Were you at PyCon? Did you stop by the Geek Feminism Hackerspace? What did you think of the talks? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
IDW Publishing’s Star Trek comics follow the adventures of the Enterprise crew as they explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before.
In Star Trek #29, the Enterprise continues its five-year mission under the command of Jane Tiberia Kirk.
Yup, that’s right:
The fun doesn’t end there: the entire crew, from Lea “Bones” McCoy on down to Hikari Sulu and Pavlovna Chekov, is gender-swapped. (Spock is apparently a gender-neutral name among Vulcans).
Mainstream comics have a well-earned reputation for epic fail when it comes to gender, so when I saw pages of this comic on Racebending’s Tumblr, I had a dual reaction. On the one hand, shut up and take my money. On the other: I hope this isn’t a foul mess.
I grabbed a digital copy from the publisher, and I’m happy to report that is not, in fact, a foul mess. With one glaring exception, the characters have kept the sensibilities and interpersonal dynamics of their better-known counterparts. Captain Kirk is still full of bravado, Bones is still a curmudgeon, and Spock is still Kirk’s good sense. No one’s been turned into a whiny damsel, and artist Yasmin Liang hasn’t drawn our intrepid heroes straining their backs to present their breasts and butt to a viewer they can’t perceive.
Because the characters are still so very much who they are in the normal timeline, the comic gives us a glimpse into a mirror universe I’d sure like to visit: one where a group of brilliant female cadets were given control of a top-of-the-line star ship after stopping a Romulan terrorist when no one else could. Where women can discuss engineering, theoretical physics, and the Prime Directive as readily as they talk about babies. Where Captain Jane T. Kirk’s “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach to sex isn’t any more of a mark against her character than it is against Jim’s.
It’s a universe where Jane, like Jim, is free to be driven not by romantic prospects or the need to prove that she’s as good as any man out there, but by the desire to live up to her mother’s legacy–to be worthy of Georgina Kirk’s valiant sacrifice aboard the USS Kelvin.
But while the story is giving these women room to be whole people, it’s also not glossing over the way gendered expectations hit Jane differently than they do Jim. Where Pike pegged Jim’s tenacity and passion as leadership qualities, Jane is instead ‘headstrong’ and ‘emotional’–and catches flak for it from her superiors.
One thing about the comic did give me pause: Lt. Nnamdi Uhuro. While everyone else is essentially the same person they are in the main timeline, the gender swap seems to have deprived the lieutenant of every ounce of his good sense:
It isn’t just that this is out of character for Uhura, who would never brook this kind of nonsense. Uhuro is the only man of color with a speaking part in this comic. Giving him the fail-ball here has some unfortunate implications.
I’m also a bit sad about not having the real Uhura around because she holds a special place in pop culture history. Most folks have heard Nichelle Nichols’s story about Martin Luther King, Jr. personally talking her out of quitting Star Trek, and Whoopi Goldberg’s story of how powerful it was for her, as a child, to see Nichelle Nichols in that role: a black woman on TV who wasn’t playing a maid.
People of color remain underrepresented in Star Trek, but in the time since Nichols hung up her communicator, we’ve seen several Black men don the uniform: Sisko as a captain, LaForge as Chief Engineer, Mayweather as a helmsman. If we’re counting aliens, we’ve also got Tuvok and Worf at tactical. But in nearly fifty years of Trek, Uhura is the only black female Starfleet officer we’ve had in a core-cast role. Any mirror universe where she’s not rockin’ her ear-piece is the poorer for it.
And speaking of people of color being underrepresented: this Enterprise is just as white as the original. I wish we’d seen more of Sulu. In this version, she’s the only woman of color in the core cast, and she barely has one line.
But while I wish the ladies of this Enterprise were more diverse, this comic still put a smile on my face. It’s well-written, well-drawn, and funny. Jane Kirk is a great character, and one I wouldn’t mind spending a lot more time with. I’m sad that this is just a two-parter, and not an ongoing series that I can buy every copy of forever.
I’m even sadder that it takes alternate timelines like this for us to get the kind of representation that white men can take for granted. Even white as this mirror-cast is, we’d never see a crew like them on the big screen.
You can get a digital copy of Star Trek #29 directly from the publisher, or pick up a paper copy from your local comic book store.
Do you like beautifully-written short fantasy? Of course you do.
