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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.

text that says Ana's Section

What if male superhero costumes were designed like female superhero costumes?

The 8 Stupidest Defenses Against Accusations of Sexism.

Keffy R. M. Kehrli at Fantasy Matters on reading A Wrinkle in Time as a child:
When I was a girl, some part of me was very Meg-like. I got her. Sure, the Little House books were full of girls (as were the piles of horse books that people bought me despite my lack of interest in horses), but Meg was the character who embodied my nerdy smart-but-strangely-immature awkwardness. I was a weirdo, and Meg was a weirdo with me.

My trans-related dysphoria at the early onset of puberty (nine) was subsumed into the acceptably female dysphoria of feeling too ugly and too fat. I don’t remember if Meg ever thought of herself as being fat, but her general body dissatisfaction from page one resonated with me. And it meant something that despite all that, despite her fears that her brother was smarter than she, despite feeling off-kilter and immature for her age, and despite being a weirdo, Meg got to go on an adventure and defeat the creepy brain monster.
➝ Mark Charan Newton writes about his continued efforts to avoid racefail.

➝ And I'll leave you with 30 Cats in Snow.

text that says Jodie's Section

➝ BBC News has an article about royal feasts through the ages because it's the Queen's Silver Jubilee this year. My particular favourite fact:
'At state banquets no table decorations were needed as elaborate dishes did the job. They included a 2ft-high, silver salt cellar, made in the shape of a castle and encrusted with jewels. Often there were also silver fountains on the table flowing with wine or water.'
I went to the Tower of London and saw some of the incredibly gold tableware from Charles II's reign. If I remember rightly the label on that case said that he got such extravagant items as presents because people felt the need to appease him after the beheading of Charles I and prove their loyalty. Maybe I'm a nerd, but I find that fascinating and kind of sad. I'd probably better state my bias for Cromwell here.

➝ Other people making such good use of their tumblrs that they almost tempt me to get one. Malinda Lo continues to feed my KStew obsession with this cool Ellen gif which she posted on her tumblr.

➝ And the Booksmugglers posted a surreal picture based on Wolverine from the X-Men and the style of Salvador Dali. I think Dali's work is like...how do you even explain how cool he is, without scaring people away? His work was that kind of intense, weird genius that ripped and melted everything everything into an exciting distortion.

➝ Speaking of surreal art, Ben Heine has so many fantastic surreal and mixed media art projects showing on his website! I could look at them all day. — via [twitter.com profile] stevefeasey

➝ And more art — some cute as illustrations which put Daleks into fictional worlds from books. Someone linked me too, but I'm afraid I can't remember who (shout up if it was you).

➝ A couple of weeks ago I watched two programs called Super Smart Animals, which are all about scientific developments in the understanding of animal intelligence. Unfortunately it's another BBC program, which means no one outside of the UK could watch it on iplayer and it'll disappear from there quickly anyway. It was so informative and in many cases surprising, I'm sad that I can't show you scientist and presenter Liz Bonnin (yep, she's a scientist, but apparently John Preston at 'The Telegraph' prefers to make gross insinuations that her qualifications may be non-existent instead of y'know presenting the facts) being scientifically converted to the idea that whales can experience emotions, in an encounter with wild whales that nearly mad me cry. Luckily, I can share something related as Barbara J King wrote a piece a few years ago about 'Alex and Me' by Irene M Pepperberg. Pepperberg's studies on language in parrots are kind of amazing and although Alex, a parrot who displayed amazing skills is now dead, his successor was featured on the program.

➝ TV writer, Paul Cornell who has worked on Dr Who, recently made the decision to step off any convention panel that doesn't contain gender parity and find a woman to take his place. I recommend reading the comments where many common sense objections are made to his initial plan. Cornell has tried to address those problems, by listening and amending his plan to try and avoid making those he intends to help, feel uncomfortable.

Even though I'm always glad to see feminism pick up male allies, I have to say that I often feel the same way a commenter named Jude does upon seeing yet another feminist project having to be headed by a man:
'I am (as I know Farah has said on her blog and doubtless others have observed as well) utterly exhausted with these kinds of things only being able to be established by men. Not a criticism of you by any means; more a reaction to a moment's thought about the reactions to women arguing for gender parity on panels.'
Full comment text here.

