I Read the Internets – 3/3/07

Holy crap, internets. It’s always feast or famine with you, isn’t it? Some weeks, I’m carefully hoarding my little list of links, trying to stretch “˜em out with witty commentary and make this column last just a leeeetle longer – and then there are weeks like this week, where I’m actively saving stuff back for next time. Wow.

But most internets are best served fresh, so prepare yourself for a big”¦ uh”¦ plateful? Sorry, my metaphors are kinda getting away from me, here.

Anyway! Very first thing, be sure to swing by But Can She Spin? for the 11th Carnival of Feminist SF Fans. Lots of good reading to be had, there. And once you’re done soaking it all in, go contact the Carnival organizer, Ragnell, and volunteer to host one. I mean it! If you’re reading this, you must like link round-ups, right? So help spread the love, just once.

Those of you who like to be able to download and print something to read sometimes, instead of always following a bunch of links should check out Girlistic Magazine‘s new “Spring 2007: Feminism and Technology” issue. I haven’t had a chance to read through the entire issue yet (it’s sitting next to me right now, making me feel guilty and negligent”¦), but I can tell already that there’s lots of good stuff in it.

Before I get into all of the media-specific stuff I’ve got for you today, let me recommend to you Elizabeth Bear’s recent essay, “Dear Patriarchy“:

Dear Patriarchy:

I don’t care what you think.

I’m not here to convert you. I’m not here to enlighten you. I’m not here to try to earn your respect. I don’t need it.

I am not scared of you.

You see, I can win without you. I can make a living without you. I can reach a broad readership of women-yes, and men too! lots of men! men who are enlightened, and emotionally secure!-without you. It’s really kind of awesome.

And now – comics stuff! First, Rachel Edidin writes up some tips for capturing the elusive female reader, over at her new blog, Inside Out. Hint: the secret is the bear traps!

Elsewhere in comics blogging, Pasquinade has a bitingly funny fictional look at what happens when an “Author Brings Much-Needed Realism to Comic Books,” and Ragtime of Comic Book Thoughts is “Focusing on the Good (Birds of Prey #103, Cover Date April 2007)“:

The best part about a book with half a dozen female leads, of course, is that it removes the possibility of “the female” as a type. No one is confusing Barda with Kate, or Judomaster with Misfit. Multiple characters require multiple characterizations, and while I can see Huntress and Manhunter as being of a “type” (the Hunting type, I guess), there is still enough variety to see them either becoming best friends or rivals.

Amy Reads of Arrogant Self-Reliance has a couple of awesome posts up this week. I particularly want to highlight “Fishes without Bicycles: Thoughts on Gender in Comics“, wherein she very intelligently discusses the word “heroine”:

There is a saying, a rather old, second-wave-feminist saying by Irina Dunn that argues, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” The irony of this statement should be lost on no one, of course, but let’s take a look at it anyway. Humor a lady, Gentle Reader! I Read Books (and therefore words, words, words) for a living; I certainly can’t stop now!

The first part of the statement, “a woman needs a man,” can be taken in several contexts. Romantically: it argues that a woman must have a heterosexual relationship in order to be fulfilled. Socially: it argues that our society is founded on heterosexual coupling. Professionally””and here’s the kicker, Friends: it argues that a woman needs a man to come first, to pave the way, to “allow” her access to power.

Unfortunately, this final statement rings true not in its sentiment but in its history. A woman does not need a man to come first, pave the way, allow her access to power, but a patriarchal history and a long line of male bias and female subjection has forced men to come first in most””if not all””things. That is to say, if we continue to differentiate between, say, heroes and heroines, we are actually insisting that without the definition of the male part, Hero, we can have no female counterpart, Heroine. A Heroine, therefore, is only definable through the original male definition.

Also check out her “Super-Spectacular Women’s History Month Edition #1!“ of her usual Amy Reads the Week feature, wherein she recommends some really awesome genre writers.

Moving from comics to film and television, Grace has a review up at Heroine Content of Bandidas, and Kalinara of Pretty, Fizzy Paradise is discussing Heroes. Here at THL, we’ve had an epic forum conversation about Supernatural going on for just over a week, now.

In the world of gaming, Sarah from Still Life With Soup Can wants to know “Where, oh Where, Are the Good Clothes in Oblivion?“:

I’ve discovered today that it’s very difficult to find anyone making good clothes for a) the original body mesh, and b) gamers who want their characters to wear clothing appropriate for the time period and setting. Aren’t those peasants and soldiers going to look at me funny if I go running around in a leopard catsuit and heels? It’s not like I’m asking for a lot here. A couple of retextured dresses? Cool looking pants that female characters can wear? I wouldn’t be opposed to a sleeveless shirt that I can wear with pants when I’m thieving around. I wouldn’t even be opposed to a midriff-baring vest if it doesn’t look completely out of place. I like to look cute and bad-ass at the same time. I just don’t want to look like something out of a cheesy S&M fantasy.

