kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
Continuation of yesterday's ruminations, because you had to know they wouldn't end there.

For starters, I'm well-aware that the previous post may have sounded like I was arguing for a gender binary (masculine/feminine), but I ended up going with that for the first go-round of thoughts, with intentions to address the underlying parts (the binary) in a second post. Go easier on you folks who aren't up to dissertation-length in one go, y'know.

Thing is, gender isn't always the means by which we 'position' a person, upon first meeting. I get the impression that in our Western/anglo so-called egalitarian society (where according to some people, we're post-class and post-race) it's just one of the easier ways to pigeonhole other people into expected behaviors, dress, manners, reactions, what-have-you. But there are instances where we use other means -- like whether someone is an officer or enlisted, an academic doctor or a medical doctor, or blue-collar versus white-collar. Or, it could be a caste-system, such as picking up the clues on whether someone is Brahman, Kshatria, Vaisia, Sudra, or untouchable. When you get into fiction, there's no reason you have to remain within a gender binary. You could sort people based on profession (academic, military, medical, craftswork, service, etc), whereby a military man and a military woman are more likely to have similar behaviors and dress (genders, if you will) than between a military man and a medical man. Or by religion, or musical style, or whatever else. Gender doesn't have to be the baseline.

For that matter, gender itself could be (and if you ask me, should be, at least minimum) tripartite -- male, female, third. Me, I prefer 'third' rather than 'other', because 'other' acts /reads as though it encapsulates 'all that is not male or female'. Third leaves the door open to a fourth, fifth, or sixth, whatever form those may take. There are indigenous societies which include a third sex (I'm thinking specifically of the Navajo, but there are many others), except that it seems to me that even these conflate the sex/physiology with the gender/construct. In other words, a woman who's just fine being sexed-female but prefers a masculine-coded dress or behavior is third sex, same as a man who feels distinctly at-odds with a male body and adopts a feminine gender-construct as a way to re-balance herself. In fiction, the author can have the freedom to make one third-sex and the other fourth-sex. Or give them, idk, directions (north, south, east, west, up, down) instead of implied hierarchy via cardinal order. But anyway.

More thoughts on binary language, political identity, and the big divide in romance. )
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
I've touched on this before but this weekend I read several novels that brought it back into focus for me. Then I came across a short blogpost about when a character defines herself as butch, and decided it was time to post. If you haven't read any of these titles, I recommend each (not unreservedly, but still more than mostly).

Sword of the Guardian -- Shannon, Merry )
Branded Ann -- Shannon, Merry )
Lady Knight -- Baker, LJ )
Backwards to Oregon -- Jae )

Click the cuts to see the summaries. Mostly I'd been trying to track down stories, any stories, which dealt with crossgender or crossdressing, stumbled on the first one, liked the author's voice enough to read the second, got the third recommended by virtue of the first two, and had to seriously google-fu to find the fourth, and read a little of a few others while looking.

(Warning: I DNF'd on the third due to warnings from reader reviews that the story not only doesn't HEA, it barely HFAs, and I'd pretty much hit my limit anyway from reading a warmed-over retelling of the Crusades, complete with Saladin's Arab world being cast as this side of barbaric, unintelligible devil-worshippers. Thanks, but I've done my time studying Crusades history, and if there were barbarians at the gates, it was the Christians. If you're equally skeptical about seeing the Christian Crusades as anything other than ambitious land-grabs by hordes of unwashed, uneducated masses, then expect this book to hit that annoyance button, hard.)

Along the way, I DNF'd on Shea Godfrey's Nightshade (the first three pages manages to fantasy-world-mashup India, the Middle East, and a bit of East Asia, and I like mashups but not quite to the degree of having to disconnect multiple culture clashes in my head while reading). I also DNF'd within a chapter on D.Jordan Redhawk's On Azrael's Wings because "worshipful slave falls in love with owner" is not, and hopefully never will be, a kink of mine. ("Recalcitrant and fiesty lower-level character fights back and gains equal standing in relationship with, and respect from, higher-level character," though, yes, but that didn't seem to be Redhawk's story.) Oh, and I started and stopped on Malinda Lo's Ash, too, mostly because I wasn't in the mood for YA; I wanted to read about adults in adult relationships with adult baggage. (Huntress remains on my TBR list, though, even if it is YA.)

Anyway, outside of the obvious that all these works focus on lesbian relationships, the other major factor is that at least one-half of every relationship is a woman claiming, or who has claimed, significant earthly power and respect. In all but Nightshade and Ash, I'd say, this respect is also military or naval, with rank. In other words, women in positions of power, either able to kill or trained to kill. Those two exceptions I didn't read far enough to meet the 'other half' of the intended relationship pairing, but of those I did read, in all but one, this powerful/respected female character is, at first, mistaken for a man.

