It’s 2016, bisexuals in some form or another have been marching at pride since at least 2006 (that’s when I was first aware of them marching, I wasn’t able to attend). With the exception of 2 marches in that period, we’ve had abuse yelled at us from the crowd. Sure it’s only a couple of people, but seriously…
IT IS TIME TO STOP DOING THIS
If you think that bisexuals are confused, not choosing to be fully out, making the gay and lesbian communities look bad (though you’re doing a good one of that yourself), or something else – DON’T TALK TO US.
If you think that yelling abuse at any group at Pride is acceptable – DO NOT COME TO PRIDE.
I was having a really great walk down Fitzroy Street with bisexual people and the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (yes, I know), being distracted by ManHunt behind us, smiling thanks to the cheers, waves and the general positive mood… until you decided that we needed to be told to choose a side.
Listen, the only people who need to choose a fucking side are those that think that biphobia is bad and didn’t actually say something to those arseholes.
This is my request. If you cannot restrain yourself from being biphobic in public, don’t come to Pride or any other LGBTIQ+ community event. Stay home, stay amongst your friends who tolerate your biphobia (though why I don’t understand), limit your exposure to bisexuals (and/or the other groups that upset you), just keep your toxicity to yourself
Every time you are biphobic you add to the poorer mental health that bisexuals have versus gay and lesbian people. You add to the higher rates of violence against us, and to the higher rates of suicide versus gay, lesbian and straight people. STOP being an awful person. (source)
We really don’t care why you do or do not like bisexual people. We care about the effects that your toxic behaviour has on us, and we want you to stop. If you can keep your mouth shut and say nothing, then we’ll all be much happier.
Without bisexuals, you wouldn’t have Pride marches anyway.
Brenda Howard is known as the “Mother of Pride”, for her work in coordinating the march. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT Activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craigt Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word “Pride” to describe these festivities. As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, “The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them ‘A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'” (Wikipedia)
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, I’ve recovered from radiotherapy (harder mentally than surgery because you’re completely exhausted), I’ve travelled to India (will blog more about that later), and it’s almost Christmas.
I’ve been collecting some articles about breast cancer, the cost of treatment, what we die from young (women = breast cancer), how trans people need to be careful of breast cancer, and really what you can do to ensure that you catch cancer early and get it treated quickly.
I don’t think that speech which harms minoritised groups should be protected. I don’t think that giving another platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech regarding a minoritised group is necessary or that it will add to any ongoing debate. I don’t think that providing a platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech will in any way help them realise that they are harming a group of people, nor will it educate those who are on the fence regarding an issue. In my opinion all it does is reaffirm their existing position, it does not give them an opportunity to learn about how they have harmed others, nor an opportunity for others who do not understand that harm, to understand it better. I am really not a fan of people (who usually have multiple other platforms) being given another platform to other or dehumanise groups of vulnerable people.
Before I go any further I want to state I am not a trans person, I am cis-gendered. I do my best to be a good ally to the trans community, but I will (and do) fuck up from time to time. I will do my best to learn from my mistakes.
So last night the Liberal Party and the National Party held a meeting for over 5 hours to discuss whether or not the party would allow a free conscience vote (which still would have not gotten the required numbers over the line) or whether they’d all vote as a block and therefore and vote No. The block voting won (in case you didn’t know).
Not enough has been said about this debate taking over 5 hours in my opinion. Over 5 hours.
I hate meetings at the best of times, finding them an incredible waste of time when I could be doing the stuff that is discussed, but this meeting went FOR OVER 5 HOURS. That’s 5 hours of impassioned debate about an issue that is important (not the most important, but still). An issue that is capturing the world’s attention. An issue that reduces the active amount of discrimination in the world. A few years ago, we would have been lucky if that party room discussion went for an hour.
Just this year Ireland, the United States of America and Mexico have allowed same-sex marriage, adding to a long list of countries in which it is already legal. The referendum in Ireland with the majority of voters voting yes, and the Supreme Court decision in the USA have been big drivers to get marriage equality back into Parliamentary debate here in Australia, and it’s not going anywhere soon
I’m grateful that some LNP politicians have my back on at least one issue that can affect me. I’m not generally the type to support the LNP (queer, left leaning woman who is big on social justice), but it’s good to see that some of the party has actively thought about what is good for Australia and Australians and decided that if over 70% of Australians support marriage equality, then perhaps that’s something that should be recognised.
