Magneto Was Right

Community, Karl Popper’s the Paradox of Tolerance, Mutant’s Rights, and learning to apply history

This week, a friend of mine reached out to me about a community management problem. Last newsletter, I’d linked to an article about how to improve your communities by banning bigots outright, and he’d been curious about how to do this when your community is both online and offline.

His community had a new member, who seemed fine at their in-person gathering, but then proceeded to post ‘COVID-19 is a hoax’ nonsense and became further abusive toward the moderators when they removed the posts. He was worried about a possible confrontation at their next in-person meetup. As we discussed various possibilities, scenarios, and some of my own experiences banning people from in-person events, my friend left our conversation with a good plan for dealing with this person.

Our conversation made me consider all the times I hadn’t outright banned someone when I should’ve because they already told me who they were. When a white cis man sealioned about men’s suicide statistics in a post about equal pay, I didn’t ban him. Then that same man left conference “feedback” around how all the women speakers were of lower quality than the men and how we cheapened the conference with speaker binary gender parity. (Ironically, when his individual speaker scores were tabulated, he didn’t actually rate the women any lower or higher than the men on average.) And then, friends, this same man tried to get hired at this company.

Popper’s Paradox

This summer, my mother hit me with a right-wing talking point about how intolerant I am of bigots and intolerance and isn’t that just so closed-minded of me. In fact, I was possibly the most closed-minded person she knew. I hadn’t had my morning tea, so I wasn’t exactly on my toes to discuss Karl Popper’s the Paradox of Tolerance. I probably yelled something about how I’m not going to tolerate people who want to kill me and others.

Popper wrote in 1945: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” Continue reading “Magneto Was Right”

The Value of a Story

Transgressing the story I’d told myself about my own queer stories.

In between my college courses, student groups, and work in the early 00s, I wrote a lot of fanfiction. Fanfiction is the writing of stories about characters from one’s favorite media, and it can be found across the internet for any and every type of media β€” movies, TV, books, celebrities culture, etc., β€” or fandom that you can think of. Fanfiction sculpted me as a writer, perhaps more than a fancy Creative Writing degree.

I wrote about Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, the X-Men, Stargate: Atlantis, Grey’s Anatomy, and a whole host of media properties I loved. Writing is about practice. Fanfiction gave me a lot of practice.

While not every fanfiction author seeks to better their craft, that was part of my desire. I got to play with characters and worlds that were not my own, but as a queer person, I also got to transgress them.

My fanfiction was a lot of queer romance. It had a lot of sex. It reflected my own experiences in dating and romance, and sorry for the TMI, but in my book, getting naked together on the first date has never been ruled out because it was the first date like so much media plays out. Whether Meredith and Cristina had shower sex at Seattle Grace or Angel and Wesley joined the mile-high club (under special necro-tempered glass!), my fandoms were my playgrounds.

Even today, there aren’t a ton of queer characters on TV, my primary fanfiction outlet. But there were fewer in the early 00s, especially on network TV or programs. And even the softest kiss β€” fit for a Disney Princess between two queer characters β€” gets labeled “for adults” and put in a bucket marked “for queers only, so there is no market.”

As someone with a 15 years+ marketing career, I could spend many words debunking that notion.

But for me, the damage hit internally. For me, it was being told that the only place I’d ever have an audience would be the secret corners of the internet, writing based on a fandom, under a pen name, and I’d never make a cent off it. Continue reading “The Value of a Story”

Sprinkles Around the Web: April 15th Edition

Sprinkles from around the web

I decided to add “equality” given that I do read a lot of articles with intersectionality that cover stopping a lot of -isms, and they are all equally important. As always, these are links that I found interesting and you might too.

Me

Books Nominated for 2013 Hugo Awards!
Woohoo! Chicks Unravel Time & Chicks Dig Comics were nominated for The Hugo Awards. Big congratulations to the editors, all the other writers, and everyone else involved in the production and love of these books. πŸ™‚

Cute Animals

Black and White Friendship Story of a 4-Year-old Girl and Her Cat
Yep, pretty sure I was exactly like this with my cat as a child.

Entrepreneurship

The Skills Most Entrepreneurs Lack
Very interesting.

Equality

Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists
One of the best articles I’ve read about the larger messages and lessons from Donglegate.

How to talk about a woman’s looks
Yep, even President Obama messed this one up.

To my daughter (should I have one)
A lovely thought from my friend Susie. Continue reading “Sprinkles Around the Web: April 15th Edition”

Sprinkles Around the Web: April 8th Edition

Sprinkles from around the web

Things that I found that were interesting around the web. Your mileage may vary.

Me

Erica and Jacob in NYC
Jacob and I in NYC at the castle in Central Park.

4 Lesser-Known Conferences That Deserve Your Attention in 2013
Heck, yes, MozCon got a shout-out! πŸ™‚ Plus, quote by me.

Introducing Moz Reader!
I love working for such an amazing company like SEOmoz. I’ve been so bummed about Google Reader shutting down, but guess what, we stepped up and created the Moz Reader! I’m really thrilled. (If you’re wondering where I was, I was in NYC instead of in the video.)

