August 2012




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Jul. 3rd, 2011


Star over at asked" "What does Freedom mean for you as a Pagan?" I'm going to try to answer that because it's the Independence Day and it seems the kind of question people answer around this time.

As an American female bi pagan person freedom is possibly the single most important thing I have the right to. That no one can deny how I feel or my right to live my life according to how I feel is hands down the gift my fellow humans have given me that I am most grateful for in this world.

Meaning and larger picture questions have always been important to me. To separate me from what I believe and the experiences I've had just doesn't compute in my mind. I think I'd die, not physically, but in my mind, I would just go away. But I know there are millions of people all over the world who are not allowed to be who they are religiously, sexually, artistically, or otherwise. I feel for them. I support any resistance they choose either personal or political. I can't imagine how painful and hard it must be to know you are something the way you know you have blood moving through you and to not be able to express it.

Ideas are dangerous. To be part of a group that doesn't choose to restrict thought is powerful, especially when that thought is often times wielded against the very institution that protects it.

Freedom is about contradiction. It's fluid and moving and never quite attainable. The concept muddles my mind when I think of it too much because it's all about allowing people to be in any state they choose. There are so many varied and different takes that what freedom looks like has to be just this mass of chaos and anarchy: the guts of humankind if you will all strewn about and turned around. Odd that the image like that makes me hopeful instead of worried when the monicker attached is freedom.

Jul. 1st, 2011

Forgiveness: Ideas I Struggle With

My most basic problem with forgiveness is just that I don't really know what it means. It doesn't mean you forget what happened. It doesn't necessarily mean that the other person doesn't face justice. It doesn't mean that you aren't hurt or that there aren't consequences. It doesn't mean that the relationship with the other person can go back to the same relationship you've had prior. I don't understand what forgiving someone means is all.

Media on this subject is confusing too. Some of them claim forgiving is good for your health. You let go of grudges, you're lighter, you less likely to be stressed or depressed. Others claim that not forgiving is the right thing to do. After all there are somethings that can't be forgiven apparently? Likewise sometimes the stress of trying to let go of an offense is too much. Sometimes remembering why you struggle can motivate someone and move him or her forward. I don't really know because I can't really pin down what forgiveness means or what it does.

Religiously forgiveness is muddled to me. When I was Catholic, of course it was huge within that faith system. Apologizing and forgiving were huge. But it seemed to me that no one ever trusted forgiveness that was given. I wonder what they were looking for and whether they were granting tat something to the people they forgave. I wonder if the kind of offense made a difference in their ability or if like God all offenses are equally grave if you aren't really sorry.

As a kid I remember being forced to accept apologies. I must have been 12 before I realized I didn't have to accept apologies and thinking that perhaps I shouldn't if the other person wasn't sorry or if I wasn't ready to let the slight go. The first time I refused to grant forgiveness, my family took me to meet with our local priest. It was similar to the meeting we'd had prior when I refused to apologize because I didn't believe I'd done anything wrong.

The main difference was that instead of just trying to compel me to say I forgave this other person, my preacher congratulated me on my desire to be honest and knowing my own feelings. He then tried to work me through to the process of forgiveness. This wasn't going to happen. I don't even remember what the slight was now. I remember I was angry, that this was not the first time this person had done this to me and that regardless of whether it was intentional or thoughtless my relationship with this person was going to change. Things weren't going to be the same, I was angry and this person should feel bad, why should I release them of that if their apology only made me more angry? What would the words be for me but noise? My priest tried to tell me intentions count for something and regret should make everything all right. I asked him why should I allow myself to be hurt continually for someone else's thoughtlessness, and then have to accept apology for it. It seemed too close to the victim claiming responsibility and I wasn't about to do that.

Poor Father Connelly, he was completely unprepared for me. I had been stubborn and angry when we'd last talked (and the guy had private chats with me a lot when I was growing up too many theological and complex questions for my parents to deal with). The year in between had made me more articulate in a way he wasn't ready to deal with. Kids don't generally flatly reject a priest's statement or counter it with their own feelings and thoughts. I guess people don't tell priests often that they don't believe not forgiving does damage to their immortal soul, or that if damage is done it is no greater than the damage of issuing a forced false apology would be on their soul, perhaps it's less. People apparently also don't tell priest that they would rather preserve their own souls as best as possible than help someone else's soul through forgiving them. We never spoke to my parents about what specifically had been said between us, only that I would not choose forgiveness and hopefully I'd be in confession soon for this slight.

