gaudior: (utena/anthy)
So, I am deeply fond of Tales of MU, thank you [livejournal.com profile] weirdquark for pointing me at it lo these many months ago. It's a daily-updated serialized online novel about a half-demon and her friends' first semester at college. There's a tremendous amount of queer, kinky, poly sex, which is fun, as well as a pretty well-worked out magical system (the author seems to be having a great deal of fun with making a world almost exactly parallel to ours in most ways, but in which the basic laws of the universe actually make science unrealistic. She doesn't play as much as I might like with second-order consequences, because she's fairly bound by the parallels, but she also puts a good bit of thought into it, and that's fun). Interesting characters, very good character development (the gradual development of the golem's free will and sense of identity is really well done and made of awesome). The plot sprawls a bit, which I think has to do with it being posted as it's written, but overall, I'm hooked. (Also, she uses "non-human sentient species" in many ways as a metaphor for race-- but she also deals with racial differences among humans, and colonialism, and how race-relations among humans interact with the lives of non-human sentient species, and for that, she is made of win.)

The thing I don't like, though, is the comments thread. Because while the text itself strikes me as very awesome in regards to sex, gender, power, etc, the commentors come off, often enough, like frat-boys. And I am really sick of people calling the protagonist a "stupid slut," or hating the trans character or the very poly character while praising the monogamous straight white male to the skies. Because all of the major characters are, in my opinion, interestingly flawed, but also sympathetic. And it kind of sucks to see people reading about these people through lenses that they're not questioning. I mean, maybe they will question them a bit, after a while? But I'm not seeing it there. And it annoys me.

So: read the story. Skip the comments.

OMG my colloquium (dissertation defense) is TOMORROW OMG OMG OMG OMG GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!

--R
gaudior: (Utena fight)
And so much of me should-be-writing-a-paper. But I wanted to repost a few things, mostly in reaction to the Open-Source Boob Project kerfluffle. For those who don't know about it, this all started when a guy named [livejournal.com profile] theferrett and a few of his friends had one of those cool moments that happen among friends sometimes, where you all let down your boundaries around physical intimacy and engage in a whole lot of mutual groping without any real sexual intent, just to enjoy each other's bodies. Which is, in my opinion, fine. The problem was that, being fans at a con, they said, "This is awesome! Let's get lots of other people to join in!" So they propositioned some random passers-by, who didn't object very loudly, and they decided they should make it a meme. They started wearing buttons announcing their participation in this "project," which basically said that anyone passing by could ask a person wearing the button whether the passerby could grope the button-wearer, without insult. There was a focus on breasts (see the name), but when asked, the people involved said that many types of touch were permitted, including grabbing guys' asses and chests (though not balls), by people of both sexes toward people of both sexes.

The major difficulty with this, in my opinion, is that it would have worked nicely in a culture which does not have a long tradition of violence against women, women's bodies being seen as property for the taking, women being pressured through a variety of means to see their bodies as property for the taking, and women's sole route to power of any kind being through the use and sale of their bodies. However, we don't live in a culture like that. And a lot of the discourse in the (1300 comment long!) thread was around [livejournal.com profile] theferrett and his friends saying, "No, I don't want to live in this kind of culture. So we don't! And you're all just being silly," and a lot of people saying "..." Only with lots more eloquence.

I recommend the comment thread, as it has a lot of interesting discussion, and only a few trolls.

Here, though, I'm posting two things. One is my comment, which is also up on [livejournal.com profile] theferrett's journal, but buried on the fifth page of comments, and I liked it, so I'm reproducing it here:

So, on the one hand, I'd disagree with people who are seeing [livejournal.com profile] theferrett and his friends as having done a Very Bad Thing. Everyone's descriptions make it sound like this was a genuine attempt, by a bunch of friends, to try for a moment to live in a world in which touch and sexuality don't have the baggage of fear and patriarchy that they carry in the rest of our lives. And that's a cool idea.

But there's something I've noticed in the entry and these comments which puts me firmly in the "the way this is being discussed is pretty damn objectifying" camp.

So, I don't know about anyone else, but my breasts are erogenous zones, chock-full of nerve endings. If someone is touching my breasts, one of two things is happening. Either a) I'm turned on, or b) I'm dissociating, trying hard not to be present and aware of the sensation and its impact on me. I don't have a trauma history, but I do have times (at the doctor, say) when I'm trying to be as unaware as possible of what's going on in my body, because it feels emotionally uncomfortable.