Now I’m going to take a small detour here and talk about some bigoted arsehats who have weighed in on this debate in one for or another recently. This is where the post is going to be long, but will hopefully still make sense. Ok, I’m ranting, leave me my ranting space.
New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)
…she believed opinion polls showing majority support for legalising same-sex marriage did not reflect the views of a “silent majority” of Australian voters.
She said changing the marriage laws – or being seen to condone change – would cost the Coalition seats at the next election.
The senator referred to an analysis she had undertaken which identified marginal seats with high percentages of religious voters.
A copy of the analysis, dated July 3, lists 14 seats across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania with relatively high proportions of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Muslim or Buddhist voters or overseas-born voters from ethnic communities likely to oppose same-sex marriage.
In a written foreword to her analysis, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary for social services, also responsible for multicultural affairs, says she believes there is strong opposition among culturally and religiously diverse communities to changing the marriage laws.
Ok, let’s just start with a majority says X, so a “silent majority” says Y. I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells does maths. Also, I’m not convinced that Fierravanti-Wells has actually spoken to anyone of these people she’s using to support her argument against marriage equality. She claims that:
She notes that faith leaders from across Australia had written to the Government in June, objecting to any change.
Her analysis includes the western Sydney seat of Barton, the Liberals’ most marginal seat, held by Liberal Nickolas Varvaris on 50.31 per cent.
She says Barton has nearly eight times the proportion of eastern Orthodox constituents than the national average, four times the proportion of Muslims, a higher-than-average Greek population and fewer who said they had “no religion”.
Other western Sydney marginal seats included are Reid, Werriwa, Banks and Parramatta.
The analysis says Parramatta, held by Labor’s Julie Owens on 50.57 per cent, is 25 per cent Catholic, has 10 times the national average of voters identifying as Hindu, four times the rate identifying as Islamic and higher-than-average percentages of those born in India and Lebanon.
The first issue here is that Faith Leaders don’t represent the believes and feelings of their flocks. I know they claim they do, but you get the Catholic and some Anglican faith leaders in Australia being bigoted arsehats, and most Catholics and Anglicans actually supporting marriage equality. Not knowing a large number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims or Orthodox people, I cannot claim to know what they do and do not support, however I do note that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, and that is something that really should be taken into account.
I know I’ve said that majority of Australians more than once tonight, so let’s get that data for you. From a report in The Age in July 2015:
Support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, according to a survey by the Liberal Party’s own pollster.
A Crosby Textor poll, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, has found that 72 per cent of Australians want same-sex marriage legalised, while 77 per cent think Coalition MPs should be granted a conscience vote.
The survey by the Liberal Party’s national pollster finds support for marriage equality is increasing among Australians, up from 65 per cent in a Nielsen poll last August.
It shows opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed, with just one in five Australians or 21 per cent opposed, marking Parliament as increasingly out of step with the views of the majority of Australians.
According to the poll, support for same-sex marriage is now higher in Australia than it was in any other country, including New Zealand and Great Britain, when overseas parliaments have passed marriage equality laws.
Marriage equality advocates have welcomed a new poll showing almost 60% of Australians believe marriage equality is a medium to high priority.
The poll, conducted for anti-marriage equality group, the Marriage Alliance, found that marriage equality is, on average, the 13th most important issue for Australians, about the same level of priority given to agriculture, taxation and asylum seekers.
59% of poll respondents said marriage equality is a priority, made up of 24% who said marriage equality it is a high priority and 35% said it is a medium priority. Only 39% said it is low a priority.
So even when organisations against marriage equality are attempting to poll against marriage equality, they can’t do it.
Charitably I could believe that Fierravanti-Wells really did care about the numbers and how the LNP will poll in the next election, but didn’t actually consider what she was saying – which effectively is that all religious and culturally diverse people are happy to discriminate against same-sex attracted people when it comes to marriage (or in short-hand that they are bigots). I’m positive that this is not the case.
