alixtii: Riley and Venom, from the end of season 3. (Riley/Venom)
Speaking as a het male, when I use a female character as a partial self-insert (and I prefer doing so over male characters) I generally want her to do double-duty as lust object as well. This creates absolutely zero cognitive dissonance in me. (Whether that's because I can keep the roles of self-insert and lust object separate in my head, or because I'm assuming that if I were going to be a fantastic woman than of course that would include being the sort of woman I as a het man desire, I can't say.)

At the end of the day, it's absolutely true that we need to retire the term "Mary Sue" as a term which has moved beyond the limits of redeemability. But it is equally important to continue to try to redeems those characteristics (other than bad writing simpliciter--and hey, if you want to try to redeem bad writing simpliciter, power to you) which at times the term may have been understood to denote.
alixtii: An image from the webcomic Sinfest. A female devil chases after our hero, saying "Come here and get whipped like a man!" (BDSM)
In my profile, there is (and has been for years) at the very top, a quote from Roland Barthes about Parisian striptease: "Woman is desexualized at the very moment when she is stripped naked." It is given such a prominent place because I consider it in many ways to be my philosophy of ficwriting. I try to write in that same contradictory space in which Parisian striptease took place: presenting the female character for the reader’s desiring gaze without stripping them naked of their agency so that they become desexualized--for an object has no sex.

[personal profile] aris_tgd refers to "the dominant narrative of [. . .] fetish and [. . .] kink" as being the narrative "your bodies are thing which we are entitled to": having X as kink (in the original post, disability) means using X as an object of one's pleasure. This fantasy of entitlement exists in a similar contradiction: the woman's (or POC's or disabled person's or so on) agency undermines the entitlement by making access to their bodies their choice, while violent rape undermines it from the other direction (if one were truly entitled, force would not be necessarily). It is a truism that slash, of both the m/m and f/f varieties, is (among other things) a mechanism for exploring these types of power imbalances, often for the purposes of kink, without invoking the politics of heterosexuality.

Often, then, in fic as in society, the violence or implied threat of violence is shifted away, masked, sublimated. In the fics I cite in this post, my School of Lost Souls and [personal profile] wisdomeagle's Gather Paradise, this is the case. In my fic, Fred is entitled to River's body as part of a larger claim on River's body made by the Alliance, a claim whose logical endpoint we finally are shown in the movie Serenity and The R. Tam Sessions. In Ari's fic, the violence is similarly transferred to Wolfram & Hart, the demonic law firm which employs both Lilah Morgan and Fred Burkle, the two halves of the fic's pairing, at various points in the run of Angel. The characters in both fics do not have to resort to violence in order to assert their entitlement over the bodies of others, because all of the characters are already embedded in a system which systematically undermines their agency.

It is not coincidental that in both cases this nexus of power is aligned in opposition to the moral order of the canon universe; both the Alliance and Wolfram & Hart are the "bad guys." Both Ari's fic and my own thus become fics which not only depict sexual entitlement and enact a fantasy of sexual entitlement, they are also in some sense about sexual entitlement.

On the other hand, in my Narnia AU The iPhone of Queen Susuan the systemic nexus of power which affords the male protagoniost access to and control over his sister's body is aligned with the general moral order of the canon universe. Peter is entitled to Susan's body because their god has said so. Note that while I'm taking the dynamics to an extreme not seen in the canon text, I don't think I'm essentially changing them. Instead, I'm highlighting something that is already implicit in canon.

It would seem that imaginative resistance--the term philosophers of language use for the phenomenon wherein we find ourselves unwilling or even unable to imagine fictional worlds wherein the moral order is contrary to that which we believe holds in the actual world--would cause us to recognize Aslan as being evil in ordaining such an order, and Peter (and Lucy and Susan) as complicit for cooperating with it. (That would certainly be, say, Christopher Hitchens' analysis.) Insofar as this is the case, it seems that it should function as a satire.

And yet . . . it doesn't. It's not a fic about entitlement, simply a fic which depicts entitlement, enacts a fantasy of entitlement for the pleasure of the reader. It reads like an id fantasy of discipline and submission to discipline. There is, I think, a readerly construction of author's intent--the author-function--going on here: the reader intuits (and whether she is right or wrong is irrelevant so long as she follows the established conventions of her interpretative community) that the purpose of the fic is not to critique. This involves an examination of the plausible pscyhology of a community member: while it is not plausible to assume that Dean Swift really wanted to eat babies, it is much more plausible to assume that the idea of Peter spanking Susan might get an author hot. (Then again, maybe Jonny had a baby-eating kink. Who knows?) To say that a fic is "about" X is to say that we construct the author-function as havin depicted X for the precise purpose of making a statement about it; in "The iPhone of Queen Susan," this doesn't happen.

But as I've pointed out before, the real question is not whether the reader constructs the author as advocating (or at least not advocating against) a point of view. Insofar as this is what we are worried about as authors, we are shifting the focii of attention to ourselves and away from the suffering of the oppressed--we are more worried about looking sexist or racist or ablist than in acting sexist or racist or ablist. Instead, the question we must ask is: how is the story functioning within the community of its readership? Is it normalizing harmful behaviors, reinforcing damaging stereotypes, &c? The answers to these questions will rely as much on the character(s) of the readership(s) as on the content of the story. It is a matter of ethnography rather than literary criticism as such. The way Triumph of the Will or Birth of A Nation might function when shown to a contemporary sociology or history class is very different than how either film would have functioned in its original context, for example.

I've been accused in the past of being too trusting of fandom's ability to read fics critically in terms of sexual politics. It is a point well-taken: firstly, the generalizations I made about fandom's critical capacities two years ago aren't necessarily the same as I would make today; and secondly, obviously any of our understandings of "fandom" will be severely constrained, each of us having different and often strongly disparate experiences. Of course, neither is "fandom" synonymous with my readership, however. The question then becomes: how can I do my best to frame my stories in such a way trhat my own particular and unique readership receives them in the way which does the leat harm and the most good?

I think the advice that [personal profile] aris_tgd gives me in the comments to her post is probably the best solution:
I think that labeling these things as kink instead of as "how the world works" does help to change people's minds about the narrative. I mean, labeling "a man having sex with his wife even if she doesn't want to because that's what he's entitled to" as "spousal rape" instead of "how a marriage works" changes how we think about bodily autonomy and what marriage means. Labeling these as "constructed narratives for a particular kink" helps the reader realize that they are constructs.
ETA: It strikes me that it's probably important for me to point out that [personal profile] aris_tgd uses the term "label" instead of "warn" in the quote above. The distinction is important to me: what we're talking about is something an author uses to shape a reader's aesthetic experience, in the same we she uses the content of the story itself, not something which is imposed on the author regardless of what it may be she is trying to do. I'm thinking mainly in terms of AO3's tags, which a reader can also choose not to see if they don't want to be spoiled. (I have tags set not to display, for example.) I don't warn for story elements other than rape; I do, however, tag things in ways I consider to be accurate and appropriate, and I tend to be a maximalist rather than a minimalist in tagging (since even for someone who has tags set not to display, tags will still be a mechanism, via the sidebar, of finding new fic, so the more tags an author uses the more likely a reader will find her fic).
alixtii: The OTW Logo. Text: "Fandom is My Fandom." (Fandom)
The notion of "transformational" versus "affirmative" fandoms found via this metafandom'd post by [personal profile] damned_colonial is really a genius ones. What those two posts only really begin to come to terms with in the comments, though, is just how affirmational much of female-dominated LJ/DW-located media fanfiction fandom really is.

