Tag Archives: Feminism

Feminism: Something Like a Rant

One of my favorite male writers posted on Twitter recently about learning how his behavior towards women has made them extremely uncomfortable.  He was completely chagrined.  His apology and promise to do better seemed heartfelt.  I only know this author through his books and his presence on Twitter.  It does not come as a surprise that he was unaware of what his behavior towards women really was.

He shared a post he’d written on his blog about owning his mistakes.  This post is not about that.

This post is about what someone said in the comments:

but it’s outright demoralizing for newbie writers who come to a convention to try to network, and they see that the male pros are bro-ing it up as colleagues, and they’re talking to the pretty women (who then have to fend off unwanted advances) … but the women they see as plain are entirely shut out of conversations.

Story.  of.  My. Life.

Shit like this brings me to my knees.  Someone’s saying the thing I’ve been struggling to explain for years.  I have been ghosted, over looked, looked over, looked through, gaslighted, etc. because as Kameron Hurley said, “My body isn’t coded correctly.”

I can’t tell you how many people, especially men, have told me my experience is “not that bad,” or “didn’t happen.”

I’m done with all that.  This behavior has taught me to keep to myself and not seek advice or attention.  Those who chose to treat us like that can just suck eggs right about now.

Once at a holiday party, a male co-worker sat next to me and we had an interesting talk about something.  We talked until he got a better offer from a pretty, vivacious woman across the room.  He would have denied that’s what happened, but I knew.

Another time, a friend and I had just finished dinner.  She was thin and pretty with long curly hair.  A drunk Asian man walked right past me to talk to her.  When he wobbled off, I asked if she knew what had just happened.  She didn’t see it and thought I was being too hard on myself.

No.  There was a time when I once thought there was something wrong with me to be treated that way.  For decades, I fought for recognition as someone who existed and took up space in her own right.  It was exhausting, and led to some really embarrassing and truly terrible events.  I berated myself for being so sensitive and crying over “every little thing.”

Guess what?  Those things weren’t little and they hurt like hell.  My heart was so battered and bruised I couldn’t see it wasn’t my fault.  I was doing nothing to be treated that way.  Nothing.

So men, take a look at your actions around women.  Do you drink a lot and then flirt mercilessly, thinking her many replies of “no” and “go away” are  a game?  Stop that.

Do you stand in the hall at conventions having an interesting conversation with a woman who is less attractive, and then abandon her the second a prettier woman walks past?  Knock it off.

Do you stand at the bar with your male compatriots yucking it up, refusing to acknowledge the woman standing there wanting to ask for you advice about a writing problem or to tell you how much she loves your work?  Seriously, knock that shit off.

Do you hit it off with someone and she doesn’t return your calls?  Ask yourself why.  She’s not the bitch, you probably are.

There are so many other stories to tell about this.  A lifetime of stories.  Doesn’t matter to me if you believe them or not.  My lived experience trumps your expectation of a skewed truth.

Bitter, resentful, angry, desperate, etc.  I’ve been called them all, and more.  So what?  Maybe you could look at your own behavior and think about what might have made me, or a woman of your acquaintance feel that way.

The lowest setting on the privilege scale is cishet white male.   Maybe the reason no one’s telling you about your behavior is because she’s scared to.   A lot of men don’t handle it well and they lash out.

There are moments of agonizing pain because, damn it, that scar just got opened for the 700th time, and someone should pay for the pain they’re causing.  Society trains women to be docile and submissive and then wonders why we’re angry.  Dude, have you met you?

There was a time I didn’t want to identify as feminist because they just seemed so strident.  Then I started reading and listening and learned feminism is about equality.  It’s about my right to exist in my own space and not be hassled by some man who thinks he can, and should.

On a group trip to Canada, I was insulted over my weight.  Aghast, I walked away.  Next morning at breakfast, the very same man walked up behind my chair and put his hands on me.  It took both my friend and I to convince him he needed to leave.  I had no room to maneuver or I would have gotten up and left.  He put his hands on me and he thought it was okay.  Not only that, when I asked him to stop, he wouldn’t.

