Flight Papers

feminism and creativity, art, madness, and play

Archive for the ‘feminism’ Category

Our training is a bit worse, actually.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

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(09:40:29 AM) Friend: They way you become a Mord Sith is: you’re kidnapped as a young girl, beaten and tortured mercilessly until there is no humanity left in you, then kill your father to complete your training.
(09:40:55 AM) Violet: Oh, so just like how you become a feminist.


Saturday, June 20th, 2009

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Today, Ali Khamenei has ordered the killing of protesters. There are tanks rolling into Tehran right now.

Today, my aunt has decided to die.

I understand my aunt’s decision. I understand that she can’t keep fighting. I understand that the story of a survivor, a strong woman, a loved woman, beating the odds—I understand that was a fairy tale.

I will never understand the thing that makes soldiers hear an order to kill people who are speaking their hearts, and do so. I will never understand what keeps them fighting. I will never understand why those Iranian freedom fighters had to die. Why women and men asking for something as tiny as a vote had to die for it. This is a thing I cannot understand.

But they will overcome. They will win, and they will make better.

This isn’t a fairy tale. This is truth. This is inevitable. This is necessary.

There are things you—we—can do.

At the protests today in Denver, in solidarity with the protesters in Iran, a woman said that the organization, the access to information, it’s making all the difference. It’s letting Iranian activists know they aren’t alone. It’s helping them communicate and coordinate.

It is why this will succeed. It is why this is different. Information is the foundation of the revolution, she said.

Of course, that is a terrible thing, and it must be stopped. The Khamenei regime has tightened Iran’s firewalls—second only to China’s—in an attempt to prevent protest, organization, dissent, collaboration, rebuilding.

You can do something. For once, the Internet actually can actually fucking help.

I’ve set up a proxy server to run about the supreme leader’s firewalls. You can, too. You should. Here are the windows instructions. If you’re using Linux, apt-get squid and edit /etc/squid/squid.conf as the instructions say. Also add and to the ACLs so @austinheap can verify your server.

It’s a small thing. It can help.

Find out where there’s a protest near you.

It’s a small thing. It can help.

And maybe there’s more. More small things, that can help. More large things, that can help. More things that can keep more women, more activists, more people, from getting slaughtered.

Tell me.

Feminism is to blame for this, of course.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

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According to an article in the Boston Globe, an informal poll taken among 200 teenagers has revealed that almost half of them blame the pop star Rihanna for her recent beating, allegedly by her boyfriend, Chris Brown.

It’s just one survey. But it’s very bad news. And feminists are to blame.—Kathryn Jean Lopez, “What Feminism Wrought”, National Review Online


“We are all white men between the ages of 18 and 35.”

Monday, March 16th, 2009

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Jane Irwin recently considered ending Clockwork Game, a comic that follows the exploits of the mechanical Turk and its inventor. Here’s what I wrote to her:

Thank you.

Thank you for creating art that I, for one, find lovely and fascinating. Thank you for thinking about how your work fits into a social context. And thank you (so much) for being courageous enough to recognize the ways in which you weren’t telling the story you wanted to, and make what had to be a hard decision.

It makes me think even more highly of you as an artist and an ally.

But the reality is that I cannot create and analyze Clockwork Game at the same time: they’re two different processes. I have to stop what I’m doing, do some more reading, and decide then if this is something that I can pick back up, or if it’s best left behind.

This is a lot to ask, but I think it would be really valuable if you exposed this process in some way. I know that analysis of your own work in particular can be really intimate, but I think this kind of dialogue can be a hopeful result of the otherwise basically shitty Great White Fail.

“The Great White Fail” is my term for the most recent explosion of SF/F fandom, in which readers of color critiqued problematic subtext in some works by white authors, and those authors responded by utterly freaking the fuck out. It’s more commonly known as RaceFail ‘09, but I didn’t realize how embedded that title was when I commented—goodness, there should be t-shirts.

Jane has since decided to post the rest of chapter one, along with notes about not just the geeky chess / mechanical trivia, but also notes on historical context that’s missing from the text—like, say, the fact that the Austrian empire was at war with the Ottoman empire at the time, which undoubtedly influenced Kempelen’s decision to dress the automaton as he did. I have to say, when I came across the comic a few months ago, I wasn’t abjectly shocked by its racism—nor, in fact, did I think of the text as problematic. Which makes me even more grateful for Jane’s willingness to come out and critique her own work, not just as an ally, but as an author interested in telling brilliant stories.

After our Dogs game on Tuesday, Ann and I talked about racism in the game. Obviously, the game’s text (at least, the setting material therein) is written from the stance of someone within the Faith, with all the prejudices that implies. In a divergence from Mormonism of the time, the Faith is not officially racist. But neither are they particularly interested in or aware of the people who they, y’know, took the land from. The native tribes are referred to, collectively, as “Mountain People,” with no particular distinction beyond that. That bit might actually be okay, as the book’s setting information is quite coarse, overall.

Where it gets to be a problem is that in a game which is so centered on society and family and, well, sin, there’s very little information about the Mountain Peoples’ societal and family structure, nor their beliefs, not even just a statement on how those beliefs relate to the Faith. Or even the shape of their names, which when you’re spinning characters up really fast, can definitely be a problem.

