Tag Archives: women

“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, but What You Can Do for Hillary”

I first heard of the way Hillary Clinton’s top female supporters were talking about young women who supported Bernie Sanders from my 23-year old daughter.

madeleine-albright-quoteA strong Bernie supporter, she was steamed that Gloria Steinem had said on Bill Maher’s show that young women were flocking to Bernie’s rallies because that was where the boys were. Steinem doubled-down by adding that women become more “activist,” (I believe that was the word used) as they grow older, because they “lose power.” There is no other way but to interpret that statement as “When you’re young and hot, like me, you’re powerful!” You’re where the boys are, honey. Burn your bra so they can see your titties better!

My biggest memory of Steinem was that she was a Playboy Bunny. I thought for real, but I was told no — she’d gone “undercover” to expose the dark underside of Hef’s Playboy palace of pulchritude. That’s some play-literation. When I’m not showing my titties and ass to old men in my dating age range (85-95, like Sumner Redstone) sometimes I like to play around with words. When I turn 54 next month, I’m anticipating I’ll be limited to dating gentlemen in the Willard Scott birthday age range (100+). And how lucky I’ll be! Why hardly any woman my age even goes out in public any more, much less has any “power.” Not Hillary-type-power, anyway. Not Gloria Steinem level muscle.

Then, out came the public information that at many of Hillary’s rallies, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was lecturing audiences that women, especially young women, should vote for Hillary because, and I quote, “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women.”

She prefaced this by saying, “We can tell our story about how we climbed the ladder and young women — you think it’s been done — it’s not done.”

Here’s the thing, Ms. Albright — there’s not a young woman in the audience for Bernie or in my classrooms who thinks it’s “been done.” And, dear lady, even in my powerless age range — hardly any of us think it’s “been done,” either. If you, or your candidate, had taken even five minutes to listen (I do use my words carefully, – I usually do a bit of reading and writing before I wash my hair, put on my go-go boots, and go out and snag some of those older boys) to women under age 30 and especially under age 25, you would hear what is important to them. Listen. It takes time, energy and commitment to listen.

It takes time, energy, caring and commitment to engage with the American people and listen to them, not just stand up in front of audiences and repeat the same sad, tired, retread talking points about abortion, raising the minimum wage, and free birth control pills over and over again. Most Americans have respect for the first two female Secretaries of State, no question; I certainly did, but it shrinks by the day. These most recent incidents point out something glaring in our entire culture. The people we often (not always) turn to as leaders, may not be deserving of those roles.

Based on the behavior of both Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Albright in these recent events, and just looking at their demeanor at these rallies — at the vast gulf between their reality and the reality of most Americans (especially young women) — I sit here and say prayers of gratitude that we weren’t all incinerated while these women were the our country’s top diplomats.

Hillary and madeleine albright

I’m sure about 50 billion pundits will point out that if a conservative man introduced Donald Trump at a rally and hollered, “There’s a special place in HELL for men who don’t vote for Trump!” this would not only be SNL skit fodder for years, it might even surpass the “Dean Scream” moment for radio and TV replay.

Did these three women get this way because they are older? I was absolutely stunned to learn that Gloria Steinem is 81, Madeleine Albright is 78, and Mrs. Clinton, 68. I note that Mr. Sanders is 74 years old. Gloria Steinem is certainly too old for him; besides, everyone knows that powerful, rich guys like Bernie date women in their late 20s and early 30s. You know – like Sean Penn dates girls in high school.

Wait. Back to what occurred to me. See, Ms. Albright and Mrs. Clinton were both our top diplomats, serving several years each — and in fact, one of Mrs. Clinton’s top arguments against her opponent Mr. Sanders and all of the Republican opponents, is that she is the most-experienced foreign policy candidate by far.

That well may be, but it makes me feel cold and afraid, if she was the best and would still be, in representing our country among other nations, and in tense negotiations or circumstances where our troops or nation would be at-risk. Because she doesn’t seem able to even take 5 minutes out of her busy day to engage with actual young women and discern their concerns on even the most basic level. She can’t take another 2-3 minutes to determine why younger women would support Bernie Sanders.

I have now read approximately 12 interviews with Mrs. Clinton. Not once, in any of those interviews, did she use the words, “I listened,” or “I heard,” followed by a specific example of any American’s concern or interest. She certainly uses “I” a lot, but she never says, “I listened to __________________ and heard that ___________________.” She merely asserts her opinion as if it’s obvious. Just as did Madeleine Albright. I listened to what she said (ha ha ha ha ha – sorry). I can discern that she strongly believes the reason many younger women are supporting Bernie Sanders is that they think the “battles” she and Mrs. Clinton “fought” are no longer needed.

Unfortunately, neither of these two former top diplomats, nor Ms. Steinem, the Ms. Lady, seem like they are very good listeners. As I am 53, I don’t really remember any of them showing strong listening skills at any time. It isn’t for reasons of sexism, as asserted by TV performers like Lena Dunham, that many people are referring to Mrs. Clinton as “shrill.” She does raise her voice when she believes her message wasn’t heard.

I have, throughout my life, heard many people assert that their political opponents were “dumb” or “stupid,” and often “evil” when they had positions or opinions in opposition to them. Or, often – they were just their opponents, perhaps agreeing in most circumstances.

I only read part of The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump and only watched a few episodes of the many Apprentice shows. But even Donald Trump emphasizes listening skills, and discerning the other person’s interests and motivations. And I’ve seen him demonstrate this and make assessments of his observations of the people trying out to be “The Apprentice.” I’ve watched his daughter Ivanka listen acutely and think about what she says before responding. Certainly, I see these behaviors in action every day in the classroom, in the business environment, and they were the primary determining factor between success or failure in the social service programs I used to work with, raise funds for, and manage.

