Yes, I watch True Blood. Mr. Katje and I marathoned through several seasons and then got all caught up, and started catching episodes as they came out.
If you asked us why we’ve stuck with it we’d likely respond with “Stockholm Syndrome.” The show is like a trainwreck: awful, but you can’t tear your eyes away. At some point the only characters on the show we weren’t constantly wishing death upon were Lafayette, Eric, and Terry. (Other characters had their moments but these 3 were the only ones we consistently did not hate.)
All of the protagonists are stupid. The show is terribly written. They handle rape so awfully I should be surprised but sadly I am not. (Seriously, really really awful.)
And yet we keep coming back. We’re addicted to it, like one gets addicted to V.
So on that note, my thoughts on the first episode of the final (thank gods) season. There be spoilers and a lot of swearing ahead; mind yerself. (though if you haven’t seen it my thoughts might not make much sense, anyway.)
Can we just stop with this trend already? These super annoying emotionally manipulative headlines on every little bit of content out there? Every time I see someone share one I’m about an inch away from unfriending them. Or, possibly, hitting them with a thawed salmon. (Frozen salmon could cause serious injuries; I don’t want to actually injure people, just humiliate them by hitting them with a fish.)
And it sucks, because sometimes I happen upon these things and actually see what they’re about and the content is good! I have a desire to share it! But the headline annoys me so damn much that I refuse to pass on what I’ve just witnessed. Even if it is the most mind blowing thing in the history of stuff that blows minds. (Insert dirty joke here.)
I mean, I get that our headlines have to be enticing, or people will never read the articles to which the headlines are attached. But this new trend of starting out with “This blah de blah de blah, but THEN blah de blah and your MIND will be BLOWN” and you know what, shut up headline, you don’t know me, you don’t know what’ll blow my mind. STOP TELLING ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE.
It’s terrible. Just terrible. Whoever came up with it started out with a good idea, but then it got away from them, and now everyone has to deal with mind blowingly mundane content wrapped up with annoying headlines.
If you’re involved in the SF-o-sphere you may have seen the internet go boom in the past week. Elise Matthesen was sexually harassed while she was at WisCon, and formally reported it.
This is actually news, because reporting is so rare – mainly because society in general makes it incredibly difficult for people to report this sort of thing and incredibly easy for the perpetrators to get away with it.
I’m not going to talk much about the event itself, because I’m not really all that active in the SF-o-sphere or the Con circuit. I’d like to be, for the latter, but I’m not. (I also haven’t done nearly enough reading yet about the incident, nor was I present for the convention. So I don’t feel comfortable speaking at length about it.)
He’s said that he will not be a guest, guest of honor, or participant at any con unless these guidelines are met:
That the convention has a harassment policy, and that the harassment policy is clear on what is unacceptable behavior, as well as to whom those who feel harassed, or see others engaging in harassing behavior, can go for help and action.
That the convention make this policy obvious by at least one and preferably more than one of the following: posting the policy on their Website, placing it in their written and electronic programs, putting up flyers in the common areas, discussing the policy at opening ceremonies or at other well-attended common events.
In cases when I am invited as a Guest of Honor, personal affirmation from the convention chair that a harassment policy exists, that it will be adequately publicized to conventiongoers, and that all harassment complaints will be dealt with promptly and fairly, with no excuses or rationalizations for delaying action when such becomes necessary.
This is important, obviously, because John Scalzi is using his powers for good. He has leverage with cons because he’s an award-winning, well-known author in the SF circuit. They want to put him on the guest list to attract fans to come to the con, because fans coming to the con means the con actually goes on. (You can’t run an event without money flowing somewhere.) This is Event Ecology 101.
While many of us do not have anywhere near the same clout as Scalzi does, numbers matter. Enough committed people can start a revolution. There are 377 comments on the co-signing post at Scalzi’s blog.