I was lucky though, my priest didn't scare me, and I was already rejecting the idea that an all loving all knowing God would give me free will and then not intent for me to do what I saw as right. So many of my conversations with the man over the years could have been very intimidating otherwise.

Now a days my Gods say very little, if anything about forgiveness. Divinity is all for letting go of wrongs but this doesn't require forgetting. It's about not letting something ruin me, instead of trying to help assuage guilt in someone else for something they did/caused. I get to say "what you did was wrong, it hurt me and others in these ways and it hurt yourself like this" and then I get to set the conditions of how we move forward and what that incident will mean. I look at bad things as times for teaching and personal growth. Sometimes that growth means I avoid situations or people or tell them off or any number of not helpless open armed turn the other cheek acceptance. I'm not good at accepting when that's the only option provided.

My local God cares nothing for forgiveness. Hir occupation is on change and movement. So long as I'm not stagnant, how I'm keep moving and changing is irrelevant.

And for all this, sometimes I look at people and situations and my Catholic upbringing comes to the front and all I can think is that "This person needs to be forgiven". I suppose it could translate to "this person has baggage that they don't need to carry which correlates to guilt they have to let go and they need someone else to help them with". For me, forgiveness doesn't seem a good venue. Reiki, reflection, conversation with the other that does not have to lead in forgiveness are all possibilities. I just wonder if forgiveness is supposed to be about relieving burdens of others and whether or not the term has implications that are not required to relieve guilt. If so do these implications actually stymy the guilt relief process because we are asking to be healed by the person we have hurt in a way that might further hurt that person.

May. 25th, 2011

Insidious and Hoe it's Lead me to Possession/Other plane Reflections


About two weeks ago my friend and I saw Insidious. We’re completely obsessed with exorcism/possession/devil involved horror movies. Good ones, bad ones, no worth mention: we want to see them all and we have long talks and thoughts about them afterward.

Insidious was one of the good ones. At first glance it looks like it’s going to be Paranormal Activity meets child possession, but the movie strays from that formula into something new and different that the previews didn’t give away before we got to the theater (and that’s saying something because we saw this movie very late in it’s theater life).

Early on, it’s clear there is not something right in the father’s childhood that he or his family has intentionally kept hidden from his wife and children. We were five minutes in and my friend and I we pondering what could be wrong. He’s not real/a ghost: no because too many people have interacted with him who are not family. He’s has a hereditary haunting: no because weird stuff really doesn’t happen around him personally. He’s secretly a physical manifestation of evil in physical form: no because that’s his bio mom and his bio kids and this evil take over probably would have started way earlier since timing hasn’t seemed to be important in the film so far.

Turns out Dad’s an astral projector into the world called “other plane” where apparently lost souls and malevolent spirits chill out together, son has inherited this talent and “gotten lost/trapped” spiritually. These others want control of his body because they envy the corporal apparently and the longer the kid is gone the easier he becomes to possess.

We just started laughing there. How could Grandma have not worried for her grandkids if she had gone through something similar with her own son? Even if she was too worried to mention it when they go married or had children, when the kid falls into a “not comma” that science can’t explain, don’t you pull mom aside and talk to her about some shadowed past? Do you wait three months for things to get desperate? Hell no, you protect yours any way needed!

Ok so child rearing and family loyalty thoughts aside, as a pagan this movie stirs a lot of questions for me I thought I’d just throw out because.

1. Why to “demons” and malevolent spirits always want to possess of physical body? What can we do here that they can’t do there? I know the line is that they envy the living, but why specifically? Why the focus on pain and chaos and how come they can’t achieve these goals as they are?

2. In horror movies do you always view what entities are doing as scary or malevolent? I mean it often escalates to that “evil” vibe, but often these beings seem to start out in ways that I’d consider them just attempting communication? Is there a way to talk to them or to appease them before things escalate?