Not once, would I ever make any decision without consulting others, nor would I ever make any announcement or pronouncement in any class, without ensuring I had listened to people and gotten the best understanding I could of their opinions, needs, desires and concerns.

I have no doubt, since I am 53 years old and have been around the block, including volunteering for Carly Fiorina’s Senate campaign in 2010, as well as a number of local campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s –

I can’t believe I’m writing this, that it’s even a question. Does no one even question that their local mayor has better listening skills than Hillary Clinton or Madeleine Albright? This is way beyond “out of touch,” this is never in touch. Never, ever, never.

I just read an interview with Bernie Sanders where he was confronted with the problems caused by some of his male supporters with harassing women who don’t follow their “party line” about Bernie, using extreme sexist language and being jerks. So, Bernie said, and I quote, “We have heard about this.” He then expressed strongly that could not be a part of his campaign and that was not what they were about. I am sure his campaign will take steps to stop it.

So I guess there’s a special place in Hell for me. And how lucky our country is that these two top-notch listeners didn’t get us all killed by their assumptions and bullheaded forging straight ahead with whatever they want to say, just raising their voice when they experienced disagreement or others were not doing exactly what they wanted.

Leadership isn’t about yelling until people cave or just talking louder or saying the same thing over and over, or about “guessing” what people want because you find it impossible to take even a few moments to listen non-judgmentally. Really – it isn’t.

But what would I know? I’m 53. I have no power. Not like powerful people like sexy 81 year old women’s leader Gloria Steinem.

 

 

In Praise of What’s Real

I noticed this morning that the top story on Medium is basically a poor man’s version of Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” Thousands of people read this adaptation thinking it was a true story and a real person telling his thoughts as he acknowledged he was dying. It was just a 27 year old guy who may or may not have thought he was “being original” and who may or may not have realized he was paraphrasing a famous end of life message from a fully-realized person.

eastern sierras

So I went out yesterday on an adventure.

It was real.

Me, too.

amy january 2016 I’d rather have 5 people read my work for real than 500,000 read something I ripped off. I’d rather be me, than someone with tons of cosmetic surgery. If I am dying, I want to die at home with my family and friends.

If you are my friend, you are truly my friend. If you are my student, you are truly my student.

I wish for everyone to know who they really are, to be grateful for the immense gifts we are given each and every day of genuine life, of this beautiful world we live in, and of our true friends and those we love, and who love us.

Don’t Mistake What I Am Saying About Women …

First off, I just finished doing some work I really do not have a lot of extra time to do, but I did it anyway. Second, I doubt too many male writers would share my experience of having to slack off to go get some items for dinner. It’s cooking right now. Of course there are some: single dads and others.

So hell I sit around and way more often than I should, I feel sorry for myself. I just counted up all the Nebula Award nominated stories and authors since this award began in 1966. I wanted to make the case that “who the story is about” is more important than “who wrote the story.” I discovered that my betters, Joanna Russ, Kate Wilhelm, Nancy Kress, Connie Willis, Vonda McIntyre, Nina Kiriki Hoffmann, Carol Emshwiller, Lisa Tuttle (who has ethics – she did not want her award, the only person to so-decline to date), Esther Friesner, Ursula Le Guin, and Jane Yolen – had all written stories with female protagonists who received the award.

I only dealt with the short story category. It would drive me insane to deal with all the other categories. And then there’s the Hugos, with which there is some, not a lot, of overlap.

So here’s who these babies are about – by year:

1966 The Harlequin and the Ticktockman
1967 Geology assistant/WWII Vet (“The Secret Place”) and “dead boy’s sister”
1968 Neutered Spacers (Chip Delany)
1969 Dr. Darin (male), monkeys, mentally deficient boy (Kate Wilhelm)
1970 A man (“Passengers” by Robert Silverberg – first person narrative)
1971 – no award –
1972 A man (“Good News from the Vatican” by Robert Silverberg – first person narrative)
1973 Janet Evason – this story is “When It Changed” by Joanna Russ about an all-female planet
1974 Moggadeet – an alien who is eaten by his female mate (by “James Tiptree, Jr.” – “Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death”)
1975 Laia Asieo Odo, an elderly woman (aka Odo, in male form, in “The Dispossessed” – by Ursula Le Guin)
1976 Dolf, a man running out of time, who must catch that Zeppelin
1977 A man (“A Crowd of Shadows” by Charles L. Grant – first person narrative)
1978 Jeffty – he’s five. He is always five.
1979 Rob (a guy, a musician)
1980 “An old scientist” and “young female reporter” and giant ants.
1981 Boyd, a male archaologist who discovers his acquaintance Luis is an immortal
1982 An unnamed woman (Lisa Tuttle “The Bone Flute” the only author to refuse the award, due to problems with another author campaigning)
1983 A girl and her dog (Connie Willis)
1984 A young boy who survives a global flood
1985 An old man and a young boy (Williams and John)
1986 Sally Gourley, a truck stop waitress of indeterminate age (by Nancy Kress!)
1987 Pal Tremont, a Korean boy
1988 Gordon Sills (male), Avery Roda (male), love object “Anna” (female)
1989 Sheila, a prostitute rescued from the Biblical Flood, and mother
1990 Male physicist who discovers time travel
1991 Guy who observes that bears have discovered fire
1992 Vietnam guy, Charlie
1993 Three women discuss menstruation (Connie Willis!)
1994 Vietnam guy, first-person narrative
1995 Anli (female) and Derren (male) (Martha Soukup)
1996 The Librarian and Death (Esther Friesner!)
1997 A woman who has the day off for her virtual child’s birthday (Esther Friesner!)
1998 Sister Emily (Jane Yolen!)
1999 Vietnam guy (my dear friend Bruce Holland Rogers – but this theme is starting to look like “Never go full-retard” as stated by fake black guy Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder)
2000 Professional (female) victim (Leslie What)
2001 Investigator of Victim Rights Closure Statements (anti-death penalty story by Terry Bisson)
2002 Maria, African albino women
2003 Mother with a creature for a child (Carol Emshwiller who is better than all)
2004 Female narrator hunting gorillas (Karen Joy Fowler “What I Didn’t See”)
2005 Daughter coming to terms with elderly dying father
2006 A succubus-type of indeterminate gender who lives with a typical middle-aged working woman
2007 An abandoned mistress
2008 17 year old, formerly youngest female resident of Always
2009 Alanna and Ylva (by Nina Kiriki Hoffmann)
2010 “Nameless female survivor” of spacewreck
2011 A man who creates a tiny man
2012 A little boy with a paper tiger
2013 Quy an “older sister”
2014 A narrator of indeterminate gender
2015 Grandma, Eva, a Jackalope wife