Which isn't a bad thing in and of itself--I'm down with loving things, really--except when it begins functioning as a normative standard. But I remember just how often during the Diana Gabaldon affair and the discussions which followed, how often it was put forward that fanficcers were doing what we do out of love, as if that should matter somehow, and how problematic it was, this implication that it'd be right for us to be ashamed of what we do if we did it--when we do it--out of hate or anger or merely mild interest or simply because we can, that it's only because it's being done out of love that what we do is okay. And I really can't begin to describe just how damaging that seems to me, how pernicious I find the notion that really, fanfiction ought to be celebratory.

(Also how every year everyone angsts so much on whether their remixee for [ profile] remixredux will like the remix they write despite being repeatedly told that's not really the point.)

It's helpful, I think, to have names--and names which don't begin with "Cult of," although they do I think they map fairly neatly onto what in years past have been called the Cult of Nice and the Cult of Mean--for these strands of media fandom, because they better help understand the diversity of opinion on some subjects such as the role of warnings, about concrit, or about the appropriateness of writing fanfiction with/out (asking) permission. The affirmational school focuses on privileging authors (including fan authors of fanfic) and their feelings; the transformational school, on open discussion and critique.

If there's any doubt about my own allegience, it's with the latter school, which has a wonderful history of producing such wonderfully rich, "thick" (in the litcrit sense) texts such as [personal profile] helenish's Take Off Clothes as Directed which subverts assumption about the use of BDSM as a fanfic trope, or these stories which do something similar with genderswap tropes, or the hilariously wonderful J2 fic Common Knowledge. (Recs for more fics with fall more on the transformative rather than affirmational side of fandom are totally welcome in the comments.)

These do not really seem to be, insofar as I can tell, particularly gendered phenomenon, no matter how much we might like to wave them off as being such. (It's interesting to look at how our instinctive gendering of the Cult of Mean/Cult of Nice divide and of the Affirmational/Transformative divide are actually completely opposite.)

This seems to me to be linked somehow also to this meme of "Fandom is my fandom": the notion that insofar as (what we have been calling) transformative fandom is affirmational, it's affirmational not of a text or an author but of a community readers who are also authors (and vice versa), a group of online contacts, and perhaps most of all a set of values which promotes dialogue and dicussion, critical response and critique, and, well, transformation.

ETA: For some background/context on the Cult of Nice/Cult of Mean discussions, see this post by [personal profile] synecdochic.
alixtii: The Childlike Empress with her palm reaching out, holding the last grain of Fantasia. The OTW logo hovers above it. (OTW)
Re: juice817: [in audio_by_juice] Questions, I has them! I ended up in a m

My naive intuition is that podfic falls somewhere between remixing or otherwise writing fanfic of fanfic (which I most strongly maintain does not require permission) and archiving fic (which does, generally). Now while all the podfic meta I've ever read stresses the transformativeness of podfic, that's not necessarily at odds with my naive intuition. After all, I don't think I've ever heard anyone's describing OTW's mandate as including unlicensed audiobooks.

So I don't know.

And so, in the spirit of the original discussion post, a poll.

the cut is behind the poll. no, wait. . . . )

From the OTW FAQ: "A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, 'adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the [source] with new expression, meaning, or message.' A story from Voldemort's perspective is transformative, so is a story about a pop star that illustrates something about current attitudes toward celebrity or sexuality."

Evaluate a genre's transformativity as a genre in whatever way makes sense to you, whether it is by singling out something you think is essential about that genre or by just taking all the fics you've read in a genre and taking their average transformativity.

Obviously the numbers you come up with will be somewhat arbitrary, and the whole process a bit overly schematic, but hopefully as an exercise it'll prove enlightening. If not, still a poll! Polls are fun! (Sorry for the lack of ticky boxes.)
alixtii: Drusilla holding a knife to Angel's throat. Text: "Got Freud?" (Freud)
So my reaction to the big m/m meta discussions going on has been basically, "Well, I'm glad I write alongside queer female writers about queer female characters for the benefit of a queer female audience." (Part of the reason for this is that I'm in the middle of a job search, so I don't have the time or the energy for a real opinion. If anyone knows of opportunities in the Philly/South Jersey region, do tell.) Not that the position I do occupy is unproblematic, but it's sort of problematic in fairly obvious ways we can all agree upon and don't require massive amounts of discussion.

But then my fellow femslashers have spoken up and the conversation has mutated in various ways and suddenly, I have thoughts. Because obviously m/m slash and femslash are different than and similar to each other in many complicated and different ways (many of which I've discussed repeatedly before), but my impression has always been that in more or less exactly the way that m/m slash isn't actually about real-world gay men (in a way that some interlocutors have found problematic, to say the least), femslash isn't about lesbians. (Obviously, the corollary to that is that femslash is about lesbians in all the ways m/m slash is about gay men. My purpose isn't to erase queerness.)

Obviously, I am not at all remotely qualified to speak to whether femslash accurately reflects The Lesbian Experience. So this is your invitation to tell me that I'm totally wrong. This post on femslash and the lesbian experience (eta: now locked, presumably in response to accusations of biphobia, although still much discussed throughout the LJ-meta-sphere) by [ profile] freifraufischer, linked on [community profile] metafandom, clearly indicates* that there's at least one queer female femslasher who would presumably disagree with the hypothesis put forth above. And it's interesting the ways in which she frames femslash writing in ways which seem foreign to this particular het male femslasher, such as her assertion that most "unrealistic" femslash fics are evidenced by bad writing: just stop by any femslash porn battle and you'll find plenty of incredibly well-written but not-at-all-realistic ficlets. (Putting aside for the moment the question of just what realism would even look like when one is slashing a Vampire Slayer with a vampire or werewolf.)

[*ETA, now that the post in question is no longer accessible: "The higher percentage of femslash stories that reflect aspects of lesbian culture beyond the purely sexual make it an expression of the lesbian community. In so much that there are straight women, and men, who write femslash they appear more likely to make some effort towards expressing true aspects of LGBT culture, as opposed to writing pure fantasy that has little relation to gay culture." I'm deeply saddened that I can't find, floating around the internets anywhere, the quote about how any fic in which C.J. Cregg picked up Sam Carter in a bar would automatically have to be badly written.]

[ETA2: I've just come across this post, "Professional Lesbians . . . and Fanfic" which goes on at length about the sorts of unrealisticness she dislikes for not adequately living up to certain elements of the lesbian experience--the tacit assumption being, of course, that it should.]

It makes sense to me, in a more-or-less purely theoretical way (I don't think it actually is a purely theoretical way, because I have been a member of this community and one of you for many years, and at least to some degree have learned your ways, but het male privilege is all-pervasive) that may be totally wrong, that a predominately queer female body of writers writing for a predominately queer female audience about characters who are in some sense or another queer and female doesn't require them focusing on how they are representing themselves (because the people to whom they are representing themselves are themselves), or at least not how they are representing themselves in any way which requires realism. Rather that which is being represented is a set of hopes and dreams, fears and fantasies. It's not a mirror that's intended to exist without distortion; indeed, given the grim reality of so many queer female lives, it'd be the source of much pain and anguish if it were. Femslash, no less than m/m slash, is frequently a genre of escapist literature (although, of course, it doesn't have to be, and it can be in ways other than the immediately obvious).

