Fashion Is A Foreign Language

No fewer than three people alerted me to this article. A spider dress is of course a neat idea, but far from the only exciting fashion thing happening in the world today (Sonia Rykiel’s Pre-Fall 2013 collection, anyone?) Yet this is the only thing my friends on the geekier side noted – it was on io9, but the interesting thing here is really the whole geeks and fashion interaction.

Sure, there is the SF/tech aspect to the spider dress, and this is obvious. But besides the clearly techy things, nerd fashion statements do veer decidedly into less-than-subtle territory – behold the preponderance of corsets. And historical garb. And basically every fashion statement is a dress-up, clearly delineated from the daily uniforms of jeans and tees.

Part of it is probably because fashion is still at its root perceived as deeply feminine, and geeks are notorious for despising al things traditionally feminine – from the cult of technology to women often trying to be “one of the guys” (of which I wrote before, like here); in that regard they are not different from the rest of the society, but traditionally feminine women are often less visible in geekdoms, and I won’t even start on the whole “fake nerd girl” thing because ugh. There is also of course contempt for the mainstream, and fashion is a very mainstream form of non-verbal communication. So out of this confluence, we get a group of people who are not simply uninterested in fashion but contemptuous of it.

And then there is another thing: “social ineptness”, at least self-professed, is almost a point of pride or at least identity in much of geek culture (just how many times the whole “But geeks are socially inept! He was just flirting!” thing gets trotted out during various con sexual harassment dust-ups?) Attempting to be an isolated culture, mainstream language (verbal and not; I was actually called a “mundane” at my first World fantasy Con, which was funny) is treated as an imposition, and people just can’t be bothered with mundane rules and communication etc. Yet, they do recognize the importance of communication – but most are not particularly fluent in many of its forms.

Fashion is such a language – many geeks don’t speak it, yet they need some of its tools. And trying to speak a language one is not fluent in of course ensures that there is no subtlety in it. “Sexy” becomes corsets – as exaggerated a statement as one can make, while a subtle statement to the same effect could involve a lace collar peeking from under a masculine jacket. Fashion statements become the loud and the obvious, because it is impossible to speak the language you don’t know with any finesse. Even gender-identity related fannish events, which could be an interesting exploration of gender presentation, often end up as a bunch of men in dresses and women in badly fitted suits borrowed from male relatives – that is, campy cross-dressing using the most obvious markers of binary gender, instead of a range of gender identities and accompanying presentations. The commentary on fluidity of gender and androgynous dressing is, ironically, much more nuanced and interesting in actual fashion magazines (see here, here and here.)

One can of course argue that all sorts of costuming are ways of dressing up without looking like you’re taking any of this seriously – personally, I never liked costuming and find RenFaires puzzling; but I can see how for people who reject mainstream fashion, costuming can be a way of playing with clothes without looking like they’re buying into the cultural narrative. It does however serve a function different from the everyday dressing, which is about communicating with other people. Costuming is kind of the opposite of that – a refusal to enter a conversation, an attempt to delineate that you are not interested in talking to anyone in this century or this reality. I am however mostly intrigued by dressing as communication – and this is where many geeks have to resort to over-the-top gestures in order to be understood. So corsets, which are a fashion staple at many cons are just that – an attempt to speak in a foreign language. Whatever sense of the empowerment experienced by the wearer likely comes from the realization that they are communicating rather than any inherent power of sexy dressing.

I am of course not arguing that geekdom should immediately transform itself into a buffet of fashion plates – merely, that realizing that dressing is a form of communication is worthwhile, and recognizing the common signifiers could be a way of exerting control over this communication. And as cool as spider dresses are, mastering another language is pretty amazing too.

Happy New Year, Internet!

Year in review: three anthologies and one short story collection, with a few shorts published here and there (Asimov’s, ZvR, The Future Is Japanese IIRC). Wonderful trip to BVI’s Scrub Island, with tons of snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. A great trip to Moscow, tinged with sadness, since this is when my father was ill. He is however spectacularly better, and this is something that made me so grateful. Also am grateful for well-being of my friend Tait, and for the chance to see Jason, Molly, and Jesse in person.