Now, nerds and dweebs and geeks – this is who I am. The majority of these winners are either my friends or friendly acquaintances. Some of them have been my teachers and mentors.

I started feeling unholy sorry for myself. Some of my friends, acquaintances, teachers and mentors have unbelievable Publishers Weekly reviews for their work. They have loving retrospectives, and in-depth reviews, story-by-story, of collections of their work. And I saw book after book, whether single, standalone story or collection, with one, two, or three reviews on Amazon. I saw the same b.s. (maybe not the same “quality” as me – but I am “special”) on their work — two star reviews, etc. Judging by Amazon, my dreadful crap has even outsold some of their outstanding work.

So, what I wrote about was this:

To Kiss the Star
Mel Armstrong – 17 – wheelchair-bound, blind, spastic, chosen for spaceflight
The Renascence of Memory
Carol Meyers – 80 – Alzheimer’s patient, former wife, mother, college professor
This Monster
Grendel’s Dam – ageless
Jenny, With the Stars in Her Hair
Jenny Julian – 35 – addicted to extreme cosmetic surgery
The Color of Time
Gia – 21, Nana – 81, Faith – 31
Smiley the Robot
Miss Gia – 85
Everything I Have is Yours
Helene Bacon – 50 – famous film director, Sarah Bacon – 16 – her daughter
Heart of Jade
The Lady – 30 – daughter of 20 Rabbit, the last great king of Copan
Shakespeare in Hell
Emilia Bassano – 35-ish (actually died at age 74) – reputed “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets
The Ruined Gods
Ginger – 28 – a cat woman; Rikki/Roxane/Roksana – 73
The Gods That Men Don’t See
Ginny Baumann – 33 – primatologist
Digger Lady
Vi Elliott – 73 – paleontologist
Incandescent
Paperwhite – a newborn
Her Name is Jacqueline
Lori Johnston – 36 – attorney

The thing is, I might not write very well. I might be crude and maybe not very talented.

Instrumentality of women 600 x 900But I think I am honest. And I listen. So.

Disabled people really will go to the stars, once it is time. Women will continue to use extreme cosmetic surgery to get what they want, although it doesn’t work. There will be a sub-cellular level treatment for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases – even a reversal of the aging process. People will come to understand that time and space are artifacts of our sensory perceptions. Some day, a robot will fall in love with and care for an old lady, because he knows no better. A woman will one day win the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award as a film director. Some day, a woman will write better than Shakespeare. A woman likely did co-found today’s Mayan community. Some day a woman who lives only a short time will travel faster than the speed of light and save many lives. There probably were early humans here in North America 100,000 years ago. The Mayan howler monkey god is real. Gender reassignment will become much more common and complete. People will so seriously clone for companionship and then – some – the scummy few – will use for organ donation.

There is a hot trade in Altoid mints, intergalactically-speaking.

“Don’t write about your little life,” said Toni Morrison. Open your ears, open your eyes, open your heart –

FREE YOUR MIND

I didn’t know this advice over the years. I know it now, and I’m glad I took it, instinctively. As I say to students, why should we become so upset about abortion, when medical science can and will solve this? Why should we become so angry about the death penalty, when the crimes to which it is the penalty will cease due to evolution?

You think I am wrong? I am an optimist; I am a listener.

Are you?

Introduction 2015: The Instrumentality of Women

My perspective has broadened a bit since 2014.

Introduction

When I was 13, one of the most popular songs was “At Seventeen,” by Janis Ian. I had a record player. There was no such thing as an iPod. If you played a vinyl record enough times it got a grayish tinge and started to crackle and pop. After a few months, I could hardly play Janis’ album any longer and it was gray as hell. I not only idolized Janis — her “look,” her fashion, her voice, her poetry – I related to this song just like every other teen girl. It turned out, later, that the song really was about Janis at age 13, my exact age.

I learned the truth at seventeen

That love was meant for beauty queens

And high school girls with clear skinned smiles

Who married young and then retired …

I had no sense I was “beautiful,” and as far as future career path, I pictured being the secretary to a wealthy and powerful man. I wanted to marry a handsome, strong man. My ideal wedding dress was an “empire” dress — but I didn’t know what it was called back then. I wanted two children: a boy and a girl. Sure, I wrote storylike objects and I painted pictures and I made things. I “whittled” and woodcarved and banged stuff together with old nails. I foraged and hunted and hiked and explored with my dog. I shoveled the manure out of my pony’s stall —

It had been nigh upon three years since I’d gotten a copy of A Wrinkle in Time from my aunt Donna.

