Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I've Decided That It's Simple After All

After reading through the thread on feministing, I've figured how to articulate why the violence against prostitutes in GTA bothers me so much. (by stealing from everyone else, of course)

Robos A Go Go argues

Shooting at police, stealing cars, and running down pedestrians are widely discouraged in other areas of life. Sexism and violence against prostitutes is not. In fact, many people feel that prostitutes invite violence upon themselves by virtue of the "choice" they make, or at the very least accept abuse of sex workers as a matter of course rather than a problem that should be as much of a concern as random assaults of pedestrians and law enforcement officers.

yup, yup, yup

Later, noname asks

Where in that video.... did you see forcibly performed sex acts?

doh, how silly of me, none of the prostitutes ever say "no!" There's no sexualized violence here!

More seriously, correct me if I'm wrong, but none of the prostitutes who are "propositioned" ever say "no," yes? Which means that instead of going right out and making it "real" rape, Rockstar has instead chosen to hide behind rape apology arguments (prostitutes never say no) in order to make sexual violence more palatable. Kudos to you Rockstar!

(Also, I'm fairly certain that the police occasionally survive one's attack. In fact, they have guns, themselves, yes? As do other characters? But do the prostitutes have weapons? Are they occasionally not dumb as rocks and aware that johns often want to hurt them? Do you ever get to proposition women who are not prostitutes or strippers? I think I may die of shock if any of these are ever true.)

nonam also tries to argue

There is an anti-male equivalent to killing prostitutes. Killing men.

just _pat points out what should be obvious:
That's not equivalent at all. I can't kill men:
a) As a member of the opposite gender.
b) As someone who is paying them for sex.
c) As someone being paid BY them for sex.

I also can't go to a club and wait for asshole guys to try to pick me up and/or drug me, only to pull out a weapon and exact vengeance upon them.

There's no equivalent.

sgzax adds what should be even more obvious:
Yes, because there are two sexes: male and prostitute. Exactly. Thank you noname for playing all your cards at once like that.

spike the cat then gives us our deep thought for the day:
People just won't admit that killing feels good. But killing a ho feels even better.

Funny, I thought that whole visceral reaction I was talking about earlier was because while killing (in video games) rates as a "meh" to "gotcha!" in my book, murdering prostitutes makes me want to barf.


Kristen answers the "can they say no?" question.

The hookers even have to like you enough to let you pick them up.


I disagree with her assertion that "There is no sexual violence in this game," however. There may be no outright rape, but if you watch IGN's fan trailer...oh, wait, you can't because IGN took it off their site. (dorks) It's on youtube though. no idea for how long. Anyway, if you listen to the trailer, ("I'm a hired killer and I pay for sex. My mother would be ashamed") "violence" and the "sex' are hardly divided into neat little categories. Sexualized violence isn't just about rape, after all. Often it's simply about normalizing the idea that they go hand in hand.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Don't Get It

People that normally make a lot of sense to me have tried to defend GTA to me before.

The advances in game play are mentioned. I am reminded that it is a game, it's not real. It is explained to me that no, there isn't anything anymore disturbing about controlling such action than there is watching it in a movie. And that, of course, the game actually discourages such behavior - really!

But I still don't get. I still don't buy it.

(Perhaps partly because I think sexualized violence poorly done and overdone in most movies as well.)

I don't "get it" anymore than I'd "get" a video game where players go around trying to lynch PoC.

But my reaction to it is more emotional and less intellectual that it is to things like Resident Evil 5. Which means that I have a lot of work to do on becoming a better ally, and that I have a really hard time coming up with coherent arguments that explain how not ok this is.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

They No Longer Spend Pitch Meetings Looking for the Button That Opens the Secret Trapdoor

You have no idea how much I wish I had a copy of the recording they did of the panel on Superhero Comics at the Festival.

Its not that I want to listen to it over and over again (it was funny, but not that funny) its that there were tons of hilarious quotes that I can't really quote 'cuz I'm not going to get them quite right. So as you read all the stuff below? Remember that it's being filtered through my crappy auditory memory. Take even the stuff in quotes with several teaspoonfuls of salt. Also, I make no claims to accuracy when it comes to the order in which things were discussed.

With that said, here goes:

The panel was kicked off with each creator being asked to describe how they got from Comics to Hollywood. Mignola and Niles had fairly similar stories. Someone fairly influential liked their comic and wanted it made into a movie. For Niles, it was Sam Raimi. For Mignola, it was Benecio Del Toro - not that Del Toro got things going, more that he kept them going and made sure that things went well. Both at this point and throughout the talk, both Niles and Mignola were very emphatic about having a powerful ally working on the project who was also a fan of the comic itself being essential to it being a decent movie that still resembled their work. Or something like that, anyway.

Loeb said that it went the opposite way for him. He had always loved comics, but started out in Hollywood instead (didn't think he could make a living at comics) and then one day DC called him up and asked him if he would like to write a comic for them.

