What It Means To Be A Woman

I try very hard to stay away from hot button topics when it comes to this space.  Sure, I have my views and opinions.  I just think that some spaces are better for sharing those things than others.  That being said, I’m going to discuss one of those topics today.  I have a number of reasons for making that decision, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m sure most people have heard of #GamerGate, whether you play video games or not.  I am a gamer who is also a woman.  Lest anyone question my gamer credentials, allow me to show you my first console:

Atari-2600-Wood-4Sw-Set

 

Yes, friends, that beautiful, beautiful piece of gaming is the Atari 2600.  I spent hours on it as a kid in the early 80s.  Yes, I really am that old.  Since then, I’ve played on various consoles before eventually moving on to prefer PC gaming.  We still have an XBox 360, and I do still play it, but I prefer PC games.

Now that that’s out of the way, one of the major issues in video games in the treatment of women.  Anita Sarkeesian has a series Tropes Vs Women where she discusses these things much better than I can, so I’ll leave her to it.  The point of this post isn’t to debate whether or not women are portrayed badly in video games (or media in general).  Like I said, people who are better than I am at it are already doing that.  This post is about what happens after women such as Anita Sarkeesian, Felicia Day, and Shoshana Roberts actually do something to point out the dangerous environments that exist for women.

If Anita Sarkeesian’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s because she was scheduled to be a speaker at Utah State University.  That speaking engagement was canceled because someone (a man, as it happens) threatened to shoot the place up if she spoke there.  If a woman speaks out about violence against women, and your response is to threaten violence against that woman, perhaps you should stop right there and think about things a bit.  Since the university would do nothing to ensure Ms. Sarkeesian’s safety, she canceled her speech.

Felicia Day is a ridiculously talented actress who has appeared in some of my favorite things (Buffy, The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog) who was doxxed for speaking out about this larger issue.  For those who are unfamiliar with the term, doxxing is where someone goes through the trouble of finding your personal information and then posts it online so that people can send rape/death threats and make the person leave their home out of fear for their safety.  Again, if a woman is talking about violence against women (even pixilated ones), and your go-to action is to threaten (or perpetuate) violence against the woman, you are the problem.  You aren’t part of the problem.  You are the problem…the unique, self contained problem that is your entire interaction with 1/2 of the planet’s human population.

Shoshana Roberts is a relatively new addition to this list.  You may have seen the video she participated in that documented over 100 instances of street harassment she encountered while walking around NYC for 10 hours.  Now, while there are some legitimate criticisms about the film (such as a lack of white men as opposed to an overabundance of black/latino men), the fact remains that what was documented is a fact of a woman’s life.  It does not matter 1) how old you are, 2) what you are wearing, 3) your race, or 4) your size.  I’m fat now and I still encounter street harassment.  She’s getting rape/death threats because she participated in this video.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Yes, I said the bad word and no, that was not rhetorical.

So, I guess the big question is why am I writing about this, knowing that this space is not usually used for these topics and knowing the potential risks to doing it.  The first one is really simple.  I’m a woman and I demand the right to walk down the street, mind my own business, and yes, even play video games, and not be harassed and/or assaulted for it.  I’m not asking for the right because, quite frankly, it’s not yours to give.  I have that right and I’m taking that right.  The second one is less simple.  I’m speaking out because I have to.  I can’t keep riding on the bravery of my fellow women and hoping I will benefit from the risks that they take.

I am not on this planet for you to look at. I’m not here to smile at you.  I’m not a potential resting place for your penis.  I’m not the foil for your masculinity, and I’m not the punching bag you use to feel better about yourself.  I will walk down the street with zero obligation to play to your ego.  I will play whatever video game I damn well like, whether you like it or not, and I’ll call out the bullshit as I find it.  I will demand to be treated with dignity and respect and I will expect that demand to be met.