Work has been busy but rewarding, with added responsibilities and corresponding lack of time for other stuff. I did manage to add spinning to my usual gym routine, and lifting progressed nicely, to routine benches of 115 lbs.

I am glad I was able to keep up my fashion blogging, not the least because I was able to appreciate (and wear!) pieces by Van Hongo , Ella Lai Fung Kwann, Fyodor Vozianov, Ksenia Schneider and Viktor Luna (thank god for sample sales.) I hope to continue ditching clothes produced using dubious labor practices in favor of independent designers.

(Me in my Vozianov jacket. Photo by JR Blackwell).

I rarely talk about my home life here, but this October Chris and I celebrated our 13th anniversary (and 15th anniversary of being together), and I am happy to report that we still like each other and enjoy each other’s company — the recent vacation made it especially clear. It’s nice when your spouse is also your favorite person to hang out with. And occasionally climb huge rocks and kayak.

(Chris and I at the Baths, the famous location at Virgin Gorda, BVI)

Links a la Mode

See the pattern there? I really need to start posting more! 

”

A New Way of Thinking

Edited By Taylor Davies

I called this round up “A New Way of Thinking” because I truly read some remarkable blog posts this week. More than personal style and shopping guides (though I love and included some of those, too), there were heart-felt truths about our community’s lives, as well as success stories that really inspire. After spending some time reading a few of the below posts, I am feeling and thinking differently about a few things – from Nordstrom to online shopping to our obsession with shoes and perceptions of Asian fashion. And that’s just the beginning. Take a moment to really appriciate this week’s round up, it’s worth it. Thank you so much to all of our brave and creative contributors!

 

LINKS À LA MODE: THE IFB WEEKLY ROUND UP: DECEMBER 6TH

 

 

 

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If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE where you see “Links a la mode next week’s date (official).” The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a la Mode widget on the right side of the blog, and will be published later today. ~ Jennine

 

On Shoes

A few days ago, I posted a picture of a shoe on my Facebook. In fact, it was this one, from the Givenchy resort collection that just landed at Barney’s New York:

And one of my good friends finally posted a question that has been on minds on many many men and probably almost as many women ever since Carrie Bradshaw hammed her way into the public consciousness with her exaggerated shoe worship (and I am paraphrasing here): “What’s with the whole shoe situation?”

There is of course more than one shoe situation: first, there’s the aforementioned Carrie Bradshaw corporate sponsored nightmare of assuming that women react to shoes with irrational and universal lust, which is largely nonsense. And demeaning nonsense at that: blowing one’s mortgage money on shoes is not endearing; I would go as far as argue that normalizing such irresponsible spending with “Oh, women and their shoes” and a shrug is actively damaging, since women as a group are still largely financially disadvantaged (I would not blame it all on Alejandro Ingelmo though.)

Secondly, there’s the fact that shopping for shoes is largely free of body anxiety associated with clothes shopping. Unless there’s pregnancy, a woman’s shoe size is likely to stay constant through the aging, weight gain, and other anguish-producing milestones. So I can certainly understand why in the world where women’s value is measured by their looks and youth, and they’re likely to be rewarded for “making an effort” (as opposed to “letting themselves go”) — such effort often measured in attempts to decorate themselves, as evidenced by shopping — why shopping for shoes would be seen as both compliant to the societal demands and yet offering an escape from their pressure. Which leads us directly to the third thing!

Third, there’s the whole footwear as a shorthand for feminist leanings and shoes as a marker of patriarchal dominance angle. Heels often come under attack as a modern form of foot binding and are seen as incapacitating a woman (but how will she run if she’s attacked? No questions are asked about WHY do we assume that a woman would be attacked and what we should be doing to prevent that. Encouraging men to not be rapists somehow seems like a better solution than a flat shoe).

