beccaelizabeth: Hat made of rainbows (rainbow hat)
My annual brave thing has been achieved, with only two panic attacks, and a whole inability to talk of course, which I wouldn't usually bother mentioning but the edp tried to interview me and it not work, I got as far as 'n n n n n' of trying to say not work, and they got the idea.
Read more... )

But I went, and there was maximum rainbows.

Pride is good.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The thing that makes conversations about gender and media difficult to have
is that, in an ideal world, I'd want gender to be a nonbinary system, a gender spectrum, with no particular weight or pressure to so much as pick a position on it, let alone be stuck there.

... but I am aware that this ideal world is based on what would make the world most comfortable for me, and other people want to do their own thing, so okay, I guess, they can play this two sided thing, if they particularly want.

Read more... )

We have to start by engaging with the dominant paradigm, but I get so tired of it when it is being a really intolerable paradigm.

There's no room for anyone in this thing, why even prop it up?

So what this adds up to is, the Doctor has potential to be my ideal character. All Time Lords do now. Because they can demonstrate in one continuous person the utter irrelevance of packaging.

But, because they are on the whole written by binary people in a binary system, it seems annoyingly likely they won't.

And yet it's still progress, because parity is at least twelve more Doctors away, so this is a place to start.

It's just kind of wearying knowing that saying this out loud is... pretty likely to start an argument on the fundamentals. Like, gender. What is even up with that?
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I am so tired of men writing women
when you can just see they sat down and thought about why this character has to be a woman
and came up with lists that are just... ugh.

Read more... )

I would very much like it if required warnings went on all the stories. So the one I just read would be all Major Character Death, because they take a one way trip on purpose and kill themselves after saving the world, and Rape, because ... ? And dead lesbian again. And dead mothers. And... I think the author reckons they're telling an inspiring story about deciding to save the world even though it really and sincerely sucked for the people doing the saving. But why is that the story?

So I'm left with the feeling the warning label is
women, written by men, who think they need a reason.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So I've been thinking about the bit where a woman raised by women in an all women place finally meets a man and is like oh wow how strange what even is it, with or without the I like this part.

And, like, have you seen women?

Even just afab cis women?

Have you seen all the shapes at the olympics? Because there are many, many shapes. There are short women who are skinny all over, there are tall women who are large all over, there are curves but not necessarily, there are women doing shotput who I feel more superheroes should look like but know they won't because them and the hammer throwers are, like, emphatically not Power Girl shaped, even though their discipline is mostly power.

And even the whole facial hair situation, it's really variable on whatever gender, and now there's shaving, so, depending on culture, unlikely to be relevant.

Basically as long as they've got their underpants on they're just, you know, maybe sort of stocky, not very femme, but not actually entirely novel or surprising.

And the other way around, okay, past a certain point women are more notably new shapes, but men can be soft shapes too, it takes a lot to be a mindblowing new view.

And, like, we're used to society and language categorising everyone as one of two things, so we divide them up at a glance, however rude that is, and however often we're really getting it wrong. But if you live somewhere that just doesn't, you just wouldn't.

Like Leckie's Ancillary books. That's the only time I can remember right now I've seen this done plausibly. Though Bujold's Athos had a go.

Like society is really invested in the idea there are clear and obvious differences between two binary genders, but, you know, no.

... this is one reason monosexuals puzzle me deeply, but it's their thing, I'm not being judgey. I'm just kind of confused at the idea that the attractiveness of biceps or shoulders or muscles all doing stuff together somehow depends on which gender category they're in. Or, like, hands. Hands are awesome. Why are they variably awesome based on plumbing? I can see why personality might put you off, but I really don't get it about gender.

But still.

If man gets washed up on island of women, I figure he's probably just going to get called sister a lot, until he gets assertive about pronouns.

Unless of course she finds out she's fine with that.

Scary hot

May. 26th, 2017 03:24 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today's daydream: lady demonstrates superpower, gets reaction like 'wow that's hot'

and I know that sounds like it happens a lot but I was just looking at gifs on tumblr and it's like women with power are scary and hot, but because they're wearing tight whatsits and doing wiggly walk. And like it's their power that is scary and their body that is hot.

I want a lady to be dressed like Winter Soldier and doing the stompy boots murder walk
demonstrate power
and the power is hot.

It feels quite distinct.

Read more... )

I just wanted a guy who'd look at me like Gomez looks at Morticia, specifically because I'd just demonstrated I could kick his arse.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, I read a story where the Earth's entire colonisation effort was something like thirty women, and they were going to get implanted with preserved embryos on their first day there because they might be the whole hope of survival for the human race.

... which bothers me on several levels.

Read more... )

Obviously if everyone is women you do what the computer tells you and grow whatever was frozen well enough. Er, whoever.

How long would they keep up the Ladies Only plan?

I mean if the plan is to get as much genetic diversity as possible out of the frozen embryo stores in the ship and there's some kind of time limit on that, you'd want to make sure there's plenty of wombs to go around. Would you get everyone out in a single generation?