Cute Animals

Adventure Kitten Gear
Okay, REI wins with the adorable as they have all your adventure kitten gear.

Baby hedgehogs
OMG baby hedgehogs have giant ears!

Entrepreneurship

On Not Mourning Your Failures & Overcoming Burn-Out with Brad Feld
On how to think more about your life for the long-term as an entrepreneur.

Fandom

Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond “Gay” and “Straight”
Definitely an awesome Kickstarter for a comic anthology about romantic love that goes beyond “straight” or “gay.”

Continue reading “Sprinkles Around the Web: April 8th Edition”

Sprinkles Around the Web 6/25-7/2/12

It’s back. My collection of random linkage from around the web that I enjoy. YMMV.

Sprinkles from around the web

Me

GeekGirlCon at Pride. Photo by Jonathan Konkol
GeekGirlCon at Pride. Photo by Jonathan Konkol.

GeekGirlCon

Geeks Among Us: GeekGirlCon
Check out this interview with me about GeekGirlCon and our group’s secret origins.

Economy

The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes
Do you know what happens when you donate your old clothing? I didn’t really know either. It’s not what most people think. Continue reading “Sprinkles Around the Web 6/25-7/2/12”

Online Anonymity to Real Names and the Power to be Brave

Woman in a mask by jeweve
Who's the woman behind the mask? Photo by Jan W.

I’m a huge fan of Dear Sugar. Sugar’s advice column touches my soul in a way that I wish more things did. I find a great deal of meaning in what she writes, and many columns bring me to tears, which I am not the type of person to tear up at any sentiment. Sugar’s words dig deep into the truth of the soul. Like being wrapped in a gentle hug of brutal truth. This is why I and countless others love her.

In a recent interview, Sugar announced that she is coming out. While a few people know her identity, Sugar is by-and-large anonymous. She is currently the myth, the Batman. Sugar teaches us how to be brave by telling us about how she was not brave and how to push through our situations.

At first, I was very upset that Sugar was coming out. Identity holds so much baggage. It flavors the words we read. What do we think of Ernest Hemingway since we know he was a drunk? How does this impact Hills Like White Elephants? What do we think of To the Lighthouse when we know Virginia Woolf spent summers at a very similar place? What does it say about my words when you Google me?

When I first started hanging out on the internet, I did so anonymously. I did so in the comfort of my made up name, where I found a group of people with similar interests, who never judged me for who I was. This was huge for me. Especially as a young person figuring out who I was and finding my voice in this world.

No topic was taboo. And never did I worry about a future employer, my grandmother, or even my neighbor judging me based on my online identity. I know I said some stupid shit. I also wrote novels and novels of erotic fanfiction. This was all very beautiful; and I met a lot of my online friends where we spent weekends geeking out over Star Trek episodes or posing Buffy: the Vampire Slayer action figures in compromising positions. We ranged in age from barely adult to those reminiscing about dusty zines created on typewriters and traded under-the-table at early Elfquest gatherings. I will respond to my screenname.

But then came the move to be your “real self” online. College students thought Facebook was private until Zuckerberg and company invited your mom, your boss, and your 10-year-old cousin to the table. Somehow I don’t think my boss cares to know that I spent the entire X-Men: First Class movie waiting for Magneto and Professor X to kiss.

Moving away from my nom de plume to my legal name has in many ways taken away the brazenness of me and the rawness of what I speak. It took me forever to swear here, and it wasn’t until this past December that I used this “real” blog to tell the gut wrenching truth of how I came to be. That I had to face my family telling me, your stories hurt my feelings.

Perhaps, I am afraid this will happen to Sugar. I am afraid her words will be limited by having her name attached to them. I am afraid she will come across as less brave, less of that myth who’s worldly and universal truths wrap around my heart.

But at the same time, I understand Sugar’s need to come out. She deserves to publish a book of Sugar, and she deserves to be able to tell us Sugar-fans that we can support her by buying her current book. I know I want to read her book. So while I’m very afraid, in my own selfish way, I cannot wait to find out who the woman behind the mask is.

I hope that Sugar continues to be brave. That she tells even deeper stories now that she doesn’t have to worry about revealing her “real” identity. I hope that the truth is even more powerful behind her real name. I hope that she continues to speak loudly the stories that not all of us can under our “real” names.

She’ll always be Sugar to me. Even if she turns out to be my mother.*

(*Sugar is most definitely not my mother. This I am 100% certain of. Otherwise, I do not have clue as to whom is behind the column I love so dearly.)

Sprinkles Around the Web 12/31/10-01/13/11

Sprinkles from around the web

Links from around the web that I enjoyed. Mileage may vary.

Me

Check out me and my new knives.
Check out me and my new knives.

My Amazon.com GeekGirlCon product recommendations

GeekGirlCon

• Come to our all-hands meeting this Saturday from 10am-1pm at the Madison Park Starbucks in Seattle.

We’re throwing Buffy Summers a 30th Birthday Bash in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Come join us.

Environment

BP Disaster was “Avoidable” The commission reports find that it was due to failure on part of all the companies. Which means lazy companies caused on of the worst environmental disasters we’ve seen. And they aren’t properly cleaning it up.

