I’m going to start this post even though I don’t have an ending.
About a year ago I was asked to start writing for Playboy. The editor said that he was helping to transform the magazine’s website into one that “was a destination for smart writing on sex.” I said that I’d keep the offer in mind but, between you and me, the answer was no.
Around the same time, I heard of some other high-profile feminist writers being invited as well. “Huh,” I thought, “they may actually be serious about this.”
Since then, I’ve ended up on the Playboy website a couple of times, following links by like-minded people who found material they thought was valuable. I’ve been surprised and tentatively impressed. Then, this week there was a flurry of links to a piece by Noah Berlatsky, deftly and smartly analyzing feminist responses to trans woman Laverne Cox’s decision to pose nude for Allure.
The article began with a cropped screenshot of Cox’s photograph featuring her face and de-emphasizing her body and a quote from Cox about the widespread belief that black women and trans women, and especially black trans women, can’t be beautiful.
Berlatsky then goes on to discuss the challenges intersectionality poses to feminism, conflicts within feminism about whether trans women count as women, debates over cosmetic surgery and the problem with trying to live up to patriarchal standards of beauty, and whether Cox’s decision to pose naked is degrading. You don’t have to agree with all Berlatsky says to notice that he is no stranger to feminist theory.
And he seems to look upon Cox’s photograph with a delicate and sensitive gaze, describing what he sees like this:
Cox is not fashion-model-thin. She’s not fashion-model-petite or willowy, either. She has very large hands, which are not hidden, boldly displayed. In the photo, Cox lies on a blanket; her body taut rather than relaxed, her head in one big, strong hand, eyes closed, a slight smile on her face — like she’s a little embarrassed and amused at being embarrassed. She’s voluptuous and awkward and sweet all at once. In her simultaneous enjoyment of and discomfort before the camera, she seems, in the frankly staged pose, startlingly natural — and beautiful.
And, as I reach the end of the article, I was considering sharing a post from Playboy for the very first time when, this happened:
That’s a screenshot of a pop-up that arrived on my screen when I reached the end of Berlatsky’s thoughtful, feminist essay. It says: “Enter your email to see a 45-year-old with an amazing booty.” In other words, “Click right now to see a woman still fuckable after 40!”
This is where I’m at a loss.
Is this what change looks like? Is this what change looks like, specifically, when it comes from inside of an organization? A slow, stuttering shift from misogyny to feminism, replete with missteps and contradictions?
Who’s in charge over there? What is their strategic plan? Are they trying to appropriate feminism? It’s not like they haven’t done it before. What role do they see this feminist discourse playing in a space that’s still so misogynist?
Or is the right hand just not paying attention to what the left hand is doing? Maybe Berlatsky was as surprised by the pop-up as I was, thinking “Come on, guys!” Or do they not think that their pop up was sexist at all?
And, from a feminist perspective, does this do anyone any good? I don’t mean this rhetorically. I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. And, on the flipside, could this hurt feminist activism?
What say you?Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Bud Sparhawk is not only possibly the best treasurer that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has ever had (says a guy fortunate enough to have been on the organization’s board with him), he’s also a hell of a writer, as evidenced by his latest novel, Distant Seas, which garnered a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly. Bud’s here now to talk about the book, and what previously earth-based skill takes to other worlds in it.
The really big idea in this make-up novel is that sailing, balancing the forces of wind and water, is as much an art as a science. Running a true line with your hand on the rudder and the mainsail’s line in hand is both an expression of love between you and the boat and calculating the solutions to multiple simultaneous equations.
This story is my way of conveying the experience of sailing to readers who have never felt the responsiveness of a lively hull, heard the thrum of the wind on the lines, or felt the wind and water’s tension that integrates sailor, sail, rudder, hull, and keel into a single living creature.
I’ve always thrilled to reading about sailors racing around the world, braving mishaps, and surviving terrible weather by taking every precaution to avoid disaster. I learned to sail on the Chesapeake Bay as a teen and was able to renew my love of sailing after we returned to the Annapolis area (aka Sailing Capitol of the World.)
There were several streams that brought Distant Seas into reality. The first of these was my second professional short story, Alba Krystal, which described miners plunging into the dense atmosphere of Grimm, a gas giant, to collect volcanic gems thrown into the planet’s fierce winds. That idea popped back into my head when, twenty years later, I read an article on surface gravity and realized that a survivable two-gravity field would be well within Jupiter’s atmosphere.
And if, at that two-gravity level, there was as sharp a density divide as between air and water then someone could build a sailboat and, wherever there are sailboats, there will be a race.
But sailing on Jupiter is only one part of the story. The “seas” on which Louella and Pascal race include Earth’s dangerous Southern Ocean, the wine-red seas of Jupiter, and the arid high plains of Mars.
