The Wyrd

Misogyny vs. sexism.

Misogyny is not an undifferentiated hatred of women—which, in light of women’s social roles, would make little sense on men’s part. Why would a man disparage the women looking up at him admiringly, or bite the hands that soothe and serve him? Misogyny isn’t simply hateful; it imposes social costs on noncompliant women, who are liable to be labeled witches, bitches, sluts, and “feminazis,” among other things.

Think of misogyny, then, as the law enforcement branch of a patriarchal order. This makes for a useful if rough contrast between misogyny and sexism. Whereas misogyny upholds the social norms of patriarchies by patrolling and policing them, sexism serves to justify these norms, largely via an ideology of supposedly natural differences between men and women with respect to their talents, interests, proclivities, and appetites.

Kate Manne on systems.

Saturday, 24th June 2017|Tags: culture|0 Comments

Sherlock is garbage.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: whatever your feelings on Moffat, SherlockDoctor Whoet al, this is still an extremely useful critique breaking down narrative structure, audience expectations, and genre. It’s one of those pull-back-the-curtain, cannot-unsee things in the sense that it doesn’t just apply to the shows it’s directly referencing; it can also be used to explain levels of suckitude in, say, The X-Files and Supernatural, for example.

Which is to say, it’s infuriating and it’ll ruin a whole bunch of media for you… But you should watch it anyway, particularly if you’re the sort of person who’s interested in the mechanics of narrative.

Friday, 23rd June 2017|Tags: pop culture, video, writing|0 Comments

Fuck the Ghostbros.

Fandom has changed dramatically in the last ten years, and it feels like having your old neighborhood change around you. At first you think that the new shops and new residents are pretty cool, that things are getting better, but then you wake up one day and find yourself a stranger in a strange land. This street is where you grew up, but you don’t recognize any of the houses. The community you had is gone. I feel like many of the nerdy properties that I grew up with, that gave me comfort in hard times and that inspired me to take chances in my life, have been coopted by people I hate. And I find that all the cool people – the real nerds, the sensitive kids, the outcasts and weirdos and misfits – have moved to a new neighborhood where I don’t feel as comfortable. As the stuff I loved all my life has gone mainstream the real nerds have found ever more obscure niches to set up camp, places where they can keep being unique and obsessive without having to share space with the assholes who conquered Gen X fandom. I’m kind of jealous, and sort of wish I could get into Steven Universe, but them’s the breaks.

Devin Faraci on Ghostbros ruining his childhood.

This is only one paragraph in a much longer op-ed about asshole bigots ruining fandom, but I think it highlights something important. Because, for the most part, (Western) Millennial fandom–and, at 29, Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar both is a Millennial and creates content primarily for Millennials–looks very different to Gen X and, in particular, Baby Boomer fandom. There’s something in that, and it’s something I don’t see discussed very much.

Personally, I know my relationship with a lot of (again, Western) Gen X-era pop cultural products is… dicey. I find they’re often seeped with a kind of apathetic nihilism I find extremely off-putting; if you’ve ever heard me say I don’t like something because it “feels mean”, this is that. When it’s DARKER and EDGIER it’s DARKER and EDGIER and hopeless to boot. It can also often be extremely essentialist, in that you’re defined by what you are, not what you do; think Buffy‘s obsession with souls, for example, or the houses of Harry Potter.

Millennial cultural products, on the other hand, often retain the DARKER and EDGIER bent of their Gen X predecessors–for kids’ shows, things like Adventure Time and Steven Universe are dark af–but also seem more… hopeful. They’re absurdist; the universe is awful and uncaring and life has no meaning but what we imbue it with… so we may as well imbue kindness. This hope is something I’d argue is a remix of Boomer-era media–remember the first Star Wars is literally subtitled “A New Hope”–albeit with its own special twist. Millennial pop culture is also often more existential than essential; think the grey morality of Homestuck ((I know this is fudging a little; Hussie is technically a Gen Xer, though I’d argue that his fanbase is almost exclusively Millennial, and he’s a lot closer to them–and thus more responsive to their likes and dislikes–than most non-indie creators.)) or, like, the entire premise of Undertale.

Obviously, these are extremely broad strokes, and there are exceptions (Dan Harmon comes to mind), but… hmm. Something to ponder more, perhaps, particularly in the context of the causes of that tonal shift (I’d be listing “influence of anime/manga” and “videogames”, for what it’s worth).

Let’s be real, though: it’s never too late to get into Steven Universe.

