rynling: (Teh Bowz)
Yesterday evening I spent a good bit of time on TV Tropes (as one does) trying to find the name of a specific sexist trope. What I found instead was that TV Tropes isn't particularly interested in documenting that sort of thing, which is a deliberate decision attributed to editorial policy. The rationale behind this is that the mods don't want to deal with flamewars. This seems like it makes sense, except...

...except there is a lot of borderline sexist nonsense on the site. For example, tropes related to male-gendered wish fulfillment are treated seriously, while tropes related to female-gendered wish fulfillment are ridiculed as the products of bad writing. The word "fangirl" is always used with negative connotations, frequently in tandem with "bad fanfiction." This is especially the case when female fans interpret a story in a way that is not 100% compliant with the male-authored canon, or when female writers create empowered "Mary Sue" female characters in their own work.

When I was a senior in college, I once found myself in a dorm suite with a bunch of nerdy guys who all fancied themselves to be creative types. Even though they had obviously never read any fanfic other than the sort of thing pilloried on the Something Awful forums, they spent a good hour talking about how disgusted they were by female fans, who insist on ruining everything for everyone by getting their nasty little fingerprints all over High Art like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I stopped spending time with these men shortly after that, and I gradually learned to avoid people who remind me of them.

This is why I sometimes forget that entire congregations of these howling assclowns still dominate large swaths of the mainstream internet. I suppose there's nothing to be done for it except to shake my head and step away.

Equity

Jul. 8th, 2017 01:34 pm
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
Over the past week I solicited more than half a dozen reviews for my professional blog; and, as usual, only the men got back to me with a positive response. I obviously don't think that women are less professional than men, but I do get the feeling that, for whatever reason, men are far more comfortable than women about getting paid for their writing.

As much as I strive for equity within my limited spheres of influence, it can be a difficult goal to achieve. And honestly, although I welcome content from anyone, sometimes I wonder if I'm not actually shooting myself in the foot by allowing so many men to write for me. Does the mere presence of a majority of male-gendered names cause female writers to feel like the venue is not a safe space? This may seem like a stupid concern, except that I myself have refrained from submitting my own work to male-dominated publications – and, if I had to guess, I might say that "not feeling like it's a safe space" may have something to do with why so many female writers in tech and gaming have started to go by their first initials and use "they/them" pronouns within the past year or two.

Probably I shouldn't worry about this too much, though. The sexism I've faced in my own career has been much more overt, with my work rejected out of hand while editors actively scout male writers with equal qualifications. As long as I'm holding the door open and not closing it in anyone's face, I think I'm doing what I need to do.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I'm still thinking about why that post I wrote about yesterday didn't get any notes, and I can't help but wonder if maybe gender has something to do with it. Specifically, if I were male and had established a fandom identity as male, would I (and the artist) get more positive feedback for this sort of collaboration?

For various reasons (including the lack of support for that particular post), I feel that, if a woman works with artists to illustrate her fic, she's considered pretentious, while a dude would be "innovative." Female writers working with artists is extra, while male writers working with artists is how actual comics and video games get made. As an ongoing phenomenon created and propagated through Tumblr-based collaboration, Undertale jumps immediately to mind as an example, as does the Zelda fancomic Second Quest. And maybe it's just me, but the majority of professional writers for comics and games still seem to be male, even despite rising numbers of professional female artists. So I wonder, is there a stigma against female writers working with artists that begins in fandom, where many female creators start out?

I put an abbreviated version of this question on Twitter, and I got some interesting responses. A friend of mine who used to be a Harry Potter BNF and now studies fandom as an academic was basically like, "Pretty much." Another friend who writes for a few pop culture magazines jumped in to say that this is exactly how it tends to work with cosplay, where female models and costume designers go by pseudonyms even though male photographers get paid while simultaneously advancing their professional careers. Another friend summed the issue up nicely by saying that "women creatives 'are just playing around' while men 'have projects,'" a statement that is given weight by the fact that she gives panels at anime conventions for free while her boyfriend is always paid by these conventions to do the exact same thing she does.

