kiriamaya answered your question: Killing core characters

I’m reminded of all the zillion and one ladycharacters who are killed off solely for a dude’s development. As if ladies aren’t people.

Yes, there’s definitely overlap with that idea.  But I think it’s conceptually distinct.  If I’ve understood it correctly, the criticism there is that killing a female character to create motivation or plot for a male character is (at least if done disproportionately, which it is) misogynist, regardless of whether the character who gets killed is a lead character or a supporting one: either way, it plays into the general trend of treating women (fictional or otherwise) as if their only importance is derived from their effect on men.

What I’m suggesting is that killing a lead character (of any gender or none) to provide motivation or plot for another character (of any gender or none) is bad not because it’s sexist (although it may be) but because it draws attention to the fact that all the characters, including the one for whose sake the dead character has been killed, are just devices in a completely artificial process.

I don’t know whether one of those ideas is a subset of the other or whether they’re just things that overlap, but I feel like in principle they’re separate things.  But what does anyone else think?

Alright, let’s do this.

kiriamaya:

My living expenses are taken care of for a good while — which means it’s time for me to refocus on saving up for surgery. My RLT will be complete in August, and the sooner I can get surgery after that, the better.

To that end, I would like to kick off a Help-Kiri-Get-Surgery fundraising drive!

My goal is to raise $15,000 — enough to cover surgery fees, travel expenses to Thailand, etc. I know that’s a super-ambitious goal, but I think it’s possible — if every one of my followers donated just $5 a month, I’d reach that goal even before my RLT ended. In addition to my donation buttons/links, I’m making a little T-shirt store with trans/queer-themed stuff, as well as a store for my little crafts and things; all proceeds from these will go straight into my surgery fund. I’ll also be keeping a running total on my donation page and posting it here periodically, so y’all can see how close we are to the goal. :D

For now, you can help in one of the following ways:

  • One-time donation (any amount)Please drop a message in my ask box if you’d like a particular donation of yours to go to something other than my surgery fund. All such asks will be kept private.
  • Monthly subscriptionVarying amounts selectable (ETA: Just the $5 one for now; I’ll add more later when I figure out how not to do it without breaking everything). Like I said, if every single one of my followers did just the $5/month, I’d have my surgery funded in plenty of time!
  • Spread the word! Even if you can’t donate, please let people know of my need, and ask them to help me out!

My deepest gratitude to all those who help, in whatever way you do. <3

This morning on BBC radio’s flagship news programme an eminent journalist defined ‘transphobia’ as ‘irrational fear of people who change sex’.

(The LGBT activist he was interviewing didn’t disagree.)

I post this because I’m aware that as part of the discussion about whether words like ‘homophobia’ and ‘transphobia’ should be abandoned there’s some debate about whether the form of those words really misleads anyone into thinking that they describe psychological states similar to claustrophobia or arachnophobia.

I have no strong view about that debate but evidence is always useful and here is a single piece of anecdotal evidence to be taken into account.

14kgoldnyc replied to your post: 14kgoldnyc replied to your post: There are a few…

I think with words that are in the process of changing, especially, people need to be much more conscious of age and background. My dad still cringes when I use ‘queer’, because that was a slur aimed at him. It’s an important perspective to keep.

True, true.  Good point.  Our ways of expression and presentation often adjust to suit the situation and the audience, including choosing our words according to how the people’s we’re addressing will interpret them.  And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.

(Hey look, I replied to one of these without making it into an essay!  I feel proud.  On this positive note, I shall go to bed.)

dinoquark replied to your post: There are a few people who use “bisexual” as “attracted to all possible genders,” claiming that the “bi” can refer to “people with genders like yours” and “people with genders not like yours.” But they’re also usually the people who deny the rights of others to identify as pansexual, so I’m wary of the logic, as it seems to come from a place of dictating how other people should identify!

I don’t see bisexual as being any more binarist than heterosexual, homosexual, gay, lesbian, or straight. I guess I don’t see why bi is usually what’s brought up here while all those others tend to be ignored.

I’m with you there.

Well, I guess ‘homosexual’ is less questionable since the proposition that someone is attracted to people of the same gender as themself doesn’t imply anything at all about how many other genders there may be.  And ‘lesbian’, if it means ‘woman attracted to other women’ (which I think is how pretty much everyone uses it?), is similarly okay although oddly specific.

