Flight Papers

feminism and creativity, art, madness, and play

Archive for May, 2008


Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Sarah J over at Season of the bitch gave Flight Papers an E.

This is a compliment! Not a snide comment that I need to say “fuck” more and talk about sex—though perhaps I should.

Part of the award is passing it on. This has made me realize that I am a slaaacker when it comes to reading blogs, but here are some fucking awesome women (and one cool dude) anyway:

Taking Steps
is just beautiful. (Also, she’s collecting monies to go to the Allied Media Conference this year. Go help, if you can.)

who does not write theory so much as practice, and who I’m really happy to see again.
Echidne of the Snakes,
who might get this based on her blog’s title alone, but she’s also, like, brilliant.
Fair Game
is a running collection of Emily Care and Meguey Baker’s shiny play experiences and insights into games.
Girls Read Comics (and they’re pissed)
is soothing for the comics geek buried deep, deep down inside me.

is basically Jonathan Walton’s design process put on the Internet, which makes it cool.

Read them all. Right. Now.


Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I saw Nightwish a bit earlier. Opening for them was a band called Sonic Syndicate, who I think really demonstrated admirable restraint in not calling themselves Sønïc Sinndikæt. At one point, the lead singer said something that led to the following exchange:

“Did he just say this song is about…”
“…gay rights”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Neat!”

Death metal being what it is, I had no way of knowing if the song was in fact about gay rights, but I bopped my head along agreeably all the same.

Nightwish made me really want to see a big, steampunk-anachronistic blockbuster about Anne Bonny and Mary Raed.

“On second thought, no, we can’t.”

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I’ve been loathe to write about the primaries in the U.S., mostly because I try to only write about those things where I feel like I have something to contribute, and I haven’t experienced any particular election-related insights.

(Also: I don’t have or want a side apart from “not another douchebag, please, the increased relevance of political songs is not worth it,” but it’s almost impossible to write anything without being shuttled into one camp or another. Hell, I went to the county Democratic county caucus not voting in the presidential primaries (I did the math. My vote wouldn’t have mattered either way, in our precinct.))

That said, here’s something a friend said a while back, the truth of which just struck me: Race and gender are, for me, the only interesting issues in this election.


Deleted and altered scenes from Prince Caspian.

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Saw Prince Caspian a couple of days ago. It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great, it mostly failed to make an impression on me at all beyond wondering who these people are, and why there is a movie about them. More vodka was clearly necessary.

Oh, and there were bits that irked the hell out of me, which I shall assume were just replacements for scenes that would not have irked the hell out of me. Like these, and all apologies to Maia, who does this better.


We love you so much. That’s why we’re stabbing you repeatedly in the face.

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Renegade Evolution (who is brill) has a rather lovely takedown of a particular poster’s, um, “arguments” against supporting sex workers. Not the porn industry, not porn itself, but sex workers.

Think on that for a second.

Now, look, I don’t want to become all “no true Scotsman”-ey. I know that there are problems with an industry that men construct to serve male pleasure. I know that there are feminist issues with working in such an industry. I know that an enormous amount of porn is explicitly degrading to women, and in fact, if someone says, “porn is degrading to women,” I am not inclined to disagree.

But when someone says, “You don’t support sex workers,” and your response is, “Well, we also don’t support drug dealers, bank robbery, embezzlement, arson, murder and a host of other things even tho women do them. Oh! How rude of feminists not to support all the choices of women!” then you Do. Not. Get. It.

You are not a true feminist, and I am revoking your card, and it was Andrea Dworkin who died and put me in charge.

You can critique the sex industry. You can critique sex work. I will even allow that you can critique the decision to go into sex work, but I would not do it, because you do not know all of the everything it is to be her, and unless you are willing to wrest agency out of her hands, I would suggest you not imply that she is acting the role of a puppet, rather than a person.

The thing you absolutely cannot, cannot do is say that sex workers are not women who deserve fair pay, worker’s compensation, and all the other rights afforded to people doing what is, in fact, relatively taxing, dangerous work. You especially cannot do this by making an appeal to the bloody criminal justice system, which is not precisely a floating orb of social justice, vacuum-insulated from the patriarchy that birthed it.

I don’t want national borders to exist, but that doesn’t mean I ought to say, “Immigrant women? Fuck ‘em. They broke the law, don’tcha know?”. I don’t want race to exist, but that doesn’t mean I get a free pass to ignore the particular issues faced by women who are not of mine. I don’t want capitalism to exist, but that doesn’t make the gendered effects of poverty somehow not a feminist issue.

You don’t want the for-men-controlled-by-men sex industry to exist but that does not give you the ability to, as a “feminist,” shit on women doing sex work. It does not give you the ability to erase their agency. It does not give you the ability to erase their rights. It does not give you the ability to erase them.



I am a ninja, part 2.

Friday, May 16th, 2008

So, my computer is still a bit wonky, mostly because I haven’t had a few moments to put it right. Regardless, I at one point found myself in X, basically sans a window manager (I’m using twm right now, because nothing else is properly installed. Yeah.) And because the normal startup stuff isn’t running, control and caps lock aren’t swapped.

