I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Geek Feminst Revolution by Kameron Hurley

I've always considered myself a geek and I've always considered myself a feminist even when others would try to paint it as a bad word. What is a feminist but one who wants equal rights and pay for women all over the world. I know that white women in the United States make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes [Hispanic women make 55 cents and African American women make 60 cents. Asian American women make 84 cents.]  but that does not really hit home until you read this book and see what the author goes through as a female writer of science fiction/fantasy novels.  Also, I didn't realize how women still get looked over for jobs for various reasons even though they are unfounded. The example I will give here is when the author was working at a movie theater and was up for a manager position but was passed over because it was assumed she would not be able to pick up the sixty-pound film reels which were part of the job. The thing was, she could. Of course, she had no idea at the time that this was happening.  I thought we'd left that stuff behind.

This book is about a revolution that is happening in the world of geekdom.  Women have always been geeks but over the years our numbers have increased and some of the white boys are getting upset with the disruption of the status quo.  "Women have gone from making up 25 to 30 percent of gaming audiences just ten years ago to over 50 percent of video game players, and 40 to 50 percent of creators. Forty percent of science fiction authors are female, as are 60 percent of speculative genres.  Thier voices, their presence cannot be denied or explained away with talks of tokenism and exceptionalism. Women are here."

This author is the great-granddaughter of resistance fighters from France and studied resistance movements in South Africa for her Master's degree. She knows how to fight back and isn't afraid to do so.  She also believes that she needs to in order to make things easier for those that will come after her.  She's been fighting for over ten years now through her blog and in a way her books which broke barriers by featuring strong women characters and characters that are from the LGBT community. She has won the Sydney J. Bounds Award and the Kitschies Award for her first novel, God's War,  and the Hugo award twice, once for a blog she wrote that is included in this book and has been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nebula Award, and the Locus Award among many others.  She is well qualified to speak on this subject.

The first section of this book is titled "Level Up" and deals with helping you to try to hone your writing skills. One of the most important lessons is persistence and that anyone can be a writer if you keep at it long enough. Also how the book business is, in fact, a business and a cutthroat one at that and you will have to be tough to survive it so make sure that this is really what you want.  She stresses the importance of responsibility of writing. That what you write is important and you have to own it so make sure you are not reckless or get something wrong or perpetuate a damaging stereotype.

The second section is titled "Let's Get Personal" and lets you get to know her. She talks about why she writes what she writes, which is dark fiction and about how she has always been overweight and that that is just how she is built even though she eats healthy and excersises and how that has affected her life.  When she lost a job after being very sick and put in the hospital where she found out she was Type I diabetic she needed to stay insured or risk having her diabetes being considered a pre-existing condition. So she paid a lot of money for private insurance while she looked for a job and eventually ended up living on the couch of a friend and using expired insulin and testing the minimum amount of times. Then she lucked out and got a job working at a company that paid for full coverage with no cost paid by her. She also writes about dealing with online criticism and being a rebel and fixing a broken system.

The third section is titled Revolution and it's just that: a call to revolution.  It's meant to inspire you to be the hero and go out shake things up and do your part. Yes, she does do one essay on Gamergate and one on Sadpuppy. She also covers bullying and censorship online. And the bullying can take the form of trolls whose only goal is to upset you in any way they can with suicide the ultimate prize. Then there's those who call a SWAT team to your house, stalk you, and threaten your life and there's nothing the police can do or are willing to do about these people. They tell women to just stay off of the internet the way you would tell a woman to avoid getting raped to stay at home. Maybe the laws need to be more strict.  Also included in this section is her Hugo award winning blog "We Have Always Fought: Challenging the 'Women, Cattle, and Slaves' Narrative".  This blog focuses on how women have fought in wars across time and have largely been ignored.

This book really made me rethink what it is to be a woman and a feminist. It also inspired me to take up the banner and be a part of the revolution against bullies that attack those for their gender, color or sexuality.  The essays were quite interesting and if you are a blogger or writer you will definitely get something out of this. But even if you are only a geek this book is well worth reading.  

It’s easy to pretend you’re “normal”, just like everyone else. But normal is a lie. Normal is a story.
-Kameron Hurley (The Geek Feminist Revolution p 104)
It’s this resignation with getting a future we didn’t want that the people in charge are relying on. The systems are too old, too ingrained. Power cannot be moved. There structures have always been here. This is the only way the future can be. They love it when we think this. Yet, like so much of the world we’re told about, it’s all a lie. It doesn’t really exist. The future is malleable. That’s what they don’t want you to know. When you believe people can’t change the world, they win. Of course people can change the world. Who do you think got us here in the first place?
-Kameron Hurley (The Geek Feminist Revolution p 135)
For every good you do, you do harm somewhere else. Maybe sanity is simply accepting this truth, and carrying on regardless, and doing the best you can.
-Kameron Hurley (The Geek Feminist Revolution p 197)
The truth is that who is good and who is bad is highly dependent on who wins, and whose point of view we’re writing from.
-Kameron Hurley (The Geek Feminist Revolution p 203)
Life is a series of unrelated incidents. It is the human mind that seeks to string them together into narratives, into story. It is the human mind that gives events meaning.
-Kameron Hurley (The Geek Feminist Revolution p 274)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Geek-Feminist-Revolution-Essays/dp/0765386240/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484582744&sr=1-1&keywords=the+geek+feminist+revolution

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