Sunday, February 8, 2009

Point A to F

Excuse me while I boggle on how a conversation about writing the Other, and racism in SF&F, has now become "a cast of mostly pseudonymous thousands...Aliases are for people on Wanted posters. Aliases are for con-men and crooks. Give it up. Come out."

I have to be honest, seeing all this fuss over the hurt feelings of a white man who can't admit he made a misjudgment is very amusing. It's a role reversal. Usually it's a fragile, oh so delicate and precious white woman for whom all sorts of arguments get dragged out and put on chargers and made to dash headlong into things.

Even more interesting to me, is this statement:

Certainly, most of you believe that I am a fat black CIA agent sitting in a bunker in Arizona and not actually the slim blonde in Pleasantville, New York I claim to be.

It's interesting because I begin to wonder just what kind of conversations are going on behind the scenes. It's an interesting juxiposition, isn't it? Fat and black vs slim and blonde. I mean when one considers the continuing online saga of Teresa Neilsen Hayden: Silences.

She's behaved as if there aren't any at all intelligent black speculative fiction fans who're online and there's no way they could have developed community, building upon post colonial theories and anti-racism dialogues of the past. Everyone who responded to her husband, thus driving him to swoon, and blush faintly, throw a hand over his forehead and retreat from public life on Livejournal (in particular - he seems to be doing fine on his regular blog), simply must be a sockpuppet; an imitation person controlled by another who is hiding behind aliases.

So now, for the sake of one man (sounds very Mr. Movie-voice doesn't it), there's the stirrings of a movement; a real names online movement. And it all came about because denial of white privilege and unconscious racist thought is so needed.

Then again, maybe this 'movement' has another purpose. Maybe there's also been talk behind the scenes of how one can't properly pigeonhole who's a PhD and who's a PoC due to the relative anonymity pseudonym brands have on the internet.

I must do some research to discover what other movements have come about because of the need for white denial and white comfort.

Meanwhile I'm going to recharge for February and try to figure out how I want to handle the 'Summer of Fiction'; so I can continue to have the conversation I WANT to have.

PS: "Total shout out to the anonymous orcing hordes. I say Hooooo manflesh!"


  1. "Total shout out to the anonymous orcing hordes. I say Hooooo manflesh!"

    And lo, it is done as you commandeth.

  2. OMG--yes! That slim blonde woman vs fat black man bit so antagonized me I didn't know how to begin to write about it. Thank you.

  3. Lavendertook:

    I didn't immediately associate man and male with CIA Agent. But I did notice slim and blonde, vs black and fat and that put me in a world of W.T.F?

    I had visions of Mammy Bosoms of Rage and how she doesn't have any.

  4. I don't know if it's my internalized sexism that made the ungendered person in a profession a male, or because slim blonde is generally a term that is sexistly gendered female and an ideal based in whiteness, and I finished the binary she was invoking by making the other she was positing male --my assumption probably involved a little of both. But she may not be positing male at all--my bad.

    Still, parsing through what's bothering me here, I think drawing attention to slimness and blondeness together (I mean she could have invoked many other personal attributes instead of those two) is a way of saying "I am more femininely ideal and anyone who is black and fat is less feminine than I." You don't have to be white to be slim and blonde, but as a cultural ideal it does invoke whiteness. Slim blonde white woman as ideal and the white privileged position of inhabiting such a body is not an innocent reference in the context of talking about being out and safely publicly linked to your own body online.

    Linking slim, white, and blonde with a body that is so bravely seen against those illicit fat, black bodies hidden away, probably for some nefarious purpose (the CIA bunker), is a way of having white, heteropatriarchal social sanction and safe passage to proceed without scorn and harrassment, while at the same time, blaming the fat black woman for any measure she needs to take for her own safety in such an environment.

    That's how I think she is embodying the issue. And she did embody the issue of online naming by making those particular references, and brought it all back to race, the elephant in the room her argument obscures--kind of ironic that, except not. If any of what I said made any sense.

