I need your help friend, the fandom is at stake: can you do a quick recap of why shipping isn't activism? And I don't mean just in terms of antis, but also the anti-backlash where people defend their ships by trying to prove they're actually progressive (which would still imply you need to prove your ship is not harmful before shipping it). Fans may have good intentions and mean no harm, but social justice is not achieved through fantasy.
what a good question. let me see if I can do this justice with a good answer.
First off: let’s define ‘shipping’ as ‘desiring two characters to have romantic and/or sexual interactions and using social media or fanworks to share this desire with others.’ So: specifically looking at shipping as a social activity here, because I hope we can all agree that ‘shipping it’ - simply wishing for two characters to have some kind of interaction in your head - is not activism because it’s thoughts, which on their own nobody else knows about and thus can’t have an impact.
Shipping as activism is mainly talked about in the context of being ‘queer/LGBT representation’, and everything else is treated as secondary.* So I’ll be talking about this primarily from that POV.
shipping is not activism because shipping doesn’t do two important things that activism does:
shipping does not generate or act as mainstream representation
shipping does not increase awareness or change social values
and that’s okay. Shipping doesn’t need to do these things because shipping takes place in a microcosm. Fandom is but a tiny, tiny fraction of internet and social activity as a whole. No matter how ‘progressive’ we collectively are, only in the rarest cases will we make a meaningful impact on society as a whole.
Shipping serves a different, but no less important purpose, which I’ll get into below.
That’s the short version. the long version is below.
Shipping is not activism because:
Shipping is a fandom-specific activity and fandom doesn’t make much of a social impact. We get talked about a lot by the creators because we’re the people most likely to have contact with them and provide feedback on their content; we have an impact on creators in that sense. But apart from coming to cons and talking on social media, when we get mainstream attention it’s almost always to talk about how weird we are. Also, we don’t cause social change. We can fan over something that already exists, but we can’t cause a show with better representation to be created.
Because of this:
Meaningful, mainstream representation of LGBT/queer relationships come from mainstream media, and fandom is not the main force acting on mainstream media productions. Remember when korrasami became canon in the last few minutes of the last episode of Korra because the creators knew about the shippers? Congratulations: you’re looking at an outlier that took a lot of very specific circumstances and luck to have happen. And most importantly: it wasn’t done to please the shippers. Shippers may have given them the idea, but it was done because canon korrasami would create visible bisexual/LGBT representation. It was possible because the show was only airing online, to a smaller audience, and because of the herculean efforts of LGBT/queer activists over the last century to get our collective visibility and acceptability as high as it is (and yes, we have a long way to go, but we’re miles past where we were even 10 years ago.)
Current fandom seems to carry the belief that if we just ship hard enough and loud enough, the creators of an ongoing mainstream media will reward us by making our favorite ship canon.** The reality is we rarely, if ever, make a meaningful impact on the direction that canon takes. We’re a small, small part of the consumer base - a loud one, but small! We’re often not the aimed-at demographic, either, so pleasing us is the last thing the execs trying to make a buck are thinking about. The material we’re fanning over is already old news to producers; short canons are usually already finished by the time we receive it, and longer ones are at least a season ahead in production time. (If we do make an impact, we won’t see it for at least a year or more.) Shows must meet decency standards, and LGBT/queer relationships are still seen as higher-rated than their cishet counterparts. Executives care about what will sell ad space or toys more than what fandom wants.
The fact of the matter is we have the cause and effect backwards.
Ships being ‘good representation’ is a function of increased mainstream media representation of marginalized identities, not the other way around. When media was entirely full of characters who were white cis men, we shipped white cis men. And as media slowly stops having nothing but white cis men, we’re … still shipping white cis men a lot, because there’s still a lot of them and there’s still a societal bias that tells us that white cis men are the most important/interesting people (and simultaneously, because they are unmarked, we can’t accidentally fall into stereotype pits while fanning them), but we’re shipping more and more non-white, non-cis, non-male characters too.