If you're aiming for ten thousand colonists, even if you have multiple births routinely and soak the risk, that needs a really big first gen pool. So you'd want to keep up the embryos plan for multiple generations, without losing any of the earlier generations. You could do that with donor sperm and embryos. Or with a lot of social stuff to make sure your great grandchildren are still interested in decanting old world people.

also one of the mathier pieces says "the consequences of the increased medical risks of late childbirth have not yet been considered." It wanted to stretch the generations on a generation ship by having kids around 40, but, wow is that a biggie to leave out of your math. I mean, your chances change substantially over time.

Read more... )

But only the first 200 would be volunteers who up front believe themselves willing to act that way. The future survival of the human race would depend on their reproductive behaviour. Their choices would be severely constrained.

And to get all the embryos out of storage in the shortest generations they'd need to get their daughters to act the same way. Which seems... unlikely.

Read more... )

Hard science fiction that sets out a space colony as that baby focused without thinking through how they're actually going to feed the babies is just bad.

I mean, maybe they all get pregnant before they've got a crop going on the grounds that if they starve to death it's all one anyway, but... no.

Also the science problem in the novellette I read was far less interesting to me than the social consequences of the background setup. Read more... )

I think one big factor for viable colony size calculations is something like, if we send people who act pretty much like people of that cultural background do, how many do we need?

Like, we'd need to include murder rates from somewhere.

You do not get perfectly behaved people. No matter how you filter them at the start.

And the cultural changes would be massive even in the first generation kids. I mean how many immigrants feel like they don't really understand their children?

And if the future of the human race depends on women's reproductive choices, it's kind of more likely to work if you start with what those choices *actually* tend to be. First gen you could filter for people that want big families - though not for people that want big families once they start having them and are surrounded by them - but second gen will do as they will.

How do you design a colony socially so it does what you need genetically?

Clue: you do not stick thirty women on a one way trip and keep them pregnant from the first month they get there.

Hard science needs to at least glance at soft science or it requires the ridiculous.


Apr. 5th, 2017 03:47 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Also also Buffyverse meta:

That one review that made it all about bad boyfriends... okay, I get where you're coming from, Buffy had a fascinating map in that respect, though what is with all the Riley erasure and simplifying it down to Didn't Love Him?

But they seemed to conclude with saying passion is what makes life worth living, and meant specifically romantic passion.

And I mean, they might have been quoting? "If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow." That sort of thing.

But, small point to remember, that was serial killer Angelus talking.
We do not uncritically accept the admittedly artistic monologues of serial killers.

Saying without romantic passion, the kind that leads us into bad relationships, our lives would be empty? Eeew. I mean, way to write off aro aces there. But also, eeew. And saying we have no choice about who we love? Yeah, but, no. Love is a choice. You wake up every morning and put the work in. You learn someone and learn how to see them. You decide to fit your lives together. And love is a promise. A commitment to act a certain way, in the beloved's best interests. And yeah, love and passion can turn up for unhelpful people, but, after that, you grow it or you don't.

And granted I'm sitting here perpetually single and baffled by most humans, but still, pretty sure I'm right even for people with the big overrides in their heads. We get plenty of choices. Just some are more appealing than others.

Plus how can someone see fandom and only understand passion as a romance thing?

... wait, 'ship wars, fic read as primarily about a 'ship, I can see it. But. Wrong.

People get full of energy for many things, and it can lead them astray in far more contexts, or drive them on to greatness.

Forgetting that and flattening every relationship that doesn't work to bad boyfriend passion? Does story such a great disservice, let alone people.

Buffy had many passions and many loves and each of them changed her and helped her and hurt her in various ways, because bumping into other humans does that.

But romantic passion isn't the only way to do it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been reading all the things about Buffy because 20th.
... many people are not particularly fussed about evidence if it gets in the way of their preferred reading, especially if that evidence is a 'ship.
I mean you can read Willow and Buffy as single in the last season, and learning to love themselves etc etc, but in Willow's case you have to ignore the actual sex scene, and Buffy ends the show by saying I Love You to a guy, it's just he happens to be on fire at the time. But single. Because feminist.

It is not in fact more feminist to be single. The trick to writing feminist relationships is to make them actually about the woman and her needs. Stuff like putting her career first and listening to her and doing what she actually says she needs and being emotionally supportive. In an ideal world stuff like woman sees guy thinks he's worth pursuing and does so successfully. Because then it's about her choices. The only things that are not feminist about relationships are when it's about what a man wants and can talk her into, and it reflexively centers the man. And oh look, with Willow, real easy to avoid, seeing as there's no man in there. And yet, plural times, I seen this interpretation.

