TBR Priority Rating: 7/10(Read Soon)
As a part of my #diverseathon reads, I picked up one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 in The Geek Feminist Revolution. It was a few years ago now that I started to read a little bit from Kameron Hurley’s website. I didn’t visit the site every day but when people linked about it on forums or twitter, I checked it out. I was impressed with Hurley’s honesty and transparency when it comes to feminist issues and the publishing world. When I found out she was writing a book based on her blog posts over the years, I knew it was going to be something I wanted to read.
Gathering essays together has been a practice for years when it comes to putting together a book of essays. I don’t really understand the criticism against putting together some edited blog posts. I guess just because the blog posts were public already makes this seem like a “lazy” endeavor. I definitely disagree with this logic because usually essays are extremely personal and you can edit them to make them sound better. When you do that with blog posts, you can’t change what you say, or how you say it. Hurley herself talked about saying some things when she was a newer writer that rubbed people in the publishing business the wrong way. She is loud and vocal about the things she believes. It could have been easy for her to push aside all the posts she made over the years into the archive but she decided to bring them all back out. That is an incredibly brave thing to do, especially in a business where what other professionals think of you has a lot to do with your success.
As a rather introspected guy reading this book, I had to really keep my self-loathing in check. There are so many things about how American culture views women that I have done when I was younger, and even now, that Hurley brings this to my attention in a “kick my butt” kind of way. What was really important to me, though, is that she made it perfectly clear that her own thinking was subject to the same culture biases. This was comforting to know because it is easy to feel like you should crawl into a hole and never talk to a woman again, but Hurley isn’t there to condemn the reader but to say, “yeah, let’s fix this together.”
This book covers a lot of information about Hurley’s own writing and can be taken as her own biography in a way. Reading about her struggles as an author while trying to write things she was proud of having written was great. She tries really hard to be as inclusive to as many types of people as she possibly can in her writing but it was nice to see her admit when she makes a mistake too. This, admitting your mistakes, and apologize, was a large theme in the book that covered everything from the SFF community, media, and social media interactions. Also, as a fellow historian, I really liked that Hurley pulled many examples from history to back up her claims. Reading essays about women’s roles in wartime was much easier when you know that Hurley has a master’s degree in the subject.
I think the three essays that impacted me the most were “In Defense of Unlikable Women,” that really opened my eyes to how I look at female characters in fiction, “Dear SFWA Writers: Let’s Chat About Censorship and Bullying,” that made me realize how much more women have to hold their tongue than men in a workplace environment with harassment happening, and, “Rage Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum,” because I need to be more empathetic towards women that get upset on the internet because it is probably one of a hundred things that happened before it that made what they are talking about upsetting. I had a hard time just picking out three essays I liked the most because they all were really solid. One criticism with this is that I am having a hard time remembering specific talking points in particular essays. I had to flip through the book for the past 15 minutes to even get those three I mentioned above.
I really liked this collection of essays but I must admit, that I’m unsure if I like Kameron Hurley or not. While reading this collection, I was trying to figure out if Hurley is someone I would be friends with. Honestly, I think that the very culture that Hurley fights against in this book is still influencing the way I think about loud, vocal women that swear a lot about social injustices. Intellectually it is relatively easy to agree with everything she says but on a purely emotional level, I can’t help but feel a little bit of animosity. Granted, I don’t like loud vocal men that swear a lot either but I can tell that there is a twinge of something else there too because she is a woman. This is something I really need to work on because it isn’t right and can really influence my daily life. The best thing I can do is continue to read more feminist materials and grow as a person. Hopefully, as I keep thinking about the great points that Hurley brought up in this book and other women in other books, I can move on from this weirdly prejudiced feeling that I don’t like, and truly be a real friend to a woman that is loud and vocal about feminist topics.
4/5 – definitely rereadable