Author Archives: brainwane

About brainwane

Sumana Harihareswara is a geeky woman living in New York City and maintaining open source software, teaching newer coders, reading science fiction, writing technical documentation, and programming. She has managed programmers at an open source consulting firm, led the open source community behind Wikipedia, and co-edited a speculative fiction anthology. She toots and tweets as @brainwane.

Informal Geek Feminism get-togethers, May and June

Some Geek Feminism folks will be at the following conferences and conventions in the United States over the next several weeks, in case contributors and readers would like to have some informal get-togethers to reminisce and chat about inheritors of the GF legacy:

If you’re interested, feel free to comment below, and to take on the step of initiating open space/programming/session organizing!

Bringing the blog to a close

We’re bringing the Geek Feminism blog to a close.

First, some logistics; then some reasons and reminiscences; then, some thanks.


The site will still be up for at least several years, barring Internet catastrophe. We won’t post to it anymore and comments will be closed, but we intend to keep the archives up and available at their current URLs, or to have durable redirects from the current URLs to the archive.

This doesn’t affect the Geek Feminism wiki, which will keep going.

There’s a Twitter feed and a Facebook page; after our last blog post, we won’t post to those again.

We don’t have a definite date yet for when we’ll post for the last time. It’ll almost certainly be this year.

I might add to this, or post in the comments, to add stuff. And this isn’t the absolute last post on the blog; it’d be nice to re-run a few of our best-of posts, for instance, like the ones Tim Chevalier linked to here. We’re figuring that out.

Reasons and reminiscences

Alex Bayley and a bunch of their peers — myself included — started posting on this blog in 2009. We coalesced around feminist issues in scifi/fantasy fandom, open culture projects like Wikipedia, gaming, the sciences, the tech industry and open source software development, Internet culture, and so on. Alex gave a talk at Open Source Bridge 2014 about our history to that point, and our meta tag has some further background on what we were up to over those years.

You’ve probably seen a number of these kinds of volunteer group efforts end. People’s lives shift, our priorities change as we adapt to new challenges, and so on. And we’ve seen the birth or growth of other independent media; there are quite a lot of places to go, for a feminist take on the issues I mentioned. For example:

We did some interesting, useful, and cool stuff for several years; I try to keep myself from dwelling too much in the sad half of “bittersweet” by thinking of the many communities that have already been carrying on without waiting for us to pass any torches.


Thanks of course to all our contributors, past and present, and those who provided the theme, logo, and technical support and built or provided infrastructure, social and digital and financial, for this blog. Thanks to our readers and commenters. Thanks to everyone who did neat stuff for us to write about. And thanks to anyone who used things we said to go make the world happier.

More later; thanks.

GF-ish sessions at Penguicon this weekend

This weekend, April 28-30, people coming to Penguicon in Southfield, Michigan can catch a number of sessions of interest to Geek Feminism readers.

Coraline Ada Ehmke is one of the Guests of Honor (her Penguicon schedule). Ehmke “is a speaker, writer, open source advocate and technologist with over 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. She works diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in open source and the tech industry.” She and others are participating in a Women in Tech panel and Q&A on Saturday.

Perhaps I’ll see you at the con! Feel free to comment if you’re going to be there and mention any parties or sessions you’re particularly looking forward to.

Several small snowflake-type papercraft pieces made from gold wrapping paper

Some posts from the last year on inclusion

A sort of topic-specific collection of links from about the last year, broadly talking about inclusion in communities, online and off, especially in geek(y) spaces.

What kind of discourses and conversations do we want to encourage and have?

