THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION
The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by double Hugo Award-winning essayist and fantasy novelist Kameron Hurley.
The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2013 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume.
Unapologetically outspoken, Hurley has contributed essays to The Atlantic, Locus, Tor.com, and others on the rise of women in genre, her passion for SF/F, and the diversification of publishing.
Brought to you by the generous backers at PATREON. I’ll be upfront that I have never read any fiction by Kameron Hurley. I follow her on Twitter and love her blog, http://www.kameronhurley.com/. I’ve always loved how honest she is about life, business, and emotions. Her newest book, The Geek Feminist Revolution, is all about that. She calls out the bullshit of how women/NB are expected to earn less, get offered worse deals, and suffer with harassment.
She is brutally honest about how hard she has worked since a teenager to become a writer, a full-time job which still requires her to maintain a full-time day job. Professional rejections and abusive personal relationships are exposed in raw detail.
“But the deeper I spiraled into depression, the more all the rejection slips hurt.”
Pain is not something she avoids discussing. If you expect a book from a self-help shelf filled with vapid, cheerleading clichés, this is not the book for you. Hurley tells you that you will fail, but more specifically, that if you don’t learn from failure, writing (or creative life) is not your passion because failure is part of the dream.
“Failure is only useful if you’re learning from it. Failure because you panicked and sent shit out the door is just failure.”
She’s one of three women that I’ve seen talk about the details of her personal finances! I’ve seen men give ranges, but only women seem to be able to talk about the reality of income. Within those paragraphs, her newbie author status of her first book deal came with mounds of disappointment; she got paid, but the contract was canceled. She’s had to argue with publishers about book covers and late payments. And though she’s traditionally published, she keeps her eye on the new landscape of publishing.
“I remember this is a long game. I remember that both self-published authors and trad-published authors have the same small handful of breakouts and the same massive, slushy mire of ‘everyone else’ clamoring for signal on the long tail.”
Hurley addresses pop culture and sexism as she sees it. Her attention to detail while analyzing True Detective or Die Hard is admirable. While I completely disagree with her opinion of True Detective season one, I respect the thoughtfulness she puts into consuming entertainment and the messages that can be interpreted.
“Male writers, and their male protagonists, are expected to be flawed and complex, but reader expectations for women writers and their characters tend to be far more rigid.” She goes on to say, “Women must, above all show kindness. Women may be strong — but they must also, importantly, be vulnerable. If they are not, readers are more likely to push back and label them unlikable.”
One of the subjects Hurley addresses throughout the book is body image and beauty standards. She’s absolutely done with heroes being defined as white, male, muscular saviors. But Hurley doesn’t stop there. She’s a woman who speaks at conventions and has a reputable internet footprint. One section of The Geek Feminist Revolution is even titled “Public Speaking While Fat.”
“And the thing is, when you’re fat at 220 pounds, you’re still fat at 290 pounds. There’s not a whole lot of societal difference.”
I follow several plus sized fashion bloggers and others that aren’t connected to fashion and identify as fat bloggers. The shaming we witness with every headline that questions 110 pound actresses for being “chunky” or the coded microaggression “curvy” has a profound effect. Real public figures like Hurley who are tired of taking the imposed beauty standards silently are out there to be heard.
“As a woman, you are always going to be fat. People are always going to trot that one out to try to insult you, like taking up more space in the world, as a woman, is the absolute worst thing you can do.”
When Hurley was dying, there in the ICU and having panic attacks to boot, she has a memory of her mother telling her father how great she looked. The process of dying made her thinner and wasn’t that great?
Hurley talks about harassment and violence against women not only online cyber crimes, but the newsworthy real world crimes. “Consent culture” is a phrase you’ll get used to seeing in her essays and posts. It’s clear to see that she wants the world to be a better place and that until it happens, until human beings make it happen, creators of fiction need to show it in their futuristic worlds so the audience knows it’s a possibility. That doesn’t mean utopia. It means abolishing inequality.
She addresses the unbelievable absurdity of the health insurance industry which, in the US, has outrageously high premiums and tends to cover nothing. Hurley narrates the time she woke up from a coma in the ICU. She was dying. The diagnosis was an immune disorder resulting in chronic illness (aka, shit is never going to heal). Her life includes pain, panic attacks, and depression.
“The trouble is, when you’re pressed face first into shit, all you can think about is trying to stay alive.”
It’s with no surprise that when I was only a quarter way through the book, I had already recommended it on Instagram, Twitter, and to a close personal friend. De-program yourself from your insecurities, from society’s bullshit standards, and sit your ass in the chair to get your work done when you’re healthy enough to do it because no one else can tell your story.
*Confession: I thought the cover was a camel too.*
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