Thursday, April 29, 2010

Writing My Own

Much has been said about writing the Other. It was one of the keystones of RaceFail, and has been the cause of much angst on the part of predominantly-privileged writers who would like to write marginalized cultures without being attacked for it. For a long time, marginalized cultures have been represented by the descendants of colonizers, who benefit from the imperialism of the past and continue to be so: their writings are taken more seriously than that of a marginalized person's, they are more likely to receive a larger platform, they are more often lauded.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Body Issues: A Brief Rumination on my own Butt

I'm going through my clothes right now and giving a way a lot of my old t-shirts. They're actually really awesome (if you guys want, I will take pictures, and if you like anything you see, I will send it to you) but they're a) black and b) mostly too big for me to tuck into my jeans comfortably. Yes, I know, baggy t-shirts never go out of style, and believe me, I'm keeping a couple of them, but on the whole I do not wear them as much anymore, so I see no reason to keep them. I'm phasing the black out of my wardrobe, ya'll.

So, I've also got a ton of shorts, and I refuse to keep those that are too tight to wear comfortably in the near future, so I'm trying them on. Yes, a few really don't fit. I may not agree with What Not To Wear's shaming tactics, but Stacy and Clint were right in one thing: don't buy stuff that don't fit with the secret promise you'll get slim enough to fit.

I'm wearing a pair right now, which is kinda tight, but I can button and zip it up, so I'm keeping it. I don't care how short it is. My bedroom has a wall mirror, so I stood up to see how tight it is. And for some reason, I had a memory surface.

Friday, April 16, 2010

SAAM: "Baby It's Cold Outside" and Not Family-Friendly, Either

The other day, I browsed Youtube for Alexander Rybak videos and songs. I have a liking for the songs he composes, because they tend to be simple, carefree, and non-jarring - just like light'n'easy pop should be. He has some sad songs, some very emo songs, and most of them are all sentimental with a taste of frivolity. Essentially, fluff, but good fluff.

But I was squicked out to find that he covered Frank Loesser's Baby, It's Cold Outside. Now, I understand why he would - it's a pop standard, and has lasted since the 40's. His voice suits that song perfectly, and much of his fanbase is in the Northern Hemisphere, who would understand the song.

The rest of this doesn't have much to do with Rybak, but the song itself and the fact that it is April.

One Year!

One year ago, I started this blog because I noticed that I was posting a lot of non-personal and non-academic  stuff on LiveJournal. I had so much more to say, but I didn't want to flood my f-list with a lot of meanderings on topics which probably interested only me. I noted that Blogger had a scheduling feature, which meant I could write several posts at once, and not overwhelm my readers too much.

Since then, I've moved from focusing on gender issues only, to including issues about race, to touch on LGBT and other such items that do not directly affect my life. I've also started a new blog, Silver Goggles. I've renamed this blog, from Rebellious Jezebel Blogging to Intersectionality Dreaming, because the more I wrote, the more I figured stuff out about myself. 

My thing with this blog has always been about consistent content. It unfortunately trumps the quality of my writing a lot, even though I try to develop the discipline of writing regularly. My writing has always been inconsistent - I am not one of those people who can always deliver quality on demand. 

With the stuff that's been going on in my life right now, I'm all writered-out. When I have a slew of posts, I'll spread them out as they're reader-ready, still on a MWF schedule. But there may be silences. From now on I'll be focusing on quality, not quantity. I may even post occasional fiction, and if it gets too empty here, I'll re-post stuff I've already written from way back when, so people can see how much I've changed.

I'm pretty excited about the upcoming year: I will be going to cons for the first time (Steampunk World's Fair and WisCon), and pursuing a Master's degree in the fall at McMaster University. I loathe leaving Halifax, perhaps for good, but it's another year to decide what to do with the rest of my life. 

