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Dec. 29th, 2009

Isms in Fandom and the On Going Meta-Fandom Inspired Debate

I'm probably going to royally mess this thought stream up, but I'm going to go for it anyway.

I read metafandom fandomroundup and a ton of fannish related stuff all the time. I rarely comment but I still read comments too. It sort of comforts me and reminds me of an edgy more modern lit class. I like when people tear things to bits and point out flaws and praise and explanations and all that goodness. It's what I've always loved about reading, it's what's got me loving tv and other media we're all viewing together at the moment.

I really only started fandom about two years ago and at that time racism, feminist, sexuality, gender issues ablism and so on where huge in fandom (or in the fandom I was reading anyhow). It seemed to be a new and fresh development that everyone was wading into. It clicked as a familar element from a ton of feminist blogs I was reading and couldn't get enough of and seemed both welcoming and interesting to me.

People spoke about how these issues would get old. How we should soak up praise while we could because the silencing would move in. The trends would change and heck no one would care about the isms any more. I was familiar with the thought. Bitch and other magazines examined this in aspects of feminism all the time. How book publishers are only interested in one variety of minority story at a time and once they move on, those stories disappear. How in the movement there is silencing, racism, fear, and in some cases what looks like hatred. Feminism isn't perfect and in many places it's as mean and ugly and dark as any aspect of the "rest" society can be. It takes part in the same crimes it complains of to different groups of others and whether feminism wants to talk about it or do something about it comes in little inconsistent circles too.

Anyhow, it seems to me that isms have finally become "old" in fandom, at least for the time being. The sheer number of posts either defending or declaiming their right to write and share in common spots really says all that needs to be known.

Its odd for me because I feel like I've been on both sides of this argument before. Acknowledging and discussing problems in out media is important. Awareness can go a long way to not stepping on someones toes, at least not doing so on purpose. Fandom is a nice safe place to do that because the people and the actions are all fiction and no one should be personally involved in what's happened/happening.

Beyond that, I like the balance between serious real world conversation and hey do you think a Topher Boyd slash would be insanely yummy or are they too clashy to be slashy?

On the other side I can see where people feel like they are talking about non-ism issues and feel burdened when it's "imposed" in the conversation. Like if we were listing the pros and cons of Topher/Boyd and then someone jumped in with some "you know what they say about black quys" like thing, and someone rightly jumped on the "that's racist" bandwagon and suddenly we've got a slash pairing post all about the constructs of power and how if Boyd is in the more "feminized" position for sex that has to do with racism or it could have to do with racism or in some cases it definitely does have to do with racism where others get it right and so on and so on.

Personally I'm all about those convos, they parallel convos about female characters and sexism so closely that I feel like it's the same conversation with different words. I generally know where I stand but love when people present that which I haven't thought about.

For me my hot button is in cultural approbation convos. We're all talking about anime this or manga that and suddenly we're told the whole media is racist. To be fair I know that animes and mangas are Americanized. I do like talking about the differences in Japanese to American versions and what those nuances mean or don't mean. Sometimes I can tell before it's pointed out to me where stuff was changed and it didn't sit well. Likewise, I know the big round eyes and weird hair colors sometimes white wash over race, sometimes I can't figure out gender from the sketches even.

I get that some people take this for granted. I get that I probably don't see exactly how bad this is and some of not seeing it might be my refusal to look or acknowledge it. I do what I can from where I am in my own life. Cultural approbation seems like one of those things that being aware of it isn't enough but there isn't anything I can do about it either. I can't stop it, my refusal to purchase it stops my enjoyment from the watered down bit I can get but won't shut down an industry or show disapproval.

Heck stopping real world approbation doesn't help. From what I've gathered on open cultures (closed cultures is another story) it's not that white people eat their food, wear their clothes, or partake in their activities that's the problem. It's that people of the culture who choose to partake in their own culture are seen as outcasts and picked on for what is cool and chic for white folk to do. It's not that white people like and know something about the culture that's the problem, it's that sometimes they romantized, get over zealous, and correct actual people born and raised in that culture that's the problem.

How to I stop or counter balance that? How can my awareness be enough when the damage is done long before I get on the scene? How would my not enjoying aspects of said culture help the problem and how could I encourage environments where natives of said culture could return to their practices if they wanted to without penalty? It's too big and makes me feel too helpless.

So when I want to talk about Naruto and someone comes in to tell me the whole premise is a race fail, I don't know what to say. "I know" seems as if it would dismissive or imply that I didn't care at all. I care, I just don't know what to do. I know magna for many people is the straw that broke the camel's back. There is so much media bombarding them with ism and this one media was too much.

I get that. I have that one media being "too much" problem too. Right now the existence of Avatar is my "too much" media. A sci-fi where the white men come in and destroy hapless sentient natives because they are "in the way" even though it's those people's planet what they know and want is irrelevant and meaning less because they aren't really people -- it is too much. That white guy becoming the native and having a Pocahontas like romance where he betrays but doesn't the female lead is too much. I can't see that movie no matter what the might be awesome is in it. I can't deal with conversations that seem to skim over the many many many problems with the basic plot. I'm sure some maybe most of the people who partake in those convos know where the problems are, I bet some of them aren't trying to ignore or talk around them, they just don't want to have to deal with them head on all the time when they talk about the movie either. My going in there to throw a "this is wrong" fit will not help those people and it probably won't reach those who really don't think there's anything wrong.

To conclude this rant: people who think there's too many isms posts should avoid them and spend less time complaining and more time actually writing new and interesting (or old but still worthwhile) posts on topics of their choice.

People who are all about an ism camp or at least partially involved in one, where do you stand on saying something within a less serious fannish about x ism? Do you jump in full force immediately as soon as the topic isn't addressed? Do you look for a pattern of comments or one particularly nasty comment to address? Do you say something all the time or are you silent most of the time?

For people who want just a fluff post or a fluff conversation how do they phrase or moderate such a conversation to minimize ism outside of the story arch?

For me personally I prefer an acknowledgment within the first post that shows awareness of potential ism and serious material but clearly states that this post is for discussing specific area X. That there is a lot surrounding it that deserve their own posts for discussion but you want to focus on x today. This kind of focus lets me write my own post about my ism issue and usually steers commenter clear of murky hurtful waters.