There's nothing wrong with being a wife or mother, it's just when people are ironed flat to fit into stereotypes of those roles there's a problem. Just like there's nothing wrong with being a woman who kicks arse, but there's problems when she's flattened out into being just that (and second best at it). And the makeup thing? Makeup is fun for everyone, all people have the option to paint themselves colors, even if the guys mostly stopped at nail varnish. What is no fun is sticking women in the double bind where their character hates girly things and never spends time on them yet somehow is perfectly made up at all times, or ironing them flat into painted up pretty and then hating on them for vanity when they do the only stuff the story allows them.

Also feminist is giving men a full range of feelings and a wider range of wardrobe options and centering girly things for everyone. Because men get ironed flat too, and it's creepy weird.

And then there's single point authority through competition for dominance vs networks of multiple expertise in cooperation. The latter, apparently, is feminine? Because humans really like to sabotage themselves? I mean women compete, don't get me wrong, but the ideologies that say someone has to be lone loner lonely grimdark, that's apparently patriarchy. Because reasons.


But everyone who can stand up will stand up, could have the power, will have the power.

That's a much better and more effective way.

And that ending would not have been undermined if everyone walked away in one big polyamorous group, or got their emotional support with a side of romance as well as all the regular platonic stuff, so I don't know what show the reviewers were watching, but I like my one better.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was reading a string of Moffat quotes on the topic of recasting the Doctor as a woman. He maintains that you never cast just A Woman, because you never cast A Man, you'd only do it if you had someone specific in mind. Which I maintain is how we get more straight white men everyone has seen before, and never enough of the rest of us, so it's dangerous bollocks.

But. His other point was to wonder if we, the audience, are ready yet. His question is Would the viewer accept her as The Doctor?

And, wrong.

That is the wrong question.

The question is, How do we make them accept her as The Doctor? Better yet, how do we make them love the Doctor?

And the answer to that is the same as every other time.

You have them walk on and Be The Doctor.

Twelve climbing out the window because 'Me', listening to a dinosaur, being so so sorry, caring so much, and being brilliant. Eleven rolling up all faster than light travel with two diagrams and a joke, whoever I am I'm a genius. Is this world protected? (Ten has declared it so.) I'm the Doctor. Basically, run. (Run for your life, says Nine to Rose.) And every other time we meet him for the first, eighth, seventh, so on and so forth times, though I think Eleven did it with the most style.

Every single time, every single episode, every time you meet you've got to sell two things: This is The Doctor, the definite article, and the Doctor is the most amazing being you will ever meet.

So you bring on the new cast, sure, and to sell the transition you have someone who already knows him, and to sell the Doctor you have someone falling for him for the very first time. Not romantically, at least not until recently and I don't consider it an improvement. That feeling that this is the single most interesting person in any room, and you could follow them anywhere. All of time and space, yeah, but it's who you travel it with who matters.

So there's the new Doctor and the old Companion and the new audience identification figure companion the second, bewildered but bewitched.

And there's not one word of that that changes if you change her gender. Not one line.

I'm the Doctor, I'm a genius, and this is defended.

If you can't sell that you've no business writing Doctor Who.

... and we had Clara selling that, which was interesting. But you don't get the structural shift in center until you move the white man out of it, so, it has to be the Doctor.


And the thing is, every writer, every fanfic writer, but novels and audios and episodes too, has to sell us the same thing every single time. Or else fail to convey why this is Doctor Who and not some other thing with the serial numbers swapped.

And funnily enough they do it pretty frequently.

So I just don't see the argument. I don't give a monkeys if you think the audience won't swallow it cold. Cook the blooming banquet and serve it to them at such a pace they're asking for it by the time it gets to table. Make us feel it, and we'll believe. That's what writing is about.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I get really tired of fanfic's tendency to swap out women.
When a show has only women of the week and the guys go home together, the slash is simples, and rarely has to bother swapping out women.
But the more women are in the story in the first place, the more some fanfic decides what a story really needs is to just reattribute their everything to a man.

I've read fics that were just episodes but with their preferred pairing instead of a woman.
I even liked them cause I hadn't seen that episode yet.
Felt icky when I realised.

In Clint/Coulson fics after Age of Ultron, well, the vast majority simply aren't after Age of Ultron, but the ones that are? I'm mostly left trying to decide if it's creepier when they give the farm to Coulson or make Laura Clint's sister.

Probably the sister thing, considering, but in the general case it's just creepy to erase a woman and give her everything to the nearest pretty guy.

It's also annoying because so unnecessary. I mean Coulson makes some little speeches in Agents of SHIELD season one that imply he had to choose between wok and raising kids, and then Clint turns out to have kids, so the poly fic really ought to write itself. But I haven't even seen a handful of those. Just the erasure.

I get fed up of het fic due to the increased tendency to get icky patriarchy all over everything, but this is not an improvement.

I'm kind of feeling like I should retrain myself to only read fic with women in, because wow am I fed up of white men getting all the stories.

But I'm in the habit so somehow the fic that grabs me is all white men all the time. Which is embarrassing.

When canon gives us awesome women doing things, or even mediocre poorly written token women doing things, it's really important to keep them around. And do better with them. Like we have been with the men for some decades.

