paxpinnae: Rainbow Dash, hanging out (and down). (friendship is magic)
I can't do a proper Yuletide squee post yet, because I haven't done signups yet, because real life and Kaleidoscope have combined to eat me, but this was too good not to do a quick share before I run off to a meeting:

Proof that America is the land of slash and honey*: Even our government agencies write anthropomorfic.

*Note for the benefit of the slash: honey apparently makes a terrible lube.

paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)
A friend of mine has a cousin - young, dresses oddly, likes Doctor Who - who's going through a bit of a rough patch. We're trying to collect advice for her - other than the generic "it'll be better in college" - here.

If you could take a moment to tell someone what you wish someone had told you when you were thirteen, it'd be appreciated.

ETA: A number of people have expressed an interest in seeing other people's responses, so I've set up a Tumblr here. The anonymity of all responses will be preserved.
paxpinnae: What the Tardis is, is freedom. (Freedom)
Right. So A (the artist for the webcomic I write) and I were both up late, trying to beat our publicity materials into submission before a con this weekend. Usually when this happens, we start sending each other little pieces of encouragement, often in the form of photos of half-naked men. This time, however, we went a bit more pornographic.

A: BTW, I fell in love today while I was driving.....
with the Audi R8 that pulled up next to me
It was love at first sight.
Pax: I don't blame you.
Though their front grille is a little derpy.
A: I like the derpy grille!
Pax: YAY attachment finally uploaded.
A: Seriously, though, I liked that car more than I liked any guy in my life.
[A's former crush] included.
Is there a word for people like me?
Pax: Probably, but I'm not googling for it. :D
A: hahaaa
Look at this and tell me you'd rather have a smelly boy.
I mean seriously.
I know you like the swooooope.
Pax: Nope.
I mean, I'd take the Ferrari
But, as always, my heart belongs to Lotus
(also, your pretty Swoop-y 458? Has a bad habit of spontaneously combusting.)
A: i can think of no better vessel to be burned alive in.
Pax: *pause*
Okay, you have a point there.

Priorities: we totally have them straight.
paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)
So, I was recently on vacation for a week at the beach (granted, the very cold beach, since it was in New Jersey and it's heading into autumn, but still the beach) without internet. I managed to do very well and only twitched a little bit, which was very good, considering I'm usually on my laptop several hours a day. However, I think the internet missed me, because it followed me into real life.

Not. Kidding.

My godson kept running over while I was reading to show the weird things his hermit crab was doing. The boardwalk vendors were selling Troll Face and Cool Story Bro t-shirts. The front-page photo on Sept. 19 was a man in a tricorner hat firing a se'en-pounder from a flagship on the Delaware River.

Honestly, it was like I'd never left. But return I have, to the news that apparently we only have three Yuletide nominations this year?

This is hard, y'all. This is really hard. )

Long story short, if you're thinking about nominating any of these:

Erin Morgenstern - The Night Circus
Stand By Me (1986)
Clueless (1995)
Top Gear UK RPF
Raging Phoenix (2009)
Lost Girl
Diane Duane - The Young Wizards Series

Please drop me a line so we can avoid redundancies, and also squeal about how awesome our tiniest fandoms are.
paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)
Yesterday I, in no particular order:

1. saw my TV boyfriend Seth Gilliam (perhaps you know him from this little show he did) do Othello
2. fired a handgun for the first time
3. wrote copious amounts of porn
4. learned the meaning of the word "dramaturg."

Houston Shakespeare Festival: Well, What Do You Want for Free? )

Sometimes I Worry About How Much I Like Things That Go Boom )

Also, Porn Battle is on! I was inspired by, uh, a lot of things this go-round, and managed to turn two of them into fic - a Yoo Joo/Eun Chan Coffee Prince dealie, and a Darcy/Hawkeye prompt for Thor. Anyone wanna do a beta read for me on either of those?

So, you know, it was a full day of multicultural experiences, provided that you count "redneck," "fandom," and "dirty liberal commie pinko literature snob" as three separate cultures.
paxpinnae: A 20-sided die, with the 1 up.  Caption: shit. (Shit)
So a few weeks ago, I converted a ton of my favorite super-long-form fics (Stealing Harry, The Shoebox Project, Written by the Victors, etc.) to a Kindle-friendly format and uploaded them to my Kindle. It did not seem to take this well. After weeks of being sluggish to start and turn pages, my darling Hypatia has just gone to a blank screen and given me the omnious message:

Collecting information..

