Tuesday, September 05, 2006
  Connie Willis, tit-grabbing, and hijab
The current buzz in the world of science fiction is that well-known writer Harlan Ellison grabbed the breast of also well-known author Connie Willis during the Hugos award ceremony, apparently in anger at her poking fun at one of his short stories.

I agree with Patrick Nielsen Hayden who writes, "Just as with George W. Bush's now-famous uninvited shoulder-rub of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the basic message of Ellison's tit-grab is this: "Remember, you may think you have standing, status, and normal, everyday adult dignity, but we can take it back at any time. If you are female, you'll never be safe. You can be the political leader of the most powerful country in Europe. You can be the most honored female writer in modern science fiction. We can still demean you, if we feel like it, and at random intervals, just to keep you in line, we will."

Unfortunately, a lot of science fiction writers and fans seem to be shrugging the incident off as not a big deal, making a mountain out of a molehill, Harlan will be Harlan (he has a reputation for being absolutely insufferrable), boys will be boys, even a publicity stunt on the part of Willis. (!!?!)

This is precisely the kind of thing that reaffirms my decision to wear hijab. The scarf and long, loose clothing puts up a clear barrier between me and the jerks that would think that tit-grabbing is ok, either as a public humiliation or as a bit of "harmless" fun for a guy. It says in no unclear terms, my body is off limits -- keep your hands, and eyes, off. It is an aggressive, in your face way of saying, you will not do to me what Harlan Ellison did to Connie Willis.

It doesn't solve the problem of women being viewed as biology -- as essentially vessels for ushering babies into the world and fulfilling men's sexual desires -- but it does put men at large on notice that I am not to be included in the equation as a sexual object.

It doesn't solve women being denied basic human and civil rights, and in certain instances even contributes toward eroding those rights, but it does give me a certain amount of control over how the men I interact with here in the West treat me.

It empowers me the same way my karate skills empower me. Pity the guy who tries to grab my breast!

What a sad commentary on the state of some (and one fears, most) men.
 
Comments:
I think what Ellison did was wrong (I didn't notice it at the time as I was looking through a small camera view finder, but happened to get a photo of it). I suggest that what Ellison did reflects on him alone and not on men in general.

I'm not responsible for Ellison's behaviour, even though we're the same sex. I'm not responsible for Stalin or Mao's actions, even though we have the same hair colour. Similarly, you're not responsible for Velma Margie Barfield's being a mass murderer, even though you're the same sex.
 
I didn't attend the Hugos, and so I missed this display, but what I've heard and read is quite conflicted. For one thing, Connie is a take-no-prisoners woman, and she's unbelievably quick-witted. I do wonder if it was as big a deal as some make out, because it seems to me she could have dealt with it easily.

But I understand your wish to make your body private, and your own. We're a long way, in every society, from women having real control over their private space. The passivity and vulnerability of past decades doesn't go away in a heartbeat. Karate, yes! And anything else that makes girls and women walk tall, stride strongly, and communicate that "Don't mess with me" message.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

My Photo
Name:
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


What I'm reading now



Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

Recent Posts
Archives

October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
July 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
July 2013


Categories