And then this idiot white male friend of mine from college (the same one I was frustrated with in an earlier post) jumped in to inform me that it's difficult to judge public perception based on gender. I was like, Oh really. I get a dozen notes for my creative work on Tumblr, while you get $50,000 for your creative work on Kickstarter. Is it really so difficult to judge the difference in public perception? The only legitimate response would be "that's a good point," but he tried to argue with me, so I blocked him.

Anyway, if we can run with the hypothesis that the broader culture exhibits a resistance against female writers working with artists on fannish mixed-media creative projects, then perhaps the more specific antipathy toward writers within Tumblr's female-dominated fandom spaces begins to make a bit more sense.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
About a month ago I mentioned that I submitted a pitch to an essay collection about gender and horror.

Of the three editors working on the collection, the male one just got back to me to say that he would be happy to accept my essay, but that he wants me to make it racist. "Can you tell me more about the cultural context of this piece?" he asks, which seems reasonable until he begins his series of follow-up questions. "For example," he says, "why do the Japanese find women so frightening?" Each question is worse than the last, but my favorite is, "Why is Japan so dysfunctional?" It's like, I don't know, Mr. White British Dude, why don't you tell me why the majority ethnicities of small island countries have weird anxieties relating to cultures other than what they perceive to be their own.

I don't want to be That Writer who is difficult to work with, but... I mean... I would feel weird if I didn't say something, even if it means this essay doesn't get published in this particular venue. I guess, as always, the keyword is "gently."
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
In a chapter of her new book Kill All Normies titled "From Tumblr to the Campus Wars: Creating Scarcity in an Online Economy of Virtue," Angela Nagle summarizes her theory on how the right was able to take political power even while the left has become more stridently vocal. She writes:

In the early days of Twitter, a platform in which users are supposed to compete for followers and through which lagging careers can be instantly boosted through the correct virtue signaling, minor celebrities realized that one could attract a following greater than through traditional media. At first, self-righteously or snarkily denouncing others for racism, sexism or homophobia was the most instantaneous and certain way to achieve social media fame. Something about social media platforms, it turned out, was conducive to the vanity of morally righteous politics and the irresistible draw of the culture wars. But soon the secret was out and everyone was doing it. The value of the currency of virtue that those who had made their social media cultural capital on was in danger of being suddenly devalued. As a result, I believe, a culture of purging had to take place, largely targeting those in competition for this precious currency. Thus, the attacks increasingly focused on other liberals and leftists often with seemingly pristine progressive credentials, instead of those who engaged in any actual racism, sexism or homophobia.
 
Although I tend to think that Tumblr functions differently than Twitter in a number of meaningful ways, this hypothesis makes sense. In fact, I've posted multiple times here on Dreamwidth about how confusing and frustrating it's been for me to be attacked for seemingly minor infractions (such as finding nonwhite fictional characters attractive in the "wrong" way) on Tumblr while actual literal white supremacists drove the U.S. presidential election and were then treated seriously in the discursive forums of mainstream media.

That being said, Nagle's ostensible emphasis on rationality and resulting lack of empathy for other human beings calls her conclusions on leftist culture into question in its creation of major critical gaps. To give an example of what I mean, Nagle is deeply steeped in academic ideology (she wrote a dissertation about this, after all), but for some reason she refuses to reference any political theorists who aren't white, male, and European. As a result, the only women who appear in her discussion are either (a) real or hypothetical victims of online harassment, (b) "special snowflakes" on Twitter and/or Tumblr, or (c) herself, whom she repeatedly positions as being above the "fetishization of vulnerability" that she claims characterizes identity politics.

