feminine perspectives

one thing that is interesting about lana is that her art is very much about a womanhood that it centered around men–many of her songs are love ballads which emphasize traditional heterosexual tropes (video games, blue jeans) and she often expresses a kind of femininity that is about catering to men, sometimes in an explicitly negative way (ultraviolence)–but at the same time i would consider her work totally woman centered. i think she writes about experiencing a womanhood that is centered around men, but she tells that story for women: entirely from a female perspective, meant to touch a female audience (this is what makes us girls). i really love that. i think she loves women and like i feel like she loves the exact type of girl i am, and i really adore that to no end. she really speaks to me, sorry to sound like a big normie drama queen! i think themes of patriarchy abound in her work, and the way she explores those themes absolutely speaks to a feminine perspective, in a way that truly acknowledges the complexity and humanity of female subjecthood. sorry! just what i think. she puts words to things i’ve felt but never known how to say, and let’s not let the fact that she has lyrics like “let me put on a show for you daddy” eclipse the fact that she centers female experience in a way that is, tbh, really feminist imo.

Once Upon a Waste of Time - An open Letter to Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis.


Dear Adam and Eddy,

After watching #OnceUponaTime #OUAT & had a chance to process it there are a number of things I’m really not happy or comfortable with and I would really like them addressed.

Why did you deem it perfectly acceptable to use the term “nut house” in the show? Please don’t ever use that term again. It’s stigmatising mental illness & there’s enough of that in the world already. It only endorses name calling being okay to use against those who suffer with mental illnesses.

The Q&A was talking of hope and belief. But when it comes to the marginalised oppressed groups it was pitiful in representation. In fact, the number of POC and LGBTQ characters you had on your show were extremely disproportionate to the real world. Most of your POC characters ended up with terrible fates. Such as Merlin, Stanham (Tin man), Marian, I don’t even remember what happened to Rapunzel… yikes! Only one POC couple Aladdin and Jasmine represented POC with a happy ending. I don’t even recall seeing any others present for happy endings. That’s how disproportionate it was with POC representation.

The one f/f queer pairing you had, which was written by two of your MALE employees in your writing team and therefore had no feminine perspective, was rushed together without development and made it into some stereotype of lesbians meet and fall in love in a day and move in together. That was eye rolling enough, but to top it off, they only got one episode out of six years of your show, and were not even even present for the happy endings moment. Seemingly nobody thought to invite them to the wedding, which even if the actresses couldn’t make, would have taken a moment to write in saying Ruby and Dorothy couldn’t make it, but send their love and congratulations. We didn’t even see them in Oz when Zelena took everyone back to her Emerald City castle.
I hate to break it to you guys but treating a f/f ship differently to that of the heterosexual pairings you have on the show, is not equality. It’s merely ticking a box to say yep we covered LGBTQ, and it is in that inequality that gave it the “I’m not homophobic… but” feel to it. The bottom line is that there shouldn’t be inequality. Even the disproportionate numbers of LGBTQ and POC characters to heterosexual and white characters ratio comes across as sexuality and racial inequality.

Regina being a middle aged Latina woman only got apples and dwarfs showing her acceptance which she has been getting for 4 seasons now. She’s happy with herself, I get that, but why did the Latina queen only ever get heartbreak in love and not even get a romantic love in her life for her happy ending? Are Latina’s destined to be without a lover? Or is it just middle aged women destined to be alone if they haven’t found a lover by a certain point? I understand she would have been grieving Robin, but there wasn’t even a hint of hope that she could be with someone in the future. Not a start of anything. Zelena being older than Regina didn’t have one either. So all the middle aged female fans who are currently alone right now, who watched the show for a bit of hope that maybe they would find love one day, didn’t get that hope as they weren’t validated.

I understand happiness doesn’t always involve having a lover in your life but to the marginalised oppressed groups Latinas, middle aged women, and LGBTQ, you didn’t deliver any substantial hope for them to believe that they too could find happiness because you did not represent them. Didn’t even represent anyone in the trans community at all. So all those people who watched with the hope of a “Modern Fairytale” didn’t take away with them a message of hope and belief as they weren’t accurately represented. They just took home the message that everyone else deserved a happy ending but them.

And the final thing I’m really annoyed with, is that you had the greatest love story with SwanQueen. Every single message on the show about what love is, they demonstrated. SwanQueen in my opinion, was the greatest love story never told. Six years and one kinda uncomfortable looking hug is unrealistic for best friends, especially with the way the actors were directed to play them, and with all the queer-baiting subtext. But to add insult to injury you have the same initial situation of a kid looking for and finding their parent, and have openly stated that Henry and his daughter’s mother who he will meet again will have an epic love story… so basically it’s pretty much SwanQueen but the heterosexual version of it. The SwanQueen story was so good, but just not heteronormative to tell on TV. I want to know, WHY? And please don’t use the excuse “family show” anymore because the sexual content of this show, albeit no sex was actually taking place in it, does not make this family viewing. Nor does violence and murder either.

I’d like some answers around this and not to be ignored or blocked because you don’t like me putting you in front of a mirror to examine yourselves. There was even a time you baited Swen in an obvious way by tweeting a script tease of a SwanQueen scene which you had cut from the show!

Adam, you have stalked Swen accounts and there are multiple cases where there is evidence of you doing that. I want to know why you used us for viewership if your heteronormative love story was something you were so certain of being successful?

You had a little over 12 million viewers at the start of your show. And the latest figures were around 2.8 million if I’m not mistaken. How do you deem this as success? You used Swen to keep you afloat for another season didn’t you? You could at the very least have the decency to be honest and admit that.

