Tag Archives: misogyny

So much ethics: An anti-GamerGate rant @Veeren_Jubbal @INeedDivGms @ChrisWarcraft

Today, CypherofTyr, who started the #INeedDiverseGames tag on Twitter and eventual blogs and groups on various social media and gaming sites, posted this to Tumblr:

Please keep Veerender Jubbal in your thoughts. He’s been targeted by GG yet again but this could get him killed. A bathroom selfie was photoshopped to make it look like he was holding a Quran, wearing a bomb lined vest and for some odd reason, a dildo was added. An Italian news outlet has run the story as true sadly, but Buzzfeed (for once was useful) and called out the obvious photoshop.

It looks like a piss poor photoshop, and it’s a photo where he’s staring straight ahead which someone else couldn’t have taken. However news outlets are running this photo, and that piece of shit Milo Y of Brietbart/GG infamy is trying to harass him further by asking for an exclusive for Brietbart.

Veerender is a very young, sweet guy who’s only asking for equality in games and more representation of Sikh’s and brown men like him. For this, for his rightful anger he’s been targeted yet again. The incorrect party line of “he’s a Muslim terrorist” isn’t new but with the strong anti-Muslim vibe going on because of Paris right now, I am really, really worried for his safety. Not tagging him so I don’t bring hate to his FB.

If you follow him on twitter, please send some words of support, cute animal pics or something. I am very, very worried someone will believe that image is real and go after him.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/gamergate-photoshopped-a-canadian-sikh-man-to-make-him-seem#.iwWMapMo5

They did this this weekend, AFTER Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. They did this in a time when anti-Islam sentiment is boiling over and Muslims all over the world are in danger of hate crimes.

It won’t matter that this innocent man is a Sikh. Many Sikhs have been subjected to hate crimes, especially since 9/11, because most people are too ignorant to realize that they’re not Muslims.

This is especially troubling because GamerGaters have been known to attempt murder-by-cop, in the form of something called swatting. Swatting is something that is done to a person who has been doxxed. The harasser makes some form of anonymous report to emergency services that something urgently bad is happening at a person’s address. Like, they’re holding a hostage or they’re waving a gun or whatever. This is done in the hopes that police will show up and bust down the target’s door with guns blazing.

Not that they’ll admit that is the goal, they claim it’s just harassment. But who living in the post-Ferguson world believes that it isn’t actually attempted murder? Especially since the targets of several notable incidences have been black or trans people (such as in this incident last year in Portland) both of whom have every reason to be afraid of being murdered by police.

(Ironically, a few months ago I started writing the sequel to Player vs. Player, called Swatted. My protag is of Middle Eastern descent. Guess what happens.)

For over a year now, I’ve been posting occasionally about GamerGate. GamerGate became a thing last August, just as I was finishing up edits to Player vs. Player (a book which was inspired by harassment of Jennifer Hepler, a writer who used to work on the Dragon Age franchise at BioWare) and Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic who runs a site called Feminist Frequency and does a Feminism 101-level critique of the portrayal of women in video games.

I’ve posted before about how I wrote Player vs. Player a year too early, because it wasn’t, in fact, informed by GamerGate. It just happened to be timely.

GamerGate claims to be about ethics in gaming journalism–which they basically define as preventing any gaming news outlets from posting any articles that might suggest in any way that women and minorities should receive better representation in video games. But here’s the truth about how it actually started.

TL;DR version: posts speculating about Zoe Quinn’s sex life kept getting deleted from legitimate gaming boards, and harassment posts kept getting deleted from other places. So the harassers decided they needed to try another tactic. Here are some of the posts leading up to these harassers deciding they were actually about “ethics in gaming journalism.”

(Extreme TW: Misogyny, misogynist slurs, homophobic slurs, harassment, bullying)

GG Zoe Quinn 01GG Zoe Quinn 02GG Zoe Quinn 03GG Zoe Quinn 04GG Zoe Quinn 05GG Zoe Quinn 06GG Zoe Quinn 07

So it’s completely well-documented that the “ethics in gaming journalism” was a deliberate ploy on the part of these guys to put a veneer of legitimacy on their campaign of harassment of women. The #GamerGate tag was invented, coined by Adam Baldwin, and began spreading all over Twitter.

In the aftermath, the harassment spread to Anita Sarkeesian, who was already misogynist gamers pin-up girl, and to a woman named Leigh Alexander, who posted an article in which she asserted “gamers” are over. You can read the post and see for yourself what her meaning was, but misogynist gamer dudebros didn’t look beyond the title, which they decided was an attack upon them and their identity, and they attacked back.

Then a game developer named Brianna Wu created a few memes mocking GamerGate. For that, she was driven from her home by death and rape threats. (TW: death threats, rape threats, extreme misogyny.)

In the process of crusading for “ethics in gaming journalism”, there has been a flurry of awful behavior. #GamerGate co-opted antisemitic propaganda images to smear Anita Sarkeesian. (TW: antisemitism)

(that’s a caricature of Anita Sarkessian)

(Source: Weev: Gamergate is “the biggest siren bringing people into the folds of white nationalism.”

They equated gamergaters to the #BlackLivesMatter protesters in Ferguson, and equated male gamers to black Americans in the Jim Crow era:

The GamerGate photoshop

The original image

Source: Things #GamerGaters Actually Believe, Part 294: Gamers are as oppressed as African Americans in the Jim Crow era

They created the #NotYourShield tag, which was supposed to prove they weren’t all white males, and then created sockpuppets posing as minorities to boost its population. Internet blackface.

(White nationalists are also claiming GamerGate is boosting their numbers. GamerGaters also frequently reference a trumped-up concept named Cultural Marxism, which is pretty much the next generation of the Nazi buzz phrase Cultural Bolshevism.)

A man named Davis Aurini, who outright confesses to being a white nationalist “on paper” partnered with another GamerGater to make a documentary called “The Sarkeesian Effect” and sought $15,000 per month for their trouble.

(This while accusing Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu of being “professional victims” capitalizing upon their harassment for sympathy and money. The irony astounds.)

They have committed ACTUAL acts of terrorism. In October 2014 Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel an appearance at Utah State University because someone threatened a campus massacre if she appeared (in the process referencing the actual 1989 massacre of several women on a campus in Montreal.)

This is on top of what Sarkeesian deals with on a daily basis.

When Felicia Day, popular actress and geek culture darling, timidly spoke up condemning GamerGate, they doxxed her. (Doxxing, for those who aren’t aware, is the publishing of a person’s personal and financial information–such as address, phone number, employer, family addresses, social security number, etc, for the purpose of harassment.)

Former NFL player and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Chris Kluwe, who had a couple days later posted an absolutely EPIC rant about #GamerGate, was also eventually doxxed. It is pathetic to note, however, that while Felicia Day was doxxed less than an hour after her post, it took them months to dox Kluwe. #GamerGate targets women much more aggressively than it does men.

They even spoke of trying to dox Brianna Wu’s veterinarian in the middle of the night as Brianna Wu waited at the vets with her dying dog. And then, of course, rejoiced and celebrated and harassed Brianna about her loss.

Last year, a Canadian teenager was arrested for swatting female gamers all over North America.

That’s not even close to the end of it.

The Venn diagram of GamerGaters and so-called Men’s Rights Activists isn’t quite a perfect circle, but I’d call it a short oval, at least. Paul Elam, leader of the MRA website A Voice For Men, initially voiced his support for GamerGate, but later seemed to walk to back. GamerGate is also supported by Roosh V, notorious pickup-artist who advocates for the legalization of rape (extreme TW: misogyny and rape apologia) and even confesses to committing rape (TW: rape descriptions).

The person who threatened the massacre if Anita Sarkeesian appeared at Utah State University referenced both GamerGate and repeated a lot of MRA rhetoric.

GamerGate also has a tremendous amount of overlap with neo-Nazi ideology. This really isn’t surprising. All three groups exist for the purpose of upholding white male supremacy, and they echo a lot of the same rhetoric.