We can write so many more interesting lives. We don't need to treat what they've already got like scraps to be fought over.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So I idly invented an alternate gender system for a fantasy world, because everything being the same is boring

so in my world, nobody is assigned a gender, gender and bodies has nothing to do with each other, people just choose to be a man or woman or person and can stay a person their whole lives or switch as many times as they want.

So then I go to populate this world
and I keep gendering everyone
by binary gender.

I made this stuff up and I keep failing at it.

I decided my main character is nonbinary and I keep typing she.

I feel like a fraud.

It's like my brain is so thoroughly colonised I can run through it with a burning flag yelling 'no masters' but in five minutes I'll be back to doing the same old shit anyway.


Some of it is because I'm populating it fanfic style and just throwing characters at it to see where they'd fit, but of course in the source they're basically binary gendered, and basically all cis and not fluid, and then they just end up staying the same and my world is disproportionately white guys again. Which is daft, because I just made it up, it should not be white guys.

Some of it is because it's one thing to set out to disrupt gender by using unfamiliar pronouns or singular they, and quite another to get your fingers to remember. Singular they bugs me, you lose data, but there I am using ambiguously general you and that doesn't bug me, so it's just habit.

Also the per/per/pers/perself pronoun set is tempting but the first per doesn't fit, we have she he they in that slot already, so clearly it should be pe, which is then unfortunate. It can't be Phe because that changes the P sound weirdly, and Peh belongs to another set.

I'm better at typing ze but for some reason best known to my subconscious it doesn't feel like it belongs in this verse.

So just, in general, thanks brain.

I shall type a first draft and then fix it later.

But seriously, gender is weird.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The thing that bugs me about dance is how gendered it can be. I mean, a song comes on, the DJ says girls on one side guys on the other, and even if he is clear we’re just choosing sides for the length of the song and anyone can stand anywhere, it’s still sides. I stay seated. Cause otherwise I’d be dancing somewhere in the middle.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Vampire and ghost, actually. And gender.

I know I've used it before but the idea that a single character can become undead two different ways at once, because the vampire gets their body but not their soul, has a lot of mileage.

And I have this idea for a trans character who looked around for a model of masculinity and decided: William the Bloody. Read more... )


Oct. 29th, 2016 01:15 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Poll #17718 Pronouns
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 8

Which pronouns do you recognise

View Answers

E, Em, Eir, Eirs, Emself.
3 (42.9%)

ou, ou, ous, ous, ouself.
0 (0.0%)

per, per, per, pers, perself.
2 (28.6%)

they, them, their, theirs, themself.
7 (100.0%)

ze, zim, zir, zirs, zirself.
7 (100.0%)

Which would be best to use in a fantasy story where gender at birth is 'person'

View Answers

E, Em, Eir, Eirs, Emself.
1 (12.5%)

ou, ou, ous, ous, ouself.
0 (0.0%)

per, per, per, pers, perself.
3 (37.5%)

they, them, their, theirs, themself.
4 (50.0%)

ze, zim, zir, zirs, zirself.
0 (0.0%)

I'm pretending I'll start writing again any time soon, and this one 'verse I've been thinking on just doesn't assign gender, they wait until someone declares themselves. So I've been wondering if to stick with 'they' or to make it more obvious something unusual is going on by using unusual words. Except not always recogniseable are the unusual words. So, poll.


Mar. 30th, 2016 05:59 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It just occurred to me what bugged me about the women in the... last half dozen books I read by several different male authors.

Women as prizes are never women who choose between different options.

It's obvious once I've seen it. But when I was reading it was all from a male point of view and the most that happens is they compete for a woman but then something happens to take one out of the running and the other mourns for a while and then claims his default prize. It's never like in romances where there's the nice guy and the dangerous guy and a woman has actual opinions on both of them.

Women as prizes happen in the exact quantity required, exist long enough to prove they're worthy of their guy, and then just fade into the background.

It's creepy.

Now I have a sudden urge to rewrite something a bit more Pride & Prejudice... except I've not read that in a really long time and I'm not even sure I mean that one. So it's not my sort of rewrite that I'd be good at. Boo.

But also I was reading about the roles of women historically and how marriage was more about wealth and power than about love and it just struck me again how duty gets devalued by the romantic love narrative. I mean Romeo & Juliet is a tragedy because they die, but also because their stupid hormonal messing around gets other people killed. And yet there's a lot of people under the ridiculous impression it's romantic. Also any story where the lord runs off with the servant girl. It's all very well as far as it goes, it elevates the servant girl's social chances and is a much better gig than just getting the attention without the marriage, but there's a reason that a good aristocrat cares about his wife's wealth. Aristos are the boss of a really large number of people. They need money to maintain their estates, which means employing and feeding a whole lot of people, as well as doing things necessary to the community and being a good landlord. Yes there's not much guarantee they'll be good lords, but if they're good, they need the money for their people. Like reading the word Lord etymologically derives from Loaf Warden. There's the dude with enough bread for everyone. Marrying poor is bad not just for him but for potentially really large swathes of the country. That's not happily ever after, that's not romance, that's just ignoring duty for personal desire.

