My 2015 in Books

This was my first full calendar year as a teacher, so it isn't too surprising that the number of books I read this year falls far below any other. My goal was to read 50--I ended up with a total of 29. I've been setting reading challenges for myself for 10 years now, and though I'd always like to make my goal, the point is not to up my numbers, but to consistently search out new books, rather than re-reading the old, as is my long-established habit.  


This year comes with a real treat: all the books I read were ones that I chose. And after years of being in some kind of schooling, and coming on the heels of skimming like crazy for master's comp exams, the freedom is wonderful. 

Most notably, I took up the Tempest Challenge this year, and didn't read a single book by a white straight man. In fact, I don't think I read any books by white men at all. It wasn't a difficult decision--I've largely had it with that demographic getting all the attention--but it did challenge me to consciously expand my boundaries. I read more authors of color, more foreign authors, and more translated authors than ever before. 

Instead, I continued to fall in love with N.K. Jemisin, and discovered the legendary Octavia Butler and the younger Alaya Dawn Johnson. I read the immensely satisfying end to Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist series, and was far from the only person disappointed by Go Set a Watchman. I branched out of my comfort zone with Banana Yoshimoto and Chang-rae Lee, both of which were amazing. I found new favorites in Tahmina Anam and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, who both taught me so much about their home countries (Bangladesh and Nigeria). AndTa-Nehisi Coates made me uncomfortable--and appropriately so. 

 I don't know that I will stick to the challenge next year (mainly because I really want to read Terry Pratchett's final book), but I do know that I will continue to seek out books that broaden my horizons. Because it results in amazing, wonderful, beautiful reading. 

It's hard to pick favorites this year. Though I have mixed feelings towards the year in general, I find that I never regret my year in reading. And 2015 has been stronger than ever. May your next reading year be fulfilling for you. 

The Full List

1.    I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
2.    Death of a King by Tavis Smiley
3.    On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee
4.    Breaking Through by Francisco Jiménez
5.    Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
6.    Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
7.    Bluets by Maggie Nelson
8.    Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
9.    The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
10.    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
11.    Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
12.    The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
13.    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
14.    Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
15.    The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
16.    Valley of the Moon: The Diary of María Rosalía de Milagros by Sherry Garland
17.    The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam
18.    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
19.    The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin
20.    Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
21.    Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
22.    Oreo by Fran Ross
23.    The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
24.    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
25.    A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
26.    Racing the Dark by Alaya Dawn Johnson
27.    The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
28.    Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
29.    The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad

For links, overviews, and more specifics, check out my Goodreads list

A Return from the Wild, or Teaching is Really Hard

It's been five months since I last wrote an article here. It's also been five months since I started teaching for real. You make the connection. 

In that time, a whole lot has happened--in the wide world, in the geek sphere, and in my personal life. They've all been increasingly overlapping, and that is ultimately what's forced me to return. I have so many disparate thoughts and feelings, but there seems to be a single thread running through them, connecting them all like the dominos in that epic scene in V for Vendetta.


A List of Things That Have Been On My Mind, In No Particular Order: 

  • The sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination within the geek community--when don't I think about this? But really, these past few months have shown evidence over and over and over again that these issues are not quieting down. They are not going away. They are not one-and-done controversies, and they never will be again. And exhausting as that is, I'm glad. I'm so glad. As adversarial as it forces those of us who are in the perceived minority to be, just to survive, part of me is really glad this shit is getting out. Part of me is satisfied this is getting thrown down, because it needs to be talked about, and yelled about, and fixed, not swept under the rug.  

    So there was GamerGate. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you know all about it. If not, go educate yourself. More recently, there have been some excellent articles on this in the past month discussing the larger issue of privilege within the community and the problematic discourses it stems from and results in. The privilege, for instance, of someone like Scott Aaronson, who claims that he couldn't possibly have any privilege because he spent his adolescence terrified of sexual desires, women, and rejection by women. Because no woman has ever experienced those things. And no man who has another sexual orientation has ever experienced those things either. And of course such a life is much worse than one lived under the kyriarchy--the intersection of systems of oppression that dominate by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, and so on. 