The summer I was 13, as I listened to “At Seventeen” over and over, I read Lord of the Rings front to back four or five times. I got the “pancake tan” (didn’t want to turn over so brown in front, white in back). I read Dune. I read Warm Worlds and Otherwise, stories by James Tiptree, Jr. I read through all of Ray Bradbury. I read England Swings edited by Judith Merril. I read Dangerous Visions, and Again, Dangerous Visions. Those were edited by Harlan Ellison. He looked like a handsome guy, judging by his picture. But I wouldn’t have said anything like that to anyone. Admitting I was reading this stuff was beyond weird and nerdy.

Nobody told me I couldn’t be a sci-fi writer. Somewhere in the back of my head this idea took root. I liked to imagine things. I couldn’t help it. I imagined things whether I wanted to or not. These things: they were stories. Not about me. About people I didn’t know, lots of the time. Places, sometimes very far away in space and time, from where I was.

Then my grandfather died and my grandmother didn’t talk to me for a year, and then I moved away to Hollywood and then I came back to Redlands.

I was a different person; I’d lost a year. The normality of my life before was gone. I no longer imagined I’d marry a wealthy, powerful man, although that seemed like a pretty good plan if it ever did happen. I just wanted to survive from day to day.

And so it goes.

This is my third collection of short fiction. Three stories are fantasy; eleven are science fiction. All are about women. Although the fantasy stories are told with male viewpoint characters, their linchpins are the women.

The degree of prior professional publication and recognition on these stories is directly graphable by age. The younger the protagonist, the easier the sale — in fact, “To Kiss the Star,” the first story, was a cover story of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and nominated for a Nebula Award. Its protagonist, Mel, is seventeen, just like Janis Ian’s song. And I realize now what song I heard when Mel looked in the mirror after the ISA “cowboy” doctor gave her sight. In stories I have written, the older the female protagonist, the less likely the story would be to appear in a top publication. At best, these appeared in small press or anthologies edited by friends.

Now, these stories about women age 30 and over are in a book that is published in e-book form by Book View Cafe, the first, largest and most-successful author publishing cooperative, and in trade paperback, by Chameleon Publishing, the publishing company I founded.

Instrumentality of women 600 x 900Here are the stories and who they are about:

To Kiss the Star

Mel Armstrong – 17 – wheelchair-bound, blind, spastic, chosen for spaceflight

The Renascence of Memory

Carol Meyers – 80 – Alzheimer’s patient, former wife, mother, college professor

This Monster

Grendel’s Dam – ageless

Jenny, With the Stars in Her Hair

Jenny Julian – 28 – addicted to extreme cosmetic surgery

The Color of Time

Gia – 21, Nana – 81, Faith – 31

Smiley the Robot

Miss Gia – 85

Everything I Have is Yours

Helene Bacon – 50 – famous film director, Sarah Bacon – 16 – her daughter

Heart of Jade

The Lady – 30-ish and thought barren – daughter of 20 Rabbit, the last great king of Copan

Shakespeare in Hell

Emilia Bassano – 35-ish (actually died at age 74) – reputed “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets

The Ruined Gods

Ginger – 28 – a cat woman; Rikki/Roxane/Roksana – 73

The Gods That Men Don’t See

Ginny Baumann – 33 – primatologist, unmarried

Digger Lady

Vi Elliott – 73 – paleontologist, never married

Incandescent

Paperwhite – a newborn Vogue girl

Her Name is Jacqueline

Lori Johnston – 36 – attorney, married, male genes, female nature

For many years, I did not know that nobody wanted to read a story about a woman over age 30, or a story with a female character over age 25 who wasn’t a “black widow,” a canny elderly detective or nosy old lady next door.

Of course I know that now.

Of course I know there should be romance stories for women, men and transgendered people. There should be stories about crises of conscience for men. How stupid is it, for example, for there to be a story about Helene Bacon, the first female film director to receive an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award? There’s some sci-fi for you. Imagine that this successful, powerful director never had time to get married, but she did have a daughter, Sarah — a daughter very much like her. And right when she has achieved the height of her recognition and power, Helene learns she’s dying of lung cancer. Only a total lung transplant will save her. And Sarah’s not just her daughter: she is her clone. Oh, what to do? God, what a ridiculous, idiotic story. Its mate (architect dying of cancer learns that only his cloned son can save him) was a Writers of the Future winning story. When people questioned that a man would consider using his son that way — what about a mother? — the story was born.

“Digger Lady” has not so much been rejected, but rather – lost, three times, by three different editors of two major sci-fi/fantasy magazines. It is inspired by a lady I got to know at age 17 — some coincidence? — Ruth “Dee” Simpson, the archaeologist at the San Bernardino County Museum. That was my first real job — the “intern” at the museum. The character inspired by “Dee,” Vi Elliott, is explicitly said to be 73 in the story. She is being forced into retirement. There are few women who can claim to have discovered Early Man in the Southern California desert along with world-renowned paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. Ruth “Dee” Simpson is one of them. Nobody wants to read about someone like that.

I think they’d rather read about a naive 3-day old genetically manipulated prostitute who is bound to save the world from an alien plague, all the while being beaten to a pulp by a vicious, burned-out case who learns at the end, the value of what he valued so-little. I did write that story and it is in this book; I will not continue to write dozens of them.

It makes me sad when I think of the stories I was given to read while in school (this includes college and graduate school). “The Yellow Wallpaper” – a classic by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The husband’s name is John; the young female narrator has no name. This story was written well over a hundred years ago.

My life, oddly enough, was not over when I turned 25, nor 30, nor even the dreaded 40 and unholy, impossible, “no man will ever want you!” 50. Such adventures I have had – and still have.

The best stories are those which tell themselves. It isn’t “who writes the stories” that is so important; it is the stories themselves.

