Links of Great Interest: Don’t you hear this hammer ring?

Teren sent in this great example of gender indoctrination.

Maids in Kuwait struggle against abusive employers.

Super-heroes and sibling rivalry <3

Why the term ally can be problematic.

Remember — Split This Rock needs your help! Here’s an example of the things they’re involved with.

Some thoughts on Helen from Penny and Aggie.

OMFG God, white people, calm the shit down.

Wow, this is an awesome post on rape-culture and normalizing a lack of self-care.

Can a living wage be used as part of a sustainable business model?

Why I write heroic female characters

Female runners — don’t NOT say hi to strangers, because then they have the right to hurt you


Puerto Rican radical dies in prison at the age of 89.

How NOT to write a superheroine.

Hey, guess what? Israel doesn’t like immigrants anymore than the US does.

On the one hand, I like this letter from a hot woman to an entitled ogler. But! I’m a bit over the idea that street harassment only happens to “hot” women or is at all about desire. In my experience, it’s got more to do with a kind of problematic male-bonding, and with you having a female body coded as vulnerable (based on your race, age, and appearance) in a space where men feel entitled to be predatory. As you can see from the stories archived on HollabackDC, a website about street harassment, short-shorts rarely play into it.

OMG This tech support guy stole a client’s naked pictures then MADE A WEBSITE with them that’s still LIVE.

Go vote on your favorite vampire author!

Uh. Karen Healey wants feedback on her portrayal of POC and asexuals in her novel Guardian of the Dead, for which she’s apparently received some flak for online. I haven’t read it, but I’m kinda like dude, if there are critiques around the internet on the shit you might’ve done wrong, why not, say, read those critiques? I’m confused. Anyways, if you read her book, and feel like wielding some sort of clue-bat, here’s the link.

Keep it classy, Hollywood.

Why Paranormal Activity might be a secretly feminist film.

Oh, Elizabeth Bear. I don’t think you can de-fang histories that aren’t yours… or that it’s even appropriate to do so.


  1. says

    Re: the ally thing – so what now, I’m a solidarity worker? That’s better? I don’t know; to me, the term “ally” was a way for me to say that I’m not the one who this is about, i.e. exactly the opposite of what the post claims. I don’t think I deserve special cookies for that, it’s just a shield in case someone wonders what the white guy’s doing here. So I’m fine using whatever term suits best, but I wonder whether being an ally or doing solidarity work is really all that different.

    Maybe “sidekick”? “Flunky”? “Henchperson”?

    — Re: Runaways – so we’ll get some more whitewashing? Interesting that *SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK* the only poc casting call goes out to the natural leader who turns out to be betraying the group and is, indeed, a villain *SPOILER END*

    I wonder how “chubby” the chubby Gertie will be, too.

    — Re: Elizabeth Bear – wow. deathmarching? The Patalim post reminds me of a recent “Moth” podcast where someone told a woman from Cambodia’s story, the woman claiming to have been lucky and then describing horrible events happening to her. Those are histories that get lost far too often in the West.

    Also, I like this definition of political incorrectness (as I assume it was meant to read): I am a privileged person in this society, and I am entitled to say anything I like about persons who are not as privileged as I am without any consequences whatsoever

    • Robin says

      @Other Patrick — I’m with you on the ally thing. I don’t use the term as a flashing “look what a good person I am” sign. (At least, not consciously. I hope not at all.) I do use it as a mark of differentiation, but not in a “please don’t think I’m X” way, as suggested in the comment about being a queer ally. I identify as a queer ally because I’m about as vanilla as it gets but have friends in many shades of queer and believe that they shouldn’t be treated any differently than the people who experience social privilege by default (which, yes, includes my white, hetero, middle-class self). We are all human, first and foremost.

      I kind of like “sidekick” as an alternative, though. :)

  2. says

    I… Kinda thought that Karen Healey’s post was a really classy way of handling it. So far as I know, there’s been no especial racefail associated with her book, and this is more of a preemptive strike. Also, she never said not to criticize her in other blogs, or that she wasn’t reading critiques in other venues.

