Tagged: @DW/lj
reading the referrer log entrails
chris. | 4 March 2009 | 4:27 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism), deconstructing bigotry | Comments closed

Kathryn Cramer says (as quoted, with KC’s permission, by raanve):

“What my referrer logs tell me is that most of you are college students, some at really good schools.”

Here’s my question: So what? Why does it matter that one’s conversational adversaries seem to be college students and at “really good schools”?

That statement is making an awful lot of assumptions about:
1) economic background (“really good”)
2) class background (“really good”)
3) educational/academic background (“college students” / “really good schools”)
4) age (“college students”)

And why does any of it matter to the conversation at hand? If i am a young person (younger than you?) who’s financially able (wealthier than you?) to attend what’s socially known as a “good school” (socially higher than you?), does that somehow take away my expectation of the basic right to privacy? If people fit, age/class/education-wise, the profile that referrer logs suggest, how does that profile invalidate what the people are saying about online privacy??

There might be something here to be said about how the internet is a potentially class-free space (setting aside the privilege of even being on the internet in the 1st place) upon which real-world class structures are being forcibly imposed for no good reason other than that it’s a convenient way to get your conversational adversary to shut up and think about something other than the discussion at hand.

I don’t know if i’m going to come right out and say that, however, because i’m still working on understanding what class is in the 1st place and how it affects people, society, discourse, et cetera. So, no, i’m not going to come right out and say it — but i am going to think about it for awhile.

What i will say is that it seems to me that smart, non-stupid people who otherwise privilege academic/scholarly discourse shouldn’t have to go rooting around in a person’s personal life to find a reason to discredit what that person has to say.

– – –

This was originally posted @ my LiveJournal.

bingo is the game-o
chris. | 4 March 2009 | 2:12 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism), deconstructing bigotry | Comments closed

For your amusement, 2 class-related bingo games.

Will Shetterly bingo. By kadath. From which i’ve taken the center square as an icon.

Working class bingo. By carenejeans. Wow, i’ve heard many of those things in class discussions a depressing number of times.

– – –

This was originally posted @ my LiveJournal.

zine on class!
chris. | 24 February 2009 | 9:50 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism), Crabby Media, diary | Comments closed

I thought the discussion the other week planning a possible WisCon panel about class was really interesting and thought-provoking. One of the things that struck me was that a few people commented about not wanting to “have the panel here” in the comment thread.

I thought: Why the heck not??

But since the language i tend to articulate in is zine, i thought i’d try putting together a zine about class.

  1. As a way to focus discussion at WisCon
  2. As a way to expand the discussion beyond the last weekend in may

So this is post is now officially a…


deadline: March 31st

editor: (i.e., compiler, proofreader, photocopy-er) Me.
contact: classzine@crabbymedia.org

abstract: This zine is intended to provide entry points for thinking about class. I hope it will be a collection of introductory pieces about class theories, personal essays about experiencing class, thought experiments for contemplating our own class, and suggested reading for going even deeper.

Previously written/published submissions are OKAY — as long as they’re YOURS, of course. For example: if you’ve already posted something on your blog that you’d like to submit, do it! The timeline is short because i’m trying to have this completely ready to go for WisCon, so of course i understand that there isn’t a lot of time to really draft and edit brand new writings.

Naturally, pseudonyms and zine names are perfectly welcome.

submissions sought/suggested:
* Overviews of Marx and other class theorists.
> Please contact me ASAP if you’re interested in doing one of these!

* Annotated bibliography. Books, articles, et cetera that discuss class.
> Anyone can make a suggestion (even if it’s just 1 title!), but your suggestion must include a brief summary of *why* you’re suggesting it — hence “annotated.”
> Feel free to drop suggestions into this comment thread!

* Personal essays about class. Possible avenues to explore:
> Class mobility:
– moving up or down a class structure
– change of class by conscious choice
– change of class by circumstances
> Class and education/academia.
> Class and health.
– health care access
– food access
> Class and geography: Are urban class structures different from rural class structures?
> Class and contentment: Does lack of money automatically mean lack of happiness? What if you’re working class and perfectly content?
And so forth!

nuts & bolts:
* I (Chris) hope to have the zine ready by mid-may so that it can be a companion piece to a (proposed) class discussion at WisCon.

* Production and distribution will be handled thru’ Crabby Media, which means:
– We (Crabby Media) hope (technology willing) to offer it as a free PDF download from the Crabby Media website.
– We plan to offer the printed version for sale at a low cost to cover printing and mailing costs. No, we don’t want to make a profit.

> Because we aren’t doing this to make a profit, payment to contributors will be in copies (at least 2 to each contributor — more, if possible).

> And, to reiterate from above, the deadline is MARCH 31st. Please please have either your completed submission OR your firm proposal to me by then. You can contact me at classzine@crabbymedia.org

– – –

This was originally posted @ my LiveJournal.

class discussion @ Wiscon
chris. | 6 February 2009 | 11:12 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism), deconstructing bigotry, diary | Comments closed

From my post yesterday, it certainly seems that there are people who want to discuss class at Wiscon, altho’ we all kind of agreed that previous attempts have largely failed. Two things that, to me, seemed to keep recurring in the comment thread:

  • a “class 101″ discussion is in order to sort of establish a baseline. It seems like we can’t really get to deeper discussions of class because we’re all still looking for entrance points to discuss class: what is it, why should we discuss it, how do we discuss it?
  • a relatively firm structure is in order to keep the discussion moving forward. Suggestions ranged from having a firm structure evident in the panel/round-table description to having a skilled, strong moderator. Actually, i think the necessity of a strong moderator is what recurred most. Anyone want to be a moderator?