But basically I think Kinsey Hope is right to say that our set of terms for sexuality, taken as a whole, is to a greater or lesser extent underwritten by heteronormative cissexism.  If we were starting from scratch we’d probably develop a completely different set of descriptive terms that would clearly distinguish between, among other things, sexual preferences based on physiology and sexual preferences based on gender identity.  But we obviously can’t just ignore the existing set of terms, awkward and unhelpful though they may sometimes be: we can’t ignore them because those are the criteria by which oppression is exerted.  One can say ‘oh hey I’m not homosexual because that implies a conceptual type of sexuality and actually I just really like dicks of all genders and none and in fact the dick I currently enjoy on a regular basis is attached to my girlfriend’, but that isn’t going to make that person safe from anti-‘gay’ bigots.

So apparently my conclusion is that it’s all quite complex and messy and non-ideal?

14kgoldnyc replied to your post: There are a few people who use “bisexual” as “attracted to all possible genders,” claiming that the “bi” can refer to “people with genders like yours” and “people with genders not like yours.” But they’re also usually the people who deny the rights of others to identify as pansexual, so I’m wary of the logic, as it seems to come from a place of dictating how other people should identify!

Honestly, I frequently use ‘bi’ for convenience’s sake: most straight folk are more likely to understand me when I use that then if I just say ‘pan’ or ‘queer’. Plus, I’ve been identifying as such for a long time, before other terms were in use.

Fair enough!  I am absolutely not here to criticize anyone for doing or saying things that make their lives as marginalized people easier, or for identifying themselves however they do.  I’m sorry if it seemed like that.  It’s the bit where they start trying to criticize other people’s identifications that makes me prickly.

Not that there aren’t times when it’s legit to criticize other people’s identifications.  If a white person identifies as two-spirit or a cis person with somewhat non-normative gender presentation identifies as genderqueer then there’s obviously room for saying, ‘Er, maybe this is not okay’.  I personally wouldn’t get too much into that because I’m not a member of any of the groups that have a two-spirit tradition, I’m not genderqueer, &c., and I think identity is one of those particularly sensitive things that people probably shouldn’t call others out about unless they can do it from a position of saying ‘I am one of the people you’re hurting’.

So I guess my position is that I’m not saying people shouldn’t use ‘bisexual’.  I’m not saying it’s oppressive.  I’m not saying it isn’t oppressive.  I’m saying I think it has a certain undercurrent of binarism in it, but whether that makes it actually harmful (and, if so, whether the harm outweighs its benefits) is a judgment I can’t and don’t want to make.  I don’t think it harms me, that’s all I can say about it.  And whether or not people use it to describe themselves, I don’t think people should ascribe it to others who don’t want it.  Especially not when, as with the criticism of Cynthia Nixon (because I’d hate this conversation to float too far from the original context — that’s when things get messy, I find), they’re doing so in order to reject the other person’s self-identification.

Me, well, there’s no word I can use to describe my sexuality that isn’t going to leave most people with either the wrong idea or no idea what I mean.  So I guess that puts me in a slightly inside / outside position on the whole thing.  :)

So Jamie got an Ask a couple of months ago basically asking if he could truly call himself ‘queer’ when he (apparently) receives straight privilege in every way.

torayot:

This is the ask in question.

I know that it is important for certain aspects of an identity category to be questioned, but seriously, my gut reaction to the ask was this:

I don’t exactly like the implications of my being misgendered. Hmmm.

The picture is a simple drawing of someone side-eyeing a computer screen.

~•~

And here’s another response:

 qinhara answered your questionOkay so I made a post a few days ago that I…

hey. i think it’s valid for you to identify as queer. and i think it’s terrible that this anon is invalidating your partner’s gender. D:

~•~

Not much to add really!

Anonymous Asked:
hey,ive been thinking about something and i want to know your thoughts because your analysis is usually insightful. can a person really call themselves queer when they dont face any of the systematic oppression queers do? your situation came to mind, for exmple. it is true your partner is marginalized for their gender, but you as a cis guy still recieve straight privilege in every respect,or am i wrong? if you do,can you then be queer w/o appropriating anti-queer oppresion? what do you think?thx

Hello, Anon.  I hope it hasn’t inconvenienced you that it’s taken me a few months to answer this.  Your Ask came at a very busy time for me (for the record, it’s dated 22 November 2011), and since it didn’t sound urgent I wanted to wait until I had time to reply carefully.

I wrote a first draft of this answer that tried to get into theory and analytical categories and stuff, but to be honest I’m not qualified to attempt that.  I see your point, because sometimes ‘queer’ (and other identity terms like it) is used in a way that by definition refers to membership of a marginalized / oppressed group.  Can you be a member of an oppressed group if you aren’t personally affected by oppression?  It’s a fair question I guess.  On the other hand what am I if I’m not queer?  Straight?  Can a man be straight while going out with (or even just being sexually attracted to) someone who isn’t a woman?  Not by any generally accepted understanding of the term.  Not without invalidating my partner’s gender, and I am not okay with that.