Head on over to Strange Horizons to read LaShawn M. Wanak’s 21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One) for a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of Chicago, and a little bit of magic.
And if you like it (you probably will; it’s pretty awesome), consider supporting Strange Horizons.
ETA: Wanak has some background info about the story on her blog.
Content Warning: this post discusses sexual harassment, stalking, and sexual assault.
I’ve recently been introduced to Young Justice, a superhero cartoon featuring beloved sidekicks of the Justice League. It started in 2010 and wrapped up earlier this year. I’m a big fan of superhero cartoons, having grown up on the DC Animated Universe. So Young Justice is right up my alley.
But if Kid Flash doesn’t have a drastic character adjustment pretty soon, I’m giving up on the show.
Kid Flash, AKA Wally West, is one of the founding members of the Justice League’s covert junior team. As soon as he meets teammate Miss Martian, he starts hitting on her. She brushes him off.
And so begins a campaign of sexual harassment that, seven episodes in, shows no sign of ending soon. It’s annoying enough to watch as a viewer, because harassment isn’t funny, but what it says about this world and the morals of these alleged ‘heroes’ is pretty gross.
Aside from Robin making fun of Kid Flash with no apparent concern for Miss Martian’s personhood, no one has called him out. Neither Robin nor team leader Aqualad has pulled him aside and said “Bro. She’s not interested. Quit being a creep.” The adult members of the Justice League don’t seem concerned, either–though given how the adult Flash behaves, it’d not hard to work out where young Wally picked up his views on women.
So Miss Martian has to put up with not just killer robots and evil monsters, but also with an incessant campaign of sexual harassment. On top of that, she has to rely on a team that clearly doesn’t have her back. They’d rather laugh about Kid Flash’s behavior than tell him to knock it off.
As far as the show is concerned, this situation is funny. We’re meant to laugh at Wally and his pathetic antics, rather than empathize with how awkward and uncomfortable his harassment makes things for Miss Martian.
If it were just this one obnoxious character on one show, it’d be an ignorant joke in terrible taste. But Kid Flash is part of a larger pattern of pop culture heroes portraying sexual harassment as funny or endearing.
This stuff matters–not just because it’s an annoying trope that alienates harassment and assault survivors, but because it leads to real people getting harassed and assaulted in the real world. It perpetuates the idea that harassment is normal courting behavior, and that “no” actually means “keep asking me until I change my fickle girly mind and fall madly in love with you.” Some folks who’ve been raised on a steady diet of this trope have it so bad that they take anger and contempt as signs that their victim secretly likes them back.
A guy who assaulted me went on to subject me to this kind of ‘funny’ harassment. He was a friend of my brother’s and a member of a social club I was very heavily involved in, so I had no good way to avoid him.
Among other obnoxious behavior, he was constantly calling me ‘babe.’ Every single time he did it, I told him to knock it off. I tried patiently explaining that I found it demeaning. I tried yelling. I tried getting up and leaving the room. I tried flipping him off and calling him sexist.
He kept right on doing it.
One day he told me he did it because the main character in his favorite book did it.
I bet the romantic interest in that book told the main character to quit calling her ‘babe,’ too. I’ll bet she was a Strong Female Character who Didn’t Put Up With Nonsense.
And I’ll bet by the end of the book, his campaign of harassment had changed her fickle, girly mind and she’d fallen madly in love with him, thus completing his hero narrative of the good guy getting the girl.
They guy who assaulted me? His campaign of harassment didn’t end that way.
It ended with him assaulting me a second time.
Since I grew up watching cartoons, I’m used to superheroes telling me about seat-belts, recycling, stranger danger, staying away from guns, and not trying superheroics at home. Would it have killed Young Justice to have a member of the Justice League take young Wally aside and tell him that heroes treat women with respect?
Or, better yet, they could have just not included ‘funny harassment’ at all, because harassment isn’t funny, and Miss Martian is supposed to be there to fight bad guys, not to teach socially-awkward boy geniuses like Wally how to behave around women.