And a bit more about each, along with how each character defines herself, versus what the text gives me. )
kaigou: Roy Mustang, pondering mid-read. (1 pondering)
Last week (after we got back), I was bored enough and hadn't read a book in awhile, felt like, so thought I'd check out what new ebooks were on offer from the publishers I like (read: who seem to be somewhat consistent in decent quality). One area I almost always check out is "multicultural", but this time I noticed something and I'm not sure whether it's me, or if it's not me.

When I say "multicultural", I mean as in: where the two (or more) main characters come from a variety of cultures. Kinda culture-clash, even if on a superficial level the characters may have a lot in common, visually. Someone from Australia and someone from Britain might look like they have distant-distant-distant kin, possibly, but culturally they're going to have some differences. The lack of a language barrier meaning the differences may be less than, say, Australia and Peru, but still, culturally it's still not quite exactly the same. Still, that's what I'd consider a watered-down multiculturalism, because between language, ethnicity, and culture (on a very broad scale), there's still a lot in common between the two characters, more than there's difference.

When I say, multicultural, I mean, lots of cultures, coming and going and complex and textured. )

If it seems like it's an odd request, it's because I've realized that we can extend that meme about "if you don't like panels with only white guys, as a white guy, don't agree to be on panels with only white guys". If I don't like books with only white characters, stop agreeing to read/purchase books with only white characters -- and to be honest, settings in which the white culture dominates quietly, in the background, as an unquestioned assumption, is part of that refusal.

I'm thinking it's time to paraphrase the Dalai Lama: read the change you want to see in the world. I'm ready to read. Throw some titles at me!
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 scare the devil)
I just finished a series that retells a Korean legend and also riffs off the story of The Little Mermaid. As for the issue of feminist critique, well, the Hong sisters really hit it out of the park with this one. Like, into the next state. With bonus sparklers.

There's a lot of different places to begin, so instead I'll start with two videos. Might as well get it out of the way that GU MI-HO -- a mangling of the Korean title for "nine-tailed fox", "gumiho" -- played by Shin Mina -- slays me with the cute. Every time those dimples appear, I am down for the count. Lee Seung-gi plays opposite her, as CHA DAE-WOONG, and his dimples aren't bad, but she steals every scene and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

About the Hong sisters' retelling of an old Korean legend, the Hans Christian Anderson story 'The Little Mermaid', and the questions of earning humanity and deserving love. ) I won't tell you how the Hong sisters tweaked the last few fox-tails of the Korean legend, but I will tell you that if you want a feminist (or proto-feminist) retelling of a horrific fairy tale that's long overdue for a serious woman-positive reworking, then you need to find yourself a copy of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. Even if you do risk death by dimples before the first episode ends.

Trust me, you'll find it's neomu neomu neomu neomu neomu neomu neomu neomu worth it.
kaigou: The two things that matter most to me: emotional resonance and rocket launchers. (3 whedon wisdom)
Someday, I'll find a story with a scene like this, and I'll be very happy. Don't tell me I'm gonna have to write it myself. I have enough on my plate. (Also, it was supposed to be much shorter, but tonight I didn't just have Good Sushi, I had Okonomiyaki, and thus is bliss.)

A short scene. SFW, snark, some cussing. )
kaigou: pino does not approve of where the script is going. (2 pino does not approve)
The protagonist has decided she's going to

...seduce the sexist men in the room...

and I'm thinking, my god, why would you bother?
kaigou: Toph punches Zuko. (2 pigtails and inkwell love)
[ preface ]
[ back to part one ]

In part one, I went over a bunch of the social pressures exerted on women in re sexuality, and took a break right after I'd reached the point of seeing how well men coming to a point of (homo)sexuality maps neatly onto the route women take in becoming sexual beings. That's got to play some role, I think, in what makes the m/m genre so attractive for many women readers, albeit sub/unconsciously. ...but that's hardly the entire picture. Now, onto the exciting (well, if you think word count makes for exciting) conclusion! However, I can at least promise a happy ending. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (4 pretentious with style)
[disclaimer: I'm trying to refrain from value judgments, because that's not really a useful step in deconstruction.]

Okay, the GFY trope.

When last we visited this topic, I was asking: "when, if ever, do we profess attraction to someone but with the caveat that they're the only one we'll ever feel (or do) this with? What if the GFY trope is actually an analogue, if we ignore the copious numbers of badly-written fic using it, and just look at the bare bones of the trope?"

