lenora_rose: (Default)
The other day I got a call from Conner Cochran of Conlan Press, mentioning that I had won his monthly draw from all the fans who were at the Last Unicorn tour; any one item from the tour page including expensive prints, etc.

Some of the stuff is really pretty, as I recall from buying during the tour.

I said no thanks. And that was that.

It's notable that he basically said Ok and that he'd draw another name until someone said yes. Notable because it means he gets a lot of people saying No, with or without thanks.

An honest business doesn't get a lot of people who went out of their way to get to a special event, purchased stuff there, and squeed all over a longtime favourite author, to later end up turning down lovely and sometimes fairly costly free stuff.

I wish I'd known about just how skeevy his operation was then; it's soured an event I quite enjoyed at the time, and a meeting with Beagle that I felt was nice.

Some people said they found the way Cochran pushed himself forward creepy and felt like Beagle was squished a bit out of his own event. I have to say I was not one of them.

I was clueless. I thought it was the natural way things fall in the teamwork of a born salesman and an introvert, and Cochran didn't give me quite the crawly feeling some aggressive salespeople do. I could see myself and someone with a bit of showmanship striking a similar balance. Beagle was charming and erudite and talked to fans with some pleasure.

I had no idea Beagle was basically being pushed to exhaustion, all the money from the lovely things there filtered away from him and into Cochran's pocket, and that anyone Beagle tried to talk to alone would get Cochran telling them how old and confused he was -- including cutting Beagle off from his own family.

That Cochran, after getting Beagle out from under a predatory contract, turned around and preyed on him all over again.

I had no idea, since I wasn't planning to buy anything that wasn't on the table at the time, that many, if not all, of the people who did sign up to pre-pay for special packages have never received them, that Cochran keeps promising late and later dates. Up to 12 years. (I did sign up to be notified when the tour book comes out, but wasn't going to pre-pay.)

I did find it unfortunate that the e-mail I sent requesting a copy of the photo taken with me and Beagle never got a reply, but I assumed it was because the tour was busy.

Not until the lawsuit against Cochran and Conlan Press was filed last year, alleging fraud and elder abuse.

It's soured me also on some of the stuff I bought there - not that I would lose one word of the books, and the art is lovely. But now I know Beagle, who was right in front of me, never saw a dime. I'd almost like to pay again, cash straight into his hand - and my only hesitation would be the awkwardness of it. (I wonder if the artists get their payments on time, or demand payment upfront before releasing stock? I hope so, but I have no idea. Fans Against Fraud has a reference to one of the artists not having been paid in full, but it's not one of the ones whose work I paid for.)

This isn't hearsay:

Beagle's legal Complaint

Another legal complaint, from a company that invested in the tour.

Fans Against Fraud (Collects a LOT of pull quotes. gets repetitive, but lays it all out.)

________________


One of the things I got, and it wasn't purchased but won, was a shirt that reads "Damn you, Peter S. Beagle, it's all your fault". It's meant to be referring to the Last Unicorn, and the fact that she's supposedly the first known reference to a female unicorn and unicorns as a feminine thing.

It feels a bit sour now, and I can't wear it.

I have considered marking it with editor's corrections in some form, some red pen to make it better. (The only one I am completely certain about, though, is to strike "damn" and put in "Thank".)

Even then, though, I'm still not positive I could wear it in comfort, and not ever in front of Beagle.

I still like my unicorn wand. I just really wish I knew for sure that THAT artist got her payment.
lenora_rose: (Default)
This story is rocking, practically screaming in some venues, across Canada. I suspect it's hardly a blip in the US.

CBC fired a major radio personality with a highly popular show with no public explanation.

Ghomeshi himself then proceeded to publish a lengthy post (Mostly on facebook but disseminated elsewhere as such things are) which said: I'm into BDSM. *** I did some consensual things with a woman. After we broke up, she started claiming we did non-consensual abusive things. She took her invented story to the media. I told CBC about her wild accusations, presented them proof everything was consented to. They fired me anyhow, to cover their own arses.

This is I should say an unfair rendering of his letter, which on the surface is a remarkably convincing document. It rang all the right bells; big corporation fires perfectly nice person for being part of a subculture it's okay to vilify.

At first I was inclined to believe him. I thought about how rare are false accusations - but rare is not absent, and those real false accusations really hurt, too.

Also, his story version was first out of the gate, which tends to create and set the narrative in peoples' minds unless there's an overwhelming counter-response.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Then the Toronto Star's first news story broke. With not one but THREE women - asking to remain anonymous - reporting non-consensual beating or choking. A story the paper had apparently been working on, and sitting on, for a year, and might not have released now if Ghomeshi hadn't put forth his narrative.

And I was given some pause. ONE accuser leaves a lot of room for wondering. Three false accusations, even in collusion, even anonymous, seems - unlikely?

Still, my attitude was "Let's wait and see." I got at least one highly heated comment for being that moderate, from someone who was SURE he was innocent.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Around now, this comment from a friend of his came out, but I read it rather later in the sequence. Owen Pallett's take.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Then another woman came forward. Then another was interviewed, on CBC's afternoon show. Both still anonymous, but now we had at least one voice speaking directly. And yes, the interview was highly disturbing. No consent - the cornerstone of BDSM. Of ALL sex. Of ALL physical interaction between adults able to consent.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Another very familiar line: people had known; people had whispered. But without anything that could be taken to a court, or a boss.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

At least one person created a twitter account back in April about Ghomeshi that's coming to light again now.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

We are now up to NINE women who've stood up - two of them have allowed themselves to be named.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

The first one named, Lucy DeCoutere, was interviewed on CBC, again, but this time, AFTER she had come forward to other venues. Her story was over 10 years old, but contained most of the same elements. Abruptly hit and choked - not during a sexual encounter, not after any discussion of BDSM, barely inside the door - by someone who afterwards treated the rest of the evening as perfectly normal**. How she could not process it at all, at the time, certainly not enough to come up with any clear response. How sudden unexpected abuse isn't easy to react to.

How, and this is significant, how hearing the other womens' stories convinced her to speak up. But she was the first to put a name to it.

But:

Innocent until Proven guilty.

On the wrong comment threads, she, and all eight other women, have been called liars, and bitches, and attention-mongers, and whores. Or all at once.

There seem to be a number of people who want to believe one man's testimony over that of nine women, some of whom spoke up independently and don't even know the names of the others, making collusion difficult.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

At least one person has cited that there are more false rape accusations than real rapes (Do I even need to say this is a pure lie?), and this is more of the same. I don't want to know if there are more of these than I've personally witnessed. One was enough.

At least one person has said that the fact that so many women are jumping up now is evidence the whole thing is being railroaded.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Several people have said that they're in it for easy money - what money? - or for fame, or for revenge, or for just about any motivation other than "Maybe he did something wrong and should be investigated."

Several people have suggested at least some women might not even know him before they're telling these stories, something they seem to think a reporter doing due diligence might somehow miss.


Multiple people keep asking why they can't keep this whole thing private, and only a few acknowledge that Ghomeshi's letter, not the women speaking up since, is the reason it's in the public eye to this degree.

The fact that nobody went to the police or any other authority* prior to the media story breaking -- even the ones who came out to the media BECAUSE the media broke the story and they would now be heard, a pretty obvious causation - is brought up over and over.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

I've seen some ugly racism crop up against Ghomeshi - mostly to say he could be guilty because he's "one of THEM", not one of us. A way of making him a monster, an OTHER, an equivalent to the rapist in the bushes. A creep whose scary Middle Eastern culture taught him to be evil. Not a liberal Canadian. Not a normal man like me/my husband/my boyfriend/whoever it is we're desperately not trying to vilify today. Notallmen.

(I have no trouble distinguishing my own husband and brother from Ghomeshi without reference to anyone's ethnic origin. Neither of my relatives would beat a woman, and I know more than enough of their exes to know nobody will ever be coming forward making such accusations. I cannot say the same with confidence of Ghomeshi.)

Innocent until Proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty.

Nobody is allowed to suggest he can do wrong without a court of law. Never mind that this is one way to GET him to a court of law.

Do I think he's guilty? I think the evidence is tending strongly that way. That's not a yes. It's a we don't know but we have good reason to believe. It's an I refuse to disbelieve nine women without evidence against THEM, either.

