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branchandroot: Hatsuharu looking pissed (Haru black)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Normally, you know, I scoff at the people who respond to any variation of "you depicted people who are like me as $DISGUSTINGLY_BIGOTED_STEREOTYPE in your fic, could you not do that?" with cries of "What do you mean I can't write about this?!". Because, of course, that isn't what any sane person involved actually said, and pretending they did is a transparent buck-passing attempt for which I have only scoffing.

I do also realize that there are people who really do try to tell people they can't write about X topic or group, but, honestly, I can't consider those people with anything but scoffing either.

However.

I hereby declare that no Western steampunk fan is ever, ever again allowed to use the word "geisha" without first undergoing, and prominently displaying proof of, at least one full term of Japanese women's studies or the equivalent.


This post brought to you by a serious case of "omg, how are you related to me, can I disown you right now please" (national and fandom varieties).

Date: 2010-07-04 06:04 pm (UTC)
helens78: A sheep decorated with the Pacific Citizen logo (see http://pacificcitizen.org) dreams of Dreamwidth. (dreamsheep: pacific citizen)
From: [personal profile] helens78
There are not enough hearts for you for this post. Not enough hearts!

Date: 2010-07-04 06:22 pm (UTC)
annotated_em: a branch of a Japanese maple, with bright red leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] annotated_em
Hah! Yes, this.

Date: 2010-07-04 07:04 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
I loathe and despise steampunk in its entirety whether it uses the term "gesiha" or not, but in your spirit of education of the Western steam-punk fan, may I ask that after the full term of Japanese women's studies or equivalent they then act as the fireman on the footplate of the Flying Scotsman during the entire run from London to Edinburgh*. After which, since they will by then realise the sheer effort in human labour which kept the steam age going, they may go back to believing that magically the working class all know their place in steampunk and that "there is no punk in steampunk".

OTOH, I found out the other day that a client of mine is working on a modern-day airship. I cantered around the department carolling, "How cool is that?"

* In a kimono, should they so wish.
Edited Date: 2010-07-04 07:13 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-07-04 07:28 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
It's a reference to this which, while on the face of it asserts, "There is totally punk in steampunk" actually then goes on to be gratuitously nasty about punk and what punk as a movement stood for. I believe I may have posted about it also.

Date: 2010-07-04 08:19 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
I apologise for having upset you. From what I have seen of your posts and actions I think you are someone with whom I generally have a great deal in common. That may not include steampunk; certainly, as I see steampunk at present this does not include steampunk.


I do not necessarily think that a complete divide on the topic of steampunk (if this is what results after my explanation given below) should prevent us talking about other areas while avoiding that one. Like RPF (and I have good online friends with whom I have to agree to disagree about RPF, at least with regard to living people) I do have enormous problems with the whole steampunk project. My problems with it are as follows (please feel free to counter them from a position of knowledge of steampunk itself; I agree that my profound upset with the way steampunk gets raised from time to time may make me less than well-informed about how it works in practice);

1. Blatant classism. Raising steam depends on being at the top of a pyramid which starts with coal. If you've not read Orwell's essay Down the Mine about the physical toil taken on coal miners and the way their lives were threatened by both the coal dust on their lungs and the unrelenting physical toil of mining, please could you do so? It should be available on-line. After the coal has been mined, hauled, washed, it is then sent to the steam-boiler to be shoveled by the fireman. I do not get any sense that the "black gangs" (the stokers who worked in intolerable conditions in the bowels of ships like Titanic) are recognised as human or as even existing in steampunk.

My problem with steampunk is that the versions I've seen have had the Professor and his team say, "make it so" to get where they want ot go and no-one gives a damn for the people who are spewing up their guts to do so.

2. Colonialism. Coaling stations. If you look at the British Empire and how it retreated after WWII, you'll note the odd few little dots across the Atlantic ocean which were the last places we hung onto. Those are coaling stations. Wars were fought over little dots on that map, that would be suitable coaling stations, because steam ships have only a limited cruising range. Indigenous peoples were exterminated to place coaling stations. If you subscribe to a steam-punk, air-ship aesthetic, where are the coaling stations and how do you handle that in your new myhtology.