Essentially, Nagle is uncomfortable looking at the current political situation from the intellectual perspective of anyone who is not white, male, and European. This leads her to make numerous statements such as the following, which precedes a brief discussion of Gamergate:

First, let me be clear on my own position on gaming. If you're an adult, I think you should probably be investing your emotional energies elsewhere. And that includes feminist gaming, which has always struck me as being about as appealing as feminist porn; in other words, not at all.

Statements like this demonstrate that, for someone who goes through great pains in order to connect the contemporary alt-right to twentieth-century academic political philosophy, Nagle really... hasn't done all of the required reading, I guess.

Even though what Nagle is saying about the self-cannibalization of identity politics on Tumblr makes sense, I find it difficult to have any faith in her overall argument, which is basically that the trolls on Reddit and 4chan hate Tumblr-based leftist culture because of course they do, any sane person would. I mean, that's a reasonable thing to say, but it's not really a thesis statement that I would expect someone with a PhD to make, you know? What I'd like to see is a more sensitive and nuanced critique of Tumblr-based political culture from the perspective of someone who is more sympathetic to the concerns of the people who have created communities there; but, to be fair, Kill All Normies is very clear regarding the fact that its focus is on white men.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I'm having a small crisis of faith, so I'd like to affirm something in a semi-public space – it's always okay to gently push back against expressions of racism. Even if it's casual or unintentional. Even if you know the person will react poorly. Even if you're white. Even if this doesn't end all racism for everyone forever. You're not overthinking things, and you're not overreacting; you're just trying to make the space around you a little safer and more comfortable for other people to occupy, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I am overwhelmed with rage sometimes, but I think the key point is "gently." Sometimes people just need time to think and process things, and nobody is going to be receptive to being attacked.

The issue I often face, however, is that the person I'm trying to talk with isn't American, and sometimes they may not be completely fluent in English. They might not understand why I care so much, or perhaps my response is too "gentle" for them to understand that what I'm taking an issue with is an expression of racism, not the expression of their personal opinion.

I therefore have a weird kind of racism offsetting system – for every time I let things go instead of exploding in violent anger, I'll back an artist's Kickstarter so that their work can help to counter the broader situation of injustice in a more productive and meaningful way. I could just be deluding myself by thinking that this is in any way effective, but hey, more art and comics and stories in the world isn't such a bad secondary goal.
rynling: (Default)
Shut The Fuck Up, Marvel is a free downloadable Twine essay about why the American comics system is broken, as well as why what the industry's marketing people say on Twitter is garbage. This seems to be the heart of the matter:

Let's talk a little more about the economics of the direct market pre-order system, and how it all shakes out in a way that doesn't help anybody at all in the chain. It's not great for the reader, it's not great for the retailer, and ultimately, it also deeply hurts the publisher's ability to make and sell comics themselves. Top to bottom, the system sucks shit.
 
I've been hearing artists complain about the preorder system for years now, but to my (limited) knowledge no one has ever really put everything together in a cogent explanation like this. The author also factors in manga (and webcomics like Homestuck) as a competing market, which I very much appreciate.

I really like the format of the essay. Maybe one of these days I should consider doing something like this myself.

rynling: (Mog Toast)
Since the November election, "white feminism" has become a code for non-intersectional feminism, or a feminist agenda that strongly privileges the rights of one group of people over another. A common stereotype of this mindset is a white woman who claims to be a feminist but refuses to acknowledge the validity of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Read more... )

It's of vital importance that we address intersectionality and strike down white supremacy as we move forward, but there has to be a better way to have this conversation.
rynling: (Celes Chere)
I'm reading the newest book about the Tudor monarchs (as one does), and I found this amazing quote from Queen Elizabeth I: "If I wish to lead an immoral life, I do not know of anyone who can forbid me."

