manifesta: (Kahlan)
2010-10-14 12:20 pm

Sirens Conference: Report #1

[Partially written on 10/10/10 before life got in the way and other manifestas needed to be written.]

I just got back into Seattle this evening and thus I bring you as much of a first report on the epic that is Sirens Conference as my brain (which is still on mountain time and thus precisely one hour ahead) can handle before collapsing into mush.

First impressions include: OMG PRETTY; an undeniable attraction to shiny, glittery things; sheer gratitude that free caffeine was offered at almost every opportunity; relief that everyone was chill and awesome; and the sense of being welcomed, by the Sirens staff, the Vail Cascade resort staff, and the attendees.

Sirens is a labor of love. It really is. This isn't a huge, sprawling con with hundreds or thousands of attendees; it's still in its infancy, a baby conference trying out its wings for the first (or in this case, second) time. The staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure every person's experience was positive, respectful, and fun. They set the tone for the conference, and it could not have happened without their hard work.

As one of the organizers explained at the keynote, Sirens is a motley combination of various qualities found in different types of cons--it's part academic, part fannish, and part retreat. All three elements (plus more that I probably forgot) contributed to the experience, and although I went primarily for the academic bent, the fannish side of me skipped around in glee at all the pro-female geekery going down, and I felt the retreat aspect all the way down to my bones.

My presentation (on portrayals of women's strength and sexuality in urban fantasy and paranormal romance) went very well. I spoke for about 40 minutes (the longest amount of time that I think I have ever spoken in my life) before we dived into a great discussion. One thing I noticed about all the presentations, panels, and roundtables was that every person in the room simply loved the topic at hand. Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic and wanted to be there. I'll do a break down of some of the programming that I went to in the next post, but for now suffice to say every last bit of it was fabulous, and I came back feeling both relaxed and re-energized. 

Additionally, I'd like to thank some people for their support both before and during the conference: To those who have commented on any topic on my DW prior to my presentation and thus helped shaped my analysis, for your bravery and your insight; to Dr. Laura Vivanco, who was incredibly generous in giving her time to edit my paper; to one of my professors, who will remain anonymous so her name isn't associated with my journal, but was also very supportive in looking over my paper and giving both her encouragement and advice; and to my new friends that I made while at Sirens and the people who made the conference into a safe, welcoming space. It was an enriching, inspiring experience and I encourage anyone who has been thinking about it to register for next year's con* (the theme of which is monsters! Lots of good meta there).

*The registration fee for next year's con is $150 if you register here before November 1st. I also recognize that the expensive nature of the con is significant in many ways, which I promise to address in my next report.
manifesta: (Psych Major)
2010-10-06 11:07 pm
Entry tags:


Just a drive-by update to say: my paper's done, my presentation's ready, I am (theoretically) ready, and my plane leaves Seattle bright and early tomorrow morning for Denver. I'm grateful to be presenting first thing on Friday at 10AM; I'll have the rest of the weekend to kick back and relax.

If anyone else will be at Sirens and wants to meet up, feel free to email me at manifesta dot dreamwidth dot org. I'm taking this as an opportunity to unplug from the cyberworld (for the most part), but I'll still be checking my email.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend, and I'll be sure to report back sometime within the next week or so.  

manifesta: (Kahlan)
2010-09-08 11:05 pm
Entry tags:

belated update is belated

As of last night, the rough draft of my Sirens paper is DONE! It's currently at 10 pages, but will likely grow to be 12 or so.

"Tough Chick"

3217 / 4000 words. 100% done!

I'm currently doing a first pass over it, but I could use 1-2 betas if anyone is interested. This is what it's about. Just drop a comment with your email or email me at manifesta at dreamwidth dot org.

Thank you everyone for your support thus far! Sirens sent me a Vail postcard today, and I'm becoming more excited as the con gets closer.
manifesta: (Harry/Ginny)
2010-08-26 10:18 pm

Taking a break for a while... collect my brain and prepare for the upcoming quarter. I should probably also write my Sirens paper. No, really.

If anything spectacular occurs in publishing, I may drop by with a post or two.