So, you want to dox me?  Go ahead.  Flood my email with death threats and rape threats.  Show up at my house if you think that’s wise.  (I have three pitbulls and a .45 that would love to meet you.)  You’ll only be proving my point and giving the authorities something to track.  It’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of society, though, if it’s easier to send a death threat than it is to simply stop being a douchebag.  I’m not afraid of you, and that’s why I have to speak out.  I’m not afraid.  I’m pissed.

Rejection

Last night I received a rejection notice.  This makes the third in the past couple of weeks.  One would think this would bum me out, but it really hasn’t.  Perhaps my skin has grown thicker.  Of course, I’m disappointed.  I’m just not devastated.

Being rejected means you have work out there for consideration.

And this, in a nutshell, is why I’m not all that broken up about being rejected.  I’ve talked before about how hard it is for me to actually get anything meaningful down on the page.  Some of that is my fault, and some of it isn’t, but no matter whose fault it is, the words don’t get written and that’s what matters.  Rejection means that I got the words down.  I’ve gone over it, polished it up.  I put in the time to figure out where I should send it and then I sent it there.  That’s huge.

I still have a couple of things circulating.  Maybe they’ll get picked up.  Maybe they won’t be.  The trick is to keep on writing.  Maybe I need to find a more suitable publication.  Maybe I need to rework the piece.  Maybe I need to sit on it for awhile and work on something else.

A colleague once likened writing to winning the lottery.  You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.  Your writing is your ticket.  How many do you have?

 

Epiphany

I’ve been fairly honest about my deplorable writing habits, the fact that my attention span is smaller than a gnat’s, and that I’m a world class procrastinator.  The point is not to try and…what’s the word I’m looking for here?  I guess for some people, writing is an affectation.  People make excuses like, “I haven’t gotten anything done lately, I’m such a procrastinator.”  I think you know the general type of people I’m talking about.  For me, being open about my shortcomings is a way to self-evaluate.  If I was giving writing advice to anyone, the very first thing I would tell them is “Don’t be like me!”

In the interest of cutting myself some slack, and also of full disclosure, it isn’t completely my fault.  One of the biggest challenges to life in general, for me, is simply making it out of bed.  For many years now, I’ve dealt with some pretty serious fatigue issues.  I’m sure that there is some underlying medical issue for this, or more likely a combination of medical issues, but whatever the reason(s) for it, it makes functioning in my daily life incredibly difficult.  Add in the things that are my fault, and it’s pretty amazing to see what I’ve managed to accomplish.  It’s not nearly what I could have done, or what I feel like I should have done, but even with all my personal challenges, it’s still a lot more than some people have ever done.  I’m actually a little bit proud of myself.  Just a little.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing.  The act of it, the process, the ritual, as it were.  I’ve also been doing some evaluating to see what I can change to make myself a more productive writer.  It was during this self-reflection that I had an epiphany.  It should not have been as great a shock to realize as it was.  It was one of those realizations that you never really think about until you do, and then of course that’s the way of it.  My epiphany was this:

My life is full of Dementors.

To be fair, not everyone in my life is trying to suck the creativity out of me through a bendy straw.  I have some amazing, creative, funny, intelligent, kick ass people in my world and I credit their friendship and support for getting me where I am, which isn’t really all that far, but that’s not what’s important right now.  The problem with a dementor (sorry, J. K. Rowling, but this is the perfect description for these people and you’re brilliant for coming up with it) is that it only takes one.  I actually have a couple, so there’s that.  These are people who don’t value my craft, the works I’ve produced, and who refuse to see the value of the time I’ve spent making art.  These are people who actively withhold their support and who put their own trivial interests ahead of my well-being as an artist, or worse: they don’t value my existence as a human being.  Because of the positions they hold in my life, simply eliminating them becomes problematic and easier said than done.  At the very least, extricating myself from their influence will be a time consuming process.