Hopefully, with enough co-signers + Scalzi’s clout, cons that do not have harassment policies will get them. If your favourite con has no such policy, I urge you to write them and tell them they’ll lose your business until they get one.
I realize some people are not going to see the point of this. People who don’t get harassed, or, if they do, are able to deal with it without much trauma. Whatever, you may say, it’s just a part of going to cons.
No, it’s not. It’s not “just a part” of life, either – or it shouldn’t be. And what you allow, continues.
I’ve been to one fandom con in my life. Dragon*Con, 2009. I was lucky, because I was there with a large group of friends – friends who watched out for me, protected me, looked after me. Especially when I was twenty sheets to the wind, stumbling down the streets screaming “I LOVE YOU ATLANTA!” (1 large Pixie Stick + 1 pint of vodka X 2 = Starbuck!Kat).
I didn’t get harassed. The closest anyone came, if I recall correctly, was when I got a picture with some dude dressed like Snape and he was a bit of a creeper. PSA, folks: if you get a pic with someone you don’t know and you have your arm around their shoulder, don’t rub their shoulder with your thumb. Not alluring, not seductive. Just gross.
But otherwise, no. I had a safe, fun time at my only con, free of harassment. People were nothing but kind to me.
And I realize, fully, that had I not been surrounded by friends I may have had a bad time. It was my first con and it’s probably the biggest con out there. It’s likely I may have been harassed.
This is not a “oh, it only happens at those cons” thing either. It happened at WisCon. The feminist SFF convention.
Harassment happens everywhere and anywhere, and for a long time our entire culture has been helping perpetrators find more victims while throwing the victims under the bus. It is one thread in the tapestry of rape culture – the culture we’ve built that tells folks consent and boundaries don’t have to be respected, tells us that certain folks are entitled to certain things from other folks, tells us that if we follow the rules it won’t happen to us, tells us that if it does happen to us it must have been our fault, somehow.
Read any comment thread on these issues and you’ll see people spouting the same bullshit arguments, ranging anywhere from standard victim-blaming to “OH NOES ,THE FEMINISTS R PUSHING THEIR AGENDAZ ON US”. Yes, the agenda of getting people to stop harassing other people. What a fucking concept.
(Now, granted, the original posts linked in the link round-up will be, probably, much better with the comment threads than, say, the internet in general. But I’ve not even finished reading Scalzi’s comment thread and already people have come in with victim-blaming and OH NOES TEH FEMINISSSTSSSS. So even at a place with excellent comment modding, it will happen.)
So I’ve signed. I don’t have the clout Scalzi does (yet), and so far as I know there aren’t any readers out there who really want me to come to a con (yet). But I am a participant in con life, or I was for one brief shining moment when I could afford the trip out there. And I plan on going to cons in the future – as participant, as guest, as fan and human being.
And, like Scalzi, I don’t want to support any con that does not have a clear harassment policy in place. What you allow, continues, and not having a policy (with teeth!) is essentially the same as allowing these behaviors to continue.
Not only for my safety, but my current and potential fans’ safety, for the safety of any people I bring with me, and – most importantly – for the betterment of our small piece of the world.
SFF, geek, fandom, con culture – all part of a subculture that has been my home for my whole life, it seems. But it continues to perpetrate the oppressive power structures found in the overculture it comes from, and that’s a problem.
I want to see a subculture of the future that is better than that, and I think that we can do it. Especially as SFF fans and creators. We can imagine and do better, guys.
In the next week or so I’ll be compiling a list of cons that have adopted harassment policies I’m satisfied with. There’s a list here already, but I think there may be more out there, so I’ll be doing my own research. I will then list the cons you may see me at in the future.
I’m willing to put in my bit of work to make a future that I can feel better about bringing my future Loon-spawn into.
It was the provincial election. I registered weeks ago, changing my address online, in preparation for this day. I was even going to advance vote last week, but I didn’t get a chance to make it to the polling station before I headed away from my town for the weekend. So I decided to do it on the day itself. I mean, the polling stations are open for 12 hours, and voting takes ten minutes.
