Around midnight, while painting up some fresh art deco inspire designs, I had a sudden though about Supernatural, which happens on occasion (perhaps more occasions than I would be willing to admit in public).

Angels have the ability to possess people through hereditary lines (Michael can possess both John and Dean, Castiel can possess both Jimmy and his daughter). Now I know that this is going to be a shocker to everyone: Sam and Dean are full-blood brothers (they have the same biological sperm and egg donors that created them).

This means that both Sam and Dean have the same hereditary lines - logically, if angelic possession depends upon some sort of supernatural genetic factor, both Sam and Dean should have the ability to be possessed by Michael or Lucifer.

What if - with Dean's exhaustion, apathy, and general depression and Sam's fervor, anger, and need to explode things with his brain - Dean ends up as Lucifer's vessel and Sam as Michael? Logically speaking, if we take Michael's metaphor of the fallen brother vs the unfallen one, Dean is the one who went to Hell. Sam's made mistakes, but he's still alive and good Lord, Sam Winchester could make a career out of being sorry.
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I tried to host a conversation about Glee here earlier this week that I believe was mostly successful. Around the same time, I tried to participate in conversations elsewhere about the show (note: I would count myself among the detractors of the show; see my previous entry).

I saw people saying something to me. I saw people saying it to other detractors of the show - and fans of the show who have issues with some parts. I also realised that I've seen this technique elsewhere. Sometimes, I saw it in Racefail, but I've seen it in feminist discussions of Supernatural. I've seen it in race discussions of Joss Whedon's work. I've actually seen it in a lot of places and this isn't the first time it's been pushed on me. And it's a great way to shut down a dissenting voice.

Even though I risk hurt feelings, I will quote from one of my discussions last week, when I mentioned that I was particularly bothered by a bit of violence in Glee because of my position as a survivor.

You're too black/disabled/female/have a history with this topic, so you can't objectively talk about this issue/understand this issue.

This seems like a common argument and, to me, a really bizarre one. You're too black to discuss racism. You're too disabled to discuss ablism. You're too female to discuss sexism. You're too queer to discuss homophobia. You're a soldier, so you can't discuss war. You're a survivor of violence, so you can't discuss it. Ever.

It boils down to - essentially - only the privileged can discuss the problems of the world. If you've experienced the Bad Stuff in the world, then you're not allowed to discuss how that Bad Stuff is thrown back at you in the media of the world and how that hurts.

I can think up two reasons people use this argument. I prefer the first.

The Person loves Writer McWordsmith and all of McWordsmith's work. Person has been writing fanfic and meta and sharing the works of McWordsmith with everyone they love. Being told that there are Problems with McWordsmith's work feels like we're taking away their teddy bear. Maybe it feels like we're saying they are racist/ablist/sexist/transphobic because they like the works of McWordsmith.

It's easier to tell us that we're wrong and blind to the wonders of McWordsmith than to understand that, yeah, we'd love to love the works of McWordsmith. We want to love them too! But it hurts us - it's stealing our teddy bear away - when McWordsmith throws the same old oppression back in our faces.

On the other hand, they could actually believe that we should never, ever suggest that media in any way reflects the oppression of the world and that that could ever possibly be a problem for groups who want to enjoy said media. These people could honestly think that disabled bloggers should never, ever say that it's wrong to suggest that schoolchildren should pay for their own ramps, that bloggers of color should never want awesome stories with heroes of color, that feminist bloggers should never talk about wanting feminist storylines in public.

If the last part is true, I would probably cry into my Cheerios. And then, I could make some angry posts about how I'm not going to shut up and I will do my best to ask for and produce positive media. Because I patently do not believe that only the privileged have the right to discuss media or pop culture.
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chasingtides: (Default)
( Dec. 11th, 2009 08:05 pm)
So, I made two mistakes. One, I watch another episode of Glee. (Warning: Mattress comes with unexamined domestic violence, discussion further in.)

Then I went on to make my second mistake - I tried to talk about the issues with Glee (as per what I've seen: racism, ablism, sexism, domestic violence; I have seen discussions of issues of queerness).

