Category: deconstructing bigotry
the great @lizhenry on WisCon Dudes
chris. | 2 June 2014 | 9:54 pm | (deconstructing) sexism | 2 Comments

Andy and i were discussing Yet Another Heinous WisCon Situation tonight.  He ultimately exclaimed, “What is it with certain WisCon conversations where A Dude seems to always think he knows better??”

“Well,” i said, “it’s exactly like Liz Henry said during the convention….”

I need this to be a sticker that i can affix to my laptop, my notebook, my WisCon badge holder, dudes’s mouths….

WisCon class panels & labor unions
chris. | 31 May 2014 | 8:17 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism) | Only Pings

I’ve long been troubled by certain class panels at WisCon that seem to get bogged down with only wanting to talk about labor unions in the U.S.  While working on some Friends of Dennis -related stuff last night, i was suddenly struck with why:

for the #DiversityInSff hashtag — book recs
chris. | 4 September 2013 | 1:37 pm | (culture) consuming, biblios & syllabi, deconstructing bigotry | Comments closed

Today Twitter has been hopping with the #DiversityInSff hashtag.  It’s been interesting and useful conversation — check it out!

When i saw people asking for book recs, i braindumped all the useful awards lists i could think of:





Here’s one i retweeted:

I also saw many people asking about how to respectfully create diversity in their own works.  Here ya go:



And i couldn’t resist making a few comments of my own, because it was early in the day for me and i was feeling sassy and cranky:



wind-up Jess
chris. | 29 January 2013 | 4:18 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism) | 4 Comments

One of my favorite toys when i was little (and very nearly the only doll i had for a long time) was a Drowsy doll.  If you gave a tug on the pull-string, she’d say something like “I go sleep now, night night!” or “I want another drink of water!!” or she’d cry or laugh or whatever.

Perhaps someone should have warned [personal profile] raanve of my evil tendency toward making others talk for my amusement.  [maniacal laugh MANIACAL LAUGH]  Then she’d have been prepared for when i do things like send her links to heinous newspaper comment threads where a letter-to-the-editor written by a college student in support of raising taxes in order to slow tuition hikes gets the poor letter-writer raked over the coals.

Hilarity ensued.  And also blistering critique!  Nor could her outrage be contained merely to our chat session!  No, it spilled over onto Twitter as well!!  And now it is presented here (with Jess’s blessing, of course) for your edification.

from chat:

me:  hey, all you ignorant assholes who proudly proclaim how you paid your way thru’ college decades ago: tuition’s gone up 100% in the PAST 4 YEARS. your college tuition was VASTLY CHEAPER. why?? BECAUSE TAXPAYERS FUNDED IT.

Jess: YUP

me:  i am also curious about the claim of “working class retired people” who are living off their capital investments.

Jess:  ha.  Yeah.

me:  i’m surprised these comments haven’t caught fire yet on account of all the straw flying around in their arguments.

Jess:   Also, I like how this person thinks they are KILLING IT with the logic of, like, “renters don’t pay property taxes” but guess what!  RENTERS DO. JUST NOT DIRECTLY.  IT’S CALLED RENT.  AND IT GOES UP TO ACCOMMODATE SHIT LIKE PROPERTY TAXES

Guess what else!  Renters DO pay property taxes and ALSO get no equity!  Not to mention the fact that you live in an urban area, and how many single-unit homes are really around? So, you know.  Maybe if you want people to collect your trash & make your food & stuff, you should appreciate that many of those people rent by necessity & stop being such a dick.

Also: Sure! Raise my taxes!  I am totally down with that!  I am currently “poor” enough that we get a lot of that refunded, and even if I wasn’t – I would still be okay with paying taxes! Because I enjoy living in a comfortable civil society with the possibility of a comfortable future even if the economy conspires against me.

So. You know. I guess I’m just not the rugged individualist that these folks are.  Not like I didn’t work throughout college, and then work afterward to pay off my academic debt, of which only a minor portion belonged to my parents.  Also not like I’m currently working for not-so-much money to educate other folks working their way through community college, as you so helpfully suggest.

Bascially, I hate these people so thanks for the link! :D

me:  happy to help! :D

Jess: I’d be thrilled to pieces to pay capital gains taxes because it would mean that i had INVESTMENTS AND INCOME above & beyond what I make from my job(s)  Which – surprise! – I do not have.

me:  ALSO. this is what it comes down to for me: anyone who uses THE INTERNET to make complaints about taxes & funding government IS A FUCKING IDIOT.

Jess: What??? The internet has nothing to do with the government!  and was built entirely by pioneering entreprenuers!  don’t you know anything?  sheesh.