[livejournal.com profile] cassiphone also talks about Paul Cornell's decision and makes interesting points, like:
'His plan is not going to fix everything. It’s not going to heal the world. It may not even make much of a difference to a whole bunch of conventions. But that is not a reason for him not to do it. Because Paul can get away with it. He’s a lovely guy, good-humoured and presents well in public. If he does end up having to do this piece of comedic pantomime, physically stepping down in front of an audience and finding women to take his place, then people will remember it, and they will likely forgive him for it. He’ll make it entertaining, and the point will be made, with far less fallout than would occur (sadly) if a woman was the one trying to make the same point.'
➝ Karen Healey did some research on the hate directed towards male and female writers. The comments are to be approached with caution.

text that says Renay's Section

➝ Jodie and I are relaunching Nerds Hearts YA, a project I started in 2009. Jodie wrote an entry at the old site. However, we'll soon be moving to a new location, designed and hosted by the wonderful Catherine who is being super generous with her time and skills to help us out. :) If you love YA literature, making lists, and nerdy data, send us an email at nerdsheartya@gmail.com and let us know you're interested in taking part in the initial launch. :)

➝ Isn't it funny how perspective colors the way we look at events? Although Jodie linked to Paul Cornell's decision, my introduction was through How to Be an Asshole in One Easy Step and Assholes Redux: Sexism in Action. After reading, this, my reaction was, "Well, I'm not very excited like everyone else is." and finally "Oh, gross.. I had a thought along of lines of what Jodie quoted about, about how things like this get more attention and merit when they're done by a man. Jodie, I would definitely be interested in your perspective here, because mine is that a dude had an idea, didn't really think it through or get feedback from actual ladies, spouted off about it, and then got a little irritated (along with a bunch of other dudes) when it was pointed out this wasn't like, the second coming of male-allied feminism.

➝ Since Jim Hines did his Striking a Pose project, I've seen tons of pose projects crop up all over. The most recent is at Maxi and April Have a Tumblr. There are three right now: the project introduction, Paying Our Bills and Everytime April buys shoes.

Catherine linked me to She Has No Head! — No, It’s Not Equal. This was a fascinating post. I've seen many posts like this in the past, but this is the most thorough I've seen yet. Don't Read the Comments™

➝ Someone (I can't remember who? WHO WERE YOU, MYSTERY PERSON?) shared Humbled and Amazed, a review of Kristen Cashore's Graceling. I found the article really interesting, but the emphasis the reviewer kept placing on how the novel wasn't for him started to make me uncomfortable, because it skirted the line between "this book is not engaging in the male-gaze for its female characters to benefit male readers" and "this book isn't for dudes". The comments here are worth it!

➝ Jodie, remember how excited I was for This Means War? I am not so excited anymore. :( Warning for spoilers for the movie. Sorry, Reese and Tom! I will wait for your next film.

➝ The recent talk about the statistics of Academy voters has generated a lot of great discussion. For Your Consideration: Women Directors Missing From the Oscars is one video reacting to the news.

Two glorious minutes of Brave..

This trailer of John Carter? 10,000 better than the official ones. I would watch this movie (and actually might, wow).

The Further Adventures of Lady Business!

On our respective projects, we created some words you might like to read in the last few weeks!

Ana has been writing up a storm and putting everyone else to shame. She reviewed Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, The Mismeasure of Woman by Carol Tavris, Wandering Son vols. 1 and 2 by Takako Shimura, and The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. She also wrote two fascinating essays for The Sunday Salon, On Objectivity, Again and On Being Wrong.

Jodie reviewed Great House by Nicola Krauss and discussed parts of BBC’s Dickens season that aired in honor of Charles Dickens's centenary.

As per usual and because Lady Business is her book blog, Renay was the slacker and did nothing but brag about graduating. Again.

Date: 2012-02-26 08:52 am (UTC)
owlmoose: (CJ)
From: [personal profile] owlmoose
I'm not commenting on this particular case, because from what I was able to glean I agree with Renay's analysis that Paul Cornell came up with what he clearly thought was a brilliant idea without getting any actual input from actual women, but I do want to say something about Jodie's point about problems only attention when men talk about them.

It does suck, that it usually takes a man doing something proactive about women's issues before people will sit up and take notice, but unfortunately that's just how kyriarchy works. People with privilege almost always have a larger megaphone than those without. They have an easier time getting people to listen in the first place. It isn't fair, and it isn't just, but it's hard to avoid. This is why allies are so important to making any sort of progress, and why it's so important for allies to actually listen to disenfranchised people, to learn and understand what help they need. Otherwise you wind up with well-intentioned messes like this one.

