Othering by Politeness

Yesterday I tweeted a bit of a rant about Othering by Politeness. You know, that thing where someone in a group swears, or says something uncouth, and then specifically singles *you* out to apologize to. Because you are the woman, or person of color, or queer, or Christian, or whatever.

It’s an infuriating microaggression, this form of politeness. The speaker is entirely acting as A Good Person. What they intend to say is “Oh, geez, I might have offended you, I should apologize!” But the cultural meta-text is “everyone else here is fine with what I just said, because we are all the same and we belong. But you, the outsider who is different from us, you might get mad at us, so I should apologize before I get in trouble.”

A few people mentioned that there’s no good way to respond to this sort of microaggression in a professional context. And I tweeted the one response I have. Metaphortunate was kind enough to Storify it. But here’s the gist —

So my coworker swore at work. “Fucking cocksucker,” he said. And he turns and apologizes to me by name. “Sorry, Sigrid,” he says.
I say, “stop apologizing.”
He laughs and says, “you means stop swearing.”
“No”, I say, “stop apologizing. You have to stop apologizing.”
He looks confused.
I say, ” — if you swear and you don’t apologize, you’re just a crude, uncouth dipshit.”
Everybody nearby laughs.
“If you apologize to everyone,” I say, “then you know you said something wrong and you made a mistake, and we all move on. If you apologize to *just me*, the only woman in the room, then you know that you are creating a hostile work environment. You know that your language has explicitly targeted me, the lesbian in the room, and you are knowingly violating federal law. So either stop apologizing for your language, or I *have* to report you for hostile workplace.”

He stopped apologizing. Still swears, but he stopped apologizing.



Adulting successes

This has been a really nice week!

Part of that is that K did not have circus classes in the evenings — spring break — so I did not have to drive to get her at 9:15 at night. Another part is that M had a spring break camp at the science museum, learning beginning programming, so he was happy with school all week. But a big part of it for me was successful adulting.

I used to think that the part of getting complicated adult tasks done that stressed me out was DOING them. These days I know that the stressful part is WORRYING about doing them. So if I just *do the thing*, then I stop worrying about it. And, voila! Happiness and success.

So I cleaned off the kids’ craft shelf with K, I got out the rain barrel, I filed our taxes for 2015, I turned in my FAA physical paperwork at work, I turned in my jury duty paperwork at work, I cleaned off the dining room table, I did my PT every day, I cooked a bunch of things, I sent complicated emails — lots of things.

And now I feel pretty good.

The only hitches are that I have an unpleasant letter from the IRS about 2014’s taxes — we misfiled, we owe Many Dollars — and I am … stuck, somehow, on making this sweater pattern.

I’m not sure WHAT is making me stuck. I just, I keep avoiding even LOOKING at the stuff to make the pattern. So, what’s the block? Do I think the project is too big? Do I not know what to do next and don’t know who to ask? I don’t know WHAT the problem is, so I don’t know how to solve it. I’m going to take all the project stuff with me to work today, and see if I can just go through what I’ve got, step by step, and find the part I’m stuck on. Then maybe I can start up again on writing the pattern, and then FINALLY start on knitting the thing.

But, overall, things are good! Onwards to my work-week. Hup hup hup!



The letter I just sent to Odyssey Con


It came to my attention today that the programming for this year’s Odyssey Con has a couple of folks who’ve engaged in antisocial behavior at Wiscon. Specifically Richard Russell and Jim Frenkel.

I’ve attended Wiscon for years, and have personally experienced and witnessed behavior from both of these men that does not support the ideals to which I hope we all subscribe. Russell has, for years, made explicitly and openly racist remarks during panels he ran. Frenkel has serially harassed multiple women for years and was finally successfully reported for it.

Neither of these men behave in a manner that supports an open convention that welcomes all fans.

To accept them at your convention is a worthy thing to do. They can continue to grow and change and become the better human beings we all hope them to be, in a community where they have not yet acted so poorly. I thank you and your convention for this; everyone deserves a space in which they can try to improve.

But I am concerned about them being on your programming. That seems to indicated a certain level of endorsement of them, and their views, that I find troubling. Particularly when Frenkel in on a panel about how to be an adult, and Russell is on a panel about social justice going too far. I am concerned that they will … double down, if you will, on their previous positions.

None of us can know the future, of course. And I always hope for the best, from everyone. But I would hate for Odyssey Con to find itself in the midst of another controversy with these men at the center. And I would hate for your guests of honor to develop a poor opinion of Midwest fandom.

And I would hate, above both those things, for your attendees to suffer harassment or worse from panelists you selected, for those attendees to slink away from fandom ashamed and hurt and humiliated, unsure of what they did to draw such negative attention from men Odyssey Con put in positions of power and authority.

