marshtide: (Oscar - a-ha!)

(This post sponsored by continued furious editing to try and make our talk SHORT ENOUGH OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WE COULD TALK FOR SEVERAL HOURS ABOUT THIS STUFF WE ARE HAVING TO CUT SO MUCH.)
marshtide: (Parkvakten)
1. Reader poll results for sci-fi overwhelmingly male despite many women writing in genre, SHOCK. Commenters prove point about cultural sexism while laughing at how "forced" the idea is. (No, I know, never read the comments. I'm a masochist, what can I say.) Yeah, sure, it's not the readership's fault, it's just that women don't write good sci-fi. Suuuuuuuuuuuure. If I had a bingo card and a bottle of gin I could be wasted by now. ("When I scanned the names, I just saw people. Never struck me that this could be an issue..." Pfffft I bet. Isn't it funny how one often sees "just people" when looking at a mostly-male list and "a lot of women" otherwise?)

2. Not entirely unrelatedly, strange new worlds, a post by [personal profile] paxpinnae about conventions and gender representation.

I mean, I know all about nerd sexism. It is pretty much like regular sexism. It has tunnel vision and systematically devalues the contributions of women in general while also being obnoxious to women in particular. There are fewer women in many of the nerd spaces perceived as being in the nerd mainstream*, because they are essentially men's clubs but with different social standards, and because there are fewer women AND there is a men's club environment there is possibly even more sexism to go around for the women who are there. This is basically the only way I can think of offhand to explain the disproportionate amont of sexism I have experienced in certain nerd spaces compared to out in society at large - since society at large is also ridiculously sexist. Because for serious, in no other environment has my ability to think been so consistently and openly questioned due to my possession of a pair of breasts.

* No, you guys, it is true. Don't bother. There are welcoming, diverse nerd spaces, and then there are western comics conventions. (Random example picked by googling "UK comics convention" and clicking on the guestlist. The first one I looked at. Read it and weep. From pretty much any "minority" perspective.)
marshtide: (Rei)
1. Tattoos. Check out the 'abstract' section, I am in so much awe. I've been thinking again lately about what I might want from a tattoo, and that's certainly a step in the right direction for my thought process. There's also one under 'modern' which uses negative space, and while the design isn't something I would personally want that negative-space idea is interesting. (I am as yet uninked because I take the design decisions involved Very Very Seriously.)

2. We have watched 11 episodes of Sailor Moon and been impressed by how little has happened. You guys, not only is it monster of the week, it is the same monster every week. They almost talked about the plot a couple of times but then they decided not to. So uh, maybe we're taking [personal profile] crystal's advice after all and skipping forward some before we snap. (It's a conflict, you know - we're kind of obsessive in a completist kind of way, and so don't want to miss things, but on the other hand.............. uhhh...............)

3. I seem to have spent last night in a series of different and largely unconnected dreams about gender identity. I think I identified differently in all of them, basically, and it was always an issue in some way.

Dear brain, please lay off. I spend enough time worrying about how to present myself on any given day when I'm awake.
marshtide: (Hell with it)
1. A book has been released in Sweden! It is called "six feminist myths" ("Sex feministiska myter"). These myths are, apparently:

1. gender is socially constructed
2. women get paid less for the same job
3. it's harder for women to have a career
4. men hit women
5. women work more
6. women get worse healthcare

The first couple of reviews I found went in the direction of "he used sources! so HE MUST BE RIGHT!"

So I guess we're done here...

No. Wait.

(I think it's by one of those "we are all wonderful but function in COMPLETELY different ways which can never be brought together and we should accept that, now get back to the kitchen. I call this equality." people, from a very cursory google.)

2. I, on the other hand, am reading En Riktig Kvinna : Om Biologism Och Könsskillnad ("A Real Woman: Biologism and sexual differentiation" or something) by Sara Arrhenius, which is pretty much the antidote. More on this when I'm further through.