Do I benefit from straight privilege in every respect?  Well, I can tell you some things that are true for me that wouldn’t be true for me if I were going out with a woman.

  • When I fill in demographic monitoring forms that ask about my sexuality, there is usually no box that I can tick that gives an accurate answer.
  • When I hear or read jokes or derogatory comments about people who have sex with or have relationships with trans* people or with people who are not the ‘opposite’ gender, I know that those jokes and comments are at my expense.
  • When I’m talking about my partner to people they aren’t ‘out’ to, I have to avoid using pronouns at all so that I neither out them nor misgender them.  Talking about someone without using pronouns, especially if you’re trying to do so in a way that doesn’t sound weird and arouse suspicion, requires fairly intense concentration and can be tiring.  Try it some time.  As a result it makes me less inclined to talk about my partner than I would otherwise be, which is a bit sad for me because I love them and want to tell people about them and boast about them and stuff.  It can also make people think I’m being secretive and anti-social.
  • People who do know about my partner’s gender sometimes think that this makes it okay for them to ask me questions about our relationship, our future plans, &c. that it would be considered impolite to ask if we were a male-female couple.
  • People make incorrect assumptions about me, such as the assumption that any partner I currently have, have had in the past, might have in the future, or might want at any time must be a woman.  Because these assumptions are in line with social norms, people don’t treat me badly because of them, but I find it uncomfortable to have people make false assumptions about me even if they are ‘favourable’ ones.  It can also put me in the position of having to decide whether to correct the assumption (and risk an unfavourable reaction) or let it stand (and risk difficulties later if it becomes necessary to clarify one way or the other).
  • In order to get married we would probably have to pretend that my partner’s gender is the same as their assigned gender.  That doesn’t mean we can’t get married, but it isn’t ideal.
  • There are people who would think me weird / immoral / perverted / sinful if they knew my partner’s gender.  My friends who follow Abrahamic religions might add it to their mental lists of reasons why I am going to hell.
  • Anonymous people send me Asks on Tumblr questioning the validity of my identity.  Don’t worry, Anon, I’m not angry or upset.  I’m just saying.  ;)

Now, I’m not going to assert that all this amounts to oppression or qualifies me to be a member of the queer club, let alone an expert on anything.  I’m honestly not too bothered.  Not that these things aren’t important: they’re extremely important to a lot of people, it just happens that I personally am fairly relaxed about them.

Kinsey Hope wrote some time ago that our whole terminology for sexual orientation is poorly equipped to handle the fact that there are more than two genders and you can’t tell someone’s gender by looking at them.  If you want, let’s just say that I’m a man who fancies some women and some non-binary people (and doesn’t rule out the possibility that there might be some men he’d fancy too).  Or if you want to say it’s nonsensical that we use the gender of the people you’re attracted to as an important identity category, I won’t even fight you about that, as long as we can agree that, logical or not, it’s going to be an important identity category as long as kyriarchal society treats some people worse than others on the basis of their partners’ genders.  Which brings us back to your point that these categories are, at least to some extent, defined by the oppression that’s brought to bear on them.  But are we really saying that that makes me straight?  Does it matter?  Do we need some new terminology to distinguish between ‘political’ identities defined by social forces and ‘personal’ identities defined by our self-identification, or is it important for us not to let those two things become separated?

A lot of my followers are probably better situated to give us insight on this one than I am.  What do you think, folks?  Ask, submit, or fan-mail me.

Summary:  I butt in on a conversation about the character Shane McCutcheon in the television series The L word.  Spoilers up to about the end of season four.  Press J to skip down or K to skip up.

· • ·

silentpunk:

step by step by step: silentpunk replied to your post: I think: Bette’s going to cheat with…

wishingthehoursaway:

silentpunk:

wishingthehoursaway:

[Earlier conversation omitted]

tbh I know that loads of people love Shane but I think people love her for the same reason people love bland male characters, her character is written like a male character, which means all she has to be is not a total douche and be kind of stoic and people will read between the lines, like they only have to hint she felt bad about leaving Carmen at the alter and there was no fallout she just got on with her life. There’s no depth to her character, you get what all the others are feeling and I understand that some people hide their emotions from their friends but how is it that most of her day-to-day feelings are obscured even from the all-seeing viewer?

