Links of Great Interest: I got “Tranquilize” on repeat.

Signal Boosting: Banks across the US are continuing to engage in shady-ass business practices.

Signal Boosting: Moondancer Drake has a new novel out.

UM defends rights of research assistants.

Michele Bachmann—-> WHAT A CANDIDATE.

I wish *I* could play ping pong too!

Appropriation is never cute.

Sexism begins early.

From Casey:

As someone over the course of the past week experienced some personal drama in my slash community, when I stumbled upon this link on Womanist Musings it gave me a lot of food for thought (it also reminded me of some comments on here from a while ago where some readers said that they take slash fics on a case-by-case basis when it comes to its depiction of queer male sexuality, even referencing being “mansplained to” by gay men due to potentially problematic portrayals, which kinda struck me as maybe a weird facet of privilege? IDK. Also, I even made fail-tastic remark in the comments section that I’m still smarting from…curse my easily damaged ego!):

Perhaps being a writer is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The military’s reduction in forces is coming at a bad time for young people seeking employment.

DoD schools failing children.

More on EPA rules for coal burning plants.

The repeal of DADT hasn’t changed the de facto homophobia of the enlistment process.

Somebody should go see Unnatural Acts because I can’t.

Republicans lie.

Does deployment make you a single parent?

Don’t let daddy lick me again!

Racism vs. comedy.

JK! Slavery WASN’T good for black children.

Environmentalism is the new terrorism.

Honey Bee Colony Disorder has spread worldwide.

Finding 35mm from the 1980s is a bit of a challenge

Flashback to 1906 Market Street in San Francisco.

Woman facing misdemeanor charges for vegetable garden.

HAHA SM STIRLING HAZ A SAD THAT SOMEONE CALLED HIM ON HIS RACIST BOOK. I’m so glad Jha is awesome. I couldn’t even finish that crap. He’s posting as joatsimeon. 

Sworn virgins are dying out

Holy shit, Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage will be sharing the screen!

Whaaaaaaaaaat. Cyborg art.

Reactions to Arranged

From Gabbie:

Hey,

The following is from Slate and basically calls for intelligent movies to cast on-screen couples at a ‘similar’ age (no more than ten years gap, no more than five if the woman is under-25 – and even then, I STILL don’t know any couples with a ten-year gap) or at least an attraction of WHY the couple of question are together.

Catwoman’s origin story is fascinating.

Are POC leads the kiss of death in the publishing world?

From Lindsey:

“I think women are different, and I think having them in the room is crucial to a family comedy, ensemble comedy, television comedy, where half the eyeballs on your show are women. As it turns out, I think Megan’s the only female writer who’s staying this year, so now, even though Bromstad’s gone, now I’m carrying this legacy, going, “Eh, guys, we really need a half-female writing staff.” I would teach it. I think we have to stop thinking of it as a quota thing and think of it as a common-sense thing.”

 This just in! Dan Simmons still Islamophobic!

The dairy industry is flipping its shit.

Comments

  1. Shaun says

    “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, April, 2009

    W– ww… ww-what?

  2. Sarah says

    Shaun,

    Don’t think about it. You will break your brain.

    I’ve just about given up reading anything about Bachmann. She can’t seem to get through a single appearance without saying something mind-bogglingly stupid. And the media pounces on her simple mispronounciation gaffes far more often than her dangerously restrictive and misguided policies and beliefs. I don’t care if she can’t pronounce chutzpah. I do care that she seems to believe homosexuality is a choice and that abortion should be illegal.

  3. says

    Re: Bachmann. I’m currently reading The Myth of the Rational Voter. I’ve always had deep misgivings about representative democracy – it may be way better than other forms of government and I appreciate that, but there’s no reason to stop looking for even better systems. Democracy must ultimately fail because people don’t take it seriously – they vote for what and who feels good, regardless of the impact it’ll have. Hell, they don’t even think about the impact, or care about their families enough to care that it’ll be their kids paying for it. Bachmann, Palin, Bush – these people tell voters what they want to hear, and people are so irrational that they mistake that for intelligent thought, then go engage in some more of what they think constitutes intelligent thought when they vote for whatever the fuck was feeling kind of good this morning. Rationality never enters into it.

    But going into the meta, there’s something else we need to watch very closely: either these candidates have the WORST media handlers since humans were invented (a good media handler can hide Alzheimers a la Reagan, so I think they can make stupid look reasonably intelligent), or they’re saying these hair-raisingly bone-headed things on purpose. If it’s on purpose, what is the purpose? One (incomprehensibly stupid and inaccurate) Hollywood theory is that common folk are really stupid, so movie characters must be even stupider to make the audience feel smart (because that’s what kids are after when they go to the movies – feelin’ smart). Could it be our candidates have worked out a similar theory, and it actually DOES work in politics?

    Because Americans have a strange aversion to the idea their leaders might actually know how to do stuff. It reminds them of being a child and dealing with parents who know shit and wouldn’t let them stick forks in the outlet, and goddammit, now they’re all grown up, they’re gonna stick that fucking fork in that fucking outlet and their leaders better fucking back them up!

  4. M.C. says

    I’ll admit that I’m a relative outsider, since I’ve never actually been to the USA, but my theory is that most of the US problems regarding politics have their roots in the fact that the US are a deeply religious country, maybe even a theocracy.

    Example: US politicians talk about abortion and whether it’s right or wrong. High profile politicians of my country (Austria) would never talk about something like that. Sure, there are those who are pro and those who are contra. No, our health insurance doesn’t cover the costs, and yes, I wish there were more abortion clinics. But politicians just don’t talk about it because abortion is in it’s heart a religious topic and in this country you can’t gain votes for that. (Unless you’re talking against Islam, then 30% of the population will vote for you. But even this topic is less about religion and more about ethnicity.)

    But US politicians will say that they’re pro choice or against abortion because of !GOD! and people will vote for them. It doesn’t matter what else the politican stands for are, as long as they convince the public that they are representing the voters’s religious views.