The most difficult part of writing these stories was to imbue the protagonists and their sponsors, partners, and competitors with life, to give each of them individuality in speech patterns, personalities, and histories as well as delve into their motivations. I worked hard to subtly show the forces that shaped each of them by continually trimming long and boring narrative passages until only the essence remained and then seeding these fragments among conversations, asides, and observations.
The second hardest part was making the sailing technology realistic. I did this by giving first general descriptions and then focusing on specific parts of the design; efficient for Earth’s around-the-world single-handed sailboats, rugged for the Jupiter dirigible/submarine craft, and light for Mars’ sand racers.
Do not for a moment believe that any of these plot lines emerged pure and unsullied from my brilliant mind. Much was composed while sailing on the Bay, sweating at the computer, and at random and unpredictable times. Paragraphs were shifted, descriptions changed, and entire swathes of passages obliterated. I even typed the Martian race while wearing an arm cast that forced me to use a single finger of my write hand.
But aside from developing interesting characters and believable technology, I wanted to get across the pure joy of balancing wind and water when carving a smooth line across the “seas” of the title. I wanted to put reader in the cockpit with lines in hand, an eye to the sail, and a firm hand on the rudder. I want you to be there, in the moment, as the protagonists deal with their problems in a realistic way. There are no unflinching heroes in this book, no miraculous salvations, and no mystical forces. There are only people doing their best while fighting the winds and handling whatever fate deals them.
This is a book about being a sailor!
 Capitol refers to the State’s capitol, not sailing’s.
 Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, January 1977
 “Quantized Surface Gravity?” Analog, March 1994
 I apologize.
And now I'm very stiff and in pain. :)
Warning: This poem mentions past child abuse and subsequent insecurities about growing up. Current environment is safe.
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Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: J.J. Jareau, Penelope Garcia, Spencer Reid, Derek Morgan, Aaron Hotchner, Jason Gideon, Elle Greenway
Content Notes/Warnings: none
Medium: crayon or colored pencil
Artist on DW/LJ:n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: DA
Why this piece is awesome: Adorable chibis combined with the gruesome clues from the show (and awesomely, one from every episode) give this an interesting, black comedy edge that reminds me of The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
2. I didn't eat a proper lunch at work, just had a few snacks, so I was super hungry when I got off and stopped at Campos for burritos on the way home.
3. As part of our relaxing evening, we played a lot of Mario Kart. :D We now have three-star gold cups on all the 50cc tracks, including the eight new tracks, and are working on the 100cc cups. Apparently in order to unlock the new 200cc courses, you have to get gold cups on all the 150ccs, so I'm working my way up.
4. New Simpsons and Brooklyn Nine-Nine tonight! Finally! (And they were both good. :D)
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We must assume the best of all intents
But sadly there are bots autonomous
and Google's rules they aim to circumvent.
For CAPTCHAs to prevent the spamming trash,
if answer first received is wrong, will fail.
An answer given twice will trigger cache
and will not recognize that ship set sail.
To make it through the tor'trous field of woe
and get your comment posted on the page
A hard refresh will brand new query show
With different answer crave'd on the stage.
To do this thing and pass through chain-ed gate
a doubled keypress needed to unlock
Control and function five will wipe the slate
Just hold together to turn back the clock.
And if there is an error to report
Just take a breath, and kindly ping Support.
From this thread regarding the fact that I'm hesitant to work on FAQs when I've been reading and writing early modern English text all evening.
I'd be sorry, but I'm not.
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What it says on the tin.
Words: 2139, Chapters: 4/4, Language: English
- Fandoms: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man (Movies), Captain America (Movies)
- Rating: Explicit
- Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
- Categories: F/F, F/M, M/M, Multi
- Characters: Pepper Potts, James "Bucky" Barnes, Sam Wilson (Marvel), Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, Peggy Carter
- Relationships: Pepper Potts/Natasha Romanov, James "Bucky" Barnes/Peggy Carter/Steve Rogers, James "Bucky" Barnes/Natasha Romanov, Steve Rogers/Sam Wilson
- Additional Tags: Ficlet Collection, Inspired by Art, NSFW Art, Cunnilingus, Blow Jobs, Pegging, Kissing, Wet Dream, Strap-Ons, Pre-Serum Steve Rogers, Pre-Serum
(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
Again I can't wrap my mind around the loss. But I can wrap my mind around the need to help, and to help induce it. Put up a few offers at fandomaid; this round is BUY NOW only, no auction:
1. Fanart Offer
5 icons OR 1 wallpaper
2. Fanfic Offer
Up to 5 Drabbles for MCU - Captain America, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and/or Agent Carter; The 100