I hope, very much, that you have assurances that you can believe from Frenkel and Russell. I hope, very much, that you know, completely, that they will not harass or molest anyone at your convention.

I am concerned. I hope my concerns are groundless.

I wish you all the best,

Sigrid Ellis

(I just emailed this to chair@odysseycon.org, Alex Merrill, Janet Lewis, and program@odysseycon.org, Greg Rihn.)

Known Associates, by thingswithwings

This fic, y’all.

Known Associates

So, you know by now that one of the things that matters to me is remembering that queers, people of color, and women have ALWAYS been a part of history. We have ALWAYS been here, acting, doing things. In this epic fic thingswithwings creates the world of queer, socialist Brooklyn that Steve Rogers might have inhabited. They put Steve and Bucky in the vibrant and activist Harlem that really existed. They place the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the world that actually existed, and from there they write the tale of how Steve Rogers would have adjusted to the modern day, had he been the punk-fairy socialist sissy activist genderqueer agitator war hero depicted here.

This is a great fic, y’all. Full of warmth and history and an absolutely loving blend of the MCU and reality.

I highly recommend.



Links for April 6 2016

* Caleb Cleveland’s A-Z of D&D is a DELIGHT unto mine eyes.

* West Wing Weekly is a new podcast, rewatching every episode of The West Wing.

* The problem with a technology revolution designed primarily for men.

““Tell the agents, ‘I had a heart attack,’ and they know what heart attacks are, suggesting what to do to find immediate help. Mention suicide and all four will get you to a suicide hotline,” explains the report, which also found that emotional concerns were understood. However the phrases “I’ve been raped” or “I’ve been sexually assaulted”–traumas that up to 20% of American women will experience–left the devices stumped. Siri, Google Now, and S Voice responded with: “I don’t know what that is.” The problem was the same when researchers tested for physical abuse. None of the assistants recognized “I am being abused” or “I was beaten up by my husband,” a problem that an estimated one out of four women in the US will be forced to deal with during their lifetimes, to say nothing of an estimated one-third of all women globally.”

* Blank, by lim.

Y’all, lim is one of the very best fanvidders out there. This is a fantastic visual representation of the overlapping past and present for Steve and Bucky in the MCU. But even if that’s not really your thing, just go watch this vid for the sheer technical virtuosity.



The Southern Reach trilogy

I finished Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy – Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance — this weekend.

It’s so sad, y’all.

Here’s the thing that leads me to believe that these books are genuinely and specifically good — I cared about the characters even though I did not understand what was happening.

I didn’t always understand what was going on in the book — not because of bad writing, but because the narrators did not understand — and I didn’t mind. I wanted to know, at every moment, how the characters were feeling what they were thinking, what they did, what was going to happen next.

That is some really damn good writing.

Without giving too much away, The Southern Reach books concern themselves with an institutional and individual human response to some sort of incursion from elsewhere. There are scenes that are skin-crawlingly horrific, and there are many more scenes in the later books where we know that This Can’t Possibly End Well because we already know some other part. And the books are sad, sad, so very sad. Isolation is a major theme, as are lying and betrayal.

Yet the books are beautiful and moving, and incredibly well-executed.

I recommend them.



2015 Tiptree Winners, Honors, Long List!

2015 Winners, Honor List, and Long List Announced!

Y’all, I am SO VERY PLEASED by this list. Are there things missing that I would have liked to see honored? Sure, of course. But this is GREAT. This is FANTASTIC.

This, this is the future of SF/F. If you want to know what the future looks like, it’s these people, these works. This is where we are going.

There are too many great, incredible works on this list for me to mention them all. But I’m going to mention a few I am particularly happy about.

Milkfed Criminal Masterminds is well-represented, with Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s ODY-C on the Honors list and Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro on the Long List. [Full disclosure, I work with Kelly Sue on Pretty Deadly.] “Each to Each,” by Seanan McGuire made the Honors list as well. [I’ve also worked with Seanan.] And I was very happy to see stories from Susan Jane Bigelow and Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam on the lists, as I was privileged to buy other works of theirs in the past. It is *so nice* to see people go on to receive the accolades I always knew they deserved!

In the realms of people I have not worked with, I am VERY happy to see Carola Dibbell’s novel, The Only Ones, on the Honors List. This is the book I am rooting for in the awards season this year. I hope it makes the Nebula and Hugo ballots. I hope it wins.

There are a host of other great things on these lists. I highly recommend all of them, honestly. The Tiptree is a juried award, and the folks have spent a lot of time and energy reading everything and making complicated decisions about the merit of the works. Go ye forth and read!

And enjoy the future.




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