Real social activism leads to increased media representation - like the reclaiming of the word ‘queer’ in the late 80′s/early 90′s leading to a TV show called ‘Queer as Folk’ and featuring gay characters. And increased media representation leads to more marginalized characters for fandom to ship.
While transformative fandom does, to an extent, change things from canon to represent ourselves more - or just to suit our fancy! - canon always reigns supreme and is the most widespread version of the characters. Canon becoming more diverse will always have more of an effect on fandom than fandom being diverse/having diverse content will ever have on canon.
The desire to see ships become canon is not primarily motivated by generating healthy representation of marginalized identities. Fans have been wanting their favorite ships to become canon since the Stone Ages. The Harry Potter fandom wars were all about what was most canon: Harry/Hermione, Hermione/Ron, or Harry/Ginny. Notably: Draco/Harry is not one of the pairings I list, because nobody thought there was the remotest chance that Draco/Harry would ever become canon. It’s only recently that LGBT/queer rep in particular has been making a meaningful appearance in mainstream media, and suddenly slash ships have entered the ‘will it be canon!?’ fray. And some mlm fans feel they have more ‘right’ to canon because mlm ships are LGBT/queer rep.
Here’s the thing: if this was really about representation, then we’d all be celebrating if any mlm pairing became canon. No matter which pairing is ‘more progressive’, any LGBT/queer canon representation is better than none. But (surprise!) it’s not; the ‘queer rep!’ battle cry is just an additional cannonball in the arsenal of ongoing ship wars.*** And I venture to say that most mlm shippers engaged in a ship war would rather see an unrelated het pairing become canon than their rival mlm ship.
And this is because:
Shipping is not, and never has been, primarily about creating healthy marginalized representation. Don’t get me wrong: transformative fandom is heavily LGBT/queer/mentally ill/disabled/otherwise underrepresented, and we often create transformative fanworks that bring our identities into the story. That’s awesome self-fulfillment, and it can really bless and excite fellow fans who see fandom content that makes them feel more welcomed and recognized. However.
Generating marginalized representation isn’t the primary motive for shipping. We ship out of love. We see the dynamics between two characters and think ‘oh, that’s hot’ or ‘I’d like to see more of that’. We ship for fun. We ship because we think two characters would look good together. We ship because we imagine ourselves as one character and have a crush on the other. We ship things for many, many reasons, many I haven’t mentioned here, maybe as many reasons as there are people in fandom doing shippy things. And to that end, I’m sure that some people do decide what to ship purely because they believe it represents minority groups that need representation - but it would be too much to say that’s the main reason people ship things.
Shipping doesn’t need to be about creating healthy marginalized representation because:
Fiction is not reality; a person can ship the ‘right’ ships and still be a bigot IRL. and visa versa. Because we interact with fiction and reality in different ways, there are people who really love mlm ships but still think gay marriage is icky. On the other hand, a person can be the loudest activist for LGBT/queer causes in real life and only ship het ships in fandom, just because the dynamics of het ships pings their fancy more.
Shipping as activism preaches to the choir. Shipping being a fandom-specific activity, and many of us being oppressed ourselves, shipping the ‘right’ ship to increase awareness in the microcosm of fandom isn’t really accomplishing anything. Most of us are ourselves LGBT/queer, or friends with people who are LGBT/queer. Most of us are aware of how much pain the lack of representation in mainstream media brings on. And most of us are sensitive to the fact that we’re not the only oppressed person in fandom space and are willing to learn more about how we can help other oppressed people.
If I could sum up the problems of current fandom, it’s that we assume that nobody else is #woke (even though most of us are sufferers). In that sense, shipping the ‘right’ ship doesn’t bring more awareness; it acts as a signal to others that you have awareness, and hopefully protects you from being erased or harassed as an ignorant asshole (’cishet’).
Shipping isn’t activism, but it does something else great: it lets marginalized fans express and indulge themselves in any way that pleases them. - fandom is primarily made of underrepresented minorities, so shipping is a way that we express ourselves and relate to one another - whether those ships are ‘progressive’ or not. So, so many of us deal with social stigma or harassment or hate in our real lives; we consume media to get away from that, and we indulge in fandom to get away from that. Most of us are, just by existing and demanding space in the world, activists for the rights of the marginalized and oppressed. Fandom is a space for us to play with each other and connect over something fun and pleasant, and those fun and pleasant things don’t have to be activist things. We’re allowed to take a break.