I think I like her but I’m still waiting for her to blossom, for them to do a proper episode about her and not just her screwing people. I’m guessing, given ALL THE SERIES I’m already watched, that tht’s not going to happen =p I feel almost like she’s written to seem like she has depth to her that you don’t EVER get to know about. I liked it best when her brother was around - at that point it seemed like she was going to have a personality and not be a cliche and then he was taken away, you never see him again, and she goes back to being just the one who sleeps around

Yeah it gets sleazy after that for some reason I feel like she’s some drunk single father that’s had her kids taken away and goes out on the prowl looking for young girls to fuck instead of properly mourning all the things she’s lost.

I really like Shane in the early seasons.  She has the ‘screws like a dude’ thing, which I’m kind of ambivalent about: on the one hand it’s nice to have a prominent female character having lots of casual sex with lots of partners and not being stigmatized for it; on the other hand her lots of casual sex is associated with her androgynous / butch presentation and the tendency of other characters to paint her as masculine, so it doesn’t really challenge the idea that casual sex is part of the masculine domain; then again although it doesn’t challenge that directly, it does indirectly undermine it by making it visible; and then again I dunno really.

But what I like is that, along with that, she’s a really caring character.  She looks after everyone.  A lot of the time she’s the most loving person in that group.  Combining that with the butch presentation and the commitment-averse ‘masculine’ sexuality makes for a really interesting character, as well as some nicely complex gender-politics.  On its own, having a caring and loving female character with a butch presentation would be an interesting challenge to the idea that caring is an inherently feminine thing (because although Shane is a woman she isn’t especially feminine and it’s hard to regard her care-giving as particularly ‘female’ or ‘maternal’), though possibly not a strong challenge (since she is still a woman, which weakens the point in the same sort of way that her masculine presentation weakens the challenge of her sexuality).  But when you have the same character raising both those questions at the same time — being caring and nurturing while butch, being sexual and unromantic while female — that gets really interesting for me.

As well as the immediate gender-politics of the combination, it brings up some nice stuff about love and sex and friendship and family.  The way Shane is loving to her friends and puts so much energy into making that group into a family, while being completely uninterested in romance, questions the assumption that love belongs primarily in biological families created and perpetuated by heterosexual reproductive sex (in contrast to Bette and Tina’s family-making, which tries to follow a more ‘traditional’ heteronormative model and faces different challenges).  I think that’s one of the reasons the plot with her brother works nicely and brings her appealing qualities out.

Frustratingly the series ends up rather slut-shaming Shane after all: not by condemning her casual sex in itself, but by increasingly depicting it as unambiguously destructive.  You can try to read it as a critique of the pressure on her to have a monogamous romantic relationship, but I think it ended up just being unambiguously about depicting Shane as some kind of walking disaster.  I think you’re completely right that the series failed to examine her emotions, especially when things get difficult.  On paper I could believe that she’d panic and run out on Carmen, but we needed to see her making that decision and, like you said, grieving over it, because nobody can tell me that someone who cares that much about people is not going to feel gutted for a long time about hurting someone like that.  And after that it just got more ridiculous — as my flatmate puts it, it’s like Shane just gets a personality reboot between each season and the next.  It’s a real shame.

(Source: fluffyfemme)

Video description / transcript here.

silentpunk:

bitemebeautiful:

Meet the really lovely Holly Rae, brave enough to film the first video for the new feminist vlog channel ThosePeskyDames (of which I am a part). This week is introductions week, so keep an eye out and every day you can meet a new member of our lovely team.

 Hey I just met Holly Rae this weekend! She’s so cool and pretty and stuff!

All five daily vloggers have done their intro posts now and they all seem pretty nifty.  I don’t always get time to watch video-based things but I’m gonna subscribe to this one and see how it goes.

(Source: peachstones)

Summary:  I like Julie Crawford’s essay about female relationships and non-heteronormative kinship in All’s well that ends well.

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'Mx' as a gender-neutral title?

So I’m currently catching up on Dorian’s marvellous series of guest-posts about musicals at Bitch and I see a commenter using ‘Mx’ as a short-hand for ‘Ms or Mr or Miss or Mrs or whatever’.

And it happens that last week on the bus I was wondering about whether one could profitably create a gender-neutral title of that kind.  The furthest I got was ‘M’, pronounced ‘mi’, but I felt like that wouldn’t catch on because most English-speakers are used to titles that end in consonants.

I imagine ‘Mx’ is one of those things like ‘Latin@’ that have been invented as a written form without any particular thought being given to how to pronounce them, but ‘mix’ seems a reasonably intuitive pronunciation.

Anyway, this is the first time I’ve seen it, but is ‘Mx’ in common use?  Has it got an accepted pronunciation?  Is it sufficiently neutral to be comfortable for non-binary people?  Would it be a good thing to try to promote?