For instance, ranting against the concept of so-called Cultural Marxism. The only difference between the three groups is MRAs blame feminists for it, white supremacists blame non-white people for it (as well as feminists), and GamerGaters blame “SJWs” (social justice warriors) for it.

It should be noted that “SJW” is pretty much the “all of the above” option, seeing as how it encompasses any oppressed group advocating for equality, including the groups that MRAs and white supremacists hate.

Here’s where it gets scary though:

Murder in the name of white supremacy is pretty much so universal that I’d be here for weeks listing them. Anders Behring Breivik springs to mind as one, but honestly it happens nearly every day in the US, frequently in the form of law enforcement killing black Americans.

MRAs has a history of celebrating men who murder women in the name of anti-feminism. They have stated Elliot Rodger would have been a hero if he’d just killed women and no men. They have blamed feminists for Rodger’s actions, because Rodger was an “incel” (involuntarily celibate) and because feminists engage in “creep shaming.”

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot accused of crashing Germanwings Flight 9525, was called an incel hero and his actions an indication of the “beta uprising.” Vox Day, fantasy author and all-around horrible excuse for a human being, opines that Lubitz wouldn’t have crashed the plane if women and just jumped on his dick. MRAs also celebrated the recent massacre at Umpqua Community College.

PUA RooshV is so convinced that one day his followers will commit a massacre that he’s already formulating his response to it.

GamerGaters are already trying to commit murder obliquely with tactics such as swatting, and “raids” on sites such as Tumblr to attempt to harass depressed trans people into committing suicide.

How much longer before they go for the direct approach? Will someone have to actually die before these guys stop being handwaved off as just trolls?

They’ve just spread images of a Sikh man photoshopped to make him look like a terrorist. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack when the entire world is on a hair trigger. How can this be anything but attempted murder?

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Misogyny and discomfort with women’s sexuality

Yesterday, an anonymous gay man made a post about the fetishization and objectification of gay men in the m/m romance genre.

I won’t say he didn’t have some good points. He absolutely did. The fact that people in the m/m romance genre objectify and fetishize gay men is not a new one; it has come up repeatedly since I published my first book. It does exist, and it should really stop.

I also won’t say he tarred all women with the same brush, either. He included the obligatory “not all women” disclaimer. And I think if any woman reads that post and her response is “Not All Women!” then she’s doing exactly what she shouldn’t be doing and missing the point.

However, even though he made a good point, and even though he took care not to generalize, there is some deep misogyny in the post. And that’s not a new thing, either. It’s no surprise that some gay men are not exempt from misogyny. We live in a culture that actively works to undermine women, and no one is free of that influence, even women who are trying to overcome it.

As I mentioned in a comment to AJ Rose on Facebook, a lot of the fetishization and objectification I’ve seen in the genre actually happens outside the books, in the behavior of some readers and writers. In the presence of purely sex and phallus-driven stuff so prevalent at LGBTQ reader/writer conventions. At go-go boys and images of penises and nearly nude men in a space where the subject is supposed to be books.

But then he takes aim at the books themselves, and that bothers me. Because he acts as though all these books are about is the sex scenes, and that’s not true.

He says author’s portray men as “sex-crazed pigs.” It’s true a lot of books in the genre have characters who fuck around a lot. Usually the point of the book is for them to realize that that fucking around isn’t fulfilling them and that being with one person with whom they have an emotional connection is much more fulfilling. So if anything, the point of those stories is that men are NOT “sex-crazed pigs” but that they sometimes act that way for a number of factors.

Gay men are not exempt from the effects of toxic masculinity, which INSISTS that men must have high, aggressive sex drives, either. Nor are gay men exempt from hookup culture, which has spread throughout western society since the sexual revolution of the 60s. To ignore that would be to paint incomplete portraits of things gay men experience and deal with in our society.

Portraying that reality is only fetishization or objectification if the only point of it is to titillate. To portray it as part of a character’s journey is something else entirely. Especially when that portrayal involves the characters in question moving beyond those influences into something they find more satisfying with a single partner.

Now, I’m gonna throw a wacky, far-out concept out here. It’s sort of a big word, and Anonymous might want to write it down. The word is “storytelling.” It’s sort of a thing with authors. We’re kinda known for doing it.

Anonymous also lambasts the fact that protags in the story have sex with each other frequently. Again, that is only fetishization or objectification if it exists only to titillate. If it happens within the context of a new relationship forming, where the sexual energy is high because hello, the relationship is NEW, then it’s not fetishization or objectification. It’s simply portraying the very realistic experience of a newly-minted couple. It happens with m/f romance as well. Hell, it happens in real life. When my relationships were all new, we fucked like bunnies. It’s just a thing people do when they’re new and discovering one another sexually.

Okay, you say, those are valid points that Anonymous got wrong, but they’re not misogyny.

Well, here’s where it becomes misogyny:

He only smacks around the female readers and writers for it. Apparently it’s okay for male readers and writers to portray and enjoy these things, but not women.

As far as I can tell, according to Anonymous’s rant, the problem isn’t that these things EXIST. It’s that WOMEN ARE ENJOYING THEM EXISTING. That’s what he says is wrong with it all.

And that’s because we, as a culture, are very uncomfortable with women as sexual beings. See the phenomenon where women who willingly share nude selfies are whores and sluts and the pictures are disgusting, but a huge number of men in our society have an insatiable appetite for selfies that are shared without the woman’s consent.

Because it’s okay to enjoy women’s nude selfies, as long as they’re not shared and enjoyed willingly by the woman in question.

Men are allowed to propagate and consume sexuality. Women are not. And that, my friends, is bullshit. And it’s hypocrisy, and Anonymous should be ashamed for his lack of self-awareness.

We are uncomfortable with women’s sexuality on a societal level. And I say we because women are not exempt from this. It’s a product of the patriarchy which tells us that men’s sexuality is good and healthy and women’s sexuality is shameful and needs to be buried and repressed.

OH NO! WOMEN ENJOY SEX-TYPE STUFF. THE WORLD IS ENDING. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Even I, as sex-positive as I am, still struggle with it. The sight of (cis) women’s genitalia makes me squirm and not in the good way. Yonic imagery makes me uncomfortable, phallic imagery does not. It’s entirely possible that the reason I have gravitated toward m/m romance is because I find it easier to deal with male characters in a sexual context than female characters. Maybe. Back in my fandom days I wrote PLENTY of m/f erotica and erotic romance, so maybe not. Maybe m/m is just where I landed because it works for me as a writer at this stage of my personal development. Possibly the pendulum will swing the other way someday. Certainly I’m not in m/m romance for the money; I’d make far more money writing m/f.

Every day, as I evolve as a human being, I try to be aware of this influence and overcome it. I challenge myself daily to be as comfortable with the sight of a vulva as I am the sight of a penis. I struggle daily to find the same aesthetic value in f/f pictures and porn videos as I do in m/m pictures and porn.

That’s because I’m a self-aware human being, and I know that I am still under the influence of internalized misogyny.

Anonymous could do with a healthy dose of self-awareness. Because the problem made apparent by his post is not the problem he was ranting about.

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Leftist ableism, misinformation, #GamerGate, and the deliberately constructed decline of critical thought

If you followed me on Tumblr you know that a pet peeve of mine lately has been progressives using ableist language when making their points. You would also know that several times recently, I’ve had to deliberately counter leftist misinformation that makes its way across my dash.

And if you have read Player vs. Player or even skimmed the book jacket, you can probably guess that the GamerGate debacle is something I take very seriously, though that book was finalized before #GamerGate became a thing.

Would it surprise you to know that #GamerGate is a movement comprised of a significant number of left-leaning and leftist libertarian people?

Seen in that light, it makes a certain amount of sense that a great deal of #GamerGate’s rhetoric (even when they’re not maliciously harassing people) defaults to the use of ableist language.