  • Nalo Hopkinson’s WisCon 2016 Guest of Honor speech: “There are many people who do good in this field, who perform small and large actions of kindness and welcome every day. I’d like to encourage more of that.” In this speech Hopkinson announced the Lemonade Award.
  • “Looking back on a decade in online fandom social justice: unexpurgated version”, by sqbr: “And just because I’m avoiding someone socially doesn’t mean I should ignore what they have to say, and won’t end up facing complex ethical choices involving them. My approach right now is to discuss it with people I trust. Figuring out who those people are, and learning to make myself vulnerable in front of them, has been part of the journey.”
  • “On conversations”, by Katherine Daniels: “I would love for these people who have had so many opportunities already given to them to think about what they are taking away from our collective conversations by continuing to dominate them, and to maybe take a step back and suggest someone else for that opportunity to speak instead.”
  • “Towards a More Welcoming War” by Mary Anne Mohanraj (originally published in WisCon Chronicles 9: Intersections and Alliances, Aqueduct Press, 2015): “This is where I start thinking about what makes an effective community intervention. This is where I wish I knew some people well enough to pick up a phone.”
  • “The chemistry of discourse”, by Abi Sutherland: “What we really need for free speech is a varied ecosystem of different moderators, different regimes, different conversations. How do those spaces relate to one another when Twitter, Reddit, and the chans flatten the subcultural walls between them?”
  • “Hot Allostatic Load”, by porpentine, in The New Inquiry: “This is about disposability from a trans feminine perspective, through the lens of an artistic career. It’s about being human trash….Call-out Culture as Ritual Disposability”
  • “The Ethics of Mob Justice”, by Sady Doyle, in In These Times: “But, again, there’s no eliminating the existence of Internet shaming, even if you wanted to—and if you did, you’d eliminate a lot of healthy dialogue and teachable moments right along with it. At best, progressive people who recognize the necessity of some healthy shame can only alter the forms shaming takes.”

How do we reduce online harassment?

  • “Paths: a YA comic about online harassment”, by Mikki Kendall: “‘It’s not that big of a deal. She’ll get over it.’ ‘Even if she does, that doesn’t make this okay. What’s wrong with you?'”
  • “On a technicality”, by Eevee: “There’s a human tendency to measure peace as though it were the inverse of volume: the louder people get, the less peaceful it is. We then try to optimize for the least arguing.”
  • “Moderating Harassment in Twitter with Blockbots”, by ethnographer R. Stuart Geiger, on the Berkeley Institute for Data Science site: “In the paper, I analyze blockbot projects as counterpublics…I found a substantial amount of collective sensemaking in these groups, which can be seen in the intense debates that sometimes take place over defining standards of blockworthyness…..I also think it is important distinguish between the right to speak and the right to be heard, particularly in privately owned social networking sites.”
  • “The Real Name Fallacy”, by J. Nathan Matias, on The Coral Project site: “People often say that online behavior would improve if every comment system forced people to use their real names….Yet the balance of experimental evidence over the past thirty years suggests that this is not the case. Not only would removing anonymity fail to consistently improve online community behavior – forcing real names in online communities could also increase discrimination and worsen harassment….designers need to commit to testing the outcomes of efforts at preventing and responding to social problems.”

What does it take to make your community more inclusive?