You’ve lost a viewer in me, not just with Once Upon a Time, but with all future shows you decide to create, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has made this decision. Once Upon a Time was sold as a “Modern Fairytale” but that was false advertising really. The only thing modern about it was the characters had cell phones and spoke of Hamilton tickets, oh and Snow White held a sword for the first time… 🤦🏼‍♀️ Big whoop! Nothing modern here or even groundbreaking. Same old story of predominantly white, cis gendered, heterosexual couples getting their happy endings and leaving everyone else lacking them. If that’s your idea of a “modern fairytale”, then I’m sure all your future endeavours as writers will be just as same old, same old.

One of you asked about my love story, so here it is, in the form of a few small nonfiction essays I’ve written about my life thus far: 

Junior year of college. Late morning. Late September.
“He just texted. He’s heading this way now.”
My roommate Kate invited her friend from class to go with us to Mountain Heritage Day. We walked through campus, heading for the clock tower, red faced and already sweating. A boy in a camo t-shirt and matching hat strode towards us, phone in one hand pressed against his ear and a blue drink in the other.
“Tell me that’s not him,” I said.
“That’s him.”
“I am not walking around with someone wearing a camo shirt and hat all day.”
“Shhh, he’s really nice! Trust me.”
And so I did, even though I wasn’t proud of my southern roots at that point in my life, and even though this boy was wearing the one type of clothing I despised most. We waited for Matt to get off the phone, Kate introduced us, and we made our way towards the fair with the rest of the crowds to look at things we couldn’t afford to buy and then spend the only money we had on the fair food, which was the main reason any of us went in the first place. Kate and I got ice cream and Matt got a funnel cake. 
“Do you want some?” he said, holding his plate out to me. I had only had funnel cake once before, years prior. It wasn’t something I would ever get for myself, but it looked and smelled fantastic, like a perfect warm summer day filled with uninterrupted sunshine and laughter.
I nodded. “Can you pull a piece off for me?” I didn’t explain that I had a weird quirk about getting my hands dirty, and, luckily, I didn’t have to, because he immediately ripped a giant chunk off, dunked it into the powdered sugar to make sure it was completely covered, and handed it to me.
“Can you pass me a piece too?” Kate said.
“You can get one yourself!” he said. He was joking, but held out his plate to her for her to get her own bit just the same. 
Looking back, this was my first inkling that he was interested in me. 
“Dude, I want McDonald’s so bad,” I said. We were still eating the funnel cake. Leave it to me to not even be finished with what I’m currently eating before thinking and planning my next snack/meal. 
“Mmm, that sounds so good,” Matt said. 
“Let’s do it!” Kate said, swiping another piece of funnel cake off of Matt’s plate.


After I learned what a McGangBang was (a concoction involving two McDoubles and a McChicken and then squishing them all together into one giant sandwich), we picked up my pup Jake and headed to the park, where we walked for over an hour and talked about things that I think I have purposely pushed out of my mind because they were things I never would have talked about with Matt had I known I would start dating him soon after the fact. Going into the day I told myself that this boy would be just a friend, because I had never really had a guy friend before, but while walking in the park I think I knew: I felt more comfortable about this boy than any other in my life. It was different. Still, I didn’t push it. He went home after the walk in the park and Kate and I went back to our apartment, where we, after some gabbing, eventually went to our own rooms to study and work on homework.
Later that evening I heard Kate squealing in her room.
“Are you okay?” I shouted.
“Come here right now!”
I groaned. I was exhausted. Padding my way into her room, I knew something was up the second I saw her face. You know the one: the one your best friend gives you when they know something you don’t, when they’re so overly excited about something involving you that their eyes seem twice as large as usual and they won’t stop staring at you, and you think their smile might be permanent because it’s never changing for such a long portion of time.
“What?” I said, my voice flat, crossing my arms.
She patted her bed.
I shuffled over, sprawled out, and stared at where she sat in her desk chair opposite the bed. While my room was plain and calm, hers was loud. She had pink wall stickers everywhere, writing on her mirror, stuffed animals lining the top of her bookshelf and wrapped up in the blankets on her bed. She had a giant flat screen tv and the newest video game system. I had played video games growing up with dad, Andrew, and Ames, but hadn’t played in well over 10 years. I spent a lot of time in Kate’s room making my character spin around in circles while getting shot at. Needless to say, I didn’t have the best techniques.
“Guess who just texted me?” Kate flicked her eyes back and forth from her phone to me.
“Lindsay?” One of our mutual friends at the time. A bad guess on purpose. I knew it was a boy from the way she was looking at me, eyebrows raised and head tilted to the side.
She didn’t ask me to guess again. “Matt!” she said, her voice a normal pitch again.
“Okay… What did he say?” It wasn’t a big deal that he was texting her. They had class together and had become friends. They texted back and forth most days, most of the time talking about the current girl Matt was trying to woo. Kate was his feminine perspective.
“Quote: ‘Hey, I had a really good time today and was wondering… Do you know if Stephanie is talking to anyone?’”
My entire body warmed, the heat traveling from my cheeks to my feet. I was ecstatic, though I tried to hide it. I’m sure I didn’t do a very good job.
“Did you respond yet?”
“Not yet. I wanted to see what you thought first.”
“I mean… what do you think? And are you sure you’re over him?”
Yeah, that tiny detail: Kate had originally had a crush on Matt, though she claimed a week or so prior to Mountain Heritage Day that she had decided she didn’t like him anymore, or rather, that she had never liked him, just the idea of him.
“Yes, totally.”
“Okay… because you say the word, and I won’t talk to him.”
“Steph, I promise I don’t like him.” She held out her phone to me so I could see the screen and the text he sent. “Go for it.”
“Okay,” I said, grinning. 
She turned her phone back and started typing.
“What are you saying?” I jumped off the bed and skipped over next to her so I could see what she was doing.
“I’m telling him that you’re not talking to anyone,” she said, not looking up. “Because you aren’t.”
“This is so weird.”
The whooshing sound of Kate’s text sounded. “Well, what are you thinking? I mean, did you have fun today? What do you think of him?” 
“I had a really good time. It’s weird because… I felt really comfortable with him.” I met Kate’s stare. “Like, really comfortable. That’s never happened before.” I thought back to the random conversations we had while walking through the park earlier that day and slapped my hand to my face. “Kate, I talked to him about masturbation. Oh, my God.”  
She paused, jaw dropping, and began laughing hysterically. “Oh my God, you did! You seriously talked to him about masturbation.”
“I’m humiliated. I’m… mortified. I can’t speak to him again!”
“Yes you can. Now calm down,” she said, unable to stop or hide her laughter. “He obviously likes you if he’s asking me whether you’re seeing anyone or not.” 
I nodded. “True, true. But still,” I sighed. “God, this would happen. I meet a nice boy and act totally vulgar around him the first time we hang.” 
Kate’s phone dinged in her hand. She glanced at the screen, then jumped up in her chair. “It’s him!”
“Well… what’d he say?” 
“He wants your number.” She flicked her eyes up at me. “Can I give it to him?”
“Yeah,” I breathed. “Sure.” 
She typed the message out and set her phone down on her desk. I laid down on her bed, stared up at the ceiling, and thought about how just weeks prior I had declared that I was swearing off boys. That lasted a good 20 minutes, I thought, fiddling with Kate’s sheets. I had met a boy my freshman year of college, and I use the term “met” loosely because he lived in Florida and the daughter of the minister at the church we were attending at that point introduced me to him. We only actually hung out in person two or three times. Other than that, it was a total text relationship. Which is fine. It’s what I needed at the time. I wasn’t ready for anything real, but I liked having someone “there” for me, if only through text, who I could talk to. After talking to him for almost two years and having nothing much come of it (mostly my fault because, like I said, I definitely wasn’t ready), and then having an incredibly ugly falling out (also via text like 99% of our relationship), I had told myself that I was going to stop trying to find a guy and was going to “let go and let God” as they say and was going to trust His timing. After all, if it was meant to be it would be. 
And boy was it meant to be. 
I got lucky, I will admit. Many people have told me this, my sister most recently and most often. Matthew was the first boy I ever really dated. He was my first real kiss. My first romantic love. My first… well, everything. And I his. We both got lucky. We both are blessed. 
My phone went off in the other room. Kate and I looked at each and grinned. 
“Yeah, you might want to go get that,” she said.
My feet couldn’t carry me fast enough. I snagged the phone off my desk and jumped onto my bed, landing face first and stomach down. Graceful as ever. I read the text, responded, and saved his number into my phone. 
“How’s it going in there?” Kate called across the apartment. 
“Spectacular,” I said, loud enough for only me to hear. 