And yet that's a really difficult point to push, given how uphill it is against current standards.

Checking out someone's prospects is just trying to ensure neither the married couple nor their children will starve. And when a family was pretty much a business organisation, say with farming or weaving or any other thing, the extended family would be relying on strong marriages to keep everyone in eating.

Leaving all that behind, say to ride off on horseback somewhere, would be a bit like leaving with the company car, still on hire purchase, belonging to the company formed with relatives, and never seen again while not a breath of payment comes back.

Doing that for romance just means burning through your assets twice as fast, with more mouths to feed.

And if they're only your assets as part of a complex web of family investments, well, that's just rude.

So I don't get what's so wrong about going looking for a good investment prospect, seeing as you want to continue to eat without taking more than you return in food off the family table.

And the kind of fantasy adventure novel where the prince goes undercover and comes back with some pretty young woman who is at best trained to run a family business the size of an inn or a smallholding... it's like promoting the secretary to CEO because true love, it's really unlikely to work out well for tens of thousands of people.

... promoting the personal assistant to CEO because she's been running the company really well for years anyway is just a good investment.

But choosing the prince because he's a prince has a lot of drawbacks too. I mean, politics involves actual backstabbing. And if the kingdom falls apart you know who they'll blame, fairly or otherwise. And the new girl at court has absolutely no useful contacts.

If you're looking for a good place to raise children it's a hell of a gamble.

So 'romance' in fantasy novels is frequently a series of very poor choices, creepily presented as destiny with an ongoing lack of apparent choice.

I dislike it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The Bechdel-Wallace test, blunt instrument that it is, is not there to measure if women act in a stereotypical way. When it says 'are they talking about something other than a man' it is not a test for romance. It's not even just to filter out characters playing The Mother and The Sister and The Daughter, though it does that pretty handily.

It's there to test whether we exist in our own right. Women, plural.

Because if the film only has one woman, or two women that do not talk to each other, or who only talk about men?

Then women in that film only exist when observing or observed by men.


Women are half the world. Women should be half the movie. Very simple.
Instead we tend to get 2:1 male to female.
And that 1/3? Talks to and about men. And exists only in relation to men.

It's very easy to fix this. And yet it doesn't happen.

Making women the protagonists is important, essential, really great
and not sufficient.

We are not the lone exception. We are half the world.

Women exist. Plural. We talk to other women, with no men around, about things entirely not involving men.

Until media reflects that, it will come up short on the Bechdel-Wallace test, and fail at this really basic component of realism.

A film can have many other virtues, but the only way to get women to exist independently is to have it pass the test. And failing the test is a great big minus that drags the whole thing down.

I realise this particular rant might work better in relevant comments threads, but I am just not feeling that confrontational, so I'll rant about it here where people will either agree with me or be quiet. *sigh*

I like it that people like their favourite movies, I just get really frustrated when people decide this test doesn't matter, because often they're saying it doesn't matter if there's only one woman if she's sufficiently cool. But it matters. Nobody is cool enough to make up for the numerical disadvantage. We need to exist, and we need to talk, and we need to talk to each other.

Game worlds

Nov. 6th, 2015 12:11 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Last night I was reading GURPS Banestorm
and it just wound me the hell up
that they've cherry picked history to end up with two thousand years of AU that's more sexist.

Not just because the 20th century worked out quite differently.
They've just erased women in two easy steps.
The first one goes something like 'it is a historical fact that most warriors were men' and the second one just conveniently ignores the 'most' and continues as if history were entirely shaped by dicks.

Even the most masculine focused history books I've read included Boudicea and the Iceni.
But the gaming AU version? Rome! Rome forever!
Conquer the multiverse with some frozen in amber single most sexist moment, where nobody struck back ever.

And which is more exciting to play? Do you want to bestride the continent as the single most efficient war machine history has ever known? Or do you want to be the tiny tribe on an island in the arse end of nowhere that stood up and made them burn?

Banestorm takes little bits of Earth cultures and dumps them via storm portals onto a whole other planet, where they can develop differently. Or, for gaming purposes, not develop.

But it takes the most sexist stereotypes of the most sexist centuries, and then ignores the fact that each and every moment is one of dynamic change. Women didn't just sit around for nineteen hundred years on every continent entirely content to be told they could not. Women did. Women did all the things. Pick a thing, and women have done it. Led armies? Pirate queen? Queen regnant? Founded universities? And yeah, spun and wove and embroidered, made lace and knitted, but you know the fibre arts weren't so heavily gendered when they were a widespread industry. And see 'peace weaver' for another highly respected alternative. Or abbess, how about that, head of a joint house where male religious did what they were told. I know very little history and I know all those things. And it can't be that there's no room in the game book for the because it took me all of a paragraph to write them out.