  5. says

    M.C.,

    I agree, and it’s because the “New World” became a refuge early on for Christians who, in complete opposition to some things Jesus said, re-defined “spreading the gospel” as “forcing our ways onto other people through any means necessary.” Because so many people from round the world who shared this belief ALL came here, it remains strong. And at the core of it is the sense that it’s not wrong to force something on people as long as you’re doing it for (your version of) God and not just to be selfish. But of course, you ARE just being selfish. It’s really just that you’re so insecure in your beliefs/decision making process that you want them to be mandated so you can take no responsibility for them. Because millions of religious folk manage to think it’s none of their business how others live, so long as they’re allowed to live as they see fit.

    This core belief in US culture allows us to believe:

    –The law SHOULD be used to force religious practices and tenets on people who have different beliefs.
    –If (I claim) Christianity says I should chop your arm off, and you refuse to let me chop your arm off, you are being intolerant toward me (this is THE classic symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder – evangelical Christians are, as a whole, functioning like narcissists, and probably include an unusually high percentage of actual narcissists).
    –Every time some group of non-Christians campaigns for a right under the law, what they’re really doing is trying to take over the entire country and get rid of Christianity completely. Hey, only one belief set can win this fight!

    So, yeah, at least to the people who feel one religion/philosophy must run the government and multiple belief systems in the same nation are incompatible, we are talking theocracy.

  6. Ebb says

    Re: Casey’s link about slash, which has now been taken down. (more info on that drama here: http://sf-drama.livejournal.com/3260590.html)

    While neo_prodigy makes a lot of good points(bringing up straight privilege definitely needed to be said), those very points are at times mitigated by not acknowledging the amount of queer women and men that write slash. There was also quite a bit of troubling statements on his part when it came to (certain) women that I felt when too far in the extreme.
    And I knew all of this before the recent sf_drama posts.
    To be fair, here is a post where he talks about where he was coming from in his language: http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/971231.html

    As for the subject itself, straight women’s problematic portrayals of two men in a romantic relationship, oh heavens yes there are a lot of things to be said there! For one thing, the implementation of the Japanese term, uke which simply means ‘bottom’ has grown into(or perhaps always was) a rather heteronormative, hell, even sexist way at looking at such a relationship. I’d love to find a more balanced discussion about that!

  7. sbg says

    M.C.,

    I think there’s a huge number of people who will vote for their one or two near and dear issues – and abortion’s a biggie – regardless of whether or not the person they’re voting for will do them any practical good. My parents are dirt poor, always have been, and get nothing from the Republican party except a professed anti-choice stance on abortion and a pro stance on gun rights.

    They don’t care about anything else. It makes me physically ill, if I’m going to be honest.

    Bachmann, ugh. It’s just so horrifying to listen to her. And pointing out her gaffes only seems to make her sympathetic to those already in her corner. You know, “Stop picking on the little woman!” kind of thing.

    Also horrifying is reading Yahoo! comments on boring afternoons, where every article, no matter what it’s about, is filled with “Obama is a liar!” and “Obama doesn’t care about finding us jobs!” because people can’t take time to actually look at how many jobs initiatives have been shot down by Republicans bent on opposing ANYTHING a Democrat puts forth. I don’t claim Democrats are a whole lot better in the grand scheme, but goodness gracious. Are people living under rocks? If someone on Faux News says Obama doesn’t care about job creation because he wants to tax the pants off the big corporate “job makers” (pause to laugh here), then it must be so and he needs to be booted out for … Michelle Bachmann, who will save the babies and buy you a gun.

    That’s all we really need, anyway. Right?

  8. Patrick McGraw says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I would add that there is also a strong element of defining one’s own group as the “Real, True Christians” and Othering Christians who aren’t part of that group as being non-Christian. The degree to which Othered Christian groups are able to remove this label seems based on their willingness to hop on board with the rest of the beliefs you describe. Catholics and Mormons are the most visible example of this, going from being loudly denounced to becoming part of the hegemon.

  9. Dani says

    Jennifer Kesler:
    Re: Bachmann. I’m currently reading The Myth of the Rational Voter. I’ve always had deep misgivings about representative democracy – it may be way better than other forms of government and I appreciate that, but there’s no reason to stop looking for even better systems. Democracy must ultimately fail because people don’t take it seriously – they vote for what and who feels good, regardless of the impact it’ll have. Hell, they don’t even think about the impact, or care about their families enough to care that it’ll be their kids paying for it. Bachmann, Palin, Bush – these people tell voters what they want to hear, and people are so irrational that they mistake that for intelligent thought, then go engage in some more of what they think constitutes intelligent thought when they vote for whatever the fuck was feeling kind of good this morning. Rationality never enters into it.

    We’re learning this lesson the hard way in Pennsylvania. Our last governor was a Democrat, and wasn’t super popular, and the recent gubernatorial election came at a time when it seemed like a lot of Americans in general (or, at least, the louder ones) seemed to be fed up with Democratic politicians in general. So, enough Pennsylvanians jumped on the anti-Democrat bandwagon (that’s my theory, anyway), and voted in a governor who’s budget for 2011 includes cutting funding to public schools and universities by almost $1 billion, cutting family and human services, and making us one of the only states NOT to tax drilling, because – SURPRISE! – drilling companies have been paying for his political career for years now.

    So, yeah, from a person living in a state that’s going down the toilet because people didn’t think before they voted, I really, REALLY hope that people actually research who they’re thinking about voting for. Am I optimistic? Not at all. But I can dream…

  10. says

    I can’t read the original link about slash fic, so I’m basing this off Ebb‘s links.

    When it comes to slash, there are plenty of things worth complaining about. To take Ebb’s point further, I’ve seen a lot of slash fic that was so uberly heteronormative it hurt. “Semes” who are the definition of toxic masculinity and “ukes” who act like society’s worst stereotypes of PMS. Especially when you get into mpreg and things like that, the heteronormativity crops up even more frequently. That’s worth calling out.

    But the misogyny and racism Neo Prodigy is spewing (again, going off Ebb’s links here…but they have screencaps, so I’m pretty confident) obliterates any value in his words, IMO. Someone else will have to step up and say it because I can’t trust anything he says. Seriously, he addresses his complaint to White women, and then when a woman mentions she’s a WOC suddenly she’s playing the race card?