    There have been some wonderful responses from great writers: Laurie Penny, Amanda Marcotte, and Arthur Chu to name a few. My good friend Michi Trota has an excellent article in the newest issue of Uncanny Magazine (she's also its managing editor) where she discusses the way that all of us who are considered minorities in the community have been under assault for years. 
  • The main problem is that there are some seriously mistaken assumptions about privilege here. And I get it. Being told you have privilege is uncomfortable, because we've all internalized the idea of the American Dream and assume that what we get is what we deserve. But until we admit just how huge of a lie it is, we won't be able to move past it. Here's what having privilege doesn't  mean
    • That you are actively sexist or racist. But here's the thing. You don't need to actively oppress others--you just need to live in a society where oppression takes place, and not protest that oppression. 
    • That you are a horrible person. We're simply saying you're unaware of the part  you play. 
    • That you can never change. If we thought that was the case, we wouldn't be bothering to have this conversation. 
    • That you have never suffered. Everyone has personal struggles and sufferings. But not everyone lives under structural oppression. Recognize this. 
  • Here's what having privilege does mean: 
    • This discussion is not about you. So just sit down and listen. Check out my previous article on how to be an ally for more.  
  • The state of race relations in this country--and around the rest of the world. Because while the Brown and Garner verdicts surprised no one who's used to the parody of justice our country engages in regarding race and policing, its brutality and force and complete devotion to maintaining the status quo still hurts so much. It still hurts because I spent so much of my life living with the illusion that things had changed, because it was easier to believe that, and my privilege allows, supports, and encourages that. The fact that I was willing to live with that for so many years says something about me--and that something is not something good. 

    And it makes me angry. I'm angry that when blacks get angry about issues of social justice, they're rioters, but when whites destroy property over a victory, they're revelers.  It makes me angry that so many of the conversations on Dr. King's birthday revolved around the wonderful things he did in the past, rather than how this nation has mythologized and heroized this man to make ourselves feel better about our present. 
  • Je ne suis pas Charlie. Because hate speech should not be defended. I do not stand in solidarity with a satire magazine that takes satire to a point that is so cruel and xenophobic. I do not approve of a country who feels that its heart and soul lies in such a publication. I do not support a government that colonizes, oppresses, marginalizes, and harasses against a Muslim minority--and then wonders why hate groups form. I do not feel comfortable with a media that spends day after day recounting a disaster in Paris, but fails to mention that there has been a bombing at the NAACP office in Colorado Springs. Which is far from the first time that the organization has been attacked. But no, it couldn't be part of a pattern. We privilege stories--this I know. But I am really getting done with the way that we privilege lives.  

I have thoughts. I have feelings. And they're coming out. So keep your eye on this space. There may be ideas about Into the Woods. Or The Hobbit movies. Perhaps the script for revolution in Mockingjay. And more reflections on the way we read, the things we write, and the stories we don't tell. 

Got thoughts? Please share them in the comments below. They're always appreciated. 

The Reason I Jump: a review, and a confession

The other day I was visiting a town called Kamakura, where there’s this huge statue of Buddha. And when I saw it, I was so deeply moved that I started welling up. It wasn’t just Buddha’s majesty and dignity, it was the sheer weight of history and generations of peoples hopes, prayers and thoughts that broke over me, and I couldn’t stop myself crying. It was as if Buddha himself was saying to me, “All human beings have their hardships to bear, so never swerve away from the path you’re on.”
Everybody has a heart that can be touched by something. Crying isn’t necessarily about sadness or meltdowns or being upset. I’d like you to bear that in mind, if you would.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida 

This was meant to be purely a book review. And then it got a little sidetracked by the passage above. So bear with me for a bit, because first I have a confession: 

I have noticed changes in myself since depression.

Well, of course, you say. How could you not change during such a crucial fundamental time? There are the changes that were a result of me fighting back against the depression and anxiety--the mindfulness I now have, the resilience, the stamina. But there are things that continue to surprise me. How much I value kindness in others. And yet, simultaneously, how I’m not willing to take shit--whether shit from anyone else, or shit from myself, or just doing things I don’t want to do. I advocate for myself. I understand the importance of validation, for myself and from others.