Before I continue, (1) Loeb is an awesome oral storyteller; I very much fear that my recap will fail to do any justice to his talent. (2) I'm sure there was more to this story than he let on. See #1

Loeb said "of course!" and "Can I write Superman?" "Um, we already have someone for that." "Batman" ditto and on down the line. Turns out they wanted him to do The Challengers. (and yeah, that story is even funnier in retrospect now that I'm more familiar with his resume)

The second question had to do with graphical nature of graphic novels and whether that made them easier to translate into film. All said yes. Having pictures helps studio people visualize what you are talking about, especially when those pictures closely resemble storyboards. Loeb (or Mignola?), mimicking execs internal diologue: "Oh, so you meant this really cool spaceship, not the pencil shaped thing that was in my head." Niles also mentions that, when originally pitching 30 Days, the studio people probably pictured scores of vampires running across the snow in Bela Lugosi capes.

The next question (I think) had to do with whether or not it's easier to pitch Superhero movies now than it used to be. Everyone's reply can be boiled down to "duh - you have seen the figures for the Spiderman movies, yes?" (I kept thinking, don't forget LoTR! It's success certainly helped as well. Geeks Unite!) Someone - Mignola or Loeb, I think - pointed out that time has helped as well, that it it's not just a single hit, but several successful movies, and people getting used to the idea of Superhero movies, untill finally Superhero movies are treated as just another genre rather than an unknown. (File this thought away, it will come up again later.)

They said that it was still hard to pitch comics as movies, especially if you aren't pitching one of the big names (Spiderman, Superman, Batman) but that "It used to be that they seemed to be looking for that secret button that open the trapdoor under you." Not anymore.

One of the other things that helped, obviously, has been the advances in cg. There was talk about how they used to say that movies would never replace comic creators, because there was stuff they could do that would just look dumb in movies. You could never get Spiderman to swing from a web and make it look real! Loeb: But then (?) and I went to the screening of Teminator 2 at Comicon. Beforehand, we weren't really sure what it was going to be like because Schwarzenegger actually had to talk in this one. We left the screening and I turned to him and said "we're screwed."

They still fuck everything up, though, apparently :) (shocker, I know) Niles talked about some guy who was working on 30 Days in the script stage. Nobody seemed to get why the Vampires were in Alaska. (wha?) So this one guy suggested that maybe Vampires were searching for a diamond that was buried underground in Alsaka. (wtf?) A diamond that would make them daywalkers! "He doesn't work there anymore. Not because of that, but I think he tried pitching the diamond idea for every movie." There was also mention of certain people wanting to call the Hellyboy sequel HB2 Instead. (why, exactly would one want to do that?)

This is where my memory gets a bit fuzzier, but the conversation at some point turned to DVD sales, what is still hard about pitching Superhero movies, and how much money movies actually need to make. The gist of that part of the conversation was: studio people don't pay enough attention to DVD sales because DVDs and movie production are different divisions, but it's getting better. They always want to change lots of things, some of which needs to change because comics are so much longer than movies, some of which is completely in opposition to the heart of the story, and some of which is necessary in order to appeal to a larger audience. "The truth is that even the best selling comics only have a fraction of the audience that movies need to make money." Or something like that.

I don't remember when or why, but the topic of what terms people prefer came up (ie, comics, graphic novel, etc.) and they all agreed "comics." Niles joked about Raimi referring to comics by some complicated term "graphical something or other." Someone (Loeb or Niles) made the amusing remark to a studio person that it was ok to call them comics, "graphic novels was the term we made up for you guys!"

It was also established that we were all "geeks." "You all know the difference between geeks and nerds, right? All of you in this room right now, you're all geeks, not nerds." (I beg to differ, but then I'm the idiot that didn't even know he worked on Heroes before he mentioned it, so I think he'd make an exception for me.)

At some point Loeb told several amusing stories about working in Hollywood:

The first movie he worked on was this low budget film called Teen Wolf (cheers from the crowd) While working on it, he'd tell people about it and mention who was in it and people would say. "Oh, that kid from Silver Spoons, right?" But then two things happened, Family Ties was moved to directly after The Cosby Show and Michael J. Fox was picked to be the star of a little movie called Back to the Future. heh.

That lead to the story about the movie thought he was going to be able to retire on: Firestorm. It was starring Howie Long. No reaction from the audience to that name, prompting Loeb to say that we obviously weren't football fans. That prompted some laughter. :) He explained who Howie Long was and that the great thing about Howie Long was that you knew he could talk. Anyway, things were going well and it was getting closer and closer to the release date, and then an Important Studio person broke the bad news. The studio had just finished making the most expensive movie ever made. And it was going to completely flop. Loeb knew he was telling the truth because people were literally packing up their offices in cardboard boxes and leaving. It was going to be that bad. So they needed to release a bunch of other movies at the same time to cover their losses. Firestorm was moved from fall to January. That's ok, Loeb thought, it should still be ok.

So, the flop? Was Titanic.

His last story was about the call that got him working on Heroes. A Hollywood buddy of his called him and said he needed some advice. Loeb figured that he was buying a vineyard and retiring or something, 'cuz he couldn't think of what this person would need his advice for. So they met and it turns out that this buddy had the brilliant idea of doing a Superhero type show and needed to talk to someone who knew Superheros. They spent hours talking, with the guy pitching ideas and Loeb responding by saying, that sounds fantastic, but you can't do that, it's (insert name of character) Marvel/DC will sue you. Repeat for several hours.

That's it. that's all I remember. Recordings will be available in a few weeks, I might try and clean this up when they are released for sale.

Oh, were wondering why I was left yelling (well, muttering, really) Wonder Woman.