Do I think he should be investigated and charged? Damn straight. That's how you find out the answers.

Or.

At least, it should be and I want to believe that of our courts. We've certainly had proof this isn't always the case. Sometimes, even after conviction.

Do I think it was wrong or inappropriate for these women to go public in the media first?

NO.

Not when the alleged abuser has already had his say in the media.

Also.

I feel like I've seen this before. Maybe more than once. Maybe more than that.

And one thing these cases have in common? GOING PUBLIC FORCES ACTION THAT WOULD OTHERWISE NEVER HAPPEN. And I don't mean that by way of "if you don't report your abuse, it's all your fault if it happens again". That's BS, even if the person making the accusation weren't always treated as a liar, a whore, a gold digger out for wealth or fame. Not treated worse for speaking out or dealing with it..

I mean "Now that you've spoken, others speak."

I mean, "Oh, crap, people are watching. Now that we have witnesses, we're obliged to take this seriously, to not dismiss it the way we really want to. We're going to do it, and with luck, do it right."

Of course, I can't help note, all of the things I mentioned above didn't get dealt with right by the relevant due process. And I don't mean because I didn't like the verdict. The verdict was guilt. What happened afterwards was not just.

They got revisited, sometimes, after public outcry at a blatant, screamingly obvious miscarriage of justice.

So maybe I'm a bit cynical. A bit worried that even the courts won't answer. Even if the evidence is there and the guilt determined.

But we'll be able to watch. Because when it comes to the safety of the people targeted by a probable abuser, the priority isn't perfectly determining legal guilt. The priority is protect them and prevent more abuse. Because the law court can't provide that protection to victims, and future victims are entirely out of its purview. And the whispered warnings that have been happening for years absent that publicity only protected those few who happened to know someone who knows Ghomeshi.

But we'll know at least that here's someone to watch, someone not to trust. Because someone went public. Public knowledge protects everyone.


* One of the first four anonymous ones had reported she made a sexual harassment claim while he worked for CBC, and nothing came of it.

** There's a moment in Labyrinth where a character is telling a story about how she had something similar happen - an unexpected abusive turn in a previously mostly-normal situation, which then reverted to normal and left her half doubting it had even happened. I was worried it was going to ring as extreme and unrealistic to readers. I wrote that scene last November. I could almost have lifted that moment from Lucy DeCoutere's account verbatim. I was chilled.

***I'm not going to further address this side, because while it led to some interesting side conversations, and the public examination of an interesting point of law, it's a red herring.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
Not sure this is a terribly profound thought, but lately it has been my thinking, and it seems to hold up against a large number of tests, that a lot of modern conflicts - between genders, between political sides, among policies - can be summed up as a battle between compassion, and the desire to feel superior.

Complaints about the welfare system or publicly supported health care? On one side, "We don't think any person should starve or die of preventable sickness just because they can't afford food and hospital time o their own." versus "*I* work to earn my benefits. *They* just laze around getting money for nothing." A feeling of superiority over the poorer person. (Also a divide and conquer tactic by the rich to keep the almost-poor and the poor from noticing who's really taking all the money. But then again, when you look at the weapon used...)

Complaints about feminism and women's rights? (Or anti-racism. Or Gay Rights. Or trans* rights) A disturbing number of them boil down to "I see the women/black/gay as my inferior (and my potential property). I am better than them." Which is often defeated by people who actually look at what the experience of being (female, gay, black, trans*) is like. (Superiority is the tool of the Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminist, too; cis women are "better" than trans women in that worldview. Before yet another person brands me a man-hater.)

I'm also at a loss to see where superiority over another group EVER has remotely the benefits of compassion to society as a whole, rather than to a handful of often already-on-top individuals.

And I'm finding it a good way to frame things to make me rethink some of my own blind spots; am I just doing this because I feel superior? If so, what makes me think I am?

Discuss?
lenora_rose: (Default)
“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

The above quote is one of many that live on the sidebar at Making Light. And it doesn't just apply to organizations. If anything, it seems to me to apply even more strongly to ideologies.

There's a Buzzfeed post that's ostensibly a privilege test but makes me wonder if it wasn't designed by someone who disagrees with the concept of social privilege and really wants to undermine people who actually try to use the concept in their discussions.

I do have some issues with the idea of privilege, and Nimue Brown here lists an entire set of ways it's overused and misused, many of which are worth discussing. As I say in a tl:dr comment to Nimue Brown's article, I find the problems with it to be balanced by the things the concept has allowed us to talk about that we previously couldn't address, but I did see where she was coming from.

But. This quiz.

So, I get about a 62/100, "yes you are somewhat privileged", which seems fair; I'm a bisexual woman, but I live in a country and a family and among subcultures where my sexuality is a serious non-issue, and on every other axis, I'm basically well off (White, in Canada, middle-classed now and always have been, cisgender, able-bodied, married to a man, in a Christian church, neurotypical, College degree.) If anything, I think my score ought to be higher (more privileged). The only things I could do to be more privileged are to be male (assigned so at birth, that is), be completely straight, and be outright rich.

But I know several people who got scores in the 30s and 40s that don't feel the test remotely accurately describes their actual level of privilege - they are in their own opinion and awareness much more privileged than that reflects. (One of them was a straight white male in a steady job who owns a home.)

In other words, the test is confirming the opinion of those opposed to the concept of privilege, and those who agree with the concept are finding it unsatisfying and inaccurate.

Just going through the test, I could see why.

1) It assumes, but does not say, that this test is skewed to the US first, to North America in general second, and to Europe and European Colonies/ex-Colonies overall.

Living in North America, with the probable exception of living on a First Nations Reserve, already adds a pile of privilege points. More in Canada with its vastly greater access to health care. I understand that no such test can cover all the world but failing to acknowledge that focus in the preamble is already a serious point against the test genuinely trying to show the variety of privilege.
__________

2) All questions are weighted equally. Thus "I've never been raped" is counted the same amount of privilege as "I don't know what Sallie Mae is." or "I feel myself to be physically attractive." Really?

I can quite easily come up with two sets of five questions each out of this list which would reveal VASTLY different levels of privilege or lack thereof to the majority of readers. Weighting the questions as more than one point each out be tricky, as the exact severity of each is subjective, but not to the tune of a near thirty-point difference between me and someone who would look substantively similar in privilege to me from an external perspective.
__________

3) it doesn't account for temporal change. Some of the privileges, such as weight, health, and money/class, can and have changed for some people over time. These leave scars, I grant you (Abuse even more so), but to the extent that a person who *ever* suffered them is forever and always counted as exactly the same level of privilege they were at *while* they were happening? A poor kid who is now as an adult working a well paying job with a good education is still counted as a poor kid who lacks money/class privilege. Sorry. I was sexually assaulted *once* when I was twelve. As a 37 year old woman, this is NOT something I think reduces my privilege to the same degree as it would someone to whom it was fresh.
__________

4) Let's count.

Of the questions:
- 9 are about race, though you can count 2 or 3 of the ones about religion as having crossover here.
- 14 are about sexuality
- 3 are about transgender, genderqueer and fluid gender identity.
- 5 are clearly meant to be about sexism (Focused on male/female gender relations), but some also apply to more fluid gender identities.
- 2 are sexual harrassment/assault, and rape, which sorta fit with gender but should be their own thing.
- 23 are wealth/class.
- 8 are education related, but with a strong overlap with wealth. (I will note I put "I had my own car in High School" under wealth not education.)
- 3 are questions about one's parents.
- 12 are questions about mental and physical disabilities, if you count the one about *affording* a therapist as in this category and not yet another one about wealth, and if you count the "I've used prescription drugs recreationally", which, um, what? Also, NB, only TWO of these questions are about physical disability, and one is the ability to afford medication, which, again, yet more overlap with wealth-as-privilege.
- 4 are questions about weight and "attractiveness".
- 11 are questions about religion, though a couple of them cross over into the "Race" category above.
- 2 are about bullying, and
- 4 are about general comfort with one's own identity.

0 about age, and there are issues with how we treat the elderly. 0 about abuse outside the sections on rape and bullying. While I agree that "Not abused" really shouldn't be considered a "privilege" by the original definition of the word, once you're including bullying and sexual assault, that argument is long out the window.


