Tag Archives: intersectionality

Quick hit: Anna Martelli Ravenscroft on neurodiversity 101 and feminism 101

Anna Martelli Ravenscroft writes On trust and diversity, some excerpts follow:

I have , otoh, experienced that sense of mistrust – not about males -but more often about women, and mostly, female neurotypicals [...] What if you had to move as an adult to an alien culture that just happens to speak your same language, but with different meanings for many of the words, with different ways of “being polite”. What if, because you happened to speak the “same” language, you are assumed to just know the cultural norms – for example, the holidays, the rules of the road, the little rules of interaction, that are just different enough from your own culture so that you get tripped up regularly. And what if, instead of explaining patiently to you what you did and how to avoid it in the future, everyone assumed you were tripping up on purpose because “everyone knows that” and anyone who does it “wrong” is deliberately being a troll. How comfortable would you feel in that society?

Welcome to what it feels like to live in neurotypical society.

So yeah – I tend to be, I think, more tolerant of those who have sincere questions about things like “disability 101″ and “feminism 101″ because frankly, most folks don’t grok “neurodiversity 101″. While I understand being tired of explaining what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s society, I perhaps have less sympathy than I might if I were neurotypical – because I am different in an invisible way. Because the neurotypical has no idea how many assumptions they are making about everyone – and when they refuse to explain in response to an honest query – they’re doing *no one* any good.

Before I begin I should note that I am neurotypical. Some of Anna’s writing above will probably ring some bells to geek women in general: a lot of geek women can recount feeling more comfortable in male dominated environments or rather geek dominated (and hence almost always male dominated) environments, because many geek women have various clashes with non-geek and female socialisation and some trouble with “the rules”. We may talk about that in some future post.

But this specific issue is about what neurotypicals assume about diversity discussions and fundamental commonalities between people in such discussions. Anyone got thoughts? Add them here or at Anna’s blog as suits, and remember that if you are, like me, neurotypical and broadly uninformed about neurodiversity, then it behooves you to do a great deal of listening.

Link Roundup Strikes Back (August 15th, 2009)

Link roundup, 13 August 2009

Fairly recent items from around the web:

Green, by Jay Lake

Green, by Jay Lake

  • The Hathor Legacy reviews and recommends “Green” by Jay Lake, a new fantasy novel about a young, bisexual woman of colour.
  • K. Tempest Bradford on Creating Better Magazines (and Anthologies): “The present and the future of the genre and the community is not just heterosexual, able-bodied, upper or middle-class American or British white males. The future of SF is made up of women and people of color, and people of various cultures and classes, and LGBT folks, and non-Americans and non-Western nationalities (China, India, the Philippines, to name just three).”
  • Editorial work is hard, asshole. “This response to Tempest’s post (above) reads like a list of things I wish had thought to put on the tips for finding women speakers.” – Skud
  • Trigger warning Harriet Jacobs of Fugitivus recounts in Two More Things how a fellow D&D roleplayer of allegedly liberal beliefs made constant misogynist jokes in character.
  • Socialogical Images: a collection of items related to gender and science/tech topics.
  • OTW: two early fan-written Star Trek novels by Jane Land are now available online through the Open Doors project. “Kista (1986), a novel about Christine Chapel, was described by the author as, ‘an attempt to rescue one of Star Trek’s female characters from an artificially-imposed case of foolishness.’”
  • The nonprofit scifi/fantasy magazine Strange Horizons needs to raise about $5500 more in its annual fund drive.  One of the most women-friendly pro markets in our genre: the editors publish more fiction by female than male authors, and have been considering gender issues in SF publishing for a while.
  • Girls have less free time to play video games than boys do.  ”Our findings suggest that one reason women play fewer games than men is because they are required to fulfill more obligatory activities, leaving them less available leisure time.”  Comments from Amanda Marcotte and Hugo Schwyzer.  How many girls get as much free, unstructured time to game and hack as their male counterparts?
  • Blogger rawles suggests that it’s more empowering to see Nyota Uhura get the guy in the new Trek movie than it was for her to be single in the original series.  In mainstream media, “[t]his near total invisibility [of black women] is perhaps the very first thing that I think needs to be understood in any feminist discourse about Uhura, but it seems to be the last thing most people talk about.”

Again, if you see something geek-feminist that we should link to in the next roundup, drop us a comment.

fail again, fail better

This week’s science fiction Fail came to us courtesy of a husband-and-wife team: L. Jagi Lamplighter and John C. Wright. Yesterday Skud linked to Jagi’s post-Writercon rant in favour of colourblindness – that is, the practice of not even acknowledging race. The trouble with this position is that it assumes a white default. Today, interestingly, Jagi has apologized to Karnythia and has retracted some of her more egregious positions. That’s a relief, especially as she also mentions she and her husband are in the process of adopting from China.

Unfortunately Jagi’s epiphany coincides with her husband having a highly public and somewhat disturbed meltdown over gay sex. To me, the most perplexing part was this:

Odd as it sounds, I was fully loyal to the sexual revolution as an idea. Then someone tried to convince me that two lesbians licking each other in the crotch was the same in all ways, just as sacred, just as romantic, just as normal, just as beautiful as Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Iseult, Micky and Minnie, Adam and Eve, Jove and Juno, Father Sky and Mother Earth, me and my wife.

Romeo and Juliet: normal? Micky (sic) and Minnie: sacred? (For that matter, oral sex: gross?) But leaving all that aside, what this makes clear to me is how difficult it can be to separate the strands of sexism, homophobia and racism, especially within a given social milieu. Jagi mentions John’s views on race to support her own; John holds up his marriage to Jagi as the ideal to which all of us sexual perverts out here ought to aspire. The comments threads are polarized between their supporters and their angry opponents, with supporters frequently attacking opponents for failing to be sufficiently polite. With the possible exception of Jagi on colourblindness, few minds are changed.

It’s all fairly depressing for your average liberal progressive SF fan (1), but it serves as a salutary reminder of what can happen when people carve out little enclaves for themselves where they can take positions they believe are brave and iconoclastic, and everyone around them provides positive reinforcement. That is, they can fall prey to all kinds of cruel ideas.

Let’s (2) not do that. Let’s not be those people. Let’s think hard about intersectionality, and remind ourselves that while we struggle in one context, as women or feminists or mothers, we’re often hugely privileged in other contexts, as technically adept or educated or white or heterosexual or able-bodied or young or some world-historical jackpot combination of the above. Oppression’s not good for much, but if it doesn’t teach us compassion for people who are differently or multiply oppressed, we’re just not paying attention. The effort is going to suck. It’s going to drain our energy and, for some of us, use up scarce spoons. We’re going to make mistakes and show our asses, but we’re geeks, right? I have faith in us. I just know we can fail better than this.

Edited to add:

(1) That subset of SF fans who happen to be liberal and progressive; clearly, not all SF fans are either.

(2) By “us” here I mean the aforementioned liberal progressive SF fans.