    Slash fic does have value, and not necessarily to the people it’s supposedly portraying. To me, and I think to a lot of other people, especially women…well, gender is something we have to think about all the damn time. Am I conforming to my expected role? Is that a sexist role or a fair one? Am I going too far, am I letting sexism control me by doing exactly the opposite? It really bothers me when my date does X, but is it really that big a deal? If I complain will he think I’m a “ball-buster”? Maybe I’m just overreacting. Or maybe I’m letting my fear of overreacting control me.

    Slash (good slash, not the heteronormative shit) takes gender out of the equation. In a straight relationship, when the female character cooks dinner that’s a statement (traditional gender roles!) and when the male character cooks dinner that’s a statement (anti-traditional gender roles!) and when they take turns cooking dinner that’s a third statement altogether (modern gender roles!). In slash, when Sean cooks dinner, it’s just…Sean cooking dinner. As the reader, I don’t have to fret about Sean’s adherence to tradition or rejection of tradition or if Dimitri’s reaction makes him sensitive or castrated. I can just read about a person who likes to cook. And that absence is so refreshing. I hardly recognized the problem existed until I started reading good slash but now I notice that the difference is staggering.

    So I don’t think straight out banning women from writing slash (as I’ve seen some gay men declare) is the answer. For one, that falls into the trap of only being allowed to write your own narrow demographic. For another, that ignores the queers of all genders writing slash. Should straight people be more sensitive to queer concerns, absolutely. Should half (and I’m being generous with “half”) of slash writers being required to read some Queer 101 on heterosexism and some Feminism 101 on heteronormativity, yeah, I think that might make a dent in a few thick skulls. Ban it outright…no.

    This is a really sticky question for me. Is it appropriation? Much of it is. But I don’t think all of it is. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the mere act of a straight woman writing about queer men for her own satisfaction is inappropriate. I think it can be done properly. And I don’t think the mere fact of queer men not finding value in a particular slash fic makes it an appropriative fic either.

  11. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil: “Semes” who are the definition of toxic masculinity and “ukes” who act like society’s worst stereotypes of PMS.

    Yeah, the big thing that skeeved me out about Neo_Prodigy’s original post was that REAL (gay) MEN ARE ALL SEMES! AND THEY ALLLLLLL LOVE DOMINATING AND DEGRADING ONE ANOTHER WITH HATEFUL, ANONYMOUS ANGER-SECKS…ick.

    Hearing that kinda stuff just makes me wanna be some kinda lesbian separatist (despite not being lesbian…and despite the fact that I’m sure there are lesbians who love dominating/degrading anonymous anger-sex). :S

    It had been said before in the SF_Drama threads that replacing one form of sexism/homophobia (“all gay men are delicate, wilting flowers who embody all the worst aspects of stereotypical femininity”) with another (all gay men are macho no-emotions-having leather-loving sex beasts) is not helping things.

    Plus, doesn’t anybody ever cry after sex? Not necessarily due to ZOMG THE BEAUTY OF SEX~~! but rather tears of joy/tearing up as a result of an endorphin rush/releasing hormones? The whole “if you cry, I will mock you ‘cuz that is a serious boner killer” sentiment N_P was saying I thought was kinda mean…

  12. Ebb says

    Casey: Yeah, the big thing that skeeved me out about Neo_Prodigy’s original post was that REAL (gay) MEN ARE ALL SEMES! AND THEY ALLLLLLL LOVE DOMINATING AND DEGRADING ONE ANOTHER WITH HATEFUL, ANONYMOUS ANGER-SECKS…ick.

    Hearing that kinda stuff just makes me wanna be some kinda lesbian separatist (despite not being lesbian…and despite the fact that I’m sure there are lesbians who love dominating/degrading anonymous anger-sex).

    Well don’t forget, the ‘womenz’ can’t take rough and tumble sex nor can we be the dominate ones! For we are delicate flowers that must only endure gentle and affectionate lovings by a gentleman~
    BAH!
    It’s maybe just how he feels, but that feeling isn’t even true all of the time. I wouldn’t have had that much of a knee-jerk reaction with that statement(and more) if it WASN’T IN A JOURNAL ENTRY MEANT FOR GIVING ADVICE. Well, the entry is down now. So much for standing by your opinion like a ‘man.’ Whatever that means. (Side note: Why not just say “like a grown up” or something a lot less “I AM HE-MAN”? idgi) And this isn’t even the first time his brand of intersectionality has gone awry: http://theangryblackwoman.com/2009/08/02/intersectionality/
    (Granted, this happened in 2009. However, it seems to me that he hadn’t learned a thing since then.)

    When it comes to (bad)slash, one issue is the assumption that there is a “women’s” role and a “man’s” role, using the narrow, traditional ideals of what a woman and a man should and shouldn’t do. Whoever is in the “women’s” role(heck let’s expand that to romance in general and not just slash) they must be weeping, shorter, and/or all around more childish. Not only does this ignore women-identifying folk who don’t fit that description, it also assumes that those who do can never take charge at all! It takes away the personalities of the character and forces them into a cliche-hole. I’d argue that the ideal ‘Woman’ shouldn’t be a thing in romance at all; the Character should be a thing. Period.

    Appropriation is another thing to worry about, however, as I am a bisexual woman I can only glean off of what my fellow queer men say. I’ll make my point about quick. There is a difference between supporting and fetishization. There is a difference between saying “I think these two characters belong together because they have chemistry” and saying “I thing these two belong together because THEY ARE TOTES GAY~” The differing is slight, but it’s there.

  13. Casey says

    Ebb: There is a difference between saying “I think these two characters belong together because they have chemistry” and saying “I thing these two belong together because THEY ARE TOTES GAY~” The differing is slight, but it’s there.

