Tag Archives: gender roles

#DetCon1 Highlights so far

I really, really appreciate how supportive of the military Baen books is.  I know they have a program for sending boxes of books to deployed troops, but was very surprised when they kicked off their roadshow by asking anyone active duty to come up and grab a free book.  Then they invited reservists, veterans, schoolteachers, first responders, and librarians.  It gave me a warm fuzzy.  And of course I enjoyed getting to see all their new books, new covers, etc.  I wish Tor was here doing the same!

The “Designing Military Spacecraft” panel yesterday was simply awesome.  We had a highly capable moderator, a very interesting mix of panelist backgrounds, and an enthusiastic audience that gave us some great questions to work with.  Best panel I have been on, and I hope I can do as well with my two panels today: “Women in STEM” at 2:00 and “Military SF” at 7:00, just before the awards ceremony and masquerade, followed by ’80s dance with John Scalzi as DJ.  I can already tell this  evening will be epic.

The best panel I have been an audience member so far was yesterday’s “Gender Roles in Genre Fiction.”  The panel discussed the past and current limitations on gender roles, and ripped apart some of the most damaging tropes out there (rape as a plot device or character-defining feature, the one strong woman who stands out among a society of weak and suppressed women).  Jim Hines made me want to hug him for his righteous indignation and rage over how often and how horribly these tropes are used.

They also talked about who isn’t well-represented in the currently conservative mainstream market (strong men who don’t have to show that strength with violence, minorities and people of color, and LGBT characters, to name a few).   Overall a great panel and I walked away with some new book recommendations to check out and hopefully find something new and different.

Due to our kid-free status at this con, this is the first time I’ve been able to check out the late-night con party scene.  About what I expected, except I actually had fun.  Normally I’m way too antisocial and awkward for that and end up bored and/or terrified in a corner, but I am among my people here.  Meaning it doesn’t matter if I can’t dance and don’t fit the mainstream media’s definition of pretty.  Rather, I found people who appreciated my Uhura impression, walked around showing off their lovingly and carefully made costumes. and didn’t care what anyone thought of their dancing.

At the Helsinki in 2017 bid party I enjoyed their spread of Finnish food and beverages, spent a few minutes mesmerized by the club lights at the Barfleet party, and observed the fireworks after the Tigers came from the 69th floor Con Suite while pigging out on cheese and crackers.  Fireworks viewed from above are awfully cool.

Ok, enough writing, I am off to hunt down breakfast and more panels to attend.

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Filed under Geeking out

What do Gender Reveal Parties Reveal About Us?

Ok, today I’m dipping my toe into the waters of blog posts that will probably get me hate mail.  The first big opinion piece that is likely to spark  a *ahem* lively conversation.

So… gender reveal parties.  The reveal takes many forms – cakes with blue or pink filling, blue and pink drinks, Oreos with blue or pink filling, secret envelopes with ultrasound pictures, and even moustaches vs. hair bows (this one especially gets rankles – a ‘manly’ object vs. a ‘little girl’ object is such an awful contrast).

There are usually games, secret ballots, extraordinarily creative ways to break the news, and people choose sides for “team pink” or “team blue.”  Gender reveal parties are all the rage for the pregnant/expecting crowd these days.  There are articles, pinterest sites, parenting blogs, entire websites even dedicated to these parties.

But why?  It seems that for a lot of people the gender of a baby has somehow become the single most important thing about bringing a new life into the world.  The first question someone asks expectant parents is almost always, “do you want a boy or a girl?” or, if late enough in the pregnancy to know, “is it a boy or a girl?”

Does it matter?  Shouldn’t the focus be on the fact that it’s a brand new human life you’re growing in there?  What does it say about us that the focus – earlier and earlier, now – is on pink vs. blue, boy vs. girl, dividing our kids into boxes and sets of strict expectations before they are even born.  Are we planning in advance to value one over the other, whether we do so consciously or not?

Why is gender the most important thing to know about a new baby?  Wouldn’t you rather talk about hopes and dreams for your child, or your plans for childcare and feeding, or your favorite parenting books and the best advice you have gotten?  Why is gender the single biggest focus?  It’s not like science has gotten us to the point where we get to choose in advance just yet.  And if you’re going to the trouble of having a gender reveal party, it’s fairly safe to assume you really want the baby.  Will you love the child less if the gender turns out to not be your first choice?  I know this is a reality in many parts of the world, but I have high hopes that eventually it won’t be that way, especially not in the U.S.

So help me out with some fun and more productive alternatives here – instead of a gender reveal party, how about a “guess the personality type” party or a “predict the future occupation” party – or something else that’s equally out of our control but perhaps a little less divisive.  Or you could even make it something constructive and have a “bring the book that influenced your childhood the most” party.

Please share in the comments – what are your thoughts on pink vs. blue and gender reveals?  Have you had one of these parties, hosted one, or attended one?  What is the upside?  Did you have a gender preference when you were expecting your child?

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Filed under Opinion pieces