Author Topic: Is Podcastle Sexist?  (Read 50937 times)

Thaurismunths

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Is Podcastle Sexist?
« on: June 30, 2008, 08:20:00 PM »
Is PodCastle sexist?
The knee jerk answer is probably "no" but I would disagree. I think this is a question worth asking of the audience and, most particularly, of the editorial staff.
It has been remarked that women are a minority in publishing; I can't say one way or another, nor is that my concern, nor is it the concern of this podcast (to my knowledge anyway). What I am commenting on is the general tone and trend of the collected works published by PodCastle,and the appearance that they are strongly favoring women to the exclusion of other kinds of stories.
We're on episode thirteen, with five miniatures in the bag, and to me it's become obvious that PodCastle is being sexist in its choice of stories. Since Podcastle's debut nearly all of the stories feature female protagonists, and are mostly told from a female perspective. For example, only three stories (Ant King, Hotel Astarte, Osteomancer's Son) featured male leads, the rest are largely about women triumphing over (directly or indirectly) male oppression of some fashion or other. Three of the five PC Miniatures have been from a male perspective, but about negative domestic relationships with women (of the two that weren't, one was chosen by popular demand).
These issues have been danced around and nodded at, but we haven't really gotten any direct answers. I hope we can put some of these issues to rest publicly.

Why are so many of the so many of the stories about women?
Are the editors aware of this trend?
Is this trend acceptable?
Is this a trend we can expect in future PC stories?
Will more variety be expected in the future? When, and what kind?
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CammoBlammo

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2008, 08:28:38 PM »
I don't really want to weigh in to this debate, and I'm certainly not interested in a flame war, but I do have one question: would you have noticed if most of the stories featured male leads and oppressive step mothers?

Rachel Swirsky

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2008, 08:44:04 PM »
"of the two that weren't, one was chosen by popular demand"

No. It wasn't. I bought that myself; it was not chosen by the contest.

UPDATE:

Oh, and just to run some stats, three male narrators for flash and five male narrators for full-length fiction is eight male narrators out of eighteen stories, or 44% male narrators.

This week's full-length story has a male narrator, which will be nine male narrated pieces out of nineteen, or 47%.

These are figures so basically close to parity that I don't think there's any statistical argument here.

Particularly if we start running in Escape Pod numbers. When the initial complaints about PodCastle's "female-oriented" nature came in, Ann did a count of recent Escape Pod narrators and found that 87% of the recent stories had been narrated by men.

So, at PodCastle, after midnight tonight, you'll have 53% women. At Escape Pod, circa whenever the debate originated (sometime in April), you had 13% women.

Again, I don't think there is a possible statistical argument here.

So, no, I am not aware there is a problem, as I don't think there is one. Nor will I be doing anything to fix it, since there's nothing to fix.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2008, 08:58:43 PM by Rachel Swirsky »

hautdesert

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2008, 09:10:43 PM »
Five out of thirteen episodes are male-narrated.   That's pretty darn close to fifty-fifty.  In your list you've missed Barren's Dance, which is a male-lead story.  The fifth is "Come Lady Death" which was narrated by a man, but could have gone either way. 

Come Lady Death is not about a woman triumphing over male oppression.  Rather definitely not.  Niether is Wisteria, or Magic in a Certain Slant of Light.  Nor Goosegirl--the narrator was in conflict with another woman, not a man.  Spell of the Sparrow, similarly--the conflict is between two women.

14 Experiments, the conflict was between a female POV character and her male ex boyfriend--but rather than triumphing over his oppression, she got back together with him at the urging of her sister.

Stories that might be classed as women triumphing over male oppression--Firey horse and Fear of Dragons.  You're on much thinner ice with Fear of Rain, but I'll be generous and include it, since the main character was female and her opponent was male.

So, three out of thirteen stories have conflicts between female POV characters and male antagonists.  Just less than one quarter, hardly what I would call the vast majority.

Three, possibly four if you count 14 Experiments, are conflicts between women.--near that one quarter mark.

Two are fairly romancy--Wisteria and Slant of Light.  A bit less than one sixth.  Nothing about male oppression at all in either of them.

Four are definitely male POV stories.  Around about that quarter, even if you insist on assigning Barren's Dance to the group of stories from a female POV. 

So, um, what vast majority do you mean?







Liminal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2008, 09:22:55 PM »
Why are so many of the so many of the stories about . . . men?
Are the editors aware of this trend?
Is this trend acceptable?
Is this a trend we can expect in future . . . stories?
Will more variety be expected in the future? When, and what kind?

Ask these questions of other publications, television shows, movies, novels, etc. Let me know what you find and then we can start a thread that discusses gender issues in popular culture. Honestly, I feel you are issuing a challenge rather than asking a question.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2008, 09:33:39 PM »
"I don't really want to weigh in to this debate, and I'm certainly not interested in a flame war, but I do have one question: would you have noticed if most of the stories featured male leads and oppressive step mothers?"

I can't speak for 'Munths, but I would have noticed. I stopped listening to PC a while ago because of the socio-political agendas, just as I've stopped listening to other podcasts for bad production quality, poor writing, or non-stated-but-obviously-agenda-laden reasons. I enjoy my politics as much as anyone else, and I am all for helping good female writers; but, that wasn't what I was looking for in a fantasy podcast. It honestly felt like stories were being run because they were female oriented, as opposed to because they were good stories. And yes, I managed to come to this conclusion all on my own without the help of 'Munths.

Since, it's well known, 'Munths and I are a couple, I am not sure my voice will weigh in here as heavily as if that wasn't known; but, I do actually have my own opinions. PC has felt like an agenda podcast almost from the get-go, though I am a huge fan of Beagle and loved Lady Death. PC's felt overly heavy-handed in the high lit areas, condescending to the backbone of fantasy lit which I happen to like, and feminist. I have nothing against high lit, experimental or non-traditional feminist fantasy stories, it's just not the podcast I'd hoped it would be. I've voted by not downloading it anymore, and had a pretty heavy debate on if I even wanted to bother posting in this topic because really, I don't think anything I or anyone else will say will make a difference and I have other things to do. I am posting only because I hope it may be helpful to hear that another intelligent woman has an opinion different from Rachel & Hautedessert.

I do think PC is heavily feminist. Vocal narrators weren't the point, the story themes were; and I, for one, grew tired of waiting for the change a while ago.


hautdesert

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2008, 10:30:52 PM »
And, having just counted, seven of the thirteen main stories are written by men.  About half.


Stories with feminist agendas?  Possibly Fiery Horse.  Fear of Dragons if you insist on taking it that way--I don't, myself.  And as it happens, Steve bought Fear of Dragons.  Two out of fifteen stories, and that's being generous.

Just having conflict between a female main character and a male antagonist isn't enough to make something "feminist."  You've got to have conflict if you want a story, and it's a fifty-fifty chance that the conflict will be with someone of the opposite gender.


Quote
And yes, I managed to come to this conclusion all on my own without the help of 'Munths.

I don't mean to flame here, and of course your taste is your taste, if you don't like Podcastle's choices then of course there's no point in continuing to listen.  But I find it odd that you insist on the militant feminism of the editor and then assume your opinion would be dismissed on the grounds that you must have gotten it from Tharismunths.  Those don't go together.


Quote
PC has felt like an agenda podcast almost from the get-go, though I am a huge fan of Beagle and loved Lady Death. PC's felt overly heavy-handed in the high lit areas, condescending to the backbone of fantasy lit which I happen to like, and feminist.

From the get-go?  But the get-go was Come Lady Death.  The next story was For Fear of Dragons, and was bought by Steve.  If you got a feminist vibe from Fear of Dragons, you might want to reconsider your assumptions about why that story was selected.

It was also, from the get-go, very openly, going to spend the first couple months touring different sorts of fantasy, so there wasn't going to be a lot of "the backbone" of fantasy lit from the get-go, and that was stated clearly at the start.

The genders of POV characters is evenly divided in the selections so far.  The gender of authors is evenly divided in the selections so far.  And that is, if you want to know, a total accident.

As I said, I could see the argument that Fear of Dragons and Fiery Horse could be considered feminist.  I happen not to agree about Fear of Dragons, but I'll be generous.  Two out of thirteen, and one of them bought by that famous feminist, Steve Eley.

What you're seeing here is an actual fifty-fifty split, but that's incredibly unusual.  If eighty percent of the authors and main characters had been male, most people would, without counting, assume it was divided evenly.  I'm not just saying that--it's been demonstrated, repeatedly.  In actual experiments.

So people look at the fifty-fifty split and think it's unbalanced, when it's not.  And you know, of course you know, that Rachel is a feminist.  So the perception is that not only is it unbalanced, but it's unbalanced because of an agenda.

Count the stories.  Look at the actual events and characters.  Consider that Steve bought some of these stories before Rachel was even involved with the podcast.

If you don't like the stories Rachel is choosing (and some of which Steve chose), that's fine and dandy.  De gustibus.  But it's objectively wrong--provably inaccurate--that Podcastle has featured a "vast majority" of stories by or about women.




Swamp

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2008, 11:06:02 PM »
If all the stories were like Fear of Dragons, I might agree with you.  I think the pairing of Fear of Dragons with *Fiery Horse may have caused some to become concerned about a trend, but that is only if you were looking for it.  If you had no previous experience with Rachel to know she was an ardent feminist, would you have been looking for it? 

You can't deny the quality and diversity of the stories that have appeared in PC.  (OK, as a matter of personal taste, you could, but not in the sense of quality vs. agenda.)

Now I may be called sexist myself for saying this, but in my opinion, fantasy as a genre itself leans toward a feminine bearing or style.  Of course I mean that in an overall general sense; and I don't see it as a bad thing either.

-----
*I think Run of the Fiery Horse is an excellent story.  It is unfortunate to overlook it by listening to it only through an "Is this feminist?" lens.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2008, 11:15:07 PM by Swamp »
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SFEley

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2008, 11:10:49 PM »
These issues have been danced around and nodded at, but we haven't really gotten any direct answers. I hope we can put some of these issues to rest publicly.

Yeah.  All right, Thaurismunths, let's put it to rest.  Here's what you don't know.

Rachel got handed the reins of PodCastle with about 15-20 stories already in inventory before she had a chance to pick anything.  Many of the stories you've heard so far are stories that were originally sent to Escape Pod, before there was any word of us splitting off a fantasy podcast.  I initially bought them with contracts in Escape Pod's name.  If I were put on the witness stand, I could submit scanned copies of the signed contracts.  When I first got serious about doing a separate fantasy feed -- which was roughly a year before PodCastle actually launched -- I contacted those authors and asked if they'd be okay with  their stories going up on a different podcast.  They said yes, of course.  Peter S. Beagle's business manager was the first person I approached about it, because as soon as I read "Come Lady Death" I knew I wanted it for a debut story.

The stories picked by me are as follows:
  • Come Lady Death
  • Stone Born
  • For Fear of Dragons
  • Hippocampus
  • Barrens Dance
  • Spell of the Sparrow
  • The Grand Cheat (tonight's story, if I can get away from this long enough to edit it)

The stories picked by Rachel are as follows:
  • Run of the Fiery Horse
  • Giant
  • Goosegirl
  • The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale
  • Pahwahke
  • Hotel Astarte
  • Fear of Rain
  • The Osteomancer's Son
  • Wisteria
  • Magic in a Certain Slant of Light
  • Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery
  • Directions

There are other stories coming up that were bought by me.  No, I won't tell you which ones.  I also gave Rachel some stories that she didn't like at all, and rejected.  Some of those stories turned up on Escape Pod before we made the full transition.  Some will simply go quietly unpublished until our two-year option expires.  I didn't like the fact that she turned down some stories I was in love with, but I've made clear to the editors of both PodCastle and Pseudopod that their editorial authority is absolute.  If I'm going to override their decisions, there is no trust and I might as well not delegate.

But here's the thing, Thaurismunths.  The stories everyone is bitching about the most?  I bought them.  "For Fear of Dragons" was my purchase.  (And I did notice that even then, in week fucking two, people were getting upset about the "pattern" of feminism on the podcast.  Two episodes!)  "Spell of the Sparrow" was my purchase.  Hell, I had issues with "Sparrow" myself -- not for sexism, but for offending my polyamorist sensibilities -- but I was so happy to get a light sword-and-sorcery piece that didn't suck that I overlooked my own prejudices.  I didn't obsess about the gender of the protagonist.  I was just happy that it was competent.  (You can read into that any conclusions you like about the state of our slushpiles.)

And the other thing.  You say there are only three stories so far with male leads.  I could quibble over definitions, but whatever.  The three you named?  "The Ant King," "Hotel Astarte" and "The Osteomancer's Son?"  Rachel and Ann picked all three.  I had absolutely nothing to do with them.  I never even glanced at "The Ant King" until I sat down to narrate it.  I only picked the ones that seem to have everyone up in arms shouting "Estrogen!  Estrogen!"

So here's your culprit, Thaurismunths.  I stand before you.  The hyperfeminist who's offending the hell out of you is me.  I'm the one skewing the curve.  Rachel's bringing needed balance to PodCastle by making sure male viewpoints are represented in the fiction you hear. 

Are we clear on that?  Good.  Now to put your foregone-conclusions-in-the-form-of-questions to bed.  The following are my opinions only -- I'm not speaking for Rachel or Ann here; this thread annoys me for my own completely individual reasons:


Why are so many of the so many of the stories about women?

Because good stories are about interesting people, and women are interesting at least as often as men are.  Is it your view that women should be interesting considerably less often? 


Are the editors aware of this trend?

That the stories feature interesting people?  Yes.


Is this trend acceptable?

Yes, very much so.  It's why PodCastle is so much more successful than all the other dedicated fantasy short fiction podcasts.  (Yeah, exactly.)


Is this a trend we can expect in future PC stories?

I sure hope so.


Will more variety be expected in the future? When, and what kind?

You mean, stories about boring people?  Dude, you already have morning radio.  Why do you want us to give you more?

Now can we please let this whining and griping die?  I'm not involved with PodCastle's story selection anymore, but I've loved almost all of the stories on PodCastle, and I'm genuinely happy with the job that Rachel and Ann are doing.  I asked Rachel to run this podcast and harangued her until she said yes because she doesn't have all the same opinions and viewpoints that I do.  Because it mattered more to me that she had opinions than what they were. 

If you don't like the vision, I'm sorry about that.  I disagree with you that the problems you perceive exist, but it's a subjective thing and I can't say you're just plain wrong.  But no matter how many people complain about it, I am not going to exert one ounce of pressure for Rachel to change a thing.  I think she's doing a great job.  As the owner and publisher, I would never allow popular opinion to force changes that the editors don't agree with.  If that ever succeeds, then and only then will I start to wonder if I picked the wrong editors.  So far there is no evidence that I have, and plenty of evidence that I picked the right ones.

Now to get this week's PodCastle out, as I'm still helping with the audio.  I hope you like it.  There's a man in it.

Sheesh.
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Sandikal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2008, 11:14:18 PM »

Now I may be called sexist myself for saying this, but in my opinion, fantasy as a genre itself tends to lean towards a feminine bearing or style.  Of course I mean that in an overall general sense; and I don't see it as a bad thing either.

I tend to agree with Swamp here.  I was thinking the same thing as I was reading this thread.  It seems as if most current fantasy, especially the books with pseudo-medieval settings, are aimed at a more feminine audience.  I'm a woman and I've noticed a definite romantic slant to most popular fantasy.   It's not really my preference, so I lean more towards modern fantasy (I loved "Ant King".) and science fiction.