May take a min..

Will restart when done..

I'm not sure if it's dying or evolving into a higher life form. Y'all, if I've accidentally started a slash fangirl version of SkyNet, I'm sorry. My bad.
paxpinnae: What the Tardis is, is freedom. (Freedom)
Here's the thing. Along with some other RL friends, I've been selling art and handicrafts at anime cons' Artists' Alleys since I was 14 years old. (For perspective, I'm now 22.) It's been great fun, it taught me how to make small talk with just about anyone, and it gave me pocket money all through high school. We've worked well-run cons, where attentive staff nabbed shoplifters discreetly and brought us water when the convention center AC was threatening to mummify us, and we've worked horrible cons, where the convention planners stuck half the tables in a dead-end hallway and broke contract by trying to make us pack up at 6 PM, when most cons are just cranking into high gear. We've worked big, bustling cons, small, desperate cons, and one memorable con that had to stop on Saturday night to hold a live-action telethon to raise enough money to pay for Sunday's venue fee.

But until last weekend, we'd never worked a Western comic convention before.

Let me tell you, it was different. Not in any of the essentials - the activity trifecta of panels-Artists' Alley-Dealers' Room was intact, there were dances and concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, and Saturday night was the big cosplay contest.   But - and there's no good way to put this - the demographics were decidedly different.  This first became apparent during set-up on Friday, when everyone was putting up their displays.   My friend A put it best; about halfway through Friday afternoon, she said, "You know, I never thought of myself as having a girly art style until now, but apparently, I have a girly style."  This was A's first big exposure to the western comics style, whose heavy lineart, primary colors, and anatomical excesses contrasted with her softer, more painterly style.  No one stops at every booth in th e alley, but at this con, it seemed like no one was stopping.  Hordes of middle-aged white men shuffled past our booth without so much as a second glance, while our target demographic (which skews young and female) seemed thin on the ground.  After a while, it just got to be depressing. A and I started riffing to avoid discouragement and boredom.

Pax: Captain, we're detecting immense amounts of radiation emitting from that rainbow-colored booth off the starboard bow.
A: What's the source?
Pax: Sir, our sensors indicate that it's - estrogen.
A: GOOD GOD, MAN. Raise the shields! Set deflection protocols to Ignore. FULL SPEED AWAY.
Pax: It's too late! Smithy from Engineering's already been exposed. He's - he's started dressing in - in pink.  And ruffles.
A: We'll have to euthanize him. Estrogen poisoning is no way for a man to die.

In all seriousness, however, it seemed like we had an invisibility shield around our booth, whose effects could only be pierced by women and those under the age of 25.  Everyone else deflected to the booths around us.  This had never been an issue at other cons; sure, we didn't get a huge adult male traffic, but we always had enough other traffic that we didn't notice.

 So, out of boredom, we decided to do an incredibly informal survey of the typical gender of the artists of Artists' Alley. The methodology was thus: I would walk around and make a quick determination of the primary purpose of the booth (Anime-esque art sales, Western Comics-esque art sales, Novel promotions, and Goods sales, including buttons, pillows, plushies, steampunk gear and clothing, etc etc etc) and the gender of the people working behind the booth. To account for the fact that vendors often get friends or significant others to babysit their booths so they can go have fun for a bit, if there was a prominently displayed name on the booth that didn't match the gender of the person working behind the booth, I just put marks for both. Yeah, this wasn't the most accurate survey. Somewhere, my research methodology professor is crying, and she has no idea why. However, given that, the breakdown was something like this:

Artists' Alley Gender Breakdown
Anime Art15
Western Comics Art6624

This was kind of appalling. We weren't just feeling outnumbered because we were in an unfamiliar environment; we were actually outnumbered. By 3:2.  However, cons don't control who signs up for AA tables. They do, however, control who they invite as guests.

Official Guest Gender Breakdown

Son of a bitch. When you went to the official program, the gender ratio got even worse, particularly among artists and authors.  The only fields to achieve relative equity were those out of the anime tradition and those in the entertainment fields.  When it came to creators, the majority were males.. 