Are we actually saying that a poor cis straight Christian white able-bodied person is seven times as oppressed as a transgendered person? Are we saying that being raped is twenty-three times less damaging than poverty? Does someone gay/lesbian get hit with four times as much prejudiice and phobia as someone transgendered?

NB: I am *NOT* doubting or dismissing poverty as a major source of prejudice, or a badly ignored injustice or something we should be doing our best to eradicate. It's BIG. Jesus was all about taking care of the poor, and so should we be. But this test literally spends more questions on poverty than it does on race and religion combined.

If this test is in fact designed by someone to mess with the idea of privilege, making sure that any white male who's counted pennies EVER (even if it was years ago) shows up as just as little privileged as a black lesbian is a sure way to stir up trouble.

______

5) Some specific questions feel painfully badly chosen or badly written:
- I have never been the only person of my race in a room.
This one is the THIRD question, and it's the most amazingly poorly phrased question. ANYONE who has ever been alone in a room is the only person of their race present. BY definition, I qualify right this instant. Even if one accounts for the need to have another person present for the question to be fair, well, I would only have to talk alone once with one person of another race to qualify. I could even be using racist language that would embarrass Vox Day while I harangued them and yet I could use it as an excuse for not having to check off this box and admit to being privileged.

I took a couple of bus routes to work for a while that, going through a neighbourhood that's predominantly First Nations and new immigrants, occasionally meant I really was the only white person in the space for the duration of a stop or two. I still checked this off, because I knew what the question *meant*, and there was nothing about taking that particular bus or those particular couple of minutes that threatened me or isolated me racially in a way that was meaningful to my life. Not the way being the *one* black person in a college class, or the one Asian in a company staff meeting does.

- I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
I know white people who would count any request to leave a "Blacks only" or "First nations meeting" immediately as discrimination and check this off. Question as written feeds the trolls.

- I have never been called a racial slur.
I call *myself* a honky. Does that count? Obviously not, but again, those who want to bend the definitions of the test can, quite easily... the guy who sneered at the burlesque fundraiser for a women's shelter as "Do-good white people" was an ignorant jerk, but I don't call that set of words, even with their acknowledgement of the race of the majority, a racial slur the same way the n-word is.

Moreover, under the sexuality part of the questionnaire, they ask three questions about sexuality based slurs. Which immediately treats being called a "fag" *and* a "fairy" once each as twice as bad as a black person being called the n-word on multiple occasions. Which, pardon me, but note which one I don't feel I'm able to WRITE without crossing a line.

- I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted.
These are not ONE question. This is two questions. The difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault is not small. Someone who HAS suffered both should damn well be granted two points against privilege. (I say that having been assaulted but *not* harassed.)

- I don’t know what “Sallie Mae” is.
I didn't, but not because I didn't get student loans... wrong country, dude.

- I’ve used prescription drugs recreationally.
Maybe this is a marker of privilege because it's something only more well off people can do? I mostly just don't get its relation to the actual concepts of privilege.

- I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender, or salesperson.
Because these are the only minimum wage or near options out there? Or maybe working an "unskilled" job in a factory doesn't count because... ? This could have so easily been fixed with "I have never worked for an income below a living wage" or some equivalent.

- There is a place of worship for my religion in my town.
I wouldn't have seen a problem with this one, but at least one person said that as an agnostic, they still felt they didn't have a place of worship. Which I think is "Spirit vs. letter" fuss - but then again, it does fit into "Only member of your race in a room" level of poor phrasing to even allow for that kind of misinterpretation.
lenora_rose: (Default)
I'm not pregnant, again.

No miscarriage, unless it's the kind you can't tell from a regular period. Just not pregnant. But I'm more depressed about it than usual.

And yet, it, and some coincidental reading, and some stuff about Joseph, all have me thinking again about the hard world of child raising, and trying to have kids, and choosing not to try to have kids. Then I ran into these (Because I've been reading her Narnia Deconstructions, but a few months behind, and slipped into the Storify one, and linked back to the older one from there...)

And in some ways, even though our situations as regards EVERYTHING (fertility, cause of failed pregnancies, efforts to get pregnant, even feelings about wanting children ahead of time) are different - I felt like I had seen a strong mirror of my own feelings. (Also, some serious WTF??? about the Grown Babies in Heaven from every lost zygote. Like, nuclear explosion degrees of WTF???)

The miscarriages were alive enough to me to have possible names, if only after the fact (Names I would never have applied to an extant child and names that are no-one's business but mine and Colin's), but they were mourned as she says; as potential, not actual children. It was losing a whole attachment of dreams (Dreams that didn't cover half the reality I already face, but she talks about that, too) -- but it was not half of what losing Joseph on the day of his birth, when he was a real and whole and solid BABY, would have been. And it is NOTHING, and I repeat that with huge emphasis, to what losing him now would do.

Potential, not Person

Storify: Infertility and Abortion

I wonder what it is about having faced the consequences of our own reproductive efforts (None of which actually WERE abortion in either my case or Mardoll's) that makes it so very clear why reproductive choice, including abortion, is so very important? Maybe it's because it's us, not some abstract woman, and our zygotes and fetuses and babies, not some abstract "Fetuses are babies" platonic ideal. (I held and touched one of those fetuses, an inch or so long at the time, and I knew exactly hat I was holding, and it was devastating -- but it was not a baby.)
lenora_rose: (Default)
First things first: I wasn't offended by this particular meme by any legitimate definition of offended. I had little emotional reaction even when I thought "Oh, yeah, that's not really right." When I hit the comments and the claim about its context, I had a bit of an emotional reaction but not one I could describe as "Offended". It was too mild for that.

But I do think it deserves a closer look and some thinking.

This is the meme I saw pop up a few times today, and which a couple of people on my friends list shared or linked automatically, usually with a comment on it making them cry or making them think.

Things in Perspective

I saw the first couple of shots in it, and I kinda nodded, as one does. Yes, we have it a lot better overall. At least in part because some people go out and do hard things so we don't have to.

Then, the second juxtaposition made me say, "Hmmm."

And as I went on I had less nodding, "Yes this is perspective" and a lot more "Something's not right here."


_______

Thinking #1: What qualifies as trivial?

I have a friend. Not one of my closest friends, but a friend. We've helped each other move, hung around, and sometimes even regretted not hanging around more. But only sometimes.

This friend had a hard life. Living on her own at 13 levels of hard. Things were very bad for a long time, but I won't give more details even of the details I know. She's picked herself up a lot since those days, and is doing well by most peoples' criteria.

Which is part of why very few people can ever tell her if they feel that something is going badly.

Because she is the sort of person who does seem to sometimes take some pleasure in having had it worse. Because she can be remarkably unsympathetic to people whose problems are less bad than hers.

One of the things that warranted one of the header posts for the Dysfunctional Families threads on Making Light was this very point: "... the doubt whether one’s own situation is “bad enough” to be a problem." A commenter going by Laura in that thread had this to say about it: "Trauma dick-sizing is overrated. If it hurts you, it counts, and you're allowed to feel something about it, and to process those feelings."

It's also pointed out that it's often people whose feelings have been dismissed or outright ignored who wonder this.

I feel that a lot. I grant you there are some genuinely trivial problems in the world: "My latte is too hot" is a favourite example. On that very meme, "Wishing Summer would come quicker so you can wear your favourite clothes again" definitely qualifies. There are some things that people gripe about that make me think, "Oh, you poor unfortunate." in the most dripping sarcasm.

But several of the pictures in that meme have another message. Several of the slogans on the pictures could be as easily applied to people suffering depression. Could easily be applied to the state of the economy, the environment, or education.

"Wodnering how your future will turn out to be" could be the easy idling of a middle or upper class girl debating which college will accept her or whether she can afford a trip to South Asia before she continues school. Or it could be the question it's almost impossible even to contemplate for the person trying to figure out how to escape severe poverty. The person in the refugee camp in one of the very other images.

