Author Archives: sWan

“The Consumption Palace”: Gamers, misogyny, and capitalism

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I had a lot of thoughts, watching the ugliness that’s been going down regarding what people perhaps misleadingly refer to as the “game community”, but my primary one was probably just “well, this sure is familiar.”

That might be easy to miss in some of how it’s been talked about: we’ve seen this before, and it’s not uncommon. This kind of cultural toxicity is a sort of ever-present background radiation that sometimes spikes into greater visibility, but something I’ve seen a number of trans and queer folks and people of color saying is Slurs and smears and threats to your personal safety? Yeah, welcome to most of our lives. This isn’t at all to minimize the horror of what Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn have been going through but to point out that for some categories of identity this kind of thing is often normalized into invisibility.

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The Privilege of Disconnection

image by Elvert Barnes

image by Elvert Barnes

I sort of wish this thing could be longer. But I also think maybe it shouldn’t be. I’ve spent a great deal of the last two weeks watching the world scroll by on my Twitter feed and weighing the relative merits of saying things against not saying things, but mostly I’ve just been watching, because what else can you really do? A lot of us can and do do a great deal more, but a lot of us just seem to be watching. And retweeting. The amplification of voices is, I believe, a worthwhile thing in itself.

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“Break. Them.”: The weaponization of emotion

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just because

Yesterday David Banks did a fantastic job outlining the technical issues at work in the matter of the ongoing comment harassment in Jezebel’s comments sections and Gawker Media’s inability/refusal to deal with it directly (though to their credit, as of yesterday they disabled image posting until a better solution can be found). I want to use that as a jumping-off point to talk about the discursive aspect of this, how gendered spaces are explicitly being made unsafe for certain kinds of people, and about how those tactics at once obscure what’s going on and justify it.

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Anti-Harassment statements – you don’t know until you know

wiscon

It seems like the science fiction and fantasy community is at a point where every month or so we have some kind of dust-up regarding harassment at conferences and conventions. Some of these have actually stretched over many months, and watching them both from the inside and the outside is always an interesting experience, in part because I’m intimately and personally interested in the outcome, but also because it’s like a giant master class in what not to do, as a conference, when dealing with harassment.

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On LUCY, Feminism, and the Strong Female Character

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[Edited to note: It's been pointed out to me that I'm conflating transhumanism and posthumanism a bit here; gonna leave it as it is, but I agree and I just wanted to flag that.]

I’ve seen a lot of yelling about Lucy. The yelling is a major reason why I wanted to do some yelling of my own. And like so many times before, I find myself in the situation of feeling like much of what I could say has been said before by others, and better than I could, but I’m still going to yell a bit, because there are things about this film that trouble me profoundly, and I’m even more profoundly troubled by some of what people are saying about the film itself.

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Politics, Ruin, and Digital Space

Although it was about two years ago that I wrote the post that sparked my own interest in ruined and abandoned spaces, it’s something to which, you might have noticed, I periodically return.

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How I (sorta) stopped worrying and (kinda) learned to love the selfie

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Today’s makeup selfie (Urban Decay’s Electric Palette).

I had no idea the upcoming ABC sitcom Selfie was going to be a thing (this fall if you for some reason care) until I saw an ad spot for it while half watching the World Cup or something. Very suddenly I was more than half watching, and within a few seconds I was tweeting angrily.

I mean. Read the premise (courtesy of Wikipedia). (more…)

More on games/sexism/representation: a response to a response to a response

feministgamerbingo

Every time I see someone make the argument that representation in fiction isn’t a big issue, and that advocating for diversity is just a waste of time because audiences can identify with anyone, and anyway, trying to include a wide range of backgrounds is just tokenism, I have the overwhelming urge to grab them by the shoulders and hiss, If you really believe that representation doesn’t matter, then why the fuck are you threatened by it? If not seeing yourself depicted in stories has no negative psychological impact – if the breakdown of who we see on screen has no bearing on wider social issues – then what would it matter if nine stories out of ten were suddenly all about queer brown women? - Foz Meadows

So about my last post and related kerfuffle.

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Animating the Ladies: Ubisoft fundamentally doesn’t get it

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Always fun when a game publisher doesn’t appear to know anything about games. Or gamers. Or publishing games. Or making games. Or stories. Or history. Or much of anything pertinent to what it’s actually supposed to be doing.

Yesterday, Ubisoft technical director James Therien commented on the lack of a playable female lead character (and before I continue let me note that I reeeeeeally don’t like how binary/trans-exclusionary this discussion has been) in the co-op play for the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity with the explanation that it’s just too much work to do all those extra lady animations and voices. The Internet, as one might imagine, did not respond well.

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Amazing Speculative Tales of Labor! A request for more of them

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image by Klaus Burgle

When I was in Madison (Wisconsin) during Memorial Day weekend for WisCon (a long-running feminist science fiction and fantasy conference), I was approached after a panel by a man – Mark Soderstrom – who wanted to talk to me about labor in SFF. Specifically, he wanted to mention a short story of mine that I was talking about on the panel that used the Lattimer Massacre as a backdrop, and to note that while SFF seems perfectly content to deal with robots and elves, it has a history of shying away from any sort of rich or meaningful examination of what literatures of the fantastic can teach us about labor, capital, and social change.

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