It helps if the journal owner keeps tabs on the conversation too. When someone starts veering, putting the convo back on track and immediately shutting down hurtful trends that sometimes occur. If focus is shifting too much either starting a separate post for it, directing someone to another persons post on it, or encouraging others to make a post on it.

Thoughts, feelings, concerns, stuff I skipped or did badly at?

Jul. 6th, 2008

Long rambly entry that pretty much covers internet and real life in odd patches

Apr. 25th, 2008

Sort of Relieved and Still Not

Notes before reading:

1. Currently, I've got an Amanda vs dissenting voice tone.  This isn't because Amanda is alone in her struggle and has no allies.  She has many, I'd go so far to that she might have more allies than BFP does.  The reason the tone is Amanda vs. dissenting voices is because Amanda is much more visible in discussion and debate than BFP.  In many cases that I've read Amanda is dealing more with BFP advocates that BFP herself.  In rereading my writing it occurred to me that I might be setting up a tone that sounded like one person was being ganged up on.  I'm not sure how to fix this other than state up front that this is not the case.  Sorry that I couldn't think of a better way around this problem.

For those people who follow feminist blogs even passingly, I'm sure you know the Amanda Marcotte situation.  For those who don't, let me summarize what I've gathered.  My understanding of what happened is that Amanda wrote an article on Alternet about immigration and it's relation to feminism.  This is an issue that while recently becoming "trendy" has been discussed a lot by on many WOC blogs, BFP's (or brownfemipower) blog especially.  Many people felt that Amanda had taken the ideas from BFP and others without properly crediting them.  Amanda has since responded hostilely to these claims and insisted that all her inspiration came from different conference speakers.

I wish that she had just apologized and credited these other bloggers for all their work and effort, and at the same time I can understand why she didn't.  She really does think (or at least writes as if she really does think) that she didn't draw any ideas from these people's works and maybe she didn't (I don't know how her mind works).  She did feel very threatened by the attacks on her writing integrity and she should because they are serious attacks and something that could sink a just starting career.  The other side is that I'm sure everyone was aware of how serious the claims were and I'm sure they weren't just idly made. 

Obviously many people were unhappy with her response.  I didn't read BFP's blog when it was up, but the cases people present for approbation of ideas are compelling.  I know that I personally read a lot of people's works and definitely work off of them in ideas, direct responses and what not.  I don't always source back because sometimes I don't realize I've done it until later or I don't remember who wrote what.  If it had been me, I'd have been hurt by the accusation, but I probably would have given in and credited the other people because my mind is a sloppy place and for me it would probably true that BFP planted the seedling idea in my head even if I hadn't solidified it until after seeing several conferences and having time to reflect and think.  My brain takes a lot of process time and requires a lot of sources and views to help me work out kinks and sometimes I don't realize who jump started what because by the time I come to a conclusion, it's so far removed from the original whatever that sparked it I just don't think on it.  To be safe, when an issue like that is brought to my attention, if there's even a chance, I'd throw credit in. 

Amanda either thinks there isn't a chance or she doesn't work as I do on those sort of issues.  I was much more sympathetic to her case before she started commenting on Holly's feministe post on the subject, but after she started calling people right wing nuts using smoke and fire tactics I started losing some of that sympathy.  I understand she felt attacked and people react strongly toward that, but I think it's really condescending to just dismiss someone else's sincere problem or concern as being a crazy or a war starter or whatever.  The concerns are real, and Amanda should have talked with BFP about the problem in a rational way and answered others questions and concerns appropriately.  

I don't completely understand either extreme in the case.  As Amanda sees the issue as purely one of character assassination when there are obviously several important race and priveledge issues mixed in along with good questions about what it does or doesn't mean to be a good advocate.  As many people on the other side see it this has nothing to do with Amanda and everything to do with differing race and silencing issues.  Both of these issues are present.  I see why one would play down the other depending on where you stand.  What I have problems getting is why both sides can't step down and address each in their discussions because both come into play.  Maybe a lot of people feel that both aren't in play is all.  Dunno.  

Anyhow all this aside, Amanda's book came in and there are some really racist retro styled cartoons going on there.  Holly covered this in feministe here.  As appalling as the cartoons were though, I was almost relieved, because that was something I could side on.  The cartoons are racist and wrong.  There is no other side to look at here.  Whatever was going on, was completely wrong period, end of debate. 

See since the Amanda approbation issue began, I've been trying to decide what my opinion on the whole thing is.  People in the blogsphere have been actively courting my and other women's sympathies on the issue.  On one side I hear The Open Letter to White Feminists and I want to be a good advocate.  I have some issues with the context of which all the quotes were taken from, but I get the idea.  The same problem I have with many men when it comes to women's issues, I'm doing to other women who are facing race, sexuality, or religious issues.   I agree with Cara at the Curvature that being a good ally is complex and invariably means speaking out against discrimination as well as helping to get silenced voices heard.  How Amanda handled the situation lead to silencing even if none originally occurred because she tried to shift the terms of what was happening to favor her and silence the other deeper and more important (in the big picture) concerns.

The flip side is that I can't honestly say whether approbation occurred or not.  I think it's likely though probably not intentional, but I can't claim to know Amanda's inner workings.  I get the anger and I see why people would want to boycott her writings, but the other side is isn't a person supposed to be innocent until she's proven guilty and if she said she didn't do it, who am I, especially as a person who hasn't read BFP's work and who hasn't heard those speakers to cast such a judgment?

So I was horrified that these kind of drawings would be included by pleased because I could put the Amanda issue to rest.  Unfortunately (and fortunately, more fortunately than not really) Amanda has apologized about the cartoons that went into her book.  Not that it makes it all better, but she is taking responsibility.  She is removing the images as soon as possible.  She doesn't make excuses for her oversight and that's admirable.  Perhaps not enough, but I'd like to think that people make mistakes, recognize them, and then try to be better people.  Maybe all can't be good right away, but it's a start.  Certainly I know that I have and will probably again step in it as I try to figure out where I stand and why I stand there.  I'd like to think that an apology and an attempt to repair the damage I've done best as I can would open the door way for forgiveness. 