Some of these are super lol-worthy, tho in that they clearly… have no idea what kind of privilege they’re talking about.  “I left for WSU with literally a single small suitcase and an apple box of possessions in a car that seemed to defy the odds of making it to Pullman”  Oh. So you didn’t have a lot of your own stuff (pretty common for an 18-year-old) and you HAD A WORKING CAR? THAT WAS YOURS?  Perhaps a shoddy, somewhat unreliable car, but. You know. A car.

“I learned what hunger felt like and that created a drive to succeed”  ok, then.

“i worked hard for every nickel” — without any societal help or assistance, right?

like, you made your own electricity & kept robbers at bay & fought fires & paid the wages of your teachers?  right? That is totally how that shit happened, right?

me:  ps: WSU is a state university. (as you may have guessed from the S portion. ;)

Jess: Yep.

me: also, drove on roads that the commenter laid down their ownself AS THEY WERE DRIVING ON THEM.

Jess: So it’s good to know that you are a fucking super-hero SELF MADE PERSON.  Good job, Gatsby1.

And LOL FOREVER to this idea that anyone who suggests that maybe people take on their fair share of the social burden is lazy, unwilling to work, or not already working.  OR WHATEVER

“I learned how to live very frugally but without sacrifice of my dignity.”  Oh how nice. You were “poor” but you preserved your “dignity” Only to squander said dignity on the internet under a boring screename. Thanks NW Thinker. Thank you for this valuable life lesson.

Oh shit, I can’t stop, and also I can’t stop laughing

“We’ve worked hard for every single nickel and how dare it be endangered by a zealous politicain lusting over a pot that he didn’t make.”  I ALSO MAKE ALL MY OWN POTS.  ARE YOU LISTENING, AMERICA??

“Don’t tell me all our hard work was an effort in futility because it will all be stolen because of our own due dilligence!”

Oh, honey, it sounds like your “own due dilligence” is not very diligent.

and from Twitter:

  • GDI, @wrdnrd is winding me up again.
  • Rest safe in the knowledge that you will never be the self-reliant, hard-working, simple American genius that Random Internet Commenter is.
  • I’m just a Regular Guy! Who did it all on his own! With no social structures in place to assist me at all! Typing on this internet I built!
  • See, I pedal this bicycle wheel to generate electricity & it goes into this computer with its home internet I built & I did this all myself
  • It’s pretty cool, right? I exist entirely outside the system, which is why I paid my way thru state university &.. oh wait. Hang on.
  • I’m DEFINITELY not a huge a-hole who doesn’t know what they’re talking about or who makes use of other government services.
  • Somebody please make me stop.

Nope!  :D  “WHY DO YOU DO THIS CHRIS”  Oh, no reason….

Michael Jackson eating popcorn

  1. BTW, this is my new favorite insult in conversations like these!  :D []
hangin’ on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic differences in our society* {Tumblr}
chris. | 19 January 2013 | 9:53 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism), collected rants | Comments closed

This is a response i posted on Tumblr earlier, but Tumblr is horrible for anything remotely blog-like so i wanted to save it here — especially in case anyone wanted to actually comment on it.  Everything in blockquotes is the previous post that i’m replying to.  My commentary begins at “Why in the world is this a problem we’re pinning on just vegans?”

hangin’ on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic differences in our society*

Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?


Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it (it’s keen-wa, not qui-no-a), yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fitted in with government healthy eating advice to “base your meals on starchy foods”.

Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Vegans embraced quinoa as a credibly nutritious substitute for meat. Unusual among grains, quinoa has a high protein content (between 14%-18%), and it contains all those pesky, yet essential, amino acids needed for good health that can prove so elusive to vegetarians who prefer not to pop food supplements.

Sales took off. Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the “miracle grain of the Andes”, a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider’s larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn’t feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and “royal” types commanding particularly handsome premiums.

But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

In fact, the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. It’s beginning to look like a cautionary tale of how a focus on exporting premium foods can damage the producer country’s food security. Feeding our apparently insatiable 365-day-a-year hunger for this luxury vegetable, Peru has also cornered the world market in asparagus. Result? In the arid Ica region where Peruvian asparagus production is concentrated, this thirsty export vegetable has depleted the water resources on which local people depend. NGOs report that asparagus labourers toil in sub-standard conditions and cannot afford to feed their children while fat cat exporters and foreign supermarkets cream off the profits. That’s the pedigree of all those bunches of pricy spears on supermarket shelves.

Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction. Embarrassingly, for those who portray it as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations.

Three years ago, the pioneering Fife Diet, Europe’s biggest local food-eating project, sowed an experimental crop of quinoa. It failed, and the experiment has not been repeated. But the attempt at least recognised the need to strengthen our own food security by lessening our reliance on imported foods, and looking first and foremost to what can be grown, or reared, on our doorstep.