The importance of activism and representation is to benefit the marginalized and oppressed, letting us be recognized and less stigmatized, and deconstructing the social and political structures that work against us leading fulfilling lives. When we use shipping the ‘right’ ship as a bludgeon to attack one another, we are literally defeating the purpose of our own causes. We’re stigmatizing each other for our fandom interests. And we’re certainly not deconstructing any social structures that harm us!
The way we can be most activist in transformative fandom is, no joke, to care more about the fact that almost everyone else here is marginalized too than that one another’s ships aren’t marginalized enough.
*In talking about ships as representation we generally start with ‘this ship is queer/LGBT’ and then use all other axes of oppression to prove which ship is ‘more progressive’, i.e. - F1nnPoe and Ky1ux are both mlm, but F1nnPoe is more pure because it’s a black man and a Latino man as opposed to two white men. (Occasionally race will also be talked of as the primary point of value, depending on the fandom.)
**On a side note, this whole paragraph is also why it’s unlikely that fandom being ugly will ever cause a show to be cancelled or a pairing will get changed in canon because some fans were nastier than others. We’re like bugs with stingers: scary and painful but ultimately not that impactful (unless you’re allergic, I guess, but forget that part of the metaphor).
***This is part of where the ‘I have to prove my ship is wholesome/their ship is evil’ stuff comes from: ‘proving’ to creators that your ship is the ‘better’ queer representation because it either covers more marginalized bases or is ‘more pure’, making it less objectionable for mainstream representation. (the joke is that bigots don’t care how pure an LGBT/queer ship is: they’re gonna still think it’s awful because it’s LGBT/queer.)
PS - I don’t think this answer really addresses why arguing about purity of ships is a bad plan, but this is already so long that I’ll address that somewhere else I think.
Do Rex and Weevil live together? Or are they dueling at Rex's place. I personally don't think Weevil would be so messy. I think he would be more organized. But I saw the bugs on the wall in your picture and thought either they live together, or Rex is finding them a bit more interesting after spending time with Weevil and is adding little things to his own apartment. Weevil totally strikes me as a neat freak when it comes to his home lol
However it’s vaguely implied by the box and small collection of insect paraphernalia in the upper left that Weevil might be moving in [note how the top shelf is bare except for that lone framed stag beetle which should be hanging on a wall]. You can also see Weevil’s coat from the Duelist Kingdom arc laid over the armrest of the couch, where you know he’d have hung it up if he already lived there – it’s not like Rex would have much investment in coat hangers.
Now of course Weevil’s going to go around and make room for his books on Rex’s shelves alongside the abundant collection of dinosaur figurines. Rex would get exhausted [and maybe a bit frustrated] at Weevil moving his junk around, so to distract him he offered pizza and a few rounds of cards.
I think it’s fair to assume that Weevil wouldn’t pass up the chance to mop the floor with Rex, and he probably likes to exercise that calculating brain of his, so the distraction proved useful leaving unpacking completely forgotten in the the corner.
I will put a foreword to this post by starting with I’m white and atheist, so I do not know every negative stereotype associated with different races/ethnicities or religions.
I will not tell you you’re wrong for pointing out issues in regards to the comic; in fact, I’ve actually learned a few negative stereotypes to avoid in my own stories, so PLEASE keep pointing out flaws and how people can fix and avoid them.
But let’s be honest with ourselves, there is a good chance no matter what race or skin color Taako would be, people would find a way to complain about it simply because of who he is as a character. Taako has, on multiple occasions, cheated, stolen, swindled, and conned his way out of situations and can be interpreted as being very greedy and vain. He cares a lot about his image and money, so try to imagine him as any race, and then think of how people could interpret that to being racist.