    There’s also the far more shallow “I think these two belong together ‘CUZ THEY LOOK TOTES HAWTT TOGETHER ZOMG!” (which is something I’ve done :P)

    Ah yes, I read that ABW entry when I was reading all those SF_Drama threads…

    It seems to me, that in the end, Neo_Prodigy kinda fell into the same trap that the guy who wrote Foreskin Man did. There are perfectly legitimate criticisms of slash but FOR FUCK’S SAKE, DON’T JUST DOLE OUT LAZY GENDER ESSENTIALIST/REDUCTIONIST/SEXIST RHETORIC TO “PROVE YOUR POINT”.

  14. says

    Casey: REAL (gay) MEN ARE ALL SEMES! AND THEY ALLLLLLL LOVE DOMINATING AND DEGRADING ONE ANOTHER WITH HATEFUL, ANONYMOUS ANGER-SECKS…ick.

    Wow, that sounds almost like internalized homophobia. Definitely erasure and horizontal oppression of queer men who don’t fit his model. =T

    I think the fact that the ABW link is from 2009 makes it worse. Because two years later he’s still using misogynistic language? Not cool. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that buddy’s got some “issues” with women he needs to work out before he can be an effective voice for queers or POC.

    Ebb: There is a difference between supporting and fetishization. There is a difference between saying “I think these two characters belong together because they have chemistry” and saying “I thing these two belong together because THEY ARE TOTES GAY~” The differing is slight, but it’s there.

    That’s a much more concise way of saying what I was trying to in my rambling post above. :)

  15. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil: I think the fact that the ABW link is from 2009 makes it worse. Because two years later he’s still using misogynistic language? Not cool. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that buddy’s got some “issues” with women he needs to work out before he can be an effective voice for queers or POC.

    There’s also his use of misogynist/violent rhetoric, both trite and creepily elaborate in his “WHY I DO NOT WANT TO EVER HAVE KIDS” post…what really sucked about that post to me was for the most part I KNEW HIS FEEL, BRO! He highlighted why he would never want kids with reasons like “I don’t want to HAVE a burden or BE a burden, I don’t want to warp my kid’s mind, I don’t have the energy or mental faculties to raise a child from birth to adulthood, etc.” but when you make some dumb anecdote about how your little sisters were “evil, manipulative and cunning, I had to brandish a tire iron to corral them” and how you’d have sex with your uber-sexy hypothetical waifu three times a day and force her to down a birth control pill beforehand as you watched her intently and checked her mouth like an animal to make sure she swallowed it….

    Something I also think are kind of inconsistent/hypocritical of him is trying to convince Frank Miller that gay guys ARE NOT scary and gross by dumping a bunch of fluffy romantic pictures of gay men together whilst simultaneously telling slashers basically that “gay guys are gross and scary so stop it with your fluffy romance!”
    (oh yeah, he also tells slash writers (and writers in general) to DO YOUR RESEARCH!! When his book is fucking hackneyed as shit with NO research done whatsoever (mostly concerning musical theory and two-dimensional characters…and the main character is a Gary Stu something fierce. It kinda reads like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace only not purposely funny))

  16. Jenny Islander says

    If those animal hats had been branded as, I dunno, PuffTuffs and marketed as good silly fun that happened to be warm and durable to boot, I might have bought one.

  17. Jenny Islander says

    The link about Stirling’s old novel about an alternate India left me wondering: If you are marketing a book to an audience that is overwhelmingly Anglophone and if not monolingual, rarely fluent in the languages spoken by the characters in the book, and if the characters in the book are speaking half a dozen different languages, some in multiple dialects or at multiple levels of politeness, and even the English speakers are really using a constructed dialect that sounds like Hindi to (for example) an Australian–how could this have been portrayed better than the way it was portrayed? One possible fix might be to write the English dialogue in the dialect of the fictional Angrezi Raj and leave the reader to figure it out a la Riddley Walker. Considering the mess Stirling made attempting to develop Tolkien’s Elvish as a cradle tongue for a group of modern-day teens “refounding” the Dunedain Rangers (whole other book series), I’m rather glad that he didn’t try. But with the right assistance, could it have worked? But then, what about the rest of the dialogue?

  18. says

    Jenny Islander,

    Yes, language is tricky. It can be difficult to write believable and unique ways of rendering different langauges. That said, if you don’t want to put the work in, then don’t write a story with characters of four or five different languages. I mean, we’re not talking the difference between English and German here. These are languages from entirely different families.

    two representatives from Dai-Nippon, the East Asian empire, one Japanese and one Chinese; when they speak, their words reflect the syntax used in exclusively English scenes.

    In other words, all the conquering peoples spoke standard English and all the conquered people got the funny dialects.

    How would I solve the problem? I’d have nobody speak standard English. I’d research the hell out of Hindi and put some of their linguistic quirks (no definite articles, extra pronouns, something like that) and translated idioms (“the vodka is good but the meat is rotten” sort of thing) into the Anglo characters’ mouths. According to the author, their language is one third Indian with changed syntax. Show that. Let your Anglo characters sound awkward and stilted to modern readers too.

    Or, hell, if you’re really lazy, have everybody speak standard English and change the format of their dialogue. The Indians speak like this. The Russians speak like this. The Japanese speak like this. Terry Pratchett had a version of this that I thought was clever, different languages were represented by different fonts, and characters that spoke the English-parallel with an accent had their dialogue in the basic font with their H’s in their Arabic-parallel font.

    You’re still setting your viewpoint characters up as the default language speakers, but at least the reader isn’t parsing the other characters’ words differently.

  19. Jenny Islander says

    Dai-Nippon wasn’t conquered by anybody, although if there had been a sequel, Russia would probably have tried. But I take your meaning.

    Part of the theme of the book was “What if the old potboilers were rewritten with better world-building?” So the story is supposed to galumph along. Putting in several different fonts would probably throw a wrench in that. Maybe a few footnotes–? Or just putting all speech that is not in the primary language of the text in italics, regardless of language? Some passages might be rewritten to describe how the characters are talking without putting in the mannerisms. For example, the Chinese bureaucrat–

    Ignatieff waited patiently through his long peroration, delivered in the most flowery and indirect language of the court, all pronouns daintily set aside. When the fat was rendered from the corpse, the meat of it was, If you succeed, I want my share, and if you fail, I never knew you. He smiled inwardly at the thought of what would eventually happen to the fool if he did succeed.