Yeah, so, at some point near the end - it might have been during the questions - Loeb or Mignola made some comment about Superhero movies needing to appeal to non-comic readers in order to make money. Loeb added "like how do you get women to go see your Superhero movie?" (Or something like that anyway.) To which I muttered Wonder Woman! and started ranting in my headspace about how the arguments made earlier about Superhero movies and needing to let people get used to seeing them as just another kind of movie and not a fluke can just as easily be applied to movies with female action heroes.

Ditto for non-white (and non-kung-fu-asian) action heroes, as well, of course.

Personally, I still think Runaways would make a kickass movie. The ending is a disappointing in terms of racial diversity, but it's still a step in the right direction. (Especially if it does well enough to warrant sequels.) Plus, I think it would not only appeal to a larger audience, it would appeal to that teenage audience studios are so hung up on. Provided it's done right, of course. That's always the catch. But seriously, while the point about comic sales being only a fraction of what the movie needs is valid, better-selling is better than not-better-selling. And better-selling to a wider audience (ie, bookstore patrons, not just comic store patrons) has got to be huge plus as well. So here's to hoping Twilight is the insane success I think it will be, and to studios everywhere mining the YA lit for ideas.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

LA Times Festival of Books Comics!

So....I went to the Festival of Books today, and it turned out that two of the three panels that I was able (and most wanted) to attend were on graphic novels. (Owing to the frustrating scheduling mentioned earlier.)


The first was panel titled Comics: Superheroes of the Page & Screen and featured Jeph Loeb, Mike Mignola, and Steve Niles. Geoff Boucher moderated.

Loeb was hilarious, Mignola was pretty damn funny as well, and all three were entertaining and interesting. The overall conversation left me (internally) screaming "Wonder Woman!" But sadly, not in a good way.

Also sadly, no autographs as I was pretty ignorant of all their work beforehand and so wasn't prepared to go the the signing. More importantly, I had less than a half hour to get to the next panel, and UCLA is a freaking big campus.


The second panel I went to was titled Tween Series Writing: Other Worlds and featured Cornelia Funke, Erin Hunter and Rick Riordan. Moderated by Sonja Bolle.

Funke is sweet and kick-ass smart, Hunter is sassy and funny as hell, and Riordan is just the kind of teacher you wished you had in middle school. Plus, there were tons of kids there, which was super-cool.


The third panel was Reading Manga: A Japanese Phenomenon Comes to America, featuring Liza Coppola, Lillian M. Diaz Przybyl, and Frederik Schodt. Charles Solomon moderated.

This last was not quite as hilarity filled as the other two (although laughs were to be had, this is manga we're talking about), which may be due to it being made of reviewers and editors rather than writers. Or it could have been the heat. But it was still interesting and informative - if perhaps a bit basic at times, as anything involving manga (that isn't held at a con) must sadly still be.

Unfortunately, the manga fans were the ones pulling the stupid crap that comic fans gets stereotyped as doing (although, being manga fans, the "questions" centered around fanfic/art and scanlations.) I kept wanting to tell them to act their age, but the main problem did seem to be that they were.


My most prized signature of the day was from multiple-Caldecott-winning-author and illustrator David Weisner, who signed my newly bought copy of Tuesday, possibly the first (mostly) wordless picture book I ever read. Since it was my love of wordless picture books (along with my love for the X-Men movies) that got me thinking maybe there was something to this whole comic book stuff, the day seemed more like "sequential art day" to me. :)

Oops! I forgot!


Angry Little Girl buttons!

Cute! Colorful! Angry!

And Lela's right, the bags did look kind of like bags of candy. Cute, colorful, angry candy.


Mirror, Mirror

I'm sure I'm not the only privileged white girl who has been watching the most recent chasm between certain feminist bloggers with the sinking feeling that I really ought to be much less confused by all this than I am.

If that describes you as well, I suggest you go read this. Also this. I'm still feeling confused, but much less so, and a little more ashamed. Which is almost certainly a good thing in the long run.

(And, needless to say, if you don't even know what they hell I talking about, you really ought to educate yourself. Here is a good place to start. And this is a must read as well.)

Even though I'm sure it's been said several times already - on the links above for starters - I think this is important enough that it bears constant repeating:

It is one thing to make mistakes, or have learned racism from a racist society. It's something else altogether, though, to do racist things while claiming not to be a racist. And yet another level of wrong for self-described anti-racists to get defensive when someone points out their racism.

It may be true that it is the system more than any minute decision of yours that contributed to you benefitting from privilege - whether it be a book deal, attribution of an idea, or anything else. But don't dare call yourself a progressive and not acknowledge that being a progressive means pointing out that such inequalities exist and working to dismantle them, rather than ignoring them when they benefit you.

On a personal level, I can understand why Amanda reacted as she did. I rather suspect I would have done the same.

However, she is also a member the feminist blogosphere, a very visible one at that, and that carries with it a higher expectation than the average Jane on the street. An expectation that amounts to "not pulling shit like this."

Ragnell is right as well, it's our responsibility as fellow members of that community - especially those of us that also benefit from the same type of privilege - to call out our fellow feminists/progressives out when they act like this. Not doing so gives everyone the message that it's ok to do it, and while it may be understandable in a "I can see how that happened" kind of way, it's never ok.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Numb3rs, You Rock!