'Til then.

manifesta: (Marauders)
2010-08-10 09:22 pm

The one with the unwritten paper (that should have been done last month)

So I realized today that for my presentation for SirensCon, I have to effectively create two different write-ups: an academically pristine version for the paper, and still very shiny but imperfect version for the actual presentation. This means swapping between my academic voice and my natural voice, which is full of "y'all"s that make my friends look at me askance because a) I don't have an accent and b) I'm not from the south but in fact both coasts (but half of my family is deeply southern, okay?) and plenty of sinful contractions. I'm also wrestling with the fact that I won't have any props--no poster, no PowerPoint, nada. Just me. Talking. With nothing to gesture frantically at.

The paper/presentation is currently just bits and bats, but I wanted to share a quote I read today and will be including. It's from Ellen Neuborn's essay “Imagine My Surprise” in Listen Up: Voices From the Next Generation.
“I don’t understand where the programming began. I had been taught that girls do could anything boys could do. Equality of the sexes was a unimpeachable truth. […] I’m a good feminist. I would never apologize for having a different opinion.
“But I did.
“Programming. It is the subtle work of an unequal world that even the best of feminist parenting couldn’t overcome. It is the force that sneaks up on us even as we think that we are getting ahead with the best of the guys. I would never have believed in its existence. But having heard it, amazingly, escape from my own mouth, I am starting to recognize its pattern.” (pg. 183)
Later, she asks:
"Do you think you would do better? Do you think you would recognize sexism at work immediately?
“Are you sure?” (pg. 184)
Sometimes it can be excruciating, trying to find the language to explain how something we see, do, or hear reflects societal norms and thus can be potentially very damaging. It becomes even harder when there's a chorus of voices shouting that you're wrong, you're imagining things, it's not as bad as it seems, you're just looking for a fight.

I feel like this quote eloquently describes just how difficult it can be to recognize, and put into words, not just the systemic, implicit norms that perpetuate inequality but how those same systemic, implicit norms can silence any discussion about inequality--thus perpetuating it even more so. The system is self-serving in its design to preserve the status quo. This quote also demonstrates that picking up on sexism, or even (especially?) internalized sexism, can be incredibly difficult, even for people who are educated or aware of the issues.

To echo Neuborn, do you think could recognize rape culture automatically? Do you think you could always identify victim-blaming, or make the distinction between a forced seduction and a rape? 

Are you sure?
manifesta: (Default)
2010-06-07 02:06 pm

brb, finals

Not dead, just slogging through finals week and trying to nail down funding for Sirens Con. The downside of running a journal that's all about the meta is that when I don't have the mental energy to think, content tends to slow down. Parts 2 and 3 of the romance series are still forthcoming, and possibly some thoughts on books I've read recently. For now, links!

[personal profile] holyschist on Moonshine by Alaya Johnson, an intriguing 1920s urban fantasy with a feminist female protag.
[ profile] melissa_writing (Melissa Marr) on sex in YA books.
[personal profile] kaigou on the dynamics of fandom part 1. With colorful diagrams!
[ profile] kaz_mahoney  is hosting a summer writing camp. Sign-ups end tonight, so hurry!
[personal profile] wild_irises posting in [community profile] wiscon:  An Open Letter to People Who Didn't Feel Safe at WisCon 34.
[personal profile] megwrites on science fiction and ablism.

On the bright side, my experiment is DONE DONE DONE and I has coffee.
manifesta: (Psych Major)
2010-06-01 10:14 am

sirens conference update

About two months ago I mentioned Sirens Conference and the proposal I was working on for it. Turns out my proposal was accepted! The project is titled Tough Chick: Portrayals of Women's Strength and Sexuality in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and if it sounds familiar, that's because it's the MUF/PR series I promised a while back and never finished writing. It will be a multi-angle examination of how women's strength is mediated by their sexuality, with a strong emphasis on applied social cognitive theory (or society-author-text and text-reader-society relationships and how unconscious beliefs based on pervasive societal norms can be transmitted/perceived implicitly).

I'm not 100% certain yet if I'll be able to attend the conference (I'm currently working on funding), but I wanted to share the good news. Holly Black, Terri Windling, and Marie Brennan (who I quote a lot here) are the Guests of Honor this year, and I know that Tamora Pierce will also be attending. If anyone else is attending, let's get in touch!