Today I’m talking about Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, a collection of personal essays by science fiction author Kameron Hurley, published by Tor in 2016.
Hurley is an award winning author and her personal essays covers feminism, geek and internet culture, the perils of being a writer, health and rebellion. Hurley critiques and challenges in a raw and honest way, drawing on her own personal experiences and life story.
Coincidence is a funny thing. I picked up this book right after finishing The Female Man by Joanna Russ (a feminist sci-fi novel I reviewed a few weeks ago). Hurley credits Joanna Russ with lighting her feminist fire. In fact, the book is dedicated to a “Joanna’.
The book is divided up into sections starting off with a section about writing and the rollercoaster ride of a writers life. As a writer myself, I found this section heart-warming and depressing at the same time. My favourite essay was the first, named Persistence and the Long Con of Being a Successful Writer. The title says it all.
The next section covers Geek culture with critiques of TV and movies, the portrayal of sex, lack of women (other than as whores or girlfriends) and why we don’t have more unlikeable female protagonists.
One essay called What’s so scary about Strong Female Protagonists really struck a chord with me. Hurley critiques the cliche of tattooed hot pant wearing kick arse female protagonist – which you often see in urban fantasy fiction. She argues for the need for powerful women, who don’t just operate within a man’s world but ultimately challenge and destroy it. Not strong but scary. Hurley wants to see a female Conan the Barbarian, who is the scary person in the dark alley
The next section called Let’s Get Personal covers more intimate discussions about how women are judged on their physical appearance and weight and Hurley’s own struggles with illness and the current state of the health care system in the US (although this was published last year and so this is during the Obamacare days).
It also talks about internet trolls, including Hurley’s own experience as a male non-de-plume online and generally copping the flack from being an opinionated woman on the internet.
The final section – Revolution – covers essays on female rebels from Hurley’s own academic studies, how her time in South Africa taught her about racism and other online controversies including the Gamer gate scandal and Sad puppies attacks on the science-fiction awards and more internet trolls.
The collection is wide and varied but always opinionated and courageous. Hurley put it all out on the page, her own insecurities and challenges, failures and triumphs, her anger and her hope. From what I’ve described, you might think this collection is depressing but it’s not, it’s filled with hope and inspiration.
Hurley challenges because she wants change and she believes people are inherently good, but of course nothing is going to change if women say nothing and stay within the roles men have created for us. It made me angry and sad, fired up and committed and glad I’m healthy and don’t live in the US.
For someone like me who mainly read long novels, another great thing about this book is the essays are short and I could dip in and out, reading one essay at a time or sections depending on how I felt. This made a nice change for days when I have a low attention span.
If you like geek culture, scathing critiques of mainstream media, feisty women, rebellion and llamas, I recommend you take a look at Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley.