Thursday News: On being outside the box
Plan ‘B’: How A Feminist Comic Book Found Devoted Fans Through Absurdity – A great interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick on the origins of the comic Bitch Planet, the first five issues of which were released this week as a graphic novel. DeConnick talks about how being pigeonholed as an “angry feminist,” when she was merely questioning gender stereotypes in comics, led her to create this alternate universe, which features “noncompliant” women, and is all about flipping the script:
On reimagining the setting of a women’s prison
The book is completely absurd, and that’s the thing that my co-creator and I, Valentine De Landro, are trying to play with — some of tropes from women-in-prison movies and exploitation and blaxploitation films from the ’70s that we loved but are, as we like to say, deeply problematic.
So we do things like label pages, “The Obligatory Shower Scene.” And in that scene we turned the camera on the viewer, so as the scene progresses, the guy that’s watching from the hole in the wall, the panel that is his peephole continually gets bigger and bigger and bigger until it covers the rest of the scene — because he’sour focus.
So it’s, how can we take these things that we’re all so accustomed to, and flip them in a way that calls attention to what they are and what they do? – NPR
Masculinity Is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box – A great analysis of the way in which the binary structure of gender, and in particular, the construction of madness and masculinity has created what David Schwartz terms “the Box,” in which expectations for makes a “man” are limiting, contradictory, and unattainable. Developed in perceived contrast to “the Box,” is something Schwartz calls the “Nerd Box,” which has fostered an illusory but nonetheless compelling belief that this Box is different from the other Box:
Every Nerd Box, no matter the diversity of its other contents, has one item in common: the illusion of freedom. Inside that box, and inside nerd contexts and communities, the box–dweller feels free to express opinions, to participate in discussions, to explore his enthusiasms to their fullest extent. I felt safe with other male Nerds, and as a result I formed certain misguided ideas about nerd communities: that nerds were smarter, better, more tolerant, more compassionate. Relative to the non–Nerd contexts I still had to navigate, this was somewhat true; my enthusiasms were seen as weird, childish, or trivial, all labels that were ultimately challenges to my masculinity. As a result, because I had been conditioned to see my masculinity as something fragile that must be protected, the Nerd Box became more than a container for my collection of personal signifiers of masculinity—it became a sanctuary or refuge from the police forces of mainstream masculinity.
I believe that this is a nearly universal experience for Nerd–Box–dwellers. They may use their Box as a Fortress of Solitude, connect it with other Nerd Boxes in a sort of Nerd Habitrail, or treat it as a bunker from which to lob rhetorical disdain at mainstream masculinity. Ultimately, though, the Box is, as with every other Man Box, under siege from other anxious men and from the binary–policing society at large. This need for constant vigilance is stressful, and masculinity is a stress–related anxiety disorder.
It’s this anxiety that is responsible, for example, for the bizarre online witch–hunt that is the Fake Geek Girl controversy, which has spun out and escalated into the larger and more troubling GamerGate controversy. The nerd, having asserted a claim over some sector of fandom or other expertise, reaches an uneasy equilibrium with respect to his male dominance over that topic. When a woman expresses enthusiasm for this topic, the nerd may feel that this dominance is being threatened. – Uncanny Magazine
This Dad Had The Best Response When His Son Said He Wanted To Go As Elsa From “Frozen” For Halloween – Every once in a while Buzzfeed captures something great, like this Facebook post from Paul Henson, who posted a picture of his son in his chosen Halloween costume. And his commentary is a great reminder that the Gamergate narrative about masculinity may be loud, but it’s not universal:
Keep your masculine bullshit and slutty kids costumes, Halloween is about children pretending to be their favorite characters. Just so happens, this week his is a princess. – Buzzfeed
The Card Catalog Is Officially Dead – Not all boxes are bad. Like the little boxy drawers that hold hundreds and thousands of little cards, on which are printed the contents of a whole library. Is everyone here old enough to remember the smell of those cards when you pulled out a drawer in your school library? Anyway, it’s time to say goodbye to the card catalog, which has been officially replaced by the virtual catalog:
The official death of the catalog card was observed at OCLC’s headquarters by about a dozen workers, writes Dan Gearino for The Columbus Dispatch. The organization, which has printed a whopping 1.9 billion cards, sent its final shipment to a library in Concordia College in Bronxville, New York. But don’t think the college is the last holdout in an analog library world — in fact, writes Gearino, the school’s library only uses its card catalog as a backup for its computerized one. – Smithsonian Magazine