bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

For the last few years, Monday morning has been a bit of a write-off. I've pretty much spent the morning in a line to reserve a hotel room for the following year. The line to take reservations has always seemed like one of the least-efficient systems that I've even encountered. So imagine my delight that this year the hotel finally implemented an online reservation system for Wiscon. I had my room booked in a matter of minutes. On the Sunday, no less. So earlyish Monday morning, I went down to buy next year's membership, and then I had all this free time on Monday.

I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant (and had a bizarre experience with non-service), and just before I left the restaurant, I bothered Mary Ann to ask her a question about something she'd brought up in the Class panel. We had a brief chat that went in a few interesting directions, but then I went off to catch a panel.

Unfortunately, my plan was to get on the road by noon so I really only made it to one panel:

Porn Crushes the Patriarchy, the Sequel

Is it erotica, or is it porn? Or is yours porn and mine erotica? I posit that it's all in your point of view, and though most female readers feel it's acceptable to read "erotica" or "erotic romance," they object strongly to the idea that such fiction might be read solely to inspire sexual fantasy and to physically arouse, in particular if the literature doesn't include a love relationship. Are the majority of women still ashamed of liking sexual literature? If so, why? And what about visual erotica? Is it still stigmatized among women? Do women "not like looking?" Why is one format different from the other?

There were a lot of interesting elements of this panel. First, some quotations:

  • "...and over here are these other people who live in a land of magic hooha"
  • Susie Bright: "They like that you hate it"
  • "I'm not sure that I have any non-problematic sexuality"
  • "You can't leave your vagina at home"
  • "There's a plausible argument that about 1/4 of all child porn is being distributed by police."
  • "the id thrives on taboo"

One panelist (I feel suddenly uncertain about whether I should name speakers in the porn panel) made two good points in her introduction:

  1. A great deal of porn does not crush the patriarchy
  2. Porn can be an access point for truth. There is no real lying to oneself about whether or not what you just read got you hot.

One woman on the panel was a different flavour than the rest of the panelists. She came from a background in rape counselling and didn't seem to have much familiarity with many of the things that are common talking points at Wiscon: slash fic, for example. She didn't know the term. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did.

But because of her background, she was more often talking about the problematic aspects of porn and patriarchy-serving porn. And when people would talk about an example of patriarchy-crushing porn, she'd be unfamiliar with the topic. And sometimes she'd just say stuff that'd make me go, "um.... I didn't want to hear that".

There was a discussion about the role of rape fantasy in porn -- a large number of women were willing to identify themselves as survivors of rape and that they were into porn that depicts rape. Some people talked about that phenomenon as looking at a bad situation and spinning it and taking back control. One woman likened that to the difference between a rollercoaster and a plane crash.

At one point, the moderator asked for a show of hands about who in the audience sometimes enjoyed porn that they feel guilty about, and probably 80% to 90% of the audience put their hands up.

And toward the end of the panel, one panelist talked about a woman who worked in children's television who ended up getting fired because she took part in a parody PSA about vibrators. The panelist said: "I want to live in a world where vibrator PSAs are standard." Yeah.

After that panel, it was time to say my goodbyes. I did one last tour around the dealer's room, hugged a bunch of people and then I was off on a long drive back to Toronto.

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

I started out the day with way too little sleep. I had been up until after 4 the night before, and I got up early to meet [personal profile] pokershaman for our traditional Wiscon breakfast. The ideas, they come at me too fast when I'm tired... )

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

I was up relatively early on Saturday morning and realized I had a caffeine headache. So I went off to Michaelangelo's to grab some coffee. Unfortunately, the entire city of Madison was already in line at Michaelangelo's. Wiscon is better with coffee )

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

One of the things that I was really looking forward to at this year's Wiscon was the opportunity to try to get to see certain people in meatspace. Over the last couple of years, LiveJournal has allowed me to listen in on a large number of conversations and take notice of certain voices that seem to consistently have great things to say.

If an oops happens and nobody cares, does it make any fail? )

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

Friday. For much of the morning, I hung out in the hotel lobby watching the world go by. details! )

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

This post and this one, too, talk about an ugly incident in one panel at Wiscon. It looks like the start of an important conversation.

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

During one of the Class, Racism and the Singularity panels, there was some discussion about the singularity being a fannish escapist fantasy in which the problems of race, class and other identity politics are solved without the solution requiring messiness. Ian H. went further: he asserted that the narrative of a race-free future world is, itself, a racist narrative.

I've been thinking about this question: I've read a lot of talk, both in the lead-up to panels, and at the con, about how to prevent derailing. One panel asserted something that I liked: the idea that the goal is not to have a fail-free universe. The goal is to have the tools and skills to confront fail. Is the question, "how can we prevent fail?" a question that can only have meaning in escapist fantasy? Does it presuppose a future in which our understand of race or class or whatever is so simple that it never leads to conflict of assumptions?

Similarly, is the question, "how can I talk to trans people without ever getting pronouns wrong?" a cissexual-normative question?

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

I'm back from Wiscon. I'm gonna write up my thoughts on various panels, soon-wise.

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

In the last few minutes of the class panel, someone asked, "can you explain the relationship between class and race and sexism, and how all of that operates?" (or words to that effect?)

We suggested that maybe that's a topic for a panel for next year. Here's a thought about a panel write-up:

The Pinko-Commie Panel

Various panels at Wiscon have looked at racism, sexism, classism and other -isms and what those things mean, and how they operate. A lot of conversation centres on representation, as if greater representation might automatically wear down the -isms. That view seems to suggest that racism, classism, etc., are products of individual choices that are made from a place of ignorance. Another perspective is that -isms are necessary inputs to the system in which we operate, and that the system demands their perpetuation. Perhaps it's because capitalism needs access to cheap labour, or the people in power need a Stanford prison-like conflict to maintain control. Let's discuss how the system operates, and what role various identities play on that system.

I'm looking for input about how to make that punchier, or more interesting.

bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

I went to the Tiptree auction, and spent monies. I got two things. The second of the two things was a transgendered children's book called 10,000 Dresses. At one point, I was the high bid at $60, and the folks on stage started reading out the author's inscription. It's written beside a hand-drawn picture of a dress and it reads:

Dearest You!

This is a wish for you that all your dreams and dresses come true!

To get you started -- here is a dress made of quashes, social justice + photosynthesis (complete with matching anarcho-syndicalist crown.)

Love,
Marcus Ewert and Bailey

(Marcus Ewert is the author and Bailey is the main character).

I loved this inscription so much that I immediately upped my bid to $75. By conventional metrics, I'm not very good at auctions.

The other item I got was a certificate for six chocolate vulvas. I paid $50 for the certificate, and by my reckoning, that's just a bit more than $8 per vulva. Compared to the last vulva I bought, that's a huge bargain.

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BC Holmes

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