Now, a number of women have talked about being involved in this event, and, in the comments I've read so far, none of them have talked about feeling aroused. Instead, they say things like what [livejournal.com profile] zoethe said several threads upstream: "I felt empowered by the ability to say, 'Yes, I can choose to share my bounty with others.'" The focus is not on the women's physical sexual pleasure. It's on their pleasure at being able to have their bodies appreciated by someone else. [livejournal.com profile] ewin said it even more clearly: "I really dig on the idea of letting as many folks as possible appreciate these boobs before they droop, you know? They have a lot of pep left in them, and they're just SITTING there right now, doing nothing. It's a shame." That statement makes it sound like [livejournal.com profile] ewin doesn't see her breasts as being there for her pleasure except as someone else might enjoy them.

Now, I can see two possible reasons for this. One is that the women were sexually aroused by all of this, and didn't want to say so-- because that is embarrassing, intimate, and/or forbidden by the traditional view of women which forbids us from seeking sexual satisfaction for our own sake, not someone else's. But the other possible reason is that people actually weren't aroused, because they were dissociated from what they were experiencing physically, because they really were doing this only as breasts to be appreciated.

I wasn't there, so I don't know what it felt like from the inside. But I know that I'd feel a lot more comfortable with this idea if the women involved were saying "I enjoyed this because free petting feels really good!" rather than "I enjoyed this because it's nice to have my assets appreciated."



The other thing I want to re-post is, yes, a meme, but also a vow I'm taking seriously. And want it to spread. Because this is the point where talking on the internet turns into real action, that can cause real change.

The Open-Source Women-Backing-Each-Other-Up Campaign

Here's my pledge: if I see somebody groping you in public, and you're not moaning Yes! Yes! Yes!, I will break through your Somebody Else's Problem invisibility field and come over and ask if you're okay. If your situation looks dangerous enough I can't help on my own, I will call over friends or, if it's a situation in which I think the cops would be on your side, I will call the cops. If you're being harassed by a guy*, you can say so to me, even if you don't know me. I pledge I will distract him so you can get away, or I will tell him that he needs to leave, or whatever I can do to the best of my ability. I pledge that yes, actually, because you are a woman I will give you the benefit of the doubt. If you tell me that a guy just did something shitty to you I will not refuse to look at any evidence and tell you that I know him and he's a great guy and you must have been imagining things. I have great loyalty to my male friends but I will not allow that to blind me to the fact that none of us are saints and even my best friends can screw up and may need to be called on it. I pledge that I will walk you to your car if you don't feel safe walking alone at night, and then you can drive me to mine.

Yes, even at Wiscon. I pledge that even if I don't know you, if there is a creepy guy following you around, you can say so, and I will not say to you go hide in your room; I will say to him go find another party, or if necessary, go home. I will come with you if you need to talk to the con organizers. I will not make you feel like your right to control over your own body is not a big deal.

And I will do this whether or not I like you, or even know you. It's not about liking you. It's about the fact that we need to back each other up, and I will need you to do this for me some day.

--R

*Or a girl. Despite the statistics, men do not have a monopoly on sexual aggression.
gaudior: (Utena fight)
So, a little while ago, [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo posted the following link. It leads to an essay arguing that slash is anti-feminist. I disliked the essay in general-- I found the author, Dissenter's, sarcasm obnoxious, and I was very unimpressed with her disabling all comments except from people with whom she agreed.* But I think that it did make a number of interesting arguments. cut for (relatively old) theory. )More importantly, I think that any generalization about slash and why people write it is just that-- a generalization. So exceptions can be found to it, because we're talking about human creativity, and that's all about exceptions. What Dissenter has pointed out, I feel, is not the flaws in slash, but the flaws inbad slash. She's right that, in badly-written slash, you do find a fair number of things like weepy "feminized" non-consenting bottoms, bitchy or nonexistant female characters, etc, and she's right that these things are problematic. But I think her mistake is in assuming that these are features of all slash.

So... I've come up with a rating system, based loosely on her essay, of "how feminist your slash is." Because I believe that we can find a whole lot of stories which subvert the patriarchy in all kinds of fun ways.****

So: The Feminist Slash-Rating Scale

Give the story one point each if:

*the pairing do not fall into easily-visible "top/bottom=masculine/feminine" roles. Especially if they don't have a clear top and bottom.