These are the stories that came to me, as they came to me. For a long while, I didn’t realize that I was, as far as getting paid or getting anybody to read the work, literally wasting my time even attempting to write stories outside the conventional genres (romance, mystery) and genre conventions (like Ellie Sattler in the Jurassic Park movies – she retires, is married, has children and becomes a children’s book writer) about women. Now I do understand that.

I’m writing them anyway. I’m publishing them anyway.

At 13, at 17, at 53, it was and is my job to listen.

Amy Sterling Casil

Aliso Viejo, CA

December 2015

 

For Madyson Middleton an 8-Year old Girl

This is a story in pictures.

When you are 8 years old and get a scooter and ride it and your neighbor offers you ice cream and you say “yes,” then he will rape and kill you. Then you will be dead and he will be famous.

maddy middleton killer
You will always be your school picture.

You will always be a typical 8-year old girl who enjoyed riding her new scooter around the apartment complex you lived in with your mother.

maddy middleton google searchEveryone will know every single thing he did to you.


what he did to her

You were a typical 8-year old girl who enjoyed riding your scooter.

motive for killing
I think the young man or “boy” who killed you knew exactly how people would react.

Now he is famous and everyone will know everything about him and what the neighbors thought, what his family thought, and the promise of his young life cut short.

You will always be a typical 8-year old girl who enjoyed riding her new scooter around the apartment complex you lived in with your mother.

From what little we can see, we can see your mom was an artist and that you lived with other artists in a community.

We can’t see any pictures or artwork that you did, Maddy. But I think you must have done. I think you must have made things, done things, touched others’ lives. I think you had many friends, and your family loved you, and you them, and you would have grown up to do wonderful things, Maddy.

All we can do is send our prayers and love and grief. And pray for a better world where those who enrich others’ lives are valued more than those who destroy them, and where there is no typical 8-year old girl. We pray for a world in which all children are precious, unique individuals.

American Genius

I’ve gotten a lot of insight from Temple Grandin. Toward the end of the filmed version of her life, she (portrayed by Clare Danes) tells a group of all-male, highly skeptical chain-smoking slaughterhouse owners why her humane system, which one comments is “like an airport for cows,” is an improvement over previous brute-force systems. “I – I’m like Edison or Tesla,” Temple says. “I see the way it will work. I can run through it all in my head.”

Temple GrandinAlthough we all eat safely today thanks to Temple’s human animal processing systems, and millions of children with autism and their families have gained inspiration and real-world skills thanks to Temple’s education and advocacy, she’s not an “American Genius” according to National Geographic. No woman or non-white person is. This show irritated me, but not enough to say anything about it until today.

There is a small Tumblr which allows safe, anonymous reports of gender-biased comments to women writers; it’s a fraction of the size of the “Shit People Say to Women Directors” film industry Tumblr which has helped to support the ACLU investigation into hiring practices in Hollywood. So, today the Tumblr about bad comments toward women writers has a 2-year old pandering post* by male internet celebrity writer Chuck Wendig, which pushed a legit Twitter meme started by Chocolat author Joanne Harris into second place. Because most of the readers of this Tumblr are female, fortunately yet more coverage provided to Wendig was *not* as heavily shared as Joanne’s project (4 notes to 19 last time I checked).

*Pandering Post: As my best friend Cathy always said, “When you live in crazyland, crazy seems normal.” So therefore the tradition of white males getting tons of attention by “sponsoring” complaints of females seemed “normal” to me, until about a year ago, I had just plain had enough. I don’t read them, I do not share them. Some exemplars of this genre include Jim Hines’ crusading for anti-sexual harassment policies and of course, Wendig’s extremely lengthy post of who knows how many reasons why women endure gender bias in publishing and how wrong guys who disagree are. Hundreds of comments, most from gushing females. There’s no links here because these “right-doers” (AKA attention whores) don’t need extra boosts. Now that I’m aware of this, I see these *everywhere*. For every legitimate statement by a female entrepreneur, woman in tech, or author, there’s at least 2-3 of these “pandering posts” or videos where a man gets attention for being “cool” and on the woman’s side. The magnitude of attention/”sharing” is always like 10:1 – 10 to the male/1 to any female. These men are nowhere to be found whenever actual work, money or real projects are under consideration.

I want to say Temple Grandin is lucky because she doesn’t care about this stuff. But Temple is acutely sensitive to injustice. Her filmed life story illustrates this over and over, as does her own autobiography. Once she figured out that people were biased against her, she persevered, using her own steady, persistent gifts and talents and plenty of creativity, to accomplish her goals.

As to me, I was born with a sense of injustice … to others. Poor treatment of others always resonated with me. It’s only taken 53 years for me to “get” poor treatment of my self.

So, back to the “American Geniuses.” I wrote about Maria Goeppert Mayer in my first appearance in Analog this past month. Maria is the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. She identified the structure of the atom itself. She worked on the Manhattan Project and many other critical atomic projects, often for free. She wouldn’t have been able to do as she’d done without the support of her husband Joe Mayer, an accomplished chemist. Joe lost at least one position (University of Chicago) for his support of his wife’s research.

As far as this “American Geniuses” show is concerned, Maria holds not a candle to “real geniuses” like Colt and Smith & Wesson, the firearms competitors, or media magnates like Hearst and Pulitzer. Out of the group of “geniuses,” probably only Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (competitors, LOL) and Edison and Tesla quality as actual geniuses who accomplished something positive for others. Maybe Philo Farnsworth. The rest are like Thank You For Smoking’s “Merchants of Death”.