  5. Lavendertook:

    You make your point in a far more polite manner than I did in my head. I saw her basically positing normal and daring as white, slim, blonde, female and making the opposite of that not only black or not only fat but black AND fat.

    It gave me a peek into a psyche wherein those outside the norm, those for whom the internet is considered a place to hide, those who are so desperately other they cannot be proud of their own words = BLACK & FAT.

    It was very much reading to me like "You worthless, fat, lazy, n******. This is why you don't dare show your name. And you only attacked (their words for polite disagreeing discourse, mind you) a white man, because we can't see your fat, lazy, worthless, BLACK, bodies."

    At which point I said = Huh, vindictive white woman having polite hysterics. I will point it out and then go along about my life.

    Because someone like that will never realize and quite likely take offense if they were called on on their positing of beauty and purity of purpose with white colonial beauty and modern contemporary thinness. And that's swerving the conversation back to Race and Writing The Other, but discussing the pov of beauty and attractiveness of CoC in the eyes of a White Writer. And that's not a conversation those folk are ready to have either.

    So it will be interesting to watch them flail away from that.

  6. Man why would someone want to be another generic white girl when they can be Amanda Waller?

  7. Lurker:

    I know right? But Fat, Black, Intelligent & Seriously Hardcore just doesn't compute for some people.

  8. Thank you, lavendertook - I was wondering why precisely I was so intensely uncomfortable with that comment.

  9. The biggest problem with the "OMG POST YOUR REAL NAMES!!!" thing is... well, two things:

    1) How the heck am I going to know the difference between gokulives1883 and Stevena Jensen? They're both folks I don't know from Adam's housecat.

    1b) It's easy enough to just make up a lot of fake names and sockpuppet.

    2) It's not exactly hard to track down a real person from an online identity in many cases, provided you have the interest.

    I think folks are grasping at straws trying to ignore what people are saying by any means necessary. Either that or trying to make the internet more like meatspace than it really is.

  10. Furikku:

    I've seen the argument that real names are somehow more solid than pseuds, therefore using one is quite different and should hold more weight.

    But that seems to me all about the eye of the beholder. Not to mention the archives of history. Whichever name has weight for the topic at hand, that's the name people will use. And it's the net, people can have multiple identities in different spheres - all popular or not. Or they can have one name that crosses over everywhere.

    I do think it's all straw grasping, because it acts as if nicknames and secondary identities are only the baliwick of those who wish to deceive.

    And it makes me laugh, because there are online names that seem like real names, First Name + Lastname, but are completely made up.

    Does it really matter if I'm Avalon's Willow or if I'm Willimenia Avon? That is, if the blog's the same, and my comments are the same and who I present myself to be online is the same - then, a rose by any other name, yes?

  11. there's the stirrings of a movement; a real names online movement.

    She's been banging that particular drum for years; this just gave her another opportunity to haul it out.

    I said the rest of my bit over there, FWIW.

  12. It's definitely grasping at straws. I haven't seen anyone making that claim dismissing people who've agreed with them, even though they're using online handles just as much.

    Interesting how "intent to deceive" is only painted on one side.

  13. First the problem is that PoC's are getting 'emotional' and 'subjective'. Next that we aren't capable of 'objective reasoning'. Now it's our aliases. All these excuses, just to avoid seeing that we might actually, you know, have a point?

    And as for the quote you highlighted. *sighs* I don't know... it's as if they're determinedly digging out a hole for themselves, when we'd be quite happy to lend them a hand out of it. It'd be depressing, but because of what's at stake, it's really quite annoying.

  14. laBscuitnapper:

    I don't know, holes are damp, dark, cool. Maybe they have a need to plant themselves or something. And then they'll grow up into - I have no idea what.

  15. Delux:

    Why you have to bring facts into this? That's just orcking.

  16. Because "Talking smack will catch the white hand from the back"

  17. It's almost impossible for me to keep up with this ... thing, because my brain keeps getting stuck on the initial speedbump of "ORCING."