I admit, the last election cycle, I was not aware of the left’s frequent reliance on ableist language. In the years since, I’ve had my eyes opened to a lot of things I hadn’t seen before, and perhaps that’s resulted in a sort of hypersensitivity to it. Mostly, it’s that I find myself time and again having to choose NOT to share articles, opinion pieces, and memes that otherwise make very valid points because of the use of ableist language. Progressives have no problem dismissing right-winger’s as “idiots” and call right-wing ideas “crazy,” “insane,” “lame,” and “stupid.” For a group of people who pride themselves on their open-minded ideas, the left has been extremely reluctant to stop using this language.

Now, of course, we see that a significant chunk of leftist #GamerGaters call themselves libertarians, which is a whole other kettle of fish from actually being progressive. Libertarians are, on the whole, people who like to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant enough not to care about things other people do that don’t personally affect them–such as having abortions or marrying someone of the same sex–but don’t see any reason why they should give up their racism, sexism, classism, transphobia and ableism. They’re conservatives who are minimally self-aware enough to want to avoid the shame of being blatant bigots, but they don’t actually want anything to change, so attempt to slip their bigotry in under the radar with a self-congratulatory veneer of open-mindedness. So there’s that.

When confronted by someone who points out this disconnect, the illusion evaporates and they quickly default to blatant racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism, however. Which is #GamerGate in a nutshell. It’s a bunch of misogynists railing against the notion of change (specifically in the gaming industry and geek culture) while claiming they’re left-leaning because they generously permit women to have abortions. Meanwhile they spew a bunch of sexist vitriol, death threats, rape threats, sexual harassment, gendered slurs, and even deliberately organized campaigns to try to trigger dysphoria in at-risk trans people in an attempt to induce them to commit suicide.

Thus it would be really easy to dismiss them under the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, and give the rest of the left a pass on their more discreet forms of ableism. #GamerGate thinks nothing of using the r-word against people they disagree with–which for the rest of the left is just Going Too Far (though it wouldn’t be if, of all people, Sarah Palin hadn’t pointed it out very publicly–while unironically using the term “lamestream media.”) The r-word is basically a slur so offensive that the rest of the left won’t touch it. Instead, they default to more socially acceptable variations on the theme like “idiotic” and “insane.”

But here’s the thing. The right is neither idiotic nor insane. What they are is a group of people who are lacking in critical thinking skills.

That’s not a congenital deficit (unless it actually is, when taking into consideration people who are severely learning or developmentally disabled.) Critical thinking skills are something that are learned in the course of a well-rounded education, and thus can be acquired by anyone (except for those who literally lack the faculties to acquire them due to the aforementioned disabilities.)

And what we’ve seen for decades from the right–and this includes libertarians whose conceit is that they are “fiscally conservative but socially liberal”–is a concerted effort to deny people a well-rounded education.

They make a college education too expensive to afford without incurring enormous amounts of debt and then refuse to lower the interest rate on that debt.

They cut funding for educational programming on PBS, which poor families often rely on because they can’t afford cable. They cut funding for Head Start programs. They cut school budgets so that there are fewer teachers per student, and cut lunch and welfare programs that enable students to learn better because they’re not going hungry.

They construct curricula that neglect accurate and truthful education on the subjects of history and social studies and science. They are outright antipathetic to arts programs, despite the fact that scientific studies have repeatedly proven that children who receive arts education do better in most or all “core” subjects, particularly math, which then impacts the ability to learn science.

They continually, in ways both implicit and explicit, deride being educated or anything that smacks of “intellectualism,” dismissing it as being elitist.

It has repeatedly been demonstrated that educated people overwhelmingly tend to vote left. This is because educated people are people with sound critical thinking skills. They can look at the problems facing society, deconstruct what has created those problems, and promote rational, logical solutions that are backed by sound science. People without critical thinking skills tend to vote based upon emotion, scare tactics, and buzzwords, things that the right is very good at and relies on hugely in the absence of genuine solutions to our problems.

(Golly, that sure makes it look like the right’s attempts to prevent people receiving an education look like a well-choreographed, decades-long campaign to create a populace largely incapable of critical thought, doesn’t it?)

Which is why you get people outraged about Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts” (which doesn’t happen) and then railing about their tax dollars paying for abortions (which also doesn’t happen.)

It’s why we can somehow pin all our fear of terrorist violence on Muslim people despite the fact that white American men are vastly more likely to carry out terrorist attacks on American citizens. It’s also why we can simultaneously scream to the high heavens that it’s unconstitutional to deny those white American men easy access to firearms but perfectly constitutional to detain, brutalize, and carry out invasive searches of Muslims and/or black Americans who have done nothing more illegal than buying an airline ticket or failing to obey a minor traffic law (if even that.)

It’s why people can convince themselves that a college-bound high school graduate who committed absolutely no crime is a “demonic” thug who deserved his own murder but the policeman who murdered him is a hero who deserves a million dollars in crowdfunding money.

It’s why the people who hold the vast majority of financial and political and media power in the US can unironically contend that they’re being oppressed because someone says “happy holidays” or suggests that they shouldn’t appropriate non-white cultures.

Which brings me the second subject I raised way up there in the first paragraph. In addition to the left’s not-so-subtle default to ableism, I’m seeing repeated instances of misinformation crossing my dash. Not nearly as many–or nearly as blatant–as the right, of course, but it’s very insidious.

Like this post from a couple days ago. A point of misinformation in the middle of an otherwise well-thought-out and factual argument is a rotten able that will taint the whole barrel.

Some may argue that, in a society that has deliberately been denied the ability to think critically, relying on appeals to emotion, buzzwords, and outrage generated on false premises–as opposed to accurately educating people about the issues–is the only way the left can win. But are we really still progressives if we do that?

TL;DR–if you pride yourself on being progressive but default to ableist language to further your agenda, you’re behaving no better than the sexist troglodytes of #GamerGate. And if you consider yourself progressive but you resort to tactics which bypass the requirement for critical thought (and would fail the test of critical thought if applied) you’re no better than FOX News.

Either way, knock it off.

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So, GamerGate finally worked up the guts to go after @ChrisWarcraft

How did #GamerGate respond when former NFL player and outspoken LGBT rights activist Chris Kluwe savaged them?

They went after and doxxed Felicia Day, the darling of internet fandom and all things geeky, when she very gently and timidly suggested that maybe these dudebros shouldn’t be threatening and harassing women.

That’s because GamerGators are cowards and they’re misogynists. As far as they’re concerned, it’s open season on women who stand against them, but it took them a while to take their balls in-hand and go after a guy.

In case you’ve missed my other posts about GamerGate’s antics, here’s a few highlights:

They’re cowards, though. So they do this shit, and then try to find ways to weasle out of the consequences.

So, honestly, I’m not sure what to make of the fact that they’ve gone after Chris Kluwe now. Does it mean they’re escalating, growing bolder and more dangerous? Or that they’re just becoming less misogynist and more diverse in their harassment?

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that if #gamergate had happened a year earlier, Player vs. Player would have been a very different book. Or rather, it would have been the same book, but the collection of real-life events that made up the inspiration for it would have been so much more informed about just how low these guys will sink and the sort of tactics they use.

For instance, in Player vs. Player, we have this incident in PvP:

“That leaves us with the final wave. Now is Niles Grace or Chino, and who is the last person?”

Payne looked from the drawings to Niles and Rosie. “After the player character, Grace is the leader of the company.”

Rosie blinked. “Me? You think I might be a target?”

Jordan laughed, though it was bitter. Nothing about this was a damn bit funny. “Rosie, when haven’t you been a target?”

“But he’s been leaving the notes for Niles.”

“Because you have a doorman and security. He can’t get to you, and if he sent them via email, they would just get lost in the thousands of other threats we file and ignore. He wanted our attention, and the emails and texts aren’t the way to get it.”

“You’re the boss,” Niles said, staring at Rosie. He had a quaver in his voice that Jordan didn’t like, as if he were moments from falling apart. “To get to the boss, you have to go through his or her lieutenants, right?”

Witnessing what GamerGate has been up to, how they’ve steered clear of going after high-profile male targets and instead concentrated their harassment on women, I wonder if I would have written that section differently now.