He had spent the day over at my place, walking the pup in the park, laughing together while watching silly TV shows, and asking each other questions. We spent most of our time together in the beginning doing these kinds of things. There was so much to talk about, so much to learn about each other. And we’re still learning, because even now, years later, we are changing each day, molding, becoming different people, and so we continue to ask questions and learn about one another, about the one we will be spending the rest of our lives with.
We walked out of the apartment together, the three of us: Matt, Kate, and myself. (Kate because I was still so nervous to be alone with Matt, even though I was getting good vibes from him and trusted him more than I had trusted any other guy before that point. Sometimes having a friend nearby can calm the nerves better than anything else.) Kate walked several feet behind us, and then several yards.
“I’ll text you later,” Matt said. “And maybe see you tomorrow?”
“That sounds good,” I said.
“This was fun. I love spending time with you. I really like you.”
“I really like you too.”
We hugged and I turned to walk back up to my place with Kate. I made it halfway back to my friend before turning around. I had kissed boys before, but only a few, and only ever pecks. Also, I didn’t consider any of them to be of any importance as they were either dares or I didn’t actually care about the person I was kissing. Still, I was nervous because I knew what I was going to do the second I decided to turn back around.
“Matt,” I called. He turned, holding his hand above his eyes to shade them from the sun shining ferociously behind me. “Wait.”
I jogged back to him and kissed him, fast. His lips were soft and he smelled like the mountains, like home.
“Bye,” I said, my voice high pitched and nervous, waving like a maniac. I ran off without seeing his immediate reaction, but halfway to Kate I turned around. He was still walking but was turned around looking at me too. I smiled, waved again, and kept jogging until I reached Kate.
Our first kiss, and it had been perfect.

