elaby: (Madoka - Madoka Homura hold hands)
What better time to write an LJ post than when you're sitting at the gastroenterologist's office, having a lactose intolerance test that entails nothing more than drinking a glass of citrusy liquid and breathing into a bag every couple of hours? We were instructed to bring something to do. There are three other people in the room with me and it's DEAD SILENT.

I've been watching a couple of different anime series lately on Crunchyroll. The unfortunate thing about the evolution of my tastes is that I kind of don't want to watch any anime unless it's got queer characters and they're treated with seriousness and respect, and, uh... yeah. As you can imagine, that narrows things down considerably. The two things that I've been watching are Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) and Sakura Trick.

Hourou Musuko is by far the higher quality of the two. I can honestly say that it's unique in terms of the anime I've ever heard of - Hourou Musuko is about a trans* girl and a trans* boy who have just entered middle school and are navigating their developing understanding of themselves. This is a purely serious show, and the characters gender identities and sexualities are treated with seriousness and respect and without exploitation, voyeurism, or comic relief. Trans* issues like the difficulty of deciding which bathroom to use and finding chest binders are touched upon if not discussed thoroughly. I honestly never thought I'd see an anime that treated trans* people like actual people who face real difficulty and oppression rather than just a silly side character played for laughs. There's even an adult trans* woman character who is an excellent role model for the younger characters - she's portrayed as just a regular woman with a regular job and a stable, loving relationship. I'm kind of blown away at how well-done this show is (and the animation is gorgeous as well). I don't know how it will end, and I fiercely hope that it's not disappointing, but so far there's been a good balance of showing the difficulties of being trans* while not making the characters out to be tragic and hopelessly doomed to unhappiness.

Sakura Trick is kind of at the other end of the spectrum, but it's also unique in some ways. It's a simple slice-of-life anime comedy with no plot to speak of. It's yuri, and that's pretty much all it is - a half hour of cute schoolgirls kissing. And kissing again. And holding hands, and then kissing some more. What's different about Sakura Trick is that the girls do kiss all the time. There's no teasing about "are they or aren't they?" like so many other yuri shows. There's less skirt-peeking pervyness. There's just girls kissing over and over in every possible situation you can think of. They don't do the "But we're both girls!" thing, either. The two main characters, Haruka and Yuu, just accept that they love each other and like to cuddle and kiss, and the only trepidation or embarrassment they have is worry that they're going to get caught kissing at school (because you should only be studying at school, not because they'll get in trouble for being gay). There's an eye-rolling amount of fanservice (boobie jiggling! Random shots of their thighs!) but it's ignorable. Every episode is complete fluff, but it's really nice to have some fluff aimed at people like me once in a while.
elaby: (Watson - Writers read)
I just found out that my friends Jennifer & Sarah Diemer's Project Unicorn has, at its halfway point in the year-long project, reached 125,000 words. That is a HUGE AMOUNT of free YA fiction featuring lesbian heroines (2.5 Nano novels!) posted on the authors' website in order to provide self-representations in fiction for queer youth. From their post about reaching the halfway point, they said:

We’ve been driven to continue this because we’ve received so many emails, Tumbls, tweets and Facebook messages about the queer girls (and boys!) who are reading these stories, happy that they exist because they’re the only way they can remain in the closet safely and still read about someone like them. Renting a book from the library might be found out by their conservative parents, or they could be found out in general if they purchased a book with queer content. When these emails first started coming in, I thought it was a small number of kids, but if what we’ve received is any indication, there are still a TON OF KIDS out there who find it completely unsafe to tell their parents or guardians that they’re gay. AND THEY STILL WANT AND DESERVE LITERATURE THAT REFLECTS THEM.

This free fiction project is incredibly important, and Jenn and Sarah have put a tremendous amount of work into it. The stories are consistently high-quality, and if you like genre fiction of any sort - fantasy, sci-fi, historical, steampunk, dystopian, magical realism - you'll find something you'll enjoy here. Collections of the stories are available as well for e-readers and in hard copy so that we can support the authors in this project.
elaby: (Madoka - Sayaka Kyoko forehead touching)
(OMG two posts in one night! What madness is this?)

I've been thinking about fandom - shipping, in particular - and probably this is a fairly rudimentary conclusion to come to, but it was something of a revelation for me. I often feel guilty that, when it comes to Western-culture movies and television, I pretty much only ship guys (and the rare opposite-gender couple - I'm looking at you, Amy and Rory OTP forever). In fact, I've always favored male characters disproportionately over female characters. And I thought, god, that's awful! I'm a girl, for heaven's sake, and a lesbian at that, and my favorite characters are still all men? The sexism I show in my own entertainment preferences is disturbing.