 TV Tropes has several pages full of examples, including:
[CONTENT WARNING: Domestic violence arrest]
On September 25th, the Ada Initiative released the following statement on Michael Schwern:
The Ada Initiative does not support Michael Schwern’s ally work
[TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence arrest]
On Thursday 19th September 2013, open source community member Michael George Schwern (known commonly as “Schwern”) was arrested by Portland Police, North District, on charges of HARASSMENT DV – (B Misdemeanor) and STRANGULATION DV – (A Misdemeanor). On Tuesday 24th September 2013, a lawyer representing Michael Schwern published a press release stating that the District Attorney declined to charge Mr. Schwern and that he faces no charges.
The Ada Initiative declines now and in future to work with Michael Schwern or to promote his work based on the information above. We have updated our existing blog posts mentioning him or his work with a link to this statement.
Resources for victims of domestic violence and their supporters
The Geek Feminism Wiki has a page on Abuse and Trauma resources. This page has resources for victims of abuse, domestic violence or intimate partner violence, and sexual violence, as well as resources for supporters of victims of abuse and violence.
The following members of the Geek Feminism Blog co-sign the Ada Initiative’s statement:
If you also wish to co-sign, you may do so in comments. Please note that this comment thread is open to co-signatures only. No other comments will be approved.
The Art Institute of Chicago is currently hosting a special exhibit on Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, featuring impressionist paintings alongside extant garments from the period.
Impressionist work and 19thc fashion being two of my favorite things, I went to visit the exhibit while I was in town for DjangoCon.
I’d been told the Art Institute has “substantial holdings of impressionist and related art,” and I can’t say I was disappointed. There was much geeking to be had. The dresses were great, too. I may have, on occasion, crouched down next to certain dresses to get a look at how their hems were done, or put my nose a little too close to their glass cases to be dignified.
I do, however, have a bone to pick with whoever did the descriptive placards that accompanied the artwork.
Manet’s Woman Reading is one of the first paintings you see when you enter the exhibit. It depicts a woman reading a newspaper at a café.
They wouldn’t let me photograph the accompanying placard, so I copied the last sentence down by hand. It read:
These illegible calligraphic squiggles suggest that the woman is focused less on the newspaper’s printed words than on the fashion illustrations and advertisements.
…I’m not art historian, but I’m pretty sure the illegible calligraphic squiggles suggest that this is an impressionist painting.
Come on, placard-writer. The woman may be doing the 19thc equivalent of taking her laptop to a coffee shop, but even my apparently sub-literate ladybrain knows that impressionists weren’t concerned with capturing their subjects in photo-realistic detail. Manet most likely rendered the newspaper in ‘squiggles’ because that’s all he needed to give the impression of a newspaper.
Also, not for nothing, but those squiggles look way more like a rendering of a figure than of text to me. So maybe they’re ‘squiggles’ because she’s too busy reading up on the first class of female students at Oxford University to pay much attention to the advertisements.
Something hinky happened with the Hugo Awards Best Novelette category this year.
The committee responsible for one of Science Fiction literature’s top awards decided to contravene both the award’s rules and its precedent to disqualify Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” from consideration, without even telling her.
The Hugo Awards are basically the Oscars of Science Fiction literature. They’re awarded every year at WorldCon, and administered under the rules of the World Science Fiction Society’s Constitution. WorldCon members are eligible to nominate Science Fiction or Fantasy stories that appeared for the first time during the previous year, and the five stories in each category to receive the most nominations appear on the Hugo ballot. (More on the voting process here).
Last year, Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” appeared in Audible.com’s RIP-OFF! Anthology, which was an audiobook. In February 2013, she posted the text of the story, exactly as it was turned in to Audible, on her website (incidentally, if you haven’t read The Lady Astronaut of Mars yet, it is freaking awesome and you should probably have it in your life. Go ahead and read it. The rest of this post will still be here when you get back).
When all of the Hugo nominations for the novelette category were tallied up, “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” came in third (see the vote breakdown on page 20 of the 2013 Hugo Awards Statistics Report).
And here’s where things get weird. The story clearly had enough nominations to make the ballot. But the award committee decided to declare the story “Ineligible as the 2012 work was an audiobook.”
Well, let’s have a look at what the World Science Fiction Society’s constitution has to say about eligibility:
Section 3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.
So far, so good–The Lady Astronaut of Mars appeared for the first time in an anthology in 2012. Let’s look at the Novelette category:
3.3.3: Best Novelette. A science fiction or fantasy story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (1 7,500) words.
My word processor clocks The Lady Astronaut of Mars in at 8,035 words. Definitely a novelette.