The night Matt asked me to be his girlfriend, we went to a Greek restaurant in Dillsboro, two towns over from the University. Before we left the apartment I shared with Kate, she took a picture of us standing by the door and we joked about how she was my stand-in mom and Matt was the guy taking her daughter out. I still have the picture: me in a black shirt with a gold, detailed tree on the front, and a red jacket thrown over top, Matt sporting a blue shirt under a blue and white plaid flannel, both of us wearing matching cheesy grins, and his arm around my shoulder.
There’s another picture from that night, of me with a wine holder that stood in the corner of the restaurant where we waited to be seated. It’s a moose lying on its back, downing the wine, and I’m standing in front of it giving a thumbs up, smiling with my mouth open. The photo is blurry, probably because Matt was chuckling while he took it and couldn’t hold his phone still enough for it to focus. We thought it was such an odd decoration and were entertained by it most of the night. We’re still entertained by it now, actually. It’s still there. We point it out each time we go and remember our first time there.
I ordered a tuna melt and Matt a gyro. I had gone into the night incredibly nervous, but it didn’t take long for my nerves (and stomach) to settle. Matt was wonderful. Like always, he carried the conversation, asking me questions about myself, my family, my friends, my interests, the books I was reading, the classes I was taking, and he made no comment and wasn’t at all phased that he seemed to be the only one asking questions. I prayed he knew my lack of questioning was due to my anxiety and wasn’t a lack of interest. I’m sure some people think me an egoist, but I tend to ask less questions of people in return of their questions directed at me, opting instead to observe them and learn from what they weren’t saying. For instance, someone may seem confident by the way they’re talking or by what they’re saying, but maybe they’re rubbing their hands together or shuffling their feet. We all have different quirks and tells, too.
“Ready for part two?” Matt asked me after paying the bill.
“There’s a part two?” I grabbed his hand and we walked out the door, past our moose statue, and towards his ‘96 Ford Explorer.
It was my first time heading towards the Jackson County Airport and “The Lookout” (as locals had dubbed the area further down from the airport where you could pull off the road onto a small patch of grass on the side of the mountain). The roads, like most of the ones here in Western North Carolina, were skinny, windy, and a straight shot up with the edge of the road doubling as the edge of the mountainside. We drove up to the airport, a small airfield about three miles from town that sits on a ridge, and used the entryway as a turn around to get back to The Lookout, where Matt pulled off the road and onto the side of a mountain and I tried not to have a panic attack.
I zoned back in from staring out my window as Matt opened my door for me and held out his hand. We could see for miles. We could see everything: the forest, the University, my apartment, the Fraternity house Matt was living in. It was all lit up, trying to keep up with the moon and stars above us.
“So this is part two,” I said, turning in circles looking up at the sky and the world around me, feeling very, very small.
“Almost,” Matt said as he opened his trunk and pulled out a blanket and some candies.
“I brought this,” he said, holding up the blanket–blue and white, I saw now, with sheep on it– “in case we get cold, and these,” he held out the candies, “because I know they’re your favorites. Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids, and Swedish Fish, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, smiling like an idiot.
He put the blanket and candies down and we walked to the edge together, where I was reminded of the first time I had a panic attack (also on top of a mountain) years prior, and thought about far I’d come. Look at me, standing feet away from the edge of a mountainside, not completely freaking out. (I would have started to though if I could see future me sitting on the edge of a rock face that juts out from the mountain thousands of feet up, smiling and swinging my feet.)
“You know, there’s this study,” Matt began after we stood in silence together for a minute or so.”
“Uh huh?”
He turned me around so I wasn’t facing him and trailed his fingers in circles all over my back.
“That only a small percentage of people can actually figure out what someone is saying to them when it’s traced onto their back.”
“Mm, I used to love doing that with my friends when we were kids.”
His fingers began tracing. I tried to focus more on what they were saying rather than how good the tingles felt and how they traveled up and down my entire body.
“W,” I said, when he was finished with the first letter.
“Yes.”
One straight line down followed by two horizontal lines, one at the top of the original line and one on bottom. He was writing in all caps. I shivered in pleasure.
“I.”
“Mhm.”
One vertical line and a horizontal one stemming from the bottom of the first, the whole thing repeated right away.
“L. Twice. Will?”
“Correct!”
He traced just a horizontal line and said, “That’s a space.”
Y - O - U - space - B - E - space - M - Y -
I knew the last word before he began tracing it. I had known the second he finished the second word in the question. His hands became more and more unsteady as he was further into the sentence. He even “erased” a letter or two that he had messed up by rubbing his hand, open faced, all across my back.
G - I - R - L - F - R - I - E - N - D - ?
He paused, waited.
“Girlfriend,” I said. “Will you be my girlfriend?”
I turned around to face him.
“Stephanie Cheryl Wooten,” he said. “Will you be my girlfriend?”
I let myself have a mini freak out session in my head before saying, “Yes.”

We were making macaroni and cheese and dancing in the living room while the water boiled. Matthew and I had been dating a few weeks, and he had already told me, “I love you.” It was the middle of the night. We had stayed up kissing and talking and keeping each other warm in between the sheets. After he said it, I told him that I really liked him, and that I thought I was on the way to love, but that I wasn’t ready to say it yet, to which he understood and held me until I fell asleep in his arms.
While we were dancing together though, with the water boiling in the next room and our feet sliding across the carpet, I looked at him and I knew: I love him, I thought to myself. And I think I had loved him for some time. I just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself yet, or maybe it was that I had never been in love before–not this kind of love, anyway–and I didn’t know that was what I was feeling.
“Come on,” I said, pulling him into my room by his hand. I closed the door so Kate wouldn’t hear what I was about to say. It was a private moment, just between Matt and me.
“What is it?” he said, laughing, breathing hard from all the dancing.
“I love you,” I told him, taking both of his hands in mine, lacing my fingers through his, and squeezing.
The outer corners of his eyes pinched together as he smiled down at me. “I love you, too.”