And, of course, Ann and K are both playing native people, and at various points in the game, I’ve felt distinctly uncomfortable manufacturing bits of their characters’ culture from what amounts to a mishmash of probably-inaccurate stories and stereotypes.

And all of this makes me realize: this is hard. A while ago, on a pretty unconnected topic, Brand Robbins commented,

When you play a historical game where you mostly just make it up as you go, or oracle it, or simple sentence it, then what you get is a pastiche of history, a shallow collection of everyone’s highschool history tropes. That they tend to be full of imperialistic, colonial, racist bullshit is just an added layer of not-fun.

But wait, I thought, surely if you’re aware of that potential, you can work against it? And yes, I think we’ve avoided, in our play, the most obviously problematic ways of dealing with indigenous people in fiction—substantially because the ancestry and gender of the characters marks our narrative as transgressive. But I can’t promise we’ve never re-hashed a racist trope, or a problematic story, because those things? They’re under our skin. However much we might wish them not to be.

Deporting people? Hi-larious.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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Apparently, ABC premiered a new show a few weeks ago: Homeland Security, USA, a reality TV series following several Homeland Security officers as they go about doing Homeland-Security-type things and if this sounds like vapid nationalist-porn, well, you’re probably not wrong, but I’m certainly not tuning in to find out.

I was twigged to this when I heard this NPR story. I thought NPR’s journalists performed, y’know, actual journalism. And I suppose sometimes they might. And sometimes, we get this:

There aren’t any terrorist plots uncovered, though viewers do get to watch agents thwart drug smugglers. And then there’s the lighter side of the job. In one scene, for instance, an immigration officer deports a busty belly dancer from Switzerland. Homeland Security Gets The Reality TV Treatment, NPR

I wonder what’s funny about that. Her occupation? She’s a sex worker—how quaint! Her country of origin? Just listen to that funny accent. My Swiss-German sounds just like a native speaker’s! Her tits, and the size thereof? Hurr. Hurr. Tits. Hurr. The fact that she’s being arrested, detained, and deported? That her life is, if not being ruined, then at least being massively changed without her will or consent? That she could, in fact, die during this process?

My sides are just splitting, let me tell you.

Spiritual journeys are marked by suffering. Other people’s, primarily.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

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This morning, they had Michael Lewis on, talking about the long-term effects of Wall Street, as it continues to gently slide into the sewer (or into, uh, some deeper sewer). He mentioned, amongst other things, that the utterly-ridiculous salaries and bonuses that once characterized Wall Street are probably at an end. He also thinks that the ridiculousness of Wall Street bled into ridiculousness in upper management everywhere, leading to CEOs regularly drawing paychecks and bonuses in the range of tens of million dollars—so that’s probably going to crash pretty hard, too. This is, I think, a little naïve, but he’s the economist. If he’s right, I will regard it as “nice.” It’s impossible to muster too much excitement, though—I expect we will still be living in a world where CEOs draw seven-figure compensation at a minimum, whilst their line workers draw minimum wage, and their slaves draw, perhaps, barely enough to minimally survive (unless the harsh realities of the market force their wages down, of course).

And then there’s this,

A few months ago, Lewis visited Princeton University, his alma mater, “to find out what the kids who were going to be investment bankers were now going to do with their lives.” He says he was “so frustrated with how unimaginative young people had become in choosing their path in life that I thought that someone should establish a kind of ‘Scared Straight’ program for Ivy League students.” He’d require them to spend a week with a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, Conn., “just to see how miserable” they’d be after 20 years.

The plunging market has changed many of their plans, Lewis says. “The kids … who thought they were going to be financiers are having to rethink the premise, and that’s a very good thing.” ‘Liar’s Poker’ Author Sees Upside To Market Crash, NPR

So, one of the keen benefits of a global market crash—you know, the thing that’s leaving some people struggling, and lots of people dead—is that extremely privileged white people will really have the opportunity to find themselves.

The Monster’s Shape.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

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Sometimes, the patriarchy is a thunderstorm. And sometimes, it’s billions of men spitting on you. It is important to know the shape of the monster before attempting to murder it.

An explanation.

Lisa recently posted an essay, “Don’t Like Feminists? Stop Helping Create Them”. It’s a little jarring to read an essay framed as, “here’s how to unmake feminism,”—not “white feminism,” or “western feminism,” or that statement phrased in any way as a critique of certain movements. Instead, simply, “how do you dismantle this social justice movement, in its entirety, and all the institutions it has inspired, and how once it is dead do you keep it in the ground?”


Light bulbs, possibly an allegory.

Friday, October 24th, 2008

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How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

The question is problematic, as it contains a number of coded assumptions that make it both inadequate and harmful as a means of developing social justice.


Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Artwork

Friday, September 5th, 2008

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For this project (the site is here.)


The Fetusmobiles are here again.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

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The DNC seems to be bringing out all the protesters. Including the protesters who feel that both the number of (1) women killed by a lack of access to reproductive healthcare, and (2) the number of car accidents stemming from drivers being distracted by giant fetuses, are far below what we, as a nation, could achieve.

(Disturbing fetus picture below the cut.)