Femslash, I thought, is primarily about female pleasure, both as medium and as message. Of course, female pleasure is no less political a goal than representation is--cue the Hélène Cixous Laugh of the Medusa song-and-dance:
We've been turned away from our bodies, shamefully taught to ignore them, to strike them with that stupid sexual modesty; we've been made victims of the old fool's game: each one will love the other sex. I'll give you your body and you'll give me mine. But who are the men who give women the body that women blindly yield to them? Why so few texts? Because so few women have as yet won back their body. Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reverse-discourse, including the one that laughs at the very idea of pronouncing the word 'silence', the one that, aiming for the impossible, stops short before the word 'impossible' and writes it as 'the end.'
(In one sense, it seems self-evident that femslash lives up to this ideal in a way that m/m slash does not; on the other hand, that acknowledgment seems to have something of the "we should all become lesbians" sentiment to it which characterized second-wave feminism** at its worst.)

[**ObDisclaimer: Wave-terminology erases feminist history; feminism never stops happening.]

I keep thinking back to my meta post of two years ago, Gazes in/and/of Criticism, in which I attempt to compare the desiring elements of both the het male and queer female gazes (assuming for the moment that we're breaking with Freud and Lacan enough to even posit that a female gaze is a possible subject position to begin with, as [ profile] ithiliana notes in her post on fetishization). Of course, femslash is about much more than just a desiring gaze; it's also about agency (and the fantasy of agency) and about female characters (albeit characters who, although female, were probably written and created by het white men) being themselves (which in itself can be a radical act): women are desiring, women are desired, and women also get to do things which have little to nothing to do with desire before and after all the desiring. But I do think there is something "fetishistic," insofar as I understand that concept (linked gacked from [ profile] ithiliana), with what queer women (and people who are not queer women, like me) are doing with fictional(ized) female characters in femslash. They're (and we're) playing with them like dolls. I just don't think that's especially problematic in and of itself.

(And may I say that all the google hits for "queer female gaze" which aren't me--and I'm glad to see that I'm not at the top--all look incredibly interesting?)

Now what the implications for the m/m debate are, in which the representations of--I hesitate to say "an other," because men are the default, unmarked gender and many (if not most) of the writers of m/m slash are queer, so they clearly aren't Other in the Lacanian psychoanalytic sense--but the representations of a group of people who are not the same people as the writers or the readers, and who likewise hold an oppressed position in relation to the patriarchy--are used to replace the fantastic (meaning not realistic, but also fantastic in a psychoanalytic sense) representations of the writers/readers that we get with femslash, I don't claim to know. But I did want to write down my thoughts on the femslash discussion, say a bit about how I frame femslash as a genre, and give a chance for queer women in the femslash community/ies to tell me I'm totally wrong.

(And while we're on the subject of female characters: less than eight hours until "Epitaph Two"!)
alixtii: Specialist Cally, with head tilted. Text: "Huh." (BSG)
It seems to me that fantastic texts, through the always-already present reification of the deus ex machina, allow for a type of meta move--although in a limited, constrained way (which arguably ultimately undermines the meta-ness of the move). Buffy can talk to the camera if there's a demon making her hallucinate she's on TV, but not otherwise. My understanding, through fannish osmosis, is that in Supernatural that's done through the device of God and the angels, which--not having watched the show--seems a reasonable in-universe device.

So when I wrote [ profile] wisdomeagle into my remix of her story, I used the device of the White Room--also a deliberate homage to [personal profile] annakovsky writing herself into "Critique of Pure Reason" (is that long enough to deserve italicization?) the same way.

There is a generic difference between "Once More With Feeling" and "Seeing Red"--but so too is there a generic difference between "The Trouble with Tribbles" and (say) "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." (And there are some quite meta episodes in Voyager seasons 6 and 7, arguably beginning with "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy," which is hilarious, but now I'm rambling.) I'm just not sure what the difference is; it seems a different kind of difference than between characters who talk to the camera and characters who don't. (And I'm so used to the way that [ profile] annakovsky undermined the meta-ness of Jim and Pam talking to the camera in her Office fic that I can't help but let that influence the way I view canon.)

I think I would be quite disturbed if a Devil Wears Prada fic I was reading suddenly got all meta-y. (Of course, RPF seems to me as the natural place for meta and wall-breaking, and presumably there's less in-text foundation for that than in any fictional canon, so.)
alixtii: River and Kaylee. Text: "Problematizing desire." (theory)
So, I'm talking to my ex-girlfriend about Robert Jensen's Gettining Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, and I had a thought which is rather ill-formed and I'm not sure what to make of it.

It seems to me there is something almost inevitably heteronormative inherent in Dworkinist constructions of masculinity. (Re-visioned masculinity, I mean, so: reconstructions.) That they provide a chance to step outside one's maleness without actually having to examine one's heterosexuality in any real detail. This seems rather counterintuitive on one level (Dworkin was a lesbian, John Stoltenberg was a gay man, and apparently Jensen himself isn't straight either), but seems right to me on another that I can't articulate. Anybody have any thoughts? Able to help me theorize this out? Is it just that they're so deeply seeped in a 1970's-style second-wave aesthetic? Is it a result of positioning this reconceptualization as a primarily feminist move--which is to say making the moral criterion an essentially gynocentric one? (How strange is it to consider gynocentrism a potentially bad thing?) Or is it even that any constructive project is by its nature opposed to the very project of critical, and thus queer, theory? It is arguably implicitly futurist, and it'd be hard to argue that what is being done is (liberal) activism (whose job is to build) as opposed to (radical) theory (whose job is to critique). How much is any of this a problem? And how much of this is a problem inherent in Dworkinism itself as opposed to incidental to it?

ETA: Jensen discusses the move to abolish masculinity versus the move to redefine it, arguing for, as would I, the former. This puts forward a possibility: any attempt to reconstruct masculinity is essentially an attempt to keep it intact, to re-inscribe separate gender roles, and since all sexism is ultimately heterosexist (and vice versa), this is heteronormative. I don't think this is the whole story, though--especially since the premise of my original question assumed the project was being (or at least, could be) heteronormative while still being feminist (which would presumably be to say, not sexist).

It does raise the question, though: the two male feminists I know of who think that masculinity is something worthy of being discussed (instead of simply stipulating it as undesirable and then getting on with the feminist projects of radical critique and liberal activism) are both Dworkinists. Is this significant?
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
Suzie at Echidne of the Snakes, on how Dollhouse is and isn't (and should and shouldn't be) feminist, here. (I think we may disagree on whether or not sex work is inherently anti-feminist--I don't think it is--but that obscures the more important point that, both in real life and on the show, the way sex work is actually conducted is pretty clearly immoral in almost all cases.)

[personal profile] cesare, on using sexually explicit RPF and FPF, particularly those involving some type of queerness, as a mechanism of critique and attack and mockery, here and here. And for the record, no, I would have no problem with people writing RPF about me even if the purpose was to slander me, and even if they leave it in places I'll probably see it. The fact that they wanted to attack me would sadden me, of course, if I found out about it, but the particular method they chose would be one I'd consider legitimate and valid and even sort of awesome; all the world's a text and we should feel free to remix it.

The first rule of RPF is, of course, that the characters we never write are never the real people (if your metaphysics allows for such a thing) they purport to be; in this context, the very idea of RPF as an attack is logically incoherent. Which is not to say that doing anything at all with the intent to hurt somebody (or the knowledge that it would hurt them) is an okay thing, or that the mere knowledge that someone else acted with that intent couldn't itself be hurtful, but that's a very different critique, and I've seen people specifically claiming that intent isn't relevant to the discussion they were trying to have.

