Feminist anger

"We would gladly have listened to her (they said) if only she had spoken like a lady. But they are liars, and the truth is not in them." - Joanna Russ, in The Female Man, 1986

"Lady militants are always like Joanna, hitting you with their umbrella, smashing your bottle of whisky — because if they are not, WE WILL NOT LISTEN." - Phillip K. Dick, 1974

(quotes via the great book by Helen Merrick, The Secret Feminist Cabal, which I am reading at the moment)

girliejones and cassiphone, among others, have been getting criticised this week for comments made about the Before They Were Giants anthology, a reprint anthology notably lacking in women. The argument has been roughly that because the anthology selection wasn't a deliberate act of misogyny (and indeed, the editor James Sutter has been quite reasonable and apologetic in his response) that the complains should have been made far more politely — that they should have been made directly, not publicly, been made only in a most mild and reasonable way that no one could possibly be offended by, in short, that perhaps they were right, but they shouldn't have said it, or at least not loudly enough that people heard.

And we are still having this conversation in the SF field after at least 35 years. If just politely helping people become aware of the issue worked, we wouldn't still be talking about it. And yet, it keeps happening, again and again. People are still putting together anthologies without even thinking about gender as an issue — and the only way to make them think about the issue is to make sure it isn't thought of as just a nicety, just another thing to try and improve that fellow editors will give you hints about (like font choice, or cover layout), but rather as something that is a major mistake if you get it wrong, something that will attract not mild criticism but anger. Anger is entirely appropriate. No one should expect not to get publicly called on their big mistakes, rather we should all endeavour not to make them, and learn to handle them gracefully when we do (as, to his credit, Sutter largely has).

While this is a post about a controversy in the SF world, of course I can't make a post about how to handle sexism this week without people thinking about EFA and the controversy over its handling of sexism allegations. Certainly some of the issues are the same. I know I want to respond as an individual, because the board/chair response does not represent the opinions of this individual board member at all, and I'm thinking about how best to do that (and I don't think this journal is the place for a public comment on that issue). But I do want to say that I have enormous love for alexmoon right now, and I'm personally terribly apologetic for the way the organisation has disappointed her, and so many others, this week. More on this later.

I would appreciate it if no one smashes my bottle of whisky this week, though. It's cold, and I have a cold, and it has been rather a difficult week, and I've been finding a little Talisker in the evenings makes it a little more bearable. girliejones, cassiphone, alexmoon? Sláinte!

Here comes the spider goat!

All hail the transgenic spidergoats ! I like living in a world where scientists are investigating issues like 'is it easiest to get our spider silk from goat milk, or alfalfa sprouts?'
I'd heard of the spider goat idea years ago, but not seen actual video of the goats and silk production.
Spider goat! spider goat!
does whatever a spider goat does!
can he swing, from a web?
No he can't,
He's a goat!
Lookout! Here comes the spider goat!

Opposition Climate Change policy in a nutshell

When opposing the Rudd Emissions Trading Scheme (which I am not here to praise), Tony Abbotts said that not only was he opposed because it was a 'big new tax' (despite the main argument for an ETS being that it is an alternative to a carbon tax, heaven forbid that we have any emissions reduction policy at all that emitters have to pay for), but because he had a better idea, which was targeted direct action (which would, of course, cost money which would have to paid for eventually via tax, but not matter - it was taxpayers paying that, not polluting industry, so that is ok). So, instead of relying on market mechanisms, the government should pick winners (exactly the reverse of normal Liberal policy on almost every other issue). Except he plans to slash funding for virtually all existing climate change targeted funding, including 'clean coal' money, money promised in aid, renewable energy funding. etc. It is not that these policies were great policies - but even the tepid ALP proposals still seemed too much like real action for Tony.
What are we left with? Unsurprisingly, the Coalition (presumably the Nationals in particular) think the only thing we should do about climate change is give money to farmers to plant trees, rather than doing anything to reduce emissions. The Opposition has picked their winner - it will be farmers! And carbon emitting industry have no direct pressure to do anything to reduce emissions. Simple!
Yeah, Turnbull was honest about what this smelled like when he thought he was leaving politics, even if he is trying to pretend he likes the smell these days

visiting the future

One the way back from my ICANN trip to Kenya, I finished reading Bruce Sterlings most recent novel, The Caryatids. As a novel, it is probably exactly the sort of novel that Sterling fans will very much enjoy, and Sterling critics will find confirms their opinions. Which is to say, while it has a narrative, and characterisation, themes and a plot, and all the things a novel should have, it still seems as if Bruce started out with a bunch of really good ranting lectures about the state of the world and jammed them together into ball full of rants, and then wrote a novel that allowed him to fit in all the best ranting parts. Arguments between characters about things like arming rap stars arming their fans with rocket launchers for homegrown urban renewal projects could easily be left out of the plot, but are easily recognisable as Chairman Bruce in full flight. And while the plot and characters etc are by no means that badly done, they are like necessary superstructure to keep everything contained in a novel shape, when you really came to read is the rants, because Chairman Bruce rants with more insight and knowledge and unexpected wonder than perhaps anyone else in the world.
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