People say Tesla was crazy, he was a monomaniac. Edison, like Temple Grandin, had a disability that made his interactions with others more limited (he was hearing impaired). Temple, of course, has autism and yes she’s like Edison and Tesla — yes she’s a genius! So again, even though she is objectively, verifiably one of the most influential, positive people of the 20th century, there are a fraction of the articles about Temple than there are about someone like Steve Jobs or … Chuck Wendig. No joke. But this 2012 article describes how her work to change slaughterhouses and animal treatment was a “long term project.”

If I may speak for myself, I have never cared about “being famous” or “attention.” I shy from it. I was thrilled to be able to operate the laptop at Comic-Con Thursday. If cameras come around, I will run.

But I know what we are doing is important. Temple would say “nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be” to explain why it was important to design human animal slaughter facilities. She explained her autism to others by saying she “thought in pictures.” She spoke simply and straightforwardly at all times.

So.

The Problem With Books

Everybody who’s rotating around the current publishing industry is smack dab in the middle of the 20 percent and that is the way they like it. Everything they say is devoted to supporting themselves: the same as Edison and J.P. Morgan were stone-committed to direct current before Morgan threw Edison under the bus. Neither saw a problem with DC being able to serve only wealthy urban dwellers, whereas crazed Tesla’s AC could serve everybody.

When I thought about people who exclusively read certain authors, or who only read certain types of books, and are very reluctant to deviate, I would picture Temple in her aunt’s house or college cafeteria, announcing, “I only eat jello and yogurt! I – I only eat jello and yogurt!” Well, these are “Temple-Type Readers,” I would think.

So, there are all those folks who didn’t get to attend a wonderful country boarding school like Temple did. Whose wonderful, humane, brave mothers did not have the privilege of graduating from Harvard. There’s all those folks who don’t have internet platforms, who are not James Altucher, who could write fifty fantastic articles and get less than 5 views on “Medium.” There’s all the people who don’t “know anybody.” There’s people serving time for crimes they didn’t do, or for crimes that should not be crimes at all. There’s people working jobs they hate just to put food on the table, and people who work 2-3 jobs for minimum wage who can’t put food on the table at all.

There are people who’ll never get a vacation. There are people who will never leave their home state. There are people who will quietly work and serve their whole lives long.

I think an awful lot of those people are “American Geniuses” too.

And they deserve books made for them. Books that affirm, instead of deny. Books that uplift, instead of downgrade.

I found my 45+ heroine in a bestseller/not a romance this morning: “Jack” Daniels. She’s a 48-year old pregnant detective trapped by a serial killer. The book opens with a “popular” serial killer who’s been featured in prior books murdering an innocent young woman with impunity and cruelty. He tells her he’ll “make her famous.” Instant best seller.

And people think more of this is the answer. It never crosses their minds that it’s not just like it would never cross Chuck Wendig’s mind that he’s actually being a giant douchebag by writing another of his long “splaining” articles. It’s like the cattle in Temple Grandin’s dip system. You can’t hang things on the walls. They will walk smoothly down the steps into the water. No chains or shadows to alarm them.

 

Thank You Librarian Cynthia Hurd

I don’t know if others had the same feelings as I did learning about the mass killings in Charleston this past week. When I heard it was a church, I thought “Oh, Lord, no.” I realized it had to have been a prayer meeting before reading any news reports. When I learned who was gunned down and what church it was, I thought, “What a devastating blow to all that is good.”

Poet Bill Mohr said it’s racism and says we should talk about it.

Yeah, it’s racism. What’s to say? When a mass killer slaughters black people who welcomed him into their church and says he wanted to start a race war, there’s no argument. Racism. The Beltway Sniper appeared to be gunning for white people from a distance and he took a young 17 year old boy with him. That was racism, too. Racism destroys. The Charleston killer’s family and friends bear responsibility and guilt because they were certainly aware this young man was talking about doing something outside the realm of humanity and did nothing to stop him. They are responsible the same as the Beltway Sniper John Allen Muhammad coached and mentored Lee Boyd Malvo to destroy others’ lives as well as his own.

Everybody wants to take the situation and turn it to their own purposes. Gun control advocates want to take others’ guns away, as if that will bring back the lives lost. Second Amendment advocates say that if the pastors had been packing, the killer, not they, would be 6 feet under right now.

librarian cynthia hurd

When I saw this picture and news story about one of the victims in Charleston, librarian Cynthia Hurd, I thought, “I know this lady.” My eyes filled with tears.

I’m crying as I type this. I will probably never be able to look at these pictures or think about her and the others without weeping.

I am a white woman. I was once a little white girl with not a very happy life and not too many people to turn to. And I was so, so lucky that I lived in a town that, like Charleston, had a wonderful library with wonderful people like Cynthia working in it. Cynthia “spent her life helping people, particularly helping them become educated,” her friend and library spokesperson Jamie Thomas said.

If I just look at what happened, a violent, at-best confused young man with nothing good going on in his life went into a place where everything good was gathered, and lashed out and destroyed it. Faith, hope, love, community … books, reading, education.

What people don’t realize, but which I saw manifested in these wonderful pictures of Cynthia Hurd and in the words of love, gratitude and thanks written by the families and parents who’d visited her library, is that no guns or bullets can take away what Cynthia did, how she lived and the many lives she touched.

Cynthia’s brother Malcolm said, “She was not a victim. She was a Christian. She was a soldier. She was a warrior. She was with her maker when she took her last breath. God bless our sister and this community.”

She was a librarian. It’s the commonly-held perception that black people do not read, or read less than, others. That’s not true. African-Americans have the highest rate of readership, almost 80 percent. She was the ultimate librarian, according to her brother. “She was always in someone’s business,” he said. “When she told a story, it went on and on and on because she included the research and all the footnotes.”