    I mean, I'm capable of saying some stupid shit, even stupid RACIST shit - part of the reason I read blogs by PoC on race issues is to check my own blindness, so that I won't be That White Guy, like the white guys who try to hit on my black female friends by saying shit like, "You're really pretty, FOR A BLACK GIRL(!!!)" - and even I'm just sort of WTF at "ORCING."

  18. Kirk:

    I have to laugh about it, I really do. But I can understand completely how that would make you back the hell away and not want to engage.

  19. People who use their real names online aren't brave or honest; we just don't have anyone we're trying to protect ourselves from.

  20. @"You're really pretty, FOR A BLACK GIRL(!!!)"

    Come-on lines dont get any sexier than that!

    Oh wait...

  21. Delux & Kirk:

    I've actually heard - "Hey baby, m'hung like a/ better than a true n*****." So 'pretty for a Black Girl' is actually kind of smooth to me.

  22. kathnyc has deleted her LJ, like pnh has.

    I just saw this while doing my weekly check for russianspambots to ban and flush.


    But then, you really can't get around having posted:

    [ "Certainly, most of you believe that I am a fat black CIA agent sitting in a bunker in Arizona and not actually the slim blonde in Pleasantville, New York I claim to be." ]

    What part of clueless here was not demonstrated.

    As far as my use of the handle, it's because I also write about my spouse, and also because the last 8 years made me afraid of our gummit, still fearing loyalty trials and all the rest. If not this 4 years, maybe later.

    Anybody who wants to know can find out who I am in rl with very little trouble. But mostly the nicknames are for my spouse's privacy and to keep the net spiders from aggregating my comments about him or myself around all the other web aggregations there around his professional life.

    There are so many excellent reasons to not use one's rl name, for pete's sake. But WE MUST BE RIGHT NO MATTER WHAT STUPID THING WE SAY OR DO.

  23. Well, "bellatrys" is a) real enough name for Dave Langford/Ansible to correspond with, and b) real enough for Ursula K. LeGuin to deal with as a legit person to be given Nothing New reprint permissions and a link on nothing but my own recognizance and blog-in-itself. But after all, who are they? Nobody of importance in fandom, I'm sure!

    Ironically, there *was* a one-woman army of socks at one point - all in favor of the Tor side, though. "Laura_holt_pi" aka a whole bunch of other people showed up at Ithiliana's LJ and elsewhere and got banned repeatedly in all her (known) persona for refusing to engage in good faith etc. Somehow this doesn't quite work in their favour...

    (Cramer has escalated with an email to me, btw, which I'm debating whether to bother opening or not. I can't imagine she has anything worthwhile to say to me that can't be said in public.)

  24. Ugh >.<;;

    This reminds me of law and order SVU.. in 2 ways... one was ending a first season episode with "at any given time there are X thousand ppl online in chat rooms using anonymous names" or something.. nothing about them being pedophiles or threat to children, just that.. as in "BE SCARED PPL ARE NOT USING THEIR REAL NAMES THEY ARE UP TO NO GOOD", the second thing being that whenever they deal with transppl, they always break out their knowledge of their "real" name when they talk to them. :\

    It rly is like a power thing. As a trans person I get this a lot with ppl going "no what's your REAL name" or accusing me of deception for not using my "real" name. >:\ Also a lot of ppl's handles are important to them, and it's not your place to say which names ppl SHOULD be using or that ppl who do not use the name you THINK they should (or reveal that name to you) are cowardly, deceptive or should not be listened to! >:\

    Also ironic in that I was Ami online way before I was Ami legally "in real life" >:\

    Sry for the ramble :\

  25. Ami:

    Not a ramble, in fact it's sparking me to do another post about the power of naming. Because this has become ridiculous. Suddenly it's one side going "But you have power over us because you know our true names."

    Can someone please tell them the Internet is not a land of magic?