I'm looking forward to another year with you ^_^ 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More tl;dr on Why I Hate Victorientalism

This was originally posted on Tumblr as a rant, but I thought it warranted cross-posting.
  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Revising Thoughts: On Invading Personal Space

There was a book I liked a great deal, which was about body language. About how people used space to show their dominance, how much eye contact mattered, how posture communicated a lot about a person's self-confidence. One example had the authour talking to a large, soft-spoken man about how he intimidated others, and the guy couldn't figure out why. The authour realized that the guy was short-sighted but not noticeably so, so he often stared at people's faces to take in more detail, and this was intimidating. Once he got glasses, he found he didn't have to stare so long, and this made others more comfortable. 

It also discussed personal space, and how people tend to have their own boundaries as to how much personal space they would prefer to have. Some people don't need much personal space, while others like to have people they talk to at arm's length away, and depending on whether they were interested in their conversation partner or not, would allow that boundary to be crossed. I found this very interesting.

There was an experiment the authour suggested: at a party, find someone who clearly needed a lot of personal space. He went on to detail how to find them, and I forget what else. The authour then started explaining the game - which is to talk up this person, and keep getting closer to them. The person would probably back away. The object of the game? Keep doing this and see how far you can maneuver the person until they abruptly quit the conversation.

This used to be interesting to me. I never really went to a lot of parties, only dreamed about it, but it always sounded like something successful people did. 

For some reason, recently I thought about this book again, because when I was younger (around 12 or 13), this informed a lot of my understanding of body language. And it wasn't all bad; plenty of it was useful observation and I could see how it played out in a lot of situations which involved a lot of people.

And when I remembered the game, I thought, wow, that's a horrible thing to do to another person.

For the first time it struck me how awful it is to single out a person based on their requirements for personal space, and then violating that personal space all for the sake of amusement or experimentation. 

It really just shows how stuff that one finds really informative at some point in life can turn out looking so awful at another point in life. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Many Mothers

When I was about five or six, I had a dream that a new mother blossomed for me, seemingly out of nowhere. She told me she would take care of me. When I woke up, I still saw her, and I contemplated her for a while. 


My family and I were in the car. Dad driving, mom next to him, my brother usually sat behind my dad and I sat behind my mom. My dad noticed me staring out of the window, being quiet, and he asked, "what are you thinking?"

"A new mother," I replied.

My dad giggled, and my mom looked vaguely amused yet insulted. I think I hurt her that day. We didn't really fight in those days; we didn't even have much of a relationship. My mom likes to make a big deal about how she would cut her workday short so she could come home and take me swimming, because I was asthmatic and apparently swimming helps asthma, but while I do remember her teaching me how to swim, I don't really remember it happening a whole lot and besides, that was probably something like twenty years ago. 

I didn't hate my mom. I just didn't know her very well, and she didn't really act towards me the way I thought mothers should act. I got more attention from the housemaid, who was pretty much my nanny all the way until I was twelve, than I remember getting from my mom. 

Nor did I feel that I had any monopoly over my mom's attention. She had to work. She had her friends. She had her own life and did a lot of other things besides being my mom. Being my mom was not the sum of her life. Which was okay by me! But I still would have liked to have had someone else to talk to. 

I think this monopoly over children is not helpful - one mother and one father per family doesn't quite work out quite so well when it's looked at more closely. The nuclear family is simply not sustainable, economically, and there isn't really enough social grounding for it to work either. Plus, why should a child, or a set of children, only have one mother and one father? And why should they be treated like they're little traitors if they find other people to be their role models? And what if something should happen to either parent? 

Moreover, just because someone gives birth to a child, doesn't mean they're going to have the right skills, empathy, kindness and resources to bring that child up. Why shouldn't that parent have the right to the parenting skills, empathy, kindness and resources of other parents?

