Help, Help, I’m Bein’ Oppressed!

Nick Mamatas is always trying to get me to start some shit so he sent over this link to Kathryn Cramer’s blog1. Normally I would ignore this crazy person, but I figure many others are going to comment on this or may already have, so I’ll throw in my 2 cents.

Cramer is apparently bored or something because she’s decided to stir the fires of RaceFail again. This time she’s proposing a panel for WisCon (a convention she no longer attends because of its “encouragement of Fail fandom”) called “More Oppressed than Thou.” Because, don’t you know, there are two kinds of oppressed people: those who have actually been beaten up by cops and those who only have a theoretical understanding of their oppression. You think I am kidding but I am not.

I’m sure that I, a black woman living in America, have never, ever experienced oppression. Oh no. But I read about it in a book and that makes me all self-righteous and stuff.

I know the answer to this, but I can’t help asking why it is that people like Cramer are always the ones to start up the Oppression Olympics. Next she’ll be whining about how her Irish ancestors couldn’t get a job or something.

You would think that attitudes like Cramer’s (and Shetterly’s — yes, he makes an appearance in the comments) wouldn’t even require a response because they’re so ridiculolus. However, going by reports I’ve heard about a certain other convention2 that I know Cramer and those who agree with her view of Racefail attend, I know that we can’t just trust that right-thinking people won’t be taken in by this nonsense.

If someone really, really needs me to explain why her position is a load of horseshit I will. But please tell me that the majority of my FList already knows…


  1. I did not anonymize the link because I don’t care if she knows I’m talking about her. If you’re clicking from your FList and don’t want to even have your screenname show up on her stats, use this link. []
  2. yes Fourth Street, I am talking smack about you []

92 thoughts on “Help, Help, I’m Bein’ Oppressed!

  1. KC in summary: “All them scary POCs are being respected and taking away my precious spotlight time! I throw a fit now so you all can remember who is the center of the universe! WWS FOREVER!” Etc.

    Someone who imagines violence is the only form of oppression clearly has never seen the damage that is done in being denied a loan, schooling (from completely to equal services), being harassed by authorities in general, or conditioned to self hate.

    It’s rather like saying it’s not war unless nuclear weapons are involved.

  2. This is shameful (what Kathryn Cramer is proposing, not you, just so I’m clear) and wrong.

    I can’t believe anyone would seriously want such a panel. But, then again, I’m sort of not surprised by anything completely offensive and wrongheaded that this woman does anymore. Not after Racefail anyway.

    I didn’t think my respect for her could go lower, but she’s found new ways to make it happen. *facepalm*.

    I just want to know how anyone with a working frontal lobe can look at the highly publicized incidents of racism we’ve had in 2009 (The Gates fiasco, the kids in Philadelphia getting kick out of the pool) in both society and the SF/F fandom (e.g., Racefail) and say the things that she is saying.

    I guess life on Planet Privilege really warps your vision.

    1. Meg, I don’t have a fully functional frontal lobe (for real) and trust me, even that doesn’t explain it! : )

      1. Aww, dude I’m sorry if that comment was offensive or hurtful. I was totally not thinking about folks who have actual brain injuries and still don’t act like that.

        My apologies.

        Of course, I think we can both agree that whatever it is that compels Kathryn Cramer to act this way is beyond the comprehension of modern science.

        1. Thank you – that consideration is typical of most commenters on Tempest’s blogs (which is why I feel so safe here and at ABW, despite what her detractors like to imply*), but I wasn’t actually offended. Just saying – even I know better than this!

          (Frontal lobe injuries damage impluse control, but not intellect, and I actually think it would be generous to assume this woman had posted the piece in question as a result of writing out random thoughts and feelings and then being unable to control the urge to post that!:)

          *I do not personally know Ms. Bradford and am not now, nor have I ever been, in her sock drawer.

  3. In her comments, Kramer says that she’d, “really like to talk publicly about what is making me so angry at the moment and call the failies on their claims of oppression and raise them one. Unfortunately, there are things one can’t talk about on the Internet until they are over.”