I know I'm not Amanda and deciding that she's wrong and not a person to listen to doesn't make me wrong and all that.  It's just that I'm trying to decide what is reasonable and what is not.  For me it's easiest to do that when I think about it in terms of what I'd want or what I could feasibly do.

And I understand people who have been hurt too much to continue this discussion as well.  There's only so often you can say the same thing without someone hearing you before enough is enough.  I'm relatively new to blogging and paying attention to these kinds of issues.  My hopes might be false and understanding flawed.  I can't claim to entirely get what's going on either.   I've got my take but I feel like (which means there probably is) there is something crucial I'm not seeing or getting about what's happened/happening.  

On a side note, I can say that I was thoroughly unimpressed with Seal's apology.  It sounded fairly fake and even as if they were mocking people's concern.  It started well, but the way that they went on to talk about how the images aren't very feminist friendly with the blond hair and the curvy body came off to me as kind of sarcastic and exasperated.  I didn't like that.  I felt like Seal was blowing off the issue in saying "well since none of the cartoon really supported are views and were meant to be comical you shouldn't be offended by the depictions of those with darker skin as savages".  Not a helpful apology in my eyes really

I guess to conclude, I'm continuing to fence stand on the Amanda approbation issue.  I won't be buying her book because even if I'm not certain about anything, I feel uneasy about the whole thing.  I'll read her blog and whatever other blogs I can get my hands on because I like all the views and the different focuses on different blogs.  I really hope at some point in time the feminist movement can actually take a moment and reflect on our real race and sexuality problems and move forward in a way that's beyond just having some nice conversations in name and starts reflecting in actions too.

Nov. 26th, 2007

Things I Wish I'd Posted Before Thanksgiving

Though post-Thanksgiving will still do. Something articles just brought to my attention thanks to feministing that I figured I would share.

Why We shouldn't Celebrate Thanksgiving
National Day of Mourning

Why These came to my attention?

Randomness dropped them in my lap but what drew me into the top article is really a couple of things. First is that I really don't like Thanksgiving or a lot of secular holidays from the get go so the suggestion to do away with them or replace them doesn't immediately outrage me as it might some. Second focus today on the loving peace between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims makes me somewhat ill. I watched a news report on Tuesday about how the Pilgrims "traditionally" celebrated Thanksgiving and the whole thing made me rather angry. The only thing that made me more annoyed was how much my parents seemed to be into the report. I guess I'm not the target viewer.

Forms of protest interest me, especially when the protest is something that one integrates into their public and private life. It is one thing to stand at rallies with hundreds of other people and another to stand up in one's family and friends group for something that they might not like. I think it's a lot harder to design and follow through in something that affects one's private life and I'm always interested in seeing how people do that and what causes they thing are worth it.

What interests me about the second article is first and foremost that I've never heard of the National Day of Mourning before. I mean I love about forty minute away from Plymouth, Ma where the protest is held and I've never seen a news report or heard a mention of it. I never went looking for it, but it's kind of odd to think that this has been going on for so long and no one (including the news) thought it was important enough to mention. I think this has less to do with the size of the protest or the actual organization and more to do with keeping quiet ideas the public doesn't want to think about. Of course in recent years, even the Native American tribes in the surrounding areas haven't really been involved in the protest, which raises other interesting questions about what might be the right way to run a protest or raise awareness, but it also raises questions about the true motives of the people running the protests if they refuse to involve a large local Native American presence.

Will it change my Thanksgiving practices?

I'm not certain. I agree with the article that there needs to be a change, but I don't know what that change is. I don't think fasting is really the way to go. I don't hold responsibility for what historically happened to most Native Americans. What happened to their people is terrible, and I do think that Thanksgiving in a lot of ways helps to trivialize their history, but I'm not certain what should be done to alter this.

Part of it is that I don't know how I feel about fasting. A lot of religious traditions tie it to penance, which isn't appropriate. Other religions tie to to "purifying" which again I don't see as the correct message. I guess I just don't see how me spending a day not eating actually helps to raise awareness or helps to alter our culture except that I'm electing to do the opposite on Thanksgiving than what is culturally expected. Doing the opposite just to be contrary doesn't really help send a message to me.

Also, to be honest, fasting isn't fun. No one I know enjoys it. Eating delicious food in a familiar comfortable atmosphere is fun. You don't get people to listen to your message, no matter how good it is, by telling them to choose to do the not fun thing. I mean if it makes sense on a personal level for one to fast or if you aren't interested in getting mass attention, fasting is fine. For me, awareness of the masses is very important, so often I look at protest modes to see if it would be something that realistically a lot of people would find "fun" or "interesting" or "worth the sacrifice". Fasting doesn't seem to be something that would really have a mass appeal and I already know those who are doing it aren't getting any media coverage so...

I do like the idea of a autumn feast. For me changing that date to line up with one of the three Neo-pagan "harvest feasts" probably makes sense for me. That way the celebration could really be about the crops brought in and about setting a side time to gather as a family. We could really spend time thinking about what we have been given and what we should be thankful for. I'm not sure how my family would feel about this. Though since I try to observe the local seasonal changes instead of the pre-chosen not really correct Neo-pagan dates, this might help my argument in favor of a different date. Even if it isn't something I can do with my family (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings), it is probably something I could enjoy with my friends and my potential future family (the bf maybe kids one day).

My date would probably be in early November and I'd probably make it whenever is most convient/ lines up best with the seasonal shift and is convient. I think I'd try not to make any connection with Thanksgiving at all.

As for the actual Thanksgiving day, I think just not celebrating it and explaining why might be the best way to handle the holiday. If I had infinite time and resources or if there were other locally interested people, I'd add an awareness campaign on that too, similar to how some feminists handle Valentine's Day with a week long spousal/relationship abuse awareness coupled with performances of the vagina monologues Part of what I like about how I've seen these awareness protests done is that they aren't "anti-Valentine's Day" and they don't suggest that you personally stop celebrating or that you are responsible for other's hardships, they just raise awareness of gender discrimination. They sometimes suggest or advocate a different way to celebrate the day because current celebrations might help support discrimination, but they don't necessarily demand change, just thought. V-day count downs do their best to be inclusive, and for people who want to demonstrate or do something beyond just "not celebrating" they give an alternative that can be enjoyable to everyone.