"Missing your old friends" might just mean they're now at a different school and you see them less. Or it could mean they've crossed the continent and live in another city. Or it could mean, even for a teenage girl, they've passed away. I consider myself lucky: I lost nobody significant to me in my school years. But we had a teen die in the year ahead of me in my school. And the year after. And one boy beaten into an extended hospital stay. I'm pretty sure their friends and even some "Mere classmates" missed them. And maybe they looked at pictures of their dead or battered friends that were as goofy and fun-filled as the picture of the girls in Mario and Luigi costumes, and wept over them?

Some of the others, like the second one, are flags for depression, which is a genuine non-trivial medical condition for many, and potentially deadly.

Maybe it's the fact that if I were stopped on the street and asked to name 5 people I know with depression, I doubt it would take me 10 seconds (It didn't when I tried it earlier today. Or just now -- and one of the names changed.) And that I know of a few people (Not necessarily the SAME people) who have made genuine suicide attempts. (And some who made cry for attention suicide "attempts", which I can't entirely take lightly either, because even if their life is not in the same danger, you can't say everything is really okay when that's what they feel it takes to get attention.)

Thinking #2: Teenage Girls

And I wonder how many of those "trivial" Justgirlythings problems would look less trivial if a different face was applied to the picture.

I wonder if some of the slogans would look less trivial if they were applied to images of the elderly ("Not being able to fall asleep because you're constantly remembering the past, present, and future", or "Not being able to live with your best friend" or "remembering is easy, it's the forgetting that's hard") instead of teenagers, and how many to images of men instead of women. In obviously impoverished settings.

Of the "serious pictures", the images of wartime, two feature women. One is a group of refugees. One is a widow. There are no pictures of women in service. They at least covered a range of ages. (On BOTH sides there is exactly one black person and nobody obviously any other non-white racial background, but I leave it to people better versed in racial issues to unpack that.)

But all the pictures, being taken from some girly source, are teen girls. Usually in some setting that usually hints that they at least have money and comfort.

This erodes what good message there is. Because there *is* something to be said sometimes for looking at the state of the world and some of the places in it and saying, "Y'know, my problems ain't so bad." There's something to be said for remembering that soldiers have a hard life with a huge danger of death or dismemberment or trauma. It's worth honouring them. (Though I don't think this meme honours them.)

But the actual takeaway is "No teenage girls have real problems. Ever. And almost no grown women either. Take men seriously. We do all the really hard work. We have the real problems. We're the only ones who really suffer and die."

I was a middle-classed white teenage girl. I had a lot fewer problems than I thought I did. This is flat truth.

But I call bullshit on extrapolating this universally.

Thing is, though, at first I thought this was accidental, reflexive sexism creeping in as an unintended second message.

If one commentor is to be believed, I was wrong.

Thinking #3: 4chan

One of the comments fairly far down notes that this meme actually originated in 4chan on a weapons board, and was meant to be funny. The person who noted this also thinks they are hilarious, and suggests that maybe other people haven't seen enough images of war. Which I think is ridiculous: "Look, you aren't desensitized enough". However, he is right that whoever posted these images saw them in their original context in 4chan and KNEW THAT.

I have a natural revulsion for 4chan, as one of the few places that has ever given me a true full visceral case of revulsion and horror at the sheer true level of hatefulness out there. So here I'm not, perhaps, wholly unbiased. She understated.

Nonetheless, I think this is an issue in itself.

A lot of people, seeing mostly the "servicemen, veterans, refugees and people in prison camps know true suffering that we in the free world don't", felt it was touching. Them, I have no beef with, though I think it's worth thinking about the first two points above a bit before agreeing with it 100%.


But knowing this was meant to be funny puts a whole nastier spin on it. It means that a lot of those faces of serious and suffering servicemen aren't meant to make you feel for them or what they're going through.

They're meant to be looking at the teenage girls with their first world problems and saying the equivalent of "LOLWHUT?"

Which is something on the order of the opposite of honouring soldiers or veterans. "Let's use your pictures to mock and deride others" is not honouring.

It being 4chan based, and intended as humourous, also almost certainly means the negativity towards women is not accidental, it's the actual true point of it. Because there is no (intended) message about the worth of veterans. There is only the intent to point and laugh at the women.

(It also implies something to me about why it's so pasty pale aside from the last image, and that's a whole other ugly thought.)

Of course, the other "perspective" message is there. That it was unintended can't erase it. But it can taint it.

Someone (two someones possibly but one was a vague enough comment to be unsure) also made a claim that one of the pictures of soldiers is of the Nazi army. I'm not that good with uniforms or context, if this is 4chan based and intended as humour, I can see that being inserted as an extra joke for the people who do know their military. And that adds the message, "Even the Nazis had more real problems and deserve more sympathy than first-world white teenage girls."

_________________

White Middle-class-and-up North American teenage girls are some of the more privileged people in the world, probably behind only white middle-class-and-up North American teens and men and some parts of Europe. A lot of them badly need a bit of perspective about their problems versus the level of drama they make. I sure did.

But it doesn't mean it isn't possible for genuine trauma to happen to such a person.

I did study the World Wars, and something of Korea and Viet Nam. I've been alive for two Gulf Wars and know servicemen and women current and recent. I think we do badly by our soldiers.

But I don't think a meme with so much underlying unpleasantness is anything like the way to honour their work or be touched thereby.


I don't have to be offended at a problematic thing to note that hey, something here is problematic.
lenora_rose: (Default)
A point I think should be made to ALL publishers. Diversity doesn't just happen.

Spellbound Submission stats.

The money quote (emphasis mine):
"Out of eighteen issues, over a span of five years: I have received more submissions that aren’t either specifically based in a North American or Western European setting or based in a pseudo-medieval European setting for this one issue than all other combined."
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
I owed someone an apology the other day. Some people may recognize the phrase as there were witnesses, but I am being intentionally vague as the exact situation is potentially distracting from the point.

The situation was not entirely one-sided but it was obvious this other person felt hurt by what I had said, and that part of their lashing out was because of that hurt. My words had been intended to provoke a different response, but that was not what happened. Instead, they did injury.

I made the choice to address the fact that I'd hurt them rather than elaborate on the more complicated parts; which may be necessary in some future time, but would only at this moment increase the bad feeling all around. I chose to apologize.

In this situation, specificity as to what is being apologized for was necessary enough that "I apologize" or "I'm sorry" alone would not suffice. I needed to note it was the hurt, not some other part of the interaction, being addressed.

So I typed.

And the apology came out of my fingers as:

"If you were hurt by words, I apologize."

Actually, it came out with another more weaselly word in it than that, which I deleted immediately (recognizing it as a product of the part of me that wanted to bring up the other stuff now, and damn any bad feeling that caused). Which caused me to reread, and see what I'd really said.

I'm actually grateful that my snark almost slipped free, because I might have otherwise missed the damned "If" even as I was trying to make a proper and sincere apology. Because I didn't mean it, so I wouldn't have typed it, right?

Wrong, apparently. I've read too many apologies that included that sort of if. It came out automatically.

"If"

In this situation, that is the worst weasel word possible.

It suggests maybe the other person isn't really hurt, that they're faking the feeling or just plain don't have the capacity to feel such a thing. It suggests that I the high and mighty have a better idea what they feel than they do. It suggests that an apology should be conditional. "If, and only if you *really truly* feel this way and *really truly* prove you deserve it do I apologize. Otherwise, screw you."

Except that I know this person well enough to know they really were hurt.

That was the polar opposite of what I was trying to do with my apology.

I stared at it a while, then deleted those two letters and wrote instead,

"As you were hurt by my words, I apologize."

"As" pointed to the hurt as the cause for the apology, which implicitly affirms that the feeling is real and recognized. Much better.

(Later still I figured I could have made it shorter and simpler still by one tweak of punctuation: "You were hurt; I apologize." But by then I had sent my apology into the world.)

I hate that if. I have read rants far longer than this on why that "if" is pernicious and usually only used by people in the most insincere fauxpologies. I know better than to use that "if". And it still came out of my fingers.

This is why it helps to look at every word that comes out, however quickly and casually written. Things that seem easy, one short simple line, turn out not to be. We're sometimes trained and conditioned in ways we don't even catch until later.