    Or Narayan Singh at home with his family, after an italicized conversation with his parents–

    It was comforting to be addressed in the intimate mode of his own language, after so many months immersed in regimental standard English, which used the same stiff pronouns for everyone. But it was a bit unnerving too. He was momentarily startled to glance into the mirror in the parlor, with the old crack in the bottom left corner, and see a man’s face looking back at him.

    Perhaps a revised Peshawar Lancers could borrow a trick from visual media by having visible writing be obviously not what the characters are speaking. Like Avatar: The Last Airbender (the cartoon!), in which they speak standard American media English, but matter-of-factly read and write Chinese. Maybe there could be several bits of business involving newspapers and signs in Angrezi dialect.

    I do have some issues with criticisms of the characterization in the linked post, but I don’t know how much I don’t know. From this outsider’s perspective, for example, the comment about the Punjab being too hot and dry is part and parcel of that character’s practical outlook; he is intent on furthering his own career and has no time for nostalgia about an ancestral homeland that he didn’t even see until he was an adolescent or possibly an adult. This culminates in his wry observation that he has at last gotten the chance to impress the King-Emperor himself–“Under the very eye, eh, Sahib?”–but only at a point where they are all probably going to die, the King-Emperor included. But what am I missing?

  20. Jenny Islander says

    I suppose that after years of enjoying it I am distressed to realize that I’ve just been reading Tarzan all over again. In a less emotional vein, the challenge of expressing different languages in print without disrupting the flow of the story is an interesting puzzle.

    I still think that it’s enjoyable. But could it be extricated from the bad bits?

  21. says

    Jenny Islander: Dai-Nippon wasn’t conquered by anybody, although if there had been a sequel, Russia would probably have tried. But I take your meaning.

    ? That’s exactly what I said. The people from Dai-Nippon spoke in standard English because they were colonizers, not colonized.

    My inner writer says: I’m not sure why different fonts would slow the story down more than different dialects of English would. In fact, I’d expect it to speed it up because you wouldn’t have to pause to translate “thee” and “thou”. But even if it did…well, basically there are two options. Either language is integral to the plotline and if the reader doesn’t know which character is speaking which language they won’t understand what’s going on. Or language is a subtle tool of your worldbuilding that brings it to life but isn’t essential. (Or a third option, the author just thought it looked cool. In which case, take the opportunity to learn.) If it’s the second, then marking each instance isn’t necessary. Mention it once or twice and move on. If it’s the first, then you do need to code languages in an obvious way. It’s not slowing the story down because the story can’t move forward without that information.

    My inner sociologist says: Even if the racism is subconscious, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a problem to render Anglo dialects/languages as standard English and non-Anglo dialects/languages as Other. That was the essay writer’s point, that non-Anglos are being Otherized through their dialogue. This would be a problem for anybody and it’s one of the pitfalls “know what you write” is supposed to help you avoid. But for a writer to choose a deeply racist time period, the period when the Western world formally entrenched “We are better than Them” thinking…yeah, the writer needs to actually put some work into that. I mean, when I hear “potboiler with better worldbuilding” I expect that “better” to address issues of race. If it doesn’t, if it’s prettier on the surface but still depends on the same tropes of Mighty Whitey and the Wild Savages underneath, then it’s not better. I would even say it’s worse; at least Rudyard Kipling had the half-assed excuse of being a product of his time. What’s Stirling’s excuse?

    Then again, the bit you quote above?

    regimental standard English, which used the same stiff pronouns for everyone.

    English has gender-divided pronouns in the third person (she/he/it). So either the author doesn’t think women are part of everyone or he doesn’t understand how language works.

  22. Jenny Islander says

    Actually the blockquotes were my halting attempts to remove the exoticized English from Stirling’s prose while leaving in the way the language that was used informed the storytelling. In the passage about Narayan Singh’s homecoming, I used the wrong words to express “the Queen-Empress, my sister, and the girl who sweeps the kitchen all get called ‘you,’ but home is a place where we don’t talk like that. And now my semi-legendary dad is saying ‘thou’ to me and I sort of feel like a kid again.”

    Usually the languages are used to express the complexity and cosmopolitan nature of the Angrezi Raj, so I expect it would be mostly option two.

  23. Jenny Islander says

    I checked it out today and reread it in light of the linked post. Aw crap. Another one for the Tarzan pile.

  24. Mintywolf says

    I’m torn on the issue of slash-fics, as basically most people who write slash tend to, as I understand it, use it as a means of sexual fantasy and those are rarely (I hate to use the term but can’t think of another way to put it) politically correct. I’ve written many a story in which I indulged my own particular fantasies and they’d likely be labeled problematic at the very least. That doesn’t mean I think of them as the way things are in real life, or that they would be *good* things in real life. Good fantasy, bad reality is very much a phrase that applies to certain things, particularly in the realm of more fetishy related fictions. When you write things along those lines, you’re writing for yourself, and maybe some others who share your fantasy, not as a statement about . . . well, anything, really, other than ‘I find this sexy’.

    Fantasies don’t always make sense, don’t always follow enlightened views, don’t always reflect the reality of what a person thinks or feels. I’m not saying they should be exempt from examination when put out for others perusal, but I think it’s a stretch to make absolute assumptions on the writers. Because I have a liking for blood in fantasy doesn’t mean my significant other is in danger of me cutting them open (non-consensually), and someone writing Mpreg doesn’t necessarily mean they have attitudes of heteronormity or homophobia. It’s likely it’s just something that pushes their buttons.

  25. says

    Mintywolf,

    I get where you’re coming from. And I think your point is related to my earlier point about how slash fic is often for the benefit of the one writing it, not the people it supposedly portrays. But at the same time…well, I’m going to quote Ebb again.

    Ebb: There is a difference between supporting and fetishization.