In this respect, omnivores have it easy. Britain excels in producing meat and dairy foods for them to enjoy. However, a rummage through the shopping baskets of vegetarians and vegans swiftly clocks up the food miles, a consequence of their higher dependency on products imported from faraway places. From tofu and tamari to carob and chickpeas, the axis of the vegetarian shopping list is heavily skewed to global.

There are promising initiatives: one enterprising Norfolk company, for instance, has just started marketing UK-grown fava beans (the sort used to make falafel) as a protein-rich alternative to meat. But in the case of quinoa, there’s a ghastly irony when the Andean peasant’s staple grain becomes too expensive at home because it has acquired hero product status among affluent foreigners preoccupied with personal health, animal welfare and reducing their carbon “foodprint”. Viewed through a lens of food security, our current enthusiasm for quinoa looks increasingly misplaced.

Tell me again how “cruelty-free” your diet is.

Oh, wait, my bad, I forgot poor brown people don’t count because at least they’re not cows and chickens.

Why in the world is this a problem we’re pinning on just vegans? Vegans make up a tiny percentage of the population — i strongly doubt they, as a group, are solely responsible for all the quinoa consumption world-wide. If your reaction is to blame vegans for this, well, then all you’re telling me is that you’re irritated with vegans in the 1st place and simply have found more ammunition to continue to dislike them.

This problem, however, is less the result of a specialized dietary schema followed by a fraction of the population and MORE a result of globalization. As consumers, we want more and more things but at cheaper and cheaper prices. Not to mention company CEOs and boards and share-holders want to make as much money as possible with as little expense as possible. So production gets bigger and bigger to meet the demand, and then it gets shipped to areas of the world where labor is cheaper and cheaper (because, y’know, we still demand our nice paychecks and health benefits and so we’re costing those CEOs and boards and share-holders too much money in their expense columns). And that’s how we find ourselves with sweatshops in China making our jeans and iPods, and all the quinoa shipped away from Peru and Bolivia because the sellers can get better prices overseas.

This is not a problem vegans made — it’s a problem ALL of us in wealthy, greedy countries made.

If your next reaction is to tell me, “This is why we gotta eat more LOCAL”, well, now all you’re telling me is that you have the money to be able to eat more local. Eating locally-produced food is often a fair bit more expensive than buying all your groceries at the local supermarket. (And if shopping at the local farmers market is NOT more expensive than the supermarket for you, then, congrats! Are you from my hometown??) A cut of chicken on a styrofoam tray in the meat cooler of the supermarket is LOTS cheaper than a free-range organic chicken bought at the saturday farmers market.

Some things to think about next time you’re holding something in the grocery store or at the market:

– How far did this travel to get here? – How many stages of processing did it go thru’? – And how many people handled it at those stages and expect to be paid? – How much DO those people get paid? – How many hours a day/week are they expected to work? – Do they get sick days? – Do they work with chemicals? – Do they work in extreme heat or cold?- Can they afford the food you’re holding in your hands?

Consider this: It’s the dead of winter, the ground’s been frozen for a month, and the days are pretty short because the sun sets kind of early — but you’re chopping up a tomato.

You may consider all those questions and scenarios, and STILL need to buy the thing you’re holding. That’s fine and understandable! We need to eat. We need to buy food. We can only buy food from the options that are available to us. Buying on a budget, i’ve bought plenty of food that was extremely cheap — and i couldn’t afford to worry about where it came from. And sometimes i just crave a damn tomato in january. I am part of the problem, too.

We are ALL part of the problem, whether we want to be or not — whether we care or not. Because we, as a society, want tomatoes in the dead of winter. Because we like our quinoa (i’ve never had it, but clearly someone loves it). Because we don’t want to pay a whole lot for our jeans and our iPods.

We are all part of the problem; we are all trapped in the system. Blaming things on vegans is a red herring and DOESN’T ACTUALLY HELP. Implying that all vegans don’t care about brown people erases the experiences of people of color who are vegan. Implying that all vegans don’t care about poor people ignores vegans who are poor. Veganism is NOT just a precious hobby of well-off white people.

We are ALL trapped in this globalization system, and the system doesn’t care about poor people. But since we’re all trapped here together right now, let’s stop distracting ourselves by throwing stones at vegans and talk about what we’re going to do about this mess we made.



Friends of Dennis really is tracking all these panels
chris. | 17 January 2013 | 6:14 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism) | Comments closed

We have a database of class-related panels from recent WisCons.  Not gonna lie, it’s a pretty glorious database.  Here’s what it looks like:

cataloging WisCon's class-related panels

Also my thumb.