Immediately after the WisConDB panel, I headed up to the green room to catch up with my other panelists for:
Who Owns the Spoons?
How appropriate is it for able-bodied people to use the metaphor of "spoons"? Does anyone (trans people, people of color, etc.) own the concept of "passing"? What happens when terminology used by one minority gets adopted by a wider audience?
M: BC Holmes, Andrea Chandler, Magenta Griffith, Criss Moody, Keith Willenson
I confess that I was a bit nervous about the panel. We hadn't managed to get much conversation going in email beforehand, so I wasn't sure what it was that we were going to say. For my part, I was interested in the "meta" conversation -- the conversation about exploring when it's okay or not okay to cyberpunk terminology (can the street find its own use for metaphors and labels?) For my part, I certainly haven't run into conflict on the discussion of passing, so I wasn't sure what I could meaningfully say, there.
In the end, we spent most of our time talking about the spoons metaphor, about invisible versus visible disabilities and a little bit about passing. I was okay with this, and I decided to just play the role of traffic cop in the discussion, keeping track of who wanted to talk and whatnot. There was a lively discussion and I think it turned out okay. jesse_the_k kicked off a good, initial question about why we need something like a spoons metaphor? What's wrong with "I'm too tired" or "I'm in too much pain"?
Keith did an exercise where he brought out cold, very hard ice cream and gave it to the panelists. Some people got able-bodied spoons (nice, metal spoons) and the rest of us got plastic spoons. I thought it was cute (and delicious), but I think that the exercise's depth was eluding me.
There was an interesting contrast about trans passing and passing as able-bodied. One panelist talked about trans passing as "being seen for who you really are" whereas passing as able-bodied often results in people expecting that you can do certain things that you can't. I tried to problematize this view of passing in trans communities. Passing is the closet at the other end of the rainbow, and all that.
After that, it was off to:
You Got Race On My Class! You Got Class On My Race!!
Race and class are two identities that exist in tandem, one never really trumping the other. What are the ways they intersect, diverge, conflict? What happens when our internal race/class state differs from an external race/class assignment—and what factors go into forming internal/external states in the first place? This panel will look at the realities of how we exist within and negotiate race and class without privileging either concept.
Saladin Ahmed, Eileen Gunn, Nisi Shawl, Chris Wrdnrd
lcohen made the comment that this panel lacked a moderator and that it showed. I think that she's right. The discussion bounced around a lot, and seemed to lack focus. I really liked Saladin's comments that his class background stays with him. That because he grew up as a kid in a working-class, Arab-American community with relatives involved in legally-sketchy stuff, everything he sees and reacts to is as that kid. The idea wasn't new, but he captured the essence of it so nicely.
Someone (I don't remember who) made the comment that if you don't know what class you are, you're probably middle-class. Chris told a good anecdote about how her co-workers expect her to share a sense of humour about certain things that she doesn't think are funny. There was also a comment about how Facebook is way more class diverse than either Twitter or Google+.
After that, some of the best contributions came from the audience. Isabel Schechter made some interesting comments which she elaborated on in the "Passing Privilege" panel later in the con.
The last panel I caught before dinner was:
Intersectionalism: It's Not the Oppression Olympics
Many of us experience discrimination and oppression of many kinds, often concurrently. These create unique circumstances that can put individuals and allies in oppressed communities at odds with the goals and experiences of their comrades. Intersectionalism seeks to create awareness of how different oppressions inform each other and how we can seek broader understanding of them. Greater solidarity would be the ideal outcome, avoiding the pitfalls of factionalism and fragmentation. If time allows, discussion of SF that reflects intersectional awareness can provide useful investigations.
M: Ian K. Hagemann, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Beth Plutchak, Julia Rios, Vanessa Vega
By this point, I'd been in panels pretty-much non-stop, and didn't take any notes. I remember a few items from the panel. First, this was the interesting panel in which Beth talked about daytime talk shows that hype books that discuss the "conflict" between working women and stay-at-home mothers. She suggested that these conflicts are largely manufactured. In truth, the books don't really have large sales. It's as if the media wants people to focus on rifts between communities of women, rather than, say, on rifts between rich white cis guys and anyone else.
This is also the first panel where I heard Keffy and Julia, and I though both of them had interesting things to say. I particularly liked Julia's understated way of making her points.
I do remember a lot of talk about "liberals" and feeling my now-usual annoyance about the way leftists use "liberal" as a synonym for "left wing" or "progressive". Gyan made the comment that "liberal" doesn't mean "open minded". There's something annoying about the whole binary view of the political spectrum. Grrr. Me, I like Phil Ochs' line: "Ten degrees to the left of centre at the best of times; ten degrees to the right of centre if it affects them personally."
Luke McGuff has a longer review of this panel.
After that is was off to the Trans and Genderqueer dinner.