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So! Fandom discussions have become very social justice tinged of late. In some ways I think this is great, I'm old enough to remember the dark wasteland of "why are you bringing race/gender/etc into it??" fannish dicussions before about 2006, and continue to be delighted by some of the positive changes I've seen in media and fandom over the last decade or so.
But! As is increasingly obvious there are some serious issues with the way social justice is approached in fandom, beyond the unavoidable flaws created by the conversation having people in it. And part of this is the erasure of the relative power position of the people being criticised. None of this is entirely new, but it's gotten worse. Nb I am primarly talking about online female dominated Western fandom, generally on dreamwidth and tumblr, but this happens other places too.
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Some interesting discussions on slut shaming in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries yes, from when it had just aired.
A Saami person discusses Frozen
This is how we kill our blacks by @thekooriwoman & @donayrials
How The Peanuts Comic Strip Got Its First Black Character
Open letter to Australian feminists concerned about sex worker exploitation
Remote Indigenous communities are vital for our fragile ecosystems
“So What If Your Porn Is Feminist?” So, This.
Fatphobia: A Guide for the Disbeliever
“Where’s My Cut?”: On Unpaid Emotional Labor
Debunking misinformation, without attracting trolls
Women of Japan unite: Examining the contemporary state of feminism
More people are playing and making games than ever before, and as the community has grown so too has the call for games that represent a wide range of human experience. This panel explores the importance of diversity in games, with discussion of ways developers can make more representative games, of how both players and game makers can be supportive of diverse voices, and will include examples of games featuring positive identity representations. Our panelists will speak from a wide range of perspectives, including disability, the LGBTIQ spectrum, and culturally diverse backgrounds.
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(a) This is good for "disabled people" in general
(b) This is easy and any decent person could do it. Sometimes with an added condemnation of the bad people who don't do these "simple things" and clearly don't care about disabled people.
(c) They are a good Ally to disabled people doing everything that can be done.
Except it's very rarely that simple.
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And looking at it again now I see a silly spelling mistake /o\ Also JUST after I sent it mooreeffoc pointed out that you can't "fail" an IQ test. But if I'd kept editing much longer I'd have wound myself into an anxious ball and never sent it.
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Blackface is awful, but equating low IQ with racism/moral failing is unfair. Esp given it's history http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2007/1
(I found the link via quick google)
But idk, it feels weird bringing it up as a white non American. And while I'm disabled I have a pretty high IQ. Plus of course it could open me up to trolls, unless I send it as a private message.
Hmmm. Will ponder when more awake.
- rainbows are pretty
- I can still see who people are (this is why I never participate in memes where everyone uses the same picture. Too confusing!)
- I now know those people are at least basically ok with same sex relationships! This does not go without saying for everyone I follow.
- Everyone who follows those people knows it too. This normalises mogai acceptance in general and marriage equality in particular. Since most people I follow are Australian and marriage equality hasn't been legalised here, that's not insignificant. And this is the case even if the people with the filters are doing it because of peer pressure/fashion.
- It's nice to feel part of a global celebration of civil rights (yes, of a United States specific event). Especially because rainbows are so festive!
- it's a really mild, ambiguous way for me to express my sexuality in a situation where I'm not 100% out.
- On my feed at least it's NOT all straight people, in fact I'd say it heavily skews lgbt. And the fact it's popular with straight people means the rest of us aren't unambiguously outing ourselves by using it.
I think that's about it! I know there are arguments against it, I'm not saying it's an unalloyed good. But it felt like a lot of people were assuming that the ONLY people who like it were straight and nope.
Here's two contrasting articles about it I came across via Facebook:
More than 26 million people have changed their Facebook picture to a rainbow flag. Here’s why that matters.
If you’re straight you need to stop using rainbow profile pics.
One of the narratives we're fed is that there is a single path of Good Womanhood. This path is inconsistent and impossible for any real woman to follow, and because it's so inconsistent parts of it show up in all sorts of attempted subversions.