Bdoomed

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2008, 11:35:04 PM »
first of all... male vs female narration does not affect the "sexist" idea.  its the story, not narration.  that's what you seem to be focusing on, Rachel.  

i have no conclusions/opinions on this. so... im going to conclude here and form an opinion! :)

1. Come Lady Death: Old woman and girl reaper, about women but not necessarily feminist...
2. Stone Born (miniature): boy remeniscing, parents fighting, etc etc. no feminism
3. For Fear of Dragons: girl vs society, can be taken as either overcoming tradition and pointless fears, or taken as woman empowerment.
4. Run of the Fiery Horse: girl vs men, definately woman empowerment, etc etc.
5. Giant (miniature): man giant doesnt trust woman, buuut he is holding her captive.  male perspective, woman captivity/trying to overcome male oppression (if you take it that far)
6. Goosegirl: woman vs woman/society(ish)
7. The Ant King: male perspecive, man vs society/ant king/job/everything :P woman imprisonment but really not focused on, more a nonchalant imprisonment... shes kind of a strong character too
8. Pahwahke (miniature): father protects/hoards daughter, not letting her do as she pleases (i guess)
9. Hotel Astarte: great depression from a diff angle, male perspective/trials
10. Fear of Rain: woman doing what she feels is right.  i guess kinda feminist but it could have easily been a male in the same situation.
11. The Osteomancer's Son: male stuff :P
12. Hippocampus (miniature): umm... strong female, weaker character male... not really any way... i guess you could go for the strong female character.
13. Wisteria: female character, about moving on and staying strong.  feminist slant but not really...
14. Magic in a Certain Slant of Light: female perspective, why will husband leave?  female trying to please male character, etc etc.  not really feminist... but... i dunno.  Zeppelins or talking dogs?
15. Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery: strong female character, male char trying to please her... female empowerment-ish
16. Barren's Dance: male characters, no feminism
17+ haven't listened yet :P

these are just my interpretations from what i remember, sometimes what i remember after a quick listen to a part of a story.
from this we have...
12/16 feminist if you stretch their meanings
10/16 feminist if you stretch their meanings less
6 or 7/16 feminist if you go for obvious meanings from stories

the idea isnt rediculous that this is a generally female podcast (do not count narrations, that doesnt change anything...) however it is not DEFINATIVELY a feminist podcast.  Many of the stories concern female characters and their strength, but most of them can be taken either way, depending on what you are looking for.  However, if you dont like it, dont listen.  no one is forcing you to.  and shwankie has said that she's stopped listening.  all the more power to you.  the point of this podcast is to entertain and introduce people to the fantasy market.

soo, my final conclusion?  There is a small element of feminism etc etc, but it is not the frontrunner of every story, and thus we cannot say that PodCastle is sexist.  This said, we cannot also say that PodCastle is not sexist.  There is a small element.  If you try (and its not really trying, its not hard to try to see this) you can see a great deal of feminist stories.  As for me, it is keeping me interested.  Not as much as Escape Pod, but interested enough.  So i'll keep listening.

(though i still dont like the background on the stories in the introduction... :))

And please, dont get into that stupid argument, "would you notice if it were all male?"  Its a societal stagnation, its not going to change for a long time.  Get over it, wait it out.  All you are doing there is changing the subject.  The point is that a female trend was noticed, not that a male trend if it existed would not have been noticed.  Its gotta be some kind of logical fallacy (i dont claim to know them)

:) keep it nice, folks

(this was written before Steve's comment, haven't read it yet :))
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Heradel

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2008, 11:49:36 PM »
I'm staying out of the thread for purposes of moderation, but I'd just like to say that feminism isn't a bad thing, and strong female characters are or should be the norm in modern fiction. Along with weak and strong males, and weak females. Strong and weak humans, really. Also badgers and dragons.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2008, 11:53:10 PM »
I don't understand the point of this thread at all.  But I'm a man; what do I know?  :P
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2008, 11:58:02 PM »
At one point, I used to teach an Intro to Women's Studies class for Towson State University. The class was initially 33 students; by the end of the three years I taught it, that number crept up to 38. When I started, I had 5 or 6 men per section. By the last year, when it was clear that word had gotten around that my class was reasonably male-friendly, this was closer to 9-12 per class.

Nonetheless, whenever I asked ANY of the men in the class how many other men there were in it, he would indicate that he was one of 2 or 3 tops. This phenomenon was in play for -every- male I asked, and I attribute it to a feeling of being besieged that led each of them to underestimate the number of men in the class. In the same way, my housemate in Baltimore, who came from an all-white location, insisted that the city was 95% (at least) of color despite direct evidence to the contrary.

I think that the same phenomenon comes into play with Pod Castle sometimes -- that coming close to gender equity ends up being perceived by those unaccustomed to it as an overabundant multitude of damned, scribbling women. Certainly I see 40-50 percent women being mentioned elsewhere as a shining example of gender parity.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2008, 12:08:16 AM »
Virtually every premise of the original post is factually wrong -- just as the premises of the similar complaint from Thaurismunths were factually wrong. How often is Thaurismunths planning to come back here to beat this dead horse?

Anyhow, Thaurismunths has been refuted by other posters, so I'll respond to someone else.

soo, my final conclusion?  There is a small element of feminism etc etc, but it is not the frontrunner of every story, and thus we cannot say that PodCastle is sexist.  This said, we cannot also say that PodCastle is not sexist.  There is a small element.  If you try (and its not really trying, its not hard to try to see this) you can see a great deal of feminist stories.

With all due respect, what does the "element of feminism in it" have to do with it? Even if there were quite a lot of feminism, that wouldn't be grounds for saying that Podcastle is sexist.

Quote
And please, dont get into that stupid argument, "would you notice if it were all male?"  Its a societal stagnation, its not going to change for a long time.  Get over it, wait it out.  All you are doing there is changing the subject.  The point is that a female trend was noticed, not that a male trend if it existed would not have been noticed.  Its gotta be some kind of logical fallacy (i dont claim to know them)

:) keep it nice, folks

You'd have more credibility asking that other folks "keep it nice" if you didn't dismiss their arguments as "stupid."

It's not "stupid" to ask if there's a double-standard at play in these complaints, nor is it a logical fallacy. In a society in which men are considered the default or norm, even equality can subjectively appear to people as biased against men. (CatRambo's anecdote is a great example of this!) It's reasonable and logical to point out that this sort of illusion may be at the root of Thaurismunth's objections.

Finally, regarding "get over it, wait it out," that's the advice that people on the sucky end of societies stick are always given by people who are more advantaged. It is always bad advice, and I hope no feminist follows it.

Rachel Swirsky

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2008, 12:13:39 AM »
Bdoomed, thanks for your post and your analysis. I'm just going to answer a couple of the points you bring up:

1) You seem to be arguing that feminist = sexist when you say that PodCastle cannot be declared not sexist because some of the stories have what you interpret as feminist themes. (I've spoken other places about how I interpret "Giant," for instance, which I see as closer to an MRA [men's rights activism] plot line than a feminist one.)

I don't see that as true at all. Feminism is not about the valuing of women over men, but about the valuing of women as equal to men. If there were stories in this mix that were themed on the subject of needing to kill all men because they're violent pigs, that would be sexist. A story about a woman escaping foot-binding with the help of her father and a boy who loves her is certainly not sexist -- whatever else it may be.

2) Also, just FTR, I don't think it's sustainable to argue that it's a logical fallacy to say that runs of male narrators are not noticed, while runs of female narrators are. It's a description of the dynamic of the situation, and places the situation in context. PodCastle, because it is run by women and features about half women characters, is being held to a different standard than Escape Pod, which is run by men and sometimes features long runs of male characters. That's women and men being held to different standards, where the ones for women are more stringent, and designed to privilege the male (whose voices are expected to dominate) over the female. That's effectively the definition of sexism, or one of them.

In other words, pointing out that people get upset when there are equal numbers of stories about men and women, but not when women have barely no voice at all, is pointing out sexism. It's saying that not only is there no sexism in PodCastle itself, but that the very framing of the question of whether there is relies on sexism to be posed.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 12:15:17 AM by Rachel Swirsky »

Windup

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2008, 12:43:52 AM »
I'm not clear what the point of asking, "Is PodCastle sexist?" actually is. If the answer turns out to be "yes," then what? We demand quotas? We stage a mass un-subscribe until we get new editors?  We petition Steve to start "StudCastle" -- a male-oriented fantasy podcast -- by way of affirmative action?  Or what?  Like I said, I'm really, really unclear about what you're trying to "settle publically."

Let's suppose for a moment that Rachel and Anne have made a conscious decision to favor a stories that take a particular point of view and theme, and that the stories they've chosen reflect that theme. So what?  That's just editors doing their jobs.  

IMNSHO, the best and most interesting publications on any platform -- print, broadcast, podcast, whatever -- have a strong "flavor" and a recognizable editorial stance.  They aren't democracies, and they sure as hell aren't "representative" -- they're the distinct and recognizable voice of a benevolent dictator.  Think American Mercury under H. L. Mencken, Astounding Science Fiction under John W. Campbell or more recently, Harper's under Lewis Lapham.

The best publishers give them room to develop their vision and find an audience, or die (financially) trying. <<appreciative nod to Steve>>

Almost by definition, not everybody is going to like what they see or hear.  Strong flavors are going to turn some people off.  But if you don't like pickled herring, don't try to convince me that there's something morally wrong with the people who made it by calling them "sexist."

Myself, I think it's way too soon to figure out what Rachel and Anne's "voice" is going to be -- not enough data points.  They may not know yet, themselves.  But I'll be very happy to be around and watch it develop.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2008, 05:41:47 AM »
And, having just counted, seven of the thirteen main stories are written by men.  About half.


Stories with feminist agendas?  Possibly Fiery Horse.  Fear of Dragons if you insist on taking it that way--I don't, myself.  And as it happens, Steve bought Fear of Dragons.  Two out of fifteen stories, and that's being generous.

Just having conflict between a female main character and a male antagonist isn't enough to make something "feminist."  You've got to have conflict if you want a story, and it's a fifty-fifty chance that the conflict will be with someone of the opposite gender.


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And yes, I managed to come to this conclusion all on my own without the help of 'Munths.

I don't mean to flame here, and of course your taste is your taste, if you don't like Podcastle's choices then of course there's no point in continuing to listen.  But I find it odd that you insist on the militant feminism of the editor and then assume your opinion would be dismissed on the grounds that you must have gotten it from Tharismunths.  Those don't go together.


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PC has felt like an agenda podcast almost from the get-go, though I am a huge fan of Beagle and loved Lady Death. PC's felt overly heavy-handed in the high lit areas, condescending to the backbone of fantasy lit which I happen to like, and feminist.

From the get-go?  But the get-go was Come Lady Death.  The next story was For Fear of Dragons, and was bought by Steve.  If you got a feminist vibe from Fear of Dragons, you might want to reconsider your assumptions about why that story was selected.

It was also, from the get-go, very openly, going to spend the first couple months touring different sorts of fantasy, so there wasn't going to be a lot of "the backbone" of fantasy lit from the get-go, and that was stated clearly at the start.

The genders of POV characters is evenly divided in the selections so far.  The gender of authors is evenly divided in the selections so far.  And that is, if you want to know, a total accident.

As I said, I could see the argument that Fear of Dragons and Fiery Horse could be considered feminist.  I happen not to agree about Fear of Dragons, but I'll be generous.  Two out of thirteen, and one of them bought by that famous feminist, Steve Eley.

What you're seeing here is an actual fifty-fifty split, but that's incredibly unusual.  If eighty percent of the authors and main characters had been male, most people would, without counting, assume it was divided evenly.  I'm not just saying that--it's been demonstrated, repeatedly.  In actual experiments.

So people look at the fifty-fifty split and think it's unbalanced, when it's not.  And you know, of course you know, that Rachel is a feminist.  So the perception is that not only is it unbalanced, but it's unbalanced because of an agenda.

Count the stories.  Look at the actual events and characters.  Consider that Steve bought some of these stories before Rachel was even involved with the podcast.

If you don't like the stories Rachel is choosing (and some of which Steve chose), that's fine and dandy.  De gustibus.  But it's objectively wrong--provably inaccurate--that Podcastle has featured a "vast majority" of stories by or about women.





1. I never said I believed it was Rachel, Hautedessert, or Steve who was feminist, sexist, etc.. I did not say whether I thought it was the editors or other members of the forum who may not take me as seriously because I am a partner to the original poster (which is the large part of what I was considering when I wrote that, and wished to be up front about my relationship to the thread starter). So, it is not me who is jumping to conclusions here.

2. Ignoring the backbone of sci-fi comes directly from one of Rachel's posts about whether or not we can expect to see "sword and sorcery" type stories here. She said no (and yes, I can go back and find this, but it won't be today), and since she's the lead editor, that made an impact on how I felt about the podcast. I don't believe that those types of fantasy stories are by definition bad or unworthy, and I've read a good many that have strong female leads and/or or secondaries; so, I was a bit put off by that comment.

3. I don't really care who buys or writes the stories, for me it was never about Rachel & Hautedessert. Whether stories were randomly selected from a hat by a monkey, written by an AI, or selected by the UN never really concerned me much. It was that the majority had a political or social agenda, with a definite bent on feminist viewpoints. Yes, there were exceptions to this, and you can make statistics say anything you like (if you exclude miniatures, the percentages change. If you include miniatures, but go on sheer airtime for female vs. male lead characters, again percentages change--this can go on ad infinitum). From the get-go, to me, included everything from the initial commentary to the intros. I am not going to go back and listen to them all so I can give a blow-by-blow, but after #1 and 2, I was already concerned but figured it was too soon to really draw any conclusions. By episode 6 or so (I am not sitting here looking at a list of the stories, so it may have been 5 or 7, which again isn't the point), I was hearing a definite agenda. Whether you have one or not isn't so much the point, as I am a listener and things are open to interpretation. It's how it came across to me, and I grew weary of it. I do listen to political podcasts, gender equality podcasts, and other 'casts with a variety of agendas. It was a personal preference that, while I enjoy the occasional political or social commentary based story on any of the EA podcasts, those stories aren't what I want to hear a majority of the time on any of the EA podcasts. I am sure some people feel differently, and that is their preference.

4. Perhaps "feminist" is the wrong word, but it's currently the best one I can think of to describe this. It wasn't about male vs. female for me, it was that the majority of stories seemed to have some female oriented social message. You can disagree, but it's how this listener heard what was coming across. I am not saying that this is bad if it's accurate, it's just not what I wanted in a fantasy podcast.

5. It's not my podcast. The owners and editors of PC are welcome, of course, to do what they like. They could run stories that were completely female-centric or racist or just plain bad, and again that would be their right. I've never felt as though the editors were interested in varying opinions about the types of stories, intros, music, or much else about the podcast, which has also left me feeling cold towards it and was the source of my remark about not believing anything I say will have much of an impact. Again, it's not my podcast; so, while it may leave me feeling cold, that's fine. I can choose not to listen, which I've done.

I read a large percentage of female-based literature, including fantasy. In fact, the majority of what I read is female-centric. There are a lot of fantastic female writers and story leads. I also read a good bit of male-based and gender neutral literature. It's not whether the stories are about women, or if the percentages are exact that got to me. As Steve said, good stories are good stories. It was my overall feeling about the podcast vs. why I listen to it. It was my personal feeling that, whoever chose the stories, some weak stories were being run because they were written or about female leads with a social issue moral/bent, and that wasn't my interest in this particular podcast. I listened for good stories regardless of the percentages.



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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2008, 06:02:40 AM »
Well said, Windup. Pretty much what i thought, although put much more eloquently than I would have said it.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 06:06:16 AM by sirana »

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2008, 07:29:11 AM »
As a side note to Barry:

From the "Fantasy Women" thread:
"Rachel is known for going well out of her way on the topics of gender equality and women's rights. Her personal views should not color my enjoyment of a piece nor my view of the podcast.

If the editors don't run good fiction ... then we can all vote with our dollars and our downloads. Until then I think we should let Podcastle take its own course and keep our speculations relevant to the stories at hand." --Thaurismunths. I went back and looked this up specifically because I remember having this conversation with him regarding giving the podcast a longer run before jumping to any conclusions, etc. I was surprised to hear he'd been beating a dead horse he was telling others to leave alone.