Power was awesome enough by itself, but the casual stuff - like smart teen girls who survive (and lust after sports stars!) and having Charlie use strategy in basketball as an analogy, and the hypothetical players being female - all that?

Is absolute WIN.

Dear LA Times Festival of Books

Why, year after year, do you insist on having the panel on Tween fic and the panel on YA fic at the exact same time?

F, SEtGPA - The Cliff Notes Version

It would also lessen the intimacy of straight marriages if gay folks were allowed to get together. That would be sad. Because you know, your definition of what “intimacy” is should be the same as mine, and if mine differs then yours should override me. Because you’re not wrong, of course.

The argument above assumes that LGBT rights have only one leg to stand on: the right to absence of interference from the government. Since this is very much not true - otherwise marriage, partner benefits, health care decisions, and the like would cease to be points of contention - the entire argument is FAIL.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Finally, Something Else to Get Pissed About

It would also lessen the intimacy of straight marriages if gay folks were allowed to get together. That would be sad. Because you know, your definition of what “intimacy” is should be the same as mine, and if mine differs then yours should override me. Because you’re not wrong, of course.

I hear this kind of argument a lot. And while sometimes it's simply the best can expect from certain people, I'm highlighting it because it pisses me off how often I hear it from supposedly fellow LGBT allies who are presumably addressing their comments to other allies - or, you know, people who are L,G,B, and/or T themselves.

Because in that context, it makes no sense. The argument as put forth is completely ridiculous. And hardly supportive of "gay folks." And yet, it makes even less sense as an argument put forth to people who do not support LGBT rights, since it's hardly useful or logical to argue that something you think is wrong is suddenly ok because it might make it harder for people to do something else you think is wrong. It's really just an all around stupid argument.

Let's ignore for the moment what it is the author of this statement is actually arguing about, because when it comes to what this arguement implies about LGBT rights, it doesn't really matter if the main argument is about polygamy, scarlet letters, or anything more risque than doing the missionary position in the dark, under the covers, and behind closed doors.

We will also ignore the author's nonsensical poor choice of nouns, since it also doesn't really matter what it is that people generally think is wrong about LGBTs and their "lifestyle."

What matters is that they are the ones who think that it is wrong - not us - and "wrong" and "not wrong" are not our only two choices here. "Right" would be another very obvious one. And I don't know about you, but I don't support LGBT rights because I think that it's none of my goddam business what people do behind closed doors - or in front of open ones. I support LGBT rights because I think what the law allows people to do is very much my business - this being a democracy and all. More than anything else, though, I support LGBT rights because I think that LGB relationships and the T "lifestyle" are inherently good things.

When I am up against a wall of fear, ignorance, and bigotry, and left with nothing else, I will often argue with non-allies that people should simply be left alone to live as they wish. This is something that is usually true and that I fervently believe in when it is. But when it copmes to LGBT rights, it also happens to be a politically expedient argument that lives on the distant fringes of why I am an ally. It is so far from being the reason that I am an ally that modern space shuttle technology could not bring the two reasons together in my lifetime.

The heart of the matter is that LGBT rights is a good thing to support. And not just because the absence of those rights is fascist, but because excercising those rights brings joy, emotional support, and all kinds of other good things into people's lives. Individuals make mistakes, but the overall net gain of excercising those rights should be obvious to anyone who truely considers themselves to be an ally, and not just a libertarian.

In conclusion: Twisting politically expedient arguments for LGBT rights in order to claim moral relativism for something else altogether has got to be a new low in the "but some of my friends are black!" scale of low debate tactics. So knock it off.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

But, But....You Don't Understand

No, see. The problem is that I do. Far too well.

And so you have to look at the development of female geeks, who not only have the same not-conventionally attractive, socially confused, and isolated early conditioning as male geeks....

So, a story.

I was visiting colleges. Which was a painful experience to begin with, because the school I really wanted to attend was not only the most expensive - both to visit and to attend - but the slowest in getting me my financial aid package. So I spent about a month going around to the other schools. All the while trying really hard to not compare them with what would one day be my alma mater.

(Yes, there is a happy ending to this story.)

So, I was visiting colleges. One in particular up in WA, to be exact. Doing the whole tour/sleepover/sitting in on classes thing. And there were a bunch of us, because it was that time of year, who were being hosted by the same woman. The visit itself was pretty uneventful - aside from the fact that I watched ER for the first time - except for two things....

....but the added stigma of not having their intelligence recognized, encouraged, or appreciated.

The Second Incident:

I sat in on an electronics class.

Which was completely my fault, as I'd asked for a science class. Physics, preferably.

I understood very little of it, but it sounded really interesting, and I thought it was cool that I understood even some of it. But all the students - who, looking back, must have been science majors themselves, considering the level of the class - kept making comments about how I must be bored out of my mind and how they were so sorry I'd gotten this class.

I wasn't. And why did they think I would be?

And did I really want to take classes with people like that? I thought the point of college was to leave those people behind in high school?

I mean, the idiot partner from my high school physics class may ignore me every time I say the right answer, but at least he cares enough to pretend that he's smarter than I am.

And being told that their only worth is their sexuality, and clearly they FAIL at that.

Because I'm all about non-linear narrative tonight, a confession.

I was one of those girls once upon a time. You know, those heartless bitches that turn guys into jerks.

Only once, though.