At any rate, my support is with Chris Kluwe, as it is with all of their targets. May 2015 be the year when sniveling, neckbearded cowards decide that hey, maybe it’s time to be decent human beings and not send rape threats and drive people from their homes and threaten college campus massacres, all because women would like to see a few less chainmail bikinis in their favorite hobby.

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Player vs. Player blog tour, days three and four!

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It’s Day Four of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Yesterday, my blog tour took me over to The Blogger Girls, where I discussed my background and  motivation for writing Player vs. Player. I also shared an excerpt over at Book Reviews and More by Kathy.

Today I’m sharing another excerpt over at Love Bytes, stopping by TTC Books and More for a brief spotlight stop, and The Jeep Diva is sharing a review and hosting a spotlight stop as well!

Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles.

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Also, if you missed the middle-of-the-night news, Saugatuck Summer is on special this week for $0.99 at several outlets, including Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Now is a great time to grab it if you haven’t yet!

Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player blog tour, day two!

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It’s Day Two of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Today my blog tour is taking me over to The Novel Approach, where I discuss a particularly mind-boggling bit of irrational reasoning regarding the presence of women in gaming spaces. Also be sure to check out TNA’s lovely review they posted yesterday! Then I head over to to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for a brief spotlight stop, and finally over to Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi, where I share the history and love of gaming that led me to write Player vs. Player. Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player release day and blog tour launch!

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Today, Player vs. Player is officially available just about everywhere. Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

I start my blog tour off today over at Prism Book Alliance, discussing diversity in gaming then follow that up with two excerpts, one over at All I Want and More Books and the other at Cup o’ Porn. Commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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This just in: GamerGaters are actual heartless scum. But we knew that already. (tw: pet death)

Brianna Wu, a female game developer who was driven out of her home by credible threats leveled against her by GamerGate trolls a couple months ago, posted this series of tweets today:

She also had to have her dog tested to make sure he wasn’t poisoned:

And in case you want screen shots of the sort of stuff she was receiving on the night in question:

But it’s about ethics in gaming journalism, right?

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On Friday, Anita Sarkeesian called out “toxic masculinity” on Twitter. Here’s what happened next.

So, this happened.

we hunted the mammoth

Anita Sarkeesian's Twitter notifications (Artist's conception) Anita Sarkeesian’s Twitter mentions (Artist’s conception)

What a surreal life Anita Sarkeesian must lead, in which virtually everything she says and does becomes grist for the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine, Sarkeesian Division.

Take the latest blowup, which followed a few comments Sarkeesian made in the wake of Friday’s school shooting in Maryville, which may have been triggered by the shooter’s angry response to a romantic breakup. On Friday, Sarkeesian posted a few thoughts on the matter on Twitter:

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Why I wrote Player vs. Player: @FeliciaDay @FemFreq @Spacekatgal @ChrisWarcraft @TheQuinnspiracy @gogreen18

I’m gonna get my bona fides–or lack thereof–out of the way up front.

I’m a gamer. I’m a feminist.

Am I a hardcore gamer? I imagine by most definitions, the answer would be no. I don’t have time for it; I have a son to raise and books to write. I drift in and out of gaming when something catches my attention. Whenever I’ve tried to be a hardcore gamer–for a while my husband and I had an arrangement for me to be able to take Friday evenings off from parenting starting at 7 PM so I could raid with my guild–it never worked out. 7 PM for me was 10PM for many of my guildies, so they wanted to start raiding at 5:30 PM, just when I was eating dinner with my husband and son. I always felt guilty because either I was letting my guildies down or I was ignoring my obligations to my family, so I just stopped trying to be a raider. Trying to do RaidFinder-type raids resulted in me being rejected and sometimes harassed for not being geared to their standards, so now I mostly stick to single-player games or do solo and small group content that I can work on in my own time.

While I am a feminist, I also don’t pretend that I’m the most educated and informed person on many of the issues. I’m very reclusive and sometimes that puts me behind the ball on current events and issues.

So, there. I’m by no means either an expert gamer or an expert feminist. I’m just someone who cares enough to try to call attention to issues when and where I can, using the voice and the medium I have available to me. Which, in this case, means as an author of LGBT romance.

When I started writing Player vs. Player , it was about a year after the harassment of Jennifer Hepler (formerly of Bioware) had taken place, and slightly less than a year after Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency had received such toxic backlash for starting her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter.

Those incidences stayed with me because I knew that internetting while female could be a nasty business, and because the harassment was so very vile, because it spoke of such a deep-seated hatred in gaming culture toward women, part of me thought, “Dear God, what is going to happen when one of these people goes from trolling to actual violence?”

It didn’t seem like a far-fetched possibility to me. In fact, it seemed downright inevitable. Because that’s the way things work. Bullies egg each other on and make one another feel bolder and try harder to impress each other and the bullying keeps escalating. That’s the way it’s worked ever since I was the bully-magnet on the playground when I was a kid. One kid would say a cruel thing. The other kids would laugh, so he’d say something crueler. Someone else would try to one-ups him. Next thing I knew, I’d be cornered with them all trying to out-do each other and intimidating me physically. A few days later, someone would be walking down the halls right on my heels, stepping on the backs of my shoes to try to trip me, pushing me into lockers, or, when I got older, grabbing my ass to impress his friends when he came across me browsing the book aisle in the supermarket.

Bullying escalates. So it didn’t seem at all unrealistic that the sort of treatment Hepler and Sarkeesian had received could eventually morph into actual physical violence. After all, what is the point of disseminating someone’s personal information such as their phone number and home address unless you’re trying to encourage someone to go after that person physically, and trying to intimidate that person with the possibility of an actual physical assault?

So that is what I wrote about. But I’m a writer of LGBT (primarily m/m but that may be subject to change in the future) romance, so I used the platform I had, making the story a murder mystery with a romantic subplot between two male characters. At one point I tried to contact Ms. Sarkeesian and see if I could get any more insight that would help me craft that story, but I imagine the amount of email she gets is tremendous so I’m not surprised that mine didn’t catch her notice, and that’s okay. I wrote as best I could, with the information had.

I thought I’d seen vile. I hadn’t seen anything yet.

I hadn’t seen an ex-boyfriend with a sexist ax to grind mobilize a bunch of misogynist trolls against Zoe Quinn (see next paragraph for explanation of this event.) I hadn’t game developer Brianna Wu driven from her home by threats. I hadn’t seen a college campus massacre threatened just because Anita Sarkeesian was going to speak about misogyny in video games (see below.) I hadn’t seen Felicia Day, the darling of geek culture, doxxed less than an hour after cautiously standing up and saying, “this isn’t right.”

(It should be noted that a couple days earlier, former NFL player and notable gamer and LGBT-rights activist Chris Kluwe said the same thing Day did, only much less diplomatically, but he hasn’t been doxxed. It’s only women being targeted.)

I’ve been posting recently about GamerGate, both here and on Tumblr. Maybe some of you don’t know what that is. I’m not going to try to explain it, because many people have done so much better than I can. I will refer you to this article, which explains it nicely.

ETA: After you’ve read that, check out this for a series of screencaps from discussions on 4chan in the first few days of the GamerGate operation, where we see it transition from a misogynist harassment campaign that wasn’t getting any traction to a concerted, calculated effort to try to cloak the harassment under a veneer of legitimacy and co-opt social justice hotbutton issues and language in an attempt to turn other women against Zoe Quinn.

But let’s just make one thing very clear. Despite subsequent recruitment of well-intentioned but misguided stooges and efforts to cloak themselves in legitimacy and claims of being about journalistic ethics, GamerGate is and has been from its very first inception about harassing women in the gaming industry, and women who critique gaming and gamers. It is a misogynist movement whose supporters are willing to make terroristic threats to silence people for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, using images and tropes relying on sexualized violence against women (and people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people) is at best, unimaginative and at worse, harmful to actual people.