And while it's true that this is sexist of me - I'm not trying to excuse it away - it's also a societally cultivated sexism. In mainstream TV and movies, there are far greater numbers of interesting, well-developed, central male characters than there are female. It's not fair, and we're trying to change it, but it's reality. And because of that, there are far greater numbers of meaningful relationships between two male characters than there are between two female characters.

In the end, that's what I ship for: meaningful relationships. I don't dare hope that same-sex characters will be shown in canonically romantic partnerships (lately I get frustrated and down-hearted and resentful of pairings that purposely flirt too close to that edge with no hope of actualization) but the meaningful relationships are undeniably there. Women on TV and in movies are so rarely given enough of themselves, separate and apart from the men in their lives, to develop meaningful relationships with other women. It's the Bechdel Test principle - in order to past the test, there have to be two women in the show or movie who have at least one conversion about something other than a man. This happens so rarely that female characters don't get to develop on their own, and so they don't get to develop the kind of heart-pounding, squee-inducing, shiptastic relationships with each other that men do.

I admit that I have a pretty small range of experience with Western TV and movies. The only exceptions I can think of are:

- Xena and Gabriele
- Inara and Kaylee

I've never even SEEN Xena. (I'm thinking I should remedy this.) I guess Willow and Tara should fall under this category, but they're TRAGIC and so I don't think I'd get much joy out of shipping them. LiveJournal friends, I know you've seen more TV and movies than me! What ladies do you ship, or consider shippable? I'd love to have a few more pairings to add to the list, just to prove they exist.

As an interesting side note, I have no trouble shipping girls from anime or from Western TV shows meant for kids, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And you know why? It's because MLP:FIM and Sailor Moon and Utena and Yuru Yuri and Madoka and the like PASS THE BECHDEL TEST. The girls in these shows are developed on their own outside of the influence of a central male naturally-more-important-than-them character.

That's it, I've got to find out if Xena is on Netflix.
elaby: (Holmes - Leap the couch)
I'm typing this in my writing nook :3 Right now, it looks like this:

Katie's writing nook

It's too dark in it to take a picture of the inside :\ I have a stick-up battery operated light on the ceiling, but it's very dim indeed. We make the journey to IKEA last weekend and when we were there, I got a very pretty little lamp. I just need to drag an extension cord over here.

I felt compelled to update my LJ with the things we've been doing lately!

York Beach
I had been missing the ocean a lot lately, and the weekend before last, I turned to Rachel and told her I had a sea-craving. Seeing as she's the best wifey in all existence, she was like "Get in the car! :D" So we did XD (We ate lunch and took care of some chores first, but forget that.) We drove to Long Sands in York, Maine (about 45 minutes away) and bought some doughnuts and walked around on the beach, because that's what you do. It was very high tide, but on one side of the beach, there was still a strip of sand. York Beach in the winter is dog-land, and we saw all sorts of cute puppies! And several people with metal detectors. One guy and a boy dug a very large hole but apparently didn't find anything... they didn't fill it back in, either :\ I noticed that another dude who was metal-detecting always filled his holes back in. There were also some surfers (brr!). It had been pretty cold up until then, but that day wasn't bad. We didn't even need mittens! We walked all up and down the beach and listened to the surf, and it filled up my personal ocean reservoir.

IKEA
Last Saturday, we went to IKEA in Stoughton, MA. The Friday before was Bonus Day at work - I got an "exceeds expectations" on my annual review this year, so I was fortunate enough to receive a bonus :) Normally my coworkers all go out after work on Bonus Day but it was snowing that morning and practically nobody went into the office. I did, but I left at noon to work from home because Rachel's university curtailed MINUTES AFTER SHE GOT THERE and she would have been stranded if I hadn't gone to pick her up. ANYWAY, IKEA!

We drove down and braved the most ridiculously bad traffic to wander around that grownup wonderland. In case you've never been to one, IKEA has a showroom floor with a labyrinth of rooms set up to look like different styles of kitchens, living rooms, offices, bathrooms, dorm rooms, etc. It was interesting being there while owning a house - we had always gone before when we still lived in an apartment, and there were so many DREAMS and IDEAS and abstract "If we had a house, we'd do THIS!" This time, we were looking for things that would fit the actual space we already have. It was nice because it was less wistful. Also, with our new car - we recently traded the unreliable PT Cruiser for a Ford Fiesta - we couldn't transport big pieces of furniture, so that made decisions easy. We got some desk lamps, some chair cushions, some curtains, and a few other decorations. I love IKEA's stuff because it's reasonably priced and the point of most things is to be space-efficient and practical.