Date: 2012-02-26 04:31 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I agree, but I still hate that reality with a passion and those two feelings ('it's realistic and 'it's wrong') roll around in me battling for dominance constantly, even when male allies do try to involve women in their feminist projects. Like Ian Sales, I'm really glad that his feminist review project exists and that there are a lot of reviews by women on his site, but did I ever have to struggle with my feelings when he was getting a lot of recognition for that project. I know that it was a lot easier for him to create that project, that it's created something valuable and that he's gone about things in a decent way, but it still gives me this hugely uncomfortable feeling to hear him celebrated for it, instead of it being discussed as a collective venture. And I get that this is ultimately a realistic response from the world that we live in, but that reality still makes me angry all the time. And...I guess I don't see how we're ever going to change the last layer of underlying thought structures that constantly allow for the sexist ideas to re-emerge over and over if male allies keep taking centre stage to talk about sexism. How are we ever going to show that men don't always know best/shouldn't always be given more crednce than a woman if male allies are encouraged to talk about sexism because the world is more likely to listen to them because they assume a man always knows better than a woman? Like, I struggled with this a lot with things I have done in the past as an allie for other groups.

Although, you can see how much even as I believe that's true, I still struggle with abandoning the idea of the bigger megaphone doing good, because hey I linked to the Paul Cornell situation. I mean the part I quoted from the post of analysis expresses very similar thoughts to yours. I wouldn't say I'm confused on the issue, more that I think there are two equally valid opinions which naturally clash, because they're in conflict, but we can hold both ideas at the same time, it's just exhausting.

As for Paul Cornell, I think you're right - he didn't get any input from women before he made this decision. He was following China Mieville's lead, but his ammendment to Mieville's plan (that he wouldn't just get off the panel in protest, but would call on women in the audience to take part) means that unlike Mieville he can't argue that he was making an individual choice that needed input from no one else. There were a lot of good points made in the comments and he's tried to change his plan based on input (thanks goodness he's done away with that attempted gag order, even if he sounds worried and grudging about it), but there are still problems. I can't remember who it was, but someone said he's surely going to have to change this idea that he won't try to find women who are qualifed and ask them privately if they'd like to be on the panel. Someone in the comments on the second post Renay linked to talked about the problems of Cornell making accurate gender identifications.

I guess I would say I am cautiously watching to see what his final idea is like and whether he makes other changes, because while his original plan had holes and was announced way too soon without enough thought and consultation, if he were to change it now based on talks with women who know about these things I'd probably be happy to see it go ahead. People are always evolving and plans that haven't taken effect can be changed as our understanding changes. I know very little about Cornell and his past opinions, so those don't factor in for me in the same way that they would if someone like Moffat were running a similar project and so I'm willing to believe that he can change and listen. Maybe this will turn out to be incorrect and if so, my opinion would change. However, I totally get that because of the way his plans are now (full of holes, lacking understanding, attracting creepy comments about how maybe this will empower women who are less conifdent to get on panels - to which, fuck off) people are expressing their very valid criticism of them.

One thing I am really confused about is whether Cornell would know who was going to be on the panels ahead of time. The links Renay dropped suggest yes, while I've seen others say he wouldn't. I can see why, even if he did know he wouldn't get off a panel ahead of time (if it's done in private the con has the chance to just reappoint another man), but I was wondering if more progressive private discussions might not be possible?

Date: 2012-02-26 04:34 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Also Renay, I should probably note that I don't understand what the tweets referenced in those posts are supposed to show. I'm being really stupid, but I don't get it, are they supposed to show Cornell defending Moffat or something else - is confused.

Date: 2012-02-26 06:21 pm (UTC)
owlmoose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlmoose
I agree that the Cornell situation is not really an example of someone being a good ally. It's more like "man barges in and expects to 1) fix everything and 2) receive cookies for doing so." And I totally hear you on reality making you angry. But I also tend toward working within the systems we have, rather than smashing the system and starting over, because the former seems to be the fastest way to effect change in the here and now. On the other hand, working for incremental change in the short run can sometimes work against seeing big changes in the long run, so maybe we always need people who are willing to do both. Definitely not an easy problem.
Edited (typo) Date: 2012-02-26 06:22 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-26 10:57 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
Agreed, absolutely not an easy problem and I think there is value in both approaches, especially when they can be made to work at the same time even if that makes everything way more puzzling to fit together.


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