But the one that surprises me? Being much more sensitive. Simultaneously resilient and sensitive. I am no longer as ashamed of crying as I once was. And I do it far more often--and not just at sad things either. No longer when I feel frustrated, or stressed. I do it when I am happy. When I am moved. When I am grateful. When I have so many emotions swirling around that I can’t name them before they all escape. That tightness in my chest, the welling up of tears--that’s all become a familiar feeling--a comfort, almost. I don’t know that I welcome it, but I no longer dread it. I know that I am who I am, that I am alive, that emotions are there and are so powerful.

And yet, the one part of me that doesn’t quite welcome it doesn’t look forward to it because I know how it’s still widely perceived. It’s a sadness, a pain, a weakness, something to be hidden.

I wish it weren’t so.

But it will not be that way for me. I pledge that. I make that promise. I will never say I have dust in my eye. I will never say I am sad when really I’m happy. I will never apologize for feeling emotions strongly, for living the life I want to, for being so vivid that sometimes it hurts. Because it is my life, and it belongs to me. And no one is going to tell me otherwise.

Perhaps that’s the reason I related so deeply to The Reason I Jump. Naoki Higashida, a Japanese teenager, has written a simple but perceptive book about the way he experiences the world. For his experience is not only his own--it tries to serve as a voice for all people with autism.

Of course, autism being what it is, a syndrome that we know precious little about, that comes on such a wide spectrum that differs so greatly from person to person, Naoki cannot speak for everyone. But he tries to give a voice to common problems and everyday struggles of his, in hopes that people will understand people like him.  

There are people who would tell you to read this book to understand someone with autism. I would agree with them. But I would also say read this book to understand yourself--because somehow, this Japanese teenager has understood something about you. As is obvious from the start, Naoki is not self-absorbed and insensitive, the horrific stereotype that autistic individuals have been saddled with. On the contrary, he is highly aware and deeply touched by everything around him. But speech, for him and others with autism, is a constant struggle, as are cues and social mores that make no sense.

Through his writing, he is not only able to answer simple questions (why he does certain things that others find strange) but express a deep understanding of his own emotions. This, in a way, has shamed me--I am a lifelong speaker, a writer, fully cognitively aware--why can’t I describe how I’m feeling some days? And yet it is shame that is somewhat inspiring. In spite of his difficulty to communicate in words, or perhaps because of it, Naoki has an incredible awareness of those feelings that can’t be expressed in words. He has motivated me to be better. To be more mindful, more aware. To try my best to be present, aware of my own self.

And that, I would say, is the reason I jump. Why do you? 

The Gary Stu, or Why I'm Not Subscribing to The Mary Sue Anymore

On days when I was dreaming of being a full-time writer, I would dream of places I'd love to publish. Top of that list would be the wonderful center for geek girl culture, The Mary Sue. 

Or should I say formerly wonderful site for geek girl culture, The Mary Sue. Because it's no longer a wonderful site, or a place that covers geek girl culture. Instead, it's become a site for general geek culture (because there aren't enough of those) that claims to be inclusive, while really targeting a "neutral" demographic--aka 20-40 year-old privileged white men. 

How did it get this way? Well, let's take a look. This is what the site looked like on June 12. Click through if you'd like to see a live version. 

Looks like the site I know and love--love for providing good coverage, snappy editing, excellent writing, and insightful comments. 

But then, on June 13, relatively out of the blue, they announced that they were merging with Geekosystem, a general site for pop culture/geek things. And as this announcement happened, the site changed dramatically. 

How it looks now (June 30). The layout is definitely not an improvement. It's supposed to be more mobile-friendly, but it's also very white, very boring. Note the utter lack of color, and the way the famous logo is diminished. 

But most importantly, please note that the masthead no longer reads "A Guide to Geek Girl Culture." And here's the thing. The editors may think that it's not a big deal. They have argued that they are trying to be a more "inclusive" site--but haven't defined what inclusion means (and if you feel the need to question if such a definition is important, you've lost the point already).