But of course heels may and do change the visual proportions of the body — they make the lower portion of the leg relatively longer, which makes for a more esthetically pleasing proportion; yes, there are evolutionary reasons for that! They also improve one’s posture. But apart from all the esthetic aspects, for individuals like me (5’4″) they do offer a physical boost. It is important since in my daily life I often interact with men who commonly attempt subtle intimidation by standing close and towering. Extra 4 inches lets me look at them face to face rather than looking up — a significant advantage for not looking submissive.

Fourth, pure esthetics: well-made, well-designed shoes have 3D, architectural appeal. Pleasing proportions usually follow the basic esthetic principles of golden ratio and balanced appearance. An element of surprise is also welcome — hence the ever-lasting joy of McQueen’s armadillo shoes:

and Nina Ricci’s heelless shoes:

Even with less esoteric pairs, shoes and bags are usually outfit parts that one can take color and textural risks with, without quite going to the extremes pictured above. Most of my wardrobe is neutral, in ivory, camel, grey and black, so shoes are a good way to introduce color, interesting texture, and an occasional weird shape.

And finally, fashion is art, and shoes are a part of it — the 3D, sculptural, textural part. But unlike other kinds of art, like say traditional painting and sculpture, I think fashion is 1) art that women were not only allowed to participate in but encouraged, to make themselves into ornamental objects and 2) straight men had no interest in it and thus women and gay men were allowed to have this space as all their own. I have written about this extensively, but in my own life I find that my interest in fashion has evolved from interest in labor movement to an exploration of fashion as social signifier, and now it seems to be grading into the territory of re-appropriating the traditionally feminine — since all too often the reaction to being an oppressed class is to cast off the markers of it and instead adopt the signifiers of the oppressor.

And all of this — re-appropriation of the feminine and appropriation of the masculine, that focus on ornamentation as both rejection and affection for the history of oppression and a road for escaping it quickly becomes subversive. For example, Victorian corsets that are often cited as instruments of oppression were commonly used to induce abortions — that is, the instrument of oppression became the instrument of liberation. Surely we can do it with heels? Surely instead of running from assailants we can make them into weapons? They don’t call them stilettos for nothing…

Edith Wharton and the Vogue controversy

Let’s get a few things out of the way: I read Vogue and I am a woman writer. So I actually saw the Edith Wharton editorial before the Slate article, enjoyed it, and was not particularly annoyed to see Vodianova play Wharton. After all, Vogue is a fashion magazine, and the purpose of any photoshoot, no matter how educational or accompanied by fascinating articles, is to showcase clothes. This is what models do! If it was an article on Wharton, I of course would expect it to be illustrated by pictures of Wharton herself, but: fashion editorial.

I will agree that a lady writer or two in the background (and male writers were decidedly props, with more emotive parts given to pro actors) would’ve been nice, but seeing how the article and the editorial focused on Wharton’s romantic life I understand. So when I’m usually among the first to cry shenanigans, this editorial (and this issue of Vogue in particular) seems like a piss-poor tree to bark at: after all, it’s not like Wharton’s inner circle teemed with women. Most of her visitors, friends, and interests were men. Were she not quite such a queen bee, the ire would’ve been much more justified.

For whatever reason, among many feminists who don’t actually read lady mags, there is this persistent image of Vogue as a snobbier version of Cosmo. I am here to tell you though that Vogue almost never prints articles on weight loss (although exercise and weight gain have been featured), sex, getting a man, getting a man to like you, things to do in bed, or flattering dressing. It did however ran the following in the same September issue: a profile of Lady Gaga focusing on the business and creative side of her career, a thoughtful article on Chelsea Clinton and her academic career, an autobiographical article by Lyn Yaeger about her face blindness, a feature on Mickalene Thomas’ preparation for her first solo museum show, virtual fitness tools, an article about Somalian model Uban Hassan and her work in Africa, a look at Miuccia Prada’s work on Great Gatsby costumes, and many many other great things — fashion sure, but also politics, art, books, as well as features on Vogue’s own editors (mostly women, including Grace Coddington who did the Wharton editorial). Most of those feature women or are written by women or both, including my favorite piece, “The Sense of an Ending” by Ann Patchett, exploring the heartbreaking process of losing a dog.