One thing I think that all people promoting "alternatives" or speaking out against societal norms have to be careful of is that they don't completely turn the masses off to their message by pointing fingers or being overly aggressive. There is a very fine line between presenting issues and giving people the freedom to make their own choices with information and preaching to people and telling them that what they are doing is "wrong" and making them "Bad people". I doubt this is ever a person's intention, but I also know this is often the message people get if groups are not careful in their method of presentation.

I had other tag on thoughts, but I think I covered the big ones here, so I'll save others for other posts. I'm still a little scattered on this so meh. This is what I have right now.

I'm Back From My Holiday Hiatus and Now a List of Thoughts

I don't know really, I've got a few quotes and thoughts to throw out I guess before I move on with my life. Some of them are pre-Thanksgiving and some Post-Thanksgiving. I guess the order doesn't so much matter as just that I write them before my obsessive nature internalizes them too much.

1. My poetry teacher asked me if I "usually memorized my own poems" because I told him that I "can never read one of my own poems the same way it is on paper unless I have it memorized" I said that it "depended on how long I'd spent playing with the poem". which is true but not how he understands it. I tend to take a lot of time thinking about things in my head before I write them. I'll hold certain lines for months while I wait for the rest of it to come together,. The longer I hold it in my head, the more likely I am to have the exact phrasing memorized. Tweaking it once it's already written though isn't helpful to my memorization. I didn't want to discuss it with the whole class, but I do want the last word...even if he doesn't hear it. Plus, I hate how egocentric he made it sound that I should "memorize my own poems", because I never can directly quote anything else ::rolls eyes:: He didn't mean it that way, and the truth is that I'm probably just sore about it because he made me read what I consider to be one of my more juvenile poems out loud to the class and then praised me on how good it was. I mean sure the poem's construction is fine, but if he doesn't find the subject matter and presentation to be young and immature, then he probably has a lot of his own maturing to do.

2. One of my very good house mates and friends has been talking to me about my "pagan" religion and how, you know, I and her mother and few others know about the "real paganism". What she's really talking about here, and what I've tried to, however unsuccessfully explain to her is that most of what she is talking about happens to be a lot of New Age and Neo-pagan things. Even then she isn't speaking for all people who fall under those labels (it would be really hard to do so). If we really stretched she may even be talking about some British Traditional Witchcraft (often just called Traditional Witchcraft, though I tend to avoid calling it that because it doesn't help to specify what tradition).

I don't think her mother is fluffy, and I don't think my house mate is fluffy, I just don't think she knows the right vocabulary. I tried to explain that "pagan" classifies as anything of a non-Abrahamic faith and that some people today also classify pagan as something that is non-Abrahamic and non-Dharminc (as to exclude Hinduism and other major faiths that may or may not fit under the pagan label). I tried to explain that even if you wanted to be more specific than that that paganism incorporates any religion that is "earth centered" or that reclaims an older faith or that is centered around a lord and lady (god and goddess) figure, or that focuses solely on a mother figure.... None of these definitions actually mean that the practitioner will "harm none" and a lot of pagans don't follow that tenant. Even pagans who do follow the "harm none and do as yee will" don't take that as a don't harm anyone ever, but rather as a "you are free to do whatever is you aren't hurting anyone, if you will hurt someone or something then think about it first". She kind of ignored me, which happens, perhaps I wasn't forceful enough, or perhaps she found my corrections had no relation to the point she was making (which they do way more than she knows).

I think what was most disturbing about our conversation wasn't that she believed that all witches harm none but that she though voodoo was evil. There are a lot of different kinds of voodoo out there and though I am painfully ignorant on the practices of any of the voodoo sects, I'm fairly certain that the practice itself is not "evil" and doesn't encourage harm to others, which is how I believe she was using the term evil when she spoke. I was surprised how tolerant and defensive she was for "pagans" when she was so angry mob against voodoo, which I believe (ironically enough) falls under the pagan umbrella.

Also have to say that whatever "real pagan books" (tm) she was looking at that don't have any spells that could cause harm to others, probably weren't that "real" and she probably didn't consider the implications of all of the spells. I mean just because you aren't doing a spell to harm someone doesn't mean you aren't causing "harm". After all doing a "love spell" could be very harmful depending on exactly what you're doing, as a cliche over used example. The question of free will and interfering with it is always a question when doing spell work. I'm not saying this should stop using any spells or whatever, just that a lot of people who claim they aren't doing any harm could be depending on the wording and what not of a spell (and assuming for the sake of this argument that spells do work).

3. I really hate Western movies. They are racist and sexist. They lack any real plot or good fight scenes. As a grand total I find them highly offensive and displeasing. I just didn't know it until now (I've never watched a western before) but I am anti-that genre right now. Perhaps not all Westerns are that way, but the hero of whatever story I was watching was an ex-soldier for the confederate who hated the "Yankees" and who hated the "Indians". In fairness, the Indian people had killed his family, which does happen and I know there were a lot of confederate soldier and I'm sure a ton of them didn't just drop their grudges for their North neighbors, but I mean its hard to want to root for a guy who is so completely prejudice. He shoots first and questions later. He has no qualms putting family and loved ones in danger. He tried to kill his own niece, who was stolen by Indians and didn't want to come back when they they finally found her five years later. Not to mention the portrayal of Indians and Mexican was sooooo incredibly offensive. The "Si signore" and the accidental "Indian wife" and the whole money killing focus bent was gross. And the portrayal of women wasn't any better. It is a period piece Women are supposed to cook and clean and get married and all that stuff, I get it. But to be sooooo incredibly meek, to insist on this one man who treats you like crap. To scream and by hysterical instead of closing the door and being quiet while under attack, it was just amazing. If women really acted like this then I'm kind of surprised that anyone survived. I couldn't believe it. My shock is part of what kept me watching because my mind was just like "I must be missing something here, they couldn't really play something this overtly offensive on cable". Apparently they can and they will.