[personal profile] yhlee, on "how to avoid the wind-up toy effect," dealing with issues of worldbuilding especially in science fiction and fantasy settings, here. At some point I'm going to write why I think what she writes there is a useful corrective to what I found problematic or wrong coming out of the Science and Magic panel at [ profile] writercon, but for now I'll settle on just linking it.
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
spoilers )

It doesn't pass the Bechdel test. The idea that, in the feminist utopia, every movie will be one that Alison Bechdel (or the character from her comic strip, I guess) will want to see is kind of silly. Now, the Bechdel test is really useful to me, because it does do a fairly good job of predicting which movies I would want to see and which ones I wouldn't. And it's very possible that if Dr. Horrible hadn't been written by Joss or starred Felicia, I wouldn't have felt any need to see it, just as I'd have no interest in seeing a movie about the trenches of World War II unless someone assured me it that X (insert whatever reason I might watch a movie here). To me the logic of the Bechdel test (and it's a logic I agree with--let me make it clear right now that the people who use these moments to write off the usefulness of considering the Bechdel test or the Women in Refrigerators trope in general, e.g. in some--certainly not all--of the comments here, make me much more deeply uncomfortable than those people making feminist criticisms I don't think apply to a text I enjoyed) as a political instrument (as opposed to a tool for Alison Bechdel to decide what movie to go see) is that--and I'd hope this is uncontroversial--there are a disproportionate number of films which fail the Bechdel test when compared to the movies that have at least two male characters who have a conversation with each other about something other than a woman? For every Dr. Horrible, there should be a Welcome to the Hellmouth (which now that I think about it, is a good comparison; we don't really get into the POV of a character other than Buffy until later in the season). If we look at Joss, though, I think his ouvre since 1997 (by which I mean Buffy, Angel, Fray, Firefly, SerenitySugarshock, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, and Dr. Horrible--have I missed something?) actually as a whole privileges female POVs to a much greater extent than male POVs.

The only logic that I can think of which says that no work should be produced which fails the Bechdel test and which makes sense to me is to say that since under patriarchy Bechdel-passing texts are so rare, that as a feminist it is incumbent upon Joss to produce only works which pass the text. I'm not unsympathetic to the sentiment; I do think that we can't just live our lives as if we already lived in the feminist utopia, but must sometimes go strongly (but temporarily) to the other extreme to counterbalance the evils of systemic injustice in today's world; that's what affirmative action is about. And I don't think art is excepted from that; that is, it is incumbent upon an ethical artist to write her texts in ways which may go beyond what her (patriarchally-influenced) narrative instincts might otherwise tell her for political reasons. But (and admittedly I say this from my position of privilege) when art becomes completely subject to politics, then--well, first off I think it's not just bad art but also a lousy apologetical tool. One must use the master's tools to tear down the master's house; one has to keep some of the conventional narrative structures in place while deconstructing others, or else one isn't going to be able to speak to one's audience at all. (Joss is really good at that, I think, but it does earn him a decent amount of feminist criticism.) But mostly, I think when the rallying cry becomes "You can't tell that type of story" instead of "These sorts of stories need to be told, too," then something is profoundly broken.
Why did he have to write Macbeth when he could have written As You Like It, or at least Cymbeline? This is the criticism I have the least respect for, especially since the people making always for some reason seem to bend over backwards to fire potshots at the BSG reboot (and a few other shows, I think? but mostly BSG) at the same time, complaining TV in general has gotten too dark and it's all Joss's fault, and that unhappy endings are not intrinsically better than happy ones, and anyone who thinks they are is an elitist snob, so there. Which, I mean, I love happy endings--this is the guy who just last week was absolutely bawling over the end of The Princess Diaries 2. But I also respect the worldview that Joss' narrative kinks come out of, and think it's right in a lot of ways--that the meaning of life is what we make of it, and that if nothing matters but what we do then . . . however it goes. Help me load the truck. I sort of want to kill that dragon. And at the end of the day, I'd take the inspiration and hope I take out of an episode like "Not Fade Away" over the artificial illusion offered by most happy endings anyday. Well, some days. If I'm not already in a bad mood, I guess. Artificial illusions are good too. They make me cry.

It doesn't bother me that some people don't enjoy what Joss has to say. That's fine. But that they seem to take that as license to disrespect it. . . . well, that does bother me.
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
Well, it also not only fails the Bechdel test so badly that it not not passes it but flunks it so badly it could be sleeping with the professor and still not manage a D. Which is a function of the fact that there are only four speaking parts (at least so far) in the whole thing (and NPH, Nathan, and Felicia are all perfect for the roles)--but explaining away the individual situation is always a bingo card response.

So it comes down to me that it's all about a pattern--Whedon has a good track record on feminist issues and a lousy one on race issues. After Buffy and its (admittedly multi-faceted and contradictory and self-problematizing) messages of female empowerment, and Angel and Firefly with their wonderful female characters in their ensembles even if the protagonists are male (and Firefly/Serenity is ultimately River's story at least as much as Mal's), not to mention Astonishing and Sugarshock (which I still have not read) and Runaways (which Amazon tells me is in the mail!), it's okay to me that he's telling a story with only one female character, and one who is essentially a prize to be won at that (although Felicia plays Penny wonderfully).

"This is the story I wanted to tell," is a bingo card response not because we shouldn't be telling stories like that (I mean, there are times when I think romcom formulas can be doing actual damage, but I'm not sure this one), but because it sidesteps the issue of why other stories aren't being told. The answer is always pluralism, more voices at the table, not less. Because I have a love for stories like Dr. Horrible, too, I've pretty much spent the entire time since I've gotten home work in tears, first crying through The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and then through Superman: Doomsday, so the traditional stories are able to affect me in ways that are near and dear to my heart.

Dr. Horrible is so short--about the length of a single (non-musical) episode of Buffy--and simple that I don't think there's really enough to hang a critique on. OTOH, neither does it suddenly earn him points or turn over a new leaf when he should be working to do so. Luckily for me from my position of privilege, I can roll my eyes and just groan, "Oh, Joss" at just how white the show is and go on loving the show (almost three hours until the denouement!--how will I go on after there is no more left to look forward to?)--but not everyone is so lucky.

. . .

So once the canon is closed (or at least flat-lined, if one will be treating Commentary! as canon, which I probably won't be 'cept for RPF), and the possibility of being jossed eliminated, what Dr. Horrible femslash should I work on?

[Poll #1225918]

ETA: I forgot to put Who on the list! I really want a Dr. Horrible/Torchwood crossover. I mean, like, badly.
alixtii: Mac and Cassidy. Text: "*squee!* (squee)
Okay, I'm still thinking about [ profile] femslash08 and related topics. One of the arguments I've made more than once in this journal is that femslash is more different than m/m slash than one might at first think, they each have their own histories (each within the greater history of media fandom, of course), tropes, conventions, and expectations. Some of these are fairly easy to make like the different role of genderswap or mpreg vs. fpreg. One "difference" that has never been quite so easy to demonstrate, however, has been my claim that femslash fandom is less OTP-oriented than m/m slash fandom. To me, girlslash is something one finds hiding in the interstices of a canon--and indeed, it's one of the things I really love about it. We manage to find the really interesting points of connection in canon, those that would be impossible to find if we weren't already actively searching, in a type of search which just isn't necessary if one is interested in male characters.

