The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been reading Kameron Hurley's blog since it was called Brutal Women, and I'm very gratified by her success. (Full disclosure: I am also one of her Patrons.) She's had a hell of a slog, dealing with a chronic illness, the ups and downs of the publishing business, and being attacked by asshats on the Internet, and it's nice to see one of the good people get ahead.
A great many of the essays in this book were originally published on her blog, but it's been long enough since I read them that I was able to look at them through fresh eyes. This book is divided into four sections: Level Up (dealing with the business of writing); Geek (something of a smorgasbord, tackling television and film reviews, archetypes in writing, male/female characters and protagonists, and dystopias); Let's Get Personal (how she has dealt with various challenges in her life); and Revolution (another smorgasbord, with treatises of Gamergate, Puppygate, and white privilege). This last section includes her Hugo Award-winning article, "We Have Always Fought: Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative."
In these essays, Hurley has a blunt, in-your-face style that is no doubt a result of their having been blog posts: as she points out, you have to develop a thick skin to be a woman on the Internet. (Sample [from the introduction]: "Because telling someone to be quiet on the internet to avoid abuse and harassment is like telling women that the best way to avoid being raped is not to go outside, and there are many more of us who won't be silenced, because fuck that.") I think this style is very suited to the subjects she tackles. As she freely admits: "I want to change the world," and to do that, you have to get angry, fight, be persistent, and work harder. Kameron Hurley is good at all of those.
My favorite essays include: "What Marketing and Advertising Taught Me About the Value of Failure" (an interesting account of how she applies the lessons of her day job to fiction writing); "Wives, Warlords, and Refugees: The People Economy of Mad Max" (a deconstruction of Mad Max: Fury Road, my favorite movie of last year, from an angle I hadn't considered); "In Defense of Unlikable Women" (contrasting two movies, one with an unlikable male protagonist and one with an unlikable female one, and how the former movie was accepted while the latter was "controversial"); "Public Speaking While Fat" (an affecting account of how she came to accept her body and her existence as a fat woman); "The Horror Novel You'll Never Have to Live: Surviving Without Health Insurance" (a truly harrowing story of her experience as a Type 1 diabetic, and life before the Affordable Care Act); and "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: On Empathy and the Power of Privilege" (showing how those who get into kerfluffles on the Internet usually need to step back, think, show empathy, and realize it's not about them).
There are many thoughtful, engaging essays in this book. I'm grateful that Kameron Hurley has given them to the world.
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