But having that tagline at the top of the page--front and center--was radical. It was important. It announced the perspective of the site and the space for its readers the moment the page loaded. It declared our allegiances and loyalties, defined our topics and voices. And we were damn proud of it--of the writing, of the coverage, or the voices we heard and got to discuss with. And to drop that tagline at the time when the site merges with another site with several male writers on staff (more on this later) is not just troubling, it is a slap in the face to those readers who came to The Mary Sue for not just pop culture, but geek girl culture. 

At the time of the merger, the new editors and the old had an AMA on Reddit--a fact which, in itself is deeply problematic, because Reddit is NOTHING if not known for being the hivemind of MRA and general ambient misogyny. 

And it lived up to its reputation--or rather, the new editors ensured that it would. There's a bunch of really misogynistic tweets from Glen Tickle (associate editor, formerly of Geekosystem) and Dan Van Winkle. There was the snarky response by Tickle, using a statistic that "55% of TheMarySue readers were male" to justify the changes being made to the site. Of course, such a response is not an actual response to valid concerns posed by readers. It's a classic derailment. It is What About The Men, rephrased. To quote the tumblr user hamstermastersamster

This does nothing but cast doubt on why the female branding needs to be removed from the site. It was obviously attracting the right kind of male readership with its unique lady geek focus.
Both the original TMS crew and the Geekosystem crew have all so far completely failed to address his problematic behaviour. They ignore any attempts by community members to get it addressed.

Since the merger on June 13, the site has gotten worse. While the number of stories covered on a given day has gone up, the quality of the writing and the feminism found in those perspectives has plummeted. Tickle's article on Google's new program to train female coders, rather than pointing out how problematic it is that Google is only now addressing this problem, and in a very limited way considering the resources this conglomerate has, makes a point of giving out friendly ally cookies.  Another article, also by Tickle, on the fact that the percentage of female game developers has doubled in the last 5 years, is also disappointing. While you'd think that this is an incident that they'd desperately want to cover well to prove to their readers that they actually aren't eliminating feminism and women's voices, they fail to do that. Instead, the piece comes off as incredibly condescending and patronizing (the joke about animating women isn't funny if it's you they refuse to animate). What happened? Well, male writers took up the pieces that really should have had women's voices. 

User Hamstermastersamster again: 

The comments on articles since the merger have basically been sexist derailment bingo like you’d get on any other site, including but not limited to “but what about the menssss”, “why is this important when there’s war in the middle east” (sadly deleted, what a gem), “it’s your responsibility to handle online harassment”, and “I’ve never seen any harassment of a female during my 240 hours of playing XYZ”.

If you looked at the above and went "well, that about sums up most of the internet," you'd be right. But here's the thing: to many of us devoted readers of The Mary Sue, the site was better than the rest of the internet. It was of higher quality, better relevance, and of more interest. And perhaps most importantly--it was safe. So much safer than the rest of the internet, where the kinds of comments mentioned above didn't happen on a daily basis. 

The idea of safe spaces has been so ridiculed by the patriarchy and the kyriarchy in an attempt to minimize social justice movements--but they are important. They're crucial. Having a safe space means that you don't have to deal with the constant minimizing and derailing and re-explaining 101 concepts for allies who just want cookies. And when you spend hours doing that in your daily life, those safe spaces online become your home. 

Because the Mary Sue was my home. It was the first feed I checked, without fail. It was the place I where read, commented on, updated for news, and searched for inspiration. At the top of every single page, it declared that it was a site for me. 

And now? Well, I have no home. Instead, I've got a cheap impromptu version of a home that claims to be faster, cooler, and more inclusive. Somehow, rather than being included, I'm feeling distinctly shut out. In fact, I rather feel like Arthur Dent when he realizes that both his house and the Earth have been demolished to make way for a bypass. Bypasses are fast, and cool, and everyone can use them. And how can we protest? "You've got to build bypasses." 

Why you should read Kindred

Science fiction has handy gadgets, amazing technology, and futuristic dilemmas. It features lasers, spaceships, and aliens. It takes place on far-flung planets, unheard of galaxies, and ships traveling at light speed. It has plots with chase scenes, dramatic confrontations, and stunning vistas. 