The 1st title suggestion that pops into my head (and it’s late, so possibly i’m talking out of my ass) is something like “Marxism & beyond: Assembling a class discussion toolkit.” I dunno, i kind of want to acknowledge that Marx’s ideas are important, but aren’t the end of discussing class. And it sure feels like we need a toolkit.

Personally, i kind of envision such a discussion happening in one of the smaller rooms — because it’s easier to hear and easier to be heard without shouting, and also i dislike the idea of panelists being up on a dais for a discussion of class. :p Thoughts on whether people might prefer having a panel-led discussion, or maybe having a round-table?

had what i thought was a good idea for how to summarize this discussion on the programming form:

“talking about class at wiscon is hard. where should we start? what can we say? sometimes this discussion goes horribly wrong– how can we avoid it?”

Does that work for people? Modifications to suggest?

– – –

ETA: Almost forgot! From that comment thread, 2 other suggestions on potential avenues to enter a discussion of class: (1) A panel led by Brits. (2) Offering “what class am i?” stickers for all discussion participants — panelists and audience members alike. I’m not entirely sold on either of these ideas, but am happy to solicit more thoughts.

– – –

Finally: I’m probably going to keep talking about this shit between now and … well, doomsday. So feel free to hold the panel here (or over on my blog — i’m not sure yet where i’ll be posting about this), ’cause pre-discussion before Wiscon certainly couldn’t hurt, and besides not everyone can make it to the convention anyway, y’know?

– – –

This was originally posted @ my LiveJournal.

deconstructing Plunkett (Wiscon programming post #2)
chris. | 5 February 2009 | 2:54 pm | (deconstructing) class(ism), deconstructing bigotry, diary | Comments closed

Over the past 8 months since last Wiscon, i’ve been trying to formulate some sort of programming idea that would begin to address class issues. It’s now just slightly more than 48 hours until the programming suggestion period closes and i still have no concrete ideas. I’m no sociology expert, no theory expert, no expert in whatever-you-need-to-be-an-expert-in to discuss class critically.

All i know is this: Every time a class discussion starts to happen at Wiscon, i feel like my head is going to a-splode.

It’s hard to even explain, exactly, why — i feel like i can’t quite get the words in order to articulate why i get so angry. But it just feels like so many discussions of class get started off on rocky footing and tumble downhill fast. There’s something fundamentally wrong with, for example, entering a conversation by saying, “Well, i grew up in a double-wide modular home, BUT…” Is a double-wide modular home such a strong class indicator? And is it so “obviously” something to be overcome that we have to immediately erase it with a “but”?

Here’s another example of a troubling experiment in exploring class critically: The Plunkett Award (). A great idea, really! I would love to see some group take up the task of identifying speculative literature that truly explores ideas of class. But. But the name drove me crazy. Here’s how Steven explained it at the time:

To be most precise, when considering titles for the award, we looked first for people who were unambiguously associated with class questions in SF — people like Tiptree or Brandon. And no one leapt to the minds of the people I asked.

Failing that, I proposed that what we needed was a juxtaposition: Whenever I go out in one of my many James Tiptree Jr. Award T-shirts, someone asks me who Tiptree was, or why he has an award. I then give them my 30-45 second explanation, doing my best to work the words “ineluctable masculine thrust” in there whenever possible — and when I get to the punchline, “Alice Sheldon”, they get it — they’ve been led in one direction by the award, and the revelation of the name makes them rethink their assumptions.

Plunkett is not really a name that conjures up nobility — we’re not talking Tudor or Bourbon or Romanov or Hohenzollern here. Just Plunkett. (It’s also why we didn’t name it the Drax. ;))

Here’s what i had to say about the name at the time:

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this ever since the award was announced via “A Momentary Taste of Wiscon” at the convention. And i just … don’t get the logic of the name. Sheldon was a minority (i.e., woman) using a pen name that presented her as one with privilege (i.e., a man). But Dunsany was a peer writing as … a peer. And packaging the award under the name Plunkett doesn’t give me an “ah ha!” moment when it’s revealed that Plunkett=Lord Dunsany, it gives me a “what the fuck” moment. (In fact, all 5 of the people in my room at the Concourse essentially went, “What the fuck?”, so i don’t think it’s just me.) Instead of going from privilege to non-privilege, as Tiptree/Sheldon, the Plunkett/Dunsany goes from non-noble-sounding to nobility. Two not only different but downright opposite directions.

The name still strikes me as very wrong-headed. And it sort of encapsulates, for me, just how we keep going about discussions of class wrong. We’re approaching it from the wrong angle. We’re getting it all backwards and upside-down.

Which brings me right back to where i started. I want to talk about class. I want to talk about class at Wiscon, because i think we’ve been getting it wrong. And i’m tired of getting it wrong.

But i don’t know where to start. I don’t know what programming to suggest — the form of the programming (panel or round-table?), the content of the programming (a Class 101 programming piece, or a “let’s make a list of books that deal with class” programming piece, or something else entirely?).

Is anyone in the SF community already talking about class? Blogs or discussions you could point me to? Does anyone else even want to talk about class?

Here’s one thing i do want to do, and i’ll start it right now: What speculative literature have you read that addresses class in some way — either well or in a “oh, John Ringo, no!” way? I’ll go first (and also keep a list). I really loved The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto (Red Deer Press; 2001). It’s one of the few times i saw the rural working class / poor depicted in a way that was … real.

Also, if someone else has already started compiling a list of speculative literature that deal with class, PLEASE, point me to it!!

ETA: Also, if you wouldn’t mind spreading word of this post around, that’d be awesome! I’d love a broad range of input. Thanks!!

(PS: Apologies to anyone who endured this post while i was futzing around with it. The formatting got all screwy and my attempt to fix it, um, didn’t. I think i got it now.)

– – –

This was originally posted @ my LiveJournal.