Two years and nine months after Matthew asked me to be his girlfriend, we went out on one of our typical “date nights.” Our friends and family made fun of us, dubbing us the “old married couple.” Which we were, kind of. We spent most nights together, and most days. We ate together, walked together, made love together, fought together, laughed together, played board games together, watched TV together, went to the movies together, jogged together, cried together. We were going through life together, and even if it was only for a short time, I was ineffably happy.
“Where are we going?” I asked Matt as we walked to his Ford, dressed up in our summer clothes.
“You’ll see,” he said, opening the door for me.
When we passed the town of Sylva, I began to have an inkling as to where he was taking us. I waited until we got closer, until we passed the place where you could paint pottery, to make sure my inkling was more than that.
“I knew it!” I shouted as we turned left when we were across from the Jarrett House and pulled into the almost full parking lot.
“No, you didn’t!”
“Mhm. I did. You’re so predictable.”
“It’s our place, though.” He cut the engine and jogged over to get my door for me.
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I love you,” he said as he laced his fingers through mine and we started up the ramp to the front door.
We talked about the moose statue, per usual, while we waited to be seated, and eventually wound up choosing to sit outside on the patio rather than to wait much longer. It was warm out and the patio was screened in. I ordered the same thing I did on our first date there and, just as the first time around, it didn’t live up to my expectations for it.
“Why do I keep ordering this every time? It’s never as good as I want it to be.”
“I’m putting a note in my phone,” Matt said, whipping his phone out of his pocket, “reminding you to never order this again.” He chuckled at me, put his phone away when he was done, and then looked at me like he always did, like he still does, like no one ever has before. It’s a look reserved especially for me, I know, and it makes me feel like we’re the only two people left in the world.
I had a feeling this was the night: the night Matt would propose to me. We’d talked of it often together, talked about what our life with one another might look like. Plus, Matt had dressed much nicer than he usually did, and he was much more fidgety. I could tell he was nervous about something.
We ate on the patio, surrounded by others whom we gave stories too.
“Couple behind you and to your left. Guy is in the green shirt and girl in white dress.”
I snuck a peak behind me. The couple in question didn’t look much like that. They were young, around our age. The girl was on her phone, presumably texting someone else while she sat across from the boy, who looked around the restaurant like a pendulum, back and forth and back and forth, anywhere but the girl sitting across from him.
“First date,” I said, turning back around. “Or… Maybe hundredth date, and now they’re bored. Or in a fight. Something’s going on there. She won’t look him in the eye.”
Matt nodded in agreement as I scanned the patio.
“All right,” Matt said, putting his napkin on top of the food he couldn’t finish. “Are you ready for part two?”
I lifted my sweaty glass to my lips and took one last sip. “Ah, yes. Always.”
Once we passed the new Health and Science building and turned onto the familiar windy road, I knew: he was recreating our first date.
“The lookout?” I said.
He squeezed my hand, his warming mine, and grinned, his smile warm like the rest of him. We were quiet most of the ride up there, the silence a comforting one, like the feeling you get when you sit down in your favorite chair early in the morning with coffee and a well loved book. The view was the same, but different, mostly because we were different. I was different, and so while the view hadn’t changed over the past two and half years, my view had. We look at things differently at different stages in life, I think. It’s like I can read a book and have a very specific experience, and then read it a year or maybe even five or ten years later, and because of all the different things I’ve gone through and felt, because I’m a different person than I was one or five or ten years prior when I first read the book, the second time will be completely different. And I’ll get something different out of it.
We parked and stood together at the edge of the mountainside, and I looked up at the stars and crescent moon. We listened to the crickets and frogs and stood still, enveloped around one another.
“Do you remember that study I told you about the first time we came here?” he said, turning me away from him.
“The one you made up? Yeah. Why?”
“I’ve got another one for you.”
He began tracing the letters. The first few words were the same: Will you be my…
W - I - F - E ?
I turned around to Matthew down on one knee, holding out a black velvet box with a ring I had pointed out casually once in our local jewelry story in it.
“Stephanie Cheryl Wooten,” he began. “I know I’m not perfect, and I know we have our disagreements, but I love you to the moon and back, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
I was tempted to be cruel and say No but then really quickly after say yes, just to mess with him, but I didn’t want to give the poor man a heart attack.
“Yes,” I said. “Yes.”
He reached for my hand and slid the ring onto my finger, then rotated it side to side, admiring it on me. The diamonds shined almost as much as his eyes when he stood up and looked at me. Those summer sky blue eyes that had me the first time I saw them that October in 2011 at Mountain Heritage Day. I never would have thought that I would be engaged. I never thought I would ever get married, or even fall in love. I had been hurt so much by someone who was supposed to love me, who did love me, in a weird way. But then, I knew how blessed I was. I thought about the day God created us both. Did He know we would find each other? Was this His doing? One thing was certain: whether it was all God or our free will that led us here, I was grateful. Matt has the best heart. He takes such good care of me. We take care of each other. And he’s a Godly man, which I love most of all, because we lead each other closer to God each and every day.
I mean, I get to hike and snuggle and read and build blanket forts and watch movies and eat good food and read and talk about the Bible and God with my best friend for the rest of my life. I am so incredibly lucky. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus.
I love you to the moon and back too, Matthew.

idk why people are suprised that vox guy (who you may know from such classic videos as “your trans headcanons are bad” and “why are the non binary characters on steven universe feminine: a cis dude perspective” and “sorry for that trans video but like, i know trans people and if you think im still transphobic this apology isn’t for you” ) is kinda shitty

C: I wish black men weren’t the POC mascot for LGBTQs. Historically. our men have had our masculinity demonized by white culture so that anyone seen as male and masculine is automatically deemed a deadly threat. Not to mention the cultural brainwashing of the Eddie Lynch theory and the black male actor cross-dresser forcing a submissive feminine perspective onto unwilling participants. I know there’s nothing wrong with being black male and gay. But society wants us emasculated anyway. Couldn’t some other race hold the torch instead?

You know what else is a feminist film?

Spy 2015, starring Melissa McCarthy

It’s no great leap in feminism in films, sure, but its protagonist is a really great character in that she’s not only intelligent and competent, but also physically capable and quick on her feet, and her largeness is realistically handled

Because I can name a ton of big women who can fight like she does, no problem, but Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand that being fat does not mean you’re incapable of physical prowess. 

She gets tired onscreen, sure, but she’s still able to push herself to realistic physical extremes and beats bad guys just fine

Not only that, but the film is told in a feminine perspective. 

You’d think a film with a female lead would automatically be told in a female perspective, but that’s not always the case. 