Friday, 23rd June 2017|Tags: culture, fandom, pop culture|0 Comments

The first brick.

[T]hat summer the people who were standing up to the police and demanding the simple right to be out in public without being harassed, weren’t the quiet ones. That wasn’t entirely their choosing. Heroes of the time such as Marsha P Johnson or Silvia Rivera were exactly the sort of gender non-conforming queer who had spent their entire lives being literally unable to hide. When the police raided that night, they took their usual tack of grabbing the people who looked least “normal” to single out for a beating and arrest.

Their only crime was being at a bar and being obviously queer-looking and/or queer-acting.

fontfolly on the first Pride.

Thursday, 22nd June 2017|Tags: culture, quiltbag|0 Comments

Crimes on the internet.

Interesting story about how large corporate internet companies–in this case, Apple and Facebook–assist law enforcement in busting crime.

Note that this particularly article is about arresting a guy running a torrents site. Whatever your individual Thoughts of Piracy–or Thoughts on Individual Piracy, for that matter–note that this is about a dude making thousands of dollars off his illegal torrents site, so… yanno.

Thursday, 22nd June 2017|Tags: infosec, tech|0 Comments

Broken branches.

On lost family histories.

Growing up, I was “blessed” with an entirely invented surname, although it’s a bastardization of a common Eastern European name. We’d assumed that immigration officials had changed it when my paternal grandfather came to Australia–they did that sort of thing, In Those Days–until very recently, when Dad discovered his father had been using it while still in Europe. It’s almost certainly a made-up alias.

The reality is we have no idea who Dad’s Dad was; a lot of people had a lot of reason to change their name and run away from things back in the era of the Second World War, and the dude left my grandma and possibly died long before Dad was adult enough to even think to ask. Dad’s done some work to track his father down since, but the trail is pretty cold.

Me? I’m… less invested. Dad’s Dad might be my biological grandfather, but my grandfather grandfather was a Polish and/or Ukrainian dude called Peter who lived with Granny for like fifty years. I always knew we weren’t biologically related, but it didn’t matter. Pretty much all of Dad’s side of the family, and the history thereof, was lost during the war and its aftermath. They all have terrible stories–Granny grew up in a Siberian orphanage and subsequently survived Lienz, Peter escaped from a Nazi work camp–they never wanted to talk about when they got to Australia. I won’t deny the lost history there is interesting; I’ve described the story of Dad’s Dad to Jewish people, who’ve pointed out the obvious inference, while Granny comes from one of the groups of Cossacks who were Nazi collaborators (we have some, uh, unfortunate family photos),1 and Peter and a friend were chased through the snow by Nazis with dogs and guns in their escape attempt (his friend did not make it).

Europe in that era was a mess.

Meanwhile, on the flip side, my Anglo-Australian mother can trace her family right back to First Fleet convicts, so… go figure, I guess.

  1. As it turns out, that entire ethnic group seems to’ve been co-opted by the far-right as poster children for “white genocide” which… as a literal descendant of people who were both survivors of Soviet ethnic cleansing and Nazi collaborators, you’ll have to excuse me while I go throw up in my mouth a bit. Basically, Nazis and holocaust deniers can fuck right off and stop pissing all over my family history. Thanks. ↩︎
Wednesday, 21st June 2017|Tags: culture, history|0 Comments

Thunk.

I realized early that I identified more with the ships I was reading about than their captains. Especially the brain ships. (I’m still incredibly partial to liveships like Farscape’s Moya, Bear & Monette’s The Lavinia Whateley (“Boojum”), and Aliette de Bodard’s mindships.)

It turns out that what I wanted wasn’t the story of a young woman coming to terms with her brace or her body (seriously it’s a fine story, but it didn’t fit me at all—or, rather, it fit me like a brace, constraining and awkward). What I wanted was something to love. I was listening for that familiar thunk on the hull; I just didn’t know it. That recognition that there was a mind inside a cage of muscle, bone, pain, fiberglass, and metal. The acknowledgement that a mind could do things—heroic things! Cool things!—even if the body rebelled.

Fran Wilde on living inside the hull.

This is the first posted essay from Invisible 3, the fast-becoming-annual collection about representation in speculative fiction.1 Go read it, then go buy the collection (the proceeds go to Con or Bust).

  1. Full disclosure: I have an essay in the second collection. ↩︎
Wednesday, 21st June 2017|Tags: books, culture, sff|0 Comments