Other posters have brought this concern up before, but as evidenced above, 'Munths hasn't been willing to beat the horse at all, instead in fact suggesting we let it graze for a while before coming to any real conclusions about it's gaits.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2008, 08:35:54 AM »
Y'know, this thread makes me want to go and listen to some of these stories now. ;)

I'm more of a pseudopod listener. I had assumed that Podcastle wasn't going to be my thing. I'd assumed that Podcastle would be of a certain cliched flavour. It's fantasy, right? It's got 'castle' in the title, right? Bound to be full of easy-to-digest cod-medieval fantasy mush, right?

Well, the objections voiced in this thread hit me in a funny way. It  made me want to give Podcastle a go. Was the original poster objecting that podcastle's fiction stood outside his expectations? Frankly, that sounded great to me -- an editor with a strong voice, choosing stories that are outside norms. Didn't sound like they were going to deliver mush.

I've only listened to one Podcastle so far --  Caleb Wilson's excellent 'Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery' -- but goddammit, that's the kind of story I want to hear; it's clever and well-observed and fantastic, in both senses. And there was nothing sexist there; it was sexual, and had a female protagonist, but there was nothing sexist in there.

In fact, I really wonder whether the OP is going to explain exactly what he means by 'sexist.' To my mind, you could have a podcast called 'femcastle,' with exclusively female protagonists, and all dealing with issues of sex and gender, and it wouldn't be sexist. That's the editors prerogative, to choose the stories she likes.

Seems to me that's the case with any podcast or magazine; that if you subscribe to Pseudopod, you'd subscribing to "Horror Stories that Ben Phillips Enjoyed Quite a Lot." Escape Pod is "Steve Eley's favourite SF.". And Podcastle is "Stuff that Rachel Swirsky Thought Was Cool." If you don't agree with Rachel, that's cool. Listen to something else. Better, start your own podcast; buy a mic and a bit of webspace, open for submissions, and try to do better.

Right then. I'd off to listen to 'Lady Death.'

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2008, 09:23:22 AM »

1. I never said I believed it was Rachel, Hautedessert, or Steve who was feminist, sexist, etc.. I did not say whether I thought it was the editors or other members of the forum who may not take me as seriously because I am a partner to the original poster (which is the large part of what I was considering when I wrote that, and wished to be up front about my relationship to the thread starter). So, it is not me who is jumping to conclusions here.

But the fact is, anyone who would be inclined to dismiss your opinion would be readers who disagreed with you.  A reader who didn't find the balance of stories a problem is a reader more likely to be in a position to dismiss you.  I'm not jumping to any conclusions at all--the people most likely to disagree with you are people you have already labeled as overtly feminist.  A group that is not likely to dismiss a woman's opinion as not being her own.

I don't recall the exact context of Rachel saying we wouldn't be seeing a lot of S&S stories.  But the fact is, we're not seeing a lot of good sword and sorcery in the slush.  See Steve's comment above about being so glad to see good traditional fantasy.


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3. I don't really care who buys or writes the stories, for me it was never about Rachel & Hautedessert. Whether stories were randomly selected from a hat by a monkey, written by an AI, or selected by the UN never really concerned me much. It was that the majority had a political or social agenda, with a definite bent on feminist viewpoints. Yes, there were exceptions to this, and you can make statistics say anything you like (if you exclude miniatures, the percentages change. If you include miniatures, but go on sheer airtime for female vs. male lead characters, again percentages change--this can go on ad infinitum). From the get-go, to me, included everything from the initial commentary to the intros. I am not going to go back and listen to them all so I can give a blow-by-blow, but after #1 and 2, I was already concerned but figured it was too soon to really draw any conclusions. By episode 6 or so (I am not sitting here looking at a list of the stories, so it may have been 5 or 7, which again isn't the point), I was hearing a definite agenda.


A definite bent on feminist viewpoints?  See, I'm genuinely puzzled when you say that.  You (and a few others) have said it, and there are at most two stories that I might describe that way.  You say you won't go over specifics, and of course that's your choice to make, but when I go over specifics, I see only two.  And you don't know from stories with a feminist agenda if you find those preachy or ax-grinding, frankly.  They're both very mild. So when you say "definite agenda" and "definite bent on feminist viewpoints" I'm honestly wondering what the heck you're talking about.

I don't think you're being entirely honest when you say it was never about Rachel.  You say you were concerned after the first two stories--one of which isn't even remotely feminist, and both of which were chosen by Steve.  Why does one story trigger concern over feminist viewpoints dominating Podcastle?  Why does a couple stories you thought were weak lead you to assume that they were chosen for political reasons, and not because the editor actually liked the story and your taste diverges there?  I'm not doubting that that was your sincere reaction, but it's not the reaction of someone who wasn't looking for feminism from the start.

You are entitled to your reaction.  You are entitled to express it.  Absolutely.  Others, including myself, are equally entitled to point out flaws in your argument, or downright innaccuracies, or even just express disagreement.

And no matter how you look at the numbers, they don't come out to "female dominated."



I do appreciate Bdoomed's breakdown.  I want to say something further about "feminist" stories or "female empowerment" stories.

What most confuses me here is the assumption that any story where there's, say, marital discord, or a female protagonist triumphing over a male antagonist, then we're dealing with a feminist story, one with an agenda, one that's preaching female empowerment.  I blink three and four times when "Giant" is put in that category.

An M-F relationship presented as negative is not feminist. A woman struggling against or succeeding despite a male adversary is not feminist.  Or maybe Charles Dickens is the author of several ax-grinding feminist tracts, like, say, "Bleak House."  And how could I forget famous militant feminist Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary) or Daniel Defoe (Moll Flanders)?

My point is, you can't class any story that involves a female main character going up against a male adversary as "feminist" just on that basis.  When that's your main argument as to why a story is feminist, you're standing on very shaky ground.  More accurately, you're standing on thin air with, like Coyote, nothing more than your assumption that the ground is there holding you up.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2008, 09:41:16 AM »
1. I never said I believed it was Rachel, Hautedessert, or Steve who was feminist, sexist, etc.. I did not say whether I thought it was the editors or other members of the forum who may not take me as seriously because I am a partner to the original poster (which is the large part of what I was considering when I wrote that, and wished to be up front about my relationship to the thread starter). So, it is not me who is jumping to conclusions here.

Does anyone have a good recipe for Hautedessert?  It sounds yummy.   ;D
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Rachel Swirsky

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2008, 09:53:56 AM »
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Does anyone have a good recipe for Hautedessert?  It sounds yummy. 


Here's are some recipes for hot fruit and hot fudge desserts -- http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,hot_dessert,FF.html. :)

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2008, 09:56:49 AM »
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Does anyone have a good recipe for Hautedessert?  It sounds yummy. 


Here's are some recipes for hot fruit and hot fudge desserts -- http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,hot_dessert,FF.html. :)

Hey, thanks, Rach ... I never thought I'd be saying this, but the same old ice cream is getting a bit monotonous.

And I'm liking the podcast.  :)
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2008, 10:34:06 AM »
Folks, I'm within a cat's whisker -- nay, a paramecium's flagellum -- of locking this thread for going too deep into personal attack. 

I don't want to lock the thread.  Although I was up front in expressing that the question in the topic annoys the crap out of me, I don't consider that sufficient grounds for stifling a discussion.  Opinions matter, and if I shut down this one thread but people really have a problem with a podcast, it's just going to come up in other ways.  I try hard to maintain an allergy to political censorship.

However.  This is starting to get mean.  We will abide discord but not nastiness.  I ask everyone from this point on to make a conscious, explicit effort to keep your debate focused on the ideas we're talking about here, and not the people you're talking to.  Let's not dwell on who said what and when, or who's holding to what patterns, or anything like that.  It doesn't matter.  This goes for everyone in this thread, including Escape Artists staff and including myself.  I brought up the original poster's name far too often in my prior reply.  It was not necessary to frame my points as a personal retort.

Thank you in advance.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #26 on: July 01, 2008, 10:44:16 AM »
You know, I have things to say here that I'm not going to say because I don't see what good they'll do. So I'll just say this:

I do not know if there is some sort of agenda or trend behind the PC stories. I believe Rachel, Ann and Steve when they say there isn't a concious one, and I believe other people here when they say they are detecting one. I don't think those are incompatible facts, and there are many possible explanations. What I do know is that, in the weeks since Podcastle's launch, there have been more podcastle stories I really liked than EP and PP stories (in that period) in I really liked, taken together. However Rachel and Ann make their decisions, it is working for me.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 10:45:57 AM by eytanz »

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #27 on: July 01, 2008, 11:00:52 AM »
I was totally going to stay out of this thread, because of the whole pot/kettle black thing, and my being the fool who renounced PP over a story so jaw-droppingly sexist I had to check a calendar to make sure I still had the right to vote.

But here's the thing.  I never said PP as a whole was sexist.  That would have been a ludicrously vague accusation.  I said,"Holy effing cow, this story just totally ruined the PP flava for me because it's incredibly sexist and here is why."  And then I wrote a compulsively detailed reasoning behind what I saw as sexist and why. 

That's the responsibility of someone laying a claim to sexism.  You got to bring out the flowcharts, and the deconstruction, and the nitpicking.  Otherwise, your claim cannot be taken seriously.  (My accusation wasn't taken all that seriously even WHEN I did all of that work, btw, so don't be surprised if yours isn't either)  It's terribly convenient to say "Oh the whole thing just feels sexist but I'm not going to tell you what or why."

If one is vague, then one isn't presenting something the editors can address in their choice of content.

So, if you are trying to be constructive with your criticism, what is this agenda you so decry, and where do you see it?  How many stories have a feminist viewpoint and what, specifically, is this feminist viewpoint?

And can I just say that I find it appalling to freely interchange the terms sexism and feminism?  WTF?  These are not the same.  They are not even close. 

I, for one, would love to see a couple of stories about equal pay for equal work!  Bring on the feminist viewpoint!  Sadly, PodCastle has yet to fill this void in my listening experience.  Or hey, how about a story about abortion on demand!  Surely there's a fantasy tale out there about a dragon abortionist and his not so virginal clients?  Or wait, maybe we can get a story about how the feminine ideal of princessdom oppresses all the milkmaids?  Oh, PC, when will you run a story that speaks to my inner feminist? 
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2008, 11:11:57 AM »
I logged off after reading the first couple replies to think about them, and I am at work right now. I am taking time from my lunch break to let you know that my original post was not a grenade.
I look forward to reading, considering, and replying to all of your replies this evening. I understand the seriousness of what I have sad, and hope to treat this thread with all due promptness and gravity.
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Liminal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2008, 11:21:23 AM »
To my mind, you could have a podcast called 'femcastle,' with exclusively female protagonists, and all dealing with issues of sex and gender, and it wouldn't be sexist. That's the editors prerogative, to choose the stories she likes.

Huzzah! Excellent point.

Terms like "sexist" are too often used to label people (regardless of gender), instead of being understood as a set of behaviors and structures. Sexism - whether in publishing, individual stories, interpersonal communication, etc. - is institutional and impossible to abstract from the vast ecology of social institutions and structures that surround us. In such an ecology, naming PC "sexist" makes no sense.

Questioning and discussing a new publication's editorial perspective is peachy-keen, deciding that you don't personally enjoy that perspective or the content choices made is dandy, but I'm not sure that using the term "sexism" is the best way to start that discussion because it immediately signals a confrontational stance.

I do think questions of gender and power in literature and pop culture are important, as they reflect the structures of gender and power in the larger culture. Maybe this thread reveals all the more reason to discuss these issues openly and respectfully and with the understanding that we are talking about very deep social structures that have tremendous impact on how we view the world.
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Liminal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2008, 11:25:02 AM »
And can I just say that I find it appalling to freely interchange the terms sexism and feminism?  WTF?  These are not the same.  They are not even close. 

I second this.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2008, 11:33:09 AM »
"I don't think you're being entirely honest when you say it was never about Rachel."

Please do not put ideas into my words, assume you know me or my motivations, or that you have a personal window into my head and have any idea if I am telling the truth or not. I do not know Rachel, I have nothing against her and no real ideas what her personal, social, or political beliefs may or may not be other than what she has stated publicly. Saying I am not being entirely honest is a personal attack on my integrity, and not one I appreciate.

The first few episodes involved more than just stories, and therefore my reactions were to everything in the episode. This included intros and outros, commentary, voice & inflection, etc., etc., etc. These episodes gave me a flavor I wasn't sure I would like because they felt heavy-handed to me. Future episodes bore that out--for me. If others do not feel likewise, that is certainly their right.

I am not going into specifics for a very good reason: I do not have the time or inclination because I don't think it's worthwhile. The debates in this forum previously showed me the nature of how arguments go here, which tends to be blunt force from editors against posters not in agreement with overall views. People can listen and decide for themselves. I posted my opinion, which is just that: an opinion. Others here may or may not agree with my opinion, but since it's an opinion & feeling, I do not feel the need to try and justify it to anyone. I am not interested in continual circular arguments about why my opinions are or are not correct, or over semantics, which has seemed to be a trend, and one of the reason I debated heavily with myself over whether I should post at all. I finally decided that, since I am well-known poster on the boards and (at least to my knowledge) most people see me as fairly moderate, I would like to weigh in. I thought perhaps a woman with the view that the stories are skewed might help balance out the fact that there are simply more males on the boards.  I thought perhaps ideas would be discussed in a format that would be open and less....blunt than in the past, and that perhaps I may even change my mind and give PC another go.

This will conclude my involvement in the thread.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2008, 11:51:32 AM »
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perhaps I may even change my mind and give PC another go.

If you ever feel like it, you'd certainly be greeted with enthusiasm. In the meantime, best wishes in your fiction travels.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2008, 11:52:56 AM »
If all the stories were like Fear of Dragons, I might agree with you.  I think the pairing of Fear of Dragons with *Fiery Horse may have caused some to become concerned about a trend, but that is only if you were looking for it.  If you had no previous experience with Rachel to know she was an ardent feminist, would you have been looking for it?  

You can't deny the quality and diversity of the stories that have appeared in PC.  (OK, as a matter of personal taste, you could, but not in the sense of quality vs. agenda.)

Now I may be called sexist myself for saying this, but in my opinion, fantasy as a genre itself leans toward a feminine bearing or style.  Of course I mean that in an overall general sense; and I don't see it as a bad thing either.

-----
*I think Run of the Fiery Horse is an excellent story.  It is unfortunate to overlook it by listening to it only through an "Is this feminist?" lens.

It was pointed out to me (not by any of the posters to this thread) that it may appear I was agreeing that PC is feminist or saying that all of fantasy is feminist.  My intention was to dispute that claim and hold PC up as an example of quality and diversity in podcast publishing.

In regards to my comment about the fantasy genre, I meant that IMO it lends itself in general to a "feminine" (not feminist) bearing or style.  How to define what I mean by that is the problem.  Obviously, a Conan story is not feminine.  

Maybe I'll just stick to samples from PC.  If I were to choose examples of what I consider feminine (again, not feminist) style stories I would choose Run of the Fiery Horse and Wisteria, both of which I thought were excellent. (I liked Wisteria from its printed appearance on Intergalactic Medicine Show).  They are high on prose, setting, imagery, and emotions.  Good stuff.  I know there is a danger of stereotype by labeling these terms as feminine, but I’m just trying to define my preconceptions.  I think fantasy, more so than sci-fi and horror, lends itself to this writing style.

I think I’ll stop now so I don’t sink any deeper.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2008, 11:53:33 AM »
I, for one, would love to see a couple of stories about equal pay for equal work!

I had this thought, "wouldn't it be cool to have Rosie the Armourer as a character in a story?", and then I realised they'd already done it in A Knight's Tale. Never made the connection before...

SteveCooperOrg

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2008, 11:59:48 AM »
Does anyone care to define terms a bit in this discussion? For me,

Feminism = The radical notion that women are people. (Rebecca West)

Sexism = institutional prejudice against all men or all women. (me.)