GamerGate came along right after I had finished final edits on Player vs. Player. Part of me wishes sometimes I had written it a year later. It would have been a much more informed book. What was primarily on my mind as we were wrapping up PvP was Elliott Rodgers and the UCSB shooting. I even addressed the dedication to his victims and started the book with a quote from vlogger Laci Green, where she said about the shootings: “Misogyny actually kills people.”

At the time, Laci’s message was topical to PvP because that is, at its heart, what PvP is about. It’s about the misogynist/homophobic/racist backlash against gamers requesting (and game developers delivering) more diverse gaming content.

Misogyny actually kills people. That’s an important point to make. We know–especially right now in the aftermath of the murder of unarmed young black men in Ferguson and elsewhere across the United States–that racism kills people. We know that homophobia kills people. And misogyny kills people.

What is so very terrifying about GamerGate and the anti-diversity backlash in gaming is that it’s a perfect storm of misogyny, homophobia, and racism. These people are making terrorist threats against people who are simply asking for fewer harmful tropes and more diverse representation.

A very sad, jaded part of me wonders if the fact that Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn, and now Felicia Day are being terrorized, threatened, even driven out of their homes, would be getting as much play in the press if these women were black, and an even sadder part of me knows the answer to that question would be “no.” We’re taking notice because this is happening to white women (Correction: Ms. Sarkeesian actually identifies as Armenian, I’m told, and her family is from Iraq.)

If I were writing Player vs. Player today, the murderers in the story would identify themselves as supporters of GamerGate. The only reason they don’t is because I wrote the book a year too early. In the author’s notes at the end of the book, I reference Jennifer Hepler and Anita Sarkeesian and explain how their incidences informed the writing of the book. If I were writing it today, that list would be a lot longer, and the book would probably actually be a lot grimmer, because the situation is far more toxic than even I envisioned at the time I wrote the book.

Ms. Sarkessian, Ms. Hepler, Ms. Quinn, Ms. Wu, Ms. Day, this book is for you, and for all the women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ gamers who have been and are being harassed into silence. It’s for cypheroftyr and dragonreine, two amazing LGBTQIA+ female gamers of color who are running the Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games blog and the #ineeddiversegames hashtag. It’s for more people than I can possibly hope to mention, who are refusing to be silenced, despite the best efforts of these misogynist, racist, homophobic trolls to turn gaming and simply being online while female into a culture of terror.

Thank you for fighting the fight. I know my contribution is nothing next to yours, but I’m doing what I can and I will always, always have your backs.

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Recommended reading: This is Misogynist Terrorism

Persuant to yesterday’s post, fo read this: http://www.shakesville.com/2014/10/this-is-misogynist-terrorism.html

I’m not exaggerating when I use the term terrorism, folks. And I’m not the only one using it.

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Score one for the terrorists #misogyny #gaming @femfreq @RiptideBooks

When I decided to write Player vs. Player, a great deal of it was inspired by events that happened a couple years ago to Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and Jennifer Hepler, formerly of Bioware.

As the months have passed nearing the book’s publication, I worried that people would think I had hashed up an outdated incident and exaggerated it for story fodder. But I haven’t.

The reality is actually much grimmer.

Before I go any further, I will need to apologize. I’ve gotten three hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, I’ve had no coffee this morning, and my blood sugar is so low that I’m trembling. And I’m deeply upset and just… heartsick. My soul hurts. So I’m not necessarily at my coherent best right now, but I don’t have much time to post this before I need to leave.

Today as I woke up, looking forward to attending GRL, I discovered that Anita Sarkeesian has been forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University. Apparently, the fact that this woman wants to speak about the treatment imaginary female characters receive in imaginary worlds and how that treatment reflects in our real-life culture is so intolerable that men have resorted to terrorist threats to try to silence her message.

This is after I’ve spent a week watching the #ineeddiversegames hashtag on Twitter and following the why-i-need-diverse-games blog on Tumblr. Which has also received a great deal of harassment from misogynists, racists, and homophobes who don’t see the lack of diversity in gaming as a problem.

Meanwhile, unarmed Black men are being murdered by the police forces who are supposed to protect and defend the people. And women are being assaulted and murdered for having the audacity to ignore catcalls or refuse unwanted advances on the street.

Do we not see that the reflections (or lack thereof) that we see of women, people of color, and MOGII/LGBTQIA+ people in our media (like video games) informs the culture in which women can be shot in the head and have their throats slit for not responding favorable to street harassment? That the portrayals of people of color in these games as being villains or victims or cannon fodder but never heroes whose stories we experience contributes to the dehumanization of people of color, to the point where young Black men who aren’t threatening anyone, who aren’t armed, who have committed no crime.

And the people who point out this issue are being threatened with rape and massacres and harassed until their voices are drowned out.

Maybe it’s my lack of sleep or lack of caffeine or lack of food, but today I just can’t with it all. We live in a world that hates women, that hates people based on the color of their skin or who they love or whether or not their gender matches their genitalia. And I just want to cry.

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Oh, hey, Player vs. Player is available now @NetGalley! #mysterysuspense #lgbtqia+ #gaming @RiptideBooks

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerI was wondering when review copies of Player vs. Player would be available. Somehow it snuck up onto NetGalley without me realizing! You can also pre-order PvP at Riptide or Amazon.

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In honor of the #INeedDiverseGames tag, I share an excerpt from Player vs Player @RiptideBooks

For those of you who aren’t aware, I have a mystery/suspense novel coming out in December titled Player vs. Player. This novel is set within the gaming industry and deals with the rampant misogyny, homophobia, and racism in gaming and geek culture, and more specifically, the violent backlash against anyone who speaks out and threatens the status quo. It was inspired by, among other things, the way Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has been treated for her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series.

Today, CypherofTyr on Tumblr started the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag on Twitter and a Tumblr blog called Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games. It only took a couple hours for trolls to appear and start trying to derail a tag that has already picked up some absolutely awesome momentum. In support of this, I thought I would share a particularly relevant excerpt from Chapter 18 of Player vs. Player.

Cast of Characters:
Rosena Candelaria: (Latina, pansexual) CEO of Third Wave Gaming Studios
Niles River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Lead writer at Third Wave
Jordan River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Niles’s identical twin brother, marketing director at Third Wave
Angela Payne: (Black, lesbian) Police detective
Timothy Wyatt: (White, bisexual) Police detective

Continue reading

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The Cult of Masculinity

Okay, folks, I’m going to the ranty place. Buckle up.

So, one of the latest bits of misogyny to make feminists on social media see red (and for good reason) is this commercial:

For the moment, let’s forget all the not-so-subtle subtext here. Let’s forget that something associated with being a woman is quite literally being equated to shit (he picks up the purse the same way a dog owner will collect their dog’s droppings.) Let’s forget that it’s saying that finding ways to cloak any un-masculine presentation is an endeavor worthy of applause, or that holding a woman’s purse for a couple minutes is so emasculating a task that he has to find ways to avoid being seen doing it.

When did carrying a purse become a purely feminine trait?

(The answer, for those of you who care about the history of fashion, is “sometime after the late 17th century, when men’s fashion started to come with pockets for carrying their coin, which was the only currency option back then.”)

Today, I was driving past the mall and I saw a man on the sidewalk wearing a very small backpack. Like, half as wide as a regular backpack and not as long. It looked something like this, but more canvas-like, not so padded and athletic:

In fact, in terms of size, it actually looked more like, well, this:

Titled on Ebay: “Cute women’s mini-backpack.”

Let’s face it, folks. He was carrying a “man purse.” And I hate that I have to call it a “man purse.” He wants the carry capacity of a purse, but he’s too manly to carry an actual, you know, purse.

Which is why I started wondering when carrying a purse became something unmanly. I mean, look at Scotsmen with their sporrans.

I mean, Liam Neeson here as Rob Roy is rocking long hair, a skirt, AND a purse, and I don’t care if you’re some freaky mutant hybrid made up of the combined DNA of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vin Diesel and The Rock, your poor, teeny-tiny steroid-shrunken penis is curling up and weeping in envy because it knows you will never be half so butch as Liam in this picture.