    Fetishization can do real harm to minorities, even if the fetish piece is never read by them. That’s why there are laws against child porn, including porn that is hand drawn or computer generated. Rape fantasies can validate rape culture. Just today I was reading an article (didn’t save the link, unfortunately) about how in the early days of the LGBT movement, men of color were fetishized as exotic Others and how that is still damaging the movement to this day.

    Now if my porn happens to have POC in it, that doesn’t mean I’m automatically fetishizing them. It might just be that I like looking at beautiful people and I find these people beautiful. Likewise with slash, I don’t think all slash is fetish. But it’s important to be aware of the difference.

  26. Mintywolf says

    Sylvia–

    As I said, this is why I’m torn. On the one hand yes, fetishization can be harmful, on the other, for example with rape fantasies, it feels pretty shaming for people to say ‘your fantasy isn’t acceptable, change it!’ when you already had to work through guilt feelings about having the fantasy in the first place. Because, honestly, you can’t help or really change fantasies, even if their content isn’t acceptable to everyone.

    So it’s a problem from either side. I don’t have any ideas of how to change that :/

  27. Ebb says

    @ Sylvia and Mintywolf

    Perhaps one part of this issue is knowing where the boundaries are. Slash is just another way at looking at the romantic and/or sexual relationship between two or more people-of-the-same-sex. I guesstimate that the majority of non-canon slash-fic out there isn’t about LGBT issues since most of the time the two mains are straight(straight-interpretively anyway). Even canon-wise(at least I’ve noticed in yaoi), there are quite a few “I’m not gay or at least I’m only gay for you!” romances out there. These are the folk that just don’t identify as gay or even bisexual. THAT’S the tricky part. Is this just a part of the character’s POV about their own identity or is it the opinion of the writer coming through the character’s mouth? Why would it be such a bad thing for this character to find out that they are gay/bisexual/romantic ace? Why should they take the term(s) if they feel nothing towards it(them)? The answer, if there is one, could be as fluid as many consider sexual orientation to be.

    And then there’s porn/erotica. (Oh geez, this is another one where the girls call out the guys and vice versa: “How come it’s okay for you to like seeing two girls/guys doing it and me not too? That’s not cool either, is it?” But that’s another rant.) Well, again this is where boundaries should come in. I’ll be honest, I don’t see anything wrong with the idea of watching porn and reading erotica. (The porn industry is another story…) Either way, people who read/watch it want to see two(or more) people getting it on. Sometimes there’s a story there, but it’s usually about the sex. Here’s where fetishization comes in: is this person reading this NC17 slash fic for the couple(or more) who happen to be gay/bi or are they reading it for the Gay Couple(or more)?
    Is that person reading a non-con fic because they inwardly think that character(ugh) ‘deserved it’ or are they reading it coming from a rough sex or S&M angle and/or they actually want to see this character recover from such an ordeal?

    Here, the answer is a bit more clear…a little bit more than the romantic side anyway.

  28. says

    even then, I STILL don’t know any couples with a ten-year gap

    I do know some. My FIL is 10 years minus 1 month older than my MIL. My best friend’s partner is 11 and a half her senior. Another friend couple also has a +10 year gap between them. A late friend was 10 years *younger* than his wife.

    But Real Life™ examples aside, you totally have a point.

  29. megs says

    I’m married to a guy 9 years older than me and I hate, hate, hate the prevalence of similar age gaps in Hollywood. It’s hilarious to my fellow and me when I bring up what I was doing when he first kissed a girl or went off to college, and I think a lot of my hatred of the Hollywood age gap would be mitigated if that was shown more often in movies. The idea that 20 year old actresses are playing 30 year old women makes sense to me – it’s not usually even touched on that these couples aren’t the same age, so that must be what they want us to assume?

    In the case of my marriage, the age difference is very small because of our cultural timestones. We both were graduating about the same time (he has 3 degrees), got into similar music/literature at about the same respective ages (we like old stuff), and now that we’ve been together 9 year I tend to forget about it entirely.

    re: above comments about USA and Christianity, the early settlers who set out for America were often the oppressed minority religion where they came from, so naturally they started letting the power of self-governance go to their heads. My dad always called the the Frat theory of power: you get heckled and slapped around, so when you take power, you do the same thing to others, completely forgetting how much you hated it when you were the one without power. My current theory on American religiosity in politics is that it’s the one short-hand for “I’m a good person, really!” that people will keep buying no matter how many Christians do horrible, unethical things. You can always ask for forgiveness! Or perhaps people tend to think of Christians as individuals more so than any non-Christian identification, so just because all these other Christian politicians were terrible people, that’s no reason to stereotype! It does baffle me, because church attendance and religious identification keep going down in the general public, but incidence in politics remains the same, if not greater. It’s even spreading to Canada!

  30. Cloudtigress says

    Commenting on assorted topics at once:

    For an example of using just one language to portray several languages, C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series does that trick fairly well. It uses a formal version of English when she has the characters speaking the alien Atevi’s Ragi language (with Ragi prefixes/suffixes/titles/ect. added in where needed), and using informal English when people are speaking the human Mosphi (sp?) language. While the series may not be to everyone’s taste, I think it provides a good example of how to convey different languages while writing in just one.

    Based on my understanding of the terms, seme and uke translate better into English as pitcher and catcher rather than top and bottom. You can have uke top and a bottoming seme, or a dominant uke/submissive seme pairing, you know.

    As for slash pairings in works where the creator never intended a certain pair of characters to be romantically involved, it leaves me with two conflicting feelings. While I somewhat understand the idea of certain fans “claiming” a creators work for themselves by reworking it to suit themselves, I also feel like some of the slashing is a way to, for lack of better phrasing, neutralize any intense male/male platonic relationships that try to go beyond shallow boobs/bullets/beer interests as male buddy bonding experiences. Or if it’s a fandom that that has a decent female fanbase, the forced m/m slashing is used as a way of telling the girls “HA! You’ll never find a real guy that acts decent like them because your idols ARE REALLY GAY AND DON’T LIKE GURLS!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! You have to settle for us sexists slobs instead!!!! LEEEEEER!!!!!!” Or at least that’s the feeling I get sometimes reading some posts (not on this site, btw) on which fictional characters are really secretly gay or not.

