosen… Poorly This is the most comprehensive account of the Chi-Fi Con cancellation I’ve seen. Lots of updates at the end.
- Oh, Paul Kemp. You scamp: Why I write masculine stories. Rebuttals: This, again and Women and Gentlemen: On Unmasking the Sobering Reality of Hyper-Masculine Characters
- Justin Landon has a great article about whether or not people who are very successful in the SFF community are given a free pass when it comes to saying gross things on Reddit.
- It Is Expensive to Be Poor
- No Longer Human Content warning: forced birth, disregard of DNR wishes and wishes of next of kin.
- How Did Toast Become the Latest Artisanal Food Craze? This, however, is pretty cool and awesome. Also I totally want some artisanal toast.
- Ancillary Justice and the Value of Hype
- Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500 I kind of have mixed feelings about this. There’s something about the way this is written that rubs me the wrong way.
- How to piss off someone from Michigan Except I’ve never heard of that brand of coffee, must be something came along after I left.
- The Troubling Case of the ‘Cannibal Cop’
- Love, Failure & Scarves
- “Dumbest Thing Ever”: Scribbling in the Margins of Dan Brown’s Inferno (via) I have to admit that this made me laugh for a solid 10 minutes.
- Really neat article about a one issue zine called “Applicant”.
- Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Unloads Stockpile of Star Wars Set Photos
- Goodbye, Shia LaBeouf! A note on art and theft in the age of Tumblr
- Melting glaciers in northern Italy reveal corpses of WW1 soldiers
- SFFworthy: SFF themed images done in the style of Upworthy.
- Twitter changes what it means to use the block function. Another take. …And less than a day after making this change, Twitter has reverted the block function back to what it was previously. This is good news.
- Polenth on Self-Publishing and Gratuitous Diversity
- The Main Character in Their Own Lives: Does Diversity Make YA SF/F Better?
- Signal boosting: Bogi Takács On Expanded Horizons
- Nicole Stark’s Survey of Harassment Policies at Fan Conventions Color me wholly unsurprised.
- Some great content recently from Love in the Margins–first, a round table on Multicultural Romance and then, in the comments on this links post a good discussion on issues raised both in the round table and by some of the articles linked, specifically HQN’s decision to not publish a paper edition of Jeannie Lin’s The Jade Temptress due to poor sales of the first volume.
- On the criminalization of young black and brown boys.
- Why I Believe Jameis Winston’s Accuser
- Falling Without Getting Hurt: Adventures in Disability
- A video game with nothing to see
- Whitewashed TV isn’t just racist. It’s boring!
- Science Reporter Emily Graslie Reads Her Mail — And It’s Not So Nice
- A Review of Memory, or Why Bujold is Secretly Genre-Bending
- Like Totally Random Liz has interesting things to say about snark and smarm and book reviews.
- A really really lovely “Susan problem” Narnia fic.
- The Coolest Thing About Online Dating Sites
- In Defense of the Middle-Aged Music Fan
- Almost Human Made Me Swoon Definitely a show that cares about the ladies, amirite?
- Myke Cole on The Other Brother
- Letters of Note: She was the music heard faintly at the edge of sound Raymond Chandler’s letter to a a friend shortly after his wife, Cissy, passed away.
- How to properly issue and respond to a DMCA takedown notice (SFWA edition) As one does.
- And finally, this is an absolutely wonderful poem by Liz Bourke: Manteia, Katabasis
Philcon was fun! Our prime objective was to see our friends and that was definitely achieved–the lobby at the Crowne Plaza is eminently amenable to lobby-con with lots of space and comfortable seating.
And before I get into anything else I want to acknowledge the hard work of the convention committee and all the volunteers and program participants. Putting on a convention is a difficult and often thankless job and I understand that.
I also understand that there is a very long convention history that I do not know and which informs the culture of the convention. I respect that and look forward to hearing more about it. However, I’m going to go ahead and talk about my experiences, and share my perspective too–hopefully I’ll be able to provide a window into what the convention looks like to a new attendee.
I’d particularly like to thank Hugh Casey for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me and Sunny Moraine–we appreciated his time and insight at a time when he was unimaginably busy.
Before the con began, a few positive changes were made to the policy page. (I mentioned my concern with con policies here.) The con added more explicit language around consent (“Be polite and ask permission before moving forward with a relationship. Stop if someone says no.”) and that someone making a complaint would not be forced into mediation. These are both great things to see in the policy!