What I hear African-Americans saying is totally true. It hurts to say it, but if it were a “white” church with similar leaders gunned down, there would be hours and hours of eulogies and tributes. There would perhaps be a film in the works about Pastor Pinckney, who was also a state representative, or about Sharonda Singleton, speech therapist, coach and athlete. As it stands, Library Journal made a tribute to Cynthia Hurd, and the library where she worked will be named in honor of her memory.

I don’t have the power to do what I want to do for Cynthia. I didn’t “know her” but I absolutely did know her. She was everything her brother said and more. And – yes – there is a higher power. May these precious lives not be lost in vain.

Cannot Win for Losing: Sir Tim Hunt the SexGod

In 2001, UK scientist Tim Hunt won the Nobel Prize. On June 9, he blew off some steam at the World Conference of Science Journalists:

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.”

sexy sir tim huntNow, Sir Tim, knighted for his contributions to science in 2006, has resigned from his honorary position at University College London. He says he meant what he said – but he’s “awfully sorry” that he said it.

Professor Casil says he wouldn’t be in such trouble if he’d avoided the second person or “you.” What if he’d said, “Let me tell you [ok, since he’s talking to an audience] about MY trouble with girls. Three things happened to ME when women were in the lab. I fell in love with them, they also fell in love with ME, and when I criticized some women, they cried and that drove ME crazy.” This would be expressing his feelings. It’s not great overall since it says more about him than “women scientists,” but as he’s said, it’s honest.

If he’d said it that way, from a management or work perspective, he’d have admitted:

I might be a 70 year-old Nobel Prize winning biochemist, but while on the job, I can’t keep my pants zipped, I’m constantly on the lookout for new conquests – really, they can’t help falling for me – and my people skills stink to the point I make my co-workers cry.

Which, since he did NOT say it that way, brings me to my sisters!

#distractinglysexy female scientists burning up the labs with their hot outfits and provocative ways.

suit flatters curves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No clue how men can resist this type of hot outfit (duly noted her co-worker is showing some hot and hairy leg).

muffles my woman cries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is about the funniest Twitter meme ever. The Twitter sluts (male) are trying but the best humor comes out of truth.

fire distractingly sexy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just too …

Three Reasons Women’s Writing and Expression is Less Visible Than Men’s

The three reasons are: bodies, relationships/family (includes food and entertaining) and complaints. This article fits under the “complaint” category, by the way, with a bit of the only possible solution.

I just read a good article promoted on Medium this morning by Amanda Ann Klein. It was a touching story about Amanda’s skinny, confident 9-year old daughter who, worried about a tiny tummy, asked her mother if she looked fat. There’s nothing wrong with this writing, and certainly not with Amanda and her daughter. It was part of one of their curated publications called “Human Parts.”

After I read it, I “shared” it like a good girl and thought . . . .

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

Like I have not read something like this at least 5,000 times. Is there anyone on the planet who does not know that women and girls suffer due to body image? I could see this being adopted into entry-level English classes. I know nothing about Amanda beyond the article, but she fits in the “I write about women’s stuff” columnist category based on this one article alone. Women’s stuff writers like Anna Quindlen, who parlayed her career as a rhetorically-unsound NY Times and Newsweek columnist who nevertheless, said exactly what her readers wanted to hear (probably the top rhetorical technique to date) into a career as a high-end chick lit novelist. To Anna’s credit, her 2013 novel Still Life With Breadcrumbs features a 60-year old female protagonist who falls in love. That puts it in a category of, oh, about ONE such bestselling books (it’s got good reviews but there is no way such a character, of an age with the author herself, wouldn’t get a little backlash).

Still Life With Breadcrumbs

“Doesn’t the market dictate what sells?” (i.e. what is read by many?).

This was a valid question posed by one of Orange County’s wisest business coaches, Michael Sawitz.

People buy (or consume) what is offered to them.

If someone, man or woman, wishes to write for a living, they understandably, justifiably, give the buyer (or these days online – promoter) what they want.

And the purveyors, the publishers, have pre-conceived notions regarding what readers want.

From women: bodies, relationships, complaints.

From men: everything else.

I got into following Medium because of Craig Newmark. He wrote a short article about supporting military families and veterans and I thought “This is cool!” I am always interested in everything Craig has to say.

That’s the way the cool stuff at Medium is supposed to work. An “influencer” like Craig interests others and they go to consume the awesome stuff that’s provided on the service. Medium generally curates and sends crap out to bait you back to read more. They (and a s***-ton of others) are heavy into curating and pushing James Altucher. James, today, is writing about “The Six Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day.” James spices this type of content up with articles about his son, family, puckish humor, and party games like how to bait others into talking all about themselves while you, personally, disclose nothing. James is funny, smart, interesting, charming. What a hilarious game! I’ve played it on purpose too … but mostly, it’s easier for me and other women because most people assume there’s nothing to know about you beyond what they see up front (body), marriage and/or children (relationship) and they don’t care about any complaint you might have — much less an idea about something else.

Bodies, relationships, complaints.

Even a brilliant, accomplished, successful woman like Sheryl Sandberg offering solutions for women to escape this three-tiered cage faces big opposition.

Sheryl Sandberg Talk

Dozens of people in addition to me have shared with these persistent YouTube troglodytes that Sheryl does, in fact, have something to offer and does do something every day. (I follow this YouTube “discussion” and this dumb c*** was today’s addition). The prior classic was “Women are like an egg salad sandwich at a Texas picnic: appealing for only a short time and full of eggs that spoil fast.” The idiot who wrote that was inspired by the untimely death of Sheryl’s husband Dave Goldberg.

