sqbr: A giant eyeball with tentacles (tii)
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 11:40 am
This post is part of Femslash Revolution’s I Am Femslash series, sharing voices of F/F creators from all walks of life. The views represented within are those of the author only. Originally posted to tumblr.

Hi, I'm Sophie alias sqbr, a fic writer and fanartist, mostly into Bioware games, anime, and Jane Austen.

This post is basically just a bunch of thoughts about my personal experience, I would be really interested to hear from other people with different experiences. In a sense it's the third in a trilogy:
First, Why do we femslash?, written back in 2009 when I identified as a straight cis woman.
Second, Personal Experiences of Femslash Fandom as a Queer Space, written in 2013 after I started identifying as a bi woman.
And now we have this, written in 2017, now that I identify as a genderfluid biromantic grey asexual. I guess we'll have to wait and see where I'm at in 2021 ;)

So! I've been into f/f since before I even realised queerness existed (my childhood feels about Anne/Diana let me tell you them), and into femslash fandom for about ten years. I have always identified much more strongly with female characters than male ones, and while I enjoy m/f romance I get tired of it's ubiquitous heteronormativity. So when I find good f/f I really enjoy it, and I get a kick out of making it.

When I realised I was bi a lot of things made more sense. I was a bi woman, no wonder I identified with female characters and like m/f and f/f! But when I realised I was genderfluid it made things a little more complicated.
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sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 10:02 am
Removing the allcaps because I find them hard to read, but I really agree with
the one thing both those positions share is fear of critical engagement with a person who disagrees with you, which is the one thing you absolutely need in order to progress a discussion past whatever stalled you in the first place.

from this post.

I think the only way to move past this is not just to criticise those we most strongly and angrily disagree with, but to seek out and acknowledge those points of view we disagree with but can respect, and to not act like everyone who disagrees with us is the same as those we disagree with most. Also to avoid uncritically promulgating the opinions of those who are “on our side” but engage in uneccesary cruelty, overgeneralisation or outright misinformation. And if you're afraid to voice your qualms about someone "on your side" because they might turn against you...they're not really on your side.

And then I started rambling, nothing I haven't said before )
sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 02:15 pm
The comments to my last post on the subject made me realise I hadn't expressed myself very clearly, so I've been waiting until I felt clear headed enough to lay out my argument properly, and here we are.

My point: female protagonists are almost always the least invested in feminine presentation compared to other female characters in the story.

I'm not saying there's no such thing as major sympathetic female characters who care more about feminine presentation than other female characters in the story. There's lots of those. I am strictly talking about protagonists.

In most cases the main character is the best at looking pretty, but that's not the same as being the most invested. A common trope is the protagonist being forced to dress up prettily and looking fabulous with no effort on her part. Another common trope, especially on tv, is her looking fabulous and fairly girly despite explicitely "not caring". As many butch women have pointed out, mainstream fiction actually portrays women as being, overall, much more invested in feminine presentation than they are in reality. You almost never see genuinely butch women, instead many female protagonists SAY they don't care about feminine presentation but clearly LOOK like someone who cares a great deal.

I'm not saying that these stories are neccesarily sexist, especially not something like Fun Home which explores the generally ignored experiences of butch women. I just think it's notable that female protagonists are so limited, and want to poke at it.
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sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Saturday, June 20th, 2015 01:57 pm
There are certain sexist narratives media present to us. It's good to try to subvert them. But it is usually impossible to subvert all of them at once.

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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sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 09:21 am
I've been paying more attention to video game criticism lately, and it feels like there's this growing backlash against the ubiquity of violence in video games. And to some extent I entirely agree: the idea that "real gamers play RPSs at the hardest difficulty"/"real games are FPSs with the latest graphics" is really restrictive and exclusionary, both of the variety of people who play games, and the variety of kinds of games we could be playing. One of the reasons violence is used so frequently as a core mechanic is that it's relatively easy to code and design, and that warps the narratives of games: Someone at Pax was talking about how if the only problem solving tool you have is "the protagonist kills someone" that really limits the kinds of stories you can tell, and warps the stories you do tell.

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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sqbr: (up)
Saturday, November 9th, 2013 01:18 pm
The first and most obvious reason is that it's terrifying. Cecil may be able to put a positive spin on massive death rates and repressive secret police but personally I'd rather stay in a town where the librarians don't try to eat you and steal your children. YMMV.

The second reason is that there are no ramps in Night Vale. The writers have gone to great efforts to create a world with no acceptance of homophobia, racism or sexism and have been rightfully applauded for doing so. Yet when it comes to disability the town doesn't do so well(*).
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sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Sunday, August 11th, 2013 08:24 pm
I've seen a lot of people talk about slash fandom as a queer space, but I'm not sure I've seen anyone talk about femslash fandom as one.