"Suggesting that "ethnics" or "the religious" are different on SSM just because of those things is divisive, offensive & plain, stupid wrong
This is especially the case as many of the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage are flawed. Those wanting change argue that defining marriage as involving a man and a woman discriminates against lesbians and homosexuals.
Ignored is that there are many examples where society and the law allow discrimination to occur. Women-only gyms and clubs are allowed to exclude men and those under 18 are not allowed to view X-rated films and videos.
Yes, defining marriage as only involving a man and a woman discriminates against gay men, lesbian women, bisexual people and trans people. It’s ok Donnelly, I’m glad you forgot some of us. The less you think about us the better off we’ll all be.
Ignored is the fact that Donnelly doesn’t understand that not all discrimination is harmful, and that children are to be protected against things that harm them. Let’s work on the first one. Women only gyms. Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men than the other way around. Therefore in the interest of safety, women only gyms exist, where men are discriminated against to protect women. When men stop assaulting women at the current rates, then it is possible the need for women only gyms will go away.
Marriage equality harms no one, and the discrimination against same-sex coupled people who’d like to marry harms them.
Children and pornography. I don’t even with this one Donnelly. We have lots of laws to protect children, we have laws about who they can have sex with, we have laws about them having to go to school, we have laws about the mandatory reporting of abuse, we have laws that can result in them being removed from their homes. It is believed that pornography will harm children, therefore children cannot see pornography. I note that Donnelly isn’t complaining about any other laws relating to children, so I wonder why that is.
Many on the cultural left, often the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage, also argue in favour of positive discrimination where they believe some people should be treated differently to others.
Because Donnelly doesn’t understand the difference between equality and justice/equity, I give you the following image:
This is why we suggest that some people should be treated more positively – because they are coming from further behind that others. Many people are coming from further behind than Kevin Donnelly, as we’re not all straight, white men with a platform to be vilely racist and homophobic.
Also ignored, for all intents and purposes, is that gays and lesbians already have the same rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.
Also ignored by Donnelly is that not all same-sex attracted people want to marry, but denying those who do is harmful. Sure we can live in defacto relationships, and we do right now, but that isn’t the same as marriage. If it was, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.
A second strategy employed by same-sex marriage advocates is to argue that anyone who disagrees is bigoted and homophobic. Wrong. The reality is that many of those opposed to redefining marriage do so for sound and carefully thought through reasons.
I love this comment, it is a comment I see all the time. “I’m not bigoted and homophobic, I’ve thought about some really good reasons why I oppose granting rights to same-sex attracted people that would do me no harm whatsoever.” I am also yet to meet a good argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t in the end reduce down to either “my religion is homophobic, not me”, or “because gay sex is icky” which are both homophobic.
As Andrew P Street wrote, “And if you are, in fact, a bigot, then it shouldn’t bother you that people are accurately assessing your shortcomings as a human being on the basis of the things you believe, based on the stuff you say.” Donnelly continues:
When arguing that the definition of marriage must be changed to include same-sex couples, advocates often argue that the love between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is the same as that experienced by heterosexuals.
From a biological point of view, such is clearly not the case. Such is the physiology involved in procreation, and not withstanding the availability of surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation, that it requires a man and a woman. The optimum environment in which to raise a child also involves a mother and a father.
Oh yeah, I forgot the third way, the reproductive argument. If two people of the same gender can’t have children, their relationship is worth less than those that can, because apparently all we’re about is having children. Let’s not look at the treatment of those children by heterosexual people. Let’s especially not look at the really positive outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents. Let’s leave Donnelly to his little bigoted world where LGBTI people are worse people than heterosexual people. He’s wrong of course, we’re pretty fucking awesome.
This piece is from May and I’ve been putting off on blogging about it because it’s so full of complete and utter rubbish that it isn’t really worth mentioning – except that it’s another white, Christian man telling us that he isn’t really a bigot for not supporting marriage equality, “I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I’m not a bigot)“:
How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.
I do wonder how anyone can stand opposed without actually being a bigot.