One of the other narratives we're fed is that women should sacrifice our own enjoyment for The Greater Good. Thus letting ourselves enjoy the narratives we enjoy, no matter how "problematic", is itself in some ways subversive. (This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to avoid being actively sexist. Or for that matter racist etc)
Saying that there is a single Feminist Narrative all female characters should fit into supports this idea that there is a single Good Way To Be A Woman. Also, chances are there is some way this "feminist" narrative ends up supporting part of the typical Sexist Narrative, or is just not to everyone's tastes. Telling women that they are unfeminist if they don't like The One Feminist Narrative buys into the idea that women should sacrifice their own enjoyment for the greater good.
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Going to see if there's stuff I can organise for it! You just have to tag it "disabilityfest" in the first 5 tags.
You do not need a reason to include disabled characters in your story. Able bodied people are not the default. Saying you need a reason to make a character disabled is like saying you need a reason to make them a woman, or a POC, or mogai. Or, conversely, that you need a reason to make them able bodied, a man, white, or straight. In fact I’ve started trying to make all my characters disabled queer WOC by default and only making them able bodied etc when the plot requires it and I can see no way this is not just as valid a storytelling approach.
Now, able bodied people are the majority, but disabled people are still 10% of the population. So they should be at least 10% of your cast. If they are not without good reason you are perpetuating ableism. Making your cast 100% ablebodied is a choice, and an unrealistic one at that. (Making your cast 100% disabled is also kind of unrealistic, and is one reason I don’t do it. But I don’t see that it’s any worse) EDIT: This depends very much on the context of your story. If it's set in a nursing home the number of disabled characters should probably be higher than if it's set in a unit of Navy Seals.
And yes, when you write those disabled characters, you have to write them as disabled, you can’t just gloss over their impairments and write them as able bodied. And it will be a challenge. Suck it up. Use it as inspiration to write a more interesting story. Or, if your story really doesn’t work with that disability, give them a different one or make them able bodied. But don’t give up before you’ve even tried by default.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with starting out with the intention to write more disabled characters, and it is not pandering. Pandering to who, disabled people? OH NO.
You know what I find insulting? When a character in fiction shows up with a disability and I KNOW it will be plot relevant (and probably faked as part of them being the villain) because god forbid disabled characters just exist without it being a big deal. Like we do in real life.
Believing that life is fair might make you a terrible person As I said on tumblr: Now I’m thinking about the implications for effective activism. Should we be avoiding “this unjust thing happened to X marginalised group (or the environment)” signal boosting that doesn’t come with “and here’s what you can do about it”? That’s what my gut tends to say, but I guess there’s the implication that passing the information on IS doing something about it. And “just don’t tell people about unjust things that happened in history” seems like an unfortunate moral. HMM. I’m sure smarter people than me have thought about this.
Let's talk about category structure and oppression! Everyone is expected to relate to a cis straight white anglophone American man. We're all like them, they're just (default, category-central) people after all! But they're not like us.
THE CATEGORIES WERE MADE FOR MAN, NOT MAN FOR THE CATEGORIES A bit rambly but eventually about the way we define "man"and "woman".
The EntitleMen: techno-libertarian right wing sockpuppets of silicon valley This is a bit rambly but makes some interesting comments about facism, libertarianism, and tech.
Basic income paid to the poor can transform lives
Safe a safe space for People of Colour who have an interest in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I'm sure I must have linked this already but it was on the list, so.
Everything is problematic Someone's path through some of the more unhealthy parts of acitivism.
France begins jailing people for ironic comments
And via anghraine, two examples of Korra fans turning "I don't like this" into "this is problematic", eg my least favourite kind of fannish "activism": anyone who likes Book 3 more is sexist, representation doesn't count if I didn't enjoy it.
SUPERMARKET MONSTERS Coles, Woolworths and the price we pay for their domination
Hmmph. The article I linked to about it has vanished, but here's the petition to revoke Adam Baldwin's invitation to the con Supanova
Note: This is largely about cis female characters being read as cis male characters in fictional settings where everyone is assumed to be both cis and binary gendered. I think a lot of the ways this issue is discussed erase or belittle trans people (eg I am not a fan of the phrase "man in a dress"), and I hope I haven't done that, I have used "genderswap" a few times because in these settings there are only two genders.