Do I have a point here? Yes, of course I do. It’s the fact that ultra-masculinity is held up as such a gold standard for existing that anything which even hints at femininity is treated as though it will TAINT that masculinity by mere proximity. (Seriously, how manly are you really if the sight of a box of tampons can make you squirm?)

Now, as a woman, as a feminist, of course this bothers me because femininity is viewed as being inherently and by its very nature inferior. It’s even codified into our vernacular. A guy who feels he’s being treated like a woman will complain about the implication that he’s “less than” a man. Less than. I’ve heard femme gay guys use that verbiage. Men who were feminists and who love and support the women in their lives and claim to have no problems with femininity, especially their own manifestation of it. They use it without thinking about what they’re actually implying.

Less than a man.

Let’s say we’re getting away from this idea of gender as a binary and treating it as a spectrum. It’s still being treated as a VERTICAL spectrum, with masculinity at the top and femininity at the bottom. And that’s not good.

As a writer of LGBT romance (m/m for now but that may change in the near future) this affects me because a subject that comes up periodically in the m/m romance community is the trope that the roles a guy plays sexually correlate to his gender presentation. In other words, the femme gay guy is the bottom and the butch gay guy is the top.

Now, this is an absolutely 100% valid criticism. These heteronormative stereotypes are no good for anyone. The assumption that all gay men participate in penetrative sex is no good. The assumption that anyone has any business knowing what role someone plays in their private sex life is no good, unless the concerned parties are happy to share and not pressured by intrusive questions. There is a lot of BAD about that trope and I absolutely support dismantling it, so long as we can do so without committing erasure on or belittling the femme gay guys who DO enjoy bottoming exclusively, or the butch guys who do enjoy topping exclusively. We have to respect their presence in the community as well and not eschew them just because they slot into an uncomfortable stereotype.

But the TONE of the criticism sometimes bothers me as a woman. Because, of course, gay couples get asked (rudely and unacceptably) “which one of you is the girl?” So gay men are lashing back (justifiably) saying, “don’t ask me what role I play in sex. Don’t assume I’m the top or the bottom.”

Which is great if the end of that sentence is “because it’s no one’s business but mine” or if the answer were, “maybe I top and maybe I bottom, or maybe I do neither, it’s not your business and anyway, what difference does it make?”

But sometimes the subtext of that conversation isn’t “don’t assume I’m the bottom,” it’s “don’t assume I’m the girl.”

To which I would have to reply, “Wait. What’s wrong with being the girl?” I mean, why is being the girl fine for me (as a girl) but not for you, unless you think that “being the girl” makes you . . . less?

Unfortunately, just as straight women who purport to be friends and allies of the LGBT community can espouse homophobic and transphobic biases they might not even realize they hold, sometimes gay men, even those who claim to love and support women, can be misogynists, too.

But here’s the kicker: MISOGYNY IS THE ROOT OF HOMOPHOBIA/BIPHOBIA/TRANSPHOBIA. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a million times again. There would be absolutely nothing threatening about men and women who cross sexual and gender lines if those lines weren’t in place as scaffolding to uphold this notion of masculinity being superior to femininity, and if the commingling of the two weren’t perceived as tainting that superiority.

So, guys–straight, gay, and otherwise–rock that purse if you need room to carry something. If you do to the store for your girlfriend/wife/platonic female roommate/BFF, slap those tampons down on the conveyor belt with an utter lack of give-a-fuck. Stop trying to uphold your masculinity by distancing yourself from the “taint” of femininity. Harmful stereotypes, damaging gender roles, and homophobia doesn’t end until the taboo of femininity ends. Work on dismantling that, rather than dodging it.

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Player vs. Player now available for pre-order at Amazon #mmromance #mystery #gaming @RiptideBooks

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Player vs. Player is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Keep in mind that if you pre-order through Riptide, you get the book two days earlier, and more of the proceeds support the author and publisher. However, ordering at Amazon affects the chances of the book making bestseller lists upon its release, and that’s important too.

But, most important of all, readers have a choice. Which is always awesome.

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Get your first look at Player vs. Player @RiptideBooks #mmromance #mystery #gaming #comingsoon

This weekend while I was enjoying myself at Gay Romance NorthWest in Seattle, Riptide released the excerpt for Player vs. Player in their weekend newsletter. It’s now available on their website, so feel free to take a peek!

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Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Player vs. Player is coming December 8, 2014 and is available for pre-order now!

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The summer in review (or: “where the heck have you been, Amelia?”)

So, it’s been almost two months since my last blog update. I know. Ask me how long some people have been waiting for responses to emails they’ve sent to me.

My dear friend Depression has been visiting this summer, and hasn’t wanted to leave. For the last several months, it’s been increasingly difficult to make myself do anything unless it has an actual deadline attached to it. Mostly I’ve been doing escapist stuff and avoiding talking to people (if you’re one of those people in question, I beg you not to take it personally, as I’m avoiding everyone. It’s not just you.) The avoidance is probably for the best, actually. When I tend to get this bad, I will often go off the rails and behave badly and lash out at people and it’s not pretty. It also, however, has not helped me get a whole heck of a lot done.

So, what have I been doing?

In order of what you’re going to see released, I have two projects approaching completion.

The first will be coming out just in time for GRL, and is a box set with a bunch of other authors whose company I’m incredibly thrilled to be in.

UnconditionalSurrender_400x600My story is titled The Houseboy: Initiation, and is nothing short of pure, unadulterated erotica. Seriously. There are a lot of stories where I go for “smut with substance” and there is a lot happening behind the sexytiems. This…is not one of those times. It’s Daddy kink. It’s BDSM. It’s age difference, virginity kink, gangbang, objectification, semi-public sex, exhibitionism, and God only knows what else. In many ways, it’s what Strain would have been without the angst and the fuck-or-die element driving the plot. If that sounds like your cuppa, I’ll be sharing an excerpt in my next post. 🙂

Of course, my depression means my inner critic is being particularly loud, and I’m convinced the story is awful and has no place in the bundle and blah blah blah, but hopefully it will go over well. The bundle is up for pre-order if you would like go that route, and here are the links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes

No, you’re not imagining things, Yes, we really are offering you 300K of original stories by some of your favorite authors for only 99 cents. Jump on this. Seriously.

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerThe next project in the works will be coming out in December. I’ve already shared some about it, but in case you missed it, this is my first attempt at an honest-to-God mystery. (Yes, I went to the plotty place.) This is also the same book you might have heard me refer to in other places as Third Wave. I also went to a surprisingly low-smut place with this one. I’m not sure if I was proud or appalled at how sparse the content and kink warnings were when I was filling out the information for the product page at Riptide. PvP will be out in December and is available for pre-order from Riptide. Right now we’re in the middle of edits and I imagine review copies will be going out in the next month or so.

Now, what else have I been working on? Well, a great deal of my new-word productivity this summer has been spent on Bane. What Bane is, I’m hesitant to say, because it keeps changing on me. It started as a prequel to Strain, set about ten years before the events of Strain. It was the story of high-end escort Nico and Zach Houtman, the disowned elder son and brother of Father Maurice and Jacob in Strain, and how their actions and the actions of those around them led to the activation of Project Juggernaut and the plague that wiped out most of humanity.

And then I discovered that Darius, Rhys, Xolani and the rest of the Delta Company gang wanted in on some of the plot threads that developed as a result of those pre-plague events, it became a sequel to Strain with portions that jumped back in time (via extended flashback-like sections) to before the plague. So it was sort of going to be a prequel-within-a-sequel, if that makes sense?

But then, as I brainstormed a few plot points with Chris, the editorial assistant at Riptide, I realized I probably have too much content for just one book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it is looking like it might be two books–the original prequel I envisioned, and then a sequel which will take the events of the prequel and bring them together with the characters from Strain. Right now the whole project is still being called Bane, though I imagine at some point there is going to be another title involved.