People seem to be using, "But it's satire!" as a way of shutting down issues with the show. I won't deny that the songs are catchy and fun, but I am having a lot of trouble seeing how the issues I'm having are satire on the show.

Will pins his wife to the wall, gripping her wrist so hard that we can see the strain in his hand, even after she tells him he's scaring her and asking him to get away. Then, while she seems near tears, he lifts up her shirt and tears the baby belly off her and starts screaming. (FYI, I think she's right that the club is an unhealthy obsession for him - example: writing the check for the yearbook ad when they obviously didn't have the money for it. Also using it as a cover for emotional cheating.) I wouldn't have as much of a problem, except we are supposed to see him as the put-upon victim.

Quinn says Puck got her drunk the night he got her pregnant - but somehow she's the cheating lying slut? And Terri's clearly scared of Will and got some mental issues, but she's the shrewish angry wife? And what's with the minority kids getting less screen time and I won't even touch the ablism?

Can someone please explain how this is satire and not really offensive crap?

[In other news: I'm apparently working extra hours and six days a week until Christmas. Oh god, I'm going to die.]
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One thing I've learned: There's really no end to some people's ablism )
I'm going to try to have a calm, cool, rational go at what's wrong with the discussion some folks have been having about the change in the Lambda Awards (and then, flist, I promise to shut up about it). If this gets linked about, I can't promise to be 100% calm in comments, but I'll do my damnedest, as long as commenters do their best to not fling about homophobic/biphobic/transphobic/racist/misogynistic language.

First of all - I've said it before (all over the place, probably), I've got my own issues and problems with the Lambda Awards and how they work. I've discussed these problems before (and probably will again), generally in queer spaces. I'm hardly a published writer myself, but I do wholeheartedly support any number of actually published writers (more often under my actual name rather than my blogging pseudonym).

And if you have a problem with Lambda that doesn't happen to be my problem? Feel free to have it. I'll even listen to you and respect you when you aren't couching your problem in homophobic/biphobic/transphobic/racist/misogynistic language. Once you start doing that? My ability to respect your problem - no matter how real and/or problematic it is - drops dramatically. If you manage all of the above, I'm just going to pull out my bingo card.

This counts even if you are part of the minority in question. In my Biphobia: It's What's For Dinner, I said, I always have to check my biphobic thoughts as self-destructive. I know I have thoughts (and actions and words and all of that) that feed into straight and cis privilege - even though I don't have them. They are destructive to me and, yet, I can still participate in that which tears me down. I have every ability to join in with the majority and aid and abet them in destroying my own psyche. Every member of every minority does. It's one of the things that sucks about being part of a minority.

When a person says that heterosexual writers are obviously better than queer writers of any stripe - well, that's a queer-phobic comment. I don't give a goddamn if you run the Pride Parade in San Francisco, that's fucking phobic and you'd better be called on your shit for it.

If you seriously suggest that a minority is oppressing the majority by creating a space for themselves, I think you need a clue. Straight, cis people have the whole world. Wanting an award for non-straight/non-cis people is not as someone put it the Westboro Baptist Church, segregation, or a lynching. (I'm actually not entirely sure what Selah March is after, just that her comments and her blog and LiveJournal seem rife with problematic interpretations where she, the straight woman, is being discriminated against by the Big Bad Queers.)

If you lie about what happened, I'm going to assume you're lying about other stuff, too. (Keep reading that link, the next bit is for that, too.) If you're upset because you'll make less money/be discriminated against if you come out and you just want to be viewed as the straight writer of queer character - boo hoo. This is me not crying for you. Yes, the closet sucks. However, I don't think anyone should get a prize for it and, certainly, being the totally closeted writer of queer books appears antithetical to Lambda's purposes.

First of all, submissions can't go into Lambda until October 1. Anyone says Lambda's changing their tune midstream (hmmm, mixing my metaphors again) is lying, unless they've been hanging out with a time machine. Did Lambda announce it late in the game? Yes. However, they did announce it before anyone could submit their work.

