sqbr: (up and down)
2017-03-16 12:32 pm

There is no single underlying oppression

(I wanted to argue with someone on twitter and this is way too complex for 140 characters)

A hole a lot of activists seem to fall into is thinking that the axis of oppression they're fighting is the central oppression, the one from all others flow. If people just put their energy into this, the REAL fight, all the others would fall like dominos.

I have seen people argue this about ecomonic inequality, sexism, homophobia, ableism, racism (both in general and against specific ethnic groups), everything. I once read a very compelling argument by bell hooks that the Real Underlying Oppression is against children.

In every case the argument is (a) if you fight X, all the others improve and (b) There is an underlying element of X to all oppressions.

Which is true! But it's true for all of them. Everything is connected. It's all the same struggle. If you battle one, you battle them all. If one becomes worse, all the others become worse too.
Read more... )
sqbr: A giant eyeball with tentacles (tii)
2017-01-24 11:40 am

On being a non binary femslasher

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: (up)
2016-12-25 11:46 pm

The Broken Lamp Test

Namely: Can this disabled fictional character be replaced in the plot by a broken lamp?

For example: Man's [wife] is [sick]. He gets into debt to try and fix his [wife]. [Wife] has no lines and no other effect on the plot except to be a loved burden.

You can replace "sick wife" by "broken lamp" and the plot works just as well. Thus, like almost every story involving a sick wife, the example passes the broken lamp test.

Inspired by the sexy lamp test and Cam ranting to me about the ableism in the OA. And while most 'sexy lamps" get some lines and some choices, even if they're vapid and meaingless, many "broken lamps" don't get any lines or agency at all and could quite literally be replaced by broken lamps.

I mean I think these "tests" can be overused and unhelpful when a deeper and more nuanced analysis would be more productive. But I am still pretty happy with this as a term.
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
2016-10-23 10:02 am
Entry tags:

More thoughts on creating a better Discourse

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: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
2016-09-13 01:38 pm
Entry tags:

Criticism and fanworks

Got most of the way through this before remembering I was going to put all my long tumblr responses on dreamwidth haha.

Post I am replying to:
There’s a post that appeared on my dash earlier... the tl;dr summary of said post is that fandom ‘isn’t required to be a safe space’. ... Fandom isn’t here to create a safe space for creators either: it is literally a community about sharing. And sharing is a two way street.


“It’s ok to criticise fanfic just don’t attack the person” shouldn’t be such a rare point of view, but here we are. Anyway, I agree in principle. I’ve seen pushback against excessive criticism which goes past “don’t send death threats” and even “don’t criticise racism” to end up at “don’t criticise plagiarism” which is something I thought everyone agreed was worth criticising.

I think a major problem here is a flattening everything from “has a pairing I don’t like” to “actual hate speech” into “problematic”, and flattening everything from sending death threats to saying you didn’t enjoy something into “criticism”.
Read more... )
sqbr: Hannelore: Worry hat! Bravery plus 10, charisma plus 5 (worry hat)
2016-09-03 08:34 pm

How certain parts of "anti" shipping culture hurts me as an abuse survivor in fandom

This is very hard for me to write, so I apologise if it's disjointed. But I keep seeing people I like and respect behave in ways that claim to be about protecting abuse survivors yet are actively harmful to me as an abuse survivor. I have a probably vain hope that by explaining how it's hurtful we can find a better way to help all survivors in fandom, and generally make fandom more safe and enjoyable for everyone.

The aspect of "anti" shipping culture I have a problem with is the tendency to classify certain fictional relationships are inherently harmful and working to prevent them from being portrayed or discussed positively under any circumstances, as well as other behaviours I will go into. I'm not talking about people who publicly dislike a certain ship but don't actively try to silence those who like it.