The exceptions are obvious: Law and OrderXena: Warrior Princess, Wicked (although the RPF wing of such isn't nearly as OTP-oriented as it once was, as more and more actors take over the roles of Galinda and Elphaba), possibly Star Trek: Voyager. I always think of these fandoms being set up "like boyslash fandoms"; think of the way Xena, textually speaking, parallels a Starsky&Hutch or Due South--or, more obviously in its format. (People sometimes want to add BtVS, with Buffy/Faith, to the list of femslash OTPS, but I don't buy it--in my experience, Buffy femslash fandom embraces rarepairs like an embracing thing embraces an embraced thing with a vengeance.)

And there's a spattering of smaller (Yuletide-sized, but showing up on [ profile] femslash_today with fair consistency nonetheless), mostly film, fandoms where activity, such as it is, is almost exclusively centered around an OTP: Devil Wears Prada, Ice Princess, D.E.B.S.

This last one has always astounded me as to just how little is written outside the pairing of Amy/Lucy. How is it that in a canon with rampant general female homosociality like D.E.B.S. has that general homosociality has so largely been ignored in favor of the single canonical OTP? Why are such wonderful female characters as the other D.E.B.S.--Max, Dominique, and my personal favorite, Janet--or Anne and Zoey from Ice Princess passed over? We do not have so many awesome female characters in this world that we can afford to squander them.

But so there are these canons with these highly cathective female/female relationships, and these tend to be OTP-centric. Which makes sense, I guess. (Bring It On does, I believe, have a decent amount of fic involving other characters such as Isis and Big Red, despite having this sort of cathective relationship at its core.)

Within the bigger picture, however, it may still be true--it still feels true to me, although my experience is limited--that girlslash isn't as OTP-heavy as m/m. After all, in order to have the sort of intense same-sex relationship which is a staple of the big m/m fandoms, a canon needs to, as a prerequisite, pass the Bechdel test--still not something that is always easy even in our day and age. Of the canons which do have well-developed female characters, most tend to be ensemble shows (or films or books). And they tend not to be genre shows: I can name shows which haved focused on pairs of sisters, but I think the very idea of a show about two sisters who travel the country hunting demons, with a very limited recurring cast, is still unthinkable even in this post-Buffy world. So Xena is still very much the exception

A quick look at [ profile] femslash_today confirms this suspicion: while the OTP fandoms provide steady content and cannot be discounted, most femslash still comes from shows which are ensemble and/or genre in character: Battlestar Galactica, the Stargates (and the fic I'm looking at isn't Sam/Janet--I don't know who Janet is at all and only a vague sense of who Sam is, but I know this is sometimes brought up as a potential OTP), Doctor Who, The West Wing, House, Veronica Mars, Buffy, and so forth.

And yet I look at [ profile] femslash08 and think about what I might offer--and the knowledge that if I'm assigned D.E.B.S., it won't be Janet/Max, and if I'm assigned Ice Princess, it won't be Zoey/Ann.
alixtii: Riley Finn putting up the "Lesbian Alliance" banner. Text: "Not Quite a Lesbian, But Always a Femslasher." (Riley)
There's some metafandom-ed posts about Supernatural and class, and at least one flocked post on my flist thinking about it in the abstract, and it's gotten me to revisit my thoughts, because class really does color the way I view fictional characters quite deeply. Well, maybe not class per se, since I've said things like that in the past and been forced to take them back, but classed markers certainly, even as I'm still not at all sure the distinction makes any sense. (Not gender per se but gendered markers? Not race but racialized markers? What are gender, race, and class except a set of markers? Is there such a thing as class essentialism?) Education, idiolect, certain values, cultural capital--things like that--with the archetypal example being high-school student Buffy Summer's ability to make topical allusions to Arthur Miller or Samuel Beckett. (So admittedly it is a very narrow set of classed--and raced and gendered, but especially classed and raced--markers that make me interested in a fictional character.)

Now, the thing I'm still struggling with is how problematic that fact is. It seems acceptable to say "I'm not interested in watching a show about working-class characters" in a way it would never be to say "I'm not interested in watching a show about women" or "I'm not interested in watching a show about characters of color." But as a person of immense privilege, the fact that it seems acceptable may be no more than an indicator of how far I still have to go--the way that replacing "white" and "black" for "men" and "women" in a certain situation can make it much clearer how problematic it is, as in this comment to a [ profile] languagelog post:

In general, though, I would say there is clearly much more public tolerance in the US for prejudice against women and misogynistic speech than there is tolerance for racist speech. This was most clearly illustrated to me in a story a professor of mine in University told of an administrative meeting he attended where one of the speakers was discussing a vote that had taken place and in relation to that made a joke about how giving women the right to vote had been a mistake, and was met with genuine laughter. He noted, truthfully I think, that this would have been met with awkward incredulity if it were instead about African Americans or some other racial group.
Of course, the degree to which this works will depend on just how "real" one considers sexual difference to be, as evidenced by all the people who disagree with me on whether there will be gender-segregated bathrooms in the feminist utopia. (Of course, insofar as the point of gender-segregated bathrooms is to keep the other sex out, I'd argue there's something hugely heterosexist as well as sexist going on there.) (And if we look at the way racial difference went from seeming quite real to the idea being almost absurd, I don't see why the same process couldn't play out wrt gender.)

Still, it seems to be natural and unproblematic to say "it's better to be rich than to be poor" (even though what I'm really interested and invested in has nothing to do with income except insofar as hip-hop music has something to do with race or skirts have to do with gender) in a way one can't even say, say, "it's better to see than to be blind." (Not that I'd want to say the latter, mind you--I've learned better--but I think it's still intuitive for a lot of people.) And I can only doubt my privilege so much.

In the end, I suppose it comes down to the fact that while the "reality" of sexuality difference is more or less irrelevant to gender inequality (by which I mean that having a penis doesn't convey in itself any real power), and thus the semiotic power of gendered markers are able to function more or less independently of that reality, and the reality of racial difference (none at all chromosomally) is in some ways more and some ways less divorced from racial inequality, Not having a penis is only a lack once you've read Lacan. Similarly with not being white. Not having money, on the other hand--well, obviously this too is a lack which is in large part semiotic, since currency doesn't have any intrinsic value, as you can't eat or drink it--not having the stuff which money can buy to satisfy one's needs and wants, however, represents a real imbalance in power which is not present in the raced or gendered scenarios. And "classism" as a superstructural system of injustice where the rich think the poor are ignorant trash and the working-class think the upper class are pretentious twits sort of operates above this base.

Except that now I sound like some cross between a Lacanian, a classical Marxist, and a metaphysical realist (what is this "real" of which I speak?) and--perish the thought. And ultimately, this distinction does seem to be bogus. The phenomenology of women's lived experience under systemic injustice is that of a "real" lack, no more or less than the one that comes from not having money to spend. All the money in the world won't help you if your boyfriend won't let you out of the house to spend it.

alixtii: The groupies from Dr. Horrible. (meta)

In the comments of [ profile] hannahrorlove's post attacking slash goggles, [ profile] peasant_ and I somehow found ourselves in a conversation about the metaethics of radical feminism. Specifically, she asked:

If you reject relativism as uncomfortable, and you reject an exploration of belief formation as uninteresting, what has led you to believe in the near-universal radical nature of the problem?
It's true to say that I'm a radical feminist (insofar as I am one), as a result of certain important influences in my youth and childhood, in particular the influence of my mother, one of my high school English teachers, etc. (Mostly my mother.) This is true, but uninteresting. As a philosophically-interested human being, I don't just hold certain beliefs but also justify them to myself. These justifications are, of course, also causally determined and could be, if one were interested in doing so, explained in purely material terms. But I can't think of myself merely as a belief box (anybody have a cite for this concept?) into which random beliefs were merely shoved by nature, and I don't really think anybody could.