Fandom

David Tennant and Catherine Tate are to appear together on stage in a new West End production of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. OMG, I want to go now!

Superman’s social network nightmare About the destruction moms can do on Facebook.

Diamond Halts All Shipments Of Graphic Novels To Borders. Apocalyptic Wave Of Returns Expected Diamond has a capital on comic book distribution. I’m going to assume that it’s in the best interests of Marvel and DC Comics to make deals directly with Borders. Hopefully, this will help take down Diamond’s monopoly on comic book distribution.

Women and Comics Another letter to publishers and marketers how they are missing a huge part of the world: women.

Wonder Woman TV project officially dead I’m going to be over here crying. Not even television super producer David E. Kelley could get a Wonder Woman project off the ground.

Dinosaur Comics on the likelihood of a real life Batman

7 reasons to give Stephanie Brown a chance as Batgirl Yes. I agree with all of this. Enjoying Stephanie Brown as Batgirl does not mean that one cannot also like Cass Cain. Continue reading “Sprinkles Around the Web 12/31/10-01/13/11”

Birthday Bash Day 9: Let’s talk about sex, sex education

For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.

Christmas 1985, Jonathan's first and Erica's third.
Mommy, did Santa bring me a brother? I asked for a sister. (Check out my rocking Rainbow Bright nightie.)

Warning: This post is about sex. It is not about anyone’s sex life, but it is about sexual education and erotica.

When I was a little child, my mom had a medical reference picture book which talked about how babies developed. I assume she bought it so I wasn’t shocked when my brother Jonathan was born. I remember laying on the living room floor, in front of the TV, pouring over the illustrations of what a developing baby looked like inside its mother’s womb.

Besides this, my parents left sex education up to the schools. For three years in public school, 4th-6th grade, I received lectures about the changes happening in my young body. How babies were actually made was glimpsed only long enough so we knew you couldn’t get pregnant via kissing. (Jason informs me that this is what he thought after watching Look Who’s Talking.) After the first lecture, my mom came into my bedroom and asked me if I had any other questions. I told her no. And I guess this made her confident that the school did a good job. Especially when I mailed away for a ‘my first period’ kit that the school had given me a coupon for.

In 6th grade, things got a little more complex. For starters, sexual education was co-ed. Which meant immature boys. I was always a good student, and I remember being so mortified when I had to report 100% on my label the genitalia on this diagram tests.

However, when my period did come later that year, I calmly informed my mother and used the supplies in the kit. My only embarrassment came when we went to my maternal grandparent’s house that weekend, and my grandma and other female relatives made such a fuss over me growing up. (I was the oldest grandchild, and at the time, the only granddaughter.)

For 7th grade, I was moved to a Lutheran middle school, which I’ve already written a little bit about. Lutherans would rather do anything than talk about sex. Continue reading “Birthday Bash Day 9: Let’s talk about sex, sex education”

Birthday Bash Day 8: You have friends on the internet?

For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.

My cat Winston converses with his internet friends.
My cat Winston converses with his internet friends. They make cat macros all day.

“But they’re your internet ‘friends,'” my maternal grandma said to me after I visited her post-WriterCon in 2004 and I showed her the photos of my fellow fangirls. “They aren’t, you know, weird?”

While my grandma only has my best interests at heart, her line of inquiry is one I’ve heard a lot. Yes, I have friends on the internet and the vast majority I met on the internet. And yes, I’ve met around 60% of them face-to-face. No, they’re not any more weird than I am, and *knock on wood* none of them are serial killers. But with shows like How to Catch a Predator spinning around in the zeitgeist, I’m not surprised I get these question.

True fact: the one and only time I’ve ever been cyberstalked was in college and it was an ex-boyfriend that I’d had in high school. I imagine this is true of most cyberstalking cases. Heck, look at the current cyber bullying problem; it’s all done by people the victim knew “in real life.”

Social networking, blogging, hanging out on these intertubes, it’s what I do, and naturally, I’ve made it a place to find friends. It’s certainly easier to find friends interested in the same things I am — Captain America, fluffy bunnies, and Lost Girl — with the entire world as my oyster. I’ve found that once you’ve met a handful of your online friends, from them on, one person knows another, who knows another. The world is far smaller than you’d think.

My internet friends aren’t just internet friends. They are my real life friends. They are the ones who cheer me up on a bad day with e-mails, photos, and silly stories. My “internet” friends let me and Jason crash at their homes when we went to the Olympics in Vancouver and when we went to DC this past fall. Some of them are acquaintances; some are good friends; and some are like family.

In 2004, I met my friend Jess online. I’d left her a comment on a piece of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer fanfiction she’d written about Willow/Tara, and whatever it was, we struck a cord together. We started e-mailing and im’ing back and forth. Jess lives in Boston, but was unemployed at the time, and when we started co-writing stories together, she started living on West Coast time. Eventually, we started talking on the phone. (Both of us can be talkers, especially if we start going on about our stories.) And in 2005, Jess made a trip out west to visit me and her siblings.

Explaining how a co-writer fits on your family tree is next to impossible to a non-writer. Continue reading “Birthday Bash Day 8: You have friends on the internet?”