Voting is the easiest thing to do in Canada. When I took Nate on Saturday to advance vote, he was in and out in under 2 minutes. I was done in 8, and only because I stood and deliberated over candidates. You can register right there at the polling station if you need to. They accept a wide range of things as ID. You can even have someone vouch for you.
You get a sticker for voting. A little round thing that says “I voted!”
They must have a lot of leftover stickers after each election.
Voter turnout was 48%. BC elected a Liberal majority.
For those of you who don’t know much about Canadian parties, the BC Liberals are actually way more conservative than the federal liberal party. Voting Liberal in BC is basically the same as voting Conservative.
When I turned 18, I was excited about voting. I ran voter registration drives, I worked hard to get people to the polls, I constantly reminded friends to vote. To get out and participate in democracy.
Often, after election day friends would say they “forgot” to vote if I asked them if they’d made it to the polling station. They’d spent the day on the beach instead. Or whatever.
Voting wasn’t easy in the States during the 2004 election. I spent over 2 hours at the polling station, waiting for them to say yes, I could actually vote, yes, this was the right station for me. They spent a long time on hold with the authorities, whoever they are. This wasn’t uncommon. There were a lot of problems for those of us who registered Democrat.
When I moved back to Canada I was pleasantly surprised with how easy voting was. “Wow,” I thought. “This is great. I bet Canadians are far more invested in democracy. Voting here is so easy.”
I was always a person who took joy in the political process. Things suck and many politicians are liars and often it’s hard to feel like you’re making any real difference. Regardless, I took joy in participating in democracy. In voting, in being an activist, in speaking out, in dissent. In making my voice heard.
I felt like this since 1993, when mom and dad took me to Ottawa to cheer Kim Campbell, their friend from law school and my god-mother, on as she ran for Prime Minister. I still have my pink “Kim” baseball cap somewhere. I felt like this when I accepted my award from the ACLU for being an activist in high school. I felt like this when I marched in peace demonstrations, when I spoke out, spoke up about what mattered to me. I felt like this every time I did anything that was participation in a democratic society.
Key word: felt.
Yesterday as I walked out of the polling booth I didn’t feel suffused by the same lighthearted joy that usually took me over after I voted, or after the results of an election went the way I hoped. I felt despondency and despair; I felt hollow. The joy was gone. All I felt was that I’d done my democratic duty, and I could go home and sleep now — because who cared? What did it matter anyway?
I was a rarity to feel joy in democracy. I knew that. And I think knowing that killed my joy.
I didn’t even need to check the results as they came in, or voter turnout, to feel this way. When I did finally check them, they didn’t help, save a small fist-pump at seeing that the Powell River riding finally went NDP. The results only cemented the despair, the despondency. So did the inevitable arguments about “vote splitting”. Not only did I already feel shitty about something that used to bring me joy, but now I got to listen to people who are supposedly on the same ideological, political page as me, call me a waste of space and everything that’s wrong with the world because I dared to vote with my conscience, with my heart, with my principles. Because I stood there in the polling station, not wanting to select either of the two options I’d settled on: one would be me voting against my heart, and the other would subject me to arguments with my fiancé and other people I care about as they tell me I made the wrong choice.
Because I voted Green.
When in my riding it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. If all the people who voted Green in the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding had voted NDP instead, the Liberals would still have taken the riding. With over 1400 votes!
I understand where the argument comes from. NDP and Green parties are really similar. I have voted NDP before — generally in ridings where the race is more neck in neck between NDP and the more conservative party. I will vote NDP again if I live in a riding where, again, the race is neck in neck. In Nate’s riding the difference was a few hundred votes; if I’d been living there I would have voted NDP.