  • “Want more inclusivity at your conference? Add childcare.” by Mel Chua and then “Beyond ‘Childcare Available’: 4 Tips for Making Events Parent-Friendly”, by Camille Acey: “I’ve pulled together a few ideas to help move ‘Childcare Available’ from just a word on a page to an actual living breathing service that empowers people with children to learn/grow alongside their peers, engage in projects they care about, and frankly just have a little break from the rigors of childcare.”
  • Project Hearing: “Project Hearing is a website that consolidates information about technology tools, websites, and applications that deaf and hard of hearing people can use to move around in the hearing world.”
  • “Conference access, and related topics”, by Emily Short: “This is an area where different forms of accessibility are often going at right angles.”
  • “SciPy 2016 Retrospective”, by Camille Scott: “SciPy, by my account, is a curious microcosm of the academic open source community as a whole.”
  • “Notes from Abstractions”, by Coral Sheldon-Hess: “Pittsburgh’s Code & Supply just held a huge (1500 people) conference over the last three days, and of course I’d signed up to attend months ago, because 1) local 2) affordable 3) tech conference 4) with a code of conduct they seemed serious about. Plus, “Abstractions” is a really cool name for a tech conference.”
  • “The letter I just sent to Odyssey Con”, by Sigrid Ellis: “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.” (This is Ellis’s post from April 7, 2016, a year before all three of Odyssey Con’s Guests of Honor chose not to attend Odyssey Con because of the very issue Ellis discussed.)
  • “The realities of organizing a community tech conference: an ill-advised rant”, by Rebecca Miller-Webster: “…there’s a lot of unpaid labor that happens at conferences, especially community conferences, that no one seems to talk about. The unpaid labor of conference organizers. Not only do people not talk about it, but in the narrative around conferences as work, these participants are almost always the bad guys.”
  • “Emotional Labor and Diversity in Community Management”, by Jeremy Preacher, originally a speech in the Community Management Summit at Game Developers Conference 2016: “The thing with emotional labor is that it’s generally invisible — both to the people benefiting from the work, and to the people doing it. People who are good at it tend to do it unconsciously — it’s one of the things we’re talking about when we say a community manager has ‘good instincts’.”….What all of these strategies do, what thinking about the emotional labor cost of participation adds up to, is make space for your lurkers to join in.”
  • “White Corporate Feminism”, by Sarah Sharp: “Even though Grace Hopper was hosted in Atlanta that year, a city that is 56% African American, there weren’t that many women of color attending.”
  • “You say hello”, by wundergeek on “Go Make Me a Sandwich (how not to sell games to women)”: “Of course, this is made harder by the fact that I hate losing. And there will be people who will celebrate, people who call this a victory, which only intensifies my feelings of defeat. My feelings of weakness. I feel like I’m giving up, and it kills me because I’m competitive! I’m contrary! Telling me not to do a thing is enough to make me want to do the thing. I don’t give up on things and I hate losing. But in this situation, I have to accept that there is no winning play. No win condition. I’m one person at war with an entire culture, and there just aren’t enough people who give a damn, and I’m not willing to continue sacrificing my health and well-being on the altar of moral obligation. If this fight is so important, then let someone else fight it for a while.”
  • “No One Should Feel Alone”, by Natalie Luhrs: “In addition to listening and believing–which is 101 level work, honestly–there are other things we can do: we can hold space for people to speak their truth and we can hold everyone to account, regardless of their social or professional position in our community. We can look out for newcomers–writers and fans alike–and make them welcome and follow through on our promise that we will have their backs. We can try to help people form connections with each other, so they are not isolated and alone.”
  • “Equality Credentials”, by Sara Ahmed: “Feminist work in addressing institutional failure can be used as evidence of institutional success. The very labour of feminist critique can end up supporting what is being critiqued. The tools you introduce to address a problem can be used as indicators that a problem has been addressed.”
  • “Shock and Care: an essay about art, politics and responsibility”, by Harry Giles (Content note: includes discussion of sex, violence and self-injury in an artistic context): “So, in a political situation in which care is both exceptionally necessary and exceptionally underprovided, acts of care begin to look politically radical. To care is to act against the grain of social and economic orthodoxy: to advocate care is, in the present moment, to advocate a kind of political rupture. But by its nature, care must be a rupture which involves taking account of, centring, and, most importantly, taking responsibility for those for whom you are caring. Is providing care thus a valuable avenue of artistic exploration? Is the art of care a form of radical political art? Is care, in a society which devalues care, itself shocking?”

Remembering the Fourteen

Today we remember:

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

On December 6, 1989, at the École Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a man killed these women, targeting them because they were women and because they were engineers.

More remembrances:

Deb Chachra.

Shelley Page.

Previous posts on Geek Feminism.

Nonbinary inclusion in “women’s spaces”

Two different feminists I know recently brought my attention to “On the Design of Women’s Spaces” by Kat Marchán, and I’m grateful to them and to Marchán. The essay provides a useful “hierarchy of exclusivity” that helps all of us think about how our feminist spaces — geeky or otherwise — could make sure that our policies, names, and advertising are not accidentally being exclusive.

Recently, while speaking with a group of non-binary folks, a discussion came up about how many of us are uncomfortable in “women’s spaces”. We talked about what these spaces usually intend, how they word things, and how they could align what they want with what they say, in order to get more of us to feel comfortable.

I participate in some feminist spaces, some of which exclude men, and some of which fall under categories 2, 3, and 4 in the hierarchy Marchán describes. [Disclaimer: I am cis.] As Julia Evans describes, women-only spaces are a hack:

Imagine you have a program, and it has a pretty serious issue. It needs some deep architectural changes to fix it, but you can alleviate some of the symptoms by just changing a few lines of code. You don’t yet know the best way to resolve the larger problem, but you need to do something, so you start with a hack.

… and we’ve started with that hack, and now it’s one that dozens if not hundreds of online and in-person spaces are replicating. I’m glad for tools and examples that help us get past that first initial hack.

I’m one of the co-organizers of an up-and-coming feminist hackerspace, MergeSort NYC (next project night tomorrow night!). Our “About us” text already explicitly mentioned non-binary people. But after we saw Marchán’s piece and talked about it, we decided to more emphatically include non-binary people, by switching around the phrase from “women and non-binary people” to “non-binary people and women”:

We want to be a place where non-binary people and women can make things, learn, and work on projects without fear or intimidation.