The category rules don’t say the words must be published in print format, and nether do the general rules. They say the work must ‘appear for the first time’ in the year prior to the year in which it is nominated. Going by that, it’s pretty clear that audiobooks are eligible to be nominated in the story categories. In fact, the Hugo Awards website clearly says, in reference to e-book eligibility: “There is no requirement that a work be published on paper.”
There are these two sections of the general rules concerned with moving works from one eligible category to another:
3.2.9: The Worldcon Committee may relocate a story into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is necessary, provided that the length of the story is within the lesser of five thousand (5,000) words or twenty percent (20%) of the new category limits.
3.2.10: The Worldcon Committee may relocate a dramatic pre sentation work into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is ne cessary, provided that the length of the work is within twenty percent (20%) of the new category boundary.
(1) The fact that they wrote one rule for moving stories and a separate rule for moving dramatic presentations rather suggests that they didn’t mean for stories to be moved into Dramatic Presentation, or vice versa; and more importantly:
(2) Audiobooks have previously been declared eligible in the story categories. When the Audible anthology METAtropolis came out in 2008, John Scalzi (who edited the anthology and had a story in it) was told that while the entire anthology was eligible in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category, the individual stories within it were eligible in the Novella category. Including his novella, “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis.”
If disqualifying her pretty-obviously-eligible work wasn’t bad enough, they decided not to give her a chance to make a case for its eligibility–or even tell her at all.
Instead, they left her to find out at a party after the awards.
That’s right: they disqualified her story from consideration for one of the genre’s most prestigious awards, and left her to find out about this on awards night, in front of a room full of people.
What, were they afraid she’d make a scene?
Even if they had done the right thing and talked to her privately, that would still leave the question: what makes Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” different from John Scalzi’s “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis?”
I’m not saying they consciously decided to disqualify Kowal’s story just because she’s a woman. I am saying that I don’t believe for one second they would have treated John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, or any of the genre’s other well-known white men this way.
EDIT TO ADD:
Kowal has her own writeup of the incident here, including the emails she exchanged with the committee about this.
Also, based on the comments sitting in moderation, it’s time to remind folks that we have a comment policy. I specifically want to draw attention to our policy on comments that add nothing to the conversation.
Last month, best-selling science fiction author John Scalzi made a big splash when he pledged to only attend conferences that have a clear, published anti-harassment policy. Since then, more than 1,000 people have co-signed his pledge.
He noted in a follow-up post and on Twitter that while his announcement helped publicize the effort to get conferences to adopt policies, he joined a fight that others–particularly women–have been on the front lines of for some time.
For instance, the Ada Initiative has been hard at work on this issue since 2010, when they created a clear, specific anti-harassment policy and released it under the totally free Creative Commons ‘Zero license.’ Since then, dozens of conferences have adopted the Ada Initiative policy, or adapted it for their use.
Let me tell you about the time I wasn’t harassed at a conference – and why I donated to the Ada Initiative’s 2013 fundraising drive to support this work.
Djangocon uses the Ada Initiative policy. They’ll be in Chicago this year, but last year, Djangocon was held in Crystal City, Virginia, just outside Washington DC–practically my backyard. Thanks to generous scholarships from PyLadies and the Django Software Foundation, I was able to get a ticket.
I was nervous about going to a new conference alone. Like most geek women, I’m used to harassment in geek spaces. It used to be, when trying to explain how hostile an environment the geek world can be, I’d tell people, “I’ve been attending cons of various types since I was thirteen, and I have never, not once, been to a con where I wasn’t harassed.”
But I was fairly new to Django development and wanted to start building connections to the wider Django community. The conference was using the Ada Initiative’s policy, and since it was in my home town, it wasn’t going to be hard to bail if I needed to.
The Django community was very welcoming. People asked me what I was working on. What I thought of this talk or that. Whether I’d been to Djangocon before. I attended several talks that were directly relevant to stuff I was working on at the time, met a bunch of awesome people, and even –gasp– grabbed coffee with strangers without it being weird.
But what really stood out for me about that conference was that I felt safe the entire time. Nobody made inappropriate sexual comments, touched me without my permission, or took creepy pictures of me.
