The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
Rating: 4 stars
The book is an interesting collection of essays about Hurley’s life and her struggles and triumphs of being a female author in Science Fiction. While I initially went into it thinking it was going to be a collection of essays about feminism in science in general, it was still a good read. I have to admit that I know almost nothing about science fiction except for watching the Star Wars movies (at least I know enough to prefer the original trilogy over Episodes I, II, and III), but that didn’t hurt my understanding of Hurley’s essays. She did name some specific works and authors, but I was still able to grasp her points with no knowledge of them.
To start off, I love Hurley’s voice. I want to be best friends with her. I want to call her up after something happens at work to get her take on it. I wish she was in my friend group when I worked at the sexist consulting firm, and she could give all of the group her opinions on the bullsh*t we had to deal with. Her take on some of these well known issues is hilarious and awesome. I really love her quote on why the “women’s natural place” argument fails:
“Let’s be real: if women were ‘naturally’ anything, societies wouldn’t spend so much time trying to police every aspect of their lives”
While the majority of the essays focus on Hurley’s personal struggles, it also provides and interesting look at women in science fiction and writing along with a larger look at women’s abuse on the internet today. The main issue I had this collection is that most of the essays were too short. She didn’t really explain the theory or history behind some of her thoughts. There were also so many footnotes for other articles that explained the points in more depth, but I would have preferred for Hurley to also quickly summarize those articles to give us an idea what it’s about.
Also, these essays could be a bit repetitive on certain points, but I guess that is to be expected since they were collected from a wider range of her writings for other purposes.
One of my favorite essays was about her response to internet trolls. It’s true that no one should have to suffer through the insults and outright threats that trolls throw at them just for existing on the internet, but complaining is what they want. They want to see that they have power over you, the power to terrify you and take over your online presence. This reminds me of the recent South Park episodes where Kyle’s dad is a troll. In the show he just wanted to cause chaos and didn’t give a f*** who was hurt or just how damaging his words could be. However, South Park tried to show that he wasn’t a monster. He just wanted a laugh and didn’t realize how much damage his threats could cause. I think most trolls today aren’t that oblivious and are monsters. But monsters who want that power. It may be better just not to engage or complain to deny them that control and satisfaction. It sucks, though. I see why it shouldn’t be that way and you should be able to call them out, but I see why she advises us to just ignore them. It’s a no-win situation, but I like whatever action doesn’t give the trolls more satisfaction.
Overall I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in feminism in SF, women writers, or just how difficult it is to be a writer in general (and what can happen when you persevere).