3. So I hadn't really heard about the fallout from that clusterfuck of policing that was the IAAF & Caster Semenya's right to compete as a woman, because sometimes I am just kind of out of touch, but then I caught something about it on the radio a while back and it made me furious. So furious! Then it came up again in conversation with Valborg yesterday. The whole thing is just. Waaaaagh. Here you go, if I am not the last person to have heard this one.
marshtide: (Katherine Hepburn - Sylvia Scarlett)
Today I cycled TO TOWN. And back again! (We live in town, by the way, so "to town" means about 800-ish meters). This was a complex operation which, I have to admit, took a lot of time, because it basically consisted of me cycling a little way, finding a bench, and lying down on it for 5-10 mins, then repeating the process.

But I am ridiculously proud of having not only made it there and back again without breaking myself but ALSO having accomplished my actual goal there, which was to Buy A Pair Of Shorts. I even got a plain t-shirt while i was at it, to replace one of the ones that decided to spontaneously become more hole than t-shirt over the winter (cheap clothes do this distressingly fast, don't they).

Anyway, I bought shorts. I am not a great wearer of shorts, but having adjusted to the really low temperatures which we have here for most of the year, the modestly raised temperatures (OK, OK, 18+ degrees, I am also just a wimp about heat) we get for a few months in summer are distressing, so something has to be done. I have tried on many shorts! All different sorts! Styles! Lengths!

And it turns out that if I want to buy shorts, I need to buy man's shorts, because I am - wait for it - too curvy for women's shorts.

But men's are fine.

Sometimes the world astonishes me.

But yeah, this is basically because women's shorts are apparently designed to be:

- dainty
- very small
- for people with legs at least a third smaller than mine. at LEAST! any pair of lady-shorts that will sit comfortably on my legs will fall off because the waist will be twice the size of my actual waist.

To add to this, I have complicated and entirely queer feelings about gender, and specifically, about my gender, and I haven't figured out what works for me in terms of more casual clothes (if I'm going formal I wear a man's suit/suit with a fairly masculine cut, generally). After going through a stack of the most gender-neutral-looking women's shorts I could find, I was pretty fed up. But I thought, I have come all this way. It was a performance. I guess I'll try some men's shorts and then we can all have a laugh at the way my arse gets in the way of them doing anything good at all, possibly up to and including closing.

Because this is basically what I've assumed will happen with men's shorts, and trousers generally.

But the thing is: it turns out men's shorts are designed to be big. Like, baggy. So my thighs, hips and arse will all comfortably fit into a size 32 pair of men's shorts, largely because they actually have room left for the wearer to be able to move, which is apparently not a consideration for people with boobs. For some reason the waist-band is also fine, which is a bit of a mystery to me, but I'm not complaining.

So that was my adventure for the day! The next step is finding shoes that I can live with for the summer & that I can also afford.
marshtide: (Mymlan)
So today I'm introducing another member of my little personal pantheon of Swedish queer feminist comic artists (OK, I will grant you, it is a very specific pantheon): Karolina Bång! Handboken (The Handbook) is a mix of stories about people who fall outside of various norms, bits of queer & feminist history told in comic form, and bits of how-to guide to alternative relationships!

This time I've got a little selection of mostly one-page comics to offer you, about queerness, norms and boundaries. This post is NSFW & some comics deal with rape culture.

There's something that most girls have learnt...

Read more... )

Shake That Norm

Read more... )

The norm ghost: It's trying to get you!

Read more... )

The end of the nuclear family: A Utopia

Read more... )

Previously translated strips:

- Snapshots of a patriarchy: The myth of the stone age, by Liv Strömqvist
- Creativity - a comic about making things by Liv Strömqvist
marshtide: (Parkvakten)
Here's a translation of a short comic strip by Liv Strömquist, Sweden's favourite feminist comic artist and social commentator. My rough translation, as per usual. This, by the way, is semi-relevant to the post I'm hopefully putting up tomorrow on assigning sex to human remains. It's at least some kind of complementary reading material!

This is from Liv Strömquist's first collection, 100% fett (100% Fat).

