Monday, March 9, 2009

When Fangirls Attack

I've gotten email from someone who apparently follows this blog via links by WFA and has thus been a) surprised to not see any posts by me there recently and then b) surprised to discover that Racefail 09 was going on at all.

When Fangirls Attack doesn't cover issues of race. Racism is not their focus. Feminism is their focus (and if you do read this journal regularly you already know how I feel about the feminist movement).

The collectors and owners of When Fan Girls Attack , I believe, have wanted to stay the hell away from Racefail 09, and probably not just because it's not directly related to comics and or women. They may have the option of walking away and saying nothing. Racefail 09 is not their fight. It is mine.

I have no idea of when the Feminists In SF Carnival is meant to be next out - but a lack of reporting on the situation from their quarter is something I'd note - except Feminist White Women NOT being allies to POC? Not wanting to get involved? Not linking to concepts of intersectionality? Not a big surprise. Especially given that some of the female white authors behaving badly (and racist) are self identified feminists.

Will the Feminists In SF Carnival or similar Carnivals eventually get around to noting and linking? Possibly. Until then there is the Current - PoC in SF Canival (12th)(Which looks over some 6 years of online conversation) and De-Colonizing The Mind (PoC in SF Special Edition) and the Asian Women Blog Carnival, both of which are currently accepting article submissions and no doubt, running down links.

For the moment there is also where Yonmei and Liz Henry have made some good and relevant posts and are trying to walk the path of allyhood. And information about Racefail is up at The Feminist SF Wiki.

But again, Racefail 09 is NOT a discussion about comics so I never expected WFA to mention anything. They have a legitimate excuse to cough and look the other way. If you know someone who has mentioned or previously discussed my blog that you think is unaware of what's going on, do please advise them of Blogger's Follow Ability. And also of The Archivist Of The Revolution; Rydra_Wong and her links & summaries. If you're specifically interested in just comics commentary on race, then I would suggest 4th Letter's Black History Month, 09 posts.

And I encourage anyone who reads me, who is interested in more CoC in their fiction and the possibilities of Non White Futurism & Fantasy, to please support Verb Noire. Spread the word. Donate.

For the record, I'm not holding a grudge of any sort against Ragnell & Kalinara. But you should also know, that I don't expect white women to come rushing to validate me, in order for other white women to take me seriously. Which, actually is a good thing, cause if I did that online, it'd mean I didn't learn a damn thing in my offline life, where that just. doesn't. happen.


  1. Perhaps because I'm from the UK, but originally I thought the Racefail09 was mostly concerning the works of small SFF writers, with a devoted following, no doubt, but not huge, mostly because I'd never heard of E Bear or Shetterly etc. Now I realise just how big the fail is and thus how broadly the implication of it is spread, it makes me wonder about the silence of many other SFF writers who I know are hardly internet/fandom ignoramuses.

    Again, I'm not saying they ought to speak up or anything, (like a lot of non-white people, you learn not to expect the cool white person to always be there backing you up), but the silence of people like - dare I say it? - Tamora Pierce and Neil Gaiman, is also interesting. I mean, he even had (a little) something to say about the UK 'Atheist Bus' campaign a couple of months ago. Surely a Racefail would hardly escape his notice...? Again, there are no expectations or obligations from me (they're probably doing the smart thing if what I've witnessed so far is anything to go by, *sighs...). Still, the silence is very interesting.

    I owe you major thanks, by the way: you've helped me 'come out' as it were, when it comes to matters of race. I'm grateful I now have a new vocabulary to express an old resentment.

  2. laBiscuitnapper:

    I just pressed send on a post about how other professional SF writers might be seeing things.

    Tamara Pierce and I have had...words. *points to sidebar* So I'm not sure if she might just avoid anything that mentions my journal's or my name.

    I don't know if it's because March is when many writers are buckled down writing and not online much or not able to respond. I do think that Teresa Neilson Haydon and her husband's involvement in things, could quite possibly have alerted various professionals.

    But as I said in the post I just made - I don't think they realize just exactly what's happened and is happening.

    I still don't want Jim Butcher to say a word though. Cause there's a 50/50 chance of stupidity and I just don't want to know.

  3. laBiscuitnapper:

    PS: Re - New Vocabulary.

    Someone did it for me, I'm honored if I was that Rosetta Stone for you.

  4. Thank you for the links provided in your post. as a white writer, I want to do right by the people of colour not only in my fiction, but by those in real life as well, which seems to be directly interconnected, yes? I also don't want it to be seen as though they're simply 'seasoning' or any of the other tropes I've encountered in my life and read about online.

    I hope to learn more and become a better writer and a person in the process. Thank you for writing, you are filled with awesome and win.

  5. Jamie:

    I'd say I'm full of pep, vim and vinegar. But awesome and win sound cool. Real cool. Now I just have to live up to my vision of what that is.

    become a better writer and a person in the process

    There have been individuals involved who don't seem to have ever thought about that concept. Please keep that goal.

  6. I think a number of people hadn't seen it, because they're not on LJ (Niall's post on Torque Control seems to have alerted quite a number of folk, e.g. McAuley and Reynolds, to this). And as noted, some folk are under deadline, and tending to avoid the net as a consequence.

    Some of the pros (myself included) have been reading through Rydra's links since the start of the debate - basically trying to learn. I have posted on this recently, but felt that most of what I had to say might well be fatuous before I'd actually, well, *learned* something.

    I missed Patrick's original post. I did read through Teresa's 'defence' post and felt it was badly handled (I have a bit of an issue with rushing to the noble Defence of One's Spouse: if my other half says something indefensibly stupid, he's on his own). Elizabeth is a personal friend and someone for whom I have a lot of respect, but I felt that it would have been wiser for her not to comment in the later stages, at least. I believe that her intentions are good but I have taken on board the arguments relating to intention, which I think are generally sound.