And I am of the opinion that in those few ridings where the race is so tight, maybe for a few years the Green Party shouldn’t run candidates there. Solidify the party via other ridings; gain strength that way. Work with the NDP for now. There are not many ridings where things are so tight. It wouldn’t be a massive sacrifice, and in the long run it may strengthen the party more. Hell, it might even lead to an NDP majority and a Green minority, which would be fucking awesome.
But I am tired of hearing from people who voted NDP that it is all my fault that the Liberals won a majority. Because I voted Green in a riding where it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. I am tired of hearing about the “problem of vote splitting” and I’m tired of seeing it being laid at the feet of the voters.
I voted with my conscience. That is my right as a citizen of a democratic society.
If you want to get angry about this election, if you want to get angry about the majority that was elected, go ahead. But don’t focus your anger at the people who feel the same, who didn’t want a Liberal majority any more than you did. Why not get angry about the low voter turnout? Over half the province didn’t vote yesterday or during advance voting. Over HALF the eligible voter population. Don’t you think some of the responsibility rests at their feet?
Or how about the people who voted but didn’t bother to educate themselves before casting their ballots? Don’t think that’s a straw man. They exist. I’ve met them. (And tried to educate them, obviously — but if I’ve met a few, there are surely more out there.) People who think the BC Liberals are the same as the Federal Liberals (they’re not). People who think the Liberals are still the Official Opposition to the Conservative majority (they’re not; the NDP is now).
It’s ridiculously common that people either refuse to educate themselves about different platforms before they go and cast their ballots (“I’ll select Liberal, because I’m assuming the Liberals up here are the same as US Liberals!”) or that educating themselves is so daunting they refuse to vote in the first place.
Don’t even get me started on “But none of the candidates are aligned with my values!” If that’s the case, you still have an option that’s participatory: you show up at the polling station and you refuse your ballot. When they hand it to you, you hand it right back. You say you’re refusing your ballot because none of the candidates are worth voting for, or whatever. All you have to say is you’re refusing your ballot.
That is what you do if you feel that you can’t vote for anyone in your riding. Do you know why you do this? Because they have to record refused ballots separately from all other ballots. If you spoil your ballot as an act of protest, it just gets lumped in with all the other spoiled ballots, intentional or otherwise. Refused ballots are counted separately.
And if more people actually took the time to register to vote and then go refuse their ballot instead of avoiding the polling stations or spoiling their ballots in protest, then the PTB might actually, I don’t know, sit up and take notice that the populace isn’t happy.
You know what doesn’t tell them that? Low voter turnout. Low voter turnout tells them that people are happy with the current power structures, with the current policies. And things continue the way they’re going.
Instead, people refuse to participate in democracy. I don’t mean just getting out and voting, though that is the very least you can do. I mean educating yourself before you vote. If you’re reading this I assume you have the internet. It’s a good starting place to learn about the different parties, the platforms, the issues. It’s also a good place to learn about effective protest of voting, as I outlined in the paragraphs above.
If you already are politically minded and you know about the issues and the platforms…you can participate by educating other people. By dissenting, speaking out against the government when they do things you disagree with. These are things you can do as a citizen of a democratic country.
Our forebears fought hard to be allowed to have a voice in government. They fought against dictatorships, they fought against sexism, they fought against racism.
Now, just a few short decades after aboriginal people in Canada are allowed to vote (yeah, try and figure that one out — their country in the first place, but they weren’t allowed to have any say in it for the longest time. Hooray for colonialism!), we have some of the lowest voter turnouts in history. We have an apathetic populace that would rather spit on the memory of people who fought and died for our right to cast our ballots, to make our voices heard, than get out of the house or work and get to the polling station to spend three minutes checking a box on a piece of paper and putting it in a box full of other votes.
No wonder I no longer feel any joy in the political process. The apathy of my fellow countryfolk is an anchor chained to my neck, dragging me down and drowning me.
So, my fellow British Columbians, how about a toast? I raise my glass, full of a bitter Socratic draught.