I could have had my entire intent wiped out completely by two characters.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
- Today is the day the second of Colin's best friends (And his roommate, another good friend if not quite as close) leaves town within the last half year. I wish Nathaniel (and P.) well, but I suspect that there are going to be some gaps ion our world in the next while. One or both of us did get to see them four out of the last five days, so we managed a lot of goodbyes. They're going to be living in BC, not too close to Colin's parents, but near enough that when we visit, we will be able to make a trip out to see them.

- We have a kitchen sink again! (Actually, we had it in working order yesterday) This after over a week of not having one. It would have been less but Colin was sick this last weekend. In other words, kitchen cupboard installations continue only slightly behind schedule, and it will look good when it's through. Naturally, on the days my father in law can't do quite as much because Colin is gone, he's found other side projects, or we've had other things break down, or in one case, the attempt to fix a minor issue lead to discovering it's a bit more intensive a repair than first thought (That would be the main floor toilet, alas.) So he's stayed busy. And the results are decidedly worthwhile, even if we ahve had to occasionally do interesting things like figure out how to wash dishes in a pair of pots and a bathroom sink, or sort the dishes from the tools.

- JoJo managed to be green again yesterday. I turned my back while getting his breakfast ready, even though he'd made it into the kitchen (Not a place he's usually allowed, and never unaccompanied, during the reno), turned back to him, and there it was around and in his mouth. I do NOT know for sure what he got into; I scoured the kitchen for every possible source (and most of the main floor for every possible greenish substance) and found nothing at all that could turn him green, never mind nothing poisonous. (Everything dangerous that was under the kitchen sink is in the bathroom he is NOT allowed into).

Right now my best theory is that he found some small fragment of his green crayon (Most of which is up here), and it's just that, like with his first encounter with it, the colour spreads amazingly once dissolved.

In any case, he didn't appear to suffer ill effects - after I'd cleaned his mouth as best I could, I fed him breakfast, on the reasoning that if it was dangerous, diluting it was a good first step, and watched him all day for anything out of the ordinary. He was fine, though his diapers got interesting later. He's been fine today, too. But wow, it really does take no time at all...

- One of the first things I did upon getting the e-reader was to look through my own book. It's ... an interesting experience. I did find three typos, only one of which (Free reign instead of free rein, because it's a personal peeve) did I manage to report to Raechel, so if you spot the other two, which are places two words run together, let her know!

BUt the part that interested me is seeing something I wrote in 2004 but have no chance to edit or amend. Normally, there's a difference between reading my prose and someone else's. When I spot something I would want to edit in someone else's work (This happened a lot reading Tamora Pierce recently - more than it did in Illusion of Steel, and no, I am not saying I am a better writer than someone so oft-published, though it does give me a kind of hope -- we're writing for different audiences with different expectations), I know it's hands-off. When it's my own, I can simply tap a few keys and voila. Fixed. So reading a work of my own that's about nine years old, knowing I can't tweak it, gives me a little bit of an itch.

It could have used the edit. I've improved as a writer. I can see a number of ways I would tidy the prose. Mostly, as ever, tightening it up. Shaking out some of the formalities in the dialogue, so that people sound a little more natural, (or at least if they don't it's obviously on purpose).

At the same time, I'm relieved that to my eye, the plot hangs together, and overall it works as a story (Someone else can of course disagree and pick it apart. I'd be curious.) I like the dealing with the souls in the sword, and the multi-generational complexities, and the past not being left behind. I like Kanna, and her wariness and her refusal to dwell on nasty stuff, and I hope it came across to others as it does to me that it's a character trait, not a failure on the writer's part to account for the traumatic nature of trauma. I was kind of sad I hadn't been able to flesh out Daemon a bit more, but there's no room. There's no saving it from the "He's evil, I say EVIL!" of the villain, it doesn't work if he's not.

It was, as one says, the best I could do at the time I did it. It's not bad, just not ideal. I'm not ashamed of its flaws. A little chagrined longing to take it back in and see what I could make of it now is reasonable, as long as I don't actually do so. It would be stupid to refuse to forgive my younger self for being younger.

I have other stories to tell in the now.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
I Really need to buckle down on this stupid book if I really intend it to be done before the baby makes an appearance.

Of course, things were complicated by going back to make a POV change for several major scenes. I had to go through the scenes a couple of times to be sure where I should have the changes, which I can't do easily on the Dana, so the usual solution of "Run off to the library to type without distractions" wasn't as feasible as it should be.

__________________

Green Arrow: Year One (Andy Diggle and Jock)

This comic is four years old, nigh on five, so not exactly new, but I decided to pick it up because I always liked Green Arrow, and a Year One story, being a retelling of a character's origin, is going to be a newcomer-friendly entry point. (Not, I grant you, usually a major issue with your average superhero, but I've read enough other comics of other genres, especially manga, where that isn't the case, I'm allergic to reading too much out of order).

Anyhow, I recall the Green Arrow origin story always involved him being stranded on a random island with a bow and a need to survive. I don't recall if it always involved discovering criminals on said island, and beating them to get off, but it sounds like typical super-hero stuff, and that twist didn't feel new.

This version of the story is well written considering how much was crammed into its length, and the usual restrictions and assumptions of comic-book heroism (this version of Green Arrow is right back to maiming rather than killing people, and devising trick arrows to prevent needing to shoot deadly bolts at anything other than animals), but falls right into the obnoxious, noxious and undesirable territory of "What these people need is a Honky" when the current incarnation of criminals on the island turn out to have enslaved the local population (Those they didn't just murder and dump down a well -- that particular discovery scene was... effective), to grow their massive secret poppy crop. Of course, they're helpless to save themselves until some blond guy comes by and does it for them. I *don't* recall the original story being one of these, so if I'm right, that's a regression.

On that basis, I'd dismiss it as an uninteresting entry. But there's *one* character who does interest me, because in a story whose base narrative type was a bit less pernicious, she could have been a lot more. Taiana first appears as a helpless slave, heavily pregnant. She looks like a wide-eyed innocent with the only note of interest being her willingness to approach the site of a helicopter crash and try to help the men therein. Classic lovely native waif stuff, also classic set-up for the person who draws the Honky in to the local culture if anyone does (In this case, there's no time for that step in the mini-series, so they skip nigh straight from "White man meets natives" to "white man saves natives".)

However, on her reappearances, it turns out that Taiana is a fully-trained doctor, even if one forced to work with primitive tools, and a calm leader of her people. When Green Arrow is slow getting back to rescuing the slaves, she makes her own attempt to free them, which GA mostly aids and abets by creating a distraction to keep her from getting shot in the back. She's the one who gets the slaves to a boat, and finds them guns. Ultimately, she saves his life at least once by pointing a gun at someone (But not shooting, of course. The only people who kill are bad guys.) And, if certain hints in the last pages are to be taken, is doing the last section while in early labour (She gives birth pretty much instantly once her people are free).

I'd call that a thoroughly awesome character, and I would totally read a book just about her and what she does then and afterward (Opening a free clinic, or a series of them, wrangling to get adequate medical supplies against the odds, turning over assumptions about what her people, and particularly a woman therefrom, can do, all while raising a toddler alone) ... except that she spends too much dialogue telling Oliver Queen he's important and he's special and he made all the difference. Because that's the narrative voice of the "What these people need is a honky". (To some degree, it's also a part of this mini-series being Green Arrow's story, and partly a flaw in superhero comics that the super-hero must always be the most important person). But it doesn't matter how awesome the woman who does it all backwards and in high heels while heavily pregnant is. The guy has to be that little bit better -- or at minimum, she has to think so.

_______________

There are times I really want to write the story of Therien Damina.
The gist of the story idea is, he comes to the New World with the Hudson's Bay Company (And yes, there's a background story behind someone with a French name ending up with a British company -- but I don't know that one), and starts to talk to the native population. But then Therien, in his eagerness to help and his too-shallow understanding of the Cree nation, makes some severe mistakes and screws up royally, causing the actual central problem (the only part of which I really know at this point is that it involves a very angry Bear Spirit, which he reads as A Bad Guy, something to be rid of, when it's nothing of the sort). Things only get better when he gets out of the way of the Cree people and lets them fix what he made wrong. The actual heroes I rather intended to be the elders of the people, with some hope that, with sufficient study, I can be sure the ultimate hero is a woman.