So, what does this mean? Well, I’m really excited about Zach and Nico’s story, especially since I get to delve into a lot of the politics and build the world and events that resulted in the plague, but for those of you who were fans of Strain, I’m sure the big news here is that yes, Darius and Rhys WILL be back. It was actually pretty amazing from a writing standpoint. I was stuck writing some stuff with Zach and Nico, so I decided to switch over and start working on a new scene with Darius and Rhys, and I swear, everything just fell into place. They came back to me so easily and naturally, and it just felt so right, and once I started working on them, everything else started to take shape and make sense. So I’m hoping to have the first draft of this two-book manuscript done in another month or two, and then hopefully Riptide and I will have more information for all of you.

And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten that Geoff and Robin from Saugatuck Summer, or Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, are still supposed to get their own books. Those are just on the back burner for now because Bane is consuming my brain. And for those of you who are looking forward to PvP, you might like a heads-up that Niles’s twin brother Jordan will also be getting his own book, and also I may be dipping my toe into the f/f pool and giving Rosie, Niles’s boss and best friend, her story as well. In fact, she’s poking me in the back of the brain pretty hard and demanding it, and you just don’t say no to Rosie. It doesn’t happen.

Next month, I’ll be up in Seattle at Gay Romance NW 2014, and then in October, of course, I’ll be at GRL2014 in Chicago. I was not one of the lucky few who got an author spot, so I’ll be attending as a reader, but I will be at the Riptide table for the book signings, and I’ll be around, so you’ll get a chance to see me.

So there’s a lot in the hopper right now, the big issue is just overcoming the urge for avoidance and escapism that is part and parcel of being depressed. I’ll be trying to dig my way through my email and message backlog, so hang tight if you’re waiting to hear from me. Hopefully it will get easier the more I work on it. But for those of you are are still reading at this point, especially those of you who deal with chronic depression, what do you do to overcome it when you get in that place where you just want to avoid anything and everyone and not deal with it all?

 

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Some weeks there’s so much to say that you can’t say anything

So, last week I was mostly offline except for blog tour stuff. Nothing going on, I just felt the need to crawl into my hole for a while, and then my kid had Friday off as well as Memorial Day so it was a long weekend parenting. Except for checking email, I went totally dark. No Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, whatever.

The point being, I was a day or two behind the ball learning about the UCSB massacre.

How did I find out about it? Well, my husband emailed me a YouTube video, which I ignored for a day because he often sends me links to miscellaneous stuff he has found interesting so I didn’t think it was pressing.

This was the video:

I’ve spent the week wanting to say something about it, but honestly I think Laci says it all in that video. I’ve been following the posts on Tumblr and the #YesAllWomen hashtag and vacillating between being saddened to the point of tears and enraged to the point of wanting to do violence myself, particularly at some of the male responses (and even some of the female ones.)

We live in a world where women who are killed by men for rejecting a man’s advances are being held culpable for their own deaths in the court of public opinion. Honestly, what is there to say about that? I can’t even. My mind goes blank and I just want to go HulkSmash! all over everything.

I read the #YesAllWomen hashtag, though, and while each and every anecdote fills me with sorrow and impotent rage, I actually don’t share most of those experiences. See, I’m pretty much a shut-in. I go out into public only when I absolutely have to, maybe 2-3 times a month, and usually it’s just to run a specific errand and head home, interacting with as few people as possible. The thing that saves me from sharing the nearly universal experiences of women trying to exist in our society today is a nearly pathological level of reclusiveness. Which is ridiculous. Is that honestly what it takes to escape the invasive sexism in our culture? Living like a hermit?

It seems almost a portent that this should happen the same week I contracted Third Wave with Riptide. I was originally going to self-publish Third Wave due to some scheduling conflicts that wouldn’t allow it to be released when I was hoping to release it, but those got worked out and now my family can go on our first vacation in almost four years rather than paying the editing costs for the novel.

Why do I say it seems a portent? Because Third Wave is about misogyny and homophobia, wrapped in a whodunit set in the gaming industry and geek culture. The same week that Laci Green says in her video, “misogyny actually kills people” I signed a contract on a novel about exactly that issue. My MC, Niles, is a gay man, yes, but an equally important character is his boss, Rosena Candelaria, the CEO of Third Wave Studios, which produces video game titles with mass appeal that specifically make a point of giving equal representation to women, POC, and LGBT players. It’s a book about feminist politics (and make no mistake, homophobia is at its heart an issue about misogyny as well, because there would be nothing threatening about people who blur the line between masculine and feminine if masculinity weren’t considered a gold standard that needs to be defended from any taint of the “inferior” femininity) and the backlash against anything that threatens the status quo of white cis-het-male privilege.

And just when I feared people would sneer or think I was exaggerating the problem, that no one would actually KILL over something like that, well, look what happened.

So remember that when you read Third Wave. Remember it’s not blown up for dramatic purposes. It’s very, very real. In the book I show some of the tweets and texts that Rosie and Niles deal with, and I will say right now that every single one of them is a paraphrase of a real tweet or text shared by feminist activists like Anita Sarkeesian of FeministFrequency, or the Fandoms and Feminism Tumblr, or Fat, Ugly, or Slutty.

So, stay tuned for more about Third Wave in the months to come. And pray/meditate/do whatever you do for the victims of the UCSB shooting, their families, and the women living in daily threat of similar violence being visited upon them.

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Interneting while Female: women and online harassment

Let me tell you a little story. Actually, let me tell you a few of them.

Let me tell you a little about Jennifer Hepler. She was a writer for BioWare, a gaming company known best for their Star Wars, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect franchises. She wrote some very popular characters, but one day she made the catastrophic mistake of creating a Twitter account. Within just a few days, trolls had dug up a quote of hers from years before about the direction of gaming (most notably that games would probably adopt a “story” mode for players who were playing for the narrative rather than the combat) and had declared war on her. They targeted not just her Twitter, but her personal life. If you want to see even just a fraction of the abuse she was subjected to in those few days, check out this entry for her at Encyclopedia Dramatica, where the trolls continue to take their pot-shots. (I recommend you take anti-nausea medication before you do so.)

Then, right on the heels of the Jennifer Hepler harassment, there was another major incident in gaming circles.

Now, understand that I don’t even know the whole of it, only what I’ve read in articles and blog posts. I would really love to sit down with Anita Sarkeesian and talk about it someday. If you’re a woman on the internet, particularly a woman in “male-dominated” communities like sci-fi and gaming, this woman is a hero and you need to be aware of her. She’s on the front lines fighting the fight so we don’t have to.

Anita Sarkeesian runs a website called Feminist Frequency, which is dedicated to analyzing the representation of women in pop culture. Instead of telling you what happened when she took on a project dealing with the portrayal of women in video games, I’ll let Anita do it in her own words:

The TED-talk in the video was over a year ago. The harassment it details was nearly two years ago. Now look at the date on that tweet at the top of this post.

It’s still going on. (Though Anonymous has disavowed any involvement.)

“Every day I’m encouraged by the women who persevere, who continue to engage, and who refuse to be silenced.” — Anita Sarkeesian

This. So much this.

Some of you may know I hang out on Tumblr pretty regularly, and I follow a number of feminist blogs there, particularly http://fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com/. So every day on my dash, I see dozens of messages from the person running that blog, dealing with not only sexism, but minority representation, homophobia, transmisogyny, and racial issues. A lot of those messages are asks–messages sent directly to the blow owner–that are very hostile, and I don’t know if she responds to them all, but I know she responds to a lot of them. Enough so that I’m exhausted watching her do it.

I honestly don’t know how every day, she and Anita Sarkeesian go back out there and take on the fight. I’m not sure I could do it. I’d like to think I could, but realistically? I think I would get too weary and disheartened.

Homophobia is another issue in online gaming spaces, though I admit I’m not as conversant on the subject. But take a look at this video:

The tenor of homophobic harassment in gaming seems to be different, but it’s still quite toxic.

What’s the point to this?