No one is saying straight cis women can't or shouldn't write queer characters (or gay male romance, since that seems to be everyone's agenda). Or, at the very least, Lambda's decision isn't saying that. It's saying, "Straight cis women, sorry, you can't win this award." (Just like straight cis woman who wrote Jennifer's Body isn't going to win a queer award for her presumably stunning representation of non-monosexual female teenagers.)

I don't know much about the genre of gay male romance. It's not something I actively seek out. In fact, I avoid romance novels like they'll give me herpes. I scrounge my local Barnes and Noble for anything resemble not-monosexual or genderqueer literature (I have one book) and that's about it. Beyond that, I want pirates and werewolves and possibly space aliens. However, Anne Somerville, who presumably knows more about the genre than I do, assures us that straight cis women are edging out queer folk in terms of writing about queer folk. To quote her, "It’s not a gay friendly genre, when you get down to it."

Lastly - there are two final things I want to mention that I have not yet touched on.

Allies. You're not an ally if your response to a minority saying, "I think we need our own safe space where we can help build each other up and encourage one another to be the best people/writers/film makers/cake bakers we can be," is, "BUT I AM AN AWESOME CAKE BAKER WHY AREN'T I IN YOUR GROUP? YOU HATE ME! OMG YOU ARE GOING TO PICKET MY FUNERAL AND SPIT ON MY GRAVE! OMG I HATE YOU GUYS!" See? Then we end up feeling used. You want us as long as we're making you money and making you look good. As soon as we assert independence, suddenly we're evil and the Man and omg, exactly like George Bush. Even if it's not your intent or if it's not true, you're not being an ally and we feel used. Thanks.

Transphobia. Oh my god. The transphobia. I don't even know where to start. Maybe with When does a trans man become a woman, and if she is then a straight woman is he then ineligible for the Lambdas? Or the assumption that no one who identifies as heterosexual would be able to qualify for a Lambda Award? I don't even have words for how incredibly pervasive it is throughout these discussions.

*

There are plenty of really good reasons to have an issue with the Lambda Awards. The ones listed here? Not them. Fear of the queer police? Also not them, since Lambda has specifically stated that they are relying on authors to self-identify themselves as part of the LGBT family. Go look at their website. You don't have to fill out a form as to how many partners of the same gender you've had or if you're going in for an operation. (Trust me. This was a first fear of mine and it is unfounded.)

*

ETA: It gets better: Hell, even rich, upper class, straight white men are having a rough time right now - everyone hates them! And as far as I can tell, they're not being sarcastic. This is my sad face.
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So, I'm writing a story and I'm unsure of how to label it. Because I came up with this idea in church, I'm going to call it divinely inspired, but I'm mostly exploring boundaries in fiction that I am curious about in real life. And the purpose of exploring these boundaries, is, in part, exploring them as a dialogue, so I will be doing it through fanfiction and, of course, this post.

Gender Boundaries )
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I have no idea how well or poorly this is going to go over, but I've not got another place to put this. I also have no idea if I'm making sense.

Long Winded Thoughts on Stories That Aren't Stories and the Stories That Are Stories )
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I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves. ~Mary Wollstonecraft

To me, "sexual freedom" means freedom from having to have sex. ~Lily Tomlin

Sexism is a social disease. ~Author Unknown

If you don't watch Dollhouse, please read this, so you can see what's on TV. If you do watch Dollhouse, please read this so that you can share your thoughts.

Dollhouse Spoilers and Length )
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There's plenty of information on biphobia out there. There's plenty of it out in the world.

In her essay, Robyn Ochs writes, "Thus, bisexuals create discomfort and anxiety in others simply by the fact of our existence. We are pressured to remain silent, as our silence allows the dominant culture to exaggerate the differences between heterosexual and homosexual and to ignore the fact that human sexuality exists on a continuum. It is much less threatening to the dominant heterosexual culture to perpetuate the illusion that homosexuals are “that category, way over there,” very different from heterosexuals. If “they” are extremely different, heterosexuals do not have to confront the possibility of acknowledging same-sex attractions within themselves and possibly becoming “like them.” There is considerable anxiety in being forced to acknowledge that the “other” is not as different from you as you would like to pretend."