He asked me to go out when we were in 6th grade - and still in elementary school. I told him that I didn't really think we were old enough for that, but that I still wanted to be his friend. (I am so not making this up.) I got all pissed when he didn't want to be friends anymore and found it really awkward when did stuff like ask me to dance at this stupid thing they held for us at science camp.

I wanted to say no but I couldn't because we weren't allowed to. Dance rules. Grrr. I have no idea if he knew that I didn't want to touch him, but it would have been really hard not to know.

(no, really, this is all true)

You end up with a lot of touch-starved women.

All through elementary school - well, fourth grade onwards, my crush was on...damn, I completely forgot his name....anyway, he was cool. Cooler than I would ever be. The boy wore Grateful Dead and Led Zepplin T-shirts in 6th grade. I still don't own any music by either of those bands. He was super cool.

And he was a nerd, too! We were in GATE and science fairs together. He made a robot in 4th grade for his science project and demonstrated it to the class and I spent the whole time secretly wishing he would pick me to try the remote. For several obvious reasons. (It was a cool robot.)

But he worked really hard at ignoring me.

And right after the Nice Guy asked me to dance at science camp, it was my turn to ask my crush to dance - and get the same treatment I'd just gotten.

You end up with women who think, "I'm sick of being only appreciated in virtual spheres for my intelligence, but still not treated as being as intelligent as men, and I'm sick of being told I'm worthless because I'm not drop-dead gorgeous. If I can't be loved, I want to at least be desired."

The First Incident:

It was about the time when normal people would turn in for bed, and our host announced that there would be one more activity. Lucky us, we'd come on the night when they guys traditionally came to serenade the girls dorm.

Being the silly girl I was, my first thought was "how romantic!" And hiding in the darkest secretest shadows of my heart was the wish that I would picked as worthy of a serenade.*

She wanted to give us fair warning though, because last year the guys thought it would be funny to be all insulting and shit and call the women names while "serenading" them. One poor girl apparently got so upset she had to leave.

(Upset - like throwing things at them upset? - I wanted to ask.)

So she just wanted us to know that we didn't have to go if we didn't want to or if we didn't think we'd enjoy it.

Well, gee, guess who opted to opt out.

And guess who the other two girls spend at least a full half hour talking about when they came back. (Be warned, my spirit animal is a opossum.)

Yeah, there's no pressure at play at all in Operation Douche.

Quotes from sabotabby via the_red_shoes via hahathor via lauredhel.

*FYI to any interested parties, being serenaded in public is no longer a secret wish of mine. Unlike you are the late, great, Heath Ledger. Or you are a famous rock star who has written a hit single about me. Otherwise it's just creepy and/or immature.

On the Bright Side

It's all so very snark-worthy

"This should be a better world," a friend of mine said. "A more honest one, where sex isn't shameful or degrading. I wish this was the kind of world where say, 'Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts,' and people would understand that it's not a way of reducing you to a set of nipples and ignoring the rest of you, but rather a way of saying that I may not yet know your mind, but your body is beautiful."

I must fail at logic, because I completely fail to understand why saying "your body is beautiful" is massively more complicated than saying something like "Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts."

And I will say, yet again, that if any guy ever comes up to me and compliments me by saying simply "you're beautiful," I will die of shock. Which will be very sad, because he was sure to get my number and/or my first born child otherwise.

We were standing in the hallway of ConFusion, about nine of us, and we all nodded. Then another friend spoke up.

"You can touch my boobs," she said to all of us in the hallway. "It's no big deal."

I'm fascinated by her phrasing here, and how everyone in the group finds this so refreshing. I mean, I'm very much not down with the whole "sex is a special thing that should only happen between two people who are in love!" meme that most of the world pretends to be caught up in, but isn't it a little insulting for her to say that "it's no big deal?" Unless her breasts are completely lacking in nerve endings, shouldn't she have some kind of feeling toward the experience? Otherwise, isn't it just a mini version of pity-sex?

Now, you have to understand the way she said that, because it's the key to the whole project. The spirit of everything was formed within those nine words - and if she'd said them shyly, as though having her breasts touched by people was something to be endured or afraid of, the Open-Source Boob Project would have died...

I agree. Her lack of (stated) desire and the fact that she was making an offer and not a proposal, very much is the spirit of the project, and very much why the project is complete FAIL.

Yet it wasn't a come-on, either. There wasn't that undertow of desperation of come on, touch me, I need you to validate my self-esteem, and maybe we'll hook up later tonight. There was no promise of anything but a simple grope.

Because, of course, when women do come-on's it's because we are desperate. Guys on the other hand, are just being guys. So when they say 'Wow, I'd like to touch your breasts" women should translate that to "your body is beautiful" and not get sidetracked by all the "me/I" statements.

We all reached out in the hallway, hands and fingers extended, to get a handful...They were awesome breasts, worthy of being touched.

Which raises the question of which breasts are not worthy of being touched, and how the poor women attached to such breasts feel about that.

And life seemed so much simpler.

Yeah, not having to think about privilege is like that.

In this moment, all of the societal restrictions had fallen away, and we discovered an eBay-like need: We liked to express adoration of her body, and she liked the compliment of being desired. It wasn't a one-way flow; it was a stream of compliments being passed back and forth as we explored that small zone of her body, a My God, these are beautiful breasts you have, along with the backstream compliment of Thank you, you're worthy of touching them.