Bdoomed

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2008, 12:29:37 PM »
Does anyone care to define terms a bit in this discussion? For me,

Feminism = The radical notion that women are people. (Rebecca West)

Sexism = institutional prejudice against all men or all women. (me.)


WOMEN ARE PEOPLE???!!!!! WHAT!???!!!!!
:)
id just like to say, in response to Rachel's
Bdoomed, thanks for your post and your analysis. I'm just going to answer a couple of the points you bring up:

1) You seem to be arguing that feminist = sexist when you say that PodCastle cannot be declared not sexist because some of the stories have what you interpret as feminist themes. (I've spoken other places about how I interpret "Giant," for instance, which I see as closer to an MRA [men's rights activism] plot line than a feminist one.)
you're welcome :) and... i was not arguing that feminist = sexist.  It was more that... how can I word this... if the majority of the stories (if you use, lets say, the overly stretched meaning 12/16 stories), were feminist in nature, being that they all focused on the fact that women were indeed people (still cant believe it), then PC as a whole could be considered sexist against men, if you'd like to think it that way.  And it wouldn't be necessarily sexist, more just a feminist podcast.  PC would be sexist if all/most of the stories bitched and moaned about how evil men were and how dumb we are :)

in my lil analysis (if you can even call it that), I merely summed up the stories(ish) and their themes(ish).

uuugh i hope i worded this correctly :P

and sorry, i just hate the double standard argument. :)  if PC were 90% male oriented stories, some of the fine ladies in the audience would notice, and a few men too, I'm sure of it.  That is a logical fallacy, its basically saying stuff like "if I didn't eat as much this morning, I wouldn't have missed the bus."  You don't know that, there could have been other factors that would have made you miss the bus.  You can't argue the unforeseeable future/alternate past/etc/etc.

Anyways... i dunno anymore.  and my IPU, i just don't care that much anymore either haha.  I'm enjoying the podcast

I'm gonna go grovel at the feet of the almighty Steve in hopes of quelling his anger :)
I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2008, 04:03:20 PM »
Others have weighed in with far better opinions that this one (including Anarkey, who made a point that was really bothering me and that I didn’t make clear that’s what I was speaking about in my prior post), but here’s mine.

Is PodCastle feminist? Yes, which is good and modern and correct. Is it sexist? No, it isn’t, and I’m not really going to go into that because to me, it’s very clear that it isn’t. If it was, I wouldn’t moderate their forums. But it isn’t, and I quite enjoy PodCastle. Now, we discussed this before in the ‘fantasy women’ thread, and I thought this whole thing was extremely silly then, and I still think it’s mostly silly to discuss it now. PodCastle has had about 1/12th as many episodes as EP, and for all intents and purposes we barely even know it yet. Now, Thaur’s been around here a long time and I have no reason to think he’s anything but a decent guy. I think he’s wrong, but I think he thinks he’s right. Stories are a bit hard to quantify/distill into “X story contains themes Y,Z,K, and L”, which means that humans are highly suggestible in this regard. I think if you think, even subconsciously, that a female empowerment story is coming then you’re going to try to fit any story you’re handed into that female empowerment theme, no matter how much of a stretch it is. Same thing if you’re going into a meal knowing that the chef is famous for using lavender, you’re probably going to taste lavender in everything, even if it’s not there. PC got off to a start that had people thinking female empowerment/sexism, and I think that if it had started with Osteomancer and Ant King and Astarte that they wouldn’t be reacting to those stories with the female empowerment themes.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #38 on: July 01, 2008, 04:29:16 PM »
I don’t really want to add anything to this discussion as enough viewpoints have been brought up defending or dismissing the validity of the original question. I just wanted to say I don’t see why this argument even should be an issue. From the start of PC I was amazed at the enormous range of fantasy stories chosen by the editors. Every week I felt that the stories were very different in many ways, varying in setting, plot, characterization, initial conflict, style of narration and they all seemed unique in their own way and chosen for exactly that reason, I assume.

I am not sure why we have to look for patterns and similarities rather than taking the stories for what they are, (mostly) good and entertaining fantasy stories, which to my mind seem to/can possibly stretch the field of fantasy literature to its limits and I am sure future episodes will do that to an even greater extent. Well, I hope so.

But if we are looking for patterns maybe we can look at patterns in our interpretation of the stories, in the way we identify with characters or plotlines …. or not. I do seem to remember that in several of the PC threads in the forum it was mentioned that listeners just did not LIKE the (female) lead characters, or were annoyed or put off by their attitude or behavior.
I am not saying we need to LIKE a character to enjoy a story, far from it, but it might have something to do with this reaction, maybe? Just saying.

Anyway, I personally enjoy stories that give me something or someone I can somehow identify with, sometimes the narrator or the antagonist or something that reminds me of a personal experience or issue or at least something I can imagine very well. Stories where I don’t have that, stories in which I cannot find any empathy with anything leave me cold. This seems pretty obvious, so maybe the posters who have criticized PC are looking for exactly that, something they can “identify with” (for lack of a better expression), a theme that grasps their imagination or ties in with personal interests which they could not find in PC as much as they can in EP?

Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I really enjoyed most of the PC stories so far, especially since they seem to cover all kinds of fantastical angles…. and I for one am quite grateful that we don’t have the usual sorcery, sword fighting/swashbuckling (?) slush.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #39 on: July 01, 2008, 04:33:09 PM »
I agree in that I definitely don't think Podcastle is sexist.  I think stories like "the Osteomancer's Son," "Hotel Astarte," and "The Ant King" wouldn't be here if it was.  I also don't think "Magic in a Certain Slant of Light" or "Fourteen Experiements in Postal Delivery" would be up if it was.  (There's probably more, too, but that's almost half of the regular episodes, so I'll stop there).

As others have pointed out sexist does not equal feminist.  

Is Podcastle feminist?  Yeesh, I don't know.  I don't think so, but I also don't think it would be a bad thing if it was.  I think a more accurate description might be that it's more feminine.  Which, you know, would make sense as it's edited by Rachel and Ann.  I don't think there's any argument that the majority of the stories feature female protagonists thus far.  But that's not a big deal to me.  

I also want to say that while there's been a couple of Podcastle stories I haven't liked, the majority of them have been of an excellent quality. 

Also, I have to say I've got a lot of respect for Thaur and shwankie (and Rachel and Ann).  This thread took me a little bit by surprise, but I don't think Thaur meant to turn it into a flame war.  Mostly, I remember him defending PC around Episode 2 and I'm curious as to what sparked the discussion now, because when we had the discussion before, as illogical as it was in PC's second week, it made more sense to me, as I think there was a story on each of the casts in about a two week span about female empowerment in male-dominated society.  But that was purely coincidental.  (Last week's Jim Hines story didn't seem to fit that trend in the least to me, but I might be missing something.)  Anyway, I'm looking forward to his responses tonight.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #40 on: July 01, 2008, 07:34:11 PM »
I don't know if anything I'm about to say will help, but I feel I have to try. 

Those of you new in these forums (past 6 months or so) may not have a firm grasp on the groups dynamics of this, but if you do a quick search, you ought to find most of the major dust-ups over feminism in literature, perceptions of gender, cultural bias, etc.  A not-small number of those threads grew quite heated, and a not-small number of them involved different combinations of us arguing variations of "I feel like this is/is not a problem" vs. "You only feel that way because you're biased".

It's not a very productive argument.

It's obvious that a lot of you feel that Thaurismunths is wrong; it's equally obvious that a lot of you feel he's coming out of nowhere with this opinion, and attacking without provocation.  But if you consider the history of this group, I think you'll see that it's a discussion that has been a long time coming.

Thaur and Shwankie both feel strongly about this, partly because they were so excitedly awaiting PodCastle for so long.  As was pointed out earlier, Thaur was arguing to "wait and see" early on, and I've noticed that both of them have been pretty quiet on the boards during that time, rather than harping on the issue week after week.  But as they both said, the impression that PC favors a certain "kind" of story (I won't belabor the semantics of what to call that "kind") at the expense of "quality" (I won't waste your time trying to define that, either) has been building.

And they aren't the only ones who feel that way.

Since I don't see - and don't WANT to see - a lot of people chiming in to say "Yeah, I think it's sexist, too", I'll stick my neck out at least far enough to say, I can see their point.  I don't feel strongly enough to threaten to leave (as Anarkey did over the PseudoPod story), but I have felt for a long time that PodCastle had a certain "air" about it.  I partially attributed that "air" to those past discussions with Rachel and hautdesert over gender issues, and after Steve's confession that he is the culprit responsible for selecting those stories, I'm convinced that I am right: that impression comes from my personal background of reading and participating in those older threads.

In other words, my impression about PodCastle's alleged sexims is based on my own biases and not on the actual stories.

In other other words, I'm apologizing for harboring the "PodCastle is sexist" opinion for so long.

So, if I can say this without it sounding like a jerk:

Rachel has been doing an admirable job as editor, and has shown superhuman restraint - not just in this thread, but in the forum as a whole since taking on the job.

Thaur and Shwankie have a right to their opinion, and have a right to state that opinion freely without being lambasted for stating it.  I think it took some courage to speak up, knowing what the reaction was likely to be, and I believe they have the best of intentions in doing so.  (If not for this thread, my bias would have just gone on simmering in that reptilian hind-brain.)

As for the rest of you, well... I don't want to get all mushy, but I really think you're a pretty classy group.  This thread is the most contentious I've run across in several months, and you've all stayed pretty cool (except for "hotdessert"  ;D ) throughout.

(Just to be clear: that wasn't a real slam against hautdesert... it was a PUN!  :O )
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #41 on: July 01, 2008, 09:05:56 PM »
I don't really want to weigh in to this debate, and I'm certainly not interested in a flame war, but I do have one question: would you have noticed if most of the stories featured male leads and oppressive step mothers?

Yes, I would have noticed. I would have noticed even if they were a run of zombie stories written by JRDeRego and voiced by Ben Phillips, and so would most people. Humans are very adapt at spotting trends in things, even rather disparate ones. So good even that we find trends that aren't even there.
I realize that is something that is at issue here, and I believe I have sufficient evidence of the trend I see so that others might at least understand my perspective, even if they do not agree on my speculative origins of that trend.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #42 on: July 01, 2008, 09:06:07 PM »
"of the two that weren't, one was chosen by popular demand"

No. It wasn't. I bought that myself; it was not chosen by the contest.
My apologies. I do now remember the discussion about that. You did chose to air the story, not Steve, and not the populous.

Quote
UPDATE:

Oh, and just to run some stats, three male narrators for flash and five male narrators for full-length fiction is eight male narrators out of eighteen stories, or 44% male narrators.

This week's full-length story has a male narrator, which will be nine male narrated pieces out of nineteen, or 47%.

These are figures so basically close to parity that I don't think there's any statistical argument here.

Particularly if we start running in Escape Pod numbers. When the initial complaints about PodCastle's "female-oriented" nature came in, Ann did a count of recent Escape Pod narrators and found that 87% of the recent stories had been narrated by men.

So, at PodCastle, after midnight tonight, you'll have 53% women. At Escape Pod, circa whenever the debate originated (sometime in April), you had 13% women.

Again, I don't think there is a possible statistical argument here.

So, no, I am not aware there is a problem, as I don't think there is one. Nor will I be doing anything to fix it, since there's nothing to fix.

Rachel, I question the validity of the numbers you're using. You are lumping all of the downloadable fiction on your podcast together and saying it's balanced, but you have apples and pears trying to balance out with oranges.
Last night, after I read this, I took a look at all of the stories on PC and broke them down by story theme, narrative voice, and reader, and author. I don't, didn't, won't care about the gender of the author (6w/7m), nor about the gender of the voice actors(8w/5m), but the numbers are there all the same. Of the last 13 stories*, 7 of the last 13 stories have female narrators, 3 from neutral perspectives (you counted Barrens dance, but I don't recall the speaker's gender being explicitly expressed. A male voice actor was given the part, but that doesn't make it a male perspective. Please correct me if I'm wrong), one from assorted perspectives (Ant King), and only 2 are told from expressly male perspectives.  Story content and setting varies, but what the stories focus on shows a trend too: 10 are about a woman's experience, 2 are about a man's experience, and one is varied, but largely about a man's journey.
In short:
Author- 45%w/55%m
Reader- 62%w/38%m
Narrator- 54%w/15%m (23%n/8%v)
Focus of story- 77%w/15%m (8%v)
I don't see the equality you've spoken of, I see a majority of women.

Of the 5 PodCastle Miniatures, four were about and read by men, one was totally neutral but read by a male voice actor.
In short:
A ratio of 0/4/1, or 0% women, 80% men, 20% Neutral
The obvious answer is that in your numbers you've given as much weight to the full 45 minute stories as you have to the 10 minute Miniatures. I do not rate stories and miniatures as of equal value because:
-they don't have intros or outtros
-there is no author information
-they are substantially shorter
-they are irregularly sprinkled about the line-up
-the authors are not paid as much for them
Thus, apples and pears. If you add your apples and pears you come out even, but the genders are so keenly split between Stories and Miniatures that it appears to me to be unnatural.

As for the oranges, I'll be honest, I don't understand why it is so popular to reference Escape Pod's numbers whenever someone brings up a potential bias in PodCastle. Are posters trying to say that Escape Pod is sexist? Are posters saying that the genders of SF authors, characters, situations, and political agendas are so close in number to those in Fantasy that they make for an equivalent comparison? Or are their numbers close at hand, and easy to pull out of a hat to make PodCastle's numbers look better?

*I haven't had time to listen to today's story, and probably won't 'till this weekend, so please excuse its absence in my numbers.

Ps. I read your second post, but it seemed to be directed at Bdoomed. Your third post... tasty.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2008, 09:08:25 PM by Thaurismunths »
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #43 on: July 01, 2008, 09:06:17 PM »
Five out of thirteen episodes are male-narrated.   That's pretty darn close to fifty-fifty.  In your list you've missed Barren's Dance, which is a male-lead story.  The fifth is "Come Lady Death" which was narrated by a man, but could have gone either way. 

Come Lady Death is not about a woman triumphing over male oppression.  Rather definitely not.  Niether is Wisteria, or Magic in a Certain Slant of Light.  Nor Goosegirl--the narrator was in conflict with another woman, not a man.  Spell of the Sparrow, similarly--the conflict is between two women.

14 Experiments, the conflict was between a female POV character and her male ex boyfriend--but rather than triumphing over his oppression, she got back together with him at the urging of her sister.

Stories that might be classed as women triumphing over male oppression--Firey horse and Fear of Dragons.  You're on much thinner ice with Fear of Rain, but I'll be generous and include it, since the main character was female and her opponent was male.

So, three out of thirteen stories have conflicts between female POV characters and male antagonists.  Just less than one quarter, hardly what I would call the vast majority.

Three, possibly four if you count 14 Experiments, are conflicts between women.--near that one quarter mark.

Two are fairly romancy--Wisteria and Slant of Light.  A bit less than one sixth.  Nothing about male oppression at all in either of them.

Four are definitely male POV stories.  Around about that quarter, even if you insist on assigning Barren's Dance to the group of stories from a female POV. 

So, um, what vast majority do you mean?
The majority I meant are 77% of stories about women that I referenced in my reply to Rachel.
Of the 13 stories, 6 (Fear of Dragons, Fiery Horse, Fear of Rain, Slant of Light, Fourteen Experiments, and Barrens Dance) deal with women coming in conflict with men. A male demon, the old priests, the old man, her husband, her cheating boyfriend, and a light-footed magician. I'm not suggesting that these are all Feminist stories, but stories about women. Each on their own is nothing significant, and they're all fine stories in their own right, but they all came, one after another, in the first two months of the podcast.
It isn't their existence, individually, that I find confounding, but the order and frequency with which they appear that I find suspect. What are the odds that so many

Which four stories are definitely from male perspectives?
What are you using to defining as a "story"? Each downloadable release, or each weekly story?
If you're counting weekly stories, then I only count three that are "definitely male". If you include the diminutive miniatures, then I count 9.
To be honest though, I have no interest in getting side-tracked by splitting hairs.

