|June 2, 2014||Posted by Jess under Adventures in Real Life|
As you know if you follow me on Twitter, I once again spent Memorial Day Weekend at Wiscon! (Also, sorry for the Twitter spam.) I had a blast: I love Wiscon, I love getting to see people I only see there, and I love Madison’s dedication to providing me with ever more complicated arrays of cow-based treats.
I was on two panels this year:
- Let’s Talk About Princesses: As you might have noticed, I kind of super love Disney, even/especially/despite the princesses (it’s complicated), so I proposed this panel. Actually, I proposed it two years in a row, and this year it finally made it in! I thought it was a fantastic discussion, greatly aided by the fact that there were two mothers of young girls on the panel. I think everyone there had a very complicated relationship with Disney: some of it is so great (Lilo and Stitch was universally agreed to be perfect), some of it is so awful in racist and sexist and homophobic and sizeist ways, and a lot of it is tangled (ha!) up in the middle, and how do we as feminists negotiate that? I wish it had been a million hours longer, since I barely got to touch on All My Feminist Feels about Brave (not as feminist as you think it is!) and Beauty and the Beast (MORE feminist than you think it is!) and Cinderella III and Jasmine and ARIEL, Disney Princess of my Heart, but at least I managed to get out (some of) my Frozen complaints without letting them get completely out of hand. (And, like, I’m gonna blogathon that stuff, so we’ll get to it eventually.) I’d absolutely love to see more Disney panels next year, especially something on Disney and race. Anyone have any suggestions for other Disney discussions? Is there enough coded queer Disney for a panel on it? (Elsa, Ryan Evans, Jumba and Pleakley, Timon and Pumbaa, and…?)
- Towards a Female Gaze: The title of this panel was a bit of a misnomer, as it was more about moving away from a default male gaze, and what that gaze, or those many gazes, might look like, and what media we’ve seen that might be an example of it. I talked a lot about all the male shirtlessness on Arrow. Well, and other stuff, I guess. Ahem. Anyway, this was also a really good panel, and I wish it had been longer because wow, there’s a lot of stuff to try to figure out there!
I also attended a bunch!
- Diversity in Comics – Where Do I Look?: Pretty good! It wasn’t super relevant to me, since I’m primarily interested in superhero comics and those…aren’t very diverse, but it was still a good and interesting discussion and I’m glad people got to squee about their favorites and share recs!
- No More Missing Stairs: Oof, this was intense. Proposed and modded by a friend of mine, this sprang out of, among other things, the recent stories about Brian Wood and Scott Lobdell and the reporting of editor Jim Frenkel for sexual harassment at last year’s panel, and was about how to fight sexual harassment within various media industries. Among other things, it included a panelist learning that Frenkel was at this year’s con right after sharing her story of how he’d harassed her last year. No good conclusions were reached, but it was an important discussion to have, and we need to keep having it – and Wiscon needs to do some work on its harassment policy, because clearly some things are falling through the cracks. (I’m honestly not sure where I stand on allowing Frenkel to return or not announcing his presence, but he shouldn’t have been volunteering in the Con Suite, and his previous targets should have been informed of his presence.)
- Taking Care of the Writer’s Body: Y’all know my carpal issues. This panel occasionally got a little loopy and New Age-y for me, but mostly had a lot of great suggestions for products and techniques to prevent the various injuries and ailments that befall those of us who log hours upon hours on the computer, and many stern reminders to TAKE BREAKS. I’m definitely going to look into tai chi, as per an audience suggestion (since yoga is too hard on my wrists these days).
- #solidarityisforwhitewomen: If you missed the hashtag when it went viral, it refers to the way white feminists have historically (and recently) thrown women of color under the bus in the name of “solidarity,” particularly black women. The panel was fantastic, full of really great, important points (just a few that I managed to note on Twitter: diversify your syllabi if you teach, don’t quote POC writers out of context, push your legislators for more resources/insurance/fair wages for childcare providers and other domestic employees, stand up to your racist friends and relatives, and above all, LISTEN), but a couple of (white) audience members took the Q&A time to ramble inappropriately about all their feelings and ugh, ugh, NO, STOP. (I feel like the theme of this year’s Wiscon might have been “Awesome Panels on Race with SERIOUSLY NOT OKAY Audience Comments.” That, or Sleepy Hollow.) Anyway, go check out the hashtag, and then read this profile on Mikki Kendall, who was on the panel and coined the hashtag.
- Dual Identities: Fan vs. “Real Life”: This was all about navigating the divide between real life and having an online fannish persona. There was very much a generational divide happening in this one, and also a lot of mansplaining, but the panelists who actually got what the panel was about were awesome. (Full disclosure: they are my buddies.)
- Dystopia and Post-Apocalyptic Tradition: Dystopias! They’re huge! I missed part of this panel because I was still talking about Disney princesses, but I liked the part I heard! This is a terrible report.
- SEQUEL OF COUSIN OF RETURN OF SIBLING OF REVENGE OF NOT ANOTHER F*CKING RACE PANEL: I always go to this. It’s always great.
- Rediscovering Worlds Beyond Whiteness: Writers of color talked about the difficulty of creating worlds that aren’t your typical fakey medieval Europe (or “Germengland,” as I call it). Another really great panel with really insightful panelists, slightly marred by yet more dumb comments from audience members. Sigh.
So yeah, looking at this I didn’t attend as many panels as I thought, both because I missed a morning’s worth while volunteering on Safety, and because I’ve learned that to get through Wiscon I need to sit out some blocks of time occasionally and just decompress in the hotel room. But panels are only half of the Wiscon experience for me, and social interaction is the other, and that was all great. As much as I’m glad to be home (SLEEP. SLEEP IS GREAT.) I’m already counting down the days to Wiscon 39!