So pick up your random bits of Earth culture and dump them next door to orcs if you will, but realise you could be taking them from an Anglo-Saxon era where men and women both could be 'lords' or 'throne worthy', could be land owners and bread winners, defenders and diplomats. Even if you want Christianity, you could have the Celtic version where women were (at least closer to) equals. In this timeline sexism won, imperial and religious both, but why keep that?

A few centuries later you could have the survivors of the Black Death, pulling together to survive, with women doing all the work because there weren't enough people left to make a fuss about it. Sure, before and after that they were locked out of a lot of paths, but for a while they were everywhere because that was the only way to survive.

And you know what happens when you've got a few thousand humans on an alien planet surrounded by orcs? Because history suggests it's not bloody sexism. See world war 2 for the most recent model. Necessity isn't just the mother of invention.

Plus GURPS specifically says the Banestorm pulled people from the crusader era, without considering that if all the fighty ones and many of the males have buggered off to go hit the neighbours, the villages back home getting portaled over could have a bit of a different balance going on. More Maid Marions than usual. Actually fewer Norman knights. Play through that as if the cross coated never came home and what could happen?

So you can pick your bits and pieces of societies from all over, take them from moments where women were already doing things, and weave together an alternate history where sexism died.

And it's more interesting, richer, more varied, gives you far more game possibilities, and isn't something we've seen a billion times before.

Are there RPG sourcebooks specifically about women? Templates for famous historical women, that sort of thing? There should be.

Maybe I should make one.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm bouncing off a book I tried starting reading today. So far instead of book I have had lunch, had a nap, played on the computer twice, and done my nails again. Also stared into space. A lot.

I've read a few chapters in between those things but it's not going great. I may take this one back unfinished. I have until Wednesday, I kind of expected to finish it in one afternoon like usual, but no.

There's two point of view characters, one bloke, one bird. The bloke is fed up of women because they're all so vain and fluttery. The woman is Not Like Other Women, who she finds vain and fluttery.

That's the big. That's what I'm utterly done with. That assumption, that women were actually sitting around being pretty all day every day with not a thought in their head, except for Our Heroine, Not Like Other Girls, who has secretly acquired an education and earned money!

I'm not saying there's no bits of history where you'd find fluttery vain women. I'm pretty sure said women were often shrewd political actors using the power available to them, but that gets called vanity.

The thing is there are so many other bits of history. Why are our fantasy novels not set there?

Like I was reading about English History from the library last week and it said stuff like Anglo Saxon women could be Lords, because the word hlaford usually translated as Lord was actually gender neutral. Women were landowners. They built forts, they ran abbeys, they owned many things and kept them jointly if they got married. They were in charge. And inheritance, at least for kings, was drawn from a pool, the aethelings I think it said, and those were everyone descended from like the great grandfather king. I should look it up, I'll do a more precise post before I send the book back. So whoever turned out to be best at the kinging job got it. And then the Normans turned up and they had that primogeniture rule where the firstborn son got everything and the rest of history was quite a different shape.

But if you're writing a fantasy book then why not draw on a system where ranks are gender neutral and the best person for the rank is drawn from a pool? Drama and competition! Everyone needing to be good at all the jobs! Equal opportunity fluttery vanity among people who know they're not going to get the job on their own merits, if that sort of thing appeals. But mostly, women, women everywhere, doing all the things and being just as good at them.

The telling of history has perhaps been uniformly sexist in mainstream sources for a long time now. The living of it was not. It wasn't a straight line of progress from women as property to women now, we had property and ruled stuff long times ago, it just got took away somtimes.

Also there was a bit about Boadicea and I've always heard she, like, inherited being the boss because the blokes around her died, but the way this particular book tells it it was more that the locals found it unremarkable for a woman to be in charge so she was boss of course. What it says was just "like other Celtic peoples they accepted the authority of female leaders." And then the Romans turned up and were like 'no, where's the bloke in charge', only in Latin and with more swords. They did what they did to her partly because Rome wasn't having any of that women-in-charge stuff.

So there's one version of history as if the Roman way was the normal way, but there were Celtic peoples here long before and after the Romans turned up, doing things their way, with female leaders being normal.

Why aren't they in the fantasy books?

Even the ones by women often rework particular sexist eras, with sexist assumptions, shaped around the idea that the version of history that's all battles and who had the biggest army is the important one.

It's never about diplomacy or arranging a good marriage as a business and political transaction that holds kingdoms together. It's always looking down on women as fluttering vanity trying to snare a man for personal ambition. The nuts and bolts day to day work that should have gone with that ambition, that's nowhere.

Or it's there, but because she's Not Like Other Girls.


Our brains got poisoned by wrong teaching. Need to think more better.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Something that has been bugging me lately about texts that get called feminist and groundbreaking: they're usually not that new.

It feels like spinning wheels in mud, to be told something is new and shiny over and over again. Look at all the progress we made! Working so hard!

So when prejudice and misogyny get shown, they get pushed back as far into the before as possible, so it's something that happened to grandparents maybe. Parents if you must. But it's in the before. And it's meant to be high contrast, because they show the stuff that's so obvious and ugly, and then haha, punch it in the face, that'll totally work.

