dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
Got cranky yesterday with fans celebrating having bullied some jerk off Tumblr for posting some anti-Moffat bullshit or other. There's so much tedious Moffat is Satan / no he isn't / yes he is bickering on Tumblr that I avoid Who and Sherlock fandom altogether. I've turned into one of those weary old gods that bobs around in the ocean being annoyed by the pointless racket made by the youngsters. Like Tiamat. Which is why I turned on Block Notifications instead of responding to the stupid responses to my posting. Look what happened to her!

ETA: I had forgotten how pointless, toxic, and pants-on-head stupid much of online fandom is. I'm well out of it.
dreamer_easy: (*writing 8)
... brought to you by premenstrual syndrome and Brintellix, an anti-depressant with side effects including irritability.

So I'm sitting here innocently reading Tumblr, and someone quotes one of the stars of the show How To Get Away With Murder, Conrad Ricamora, who plays half of a gay couple:

"The strangest thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of straight women who are fans of our relationship. I was sitting at a bar and two women approached me saying they were huge fans of the show... They said that a lot of times, when women are portrayed in a relationship with a man, there's a disparity in intelligence, they aren't written as smartly and there's an inequality there. It seems, that with these two guys, there's an equality in their relationship and that's something they want to have a mirror for. They're tired of the damsel in distress stereotype and aren't interested in watching that anymore."
And someone else added this remark in a tag: "what slash fans have been saying for years".

One of the reasons I don't read much fanfic is that it's so cookie cutter. However beautifully it's written, there seems to be a small pool of story ideas, into which fanfic writers simply plug their favourite characters. Now your first thought will be "but most professional fiction in books, on TV, etc, is also cookie cutter stuff". This is true; but fanfic is extolled as subversive and resistant.

If my impression of fanfic's homogeneity is a fair one, then perhaps it's not surprising if fans write slash because they lack the imagination to write equal straight relationships. We demand that TV showrunners under the thumbs of nervous executives and advertisers give us straight couples in which the woman is equally smart and useful. And yet, given total creative freedom, we apparently can't even figure out what that would be like.

Arguably, someone writing for a show watched by millions has responsibilities that a fanficcer with a handful of readers doesn't. But this is beside the point. If the reason for slash - or at least the reason it's political - is the lack of competent female partners on TV, then slashers are simply dodging the problem. (That is, when they're not reproducing it, with unequal same-sex relationships.)
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
Having dumped all the old stuff from [livejournal.com profile] kateorman into a posting here, I'm setting up this posting as a catch-all for anything more I happen to come across. Adding stuff at the top. Cites at the end.

"Fangirl" is not an insult. Tumblr posting from ca. 2014. How times have changed. My proud use of the term back in the day was unpopular to say the least.

Gender-spotting tool could have rumbled fake blogger (New Scientist, 22 June 2011). I must find out what the latest is on the software being developed at the Stevens Institute of Technology in NJ, which analysed large numbers of news items and emails to identify factors which tended to differ in men's and women's writing. When NS ran their report, it was about 85% accurate (and 63% sure that "A Gay Girl in Damascus" was a bloke).

Tumblr discussion on the "gender split" in fandom. Similar thoughts from fozmeadows.

Writing in "Gender Blending", Michael A. Gilbert discusses the idea that transitioning requires a shift in how a trans woman communicates and eve thinks. At one point he describes how BBSes and then the Internet opened up new lines of communication and community for transgender people. Interestingly, when Gilbert examined fora for trans women, he found a diversity of discussions styles. "Some correspondents seem to be almost wholly feminine in their style of argument and communication, while others, though they sign their missives with a femme name, seem decidedly masculine. One can identify the pickiness, aggression, and lack of concern for person as opposed to position that is classically male. Moreover, many responses to postings are highly analytical and show little desire to examine more contextual or personal issues." (I couldn't help smiling at the description of flame warriors with "extraordinarily soft and sweet" names.) On the other hand, there was also "a great deal of support... a willingness to expose and share emotions... an openness, an awareness of pain, and a sense of connection" usually found only in very close male relationships. The trans women also discussed "family, children, and relationships" more than would be usual for a male group.

This is interesting for many reasons, not least of which that "pickiness, aggression, and lack of concern for person as opposed to position" so perfectly describes my online interactions with others for so many years - learned, I believe, from arguing with men on Usenet. I've changed how I relate to other online to a fair extent, but you know, I still think like that.

(It's only fair to note how often Gilbert reminds the reader that trans people, like cis people, are extremely diverse: "We must be wary of the broad brush." So true. :)

Gilbert, Michael A. "Beyond Appearances: Gendered Rationality and the Transgendered". in Bullough, Bonnie, Vern L. Bullough, and James Elias (eds). Gender Blending. Prometheus Books, New York, 1997.
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
(From my previous lj, [livejournal.com profile] kateorman, cut-and-pasted here for my convenience. The original context was a 2008 discussion of whether fandom is gendered and whether men and women communicate differently. Well, I say "discussion"...)


Fan-What? "In theory, Fanboy and Fangirl are simply gendered terms to differentiate a male fan and a female fan. In practical use, they have not only a different gender but an entirely different meaning."

When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege

Conversation a different art for men and women

Fanboy vs Fangirl / Fanboy vs fangirl: data points (numerous links and notes - should probably unpack here)

Fangenderqueer? If only I'd known the term "gender non-conforming" in 2008.