4. I'm really surprised by women who claim to be comfortable with their bodies and don't want to touch their vaginas. I don't know what to say to these women. What brings this up, one of my good friends who is very forward thinking and who I thought (and who claims to be) was "sexually liberated" went on to talk to be about how much touching her vagina freaks her out. I mean if you don't want to masturbate fine. But how can you be so comfortable with a partner touching you and not be comfortable touching yourself? I mean how can you really know what you like or don't like if you haven't spent the time to figure it out? How can you ask a man or woman to pleasure you when the idea of doing it yourself creeps you out? You're ok with all sorts of different sex positions, toys, and experimentation with a partner, but learning about your body and it's reactions on your own is too much for you? The whole mindset is odd to me. I mean, I went through a "I'm shy/ uncomfortable touching" phase, but during that phase I wasn't comfortable with ANYONE touching me. The fact that I was uncomfortable made me even more uncomfortable with other people being in that area.

Another thing, if you aren't comfortable enough with your body to put a Nuva Ring in then you shouldn't be having sex. This one is about my sister. She's sexually active and wants to get some form of birth control, which of course I entirely approve of. She wants to be on the pill, and I asked her why. She's never had to take any kind of medication regularly before and I figured that taking it within the hour would probably not be the easiest thing for her to manage, especially considering she can't remember to finish taking strep medication. Speaking of which, she gets sick often and oral contraception doesn't always work if you are taking antibiotics Yeah there are antibiotics that would work, but neither of us know enough about the subject to know which ones do and don't work. Combine this with her allergies to some meds, and you've really limited what she can take prescription wise. Her answer is that she's uncomfortable touching herself to put the ring it. She is so against using the Nuva Ring, which has very few negative side effects that she is considering getting the six month injections instead. Because there are totally less potential draw backs there, I mean you don't have to stick anything up you vagina.

Let me get this straight, you're fine with a guy sticking is penis in you, but a little flexible ring with hormones to keep you from getting pregnant is too uncomfortable/awkward for you? I just don't get it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are plenty of reason why women don't want to/ can't use the Nuva Ring. Maybe they are allergic. Maybe their insurance won't cover it or doesn't cover enough of the costs. Maybe they have some other surrounding circumstances I'm completely ignorant of, but the point is that none of those reasons are simply because a woman is uncomfortable with her body. I know that the discomfort probably isn't that woman's fault. I know a lot of people out there are uncomfortable. I just think this discomfort is wrong and I find it particularly confusing in women who allow any kind of penetration to occur in their sex life.

5. It's much quieter on campus then at home. I'm going to miss that when I stop coming here.

6. It is much warmer here than at home and I'm going to miss that too.

7. My bed is more comfortable here...one more sad panda insert.

8. I love my fluffy soft blanket, even if everyone else thinks it's kind of dumb and not as awesome as it really is. I just hope I don't get it dirty somehow.

9. Forced family gatherings make me really nervous. My mom is a ticking time bomb you have to be wary of. I don't really know my relatives I don't really have much in common with them and now I have to spend together time with them. I'd rather not really. It is very stressful for me.

10. I resent Holidays. I know some people see it as time set a side to do X, Y, or Z positive thing but for me it is a time where I am required to feel or fulfill obligations of X, Y, or Z. I don't have fond happy memories of amazing closeness during Thanksgiving ever. It's always meant to me a lot of forced bonding. Everyone is high strung in the effort of making it work and it really just doesn't. The best family bonding times I've had either haven't been planned or were planned by the family as something we all wanted to do and make time for. Having a set period of time by the nation creates pressure/expectation/obligation where there shouldn't be one. Family should be together because they want to be not because the calender says so. Likewise, I resent Valentine's day a lot too. Maybe I'm not in the mood, you know. The system just doesn't work so well for me, I guess. I'm glad it seems to work so well for others though, who knows, maybe it's just me.

11. Missed the bf and I'm very glad to see him again. He's having a hard time though. He's sad and I'm not sure why, he won't tell me, but I wish I could help him. I like him better when he's happy but if I can't have that I like him better when he's just honest with me about what's bothering him, even when it isn't me or anything I can help. I like when he shares. Of course if he doesn't want to share, I can't make him, and I guess it's not really my business. I'm probably a little too curious and concerned for my own good.

12. Explained to the sister once again that Mom and I don't hate her bf. For people who are new to this "drama", my sister has been dating this boy for about two years when she broke up with him in Sept (after starting college). She immediately started dating someone else, within the past few weeks she broke up with the new guy and got back together with the old bf. My mom and I aren't exactly pleased. There isn't anything wrong with the bf she's seeing, we just wanted her to look around a little more. I don't think the guy she is dating is a bad guy, I just don't think he's very special is all and certainly I think my sister could do better. We wanted her to be single for a bit and to look around. We just didn't want her tied down to any one person or thing. If she doesn't feel tied down or if she feels free enough or if she thinks this guy is worth those sacrifices (even though I definitely don't agree), it's her life and she should do what she wants. The important thing is that she's happy and that she feels she's doing the right thing with our life That our mom can't help prying and reinforcing how much she doesn't want my sis to be dating is a mom thing and one that doesn't mean she hates the bf, it just means she doesn't think that dating him is in my sis's best interest. Our parents are way more vocal and prohibitive when they don't like the guy you're dating.

13. Searched for a new winter jacket and found nothing. I'm very picky.

14. Worked under the table at Calvin Klein and made about $100 dollars...woot!

....that's it for now I guess.

Sep. 25th, 2007

The Question of Race from the Writer's Perspective

I can't help but notice that race and how it is portrayed is currently a hot issue in the fandom. The discussions I've read pertain to reactions to the lack of race in shown in different shows, but I want to talk about race as a person who writes novels, screen plays (now apparently), plays (also new), and short stories.


I'm white and I come from white bread suburbia. I go to college in a predominately white college town. This isn't to say that I don't know anyone of another race, I just don't know many people. I do know that most of the time white is not the overwhelming majority and there are a large proportion of other races which should be represented.


