Several things, from Alison

I have several things to blog about today. I'll try to keep them short and not include too much information. Including too much information is one of the common pitfalls for academic writers who are trying to pitch a book to trade presses. I learned this tonight in a really cool online/teleconferencing seminar called "Making It Pop: Translating Your Ideas for Trade." It's a five-week seminar being led by Deborah Siegel of Girl with Pen, in collaboration with the National Women's Studies Association. And she knows what she's talking about, because her book just got reviewed by the New York Times. It looks like it's going to be really useful, not least because the other participants include several feminist writers I admire a great deal. Perhaps it wouldn't be right to out them here on the blog, but trust me--they're cool.

Another thing I'd like to blog about is Black History Month. I was going to write a whole post about the fact that Harriet Tubman led a Civil War campaign at the Combahee River not far from Charleston and freed around 750 slaves, but then I saw a clip from The Daily Show on Afrogeek Mom and Dad in which Larry Wilmore points out that all we ever hear about during Black History Month are Harriet Tubman and the Tuskegee Airmen...and I realized he was right. So rather than give you information you probably already know, I'll direct you to Conseula and Brian's blog, where you can find out an interesting black history fact every day in February.

And finally, let me recount this story that may give you a picture of life in South Carolina. As some of you know, the Women's and Gender Studies magazine, Cheek, was held up at the printer's this fall because at the very last minute, the printer told us he wouldn't print the cover because it featured a painting of a nude woman, and it's their policy not to print nudity. We were on a very tight deadline and couldn't find another printer on such short notice, so the editor had to Photoshop a drape onto the painted woman's body.

Today I was making calls to find a different printer for our spring issue. I recounted our previous experience to the folks I talked to, to make sure that we wouldn't be dealing with the same situation with our new printer. I spoke with the representative of one large printing company in Charleston, who, when he heard the story, said, "Well, was the painting tasteful?"

Hmm. "Yes," I said. "It was very tasteful."

"Well, I'd print it as long as it was something you could hang in your dining room, in front of your kids."

At this point, it was clear that this guy wasn't the printer for us. I'm not sure why, but I kept going. "Well," I said, "we're a Women's and Gender Studies magazine, so we often have articles about controversial things. For instance, we might have an article about abortion. Would you print that?"

"Well, that depends," he said. "Would you present both sides?"

I paused. I had no idea what to say. In my head, I'm thinking, "Don't be the angry feminist! Don't be the angry feminist!" How am I even supposed to respond to this?

Because I wasn't talking, he kept going: "We're a family company. So we'd print anything that you'd share with your family."

I wish I'd said, "My family is comfortable talking about everything from abortion to whether or not the word 'cunt' should be reclaimed, so I think we'll be fine." But instead, I said, "You know, I don't think this is going to be a good fit" and got off the phone.


Conseula said...

Hang in your dining room in front of your kids? Seriously? (Do you know how many times a day I say that in response to something Charleston related? I should get a t-shirt.)

The seminar sounds cool. I can't wait to hear about it.

charlie said...

Aggghhh! Stories like this make me want to throw up. Dude is a PRINTER. What is his job? He PRINTS. The more he prints, the more money he makes, or something, and then he's happy, because he has money, and you're happy, because you have your evil feminist propaganda literature.

Jay kay.

It's like the pharmacists who won't give out morning after pills, and the like. Eff off! You're not JUDGES, YOU'RE PHARMACISTS!

Preaching to the choir.
The end.

Alexandrialeigh said...

I don't understand why people can't make a separation between things that are child-appropriate and things that are grown-up appropriate. I mean, if everything was produced specifically to be child-friendly, we wouldn't have any movies worth watching, books worth reading...I could go on and on.

I hope you found a printer that doesn't engage in guerilla censorship.

The Dad said...

Yea Alison

Good blog... Lots of good information.

I agree with the fact that a printer should print and not be a censor. I also understand how some people might get jumpy when they think they are into an area that they are not familar with or even comprehend. What is their resonsibility... Maybe the fact that a reporter can be at their door with live video feed for any reason can make people somewhat edgy.

For example, we all know now that bartenders can now be held accountable if they sell a drunk person another drink. He is now partially reponsible if that person drives and something happens. Also, cars maybe coming with push button entry. If the code is entered wrong 3 times in a row, the car won't start. This is for the same reason.

But now, there are people saying that maybe gas shouldn't be sold to people who look like they are drunk... and how about the car dealership who sells a car to people with 3 or more DUIs...

I'm not sure if I stayed to the point here. It was to be something about personal freedom as it relates to responsibility and a line between the two. Hmmm... way to deep for me.

So, anyway... The name of your magazine, Cheek, is pretty cool... Who, exactly, thought of the name first... Maybe the people who read your blog might want to know.

The Dad

Bookninja said...

Why don't we ever talk about Audubon or Alexander Dumas during Black History Month? These are giants of their respective fields.

aaron said...

It's also like the salesman that won't sell Speedos to men with excesive bottom hair...

Kelly Love said...

WHA??? I'm with Charlie - that's the printer's JOB. They want your business, they shut up and print. That's it. Unbelievable. Will you email me with the printer names so I can spread the word? I can sure as hell make sure no one I work with ever uses them.

Very. Angry.

Anonymous said...

Printing is the printer's job, as many have already pointed out, but he has to be conscious of his customer base as well. It looks like he's in a lose-lose situation to me. For every angry Kelly Love, there might be an equally angry...uhm, anti-Kelly, who would withdraw her business because of the printer's 'Cheek'.

Blogless Reader

The Dad said...

Yea Alison

Not to put to fine a point on this printer stuff...
Every business, like a printer, has responsibility for what they do. Printers don't want to or can't print everything.

Now, Cheek is intelligent and thought provoking. It covers topics that need to be discussed. But, in the world of printing, it is only reasonably controversial.
There is no logical reason why it shouldn't be printed.

Now, to this blanket statement that "a printer is a printer and he should just print..." "after all, it's money in his pocket, isn't it...". This is obviously a sound bite and doesn't cover what can happen in the real world.

If a printer should print anything... how about terrorist bomb plans or directions to bring down a plane. How about murder scenes or child porn... While some of these things obviously do get printed, even some of the most jaded "printers" won't print everything.

With freedom comes responsibility, sometimes the line between the two gets confusing or smudged...

OK, enough... nap time now

The Dad

Deborah Siegel said...

So glad you're enjoying the course, Alison (and many thanks for the shoutout!)! Love having you in it.

That cheeky photoshopping hatchet job sounds like a modern version of what happened to Sargeant's Madame X -- he painted her strapless or with a strap hanging off her shoulder or something - scandalous! - and so he repainted on a strap.


I'd love to see an issue of Cheek sometime...draped or undraped.