This is not anomalous behavior.   It happens every day.  Probably to someone you know.  Men, before you get yourself twisted up over some man putting his hands on a woman friend of yours without permission, take a good long hard look at yourself.  Do you walk up next to/behind a woman you vaguely know and touch her?  You may think it’s just an innocent, friendly gesture and you’ll probably never know she flinched when you did it.  We’ve been trained not to let you see us flinch.  But we do.  If you have ever put your hand in the small of her back and she is not a very good friend you have just committed assault.

She knows she’ll get laughed at for even complaining or asking you politely not to do that.  She knows you probably won’t understand because you’re a good guy and you treat women with the utmost respect.  No, you don’t.  You don’t.  And you need to look at your interactions before you pass judgement on women who refuse to be in your presence, or to get close enough for you to touch.

A writer friend completely objectified a woman to me based on her author picture.  The red-headed lass was to his liking.  Sat there, looked right at me as we’d been talking about feminism in speculative fiction and objectified her.  The pain ripped right through me, both because it was obvious he didn’t hear what he was doing, and because he’d just made me feel small and unworthy because I wasn’t a red-headed lass.  I got over the small and unworthy part fast because fuck him.  He’s not the first to look right through me and compliment another, prettier woman.  He probably won’t be the last.

If you don’t know whether you do this, ask your friends.  Especially ask your women friends.  Be prepared for some hard truth.  And then be prepared to do the work to do better.

Don’t treat women like that.  Don’t do it.  We’re not a glass of your favorite whiskey to be sipped at.  We’re not your favorite cigar bought and paid for.  We are people.  We are your mothers, sisters, aunties, daughters, wives, writing partners, and comrades in arms.

Do not make the mistake of thinking we like how you treat us.  And do not make the mistake of thinking that our silence makes your behavior okay.  Knock that shit off and evolve.  To truly be the man you think you are takes honesty and work.  Do that and see how much better all your friendships are.  Do the work.

Review: Cinderella Liberator

Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit

Title: Cinderella Liberator
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Published: 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1-608465965
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publisher Blurb:  Rebecca Solnit reimagines a classic fairytale with a fresh, feminist Cinderella and new plot twists that will inspire young readers to change the world.

Fairytales made no sense to me.  Even as I tried to fit myself into what society believed girls should want, which included some fairytale version of finding a husband and having children, it didn’t make sense.  And I didn’t understand why.

I mean, why should Cinderella want to go to the ball so much, and why would she want to marry a prince?  Did that really mean happily ever after?  What if she – what if I – wanted something different?

The appeal of being rescued is certainly be understandable, especially when growing up in a dysfunctional, unpredictable environment.  When your whole life feels hopeless, rescue seems like the best chance.  When one wants to be rescued from misery, there is no understanding about agency.  So, in some ways, Cinderella’s traditional gambit of marrying the prince and leaving behind her wicked steps makes a tremendous amount of sense.  If only there was another way ….

Rebecca Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator begins with the familiar story.   But when the lizards become stagecoach women for Cinderella’s carriage, one sits up and takes notice.   And when Cinderella asks if the lizards want to be human, the reader understands this isn’t the same Cinderella of childhood.

At its base as a political structure, feminism is about the right to make choices based upon personal agency.  Women get to choose what they want to do, or should be allowed to, anyway.  Solnit takes that one step further.  Not only does Cinderella get to choose, but so do the animals who help her get to the ball.  The entire cast gets a makeover.

This more equitable story in which Cinderella opens a cake store and become friends with the prince who wants to work on a farm is one everyone should read.  Especially those with small children entering the world of make-believe and fairy tales.

Solnit’s version is more hopeful and happier, giving children (and adults) space to learn about equality and choice.  It certainly gave me happiness and hope.

The Daily Communiqué – 18 April, 2019 – Artemisia Gentileschi

Allegory of Rhetoric, Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

In a silly mood recently, I thought there was a joke to be made about how in my more confident days, this was a picture of me taking dictation from my muse.  I mean, look at that gorgeous skin …

The painting was used by someone on Twitter and as is my inclination, I went off on a search.