Mary Daly, in her book Gyn/Ecology, which is actually subtitled The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (and how disturbing is it that my copy--which is really my mother's old copy, has a huge picture of an axe on the cover?), which has been the deepest and most direct radical feminist influence on me in my adolescence and throughout my life, seems to avoid the question somewhat:
I would say that radical feminist metaethics is of a deeper intuitive type than "ethics." The latter, generally written from one of several (but basically the same) patriarchal perspectives, works out of hidden agendas concealed in the texture of language, buried in mythic reversals which control "logic" most powerfullly because unacknowledged.

[. . .]

There are, of course, male-authored, male-identified works which purport to deal with "metaethics." In relation to these, gynography is meta-metaethical. For while male metaethics claims to be "the study of ethical theories, as distinguished from the study of moral and ethical conduct itself," [she cites Titus and Keaton's Ethics for Today here as the source of the quote] it remains essentially male-authored and male-identified theory about theory. Moreover, it is only theory about "ethical theories"--an enterprise which promises boundless boringness. In contrast to this, Gyn/Ecology is hardly "metaethical" in the sense of masturbatory meditations by ethicists upon their own emissions. Rather, we recognize that the essential omissions if these emissions is of our own life/freedom. In the name of our life/freedom, feminist metaethics O-mits seminal omissions. (12-13)
There is much to love in these passages (remind me to re-read the entire book over the summer). But this still leaves open the question: where do radical feminist ethics come from? (Daly's next paragraph implies the answer might be the goddess Metis.)

A certain amount of philosophical pragmatism, a la Richard Rorty, enters into the discussion for me at this point. I think I've indicated before that I'm not sure what it would mean to assert that "the nature of the problem is radical and near universal" as some type of meaningful, propositional claim. How would one go about falsifying such a claim?

What I would argue is that the claim does not and cannot have a truth value. Instead, it is useful to conceive of the problem as being radical and near universal, while making no ontological claim--because pragmatism in general eschews ontology.

The questions raised by this answer are obvious: useful to whom? and according to what standard of usefulness? I don't see anything obviously wrong in ethicizing epistemology and metaphysics (well, I could see someone arguing it was contradictory to the self-evident nature of truth, but that's rather begging the question) (and theology goes here as well; this was an important point as I working on feminist meta/theology in undergrad), but certainly we need to have some account of feminist ethics in place?

I can see three possible responses (and this part of the discussion is familiar to me, because I explained this part point-to-point to my London roommate in a hostel bar in Austria in 2004). The first is existential commitment, which is basically to refuse to answer the question. Now there are some things that existential commitment is good for, not least of all acting as a stopgap explanation as one works out a more detailed metaethic. "This is where I stand; I can do no other" is a principled position I can respect, but it ideally shouldn't take the place of critical dialectic and self-exploration.

Now obviously someone working from a position of existential commitment can make normative claims; there's nothing stopping them, after all. But they can't quite give an account of why other people should take them seriously, so they're only useful in modifying the behavior of other people who share those commitments. This strikes me as a rather weak and silly sort of radical feminism (but perhaps describes the traditional, "real" radfeminists of the 70s quite well!).

The second option would be some sort of foundationalism. But as you note, foundationalism isn't really compatible with the core premise of radical feminism, that systemic injustice runs all the way down. (Although nowadays I would probably want to hedge on it a little and say something like it might run all the way down, and if it doesn't it still runs down pretty darn deep.) To locate supposedly "feminist" ethics in reason, language, or culture would be to merely reinscribe masculinist domination.

When I was in undergrad, it seemed to me the process was simple: you let feminist ethicists do their thing, and then we feminist metaphysicians and theologians would apply the results to metaphysics, epistemology, and theology. (Aesthetics always seemed to fit very uncomfortably into this system.) The idea of deriving ethics from religion still sort of gives me hives, but it's obvious that the system as I was thinking of it just isn't tenable: it throws way too much burden on the feminist ethicists. Standpoint theory has too many implicit metaphysical and epistemological assumptions to be able to do what it does and be logically prior to those disciplines. Appointing ethics as queen of the science isn't ultimately a meaningful change, any more than demoting metaphysics and putting epistemology in its place, or doing the same with philosophy of language, had been. As long as the sciences have a queen, we have a problem.

Ultimately, then, I think the only workable option is a dialectical one. Reason (and I'll use that as a lump term for metaphysics/epistemology/theology) and ethics always have to be in dialectic to each other, with neither (or, in another sense, both) being logically prior to the other. (So, gritting my teeth, I have to accept that it is sometimes acceptable to turn to Scripture in order to learn about ethics--but this turn to Scripture will always-already be informed by a certain ethicism.) The limits of liberal democratism are built into itself and reveal themselves in history, so that there is a sort of imperative built within reason, language, and culture themselves for it to progress into radical feminism.

alixtii: Fred Burkle, wearing glasses, holding a book, and looking sort of shy. Text: "Desire." (desire)
Since we're all (well, most) writers here, I'm assuming we're all familiar with at least the basic idea behind the following chart:

A little googling informs this diagram is actually known as Freytag's triangle, after some guy named--wait for it--Gustav Freytag. (Who knew?)

Now, even in Greek and Elizabethan drama the denouement and conclusion put together add up to less stage time than the rising action (during which one sends one's heroes up a tree and throws stones at them, the old writer's adage goes), so that in Shakespeare it usually shows up late in Act Three, and in a Victorian three-act play it's late in Act Two. But the impulse in modern storytelling has been to abbreviate the denouement. And, you know, I'm down with that. When I'm watching Return of the King and the denoument kind of drags on, I get antsy along with everybody else.

But in some forms of storytelling--most noticeably movies and Marion Zimmer Bradley novels--the denoument has all but disappeared. And this makes me sad because, you know, I like denouements.

A denouement is, essentially, curtain!fic. (In case you're not familiar with the term, this is fanfiction in which a happy couple is shown being happy, doing something cheerfully domestic like picking out curtains.) It's the mostly inevitable consequences of the climax (if they're not mostly inevitable we haven't truly hit the climax) working themselves out, so if the story has a happy ending, this is where the characters get to be happy. Cinderella wins over the prince, so there's a big wedding and the wicked stepsisters get their eyes poked out. Only . . . compare the amount of time the wedding gets in the Disney movie to the original text version (most any version, but I'm thinking of the French one).

The denouement is the part which is almost certainly guaranteed to start me bawling. I think I get jealous.

What separates a denouement from curtain!fic is that a denouement is earned in a way that curtain!fic isn't. In a sense, all of that rising action is there in order to earn its denouement--so when we see our heroes buying curtains, it's a reward, because we know all the stuff that had to be gone through to get there. And insofar as curtain!fic works as a fanfiction genre (and I do think it can work) it's because we have all the rising action of the source text in the back of our minds when we read it.

Insofar as curtain!fic doesn't work, though (and let's face it, it's not an uncommon occurrence), it's because the lack of conflict and rising action just renders the entire piece boring, pointless, and uninteresting. So one has to strike a balance. And the balance that might have worked for Greek or Elizabethan (or Roman or Jacobite or Persian or whatever) drama might not work for contemporary Western audiences or readers. So when I write, I try to strike that balance. Movies in particular need short denouements (see the RotK comment above), so in my only original screenplay, which bends genres far too much to ever be produced but of which I am nonetheless quite proud (if frustrated at how it won't let me turn it into a novel) the denouement takes up a couple of pages, max.