It's such a stereotype for a white woman with pretensions of being a writer to be interested in European monarchic dynasties

(although LET ME TELL YOU about East Asia, I fucking learned languages because that drama is PURE, shit doesn't get more lit than it was in China)

but I am obsessed with power, especially when it is wielded by women from behind the scenes – or front and center, as the case may be. When I was younger, I saw "power" as something to be resisted, but now that I'm older I've found that things are a bit more complicated. It's weird for me personally to be a woman in a position of power, because I'm simultaneously disenfranchised in relation to my male colleagues, made to feel guilty for rising above my female peers, assumed to be some sort of keeper of public morality, and expected to get things done without hurting or inconveniencing anyone (which is impossible, by the way).

I know for a fact that I'm a neurotic mess of personality disorders, so I always assumed I was just a delicate flower who couldn't deal with the world like an adult, but a friend of mine has decided to run for public office and now has to handle the exact same nonsense on a larger scale, which I've been watching play out in real time on the Facebook page she's set up for her campaign. She's handling herself well, but I can tell she's overwhelmed by the bizarre range of comments and responses she's been getting. To be honest, I'm overwhelmed by proxy.

I'm probably flaunting my own ignorance here, but I feel that women don't really have a lot of models for holding power within established political systems. We can all name at least five female activists we admire, but people like Elizabeth Warren, who are both in the system and in the public eye, are relatively rare.

I suppose what I'm trying to say here is that it makes me happy to read about women who are remembered by history for wielding political power and who were so done with sexist bullshit in, like, 1570.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
(1) Why were the Nintendo DS and Wii consoles so successful?

(2) What happens when a summoner defeats Sin?

(3) Why do some people in Spira (including Wakka) dislike and distrust the Al Bhed?

(4) How successful is Operation Mi'ihen (the battle against Sin on the beach)?

(5) What type of enemies are Wakka's standard attacks effective against?

(6) How would you describe Seymour's behavior and attitude regarding Yuna?

*

For the last question, all the women in the class answered with a variant on "creepy and predatory." None of the men picked up on this aspect of Seymour's behavior at all, giving answers such as "he likes her," "he has a crush on her," "he feels protective of her," "he wants to support her," and so on. This was very interesting to me, and by "interesting" I mean "extremely disturbing."
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I keeping thinking about Ganondorf as a representation of a complicated ethical position, and I keep finding interesting references in the weirdest places. For example, these are two panels from a comic (link) illustrating one of the more disturbing ideas to come out of contemporary posthuman philosophy:

rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
HELLO MY FELLOW AMERICANS, WE ARE WELL AND TRULY FUCKED.

Yesterday I wrote that I was sobbing because of the fallout of online harassment, but let me tell you a secret: that was not the only reason. Early yesterday afternoon my boss told us all to go home and take care of ourselves. This country has a long and sordid history of silencing minority voices and turning away refugees, but ONE DOES NOT FIRE ALL THE AMBASSADORS, especially NOT ON HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY.

I'm currently reading a brilliant but horrifying book titled Depression: A Public Feeling, in which the author posits that depression is not always innately personal or mysteriously biological, and that persistent anxiety can be one of the results of social, political, and legal oppression. It's a slow read, because I keep having to stop and cry. I just... I know that feel sister (and even if I don't, I can sympathize).

The National Women's March last Saturday was kind of a big deal for me. Various people have criticized it for various reasons, and their criticisms are absolutely valid (for example, WHAT THE FUCK was going on here). Personally, though, I refuse to regret my participation. I have felt so hopeless and so alone for so long that I can't even begin to describe what it meant to stand in a crowd of more than three million people holding signs saying things like "Black Lives Matter" and "LGBT Rights Matter" and "Reproductive Freedom Matters" and "Immigrants Matter." It's not exactly a secret that one of the key strategies of fascist regimes is to divide and conquer, and it meant so much to me to see everyone supporting each other with my own eyes.