White? White-washing a character
POC? Calling poc thieves or con-artists
Green? There’s a history of Jewish people being depicted with green skin in anti-Semitic propaganda
So on and so forth
What race should Taako be? No clue, considering there is a lot of negative stereotypes in the world (or even in just America) that could be associated with Taako simply because of his character. And I don’t think it’s my place to say as a white person. But we have to remember that not everyone is quite as socially conscious about their decisions as people on Tumblr are (especially nowadays), and what one person might think is a good way to get out of one stereotype, could accidentally have them stumble into a completely different stereotype.
So yes, there are problems with the TAZ comic that’s been shown, but I don’t think the right option for this situation is to try to attack the McElroys.
Educate them, tell them the problems that you have with the comic, they’ll listen, and they’ll try not to do it again in the future (seeing as how they asked us how to properly introduce a trans character and then gave us beautiful Lup). They may not know what questions to specifically ask in situations like these, so be calm and patient and I know these boys will listen and do their best to fix it.
wonder woman is legit one of the best movies i’ve ever seen
seriously, it was worth every single cent and more. i literally can’t critique it. i couldn’t if i tried. literally everything about it was everything i never knew i needed out of superhero films and four hours later i still can’t stop talking about it and i think my sister’s gonna kill me.
some very high points/reasons why everybody and their mother should go see it:
the first twenty minutes or so with the amazons. okay, so i legit teared up in a lot of their scenes (especially the training scenes and the fight on the beach) just because it was so amazing to see women doing this, for them to be powerful like this. also it was amazing for them not to be sexualised, for not all of them to be young or to have flawless skin, and for the glimpses of diversity in colour and body type.
also bby!Diana was adorable <33333
there were quite a few traditional gender specific tropes that were flipped quite nicely as well. like i didn’t feel like Diana was ever the subject of the male gaze but the scene with Steve in the bath was literally your stereotypical accidental naked scene that most female characters get put into with the gender flipped. it was nice to see (Chris Pine’s abs were also nice to see)
also Steve Trevor? like he’s such a good, well-rounded character? and his relationship with Diana is so cute? there was such a potential for him to have been another rendition of the kinda misogynistic jerkass but he never is? he believes in Diana the entire time. even though he might not always think she’s doing what’s best he never actually doubts her. anD THAT LINE AT THE END “i can save today, you can save the world” NO THANKS I DIDN’T NEED MY HEART
i fully expected int that scene at No Man’s Land when they said that no man has ever crossed it for Diana to just go “I am no man.”
also representation? main people include a moroccan and a native american and they actually bother to acknowledge racism and the fact that the British (the “good guys” no less) have done shitty things
oh yeah and Diana is totally bi. please.
on that topic, really appreciate how they did the scene with Diana and Steve talking about sex. that could have gone very wrong so easily with Diana being all naive but instead they went nah and please Steve, she’s experienced.
since i just noticed i haven’t actually talked about it, let me talk about our lord and saviour Diana Prince. not only is she a badass female superhero but she also doesn’t shirk from femininity. her being a warrior doesn’t take away from her being a woman. she never rejects wearing dresses (outside of practicality reasons), she still coos at babies, she dances. all too often being a character as powerful as Wonder Woman comes at the cost of being a woman. this never happens here. i also love that unlike so many of DC’s other superheroes (*coughcoughBatmancoughcough*), she sees so much hope in the world. her whole thing throughout the movie is that it must be a god that are causing men to be corrupted and when she discovers that things aren’t so black and white she doesn’t throw in her shield and give up on mankind. she sees that there can be good there too and she chooses to continue to protect mankind. also let it be said that there was nothing in this movie that diana did that she didn’t specifically want to do. seriously. everything was her choice. she literally said that Steve, for all his good intentions, could not tell her what to do. honestly, i’m so happy for all the little girls who went to see this movie and now want to grow up to be wonder woman.
everything else being said, seeing Remus Lupin in that role made me really uncomfortable
also wHO’S FUCKING IDEA WAS IT TO CAST CHRISES AS STEVES IN A WORLD WAR AND HAVE THEM BE SELF-SACRIFICING WHILE FLYING PLANES?
so yeah, please go see. honestly, after i left the movie theatre i kind of realised that i’d never seen a female led superhero movie (never watched Catwoman or Elektra) and I had literally only seen one other female led movie that even compared to Wonder Woman (the glory that is Mad Max: Fury Road). and that was weird. it was a weird feeling to watch a movie like Wonder Woman and to be so empowered by it, to cry because it meant so much to see women being so unequivocally, so independently the heroes. i wish this was a movie that i got to see about 12 years ago to be honest.
finally, how the fuck do i even watch a superhero movie after that?