Elsewhere in gaming this week (the tabletop end, rather than the video end), Peaseblossom made a post on her LiveJournal critiquing some aspects of an RPG called Spirit of the Century. And then, near as I can tell, her post exploded all over the gaming internets. I’ve seen too many responses of one kind or another to link them all – and some of them were the kind of misogynistic drek that I wouldn’t want to drive any further traffic to, frankly. A couple of follow-ups that are definitely worth reading, however, include Peaseblossom’s own meditations on “Bias and Privilege” and the news that, apparently, a supplement for Spirit of the Century, inspired by the critical conversation surrounding the game, is being created.

Annnnd one of Brand Robins’s posts at Yudhisthira’s Dice [post since removed] this week inspired tekanji to kick off a meme that looks like it should be both fun and potentially enlightening. (Brand is also involved with the New Horizons supplement to Spirit of the Century. The internets are vast – yet also very, very small)

As I wrap up this week’s IRtI, dear readers, I have, as always, links to amusing things to share! First, “The Six(ty) Degrees of Sherlock Holmes“, which is pure awesome (the internets are not the only place that is vast yet small). And next, two awesome craft creations that marry crochet to pure geek – an Atari, and a Dalek.

Oh, how I love the internets!


  1. MaggieCat says

    I could not love Elizabeth Bear’s “Dear Patriarchy” essay more if I tried. Actually I did try, and nope- could not be done.

    Yay! I am such a huge Sherlock Holmes geek that it frightens even me sometimes, but that one puts even me to shame. (It’s one of the two topics that make me use words like ‘canon’ and ‘pastiche’ with complete and utter conviction.)

    From the Rachel Edidin post:

    But it’s not a big deal, because gender isn’t a defining characteristic of any of those characters: they’re people first, and men and women second.

    I don’t read comics (although I know a few of the major franchises from friends), but that’s just damn good advice that every entertainment medium could stand to hear.

    I vote we start a collection for a banner-carrying plane to circle Hollywood until they get the idea. :-)

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I gave up arguing with patriarchy cannon fodder a long time ago. I’ve found that just being completely secure with their lack of interest unsettles them – arguments just “prove” to them that they’re right. Sometimes a smirk or a flat out laugh is also disturbing.

    Sounds like the comics industry is making the same assumptions the film industry makes with “chick flicks”. We’re all about relationships; we cat fight if there’s more than one of us in a story; etc. Yawn.

    I’m still reading. Good stuff, as always.

  3. says

    Maggie – Have you read any of Bear’s fiction? It’s easily as much fun to read as her meta. I particularly recommend her sci-fi series that starts with a book called Hammered.

    Beta – You should definitely check the second post I link by Peaseblossom. I think that one in particular of all of the stuff I linked this week will strike a chord with you.

  4. says

    Thanks for the link. :-)

    Good essay by Elizabeth Bear. I think a lot of times it’s good to remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be your “job” to educate people. It’s not the “feminist woman’s burden.” I have read her blog a couple of times and I have been wanting to pick up her books for a while now.

  5. Ide Cyan says

    Re: Bear’s Letter to the Patriarchy…

    “This is not shrill, aggressive, evangelical feminism.”

    Well, isn’t that reassuring!

  6. SunlessNick says

    From Amy’s Fish and Bicycles essay:

    Avoid creating heroines as double-x-chromosomed counterparts of male heroes. Why do we need a Batman and a Batwoman, a Superman and a Supergirl, a Captain Marvel and a Ms. Marvel? Why can’t we have, say, more heroines like Big Barda, Oracle, Gypsy, Storm, and other such superpowered women with non-gendered names?

    What I’d like to see is a female superhero called “Captain …”

  7. says

    Ide Cyan – I didn’t much care for that phrasing (having been accused of shrillness and aggression many a time, myself – though not evangelicsm. Probably only a matter of time!), but I enjoyed the essay as a whole.

    SunlessNick – That would be neat. I don’t read enough superhero comics to be sure about this, but I’ve noticed that there are a few heroes now who are women who’ve inherited their “titles” from retired male heroes, and the titles haven’t changed to reflect their gender. Judomaster and White Tiger, for example. I think that’s pretty cool – it’d be interesting to see it go the other way, too. Like a man as Black Canary, y’know?

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