3. Traditionally I think of our world as the most physical of the worlds, but is there is one that is more material based, would you want to find it and invade it or otherwise alter it? Why or why not.

4. Are our views on demonic possession a reflection of our vanity? That our world is best, most special and that we are somehow envied or chosen? Does this attitude carry over to paganism and your practice?

5. As pagans we often seek to astral project or to interact with other realms, states of consciousness or beings beyond the physical, what are your goals? What are your preparations/protections? Do you think these beings view or have you ever encountered beings that view our communication as scary and threatening as we view their reaching out?

6. Horror movies often ask the audience to accept that we are both helpless against the supernatural and more powerful than they are for example: in Insidious the family could not banish the spirits or pull their son back while in our world, but once the father entered the other plane he became more powerful than the spirits were there because he was alive, it’s an odd contrast between power and helplessness, especially considering the ending—where does your faith stand on this?

7. Almost all modern day possession movies take the Catholic stance that naming acknowledging evil gives the evil power. They are not to engage demons in conversation while attempting to exorcise it, they are not to ever name the demon by name, they are to ignore supernatural tantrums that happen while trying to force the being out and yet, ultimately they have to attack the being directly to force it out. Pagans generally try to start a conversation and acknowledge the being from the beginning, and proceed differently depending on how things develop. Which way do you lean and why?

8. It seems widely acknowledged that the living have more power than the dead in these movies and that trickery or the living person surrendering power to the dead is how spirits and evil triumph—what do you think? Is the physical more powerful than the immaterial? Is experience and wisdom that many ancestors have if they chose to use it so immaterial in a fight? Why wouldn’t a being that knew it’s realm be more effective than an interloper?

9. With Insidious specifically the “other plane” seemed very like a fairy realm, what additions, subtractions, or rule alteration would those who saw the movie have made to the rules of astral travel and that plane if any?

10. Who here wouldn’t love a movie portraying a person’s struggle through the fairy realm? I mean that movie would be the best and it could be sold as an action/horror/fantasy.

Jun. 16th, 2010

My faith wanderings in supposedly problem solution format

Mar. 31st, 2010

On Pagan Narnia and General Thinky-ness

I've been thinking about [info]elfwreck's Journalspherical Religion Talky-Thinkiness post and this one is most definitely inspired by it though not necessarily 100% related.

I suppose this is meta arguing for Pagan flavored writing and what might equate a pagan narnia )

Mar. 25th, 2010

Is Ranting

Mar. 22nd, 2010

Pokemon Pokemon Pokemon

Feb. 27th, 2010

Still Watching the Watchmen

Jan. 3rd, 2010

Domestic Abuse Support- You're Doing It Wrong

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?

Nov. 9th, 2009

1984 Thoughts so Far

"V for Vendetta" both the movie and the graphic novel did it sooo much better. "1984" is one of those books that so far (I'm only a fourth of the way through part three) could have benefited from major editing. I mean this tome goes on and on and on on on about doublespeak. I got the concept the first eighty times. Seriously, the book dedicates over twenty pages and two separate sections to the idea of doublespeak.

Also, I love a good metaphysical discussion as much as the next person, but how long can a dude talk about the realities of history? Some of it might just be that I don't think our current history records or our current reporting styles are so pristine that I can get too worked up about the Ministry of Truth's work. It's bad sure, I don't know if destroys objective history (as such a thing doesn't exist) or if it would bring every aspect of my life and personal thoughts into question.

Whole swaths of women's history and non-white people's history is still trying to be pieced together and learned. Whether or not we know it or understand it doesn't change that it happened.

In the neo-pagan movement one of the many questions that has to be faced if you want to use British witch-craft as a source or Wicca outer court material is whether the history matters. After all, the creations there are new with faked older lineage. If the material is valid regardless of age the good for you and if it's not good, then it's just not going to work with you.

Winston is horrified by something that we all deal with to a certain degree. Maybe it's just one of those horrors you have to be there to really understand-though if that's the case then maybe 1984 shouldn't have relied so heavily on it.