By the end of the day, we were both starting to feel peopled-out (there were BAZILLIONS of shoppers there) and I was getting to the point where I wanted to either hide under a desk or run for the nearest door. The way the store is laid out funnels you toward the exit, and you kind of have to follow the flow in order to get there. We made it to the checkout, after which there's the reward of a cinnamon bun shop, and we bought cinnamon buns and Swedish drinks - Lingonberry juice! Elderflower juice! I felt like a fairy.

Spring Ahead
Spring Ahead murdered me this year. Sunday was fine - we cooked a really lovely brunch for a couple of friends, with vegetarian biscuits-and-gravy and fruit salad and lavender lemonade and lemon cake. Somehow, Monday morning was fine too, even though I got up earlier than usual to meet [livejournal.com profile] hak42 for breakfast. But Tuesday - ugh. I felt so bad when I woke up, exhausted and sick. Wednesday morning was the same, and Thursday was even worse. Most times I'd feel okay by mid-morning, but then the next day it would happen all over again. I felt less horrible Friday, so I can only hope that I'm starting to get used to the time change.

Dollies!
I was able to order myself and Rachel new BJDs because I got my bonus :) Rachel got a FairyLand LittleFee Ante (who has already arrived!) and I ordered a Momocolor Lucy. (Note: We get just the dolls, not the clothes or wigs shown on the web site :3) I'm so incredibly lucky to work for a successful company that appreciates and rewards me. As much as I sigh about how the subject matter isn't interesting, it's a really good job and I'm fortunate to have it. Also, we got an e-mail the other day at work that my company has joined several others in the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal (DOMA is the Defense of Marriage Act) because of how dehumanizing and harmful the act is, and because it's bad for business. My company has always been very vocal in GLBTQ rights and marches in the Boston Pride Parade :3

Anyway, this morning, we finally did our long-planned Solstice dollie gift exchange photo shoot. It was so much fun to pose them and use all of the to-scale accessories we've made/accumulated over the last few months! I also wired Lavinia to try to get her to stand up better (it didn't really work, but she does pose better now). Click on the link to go see all the photos in Rachel's LJ :)
elaby: (Starsky & Hutch - Dance)
This is an issue that seems to be popping up everywhere right now, so I wrote a post over on my blog, Tea Under the Pine Boughs.

There have been a whole bunch of cool resources making the rounds on Tumblr lately on writing outside of your own identity experience, particularly on writing LGBTQ characters if you’re straight and/or cisgendered. I think it’s awesome that people are writing these – queer* authors aren’t the only people who can write queer characters! We need all of the queer characters we can get! – but I keep running across a particular piece of advice on writing gay and lesbian characters that, while I consider it valid, needs more exploration and expansion.

Read the rest at Tea Under the Pine Boughs...
elaby: (Little My - Skates)
All I can say is YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

From fuckyourwritinghabits.tumblr.com, copied in full:

Sigh

Imagine you’re reading a book, or watching a movie, or flipping though a comic. Imagine that these stories are great and wonderful, but you keep noticing the same thing over and over again. None of the heroes look like you, not even remotely. In fact, the only time someone does look like you, they’re either villainous or from some “savage” culture. Oh, and everybody’s straight. Not even a hint otherwise, not even from the tiniest of characters. Even though you yourself might like boys, girls, both, neither, etc, your stories all end up with the same sexuality each time.

How does that make you feel?

Nobody is taking away anybody’s straight white fantasy characters. Nobody is, in fact, saying they are a bad thing! But in a genre where you can literally have anything happen, dragons and elves and magics of all sorts, why on earth can’t you have not-straight, not-white characters?

But it’s based on a specific time period! Yes, with elves. Or magic. Or dragons. Those are all possible, but a non-villainous POC isn’t?

But my characters aren’t human! Then why do they all have to be straight? Wouldn’t non-humans have different orientations too?

But I don’t know how to write gay people/POC/women! You never will if you don’t try.

But the tone was mean! And I’m gonna write a five page post on how you can’t tell me what to write! Well, this is the internet, a wonderful place where everybody can express their own opinions. And the thing about the internet is that I’m not telling you what to do, nobody is, because we don’t know you. Opinions are being typed out to the ether, expressed in various ways to a general, not specific, you. Sometimes that is easy to forget, because we see something that makes us angry, and when we are angry, we want to speak out.

Nobody is telling you what to write. I, personally, am not telling you what to write. I’m just saying, there’s a good lot of people out there who would love to see people like them in the genres they love.

So why not consider it the next time you sit down to write out your fantasy story? Someone out there will be happy you did.

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March 2016

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