“I was a childless woman in my late 40s who, despite my enormous love for Rose, had never mistaken her for a baby and did not do so now, when I was pushing her in a stroller. If my neighbors found my behavior to be worthy of discussion, so be it. My dog was happy.”

If you can, read the whole thing. It will break your heart and it is beautiful. Most of all though, I dare you to find another popular periodical that represents a greater variety of female viewpoints and experiences, that doesn’t shove the patriarchal paradigm at its readers, and that — most importantly! — publishes as many prominent women writers and journalists.

So on balance, I feel that sure, if Grace Coddington included a lady writer in one of the Wharton tableaus, that would’ve been welcome. But given a choice, I’d much rather Vogue continues to publish women rather than make them into eye candy. Call me mercenary, but I’ll take a paycheck over a glamour shot any day.

Izumi Hongo, 2012 Collections

Izumi Hongo’s brand, Van Hongo, continues to amaze. I am terribly late in talking about Spring/Summer 2012 collection (and let’s be honest here, I’m so much more in love with Fall and Winter clothing), but better late than never. Previous reviews can be found here and here.

First, the summer and spring clothing of Intimate Luncheon look both lightweight and substantial due to clever use of texture — something Hongo definitely excels at. From photographs alone, one can recognize heavy silks, textured linens, and chiffons juxtaposed with denser, draped fabrics.

The palette is heavy in creams, greys, and acid yellows and greens — something Hongo gravitates to. This collection seems especially pared down in color and the silhouettes are also tending to more classically feminine — shifts, crossover tops, floaty skirts predominate, with an occasional tapered trouser thrown in. It of course fits the name: with all Hongo’s collections, a name alone strikes you as fanciful, but then you look at clothes and go, “of course”. “Luncheon” evokes the image of traditional femininity, ladylike and classic; the intimate part strips away the formality — pearls and hats and gloves, leaving simplicity clad in contrasting textures, familiar and yet delightfully new.

A/W collection, Recording Room, is as similar to her previous Salonniere as it is different — the palette of purples and mustards is familiar, as well as pleated trousers and spiderwebby knits. However, she also shows more simplicity in shapes and textures: no more velvet or kite-back shirts, but again the simple silhouettes. The most noteworthy addition perhaps are the simple, long sleeved shifts, straight and basic, devoid of any elaborations but the exquisite, cashmere-like drape.

There are some flourishes on a few of the pieces — a scattering of sparkle against the inky-violet dress or a blouse, an occasional origami pleat on a skirt — but those too read as restrained. There are exquisitely cut coats that evoke Jil Sander with its luxurious minimalism, and woolen, snuggly pleated skirts. And of course, there is a piano pictured in some of the lookbook shots — it is, after all, a recording room.

The connection in this one is perhaps more oblique than in Intimate Luncheon — but the sense of melancholy, of the autumn sun struggling to come through the wooden slats of the walls and bursting in through the cracked door is fitting perfectly with the artist’s wardrobe; or rather, a fantasy about the artist, a stylized tableau meant to evoke an ideal, an ur-musician of many daydreams. Her clothes are luxurious and interesting all at once. The interest, as always, is generated primarily by textures, and I am glad to see so many simplified cuts that still fully embody Hongo’s esthetic. And yet there are still enough architecture in these minimal pieces to make them true standouts. Just look at the long knits, not quite cloaks, not quite shawls, or at the carefully crumpled button up shirt.

So yeah, still waiting for the day these will show up in my local boutiques. For now I will have to write gushy reviews.