Dear idiots, the issue is not your worthiness, but her desires. You can pretend all you want that you are living in a brand new world, but if she says you can touch her breasts because you are worthy, oh great one, and not because she wants you to, then it's really just the same old world. As it usually is.

Plus, "an eBay-like need"?? wtf is that even supposed to mean?

It could have been a base lechery. But instead, it was sexual desire made simple. We knew we couldn't go further, but being allowed inside this area of restricted access with nothing more than a question was somehow amazing.

After all, usually women make using their bodies all complicated and shit.

Oh and wtf is up with confusing desire and pleasure? Dudez, the desire was made simple by skipping from compliments to expressing your id. It's the getting of sexual pleasure, not desire, that you are talking about here.

We stood there afterwards, a little shocked

Do I really have to say the obvious?

Then someone else spoke up in the same tone of voice:

"You can touch mine, too."

Well, at least this time there was no "it's no big deal." Although, I must ask, why no "Can I see your cock?" Cuz that's totally what I would have said instead.

And my God! We all reached out like zombies trying to break through a door to get to those breasts.

Yeah, no desperation here.

And it wasn't getting any worse! We weren't degenerating into an orgy....

Isn't that a direct contradiction to the above sentence? Or maybe he thinks zombies are sexy.

Nobody was trying to pull off a bra or suck on a nipple; we'd been given access to a very special place that only lovers usually touched, and why would you be so crude as to try to push the boundaries of that?

You mean men can be expected to respect personal boundaries? I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

No really. After reading all of this, I kinda am.

And every girl in that hallway was then asked the question: "May I touch your breasts?" They considered, and said yes. And we all did.

Wow, no pressure there.

And my Lord, I'd had experience in breasts in my time, but having so many compared right next to each other was beautiful. One of the reasons I love sex is because every body is so different, and the differences in size, and skin tone, and nipple sensitivity, and bras - bras were a big deal in how a boob felt - were highlighted....

Yes, every breast is different, but only some are worthy of being touched.

We went back to some of the first open-sourcers, eager for comparison. "Can I touch them again?" "Sure!" And the feel-ups continued.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means. As others have painstakingly pointed out, open-source is about who owns the rights, not who ultimately uses the software.

I felt the terrors of high school washing away from me. It could be this easy. Just ask!

Apologies, but I really must quote CM on this one:

"I wish all our unsubs tacked their profile up on the wall like this."

Unresolved issues much?

And then the real magic happened. Because a beautiful girl in an incredibly skimpy blue Princess outfit strode down the hallway, obviously putting her assets on display (the thin strips of her clothing had to be taped to her body to stay on), and we stopped her.

Oh dear god, no.

"Excuse me," the first, very brave girl asked. "You're very beautiful. I'd like to touch your breasts. Would you mind if I did?"

Ok, now I'm really confused. If the idea is that people should take "I'd like to touch your breasts" to equal "You're very beautiful" then why the hell did she say both? Methinks someone isn't being very honest with themselves.

We held our breath. We didn't want to offend.

Yet, they "didn't want to" enough to not take the risk of doing so, obviously. How daring of them to risk her feeling humiliated so that they could cop a feel.

This could go wrong, collapsing and turning us into cruel lechers who'd make her feel uncomfortable and shamed of who she was....

You know, most people get past the "it doesn't happen unless I see it" stage at about age 3.

A tip for all dudez (and dudettes) thinking of trying this. Her saying that you are lechers is not what turns you into lechers.

She thought for a heartbeat, sizing us up. But there must have been something honest and trustworthy in our eyes that promised that we wouldn't get out of hand... Because after a moment, she smiled and said, "Sure!"

Again with the worthiness. And the idea men behaving is shocking. And the lack of awareness of risk analysis. (She decided that they were trustworthy, not that what they promised was worth the risk of what might happen. And god forbid we mentioned the possibility of peer pressure or the risk analysis often involved in saying "yes" when you want to say "no.")

The first girl touched respectfully.

The repetition of "respectful" is really making me wonder why such respect is considered so noteworthy to the author.

And reported that they were glorious.

More than any other part of this post, this sentence makes me want to beg the writer in question to never write anything ever again. Please. With sugar on top.

.... It wasn't that she was a piece of meat to be felt up, but rather that a living person that we did not know had voluntarily lowered the barriers that separate us and allowed us in... And we were so grateful that we were showering her in pure adoration.

You know, I might actually believe this if I thought for one nano-second that any one of them asked her how she wanted to be touched, rather than if they could touch her or how she didn't want to be touched. But since I'm fairly certain none of them did, I fail to see how any of this is adoration.

It was exciting, of course. I won't deny it was sexual.

Except for her, of course.

But it was a miraculous sexuality that didn't feel dirty, but clean.

Dare I suggest that it's because you weren't bothered by thoughts of her pleasure? Plus, your issues are showing again. You might want to take care of that. And no, not caring about how others feel is not the way to do so.

Emboldened, we started asking other people. And lo, in the rarified atmosphere of the con, few were offended and many agreed.

Which makes it all good, cuz that's what a democracy is about, right? As long as most everyone's ok with it, it's ok to do it.

And they also felt that strange charge.

You know, it might have been just you. I doubt that most SF fans are quite as repressed as the stereotype says they are.