By any of those measures, Kindred by Octavia Butler is not science fiction. Though it does indeed have time travel, a feature we usually associate with the genre, can you really call it science when it happens without a ship or gadget and without any sort of will or warning? There is no attempt to discover, as in Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, what causes the incidents. No attempt to link it to genetics, to make it seem plausible and rational. It simply is. There is no mission, no sense of adventure, no sort of enjoyment or fun. The object is to survive. 

One day Dana disappears from her home to appear on a riverbank where a boy is drowning. She saves his life, and in thanks, is faced with the barrel of a rifle. She's traveled from Los Angeles in 1976 to Maryland in 1812. It's an act she will continue to repeat, as she--a black woman--is again and again drawn back to the life of Rufus Weylin--the son of a plantation owner. 

Taken from her present without warning, and trapped in the past until her life is seriously threatened, Dana has to learn to live in the harsh world of plantation slavery. It is a world where violence and cruelty are everywhere, and escape and agency are impossible. As her stays in the antebellum South grow longer, Dana and her husband find themselves questioning what is real, and if it matters as long as they survive. Playing the part of the slave, Dana struggles to deal with the simultaneous necessity of adapting to the nineteenth century and the horrific consequences that happen when she does.  

Octavia Butler's recreation of antebellum Maryland is harsh and vividly rendered through Dana's eyes as she struggles to balance the world she has known and the one she has been thrust into. Inhumanity and integrity are constantly juxtaposed as Dana chooses to save Rufus, a boy of his time who will grow up to own other humans. Dana struggles to keep her sense of self-worth even as she carries out her duty. Kindred, by telling the story of one woman's time on a plantation, manages to encapsulate all the bitter truths about all who took part in slave society, and leaves us wondering just how much else of that time we have forgotten. 

Glass ceilings, missing stairs, and gatekeepers -- The Video

I'm so pleased to have so many new posts at once. There has been a lot, of course, coming out of C2E2, and though this is the last directly connected post, it's surely not the last related one. So behold, the video from our panel last weekend. Filming by Jesse Lex, hard work by Michi Trota to get it live, and featuring all our lovely faces. If you didn't make it to the panel, or if you just want to rewatch it, please enjoy. It's too long for YouTube, and so it's broke up into five parts, but they're all linked through the playlist. 

And if you're looking for more articles, don't worry, they're coming. Several incidents and comments from the convention have got me thinking about articles that should be written, and issues that need to be addressed. The wheels are turning--and what's more, they've got time to turn, now that I'm done with my degree and summer is coming. So keep checking this space for updates, or subscribe to this blog! More geeky feminism is coming your way. 

Making change and turning heads at C2E2

Two years ago, I went to my first C2E2. It was a turning point for me, for though I’d been obsessed with geeky things for years, I had just begun to call myself a geek, and to discover that there was a much larger community out there than I ever knew about. When I arrived on the show floor, it was like I’d found my family. I attended a brilliant panel called The Geek Girl and the Artist, where I heard the experiences of other intelligent, enthusiastic women who loved the same things I did, talking about how they had faced opposition and sexism from men. I was enthralled, inspired, and felt like I was part of something. And then, dressed in a TARDIS sari, I marched straight up the moderator. She told me how awesome my cosplay was. I told her how inspirational her panel was. I think it’s fair to say that my friendship with Michi Trota took off from there. 

Last weekend, it became quite apparent that our ship has not sailed. On the contrary, our ship has taken off, and is now blasting through the stratosphere out into space. Because this C2E2 was a resounding success in so many ways. Let's take a look at all of them. 

Some Amazing Folks Threw Out the Key to the Clubhouse Door

If you didn’t go to this panel on Friday evening (and there were definitely some seats to fill), you missed out, big time. My friend Michi Trota recruited an all-star cast: Jeff Smith, president of CNSC, moderated, and the lineup featured Michi; Karlyn Meyer, the stellar articulate lawyer; Mary Anne Mohanraj, a terrific writer, editor, and founder of the Speculative Literature Association ; Mary Robinette Kowal, who writes Regency fantasy and is my new best friend; Scott Snyder, known for his excellent comics and his willingness to be an ally; and Gail Simone, who is just made of awesome. 