    Rather than ignoring and remaining silent on any criticism that exists or could exist, or trying to argue and defend which always goes badly, she is saying “I have privilege, I tried to do right by people who don’t, but the fact that I have privilege means that I probably screwed up somewhere. Here is a safe space to tell me how so that I don’t screw up the same way in the future.”

    I mean, imagine if Elizabeth Bear had done that instead of what she did do.

    • Maria says

      TBH for me it’d depend on how off the wall the issues in the book were — like, for example, if she included a woman of color character who constantly petted and soothed the white female character and was basically a 21st century mammy? Yeah, big-eyed asking for advice would be disingenuous. But if it’s a question of nuances? Then this approach might be best.

      At the same time, I’d still wonder why reading the posts about it wouldn’t be helpful/useful to the point you have to host your own q about it, since it seems like in this case people already ARE talking about it and already ARE writing about it.

      Again, she’s not a writer I follow, so I’m just more boggled at that second aspect, because to me it feels like those moments in college where the feminist group is like OH HAI WOC WE HEARD THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE Y’ALL HAVE SOME PROBS WITH US, WANNA COME INTO (the unsafe space we’ve established that if we thought about for five seconds we’d realize is unsafe because wtf that’s what the goddamn grapevine said) AND TELL US WHAT’S WRONG?

      And actually, this connects to that post on being an ally, and Patrick’s question. To me (and again, my time at Smith included immediately after 9/11, when racism on college campuses escalated in the US and white allies really sucked as allies) doing it in this way re-situates the conversation from being about the work and the issues to being about her personally and her getting ally cookies in a way that I don’t necessarily see as useful. I think that part of being a good ally/comrade-in-arms/partner-in-crimes-against-hegemony is understanding when it’s appropriate to LISTEN and when it’s appropriate to be like HEY GUYS LET’S MOVE THE PARTY TO MY SPACE. One to me is about being humble and being willing to be uncomfortable in terms of the conversation’s content and location, and the other’s about controlling both location and content in ways that are structured affectively through white women’s syndrome.

      And again: I’m saying this based on the post and on my experiences with conversations similar to this. I HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK, and I don’t know much about her as an author… maybe she’s a really fantastic ally and I haven’t met her/seen her online or through her work.

      • says

        Yes, but she did everything in her power to make that particular blog post a safe place to offer DIRECT criticism if one wishes. She’s promised NOT to respond unless given specific instructions to do so, so she has basically promised that she will shut up and listen and ONLY that, unless a commenter specifically wants her to reply.

        If an author goes into the other discussion spaces and starts responding, it almost always descends into a spiral of defense, justification, and fail. If an author doesn’t say anything, you don’t know if she’s even noticing. This seems like an excellent way to navigate it. The discussions elsewhere can still happen, her readers know she’s paying attention, and she’s not derailing or pulling her metaphorical pants down.

        • Maria says

          I think I’d prefer if she responded to the original posts acknowleding she’d read it, and that she’d incorporate the critique into her writing. Getting defensive in a response and descending into fail isn’t inevitable.

          This to me just seems very performative and very showy. I’m always suspicious when allies make themselves and their ~listening~ the center of attention. But hey, maybe there’s something to be said for that, since Bear’s attention-mongering and wtfery exploded into several months of fail pretty much centered on continuous NOT listening.

          A lot of this to me is about what it means and *looks like* to be an ally.

          • says

            Do we know that Karen has not responded directly to criticisms? Just wondering, since if she has, that puts this post in a new light.

            Disclaimer: I know Karen well enough to assume she put every effort into writing diverse people well, and will put equal effort into learning from whatever mistakes she makes. I also share many of the privileges Karen enjoys, and IN NO WAY am I saying “Trust Karen because I do.” I’m just providing full disclosure on where I’m coming from.