*the female characters are fully-developed, admirable and three-dimensional, not "vapid, stupid, cold, calculating, grasping, unfairly demanding, physically disgusting, and generally lacking in any desire at all except for an overwhelming need to get married and have children."

*the female characters have sex drives, and are in no way condemned for this

*the sex is chosen and enjoyed by both/all parties, not forced on the bottom by the top.

*the characters actually deal with homophobia or the other social consequences of homosexuality in their context

*the characters think deeply about what this relationship means for their sexual and/or gender identities.

*the primary pairing is femmeslash (and is about the characters as people, not just for lezbeyun pr0n).

*the characters are actually canonically gay.

*the original source was written by a woman.

*the author plays with the characters' gender(s) in an interesting way (i.e., doing something other than simply recreating a heterosexual relationship).

*the characters raise a child together (without one of them simply being rewritten to take on the traditional feminine/mother role).****

Two points if the author is consciously addressing and playing with any of the issues raised by the above.

My own fic, Mercy of the Fallen, only scores a 5 or 6, depending on your interpretation of cannon. I think [livejournal.com profile] askerian's Teamworkverse gets a 6. The Sith Academygets 10 points, muchly because it gets a number of two-pointers because of its parodic playing with genre. E.E. Beck's extremely brilliant Vorkosigan fics, A Deeper Season and What Passing Bells****** together score 8 without any playing with genre at all, just because it's that good.

...but I'm actually surprised to realize that the fics I like aren't scoring higher. Hm. Can anyone find something that scores a perfect 11, or better? Does such a fic exist? If not, can people find other fics that score high (or, conversely, explain to me ways that the scale's no good)?

Yay, feminism.

--R

* because, in her words, "Clearly I am not in agreement with those who think slash is radical/progressive/feminist. Clearly, those who do think slash is radical/progressive/feminist are not in agreement with me. Going around in endless circles about whether it is or it isn’t does not, in my book, constitute a constructive or informative discussion." I find her dismissal of the idea that anyone (including her) might have logical or persuasive arguments, and might have something to teach each other... problematic.

** New Battlestar Galactica this week! YAAAYYY!!! Starbuck and President Roslin and SQUEE!!!

***I cannot overemphasize how strongly I disagree with the idea that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not feminist.

****And besides, I'm almost done with my dissertation, and I want recs! Now!

****I'm not including two of Dissenter's criteria-- a slash pairing breaking up to marry women, and authors who defensively insist on their own heterosexuality and get very upset if anyone mistakes them for a lesbian-- because I've never seen them. I'm sure they exist, but not in the slash I read. Have other people seen these things?

*****I'd been planning to rec these anyway, because they are SO GOOD. Seriously, it felt like getting a new Vorkosigan book, and I've really been missing those. It's Miles/Gregor slash, but it works.
gaudior: (sable)
And now, ladies and gentleman, we have come to the VERY LAST ROUND. Who shall triumph? Who shall fall?

And... who shall be the ultimate couple of absolute uke/seme-ness?

And how much fun would it be if they were to then switch?

Mua-ha.

Vote! )
Thank you all for playing, it's been made of awesome!

--R
gaudior: (sable)
The Semi-Finals

So exciting! Voting is now closed-- please go to the FINAL ROUND!

Voting! )
gaudior: (sable)
And on we go, to places more and more excellently brain-breaking.

GRIN.

Now with 50% more disturbingly pretty! )

Cast your votes! Voting is now closed, thanks! You know what to do!
gaudior: (sable)
And now the fun begins.

For lo, in this round, I have paired all of the previous ukes with other ukes, and all the semes with other semes (with the addition of Riku x Sora from Kingdom Hearts, because I accidentally messed up the numbers). Because all of you bastards are completely unable to pick between Gojyo and Hakkai,* I put Hakkai as uke because Thrud says that's cannon (in Saiyuki Gaiden, currently unavailable in English).

So, see what you think. I encourage discussion of this, particularly with pairings in which people don't know one of the two characters, and have questions.

Without further ado... ) Voting is now closed, thank you much! Go vote on today's!

I have to say, some of these pairings are just fun.

Grin.