About a year ago I decided I wanted to pay some tribute and shine a spotlight on these issues in a book I was writing. The book is called Third Wave, and it’s an honest-to-God whodunit, a mystery who’s main characters are a pair of gay twin brothers and their female boss at a video game production company called Third Wave Studios. The boss, Rosena, is a bit of an amalgamation of all the women I’ve mentioned above, dealing with the same sort of harassment as she attempts to run a studio dedicated to creating video game titles which are not only successful, but also present positive and non-stereotyped LGBT, POC, and female heroes. One of the twins is the lead writer on the studio’s most controversial franchise (controversial because of its LGBT characters and content) and the story deals heavily with the battles they face.

I’m almost at the end of writing the story, then I need to go through and make some revisions because the plot took a few turns that I need to account for earlier in the story. But I really want to present this story as a sort of homage to the people on the front lines of the battle of gendered and homophobic harassment in online gaming spaces, do my part, however small, to spread awareness of what is going on in the underbelly of our pop culture.

But this post isn’t to pimp my WIP. It’s about the people I’ve mentioned here, the ones who wake up every day and fight the fight I don’t know if I’d had the guts to. Read the links. Watch the videos. And just…be aware. Know that this is going on, even if it’s not happening in your line of sight, and that if you’re not in the middle of it, it’s almost certainly far, far worse than you assume it is.

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Some clarification on what is offensive about yesterday’s brouhaha

Okay, before anyone comes at me with the old “it’s so-and-so’s site, she can review what she wants” battle cry, misrepresenting what are the issues with this entire debacle over female-bodied-sexuality in m/m romance, let me get a few things on record.

Yes, people can read what they want. They can review what they want. No one is debating their right to do so. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that it’s misleading to cast ones site as being inclusive when it’s not. Don’t pretend to be a champion of all folk under the rainbow when you’re actually just a fan of the peen.

The problem is that it’s hypocritical to QQ about discrimination and disrespect while being discriminatory and disrespectful. It’s hypocritical to take readers and writers to task for making the genre about “the erotic needs of straight women” while maintaining a policy intended to pander to the erotic needs of straight women.

The problem is that it’s disingenuous to claim the issue is about het sex when what you’re actually frequently talking about is male-bodied/female-bodied queer sex, which is not the same thing. Worse, it’s extremely offensive to mislabel male-bodied/female-bodied sex as “het” sex because in doing so, you’re deliberately and repeatedly misgendering trans* folk and committing erasure against bifolk, intersex folk, and any number of other people under the rainbow.

The problem is that the m/m genre is a hotbed of gynophobia and internalized misogyny by people who ought to fucking know better, and to further that problem while patting oneself on the back for being on a crusade for representation of under-represented peoples is absolutely absurd. And worse! It’s hypocritical to hop on the feminist platform rail about how badly female characters are presented in m/m romance with regard to characterization archetypes and tropes, while simultaneously perpetuating gynophobia and internalized misogyny with regard to the mere mention of certain anatomy and sexual situations.

The problem is that it’s absolutely infuriating to act as though female reproductive anatomy and female-bodied sexuality is so shocking and off-putting on-page that it requires the same sort of warning usually reserved for controversial and triggering subjects as rape and graphic violence and abuse.

The problem is the entitled attitude behind behaving as though authors have a moral and ethical obligation not only to write what you want to read, but to protect your delicate special-snowflake eyeballs from anything they might find objectionable. Do you think Stephen King included warnings for underaged sex and domestic violence in IT? Did V.C. Andrews (or her publisher) warn for incest and underaged sex and rape in Flowers in the Attic? They didn’t, at least not in any of the editions I’ve read. I don’t see anyone weeping big crocodile tears over the lack of warning labels there. Labels and warnings are a courtesy, not an entitlement. You are not owed them. When you pay for a book, you aren’t owed anything but pages with some text on them. that’s it. There are no guarantees you’ll like it. There aren’t even any guarantees it will be well-written (Dan Brown, I’m looking at YOU.) You’re not owed a book that is to your taste and specifications and has nothing within it that you don’t find objectionable and warnings if it has something you might. In fact, the use of warnings and labels is generally considered to be a form of censorship and to have a chilling effect on free speech, which is why there have been huge legal battles over warning labels and age restrictions on music and video games. You’re lucky to get them when you get them. So be grateful authors and publishers include them at all from time to time.

So. Read what you want. Review what you want. But don’t be hypocritical, offensive, or an entitled princess in the process.

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A warning about fair warning

So today, a popular review site posted a predictable and very, very tired rant about girl parts in m/m romance. Over on my Tumblr, I responded with my own rant calling them out on trans*phobia, biphobia and internalized misogyny.

But what gets me more than anything else is the sense of entitlement. The entitlement of the audience to tell the artist what to create. The entitlement of the audience to claim disrespect and even discrimination for daring to create something some members of the audience might not want to see.

You know, in gaming circles, we get a fair number of rants on that nature, only they go like this:

Dude, the majority of the gaming audience is men and we don’t want to see games about chicks and fags, and omg! if you make a game featuring chicks and/or fags, or if you complain about misrepresentation of chicks or fags, you’re discriminating and oppressing TEH MENZ!

Sounds pretty absurd, doesn’t it? The rational and reasonable response would be “the majority of games feature and appeal to “teh menz” so you shouldn’t begrudge the small minority which represent and include woman and gay players. We would rightfully call the authors of such rants out on their rampant blindness to their own privilege, which allows them to perceive even the smallest step toward representational parity as discrimination and/or oppression.

The majority of m/m romance features dick and only dick, and I’m okay with that. I like that gay men are being portrayed as heroes in books. But don’t trans*folk and bifolk deserve portrayal as well? And how freaking absurd is it to claim that readers of m/m romance are being disrespected and oppressed by the portrayal and/or inclusion of these characters? And why should your trans*phobia, biphobia, and the internalized misogyny that makes you uncomfortable with the notion of female-bodied sexuality dictate who should and shouldn’t receive representation in a book?

Of course, the refrain, the one single attempt at rationality in the rant in question is that it’s about labeling and fair warning. That it’s fine to write those stories, just make sure to WARN the reader/reviewer about the content. In other words, warn the reader if there are “girl parts.”

You know what? No. Fuck you. You warn for things that might trigger your audience: underaged sex, abuse, graphic violence, dubcon/non-con/rape fantasy or roleplay, and character death. (And let me go to say this is a fanfic convention, not a publishing convention, because do you think people who write mysteries, or war stories, or horror stories warn for shit like that? Hell no. But the new wave of small-press genre publishing, which is largely frequented by people who got their start in fandom, do warn for stuff that like.) These things are warned about as a courtesy, not because the author and/or publisher has any moral or ethical obligation to telegraph their punches by telling readers and reviewers in advance what is going to happen.

These things that are traditionally warned about all have one commonality: they can be shocking and/or traumatic, particularly someone with PTSD triggers.

Since when is pussy considered triggering? (spoiler alert: it’s not, this basically all boils down to “eww, girl parts” with a dash of “I don’t find that personally titillating so I don’t want to read it.”)

In either the post or a comment responding to it, someone said the audience has a “right” to know. I think this person has a mistaken concept of what “rights” are. When you buy a book, you have a “right” to exactly one thing: the book you bought. Doesn’t matter what’s in it. You pays your money, you takes your chances. You have a right to dislike the book, but you don’t have a right to demand the author to write something different if you don’t like it. And you certainly don’t have the right to demand that author spoil major events of the book and plot by announcing them in advance.

So, here is fair warning about what I will issue warning for: underage sexual activity whether it’s consensual or not, domestic abuse whether physical or emotional, dubcon/non con (and I’ll even throw in consensual non-consent, i.e. fantasy role play about forced-sex scenarios), graphic violence, and maaaaaybe, if it doesn’t spoil the whole book too badly, major character death.

I will not warn about the death of secondary characters, minor violence, or activities where all parties are consenting and of-age, even if those activities are things that aren’t everyone’s cuppa, like BDSM and “eww girl parts.”

There. Caveat Emptor. Consider yourself warned.

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