Courtesy cut for images )

Previously translated strips:

- Creativity - a comic about making things by Liv Strömquist
marshtide: (Mist)
Latest contribution to Awesome 70s Shojo Week from [personal profile] starlady: A, A' (Hagio Moto)

I'm sticking with Ikeda Riyoko a little longer, although I promise that I have some other people to talk about as well; I might as well just get this out of my system first, right? Today we're on a manga I don't actually like all that much, which might be a bit out of the spirit of the thing, but I think it's maybe worth talking about anyway.

Claudine is one of Ikeda Riyoko's shorter stories. It's only around a hundred pages long, and I have to say that it does feel like a summary of quite a long & complex story rather than a story which actually should have been that short. Anyway: the short version of this post is that this is another of those reach-exceeding-grasp manga, of which this group also produced quite a lot. I think it's the widest miss of Ikeda's that I've read. Which isn't to say that it's devoid of interest.

This story contains a lot of elements that you'll have seen before if you've read much of Ikeda Riyoko's work; the pseudo-historical setting, the floppy shirts, the gender issues, the father who wants his daughter to be a son (but not too much of a son). Oh and the angst! And suicide! And manipulative relationships! I think we are basically only missing drugs and mystery wasting diseases?

Wikipedia is currently describing it as a classic yuri story, but if that's how it's widely thought of then I'm afraid people are wrong again, because although the female-bodied main character is addressed as Claudine and with female pronouns for most of the story it's still a story that focuses on a character who is struggling with being trans.

Claudine )
marshtide: (Rei - go on you know you want to)
(This post is partly prompted by talking a little earlier with [personal profile] starlady about old shojo, and partly by [personal profile] timeasmymeasure's post about female characters. Because I've been meaning to inflict some of my favourites on you for ages. I also want to put disclaimers all over this saying I don't know what I'm talking about. Because I don't! But hell with it! Let's roll!)

Let's talk a bit about the group of female manga artists in the 70s often referred to as the year 24 group. They produced a lot of series that are now classics and they pushed, as far as I can tell, more or less every boundary they could think of. Quite a few of them were particularly interested in gender and in sexuality. In the way relationships worked. Or didn't.

From this we get a lot of stories about powerful women and women who struggle for power and women who just don't have much of it at all. We get philosophical stories. We get stories about negotiating gender, including stories which tackle trans issues in a pretty serious (if generally not upbeat) way and stories that play with the construction of gender. And we get stories about gay or ambiguous characters - both male and female, although more often male (in other words, the beginning of shonen-ai). These stories are generally deeply depressing. I get the feeling that a lot of the people who wrote these stories had more questions than answers - and that there were other constraints on what they could actually tackle and how they could show it, to some extent, though I am not that well read up on this stuff. But Oniisama E's pasted on heterosexuality? Yeah, sure, I totally bought that. And the characters who challenge norms tend to die and abuse is rampant and half the characters in a lot of these stories are actually insane and all the rest.

One can view it, in that way, as something negative. But I actually feel like that whole movement was really powerful, anyway, and had really interesting, good ideas, which were pretty far ahead of the curve in some respects. I have a lot of respect for their stuff, even with the dead lesbians/gay people/trans people. Positive representation is great, but what they were doing was pretty amazing on other levels. It is also not, by any means, absolutely all negative.

A few of my favourite series ever come from this lot's work.

My absolute favourite of these writers - of the ones I've managed to track down and read - is Ikeda Riyoko (Rose of Versailles, Oniisama E, Claudine, Window of Orpheus). I think the degree to which she actually nails her ideas is better than quite a few of the others. And her non-gender-conforming women? Yes please.

Possibly one of her best series, and the one I would make everyone read/watch if it was widely available, is Rose of Versailles, set in the run-up to the French revolution. It is gender-defying as anything!

Rose of Versailes. And Oscar. Mostly Oscar actually. )


This post doesn't need to be longer. I'll get back to you about some of the other series and characters I really fell for.
marshtide: (Default)
I've been thinking a lot about identity in various forms lately. I've been trying to write about how I feel about my national identity, but that's defeated me several times now, so I'll give it a break and maybe come back later. Instead, expression of identity through appearance.

Me. And the quest for something that fits. )
marshtide: (Too-ticki)
Today: trying again with this whole attending school thing.