    On a side note about personal fanfic fantasies not always being PC: I recently got bitten by the Full Metal Alchemist bug, and started reading through some of the FMA fanfics on fanfiction.net, and some of the slash pairings I found there left me seriously wondering if maybe creator Hiromu Arakawa was perhaps a trifle too subtle for some fans about Ed and Al being brothers. I mean, seriously, Ed/Al slash? And in the few fics with that pairing I looked through, having no other character who learned of that relationship NOT considering it the slightest bit deviant? That lack of thought only makes the pairing squickier, not “edgeir”. (Sorry about the mini-rant; had to vent someplace about it.)

    IF/when I ever get the rest of this manga* and read through it a few times, I may wind up with some candidates to add to the Favorite Fictional Feminist post. Virtually all the main female characters I’ve seen so far are well-rounded people with faults, virtues, and histories of their own, who have motives and lives that don’t solely revolve around getting nookie from the male characters. And there doesn’t seem to be any real social pressure on any of the women to change their career paths to something more acceptably ‘feminine’, however one may define that term. The self-proclaimed “just a housewife” alchemist isn’t shamed by being told she’s wasting her talents by choosing to stay at home and help her husband run the family business instead of having her own career outside the house; her choices are respected by everyone without anyone commenting about whether she’s made the ‘right choices’ for her life. Similarly, the politically ambitious “Ice Queen” woman whose stated goal is to become the leader of her country if/when that post opens up, is not derided by the other characters– or the writer — as desiring a goal that’s unwomanly or “just for men”. She’s treated as though she’s got as many rights to be the leader as much as any of her male rivals do. In fact, I sometimes get the feeling that Arakawa is having some fun inverting certain stereotypes and seeing if that makes FMA a better story in the long run. Only fail I’m picking up at this point is that a couple of the non-white males look like she used old black caricatures in their design, but those are relatively rare in the series as whole so far. Once I’ve read the entire series I’ll have a better “feel” on how it stands up feminist-wise.

    *Curse you Border Books, for your bankruptcy taking down my local Walden Bookstore! It was the only bookstore in town that had anything resembling a very good graphic novel/manga/SF/Fantasy section(s) that were larger than half a shelf long! Cuuuurrsssssse yooooouuuuuu!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Casey says

    Cloudtigress: On a side note about personal fanfic fantasies not always being PC: I recently got bitten by the Full Metal Alchemist bug, and started reading through some of the FMA fanfics on fanfiction.net, and some of the slash pairings I found there left me seriously wondering if maybe creator Hiromu Arakawa was perhaps a trifle too subtle for some fans about Ed and Al being brothers. I mean, seriously, Ed/Al slash? And in the few fics with that pairing I looked through, having no other character who learned of that relationship NOT considering it the slightest bit deviant? That lack of thought only makes the pairing squickier, not “edgeir”. (Sorry about the mini-rant; had to vent someplace about it.)

    I think it’s quite well known in the fandom that Ed and Al are brothers. Being someone who has a LOT of experience in dippy fandoms with incest ships, I can only come to the conclusion that most of these people simply think “INCEST IS WINCEST LOL IT’S TOTES HAWT”.

    (This is tanginital, but I mean, for me, in WWF/E and wrestling slash fandom (my big fandom of interest), I can only get my jollies from Edge/Christian shipping if I make then incestuous twin brothers and justifying it by saying “WELL THEY USED TO BE BROTHERS IN KAYFABE”…I’ve got problems…and that doesn’t even BEGIN to fully unpack how potentially weird/squicky/disrespectful Real Person slash is. >_>V)

  32. Ebb says

    Cloudtigress:
    Based on my understanding of the terms, seme and uke translate better into English as pitcher and catcher rather than top and bottom.You can have uke top and a bottoming seme, or a dominant uke/submissive seme pairing, you know.

    Yep, those are the closest translations to ‘seme’ and ‘uke’ and yes reverse, uh for lack of a better term, positions have been done. Unfortunately, those words have acquired different implications, no longer just meaning the simple definitions. They are pigeon-holed roles now that sadly have a lot of sexist and traditionally-hetero connotations(And I think those unfortunate connotations were there even before English fandom got a hold of them, but that’s just what I’ve gathered.) Men-who-are-uke are the “women” in the relationship and men-who-are-seme are, um, the “men.” (Gee, I wonder if people think this happens in real life for actual same-sex relationships. *sigh*) Anyway, I think that those terms should just be used for their original intent(sexual positions) and not for a character’s ‘personality.’

    Cloudtigress:
    While I somewhat understand the idea of certain fans “claiming” a creators work for themselves by reworking it to suit themselves, I also feel like some of the slashing is a way to, for lack of better phrasing, neutralize any intense male/male platonic relationships that try to go beyond shallow boobs/bullets/beer interests as male buddy bonding experiences.Or if it’s a fandom that that has a decent female fanbase, the forced m/m slashing is used as a way of telling the girls “HA! You’ll never find a real guy that acts decent like them because your idols ARE REALLY GAY AND DON’T LIKE GURLS!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! You have to settle for us sexists slobs instead!!!! LEEEEEER!!!!!!”

    Well I have heard the argument against slashing two male characters denigrates/moots the friendship between those characters or even between all men. While I see where it comes from, I can’t say that I agree. Friendship between guys is pretty much a given in almost all media so I’m not really worried about that. I agree that people can just be friends…but I think this should apply to platonic relationships like ones between a man and a woman or two women just as much. And I’ve also found, it doesn’t matter how shallow the bond between two characters are or how ‘decent’ those people are; if people feel a spark between those characters, then let the shipping begin! XD I don’t think there’s any real agenda–intentional or otherwise–when it comes to shipping/slashing, at least not most of the time. It’s just one of those things that happens or doesn’t.
    I’m also not worried about ‘forced slash’, though I can’t say I have encountered such a thing where it wasn’t a ‘crack-ship’ and not meant to be taken too seriously. After all, Mary Sue(and Marty Stu) fics are still around, still popular, and in some fandoms, are more pervasive than slash-fic is. In other words, there’s still plenty of fans who love to ship their favorite characters with themselves. Also, there is just as much ‘forced’ hetero-pairings. *makes a side glance at the Avatar:The Last Airbender and Harry Potter fandoms*

    As for incest/twincest/”wincest”, eh, never been a thing for me, but I think this is where “your kink is not my kink” comes in. (It’s been a while since I’ve seen FMA. I should get into it.)