    Just a hunch, but I’m guessing that it was the piece over in Transformative Works and Culture ( that set her off, based on the timing, the Wiscon connection, the academic nature of it (let’s hear it for anti-academic snobbery!), and the folks involved.

    1. I don’t think so, I think she actually feels in danger in some aspect of her non-Internetty life. But if so, this would be a bad way to a) ask for help b) hide from that danger.

      1. Clearly the best way of dealing with oppression is to take it out on other people! And that is totally not oppressive behavior or being part of the problem!

    2. Considering I’m one of the people who participated in that conversation, I can pretty much verify that it was way more interesting than anything KC could ever conceive.

    3. “there are things one can’t talk about on the Internet until they are over”

      So let’s make sure they’re never over. Awesome strategy, Kathryn!

    4. As I understand it, there was an incident involving the police coming to her home. There’s now a law suit in progress, which is why she cannot discuss it publicly at the moment. (She posted about it, but her lawyers told her to stop talking about it online. I am told this by a reliable third party.) One of those crappy things that no one should have to go through.

      Nothing to do with OTW or even fandom but rather IRL.

  4. Part of me wants to see this happen at Wiscon just to see her shot down in flames, but then again, besides fostering her sense of oppression, scheduling that item would take away a program slot from something that probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as rage-honing.

    1. My feeling exactly. WisCon programming can’t afford the space to indulge in her particular flavor of teh crazy.

  5. ahahaha I see Kathryn has pulled the orc horde card. Those Fail fandom people and their mob attacks! I feel physically unsafe!

    As if she wasn’t just at a convention with plenty of people who took part in the RaceFail discussions and found her behavior wanting. No one at Readercon physically harmed her, therefore I’m fairly sure her body is safe.

  6. Wow. I mean, wow. I was going to say something on her post, then realized it would just validate her.

    Um, talk about ‘faux feminist’ in the flesh.


    I can say that, because I am one. So sorry KC, you can’t point and say “you’re not one of me, your opinion doesn’t count.” Nyah nyah.

  7. How is being a mother in Westchester oppressive??

    They shoot you if you try to escape to the Bronx.

    1. I would just like to declare that you have won so many internets (as they say) because of that comment right there. I LOL’ed. A lot.

  8. Fail Fandom: a fandom dedicated to calling people out on their weird, weird shit.

    Do people read the books that Kathryn Cramer edits? I swear to God, I’d never heard of her until RaceFail, and I work in a bookstore part-time.

    1. Cramer may be batshit, but she’s not small potatoes — she’s won a WFA, and been up for some Hugos (for the IROSF, I think). If she hadn’t been prominent, her posts would blur together with the eight million other unintelligible rants on the net.

  9. I live in my own personal bubble (thank you). I am fascinated by this though – is this a person who goes around arguing that because she has experienced some form of opression, that no other form of oppresion counts?

    1. More that… you know, I don’t know. I think she’s arguing that being a member of an oppressed minority isn’t really oppression unless you actually get kicked in the head.

      Which is related to the concept that racism isn’t racism until the white hoods come out, IMHO.

      It’s all about intentionality (again).

        1. So, I had to go read. Damn it, my bubble is bursting.

          Now, I don’t doubt that this woman has endured some form of opression, and that it may be related to being a mother (it happens – plenty). But I am always astonished at how some people turn to “I’m opressed; you’re not.” Or, “I’ve been kicked – and you haven’t so shut up.” And then accuse the OTHER person of playing one-up-manship. Huh.

          I have been reading ABW for a long time, and I think Ms. Bradford is on these fail panels at WisCon – I may never get to go so I don’t know for sure. Speaking as someone who has NEVER been Black (wait, let me think…um, nope) but who spent years in poverty, I feel comfortable saying that ABW is one of the ONLY places on the internet where I don’t have to put up classist assumptions (and I have made plenty of effort to find other anti-racist or feminist places that weren’t classist without any long-term success). To suggest SHE ignores class issues is just plain wrong. (And Tempest, I thank you for what you have created, and how you make efforts to consider and include such views and experiences).

          And there was the claim to not understand this sentence “My family is German Jews, so I’ve got relatives who were about as oppressed as it’s possible to be and still live to tell about it, but that doesn’t give them a free ride on their behavior towards other people.”