It would be unscientific to attribute my experience at Djangocon entirely to the anti-harassment policy. I’ve never been to a Djangocon without such a policy, after all, so it could be that the Django community just knows how to behave. But when I’m trying to decide whether to go to a conference, a clear, specific, well-publicized anti-harassment policy is big points in its favor. This is especially true when a conference is using the Ada Initiative’s policy, because I know that it comes with a comprehensive back-end policy to ensure that event staff know how to handle problems as they arise.
These things make me feel safer, especially when I’m new to a community. They tell me what the community’s standards are. They also tell everyone else what the community’s standards are, which is perhaps their biggest effect: telling people what behaviors are unacceptable can help prevent problems from occurring at all.
Scalzi’s pledge is a great example of how to help make conferences safer spaces, especially if you’re someone with a lot of influence in a community, like a sought-after speaker. But even if you’re not a big name, there’s still plenty that you can do. Ask conferences that don’t have specific, publicized policies to consider adopting them. If a conference you’re attending has such a policy, thank them for it–and consider doing so publicly, in a blog post or on social media.
Finally, consider donating to the Ada Initiative, whose staff advocates for women in open technology and culture (including fan and remix culture). They didn’t just put the anti-harassment policy out there and hope it’d stick: they work hard year round to encourage conferences to adopt anti-harassment policies and other best practices. They also offer workshops for allies, and host AdaCamp, an unconference where feminists in open stuff can get together to network, talk about our shared interests, and strategize around issues a lot of us face, such as impostor syndrome.
They rely on donations to keep up their excellent work. And because supporting women in open technology and culture is their job, they’re able to work harder and smarter for us than many of us can on our own.
If you believe in welcoming, fun, harassment-free conferences for everyone, join me in supporting the Ada Initiative’s work.
John Scalzi is a New York Times best-selling Science Fiction writer. He’s won or been nominated for most of the genre’s top awards, and he’s the most recent former president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. It’s fair to say he’s a sought-after guest on the SF convention circuit; he’s been a Guest of Honor several times and a Toastmaster more than once, including at the 2012 WorldCon in Chicago.
Yesterday, he announced that going forward, he will only accept invitations to conventions that have a published harassment policy that is “clear on what is unacceptable behavior, as well as to whom those who feel harassed, or see others engaging in harassing behavior, can go to for help and action.”
We often hear from allies who are looking for things they can do to help make geek culture a safer space. If you’re somebody who speaks at conferences, this is a great way that you can leverage your power to help.
How to do it:
Scalzi has an extremely well-trafficked blog, but there’s no need to make a big public statement if you’re not comfortable doing so. All you have to do is:
- Only accept invitations/submit talk proposals to conferences with a clear, published, enforced anti-harassment policy, and
- When you decline an invitation (or decline to submit a talk), tell them why.
Step Two is key. If you just decline the invitation, the conference will have no way of knowing that there is a simple step they can take to change your mind and make their event safer and more welcoming.
So when you’re invited to speak, check the event’s website for a harassment policy. If you can’t find one, shoot them an email:
Thank you for the invitation to [event]. I’d love to attend, but I only speak at conferences with [clear, publicized] anti-harassment policies. Do you have one that I’ve missed, or would you consider implementing one? [Can you tell me how you will publicize it to attenders?]
For calls for papers or talk submission systems, do the same thing:
I’d love to submit a talk for [event], but I only speak at conferences with [clear, publicized] anti-harassment policies. Do you have one that I’ve missed, or would you consider implementing one? [Can you tell me how you will publicize it to attenders?]
If they tell you that they don’t have a policy, or if the policy they have is not adequate (“don’t be a jerk” is not an anti-harassment policy), encourage them to adopt a real policy. Point them at this template policy, which The Ada Initiative developed in collaboration with other volunteers. It can be adapted to suit most technical, literary, gaming, or media conferences. The introduction includes a concise argument for why conferences should adopt clear policies:
Why have an official anti-harassment policy for your conference? First, it is necessary (unfortunately). Harassment at conferences is incredibly common – for example, see this timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities. Second, it sets expectations for behavior at the conference. Simply having an anti-harassment policy can prevent harassment all by itself. Third, it encourages people to attend who have had bad experiences at other conferences. Finally, it gives conference staff instructions on how to handle harassment quickly, with the minimum amount of disruption or bad press for your conference.
If they choose not to adopt and publicize a clear policy with a reporting process, decline their invitation to speak or submit a talk.