I don’t generally try to make a consistent race/ethnicity bias comparison and I “get” that people of color are uncomfortable with connecting race and gender. However, these days, I don’t see this type of commentary coming wholesale to male people of color. If someone made that type of comment on an African-American business leader’s TED Talk (not that there’s many of those, either …) there’d be no question what type of person would make such a comment and there wouldn’t be many such comments offered. The person would be called out for racism (justifiably). Decent men roll their eyes, but few of them call these people out as misogynists. If they do, they’re usually hit with a gay slur. “Misogynist” itself still has a type of charm and humor — i.e. crusty old guy with a secret “heart of gold” who once upon a time, may have been played by Walter Matthau.

I was supposed to moderate a panel about helping young girls overcome the “Gender Confidence Gap” at BayCon. On this panel with me were a top scientist and professor, Heidi Stauffer, one of the most-successful African-American female TV/film producers, Deborah Pratt, Kyle Aisteach, who coordinated education programs for NASA, and Emily Jiang, who is writing books for diverse young people.

We got to sit on the dance stage from the night before and had room for maybe 25 seats, half-filled. The theme of this convention was “Women of Wonder.” There were amazing displays throughout the hotel of women who’d excelled in various fields. I spotted Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who is to this day, the second of only two women who’ve won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Maria worked on most of the critical atomic research projects of the 20th Century, mostly as a volunteer. She taught for a stipend or for free for most of her career and when she won the prize, the San Diego newspaper headline was “San Diego Mom Wins Nobel Prize.” Her husband Joe, a chemist, was fired from the University of Chicago because he supported his wife’s scientific work. I was required to pull down a 1987 article by a grad student from Physics to verify this information. The article I’ve written that includes Maria and her husband Joe, among others, will appear in an upcoming issue of Analog Magazine.

That was then – Maria’s prize came in 1963.

This is now. If I want to be super-famous and successful, published by Random House with NY Times Bestsellers like Anna Quindlen, or be featured in Medium like Amanda Ann Klein, I need to stop my persistent bad activities and write about . . .

Bodies, relationships, complaints.

As I think I mentioned at this crazy panel about “Overcoming the Gender Confidence Gap” – to the one gorgeous young woman in the small audience: be who you are. Believe in yourself. Do what gives you joy. Just do it.

I did not say: stop worrying about your body, build honest, good relationships with your family and friends, stop complaining and start doing. But I will say that now. It’s the only way. Just ask Sheryl Sandberg or if we could, ask San Diego mom Maria Goeppert Mayer.

Baycon 2015 “Women of Wonder” Schedule

Bruce and I will be at Baycon this coming weekend in Santa Clara. The theme of this year’s con is “Women of Wonder” and there are some fantastic guests, including the amazing Winner Twins, whom we met at the Writers of the Future event in April.

I want to say “thank you” in advance to the amazing con committee, and programming led by co-chairs SallyRose Robinson and Kathleen McDowell. I’m blown away – because SallyRose and Kathleen assigned me to moderate two panels where I actually have some expertise and ability to contribute to the event! Also will be reading with my awesome friends Marie Brennan and Maya Bohnhoff and a new friend I will be very glad to meet at Baycon, Laurel Anne Hill. This’ll be my story about the lady scientist and the howler monkeys. Oh My! Baycon 2015

 1. DIY Biohacking: The Next Maker Movement? on Friday at 1:30 PM in Cypress
    (with Edward Kukla) – have to bone up on this one … been a bit since I was writing about it. But those Russians! Dang!

    40 years ago, hobbyists kicked off the personal computer revolution with low-cost kits they could order by mail. In the past few years a similar shift has started in biology, where hobbyists have figured out how to build biotech equipment at 1/10th to 1/1000th of the previous cost. Why is biohacking so interesting, and what are these DIYers creating in their garages, hackerspaces, and startups?

 2. Themed Reading: Women’s Work on Friday at 3:00 PM in Stevens Creek
    (with Laurel Anne Hill , Marie Brennan, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff)

    In honor of the Bicentennial of Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, hear authors read from stories about women that have jobs in a STEM (science, technical, engineering, and math) field. 

I’ll be reading from “The Gods Men Don’t See” from Mad Science Cafe.

 3. Closing the Gender Confidence Gap on Saturday at 10:00 AM in Lawrence
    [You are moderating.]
    (with Emily Jiang, Kyle Aisteach, Deborah M. Pratt, Heidi L Stauffer)

    Why are women less likely than men to tout themselves when a promotion opens up? Is it due to facts like parents and teachers interrupt or talk over girls twice as often as they do with boys? What can we do to reinforce confidence in young girls and help them overcome the “imposter syndrome” as an adult? Our panelists discuss how parents and people who work with kids can monitor and alter their own behavior so that they aren’t blocking the development of self-confidence in girls.

 4. The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters on Saturday at 11:30 AM in Camino Real
    (with Deirdre Saoirse Moen, Kate Secor, Randy Smith (M), James Stanley Daugherty)

    This year’s Hugo nominations certainly have fandom talking. Is this just another periodic “all fandom is plunged into war” outbreak, or are there serious systemic issues to address?

 5. When Is a Book Not a Book? Alternative Storytelling Media on Sunday at 11:30 AM in Lafayette
    [You are moderating.]
    (with M.Christian, Margaret Dunlap, Beth Barany)

    Advancements in technology and digital publishing are expanding the boundaries of what we consider a “book”. Our panelists discuss some alternative formats, including audiobooks, podcasts, enhanced apps, and motion books.

 6. Marketing & Branding for the Author on Sunday at 4:00 PM in Bayshore
    (with Emily Jiang (M), Emerian Rich, Beth Barany, Sinead Toolis)

    Authors wanting to give up their day job and write full-time need to grapple with the challenge of cutting through the clutter of competing book titles. Hear the panelists dicuss tips and strategies on promoting your writing to your potential audience, and on how building the right identity can attract readers to your work.*

*Just because – now I’m a publisher and don’t have to worry about this any more.