Somewhere along the way while simmering these thoughts while the post pre-heated, I got thinking about the question of whether there's ever a realistic, valid, point in a person's life wherein one denies sexuality despite activity. )

Reminder: I'm not discussing whether or not the trope (or anything related) is okay or not-okay, so don't presume that attention equals agreement. I am, however, focused on deconstructing the mechanics of GFY and related coming-out stories, to see if I can tease out why it's such a major trope in female-audience-oriented genre-romance published fiction, and come up with a few theories on its origin(s) and appeal.

onto part two
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 split infinitives)
Now that the (biggest part of the) MSM-M/M-gay-what-have-you fiasco is resting for the moment, here's hoping it's okay to venture out of the woodshed with some of the notions that were in my head long before that flare-up flared all over the internets. (Fortunately for me, I suppose, RL's intrusion kept me out of it all.) Anyway, as usual I'm coming at it sideways, but unusually not with the time for writing a massive amount, so this'll be shorter, I expect. (Yes, I do hear cheering, but still, remember that my "short" is another poster's "omg goes on and on".)

I've been considering the whole gay-for-you (GFY) trope, since I keep stumbling across it; one author even explicitly has a series that's doing nothing but pivoting on different versions of the trope. (And by explicit I mean, that's the name of the series: "Gay For You" -- talk about truth in advertising.)

Limited time, so first, the plot of a GFY story, where it goes wrong, and if it contains any rightness. )
kaigou: Edward, losing it. (1 Edward conniption)
Well, you have to start somewhere. (Examples somewhat edited/paraphrased to protect the guilty.)

ETA: If you're here from the fandomworks comm... well, I'm not really sure why this post got linked to there, because it's not really about fandom per se. It's about writing, and relates to fanfiction only as one springboard towards writing original fiction. If you're expecting a rant about how to write good fanfiction, let alone for a specific fandom, this post ain't it. If you're interested in a low-key rant about derivative writing and doing it wrong, then, welcome.

1. Grammar.

When I read the excerpt of an author's story, and the very first line of the story is a run-on sentence lacks a coordinating conjunction.MAYDAY. )

2. Repetition.

When I find myself going back to check and make absolutely sure that the work in question was, in fact, associated with some kind of editorial process -- and yes, the publishing company claims to have slush readers and editors -- this is a warning sign. )

3. Serial numbers, or, "Man, has Cassie Clare got a LOT to answer for."

In general, I don't have a problem with a fanfic writer who poaches his/her own work for use in an ofic. You'll see the advice all over the place: you can get away with basing an original work on a derived work, as long as you file off the serial numbers.

All good and well, but how does one know just how much filing is enough? I asked a Tor editor that, once, and the reply I got was this: "If someone who is generally familiar with the fandom reads the story and is reminded strongly of the fandom, then the story is derivative and potentially copyright-infringement. If someone who is generally familiar with the fandom does not immediately think of the original fandom in reading the story, then the serial numbers have been sufficiently filed clean."

Thing is: the agent reading the story? Possibly familiar. But also possibly not. The slush reader? Same. The editor? Same. The problem is, if any of the usual gatekeepers (agent, slush, editor) are not generally familiar with the fandom, their silence does not mean that the story passes the serial-number test. It could just as easily mean they've never bloody well heard of the fandom, and thus are not qualified to gauge if the filing was sufficient.

What, you ask, does it mean to be 'generally familiar'? )

sometimes I really wish I got a link-warning, a la linkspam, when I end up on metafandom. at least so I have some warning and can neaten the place up a bit before everyone shows up.

ALSO: the whole 'filing off the serial numbers'? Very old analogy. NOT original with me, not by a long-shot. It's a nice visual in the sense that if you're running a stolen VCR ring rehashed fanfic scam 'inspired by' concept-story, you can lift huge chunks of it from many places, from Shakespeare to soap operas -- but filing off the serial numbers is what makes it yours in that you're removing the definitive marks that would allow someone else to identify a prior owner/creator of your stolen VCR story.
kaigou: organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. (3 fixing to get organized)
...with yaoi-girls and/or (female) m/m fans. Of those you've known/met in the subculture who prefer the m/m and avoid the m/f, have any of them ever explained the reasoning behind their preference? Beyond just the younger version of "well, m/f is icky" or the lazier version of "I just don't like m/f". Anything more in-depth, more honest, more insightful?

Because the only explanations I've ever gotten amount to variations on those two, and that's not much substance when it comes to deconstructing what, exactly, is going on for readers with the preference.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (A2] script going bad)
Maybe I'm a dork for this, but I find submission guidelines for romance publishers to be among the most hysterical things out there. (Fantasy submission guidelines are a close second.) Thing is, it only just occurred to me recently that an awful lot of them require the hero/love-interest to fit the qualities of Alpha. Very hawt, capable, intelligent, very... Alpha-ey. This seems to hold true regardless of which gender is attracted to the Alpha, just as long as the love interest is Alpha-ey.

That got me to thinking (you knew that was coming): when have I ever known any Alpha-like personalities? And what kind of type do I end up preferring to write/read, myself? )

Now I'm wondering what it'd be like to throw an Alpha in the same room as a Delta. Probably rather anti-climatic, given I'd expect the Delta to simply be out the door so fast you'd see smoke trails in the wake. Heh. Dominate that, yo.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

October 2016

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