I recommend reading her whole essay, especially if you're unaware of this issue. I identify alternately as pansexual and anthrosexual and am currently working my way through Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out (edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu).

For online resources, I recommend Texas A&M's Biphobia Guide, this discussion of biphobia in the lesbian community [warning for a fair amount of biphobia in the comments], Biphobia on Scribd, and this extensive read entitled GL vs BT, taken from the Journal of Bisexuality.

There is biphobia in the world. People who aren't monosexual experience it regularly - often daily if we watch television or read books. We grow up in a culture where we are invisible except in the negative. Bisexual women are often the slutty ones who play both sides of the field. Bisexual men spread AIDS.

There are few heroes for us. When, for example, I say that Oscar Wilde exhibited bisexual behavior and the reaction is, "What the hell are you talking about, [livejournal.com profile] chasingtides, the man was gay," that is erasure. Not only is it erasure, but it denies us our heritage.

When I was fourteen, I realised, startled and suddenly afraid, that I liked girls. I knew I liked boys - I had had quite the crush on a boy in my junior high. However, out of the clear blue on my first day of high school, I realised that I was definitely attracted to females as well. However, I struggled with this for years. It wasn't that I wasn't attracted to men and women; I was. It was that I knew there was a word for that - bisexual - but I also knew, quite clearly, that I wasn't bisexual. I am monogamous. I have a low sex drive. I am honestly attracted to people of all genders and want to pursue single romantic relationships with them. Clearly, I was not bisexual. There was no decent person, not in my extensive reading and not in my genre television watching, who was bisexual.

In those years, I well could have done with the knowledge that these were biphobic stereotypes and it would have been a good thing if I had been, in main stream media, exposed to non-phobic figures. (I was not involved in queer culture because while I was clearly not a bisexual like that, I was also obviously not gay or lesbian.) I could use having some less-than-monosexual figures in my life today, for that matter.

Biphobia is integrated into our culture, in the mainstream West and into the culture of the queer community. This means that, likely, you might say or do something that's biphobic. Hell, I always have to check my biphobic thoughts as self-destructive; I hardly expect the rest of the world to be magically biphobia free.

When you write the slash fic where either or both of the male characters have canonical female love interests, think of the possibility that your character might be not-monosexual, rather than a closeted gay character. When someone points out that a person or a character exhibits bisexual behavior - for example, Lord Byron or Ianto Jones - think before you jump on that person. When you are in a place of fannish discussion, think before you espouse biphobic stereotypes.

However, I will say this: ignorance of this issue is not an excuse. If I said something racist and said, "But I didn't know better," what I said would still be racist. If I said something homophobic and said, "But I didn't know any better," what I said would still be homophobic. The same applies to biphobia. It is not the purpose of bisexuals and other non-monosexuals to educate and help you. We aren't educators; we are people, living lives. Telling us we should not be angry is also, in my less than humble opinion, inappropriate. This is prejudice and discrimination that we face in our daily lives; we have every right to be angry about it.

(And no, I'm not putting this under a cut. It's long, but it needs to be read.)
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chasingtides: (can't find my way)
( Mar. 9th, 2009 03:54 pm)
So theoretically I'm reading Jorge Luis Borges at the moment, but I still have my Mongolian and Sami research bouncing around my skull and trying to find a monster of the week to put in my [livejournal.com profile] lgbtfest entry. My brain's all over the place.

When does something become cultural appropriation? When is something culturally yours to begin with? Where are the lines?

(To note, I have a vague idea of what is culturally "mine." It's a fairly limited group, but I've been told by others that there are things that are culturally mine that I don't think are - and vice versa. I'm also interested in seeing where people think the line is - when are you stealing someone else's culture and when are you drawing on it?)

I suppose this could be in any life aspect - religiously (I know this comes up in the pagan community), in art or writing, in lifestyle (with the stereotypical weeabo coming up). Thoughts?