Other Ways To Encourage Conferences To Adopt Policies:
- Privately request a policy by directly contacting the conference organizers, and their parent organization if there is one (some conferences are run by a non-profit parent body, for example).
- Publicly request a policy by blogging, tweeting, or similar.
- Do not attend conferences without a policy, and let them know of your decision.
- Privately or publicly thank conferences that do adopt a policy (and their parent body, if any).
- Help publicize conferences that do have a policy.
- Preferentially attend conferences with a policy and let them know that you did so.
- Refuse to volunteer for or run events that benefit a conference unless it has a policy.
Other Things You Can Do:
- Make A Public Personal Pledge to not engage in harassment and to speak up when you see harassment, as sci-fi author Jim C. Hines did, and/or to personally back up targets of harassment, as Mary Robinette Kowal has done.
- Refuse To Share A Stage With Jerks. If you’re invited to speak at a conference where another speaker is a known harasser, misogynist, racist, heterosexist, cis-sexist, or other brand of jerk, refuse the invitation, and tell them why:
I’d love to speak at [event], but I see that you’ve invited [jerk] to be your [Guest of Honor/Keynote/etc]. [Jerk] has done/said [awful things they've done/said][, and to my knowledge, they have not accepted responsibility, nor have they made a public commitment to behave better in the future]. I’m not comfortable [speaking at conferences with them/sitting on a panel with them/toasting them/etc], because I don’t want people thinking I endorse their behavior.
- Support Those Who Choose To Speak Out. Last week, Elise Matthesen chose to speak out about being harassed at a conference, and her experience with reporting the harasser. Her post on the subject appeared on the blogs of several well-known SF writers, including Mary Robinette Kowal, Jim C. Hines, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Sanderson, Chuck Wendig, and John Scalzi (hat tip to Mary Robinette Kowal for listing the cross-posters on her blog. More information is available on the Geek Feminism Wiki). These writers not only lent Matthesen their platform and speaking trumpet; they also took on the work of moderating the comments her post generated. Offering to host a post on your own blog and moderate the comments is an extremely valuable service you can offer to people who want to tell personal stories about harassment or related issues.
- Name Harassers. Many victims of harassment and assault do not feel safe publicly naming and shaming their harassers/attackers. Those that do name names risk personal, professional, and legal reprisals for doing so. If you have enough personal power within a community that you feel you can safely name a harasser, and if you can do so without outing a victim or betraying a victim’s confidence, consider speaking up. People who are vulnerable to harassment are often forced to rely on a grape-vine of backchannel warnings about serial offenders. This system is opaque, ad-hoc, poorly-documented, and it doesn’t help people who aren’t already tapped into a network that can pass the warnings on. Author K. Tempest Bradford reports that Matthesen’s harasser’s employer has been aware of his behavior for years. There have been previous complaints about it stretching back to at least 2002. After Matthesen came forward last week, Segrid Ellis and Mary Robinette Kowal both came forward to name him. This will make it much easier to hold him (and spaces that tolerate his behavior) accountable going forward.
This is not an exhaustive list, of course. There are a hundred big and small ways that you can fight bad behavior in geek spaces–many of which don’t depend on being powerful or famous.
On Twitter, Scalzi said about his new policy: “I didn’t make that harassment statement for the cookies, incidentally. I did it because I don’t want my friends [bleep]ing harassed.” Taking any of these suggested steps may not earn you any cookies, but if you’re in a position to do them, they can help make a real, lasting difference that makes geek communities more safe and welcoming for everyone.
Mary Anne Mohanraj started one of the Internet’s first blogs, back in the wild days of 1995 when we still called them “Online Journals,” and everyone had to do all their html by hand.
She founded the award-winning speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons, and the Speculative Literature Foundation, which promotes literary quality in speculative fiction. She has made a lot of her own short fiction available for free on her website.
She’s also a co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society, which works to “increase the racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.” Her essays about race in fandom have had a substantial impact on my own understanding of racial privilege. For folks looking for a solid introduction to these issues, I strongly recommend her two guest-posts on John Scalzi’s Whatever on race in SFF fandom: Mary Anne Mohanraj Gets You Up to Speed, Part I and Part II.
Mohanraj has an essay in Queers Dig Time Lords, which is coming out on June 4th. Her latest book, illustrated Science Fiction Erotica The Stars Change, is currently available for pre-order. It’ll be released on October 1st.