Then there are all the times I know why this story is not for me to tell. At minimum, not yet. No chops, no research, no research discipline, not nearly enough grasp of the history or the people. Not nearly enough of the actual story nuggets (Most of which would need to come from the research - even the bear spirit thought popped up due to an essay read for another subject - so won't hit spontaneously the way that the Serpent Prince plot kernels did, which only required looking at an extant story sidelong and asking a stupid question.)

_______________

A thought I mentioned in passing a few times, but which I think is worth chewing on.

When shopping for baby clothes, I looked at what i have so far, and the question "what if we're all wrong and this turns out to be a girl?" popped up.

My conclusion on the spot, and which still seems true looking at what I have, seems to be that there's not a thing clothes-wise that i wouldn't also put on a girl, no problem. NO shade of green or blue that screams boy to me, though some will to other people, no depiction of animals, or dinosaurs, or rocket-ships, that couldn't be put on a female body. The only one that felt even fractionally iffy was the one with the construction trucks, and that one I probably wouldn't have bought for a boy, either, left to my own devices (mom did. And it's pale blue and fuzzy, so I decided it was acceptable.)

The reverse would not have been true. There are still some colours (and I include colours I like, like lavender, not just the pinks I often don't) and some subjects that I would have bought for a girl and hesitated about using if surprised by a boy.A girl can wear blue, dammit, and who cares if she's taken for a boy by random strangers, but a boy can't wear lavender with flowers. Gasp. He might be *mistaken for a girl*. And that would be awful.

Fortunately, I don't seem to have this same sticking point, so far, about picture books (The only children's playstuff I have already in the house besides the everygender-safe stuffed animals), whose stories might actually influence the growing mind, or about most toys (The majority of baby toys and many toddler toys I've seen are pretty gender neutral. This changes as they get older, and turns into a whole different ball game. But the worst examples of female-gendered toys, the ones I would consider the least suited to give to a boy, are the ones *I* didn't much play with as a child and wouldn't buy -- like Barbie.)

But I do see this as a hint of what has been pointed out about current attempts to address gender equality - girls can be more masculine than they used to be and still be girls, but woe betide the boy who is feminine.* Even though the latter takes (at least) as much personal courage.

(Random side point. I've always thought I'd take "men's rights" groups more seriously if, rather than wanting to reclaim already-masculine things from those grubby female hands, they wanted entry into traditionally female spheres. If, rather than wanting to have men-only gaming groups to counter womens' desire to occasionally game with each other instead of always pushing into a male-majority space, men's rights advocates wanted to have men's nights that involved giving one another manicures, or learning embroidery and crochet, instead of being the minority, if present at all, at famale-majority get-togethers of this kind. And that's before you get to the "Men's Rights" types who are effectively rape apologists, a group for whom I have two words.)


* Transgender and genderqueerness add piles of complication on both sides. This point, however, is mostly about the cisgendered cissexual boy who still likes 'girly' things, or the cisgendered cissexual girl who likes "boy stuff".
lenora_rose: (Gryphon)
Unhappy first. Colin apparently fell today while working and is in Misericordia getting his elbow checked. The pre-hospital guess, it sounds like, is that it's *not* broken. But better to be sure.

Of course, this is more than one kind of bad news. I mean, I think it would suck enough that he's hurt himself - whatever way it turns out he's done so.

But of course, we were supposed to be emptying the cupboards on the back wall of the kitchen so we can remove said wall, along with the electrical work Colin was doing (And cleaning the kitchen is one place I can actually help...). The electrical inspector is due Friday unless we call to change the appointment.

I want him to come home with good news...
_______

The happy is much more personal. I was blathering on not long about about both wanting to force some structure on this last part of the damn book so it wasn't all hobbits soldiers walking. AND that I was looking at a dearth of female characters. But of course I couldn't change another soldier to female because of course, the lack of people of the opposite sex is a plot point.

Except it isn't, quite. A lack of people Ketan would desire to have sex with is. And in fact, it's mentioned that there's at least one female around who's the right age and not physically, mentally or emotionally repulsive that just isn't right for him.

There's also a soldier for whom he develops a strong brotherly feeling (Ketan adopts siblings. Sort of like I occasionally have, or Branwen. This would be the third, at least that he acknowledges as the same. I think it's the fourth, but I'm the writer.) A soldier who's in a kind of odd limbo since, as a wizard, he doesn't quite fit traditional rank structure, and as the son of one of the lieutenants, he's kind of treated slightly differently (Not better or worse, but differentiated...)

And suddenly, looking at him, flipping his gender... makes sense of a whole lot of things. Like how and why this particular group is unique in having a female Sergeant. And really, being female doesn't suddenly make this character any more suited to wanting or having sexual relations with Ketan. See again - brotherly feeling. And, as an aside, I HATE how every time someone in TV or many books professes brotherly/sisterly feelings, it turns out at least half the duo does have unrequited romantic feeling. It would be nice to show adopted siblings who feel as I've always felt about mine - pretty consistently not interested, even on those occasions I've seen them look particularly aesthetically pleasing/kick-ass/sexy.

Anyhow, I tried it on yesterday, and yes, she already has her own way of speaking, and it's kind of fun to write her.
lenora_rose: (Default)
(If you want baby thinkies or renovation updates or the like, ask me later. There's stuff going on, to be sure.)


Getting closer and closer to the end of Soldier. And oh boy is this last segment going to need editing later.

The problem is both that a lot happens and not much happens. Contradictory? Well, yes. Right now, I have long segments which boil down to hobbits soldiers walking. I have stretches where I felt a particular character fell out of sight and needed a moment on stage again. I had stretches where I wanted to establish what the heck the pattern of the caravans and the mountain passes are like. Some will be cut. Some will be abbreviated. Some - and not always the ones I first expect - turn out essential for a character, thematic or world-building reason.

It's because of the last that I seem to have to write them all out. Because what feels essential when I'm drilling through may prove to be one of the first things cut. And what feels like extraneous rambling -- well, I'll be honest. If I think *as* I'm writing it that it's probably unnecessary, it's often cut. Sometimes before the editing (I lost a four-hundred word scene in less than 24 hours this week alone). But that's not usually how I feel while I'm writing. I'm interested in the characters, in working out their banter, in the slow travelogue bits. The fact that much of this will end up extraneous in the long run, and even the fact that I KNOW this, isn't the same as not having fun while writing it.

Once in a while, when the word count piles up, I wish I were the sort of writer who could plan it all out ahead, and write only what I need, and not have to add bits that will only get chopped later. However, when I do know, that well, what's going to happen, it turns as often as not into a bit of a slog for me. I prefer to be surprised. The little moments when someone turns around and says something that is just so true to their character in particular, or commits some small act that makes me rethink their whole personality... those can't happen if I don't allow myself to write a pile of extraneous pages of hobbits soldiers walking.

_____________________

I have another problem with this book.

I've said before that these books overall are my most heteronormative, masculine-focused traditional fantasy stories. The Serpent Prince is mostly the coming of age of a young man in a patriarchal society. I think I fit in enough women (and a few gay characters) with agency and intelligence not to have it come across too badly. However, only two characters carry over into the next book, and both are (straight) men.

Soldier of the Road does not include much female point of view or agency. Period. (It's pretty weak on gay characters, too, moreso since there's a streak of homophobia among some of the soldiers). He meets women and he treats them as humans, but most of their roles are passive. The active players are fellow soldiers and caravan guards, a profession strongly skewed masculine (Also strongly skewed to young and physically healthy males). It's not until halfway through, and a particular frizzy-haired middle-aged wizard, that we have a woman with her own active role.

Oh, and the villain and her daemon both (Though nobody knows, or considers, the gender of a huge invisible daemon-monster while its ripping their limbs off.)

I've been trying to figure out whether there are any characters whose gender I could change. But this is made especially hard with the soldiers, because the difficulty of finding someone with whom to have heterosexual sexual relations with *is* a plot point. Twice. (Since Ketan can't even conceive of trying it the other way). The two most obvious active roles that could change without hurting that plot point are both characters who get killed off, which... has its own problems. (Book one already skirts Woman in Refrigerator territory once).

