I keep reminding myself that I literally attended 0 panels this year, so writing up the con should be easy! Ahaha.
I didn't see everyone I wanted to, and didn't spend enough time with almost anyone, :( I'm sorry about that & hope everyone is understanding that I wasn't out/about as much as usual, due mostly to various chairing duties.
Some of this is due to having my own hotel room for the first time, Friday through Monday this year. When I got emotionally exhausted or sore, I could just lie down and go to sleep. It was heavenly.
I also did my best to focus on hydration. It was hot/humid outdoors most of the time, and I certainly had the a/c on & drying me out in my hotel room.
Overall, I was really struck by how many people came up to me and thanked me for chairing and/or for WisCon still being around. There were a lot of generous compliments flying around WisCon generally this year. Maybe it's an effect of not having attended any panels [lol], or because I skipped last year, but this was the warmest-feeling WisCon in my memory. Maybe it's because I keep knowing more and more people.
I attended big events, in part because I had to speak at them! [Only mundane things trololol]
Opening Ceremonies included some speeches. Katherine Cross, or Quinnae_Moon
, spoke about solidarity with hotel employees, talking about how we make WisCon together with them, and that they are not our servants. She also noted that the Concourse Hotel is the only union hotel in the city of Madison, a thing I sometimes forget.
I missed some chunks of Opening Ceremonies due to having to attend to chair!things, but antarcticlust
organized a varied group of people to talk about what WisCon means to them. wild_irises
talked about how nobody on the concom ever says, "Wow, we did really great this year; we really landed that." Rather, it's a group of people constantly trying to improve. It was the first real moment since taking a year off the concom and then rejoining
and then emergency co-chairing
that I really felt, "Oh, yeah; that's why I'm doing all this."
That feeling came back x100 during the speeches given by our three Guests of Honor.
I had to have a firm interaction with someone we had banned the previous evening, and who was demanding to know "why" we had ejected him, etc. At one point during the conversation, he stood up and I took a step back to give him space to do so. "Oh, I'm SORRY! Are you AFRAID?! Am I in your SPACE?" I smiled and told him that I wasn't afraid, but between that and his going downstairs to scream at hotel staff in the lobby made me feel pretty confident that we made the correct choice :p
On Saturday evening, I stopped in at the Vid Party a couple times. I think my favorite premiere [that I saw] was garrideb
's "Control," about Marjorie Liu/Sana Takeda's comic series Monstress
. I've mentioned this series in a couple of reading posts, and through this vid, you can at least appreciate Takeda's fan-fucking-tastic artwork.
I fucking love the song, & need to get the single. I'm meaner than my demons...
I got a fair number of books that I'm excited to read from the dealers' room this year, as well as a Sailor Mars scarf and a nyan-cat tiny tote that fits my iPhone 4S precisely.
I try really hard to push back about the "generational split" narrative that many people have formed about people who recently left the concom vs. those who stayed/joined, because it's not an accurate statement.
That said, there is a fairly significant number of white people, many of whom have attended WisCon for decades, who have been complaining about feeling "unwelcome" in recent years - as WisCon works to become more welcoming to people of color, to transgender and genderqueer identifying folks, etc.
If seeing more people unlike yourself being welcomed makes YOU feel UNwelcome, then that's a you-problem. I think that in the post linked below, Mikki Kendall really hits it on the head when she notes that some people's discomfort straight up comes from experience spaces that are NOT centered on cisgender white people.
In addition to personally being called a mealy-mouthed weasel immediately pre-con, another concom member reports us having been referred to as, "gauletiers." I had to look up that word. What IS it with older white feminists and their World War II metaphors? And what the fuck is the matter with them?
But other people have already blogged about these people's discomfort:
K. Tempest Bradford's On WisCon, and Who Is Allowed to Feel Welcome
Because here’s the thing: 99% of the people I have seen or heard complaining about how WisCon isn’t comfortable for them and WisCon isn’t fun are white people. Not 100%. But 99%. It’s a bunch.
You know what else I’ve noticed about the people making these complaints? A lot of them are cisgender, a lot of them are men, a lot of them are people with privilege along multiple axes. Funny that.
And while it makes me sad at any time for folks to feel excluded, or like a space has been taken away from them, I have to say:
Where were you when this was other people feeling this way?
Where were you when people who are marginalized in nearly every other fandom space and came to WisCon thinking it would be different said they felt uncomfortable, unwelcome, threatened, unsafe?
If you’re uncomfortable now, but weren’t before, then think about that. Really think about it. Consider if you were making people uncomfortable before, even without thought or intention. Consider that you’re feeling left out because, in the course of our claiming a space for ourselves, we made clear to you just how much you or people like you contributed to our pain, our lack of fun, our lack of safety. Ponder the puzzle of how a con dedicated to feminism, populated by many amazing people, somehow ended up being a place where people who weren’t the right color, the right class, the right age, the right level of ability, the right gender presentation felt like they didn’t fully belong. And delve deep into the mystery of how fixing that problem is the thing that’s made you run away.
Mikki Kendall's WisCon 40 Highs, Lows, and What the Actual F*ck?
You might not like what WisCon is becoming now that the people working so hard to make it happen are different from you. You might not like knowing that their first concern isn’t the comfort of people who can’t see them as human or equals. That’s a hard road. It’s your road though, so you walk it. But don’t complain that it “feels unwelcoming” because it is becoming inclusive, and less concerned with the comfort of bigots. With the comfort of people who have been happy to not only excuse abusive behavior, but also to be abusers when it suited them. This isn’t “your” WisCon anymore? Okay. That’s fine, that’s your decision. It’s definitely ours now. We work hard for it every year. You can adapt, evolve and enjoy or you can move the hell on. We probably won’t miss you.
There are some weird, pervasive rumors on Facebook about super low registration numbers this year. I'm not sure where that came from - we had well over 900 memberships, and the GOH Speeches/Dessert Salon was packed to the gills. More to come in future WisCon blog posts/etc., I'm sure.
I don't know what my role on the concom will be this coming year, if anything. Maybe I can re-focus on SF3 Board tasks, picking up things that fell by the wayside while I was off co-chairing. For the moment, I'll continue thinking on it.