A lot of the pictures reproduced in the news have shown groups of young white women wearing cute pink hats and waving clever anti-pigshit signs, but on the ground the march did not look like that at all. The crowd was probably only about half white, and everyone was so close together that segregation wouldn't have been possible even if it were planned. There were tons of men, and tons of kids and old people, and tons of women in hijabs. There were also a bunch of teenagers and college students cosplaying feminist pop culture icons, from Wonder Woman to Frida Kahlo to Princess Leia. The DC police were super supportive, there were no agitators, and nobody got (physically) hurt.

It's entirely possible that the march was nonviolent because it was coded as white, and I think that a lot of people are starting to realize that, if white privilege is what it takes for protestors not to be antagonized, then so be it. Earlier this week a number of my friends on Facebook were actively recruiting white people to join them in the Philadelphia protest, and the positive response they received was overwhelming. It's weird to say that people are enjoying themselves as if this were one big street party, but that's infinitely better than people getting burnt out and becoming indifferent.

I'm still scared, though. I'm still very, very scared.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I've spent the past hour drawing thumbnails for some f/f Zelda pairings I'd like to post pictures of for "Femslash February" on Tumblr, but it's hard.

Last year I got so many messages for so many months from so many people in the Zelda femslash community telling me what a bad person I am and encouraging me to commit suicide. If something like this happens once, it's funny. If it happens a few times, it's just life on the internet. If it happens at least twice a week for eight months, it kind of changes you.

People say that the best way to respond to online harassment is to not respond at all, but this tactic has the unfortunate side effect of making the violence less visible. And then, when you finally do say something, it seems like you're the crazy one for reacting so strongly. When I finally broke down and admitted to a handful of online acquaintances that I was being harassed, they said things like...

"You have to admit that they have a point."

"These people just want to be heard and respected."

"That's rude of them, but you have to understand where they're coming from."

In other words, if the extent of the harassment remains invisible, a culture in created in which the harassers are privileged over the harassed. This is insane, because I'm pretty sure the correct response to a statement like "I'm clinically depressed because I've been receiving death and rape threats every day for weeks" is not "You should think about what you did to deserve this."

At the moment I'm sobbing my eyes out, but I'm hoping this process will be cathartic. And I keep telling myself: It's okay to be a gay girl! It's okay to draw gay girls! It's okay to be in a gay mixed-race relationship! It's okay to draw gay mixed-race relationships! There is nothing wrong with me... except that I kind of suck at drawing.
rynling: (Terra Branford)
As I've been reading over my writing logs from the past eight days, the opportunity cost of my participation in fandom has become apparent. I'm tired just about all the time and I get relatively little "real" work done because I'm devoting so much of my energy to writing fic and meta and making stupid drawings. There are only so many hours in the day, and at any given point I can either be doing [work:paid] or I can be doing [fandom:unpaid], with very little room for downtime if I attempt to do both.

This is why, when people (mostly academics, bless their hearts) talk about how utopian it is for fans not to receive money for their labor, I always want to roll my eyes and ask why it's always female fans (especially minority female fans) whose unpaid labor is being championed. Men have historically had a number of avenues through which they have been able to turn their fannish interests into a career, but women should not be compensated, because fuck capitalism, amirite. Absolutely, let's have men (especially straight white men) produce the mainstream culture that feeds the dominant ideology while women relegate their work to the margins of their lives as they struggle to make ends meet! That is so radical and edgy! How very bold and daring, to suggest that women's work should remain firmly ensconced within shadow economies!

NOT THAT I'M BITTER OR ANYTHING.

In any case, I desperately want not to feel like I'm slowly dying every second that I'm awake, so I should probably try to figure out a way to get money for the work that brings me joy.

I'm considering quitting Tumblr for a bit, and by "quitting" I actually mean "not doing anything except reblogging cute art with cute tags once or twice a day." I subscribe to most of the artists I follow on Feedly, so doing this wouldn't really require much interaction with Tumblr at all. Also, Final Fantasy XV is coming out tomorrow (HAHAHA FINALLY THANK YOU JESUS), so there's that to take into account as well... In the meantime, I think it would be nice to devote this blog to Final Fantasy, because there's no shame creating a safe haven filled with gorgeous monsters and beautiful men and transcendent warrior princesses when the real world is so godawful.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I've absorbed a great deal of anger and fear over the past week.