The introduction of Artemisia Gentileschi began with this article which points out if one were to invest in art, one could do worse than investing in her paintings

“She has a position both as a feminist icon, who grappled with the not always beneficial attentions of the opposite sex, but also as an exponent of a robust style of figurative painting.”  (

“Wait!  Who is that?” I wondered and the search widened.
Artemisia Gentileschi was the daughter of Orazio, himself a painter of some repute.  She became known for paintings of strong women taking charge.  Her best known painting is probably Judith Slaying Holofernes (below), in response to her own rape by her mentor, Agostino Tassi.  Tassi was hired by Artemisia’s father because women weren’t allowed to attend the art academy.  (Tassi was eventually convicted of rape.)

Artemisia Gentileschi - Giuditta decapita Oloferne - Google Art ProjectWow.  As I read further, I learned about the Power of Women, an artistic trope depicting “an admonitory and often humorous inversion of the male-dominated sexual hierarchy.” (Wikipedia, op cit)

This is the truncated version of how I finally got to know Artemisia Gentileschi and her work.  There’s much to sort through and think about while placing her in the realm of feminist icon.

And, the name of the painting finally revealed itself at Robilant + Voena, in an exhibition of works inspired by La Artemisia.

Review: They

They: A Biblical Tale of Secret Genders by Janet Mason

Title: They:  A Biblical Tale of Secret Genders
Author: Janet Mason
Published: 2018
ISBN: 9780999516430
Publisher: Adelaide Books
Publisher’s Blurb: In this novel we met Tamar from the Hebrew Bible. Tamar lives as a hermit in the desert, is content with her life and is happily barren. She is attached to her pet camel. Her aversion to goat sacrifices becomes so strong that it prompts her to become a vegetarian. Tamar has a twin sister Tabitha who becomes pregnant after seducing a young muscular shepherd. Tamar plots with Tabitha to trick Judah (a patriarch from the Bible) into believing that the baby is his so that she can have status in society rather than being burnt at the stake. Tabitha gives birth to twins. Tamar becomes attached to the children (born intersex), who call her auntie, and follows their line of intersex twins.  

They has a promising premise, a long line of intersex twins come from the fictional twin sister of biblical Tamar.  Tweaking Judeo- Christian mores is one of my favorite topics, and the thought of secret genders in the Bible pleased me.

Janet Mason has a unique spin on many of the familiar Old and New Testament stories.  While fictional Tabitha is the one who has children with Judah by deceiving him, her twin sister Tamar is the character with the most interesting discussions about the “old tales.”

My favorite is Tamar telling her sister’s twins about Adam and Eve and the Snake in the Garden of Eden.  She asks questions I’ve always had.  Why spend centuries blaming Eve when Adam was the one who could have, but didn’t, say, “No.”  Which is the root of a lot of the sexist and misogynistic bullshit we experience today.

Then there’s the interesting, if difficult to take serious, story about Tamar reincarnating in Mary’s belly as Jesus’ twin, both of whom are born intersex.  And both whom have different fathers.

Structurally They has problems.  There’s a lot of telling, not showing.  The showdown between Tabitha and Judah is told to a gathering of women instead of shown.  The same goes for Joseph leaving the house every time David arrives to visit Mary.  Her trying to explain why the twins have different fathers and how she’s not going marry either of them would have been so much more interesting.

Another problem is chapters which end abruptly, the next picking up years later with little or no connective tissues.

For instance, Tamar and Judith  gossip about the news from Egypt where Joseph (Judah’s brother) has saved Pharaoh from starvation with his dream interpretations.  The baby they made and Judith gave birth to cries …. end of chapter.  The next chapter is set 20 years in the future and Tamar is dying.  No explanation for what’s happened in that time or how Tamar is dying.

The very last chapter uses the preferred pronouns for intersex people, ze, hir, zir.  At no time before in this book, have these been used.  The change is jolting and disruptive, drawing attention away from the journey Yeshua and his family take away from Jerusalem.

I wanted to love Tree, I really did.  There are many interesting twists and stories that give a different interpretation to the stories I grew up on.  Some parts of Tree nearly glow.  But the parts that don’t glow bring the entirety to a medium well done novel.