Jurassic World, for example, shows us a bit of dissonance in that, rather than being a film told from a woman’s perspective when the female lead is onscreen, any woman watching it can tell you it’s being told by a man who thinks he knows what a woman’s perspective looks like–but didn’t quite get it

Which is interesting, since Spy’s director, Paul Feig,  is male

But not so surprising since he also did Bridesmaids

And despite all the sexism surrounding her as well as all the fat shaming and other offensiveness she’s had to deal with, the main character, Susan Cooper, remains the most important, interesting, competent, sensible, and capable character in the entire film. She affects those around her positively, is a good person who learns to stand up for herself to an alarming degree, and is able to hold her own, doing the rescuing so many more times than she’s rescued

NOT ONLY THAT, but the film has, including Susan, six major female characters with three major male characters (four if you count the guy they were spying on), where each male character is practically a one-dimensional cliche that can be summed up in one to two words –> “suave incompetent” “toxic masculinity” and “pervert” whereas half the female characters have depth while the other half, while also limited in character, are presented in a much more positive light than the males

It flips the script on action and spy films that have been around for years

And its simple but iconic name is well-deserved

syn-odics  asked:

@ ballet anon: let me tell u, from the perspective of a queer ballet dancer myself, yes ballet (and dance as a whole) is very feminine coded from society's perspective and a lot of classical ballets (nutcracker, swan lake, giselle, u know the drill) do remain rather binary coded but contemporary ballet is ... well .... contemporary and it is keeping up with this age of gender role destruction and many companies are actively looking to destroy that binary and some are even going (1/2)

@ ballet anon 2/2: going out of their way to appeal to and hire lgbt+ identifying dancers so there IS a place for u in the dance world, if you so choose to seek it out, if u want to talk to me more abt it feel free to pm me, and best wishes to u :)

The Larme Aesthetic: Part 1

Introduction: Sweet, Girly… Artbook?

This is the first chapter of a long-form series on Larme magazine’s aesthetic and significance in Japanese fashion and culture. In this chapter, we’ll take a look at (1) how Larme brands itself as an “artbook”, (2) how this accounts, in part, for Larme’s rising popularity, and (3) some contradictions or tensions that result from this branding.

1. Read and reflect

Frankly, in the single word “artbook”, we can see all of Larme’s aspiration and appeal. Most of us understand that an “artbook” is usually assumed to be more intellectually stimulating and valuable than a mere “magazine”. This is a flawed assumption rooted in other longstanding, but equally flawed and heavily gendered beliefs about reading and reflection.

No other issue of Larme better expresses this problem than Issue 005, which took the now-obscure Latinate term, “memento mori”, as its central theme. A historical literary and philosophical idea, the term translates as “remember you must die” and is a reminder to meditate, not gorge, on life. It was the medieval ideological counterpoint to the better-known “carpe diem”, or “seize the day”, which encouraged a more impulsive, immediate approach to life in the face of future uncertainty. 

We can be certain that the reference to memento mori was intentionally made. After all, the feature article for Larme 005, with its numerous shots of floating or submerged models, is an extended allusion to Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the trope of the drowned young woman. The editors quite cleverly translated fashion trends such as flower crowns, floral dresses, crucifixes, and used a monochrome palette into an sustained allusion to a play that takes memento mori as one of its central themes. After all, Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy is itself a meditation on life and death.

Memento mori is predicated on a capacity for deep, religious reflection that was and is, to this day, usually considered a masculine trait, not a feminine one, because women were seen as incapable of such depth of thought. For instance, Hamlet’s semi-religious meditations on life and death enable him to overcome his suicidal impulses, whereas it is implied that Ophelia succumbed to her madness and committed suicide - a forbidden act. And this capacity for religious reflection is tied to the act of reading, in part because books were primarily produced and monopolised by the clergy up until the invention of the printing press. As a case in point of how women were not seen as real readers, in the nunnery scene, Ophelia is ordered by her father, Polonius, to pretend to read a book so that Hamlet would think that she was alone.

In using memento mori as their theme, Larme magazine subverted a classical, masculine philosophy into a modern, feminine, and non-white perspective, but this seems to have been accomplished through intuition, not calculation. It’s unlikely that Larme editors understand these obscure, non-Japanese literary concepts in such detail, so my guess is that the editors simply understood that their readers would find a feature examining life and death from an Ophelian perspective morbidly interesting. (Which young woman wouldn’t, really, when so many writers and editors assume that young women have no inner lives?) Ironically, because this belief - that young women don’t reflect or read - has persisted across time and space, Larme can subvert the concept of memento mori so effectively and thoroughly.

2. Realism

The feature article of Larme 020, Blue Valentine, continues this exploration of women’s inner lives. Released in January, the issue’s feature article is a direct reference to the 2010 movie starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. To those who aren’t familiar with the movie, this may sound like a reasonable choice with Valentine’s Day and White Day coming up, but Blue Valentine is actually about courtship and the collapse of a romantic relationship. That’s some serious trend-bucking going on here when every other major women’s fashion magazine in Japan was covering what to wear for that all-important Valentine’s Day date.

Larme’s Blue Valentine feature essentially frames the magazine’s fashion using the film’s narrative, showcasing coordinates even as it charted the changing dynamics in a relationship with the passing of time. Lines of dialogue are scattered across the pages to show the crumbling relationship between the film’s two main characters, Dean and Cindy, culminating with these: “What is love?”, “I haven’t found it yet”, “But in the beginning it was definitely love” (I’m not using their abysmal English translations here). So why is this significant?

Now, with most women’s fashion magazines, there is no narrative; it’s mostly just pretty clothes on pretty models, and we skim through looking for inspiring outfits. Love and romance become, at best, stage props meant to provide some context for the clothes (e.g. a model pretending to be waiting for her date) or, at worst, a tool used to encourage young women to buy more clothes and makeup (e.g. “what to wear for that first date” articles). Either way, such women’s fashion magazines inevitably represent love and romance as static, not dynamic. There are only dates and couple trips, only sweetness and sunshine. There are no arguments, no misunderstandings, no tears, no fights, no bad days, no loneliness, and no betrayal. There is no heartbreak.