But there are movies that literally have the climax (our heroes win!), maybe one or two reaction shots, and roll the credits. If the romantic subplot, the hero kisses the heroine and she doesn't seem to slap him afterwards (but the camera cuts away before we get to see afterwards anyway). Indeed, this seems to happen so often today in film it's become the rule rather than the exception. I sit excitedly on the edge of my seat for two hours waiting excitedly as the tension builds--only to find I end up with about twenty seconds of pay-off if I'm lucky. This is my most common criticism of the films I see.

Book readers are, I think, more willing to enjoy a longer denouement, which is why the Return of the King ending works better in its original form than on the screen. Readers are more willing to sit around with the characters and watch them work out the consequences of the climax then moviegoers, so in my BtVS novella Divine Interventions the climax comes at the end of Chapter Fourteen--and then Chapter Fifteen addresses the fallout of that climax in plot-oriented terms (what do we do with the captured bad guys?) and Chapter Sixteen more in character-oriented terms (I've just saved the world, now walk through my existential crisis). And there's an epilogue, which sort of looks to the future of that 'verse. I'm very satisfied with the job of pacing I've done in that work.

[There is something to be said about Harry Potter and its epilogue here, but I just finished the Half-Blood Prince audiobook after having only read the first book and watched all the movies up to this point, so I'm not exactly qualified to say it. But HBP did have several chapters of denouement--"The Pheonix Lament" and "The White Tomb," and arguably "The Flight of the Prince" as well--that I expect to largely be cut from the movie.] [Also, I've just discovered [ profile] hbpspork. Hee!]

But because books are more likely to have, if not as lengthy denouement as I'd like, at least one which has some substance, I end up particularly frustrated with the MZB-type book endings I mentioned above. I think these are still the exception, but because my expectation is that the payoff will be there it's all the more disappointing when it isn't. (And you'd think I'd have have figured out by now that MZB consistently does this, but even when I re-read her books I just get disappointed all over again.) 

It comes down to, if I've spent ninety minutes or two hundred something pages watching these characters suffer and remained interested, become invested in them, is it really too much to ask to have more than a couple of pages or a few reaction shots of them being happy?

I'd find it likely that other fanfic readers might, like me, prefer longer denouements, although honestly I find it difficult to see how anyone at all can find the "rising action then cut to credits" type structure in any way satisfying. But I think my curtain!fic comments above point to the fact that one of the things fanfic does--not the only thing by any means, of course, but I do think one of the primary things--is to extend and draw out the denouements we get in the source text, and put some meat on their bones when they're looking anemic. (I think I may have just mixed a metaphor?) We'll insert our own conflict and rising action, of course, at least in plotty fics, but I think that tends to be less the point of it, and as readers we're more likely to let a fic sort of ramble on, because we love the characters and more than anything else just want to watch them existing in their native habitat.

Which means maybe I shouldn't have cut Divine Interventions quite so short. Hmm. Food for thought. . . .
alixtii: The groupies from Dr. Horrible. (meta)
Liberal feminism provides for us a measure of just how far we have come.

Radical feminism provides for us a measure of just how far we have left to go.

Both measures are equally important, and losing track of either can be dangerous.

I do believe:
  • That racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc. are systemic, subtly and ubiquitously embedded in our society in places both obvious and invisible, and about as deeply as one can get, in our language(s) (and in our unconsciouses which are structured like a language), in a superstructure which I alternately may call "patriarchy" or "systemic injustice." Remember the word radical comes from a word meaning "root": systemic injustice infects society at its very foundations.
  • Thus, that most if not all economies, governments, cultural forms, languages, etc. do in some way flow from this patriarchal root.
  • That racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and many but possibly not all other forms of systemic injustice are, if not quite equiprimordial, at least so deeply interconnected that it's never quite clear where one starts and the others end. This is a change in position from my teens when I saw all other forms of injustice as symptoms of sexism in a very second-wave sort of way.
  • As a corollary, that it is extremely unlikely that racism could exist in a truly non-sexist society (since there is a sense in which racism is always-already inherently misogynistic), and vice versa. It's even harder to imagine sexism existing in a non-heterosexist society or vice versa. This doesn't mean that once we stop sexism, racism will magically fix itself so much as that we won't be able to stop sexism until we've cleaned up our act on race issues as well. On the same pattern, stopping sexism won't heal the ozone layer, but I have no doubt that the anti-environmentalist urge which impels us to harm the Earth in first place is linked in some way to and motivated by misogyny.
  • That the various brands of privilege--white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, cisgendered privilege, etc.--exist even as they are so often invisible and taken for granted.
  • That while men are the beneficiaries of male privilege and have certain responsibilities as a result of that, they cannot be "blamed" for patriarchy in any unproblematic way. Indeed, that the urge to blame is itself a patriarchal logic.
  • That talk of reverse sexism or other "reverse discriminations" ignores the systemic character of real sexism, racism, etc.
  • That male and female are not essential categories but instead the complex interaction of self-identification, behavior, and social interpellation; that the division into male and female is ultimately the result of patriarchal logics.
  • That traditionally female values, behaviors, and spheres have been artificially devalued by systemic injustice and need to be reclaimed.
  • That being anti-sex (and this includes the passive-agressive "sacralization" of sexuality sometimes found in some religious traditions) is always-already being anti-female and misogynistic.
  • That pornography and sex work, while prone to abuse, are not inherently evil, and to view them as such can be misogynistic.
  • That there are radically liberatory possibilities in female writing and female pleasure. (Cf. pretty much any French feminist.)
  • That there is value in female safe spaces.
  • That in a fallen world "pretty good" sometimes has to be good enough; heterosexual sex (or, for that matter, homosexual sex) as practiced by most couples may not be immune to patriarchy or be radically egalitarian and consensual but that's hardly a reason to abstain so long as one is giving it the college try. That even problematic instances of autonomy must be encouraged and celebrated from within the patriarchy, and that to erase this trace of autonomy is to be cooperative with the patriarchal logic.
  • That one must use the master's tools to take down the master's house; i.e. patriarchy can only be dismantled from within, and it is possible to use its structures (e.g., "Christianity" or "the romantic comedy genre") against it. This will always necessarily require temporary compromises and cooptations, but can result in demonstrable improvements in both the short- and long-term (at least using the liberal feminist measuring stick). But there is no other choice: il n'y a pas de hors-texte.
  • That government legislation is a sometimes necessary but rarely if ever sufficient remedy to systemic injustice.
  • That the works of mercy needed to improve the lives of women under patriarchy are important as well as the social action needed to end it. (Cf."the two feet of justice" in Catholic social teaching.)
  • Silencing the voices of women and other members of other oppressed groups is never a good thing.
I have, in the past, referred to this complex of positions as "radical feminism," and may well do so again in the future.

The following positions are not ones that I particularly associate with radical feminism, not even my own unique brand of such, but which I think are compatible with it and good to hold in general:
  • That dissent, discussion, and dialectic are healthy. Many objections are not stupid and showing that one can respond to them can be a powerful persuasive tool.
  • Not getting things completely wrong is almost always a useful and valuable endeavor.
Also, I like slash.
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
I really don't have anything to say.

I sort of feel Lent this year has been a bust . . . if anything, I've overindulged myself and have not gotten done all sorts of things that needed to be done, and now I'm in difficult situations in all kinds of ways and still can't get the motivation to do anything about it.