And then we're meant to be happy that we get such a new and shiny female character, who can kick butt and be feminine, wow, we never had that before!

Read more... )

Maybe I'm watching the wrong shows. I'd love to hear about shows doing all the things I want. I mean I don't watch much that's on TV lately, I end up getting DVD box sets, I'm probably missing a bunch of cool.

But I get somewhere between tired and scared when something gets proclaimed again as all all new! and groundbreaking! because it's like being given last year's worn out christmas presents and being told we're happy with them.

Gender pay gaps still yawn hugely, casting ratios still run at about 2:1 male to female, women directors are losing ground as a percentage for some years now, women's stories are considered lower priority so female characters are expendable, and whenever we get a female led show or movie announced everyone crowds around it cheering like someone lit a campfire in alaska. But we should be lighting it up all everywhere, taking half the places, half the screentime, half the stars.

Don't settle for anything less.

And don't forget. Don't let them recycle progress.
We should have had it all along.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I made a new year's resolution to write 1000 words per day, just to get started doing any writing at all again. So far I've made them by complaining about Big Finish Audios, but to listen to more of those I'd have to change devices, so, I need some topics to ramble on about.

Today: Designing female superheroes.

Read more... )

I guess if I'm going to invent or design a female superhero, for one thing I'll make them in a set so they've got other powerful women to relate to, and for another what I'll really be trying to do is remake or rescue existing supers. Because what I really want for those women has, sometimes, happened. Paradise Island and Amazons and a competition to find the best and Wonder Woman comes to man's world, trying to live up to her mother, and inspires women everywhere, including two more Wonder Girls. Batgirl takes up the mantle of her own will, and so does Batgirl and Batgirl after her. Black Canary and her daughter Black Canary. Oracle. Power Girl. Fire and Ice. They've all had their moments where they were exactly what I wanted, needed, them to be.

I'd want to take all the best bits of that, and then, somehow, I'd want to make sure they never got screwed over again.

... to invent lady superheroes the way I want them, I would have to combat systemic sexism in the media.

... which inventing them right would be only a small step towards doing.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Yeseterday I listened to two 7th Doctor audios, Starlight Robbery and Daleks Among Us.
There was plenty of plot with running around doing things, and I usually like 7, but my lingering impression at the end of the story was, that's a lot of dead women.
Read more... )

I'm sure nobody sat down and consciously decided that the trouble with Doctor Who is having too many women doing too much. They just sat down and decided that men were more interesting, and wrote a three disc story arc accordingly.

So I was bored, and felt strongly that the story didn't want me around.

Doctor Who gave me that feeling.


Read more... )

So here's the thing: The latest season of Doctor Who on the TV almost all annoyed the hell out of me, with two episodes that were acceptable. Listening to new Big Finish audios is feeling tedious and seeming full of the same gendered problems as everywhere else. Relistening to old Big Finish is just feeling like seeing cobwebs when the lights come on.

I appear to be bored of Doctor Who.

This is not a thing that should be possible, and is somewhat alarming.
... well, theoretically alarming, but mostly seems more just tiresome and blah.

I need to figure out what would be exciting. What would be interesting and engrossing and fun.
... having done cultural studies the list is never simple, but there has to be something.

It has to be something that invites me in and wants me there. That sounds basic but it's by no means guaranteed. And Doctor Who should give me that. The Doctor always wants new friends. He's standing in the TARDIS with the light spilling out and his hand out making an offer. All of time and space! Meet new people and mostly save them! And so many awesome women in this story!

Except the longer I'm here the more I see how we're treated, how we're always pushed aside and eventually kicked out, how we have to choose to follow his awesome life around and so very seldom get an awesome life of our own out of it.

My escapist fiction just keeps kicking me out of it. On purpose. Repeatedly.

And I know with Doctor Who specifically the only way to fix this, the proper only way, is for the Doctor to regenerate as a woman. After the scripts for the season have already been written, so nobody gets any bright ideas about everything or anything having to be different.

But there has to be other stories where we fly the damn ship.

I think I need to go look for those.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I dreamed that walking between this familiar universe and the universe next door was, in some locations, as easy as trying to see a magic eye picture. Look at the world one way and there's our road along a cliff edge, look at it another and there's the wall between worlds and a door through it. And on the other side it got weird, to the point that the appearance of identical humanity was just concealing an entirely alien culture.

There were at least six genders. But they were indistinguishable to our eyes. To us they looked just masculine and feminine, but to the locals they were clearly also at least three different modes of being. There were natural born humans, creations of biological origin, and creations of non biological origin. And these were perceived as gender lines, with distinct roles in courtship, mating, carrying children, raising them, as well as distinct relations of power.

Read more... )

So there were Princes, Princesses, women who couldn't bear children but could make creations of biological origin, creations of biological origin, and creations of non-biological origin. And men. That's at least six, but maybe ten, genders.