What Larme has done, as such, is depart from the norm for women’s fashion magazine in Japan. The magazine’s Blue Valentine feature exposes how even at Valentine’s, most women’s fashion magazines pack their pages with empty chatter about romance and sex, and are pretty much devoid of meaningful and reflective discourse on love. In the process, it offers its readers something new and badly needed: a thoughtful, realistic exploration of love and romance.

Some of the magazine’s readers didn’t seem to understand what was going on with the Blue Valentine feature. One amazon.co.jp reviewer roughly said, “The Valentine special was, in my opinion, unnecessary. Larme is not a magazine about being cute [in other people’s eyes], but about enjoying the fashion and makeup that I think are cute. This, I think, is what the magazine is about, and so a feature on romantic relationships strikes me as unnecessary.” Yet here, what the readers are offered is actually not the sort of romance found in mainstream women’s fashion magazines - the sort that has driven young women to seek out fashions that deliberately excise the male gaze from their lives.

The Blue Valentine feature is also impressive in another way: it re-frames the movie’s central heterosexual relationship, through female models dressed in boy- and girl- style, into a meditation on masculinity, femininity, and the permeability of such boundaries through fashion. And let’s not ignore the obvious: the casting of two female models in a romantic relationship, albeit a fictitious one, is not an everyday thing in Japan. Both of these are points that are worth discussing at some length, but I’d like to wrap up my discussion of the Blue Valentine feature by returning to the larger points I raised at the beginning of this article.

Some thorny issues

I personally think that, more often than not, we have become so inured to the rapid changes in fast fashion and popular culture that we tend to take cursory glances rather than properly examine anything to do with them. Unfortunately, that habit has meant that much of Larme’s true brilliance has been overlooked, even by its target audience. More unfortunately still, this allows the sexist skepticism towards young women’s intellectual ability to remain a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, if the readers of the magazine don’t take it seriously, who will?

We should also acknowledge the elephant in the room, namely that we cannot deny that, as a fashion magazine, Larme exists within the framework of a capitalist economy, and that one of its main purposes is to get young women to spend money on fast fashion and makeup. The magazine’s editorial team may genuinely aspire to be taste-makers and arbiters of fashion for Japanese young women, but the magazine also serves as an advertising platform for brands. There’s no getting away from this.

That said, just because Larme is working within this capitalist framework doesn’t mean that it has to be giddy or frivolous, or purely about getting young women to waste their money on fast fashion. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary: Larme, like its readers, does aspire to more than what Japanese society and economy has traditionally offered to women and women’s fashion. My intention in writing this serialised long-form article is to draw attention to how Larme navigates this minefield on multiple levels, and I think I’ve managed that much… I think?

Thanks for reading this, and do look forward to the upcoming chapter!

Much Ado About Crystal

It’s unpopular to take the stance that I have, but this post is about why Sailor Moon Crystal is not the piece of garbage that many diehard Moonies claim it to be.

Here are the top 5 reasons a Moonie should consider (or reconsider) why Crystal is a gem of the Sailor Moon Universe:

1. It’s the most authentic version of Naoko Takeuchi’s story, other than the manga.

Many fans are aware of how unhappy Takeuchi was with the original classic anime. As a young female success story that brought the feminine perspective to the historically male superhero genre, Takeuchi was ruffled by the male take on her girl power platform when the 90s anime debuted. Many of her original storylines were altered (too many to recount now), but the most problematic ones for Naoko likely had to do with the patriarchal interpretation of her story.

The “male gaze,” imperceptible to many at the time the anime was created (and imperceptible even now, to some) contaminates the 90s anime (from hidden frames where women’s bodies are shamelessly and needlessly displayed—likely sneaked in for the bored male animators’ amusement— to countless subplots involving male predatory behavior and female instability, to the incessant playing up of negative female stereotypes). When one stops to really compare the source material with the 90s anime, it doesn’t take a long time to see why Takeuchi might have been crestfallen by the 90s anime.

Crystal allows fans to relish her original vision, and see it come alive. I was rewatching it earlier and I am truly blown away by the depth of emotion explored. I really feel like I am watching and celebrating the storyline that Takeuchi always wanted us to enjoy.

2. Mamoru and Usagi’s characterizations make for a healthier romance.

Let’s face it, it’s not a middle schooler and a college student together (although, in my personal opinion, the taboo nature of that aspect of their relationship had a lot to do with the societal norms that they reincarnated into). Moreover, it’s refreshing to not have to watch Usagi whine every two minutes, the way she does in classic. Put the cold and distant portrayal of an older Mamoru with that from the 90s anime, and you get a story where he acts more like a father figure to an insolent child. The original Mamoru and Usagi dynamic depicted in the manga carries into Crystal, creating a more realistic, less problematic romance that fans can get behind (although, in a future blog post, I am going to defend the crap out of 90s Mamoru and Usagi, so get ready!)

3. The artwork is quite beautiful.

I know, I know, don’t jump all over me at once. I know that there have been several criticisms about the artwork and animation of Sailor Moon Crystal, including this incredibly popular (and highly entertaining) tumblr called Crystal Quality. Once I removed myself from that criticism and started rewatching Season I of Crystal without bias, I truly enjoyed how close the art style is to the original manga. Again, when you remind yourself that the purpose of Crystal was to honor Takeuchi’s original story, and that it’s not meant to recreate the 90s anime, it’s pretty cool to see an interpretation of her drawing style come to life. (No comment at the moment on Season III’s artwork style. I’m still coming to terms about how I feel about it. I will say that I kind of miss the Season I and II style.)