When you're writing a POC, there's this really hard line to walk where you have to acknowledge their nationality/race, without making it a stereotype and I've noticed that a lot of people just ignore the POC part of the characters identity because it's too hard for them to write.
It’s hard as a writer who isn’t POC to write POC characters because obviously it isn’t your race so you don’t know as much about it as someone who’s of that race and you want to be representative but at the same time you don’t want to accidentally stereotype hence why I think it’s incredibly important to research into cultures of a POC character before writing a fic about them same goes for writing a trans character if you’re cis or a gay character if you’re straight etc
If I see another allistic ace person mention “autism” in the same sentence as words like “cold” and “unloving” when discussing asexuality tropes, ever, that is once too many.
Like … damn. How did a warning light not go off in the writer’s brain?
I wish, I so wish, that allistic aces and autistic allos would leave this sort of conversation up to the people who know what it means to be hurt by the intersection of both when it comes to stereotypes, assumptions, accidental coding and fictional portrayals of both autism and asexuality: autistic ace-specs.
With regards to same-sex relationships in RWBY, Miles and Kerry have said that they don’t want to rush that and want to take the time to do it right. And you know what? I completely understand that, and moreover I respect them for thinking that way. Writing a character with a different background/ethnicity/orientation/culture/identity/etc. than the author is hard to do without accidentally using stereotypes, cliches, or other insulting things that will be received very poorly by viewers who have more in common with those characters. Even when I just write blog posts like this, regarding the LGBT community, I’m always full of anxiety about accidentally saying something insulting, because I’m *not* a part of that community. I’m just a cishet white male (albeit a neurodivergent one) who happens to think treating LGBT people like human beings is a good thing, and I don’t want to inadvertently be part of the problem.
However, that reasoning only works for a same-sex relationship that’s the focus of a plot arc. You don’t need to be able to write compelling LGBT characters in order to have two men or two women walk by in the background holding hands as the main characters walk through town, or be holding onto each other in fear as the Nucklavee attacks their village, or maybe even dancing together at that school dance that was such a big deal a few volumes ago. The crew has repeatedly said that Beacon is accepting of LGBT people, but as the oft-repeated writing advice says, show, don’t tell. That advice isn’t universally applicable, but it certainly is here- instead of telling us Beacon is an accepting place, show it by having same-sex couples exist without any other characters feeling like it’s worth remarking on. Now, I would say that having transgender/nonbinary/asexual characters show up (and having the audience be aware of that) would be difficult without a conversation happening about that, but like I said, same-sex couples should be a piece of cake.
One of my personal favorite examples of representation in media is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. About halfway through my third or fourth viewing of that movie, watching Cap, Falcon, and Nick Fury have a conversation, it occurred to me that there were more black people than white people on the screen. And it felt so natural that it hadn’t even seemed worth noting, and I feel like that’s a big deal with how heavily slanted towards white leads Hollywood is. Nowhere in that movie was there ever any statement about “black people can be heroes too!” It wasn’t needed, because of course they can, and having acceptance and respect be so natural and normal that it never occurs to any of them to treat a black person any differently than a white person is what I really hope we as a society can progress towards in real life, for race, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical and mental ableness, and every other issue that can cause people to be treated as “different”.
This kind of got off track a bit, but TL;DR simply showing that LGBT characters exist in the world you’re writing is way easier than writing a plot arc about them, and there have been numerous (missed) opportunities for Miles and Kerry to do that in RWBY.