Random links, largely in some way Val's fault (though the first one just showed up on my reading list):

1. Well, yeah. I mean, I don't think men taking an equal role in raising children is actually quite so much of a firmly entrenched idea in Sweden as people maybe imply/wish, given the issues with getting guys to for example actually take as much paternity leave as they're entitled to, but I definitely had a burst of surprise when I arrived at how common it was to see a guy going around by himself with a small child in a buggy. It made me double-take - and this despite the fact that my dad spent pretty much the same amount of time looking after me and my brother when we were kids as my mum did. I guess the thing is, in a rural part of the UK at that point in time, that was weird. And this seems to be normal.

(Val has also mentioned a couple of times that there is training here for preschool teachers to try and counter the way gender roles are enforced in without people even being aware of what they're doing. While we're on gender roles. I haven't gone and looked it up and read up on the details but doesn't that sound amazing?)

2. Here is an article about women's football. It's from a Swedish feminist magazine, so sorry if you can't read the actual text, but the reason I'm linking it is in fact mostly the photos. Aren't they great?

3. Name to remember, which I've just found written on a post-it note and stuck to one of my notebooks: Marianne Breslauer. German photographer, Weimar republic. Just look at this stuff!
marshtide: (Default)
Social interaction - even online - sure does take a lot out of me sometimes. Argh.

But in better news, I finished reading Victoria Benedictsson's Money, and it was a really damn interesting book. I've mentioned a bit about it before, of course, but let's take this from the top: it's a novel written in Sweden in the 1880s, and was a contribution to an ongoing debate taking place at the time to do with marriage and the imbalance between men and women, double standards and all. A lot of the work concerned with the topic was by men, particularly Ibsen, and I guess Strindberg as well, so in that this is a book about issues concerning women's situation that was written by a woman it is, for its time, unusual. Interestingly, Benedictsson struggled to have her work taken seriously - it was dismissed as being about women's stuff, basically, and therefore not very important. Ibsen's A Doll's House, on the other hand, while also concerning issues with marriage and criticizing the way the whole institution worked at the time, was extremely controversial, but not, as far as I know, dismissed as unimportant!

The book is about a girl, Selma, who is married at the age of sixteen to a much older man without really knowing what marriage involves, because of ideas about keeping girls pure. She simply has no idea, particularly about sex. The book is about how she deals with her situation, really; it's about her journey through to... age 23, I think, and the conclusions she comes to about marriage. It really is an attack on marriage - a very carefully worded one, but all the same.* The attack is based on the inherent inequality - a situation in which men come to the marriage armed with far more knowledge of sex, are the ones who hold property within the marriage, and the ones who can be forgiven for sexual indiscretions too - and on the fact that for a certain class of women there were few options for supporting themselves besides marriage. Benedictsson, herself in an unhappy marriage to an older man, goes so far as to describe it as like prostitution: one sells oneself for money in order to survive. I seem to remember that there are characters who express similar views in A Doll's House, actually, though I'm only familiar with that piece from reading about it. I've neither read it nor seen it produced. Anyway! It was a real issue at the time, for the reasons mentioned above - particularly that women didn't hold property and weren't encouraged or allowed to earn their own living.

The book isn't perfect. I was worried when I began it that I wouldn't be able to get into it, because Selma seemed as though she had potential but things about her world-view were really frustrating and I wasn't sure about the direction it seemed to be headed for a while right at the start. This, of course, is kind of the point, as later sections showed. I did get really into it, actually, once I'd reached the point of her marriage; I was really interested to know what would happen to her and on the whole I wasn't disappointed by what did. She also does develop into a really interesting person. I thought she was pretty great. Striding around with a riding crop didn't hurt either, and nor did the female homoeroticism that crept into one of the later sections. Ahem. But the real point is that she's a good character, which is to say, flawed and interesting and with her own kind of strength and quite a bit of development. She also has strong views and expresses them.