          This was clearly assumed to be about her, rather than, you know, the people it was written about. Maybe it’s just me, but I see this as a statement that is meant to be Universal.

          Ducking back to my bubble. Ya’ll are welcome to borrow it though. It keeps the frustration down.

  10. So, do people on the panel actually have to be kicked in the head to volunteer, or can the kick have been administered elsewhere? Like on the arm, or the left shin or the sternum? And what if they weren’t kicked by police but by campus security, or a fireman, or a a mall Rent a Cop? I have to know these things, you see, for when the programing cube shows up in my inbox.

  11. You know what is awesome? What is awesome is, she says in one comment “I’m not following your last line, but I presume it refers to something being said on one of the many LJ posts that have linked to mine. I have not read them and probably won’t.”

    BUT THEN, a couple comments later, she says to someone else, “These people, despite their claims of feminism, are not feminists at all, but something else. The more they ridicule my claims the more they prove my point. Their material will prove useful to me for documenting this at some point later in time. Not to put to fine a point on it, this post is a honey-pot for Internet faux feminists.”

    So, you know, she is completely not watching you like a hawk, at all, because you are totally too boring for that, but she can see EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE, man, not that she is trying.

  12. Oh, but the post is just a Social Experiment! REALLY.

    Kathryn said in reply to Lenora Rose…

    The panel proposal is essentially a Gedanked Experiment. The background of it is idiots who can’t stop nattering about whether or not I am truly oppressed because of a one-line comment on a misbegotten panel at WorldCon.

    Now, since WorldCon, something MUCH worse has happened since the remark they can’t let go of.

    Can they allow for that possibility? Or any possibility that anyone might suffer oppression for simply being a parent of a particular child? Apparently not.

    These people, despite their claims of feminism, are not feminists at all, but something else. The more they ridicule my claims the more they prove my point. Their material will prove useful to me for documenting this at some point later in time.

    Not to put to fine a point on it, this post is a honey-pot for Internet faux feminists.

    Enjoy the honey. We’ll talk theory later.

    Here’s the source link, all anonymized.

    1. wait, she wants to talk feminist theory?

      i kinda have to wonder if her grasp (as brilliant as it is, i’m sure) of feminist theory includes anyone who might not be, you know, white.

  13. I . . . I can’t make sense of any of Cramer’s post. Or the comments.

    I can’t find a context that Cramer might have with the police through quick Googling. Can anyone fill me in?

    Her proposed model of having a panel with some people with direct experience and some people versed in critical theory, though lacking in a few areas (it would help to have at least one person, preferably a moderator, with experience with both), seems preferable to the one we have now—where there’s no guarantee that either of those people will be on the panel, but it’s almost certain that there will be one or more panelists whose experience with oppression comes from the experiences that they’ve pulled from their ass.

    1. Reading between the lines of her post — she can’t talk about it now, she’s campaigning for a new sheriff because the current one makes deputies work too much overtime which cacn make them violent, etc — something happened in re: trouble with the police.

      But that’s mostly guesswork.

    2. I copy-pasted this from a blog comment, now missing:

      I get tired of veiled threats by the school district to report us to Child Protective Services on the basis that my son is skinny because I can’t manage to get him to complete his homework.

      She’s also dropped hints elsewhere that she interacted with the police about her children on some recent occasion.

      1. Got it. The police comment was over at Yonmei’s:

        If you think warrantless late night searches and being roughed up by cops in their own home do not happen to mothers in America over parenting issues then — to use a phrase often used by Fail Fandom — you should educate yourself.

        1. Hmm, that would be horrible, but why lash out at other people who experience various forms of oppression because of it? Maybe I’m just not very smart….

  14. If they have the panel I’m so going. I plan to blow her mind by having experienced actual police brutality and having a background in critical race theory.

      1. What! No, I thought that actually oppressed people couldn’t possibly have any language to talk about their oppression with. They’re too busy being kicked in the head to think about it?

        Which makes her post kind of a paradox.

