Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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October 29, 2013

Facepalming forever

Oh, Picard. You have captured my feelings precisely.

I find that I am more than a little bit uncomfortable with this fundraiser.

I understand that this is the third year for Lee Moyer’s calendar but in light of all the discussions that have been going on throughout the last year about sexism in science fiction and fantasy to advance this year’s calendar as a fundraiser for Clarion seems a bit, ah, ill advised. To say the least.

I watched the video. While there are male authors mentioned (and only one female author!), the only characters on screen are female and they are shown in a lingering slow-pan that reeks of the male gaze. In images from past years, it appears that Lee Moyer has gender-swapped some characters to be female (and sexy!).

There’s also a woman in the video, but she’s unidentified and sitting on the floor in a low cut dress while Moyer is in a chair and fully clothed (and is identified). I think the unidentified woman is supposed to be a librarian, but I’m not completely sure. There’s also a sexy cat-girl on the calendar. I guess we should be grateful that there’s no one in a chain mail bikini?

Moyer doesn’t seem to be completely unaware of these issues in the genre–he’s written quite eloquently about them, in fact. Despite this, this fundraiser absolutely lacks awareness of the ongoing conversation and the video is rife with tropes that I find to be problematic. There’s no subversion of the pin-up trope or of the male gaze anywhere that I can see in this project–I’m not even sure why it has to be a pin-up calendar; there are certainly other interesting things these characters could be shown doing instead of being objectified.

I really don’t know what else to say, other than I won’t be backing this project.

In conclusion:

Centuries of facepalming

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  1. Tasha Turner

    I was disappointed when I saw the fundraiser. I didn’t watch the video. I read the text and nothing talked about him doing anything different from past calendars so I passed. It was sad to see an organization I support hire him to do a pin-up calendar. Why a pin-up calendar? Why not a calendar of fantasy characters simply based on a scene from the book?

  2. Natalie Luhrs

    @Tasha Turner: It is really disappointing–Moyer’s a fantastic artist and I’d love to see his take on different characters and scenes from a story-relevant perspective. Show me these characters doing awesome things–now that’s a project I could get behind. I can’t get behind a pin-up calendar, I just can’t.

    • Tasha Turner

      Exactly. That would be awesome.

  3. Venetia

    Hi Natalie,

    I’m the unidentified woman in the video. I am also Lee’s assistant, which is why I am in the video since we filmed those pieces ourselves. I set up the shot that way because I was trying to showcase the books and all of the bookshelves in Lee’s house are only two or three shelves high so that there is wall space for art. I’m sorry that the video fell short of explaining this project, we did not have a lot of time to put it together as Lee’s time was spent on the paintings themselves.

    This calendar is not about ignoring the issues in the genre (and even more widely in our culture) but about engaging them and challenging them. I would invite you to read Pat Murphy’s essay on her collaboration with Lee to create her pin-up:



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