The When Did the Shippers Take Over Online Who Fandom? panel and the changing demographics of Doctor Who fandom on the Internet.

Doctor Who fandom demographics poll. Slightly screwed up by lj, but the definitions of fangirl and fanboy are still there and still interesting.

Scientific American, 6 July 2007: Do Women Talk More than Men?. (No.)

There are a ton of relevant postings at well-known acafan Henry Jenkins' blog - for example, this dialogue about the significance of gender in fandom. Be sure to look at the comments at the end, in which feminists challenge the claim that it's wrong and sexist to take gender into account.

Here's a 2000 study by Herring on Gender Differences in CMC (that's "Computer Mediated Communication").

Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth: "One of the most regularly recited pieces of popular neuroscience is that women are more likely to use both hemispheres of the brain to process language while men tend only to use one. It turns out, this is a myth - it is simply not supported by the current evidence."

A question for the ages - why aren't more women philosophers?: "[PhD candidate Emily] Margo said she believed some, but not all, women preferred styles of philosophy that were less confrontational. 'Some women are more disposed to mediate or be conciliatory,' she said. 'However, in some situations you put your ideas up and have to be willing for others to try and shoot them down. This is a sign of respect. Personally, I like the blood sport aspect, but the combative way is certainly not the only way.'"

Notes (cites at the end)

Notes from the 1995 book Women, Men, and Politeness by Janet Holmes (1995) - and more notes

Notes from Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth by Camille Bacon-Smith (1992)

"As in previous years, the female voters tended to be more inclined to give higher marks than the men. The women particularly enjoyed The Unicorn and the Wasp and Partners in Crime, giving these stories much higher marks than the men did. The Adipose were also popular with the ladies, beating the Daleks as the Best Monster!"
- DWM 403, S4 survey results. There were almost 5000 votes; 71% of voters were male.

A 1996 study by Susan C. Herring, Two Variants of an Electronic Message Schema, on men and women's styles on two academic mailing lists, found differences in the way they communicated, but not the same differences as previous linguists - men primarily exchanging information, women primarily socialising. Rather, in her study, both sexes used emails to exchange opinions more than just information, but in different ways. "Although messages posted by women contain somewhat more interactional features, they are also more informative, in contrast with male messages which most often express (critical) views". For example, she graphed responses which agreed, praised, and called for further discussion: women were all over these, while men barely posted any. The opposite was true for responses which disagreed and called for the subject to be dropped.

Importantly, both sexes tended to adopt the majority style (as I did in Usenet): for example, a man who added "hedges" ("it seems to me", "perhaps") rather than stating his views bluntly. Herring remarks: "Ironically, this male writer is concerned not to offend the women on the list by his differing views... yet he seems unaware that the oppositional structure of his message itself might be viewed as offensive or inappropriate." That's a very challenging observation, because it suggests that in a strongly "feminine" environment, disagreement itself can be rude. Sadly, that's been my experience time and again in the female-dominated environs of fandom, and it can only play into the groupthink problem.

Henry Jenkins, in Textual Poachers: "... I am also a male fan within a predominantly female fan culture. Male media fans are less common than female fans, though certainly not remarkable within this culture; we have learned to play according to the interpretive conventions of that community, even if these subcultural traditions did not originate in response to our particular interests or backgrounds." (p 6-7) "... this style of reading - extrapolation that draws the reader well beyond the information explicitly presented in the text, the intermingling of personal experience and narrative events, the focus on a narrative's 'world' rather than on its plot - reflects a gender-specific approach to narrative comprehension. [Various critics] document the different ways in which men and women respond to literary works... Female readers entered directly into the fictional world, focusing less on the extratextual process of its writing than on the relationships and events. Male reading acknowledged and respected the author's authority, while women saw themselves as engaged in a 'conversation' within which they could participate as active contributors." (p 110) Jenkins goes on to describe similar patterns in from Star Trek and Twin Peaks fandoms. (For more of which, see below.)

Susan J. Clerc (then a doctoral candidate in American Cultural Studies) writing in 1996, in wired_women: "Almost all fan fiction is written by women, which leads to another very important point about off-line fandom: The majority of media fans are women. Women write and read almost all of the fan fiction, make the music videos, create the artwork, organize and attend conventions, run APAs and letterzines and belong to fan groups - they are actively involved, in greater numbers than men, in every facet of media fandom. Media fandom couldn't exist without women because more women than men do the communication work necessary to forge and sustain the community. The public impression that males dominate fan activities is largely the result of outsiders' emphasis on Star Trek fandom, which does seem to consist of more males than females. But this emphasis misses the nature of the fannish subculture as a whole. The misconception that males dominate media fandom is also online-fostered: there are simply more men than women online."

Clerc suggests that fewer fan women are online (keep in mind this is 1996) because they have less time, money, and interest for the necessary technological tinkering, and because, with a thriving offline fandom, there's little incentive. Once online, fangirls publicly contribute less because they've been socialised not to draw attention to themselves and because of direct and indirect hostility from the fanboys. Surveying online fans, Clerc found that "women favour mailing lists while men go for the high-profile Usenet newsgroups". Women were less than a third of the posters on rec.arts.startrek.current, r.a.s.misc, and rec.arts.drwho (and the mailing list, drwho-l). rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5 was "almost exclusively male until very recently, and even now only a handful of women post regularly, compared to the literally scores of men"; alt.tv.red-dwarf almost entirely male. At the time, there was no public mailing list for Quantum Leap, perhaps explaining why r.a.sf.tv.quantum-leap was half or more female.

82% of the women Clerc surveyed and 57% of the men participated in at least one fanac other than net groups. Most popular was cons. "The second most popular - and the one that brings men and women fans into conflict with each other and fandom into conflict with the outside world - is fan fiction... Unlike the vast majority of print fan fiction, a lot of online stories are written by young men, many of whom have no knowledge of the off-line community and the history of fan fiction written by women. Opinions of the quality of thier online fan fiction tend to be very low among women with experience in fandom." She quotes a fan who found the boys' fic "dire and boring", mostly Marty Stu vehicles than stories about Kirk and Spock. Citing Deborah Tannen, Clerc remarks: "Telling stories about themselves seems to be part of a male aesthetic... when asked to tell a story, men talk about themselves and women talk about other people." Further, women disliked the emphasis on "hardware, violence, and convoluted plots that go nowhere", unlike their own fic, which "has always focussed primarily on the characters' relationships." (Clerc makes it clear there are of course exceptions on both sides.) In the other direction, "the worst of the anti-slash posts and the highest level of intolerance do seem to come from young males".

From The Adoring Audience, edited by Lisa A. Lewis. Quick figures: Viewers For Quality Television surveyed its members annually; in 1988, 80% were female; the chapter on filking notes that SF filkers are about equally male and female, contrasting this with Star Trek fanzines, mostly edited by and read by women. "These fan writers rework the primary text in a number of significant ways: they shift attention from action and adventure aspects of the show onto character relationsips, applying conventions characteristic of traditionally feminine genres, such as romance, to the interpretation and continuation of materials drawn from traditionally masculine genres" - for example, focussing on marginalised female characters. Fanfic is "a means of working through social experiences and concerns of particular interest to the female writing community, concerns which were given little or no attention in the original series. Fanzine stories grow out of gender-specific reading strategies and speak to feminist issues [but also] conform to particular generic traditions which originate within the fan community. They foreground meanings which are of interest to other fans; they accept certain common rules about what types of uses of textual materials are desirable or appropriate." (This last bit isn't strictly relevant here but omg it's interesting.)

From Henry Jenkins in Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: "Media fan writing is almost exclusively feminine response to mass media texts. Men actively participate in a wide range of fan-related activities, notably interactive games and conference-planning committees, roles consistent with patriarchal norms that [relegate combat and authority] to the 'masculine' sphere. Media fan writers and fanzine readers, however, are almost always female... The greatest percentage of male participation is found in the 'letterzines'... and in 'nonfiction' magazines... that publish speculative essays on aspects of the program's 'universe'; men may feel comfortable joining discussions of future technologies or military lifestyle, but not in pondering Vulcan sexuality, McCoy's childhood, or Kirk's love life."

Why these differences? "Research suggests that men and women have been socialized to read for different purposes and in different ways." One analysis found that "men focused primarily on narrative organization and authorial intent, while women devoted more energy to reconstructing the textual world and understanding the characters." Another "found that women were more willing to enjoy free play with the story content, making inferences about character relationships that took them well beyond the information explicitly contained within the text. Such data strongly suggest that [fanfic] draws more heavily upon the types of interpretive strategies common to the 'feminine' than to the 'masculine... To fully enjoy the text, women are often forced to perform a kind of intellectual transvestitism - identifying with male characters... or constructing unwritten countertexts" through daydreaming and talking with other women. (Victorian women accomplished the same through diaries, letters, and "collective writing projects".)

Jenkins contrasts all this with posters on alt.tv.twinpeaks made in 1990. Both groups repeatedly "reread" their texts, discuss it together, and look for ways to fill gaps and fix contradictions, drawing on "ancillary texts, extratextual commentary, and fan speculation" as well as the original shows. "On other levels, the two groups' activities are strikingly different. The female Star Trek fans focus their interest on the elaboration of paradigmatic relationships, reading plot actions as shedding light on character psychology and motivations. The largely male fans in the Twin Peaks computer group essentially reversed this process, focusing on moments of character interaction as clues that might help to resolve plot questions. The male fans' fascination with solving the mystery justified their intense scrutiny and speculation about father-daughter relationships, sexual scandals, psychological and emotional problems, and romantic entanglements..." Similarly, "Trekkers on the net devote attention to discussions of technical problems and plot holes, rather than on the social and emotional lives of the series protagonists." While female Star Trek fans offline used the show to talk about their own lives, male Twin Peaks fans online "hid behind the program... revealing little of themselves". Interestingly, Jenkins remarks that the women seek explanations first from the text, while the men "consistently appealed to knowledge of generic expectations or assumptions about Lynch as author".

More from Rhiannon Bury's Cyberspace of their own: female fandoms online. Something I found personally interesting was that the female X-Files fans she interviewed (this was around 1995) were largely uninterested in the SF content; they were attracted to the show by its lead characters. This is a difference I've often noticed between myself and many other fangirls. I watched the X-Files first and foremost for the SF; and the little fanfic I write tends to be gen.