On election day, I volunteered through a small organization to help drive people to and from their local polling stations. People told me stories about their lives and their families and the racist and sexist violence they've had to endure, and it (obviously) wasn't pleasant.

All throughout Wednesday, I volunteered again with the same organization to help drive people to work who didn't feel safe taking public transportation. No one talked much.

On Thursday I returned to my job, where I sat with people who were upset and crying. I also had to deal with a bunch of smug assholes, which was even worse.

Today, finally, I started touching base with friends. People unloaded on me, and it was both terrible and terrifying.

I've been careful not to mention it, but I've been having nightmares and panic attacks almost every day since Trump's candidacy was announced. I knew exactly who would vote for him (this is literally where I grew up), and I would be lying if I said that a part of me didn't always know that he would win.

I know what it's like to occupy a marginal position. I know what it's like to be homeless and imprisoned and beaten and raped. I know what it's like to have no hope for justice. I know what it's like to be constantly afraid of emotional and physical assault. I know what it's like to feel utterly trapped. I know the despair of people telling you to "hang in there" when every day feels like an eternity. I know what it's like to be powerless. I know what this is like because I've experienced it myself, and I don't want to live in a world where this kind of experience is normal.

I've been trying to hang on to some form of hope, but it's impossible. I try to keep telling myself it's going to be okay, but I know that things are going to become progressively less okay as time goes on. I keep telling myself that nothing is going to change in the ongoing struggle against injustice, but things are most definitely going to change. There is very little that I can do, and I'm not sure I have the strength to ride this out.

But I refuse to give up.

That being said, I am not going to write about this anymore.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
Okay, but can we just...

Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.

I have seen situations where white women hear a racist remark, resent what has been said, become filled with fury, and remain silent because they are afraid. That unexpressed anger lies within them like an undetonated device, usually to be hurled at the first woman of Color who talks about racism.

But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies.


Audre Lorde delivered this speech (link) in 1981. Nineteen-eighty-fucking-one.

I've been reading it over and over, over and over and over, and trying to internalize what Lorde is saying. I'm overcome with fear and shame, and I want to transform it into something useful, but I have no idea how; I could barely look my colleagues and interns in the eye yesterday. I feel so lost, but if nothing else it gives me hope that other people have been through this and still managed to maintain their dignity.

Staring at the trash fire has been real, but for the sake of my sanity I'm going to go back to writing about video games... or not.
rynling: (Cecil Palmer)
I've been listening to the Oxenfree OST on heavy rotation (especially the songs Argonaut and Epiphany Fields) for the past week, so I finally decided to sit down and finish the game. Playing Oxenfree is an interesting and unique experience, but as a game it suffers from two major problems and two minor problems.

The first major problem is that the player-character moves very slowly. On one hand, this encourages the player to enjoy the scenery and the ambiance. On the other hand, backtracking is a slog.

The second major problem is that the loading times between areas are obscene, usually exceeding ninety seconds. Because these loading times are so punishing, I felt strongly discouraged against unguided exploration.

The first minor problem is that, for the player to uncover the full story of what's happening on the haunted island, she needs to go on a scavenger hunt to collect a dozen letters scattered across the various areas of the game. Because of the slow character movement and unbearable loading times, I couldn't be bothered. As far as I can tell, a Cold War era submarine somehow managed to get itself caught in a time loop just offshore, and the "ghosts" are the sailors trying to free themselves. It's strongly implied that the protagonist has gotten herself caught in a time loop as well. The main story is about the interpersonal relationships between the characters, however, and I don't care enough about the deeper story to deal with the game's bullshit.