L to R: Michi Trota, Gail Simone, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Mary Robinette Kowal, Scott Snyder, Karlyn Meyer, Jeff Smith. 

L to R: Michi Trota, Gail Simone, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Mary Robinette Kowal, Scott Snyder, Karlyn Meyer, Jeff Smith. 

There was lots of talk of being a nonwhite hetero cis male creator, and the battles you have to be prepared to fight. Gail Simone talked about her entrance into the industry many years ago, and the level to which the executives didn't know their female readership, and didn't care. And even as she became successful, some guys still wanted to “deny the reality that's right in front of them--so you have to burn down the gates.”

There was talk of writing diverse characters, and nearly everyone pointed out that writing white men was not the “natural” way to go about things. It was a learned default. As Gail said, it has been years of creators making “conscious decisions. Are we writing another white character? You’ve got to decide to break it.” Of course, you want to write those characters for the correct reasons, not for tokenism. But Mary Anne cautioned against stopping writing those characters whose lived experience a writer is not intimately familiar with, and urged us to go beyond our comfort zone. We should do our 101 research, and then go for it. Show it to someone whose experience is similar to the character and see what we are missing. And to know that we all screw up, and “when your friend screws up--just think of this analogy--would you tell them if they had a booger in their nose?” quipped Mary Anne. 

A good portion of the panel was spent on harassment and rape threats, both online and off, of female fans and creators. Anti-harassment policies were applauded, the power of allies was to do good touted, and the need for us to publicize the things we’re going through was shown. And then the floor was opened for questions, and an interesting phenomenon occurred: two men stood up to ask questions give long rambling comments. Apart from it being bad form to monopolize others time at a public panel, these statements were so incredibly centered around them and their male privilege that it made me want to hit something. One guy asked for a cookie for being attracted to trans* individuals. The other guy was angry we didn’t talk about how men get raped as well. 

I won’t rehash the whole thing, because Caitlin Roguesberg has written a great article on Jezebel’s Powder Room about it. Suffice it to say that these comments were both versions of “But what about teh menz!” The conversation was about rape threats and harassment towards women, and having two men beg for themselves to be included in the conversation was a) unacceptable and b) complete derailment and silencing. First of all, allies do not get cookies just for being allies. Second of all, though men do get raped and there are problems with our society’s lack of recognition of that fact, we were talking about rape threats as a form of silencing women--and this guy’s attempt to bring it back to men proves the necessity of the conversation in itself--because rape threats are a very particular form of gendered violence that men do not get. Only those with feminine-sounding names or usernames do, whether that is in gaming chatrooms or comments on articles or even hate mail towards comics writers. Put simply--we’re not talking about you. Sit down and shut up.

We Pointed Out the Missing Stair, and People Loved Us For It

We branched out this year, and I think our title does a good job of showcasing that. The Fake Geek Girl crisis is (mostly) winding down for those people immersed in fandom, and more discussions of gatekeeping as a general phenomenon are taking place. But glass ceilings are still present. Creepers are still treated as the missing stair for people “in the know.” Rape threats still occur at an alarming rate. Harassment happens daily. It’s time we fixed this shit.  

Isabel Schechter, Caryle Frank, Sooshe Bot, Kate Lansky, myself, Tippy Tipton, Michi Trota, Dawn Xiana Moon. 

Isabel Schechter, Caryle Frank, Sooshe Bot, Kate Lansky, myself, Tippy Tipton, Michi Trota, Dawn Xiana Moon. 

And people agree with us. Thankfully, C2E2 granted us a much bigger panel room this year--and we still filled it, and turned away some people who wanted to get in! That alone makes me immensely pleased. As much as we are still held by the impostor syndrome, the attendees of C2E2 think we have something to say--and that is so incredibly validating, to us as people, and to these arguments for inclusion and justice as a whole. 