Also extremely interesting were the DDEBers' responses to ridicule, which was to distance themselves from "fangirlish" behaviour. One member said she called the DDEB a "support group"; another left it out of her .sig so that she would be "taken seriously". Some were horrified by a couple of Leno audience members audibly squeeing at Duchovny.

"Mary Ellen Curtin (2003) did a statistical analysis of zines archived at Temple University and estimated that pre-1967, only 17 percent of zine publishers were female. By 1971, an astonishing 83 percent were female." Het began to appear in 1972, slash in 1974; before that, fanfic was gen. "Given the importance of home- and office-based technology in the (re)production of stories and zines and the number of women with these skills, it is hardly surprising that the rapid increase in the numbers of women with internet access by the late 1990s engendered a veritable slash explosion. Unlike the DDEBs, the spaces that female fanfic writers formed did not need to be explicitly designated 'women only': historical precedent assured that such forums were assumed to be dominated by women... the publishing and accessing of slash is now primarily done online."

"Because many people treat CMC primarily as oral rather than written communication, they may well be able to write accurately and effectively but not feel it necessary to do so." The "informal oral patterns" online included slang, onomatopoeia, expressions like "yep", "nah", and "hmm", actions like , and emoticons; informal written patterns included abbreviations (btw, IMHO, CKR). But as Bury notes, this "should not be confused with a lack of attention to accurate and effective language use", which characterised the female fans' discussions.

"A normative identity such as upper or middle-class-ness, in part, is performed through regular and repeated use of the standard variety. It is also produced through the policing of that standard - in other words, through the practic of verbal hygiene." Some fans complained of being labelled "snobs" or "elitist" for criticising others' grammar ("The implication is that in the market of online media fandom, the stock of linguistic capital is so low as to make a normative identification deviant." lol), while at least one fan suggested that nit-picking grammar in "chatty" email had a chilling effect. Interestingly, the fans policed their own verbal hygiene - commenting on their own typos, etc - but also codeswitched in and out of non-standard English for humorous or self-deprecatory effect.

Bury points out that commentators who characterise flaming as a net.phenomenon neglect to mention that exchanging insults is also a male phenomenon, both online and off. "Typical of all female face-to-face interaction, members of the DDEBRP and MRKS did not flame, and for the most part limited swearing; worked to avoid, minimize or mitigate disagreement; and supported others' turns." OTOH: "One person's honesty or directness can be another's rudeness or adversariality. In her study, Susan Herring found that the majority of male respondents valued candid discussion and debate over attending to positive face needs in contrast to female respondents. Interestingly, I found a similar division within the women-only DDEBRP community." When bald assertions led to bad feelings, work had to be done to restore the community's coherence - not always successfully, with members quietly leaving, or avoiding discussion.

From Theorizing fandom: fans, subculture and identity, edited by Cheryl Harris and Alison Alexander. The early 90s B7 slash apazine Strange Bedfellows had 39 members, 36 of which were female. This contrasts with surveys of comic book collectors, who were overwhelmingly male - 91.5% male in a 1993 survey by DC.

Andrea MacDonald's chapter Uncertain Utopia describes the formation of private mailing lists for Quantum Leap fans - particularly women - after they were effectively forced off rec.arts.tv for being "too silly". Then a secret women-only (and one gay man) list was formed "due to teasing from men [who] did not like the women talking about Scott Bakula's cute butt, or the long discussions of the characters' relationships. The frequent anecdotes and stories that the women drew from their own lives also annoyed many members of the email list." MacDonald remarks, "cultural conversational norms that denigrate women's talk appear to be winning out in cyberspace", which is "fraught with many of our old ways of negotiating social spaces."

A chapter on War of the Worlds fandom by Cinda Gillilan states that although the fandom is not homogenous, with members of all races, classes, and sexualities, and both genders, "a general fan 'type' can be identified: female, white, college-educated, middle-class, hetereosexual, between the ages of 25 and 50."

From Fans by Cornell Sandvoss... while "'pop music, romance novels, comics, Hollywood mass appeal stars' have traditionally attracted a strong female following, "many other areas of fandom appear to constitute explicitly masculine domains." Sandvoss cites studies of comic fans generally, Judge Dredd fans in particular, and sports fandom, all of which were found to be overwhelmingly male. But female fans colonised "male" interests as a form of "opposition" or "pleasurable resistance": "Female fandom drawing on apparently masculine genres of popular culture such as wrestling, soccer or action and horror films can thus be identified as a subversion of existing gender roles and their accompanying power relations. For example, "Slash writing has thus enabled female fans to break into the male domain of science fiction fandom and establish thier own distinct space of reception, productivity and discussion."

Last one (for now): Camille Bacon-Smith's Science Fiction Culture. Star Trek initially attracted the interest of both sexes. "By the mid-1970s, however, Star Trek fandom was drawing a massive following through the endless reruns of the show. While Star Trek fans were likely to be science fiction readers as well, the media fans came to the community through their interest in television, perceived as an inferior source of science fiction. That perception attached as well to fans of the media. But men coming to the community through television had an advantage. Men had always been in the majority. The newcomer males, while annoying because they increased the numbers at the conventions beyond the level of comfortable intimacy, did not stand out as a cause. Women, however, had always been a tiny minority in fandom. By the late '70s the presence of women in numbers approaching parity with the men threatened the sense of the elite that the small numbers in fandom had fostered... media-related activities began to break down into gender-specific and non-gender-specific tasks. Non-gender-specific tasks included convention organizing, filksinging, and costuming. Male-specific tasks included amateur scriptwriting and skit writing... and model building. Of course... male-specific tasks are sometimes performed by women as well, but in far fewer numbers than by men and seldom in leadership roles." Although academics have focussed on women's fiction fanzines, these "differ dramatically from the standard form that continues to exist beside it in the science fiction community at large" which contain reviews, con reports, etc. "One thing you almost never find in a science fiction fanzine is science fiction."