However, I still believe the harassment policy could be even stronger and more supportive to attendees. (While I do understand that state and municipal laws are quite thorough on this subject, I am not convinced that the convention actually wants to go down that road.) Better visibility of convention staff and volunteers and clearer information on how to report and to whom would also increase the power of the policy.
Just because no one has reported harassment doesn’t mean that harassment hasn’t happened. The social and structural barriers to reporting are very high, especially in an environment that is as susceptible to the geek social fallacies as a SF convention can be.
There was live-tweeting, as one does. I wish that there had been more people live-tweeting because, well, a handful of people can’t cover an entire convention–and I would have loved to hear about some of the panels I wasn’t able to make it to or about other people’s experiences of the con.
That said, there were problems.
Accessibility was poor. The room the readings were in was completely inaccessible to people using mobility devices (I understand that the usual room wasn’t available due to a problem with the emergency elevator). There were not taped off areas for people using wheelchairs or scooters and in at least one case, someone using one of these devices had the choice of blocking the aisle or sitting in the back of the room–they chose to block the aisle. There were very few signs directing people to the different places in the hotel where events were being held. There was a map in the booklet but not in the pocket program. The location of the Meet the Prose party was, essentially, a hallway with tables in it.
There was at least one last minute time/schedule change that caused a panelist to miss a program item.
Some of the panel descriptions were poorly written–a prime example is a panel I wasn’t able to go to that everyone was calling “The Menopause Panel”*. The description was terrible and I know that at least one of the panelists was planning on demolishing it (I wasn’t able to attend the panel for personal reasons, so I hope she did!). Some of the panels felt like time travellers from ten years ago, especially the one on Heinlein. The panel on political correctness turned out to be very good but I know that I wasn’t the only one worried about it being a train wreck (since the phrase “political correctness” is usually a dog whistle for “let’s be assholes”).
*Edited to add: I have been told that the menopause panel turned out to be an honest question from a writer who was experiencing some of the things described in the description and that once the panelists learned that, they spoke to those issues and it was a great panel.
And see that picture up above? Do you see how great whacking chunks of the program were rearranged for an extra reading? And despite the huge gender disparity in panels and readings, the extra reading was given to a man. I am, however, pleased to report that people who did receive readings in the program graciously shared them with others–it was a generous gesture and also, I think,one of self-preservation: an hour is a very long reading.
It was not adequately explained anywhere in the program materials that program items scheduled after 10 pm are often intended to be less serious–so when I showed up at what I thought was going to be a serious discussion of taboos and the forbidden in literature and instead got a very different type of discussion that was much less serious than I believed it would be I was taken aback and my commentary reflected this.
This is the sort of cultural thing that needs to be explained; I’d been to late panels the evening before and while they were a bit free-wheeling, there was also good discussion being had. If expectations are not clearly communicated to all parties, then misunderstandings will happen.
I understand, again, that the people on the convention committee are doing the best they can, often with very limited resources. I also understand that there is, perhaps, a group of people who do not feel that there are any problems with the way the convention is currently being run.
However, I believe that a refusal to change and evolve will lead to no more Philcon at some point in the future. According to this article, there were 800 attendees. It didn’t feel like that many.
I was thinking about making some suggestions, but after a week of thinking about it, I’ve decided against it, for a couple of reasons. The first is that there are lots of online resources that the convention committee can use to improve their convention and attract a more diverse and engaged membership. The second is that I don’t think they’re willing to listen to me–I never received a response to my email about the harassment policy, not even an acknowledgement that it was received–and I have enough walls to beat my head against in my life already, I don’t need to add another.
I won’t be going to Philcon next year due to a prior commitment to World Fantasy (which is having its own problems right now) and it’s doubtful that I’ll be attending in 2015 unless things significantly change.
Despite my concerns about Philcon’s harassment policy, I am planning to be there all weekend–even though I received absolutely no response to the email I sent the convention chair outlining my concerns.
While I”m on the subject of Philcon, I’s also like to go on record as being uncomfortable with the gender balance of their program.
By my informal count, program participation is comprised of 121 men and 74 women.