It is not even the case that “all the surveys say Australians want it” is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don’t listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.
I’ve seen this argument before and it’s an interesting one. It’s particularly fascinating that the death penalty is brought into an argument, to contrast something where no one gets hurt. On one side you have the violent end of someone’s life, on the other side you have two consenting adults committing to their relationship in front of family and friends, and having the Government, and other bodies that need to, recognising that relationship legally. It’s not like they are even remotely in the same class of things.
Should the Australian Government listen to the people in all things? Should the Australian Government take the lead on some things so that the better interest is served? Wouldn’t it be best if the Australian Government was abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality? The Australian Government should be about the best human rights that we can grant to each other. That includes being abolitionist on the death penalty and in support of marriage equality. There we go, I solved that one for you.
In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly “equal” treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.
Except that marriage has changed multiple times over millennia and the world didn’t end. Men used to marry their property, which then begat more property which they’d consent to have married off to other men, unless some of that property were male, in which case they’d become human whenever the age of adulthood was at that time. Men now marry women, and both people have to consent to the marriage. Men used to also marry lots of property, they’d have multiple property all over the place, sometimes it mattered if the property consented to more property being married, sometimes it didn’t. It used to be that you couldn’t marry without your parents’ consent, and most marriages were arranged.
If marriage can change to be what it is now, then it can change to include same-sex couples who want to marry.
This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.
Blah, blah, blah – see argument about children above. Also, to erase other gendered people from the conversation is an arse move Mr Jensen.
Look I really don’t understand why so many people are frightened of marriage equality. If it creates something new, something that currently discriminated people can engage in, what is the problem with that? Do so many of these bigots believe that the moment marriage equality is granted those who would have otherwise married someone of the opposite sex will suddenly rush out and go and marry someone of the same sex? Do they think that being queer is contagious and it’s only the shame of being queer, and the inability to marry that keeps opposite sex marriage going? Do they think that suddenly everyone will stop having children, or start ignoring children, and suddenly there won’t be a human race any more?
There are FAR more important issues facing the earth today than marriage equality. Granting marriage equality makes the lives of many of my queer siblings better. It does not save the environment, it does not refreeze the glaciers, it does not bring endangered creatures back from the brink of extinction. It certainly doesn’t help asylum seekers or bring peace to nations at war. It does make a difference though, and that difference is one that has been made in many other places already and it helps.
Granting marriage equality helps, and granting it means that people like me can marry if they want. Families can recognise the relationships of their children and parents. Relationships that until relatively recently were looked at as deviant and different can instead be shown to be as valued as the opposite sex relationships they are surrounded by. It means that children who are growing up queer know that if they wish to get married and be like their friends in opposite sex relationships, they can. Think of the children, think of those who you’re denying the ability to be normal.
Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.
Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?
Type of post-apocalyptic story: The world ended many years ago, possibly over 100 years ago. It’s very vague as to how that happened, it could have been disease, global climate change, or war, but there were a lot of injured people and music was found to soothe and heal them them – so music became a tool to control the population and maintain behaviour. There is no mention of other countries or population centres outside where Anthem lives in the story.
I picked up this book as it was nominated for a Bisexual fiction award. Anthem is bisexual. In this book he is interested in one of the female characters, but he is still friends with his ex-boyfriend, and they spend a fair amount of time clubbing together in the book. For a story about a bisexual man, I recommend this. It was good on many other elements. too. I read this a while ago, so my memory is a little rusty.
World Building: Apart from no mention of other population centres, the world is believable. There are ruins of the world before surrounding the world as it is today in the story. There is a police state that is working on getting things done, maintaining their own power, and control. There is a class system of the haves and have nots based on current wealth, and it is almost possible to move between them, but not likely for most people.
The technology is incredible, the ability to encode music with subliminal messages/beats that makes it addictive, as well as controlling mood and improving people’s ability to heal. The ability for people to be bio-generators of power to power the city, the ability for people to record their lives so that after they die others can still see them, like the way we record things on our phones.