Bacon-Smith reports a backlash against female fans in the 80s. "Women stopped winning prizes, and participants at science fiction conventions used their positions on fan panels to damn the women of media fandom for all the ills that beset the growing sf community." The media zines provided "one safe harbour" for women entering SF fandom at the time. By the 90s, the backlash had faded.


Bacon-Smith, Camille. Science fiction culture. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
Bury, Rhiannon. Cyberspaces of their own: female fandoms online. New York, Peter Lang, 2005.
Clerc, Susan J. "Estrogen Brigades and 'Big Tits' Threads: Media Fandom Online and Off". In Cherney, Lynn and Elizabeth Reba Weise (eds). Wired Women: Gender and New Realities in Cyberspace. Seattle, Seal, 1996.
Harris, Cheryl and Alison Alexander (eds). Theorizing fandom: fans, subculture and identity. Cresskill, NJ, Hampton Press, 1998.
S. C. Herring, "Two Variants of an Electronic Message Schema". In S. Herring (ed). Computer-Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social and Cross-Cultural Perspectives. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 1996, pp. 81-106.
Jenkins, Henry. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York University Press, New York and London, 2006.
Jenkins, Henry. "'Strangers no more, we sing': Filking and the social construction of the science fiction fan community". in Lewis, Lisa A. (ed). The Adoring Audience: fan culture and popular media. Routledge, London and New York, 1992.
Sandvoss, Cornel. Fans : the mirror of consumption. Oxford, Polity, 2005.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
I'm drinking a Cuba Libre made with Pepsi Max and making a list of books to read as research for when I get stuck into redrafting Strange Flesh, so I thought I'd share some links with you while I'm at it.

Puppygate, the gaming of the Hugos, has generated a mountain of online material. Here's just a tiny selection of it. (For an introduction, see Jim C. Hines' Puppies in Their Own Words.)

Phil Sandifer and Rabid Puppy Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) discuss John C. Wright's Hugo-nominated One Bright Star to Guide Them and Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory. Like the Monty Python sketch with the discussion of censorship between the Archibishop of Canterbury and a nude man, but longer. (ETA: Interview with Ken MacLeod about Banks.)

Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution. Universally applicable.

Some comments on the Hugos and other SF awards from Eric Flint. Lots of background and analysis of the awards and their history. (See also Marin Wisse's response.)

The Demolished Puppy. If you put words in someone else's mouth, don't be surprised if they bite your hand.

(If you're interested in keeping up with latest developments - which by this point is mostly a cycle of outrage generated by the Pups - File770 is the place to go.)


Sep. 7th, 2014 03:31 pm
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
Why Aren't Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person. Having experienced the workplace from both perspectives, they hold the key to its biases.

Announcement: Readers who feel threatened by equality no longer welcome: "The problem here is that these squealing man-children, so desperate to keep women out of their precious games, want it both ways. They want gaming to be taken seriously as a culture and art form, while at the same time throwing an unbelievable tantrum when subjected to serious criticism."

Why men rape: "The reasons why men rape in South Africa are the same reasons they rape here [in Australia] and the most common statements really amount to notions of sexual entitlement."

On which subject: "One day, in third period, after being rejected several times, he said; 'I have a gun in my locker. If you don't say yes, I am going to shoot you in seventh.'"

And again: Laurie Penny on misogynist extremism: Let's call the Isla Vista killings what they were: "The ideology behind these attacks - and there is ideology - is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, 'adoration', in Rodger's words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence - stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power. "

Domestic violence: the 'silent epidemic' claiming the life of one woman every eight days

Financial abuse poorly understood but rife

"The Australian Human Rights Commission report found that one in two women and one in four men have experienced discrimination relating to their family obligations... The survey found 22 per cent of women who had suffered discrimination opted out of the workplace entirely." Similarly: Half of all mothers experience workplace discrimination, report finds

Autism experts say current testing failing to detect condition in females, call for changes to testing (I'm currently reading Aspergirls by Rudy Simone - while I'm clearly not on the spectrum, I have a lot in common with women with Aspergers, and I wonder how much of this stems from being gender non-conforming.)

ETA: Norrie has won a victory for all people neither male nor female

Bodies That Matter: The African History of Naked Protest, FEMEN Aside

Monster, by Robin Morgan

A Deadly Epidemic of Violence Against Women
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Engaging in displacement activity while struggling with chapter 20, I unwisely did my first Google ego scan in years. I came across someone rudely remarking that I have "a record of behaving very badly in fannish spaces". (Please don't Google for the phrase - they're entitled to their opinion.)