    1. Her post seems to be some sort of argument that if you’re really downtrodden you wouldnt have time for class privileged academic fripperies like critical race theory. Or something. I dunno…

        1. Well, we all know that a college degree is a magical full body shield against ever experiencing the effects of racism.

      1. I guess that means I should stop buying and reading critical race theory books. All that learnin’ is obviously bad for me. Those big words and what not.

  15. I would go to that panel, but I would probably just scream ‘REALLY? WHATTHEFUCKINGFUCK ARE YOU ON, WOMAN’ through the whole thing.

    but really, now I get it, oppression only counts if it is a literal kick to the head. That sure makes it easy to figure out if you’ve particpated in oppressing anyone, too, don’t it? ‘Well, I didn’t kick anyone in the head, so obviously I’m not racist’

  16. Personally, I think it would be a fantastic panel. However, there’s a clear conflict of interest, by her own explanation of the panel, the moderator needs to have suffered real oppression.

    She can’t be the moderator and the front runner for the read-in-books contingent, unless she wants to deviate from her suggested format.

    The moderator also needs to be someone with a long record of balanced opinions and thoughtful, levelheaded debate… Now where on earth could we find such an author?

  17. I especially liked the “Fail fandom” bit, because everyone knows how much you and others enjoy people being failly about things like race, gender, etc. That’s what makes life so much fun! Being hurt by people’s metaphorical pantslessness is just like being a fan of, say, Star Trek, and clearly just as rewarding!

  18. no tomatoes! tomatoes break the first rule of conrunning in regards to hotels: Do Not Break The Hotel. ;)

  19. oh god, the stupidity and arrogance. *scream*

    I kinda agree with ladyjax here — let her have her damn panel! Let her defend herself to a live audience who will be (I hope) largely unsympathetic and unwilling to play along with her rhetorical tricks. Banning people and throwing temperfits doesn’t work when they’re sitting right in front of you …

    Can we bring tomatoes? :D

  20. I’d like to recommend that you put the warning of footnote 1 in the body of the text. I clicked that link into a new tab instinctively; it wasn’t until I scrolled down to read the footnote that I panicked.

    I don’t actually know why I panicked, because upon thining about it, I don’t give a damn either. But the way you put that warning there made me think that I ought to be worried, and so I was worried. (Okay, so maybe I do know why I panicked.)

    Anyway, my point is that you seem to think that the warning and the link is useful, but they way you’ve placed it makes it dramatically less useful to people who would want to know about the warning.

    1. I figured anyone who really cared wouldn’t have clicked on that link, anyway. It’s nothing to be particularly worried about for most people.

  21. But Tempest, don’t you know that oppression is all about CLASS CLASS CLASS CLASS CLASS and since KC is much lower-class than you she… uh…

    Sorry. Head exploded. Can’t finish.

  22. Actually, this is a continuation of a derail of a panel on minorities at WorldCon about how she is soooo oppressed as a mother in Westchester, that it’s just like living in East Germany. Yep, just like East Germany.
    And no, as a Latina who grew up in a poor inner-city neighborhood, I never personally experienced oppression, I just read about it in books and then got all uppity about it. How dare I question her vast experience when I clearly have none?

    1. To bend over backwards to be fair to her, I fully agree with her that modern-day over-attention to parenting techniques is part of an overall low-level monitoring of mothers and families which is not particularly healthy. (Viz, the stuff Yonmei mentions.)

      It is not, however, even if she had a visit from the police, akin to living in East Germany.

      And, that post of hers is… self indulgent.

  23. So let me get this straight, unless you’ been kicked in the head by a cop, you have to defer to the Cramer/Shetterley vision of oppression?


  24. I’m glad those “people of color should show up at cons to prove they’re not sock puppets” and “if we could all be together offline, we could talk this out face to face” ideas worked out so well.

    1. Yeah I knew that was all a load of crock when Readercon rolled around and I heard not a peep from Ms. Cramer even though we saw each other several times.

  25. I second the “Let her have the panel” — well, if enough people at WisCon want to see it. ;) Because the kind of “If I had a soapbox all my crazy enemies will fall before my righteous discourse” vindication I believe she wants will deflate rapidly, I suspect.