Character Building: So the main character is male and bisexual, a combination which is really rare in a book. Also, everyone else is pretty much ok with bisexuality (nice), and queerness in general (also nice). The characters have different motivations for doing things, they have their own back stories and women are treated as equally capable as men. When Anthem believes that the woman he is interested in has betrayed him, he doesn’t believe that it is because she’s a woman, or that she’s weak.
Women: So Anthem’s love interest in this story is a woman and she’s a fully rounded character, with multiple depths to her. There is also Anthem’s … handler (I’m really not quite sure what the correct word is) at the bio-generation plant who ensures that he is plugged in correctly and has something to read/occupy his time while he’s there. There are several baddies who are also women. None of these characters are single dimensional, and none of them are sex objects.
Non-white characters: There are a range of non-white characters in the book. Anthem is blond-haired and blue-eyed. Haven, his love interest, has olive skin. Another one of the characters is described as being so dark, that in the darkened, disused space that they’re performing music in, he’s difficult to see.
Disabled Characters: Although there are no visible disabilities mentioned, there is the theme of addiction and the ruination that can cause throughout the book. Anthem lost his mother to her addiction to the Corp’s music, and is in the process of losing his father. There is an acknowledgement of mental health issues, and the characters are familiar with depression and anxiety.
Queer Characters: Anthem is bisexual, his ex, Scope, is gay, there are other queer characters in the book. There are straight characters. Orientation isn’t an issue in this version of the future. It’s nice to see a future where who you are attracted to is not an issue and nothing to be ashamed of.
There were no trans characters that I am aware of in the book.
There is a reason this book was nominated for an award. It does a lot of things right, and I really enjoyed it.
The story opens in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, in a hellish world shattered by nuclear war decades before. Several police states have emerged in place of the former United States. Hurricane-force winds above five hundred feet prevent any sort of air travel from one state to the next, and sudden, violent, and unpredictable storms make day-to-day life a mini-hell. Hell Tanner, an imprisoned killer, is offered a full pardon in exchange for taking on a suicide mission—a drive through “Damnation Alley” across a ruined America from Los Angeles to Boston—as one of three vehicles attempting to deliver an urgently needed plague vaccine.
Type of post-apocalyptic story: The current world has ended, the story starts around 30 – 40 years after the event. Society for the most part has stabilised and is now focussed on survival.
I really enjoyed this book, for the most part, however there were a few gaping issues. Let’s do all the good things. There will be spoilers
World building: I really liked the way Zelazny put the world together for this book. The main character was not alive when the current world was destroyed and the new world was formed. He doesn’t know most of what happened, and doesn’t care – so neither does the reader for the most part. During the story the main character, Tanner, finds out a bit more, and still doesn’t care, as living in the world as it is, is his current struggle.
The fantastical way that the world has been reshaped due to radiation, storms, and people, the way people survive day to day, and how government continues (or doesn’t) to operate is all very interesting and I can see why a lot of people were inspired by the story to create works in homage.
Character building: There is only one real character, the rest are there to drive the plot but are in essence completely unimportant. Despite Tanner supposedly being a complete and utter arsehole (and he is a bit), he’s really just a guy who wants to be left alone, and safe – though his version of left alone and safe tends to be one where a lot of other people end up dead. Granted many of those other people have attempted to kill him at some point. He’s not completely unlikeable as a character and you do find yourself rooting for him. I’d say he is lazily written because he’s not really one thing or another, and I think he should be given how he is introduced.
Description: I’m a big believer in using words to their fullest effect so I can build a mental picture of what the author is describing. I found that this book was very successful in that, but not so successful that I wanted to stop reading after describing some mutated horror, or yet more violence.
And now the badly done bits
Women: So there are three main female characters in the book; two are sex objects and one is a mother. The book would have worked completely fine without them, and I actually would have preferred that to be the case. I haven’t read much Zelazny so I don’t know if he cannot write women, or whether he is actually sexist, but the three characters were really pointless to the story, and appear to be a lazy attempt at inclusion.
The mother was there in a farming household, and she was intimidated by Tanner – which isn’t surprising, he’s a force of chaotic nature and I’d be scared of him. She didn’t drive the plot, and did nothing than be a mother to some children Tanner was interacting with, and the husband of a farmer. She wasn’t badly written, just an illustration along the story.