I got bit cross about this until I realised that I haven't done much of anything in any fannish space for about five and a half years, when I was hypomanic and, erm, less than diplomatic on a 2008 Chicago TARDIS panel about fan fiction. I've been apologising for that one ever since! :)

It's so obvious in retrospect that I was having an episode that day. All through the last half of the naughties, the Bipolar II was getting worse and worse, fuelled by the antidepressants, and I had no idea what was going on - even that something was going on. My clashes online were no longer the light-hearted Usenet barnies of the nineties, but were increasingly driven by irritability and anxiety. I was no longer shielded by significance or popularity - rather the opposite, in fact. (Can you imagine anything more likely to annoy fanficcers than an uppity tie-in novelist?) No wonder that, when the bullying started in 2007, I had that little breakdown, and had to fight my way back. Slowly. Wordily. With lots of postings like this one.

It's been two years now since the diagnosis, fandom. And I ain't missing you at all.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
I shall pay for this later. But for now:

ETA 4. I forgot to mention! I understood the first line of a Kpop song just by listening to it! Admittedly all it said was 제발 하지마라 "For goodness' sake, don't do it!" but nonetheless I am proud. :D

1. I picked that the composer for Ouran High School Host Club also did some of the music for Death Note: Yoshihisa Hirano. In fact, I'm not sure that the music accompanying serious scenes (often to bathetic effect) in Ouran aren't in fact from the Death Note soundtrack. (If you're not familiar with these anime, one is an intricate dark fantasy psychological thriller, and one, erm, isn't.)

2. Vampire Knight. These two are totally doing it:


3. A fellow Tumblrer just suggested that we can learn sensitivity from Tumblr: "... every time somebody gets slapped down, you think, hm, better not do/say/think that." I must dispute this. The Onion invented the phrase "seriously uninformed discussion", which describes most "social justice" blogging and comments perfectly. In fact, let's say that 99% of people posting about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, et al, are seriously uninformed*.

Now if that's accurate, as I believe it is, when someone performs a smackdown, the odds are that they are almost exactly as ignorant as the person they are smacking down. All they've learned, and all they can teach, are the correct opinions and buzzwords.

Two case studies. A few years ago I discussed the fact that I was gender non-conforming** as an adolescent and as an adult fan. This attracted a few comments deriding me for trying to impress boys and for offending transgender people. That was partly my fault for expressing myself clumsily; at the time I didn't know the term, or the concept, "gender non-conforming". But neither did the angry commenters.

In South Korea and China, apparently for historical reasons, lighter skin is seen as prettier than darker skin, leading Kpop idols to sometimes tease their darker-skinned friends. Naturally this is very painful to darker-skinned Western Kpop fans, particularly African-American fans, who bear the brunt of a long, damaging history of colourism, the legacy of slavery. When an idol makes one of these hurtful comments, part of fandom will call them racist while the other half will defend them on the grounds that it's a different culture's beauty standards, causing the former half to label them racists*** as well. Neither side will discuss whether or not darker-skinned Koreans face discrimination, as darker-skinned African-Americans do, nor the impact of colonialism and globalism on Asian beauty standards, nor even the indirect harm caused by beauty fascism, because they haven't got the first clue about any of these fucking things. And neither, to my great irritation, have I.

* Having now read a little in these areas, I would say I am about 95% uninformed. (For example, I get a few more of the references in We Didn't Start The Fire.) ETA: Here's one explanation for why people think they know what they're on about when they don't - the illusion of explanatory depth.

** My gender non-conformity has oft attracted fangirl ire, alas. Apparently there is a wrong way to be a girl. Or there could be another explanation: when I did a bit of feminist analysis of gendered activity in fandom, one irritated person remarked, "I don't see gender." ETA: Part of the problem may be the inability to imagine fandom not numerically dominated by women.

*** They are racists, of course. So are the people calling them racists. So am I. We apologise for the inconvenience. My point is that there is little point in dividing people up into racists who have been caught with their feet in their mouths and nice people who haven't. Racism runs a lot deeper than the occasional unacceptable remark, and we should treat it that way.
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
Back in 2008 I conducted a poll on my old journal, [livejournal.com profile] kateorman, in which (amongst other questions) I asked respondents to briefly define the terms "fangirl" and "fanboy". I referred to the poll's results in my essay in "Chicks Dig Time Lords". I screened the answers so that people could answer privately. Now, having removed all usernames to make the answers anonymous, I'd like to present them in more detail.

First, a summary. 336 people participated in the poll, about 80% of them identifying as female. Out of those, 216 people answered the question "In a few words, what does the term 'fangirl' mean to you?"

For most respondents (161/216 = 74.5%), a "fangirl" is a female fan who is very enthusiastic, or too enthusiastic. Answers used negative words like "excitable", "obsessive", " "over-zealous", " over-enthusiast", and even "rabid", but also more positive words like "devoted", "dedicated", and "loyal".

Many answers mentioned "squeeing" – that is, squealing with excitement, often over an attractive actor. Even when enthusiasm wasn't an ingredient in the definition, sex and romance were often mentioned, and were seen as being more important to the fangirl than (for example) the plot.

Many found the term insulting, or conversely used it as an insult to describe fans they found annoying.

For a large minority of respondents (33/120 = 27.5%), the term just meant "female fan".

(Fanboys were defined in very similar ways – as being very or too enthusiastic – though many answers described fanboys as being less interested in sex and romance, and more interested in, for example, continuity and details.)

If someone asked the same question today, five years later, they didn't get a very different set of answers.