At one point, I started an attempt at the opening scene from the woman's point of view, because A) I like occasionally giving an outside view of Ketan, B) I have one other section in this book from another point of view, and right now it feels structurally odd to have only the one POV switch (Serpent had three, which worked much better) and C) she could give another perspective on events at the end of the prior book which gives one a way to give a synopsis that doesn't bore those who read said book. But I didn't think it worked, in part because getting even a fraction of her story about why she meets him dragged like all the other hobbits soldiers walking, even if this time it was a farmer walking.

The other thing is, books three and four don't have this problem. Some people finally recur from the first book, and others are introduced, and at least one more woman gets a point of view. And it really is one big story in the long run, divided into books mostly for purposes of structural cohesion and commercial viability.

Which makes me wonder how much I should worry about book two of a long story failing not only the Bechdel test, but several other measures of reasonable gender balance. Since it is a long story.
lenora_rose: (Gryphon)
To my relief, after the first bike ride I took seemed to be significantly more gruelling than I thought could be accounted for even by "Yeah, i AM in crappy shape", I noticed that the tires seemed a bit soft. Turned out I was right: now they're properly inflated, I can bike twice that distance, if not with ease, then with reasonable tiredness.

____________________

Had my second dream this week that, when I woke out of it, had me thinking, "yeah, I know. I have a lot of anxiety right now. Shut UP subconscious. Leave me alone."

Course, it would be better if the worries themselves went away.

____________________


For unrelated reasons, I've been thinking a lot about this old post recently...

_____________________

I recently imported the whole of my LJ entries into Dreamwidth finally, mostly as a back-up in case LJ suffers another DDOS or some other shut-down, rather than as an "I'm moving" sign or any such. This means, unless I'm mistaken, that I lost any previous Dreamwidth exclusive comments to my entries. Thankfully, these were remarkably few. (ETA: I am mistaken. Which is nice to see.)

Anyhow, this action was partaken as part of a look at all the things I need to back up but hadn't lately. (It took a while with the revamped computer to get the Dana to communicate, so for what felt a really long time, I could only charge it and had to trust the file that was ONLY updated there wouldn't disappear due to low battery power before I even noticed... and that was true even after I found myself working more on an editing project on the computer.)

So. People. Back stuff up if it matters to you. Even online.

_____________________

Worked three days this week, if for inconsistent amounts of time, and it looks like I have more shifts lined up for LITERALLY every day next week, Monday through Sunday. All temping, two locations. Yay for some income into the house.

I did, however, decide that I wasn't completely happy that, should I ride instead of walk to the current one, I would need to park my bike where I can't see, it at a business on Broadway & Sherbrook. I know it's locked up, but even so. Unless I do what abacchus did, and pick up a mini-cable or something, the tires aren't secured, just the body. I think I'd be *less* worried if I had to lock it up mid-downtown.


Anyhow, time for bed.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
I was talking to a friend the other day about some frustrations she's been having. In the course of this, she complained "Doesn't (mutual friend) understand I was in a sexually abusive situation, and he can't just (irrelevant)?"

And I can only thank heaven I didn't actually say what I thought in that moment -- which was, Of course, it's not like it was real sexual abuse...

Of course, a moment after I thought it, I realised that if anybody else had said that thought aloud, I'd be one of the first to jump down their throats. Also, Bullshit, for several reasons:

1) The situation hurt her as if it were abusive. Ergo...
2) She was there, I wasn't. Her word trumps that of anyone who tries to say she's wrong who wasn't there.
3) If her telling of events is remotely accurate, it fits the definition of not looking for consent.
4) She's not even remotely the kind of person to 'make up stories' for attention. She didn't enjoy talking about it, or get anything but more uncomfortable and unhappy in doing so. Where, then, would she have reason to say it happened if it didn't.
5) She's also not unaware how victims get villainized. It affected a huge number of her actions, the fear of 'what people would think' if she told her side. Because he's a nice guy.
6) Most of all, when she described it to me, I thought it was wrong, nasty, skeezy and bad. And I still do. Even as a part of my brain managed to file it as "not quite abuse", I knew it was inappropriate behaviour, that would hurt the one subjected to it.


The thing is, I'm not exactly ignorant of how we as a culture are encouraged to think that sex is something women owe to men. That it's okay to push and press and manipulate. And how easy it is to doubt a nice guy and someone close and intimate can be the one to commit such an act. I've called other people on not wanting to call things assault or rape. I thought I was sufficiently aware of these issues to not fall into the same trap as others.

So how did I let myself slip into thinking it, even for a second, even knowing the thought was wrong?

Part of it is that in this case, I heard both sides of the story.

In his, he did a couple of things that were potentially skeezy, but with no intention to hurt, and -- and this is of course key -- he swears he stopped as soon as she told him to.

In her version, he did stop when she told him. But then he'd ask and press and try to convince her because *he* wanted to. Knowing she didn't. And soon after, he'd do the same skeezyish thing again. And again. And even absent that, he would pressure her again. No didn't actually stop him so much as give her a temporary reprieve.

The stories were similar enough to be compatible. I can't go into more detail (There are already some people who might think they know of whom I refer. Please, don't go there) but frankly, I could, once I heard both sides, easily see how he could feel he was walking - narrowly - on the side of acceptable, while she would not. It only takes a little wilful denial of how nasty pressure and manipulation can be, or a little denial that the pressure hurt.

The more when he did say, at least once, that he felt that because they were in a relationship, it wasn't wrong for him to want her. Not in the tone of a boyfriend expressing frustration, but of a man demanding his due.

No, he never raped her. But the behaviour wasn't wholly that of someone who respected her, or wanted things to be mutual. It was the behaviour of someone for whom what he wanted in the bedroom was paramount, and what she wanted was irrelevant.

Which comes down to treating a woman like your own personal sex toy.

Which is abusive.

But of course, he's a nice guy.

Also, of course, it's not possible to be sexually abusive without pinning someone down and raping them. Right? it's not real. It doesn't count.

When i was twelve, I was chased around and tussled with a coupled of guys a bit older than me. it started with them throwing rocks. It ended -- well, actually, it ended the moment I slashed the sharp edge of my glasses, folded in my hand,across one boy's face, so I could get up and run like I should have done from the start, but didn't. (Excuses: I was a slow runner, and I was sure they'd catch up. I didn't want to give them the satisfaction of scaring me off. I thought I just had to land a punch of my own and they'd back off. I was twelve. Critical thinking on the spot was not my strong suit.) But before that, it ended with me pinned to the ground while he pinched and fondled my breasts. That's sure as hell sexual assault in my book.

I was shaken, but not really traumatized in a real way. But I only have to think about what it would mean for a boyfriend to have done that kind of thing -- not in a safe, trusting situation* where he'd stop at a word if the fun wrestling turned sour, but ignoring my will -- to know exactly how much worse that would have felt.

In some ways, I think it would be easier to classify if he hadn't *appeared* to stop when she said no. (And I say "appeared" advisedly). I wouldn't wish worse on her for the WORLD, but it would be so much easier to convince people this was sexual abuse.

Including, it seems, some part of me, that calls it skeezy gladly enough, but wants to cringe at saying 'sexual abuse'. The words are dangerously powerful. The way some women who believe in equal rights, equal pay, and the lot seem to fear to be called feminists. Because even if you fit the definition, using the word... is scary. It points out the reality of this world.

I have no conclusion, except that I need to check my assumptions. Again.

________________

* And yes, I've played bedroom games that looked like they pushed consent far worse than a few unwanted touches to my breasts. But those involved known boundaries, prestated interests, and a partner deeply trusted.
lenora_rose: At Tara in this fateful hour, I call on all heaven with its power... (At this Fateful Hour)
Rule # 1 of internet passwords: No matter how weird or complicated my password is, how many random capital or numbers or other things are in them, it is almost invariably my username (Lenorarose or Lenora_rose) that I typo.

Another interview today. went so so. I know that I missed a rather important detail in one of the events she asked me about, and fumbled a bit with words. better than the last one, though.

Until this week, I've been working on a project that kind of bemuses me. See, I've said that I don't generally like stories set in some kind of post-apocalyptic world. I dislike some of the tropes. (The people who degenerate into violent crazies out for themselves is a major one. The usually unrealistic speed at which knowledge is lost; such that people who were around before the apocalypse sometimes seem to have forgotten what they knew. That incredibly common books, never mind movies or recorded music, become rare and prized -- pace coffeeem.)