    Will Shetterley is someone I think I have encountered in the SFWA lounge and despite being a pinko lefty myself I won't engage with rampant Marxists on principle, as no good ever comes of it. I am firmly opposed to outing, having worked alongside a domestic violence project in which even minor information could be used to fatal effect.

    Anyway (and my apologies for spamming your blog - I came via RW's links), the gist of my rather long post above is that the pro community, if such it can be called, is becoming increasingly aware of the debate.

    (Liz Williams)

  7. Mevennen

    There is a part of me that wants to fangirl you like a mad enthusiastic fangirling thing. But the rest of me has been too badly burned this year. So I will say that I appreciated the good read you gave to the world in your Detective Chen novels, in which I have read two.

    Of course, even then I wondered about your background and the possible research in the books and have yet to actually pull aside an East Asian friend to ask about things I found confusing. That might be because most of my Asian friends are South Asian. And also because I've yet to do the background research myself so I'm not bothering someone unnecessarily.

    If word is spreading further and faster of late in the professional SF community, that will hopefully be a good thing. But I do know that Tor has been personally tainted for me. I'm about to delete my free Scalzi ebooks (taken from Tor's website) right now.

    I've also personally given up before I even started, on any thought of being published in SF&F. Maybe the future will change that opinion. But right now for me, well, to use your Chen novels - SF&F is looking a lot like Hell or better yet Hell's Government. Which makes it a possibly interesting place to visit, provided you have the skills to get in and get out. But I really wouldn't want to live there.

  8. Given the length of time this debate has been going on (I mean years, not the months since this particular incarnation of it started), I am amazed that anyone has the patience to even SPEAK to a pro writer at this point. I'm not trying to gain personal points, BTW - looking back through (08 and 07) posts, it's just been a massive failure on our part for ages. I'm not surprised you feel burned.

    I am really glad you appreciated the books. There will be a lot in them that I have got wrong, and hopefully people will tell me. Even more hopefully, I'll get to see myself what I've got wrong, in the next round of research. What isn't in question is that there will be stuff in them that I have fucked up. I can see why people get defensive about their own mistakes, but I have said to someone this morning that if you screw up the astrophysics in your book, you must expect irate emails from astrophysicists. Ditto with other cultures. Getting all precious about it is just dumb.

    The entire publishing industry is probably setting up its own Ministry right now prior to mass evacuation from the earthly plane. It's panicking, and even more jittery than usual. I would say - regardless of what's gone down recently, don't see it as a monolith. Tor aren't the only publishers. But - that's easy for me to say. And I can see why someone wouldn't want to live in it. Whether I myself continue to do so is also in some question at the moment.

  9. I've been writing about these issues publically in one form or another since 2006. I have friends who've been doing so since 2003. There is a currently six year timeline of online outreach and that's but one segment in a decades long attempt, in varied media, to have conversation.

    Despite all I try to protect myself, and all I've learned about how to protect myself, I've still been burned. This recent bit has done the most searing.

    Elizabeth Bear used to read this blog, or at least added it to her watchlist, back when the blog was on livejournal. And I'd been thrilled there was a published writer perhaps listening as someone pointed out the ways in which the comic industry was Doing It Wrong. And then there were the friends who kept recommending her, knowing how particular I am about what I read.

    I did not expect her to act the way she did. I did not expect her to not act, in the manner she did. And her most recent post telling the world that I was merely an object lesson? That has done so much damage to my ability to believe any word coming out of any professionally published, white writer's mouth or fingers...

    Unless of course it's something vile, ala Scalzi or others.

    My speaking to you means your work touched me more than I'd realized up to this point, in my need to see Asian characters and Asian culture represented in genre. Because I did not see myself being this calm in discussion with a published author.

    As for the publishing industry as a whole - I'm not sure I can find it in myself to care. At this moment I see it as an old beast, grey film over one of its eyes, thin and starving; once upon a time it was mighty and tremendous, but times have changed and it refused to change with them and so it dies slowly and painfully, attempting to roar of its mightiness, deluded, and unable to hear it makes its own death rattle.

  10. I appreciate your engagement in dialogue, particularly under these circumstances. (If you'd rather I did not post, by the way, I will understand and I will step back. Just tell me). And I am really sorry that you've had this experience.

    I have gone through episodes of discovering that writers whose work I really liked had not just feet of clay, but entire legs. This wasn't in a remotely analogous context, but their dismissal still hurt. I sometimes wonder if writers remember what it is like to be a reader and a fan.

    In the late 90s the editors of the small press magazine Scheherazade and I produced an anthology, which we brought out under the imprint of Shrew Press: the idea was the little shrew-thing which survives when the dinosaurs crash to the ground. Enough said on *that* analogy. I will be promoting Verb Noire as best I can. I'm going to go and wrestle with the button now.

    Thank you for taking the time to talk.

  11. Thanks for understanding our perspective.

  12. Kalinara:

    You guys have a lot on your plates just with your given mandate.

  13. I find it funny that there seem to be many ppl out there who thinks WFA is more than just a link blog run by busy ppl of their own accord, and expect either that it would include EVERYTHING, or that it is some sort of ULTRA ALL-FEMINISM ALL-ANTI-OPPRESSION link blog and whatever's not there is not worth reading or that being there or not being there means something about the worth of the issue/piece. -_-;;

  14. Ami:

    It's popular. And that might count for a lot to some people. We do live in the age of information over stimulation. If people find a stream/feed they like, they might not want to click to realizing it won't cover everything.

    On the other hand, given my blog's general focus, I was on there quite a bit.