The anonymised answers )
dreamer_easy: (feminism)
Hmm. I was wondering if it was too much to call female-on-female social aggression - aka bullying - "a profoundly anti-woman, anti-feminist act." I was thinking of the paradox of trashing, in which feminists bully feminists; and also of the way girls and women are taught to choke down their anger, meaning it spurts out as passive aggression. Still, it's a pretty stiff statement. Is it fair to blame girls and women for how patriarchy expects us to behave? Was I overstating things?

Then, yesterday, I stumbled across an analysis of the discipline imposed by the teachers in a 1950s British girls' boarding school, written by feminist and anthropologist Judith Okely. Obviously, there are major differences between LiveJournal etc and an institution essentially run like a prison. What struck me was the similarities between how the girls were punished - "public exposure", "individual visibility", "to be picked out and stared at" - and the pillorying of bullying targets online. One's quiet and one's noisy, but they both rely on public humiliation - and they both depend on meticulous record-keeping.

At Okely's school, girls were given bad conduct marks for running, talking, losing things, and "for offences so trivial I cannot remember". She describes the "daily 'roll-call' where, in the presence of the entire school and staff, a girl with a [conduct mark] had to announce the mark instead of saying 'present'. Hearts thumped as names came nearer. After a disobedience the headmistress would always ask, 'What's that for?'... While the rest of the school was sitting cross-legged on the floor, she might be asked to stand up and repeat her crime loud and clear. This public confession was a symbolic variant of the public execution, with its necessary witnesses among whom fear of a similar fate would be generated." The headmistress would read out conduct reports to the whole school in a further ritual of humiliation. (Girls would also be put on display, backs turned but "conspicuous to all", in the hallway, at the dinner table, or on the high table on its raised dais at the front of the dining room. Compare this with the uncontrollable exposure possible on the Internet.)

Conduct marks weren't just spoken aloud. They were "given textual form, emblazoned in a public record of crime or obedience. In the main passage at the chapel entrance, for all to see" were lists of the pupils' names. Conduct marks were indicated by an elaborate system of daily and weekly symbols. "Thus the performance of each girl for each week of the term was mapped and open to scrutiny by everyone." A girl whose record was marked "disgrace" could cost her house the good behaviour award. There is an obvious and painful parallel between this form of social control, in which every error and crime is painstakingly publicly recorded, and those fora dedicated to gleefully keeping a record of every tiff, squabble, and blunder in fandom - although this record lasts a lot longer than a single school term.

OK, but why "anti-woman", "anti-feminist"? Partly because it's female vs female*, but that's not all. As Okely notes, "The system of punishment plays on the behaviour expected of girls... From infancy they are made modest, passive and withdrawn compared to boys." The more a girl had "internalised modesty, humility, and the invisibility of the self", the more terrifying this public exposure and shame was for her. Nor could she defend herself: "Humility, an apologetic stance, downcast eyes - possibly tears of defeat - were the correct forms. Any appearance of dignity or pride provoked further rebukes." This is more than just keeping the girls orderly and subdued; it's gender policing. As Okely points out, it both takes advantage of girl's socialisation, and it reinforces that socialisation.

Worst of all, to the school, this conformity was more important than learning or intelligence. There's a comparison to be drawn here with the energy spent undermining and humiliating fellow progressives, energy which might have been spent on fighting bigotry. In the case of fandom, bullying damages individuals, but it also damages a community that, at its best, is a model of shared enjoyment, acceptance, and female solidarity. The policing of anger is gender policing. It's not proper for ladies to fight in public. Why else do fangirls call it "wanking"**?

Okely, Judith. "Privileged Schooled and Finished: Boarding Education for Girls". in Ardener, Shirley (ed). Defining Females: the Nature of Women in Society. Berg, Providence RI and Oxford, 1993.

* Obviously, boys can be perpetrators and targets for this sort of bullying too. Here I'm comparing Okely's girl's school with what I've observed in majority-female online media fandom. YMMV.

** In majority-male UK Doctor Who fandom, "fanwank" is excessive use of continuity, not interpersonal conflict.
dreamer_easy: (sherlock)
Somewhere, in something I've read, there's a bit where all these ballerinas show up to somebody's apartment for morning tea, and the author says something like: "Suddenly, it was May." tumblr is a bit like this. I'm twice the age of some these kids. What a pleasure to be communing with the future; they're keeping me young. My very favourite thing, though, is when they share their parents' reactions to their fandom, which are often very funny. This sort of thing.

ETA: I found the quote. "He had invited two of the dancers, but up the stairs came a bouquet of girls, more than a dozen of them. All at once it was the month of May in the dimmed room." Ludwig Bemelmans, Hotel Bemelmans, p 177.
dreamer_easy: (lol)
Paul Abbott @ Edinburgh:
[On suggestions audiences want to influence the outcome of stories] The audience pays [for] the tickets. We shouldn't be expecting them to fly the plane as well.
dreamer_easy: (bric a brac)
If I Can't Squee, It's Not My Comic-Con: a blog entry from August 2009 which touches on some of the gender and age snobbery in fandom.

Fan-What? "In theory, Fanboy and Fangirl are simply gendered terms to differentiate a male fan and a female fan. In practical use, they have not only a different gender but an entirely different meaning."

