Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Geek Girl Rage: A Call To Arms

More eloquent voices have spoken up in the last twenty-four hours about the vileness thrown Quvenzhané Wallis' way at this year's Oscars ceremony, so what would be one more white girl's opinion in amongst many when the podium belongs to women of colour?

I'm speaking up because I've been called to arms. The louder we speak, the less they can ignore us.

I will not sit by while a nine year old artist has racist and misogynist slurs thrown her way. The fight is for all of us. I will not tolerate a child being called the c-word by a previously progressive social media outlet. Hell, I won't tolerate it from ANYBODY. I will not. You have to go through me first.

I come to the fight at behest of one of my favourite authors, N.K. Jemisin. I would optimistically like to call her one of my peers (we are of the same age and write about many of the same things, though she has many more years of writing success and practise under her belt than I do) though we come to our art from different directions. I will not sit by when somebody I hold in the highest respect wears the barbs and arrows of what our society euphemistically calls "humour". I will not sit by when this "humour" kills  women and girls piece by little piece, taking away their dreams.

In "Fantasy Fans: Where's Your Outrage?", Jemisin lays out the slurs and taunts and pedophilia jokes thrown at Wallis (yes, that's right, we must think about a NINE YEAR OLD ACTRESS in the terms of her sexuality and how that will apply to men, fuck you very much) and asks of us:
But I can’t help thinking that there should be a lot more outrage than I’m seeing. After all, a fantasy film just came very close to winning an Oscar for Best Picture — yet I don’t see the community even embracing this as a fantasy film, let alone leaping to the defense of one of our biggest stars. I wonder about that. Really, I do.

Here’s what I’d like to see: more people talking about this, in social media and other places. I’d like those people to unfollow The Onion, if they’re following it, and un”like” it on Facebook — because social media capital is valuable these days, and doing these small things is the equivalent of a boycott. You can also write the Onion and tell them what you think of this. I know people are looking up lists of their advertisers even as we speak, so when there’s a list of Onion advertisers to write to, I’ll add that to this post.

But aside from that, what I’d like to see is some good old-fashioned geek rage. I mean, seriously, ya’ll. Geek rage is an awesome and beautiful thing when it gets behind a cause of worth. This one’s worthy.
I watched Jemisin unfold a similar tale on Twitter last night, of pain experienced when she was a child as she expressed her own dreams. I won't say our roads are even remotely similar, she experienced different and bigger obstacles than I, but I heard her pain and felt some echo in it. I remember my first feeble attempts at writing, and while I wasn't outright dismissed, the overwhelming disinterest in my dreams and desires and attempts to find my voice was enough. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. I didn't need vacuous praise, I now know in hindsight, I simply needed the encouragement, someone to say "that's an interesting start, let's help you get BETTER." (and when I did get the encouragement, the maelstrom was so loud it took me years to understand what had been offered me).

So here is my voice. I am angry; if you're not, why? What have we got to gain from taking down a little girl, a black girl, a girl with dreams, other than reinforcing the status quo? That's not good enough. I want better.

I hear you Quvenzhané (and Nora). You will not be silenced. I see you tough and cool and strong, and its okay not to be those things too when the world is trying its hardest to bring you down - we'll have your back. To hell with them all, us girls will make our art. And it will be great.

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