As far as I can tell, this was Mason’s first published book (she has since published another, which I have not read).  It is my hope that with practice and dedication her writing will become more consistent and structurally sound.  There’s a lot of good ideas in They, but the execution just isn’t strong enough to bear the weight.

 

 

Review: God’s War

God’s War by Kameron Hurley

Title: God’s War
Series: 1st of 3
Author:  Kameron Hurley
Published:  2011
ISBN-13:   9781597809504
Publisher:  Nightshade Books
Twitter: @Kameronhurley
Publisher’s Blurb:  Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war — but at what price?

God’s War is the first of three books in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series.

I long for the day when we don’t have to think about feminist or masculine tropes, that we can write and read good stories without the heavy load of “male gaze” or “women don’t/shouldn’t do that” (same goes for men).  It seems unfair to have to point out that Kameron Hurley’s work is uniquely feminist, and that her reasons for being so amount to “enough is enough, women can too do that.”

It’s unfair because Hurley is a damned fine storyteller.  She has said repeatedly she’s written characters like Nyx based on Conan the Barbarian and Mad Max.  Her book The Geek Feminist Revolution has two essays which specifically address this.  Hurley makes it clear that if a male protagonist can do it, so can a female protagonist.

And that’s how we got Nyx, the badass who can take on Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Nyx is a nasty piece of work, and she is everything a hero/antihero needs to be.

God does not answer the phone

If the goal of feminism is for women to be treated equally to men, then Kameron Hurley’s God’s War succeeds in many ways.  In her world, women are in charge and visible at every level of society.  As she tells the story,  “bēl damê, [is] an old Assyrian/Babylonian term for a blood avenger … ‘owner of the blood’ and ‘collector of blood debt.’”  She wanted to write about a bel dame in disgrace.  Nyx hobbles through the world taking any contract that will pay the days’ bills.

If feminism is about being seen and heard, then nearly all the women who populate Nyx’s world have succeeded.  But sexism still exists. Never mind the details, the women are the sexists in this world. They leer and catcall just like any ill-mannered male in other books.

What’s striking to me is while Hurley has turned the anti-hero trope on its head by making women the lead characters in a dismal, apocalyptic world, she does not give women a pass on bad behavior.  These women are so far from prim and proper, and polite, it’s laughable. Yet Hurley is making a point, that women can hold the plot of such a story just as well as men. Women are in every corner of society, just trying to get along to the next day.

The main thrust of the plot is an alien gene pirate has landed and threatens any potential of “balance” in this world.  It’s presumed her ancestors had a part in starting this war centuries ago for reasons no one remembers anymore. The pirate becomes a wanted woman and the queen calls on Nyx to deliver her head.

That’s what bounty hunters do, they behead and deliver it to the contract holder.  Or they kill outright. But they only get paid if they follow the contract’s instructions to the letter.

So think about this, Nyx is a woman mercenary who’s good at tracking and killing people.  She’s been kicked out of the guild of government paid assassins because even they couldn’t handle her.  She’s given up her ability to transport zygotes in her uterus because she sold it for money to get to the next stop, wherever that might be.  This is who she is, what she has become. And she has no illusions about her place in life. And the queen calls on her, not the bel dame, to find and behead an alien.

Politics being what they are, Nyx discovers hidden agendas and wanders into fights, literal and figurative, which call everything she knows about who she is and what she’s fighting for into question.  In the end, people die or are banished. Nyx argues with the Queen over ideology and realizes, just as the rest of us do, there are no happy endings. We just keep going on.

Every one of the characters in God’s War are broken.  There’s no repairing them, and most know it.  Hurley does not spare us from the atrocities of warfare, sexism, and politics.  She builds a world in which a paid assassin, part of a guild, would break under the burdens one must bear just to get through.

And although it was slow to get started, and it is bleak and horrifying, I found God’s War to be a good story.  Which is what all readers are looking for, isn’t it?  And thank you Kameron Hurley for making this the feminist apocalyptic story it is.  Women can be just as badass as men, if not more so, and deserve the chance to tell their stories.