I did think the message felt a bit... well, I've mentioned how carefully worded it felt, in that sort of balancing-act way of not wanting to push things too far, whether for fear of being unpublishable or fear of attracting too much criticism to deal with, and it did sometimes feel a little compromised as a result. Mostly I think it got through, though. I'm sure that a few other things struck me as not quite as great as they could have been, though I foolishly didn't make notes so don't expect elaboration. Oops. Overall, though, I liked it. Quite a bit, actually. I'd recommend it.

In short: proto-feminist literature I am really glad I read!

* In the afterward to the translation I read there's a little information regarding letters she wrote to a friend while writing the book, talking about what she felt she could and couldn't say as a female author and how she felt she had to worry about these things in a way a man probably wouldn't - particularly, open discussion of sex was problematic for her, and the book is very much about sex, so one finds oneself reading between the lines. To be honest, all that considered, it still feels really pretty frank considering when it was written.


May. 12th, 2010 07:57 am
marshtide: (Default)
Stray & largely undeveloped thoughts:

1. Has anyone written about that whole idea of The Madwoman In The Attic as it applies to the Sherlock Holmes stories? Does anyone have any thoughts on it? It comes up several times: either there is an actually mad woman or a woman who is locked up and claimed to be mad or just locked up and forgotten about, and other women who figure far less literally as a part of that dismissive tradition in one way or another. There are some fairly literal cases and some examples which I sort of mentally bracket under the same sort of heading, and I'm going to be terrible and not actually cite examples now because I can't remember them without hauling out books and I'm having a peculiarly weak day today & not getting out of bed yet. But I think the way that women figure in Sherlock Holmes stories generally is something interesting to poke at, in the wider context of Victorian society and in the context of literary convention. I haven't got any further than that yet. Partly because I'd need to do some re-reading and probably get hold of some literary theory books and read or re-read those as well. I feel under-educated again now. Oops.

2. I read Irene Adler as bisexual. I freely admit that this may be partly influenced by that beautiful scene in the Granada TV series where she's meant to be spending time with her lover the king but is clearly much more interested in eyeing up the legs of the dancing girls with the most appreciative expression ever, but I also don't think it's an invalid reading of the actual short story. I also think I'd need to be feeling a bit more energetic to lay out that argument properly. I'm chipping slowly away at getting the reasoning straightened (ha ha) out, though.

3. Still on women from that era, but now moving north! I'm half way through reading Victoria Benedictsson's Money, so of course I can't have full thoughts on it yet, but it's pretty interesting. Reading it I actually thought it was being quite shockingly frank about the situation of women and about sex as a part of that, for a novel of its time. Which is the point, of course: it's a novel all about sex and money. I didn't realise until Val was talking about students who'd missed significant points that I was still reading between the lines a lot to form that impression. Goddamn it, C19th. The spectre of Being Considered Mad for the crime of being a woman who wants to do something with her life hangs over this book too, by the way, but this time as a definite part of the point the author is trying to make.

4. When I'm done with that I've got a volume of Virginia Woolf's diaries to read and I admit I'm sort of procrastinating over posting about her until I've read at least some of that.
marshtide: (Default)
Apparently I'm boring today. If I tried to post properly it would start out trying to be about Rose of Versailles or Irene Adler or in fact crossdressing as portrayed in Stuff What I Like generally, or how Murakami kind of only has one story and I somehow fail to mind, or whatever, and would devolve within sentences into a detailed explanation of where I buy my tea from in Stockholm and why and how terrible the tea you can buy in Swedish supermarkets is, with a possible aside on the concept of fika. I know this would happen because I tried, several times. (I did go all the way to Stockholm with the primary purpose of buying tea today, but somehow suspect that a blow-by-blow account is not actually needed.)

Alternative entertainment until such a time as I'm less dull:

[personal profile] oursin posts about queer womanhood in the late C19th at [community profile] queering_holmes.

I'm still staring at [community profile] queering_holmes with undisguised admiration, but I don't feel intelligent enough for participation today. I am, however, making notes.


[personal profile] valborg posts about a book called The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe.

I mention this partly as a flawless segue into the fact that the person known on this journal as Val is more generally known to Dreamwidth as [personal profile] valborg. Just so you know. Also because, you know, crossdressing.


marshtide: (Default)

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