I realize that none of this is news.  Men have dominated western comics for as long as they've been in existence.  Marvel hyped the crap out of their Marvel Women impact, staffed from editor to inker by female employees, precisely because the reverse case is so common.  Back in high school, when I was still buying comics on the regular (back when I still had money to buy comics), I'd frequently drive half an hour out of my way to go to the impersonal chain comics shore, rather than the local store where the clerks were either overly attentive or asked why a nice girl like me was buying Hellblazer and Preacher.  But you don't often get such clear, immediate data on the gender slant in comics.

As I said earlier, this was mostly surprising in contrast with our experience at anime cons.  We've been privileged to get to know a number of smart, funny women through our work at anime cons.  Female creators at anime cons, at least at the artists' alley level, are present in equal or greater numbers than male artists.  Fanart from the female gaze is as readily available as that from the male gaze - maybe more available, given the prevalence of easily slashable male characters in anime.  I'd gotten used to the idea that at any given con, our neighbors were probably going to be female.  Anime cons are not safe spaces (years of hearing about and sometimes experiencing low-grade (and sometimes high-octane) sexual skeeviness have disabused me of that notion), but, at least in my experience, they are relatively diverse ones, and they're ones we understand.

We broke this cultural barrier and got outside our comfort zone deliberately, because A and I were trying to promote our webcomic, and it seemed like an expedient way to entice in new blood. (I'm not going to link to the comic directly, because I believe in the separation of professional life and fandom, but PM me and I'll hook you up.) And don't get me wrong. This was a net positive experience.  We had a few fans show up to say hi, and a few more people sign up for our mailing list.  We broke even on sales, and took home a little extra, which, in this economy, isn't bad.  It turns out that comic cons are much better for networking than anime cons, and every last one of the male creators we talked to were completely welcoming and professional.  We made some excellent contacts at this con, a few of which might turn into actual collaborations down the line, and another few of which might turn into the kind of behind-the-table friendships that keep artists sane when it's two AM on a Saturday and the teenagers spilling out of the rave are trying to get you to sell a $40 plushie for a half-eaten bag of candy.

But it makes a difference when you're a member of a group that makes up half the population, instead of two-fifths.  It makes a difference when you're not wondering whether it's just the audience or whether your stuff is actually crap.  In two weeks, A's going to another anime con.  She's going to repeat the experiment there, just to make sure that we're not painting them in a halcyon glow.  In the meantime, I'm just going to keep writing.  Because there's a trend here.  The lower the barrier to access is, the more women creators you find.  There are more women in the artists' alley than on the guest list; more women in the newer field of anime than in the older field of comics; more women writing on the internet than being published by companies.  And the only way that changes is if we all keep writing and drawing and getting our work out there.  There's a trend here, and I want it to continue.

Do you?

paxpinnae: Tea and alcohol make the world go 'round. (alcohol)
So I woke up this morning and pulled my laptop out of hibernation to find that Audacity was open and had a file I only vaguely remember creating. Apparently, when I staggered home from a friend's graduation party last night, I decided it would be a great idea to record a podfic. As one does.

Tip: Don't podfic while drunk.

Better tip: If you're going to podfic while drunk, don't do it in Latin.

My nerdery is probably irredeemable at this point.

paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)
One sad thing, and two happy things:

Sad thing: The first three headlines when I opened my Google Reader's News folder this evening were "Split Verdict on Katrina Ruling," "Senate stalls bill to repeal gay policy in military," and "E.P.A. delays tougher rules on emissions." For one horrible moment, I thought that I'd traveled back in time to the Bush years, which, please Jesus no, and not just because those years included middle school and high school. Fortunately, my Weird Shit FriendTM[*] confirmed that it is, in fact, 2010, and I will never have to have Dubya as my elected official ever again.

Happy Thing One: Anonymous is, apparently, applying itself once more to noncriminal activities with the launch of Operation: Leakspin, wherein instead of blasting LOICs at everyone who they think stands in WikiLeaks's way, they actually read the cables and post about them. If this actually happens, it'll be either awesome or disasterous. Either way, I'm deeply entertained.

Manifesto Image under the cut )

Happy Thing Two: Five Sci-Fi Children's Books.