Can I get an awoman, sister?

 

Review: 2018 Reading

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Karmeron Hurley
The Calculating Stars signature
Binti by Nnedi Okarafor
River Queens by Alexander Watson
How Fiction Works by James Wood
The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

For the first time in so many years, I’m not in utter misery looking into the New Year.  2019 holds great promise and hope for me. As unexpected as that is to say, it comes as a great relief.  Books and lists are the great constant. The great coping mechanism of all time, making lists. It was like the sun shone only on me the day I realized I could combine the two and keep my sanity.

One blissful weekend in August when I was hanging out with other geeks and nerds who loved what I did my vague dissatisfaction was temporarily banished.  I went to panels about writing, met authors (and a real live astronaut), sat in lines with others and talked about writing. Frequently amused that wherever there was a line, we all had some kind of device out in order to read. My device was dead tree style.

Exhaustion was my companion the entire con, but gods I was happy.  Happy? How could that possibly be? When WorldCon 76 San Jose was over, the sticky film of vague unrest returned.  Barf, I thought (or words to that effect, anyway). Inklings filtered through my overtaxed, hyperalert brain.

When great ideas hit it can feel like a jolt of lightning, adrenaline flowing through my spine.  This idea was quieter. An author I met at WorldCon started posting about teaching writing. And so I asked, “do you have something for me?”  His probing questions finally got me to the bottom of my unrest. “I want to learn to read and write about books better.”

And that’s how I found a mentor, and made the last quarter of 2018  happy. Best decision of my life ever. It’s not just the reading and writing which have evolved.  Unexpected personal growth came at me like sunshine filtered through open doors. Even on the hardest of hard days when I think I can’t even get out of bed, and the writing is like carving bricks of granite with my bare hands, I know I’ll be good.  Discovering the weird joys of LitCrit have given me a new dimension of meaning.

It is nearly impossible to pick just a few great books from 2018, but here’s my attempt at defining the seminal books for me.

2018 Books by the Numbers:

  • 68 read
  • 20,382 pages
  • 26 unique publication years
  • 40 unique author names
    • 19 female authors
    • 23 male authors
    • 26 new to me authors
  • 98 books new to the stacks
    • 48 new to the stacks read
    • 7 new to the stacks Pearl Ruled

Favorite Reads

The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood, Margaret
Even more relevant today than when first published, Atwood’s description of a dystopian, Puritanical society with no agency for women chills.  My review focuses on the use of Scripture as justification.
The Armored Saint by Cole, Myke
The Queen of Crows by Cole, Myke
Heloise is the hero we need now.  Tight, intricate, suspenseful story about a young woman leading the uprising against the religious order in charge.  Book 3, The Killing Light, comes out in 2019.
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Egan, Jennifer
Freakin’ brilliant.  We spent a month on it, I read it three times.  Don’t let the non-linear style throw you off. Egan tells a hell of a story.
American Gods by Gaiman, Neil
What happens when Old Gods realize they’re being squeezed out by the New Gods?  Just as fantastic on the second read.
My Journey in Creative Reading by Gallowglas, M. Todd
Don’t know how to review this book since he’s also my mentor.  Every bit is so good and resonated so deeply I knew I had the right guy.
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Hurley, Kameron
My love letter to Kameron who speaks the truth about being a woman so hard.  I continue to learn a lot from her about feminism and writing. GFR has earned a permanent place on my reference shelf.
The Calculating Stars by Kowal, Mary Robinette
The Fated Sky by Kowal, Mary Robinette
Speaking of feminism … Elma’s a wonderful example of all any human could be; blind spots and social anxiety and all.  Mary Robinette Kowal is as kind and generous as I had hoped. An hour with her and real live astronaut, Kjell Lindgren was more than I’d expected.  Excitedly waiting for two more Lady Astronaut books.
Beloved by Morrison, Toni
Because I am stubborn and refuse to read what “everyone” else is reading, it took an essay in The Methods of Breaking Bad, and some serious prodding from a trusted friend to read Toni Morrison’s classic.  Best opening line ever, “124 was spiteful.”
Binti by Okorafor, Nnedi
Binti: Home by Okorafor, Nnedi
Binti:  The Night Masquerade by Okorafor, Nnedi
Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant story about a young African woman who breaks tribal taboos to go to university on another planet.  My review focuses on bigotry.
River Queens by Watson, Alexander
Alexander Watson’s writing is elegant as he tells the tale of refurbishing a wooden boat and sailing her from Texas to Ohio.  His is the most polished debut I’ve read and I’m forever grateful he asked me to review it.
How Fiction Works by Wood, James
Every writer, every critic, every anyone interested in reading and writing needs to read How Fiction Works.  My review focuses on why critical reviewers should know about craft in order to write better themselves.