Content warning: Rape and abuse, both real and fictional. I'll try not to be more triggering than I have to be but given the topic there's only so much I can do.
Read more... )
(Posting this publicly so I can link back to it as necessary, since usually when I want to make these arguments I'm too triggered to be coherent. It's basically the same as the locked draft I posted, but with a few edits here and there)
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
2016-08-29 02:45 pm

The weaponisation of community norms in fandom

So, I've been in fandom a long time and have seen the overall values of various fannish communities shift and change. I've personally been involved in efforts to improve fandom's attitudes towards social justice. But unfortunately it seems like whatever values fandom has in theory, in practice fans tend to exhibit the same toxic behaviours, often entirely opposed to the values they are theoretically upholding. Seeing this happen with social justice has been especially frustrating, but it's always bad, and I'm not sure what can be done about it.
Read more... )
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
2016-07-20 05:39 pm

On didactic works showing the behaviour they're criticising

An interesting tumblr post which makes the point that a lot of didactic works are the equivalent of a porn film with "AND THEN THEY GOT PREGNANT AND DIED" at the end that claims to be encouraging safe sex/abstinence etc.

Some thoughts I had as a result:
Read more... )
sqbr: (up)
2016-07-10 10:58 pm

Thinking about Sad Anime Wheelchair Girls

The Sad Anime Wheelchair Girl (who may not actually be a girl, or in an anime, but that's where I've seen it most) is in a manual wheelchair with handlebars of the sort used in hospitals. She is either a paraplegic or just "sick". Her personality is quiet, passive, and emotionally sensitive. She is quietly melancholy about her disability but tries to keep her spirits up.

She's got complete control over her arms so definitely isn't quadraplegic etc. She has no cognitive issues. She is slow and weak and sickly even when there isn't anything wrong with her canonically asides from paraplegia. She never has a power wheelchair but uses other people to push her around long distances or even by default. Her situation is not shown as changing or improving no matter how long she is in the chair.

This is not how things work! Paraplegics are, in general, just as energetic as able bodied people. They have elegant streamlined wheelchairs that look very different to the sorts used in hospitals, and incredibly strong arms. And those wheelchair users who can't push themselves around very energetically or at all are much more likely to use a power wheelchair than get someone else to push them around. The only long term manual wheechair users I've seen rely entirely on other people were those too cognitively impaired to control a power chair. There may be other circumstances I'm not aware of but it certainly isn't the default, and I have seen manual wheelchair users complain about all of this.
Pondering how to draw fanart of such characters )
sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
2016-06-30 06:04 pm

Whether to support problematic things, and if so how

I know this has been adressed many times by a lot of people, but I was pondering this question from someone who is hurt by some of the problematicness themselves, and the usual response didn't quite cover it.

My opinion in short:

There's lots of ways to "support" a work: watching/reading it, paying for it, promoting it, etc. Each should be considered separately.

And there are two questions when it comes to whether you or not you should "support" a work, for whatever definition of "support" is relevant:
1) What effect does it have on you?
2) What effect does it have on other people?

How you weigh the two answers is a matter of personal ethics, but they should both have weight. And it's very important not to weight what affects you more than what affects other people in anything claiming to be an objective analysis of the ethics of a situation.

Unfortunately people tend to conflate all the different forms of support, which I think is unhelpful.
My opinion in looooooong )
sqbr: (up and down)
2016-05-10 09:19 pm

A decade in online fandom social justice

In which I try to tease some sort of narrative out of the ridiculously long and rambling unabridged version. It's still pretty long, and still very subjective. And I'm still open to criticism and other points of view! Especially since I'm as prone to subconsciously editing history as anyone else.

The tl;dr version is that fandom used to actively stifle discussions of social justice, and then slowly started caring about it. Unfortunately, when fandom cares about something it uses it to attack other fans with different tastes, and social justice has been no exception. I still think things are better overall.
brief mentions of rape and abuse )
sqbr: Monty Python sketch about people being oversensitive about criticism (dirty fork)
2016-05-07 04:39 pm

Looking back on a decade in online fandom social justice: unexpurgated version

This is an incredibly subjective and personal account, with no clear moral or narrative, because that's how it wanted to come out. I then poked at things some more and wrote A decade in online fandom social justice: Abridged, which is a bit more structured and not quite as ridiculously long.