Entries include Oh, The Times and Places You'll Go, Goodnight, Dune, and The Very Deadly Bounty Hunter. GO LOOK NOW.

[*]I have unusually realistic dreams, to the point where I have difficulty sometimes distinguishing them from truth. My Weird Shit Friend TM is the friend I call when I need, for example, to know that my professor didn't actually set an assignment that involves creating period-accurate doll clothes, or that my ex-boyfriend didn't say he wanted to get back together with me at a party. She is a beautiful and tolerant individual on whom I have an incredible amount of blackmail material, should she ever think of screwing with me. Occasionally, she has other uses.

paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)

There are many, many reasons why I love dead-tree media, not least of which is that I hope that one day they will give me a job, but the one most pertinent at the moment is that they can yield up articles that set your world on its head in ways that might take a small fleet of blog posts to accomplish.

E.G., I present this New York Times article about Afghan girls who are raised as boys in order to give their families the prestige (and monetary opportunities) that their all-girl families would otherwise lack.

Yeah, it blew my mind too.  In one of the most gender-stratified societies in the world, there are enough of a certain kind of cross-dresser that they have their own noun: "bacha posh," or literally "girls dressed as boys."  These girls are dressed as boys from a young age.  Some attend school as girls, then work after-school jobs, socialize, and play sports as boys.  When the bacha posh hit puberty, or become engaged to be married, they transition back into girls. 

I urge you to read the whole thing; it says a whole lot about gender and identity and the social pressures to have a male child in Afghanistan without simplifying the issues overmuch, and is an enormous credit to the reporter.  Some of the girls interviewed loved the freedoms they got; some were uncomfortable socializing with boys and playing the male parts.  One little girl interviewed kept stealing her older sisters'  clothes because she didn't like hers; one teenager, Zahra, was referred to with female pronouns in the article but said ze never wanted to transition back, because "nothing in me feels like a girl."  One woman didn't transition back until she was 20 years old.

Reading the article was kind of heartbreaking, because while most of the women interviewed said they liked living as boys for as long as they got to do it, it's difficult to separate out whether they liked being men or just the freedom that came with being men.  Most of the older women interviewed said that their time as boys gave them strength and confidence, and let them deal more evenly with their husbands; but most of them also found switching back to be incredibly confining, "like being born again."

As soon as I read the article, I shared it with my roommate, J. J and I have talked before about our slightly gender-atypical childhoods; we were both tomboys growing up, but this article helped me realize that we constructed that identity in different ways.

I was always happy being a girl, but I wanted to be a girl who could be Han Solo.  I wanted to swoop in, crack jokes, and save the day, and I wanted to do it without all this goddamn talking about FEELINGS -  but I was a girl. This led to some frustrating moments of gender-confusion until I found myself some heroines who acted like heroes - Alanna of Trebond, Kara Thrace, Amelia Peabody, and others who were definitely female but who interacted with the world on male terms because that let them get shit done.  J, on the other hand, says that when she was a kid, she definitely wanted to be a boy, because girls were weak and sissified.  She was proud of being her father's "oldest son," and didn't start being comfortable with girly things until college.  It's weird, because we've talked about this at least four times and never really understood what the other one was saying.

So!  The reason I'm letting myself post about this in a fandom blog is because after the discussion with J, I remembered this fic that I read a while back that dovetails quite nicely with the whole "do I want to be male, or just interact with the world on male terms" quandry.  It is Hating the Weather, by [ profile] rivkat , and I have it bookmarked as "the genderfuck I have been waiting for since I learned the genre existed," because it isn't "What if Dean Winchester was born a girl" or "How does Dean Winchester cope with being turned into a girl," but rather "How does a Dean Winchester who was born a girl cope with being turned into a man (and furthermore, what are Sam's thoughts on the matter)?"  And whoa, does that make for one hell of an interesting story. It's long (40,000 words), plotty, AUs the whole of seasons 2-4, and if you were allowed to nominate fanfiction for the Tiptree I'd be circulating petitions as we speak.  Go read. Now.

I had more thoughts, but J apparently needs me to kill a cockroach.  What the hell.


paxpinnae: Inara Serra,being more awesome than you. (Default)

October 2013



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