The second minor problem is what I'm going to go out on a limb and label as misogyny. The teenage player-character, Alex, is female, and the game really wants her to spend the majority of its playtime with her stepbrother and her male friend. As someone who has actually been a teenage girl, I tend to find teenage boys disgusting, and neither of the teenage boys in this game does anything to make me feel sympathetic towards them. Although I think they're supposed to be charming, they both come off as obnoxious dickbags. I therefore wanted my player-character to spend time with the two other teenage girls on the island, but the game was not having it. One of the girls, Nona, is set up as the love interest of Alex's pothead friend, while Oxenfree goes way out of its way to make the player dislike the other girl, Clarissa. I like both Nona and Clarissa a lot, and I wanted to know more about them, but the only dialog options the game gives Alex to interact with them are super bitchy. What the fuck? Why can't my player-character be friends with other girls?

There are several different variations on Alex's personality that the player can choose to express at any given conversation branch, but I'm not interested in any variations in which she's mean to Clarissa and Nona. Unfortunately, her options for being kind to them are extremely limited – in fact, I was able to choose them all in one playthrough. Maybe I'll return to Oxenfree later, but I kind of doubt it.

ETA: I just saw a post on Tumblr about this exact thing (link), "when we’re supposed to dislike a female character but she’s obviously a straw-woman the writer’s using to work out some unresolved issues he has with an ex or his mom or an unrequited crush so you actually kind of like her out of spite."
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
I recently gave a talk at a big state school in western Pennsylvania. It was only supposed to be a three-hour drive there from DC, but I missed my exit on the turnpike and ended up going a bit farther into the hills than I intended. Along the road were billboards attacking Hillary Clinton in truly disturbing ways that don't bear repeating, and I saw not one but several Clinton scarecrows (effigies?) impaled with stakes and pitchforks. I did not stop to take pictures.

This is one of the main reasons all the infighting on Tumblr bothers me so much; it feels like people are bickering over who needs to do the dishes while the house burns down around them.

By the way, if you're wondering what it feels like to see a female public figure symbolically threatened right in front of your eyes while lost with no cell phone signal, it isn't pleasant. I kept it together until I got to my hotel, and then I had a full-on panic attack. I had to have someone at the front desk call the person who was supposed to meet me and explain that I was indisposed, no joke. I mean, I understand that I'm a delicate flower and more sensitive to such things than most, and I understand that Clinton is not a beautiful shining star like Obama, but the undiluted hate that's been directed against her during this election season is genuinely frightening to me.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
Two days ago I posted a Peach/Bowser commission to Tumblr (and it's really cute). It got a few dozen notes, which is nice, but in less than 48 hours it's reached the point at which the note count is now falling, and the hit count for the piece on AO3 it's meant to illustrate did not rise at all. In other words, it's a small niche thing that makes no one but me happy, and that's okay, because I am very happy.

Yesterday afternoon I got a series of messages from a prominent femslash artist in the Zelda fandom who wanted to let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I can't call myself a radical feminist if I promote "abusive m/f ships." Because I work ten hours a day and don't have time for this sort of nonsense, I didn't respond to her, but what I wanted to say is that I don't identify as a radical feminist. And this is weird, because my politics are fairly radical...

  • Capital punishment needs to be abolished immediately.
  • Local police forces need to be demilitarized immediately.
  • The sale of marijuana needs to be decriminalized immediately.
  • The prison system needs to be deprivatized immediately.
  • All political prisoners need to be released immediately.
  • Undergraduate student loans need to be forgiven immediately.
  • American subsidies to the Israeli military need to cease immediately.

I also have radical views concerning dismantling the prison system entirely, naturalizing immigrants, setting up better infrastructures for public transportation and solar energy, regulating the lobbies surrounding the food industry, and establishing protections for queer, transgender, and nonbinary people.