When I started out in online fanworks based fandom I identified as straight and had extreme difficulty finding femslash for anything I was interested in. Figuring out where the femslashers are at and figuring out my sexuality have to some extent gone hand in hand, and hanging out with other femslashers has been a hugely positive experience.
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sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Thursday, July 11th, 2013 09:02 pm
So: Internalised misogyny exists, and does harm to the woman herself and the women around her. All women have it to some extent and it's something we should be aware of and try to work against.

However. Pretty much every time I've seen fans in female dominated fannish spaces talk about other women's internalised misogyny the argument would have been much better without it.
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sqbr: Well meaning white girls against racism over Tracy from Hairspray (racism)
Monday, June 3rd, 2013 03:05 pm
So! A few years ago I realised that not only did I pretty much only draw white people, but that I wasn't sure how to draw anything else. There is a long history of dark skinned people being made to look pale and POC being made to look white in order for them to be more palatable to pale white audiences. So there are ethical as well as artistic reasons to try not to screw this stuff up. I made a post poking at the problem, what have I learned since then?
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sqbr: Are you coming to bed? I can't, this is important. Why? Someone is wrong on the internet. (duty calls)
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 08:36 pm
Yes, really.

Because while I may not be into m/m much most of the time, and have my own Issues With Slash Fandom, I've seen a few posts pop up on tumblr recently (here's the most recent) which have been taking the very simplistic line that slash's popularity is purely a result of misogyny, and that writing m/m is equivalent to only writing about white people. These posts also act like het is this POOR OPPRESSED MINORITY which, no.

It's nearly 2013, fandom, have we still not moved beyond this? Can't we argue about something else now?
Cut for those as sick of it as me )
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
Monday, October 1st, 2012 12:07 pm
Bullying & Goodreads I found this interesting because it's such a blatant example of people using "bullying" (aka criticism) as an excuse to be actual bullies.

On being considered a Fake Geek Girl I like this in particular (as opposed to various other similar essays by geekier women, which make different but equally valid points) because she really ISN'T a "real" geek by some definitions, but that doesn't mean she's fake. She's just who she is, with the interests she has (which are kind of geeky and kind of not), and she can't help it if people insist on a false Geek/Mundane dichotomy and then complain when she doesn't fit.

In general I've been thinking about "real fans". And as much as part of me kicks and screams that they are Not Real Fans and Don't Love Canon Like It Deserves, I think I have to accept that people who are only into (a)Jane Austen through the adaptations or (b)That Popular Thing I Love (Homestuck, for example) for the generic slash are totally justified in their tastes. Especially since there are plenty of books I'm only into from the adaptations, and canons where I vastly prefer the OOC schmoopy fanfic (sometimes even the juggernaut slash pairing! I find fanon John/Rodney way more entertaining than Stargate Atlantis the actual show, for example. YES, I KNOW, I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM) How the different forms of fannishness can coexist without stomping all over each other quite so much I am less sure.

The golden age Interesting take on how to head towards a truly equal society. I think that even if we ignore global warming and other similar practical hurdles, it glosses over how and why public attitudes have changed worldwide, it's not ALL The Capitalist Conspiracy brainwashing us with Fox News etc, and also seems focused on the abstract instead of looking at various approaches to social democracy worldwide (OUTSIDE EUROPE/THE US EVEN OMG). He does update with, for example, an acknowledgement that childcare is work too, but I think a more thorough analysis of disability theory etc would greatly benefit the analysis. One thing I've heard is that a more heterogeneous society erodes public support for egalitarianism, because people think "I'm ok supporting people like me, but not people like them" Not sure how to combat that, beyond trying to fight racism etc (which are obviously good goals regardless :)) Still, becoming disabled has really made me notice and question the emphasis on "being productive".
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
Thursday, June 7th, 2012 08:07 pm


I did a meme on tumblr offering to do a video post on any requested subject (the other one is on maths so got posted to alias_sqbr) and was given the topic "being a queer, disabled, feminist writer". I didn't talk much about feminism in the end! I'm wearing a Kate Beaton "Brontes" shirt and key earrings (and pants. You can't see them, just letting you know they're there)

It's interesting seeing what assumptions and stuff show up when I can't go back and edit the first thing that pops out of my head eg the idea that queer fandom = femslash fanfic which is all written by women, which...no :) Also, as a kid I actually did like the idea of a husband/boyfriend being like a best friend but better. But I knew not all relationships were like that.

