Several Things Make A Thing

One:
The 2011 Nebula Awards were presented yesterday. Jo Walton takes home the Best Novel prize for Among Others. Locus Online has the full list.

Two:
Everyone on the internet has seen it by now, but John Scalzi’s post on privilege, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is, has been making waves all over. A few of the things to see are Scalzi’s own follow-up, and:

And, well, a helluva lot of other places online that are talking about it. Really, there’s not much you can do about privilege, directly, but just making people aware that it is there is important.

Three:
Shortly before I went off on holiday I was introduced to Feminist Frequency, an online video series by feminist pop culture media critic Anita Sarkeesian. The videos discuss issues of women and gender in popular culture; much of this is in relation to television shows and film, but her videos on the subject of gender in children’s toy advertising are a must see.

Anita is currently fundraising for a follow-up to her Tropes vs. Women video series of last year, which looked at a small selection of frequently used female stereotypes in pop culture. The new series will tackle Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games, and there has already been a massive influx of support.

Four:
And continuing in the same vein, Jef Smith is currently running a Kickstarter for a feminist speculative fiction anthology, to be edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, the couple behind many previous anthologies including The New Weird, Steampunk Reloaded, and the mammoth effort The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. The people behind this know what they’re about, and I have no doubt this will turn out to be an excellent anthology once it is done.

Five:
On my own end, I remain a voracious consumer without much to give back. I’ve spent the last few weeks, excepting the trip overseas, watching the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show I’ve seen a lot of before but never in full and in correct sequence.

I saw The Avengers while in Toronto, and can’t say much more than most other people do:  It is a very good superhero movie, possibly the best, but not much more than that. It doesn’t try to be more than that. It could easily have been as big a mess as X-Men 3, given the number of characters that had to be juggled; I have to credit Joss Whedon for that.

In books, I read Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness while I was away. It’s an excellent novel, both for its narrative and for the way in addresses issues of gender identity: the Gethenian people in the novel’s setting do not have male and female genders, but instead become sexually active in either role for a few days each month, and are asexual the rest of the time. It provokes questions of just how strongly our civilisation is shaped by the gender binary.

At home, I have been reading The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, a collected edition of Alison Bechdel’s long-running comic. Apart from being engaging on the level of its narrative, humour, and the social/political commentary, it also provides an interesting window into 20 years of lesbian subculture for someone who has no personal experience or connection with it such as myself.

Six:
Finally, last week I went and created a Twitter account. I’ve not really started using it yet, but I have started following a few people. I’m trying out linking up the blog to the twitter feed to see how that works. Not sure where I’ll go with it yet.

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