So. I would never describe a female identified person as "effectively male". There are very limited circumstances in which I might describe a female fictional character that way, and none come to mind. And I have seen way too many examples of fans of all genders dismissing female characters for either being "too much like men" or "too much the kind of character men like" (feminine, sexy etc), and in a way which implicitely erases the existence of real life women with similar traits, or at the very least is hurtful to female fans who identify with that female character. For this reason, the phrase "effectively male" or statements like it rub me the wrong way.
But there are many times when I would say about a female character that "they are equivalent to a male character in X respect" or "I felt about them the way I would feel about a male character doing those things", and I know that's all a lot of other people mean when they say a female character is "effectively male".
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- Hey, a new indie visual novel! Looks pretty!
- Hmm. "Asian mythological themes", huh?
- A disabled protagonist!
- ...who is magically cured at the start of the story(*)...
- This is a demo and they are asking for feedback, oh god should I try playing it and offer suggestions?
- Wait FROM THE WRITER OF CYANIDE TEA AHHHHH
*prepares self to try and ignore this game's existence for perpetuity despite the indie VN community hailing it as a Thoughtful Exploration Of Disability*
On the plus side this gives me extra motivation to work on my interactive Northanger Abbey where Henry Tilney is in a wheelchair and nobody mentions it.
(*)she's not only magically cured, she was happy and friendly pre disability but became withdrawn and cynical once she got sick, and it is only in the Magical ~Asian Themed~ Land Where She Can Walk that she learns to overcome her bitterness. Probably gets punished/mocked a bunch for her terrible flaws first, though, this is a Cyanide Tea game.
But there's a difference between 'we shouldn't default unthinkingly to using violence in video games" and "we should stop using violence in video games" and sometimes it feels like people are leaning towards the latter. I'm not some paranoid Gamergater thinking anyone's going to take my FPSs away, but I think dismissing genres like FPS out of hand lessens our ability to discuss and make games better.
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Thanks to the anonymous commenter who let me know! I have the best anonymous commenters.
Like...in my experience the best arguments happen when you can be open and understanding and try and see the other person's pov, engage with what they're actually saying instead of what you THINK they're saying, and not get all defensive and antagonistic.
But I'm too wordy for asks or replies (and those often get replied to publically anyway) and when I post a reblog I feel very aware that I am engaging not just with that person but with everyone who reads me, everyone following the post, and all of their followers (if they reblog my reply). And that awareness makes it SUPER HARD to be all the things I said in the paragraph above. Even if I trust that person to engage with me in an open and productive way, I don't trust all those other people, and so I put my guard up.
Does anyone else have this problem? And if so how do you deal with it?
Emailing them privately is an option when I have their email address, but it makes everything seem SUPER SERIOUS which puts me off. There's also writing out my argument in a text editor and dividing it up into as many asks as neccesary, I again feel weird about it but maybe it's a better approach. I like that reblogs can feel more like a casual discussion instead of a super serious "taking aside to express private disagreement" but it so easily goes from casual discussion to huge visible argument it seems not to be worth the risk for fraught topics.
"Don't argue with people on tumblr" is not a helpful aproach for me, I have recently tried arguing less but there are some opinions I find too upsetting to let slide and in my experience these unspoken arguments have a tendency to bubble up and explode if you ignore them. "Don't follow people with opinions you want to argue with" would mean cutting out a lot of people I mostly really like. And an echo chamber of people who all entirely agree with me is not entirely appealing. I really like being able to have productive discussions with people with different povs, and I know I used to be better at it.
Thinking about, I have taken the "just don't argue with people and unfollow anyone who makes that unbearable" approach to twitter, because expressing myself in 140 characters is just impossible. But I follow a very different group of people there, and barely post at all.
EDIT: Some interesting responses on tumblr...which of course I can't easily link to because tumblr but at worst you'll have to scroll down a little through that tag.
(going to post this on tumblr too, god help me, but point out that this post exists as a space for conversation for those who prefer it)