I haven't seen anything of substance in your next three replies. You seemed to have been making unrelated generalizations, speculations, and restating numbers. Admittedly I'm running late with my replies and am in a hurry. If I've skipped over something that you would like a specific reply to, please let me know and I will gladly address it.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2008, 09:06:29 PM »
If all the stories were like Fear of Dragons, I might agree with you.  I think the pairing of Fear of Dragons with *Fiery Horse may have caused some to become concerned about a trend, but that is only if you were looking for it.  If you had no previous experience with Rachel to know she was an ardent feminist, would you have been looking for it? 
That'd difficult to answer because I don't know how I would have acted if I didn't know something.
I might have been less sensitive to it, but I don't think I would have just overlooked it altogether. It might have taken me 5 or 6 stories before I saw the trend. On the other hand, I wasn't the only person to pick up on it, just one of the loudest.

Quote
You can't deny the quality and diversity of the stories that have appeared in PC.  (OK, as a matter of personal taste, you could, but not in the sense of quality vs. agenda.)

Now I may be called sexist myself for saying this, but in my opinion, fantasy as a genre itself leans toward a feminine bearing or style.  Of course I mean that in an overall general sense; and I don't see it as a bad thing either.

-----
*I think Run of the Fiery Horse is an excellent story.  It is unfortunate to overlook it by listening to it only through an "Is this feminist?" lens.
I think Fiery Horse is an amazing story, and said as much in the thread.
I don't think the stories, by them selves, are bad. It's a general trend throughout the podcast that I find unsettling.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2008, 09:06:42 PM »
I'm staying out of the thread for purposes of moderation, but I'd just like to say that feminism isn't a bad thing, and strong female characters are or should be the norm in modern fiction. Along with weak and strong males, and weak females. Strong and weak humans, really. Also badgers and dragons.
What about Lemurs?
Speciest. :)
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #46 on: July 01, 2008, 09:06:52 PM »
<angry steve>
Steve, this was a very large and well thought out post.
I am exhausted and these replies have taken much longer than I had thought. Please forgive me for postponing my reply to you until tomorrow when I can give it my full attention.

Everyone else, I'm sorry this is taking a while.
I appreciate that you have taken the time to write, and I hope you will be patient as I return the courtesy.
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zZzacha

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #47 on: July 02, 2008, 06:11:05 AM »
*ducking in advance*

And I always thought EscapePod and PseudoPod were more male oriented than female. I think it comes with the territory. Thankfully, all three podcasts aren't exclusively oriented one way or the other, so every gender gets its part. And yes, PC is a bit more 'girly', but not exclusively! Both EP and PP are a bit more male oriented, but nobody talks about that. Maybe because this forum needs more girls, so we can bitalk about that ;)

In my opinion, all three podcasts are GREAT just the way they are. Love you all :)
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #48 on: July 02, 2008, 06:55:15 AM »
First I wanted to thank everyone for making this so interesting that I had to read every post before I went to work this morning.  This caused me to leave about 20 minutes later than usual.  This caused me to hit a skunk with my car.  Thanks to your arguments my car now smells like a skunk.  Yes, your actions have real world consequences.  I hope you're happy.

Second, I STILL think it's too early to make any conclusions about Podcastle being "sexist" or "feminist".  Everyone is trying to use data to prove their point.  This is fantastic, and puts this forum WAY ahead of the rest of the world, who prefer emotion, conjecture, and speculation as problem solving tools.  However, taking that data and trying to draw conclusions from general statistcs is not possible with so little data.  I'm going to pick on Thaur for a minute (sorry, but it's the most recent post with statistics, this applies to everyone trying to use percentages to make a claim).

In short:
Author- 45%w/55%m
Reader- 62%w/38%m
Narrator- 54%w/15%m (23%n/8%v)
Focus of story- 77%w/15%m (8%v)
I don't see the equality you've spoken of, I see a majority of women.
This was only based on the 13 non-miniature stories.  If the next story is male oriented in every way the breakdown would be nearly even, because one shift to the male side would sway the percentages about 7%.  One story carries a LOT of weight with percentages with this few data points.  If we want to try to really analyze the trends with statistics then we need to wait until around episode 30 (even at which point each story is 3%).  Sorry to get all statistics-nerd on everyone, but there just isn't enough data out there to make a conclusion one way or the other, especially relating to trends.

I said something in the last thread to this effect and I'll say it again: give Podcastle more time. 
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Anarkey

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #49 on: July 02, 2008, 08:13:43 AM »
One story carries a LOT of weight with percentages with this few data points.  If we want to try to really analyze the trends with statistics then we need to wait until around episode 30 (even at which point each story is 3%).  Sorry to get all statistics-nerd on everyone, but there just isn't enough data out there to make a conclusion one way or the other, especially relating to trends.

I said something in the last thread to this effect and I'll say it again: give Podcastle more time. 

Thanks for the stats primer, Chodon.  This was interesting to me.  Also thanks for asking for continued patience as PC grows into itself. 

I know you have more to say, Thaur, and it's probably not helpful to make the thread even longer than it now is, putting you ever more behind but I read your posts, and it seems to me a number of things are being conflated: whether a story is from a female POV, whether that story is feminist, whether a feminist story is also a sexist story (this is kind of mind-boggling, which is why my earlier wtf comment), and whether you liked it.  Your statements seems to be along this thread : I don't like/am not comfortable with the number of stories that are about girls therefore those stories must be feminist and/or sexist, or the fact that so many of them have appeared in a row is feminist and/or sexist.

No one can tell you that no, no, no you actually really like the stories.  Obviously if you don't, you don't.  No one can tell you, either, that you were not hoping for something different, and that your expectations have been met.  That's clearly not true from your reaction and your expressed disappointment with PC.  I identify with this sentiment pretty closely.  There are some stories and themes I'm completely done with, closed to, over.  Frex: I no longer play rpg computer games if I'm required to be a male character.  I've done my share of that, and now I'm finished and the best rpg computer game in the world isn't going to change my mind.  (My grandmother would call this 'Cutting off your nose to spite your face' but I'm at peace with that.  Life is short.  There's plenty of other games to play).

Maybe that's how you feel about stories that focus on women.  I don't know.  If it is, then it's fine to feel that way, as far as I'm concerned.  PodCastle may not be the podcast for you, since they can be counted on to include stories with girls in them, not because they're rah rah feminist, but because lots of stories have girls in them and PodCastle isn't likely to go out of its way to avoid those. 

As to why posters keep referring to the stats on Escape Pod, the not so subtle point they are making is when the stories are all about men, this conversation does not happen.  It is only when there seems to be stories about women, even stories that aren't really all that feminist, that this conversation starts.  This has to do with an increase in minority voices being perceived (as Cat Rambo put so well) as overwhelming.  It's a social dynamic that's repeatable.  If the next ten stories PC put out were about homosexuals, or non-white non-European peoples, the same conversation would start up.  Even if the stories were all awesome and of impeccable quality this conversation would happen. 

The problem is, if you're a feminist  (and we all know Rachel is one) -- or some other minority, you'll note Steve expressed some impatience and mentioned his poly minority status -- you've had this conversation ten thousand times because you've invariably raised your minority voice in some generally male-dominated -- or other majority -- sphere.  It gets old.  Really old. 

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #50 on: July 02, 2008, 09:08:31 AM »
So, I just started listening to PodCastle a few days ago, and so far I'm up to Hotel Astarte. Full disclosure: I'm a white, middle-class, heterosexual male, and I consider myself a feminist (because, to paraphrase Coupling: "You've got to treat women like people in their own right; after all, in many respects, they are.").

Is there more female exposure (female voice talent, female authors, female protagonists) in PodCastle than in a typical short-story outlet? I think we can safely agree that there is; certainly there's more than in any other short-story media I currently subscribe to.

Is PodCastle feminist in outlook? I certainly hope so. They seem to believe that a strong female character makes for as good a story as a strong male character, which is a good thing. Are they acting on that feminism? By which I mean, are they rejecting good male-oriented pieces in favour of less-good female oriented pieces? Obviously, I can't answer that without knowing the contents of their slush pile (and, of course, "less-good" is a huge judgement call), but judging by the quality of the pieces they've run so far, I don't think they are.

Is PodCastle sexist? I've not heard anything that would make me think that there's any anti-male agenda at PodCastle.

I didn't think A Fear of Dragons was about a male-female conflict of any kind. The fact that the dragon was male slipped by me completely. It was about female empowerment in a patriarchal society, but that's not the same. And it ends with the character compromising with the patriarchy to mitigate the damage done to individuals.

As for Run of the Fiery Horse, well, I suppose the serpent could be considered male, if it had a gender at all. But almost all of the male humans in the story were supportive. There was a tiny amount of male-female conflict when she Po La (?) attacked her in the market, but  the major conflict with identifiably gendered characters came with old women who thought that she ought to be crippled in order to conform to male ideals of beauty.

So, hrm. Both have feminist themes, though they come through conflict with the world, not conflict with other characters.

Other stories: Come, Lady Death had four strong characters, two male and two female, no gender-based conflicts. Goosegirl was an entirely female-female conflict; you could argue it was a class war piece, if you really wanted to, I suppose, but not a feminist piece. The Ant King had a central strong male character, and several other strong characters around him of both sexes; again, it could be ant-corporate, or anti-commitment (or pro-commitment), but there is no strong gender conflict anywhere. I've not finished Hotel Astarte yet, but I'm a little surprised that everyone is saying it's a male-centric story. I can see that, now that people mention it, but I'd been thinking that Queen Columbia was the central character.

Anyway, of what I've heard so far, I'm very surprised by the claims of sexism.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #51 on: July 02, 2008, 10:50:49 AM »
Thanks for your replies, Thaurismunths.

I’ve been thinking about this more and have become more firmly resolved that it is all about the stories.  The podcast should be judged on the quality of the stories.  If the stories stand on their own as being of consistently good quality (of course no one will like all of the stories.  I haven’t), then the motivations of the editor shouldn’t matter.

To be fair, I’m not completely innocent.  The questions I asked of you were questions I had to answer earlier for myself.  I was originally looking for an agenda at the start of PodCastle, too.  It stemmed from Rachel’s discussion of organizing a female blitz of one of the magazines (Asimov’s was it?).  I remember thinking, That’s all well and good, but if you run stories in a publication just to satisfy having a certain number of female authors, is that right?  (I think Rachel would say the point was that many quality stories were/are being overlooked expressly because it came from a female author.)

So when I heard that Rachel would be the chief editor of PodCastle, right or wrong, I wondered if this would compromise the story selection.  So I was “looking for it”, too.  After the Fear of Dragons and Fiery Horse ran back to back, I thought, Aha, see, my preconceived expectations were correct.  Then something in my mind made me stop and change my perspective.  I asked myself whether I would feel the same way if Fiery Horse ran on Escape Pod and judged the story on its own merits; it had many.  Since then I’ve tried to only look at the stories themselves and disregard everything else.  So I’m sorry if I came across as being above the subject.  I know where you are coming from.  I just resolved the question for myself previously and saw your concern as misplaced.

(my posts tend to be formal, stiff and lacking in self revelation, so I’m trying to be more transparent.  Tango Alpha Delta and DKT are my inspiration.)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 10:53:23 AM by Swamp »
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Swamp

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #52 on: July 02, 2008, 11:55:11 AM »
Rachel has been doing an admirable job as editor, and has shown superhuman restraint - not just in this thread, but in the forum as a whole since taking on the job.

I agree
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #53 on: July 02, 2008, 01:14:58 PM »
Quote
Is PodCastle feminist in outlook?

Looking over the thread with slightly more rested eyes, I'm wondering if this is the crux of the question?

Yes. PodCastle is and will be feminist in outlook. We will not be publishing material we find offensively sexist, nor will we be publishing material we find offensively racist.

I don't find this to be the same thing as being anti-male. Refusing to publish anti-woman stories is not the same thing as being anti-male. Similarly, refusing to publish racist stories is not the same thing as being anti-white.

While being feminist and anti-racist in outlook (as well as many other things), PodCastle will not simply be picking up any story that happens to feature feminist themes. We get a good many of these pieces, and most of them -- like most of everything else -- are badly written. The stories that have come up here as being questioned for their quality are stories that Steve selected, which is a bit odd to me for various reasons, but should at least establish that they were not chosen by me simply because of their message despite 'inferior writing.'

Selecting stories that are actively feminist is not a priority in the editorial selection. I do not go out and read things with the intent of selecting stories that support "a feminist agenda." However, I'll qualify this by saying that the only story in this line-up that I think is even remotely under the "active feminist" label is "Run of the Fiery Horse."

PodCastle will continue to run stories with male villains. PodCastle will continue to run stories where women fight against men. PodCastle will continue to run stories where women fight against society. I do not accept the assertion that these things are, by default, feminist propositions. Nor do I accept that any story which features one, or more, strong female characters, is automatically feminist. 

If you forbid stories in which women fight against men or society, you cut off most avenues for female characters to experience conflict. Females do experience conflict. They experience conflict with men and society as well as other women. This will continue to be represented.

Stories like "Giant" get at the crux of the problem for me. "Giant" is not a feminist story. The original story of "Giant" is about a prince who rescues a princess from a giant. That original story is not feminist, either. It's about male agency. It's literally a damsel in distress story in which the woman is a plot coupon. The retelling of the piece is about humanizing the villain, in the classic mode of fairy tale retellings. It's a piece akin to telling Cinderella from the step-mother's side. The villain is male, but here we have a big bad oppressive male being rendered as fully human instead of a one-dimensional villain. To call this story anti-male is, in my opinion, to miss the point.

I bring up Escape Pod numbers to expose the double standard that is in play here. No, I do not think Escape Pod is sexist. Thaurismunths claims that he would notice if the trends he finds sexist were reversed; however, he did not, to my knowledge, actually notice when female voices didn't appear on Escape Pod. Nor did anyone else complain about it, notice it, or mention it on the Escape Pod boards until Ann and I dug up the data point to illustrate that we are being held to a double standard.

I hope this is clarifying about my positions, both in regard to the discussion and in regard to PodCastle's editorial policy. I feel I'm starting to repeat myself, so I may reply less frequently as the thread goes on.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #54 on: July 02, 2008, 01:50:05 PM »
so, has it been three months already? last time round still seems so fresh: the long careful choosing of words, rewriting to minimize misinterpretation, waiting that extra hour for the head to clear. i like to think that i took away some little idea of the games politicians have to play.

since then some things have changed; i understand that Rachel is married (congrats! =) ). nothing substantial about my position has changed tho. anything points i'd wish to make were already made the best that i'm gonna make them. no one's standing alone in this thread, so i'm just gonna answer some comments that seemed to reference the last thread. or at least that caught my attention.


The stories everyone is bitching about the most?  I bought them.  "For Fear of Dragons" was my purchase.  (And I did notice that even then, in week fucking two, people were getting upset about the "pattern" of feminism on the podcast.  Two episodes!)

this may have been aimed at the web comments or some other conversation i'm not aware of. i definitely understand your frustration. if you're talking about the fantasy women thread i feel i should defend my position.

a lot of time was spent on for fear of dragons but the thread was started three weeks after launch; there were five episodes by then (including two minis). this was also during a time when podcastle and escape pod were running similarly themed episodes. finally, the time spent on for fear of dragons was a result of people arguing against the idea that there could be a female empowerment interpretation. personally, it wasn't really more objectionable than other episodes; just had examples that were easy to point to.

Hell, I had issues with "Sparrow" myself -- not for sexism, but for offending my polyamorist sensibilities

man, how many plots would that leave you?