Today in Moral Panic

(Photo credit: www.zara.com, Zara Woman campaign featuring Freja Beha Erichsen)

So a number of news outlets ran a story about Zara — a fast fashion chain, who is apparently not doing as well in the US as the rest of the world due to the fact that their sizes run small. That part itself isn’t particularly controversial — I am not a big Zara shopper, as I tend to avoid fast fashion in general, but occasionally I am tempted to try on an especially trendy jacket (haven’t bought anything yet), and I know their sizes are actually the same as most designer versions (which tend to be almost aggressively anti-vanity sized). But compared to Gap, Banana Republic, JCrew these sizes do run small. Or, if you prefer, Gap etc have fallen victim to “vanity sizing”.

I find the term “vanity sizing” very curious — it seems to place the responsibility on the wearer rather than a manufacturer. As if it was the wearers who demanded that the manufacturers redefine their sizes to assuage their egos. This is of course not the case — women for one didn’t decide that they need to fit into the smallest size possible in a cultural vacuum. The media is saturated with references to acceptable sizes for women — size eight, four, zero have all been touted as THE size every woman should fit into or at least get as close as possible to be socially acceptable. Without those 8s, 4s and 0s referring to a real thing (like, say, a specific measurement in inches) what is to stop the manufacturer from shifting those sizes to sell more units to women, basically luring them with promises of social acceptability IF THEY BUY THIS DRESS? Nothing, of course, and it is not the wearers and the buyers who are to blame — it is the unrelenting pressure from the society and the basic tenet of capitalist economy: dissatisfaction will keep us buying. But yes, we still blame the victims. NB: and of course since there isn’t a TRUE size 0, 2, 4 etc, since sizes are arbitrary anyway, so the whole “vanity” thing is a bit of red herring. But I’ll roll with it anyway.

(Of course if it was indeed the issue with people getting bigger, the sane response to it is not to redefine the existing sizes but rather add more clothes at the larger end, and extend the sizing as necessary. But now many stores are not carrying anything over the size 16; plus-sized departments are often depressing, ghastly places populated by juvenile ruffles, sassy t-shirts, and potato sacks. Although this is changing, attractive larger clothes are still hard to find, and plus-sizes are still segregated. And we are forced to conclude that vanity sizing is not the result of the manufacturers trying to accommodate a larger customer but rather to sell more crap by peddling illusion of social acceptance).

The victim blaming, hand-wringing and pearl-clutching get fascinating in comments to those Zara articles. It is perhaps best exemplified by the following comment: “Vanity sizing is partially responsible for the obesity problem in America. If a women buys a dress and the tag says she is a size 6 when she is really a size10, then she feels her body and weight are just fine because she is fitting into a size 6.”

Yes, people. Vanity sizing is killing us all because apparently there are fat people among us who don’t realize how truly fat they are (hint: there are not a single fat woman in the Western world who doesn’t know she is fat. We remind them daily.)

Then there is an issue of morality, again. You see, Zara is a business, and their sizing is not a moral choice but a business one: do they need to extend their sizes (which, by the way, is different than vanity sizing — they can keep the existing sizing scheme but simply carry additional larger sizes) to accommodate customers who would be happy to give them money if they could find clothes that fit? Many commenters don’t think so. They approach it as a moral issue (you don’t deserve these clothes!):

“Americans need to lose weight…period! I am 5’7″ and weigh 115. I am a zero in vanity sizes at stores like Banana Republic, or Old Navy. At Zara and H&M, I am a 4! If these stores change their sizing, they will need to make xxxs to accommodate the leaner individuals, such as myself! I say, keep the sizing chart as it is Zara! If fat Americans don’t like it, tell them to eat a salad:)”

Zara should apparently just fail financially to make a point. Not to mention, that I wonder if people who are sized out of Zara are truly the ones who are seriously overweight. Most people who shop at plus-size stores are unlikely to set foot in Zara and such retailers (and if they did, they would likely be hustled out of the doors by salespeople.) But that of course is besides the point; I do find it interesting however that to many people accommodating larger sizes seems to mean discontinuing the smaller ones, which of course it doesn’t have to, not to mention catering to the rampant self-indulgence.