Hi! Sorry in advance for this really long ask but I want to write my boy accurately! I’ve decided to rebuild one of my characters as autistic, and despite being allistic myself I am determined to do him justice and write him as realistically as possible. I’ve started doing research that will help me represent him well, but I’m having issues finding concise answers for my questions about special interests and this one hypersensitivity. For example:
-How broad/narrow can a topic of special interest be? I already have him written as liking computers, so I’m thinking on a scale of like “anything computer sciencey in general” to “late ‘90’s to mid 2000’s PC microchip repairs”, if that helps at all.
-I know some people have multiple special interests, but is there necessarily any overlap between them? Like, is it more likely that they would intersect with one another, or be completely unrelated to one another? Or maybe they seem unrelated to outsiders but are related from his perspective? I’m v confused on this point actually and would really appreciate any clarification you can give.
And for the hypersensitivity:
-From my reading and personal experience with autistic family members I’ve noticed that visual, auditory, and tactile sensitivities seem most common, but what about food sensitivities? I’ve read that hypersensitivities to foods exist, but what I’m not clear on is whether it’s a mouth-feel/taste thing or gastrointestinal thing or maybe a little of both?? A lot of the studies I found focused on how preservatives and dyes in foods can affect behavior, which is nice to know but not exactly what I’m looking for. This character happens to also be Jewish, so understanding how hypersensitivities to food work is going to be an integral part of whether I write him as keeping kosher or not.
I know all autistic people are individuals and that the short answer to any of these is probably going to be that it varies from one person to the next, but I’d rather be safe and ask stupid questions than make assumptions and accidentally perpetuate harmful stereotypes! Thank you so much for your time and all the work you do <3 This blog is great!
Hi there! Thanks for your detailed ask. When you make your questions very specific, you make it easier for us to answer them. :)
Special interests can be broad or narrow. They can also be completely unrelated. Here’s a list of a few random special interests I’ve had over the years:
ants (how they live, what their nests look like, how they eat, all the different types, etc.)
the use of corn in American food (why it’s so cheap, how it’s subsidized, the process of turning it into chemicals, why it’s so unhealthy to eat it that way, etc.)
Czech sign language (I obsessively learned the language and became fluent in less than a year)
the band EELS
the game Dwarf Fortress
Special interests can be lifelong or they can change. For me, they tend to last a year or so, or until I feel I’ve learned all I can about them, then I slowly lose my passion and I feel kind of listless for a short period of time until something new sparks my interest. I usually have more than one at once, with one main one being the thing I think about most and one or two “lesser” ones which I can switch to when I’m blocked from the main one for some reason. However, I retain all the knowledge and experience from past interests, and I still enjoy talking about them given the chance. (I still get a super happy feeling when I see an ant farm, even though that was when I was a little kid.)
So your character’s interests are really up to you, and they definitely do not need to be related.
Regarding hypersensitivity, it is an incredibly individual thing. For food, it can be about taste, texture, smell, or there could be issues with an upset stomach after eating. Writer’s choice.
Keep up the good work, and good luck with your character and story!
I’m writing a story that is sort of a paranormal mystery as seen through the eyes of several high school aged characters. The main character, Javion, is a young black kid with an interest in science and the paranormal that his mother very very subtly discourages. His father was a paranormal investigator who worked for the government on cases involving a wide range of things and he was very successful, with his books on debunking the usual pseudosciences people used for such things meeting wide acclaim. During an investigation in a remote part of Washington state, however, he vanished, the government refusing to give answers as to the exact circumstances to his family.
As a result Javion is both determined to bring him back and devoted to being the kind of scientific mind his father was, the kind who helped people and exposed frauds. His mother desperately does not want him going into a field of study wherein eldritch abominations are a very real threat. Along the way in his investigation he runs into several people who either assume his father is around but a deadbeat or not around at all, something that tests his patience.This is where I’ve hit some snags. I don’t want to write his mother as an angry black woman. She’s just scared for her only child’s safety after losing her husband to the same field of study.
Absent Black Father?
I don’t want to play into the absent black father trope because it’s not like he’s absent willingly at all and there is the possibility, albeit slim, that he could be saved and brought back.