Or, it could have just been the static electrcity

We went around the con, asking those who we thought might be amenable - you didn't just ask anyone, but rather the ones who'd dressed to impress - and generally, people responded. They understood how this worked instinctively, and it worked.

Gee, there's no rape apology lingering under all that. No siree.

And on a completely unrelated note, I wore oversized t-shirts all through high school because I was all about being comfortable at that age.

By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?"

I just can't snark about that. It's just too sad.

And lo, we showed them how beautiful their bodies were without turning it into something tawdry.

I'm glad you've finally figured out how to do that, but I still don't think a public space is quite the right place for it.

Oh, and I thought I'd give you fair warning that I'm trying to find a way to ban the letters l and o from the internet.

We talked about this. It was an Open-Source Project, making breasts available to select folks.

Really, there is no end to his lack of understanding of the idea of open-source.

(Like any good project, you need access control, because there are loutish men and women who just Don't Get It.)

Irony, my good friend! So nice to see you.

And we wanted a signal to let people know that they were okay with being asked politely,

For their sake, of course.

so we turned it into a project:

The Open-Source Boob Project.

At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, "YES, you may" and a red button that said "NO, you may not." And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask:

"Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?"

Ok so, I'm going to give the Douche the benefit of the doubt and assume that people with the latter buttons were left alone. But still, what is the point of the "No!" buttons?

Oh, silly me, I keep thinking that he's being sincere in trying to make this easier for the gropees. No, it's always all about the gropers.

And if you weren't a total lout - the women retained their right to say no, of course - they would push their chests out, and you would be allowed into the sanctity of it. That exchange of happiness where one person are told with gropes and touches that they are desirable and the other is someone who's allowed to desire.

Again, desire =/= sexual pleasure. Which, in turn =/= access to other's bodies. There is a connection, yes. But they are not all the same thing.

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind. It was as though parts of me were being healed whenever I did it, and I touched at least fifteen sets of boobs at Penguicon.

Unresolved issues. Drink!

It never got old, surprisingly.

Surprising? In what way is that surprising?

Some women didn't want to. That was fine.

Wow. Good to know.

We never demanded anything of anyone.

You know, despite the obvious douchbaggery involved here, it never actually occurred to me that any of them did (explicitly). The fact that he felt the need to clarify that makes me wonder, however.

And if you didn't want to put yours up for the Project but you wanted to touch, well, that was fine, too. It was simply for folks who felt like being open.

Open to what, exactly? Other than being reassured that I am worthy enough to be groped, I'm a little confused as to what I'm supposed to be open to.

It was a raging success at Penguicon.... And there haven't been any hookups that I know of thanks to the Open-Source Boob Project.

So, I'm not saying that touches aren't good by themselves, but still, this is a good thing why?

I've left off the names, because frankly, people should reveal for themselves whether they're Open-Sourcers or not. Not everyone wants to go public with it, and what happens at the con stays at the con. But trust me. If you are, and I meet you, I will ask.

You have insurance, yes? Good.

And you'll understand the beauty and simplicity of the Open-Source Boob Project for yourself.

Well, yes, being the crazy feminazi that I am, I'm always eager to kick men in the balls. I so rarely get socially sanctioned chances to do so, however. Nice of you to do me that favor.

Touch the magic, my friends. Touch the magic.

And here, I though that earlier sentence could never be topped for pure "dear god, I wish I'd never read that"-ness.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why, Why, Why?!?!?!?!?!?!

Every time I get all set to buy my tix for ComiCon, the idiots of the world make me rethink that decision.

I mean, do I really want be in a packed convention hall full of guys like this guy?

Is even ComiCon really worth that price?

Oh, but! How silly of me, I forgot....

...a brief plug: If you're totally put off by the con you read about and worried that bad things could happen to you at cons everywhere, I'd suggest visiting WisCon, the world's leading feminist science-fiction convention, which I can guarantee you is completely different.

Gee, mister, that's awfully sweet of you, to allow me my fluffy little cage over there. 'Cuz god knows that:

1) the point of WisCon is to be a pink version of ComiCon, and not something else entirely

2) all the special guests that go to ComiCon go to WisCon

3) driving down to San Diego and staying with my cousin is in no way more affordable than flying halfway cross the country and staying in a hotel

4) nor is it more fun, because my cousins will be just as willing and able to hang out with me in Wisconsin as they will in San Diego

5) "separate but equal" is always a dandy idea

I'm seriously tempted to simply spend all that time writing fanfic for Criminal Minds instead.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Yesterdays' circ?


That's over 3 times as much as anyone else in the system.

And about a quarter of the total circ for the whole system.

I am now, finally, one of the cool kids. (Just kidding.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Apparently, We Are Quite Popular

So I don't know how this compares to other large libraries, but between Saturday and Sunday, we gave out 2,500 new library cards and patrons checked out a total of about 7,000 items.

That's 7,000 items that we have to reshelve in three weeks.

Why yes, I love being in charge of circulation. :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Survived

What? you ask....the Grand Opening, of course!

8:00 am to 6:00 pm

(last day off was last Friday)

(next day off is Tuesday)

Doors open from 11:00 am to 5:00pm

About 60 staff. (maybe 70)

At least 8,000 patrons

More likely 12,000 patrons.

Or more.


And no major injuries, lost kids that stayed lost, or people trying to make a scene.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear CSI

So, obviously my brian hasn't working right lately.