But that project is set in a fantasy world after an apocalypse. Since it also includes three people visiting from 21st century Canada, I jokingly described it as Narnia meets Mad Max (a description the funnier for being pretty much totally wrong when it comes to the spirit of both those series'.)

Thing is, that description did point me to one thing.

I think I'm writing this because I didn't like at all what Lewis did with A Last Battle. (Well, besides Neil Gaiman's very correct point that as a novel, it's strangely and not very well structured). I can only sum it up as, "That's not how you break a world."

See, one trope about the post-apocalyptic things that I do appreciate is this; there's always something left. And from that, the seed for some form of new world.

Lewis wiped out Narnia. Completely.

And there are so many different things in this that are wrong besides just the fact that it ended.

First, and foremost, the entirety of Narnia seems to have existed so as to teach a sum total of eight earth children enough to get seven of them to heaven. (Susan has been discusssed enough elsewhere.) Once those seven children are all dead, the world simply goes away.

Yes, we see the people of that world brought into heaven (Or swallowed by Aslan's shadow), too. How nice. But the world ended when the last of those children ran through the door into heaven.

This, I couldn't even.

Until I realised that most of the stories about people from our world going to other worlds have the person who goes turn out to be special in some way. Not to the extend that the world begins and ends with them, but it's there.

Tuathea is in my head. All of it. It's fiction. it can't be as important as the real world. But so are the three Earth people who travel to it (especially as their world is the one I call Damina-Earth, which is ours with a few small variations). And they AREN'T any more special than the people they meet there. That world didn't exist up to that point to teach them anything. And when they're all dead, it will keep going. I admit, my trio were technically hand-picked as useful to the survivors. But useful is not the same as irreplaceably special. because I didn't want it to be that story.

(One of my other stories is about a world that will cease to exist when the inventor leaves. It's kind of nasty, especially to other people sucked into it.)

The next big issue I had is the lack of grief in the Last Battle. The end of the world is a bright new morning for the characters.

Because there's an afterlife, which is like all the good things in Narnia without the bad. And everyone was happy with this. The Pevensies, killed horribly in a train crash. The Narnians who stood by and watched the stars come down and the last light fade.

Which, okay, worked for the perspective from which he was telling it; the people who'd already passed through the door. Who weren't inside Narnia. But.

Imagine you were one of the beings watching it from within Narnia. On the side where the stars are falling. Think what you'd be thinking, even if you were one of the righteous who'd reappear on the other side of the door, whole and hale and with a whole bright and happy world ahead. Think about watching your world come apart, collapse into ruin, all for the actions of one selfish ape.

Even if you trust God to take you to paradise, when your own world ends, you mourn. You feel sorrow for what was left behind. For the people who fall around you.

Nobody in the Last Battle grieves. Oh, they grieve the horses shot down when they're still in Narnia, or the dryads cut off at the roots. But as soon as they cross over, the grief just stops. It's no longer bad news at all that they lost a battle for the very soul of their country, or that there's been a train accident on Earth (In fact, little or no mention is made of the people they left behind until the very end, when they're waving across a gulf between Earth (or rather Earth's heaven) and Narnia's heaven, and so are clearly also dead). the world they knew ends, and they don't feel any sorrow for it. Just a kind of wonder. The stars falling, and the things coming through the door in the end are described without much sorrow.

Nobody cries out and clings, or begs the world to survive. Nobody fights tooth and nail against entropy. There's no time, and no chance.

The description of the world ending is fast - a chapter - going from a fading bonfire to flat water (nothing as alive as an ocean) in a short span. But because of all the things that happen, I always, even as a kid, figured that was compressed time; that they stood there watching the days and years spin by like a time-lapse camera. That it wouldn't be that fast on the other side.

On one hand, once I was old enough to grasp just what was missing there, I wanted that story, too, in addition to the one on the other side of the door. Of the complete fall of the whole of the world. what it looked like from inside. of the grief.

I also wanted, as a child especially, but also even now, for it not to end. Just because things don't really end. Lives end. Civilizations end. Species end. LIFE dos not. Not until the heat death of the universe.

There have been any number of cataclysms and near apocalypses in human history. And yet we keep on. And we fight entropy. Even those who believe in heaven, who feel heaven is real and that suffering here is a shadow, are, as often as not, also working for a better world here (though since details as to what makes a better world have differed wildly, and occasionally included committing atrocities to get there, they've failed at least as often as succeeded). For the hungry fed, the poor clothed and sheltered, the family happy, the life satisfied.

We keep on keeping on. Good and bad.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote an essay once on disliking apocalyptic fiction because she always felt that she wouldn't be one of the heroes, the rough rugged survivors, or even the barely clinging on. She'd be one of the ones in the mass graves, ashes in the crater where once there was a city. There's some truth to that, too; if we had an apocalypse, I am not a likely long-term survivor.

But I'd want to try. I'd want to gather those I cared for around, and try to grow food, and try to work together, and protect each other. To keep the flame of knowledge and some semblance of the rights and responsibilities of a society.

Now, I know this story is going to follow the trope of apocalypse stories to the end I prefer, the point at which things are restored to at least some degree. Because one thing I feel that I am trying to do with my fiction is offer light not always available in the real world.

But also because I resist everything that the Last Battle taught me about the end of the world. The world isn't here for me. The world is worth mourning even if followed by heaven. The world is worth fighting for, not passively watching from elsewhere as it dies.

(Also this is far from the only thing the story is about. One of the questions the story seems to be exploring is how, if ever, a person - or being - who commits an appalling act can be counted redeemed. Including and especially by his victims. Also lots of nifty odd plot thingies - a lot of what I've been writing so far has a certain amount of "coping with language and translation". OH, and yes, I seem to have wandered onto another project for this week, ebcause I couldn't get one scene out of my head without writing it. but I think I'll be back to the apocalyptic thing.)
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
As a follow-on to a prior LJ post, this is the revised version of the aspirations thing.

My ambitions as of this moment:

- Within six months, I should be either working at least 30 hours/week steady, or have a damn good reason why not (such as pregnancy). At a place that I anticipate staying for a while.

- Within the next two years, I should acquire an agent, or else obtain a minimum of 50 rejections from agencies on various works, proving I tried. (Since I can try to sell Bird of Dusk and Serpent Prince, and possibly others as I go.)

- Within five years, I should have an offer on a novel, whether through an agency or otherwise, from a legitimate press. or enough rejections to prove I made a really damn good try.

- Within those same five years, I should have sold at least three more short stories (considering the number I don't write, this is a tougher goal than it sounds).

- Within three years, if physically possible*, I should have at least one child. While this and work goals might have trouble working together, I genuinely think this and writing goals should not.

- On each of the next few years, i will have completed at least two large-scale pottery projects, large scale being defined as either one object like Nessie, or a significant number of smaller objects. Failing this, five medium-sized projects. (I know what I would personally define as large or medium. The pendants for the event in January, for example, qualify as one for 2010.)

- Each year, I will endeavour to complete at least one drawing or illumination project from scratch, and to complete at least one of the partially finished ones in the queue.

- By December 2011, I will learn enough on the mandolin to actually succeed in playing the song Abacchus gave me as the next level up and which I've never yet managed, and to be able to play simple melodies as well as accompaniment. *

-I will have all of my current practice repertoire up to performable standard, and have added at least 10 new pieces to the practice or performance roster outside songs given me by Abacchus for teaching.

- I will get my driver's license, or at least have passed the driving portion of the test, before the snow falls.

- I will break 100 points in this upcoming winter shoot. (Archery-related.)

- To my already extant exercise, I will add at least one regular weekly swim, and at least 3 sessions of 20 minutes of heavier cardio (such as dancing), excluding that swim.

Should I be considering other goals? Throw me suggestions.

____________
* Weirdly, this will likely be easier when he moves out; I feel awkward practicing where my teacher can hear me when I know I haven't been practicing enough and I've lost technique. So I practice less. So I feel more awkward. So I practice less.... Honestly, I did more practice when we were travelling in BC and AB.

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