3. Ecology. Steam creates acid rain and particulate emissions. The glorious buildings of Europe only became glorious after the imposition of smoke-free zones and scrubbing (at great expense). The return of steam signals the destruction of both forests and the Parthenon. Again, fine if the genre handles it, but does it.

4. Wilful anachronism, erasing the true nature of the struggle for women's rights. This is a specific and narrow-based annoyance, rather than the large scope of the comments above, but in the same series of tor.com posts which produced the one I quoted, someone talked about a strip called "the adventures of Babbage and Lovelace" in which they put Ada, Countess of Lovelace into jodhpurs because they didn't like the idea of someone like her being constrained by the dress conventions of the day. That idea made me want to vomit. The whole point, to anyone who has studied the life of Ada, Countess of Lovelace was that she went mad (for some definitions of the word mad) and was rendered incredibly unhappy because of the constraints placed on her by precisely the societal standards (symbolised by her dress) which little miss sparklypants decided to remove for the cartoon.

To sum up, I don't despise or wish to insult anyone for taking a different view of steampunk to mine, and I am open to attempts to convince me I am wrong about the genre, or (more probably) that there are examples of the genre which redeem it. But from what I have seen of it, I really, really have problems with it. Sorry.

Date: 2010-07-04 09:32 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
Actually, I can see a lot of good in what you're trying to do, and I'm also trying to write an AU fantasy version of The Riddle of the Sands that if any publisher wants to put it in a genre, the genre will be steampunk (the irony!). But the tor.com month of steam-punk wound me up so badly, because no-one was standing there and saying "steam is evil power" in the way (can't you tell?) that me, raised by CND activists, can't read later Weber where suddenly Grayson nuclear fission has saved the asses of Manticore and huh! all that superstitious fear of nuclear turns out to be old-fashioned bollocks.

I think I'm still trying to work out if steampunk is a left-wing or a right wing genre, and I think it's mostly the latter/

Date: 2010-07-04 10:05 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
I get the impression that thanks to people like Jaymee Goh there are people looking at some aspects of the colonial thing (though they aren't looking at coaling stations which, for me, are absolutely integral to the whole structure) and that's good, don't get me wrong, but the class problems of "steam kills" threatens to topple the whole edifice so that people like me saying "steam kills in general - how does your steam not kill in particular?" is something people are so hostile to that it's very rare to have someone like you prepared to even talk about it.

Date: 2010-07-04 10:33 pm (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
Yes. So while I'm prepared to believe that I'm being inconsistent, compared to people I do read (Kipling!) I do have problems with steampunk that go beyond the obvious, and I get the impression that a lot of the writers in the sector haven't given any thought to the cost.

Thank you for being so understanding. I didn't set out to harsh your squee, just to mark where I stood in this regard. And while I know people are tackling the colonialism (though not many of them) I find the embedded classism just a bridge too far - surely someone should by now have spotted there's an issue, why am I the only person talking about it, oh look, there's this carpet and this brush and the darkness falls as usual.

Date: 2010-07-04 07:38 pm (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
How... interesting that a general outfit which was worn by a huge number of women from this foreign culture is mostly called, by Westerners, after the most exoticized and sexualized out of all of them.

Date: 2010-07-04 09:42 pm (UTC)
opusculus: Black hole (Default)
From: [personal profile] opusculus
There is never enough facepalm when people start talking about geishas.

Date: 2010-07-06 06:53 am (UTC)
maat_seshat: Lady Murasaki sitting quietly, sad and contemplative (Murasaki)
From: [personal profile] maat_seshat
The Master of my dorm specifically referred to my Halloween costume my freshman year as a "geisha" costume, when everything outside the yukata itself was deliberately designed to emphasize the "spends way too much time hiking through brush" aspect of the character I was actually dressed up as. I got a lot more wary of Japanese traditional clothing costume bases after that.

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