Helen: "i'm spending the summer in troy."
Menelaus: "k, drop me a letter."

mr Roper is working in the garden when he overhears Jack saying, "i'm going to get you into bed Chrissy but first i have to get Janet off." he shrugs and gets back to gardening.

"one million dollars?! honey, start negotiations on the house."


I'm not clear what the point of asking, "Is PodCastle sexist?" actually is. If the answer turns out to be "yes," then what? We demand quotas? We stage a mass un-subscribe until we get new editors?  We petition Steve to start "StudCastle" -- a male-oriented fantasy podcast -- by way of affirmative action?

what's the point of discussing episodes at all? people see a common thread running through multiple episodes and think it's worth talking about. it's been worded confrontationally this time, more than i'm comfortable with really, but that doesn't have to be a big deal.

the editors here are easily the most engaged of the podcasts, directly responding to most questions and concerns. that's been fantastic, i greatly appreciated Rachel's effort to meet me halfway in a hostile environment, but sometimes it's best to let the kids tire themselves out. so long as we feel like we're being listened to it's all good, you'll probably get much the same information and save frustration. (edit: the last post kinda makes this paragraph pointless)


Mostly, I remember him defending PC around Episode 2 and I'm curious as to what sparked the discussion now, because when we had the discussion before, as illogical as it was in PC's second week, it made more sense to me, as I think there was a story on each of the casts in about a two week span about female empowerment in male-dominated society.

third week, five episodes, general atmosphere of similar themes dammit! =P

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #55 on: July 02, 2008, 02:25:49 PM »
Selecting stories that are actively feminist is not a priority in the editorial selection. I do not go out and read things with the intent of selecting stories that support "a feminist agenda." However, I'll qualify this by saying that the only story in this line-up that I think is even remotely under the "active feminist" label is "Run of the Fiery Horse."

How about "For Fear of Dragons"?  I'm not trying to challenge you-- I agree with what you're saying-- but that story's themes of a girl claiming agency against a patriarchal system seem about as actively feminist as they come.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #56 on: July 02, 2008, 02:42:42 PM »
If a male protagonist takes on a cabal of old, powerful men, there is not "ist" attached to the story.

If a female protagonist takes on a cabal of old, powerful men, it becomes a feminist story.

*sigh*

Corydon - this is not meant as a response to your post per se, just a reflection on the trends of our society.

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Corydon

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #57 on: July 02, 2008, 03:01:27 PM »
As I remember it, the background to the story was that every year, virgin girls were sacrificed by male priests.  That's not just a female protagonist taking on a cabal of old, powerful men; it's making the story explicitly about gender.

Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #58 on: July 02, 2008, 05:15:23 PM »
Why are so many of the so many of the stories about . . . men?
Are the editors aware of this trend?
Is this trend acceptable?
Is this a trend we can expect in future . . . stories?
Will more variety be expected in the future? When, and what kind?

Ask these questions of other publications, television shows, movies, novels, etc. Let me know what you find and then we can start a thread that discusses gender issues in popular culture. Honestly, I feel you are issuing a challenge rather than asking a question.
I apologize Liminal, I missed your post last night. That wasn't meant to be a slight.

I did ask them, and they said ask someone else, just like you did.
No one wants to get asked these questions, and no one wants to ask them because questioning the motives a minority makes you an 'ist' person pretty much no matter what.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #59 on: July 02, 2008, 05:16:10 PM »
I'm sorry, I feel the need to re-state myself.
Please, re-read the words of my original post and see what is there, not what you want to read, and don't skim. Please see what I'm saying.

Is PodCastle sexist?
The knee jerk answer is probably "no" but I would disagree. I think this is a question worth asking of the audience and, most particularly, of the editorial staff.
It has been remarked that women are a minority in publishing; I can't say one way or another, nor is that my concern, nor is it the concern of this podcast (to my knowledge anyway). What I am commenting on is the general tone and trend of the collected works published by PodCastle,and the appearance that they are strongly favoring women to the exclusion of other kinds of stories.
We're on episode thirteen, with five miniatures in the bag, and to me it's become obvious that PodCastle is being sexist in its choice of stories. Since Podcastle's debut nearly all of the stories feature female protagonists, and are mostly told from a female perspective. For example, only three stories (Ant King, Hotel Astarte, Osteomancer's Son) featured male leads, the rest are largely about women triumphing over (directly or indirectly) male oppression of some fashion or other. Three of the five PC Miniatures have been from a male perspective, but about negative domestic relationships with women (of the two that weren't, one was chosen by popular demand).
These issues have been danced around and nodded at, but we haven't really gotten any direct answers. I hope we can put some of these issues to rest publicly.

Why are so many of the so many of the stories about women?
Are the editors aware of this trend?
Is this trend acceptable?
Is this a trend we can expect in future PC stories?
Will more variety be expected in the future? When, and what kind?

Where did I say "Feminist"?
Why is this becoming a discussion about my views on feminism?
I said sexist.
Shwankie said feminist. And she meant feminist.
If you want to talk about feminism, ask her. Or ask me my views on feminism some other time, but don't lump us together. We are individual people and we have reached our own conclusions about this.

The definition of Sexist
Wikipedia:"Sexism can refer also to any and all systemic differentiations based on the gender of a person, not based on their individual merits. In some circumstances this type of sexism may constitute sex discrimination, which in some forms is illegal in some countries."
That is the definition I am using. I'm using it because it is an accurate description of my concerns, and I consider Wikipedia a reliable source in this case because its content is user provided, making this use of the word reasonably accurate and current.

I said PodCastle has "...the appearance that they are strongly favoring women to the exclusion of other kinds of stories." meaning that I think the content is being chosen based on gender, rather than the individual merits of the stories. That is sexism.

Sexism is not about anti-men or anti-women. Sexism is choosing one thing over another (often to the detriment of the 'another'). If a podcast were to feature stories exclusively about one gender it would be just as sexist as a podcast that degraded one gender.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #60 on: July 02, 2008, 05:51:33 PM »
These issues have been danced around and nodded at, but we haven't really gotten any direct answers. I hope we can put some of these issues to rest publicly.

Yeah.  All right, Thaurismunths, let's put it to rest.  Here's what you don't know.

Rachel got handed the reins of PodCastle with about 15-20 stories already in inventory before she had a chance to pick anything.  Many of the stories you've heard so far are stories that were originally sent to Escape Pod, before there was any word of us splitting off a fantasy podcast.  I initially bought them with contracts in Escape Pod's name.  If I were put on the witness stand, I could submit scanned copies of the signed contracts.  When I first got serious about doing a separate fantasy feed -- which was roughly a year before PodCastle actually launched -- I contacted those authors and asked if they'd be okay with  their stories going up on a different podcast.  They said yes, of course.  Peter S. Beagle's business manager was the first person I approached about it, because as soon as I read "Come Lady Death" I knew I wanted it for a debut story.

The stories picked by me are as follows:
  • Come Lady Death
  • Stone Born
  • For Fear of Dragons
  • Hippocampus
  • Barrens Dance
  • Spell of the Sparrow
  • The Grand Cheat (tonight's story, if I can get away from this long enough to edit it)

The stories picked by Rachel are as follows:
  • Run of the Fiery Horse
  • Giant
  • Goosegirl
  • The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale
  • Pahwahke
  • Hotel Astarte
  • Fear of Rain
  • The Osteomancer's Son
  • Wisteria
  • Magic in a Certain Slant of Light
  • Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery
  • Directions

There are other stories coming up that were bought by me.  No, I won't tell you which ones.  I also gave Rachel some stories that she didn't like at all, and rejected.  Some of those stories turned up on Escape Pod before we made the full transition.  Some will simply go quietly unpublished until our two-year option expires.  I didn't like the fact that she turned down some stories I was in love with, but I've made clear to the editors of both PodCastle and Pseudopod that their editorial authority is absolute.  If I'm going to override their decisions, there is no trust and I might as well not delegate.

But here's the thing, Thaurismunths.  The stories everyone is bitching about the most?  I bought them.  "For Fear of Dragons" was my purchase.  (And I did notice that even then, in week fucking two, people were getting upset about the "pattern" of feminism on the podcast.  Two episodes!)  "Spell of the Sparrow" was my purchase.  Hell, I had issues with "Sparrow" myself -- not for sexism, but for offending my polyamorist sensibilities -- but I was so happy to get a light sword-and-sorcery piece that didn't suck that I overlooked my own prejudices.  I didn't obsess about the gender of the protagonist.  I was just happy that it was competent.  (You can read into that any conclusions you like about the state of our slushpiles.)
I haven't "bitched" about any stories. I've liked a good number of them, as stories. I've never had a problem with them, on their own. My comments are that from an outside perspective PodCastle looks to have a strong sexist bent. I posted the numbers reflecting how my impression of the stories.
I'm only a listener. I'm not a podcaster, not an editor, heck, I'm barely literate compared to some of the folks on these forums. Things may be as plain as the sun in the sky to you, but from the outside it looks too slanted to be the coincidence everyone says it is. Maybe it is just chance that so many women have shown up in the first two and a half months of the podcast, that doesn't change that they have. That doesn't change the impression some of us listeners have gotten.

Quote
And the other thing.  You say there are only three stories so far with male leads.  I could quibble over definitions, but whatever.  The three you named?  "The Ant King," "Hotel Astarte" and "The Osteomancer's Son?"  Rachel and Ann picked all three.  I had absolutely nothing to do with them.  I never even glanced at "The Ant King" until I sat down to narrate it.  I only picked the ones that seem to have everyone up in arms shouting "Estrogen!  Estrogen!"

So here's your culprit, Thaurismunths.  I stand before you.  The hyperfeminist who's offending the hell out of you is me.  I'm the one skewing the curve.  Rachel's bringing needed balance to PodCastle by making sure male viewpoints are represented in the fiction you hear. 

Are we clear on that?  Good.  Now to put your foregone-conclusions-in-the-form-of-questions to bed.  The following are my opinions only -- I'm not speaking for Rachel or Ann here; this thread annoys me for my own completely individual reasons:
As magnanimous as that is, you could only be partly to blame. You didn't chose the order of the stories, and as someone else mentioned much later on, the one story that was so thrashed about was only used because it was close at hand. I'm sorry you feel so beaten-up over them, but I wasn't the one carrying the stick.

And what "foregone-conclusions-in-the-form-of-questions"?
I asked if PC is sexist, then stated my opinion, then asked questions of the editorial staff after having been (I thought) clear on my view.  Perhaps I don't know what a "foregone-conclusions-in-the-form-of-question" is?

Quote
Why are so many of the so many of the stories about women?

Because good stories are about interesting people, and women are interesting at least as often as men are.  Is it your view that women should be interesting considerably less often? 
No. I'm fascinated by women. Love them, treat them as equals, and am very supportive. *waits for Shwankie to bring me a beer*
I'm also a member of PFLAG. I speak out regularly against sexism, racism, and homophobia in my every day life. I help with food programs for the under unprivileged. I donate to charity. I try to put a lot of thought in to what I say, and how it may affect the world around me.
I am not, irregardless of how this forum will paint me, an orgre.

And by your logic, men should be just as interesting (though perhaps less often). Maybe I should have asked "why so few of everything else?"
Quote
Are the editors aware of this trend?

That the stories feature interesting people?  Yes.
No, that the majority of stories are about interesting women.
Yes, I get that women are people, but they're a kind of person, just like men are. When someone choses to have a majority of one sex and a minority of another it's called 'sexism'.

Quote
Is this trend acceptable?

Yes, very much so.  It's why PodCastle is so much more successful than all the other dedicated fantasy short fiction podcasts.  (Yeah, exactly.)
If PodCastle is more successful than all the other similar podcast, Hurrah!
Nothing could be better. You're obviously doing something right.
Who are the other podcasts and are they being regularly promoted on two other wildly successful podcasts?

Quote
Is this a trend we can expect in future PC stories?

I sure hope so.


Will more variety be expected in the future? When, and what kind?

You mean, stories about boring people?  Dude, you already have morning radio.  Why do you want us to give you more?

Now can we please let this whining and griping die?  I'm not involved with PodCastle's story selection anymore, but I've loved almost all of the stories on PodCastle, and I'm genuinely happy with the job that Rachel and Ann are doing.  I asked Rachel to run this podcast and harangued her until she said yes because she doesn't have all the same opinions and viewpoints that I do.  Because it mattered more to me that she had opinions than what they were. 

But no matter how many people complain about it, I am not going to exert one ounce of pressure for Rachel to change a thing.  I think she's doing a great job.  As the owner and publisher, I would never allow popular opinion to force changes that the editors don't agree with.  If that ever succeeds, then and only then will I start to wonder if I picked the wrong editors.  So far there is no evidence that I have, and plenty of evidence that I picked the right ones.
Thank you for answering my questions.

Folks, I'm within a cat's whisker -- nay, a paramecium's flagellum -- of locking this thread for going too deep into personal attack. 

I don't want to lock the thread.  Although I was up front in expressing that the question in the topic annoys the crap out of me, I don't consider that sufficient grounds for stifling a discussion.  Opinions matter, and if I shut down this one thread but people really have a problem with a podcast, it's just going to come up in other ways.  I try hard to maintain an allergy to political censorship.

However.  This is starting to get mean.  We will abide discord but not nastiness.  I ask everyone from this point on to make a conscious, explicit effort to keep your debate focused on the ideas we're talking about here, and not the people you're talking to.  Let's not dwell on who said what and when, or who's holding to what patterns, or anything like that.  It doesn't matter.  This goes for everyone in this thread, including Escape Artists staff and including myself.  I brought up the original poster's name far too often in my prior reply.  It was not necessary to frame my points as a personal retort.

Thank you in advance.
I appreciate your candor, and I hope my reply did not cross the line.

[edit] I'm sorry. On re-reading this didn't come out nearly as respectful as it should have. I will try to restrain myself in the future.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 06:38:10 PM by Thaurismunths »
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Liminal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #61 on: July 02, 2008, 05:53:21 PM »
Wikipedia:"Sexism can refer also to any and all systemic differentiations based on the gender of a person, not based on their individual merits. In some circumstances this type of sexism may constitute sex discrimination, which in some forms is illegal in some countries."
That is the definition I am using. I'm using it because it is an accurate description of my concerns, and I consider Wikipedia a reliable source in this case because its content is user provided, making this use of the word reasonably accurate and current.

I said PodCastle has "...the appearance that they are strongly favoring women to the exclusion of other kinds of stories." meaning that I think the content is being chosen based on gender, rather than the individual merits of the stories. That is sexism.

Sexism is not about anti-men or anti-women. Sexism is choosing one thing over another (often to the detriment of the 'another'). If a podcast were to feature stories exclusively about one gender it would be just as sexist as a podcast that degraded one gender.


According to the definition you are using, the only way PC could be sexist is if it were discriminating against male authors in its story selection. If sexism is "systemic differentiation based on the gender of a person," then a person must be involved. If you were to demonstrate that PC was only publishing stories by women or only by men, then you might have a case, but I find it hard to understand how you can be sexist toward a genderless thing, i.e. a story. Also, I can't quite see how "systemic differentiation" is the same as "choosing one thing over another," especially when it comes to publishing stories. Every story published is a product of choosing one thing over another. For there to be a valid claim of sexism, it seem that you would have to read every story submitted to PC before you can assume that decisions are being based on gender instead of quality. And even then, sexism would only occur if male authors were systematically barred from being published. If (and I don't believe this to be true at all) PC is biased toward stories that put women at the center of the narratives, that is still not sexism. You may not like that particular editorial choice but I honestly don't feel that the charge of "sexism" - even by your own chosen definition - is warranted.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #62 on: July 02, 2008, 05:56:06 PM »
Virtually every premise of the original post is factually wrong -- just as the premises of the similar complaint from Thaurismunths were factually wrong. How often is Thaurismunths planning to come back here to beat this dead horse?
What dead horse and when did I flog it?
I believe you have me confused with someone else.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #63 on: July 02, 2008, 06:06:47 PM »
I'm not clear what the point of asking, "Is PodCastle sexist?" actually is. If the answer turns out to be "yes," then what? We demand quotas? We stage a mass un-subscribe until we get new editors?  We petition Steve to start "StudCastle" -- a male-oriented fantasy podcast -- by way of affirmative action?  Or what?  Like I said, I'm really, really unclear about what you're trying to "settle publically."
Yes. If that's how you want to handle a sexist podcast.

