Thursday, July 1, 2010

She'z In Mah Brainz: Introducing Courtney Stoker

I spent a delightfully long time yesterday getting acquainted with the blogging of Courtney Stoker. Her blog resides at "From Austin to A&M", and was started as a reactionary to her being a liberal feminist atheist moving to a conservative school.

Most exciting of all, Courtney blogs about geek feminism, and it's like reading a little piece of me. She's all about how women negotiate and survive within male dominated constructs like science fiction and gaming, and she writes in a beautiful, succinct, literate way. I made a comment to someone last night that she has a writing voice which sounds very much like the way I imagine I would have sounded if I had done a PhD in women's and literature studies.

I discovered Courtney through a great article at The Sexist, "Courtney Stoker on Feminist Geek".

On women trying to be part of a geek community, Courtney says:

While sci fi fans don’t mind (and often excel at) criticizing their sci fi shows, they are generally only supportive of criticizing that focuses on “literary” details—plot holes, bad writing, continuity in the canon, inconsistent application of science. But as soon as you start talking about the bigger structures in a show’s texts, like racist logic, sexism, classism, whatever, some douchey white dudes with serious entitlement issues are going to dismiss you. (It’s actually sort of funny, because they can’t really, like the rest of the world of douchey white dudes, tell you you’re reading too much into the show, or taking the show too seriously, because ten minutes ago, they were posting about insignificant detail x in an episode that aired 20 years ago.)
Oh My FSM, YES! I can't count the number of times I've gone into a game, SF, comic etc communities and been dismissed simply for being an emoshunul wimmin! I heart you Courtney!

The Growing Up Geek narrative is, in most of these conversations about sexism, a hand-waving exercise, designed to make women feel sorry for geek men and forgive them for the sexism that is present in their community, while obfuscating the fact that misogyny comes not just from miscellaneous geek assholes, but from positions of power and wealth in our communities and in culture at large.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

They regularly agree that women, as a category, don’t get or don’t write good science fiction, but they are an exception. It’s a classic move of the anti-feminist.

And the goodness goes on! Today, The Sexist posted a follow-up, "Make Your Dude-Dominated Culture More Accessible to Women". In it, Courtney gives tips on how to make a community or forum more female friendly. Seriously, this is stuff I've been thinking about for the longest time, in relation to the communities I dip into; my recent post about the Cheezburger Network's raging misogyny, homophobia and racism is just one example.

2. Take women’s voices seriously. [...]Above all, be willing to listen, even if what women have to say makes you feel uncomfortable or challenges your privilege. (Actually, especially if that happens.) The best way to make a community feel welcome is to show that you care what they think and have to say.
And that's just the two articles Courtney has featured in. There's lots more goodness over at her blog.

For example, "Ladies Who Chose Not to Have Babies are Not Broken": "Hot damn. It's been...well, never, since I've seen a sympathetic and not-pathologized childless woman by choice on television." My goodness, thank you. My choice to remain child-free is not something that needs to be "fixed" in me, and I'm glad to have someone put a name to it! 'Don't Pathologize my child-free state!' may just become my new comeback.

"Offensive language and why I swear so much" is so very much like a post I wrote a couple months back about not using disableist language in my writing. I've also been working on removing words from my daily lexicon just like Courtney mentions here.

"Meta-blogging: And now I get to delete assholes!" sounds like the post I may eventually have to write for this blog, if there comes a time I need to turn moderation on. In short: this is my safe space, this is my house; you do not get to come into my house and abuse or threaten me. Says Courtney:
"The idea that the internet is a free market of ideas, in which intelligent debate sorts out the valid from the invalid, is an idea you can only hold true if you're in a position of privilege or you only go to certain (moderated) places on the internet. (It is also an idea you can only have if you've never ventured into unmoderated comment spaces, like the comment sections of big news networks.)"
I swear, Granny Herald's Your Views section can make me weep on a daily basis.

"[...]when you self-identify as one of those marginalized populations (or even just argue that we should rectify our discriminations against those populations), the internet is a different place. A meaner place. A more threatening place."
It is not my duty to debate with every misogynistic anti-feminist asshole on this blog. Because, frankly, this is the ONE PLACE on the internet where I can determine how upset my commenters make me. The ONE PLACE where I don't have to react to gendered attacks or sexist arguments.
"Science Fiction, Geek Cutlture, and Sexism (Part One)" is possibly my favourite of her posts, and I'd very much like to read part two when she gets round to it. It goes into a lot more detail of the same ideas she spoke about in The Sexist articles, and it's like some sort of primer/101 EVERY forum/community should have, not just gamers and geeks.

There's a lot of great stuff over at Courtney's blog, and I hope she continues in her awesome fashion for a long time to come.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You know, I've always been pretty sure I'm awesome, but to have complete strangers gush about me at length is always very, very weird. Good weird, though.