So on balance, it seems to me that complaints about vanity sizing are just a form of concern-trolling (but how will fat people know they’re fat? This ignorance might kill them!!!) Because really, everyone deserves flattering and well-made clothes that make them happy. The manufacturers are of course free to define their customer base; they are free to shoot themselves in a foot if they are so inclined. But let’s not pretend that their decisions are at any point driven by morality — even when they should be, like when they use our anxiety to sell us crap.

Kate Upton Vs The New Ascetics

(Kate Upton for Vogue, 2012)

Remember the internet dust-up a few weeks ago, when SkinnyGossip published an article titled “Kate Upton is Well-Marbled”? There was much to do about that particular piece — people arguing that Upton is thin vs people defending their life choices of living in a restricted-calorie state and “preference” for a thin look. While I think it might be important to mention that this argument rather misses the point and that perhaps we shouldn’t treat women’s bodies as public property, to comment on and to criticize, this is not what I’m on about today.

I want to talk about the role eating disorders are currently fulfilling in our spiritual landscape, and how that role may explain the hatred directed at Kate Upton. SkinnyGossip is of course a thinspo site, their disclaimers warning away individuals with eating disorders notwithstanding. Women on that site have their high weight, current weight, and goal weight in their signatures; goal weight for many of them who are 5’8″ or taller is under 100 pounds. The quotes in their signatures are chilling: “I have not eaten yesterday and I will not eat tomorrow” made me do a double take. And they all focus their vitriol on Kate Upton for being fat, while her defenders argue that she is not. This is of course not about fatness but rather about someone who has publicly eaten food and is not sorry about it.

What went unremarked upon during this whole thins is something that is rarely mentioned in such debates: regardless of what fashion magazines may or may not promote, regardless of the societal pressure on women to conform to the (currently very thin) ideal, they do not make eating disorders happen. Stopping eating is difficult, refusing food on a regular basis is so much against every human instinct that most of us are not capable of it — it’s kind of like holding your breath until you suffocate. So anorexia is not a behavioral choice so much as it is a disease. Moreover, anorexia is an old disease, dating to long before fashion magazines. Self-denial of food, has been traditionally linked to religious mysticism, and by extension — virtue. It is a form of extreme-self control that usually serves a purpose in an individual’s psychological landscape far beyond mere vanity. It fulfills a deep need — usually for control, but whatever it is, it is driven by much more than simple will.

So my sense is that the thinspo community is lashing out at Kate Upton not because of her violation of our notion of beauty, but rather because of the perceived violence she does to morality and virtue. Consider for example this comment from a SkinnyGossip forum user: “She´s “relatable” for girls as well, since her body type isn´t hard to achieve, nothing to look up to. No need for discipline, dedication, workout, restricting.” It is a remarkably revealing sentiment — illuminating the idea that success in modeling should be deserved via sacrifice. You see, a modeling career in this world is elevated to a mystical status akin to a monk’s achievement of spiritual enlightenment through a fast in a desert. If another monk achieves the same state via hanging out on a couch eating bags of Twizzlers, I bet all the other ascetics will side-eye him like whoa.

Upton is disliked because she supposedly bypassed the self-flagellation route and attained success (=spiritual enlightenment) and is thus a cheat, rightfully despised by those dutifully sacrificing and restricting. The proof of her moral failures is well-documented in her campaign for Carl’s Jr:

See? She is eating fatty foods, and yet she is walking the enviable runways and booking photoshoots in Vogue — right after everyone under the sun said that she is not high fashion and just commercial, that the only people who like her have no taste. She is a failed model — because models are the new mystics, whose power can only be achieved through self denial and rigorous flagellation… I mean, exercise. And yet, somehow, mysteriously and annoyingly, she is successful. Thus, the judgment passed on her is not the one of vanity but that of moral failure — and this is why it is so harsh. Her crime is not being fat but rather being successful despite the lack of corresponding self-denial.