It’s hard for me to become motivated, but it’s nearly impossible for me to have the will to write when I’m not being supported.  To that end, I’ll be reading from my thesis project this evening as part of a showcase and I’ll be attending that alone because other things are more important to other people.   (My kids are willing to go even though they’re going to hate it.  I love my kids enough to let them stay home.)

I guess all of this is a long way of saying evaluate the people in your life.  Are they feeding you or sucking you dry?  Make your changes accordingly.

Procrastination Station

So, several months ago I talked about personal truths.  One of those truths is procrastination.  In fact, I’m writing this post instead of working on the 12 page research paper I have due in three days.  This is something that is a constant struggle for me and this article does a really nice job of explaining why.

It’s not (entirely) that I don’t want to work on it.  I would get a wonderful sense of relief knowing that it’s finished and out of the way.  I’ve already done the research on it (because I had to give a report on it in class).  It’s sitting right next to me in a pile, mocking me.  I have a notebook sitting to my left with notes that I’ve jotted down from thinking about writing the paper.  Yet, not one word have I written on the actual paper itself.  (In fact, I watched a music video, answered a student’s email, commented on an article about writing, and teased a friend on Facebook while trying to write this post.)

Many people won’t understand this compulsion to put off the things I need to get done.  And really, that’s exactly what it is.  I also don’t complain about the things I could have done (but didn’t) because of my procrastination.

And now, I’m off to battle my Instant Gratification Monkey.  Really, battle is the only word I can use that won’t leave my inner child (who is apparently a 12 year old boy) in a fit of giggles.

2013-12-02-NP4

 

Thanksgiving Planning

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid, I loved it because of all the food we got to eat for a week after the fact.  As I got older, I loved it also because of the eating but also because I love to cook the feast.  Love it.  This is not ironic.  So, even though it is not yet Halloween, I have started planning for the dinner.  We should have a pretty big group of family and friends this year, so I will probably start baking on the Tuesday before and cook all the way up to serving time.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu (so far)

  1. Turkey, although Joe wants to try deep frying a second turkey to see how it turns out.  If you’ve never had my brined turkey, you are missing out.
  2. Ham. Joe likes to smoke a bone-in ham. I save the bone for bean soup later.
  3. Chicken and noodles
  4. Garlic mashed potatoes
  5. Sweet potato casserole
  6. Green bean casserole
  7. Stuffing
  8. Turkey gravy
  9. Homemade cranberry sauce
  10. Homemade baked beans
  11. Deviled eggs
  12. Veggies and dip
  13. Dinner rolls
  14. Lemon meringue pie
  15. Oatmeal pie
  16. Pumpkin pie
  17. Something sweet that isn’t pie. I haven’t decided whether that will be a cake of some sort, brownies, or cookies.

I keep feeling like I’m missing something.  Have a suggestion for the menu?  Let me know in the comments.

Guest Column for Revolt Daily

I was asked by Revolt Daily to write a guest column for their Halloween series.  One of the things my boyfriend, Joe, and I do every year is go to the haunted attractions.  We’ve been to several all over Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, but the worst experience, by far, happened at the Sinister Circus.

Thanks to Revolt Daily for having me over.  Do you have a recommendation for a haunted attraction?  Let me know in the comments.  If we visit your suggestion, you’ll get a personal shout out here on the blog with details of our visit.

Gearing Up

I mentioned yesterday that I’m getting ready to teach my first classes.  I’m really getting excited!  First day of class is in 6 days, and this site is listed among my various contacts, so if you should see some of my students make sure you wave.

Even though I have so many things to do my head is spinning, I made the time to write a new article for Revolt Daily.  I’ll post links to that when they become available.  It involves clowns, claustrophobia (mine), and tears (also mine).

If you missed it on Twitter, I had a creative nonfiction piece get picked up back in July with Mamalode.

Oh, I’m trying out Ello to see how I like it.  If you’re also using it, leave me a comment on how you like it.  I’d love to hear people’s reactions.