When it comes to who ships what, though, holy fuck do I ever not give a shit.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I've been reading through the Ganondorf/Zelda tag on AO3 again, and what's struck me this time around is just how many kudos and encouraging comments I left on other people's stories. After three weeks of not checking the tag on Tumblr, I can barely remember the intense bitterness I once expressed; but, now that I've put some distance between myself and the fandom, I find the overt lack of reciprocity truly shocking. In fact, I'm surprised that it took me so long to get upset.

This has made me start to consider the limitations of fandom and fannish spaces.

In an earlier post I wrote that I was considering deleting my Livejournal. The site itself died at some point during 2014, and I can't imagine any reason why I would return, especially since I considered the eleven years of my writing (across more than a thousand posts) hosted there to have no value. I've deleted a number of other fandom-related accounts, so why keep this one?

When I read through my journal, however, I realized that my writing was fairly decent – or better than "decent," actually. I was charming and witty and insightful (who was that person? where did she go??), and people responded to me, leaving thousands and thousands of comments. Why in the world did I think I needed to delete all of this? Why did I think my work was trash that needed to be disposed of?

I really enjoyed writing long and self-effacing and semi-humorous personal essays about my job, my family, my shitty relationships, my interests, and – this is what drew people in, I think – my experiences with fandom. Because all of this writing occurred within a fannish space, however, it was all "fandom" and therefore worthless from the perspective of "real publishing." Although I was getting incredible pageview counts between 2009 and 2012, no one tried to scout me, and no one within my (very carefully) curated circle of connections ever suggested to me that I should try to publish my essays. No one told me that I should get on Twitter to promote myself, and no one ever offered to introduce me to anyone who could help me become a professional writer. English-language Livejoural was a fandom-focused platform, and fandom is something you do "for fun" and "for yourself," as if professional writing generates enough money for people to do it not for fun and their own personal validation (PROTIP: it usually does not).

Basically, when I was in my twenties, I had the time and energy and talent and motivation to become the professional writer I always wanted to be, but I wasted it on the fannish identity "pocketseizure," a shitty not-joke about how stories of the dangers of the Pokémon anime made me realize that I had undiagnosed epilepsy. Because "pocketseizure" was getting so much attention, often from unexpected quarters, I started writing fic under the name "rynling" so that people wouldn't be able to make the connection between me, my essays, and my stories. And then, after I went through so much trouble to fracture my identity, I was for some reason disappointed that I didn't receive the recognition that I probably would have were my writing consolidated into one body of work.

My reasoning was justified by several real-life factors, including direct censure from my graduate advisors for having started a professional blog under my own name, but I nevertheless ended up internalizing the stigma of the anonymity communally enforced within fannish spaces. I wrote anonymously and "only in fandom" because I wasn't ready for the big leagues; I was anonymous because I lacked talent, and because my writing lacked any real value.

I'm not saying that fandom is bad, obviously, but its social mores effectively served to silence my voice as a writer and forced me to relegate my creative writing to the margins of my life, where it still remains. Even now that I receive actual money for my writing (and quite a bit of it, if I do say so myself), I still feel pressure from the sort of "you're not good enough" attitude implicitly enforced by fandom.

To return to the beginning of this post, the lack of reciprocity I've experienced concerning kudos and comments on AO3 is not how professionals behave. Professionals – people who are directly invested in their own success and the success of the people around them – do not ignore or fail to support and encourage their colleagues. When there is no direct payoff and no end goal, however, no one is motivated to engage in behavior that strengthens the larger community. When we're all anonymous, we can't promote or network with each other. When we actively distance ourselves from professional success, our work and voices and ideas remain in the shadows.

As things stand, I'm not sure what the solution is for me personally, or for fandom communities more broadly speaking. Perhaps because "Cease and Desist" letters have for the most part become a thing of the past, visual artists in fandom seem to have reached a good balance of respecting anonymity when desired, allowing fandom names to become professional names, and welcoming people who participate under their real-life names. Writers are still strongly expected to remain anonymous, however, and I can't help but feel that this is gendered – and it's probably gendered, let's be real.

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