  33. Cloudtigress says

    Casey: I think it’s quite well known in the fandom that Ed and Al are brothers. Being someone who has a LOT of experience in dippy fandoms with incest ships, I can only come to the conclusion that most of these people simply think “INCEST IS WINCEST LOL IT’S TOTES HAWT”.

    Wincest? Do I really want to know…..?

    If I hadn’t been half asleep when I posted that, I would have remembered to include a /sarcasm comment in there, to show that I knew the brotherly relationship is definitely part of the plot. (Also, if I wasn’t half-asleep, I could have kept the word diarrhea under control :) ) The elricest meme (as it’s referred to in the fanfics) just caught me off guard for some reason, even though it really shouldn’t have, given what else can pop up in fanfictions.

    (This is tanginital, but I mean, for me, in WWF/E and wrestling slash fandom (my big fandom of interest), I can only get my jollies from Edge/Christian shipping if I make then incestuous twin brothers and justifying it by saying “WELL THEY USED TO BE BROTHERS IN KAYFABE”…I’ve got problems…and that doesn’t even BEGIN to fully unpack how potentially weird/squicky/disrespectful Real Person slash is. >_>V)

    Not a kink I’m into, unless I morph the Real People involved into truly fictional characters insid my head. However, I guess if you don’t mistake your ship for what the Real People are really doing in their private lives, it can work some.

  34. Cloudtigress says

    Ebb: Yep, those are the closest translations to ‘seme’ and ‘uke’ and yes reverse, uh for lack of a better term, positions have been done.Unfortunately, those words have acquired different implications, no longer just meaning the simple definitions. They are pigeon-holed roles now that sadly have a lot of sexist and traditionally-hetero connotations(And I think those unfortunate connotations were there even before English fandom got a hold of them, but that’s just what I’ve gathered.) Men-who-are-uke are the “women” in the relationship and men-who-are-seme are, um, the “men.” (Gee, I wonder if people think this happens in real life for actual same-sex relationships. *sigh*) Anyway, I think that those terms should just be used for their original intent(sexual positions) and not for a character’s ‘personality.’

    Figured as much. If the pigeonholes shown in most yaoi/fanfics get to be too much for me, I’ll just have to hunt down my copy of Youka Nitta’s first Secret Diplomacy book, and hunt down an online scanlation of her second (and hope she’s been allowed to continue/complete it), and remind myself that dominate uke/submissive seme can be a hot combo, written well. And avoid all analyzing commentaries claiming that the only “real” appeal yaoi has for its female audience is that it portrays romantic relationships between true equals that are impossible to show using hetro pairings blahblahblah the female reader doesn’t have to mentally compete with the “feminine” male character so it’s safer for her to pretend he’s her blahblahblah yuri (the female version of yaoi, for those who haven’t encountered that term before) can’t be used to show truly equal romantic relationships because it’s been left as the plaything of straight males for waaaaaay too long for women to get interested in it blahblahblah one half of the yaoi pairing HAS to be bi because it won’t appeal to straight women otherwise if both characters don’t have an interest in women blahblahblahBLEECH! (Yeah, I’m thinking of one analysis in particular that made me wonder if the writer had actually asked very many yaoi fans why they like yaoi, instead of using secret psychology explanations to explain why women would REALLY like that genre. Me, I started reading yaoi because I was curious how two guys actually “do it”, and wanted to read about it in stories that actually had plots that appealed to me, and the fact that I have no clue where the nearest gay/lesbian book store is to me and thus couldn’t go there to find what I wanted.)

    As for incest/twincest/”wincest”, eh, never been a thing for me, but I think this is where “your kink is not my kink” comes in. (It’s been a while since I’ve seen FMA. I should get into it.)

    True enough. While I admit that the “elricest” kink could be done well, the writer would have to be one that actually put some thought on how it might work in real life, and what the actual reactions of the other characters would be to that kink, and acknowledge the wrongness of the pairing too. The ones I stumbled across didn’t do anything with it beyond going HAWTHAWTHAWT!!! , and that really didn’t appeal to me at all. A bit too squicky for my tastes.

    Speaking of FMA animie, do you know that there’s two separate series now? The first one that was forced to do a 90′ turn from the manga plotline out of necessity (the manga wasn’t anywhere near completed when the anime needed episode material, and thus had to make up stuff to create it’s own separate universe), and the more recent one under the Brotherhood label, that’s evidently a very faithful adaptation of the manga. Just a fyi in case you didn’t know about that.

  35. Shaun says

    Cloudtigress,
    Ebb,

    My boyfriend is bilingual and lived in Japan for 3 years. I was surprised to learn seme and uke aren’t in use by gay men at all (at least in Tokyo and Kyoto I assume). I don’t remember the terms he told me are in use, except the one for bottom translates as ‘cat’ which made no sense to me. Seme and uke are terms pretty much exclusively used by heterosexual women which kind of jives with the majority of yaoi fans in the US.

  36. Casey says

    Cloudtigress: Not a kink I’m into, unless I morph the Real People involved into truly fictional characters insid my head. However, I guess if you don’t mistake your ship for what the Real People are really doing in their private lives, it can work some.

    That’s pretty much what I do. I try to stick to kayfabe/storylines/WACKY ALTERNATE UNIVERSES…and really, the less I know about the real people’s personal lives the better (I feel like an even bigger creeper otherwise). HOWEVER I know a lot of people in fandom who strongly disapprove of Real Person slash/shipping in general and find it straight-up amoral…which makes me feel kinda uncomfortable even though I don’t force my kinks on others.

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