Quote
Let's suppose for a moment that Rachel and Anne have made a conscious decision to favor a stories that take a particular point of view and theme, and that the stories they've chosen reflect that theme. So what?  That's just editors doing their jobs. 

IMNSHO, the best and most interesting publications on any platform -- print, broadcast, podcast, whatever -- have a strong "flavor" and a recognizable editorial stance.  They aren't democracies, and they sure as hell aren't "representative" -- they're the distinct and recognizable voice of a benevolent dictator.  Think American Mercury under H. L. Mencken, Astounding Science Fiction under John W. Campbell or more recently, Harper's under Lewis Lapham.

The best publishers give them room to develop their vision and find an audience, or die (financially) trying. <<appreciative nod to Steve>>

Almost by definition, not everybody is going to like what they see or hear.  Strong flavors are going to turn some people off.  But if you don't like pickled herring, don't try to convince me that there's something morally wrong with the people who made it by calling them "sexist."
Yes. True. I agree.
And if PodCastle is going to have a flavor, I'd like to see it listed on the label.
I've been stung more than once buying something with walnuts only to find out it's full of cashews.

Quote
Myself, I think it's way too soon to figure out what Rachel and Anne's "voice" is going to be -- not enough data points.  They may not know yet, themselves.  But I'll be very happy to be around and watch it develop.
I hear this again and again. Do you mean to say there may or may not be a trend developing, but you don't have enough data yet? Is that saying that I'm wrong and there is no trend, or is that saying you don't have enough information to be decisive?
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #64 on: July 02, 2008, 06:43:15 PM »
In fact, I really wonder whether the OP is going to explain exactly what he means by 'sexist.' To my mind, you could have a podcast called 'femcastle,' with exclusively female protagonists, and all dealing with issues of sex and gender, and it wouldn't be sexist. That's the editors prerogative, to choose the stories she likes.
Hi Steve, welcome to the forums.
Somewhere on page 4 I re-posted my OP with the definition of sexist. I hope that answers your question.
I encourage you to listen to Run of the Fiery Horse, it's a terrific story.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #65 on: July 02, 2008, 06:48:52 PM »
I was totally going to stay out of this thread, because of the whole pot/kettle black thing, and my being the fool who renounced PP over a story so jaw-droppingly sexist I had to check a calendar to make sure I still had the right to vote.

But here's the thing.  I never said PP as a whole was sexist.  That would have been a ludicrously vague accusation.  I said,"Holy effing cow, this story just totally ruined the PP flava for me because it's incredibly sexist and here is why."  And then I wrote a compulsively detailed reasoning behind what I saw as sexist and why. 

That's the responsibility of someone laying a claim to sexism.  You got to bring out the flowcharts, and the deconstruction, and the nitpicking.  Otherwise, your claim cannot be taken seriously.  (My accusation wasn't taken all that seriously even WHEN I did all of that work, btw, so don't be surprised if yours isn't either)  It's terribly convenient to say "Oh the whole thing just feels sexist but I'm not going to tell you what or why."
I hope you'll review the information I posted in my reply to Rachel. If there's a problem with them, or you want me to pick more nits, please let me know. I have a whole bag full, but I'm trying not to waste everyones time splitting hairs.

Quote
And can I just say that I find it appalling to freely interchange the terms sexism and feminism?  WTF?  These are not the same.  They are not even close.[/b] 
I agree. Most appalling. And if you were directing this line at me, then I have to ask: Why are you doing it?
I said sexist, and I meant it.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #66 on: July 02, 2008, 06:56:39 PM »
Hell, I had issues with "Sparrow" myself -- not for sexism, but for offending my polyamorist sensibilities

man, how many plots would that leave you?
Helen: "i'm spending the summer in troy."
Menelaus: "k, drop me a letter."

Cute.  But what I meant was more specific than that.  The ubiquity of monogamy as a source of dramatic conflict does not 'offend my polyamorist sensibilities.'  ...Okay, sometimes it does; there have been plenty of books and movies where I've said, "There's a much simpler solution.  Just pick both guys!"  But I don't get up in arms about it.

"Spell of the Sparrow" is different.  It doesn't just present a typical romantic conflict over jealousy.  It creates an artificial scenario very similar to a polyamorous V, where the husband in the story is genuinely and equally in love with two women at the same time.  A lot of time in the prose is spent on that emotion.  Only it's due to an evil compulsion, and the state of loving two people is clearly seen as unnatural, unstable and unacceptable.  In that case it really is unacceptable (it's non-consensual) but the details in the story, living together and having to work out mundane conflicts, etc., were close enough to real stuff I'm familiar with that I was deeply troubled.  Most jealousy stories are utterly irrelevant to polyamory; this one was relevant to it, but presented polyamory as a sort of curse.

That's my issue with it.  But again -- I bought the story anyway.  It's not the first time I bought a story that offended me.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #67 on: July 02, 2008, 07:57:58 PM »
Hell, I had issues with "Sparrow" myself -- not for sexism, but for offending my polyamorist sensibilities

man, how many plots would that leave you?
Helen: "i'm spending the summer in troy."
Menelaus: "k, drop me a letter."

Cute.  But what I meant was more specific than that.  The ubiquity of monogamy as a source of dramatic conflict does not 'offend my polyamorist sensibilities.'  ...Okay, sometimes it does; there have been plenty of books and movies where I've said, "There's a much simpler solution.  Just pick both guys!"  But I don't get up in arms about it.

"Spell of the Sparrow" is different.  It doesn't just present a typical romantic conflict over jealousy.  It creates an artificial scenario very similar to a polyamorous V, where the husband in the story is genuinely and equally in love with two women at the same time.  A lot of time in the prose is spent on that emotion.  Only it's due to an evil compulsion, and the state of loving two people is clearly seen as unnatural, unstable and unacceptable.  In that case it really is unacceptable (it's non-consensual) but the details in the story, living together and having to work out mundane conflicts, etc., were close enough to real stuff I'm familiar with that I was deeply troubled.  Most jealousy stories are utterly irrelevant to polyamory; this one was relevant to it, but presented polyamory as a sort of curse.

That's my issue with it.  But again -- I bought the story anyway.  It's not the first time I bought a story that offended me.

I didn't really get that read off of Sparrow, I found the problem the story presentedwith the V was that one of the relationships developed naturally, and the other one was created artificially via magic with one half of the relationship unable to control or deny it. Love has a way of stripping people of their agency in it's natural incarnations, artificially creating it for your own benefit is just evil.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #68 on: July 02, 2008, 08:39:02 PM »
I didn't really get that read off of Sparrow, I found the problem the story presentedwith the V was that one of the relationships developed naturally, and the other one was created artificially via magic with one half of the relationship unable to control or deny it. Love has a way of stripping people of their agency in it's natural incarnations, artificially creating it for your own benefit is just evil.

Yeah, I don't really expect that most people will have the same interpretation of the story that I did.  My opinions, and the experiences that contribute to those opinions, are idiosyncratic.  I am okay with this too.  Hell, some of my experiences I wouldn't wish on friends nor enemies.

(BTW, I'd meant to say earlier but forgot until your post reminded me -- secondarily, I had an issue with the fact that the male character in the story was a complete dishrag, very nearly a non-character.  All these women and children are fighting over him but he doesn't do anything, just sits there and waits for it to resolve.  I can't respect that, oviparous love magic or not.)

Anyway, this was a sideline.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled penis- and vagina-counting session.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #69 on: July 02, 2008, 08:56:10 PM »
I didn't really get that read off of Sparrow, I found the problem the story presentedwith the V was that one of the relationships developed naturally, and the other one was created artificially via magic with one half of the relationship unable to control or deny it. Love has a way of stripping people of their agency in it's natural incarnations, artificially creating it for your own benefit is just evil.

Yeah, I don't really expect that most people will have the same interpretation of the story that I did.  My opinions, and the experiences that contribute to those opinions, are idiosyncratic.  I am okay with this too.  Hell, some of my experiences I wouldn't wish on friends nor enemies.

(BTW, I'd meant to say earlier but forgot until your post reminded me -- secondarily, I had an issue with the fact that the male character in the story was a complete dishrag, very nearly a non-character.  All these women and children are fighting over him but he doesn't do anything, just sits there and waits for it to resolve.  I can't respect that, oviparous love magic or not.)

Anyway, this was a sideline.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled penis- and vagina-counting session.



I didn't like the husband character.  Spell or no spell, he had no backbone.  Maybe that's what the POV character loved about him though.

and....


 :o :o :o :o

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #70 on: July 02, 2008, 10:16:32 PM »
Quote
If a podcast were to feature stories exclusively about one gender it would be just as sexist as a podcast that degraded one gender.

However, the numbers show this is not what's occuring.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #71 on: July 02, 2008, 10:21:23 PM »
Chodon,

"Fear of Dragons" is, to my mind, a pretty simplistic anti-entrenched belief systems piece. It's playing on some old tropes about virgins and priests, but it's not really about the virgins or the priests, it's about the ways in which societies use scape goats to maintain cohesion.

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #72 on: July 02, 2008, 11:16:15 PM »
I'm not clear what the point of asking, "Is PodCastle sexist?" actually is. If the answer turns out to be "yes," then what? We demand quotas? We stage a mass un-subscribe until we get new editors?  We petition Steve to start "StudCastle" -- a male-oriented fantasy podcast -- by way of affirmative action?  Or what?  Like I said, I'm really, really unclear about what you're trying to "settle publically."

Yes. If that's how you want to handle a sexist podcast.


No fair, I asked you first.  :o 

More to the point, I'm not the one who wants to "handle" it.  It's only fair to ask what you're proposing, since I can't think of a solution that wouldn't result in either significantly watering-down the podcast, or behavior that's just plain silly. (Those truly are my best guesses at a solution; I freely admit that they sound like bad ideas, even to me. Which is part of the reason I think "handling it" is probably a bad idea, too.)

Let's suppose for a moment that Rachel and Anne have made a conscious decision to favor a stories that take a particular point of view and theme, and that the stories they've chosen reflect that theme. So what?  That's just editors doing their jobs. 

IMNSHO, the best and most interesting publications on any platform -- print, broadcast, podcast, whatever -- have a strong "flavor" and a recognizable editorial stance.  They aren't democracies, and they sure as hell aren't "representative" -- they're the distinct and recognizable voice of a benevolent dictator.  Think American Mercury under H. L. Mencken, Astounding Science Fiction under John W. Campbell or more recently, Harper's under Lewis Lapham.

The best publishers give them room to develop their vision and find an audience, or die (financially) trying. <<appreciative nod to Steve>>

Almost by definition, not everybody is going to like what they see or hear.  Strong flavors are going to turn some people off.  But if you don't like pickled herring, don't try to convince me that there's something morally wrong with the people who made it by calling them "sexist."
Yes. True. I agree.
And if PodCastle is going to have a flavor, I'd like to see it listed on the label.
I've been stung more than once buying something with walnuts only to find out it's full of cashews.

Oh, come now.  PodCastle's only claim is that it's a fantasy podcast.  I think we can agree that it lives up to that, despite the occasional "that's not fantasy" comments on some stories.  Other than that, it's not promising anything else.

Quote
Myself, I think it's way too soon to figure out what Rachel and Anne's "voice" is going to be -- not enough data points.  They may not know yet, themselves.  But I'll be very happy to be around and watch it develop.
I hear this again and again. Do you mean to say there may or may not be a trend developing, but you don't have enough data yet? Is that saying that I'm wrong and there is no trend, or is that saying you don't have enough information to be decisive?

I admit to being a little sloppy in my construction, there.  I'm really saying two things:
  • I don't know if there's a trend, and suspect no one can at this point.
    and
  • I don't care if there's a trend.

As Chodon points out, with only 13 data points (or even 20) one or two stories one way or another is going to cause huge swings in the percentages, since each story is 5% (or more) of the total, and the way the count is performed makes it a zero-sum game ("male's" gain is "female's" loss, and vice versa).  With each individual story counting for so much, there's too much noise, not enough signal to extract anything meaningful. Not to mention that we can't agree on that to count -- narrator, protagonist, author or "theme."  And we can't seem to define the last one.  So, yes, I'm definitely skeptical of the idea that a meaningful trend can be measured at this point, and somewhat skeptical of the idea that it can be measured at all.

Fundamentally, discrimination -- in the sense of consistently choosing one thing over another -- is what editors in any publication do. It's their job.  I think we will all agree that they should choose "quality stoires."  However, there is no universally-accepted definition of what that is, so what we're getting instead is "quality stories, as defined by Rachel and Ann."  I don't know how much editorial experience either one of them has, or how strong a vision they brought to the task to begin with, but I imagine that to some extent, it's an ongoing, evolutionary, Darwinian process in which the slush smacks up against Rachel and Ann's sensibilities, and maybe changes them a little bit. Or confirms some parts and challenges others.  And maybe interaction with authors changes the contents of the slush a little bit, and other things that happen to Rachel and Ann change their outlook a little bit, and interaction with the new slush helps Rachel and Ann define their standards a little bit more, and somehow one story per week and the occasional flash piece finds its way to audio. 

That's why I say, "Maybe not even they know."  It's early in this process, too.  I don't pretend to know how they are picking and choosing.  I think it's safe to say that we'll probably see somewhat less of the "fur jockstrap/chain mail bikini" Conan-type stories on PodCastle than there are in the genre as a whole.  And probably somewhat more stories that depend on mood or language or "trippy" settings to create their effects.  Somewhere in there, there may be something about their selection process that results in more female protagonists/narrators/authors than there are in the genre as a whole.  If that's the way it works out, I'm OK with that.

If it's not working for you, OK, it's not.  I'm not saying you're a bad person if it doesn't -- despite your implication that I'm "sexist" if it does. 

Anyway, more podcasts than can possibly be listened to, lots of things to do tonight, and I'm tired. 
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #73 on: July 02, 2008, 11:32:22 PM »
Anyway, this was a sideline.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled penis- and vagina-counting session.
to quote The Word Whore... "The General said COCK!" :O!!!!!

sorry for the intrusion
I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #74 on: July 02, 2008, 11:38:44 PM »
As to why posters keep referring to the stats on Escape Pod, the not so subtle point they are making is when the stories are all about men, this conversation does not happen. 

Just as an anal-retentive quibble:  this conversation DID and DOES happen all the time when there are male trends involved.  It's going to come up whenever anyone *feels* that something is unfair, and goes looking for numerical data to back up the feeling.  Steve even devoted an intro to the subject of finding minority voices in SF/F in one of the early EP episodes (if someone can recall offhand which one, that would be greatly appreciated; I thought he framed it eloquently and non-confrontationally).

The reason it comes up is always the same: our perceptions differ from measurable reality.  I consider myself a feminist, too, but when I'm confronted with hard statistics of my own behavior patterns (see my Last.fm music blog on the subject), I certainly seem to gravitate toward "my own kind".  I don't do it on purpose, and I'd like people to see me as open minded for the stuff I read/listen to/watch... but I've got a lot of data points recorded on Last.fm that betray my biases.

There is one thing about all this that I find amusing:

Selecting stories that are actively feminist is not a priority in the editorial selection. I do not go out and read things with the intent of selecting stories that support "a feminist agenda." However, I'll qualify this by saying that the only story in this line-up that I think is even remotely under the "active feminist" label is "Run of the Fiery Horse."

As I've stated several times in other places, "Fiery Horse" is my personal favorite PC story thus far.  Go figure.  ;)

Anyway, this was a sideline.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled penis- and vagina-counting session.