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, one of the characters explains to the narrator, each woman has the right to maternity, that is, to get pregnant and give birth to a child. However, not all women are qualified to be mothers, as in their society, motherhood is a special skill dedicated to serving the weakest and driving focal point of Herland society: the children. Thus, young women have to study and practise hard to show their mettle as mothers, and only the very best are selected to take care of children. Several women are in charge of a single nursery, sharing duties of motherhood. No single woman is left to take care of a single child full-time, because that would be stressful, and moreover, cuts the child off from having a wide range of experience with different people. 

Even as these women are charged with the profession of caring and raising children, they also share their duties so each woman can have her own life beyond child care. 

Women need that. And children need mothers and fathers who have full, happy lives, so they can get their first starts in life with full happy people giving them the best care. Parents deserve to have more people pitching in to help raise children. 

Communes, kibbutzes, systems within which children were raised by all the women (and uncles) with no specific possession over which child was whose, multi-generational households where uncles and aunts live together... all these are much healthier than the nuclear family system of today. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pondering

So, while considering the anecdata of how some men seem to get really affronted when a) their partners refuse to take their name and b) it is suggested that the children take on the mother's name, I wondered how really difficult it would be on a man's psyche to have his wife's name.

Somehow, I get the sense that not only is it rather an affront, a challenge to convention, but it is also downright insulting to them. But why?

Do men carry the pregnancy? No.

Do men do majority of the housework? My dad does, but he's an exception, not the rule. There is the burden of the Second Shift, and I have no doubt it affects women globally.

Do men do majority of the child-raising? Not that I know of, or else we wouldn't be so surprised when we hear of fathers taking an active hand in handling children.

Do men do anything else other than bring home money, which more and more women are doing these days? Not that I can think of, but hey, I could be wrong!

This might be deal-breaker material.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Absence of a Daughter's Voice

With the new Airbender movie coming up, one thing has really struck me as something note-worthy throughout this process: that M. Night's daughter loved the series. He's said one of the reasons why he's doing the movie is because his daughter loves the series. That she sees herself in Katara. 

It is one of the reasons why I, too, like the TV series - when I see the Earth Kingdom, I see people I grew up with, being ordinary people, rather than strange exotic peoples. Moreover, I see them as movers and shakers of the world, rather than passive observers.

And I can cosplay Toph, or Mei, or Ty Lee, or Azula. Do you know how hard it is to find someone I can comfortably cosplay? Because most animated characters I see are either characters who I look like but cannot cosplay, or who I like but cannot cosplay without rather betraying the sense of the character. 

Now, some little white girl is going to play a little Asian/Inuit girl. You cannot divorce Katara's character from her skin colour; it is part of her. It is also part of why so many little girls from minority races like her. 

I ... feel sorry for M. Night's daughter. Because at the end of the day, her father didn't bother looking for a girl who looked just like his daughter to play Katara. I really don't care how "perfect" Nicola Peltz is; there are going to be little brown girls who will find their hearts somehow broken by this. 

They will not have a name for it, because they are too young to understand the implications of representation on visual media. 

They will not have a name for the sadness that their favourite character no longer looks like themselves, and when they try to voice it, they will be shut down as being too sensitive, and it's just a character, and they will be told they are the racist, for caring about the skin colour of the actress who plays that character they saw themselves in.

There will be some children who will feel betrayed by these changes, and the adults around them will gaslight their concerns, telling them that there's no real problem, they're just imagining that it's a big deal that suddenly Katara doesn't look like them at all.

If I had a father who was a big-name director, who could cast whoever he wanted in a role of a little girl who looked like me, and he didn't cast someone who did look like me? I would be asking, Daddy, what's wrong with me? Am I not worth portraying on-screen? Don't little girls who look like me deserve some effort in the search for the perfect actress?

M. Night is inconsistent when he speaks about the auditions for Katara, because he says elsewhere that he wanted Nicola Peltz from the start. He has never said what it is about Nicola Peltz that is exactly like the series. He has never said what drives in the resemblance. Nor has he said anything about what his daughter thinks about his choice. 

I find the absence of this as telling as the continual praise for Nicola Peltz.