As an unrelated addendum: It's snowing like anything here. It was 60F yesterday. I'd better not have my classes called off because of snow.
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I'm approaching 11, 000 words on my Big Bang. I've discovered that while Castiel is possibly the biggest pain in my ass ever, Uriel is kind of a blast. I'm suddenly really looking forward to writing my ending and Uriel's reaction to my big reveal. Sadly, I think Castiel is just going to stand there, nod, and realise that it all makes sense while everyone else kind of explodes.

Anyway, this fic is turning out, in many ways, to be similar to The Sour for The Sweet, in that there are a lot of little case fics surrounding the greater mytharc. (And yeah, Sam's also a supernatural being that has choice and yellow eyes and is hated by angels and kind of rogue... but that's not what this is about.)

While I don't recommend Wikipedia to be anyone's be all and end all of research, it's a great place to jump start ideas. I like my Winchesters (and my original characters in original fiction) to hunt/deal with creatures and things that people actually believe(d) in. Luckily, there's no end to what people will believe. So, I give you the List of Monsters, divided up by region. Don't disregard the links at the bottom! Cryptids are listed separately! (Their list is here, listed alphabetically.) Fearsome Critters are from North American folklore and listed separately. The List of Legendary Creatures is also separate and useful (alphabetical and with short, informational tags). There is some overlap in these lists, of course, but plenty appear only on one list.

While I generally research a little further than Wikipedia, these are great starting points for coming up with fearsome creatures. (Some are more unbelievable than others. I didn't make up the buffalo that shits fire, but I wish I did.)

(Seriously, don't disregard the usefulness of Wikipedia as a root source, especially if you do further research or are just building on it for fictive purposes. If you are exploring other lines, Wikipedia's List of Angels (with tags), List of Enochian Angels, List of Theological Demons, List of Fictional Demons are all lists that I've found useful. Wikipedia also looks at the hierarchy of angels in different sects. There's also a hierarchy of demons and the classification of demons.)

I'm not suggesting that anyone should be married to information pulled from a source like this, but they can be a fount of ideas and a source. I know I tend to write more confidently when I'm pulling from a source, even if I'm doing it only in the most esoteric way (as with Lix Tetrax). I usually, as a writer, like to rely on things in which people really believe or believed - I feel that it adds something valid when I'm writing something off in Crazy Speculative Fiction Land. I function that way as a reader as well. It's one of the reasons that I will always prefer Neil Gaiman's well researched American Gods to a lot of modern vampire novels (there is nothing remotely believable in them - no one ever actually believed in vampires like Edward Cullen) and why I find Tolkien's writing to some of the only world-building fantasy I can stomach. (And no, research doesn't automatically makes someone a great writer, but it's certainly a better start than Make Believe Medieval Land With Friendly Dragons Who Are Fluffy.)

I personally love researching. It's one of my favorite parts of writing. I've been gathering sources for my Mongolian Steampunk for a long time and am looking forward to starting it back up in late spring. It's Speculative Fiction in Real Medieval Land, which is hard (goddamn Monoglian nomenclature for one), but it's work I really enjoy. It makes my writing something of which I can be proud even if it never sees the light of day (although when the Mongolian Steampunk is done and I've done years of research and played with post-colonial theory and medieval religious practices and cultures and nomenclatures and researched steam power and engineering, you'd better be sure that I'll be doing my damnedest to publish it). Having roots in the real world, in my opinion, is what can keep the most out there of speculative fiction (or fanfiction) from totally losing its readers.

As a final note, I've seen some fanwriters who say, "Oh, I'm lazy, I just made up the creatures/demons/whatevers in this fic" (particularly in the Supernatural fandom, but in others that involve crazy things, like the few times I've ventured into Buffy). Is this laziness? In my opinion, it's a lot easier for me to go to Wikipedia, type in "list of monsters" and click on Woodwose under Medieval England Beastiary and Heraldic Beasts than to go to all of the bother and energy to make something up wholesale. Thoughts? (On the other hand, lack of the research is why I don't do a lot of world-building fantasy reading because that is laziness. But researching the medieval world =/= clicking a Wikipedia link. My standards are way too high in that realm.)
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