It’s one small improvement, and one we’re glad to make. (And we continue to look into more ways — big and small — to be more inclusive, across many axes, and are considering where we’d like to be on Marchán’s hierarchy. Our membership policy evolves as our lead team changes, as our members’ views change, and as we consider new articulations and norms from feminist thinkers.)

If this topic interests you, and you’re near Washington, DC, USA, you might also be interested in “Being Nonbinary in Women-in-Tech Spaces: A Panel Discussion”, an event this coming Tuesday the 11th run by Spanning Tree, the DC-area feminist hacker/maker space. And I’d love to see links in the comments to additional essays on this topic.

The Responsible Communication Style Guide: Technology and Beyond (Kickstarter promo image)

Kickstarting a responsible communication stylebook as community infrastructure

I haven’t been writing very much on Geek Feminism in the last year – most of us haven’t. I’ve also slowed down on posting to my personal blog. And one reason is that when I think about writing anything longer than a couple of paragraphs, anything particularly nuanced, I need to budget the time and energy for pre-editing, to make sure it hits my and our standards for sensitivity, and editing after the fact in case it turns out I got it wrong.

(That is not the only reason — lives change, new commitments emerge, people come into and out of group projects and each others’ lives, new venues like The Recompiler and ladybusiness and The Bias come onto the scene, and so on. But it’s one reason.)

You know what I would love? I would love a style guide that helps me write accurately and sensitively when talking about communities and identities, especially when it comes to identities I don’t know through my own personal experience. GLAAD’s reference guide helps with one facet (QUILTBAG people and communities), and there are similar references published by other advocacy organizations, but I’d love a more all-in-one stylebook that covers race, gender, sexuality, religion, and health and well-being, especially in the context of technology.

I’m in luck!

Audrey Eschright and Thursday Bram are crowdfunding to edit The Responsible Communication Style Guide. It’ll be a stylebook for writers and other media creators, covering race, gender, sexuality, religion, and health and well-being, and it’s the first book project by The Recompiler. The Kickstarter deadline is in less than two days.

The Responsible Communication Style Guide: Technology and Beyond (Kickstarter promo image)

The Responsible Communication Style Guide: Technology and Beyond (Kickstarter promo image)

In my opinion, a style guide like this would be a great piece of infrastructure to have — not just a tool for individual pro-inclusion activists, and a guide for any blogger, marketer, podcaster, or maker who ever pauses before publishing and tries to look over what they’ve written for accidental ableism, cissexism, racist or sexist microaggressions, and so on. It would be that, yeah. But it would also serve as a shared reference, so we can say: “Here’s a standard we want to hold ourselves to, and we’ll ask our allies to hold themselves to as well.”

I’m a programmer — heck, you saw me grow as a programmer here on this blog, from talking about the learning styles that suited me, and what I needed, to finding a place where those needs were met. Other technologists, maybe you’ve had the experience of working on a codebase where there aren’t any tests, and you have to inspect changes with your eyes all the time to see if you’ve introduced a new showstopper bug. And maybe you’ve also had the experience of working on a codebase with great test coverage, where you can move faster, because you know that if you make a change that would break something, you’ll find out fast, before it has a chance to hurt anybody. As Bram writes, “I want a linter for writing!”

HOWTOs and checklists and playbooks are part of how we make inclusivity more automatic. I’d love to see what The Responsible Communication Style Guide can do to further this trend.

So, please join my household in backing this before its deadline, which is this Friday, September 30th at 2:59 AM EDT. (As I write this, they’re 65% of the way to their goal, and need about $7,000 USD more.) I’d love to be able to write faster and with more confidence, and to see what emerges when a whole lot of people with high standards for responsible communication feel the same way.

Quick Hit: Toward a !!Con Aesthetic – new essay at The Recompiler

Over at The Recompiler, I have a new essay out: “Toward A !!Con Aesthetic”. I talk about (what I consider to be) the countercultural tech conference !!Con, which focuses on “the joy, excitement, and surprise of programming”. If you’re interested in hospitality and inclusion in tech conferences — not just in event management but in talks, structure, and themes — check it out. (Christie Koehler also interviews me about this and about activist role models, my new consulting business, different learning approaches, and more in the latest Recompiler podcast.)