On a completely different note, how come all these super controlled societies are run by men and questioned only by men? I know what you're going to say, Juila is the catalyst for Winston's true rebellion. Without her, Winston would have just gone on being unhappy and frustrated and probably would have one day given himself away without ever experiencing any of the joy of rebellion.

I like Julia. She sneaks around eating good food pilfered from the elite's store. She sleeps with whomever she pleases. She knows where the safe areas are to go to talk or relax. She knows how to hide in plain sight and she can pick out others who are probably doing the same. Why the hell didn't we start the book off with someone who was frustrated with society and doing something about it the way Julia was? Seriously Winston is just a hopeless little whiner before Julia comes along and he would have stayed that way without her.

What gets me the most about the whole situation is even though Winston "loves" Julia and even though he would be nothing without her, he still looks down on her. She doesn't "care" about The Party's motives or larger goals. Julia doesn't get into a froth over who the party is at war with. She's not surprised that they go back and change information to suit their goals and needs, but she's not horrified either.

Of course, Julia doubts the reality of a war at all, something Winston never even considers. She believes The Party is a bunch of liars but she just doesn't care about what the truth is as it doesn't affect her. Julia believes these things are nebulous and far away compared to immediate concerns over the quality of life.

Winston is on such a high horse about the big issues. Something has to be done. The truth has to be preserved. Would he even care if his quality of life hadn't been impacted?

Beyond that, realistically what is Winston going to do? What can anyone in a society set up as Oceania do? Julia is smart enough to see that her acts of rebellion are probably the limit. You could escape into the proles maybe and then create unrest among them strong enough to cause a revolt, though it seems unlikely as Winston doesn't have the skills or the understanding he'd need to do that. You could stand up publicly in the middle of Oceania against Big Brother and be taken and hope other would follow you example, hope somehow that enough people would protest that the thought police couldn't take them all.

It's a hopeless scenario, sometimes surviving and surviving with some private joys has to be enough.

Another thing why would you trust Charrington? Seriously has Winston ever been in another party building without a telescreen? Did he really believe that The Party let people choose to install them and you know Charrington never found the time or didn't have the money or something?

And why wouldn't Charrington have brought Winston in when Winston first bought the journal or when Winston came back for the paperweight or the first time he and Julia met in the room? How much thought crime did he have to show before he got busted? I thought these people just pulled you off the street for looking at people wrong and now they take their sweet time messing with Winston before they take him in. Heck why didn't O'Brien bring him in at his apartment? It all seems really pointless to me.

Winston seemed far too afraid of pain to really be interested in a change. He cowers at the sight of the thought police. He obeys them even though he knows death and pain are unavoidable. I guess fear can do that to you, but all those words about going down swinging and doing anything to attack at the party seem really hollow when he won't even show rebellion or resistance in the face of what is certain death. How long has he been insisting that he is the dead already only to be suddenly afraid all over again when he has to face it?

Some of the torture seems uninspired and I think that Orwell didn't give human resistance enough credit. He made the human spirit's will to live unbelievably strong and yet it's ability to resist change through brutality is unexplored. I don't know, maybe Orwell was on the ball and people completely collapse all the time the minute torture is implemented. I've been led to believe that torture doesn't work partially because people won't give up correct information or any information even.

One thing Orwell did really well was talk about how once someone breaks they will tell you anything to stop the pain. I liked that Winston just confessed and confessed and confessed. I also like the scene where the one emaciated dying man begs to avoid room 101 and says he will tell them anything so long as he knows what to repeat to them.

It's still a chilling read and it's worth the time, I just think it could have been edited some is all. The book really only has 150 pages of plot and general thought in it worth reading the rest of it seems be be repetition because Orwell thought we should be beaten over the head with a concept that is easy to grasp.

Oct. 25th, 2009

A little imagination...

May. 28th, 2009

My First Attempt at a Second person-Clearly too emotional to make it work

In the timeless optimism of the summer, you will make him a promise you can't keep. You're too young too sure, but most of all too hopeful. The warm golden days fill you along with the knowledge that this man-boy is everything you need. He makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. Every move you make is no longer some form of compromise or half bitter.