The creations of non biological origin intrigued me. I never figured them out in the dream. Thor in the Allspeak called them something like scathach, which while asleep I didn't understand at all. Having looked it up it's Gaelic for something like Shadow/y or Shade/y, or the personal name of a Scottish warrior woman and martial arts teacher. That makes me think Immortals, because warriors. But there's a lot to work with in an order of creation called Shadows.

Read more... )

Of course if you leave out the Immortals entirely you can get a tidy six part system: born humans can have genes copied to make creations of biological origin, and either can have minds copied to make creations of non-biological origin.

Other systems tend to treat these more like races, yesno? Racial discrimination based on mode of being, owning creations perhaps? But the way the differences are all about procreation and possible futures kind of lends itself to a gender system. And that's still about power. And defamiliarising in this way can highlight that.

I do like the idea of recombining shades to make a new person from two or more minds. If I keep the mechanism as Immortals and Quickenings then it's going to have to stay fanfic, since that style of Immortality through energy transfer is specific to Highlander rather than a generic mechanism. Filing the serial numbers off would be tricky.

Of course making a story out of all this would be tricky. It didn't have a plot, just an unraveling of why we weren't using words or recognising each other in the same ways. I'd have to tie that to some life and death stuff to get it to move anywhere.

I just liked the new toys it presented though, gender and reproduction broken down into new elements, and how very deeply different that would make a society however much else appeared the same.
beccaelizabeth: dollmaker girl, short and wider than most dolls, red hair, red shirt, red fan, katana, rainbow socks, and converse.  Be. (avatar)
There's a fic series where Clint Barton is the Slayer, and I just cannot get past the first page, not because writing, but because of how wrong headed it is to make the Slayer a guy.

I mean, they mocked the idea within the series, with Andrew saying how a guy would be cooler. And imitator series have tried making the Slayer a guy and been really really bad. And the idea of the Chosen One being male? Not exactly rocking any boats. So why flip the gender back to guys doing violence, unless they're actively trying to prop up patriarchy.

The Slayer was a girl, in canon, because she could be both bait and trap. She would look small weak defenceless tasty, and then get the stake out. Make a guy like Clint Barton a Slayer? Who would be dumb enough to read him as weak? No bait, no trap.

Read more... )

Guys as Slayers though... when it's girl Slayers being pounced by guy vampires in alleys and then fighting them all off it's a metaphor about resistance to the dominant patriarchal power that sees them as available to slake their biological urges on. When it's a guy being pounced? Either it's other guys, when it's just the model of masculinity whereby they solve problems by violence, and the admittedly useful side where it makes monsters and wrecks lives, or it's girl vampires, and it's male violence against monstrous women yet again. It gets skewed ugly real easy. Angel being the monster first and trying to deal with it by eliminating other monsters, that was mostly noir about how that worked really badly. Give a guy super strength and it does not, on the whole, improve things for him.

So for all I know this fic could be awesome. I haven't read it, I've read the tags at most, I have no idea. But I just can't get started on it because the simple gender flip for me undermines all the basic point of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It could very easily have a different basic point about a different set of inequalities (because in the end it's about power). But by using specifically Buffy to illustrate them, it loses me on page one, because that was girl power, and they don't get to give it back to the guys.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I just got around to watching the last Sherlock. I'm afraid I have to agree with much of tumblr: That was stupid. Also, sexist. Also, stupid.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, cartoon style, bored, using one of those bats with the ball attached. (Blue Beetle)
Chinese takeaway Friday continues to work. The noodles were weird today, like someone forgot an ingredient, but still food is good.

Mostly today I played Fate and listened to Big Finish audios. 159 The Emerald Tiger. 5, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa. It was okay I guess, but I wasn't impressed. Also someone should have checked it for colonial problematic aspects. Read more... )

Then I watched Batman the Brave and the Bold disc 2, which is the one that ends with The Fall of Blue Beetle. So, kind of upsetting. :-( Ted! :-( But I like it better than the comics version. Read more... ) Also, Wil Wheaton is the voice of Ted Kord, thus crossing the streams on two of my favourite things. Teenage me would be squee for ever. ... okay, not just teenage me.

There were other episodes that did not have Blue Beetle in. But I have priorities.

So far Batman the Brave and the Bold is plenty watchable and I like the way tv cartoons have little morals about teamwork and heroism and how everyone is valuable in their own way (unlike comics which were busy being grimdark when I gave up on them). I mean, everyone needs stories with that theme, those are plenty good themes.

I just really, really wish there would be at least one superhero woman per disc.

Read more... )

So if you count Katana because she ends up good at the end of the episode, they managed one woman on this disc, and if you count evil women then there's always some, but, you know, that's a problem.

I like the character design, I like the themes of the stories, I just ... I should put this on a banner at the top of the journal, really:

Stories need more diverse characters, especially the heroes.

All it takes is some basic maths.

And not being attached to hegemonic ideological constructs of normality and the inherent heroism of the dominant groups.



beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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