            That said, when I read that LJ post in isolation, as if I don’t know anything of its author or her allyhood, it does beg the question Maria asked, and Maria is right to ask it. I can actually think of a few legit (I think?) reasons for Karen not to respond directly to her critics (assuming that is the case). Maybe some of the criticisms she’s read are of the very same elements that received praise from other people (i.e., one woman’s “strong woman character” is another woman’s “cardboard cutout tough chick”) and she’s unsure how to respond until she reads more opinions. Maybe she feels she might be perceived as invading the critics’ safe space if she intrudes.

            But it would be reassuring to know her thinking process in setting up this post, and whether or not she responded directly to critics, and if not, why not. Because I can see why Maria feels it puts Karen at the center of things and looks showy, even though I feel certain Karen’s intent was much better than that.

            I also feel certain Karen will read this and give it due consideration for future reference.

            • Maria says

              Can you ask her to read over what’s here and respond? Either here or in her journal?

              I’m not asking antagonistically, I just think that conversation might be useful to have publicly so that allies can have a sense of what being an ally looks like and the kind of thought that goes into it.

          • says

            I posted a bit of critical commentary regarding Guardian of the Dead on my blog, regarding Ellie’s fatness and the way it is portrayed. Karen Healey did respond directly to my blog post.

            We’ve actually had many conversations since then but at the time of my blog post I had never met or otherwise interacted with her.

            It seems to me, as someone who has read the book, that there are a lot of things that she tried (and succeeded in accomplishing to varying degrees) to do with Guardian of the Dead. It’s a first novel, so I don’t know that it’s getting a huge amount of blog volume. I kind of appreciate that she’s trying to gather more critique – while being aware of that which already exists – so that she can incorporate it into the second book.

            • Maria says

              Neat! I’ll admit that part of what got my hackles up was that when I tried to google to see some of the critiques, the first hits were to this post and to another post praising her for it. When the conversation begins to center on how awesome you are for hearing critique? Yeah, I get weirded out.

              But you’re right, if it’s a first book with first book flaws, then yeah, I could see why doing something like this (in a year where a lot of writers were assholes) might get a little more attention.

          • says

            I actually haven’t tried googling to look for other critique – I’m sure it would be uncomfortable to find only the stuff you found. I suspect some of it is on livejournal – I’ve read one other bit of critical commentary at this point and it was in a private journal instead of any sort of public-facing blog. I haven’t read the post praising her feedback post either though – now I feel like I should go looking for it.

            Given the year it has been, I think I kind of like to see invitations for feedback – but I can definitely see how it could come across the wrong way.

            • says

              I read your critique, The Rotund, and it got me thinking about just how one DOES convey the fat-phobia that many young girls who perceive themselves as “fat” or “nearly fat” feel. I was indoctrinated to loathe my “fatness”, which was in fact never more than 15 pounds above chart weights, while being more charitable toward other fat people. I couldn’t relate to Ellie thinking she wasn’t quite fat, because even when I was as slim as I now realize I’m humanly capable of being, I was told by doctors to lose weight. My uncensored, visceral response to that passage was, “Well, she’s lucky – I never thought for a moment I wasn’t fat, even though I wasn’t.”

              God, we are a sick society, aren’t we? I mean, it is a massive privilege that we can attain fatness. It is such a better problem than being unable to attain fatness because you can’t get food or you’re sick.

  3. says

    Quick thoughts:

    1.) That “Arch-Nemesis” piece was superb.

    2.) The living wage article made me cheer.

    3.) Tamora Pierce’s piece was an excellent rebuttal…not least because she was so polite and classy about it. I might have been tempted to tell Moskowitz to pull her head out of her ass.

    4.) WTF, they’re going to screw up Runaways? I will be so enormously pissed if they do.

    5.) the link for “How NOT to write a superheroine” doesn’t work for me…which is a shame, because I really wanted to read that one.

    Thanks for the links, as always.