Kameron Hurley’s “The Geek Feminist Revolution” available today

cover image of The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Kameron Hurley is the author of the nonfiction collection The Geek Feminist Revolution, which contains the Hugo-Award winning essay “We Have Always Fought.” Her epic fantasy series, the Worldbreaker Saga, is comprised of the novels The Mirror Empire (2014), Empire Ascendant (2015), and The Broken Heavens (April 2017). Her first space opera, The Stars are Legion,will be published from Simon and Schuster’s Saga imprint in January 2017. Additionally, her first series, The God’s War Trilogy, which includes the books  God’s War,  Infidel, and Rapture, is a science-noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel.

The new book includes several new essays — how did you decide what topics to address in those, and what topics to either skip or address in other venues (such as your blog)?

We had a very tight timeline for this collection – it was only about nine months from acceptance to publication, and that was important because we felt this was the right time to launch this collection. Sometimes there is a perfect cultural moment for a particular piece of work, and this was the moment for this book.

So I chose essays that I felt would be relevant by the time it came out. Some of those are evergreen essays about feminism and writing and life, and some are framed by pop culture but discuss problems faced by many, such as those harassed by angry exes. It really wasn’t’ a matter of what to keep and what to save, as I needed to write all nine or ten essays in about a month. I believe we sold the collection in May or June and the final manuscript was due in July. It was quite a run to make sure we had a manuscript ready to start the process of copyediting, polishing, and legal review. All that needed to get nailed down very quickly to make time for quality control on the back end.

So it was more a matter of “Everything I write this month MUST go into the collection, so it better all be good.”

In your Reddit AMA in 2014 (as quoted here) you talked about how marketing and advertising normalize weird behaviors and beliefs. You’re an advertising copywriter in your day job, so you know a lot about marketing and messaging; how could geek feminists be more effective in our messaging, to persuade more people? Should we be
taking out TV ads? Are there simple errors we make a lot, in our social media & other public writing, that you wish we’d cut out?

This could be an entire book, or an entire post, at the very least. I often point out that my most successful essay, “We Have Always Fought” about the erasure of women from the history of combat, never mentions words like “patriarchy” or even “feminism.” I opened with a story about…llamas. Once I had you with the llamas, I had you, and I pulled you through the rest and allowed the reader to come to the conclusion at the end instead of pounding them on the head with it. People don’t like to feel lectured. Sometimes we get up on our soapboxes and use our fancy feminist theory words so folks will take us seriously, and what happens instead is that the only people who read those pieces are other people steeped in feminist theory. If you want to reach outside that group of folks, you need to write and speak in an accessible way.

I’ve worked hard in my novels to write roaring adventure stories. Folks come for the adventure. It’s only afterwards that they realize that immersing themselves in a really different world with different assumptions made them think about the assumptions of our world. I still get fan mail from people who say that showing the casual sexism experienced by a male character in a world where women were politically and socially powerful made them finally understand casual sexism and how it can grind women down. Alas, we can’t just say, “Constant harassment gets women down!” We have to make men in particular (or women who have not experienced it) feel it, and empathize with it.

There is also the matter of the very word “feminist,” which a lot of women stopped using during the 90’s backlash against feminism. Roxane Gay has led the way in rebranding “feminist” and making it a cool word to use again, and that was all in how she positioned it. “Bad Feminist” is a great title in so many ways. Feminism went from “Oh, those ladies are the fun killers” to “Oh, those are the rebellious women, the bad girls, the people we want to aspire to be” which is the best way to energize a movement, especially with young people (certainly the title The Geek Feminist Revolution is meant to inspire similar emotions. Who doesn’t want to be part of a revolution?).

One of the biggest roadblocks to the feminist movement in making big changes right now, though, is still intersectionality. The broader feminist movement has a middle-class white feminist problem (still!). We have concentrated a lot on getting powerful white men to support the movement, and I’m seeing a lot of that happening, but where it still falls down is in being more understanding and inclusive of issues facing women who aren’t white, or middle class. I’m also still seeing some backlash against trans women, too, and that’s just awful. We’re all in this together. But we have to move together.

I do find that sharing personal narratives and reframing stories in new ways can get people to look at issues differently. I’d like to see us get away from messaging related to, “This woman you’re harassing could be your wife or girlfriend or sister!” and into messaging about how women are people, as the framing of the first instance still implies women are things (the very simple “We are not things” declaration in Mad Max was a rallying cry). Much of the narrative related to women still positions women as Other, and in combating this narrative we have to make sure we aren’t just reinforcing it.