But in any case, I've begun playing Jesus Christ Superstar tracks (and a little Godspell, but mostly JCS--both the movie and original Broadway soundtracks, plus some random covers) and am ready to enter Holy Week.

. . .

Jewel's website would make a very pretty LJ layout. But as far as being the blog of a professional actor, it's kind of hard to take the pink and purple princess theme seriously.

Speaking of Jossverse actors' blogs, let me plug Felicia's again for no particular reason.

. . .

I got an email yesterday saying that we should post our [ profile] ninebillion fics. I said, "Oh," and went to my gmail inbox to look up the assignments, picked one of them, and wrote it. (See? This is my attitude lately.) The result was Left Behind, which drew on some plotbunnies I've had about Reinette and threw Lucy Saxon into the mix, mainly because I didn't have any time to come up with completely new ideas. Add religion (to satisfy the 'thon requirements), then stir. Also my first real Who fic, since the BtVS/TW crossover ficlet-things don't really count.

I've already gotten a review for it at "how do you know french i can speak it a little but i can't write it!" I <3 (Note that the French which actually appears in the fic is limited to four sentences, the longest of which is four words long: "Pourquoi?"; "Comment?"; ""Pourquoi pleurez-vous, madame?"; and "Et vous?")

Other favorite reviews:
TO BECOME A PERVERT! [for Homework Helper -- do I smell homophobia?]

y, even VALIS is funnier than this **. Heinlein should have know when to quit. And the worst, there is a legion of ee-diots who feel 'inspired' by the crap he wrote...the End of Days is close... [for Adventure -- if one thinks Heinlein is crap, why bother reading fic for it?]
The process of writing itself for "Left Behind" probably spanned 9pm to 11pm. Ish. With reading other things and procrastinating and refreshing the flist and refreshing metafandom's account and refreshing gmail and watching Hercules and Xena on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Somebody talk me into writing Euripedes/Homer?

But [ profile] peasant_, that's how I manage to have time left over for activities other than fic-writing (like, say, reading the flist). Whether what I produce in that short amount of time is of any worth someone other than myself will have to decide.
alixtii: The groupies from Dr. Horrible. (meta)
I had a discussion a few days ago about how often Internet users used the 'net for news. Statistics were put out; what percentage of people went to news websites at least twice a week, or something of the sort. As someone who does not currently read the newspaper or watch the TV news, I thought about my own news consumption. I don't regularly visit, say, the NYT website (except immediately following a primary election), nor do I read the political blogs I used to in undergrad. And I don't exactly think about LJ as a news site, exactly. (I actually filter out all the syndicated feeds I have friended.)

But as I pointed out (not to the original pessimist, but to sympathetic listeners afterward), if Gloria Steinem were to--perish the thought--have a heart attack, I would be the first in my family to know. Also if the SCC were picked up for another season. I was the first in the family to knew that Dan Fogelberg was dead and Ani DiFranco was pregnant. (My family appreciated these bits of news, fwiw.) Also the news that another feminist had died--I don't remember who it was; it wasn't Andrea Dworkin because I had been London then.

Well, okay. But there's a selection bias going on. How useful is my internet consumption for finding out things going in the world which aren't connected to feminist icons or sci-fi television or rock music? (Of course, the fact that there is a selection bias isn't inherently a bad thing; there's a selection bias inherent in, say, reading the NYT rather than watching Fox News.)

My mother called me this afternoon to check up on my brother (who is home on spring break and was still asleep) and tell me about an Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, as then-Attorney General Spitzer had been my commencement speaker (and pretty bad at it, too). Since I had discussed the internet/news issue with her as well, she asked me if I already knew it. I told her I hadn't checked the flist since early Monday morning, but it wasn't necessarily the type of thing my flisters would necessarily feel needed blogging about.

So it may be all over my flist, it may not be; I don't really know, but it doesn't really matter. I may not have found out of it before my mother told me, but if she waited to tell me in person (for example, if my brother answered the phone--although my brother never answers the phone) I would have: this post from [ profile] languagelog just arrived in my inbox.

My conclusion? General internet surfing does result in a well-informed citizen, even if she doesn't visit soi-disant "news" sites. Instead, in proper Web 2.0 fashion, there is merely a democratization of who controls who knows what.

ETA: I'm reading through my flist now and, yeah, there's a reasonable numbers to the Spitzer scandal scattered through it, with commentary in lots of places. So I think the results of this experiment are actually pretty darn conclusive.
alixtii: The groupies from Dr. Horrible. (meta)
Philosophers have a paradox known as the Ship of Theseus problem:
According to Greek legend as reported by Plutarch,

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

Plutarch thus questions whether the ship would remain the same if it were entirely replaced, piece by piece. As a corollary, one can question what happens if the replaced parts were used to build a second ship. Which, if either, is the original Ship of Theseus?

( Take a poll )
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
[ profile] dirty_diana has a [ profile] metafandomed post here, thinking about Injustice Bingo Cards (my term). From what I can tell, she's particularly looking for fandom-specific ones, the has a comics-specific one. That one comes with detailed explanations of why each argument

[ profile] dirty_diana's post reminded me of something that occurred to me and I had been planning on posting about: the way the Bingo Card meme seems to be, in my experience, morphing into something which is missing the point as I understand it. (What she's looking for would bring it back in line with the point.)

The idea behind an Injustice Bingo Card isn't to log all the stupid arguments people make. On the contrary, it's supposed to respond to all to the incredibly plausible-sounding arguments which are actually, at the end of the day, sort of right. Most of the statements on the Comics Bingo Card are true. For each female character with a provocative outfit (read: all of them), there are valid characterological reasons why they dress that way. For every event which is demeaning to women, there are real narrative forces at work setting it up.

This is why the game is Bingo and not, I don't know, dodgeball; one's argument isn't problematic until one ends up arguing a bunch of the squares at once. When one thinks that Supergirl, Powergirl, Black Canary, Huntress, Emma Frost, and every one else are just dressing in line with their organically developed character, and the death of Stephanie Brown was a reasonable event in continuity, and . . .

At the point, if one's interlocutor doesn't recognize that no matter how reasonable each fact seems in isolation, there is a pervasive pattern of misogyny and sexism at work, then yes, they need to be thwapped upside the head.

The entire point of Injustice Bingo Cards is to help the interlocutor to see beyond the reasonable-seeming circumstances of the individual situation and see the patterns of oppression which exist, not to list 25 arguments one is sick of hearing. (Note: According to blog at Girl-Wonder, the latter reason is actually closer to their original intentions than the former. This is why i don't privilege biographical information or authorial intent.)

And  . . . I feel this maybe gets lost sometimes in some appropriations of the Bingo Card meme?

(God/ess, I have no clue who my audience is right now.)
alixtii: Peter and Susan, in extreme close-up. (incest)
Title: Sibling Revelries
Fandom: X-Men comicsverse
Pairing: Celeste/Mindee/Phoebe
Rating: Extremely NWS
Warning/Disclaimer: This fic has artistic value (as I believe all fanfic and fanart does) and is thus, in my opinion, allowed under LJ's TOS. It may, however, be illegal to read in Australia. Read at your own risk.
Timeline/Spoilers: Post-Gifted, pre-Phoenix Endsong. Spoilers for the Morrison run.
Summary: The Three-in-One makes love to itself. PWP.
A/N: Thanks to [ profile] tacky_tramp for the beta.

Sibling Revelries )

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