  4. I. Scott says

    I lived in Kuwait when I was about 12, and we had a maid (Asha, from the Philippines, I think she was) who came in a couple of times a week. She’d also chat with my parents and babysit us sometimes.
    She also worked in a hospital and as a maid for other foreign workers’ families (they were pretty hard-working women – the strategy at the time was: get paid, buy a lot of gold at one of the gold souks, send gold home). Apparently working for foreigners was generally more pleasant, but I still saw plenty of rather unpleasant behaviour towards the various maids around our complex. It kind of horrified me.
    Since a maid could apparently be fired for getting names mixed up on her (they were all women, as far as I could tell) first day, I can totally believe that article’s reports of abuse.

    Entitlement (I didn’t know what it was at the time) also ran pretty deep in some parts of Kuwaiti culture – on a school ski trip to Switzerland, some of them (related to the Emir’s family) were literally rude enough to get a complaint from the TOWN, where a bunch of them had apparently knocked over a pregnant woman while barging past her into a shop, among other things.

  5. cofax says

    I haven’t read it, but I’m kinda like dude, if there are critiques around the internet on the shit you might’ve done wrong, why not, say, read those critiques? I’m confused

    She has read those critiques, or at least some.

    Also, what you might have missed is that not every reader WANTS to post publicly about perceived fails. Not everyone has a blog, or a journal, or wants the entire world to know that they have issues with the way Author X addresses Issue Y.

    So Karen is providing a space that is entirely private, for readers to let her know what problems they saw in the book, and with her promise not to publish those comments or even respond to them directly unless they explicitly ask her to.

    I think that’s kind of classy, myself.

    • Maria says

      She actually posted a response bringing up some of what you’re bringing up, which will be linked to in the next LoGI.

      While I hear what you’re saying, and I agree with her and your points, I do think that the original post could’ve been more detailed about her motivation and included a discussion of the critiques she’d seen. I think that if you’re trying to be an ally (and I sincerely think she wants to be one) then you have to work to make sure you’re being transparent, because that transparency is part of you giving up your privilege. When I went to find the critiques she was referring to, I instead found links back to her OP praising her, which to me isn’t where the attention should lie.

      • says

        Hi Maria,

        While I agree that more transparency could have been of definite benefit, and I definitely agree that more emphasis should be on critique than Nice White Lady response to it, I’m not sure what I can do about other people praising my efforts to be an ally in their own blogs. One of the reasons I screened comments was to screen out that sort of praise in my space, because I knew I’d get it, and I didn’t want that to drown critical response. But I don’t control those other spaces, and I’m not responsible for what others say in them.

        I know it’s gross to be looking for critique and instead find that stuff. I did have reasons for not linking directly to the original critiques, which I have explained, and stand by.

        • Maria says

          Right and I’m not saying they’re bad reasons. I feel like you’re being really defensive just now, and making you feel that way wasn’t my intent. I’m not saying you’re responsible for what other people do. I am saying that what I saw looked sketchy, and that the way to make it look less so would’ve been to describe the critique, say why you weren’t linking to them, etc., in the original post. The reasons you gave were great! But were also AFTER the post that I initially was weirded out by, and in response to this thread. Bundling the two posts together initially would’ve read much better.

          • says

            Hah, sorry, it is not my intention to convey defensiveness. I really do mean what I say when I say that I agree with you that more explanation in the original post would have been a good idea.

            Although I don’t think I ought to have explained initially to such extent, because I really do feel that would have weighed down the post, but then such length would not have been necessary if I’d provided more clarification in the first place.

            • Maria says

              :) Yay! Everyone’s a winner. :)

              But yeah, after I saw the longer post, particularly the link to one of the reviews, and especially that you obtained The Rotund’s permission, I was a lot less, Wtf?

          • says

            Maybe a simple “I’ve responded to some of those critiques in their spaces, but thought it might be beneficial to set up this post in which blah blah…” remark in the original post would’ve been enough? (Just wondering for future reference, since any ally could run into a similar situation.)

  6. Charles RB says

    Personally, the term “ally” always bugged me a little because it makes me think of World War II. I could do lots of cool things but I don’t think I’m ever going to be equivalent to the Royal Australian Air Force blokes.

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