Trigger warning: Fifty Shades of Grey is the romanticization of an abusive, rapey fucknozzle named Christian Grey, and I’m ranting about this shit.
I try to be fair. I try to leave room for people whose kink is not my kink, and that’s okay. I’m, overall, not a huge fan of erotic romance, and even within erotic romance I’m not a huge fan of BDSM. This isn’t squeamishness on my part — I’m kinky myself — it’s just that most of the offerings I’ve read within BDSM erotica have not been to my tastes. (As Katje outs zirself publicly, on zir blog. Only good can come from this.)
Regardless, I think people should have the right to get off to what they want, no matter how fucked up it is.
My stance does have some hard limits, however. (I’m not sold on being all YKINMK for, say, Gor.)
It is not okay to glorify rape and abuse. That is exactly what the 50 Shades trilogy has done — aside from it not even really being BDSM erotica. I’ve had vanilla sex that’s kinkier than some of the shit Christian and Ana get up to.
If you didn’t read the recaps (shame), here’s the gist of what I’m getting at:
Fifty Shades is terribly fucking written.
Christian Grey is an abusive rapey fucknozzle who basically just mentally tortures Ana and emotionally manipulates her into doing what he wants.
They are both horrible people and I want them to die. I realize they’re fictional. Don’t ruin my dream.
Christian threatens to rape Ana in the first book. Then in the second book, he actually does.
EL James is not a good enough writer to be subtly making the point that this is bad, mmm’kay. She’s just not. She’s a terrible, clumsy writer. She is worse than Meyer. It’s very obvious that, in James’ POV, 50 Shades and Christian Grey are a hot fantasy — and that is what these books are popular as. This makes me weep for humanity.
This video is pretty much a wholly accurate depiction of Christian Grey’s true nature.
And so the Specsavers National Book Awards see fit to reward that kind of bullshit by shortlisting the Fifty Shades trilogy?
If I needed absolute proof that the world was not going to hell in a handbasket but that we were already there, and the basket full of demonic bunny eggs didn’t tip me off, this is it.
Full disclosure time. I don’t talk much about the times I’ve been raped. Not publicly, at least. But I think it’s time to talk about the second time. Because it’s relevant to this discussion.
There is a sex scene in Fifty Shades Darker that is almost exactly like what I went through the second time I was raped. Almost verbatim. Change some names, and some circumstances, and you’ve got what my ex did to me in June, 2010 while he was visiting me during my mother’s cancer surgery.
I’m not going to describe it; it’s in one of the recaps posts, and Jennifer Armintrout does call it out as rape, so if you want to go find it you know where to look now. The day I read that post I had to do some serious self-care to get through the day. (This is not Jennifer Armintrout’s fault; there’s no way she can know what is specifically triggering to folks in a book series that is just scene after scene of rapey abuse, and I know what I signed up for when I started reading the recaps.)
Glorifying rapist characters as a way to create romance is totally deserving of an award! That’s why True Blood has won so many Emmys for “Best Rapey Vamps”. I mean, I sure want to see more of that sort of thing. Maybe next time there can be a bunch of not-subtle-at-all anxieties regarding BDSM and seeing the practice of it as sick and wrong and therefore the characters who practice it as sick and wrong, so it can be EVEN MORE like my relationship with my ex-boyfriend.
Even if the series didn’t glorify a rapey abusive douchefuck, it’s terribly written. It’s honestly probably the worst writing I’ve ever read.And it’s plagiarism. There is an 89% similarity rating between Fifty Shades and the Twilight fanfic it was “extensively reworked” from, Master of the Universe. Eighty. Nine. Per cent.
That would be enough to get you kicked out of college, but out here in the real world we give you a goddamn publishing contract and slap your name on the shortlist for a fucking medal.
In conclusion, if Fifty Shades wins the National Book Awards, I think the only reasonable reaction would be to nuke the UK from orbit. Even if it meant no more Doctor Who.