*Quite correctly, in my opinion
gaudior: (sable)
So, as a person in a same-sex relationship, I've always been amused/appalled by the insistence of slash and yaoi writers that one person in such a relationship must be the top in bed, at all times. It doesn't make sense. I know a very few people in relationships where this is usually the case, but even then it always seems so much more flexible than the writers make it out to be.

So, in order to deconstruct the idea a bit (as well as because I thought it would be fun last night at about 3am*) I am proposing the Great Uke-Off. (This is inspired by the Anime Emo Awards, which were just awesome.) Basically: I'm going to list frequently-slashed couples in all manner of fandoms (anime, live-action, books, etc), and ask you, o gentle readers, to vote on which member of the couple tops. Then in the next round, I'm going to pair all the resulting tops with each other, and ask you to vote on which member of each new pair tops (and pair all the resulting bottoms, ditto). And so on and so forth, until we have the Ultimate Uke and the, um, Supreme Seme. Or something along those lines.

You're welcome to only do the ones you know, or the ones you could even vaguely conceivably see as this being conceivable. You are also welcome to explain your logic in the comments, or make suggestions as to other pairs, or such.

Let's vote! )

I shall post the next round tomorrow (Friday) at noonish. Voting is now closed. Go vote on today's!

* Okay, yes, I did have a fever. And still do. But I'm sure that has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Really.
gaudior: (Default)
Now Rowling is being lauded by some ‘mos for her bravery—a gay character in Harry Potter! Who knew?! No one, of course, because Rowling didn’t see fit to mention Dumbledore’s sexuality in any of the seven HP books. Why not? Well, I guess Rowling couldn’t fit it in, seeing as she was working under such a strict word limits. Ahem.

And I rather agree. I mean, I can see how Harry really wasn't interested in Dumbledore's sexual orientation, and since he's the viewpoint character, even if Rowling had thought of Dumbledore as gay, Harry wouldn't care, and we wouldn't know. So, sure, fine, don't mention it. On the other hand, it's true that if Rowling had wanted to make a political statement that Queer People Are Okay, she needed to put it in the book.

What she did is, in my opinion, fanfic. I'm all in favor of fanfic. I'm willing to chalk this one up to that, and not think of it as much more significant than that. It's fan candy, really-- not substantial, but fun.

Maybe in her next book (which she says will not be fantasy, which I think is a good decision), she'll have queer characters. Maybe not. We'll have to see.

I am loving some of the icons lately, though. Grin.

--R

On AMVs

Aug. 25th, 2006 09:44 am
gaudior: (wrongness)
So anime music videos (the downloading and watching thereof) are one of my more favorite hobbies. The really good ones do a splendid job of pointing out cool things you hadn't noticed about the series, the bad ones are at least a chance to watch the art (which is, honestly, my more favorite part of anime). And they all take you out of narrative and into deeper, primary-process thinking (the level of subconsciousness, emotions and dreams), which is one of my more favorite places to spend time.

But I cannot help noticing that there seems to be an unwritten law that every series commonly vidded has at least one shot which must be in every single vid. Usually because they're really cool, powerful images. Which is fine, but after you've seen them in five thousand amvs, they start to lose something.

Such that I would pay money to see good videos which did not contain the following shots:

Here be thousands of spoilers. )
gaudior: (wrongness)
To say that I have expanded my List Of Characters Who Should Not Be Slashed.*

It is an extremely, extremely short list. Because I will cheerfully read slash of almost anyone, because this is a kind of literary criticism I find meaningful, plus, sex=yay. However, there are two reasons that I prefer not to read slash of certain characters:

1) The original author managed to create a universe which is dignified and beautiful and complex, and yet in which sex is not a part. Thus far, this is only Tolkien. I will happily read, say, Care Bears slash (yay [livejournal.com profile] yuletide), but that's because the Care Bears universe, while a fun place, is seriously flawed by its lack of any serious treatment of, say, death. Or evil, or entropy, or even pain, really-- any of the things that makes the real world complicated and worth struggling with. Tolkien has all those things in spades, but he managed to write a universe in which characters have only a tenuous connection to anything biological rather than spiritual. They eat, yes, and get cold and tired and I think they might bleed, but his characters do not sweat, shit, smell, fart, rot, or anything else that bodies do which might be impolite. The only description in the book anywhere-- anywhere-- along those lines is his description of Mordor, where the landscape is "obscene shapes vomited up" out of the earth. That's it. Go ahead and check. And so I find it to be a little bit too much of a mind-fuck to think about his characters having sex to enjoy it. I can occasionally enjoy stories just about the hobbits (particularly if it's PG-rated), as they're the closest to our world of anyone in there, and of course, the Very Secret Diaries are parody of this sort of fic, and of the movie, and are hella funny. But otherwise, no Tolkien slash for me.