Still, I was looking back and a lot of my own works lack diversity. Some of this is because the locations of these works don't lend themselves to race ( two of the main novels I'm working on now are located in mostly white places, in fact the kind of racism bred in the area as a result is one thing I'm addressing in one of the novels).


But some of it is just because I don't think about it. For example I have a series of shorts that take place across a made up continent and everyone in the continent whether they are native to the desert, jungle, mountain, or more mild area is white. I don't know why or how this made sense to me when I started writing these shorts. Looking back on them now, it seems stupid to have not have thought about ethnicities or what colors people's skin tones should be for a more natural flow.


Of course this series of shorts doesn't often actually provide descriptions for many of the characters. It is quite possible that when others read them, they make assumptions about the skin tones that I haven't necessarily added.


Part of my problem with adding race into a story is that I'm not 100% how to do it. I don't often use physical descriptions, and I hate being jarred out of a story by someone suddenly mentioning character X is black. I felt that way about how the Animorphs made Cassie black. She was just moving along doing her thing, and then out of no where someone mentions she's black. It didn't change how I felt about her in anyway, it just interrupted the flow of my story. I mean people don't often say anything if you're white and if all a character is doing is going “hey, this character is black by the way”, that isn't exactly a good way to throw that information in. In my young naivety I didn't realize that maybe it should have changed how other people treated her too. Not that people are run by completely racist mindsets, but even in my limited direct experience, I have seen discrimination. Even if the discrimination isn't overt there is a difference in tone, the way one person will stand, other things like that.


Plus, in Cassie's case she was a black person with predominately white friends and lived in what seemed like a mostly white town. Her parents worked as vets at Bush Gardens, and when I think back on it I think about what a plethora of experience and effects that could have had on her character. There are some basic shapings there, a dislike of violence and desire to help nurture (ideas that help foster the potential that maybe Cassie knows something about violence and what it makes you to use it in excess), but there is no backstory. There is nothing to connect the two beyond over active imaginations. I know the Animorphs is a kids series, one I adored, and I know that there was a primary fight between aliens and humans going on in it, but I feel like either you should incorporate race because it is part of life or if its too big to tackle you should leave it out completely. Half assed attempts to “diversify characters often leaves them being less believable. Even though at that time I couldn't figure out what was off in Cassie's character I realize that part of it is that her color is just painted over her skin. It is hard for me to think of good words to describe it, but when I read black or Asian or Hispanic characters in novels or see them on screen, I want that color to enhance the experience and not just be there to diversify. A lot of times I feel like the token person of color might as well be white for all the thoughts about different struggles, concerns, and experiences a writer has put in.


I mean whether or not I like it, each race has its own experiences and trials. You can't take a white acting character and suddenly make them Asian. Like it or not race plays into nuances of a story greatly. When I think about that sometimes its little wonder that I did just imagine everyone in my stories white.


I guess my questions to you f-list is to what extent should race affect a character? How do you sort of drop the race without jarring everyone from the story they are in? Should race be obvious based off of hints on how the character is treated and how they interact (or does this lead into too much stereo typing)? How do I and other authors avoid being racist when adding race or is this more of a trial and error sort of thing? Are authors justified in avoiding racism altogether by putting in limited people of color who function as well in the world as white people? Do you think that seeing these kind of token characters in works makes people less sensitive to the struggles we still face involving race?


I don't think avoiding race is not the way to handle these problems, but when I think about all the subtleties that need to be incorporated (without turning something into a racist work) and when I think about how the same character white would be fine but add color and now they are racist....it can be overwhelming. I can see why mainstream media might avoid adding more than the token black friend. There is a lot of room to accidentally or inadvertently anger people.


Now my third major work takes place is a slightly futuristic city. I know I'm going to have to deal with the issues involved with PoC if I want to make it even a little believable. It is part of why I am thinking so much about race in fictional works now instead of later. Currently the only character who's race I've defined is white. There are currently two other major characters and I'm trying to figure out what ethnicity I should give them that won't hit a stereo type. It's an interesting little challenge, especially because I know that I am not the most aware of what does or doesn't constitute as offensive or racist and well f-list, its just something I thought, with all the recent journal entries, that I would throw out to you as thoughts about what can make diversifying something difficult. Because of course we as writers should incorporate all the different issues we see in life, but just like there are problems dealing with it in the real world, there are problems dealing with it in a fictional one too.

Sep. 16th, 2007

List of a whole bunch of stuff I've been meaning to write

List because I like them and because sometimes life isn't easy to sum up


  1. Have a bunch of little things to post for my own collection will be sorry to clog the f-list list that but, meh, I can be that way sometimes.

  2. I have been paying attention to international peace month I just haven't had time to post prompts or really write myself. For those who want a prompt, though unfortunately I won't be able to respond myself, todays prompt is Tranquility. When have you found it? What does it mean to you? Where or how do you get it? Do you think it would get boring if there were too much of it? Is tranquility synonymous with static/homeostasis? Any thoughts of feelings you have or that come to mind with it. Again doesn't have to be about you. Can be a character or a poem or just a block of text.

  3. Must post in </a></a>[info]writers_cafe all these nifty new character creation prompts. They are really helpful and really neat and want to share.</strong>

  4. Straightened my hair for the first time in years, must show the sister the pics....must talk to the sister at all because I wonder about her from time to time.

  5. Should email the brother to encourage him again.

  6. Have to call parents sometime tonight *le sigh*

  7. Have lots and lots to do. Feel both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the tasks. Am exicted and annoyed. Have been stalling and am not quite ready.

  8. School is over whelming. Not a good think or a bad thing, just a thing. I like my classes and still find them a chore. Got my first A/ first grade back. Am pleased about it and at the same time I wonder if its earned of if the teacher's an easy grader. I can't help but doubt, me good or they are just easy?