The two sex objects were awful. Zelazny clearly cannot write a sex scene. The first woman, Cornelia, is a member of a gang that attacks Tanner. Tanner is effectively driving a tank, and he takes out pretty much everyone in the gang, and avoids killing Cornelia by chance (he doesn’t know she’s there initially). He picks up her, patches her wounds and she joins him. She clearly doesn’t care that Tanner has killed her entire gang (and probably family), and happily comes along with him. They hook up, have sex, she gets killed by another gang, Tanner buries her and continues on his way.
The second woman, Evelyn, only exists to drive the plot forward. She lives in the plague infested Boston and is meeting with her beau who believes that he is infected with the plague but wants to see her one last time. Then ensues one of the most awkwardly written sex scenes I’ve read for a while:
They moved to the bed and did not speakagain until after he had ridden her for several minutes and she heard him sigh and felt the warm moisture come into her. Then she rubbed his shoulders and said, “That was good.”
Evelyn, her beau and most of Boston aren’t likeable. You don’t care that they’re dying of the plague, and the world would probably be a better place if they did because then a whole lot of annoying people wouldn’t exist. Badly written characters like this really don’t help the story. If Tanner wasn’t such a strong character, and his determination to just keep moving forward, you really wouldn’t care about what happens to Boston. Because Tanner cares (though even that seems to be out of character), you care.
Non-white characters: I don’t recall any being described in the book. Evelyn is described as having red hair, Cornelia is described as having brown hair, and an obvious red burn to her face (from Tanner’s self defence flame-thrower). The mother is described as having red cheeks. Tanner really doesn’t have that much of a description other than having dark eyes, a beard, and being a biker.
Disabled characters: Despite the world pretty much self destructing there are no mentions of disabled characters. Given the current state of the world, there would be some, and you’d expect there to be a mention of them.
Queer characters: None are mentioned. It wouldn’t have been too hard to include one in the story, Evelyn’s beau could have been a woman, or bisexual, or even trans, any of the other characters that Tanner briefly meets could have been queer.
I consume a lot of post-apocalyptic stories, mostly in book format, but also in films and television. Part of it is because I enjoy sf stories, and post-apocalyptic stories look to the future and what could happen to the world and there are elements of both science fiction and fantasy in doing that. Part of it is also because I’m a cold war kid.
I grew up in Alice Springs, which is next door to the US and Australian intelligence base Pine Gap. I grew up when the threat of nuclear warfare was real. I grew up reading Children of the Dust, and it was more of a case of when the war would start than if. This mindset is hard to shake, and so I am drawn to the stories people tell about what if the world we knew ended, and what would happen next.
That said, I’m glad most stories don’t focus on the actual transition from today’s world to the newly imagined world, because that isn’t pretty at all. I watched bits of Under the Dome on TV, and it’s not nice to watch or read about people who need medication to stay alive suffer as their access to medication disappears, or when the water runs out and people start dehydrating or drinking unsafe water, or when food sources disappear and people start starving, or when the social order we appreciate completely breaks down and those that are deemed easy prey are expendable. I know that this happens today in many parts of the world, and it’s not what I want for anyone.
I won’t watch Under the Dome, or even The Walking Dead, because I don’t need that level of horror in my life, but it still fascinates me. What happens with race, gender and sexuality when the world we know today fractures and becomes something different? Do the current biases and prejudices remain? (probably yes) Will people change for the better? (probably no).
Annalee Newitz doesn’t think that the rights that women have fought for and won in many countries around the world are necessarily guaranteed.
So what does that tell us about the future? As I said earlier, it can be a fairly depressing prospect. We see that women have gained freedom and lost it, over and over again. There is no smooth road from lack of freedom to total freedom. It is, as Le Tigre sang in relation to something related, “One step forward, five steps back.”
So why this post? I want to review some of the books I’ve read recently, looking at how women, non-white people, disabled people and sexual minorities are represented, what ended the world today, and whether the future envisaged in those stories is one that I’d want to live in.
Stay tuned as I write over the next while posts about each of those books (when I’m focused and have time obviously). All thoughts and recommendations of other books welcome.