“I’m willing to die for my cause. What are you willing to give up for yours?”
I just got back from driving my mom to the airport. She’s headed for Nicaragua for a month on a business trip. Okay, so there’s some personal time in there too. It’s a month-long trip to Nicaragua; she’d be crazy not to.
I should say, mom drove to the airport, and I took her car back home. This is because time was of the essence while going there and she’s more used to Vancouver streets and so knew her way to the airport, whereas I’d be flailing and shouting “AH WHERE ARE WE” every five minutes.
I just moved to Coquitlam, and while I’ve been visiting my boyfriend in Delta for two years and driving while over here, it’s never been much more than “ferry to boyfriend’s, boyfriend’s to apartment in Coquitlam, Coquitlam to boyfriend’s, boyfriend’s to ferry, sometimes Coquitlam to ferry…”. The bulk of my driving experience remains in the past places I’ve lived since I was 15: Hawaii, Powell River, and Nanaimo. Oh, and the route from San Diego to Vancouver, BC, but let’s face it — so long as you avoid cities driving on the I-5 is pretty damn straightforward. (Mind you, I did drive in L.A. itself — that trip was when I was still learning to drive. But I digress.)
There are a lot of places in Vancouver and the GVRD that I know. Vaguely. If I end up there, I’ll say “OH, I know where we are!” and then a minute or two later be completely lost again. Or if you asked me about the Front St. and Begbie St. intersection in New West, I can picture it perfectly in my head. Or the Wise Hall on Adanac St. Or Granville Island and Fountain Way. Scott Road and Nordel Way. My friends’ house and driveway in Serial Killer-ville Cloverdale. But ask me how to get from point A to point B? Hahahahahahah I don’t have a fucking clue.
I could get really angry with Disney here. This comes as a slap in the face to fat people everywhere — by giving Ursula such a makeover, you’re effectively saying “It’s okay to be a villain that tries to kill people, but if you’re fat you don’t even deserve to wear nice make up or a pretty awesome purple and black evening gown.”
Would it have been so difficult to give Ursula a makeover just by making her full human, as they’ve apparently done, and giving her some cool clothing? I mean, that’s pretty damn extensive; the lady is an octopus before the makeover. But no, we have to shave away the pounds, too!
I have been struggling with just writing for weeks now.
It’s only partially my fault, though. (No, really!) My laptop is on the fritz, so I’m trying not to overuse it while I work on backing up all my files from my external harddrive so I can re-format it for Macs and back up the laptop so I can take it to the geniuses at the Apple Store so they can look at it…it’s a big process, is the point, so writing has sort of come to a standstill. Writing The Jade Star of Athering, that is. Writing blog posts I can still do on my desktop, and have been doing pretty frequently, actually. (Yay! The Muse is back!)
So I’m trying some techniques to keep the muse turning so that when I can sit down and write, I won’t just end up playing Solitaire for hours on end (metaphorically speaking; my Macs don’t have Solitaire — they do have World of Warcraft and Kingdom of Loathing, however).
In the class I’m taking — First Nations Studies 400: Applied Community Research Institute — we have a coffee hour in the first hour of class for our groups to discuss project outcomes, outputs, and inputs. The class is twice a week, 9am to 3pm, so we have that sort of time.
Today I slept in, because my body hates me, that’s why, and so didn’t arrive until coffee hour was over. It’s only the second day of class, so I missed our discussion of the introductions we would make after coffee hour (which I didn’t miss). After introductions, I went to fill my coffee cup cause damn was I tired. There were two Tim Hortons coffee boxes, one near-empty and one near-full, so I poured the remainder from one into my coffee mug and then filled it up with the other, fuller box.
And drank some delicious “toffee” — or a mix of tea and coffee.
I had completely missed the big signs on the chalkboard saying “TEA” and “COFFEE” with arrows pointing down.
Proving yet again that I am no where near human before caffeine has been inserted.