    And because WisCon can handle it, likely much better than she can the retorts/responses/etc.

    I’d even volunteer to be on that panel, just for the sake of a good argument. :)

    1. This, except for volunteering to be on the panel. Because I’d rather be in the audience, with popcorn, and my feet up on a chair.

    2. It seems like we should divide it into two panels though.

      Vimes, Dresden, and the Goddamn Batman

      Law enforcement is a constant part of our lives, but the way it intersects with our daily experiences vary greatly depending on many factors such as race, class, gender, orientation, nationality, and others. Do stories told from the persepective of law enforcement and vigilantes support systemic abuse of power? Does fantasy’s underlying conception of a good or evil alignment relate to theories of biological determinism of criminal behavior? Do fantasy prison systems like Azkaban or Butcher Bay have an affect on penal systems in the United States and elsewhere?

      M: Karnythia, Other People Who’ve Dealt with This Stuff and Know About It

      More Oppressed than Thou

      “If we could all be together offline, we could talk this out face to face.” Join Kathryn Cramer as she explains how evil you are for oppressing her. Prove you’re not a sockpuppet, otherwise your opinions will never matter. Also, she’ll explain to you why you’re wrong.

      M: Kathryn Cramer, Angry People Who Aren’t as Oppressed as Kathryn Cramer and Thus Shouldn’t Be Angry

      1. I just noticed that I’d forgotten to finish my comment:

        I think it’s important to actually address the supposed topic of Cramer’s proposed panel. Yes, I know that it’s not really what the post is about, but I suspect that if it remains too ignored, someone will turn around and say, “SEE! You care more about ATTACKING people than you do about POLICE ABUSE!”

        Police abuse is obviously an issue that can an should be taken seriously. And it can be taken seriously while at the same time as not taking Cramer seriously, for unrelated reasons.

        It also points out the fact that Cramer is trivializing the issue by using it as part of her drama bait.

      2. Would you be willing to propose the first panel, seriously, to WisCon? Because I’d be there in a flash.

        1. So would I.

          (If not, can we bring this topic up on a forum somewhere? Or would someone write a paper on it?–I’d publish that on TFF…)

    3. actually, it would be awesome for her to put together and be on the panel … and for people to stay away in droves.

      she doesn’t quite get it yet, because she’s getting a lot of attention, and that’s always flattering to your sense of self-importance. but what if you threw a shitfit and no one came?

      oh, this is good: i think the wiscon committee should go out of their way to invite her to go around the usual panel process and put together the panel herself. give her one of the big ballrooms for good measure, you know the ones where you freeze your ass off and, even when they’re full, you feel like you’re rattling around in there like dried peas?

      and watch the audience fail (fandom) to trickle in.

  26. Y’know, let her have the panel. Better yet, let her be on the panel. This is one of these times I think white people should be on it and be the majority in the damned audience so they can fully hear for themselves the line of reasoning that most of us hint at.

    I like how she terms everyone as “Fail Fandom” – in her eyes, we’re not even worthy of names or lives That tells me everything I need to know about her. My ‘Dinner Rule’ definitely applies to her.

    1. I like how she terms everyone as “Fail Fandom”

      What! We are totally fannish about Fail! We imagine it naked and photomanip it with porn stills in embarrassingly amateurish fashion!

      Why, just last week I slashed RaceFail ’09 with the “outwalk a hurricane” fight of 2005, and it was a hot epic romance with star-crossed cluelessness and wings! (The wings are for escaping the hurricane. Shut up they’re powerful enough wings to handle wind at 100 MPH.)

      Ow, now my brain hurts.

      1. I would totally read that fic and then rec it to all my friends because dude, wingfic is my total crack.

  27. i was unable to resist commenting. i figure i don’t write, i don’t edit, i don’t publish, and the convention that i love is wiscon, so, what’s she gonna do to me.

    1. Though, judging by the fact that your comment hasn’t appeared, and what I recall about communication control from the last time we were here, maybe we shouldn’t let her moderate.

      Then again, perhaps we should, so that the “silence people if they disagree” technique will be vividly illustrated. ;)

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