This issue has gotten more attention and more space every year, and it’s so thrilling to us to see that. It’s now getting noticed by mainstream media--NPR recently wrote an article on gaming while female, and The Guardian has pointed out that if you say “But Teh Menz” well then, you’re not actually a feminist. So move on. So if you came to the panel, thank you so much. We are only here, and continuing to do this, because of our audiences. We got some great press this year, from the blogs Nerditis, Next Dark Age by Anne K Bradley, and Playing, With Research  by CarrieLynn D Reinhard. And the biggest surprise was that the Chicago Tribune’s Cheryl Jackson covered us for BlueSky business section!

I believe here we were laughing at the Sexy Lamp Test. L to R: Sooshe Bot, Tippy Tipton, Michi Trota, Dawn Xiana Moon, myself, Caryle Frank, Kate Lansky. Photo by Paul Callan. 

I believe here we were laughing at the Sexy Lamp Test. L to R: Sooshe Bot, Tippy Tipton, Michi Trota, Dawn Xiana Moon, myself, Caryle Frank, Kate Lansky. Photo by Paul Callan. 

We had a grand old time, talking about experiences of sexism and gatekeeping, problems of authenticity and gender representation, and of solutions and things allies could do. Tippy got off some wonderful quotes, we got introduced by an audience member to the Sexy Lamp Test, and talked about how awesome anti-harassment policies are. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and we hope you did too. Expect to see us back again soon, most likely (though unofficially) at Wizard World in August.

Artists Are Beautiful People

I made a conscious decision to buy almost all original designs this year, and it was a terriffic choice. I bought another beautiful, one-of-a-kind necklace from Sparkle! Designs, a Georgia-based geeky jewelry store that’s been doing the convention rounds. I got a “We Are All Wonder Woman” necklace, courtesy of the Satrun Twins. And I spent quite a bit of time lingering near Karen Hallion’s booth, the artist responsible for all the beautiful Disney/TARDIS mashups, before I finally bought a print and some buttons. The best thing about buying from creators? You get to ogle their works and then tell them how much you love them.

I Will Never Be Too Old To Cosplay

It is not my first time in costume. But it was the first time I started to feel something pretty powerful: on Friday and Saturday, it felt like those in cosplay outnumbered those who weren’t. Now, I say this with no authority or official numbers. But more and more of us are rejecting the idea that dressing up is just for kids, and we’re jumping into it with all the fun and time and money we can. And there’s nothing like walking around the floor and getting compliments and pictures taken of you. 

On Saturday, I premiered my genderbent Bilbo Baggins. I was particularly proud of it because I’d gotten no outside sewing help. Every stitch, drop of dye, and dab of paint was my own. I needed no wig, no shoes, and my height was an advantage. And to make the ensemble even more perfect, my friend Renee was a particularly fierce Thorin Oakenshield. Photo by Andreas Schneider. 

Sunday I was Merida, and Kids’ Day is always a great day to be a Disney princess--there's a neverending stream of young children who want to pose with you. Photo by Andreas Schneider 

These Are My People, and They're Multiplying

Some people dislike big cons like C2E2 for being too crowded, too big, or too dominated by first time convention goers. But that's exactly why I love it. We need entry points into the fandom, places where pop culture and comics and sci-fi blur together, places where newcomers can feel at ease and not judged for their lack of knowledge and experience. Because that's how I got into it. And every year, more people keep coming. 

At my first con, I felt like I had discovered a whole new world. Well, now it's not a new world. I'm slowly making it my world. I know people, from friends to panelists to authors to random attendees. I feel at home on the floor, in panels, and everywhere else. Fandom has a lot of problems of exclusion, and those have hindered my enjoyment of it sometimes. But that is changing, and we are making that change happen.

Of course, there is still work to be done. There are still things that make me mad--the horrible essentialist experience that--from what I heard secondhand--was the Genre Feminism or Fierce Females in Comics panels, for example. Or the fact that Jen Cross' panel proposal on being a black nerd woman was ignored and then rejected by ReedPOP with the transparent lie that it just wasn't quality enough. It's infuriating. But we're getting there. And we won't settle. We'll make it there. 

Many thanks to all the audience members who came to our panels, to the panelists who gave their voices to these events, and to Isabel Schechter who live-tweeted the Friday panel and saved the most delicious gems. But most of all, a thousand thanks to Michi Trota. She made this all happen.