For why, see above.

I can't remember if I mentioned it the first time this episode aired. If I did, consider it annoying enough to be worth mentioning twice.

If a kid is on a go cart, driving about 60 mp/h, and he is behind a truck, also going 60 mp/h, and one of the truck's tires blows out and hits him, it will NOT hit him at a "combined speed of 60 mph."

First of all, the tire won't be going at the full 60 mph. If it was, it would still be traveling along with the truck and would never hit the kid in the first place.

Secondly, when they are traveling in the same direction, you do not add the speeds, you subtract them.

Why? It's simple.

The amount of force isn't based on total speed, it's based on acceleration. (Or, in this case, deceleration). The amount of force is dependent upon the change in speed, not the speed itself. That means that since the truck doesn't change speeds, it only matters in the equation because it can help us guess the speed of the tire, which again, is very much not 60 m/h.*

The go kart, however does change speeds, as does the tire. The tire slows down the go kart while the go cart speeds up the tire. Alternatively, a piece of the go kart could break off, and both the tire and the part would follow the tires path (which is basically standing still) while the rest of the go kart goes on it's merry way. The correct formula for either scenario is:

Force = MA => F = M (change in speed/time)

Which means that in order to get "962 ft-lbs of energy" from the tire hitting the head in the second scenario, assuming the go-kart is going at 60m/h, the head would have had to go from 0 m/h to 60 m/h in about a tenth of a second.

962 ft-lbs = 2 lbs * [ (60 m/h - 0 m/h)/x seconds] => x = 0.1247

Which is so not how quickly the head would come to a full stop.


I have no idea how many ft-lbs it takes to decapitate someone with a blown out truck tire, but I do know that your math sucks and your physics is even worse.



*PS, the speed of the truck is in fact completely irrelevant to the equation unless you want to assume that the tire changes speeds at an even faster rate than within a tenth of a second.

If the tire had only slowed down to 20 m/h (a lot more likely) instead of already being at a dead stop, the equation would look like this:

962 ft-lbs = 2 lbs * [ (60 m/h - 50m/h)/x seconds]

making x = 6 hundredths of a second

If the tire was indeed goingclose to 60, the equation would look like this:

962 ft-lbs = 2 lbs * [ (60 m/h - 55m/h)/x seconds]

making x = 1 hundredth of a second

PPS this would be why I rarely watch you anymore.

PPPS That's not actually true. It would be the sexism and reactionary pov that annoys the hell out of me. But this drives me crazy too. Most especially because while I can forgive some fudging of the math in the service of the story, the story is not at all served by making a really basic physics mistake. It just makes all those pretend smart people look really dumb. And makes me feel dumb for watching.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Things That Annoyed Me Tonight

(in order to annoyance)

1) I had to work tonight even though Saturday is supposed to be my day off, because it was the Mayor's Gala (State of the City speech followed by dinner and dancing) which was held at the new library I work at. Which doesn't actually open for another week. A bunch of us were there to be docent/ambassadors. We were pretty much only asked "is the bar free?"

2) The city was supposed to provide us food - but they didn't. Now, I would have been fine with them simply saying they wouldn't feed us, 'cuz it's not like board is usually provided for (outside of the supposition that our wages go towards it). However, not only did they promise that they would feed us and then not deliver on the promise, thus necessitating us scrambling and eating unhealthy and expensive stuff, but the main reason they forgot us is because they decided to make things harder on themselves and not give us the same dinners the guests were getting. Because god forbid that six full-time librarians be treated to the same food as the 500+ guests got.

3) The lady that came up and asked us "Aren't you so glad to be working here?" Yes, actually. But first of all, it's always annoying to be asked that when you are working and the person asking you isn't. After all, I'd have been a hell of a lot happier if I could have also had some of that fancy dinner. Or been at home, reading and not having to stand around talking to annoying people tonight. There is a reason why they pay me, you know. Secondly, the rudeness of such question skyrockets when the person doing the asking is wearing a dress that costs as much as you make in a week.

4) The fact that she followed that question up with "you need a bachelor's degree to work here, right?" Um, no. They don't pay most of us enough to ask that of us. But all of us here, right now? Yes, we do. I wanted to ask her if she wanted to see our transcripts. Either that or say "I studied physics. And you?" My mom says that I should have said "No, but I plan on getting one just as soon as I finish high school." (Funny lady, my mom.) But I like my job to much to do any of that.

5) The bust of MLK in the Children's Library that is named after him? Looks nothing like him. It looks like a generic white guy with a few minor variations to make him look almost black. As a co-worker commented "It's not like everybody doesn't know what he looks like." A point that was underscored by the various images of him on the children's books on display right next to the bust. The guy on all the book covers looked the same, and the bust looked like absolutely none of them.

6) The guests were not only leaving glass beer bottles on the counters in the bathrooms (icky and dangerous). Neither were they content to simply urinate on the walls of the bathrooms. The very pretty tile walls that both belong to the public and have yet to be unveiled to the public, mind you. No, they also urinated in our staff elevator. And no, I don't know how they got in there in the first place, although I suspect it has something to do with certain big wigs who were given our temporary codes so that they could set up being a bit to free with said codes.

(5 and 6 are a damn close tie btw. I keep going back and forth on those. The latter involves more people being inconsiderate and stupid than the former, but the former will last longer. Maybe I should switch....)