Review: The Queen of Crows

The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole

Title: The Queen of Crows
Author: Myke Cole
Published: 2018
ISBN-13: 9780765395979
Publisher: Tor
Twitter: @MykeCole
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture
Publisher’s Blurb:   In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.
No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.

Queen of Crows is book 2 of The Sacred Throne trilogy.
Book 1 – The Armored Saint | Book 3 – The Killing Light

I’m just a woman who has been hard done, who has lost those who she loved.  I am angry, and I am tired, and I am through making deals.  (p. 245)

Let’s first acknowledge author Myke Cole’s feminism.  Heloise is a hero for all times, but it also important to note that Heloise is a young woman leading the battle against the totalitarian religious government.  In The Armored Saint, she literally had greatness thrust upon her.  In The Queen of Crows she begins to accept the leadership role she finds herself in and works to be the leader her people need her to be.

Cole does not make a big deal out of making his protagonist a young woman, and I’d like to say neither should his readers.  But it is a big deal because so much genre writing is overwhelming men fighting to save the day.  Cole shows us a woman who is up to the task of leadership and fighting against the dangers of the oppressive regime called the Order.

Brother Tone, on the other hand, not only wants to put the village in its place as devoted to the Order, he wants to put Heloise in her place as woman.  At every turn, he sneers and belittles her, and those who she has sworn to protect.

Heloise is imperfect.  Stubborn, insecure, paranoid, with a narrow world view.  At one point, she has gone through so much she refuses to leave her alchemy powered suit of armor for any reason.  The armor has become talisman, protecting her emotionally from all the horrors she’s survived in service to both her village and the bands of Kipti they  encounter.

The Kipti are led by the wisdom of women who have a few magical tricks in their toolbox to be used against the Order.  And while the Kipti are nomadic, and suspicious of people who want to settle into a village, they recognize the mutual enemy and combine resources.

Reluctantly recognizing Heloise as leader, the two bands of Kipti come to realize that she in her armor, who killed a devil in The Armored Saint, is the best hope for a victory against the Order.

Victory doesn’t come in The Queen of Crows.  It is an agonizing, brutal story which deals both with the realities of war and of going against a regime whose demand of loyalty to the Emperor grates against everything Heloise has come to question.

It is also a story of hope against tyranny as word spreads across the land that a Palantine, an Armored Saint has gone to war against the Order.  That a young woman is delivering all from the hell that is totalitarianism.

“You are Heloise the Armored Saint, who turns back the tide, who delivers the wretched from misfortune, who will save us all.”  (p. 250)

Heloise is no Joan d’Arc who believed in her God given leadership to support Charles VII, reclaiming France from England.  Heloise doubts herself, and her role in her war.  She is a reluctant leader, herself questioning her wisdom, her ability, even her gender to lead.  But as people gather to follow her, she knows she must and follows her instincts.

Heloise has her detractors.  They don’t much question a female leader as much as they question how this young, inexperienced villager could possibly lead them against the Order.  Further, these few wonder why they should be following her at all since it was at her hands the Order is now intent on putting down the unrest.

Both The Armored Saint and The Queen of Crows can be read through a feminist lens celebrating the young woman who questions the status quo and leads her followers against tyranny.  They can also be enjoyed as ripping good tales, which happen to have a leader who is a woman.

I am of the opinion that Myke Cole, and Heloise, should be recognized for deliberately making choices which demand more of genre, both readers and writers.