  9. Have been reading so much news and yet really nothing. Wanted to do a write up on the woman in West Virgina (or Virgina?) who was raped. But there is nothing to say, I mean, just wow. I'm surprised what happened isn't an auto hate crime, and I'm surprised about the victims bravery (she allowed her name and her mother's name to be printed). Don't know if that's ignorance or bravery. One thing to put your name there and say yes this happened to me yes I am not a faceless person and no I am not ashamed, why should I be ashamed. I was attacked, brutalized, and tortured. On the other side I feel like this woman might have allowed or been coerced to do something she wasn't ready to do or that wasn't in her best interest. I feel like the papers can be animals, especially towards people who aren't used to them. Everyone wants their gore. They aren't really interested in a story or in anything but increasing the human fascination with pain and destruction. But as much as I am sunshiny in person, I am very dark in my heart. Perhaps the papers had the best intentions, perhaps she hasn't put herself in danger through the information. Perhaps her whole life isn't about to be stripped bare and scrutinized within an inch of her life because she was abducted, held for a week, forced to each feces and drink toilet water, stabbed repetitively, raped, and strangled. People so easily lose sight of this to focus on something like “Well she wasn't living with her parents so...” or “well she did wear that...” or “well look at how many lovers she had” or even worse, “She was prone to abusive friends and relationships, maybe its time she really learned about abuse”. I get so angry when people say this, try to rationalize something that doesn't have rational. I know its a defense mechanism for some “She did these risky behaviors and I don't so I'm safe” or something to try to justify, but there is no justifying this. This was something she didn't want something that she didn't deserve.

  10. I want to talk about the 16yr old threatening to rape a 12 yr old, but I don't know what to say. The coaches of the track team want to stress how good the girls were, and how composed they were. They stayed together as a group while running, they took down the license and they called the police. The police want to stress how sorry the 16yr old is now that he realizes that the girl was upset....HE SHOULD NEVER HAVE FUCKING SAID THAT!!!! It is always inappropriate even if she wasn't upset, rape is serious, it isn't something to joke about or trivialize. One in four men would rape if they knew they wouldn't be caught, and this little stat makes me sick, but it also makes me prone to believe those “I'll rape you” jokes. Sure I know they won't rape me, I don't really ever give people the chance (never am alone, always have a locked door...blah blah you name it I'm doing it to avoid that) but that you would joke about it, that you would find it funny or harmless, to me that makes you the one of four who would rape if you knew you'd get out of it. Seems though now a days discussing rape isn't serious, and the kid, with a juvenile record already, who last month was shooting paint balls at the same track team, who at the very least has anger issues and DOES seem to prey on younger girls got a slap on the wrist. No actions taken...what does this say to those girls now track coaches? That you can do ALL the right things and STILL be threaten, humiliated, and scared. Police will do nothing.

  11. Southwest Airlines officially sucks. I mean come on. Neither of those women were wearing anything that is past the norm and you are hassling them for their outfit. I, like many others, can't help but notice that these women have large chests. As a buck some woman I can tell you that there is no pleasing people who accuse you of being provocative because of your chest. You wear a conservative button up shirt and everyone is whispering about how the buttons are straining. Where a turtle neck and people complain about how the fabric stretches. Wear a potatoe sack and you don't “care about you appearance” and are sloppy. What do you want any of us to do. I'll match the look that is appropriate but someone has to point it out first because there is no way I can help looking top heavy.

  12. Lots of story idea. For Lauren I have a scene in the pediatric office. For my hunter I have a scene with him confronting a pack, and with Lily there is a nice drinking scene and then one at thanksgiving.

  13. Got a poem too something about my desire to become one with the bed. “Desire to meld with the mattress” “Lying like a Log, Laziness in mind” “Desperate desire to escape into the oneness of a dead world” depressing I think might be the over all theme here though and I want funny or harsh or ironic or even a bit cruel. Don't want this sad self pitying lay down and disappear bullshit. I am worth more than that (really). There is something worth being here for (hopefully). I am not suffering (well not compared to other years, this one is really probably the best I've had since freshman year and in some ways its better). Its just that anger is easier to fuel me than a quiet desperation. Anger hurts and cuts but it pushes and demands. It numbs better that tender carefully guarded hope. Guess there isn't anything wrong but you know my own worries, concerns for things I am helpless to stop. I'm just waiting for it to fall in a few months. I hate being so completely pathetic. A year ago (sept 25) my friend wrote a poem for me, one that I still think applies (sadly). From my comments in lj that sadly don't carry over here:

    Jess, just:

    She wishes she were lesser
    and lesser, lesser still.
    She knows she could be so much more,
    The juxtoposition makes her ill.
    Impassioned, truly, for nothing...
    But yearns the unity passion suggests--
    She can fake it, oh she can fake it
    (But it's a heartache nonetheless.)

    Perhaps the restlessness will never leave?
    Inquisitive, objective...has a price.
    Life's a struggle, breathe just breathe...
    Tis a... comforting! No! Ineffective! Device...?

    Stop the analyzation.
    "But my saving grace would fall!"

    "No wait, but if, You see,
    A piece of you and them in me,
    Energy mine in those and this and of us all..."
    You shh, just shh, if shh
    Fuck it all///.

  14. I'm thinking a lot about individuals. My energy has been focused on Kim because I can't decide how to feel about her. No question she is nice enough I will always be friendly to her, but what do I think. On one side she is friendly,easy to talk to, and she makes people feel welcomed like they belong. She has this passion and energy and still she isn't doing anything. She “works” many jobs where she doesn't do anything but place hold. I really value work, and while she's got a lot of good points I can't help but wonder if the action bely the words. Is she really empty and trying to convince people she's full? Does she really deserve the awesome recommendations she will get even though she didn't do the work? Are people who do this for her helping her or hurting her in the long run, because really if you aren't working and if you aren't helpful, shouldn't someone tell you that? After all it isn't really entirely her fault if no one has ever stopped and told her. Though to be honest I'm not big on sparing people's feelings for the sake of “kindness”, I think its really a disservice to that person. They have a right to know the truth and even if they hate you for it later, at least they can grow and move on. This “kindness” bull crap is why we have so many terrible want to be artists. No one has the balls anymore to say, “Hey you should scrap that, its great it means something to you but it isn't marketable and will never be marketable”, “You don't seem to have the skills”, “IF you want this you should do this” and so on. Everyone is all fake “its nice”, “I like it”, “it shows you and how you're feeling and therefor is art”. Just no, art is to some degree in the eye of the beholder but being a recognizable artist or actor or whatever is some degree talent, some degree luck, some degree connections, but also some degree managing to make something that is MARKETABLE that OTHERS like and value. It has personal meaning, great, I'm the public and I'm telling you it sounds terrible.