2) The characters' relationship is so involved and interesting that sex would make it less complicated, rather than more. The main reason that I usually like slash is that it adds complexity to a relationship, and therefore to the characters. I adore Harry/Draco slash because the necessary moral ambiguity it implies for both of them makes both infinitely more interesting than the fairly flat cowardly twit/angsty teen hero that they are in the books. However, sometimes, one finds characters whose relationships are already so complicated that in order for them to have sex, one would have to remove some of the aspects of them (rather than finding explanations for their behavior which lead to sex). And them, I would rather not see slashed.

My new addition to this list is: (being halfway through Season Four) Londo and J'kar from Babylon 5. DAMN, they're cool together. And man, do I not want to see them have sex.

Other people include:
* the main four from Saiyuki (I can be argued into Gojyo and Hakkai, because they actually do flirt. But if you try to give me Sanzo and Goku, I will whimper at you.)
* most of the people from the West WIng. In part because their universe is such that I feel that if they were to have any sexual orientation other than straight, it would be cannon. It would be part of their identity, and they would talk about it, and it would be an issue-- what it meant that a major White House staffer was gay, openly or closetedly. But mostly because, as said above, it would make their relationships less complex.

... damn, I knew I had some more, but I can't remember them. I'm open to suggestions.

Now, of course, this is all very personal and subjective. And it's not absolute; I'm willing to be that an absolutely brilliant writer could, in fact, give me any of the pairings on the list, and I would like it. But for the most part, I am much much more cautious with them than I am with... oh, anyone else, ever.

If you have any fics that prove me wrong, mind you, I'm all ears...

--R

Reading: Gregory McGuire, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Zenna Henderson, Pilgrimage; lots of manga, particularly Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, Volumes 1 & 6.

*I've been putting off updating out of the feeling that before I do so, I really ought to respond to the interesting and insightful comments on my last entry. But I am lazy. So thank you all, and [livejournal.com profile] khyros, you are totally welcome to link to it, as is anyone else, and I will try to go back and comment on it soon. Sorry that I am lazy, and thanks again!
gaudior: (Default)
Here for your perusal are cut scenes-- one of them a somewhat edited discussion I had with the excellent [livejournal.com profile] walkerminion about life after the fic, the other the original epilogue, which turned out not to fit terribly well in the actual structure of the plot, but to be too much fun to delete. Enjoy! And thanks again to everyone who's been reading.

Read more... )
gaudior: (Default)
This essay contains a massive spoiler for Chapter Eight of my Yami no Matsuei fanfic, Mercy of the Fallen, which you should totally go read now before reading this. Cuz it's cool. And cuz then you'll be able to make sense of [livejournal.com profile] rubyd's gorgeous fanart!!!!!! (Thank you so much o my gods SQUEEE!)

Onward to spoilerdom! )

FIC!

Oct. 16th, 2005 12:06 pm
gaudior: (Default)
Right. So, after working on it for a damn year, I am finally, finally, finally posting "Mercy of the Fallen," the third (and last) story in my series of Yami no Matsuei fics. First part of sixteen is here. I'll be posting one part a day for the next two weeks or so (don't want to spam the community by trying to put the whole damn 63,000-word thing up at once (besides which, I am (sometimes) an evil bitch, and want to milk people's suspense for all it's worth)).

Wow. Done. (well, except for some very small last-minute revisions suggested by [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks, which I'll do as I go.) Done is good. My beta-readers are so cool. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how people react to it, because this story has been in my head for so long that it's kind of an odd thought to have it out in other people's. But I kind of like this thought.

This'll probably be the last fanfic I write for a while-- I have these ideas for original stories which will probably keep me busy for quite a while, and I'm eager to get cracking on them. But... this was fun to write.

Dude. Done!

Reading: Marge Piercy, The Longings of Women; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (no, no, it's for class, see. Later this week, I'll report how Harry Potter scores on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory for Adolescents (my guess being that anyone who believes they can do magic and fly on a broomstick will come out pretty damn psychotic, but the other results should be interesting)).
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