I've been inspired to write this by seeing other fans trying to sell their own, equally subjective narratives that contradict mine as The Objective Truth, and it annoys me. The most recent example is this deeply flawed essay by Franzeska. Here's some criticisms by POC: a thread on ffa wherea POC looks back on their own experiences of lj fandom and Fans Of Colour Are Not To Blame For Fandom's Erasures: A response to That Meta.
brief discussions of rape, death, and abuse, lots of discussions of bullying, lots and lots and LOTS of words )
sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
2016-05-04 02:15 pm
Entry tags:

Gender expression and female protagonists

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.
Read more... )
sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
2016-04-23 11:59 am

Not Like Other Girls

Can anyone think of sympathetic female protagonists who are shown caring about their physical appearance and/or actively trying to look more feminine and pretty more than some/all of the other women in the story? Not sympathetic side characters where it's seen as a forgivable flaw, but protagonists.

I'm conflating "trying to look good" with "traditionally feminine" a bit here, I realise they're not the same thing and if people have examples which poke at that I'd be interested too.

EDIT: I'm looking for PROTAGONISTS, not secondary characters/non-main parts of an ensemble, and they have to be EXPLICITELY MORE into dressing up etc than other female characters in the same story.
Read more... )
EDIT: some examples from further thinking/other people:

  • Buffy from Buffy
  • Elle from Legally Blonde
  • Aisha from Aisha and Cher from Clueless, both modern retellings of Emma that turn Emma's advice to Harriet on being more upper class into fashion advice
From memory, Legally Blonde is the only one that really treats caring about fashion etc with much respect. With Aisha and Clueless I think it's an artifact of "being upper class while female" translating most easily into fashion consciousness, and it could be argued that it's still more about class than gender. But Buffy and Legally Blonde are explicitely designed to be stories about the kind of girl who never gets to be the heroine.

EDIT: Followup post.
sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
2016-01-08 01:14 pm

The importance of power in discussions of media

I feel like I almost have a grip on this idea but lack the words to express it. Let's have a go anyway.

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.
Read more... )
sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
2015-06-20 01:57 pm

There is no such thing as "The Feminist Narrative"

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.
Read more... )
sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
2015-01-08 09:29 pm

Sex/Romance-Optional Bioware "Romances"?

Accidentally posted this over at alias_sqbr, after Chrome logged me out and then relogged me back into the wrong account. THANKS CHROME.
sqbr: me cosplaying the bearded dwarf cheery longbottom, titled Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
2015-01-07 09:21 am

In defense of violence in video games

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.
Read more... )
sqbr: (up)
2015-01-05 12:07 pm

Thinking about magical healing machines

I'm not sure if I've talked about this before but: every time I encounter Magical Healing/Health machines in speculative fiction (eg the sarcophagi in Stargate, the med bay in Star Trek, the machine that turned Steve into Captain America) I think about how they decide what counts as an illness/injury, and how they decide what Ideal Healthy State to go for. The line between "sick" and "healthy" is to some extent socially mandated and arbitrary, and an optimally "healthy" human population requires variation amongst the individuals. To maximise everything is impossible. You have to make choices.
Read more... )
sqbr: (up and down)
2013-12-08 06:56 pm

Politics, computers and charity

This is a lot of unfinished thoughts.

I didn't agree with all of Cyberlibertarians’ Digital Deletion of the Left but it was throught provoking. It makes the valid point that many "benevolent" technological groups are quite libertarian in effect and motivation. Also any sort of digital utopianism is blatantly bunk, technology is at best value neutral, it's a tool not a complete solution. I am glad of the link to this essay comparing intellectual property to other sorts of property in terms of freedom/enclosure etc, though I've only read the preface. And the idea that "information should be free" is definitely leveraged by businesses like Google to invade the privacy of and profit from everyday people.

But I think it acts like you're either pro-government or pro-business, and there are plenty of people who are neither. Also I'm pretty sure the EFF aren't the unambiguously pro-big-business force for evil they're painted as, they seem to help defend the little guy from oppressive big business a moderate amount of the time, and I know the Chair of the Australian branch is a card carrying member of Labor (and also quite left wing ;))

And...ok, Jimmy Wiles is pro-business and there's lots of obnoxious hierarchies and biases in Wikipedia, but I'm hard pressed to see it as an overall Force for Capitalist Evil. Not that the article says it is, it just mentions Jimmy Wiles and moves on instead of examimining whether libertarian techno-utopian projects may do social good regardless of their founders' politics. Or am I missing something?

Anyway, it got me thinking about what it means for a non profit or anyone to be "left wing".
Read more... )