Of course it will seem reasonable to tell him you love him and promise to move with him and support him. You'll think his bright smile and eyes filled with endless gratitude is a good sign.

Even in your leap of faith, there will be conditions. Your boy needs a job, he must find a way to finish college, and he must have a place beyond the parental home for you to stay at.

You don't believe he'll manage it of course. It makes you sad, but it also comforts you some. The promise to follow him seems a bit silly now. You still love him and the discontent you feel with your surroundings is stronger. Every day you do to a job that's miserable. The call of school can be heard. It promises a change even if it is also something you don't want. Unfortunately, this promise is false. Graduated now and there is no change from one monotony to the others. It's one more phantom limb in your life.

He will do as you ask and he will call for you when least expected. You will be relieved and worried.

Sep. 9th, 2008

Feministe Lipstick Feminist Post Response I guess

I had been on break from feminist blogs for the past month or so.  That happens from time when I get news over load or when I start to feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over again.   I'm tenatively back to reading them. 

Anyhow, my favs are feministe, shakesville, and curvature.  I have another 17 or so that I follow more or less regularly and depending on my mood and the kinds of coverage, I jump favorites too. 

And this is still not on topic.  I really need better focusing skills. 

Anyhow Renee has been blogging over at feministe, though she also blogs at womanist musings.  I always read her posts because I either really agree or really don't with her take.  I find that her style can be really grating, but usually when I stop and really think about why I have a problem with her posts, I learn something new about me or my views.  So keep being conroversial Renee.  

But yes, she's written a post about what she calls
Lipstick Feminism vs Dressing the Part".  I just want to start out by saying that I find the whole premises somewhat insulting.  I know there are feminists who find fashion empowering and feminists who view it as another control instrument for the patriarchy.   I know these women often clash bitterly.  Names are called and feelings are hurt. 

I still think that calling any person or any group a "lipstick feminist" is insultig.  I mean what a person chooses to wear is their choice and even when people do take time and care with their appearance, it doesn't mean that their looks are their main focus, as labeling them by their grooming seems to imply. 

Also drawing a division of either or is a huge problem.  I know "fashion feminists"  and for them it's about looking and feeling good.  They've got quite a few pieces in their wardrobes that  they lik and other women like, but men seem to abhor.  It's hard to argue that these women are slaves to the male gaze (not that women wearing outfits both genders like are).  I also know women who balance comfort and fashion or who acknowledge that some comformity is needed to live in society.  There is a range and I think that most women realize that how one dresses, like many other topics is a CHOICE thing.  Just like choosing to keep an unplanned pregnancy doesn't make you anti-feminist, choosing to wear whatever doesn't make you anti-feminist. 

Another language problem I have is the use of "cat fight".  I know Renee states in the work that she hesitates to use the word, but that's not enough.  Cat fight is a term generally used to lessen or demean conflicts and issues women have with other women.  I don't think its really acceptable to use it, especially on a topic that is stereo-typed as being "cat fightish" the lipsticks vs the baggy shirts and whatever.   I don't know the same person who brought us the post on words used to "silene", "discredit", or "belittle" using those words strikes me as wrong.  

Past the language, Renee has a point and I think it's important to make.  It has me a little sore because as of late, I'll I've heard about is my privledge, but no one seems to be offering things I can do to about that.  I think something that people forget too sometimes (not necissarily Renee, this is more general) that what I can do is limited.  I can't afford to buy sweat shop labor free clothes.  Maybe one or two pieces but not a whole collection.  Even then, where do I go for said clothing that is both fairly mainstreamish, would fit me, and wouldn't break my budget? 

Where is the money to convert from my "gas guzzler" car (which I never considered a Crown Vic to be) to an eco friendly car?   How can anyone expect me to eat food that was grown "earth friendly" and would be better for me?  I mean I can't do it all. 

I have a ton of privledge, no questions, but every cause wants me to step up.  I have to balance all the needs and my personal needs too.  I find it preachy and presumptious on people in general's part to tell me how I should live and to tell me what I have that I should strive to do better with.  I'm doing the best I can.  I like to think that most people are.  However I can't give or give up for all causes either.  Just a thought.  

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 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.