Transcript below the cut, there are also closed captions through the magic of Youtube. A few errors but I can't be bothered fixing them right now, sorry!
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sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Sunday, April 29th, 2012 09:36 am
or "One reason my Pride and Prejudice femslash fizzled out". This is for The 3rd Annual Femslash Mini Meta Fest in response to the prompt "What's your approach to writing femslash in times and places that are notoriously unfriendly for f/f relationships, especially historical settings?"
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sqbr: WV stands proudly as mayor (homestuck)
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 11:56 am
Inspired by this conversation on tumblr about rule 63 Eridan/Feferi, and others I've seen: here's a selection of the first few interactions between Feferi and Eridan with their genders swapped in a really slapdash way. There's an version of the chat without all the text quirks at the bottom of the page.

No thoughts as yet, just wanted to see what it looked like. The text required very little changing!
Read more... )
sqbr: (up)
Sunday, January 8th, 2012 11:10 am
No Disability at the Final Frontier: Science Fiction, Cures, and Eliminationism reminds me that I've been meaning to make a post about disability in "perfect" disability-free societies for a while, waiting until I can write the Perfect Post, but I think it's time to admit that's not going to happen and just ramble for a while, with the option to return to the topic later it later.

I'm not really addressing s.e.smith's point but riffing off a different aspect of the same broader topic of depictions of disability in scifi. I also covered some of this in Disability in Speculative Fiction: Monsters, mutants and muggles.
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sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 12:23 pm
Where are all the female anime fans? I don't read anime blogs, so can't speak to that, but in terms of meatspace fandom: am I wrong in remembering JAFWA (the local anime club) as having a lot of female members? I recall there being a reasonable number of women at the anime panels at Swancon too. Of course this is Australia, which may have a very different fan culture to the US.

Also I find her definition of "fan" unhelpfully ambiguous, it feels like anyone who isn't fannish the same way she is gets excluded. And that's not even getting into her very dubious explanations for this apparent effect, she completely ignores the possibility of sexism within anime fandom making women feel unwelcome. While most of the people I talked to were lovely, there were definitely some weird creepy guys at JAFWA.

The Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric

Teenagers say drama when they want to diminish the importance of something. Repeatedly, teenagers would refer to something as “just stupid drama,” “something girls do,” or “so high school.” We learned that drama can be fun and entertaining; it can be serious or totally ridiculous; it can be a way to get attention or feel validated. But mostly we learned that young people use the term drama because it is empowering.

Dismissing a conflict that’s really hurting their feelings as drama lets teenagers demonstrate that they don’t care about such petty concerns. They can save face while feeling superior to those tormenting them by dismissing them as desperate for attention. Or, if they’re the instigators, the word drama lets teenagers feel that they’re participating in something innocuous or even funny, rather than having to admit that they’ve hurt someone’s feelings. Drama allows them to distance themselves from painful situations.


This reminds me of the way some people in online fandom use the term "wank".
sqbr: And yet all I can think is, this will make for a great Dreamwidth entry... (dw)
Sunday, September 18th, 2011 09:50 pm
Jon Stewart and the Burden of History A flawed but still interesting critique of John Stewart. This came up on my dash shortly after a discussion of how not-that-feminist Jane Austen was, and I think in both cases there's that ambiguity between satire for it's own sake and political statement. Critiquing hypocrisy and ridiculousness does not always extend to critiquing the system that allows such hypocrisy and ridiculousness to flourish, or those who are sensible and honest but harmful.

Mass Effect: Conviction Comic about the new crew member James Vega. And oh look, after the recent DLC where you had no choice but to destroy a planet of unfriendly aliens(*) we have yet another scene of a privileged guy berating thuggish aliens for being so belligerent about his complicity in the mass murder of their people. YAY.

A nice collection of links about this #yesgayya thing.

Also, I have no link to hand, but Australia now allows for a third gender on passports, and has removed the surgery requirement for trans people, huzzah!

(*)Making this the fourth time the player has to decide if (or in what way) they want to be complicit in genocide/mass murder. I would like a new moral dilemma please.
sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)
Thursday, August 11th, 2011 12:36 pm
This is less an attempt at a coherent post and more a continuation of a discussion that got too long for twitter. Overall this is a lesson in why asking me "my thoughts" is a bad idea, I'm tl;dr enough when asked to answer a specific question :D

So: Tim asked me what I thought of the article Leave FemShep Alone: An Open Letter to BioWare.

EDIT: Why the Mass Effect 3 FemShep vote was the wrong move makes some good points I feel a bit embarrassed for not thinking of.
Read more... )
sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Thursday, May 12th, 2011 09:53 am
So, the politics of fanworks panel at Swancon got me thinking. I left a comment on cupidsbow's post on the subject with some further thoughts, and one of the things I noticed while writing that comment is that despite most of my fanworks being fanart I was having real trouble thinking of transformative fanart with an overt political message that weren't race/gender/etc swaps. (Not that's anything wrong with such swaps, but surely there had to be more variety I was missing)
And then I thought about it some more… )