‘Stereotypical’ Black Name?
And I really don’t want to have accidentally given Javion a stereotypical name - I picked his first name after a black professor I had with the same given name. Basically I just want to know if the plot is inherently racist and what to avoid to keep it from being so.
Is Javion a “Stereotypical” Black name?
This name doesn’t come off as “stereotypical” to me. I’ve never heard of the name, but I like the sound of Javion and I don’t see a problem with it either. Read Black Characters: On Stereotypical Names for what we have to say on stereotypical Black names.
Basically, there’s more of a problem that what are seen as Black-associated names are demonized by society more so than people having the names themselves.
Is it problematic that my Black boy’s father vanishes?
The father’s disappearance is clearly linked to his work, and is not a case of “deadbeat Black Father.” I really like the possibility of him coming back, though.
“Along the way in his investigation he runs into several people who either assume his father is around but a deadbeat or not around at all, something that tests his patience.”
Now, people’s assumptions about J’s father are prejudice micro-aggressions. I wouldn’t slather them on heavily if racism is not the focus of your work, but it’s realistic for Javion to face these sort of assumptions and the frustration that goes with it, so nice touch.
Is my concerned Black mother an Angry Black Woman?
From your description Javion’s mom comes across as a loving and concerned mother who doesn’t want to lose her son in the same way she lost her husband. Even if we are to see her frustration in her son for going deeper on a path that is clearly dangerous, i’m still not seeing where we are getting ABW from that. She’d have every right to be upset about this. Black women should be allowed to present emotion without being summed up to the typical Angry Black Woman so do not be afraid to show the range of emotions that this mother feels in this situation.
Another thing; with the father missing, she has been made a single Black mother which is another BW stereotype. Is she still shown as desirable? Is she dating, engaging or potentially to engage in a new relationship? Does she have close companionship besides her son with peers? Hell, does that “helpful” lovestruck neighbor try to put the moves on her ever since Javion’s father disappeared? Any number of these additions would help deter the stereotype and any potential desexualization.
This is such a tough question and I don’t think there’s really an easy answer. So, bear with me, because this is going to be long.
I think it’s important to look at context when talking about this play. Shakespeare lived during a period and in a country that was decidedly anti-Jewish. Jewish people had been expelled from England in 1290 and weren’t allowed back until Oliver Cromwell took power and well after Shakespeare died. Those Jewish people that remained in England had to convert or practice in private. Jewish people were viewed as lecherous, greedy, and g-dless. So, in some respects, Shakespeare wrote what he knew. Jewish people were only allowed to be money lenders in Europe, so that’s what Shakespeare wrote. He was told that Jewish people were ruthless, so that’s what he wrote. What’s more, Shakespeare’s peers were also writing Jewish people as villains. Marlowe’s Barabas makes Shylock look like Tevye the Dairyman and Marlowe was one of Shakespeare’s chief influences.
HOWEVER, I think Shakespeare also had a fascination with the “other” and a keen eye for societal injustices. Shakespeare came of age during England’s shift away from Catholicism to Protestantism; when the very nature of justice and what it meant to be forgiven had shifted radically. And with that shift came a new justice system and a new relationship with G-d. Of course this is just speculation, but I feel like it would be naive to say that Shakespeare wasn’t effected by that seismic shift in religious culture. Shakespeare’s father was a Catholic and it’s entirely possible that he remained so even after Elizabeth became Queen. So, Shakespeare would be going to Protestant church services and then going back to a Catholic home. It’s highly likely that he spent his whole life grappling with those two cultures, trying to understand why, beyond political reasons, one group was marginalized and the other favored.