  15. Thinking a lot of Ian too. He and eye are similar. He has more talent and he's crashed more than me, but we are the same. So much potential, so much smarts and talent and we are wasting it all. We probably piss the hell out of people. Ian just makes me sad because he is suffering and I know it. I know why, and in my secret heart of hearts I agree with what he feels. I feel it so deep in my own being, and it has cut me in the same way its broken him. He's better with wording it, but he caught on later than I did. This little dark cloud has been part of me, an idea forming since second grade. Couldn't name it then and I certainly can't really articulate it now, but for Ian its been all at once. Some time I'll have to quote him because I know that pain. It makes me sad that he sees it because it is a confirmation that I'm not crazy but that there is something wrong, and it makes me more sad because the realization is destroying him and he could give and be so very much. There's nothing I can do about that though, try to be there if he needs me I guess.

  16. Haven't seen AJ much and want to keep it that way. In small doses he can be colorful but large ones he is a depression. Plus I don't have to worry about him too much, he's doing well in school, he's always doing well in school.

  17. Saw Kevin Friday at a party. I was all dressed up and he looked right through me like I didn't exist. Of course I was giving my scared as hell deer caught in the head lights, hide behind or in the bf face. And honestly he does scare me. He is violent and I know that being with Pines could have only encouraged this. He is a drunk and I know he is a cruel one. He has hurt me in ways that I'm not sure will ever heal. Zac seems to sense these kind of things because his whole body posture changes. No matter how drunk or sober we are, he seems to recognize the threat this boy and the whole frat/sorority is in my head (possibly in real life there have been confrontations, but none of them have been so bad that they justify this throat closing sweat inducing terror). They don't confront me (haven't actually since early November of last year). They don't acknowledge me at all actually, and I don't acknowledge them. Sometimes this is sad because friendly acquaintances have joined this group after our break up and gone from willingly holding conversations with me to giving terse and hesitant nods. Sometimes I wonder what he says that does this to them. Sometimes I am afraid I know. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just being too sensitive. Though if I'm sensitive to this, my bf is more sensitive because once in a while (it is rare because I am such an observant paranoid person) he stiffens before I do. He pulls me close and his eyes get guarded. It's these times that I know he isn't reacting just to me and how I react but to the actual presence and stare of these people where I get most sad. It would be more tolerable if I could convince myself that its all in my head.

  18. Anyhow, we left Friday's party early. This is part from Pines, part because we had a friend who was new to the scene and wanted to leave (we'd have left with her just because she wanted to go, but it certainly helped that I wanted to get the hell out), we left because suddenly I didn't want to be in a crowded dark place drinking gross punch and pretending to be someone I'm just not. We left because the cigarette smoke was so thick in the air I thought I'd be sick. We left because Zac is a good boy and all I have to say is that I want to go and we should tell the others before taking off and he handles everything for me. He never questions the distress, just lets me babble happily with my friend while we walk home while I wonder what happened and why I got like that. Later when everyone is in bed he just holds me and lets be be comforted by his presence. So good not to push me to talk about things he wants to know, questions and insecurities I may have placed in his mind that he deserves better than.

  19. Lucky's b-day was significantly less emotional an affair. On Wednsday we went out and just had a good time at the bar. Played some games got the guitar to place “Sweet Caroline” and “Journey” because everyone's first night as 21 drinking should include these songs. Drank sex on the Beaches, two to be exact and was very much drunk. Had the boy finished the last one and we left. Asked Lucky to come back with us (lives with me) but she wasn't ready to go. Learned later we should have insisted. Knew she was drunk but thought she should take care of herself, make her own choices. She got back alone (not cool) and then was sick by herself (even less cool). If we'd taken her at midnight she could probably have avoided the sick and the walk home alone, even if it isn't a long one, is one no one should do late at night. Still it was nice to have the boy to myself. I like being places with him and sharing him but I love having him all to myself. I am such a sappy girl with the adoration of cuddling close and whispering little secrets and he seems to be satisfied with just that too. I've never dated a boy who's been so patient, who completely lacks a set of demands or an agenda. I really like it.

  20. Want to talk about Harry Potter some, but I'm still working on it </a></a>[info]the_willow has inspired it but its still all jumbled and senseless. Maybe I'll hit that in a list later.</strong>

  21. Saw the “unknown” works of Claude Monet. Some of these “unknowns” were really famous and well known even to me. Some of them were charicterures though and I thought those were pretty cool not only because it was early on in Monet's life but because some of them were copied from the paper, other were clearly inspired by a cartoonist and still others were just done for himself. It was interesting to see Monet's hand at cartoons. Was surprised by all the crayon drawings, I know they were just a tool before Crayola came along and stigmatized them, I really still adore crayon now, there are a couple neat things you can do with them (though I suppose that this isn't anything that would be “great” art. Also the Clark is really a place for rich people. I come to this conclusion because well there were so many really expensive cars. I recognized the BMWs and Mercades and the arrogance in the drivers.

  22. We talked about Porches, which is a hotel in town that is one of the top ten hotels in the world to stay at. It is weird to think about that because well, its in the least well off part of town. It is facing this worn dead mill and the houses in the surrounding area are run down and some of them are clearly running drug operations. I wouldn't walk alone on the streets there, and somehow this is a nice environment for a hotel....I don't know I mean I like to feel safe at the hotel and on hotel grounds and I want to see something pretty, Porches fails these. Though apparently rich people like this whole thing. They want to see squalor and I don't enjoy viewing from behind glass where they eat their gourmet breakfast, whatever, its weird.


Think that might be all I have right now though. Meh. There you are tons of words for you all to enjoy and possibly marvel at or not. Just some of the endless thoughts I didn't know how else to get out. Hope this takes the edge off me a bit.