ETA: When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege


Mar. 19th, 2010 07:45 am
dreamer_easy: (doctor who master)
Reviews of Chicks Dig Time Lords are sounding the same note as the editors did at the Gally panel: that female Doctor Who fans are diverse, with a range of experiences and viewpoints, and that there's room for all of us. It's not mere hot air, either. Tara and Lynne could've omitted my contribution, or demanded major alterations to the contentious bits, but instead were entirely gracious. This contrasts sharply with online discourse, where opinions are something you wear like gang colours.

I think girls and women in Who fandom have hit a critical mass. Not many years ago, we existed in isolated pockets, each with its own set of assumptions. When those pockets met, too often instead of recognition and delight, there was a sizzle of indignation. Perhaps constantly asserting ourselves against the crush of male fans had become so ingrained we didn't know any other way to interact.

Or perhaps it was the curse-blessing of the Internet, connecting us, but in possibly the worst medium for talking that human beings have ever invented. Online text-based communication pushes us to quick, brief interchanges; little thought, little content, little care. (The advent of the blog has dented this only slightly, as scrolling down to the comments will reveal.) Contrast the thoughtful, careful essays of CDTL.

Would returning to the format of the paper fanzine benefit fandom - the Internet for up-to-the-minute news and media, the essay and the letcol for analysis of the show and of ourselves?

IDK. I'm a tired, tired old feminist fangirl, and a sick chick, and I can't really do this whole Intersplat thing any more. But it's OK for me to stick my oar out now: fandom is, very clearly, in safe hands. Jump in, ladies, have a ball.

ETA: Some more places to buy the book:







And in the UK:


Oh help

Jan. 10th, 2010 09:44 am
dreamer_easy: (medical all too much)
Having a moment of premenstrual social phobia panic about Gally. After cocking up at Chicago TARDIS year before last I'll be on rather better behaviour, but I'll still need to do the Chicks Dig Time Lords panel, and there and elsewhere I'm going to be surrounded by people I've clashed with online. My perception, in fact, is that wherever I go at the con, the crowd will be thinking "Oh noes, it's that overentitled racist misogynist wank magnet."

No, OK, Kate, think this through. IRL people almost never act the way they do in cyberspace, including you. It's very rare for someone to make a personal attack during a panel. For that matter, you've changed your online style, partly due to the hard lesson of that bad panel in Chicago - bit more relaxed, bit more gentle. Surely that's going to translate to the real world. Plus, like everyone online, you overestimate the number of people who hold a given opinion - whether about the show or about you. And that bad panel didn't stop you from having a blast at other panels.

So. One corner of online politics is not the whole of fandom. I'm not likely to end up in an actual confrontation. If a discussion becomes heated, I know to step back and chill out and shut up :). It'll all be good anxiety therapy. It'll be fine, like it almost always is.

I'm still never going to WisCon, though.

(You know, I really really ought to flock this posting, but fandom's full of people with social phobia, some of whom are probably thinking similar aaaaargh thoughts about the con. We ought to form a club. Hermits United. And wear a badge, a smiley or something, which indicates "I'm shy too.")
dreamer_easy: (doctor who wilf)
lolarious article about cat strollers. "'I originally bought them a leash and trained them at home with it but they kept lying down.'" "Asked if she was planning to have a child, Ms Marino said: "'As you can see, we need one.'"

You can tell the good Captain is offworld: Jack has been knocked off the top spot for babies' names.

Stop watching Doctor Who, you idiot! Now this is a very interesting blog post (some thoughtful comments, too). I read a lot of honest, intelligent criticisms online, but it's hard to understand why people keep watchin' and kvetchin' if they're getting nothing but disappointment. Or are they still enjoying some aspects but not talking about them? Or is it the social glue of shared disapproval? It's a puzzle.

Croakers is an essay from the Nation about Michael Jackson and William S. Burroughs.

And finally:

I have a short story in the latest Torchwood magazine! Bwee!
dreamer_easy: (tardis)
We're going to Gallifrey One in February! Eek. Come and hold my hand.
dreamer_easy: (torchwood barrowman phwoar)
1. Barrowman's collapse into depression after "Ballgate" is horribly familiar - it's what I went through during Racewank '07. I'm a terrible person, everyone hates me, my life is over. Anger helped me rally, too.

2. No, fandom, John didn't tell you at Torchsong that he'd injured his ankle in a car accident, and then swear you to secrecy. Thanks to the magic of third-hand gossip, you conflated two separate incidents - his poolside fall (bt dt ow) and the Fifth Gear prang.

3. Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear.
dreamer_easy: (tardis)
Completely forgot to plug this! The crisply-edited and entertaining Doctor Who podcast Bridging the Rift had me on as a guest. I had an absolute ball, and I loquaced like no one has loquaced before.
dreamer_easy: (IT'S A TRAP)
Behold the Dunning-Kruger Effect: a psychological phenomenon in which folks overestimate their own competence at something, precisely because they lack the competence to correctly judge their own ability.

This plugs right in to the natural but hazardous tendency to trust people who seem confident, regardless of their actual knowledge or skill. (Beware online disputants who make authoritative statements.)

None of us is immune to these fallacies, of course. But when you compare the ravings of fandom with the actual processes of writing or TV production, you'll see the Dunning-Kruger Effect at work!


dreamer_easy: (Default)

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