So, in Shylock, Shakespeare wrote a man that was unyielding and merciless, but he also makes it abundantly clear why Shylock is that way. He is treated like shit by everyone besides Tubal and you get a very clear sense that this has been a constant in Shylock’s life. To paraphrase, Shylock says, “Yes I am a monster, but you have made me that way.” Shylock is not a great guy, no, but I kind of like that he’s not perfect. Most modern writers write Jewish people either as saints, lambs to the slaughter, or neurotic, arguing New Yorkers with pushy wives and mothers. It’s kind of refreshing to read a Jewish character that’s, you know, an actual fucking human being. He’s got a harsh world view, but that’s necessary to the world in which he lives. You get the sense that he’s never quite recovered from the loss of his wife and he has no idea how to parent his daughter. That’s not that different from a lot of other fathers in Shakespeare. I think it’s completely fair to play Shylock as an imperfect or even a cruel man, so long as it’s made abundantly clear that he is oppressed because of his religion and not his personality.
Then, we also have to remind ourselves that, to an Elizabethan audience, Shylock would have been a figure of fun. The audience would have spent the whole play laughing at him, rooting for him to fail, but then, when he loses his court case, is forced to convert, and is effectively silenced, you cannot help but feel the injustice of the situation. Shakespeare does this a lot, particularly in his comedies. The trial in The Merchant of Venice feels very similar to Malvolio’s treatment at the end of Twelfth Night. Again and again, Shakespeare shows his audience how people are other-ized. You get comfortable, fall into entrenched ways of looking at people, and laugh right along to fit in. But then Shakespeare always turns it around and forces us to question why we’re laughing. We also have to remind ourselves that Shakespeare’s plays had to pass a censor (the Master of Revels) and we know he had to make edits to a number of his plays. He had to be subtle in the ways in which he made socio-political statements or his company couldn’t perform his plays.
It’s hard to talk about Shakespeare’s intention when all we really have of what he was thinking and feeling beyond what’s in the plays is lost to us. It’s entirely possible and perhaps likely that he intended to write an anti-Semitic character and, because Shakespeare just didn’t write stereotypes, accidentally gave the man some humanity. But, when I look at Shakespeare’s larger body of work and the way in which he focuses on issues of justice and marginalized people, I just don’t think that’s the case.
A scenario of the matsus meeting their Puerto Rican s/o family
I am very sorry but Mod Kara and I are both Very White™ and would like to avoid accidentally stereotyping or portraying this scenario inaccurately. This just isn’t something we feel we can give to you in the accurate way we would like. Very sorry!!
1/2 So I come from a super small rural town where it's actually pretty rare to see a POC. I've only talked face-to-face with a POC a handful of times. One of my main characters in a story I've just started is a POC, which does play into the plot, but I'm pretty nervous about messing something up or accidentally stereotyping her, which is the last thing I want to do. She's of Egyptian decent and I have no idea where to start. I'm not even sure how to describe her skin color, because I don't
2/2 want to use food names to describe it. Also, do you have any general stereotypes to avoid? Thanks so much!
Egyptian Woman Characters
Is she Black Egyptian, Arab Egyptian or…? Anyhow, I can’t tell you exactly where to start because her being Egyptian doesn’t define who she is. There might be some cultural aspects that come into play, depending on her upbringing and home life, but really the culture in which she lives her daily experience is going to speak more of her than just her being Egyptian.
What’s the dominant culture that she grew up in? How much (or little) does her family’s culture play a role into her life and influence her dress, speech, beliefs, mannerisms?
Develop her personality before you get caught up in writing a “x character” well. Then delve into learning about her culture(s) which might involve research on said cultures (seek first hand accounts and works by Egyptian people first) as well as speaking with Egyptian people willing to discuss how you’re representing them.
As for stereotypes, googling “Egyptian Stereotypes” would be a start.
We post a simple question which is easily answered in an ask
The mods answer the question to get things rolling
You answer the question in our ask box (on or off anon as you see fit)
We collect the answers and post a few at a time (to cut down on your dash spam)
That’s it! Our topic this time comes from an ask we received, copied here:
“I’m writing a book with 3 bisexual polyamorous leads, and I was wondering if it would be okay to come to you and ask what kind of things you’d like to see in bisexual characters and what should be avoided? It’s a modern fantasy, with the romance being less central to the plot then the magic, but being essential to the coming-of-age part, and I have a few ideas, but as an ace lesbian, I want to make sure I don’t accidentally use harmful stereotypes or fetishize anything without meaning to.”