So on balance, I really do feel bad for Upton’s critics. Thinspo sites exist for those with eating disorders to come together and feed each other’s delusions, to reassure each other that they have chosen the right path – the only path to spiritual salvation, even though (especially since) it can lead to physical destruction. After all, bodily sacrifice is acceptable on a spiritual quest. What however is not acceptable is the living proof that the purpose of the quest is ultimately hollow. This is when we band together and deride the person who so rudely pointed that out: after all, they do not deserve their good fortune, those cheats and gluttons and sloths. It is only for the virtuous — the ones who wear their commitment on their 30 inch hips.

Or, in the immortal words of Emily Blunt from “The Devil Wears Prada”, “You don’t deserve [these clothes], you eat carbs!”

That Readercon Thing

By now, most of you have heard about what happened: Genevieve Valentine, an excellent and accomplished writer, was stalked and harassed at this year’s Readercon. As soon as she went public with her story, it turned out that the man is a serial harasser/stalker. Readercon has an official zero-tolerance harassment policy; Genevieve notified the con and provided information about people who witnessed her harassment and had experienced harassment from the person in question (one Rene Walling, who is apparently a big name fan).

Readercon “banned” him for two years — a mere formality, obviously — and is now revising their policy. Here’s the statement from the (predominantly male) board.

So the things to take away from all this:

1) We privilege male-driven redemption narrative over women’s need for safety. (NB: His apology was sincere, according to the board. Apology was also the method he used to stalk Valentine. He’s good at apologizing!)

2) We privilege a clever serial harasser who can say he is sorry over someone who, by the board’s definition is “clueless”. Socially awkward=ban him! Sociopaths are okay though!

3) Cons are places where professional writers often go for job-related purposes — book promotion, networking, publicity. We are there to work. Allowing harassment at cons is JUST ONE MORE BARRIER for women writers to deal with. No male writer had to ever sit around and think, “do I choose promo or safety”? (Disclaimer: I rarely go to cons, and there certainly is a penalty for not being seen in person. There’s so much one can do online. I made my choices; I hate to think how many women writers do not make these choices freely.)

4) Women are harassed a lot. The board doesn’t seem to understand how vital it is to make cons safe spaces for all members. Accommodating a harasser is not being inclusive, it is endangering multiple other members.

5) Readercon is one of the very few cons I occasionally attend. No longer. This is the sentiment that has been expressed by many others. I hope that Readercon will respond to the drop in attendance, bad publicity, and threat of reduced pro presence; however, it would’ve been so much nicer if they just responded to the initial complaint, substantiating reports, and enforced their own policy without the need to reassure the harasser.

Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top

So finally I turned in the manuscript for my reprint anthology, CIRCUS: FANTASY UNDER THE BIG TOP. Many thanks to everyone who suggested reprints — your help certainly pointed me to a number of stories I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and the book is better for it. Now, for the good stuff, cover and table of contents:

CIRCUS: FANTASY UNDER THE BIG TOP Table of Contents
Introduction
“Something About a Death, Something About a Fire” Peter Straub
“Smoke & Mirrors” Amanda Downum
“Calliope: A Steam Romance” Andrew J McKiernan
“Welcome to the Greatest Show in the Universe” Deborah Walker
“Vanishing Act” E. Catherine Tobler
“Quin’s Shanghai Circus” Jeff VanderMeer
“Scream Angel” Douglas Smith
“The Vostrasovitch Clockwork Animal and Traveling Forest Show at the End of the World” Jessica Reisman
“Study, for Solo Piano” Genevieve Valentine
“Making My Entrance Again with My Usual Flair” Ken Scholes
“The Quest” Barry B. Longyear
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” Kij Johnson
“Courting the Queen of Sheba” Amanda C. Davis
“Circus Circus” Eric Witchey
“Phantasy Moste Grotesk” Felicity Dowker
“Learning to Leave” Christopher Barzak
“Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus” Neal Barrett Jr
“The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue” Holly Black
“Manipulating Paper Birds” Cate Gardner
“Winter Quarters” Howard Waldrop