Ha!  Brilliant!  My stake in this conversation was "I had a feeling that proved to be baseless; a lot of people I like and respect discussed it, and revelation of facts made the feeling go away."

It's time we faced the fact that we are "Word People", and numbers will be our downfall, if we let them. 
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #75 on: July 03, 2008, 12:38:57 AM »
As to why posters keep referring to the stats on Escape Pod, the not so subtle point they are making is when the stories are all about men, this conversation does not happen. 
Just as an anal-retentive quibble:  this conversation DID and DOES happen all the time when there are male trends involved.  It's going to come up whenever anyone *feels* that something is unfair, and goes looking for numerical data to back up the feeling.  Steve even devoted an intro to the subject of finding minority voices in SF/F in one of the early EP episodes (if someone can recall offhand which one, that would be greatly appreciated; I thought he framed it eloquently and non-confrontationally).

You know, since reading the first few posts in this thread I've been half-tempted to make a topic in the "About Escape Pod" forum titled "Is Escape Pod Sexist?"  And essentially make these exact same arguments against myself -- including the 87% male narrator statistic that Ann so helpfully compiled.

I do think it's a really good point.  The main reason I'm not engaging in that sort of pointed self-satire is that I'm afraid too many people would miss the point or take it too seriously.  They might even try to defend me against myself, and then it would just get weird.

For the record, and in utter seriousness: I would answer "Yes."  The representation of stories by or about men on Escape Pod is too high.  It's unbalanced.  But I don't feel like a villain for it.  I feel like I'm doing what I can with the stories I can get.  More men send us stories than women.  More men are writing science fiction than women.  It's getting closer to parity all the time, but it's not there yet. 

Fact for you number crunchers:  When Scott Janssens was our slushpile editor, he kept statistics on the submissions, including author's gender (as best he could guess from names).  During the first 18 months or so of the podcast, something around 33% of the stories submitted to us were by women.  Of the stories we bought, if you ignore the large number of flash stories I acquired from Greg van Eekhout all at once, about 45% of the stories were by women.  So the ratio of women's sales was higher than the ratio of women's submissions.

You could jump to any number of conclusions from this one isolated fact, depending on your biases.  You could conclude that it's an interesting coincidence but not proof of anything.  You could conclude that women are better writers.  Or you could simply conclude that Steve Eley likes women.  (Actually I think that one's supportable.)

Regardless, it's still a minority.  EP was and is more testosterone-heavy than estrogen-heavy.  My intentions don't matter, and the slushpile doesn't matter.  What matters is the stories we present, and those stories represent men more than women.  By the criteria of this thread, Escape Pod is sexist.  Most major SF markets are sexist.  Science fiction as a genre is sexist.  I seriously do believe this.  It's come a hell of a long way in recent decades (the feedback on sexual attitudes in "Nightfall" was fascinating) but modern SF is still more of a boy's genre than a girl's genre.  I do feel like I'm doing what I can, and I'm not losing sleep about it -- except for writing this thread post -- but I think it's an objective truth.

Is modern fantasy more of a girl's genre than a boy's genre?  Maybe.  I think that's a defensible claim at least, though it's not as clear-cut.  But here's my take.  If it is...  Well, good for them.  I don't lose anything by that.  I'll still read it.  I like reading about women.  And if it gets more girls into reading fantasy, because they can identify with those authors and those protagonists, at least some of them will start reading SF too, and maybe writing it.  Or horror.  (I don't have any idea of Pseudo's numbers and don't want to touch that debate with a ten-foot shoggoth.)  Balance gets closer, and everybody wins. 

Meanwhile...  I look at my numbers, at that 87% male figure, and say "Yeah.  That's really too high.  Escape Pod is sexist."  And I look at this thread, where people are going nuts about...  What?  60% female representation, depending on which metric you're looking at?  And I have to wonder, what exactly is the problem?  It doesn't seem that off-balance to me.  Certainly not worth going nuts about if people aren't going nuts about Escape Pod.

So if you're going to say that PodCastle has issues with gender balance, please do start with Escape Pod.  I mean it.  Protest.  Bitch about the stories you hear, and how they're not the ones you want to hear.  Many of you are doing it already, and I'm glad -- keep it up!  Just know that it won't create change automatically, because I'm still limited by what people are writing and sending.  So even better than protesting, try writing the story you'd like to hear and send it to us!  If EP's off-balance, write some hard SF with strong female characters.  If PodCastle's off-balance, write some solid fantasy with strong male characters.  Become the change you want, and if you're good at it, you'll change the world.  Even if you're not -- it feels pretty good to have written something. 

That's my take on the gender balances in these two podcasts.  One's off for sure; the other I'm not so sure about but I'm good with it if it is.  I'd go on at even more length, but having a penis diverts the blood flow from the brain when I think too much and I become easily fatigued.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #76 on: July 03, 2008, 07:05:24 PM »
Just taking a moment to say that I have a really stunning and well crafted reply that is going to convince you all I'm right about everything I've ever said on these forums, forever... but it's a holiday weekend.

Seriously, it is a holiday weekend and I won't be posting any replies 'till Monday.
No, this isn't going to be dragged on forever. If it last past Wednesday (arbitrary date) I'll just declare it a wash and take any continuing discussion to private messages.

Have a happy Fourth of July everyone.
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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #77 on: July 05, 2008, 07:02:23 PM »
From the start of PC I was amazed at the enormous range of fantasy stories chosen by the editors. Every week I felt that the stories were very different in many ways, varying in setting, plot, characterization, initial conflict, style of narration and they all seemed unique in their own way and chosen for exactly that reason, I assume.

I wonder if this is part of the problem.  With a new podcast it's only natural for listeners to be looking out for similarities between the stories, so they can get a feel for the editorial policy and decide whether they want to continue listening.  The stories on PodCastle have been so varied, though, that it's difficult to discern any trends favouring a sub-genre or humour or adventure or unhappy endings or any of the things that can be used (meaningfully or otherwise) to classify stories.  But it's not in human nature to accept that something is random, and even if you're intellectually happy to say "PodCastle will throw something completely different at me every week", your brain is still likely to point out whatever patterns it can discern, whether that's in the length of the episodes, background noise in the audio, or the gender of the characters.  Even if none of these things makes any difference to the quality of the story.

FWIW, I don't think Thaurismunths is imagining patterns in static: from the limited data points we have so far, I think it's fair to say that PodCastle has run a greater proportion of stories by and/or about women than the F+SF genre average.  I don't think that this is a bad thing, and I certainly don't think that it makes PodCastle sexist, but it is the sort of thing that the human brain will notice when trying to identify what's distinctive about the podcast.

We'll never know, but I suspect that if there had been an obvious bias towards sword & sorcery tragedies, or urban fantasy satires, or modern fairy tales then after 13 weeks we'd be having a much less heated discussion about PodCastle's genre tastes -- even if the gender ratios on the stories had been exactly the same.

Thaurismunths

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #78 on: July 07, 2008, 09:10:11 PM »
I realized over the weekend that most of the trouble with this seem to be that this topic doesn't lend itself to on-line discussion. Not that text isn't an adequate media, but that the argument of sexism in this setting quickly becomes so convoluted, by fact and opinion, that it takes an essay to properly convey ones opinion.
Conversing by letter between two people is bulky and ponderous at the best of times (though it can be quite rewarding). Corresponding with thesis in an open forum seems nearly impossible. This thread, and many others, seems to be suffering from the same plague of  misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and misdirection. A common vector seems to be that everyone has a different lexicon. A great example would be that I said “sexist”, but some posters heard “feminist” or “chauvinist” instead. All three words are vaguely related and are commonly used together, but each has a specific meaning.
This is not a class or lecture on sexism, so expecting everyone to wait several days to read a multi-page essay on why I think I'm right seems presumptuous. And as much as I would like to take the time to write full thesis in reply to the ones I've been presented with, but I have other priorities in my life, as does everyone else.
I still feel there is, at the very least (and as I have said from the beginning), the appearance of inequality about the editorial practices of PodCastle, and I will try to keep up on my end of this conversation, even though it is has been reduced to a largely bullet pointed response.

Numbers
-I didn't start the numbers, so don't blame me for the mess.
-My numbers are based of the same episodes as Rachel's, and I came up with a distinctly different trend (and supplied rational). So no, I don't see how the number support equality.
-Rachel volunteered her numbers, but didn't provide any context for them though I did ask. I don't understand how flash pieces and full length stories are equivalent.
-13 points aren't enough of a sample, but as 13 points make up 100% of the podcast, then they are what we have to work with.  Each “point” is statistically significant, even if they are with 7.4% each, because we are looking at the whole podcast.

Sexist
-Sexist means showing preference for something based on sex rather than on individual merits. Sexism is not the same as Feminism: raising the social standing of women to be equal with that of men. Sexism is not the same as Chauvinism: The belief that the group to which one belongs is superior to another group (and/or that one group is inferior). There seems to be a great deal of confusion between sexism and chauvinism in the thread.
-Allowing stories of female activism, female chauvinism, and apolitical stories, but not allowing male chauvinism is sexist (because the difference between male and female chauvinistic stories is gender).
-Whether or not PodCastle is sexist, an awful lot of people keep commenting along those lines. It's interesting to point to a study that says men are chauvinistic, but it isn't just men that notice this trend.

Other PodCasts
-Steve's never given me reason to think that his choice of stories has ever been based on gender. His transparency about the issue assuaged my concerns that he might be sexist. The stories on his podcast are, by his own admission, representative of the slush pile.

Perception
-Men in a feminism class feel that there are fewer of them than there were in reality. What answers did the women give? Were they counting men or women? How many women did the men say were in there?

Why Now?
No reason.
I wish I had a better answer than that, but I don't. Nothing has happened in my private life or work life to spur this. There was no story, intro, outtro, guest, miniature, or theme music that put me over the top. I picked up this trend after the first couple stories and as the podcast progressed I saw more and more that fit in to the trend. I chose last week because I'd put enough though in to it to be sure that I wasn't just making up things to argue about, and I didn't see the point in putting it off any longer.

The Trend
soo, my final conclusion?  There is a small element of feminism etc etc, but it is not the frontrunner of every story, and thus we cannot say that PodCastle is sexist.  This said, we cannot also say that PodCastle is not sexist.  There is a small element.  If you try (and its not really trying, its not hard to try to see this) you can see a great deal of feminist stories.
I think a more accurate description might be that it's more feminine.  Which, you know, would make sense as it's edited by Rachel and Ann.  I don't think there's any argument that the majority of the stories feature female protagonists thus far.  But that's not a big deal to me. 
And yes, PC is a bit more 'girly', but not exclusively!
...I'll stick my neck out at least far enough to say, I can see their point.  I don't feel strongly enough to threaten to leave (as Anarkey did over the PseudoPod story), but I have felt for a long time that PodCastle had a certain "air" about it.
Is there more female exposure (female voice talent, female authors, female protagonists) in PodCastle than in a typical short-story outlet? I think we can safely agree that there is; certainly there's more than in any other short-story media I currently subscribe to.
FWIW, I don't think Thaurismunths is imagining patterns in static: from the limited data points we have so far, I think it's fair to say that PodCastle has run a greater proportion of stories by and/or about women than the F+SF genre average.
-Sexism. Chauvinism. Feminism. Dwarfism. Call it what you will, but I'm not the only person to pick up on this. Perhaps we are all imagining it and are trying to tear down the walls of the castle, but the appearance of a trend, if not an actual trend, exists.

The origin may be political. It could be ignorance. It's very possibly coincidence, but my point in all of this is that I see this trend, others see this trend (however they choose to express it), the editors do not see this trend.
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Liminal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #79 on: July 07, 2008, 10:11:36 PM »
Sexist
-Sexist means showing preference for something based on sex rather than on individual merits. Sexism is not the same as Feminism: raising the social standing of women to be equal with that of men. Sexism is not the same as Chauvinism: The belief that the group to which one belongs is superior to another group (and/or that one group is inferior). There seems to be a great deal of confusion between sexism and chauvinism in the thread.
-Allowing stories of female activism, female chauvinism, and apolitical stories, but not allowing male chauvinism is sexist (because the difference between male and female chauvinistic stories is gender).
-Whether or not PodCastle is sexist, an awful lot of people keep commenting along those lines. It's interesting to point to a study that says men are chauvinistic, but it isn't just men that notice this trend.

-Sexism. Chauvinism. Feminism. Dwarfism. Call it what you will, but I'm not the only person to pick up on this. Perhaps we are all imagining it and are trying to tear down the walls of the castle, but the appearance of a trend, if not an actual trend, exists.

The origin may be political. It could be ignorance. It's very possibly coincidence, but my point in all of this is that I see this trend, others see this trend (however they choose to express it), the editors do not see this trend.

You have not once demonstrated, nor can you, that Podcastle is deliberately publishing stories that are less "good" than others because of gender issues. Because in order to do so, you would need to see all stories in the slush pile. You say that you trust Steve's assessment of his own editorial judgment. I can't help but feel that, throughout this entire discussion, we come down to the fact that you simply do not trust the editorial staff of Podcastle to do a similarly professional job. You created this thread with an inflammatory charge of sexism, and while I agree that some responses may have mistakenly attributed other concepts such as feminism and chauvinism, it is not a case of "call it what you will." You called it sexism and I think it's only fair that we discuss the matter using that term. I would also point out, that the term is not "simply" a case of showing preference based on gender, but by your own choice of definitions from Wikipedia, indicates systems of oppression. You claim that the origin of this sexist trend might be a product of politics or of ignorance, and I can't help but to mirror that thought back at you. The assertion that PodCastle is "sexist" may be political or it could be ignorance. It's very possibly coincidence that you have named this trend with a loaded and aggressive word that was pretty much guaranteed to generate emotional and visceral reactions amongst the community instead of asking the editors, in good faith, if they were aware of what you perceived as a trend.
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Liminal

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #80 on: July 07, 2008, 10:21:30 PM »

And if PodCastle is going to have a flavor, I'd like to see it listed on the label.
I've been stung more than once buying something with walnuts only to find out it's full of cashews.


I think the label is pretty darn clear:

Quote
Is PodCastle feminist in outlook?

Looking over the thread with slightly more rested eyes, I'm wondering if this is the crux of the question?

Yes. PodCastle is and will be feminist in outlook. We will not be publishing material we find offensively sexist, nor will we be publishing material we find offensively racist.

I don't find this to be the same thing as being anti-male. Refusing to publish anti-woman stories is not the same thing as being anti-male. Similarly, refusing to publish racist stories is not the same thing as being anti-white.

While being feminist and anti-racist in outlook (as well as many other things), PodCastle will not simply be picking up any story that happens to feature feminist themes. We get a good many of these pieces, and most of them -- like most of everything else -- are badly written. The stories that have come up here as being questioned for their quality are stories that Steve selected, which is a bit odd to me for various reasons, but should at least establish that they were not chosen by me simply because of their message despite 'inferior writing.'

Selecting stories that are actively feminist is not a priority in the editorial selection. I do not go out and read things with the intent of selecting stories that support "a feminist agenda." However, I'll qualify this by saying that the only story in this line-up that I think is even remotely under the "active feminist" label is "Run of the Fiery Horse."

I, for one, trust Rachel and the editorial staff of PodCastle to serve up exactly what they say they are going to serve up.
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SFEley

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Re: Is Podcastle Sexist?
« Reply #81 on: July 07, 2008, 11:14:09 PM »
You claim that the origin of this sexist trend might be a product of politics or of ignorance, and I can't help but to mirror that thought back at you. The assertion that PodCastle is "sexist" may be political or it could be ignorance.

.....Aaaaaaaaand the thread is locked.

Any questions or criticisms of my choice to do so, please address to me directly.  The vitriol's not going down, and really, we're going in circles now anyway.  Everyone's had plenty of time to make their opinions known, and I can't imagine that any new information or perspective is going to come forward now that's going to change anybody's opinion.

Thanks for taking the time, everyone.  It's been...something. 
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