I also looked at all the programming tracks except for Main (mostly Masquerade stuff), Filk, and Gaming, excluded all screenings and demonstrations and most workshops (the exception was the Family track) and came up with the following numbers; I’ve bolded the gender that dominates each track:
- Signings: 18 hours, 24 men, 9 women (all the signings are two-person except the GOH ones)
- Literary: 55 hours, 155 men, 86 women
- Readings: 16 hours, 14 men, 2 women (excluding the Broad Universe Group reading)
- Anime: 15 hours, 38 men, 9 women
- Art: 8 hours, 15 men, 5 women
- Family: 9 hours, 9 men, 18 women
- Comics: 8 hours, 27 men, 4 women
- Costuming/Cosplay: 3 hours, 3 men, 13 women
- Cutting Edge (Technology): 6 hours, 14 men, 6 women
- Fandom: 9 hours, 26 men, 11 women
- Media: 13 hours, 52 men, 13 women
- Science: 10 hours, 33 men, 7 women
- Total: 170 hours, 410 men, 183 women
This means, on average, those 121 men have 3.4 panels each while the 74 women only have 2.5 panels each.
I recognize that this analysis does not take non-binary people into account. My apologies for the erasure–it is not my intent but it is the result and I am happy to incorporate non-binary gender data into the dataset if there is anyone on programming affected.
I will do a more detailed analysis after the convention when I have a paper program I can mark up. I’m also planning on attending some programming and my goal is to do a thorough con report.
I’ll also have physical copies of Jacqueline Koyanagi’s Ascension to give away–watch Twitter for details.
Onwards to the links!
- Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot
- Me, Authorship, and Ender’s Game
- Jesus and fundamentalist dress codes
- Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980): The Forgotten Woman
- Amazing series of posts at Stacked this week: A Closer Look at The New York Times YA Bestsellers List, Part 1 and A Closer Look at The New York Times YA Bestsellers List, Part 2. I also commend Kelly J for not using pie charts. Bar and line graphs are definitely a much better choice for this kind of data.
- SFF in Conversation: Rachel Bach on Upsetting the Default
- Amazon’s porn censorship is inconsistent and unfair
- Whatever Happened to Poe? The formatting on this is terrible and I wish there were citations. If the details are true, this is horrifying.
- Little Libertarians on the prairie and this fantastic rebuttal which smashes it to pieces: ‘Little House’ Is Not a Big Libertarian Conspiracy
- Nazi trove in Munich contains unknown works by masters
- Marvel Comics Introducing a Muslim Girl Superhero I’m not a comics reader but this is super exciting!
- Background of Marvel’s “Thor: the Dark World” (an unbiased recap) These recaps are a delight and joy forever and ever.
- “I was into Loki before it was cool” Erica Stratton, are you secretly me? I also was a weird teenage girl reading books about Norse mythology. Getting a translation of the Prose Edda via ILL into my small township library that was still operating on a card catalog was, truly, an epic quest. I also had this book. And this one.
- Women and the Internet: Part One
- It’s a Man’s Phone And this is why I love my iPhone–it fits in my hand. My husband’s phone is one of the larger-screen Android phones and it’s just too large.
Science of hair: The roots of accomplishmentMy apologies, this is apparently behind a paywall and I didn’t notice because when I first saw this, I was at day job and apparently that gives me full access to the site.
- Police Told New Zealand Gang Rape Victim She Was Asking For It WHAT. (Obviously, trigger and content warnings for this link.)
- ‘Anti-Rape Wear’ Reinforces Every Rape Myth You Can Think Of
- The SF/F Community: An Essay This is lovely.
- Always Go to the Funeral As is this.
- Laurie Anderson’s Farewell to Lou Reed ”I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.”
- Notes From Tamms Prison This was hard to read. It’s about supermax prisons.
- Values Towards Ethical and Radical Management After the week I’ve had at the dayjob, I just can’t help but read this and sigh sadly.
- Surviving the post-employment economy
- Battle Scars What’s the most rejections a single piece received before it found a home?
- Palaeontology: The truth about T. rex Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.
- Giant Platypus Found, Shakes Up Evolutionary Tree
- Looking into the heart of light, the silence
- There’s No Such Thing This just really hit home for me. In a way I wasn’t expecting.
- Can There Be Hokey Without Pokey?
- Bog butter: a gastronomic perspective (via) This sounds indescribably gross.
- A long post about the power of making things
- The Reader: War for the Oaks I love love love this. I especially love Eddi’s Apartment and Outside First Avenue (this one actually made me tear up a bit).
- How Twitter Hijacked My Mind I can download my archive and I’m a bit scared to see my numbers–I was a very, very early adopter of the service (I joined right when it started; my user number is in the low five digits) but didn’t use it for a long time–I really have only started to love Twitter in the last 18 months or so.
- “We are not Amazon franchises”: booksellers respond to Amazon Source Or, more succinctly in the words of one bookseller: “They can go fuck themselves.”