This aggravates the hell out of me.

Most normal people, they basically take the keyboard layout they can get. Me? Some time ago, I saw Jamie’s whole control and caps lock need to be swapped thing, took it to heart, and now I can barely type on a keyboard with the normal mapping. If I’m doing any kind of text editing, forget about it.

So! Once again, without the benefit of nice graphical tools, I’m left thinking, “how do you do this?”

Only this time, I kinda know the answer: xmodmap lets you change the keyboard mapping. So I fucked around with that for a bit, and in the man page it actually has a, “here’s how you swap control and caps lock,” bit, and I did it, and that was fine.

Only it turns out that in my fucking around, I managed to remap the letter ‘v’ to… nothing. I think I tried using some recipe for a Solaris keyboard, or something. Regardless, I found myself unable to type the letter v.

So I can just use xmodmap to fix it, right? Just run xmodmap -e ‘keycode 55 = v’, and you’re all set.

Only, how do you input that command if you can’t type the letter v?

Simple. You go into Firefox (no vs there), go to some blog post, copy the letter v out and paste it in.

And lo, I can type ‘v’, and my keyboard is how I like it.

Like a ninja, I’m telling you.

Opening dialogue between apples and oranges.

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

This is a linguistic pet peeve* of mine.

When you say, “I (want to | hope that we can | hope that this will | … ) (open dialogue | lead to more discussion | lead to a healing of rifts | …) between X and Y,” you are implying that X and Y are mutually exclusive groups. When you’re talking about people, your statement erases anyone who exists in the intersection. (You are also ignoring anyone who exists outside of both X and Y, but that’s different from erasure.)

Sometimes you actually want to do this to make a point. “I really hope this opens up dialogue between men and people who don’t rape,” you might say. Or perhaps, “it would be nice if we could get some discussion going between neocons and people who primary concern in life isn’t hastening the destruction of the entire world.”

Sometimes you really want to use this trope, and since this is a cutting language pattern rather than a healing one, you have to accept that your language is going to cut some people. “We really need to get Palestinians and Israelis to work together,” you might say, thus erasing Palestinian-Israelis in one neat sentence. I don’t like this use of cutting language exactly because it’s likely someone is caught in the middle, but maybe you do, and you think the rhetoric is worth the hurt. Fair enough.

So when you’ve written a film that some people think is transphobic, and you’re trying to clarify your position, saying, “I hope The Gendercator can lead to further discussion between transgender people and lesbians,” maybe doesn’t indicate that you haven’t fully internalized the issues people are raising. Because, as we all know, there exist no lesbian trans women. When your clarification starts with, “This remark is not about transpeople. It is about women,” I start to wonder what exactly you think trans women even are.

I should say that the premise of The Gendercator doesn’t strike me as inherently transphobic, and I would actually like to see it at some point. Having not yet seen it, I don’t really know how to feel about it being kicked out Frameline. The director’s notes seem to reveal that she doesn’t have a particularly strong understanding of trans issues, but I’ve definitely seen worse, and it doesn’t necessarily destroy the film.

* Apologies to everyone for whom “pet peeve” is a linguistic pet peeve.

But lots of kinds of cake.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

There are two kinds of relativism.

One is the kind that says, “Everything is relative! Ethics! Truth! We can’t say anything about anything! And we definitely can’t say anything about other cultures.”

That kind of relativism doesn’t get you anywhere.

The Apostate—a feminist blogger from Pakistan—wrote a while back about a certain reluctance within the white feminists in leveling critiques at “brown” cultures. I think she’s partially right—there is to a degree this fear of saying something racist, of discounting the experiences of women in those cultures by opening your big, white mouth. If your words are rooted in personal experience, then regardless of everything else, they are in some way true; if they’re rooted in theory and media reports, then they have no such authenticity.

There’s another kind of relativism. It says, “Everyone’s lives are exactly as important to them as yours are to you. They have the same value and the same meaning.”

This kind of relativism is valuable, because it tells us that we must never speak for people who, we think, have no voice. We can’t be thinking or writing or doing to help them, those women over there. In order to really express someone’s cause, that boundary has to dissolve.

When it does, I think this is what happens: The acts of individual women, acts of survival under oppression, become instantly recognizable as such. As individual acts, as means of survival, they are unassailable. But as vectors of continuing oppression, it becomes our responsibility to critique those acts, and the system they inhabit.

Which is all simply to say: I think the reluctance she sees to talk about these issues exists because those walls are still there. I think the way to tackle them isn’t to say that white feminists should talk more about those women over there, it’s that white feminists should need to not write themselves as distinct from those women over there.

Soon: You already know how to forge your Heart Grace.

Fortune cookie.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

What it actually said: “The courage to be great lies deep within each of us.”

What I thought it said: “There continue to be great lies deep within each of us.”

I think this prophetic pastry is working too well.

One good thing came out of GTA IV.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The name “Tw@,” which immediately conjured up a queer women’s sex shop -slash- cafe that I am one day going to open, damnit.