As I would tell anyone seeking to change behavior, you can’t just throw out a TV ad and expect it to change the world. You need to focus on your messaging, understand what it is you’re saying, and the best way to communicate it to your target audience. Then you build a campaign around it. Who does that, and who pays for that in an informal movement like feminism, or civil rights, is a tough question, as there will be people inside the movement who despise and disagree with it. That’s as it should be; it’s good to have internal debate. But I suspect this is why we haven’t seen more of it.

Movements like Black Lives Matter, We Need Diverse Books, and even Occupy Wall Street, benefit from having many leaders, many points of view, circling around a core set of ideas that many could get behind. I suspect the feminist movement should embrace this model a bit more, as I still see many feminists looking for singular leaders and singular messages, which is impossible to do if we really want to build a more equitable future. If anything, opening up the conversation and inviting more people in will reinvigorate the movement, even more than we’re seeing now. Feminism is simply “Equality.” And though there are many ways to get there – do we become equal by simply having the same set of “rights” as men as set down in the existing broken system, or do we burn down the system? – starting with the core concept of “equality” and working to change the system politically is a good start. If we can’t change it politically, well…. there’s always “burn it all down.” But let’s start the nice way first.

I’d like to ask about the effect of your geekiness on your feminism. We’re not just feminists in geek spaces; our geekiness influences our feminism, how we see and conceptualize the world and how we articulate our arguments and what countercultures we build, and I’d love to hear how that’s true for you.

I read and write about futures and worlds and people that could be. I recognized early on that if people can’t imagine a thing, it makes it very difficult for them to create that thing. It’s why I work so hard to push the boundaries of what I’m doing in my own geeky fiction, and seek out geeky work that challenges me, too.

I present worlds in ways that we haven’t seen before, or certainly ones we haven’t seen as normalized before. So many stories get presented as alien – you get this with The Left Hand of Darkness, where we the reader are given an outsider’s view of a society that still leaves us feeling it’s alien because the protagonist comes from a two-gender, patriarchal society.

One of the amazing things that happened to me in writing my Worldbreaker Saga was that it started to normalize new ways of looking at gender, not just for readers, but for me. I had characters who switched pronouns throughout their lives, and had polyamorous relationships, and a consent-based culture, and normalizing that in my own mind made all those things normal in real life for me, too. It’s much easier to ask someone which pronoun they prefer, and I no longer make an assumption that folks who have girlfriends don’t have husbands, or multiple boyfriends and vice versa. I was able to normalize in my mind the actual world as it is now instead of the one we see on TV. I saw human beings and their behavior as much more fluid and less static. I certainly hope the process of reading my books helps the readers the way it did me.

Feminist science fiction writer Joanna Russ once said that she wrote science fiction because it let her imagine how things could be really different, and that’s true for me too. I need to believe there is another world, a better world, or even just a different world. It’s a lie that human beings have always paired up into heterosexual couples, or women have always had less political power, or men have always sexually assaulted people. There were and are different ways to be, different social mores that govern what types of behavior are OK, different laws. If I can see it on the page, and imagine it, then I know it’s possible to create it.

Quick hit: Matching challenge to help WisCon Member Assistance Fund, ends tomorrow

I have been to WisCon, the world’s oldest feminist scifi convention, several times and I am going again this year (May 27-30, 2016, Madison, Wisconsin, USA). I love the smart, funny conversations, the great accessibility, the feeling of a space that’s majority-feminine and majority-feminist, and the relevant sessions. WisCon continues to influence the geek feminist community by trying to lead as a hospitable, feminist event, and publicly working through its failures and missteps.

WisCon has a Member Assistance Fund to help people who need financial help to attend the con. Longtime WisCon participant and fan Jed Hartman is donating to the Member Assistance Fund — and, till tomorrow, he’s matching donations up to USD $2500.

…this year, the Fund got a lot more requests than it ever has before, and even after last week’s great fundraising effort, the Fund ended up $5000 short of being able to help everyone who qualified.

So let’s fix that. This week, I will personally match every donation to the Member Assistance Fund, dollar-for-dollar, up to $2500. In particular, that means that if y’all collectively put in $2500 by the end of the day on Saturday the 27th … then I will put in the other $2500, and together we can provide financial aid to everyone who qualified.

Donations of any size are welcome! And, as of yesterday, we’re nearly halfway to the goal. To donate, go to the WisCon blog and click the Donate button.