4. There are no filler episodes.

Now, don’t me wrong, I know this argument can go both ways. Did we get a lot more character development in the 90s anime? Absolutely. Is that because there were filler episodes? Undoubtedly. At the same time, if you truly go into Crystal with the mindset that this is watching a living, breathing version of the manga, and with enough backstory about the characters, you can appreciate Crystal a lot more. In other words, don’t go into Crystal expecting the 90s anime. They are different beasts, with different intentions.

5. The music is INCREDIBLE.

If you can’t get behind any of the above, I know you can at least get behind the fact that Crystal boasts an impressive soundtrack. It’s beautiful, stunning, modern, with occasional throwbacks to the 90s (“Eien Dake Ga Futari Wo Kakeru,” anyone?). Give it a listen. It stands well on its own, but in the context of the show, it’s got a variety cheerful, upbeat, haunting, and dramatic pieces to accompany the scenery.

I hope you will reconsider Crystal if you have dismissed it as garbage and that “the fans deserve better.”

I’ll give you this: I definitely have to be in the right mood to watch Crystal. Just as I have to be in a certain mood to watch the 90s anime. I watch Crystal when I am in a pensive mood and want to sort of watch the “porn” version of the manga and truly celebrate Takeuchi’s vision. When I do this, I appreciate what Crystal was trying to do. I watch classic when I want to laugh and remember what the 90s interpretation was. I celebrate each version of the anime for what they do well. Again, like I said, they truly are different beasts.

Tune in next time for more thoughtful analysis around the Sailor Moon fandom.

Sincerely,
TuxyWuxy47

soft-sunshine-n-flowers  asked:

Is there a way to explain how ADHD affects a person to family and friends? I want them to understand without saying things like, "oh, well, that happens to me too"

I like Ryan Higa’s video about ADHD. It’s like being in my head, except for the burping part (gross). If you want a video with a more feminine perspective on ADHD, try Hannah Hart’s video, and Lilly Singh’s video (and this other one).

—Elise

How To Make OUAT Make Sense

It all started with this:

Shout out to @politecrayon for telling me about this book.

Women Who Run With the Wolves is a pretty big deal in fairy tale and feminist literature. It’s been praised by people like Maya Angelou and Alice Walker, cited by hundreds of people, and sold over a million copies. It really helped to define the feminine perspective of fairytales. Originally published in ‘96. I’m pretty sure A&E have read this book. The purpose of the book is the following:

“Folklore, fairy tales and dream symbols are called on to help restore women’s neglected intuitive and instinctive abilities in this earthy first book by a Jungian analyst. According to Estés, wolves and women share a psychic bond in their fierceness, grace and devotion to mate and community. This comparison defines the archetype of the Wild Woman, a female in touch with her primitive side and able to rely on gut feelings to make choices.” - Publisher’s Weekly

Essentially, Dr. Estés (a clinical psychologist and ethnologist) visited various cultures and did research and collected many fairy tales and myths in their original forms, and all of this research led her to believe that women, like wolves, naturally have great instincts, fierceness and compassion, and that many of the fairy tales and folklore in their original forms confirm this description of women, but through the years, due to patriarchy and Christianity or whatever, the stories were changed and the true nature of women was either erased or looked down upon.  Society has taught us to be “nice” and “quiet”, and our innately intuitive and strong natures have been called nosy, promiscuous, bitchy etc. so we have learned to suppress them. But she found by uncovering these fairy tales and myths in their original forms that they show how these stories teach women how to get in touch with their wild side that society has long since taught us to hide.

From the introduction of the book:

“My life and work as a Jungian psychoanalyst, poet, and cantadora, keeper of the old stories, have taught me that women’s flagging vitality can be restored by extensive “psychic-archeological” digs into the ruins of the female underworld. By these methods we are able to recover the ways of the natural instinctive psyche, and through its personification in the Wild Woman archetype, we are able to discern the ways and means of woman’s deepest nature.”

“The title of this book, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, came from my study of wildlife biology, wolves in particular. The studies of the wolves Canis lupus and Canis rufus are like the history of women, regarding both their spiritedness and their travails. Healthy wolves and healthy women share certain psychic characteristics: keen sensing, playful spirit, and a heightened capacity for devotion. Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mates, and their pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing circumstances’ they are fiercely stalwart and very brave. Yet both have been hounded, harassed, and falsely imputed to be devouring and devious, overly aggressive, of less value than those who are their detractors.”

“Fairy tales, myths and stories provide understandings which sharpen our sight so that we can pick out and pick up the path left by the wildest nature. The instruction found in story reassures us that the path has not run out, but still leads women deeper, and more deeply still, into their own knowing. The tracks we all are following are those of the wild and innate instinctual Self.

“Once they have regained her…their relationships gain meaning and depth and health; their cycles of sexuality, creativity, work and play are re-established…They know instinctively when things must die and when things must live; they know how to walk away, they know how to stay.”

“The wild nature has a vast integrity to it. It means to establish territory, to find one’s pack, to be in one’s body with certainty and pride regardless of the body’s gifts and limitations, to speak and act in one’s behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one’s cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as possible.”

OUAT is the story of Emma getting in touch with her innate wolf nature aka her intuition, ferocity, sexuality, creativity and natural rhythm. 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

hi i have a female character who is short, but i want her to be a knight, could she fight like them and use a sword, or it's better to look for other ways she can fight? like maybe she uses her agility

There’s a real obsession with natural advantages in our inbox. I want to blame the media but I know that conversations about natural advantages and power of having a slightly longer reach filter in through a lot of different martial arts communities, often to the point where the less experienced students attribute another student’s hard work to their natural advantages because they were taller. When you know nothing else about combat, natural advantages look like insurmountable obstacles.

They’re not.

Every body comes with their own natural advantages and what you don’t have can be supplemented by hard work, extra study, and dedication. “Naturally good” is the quick and easy path taken by a lot of writers to justify that they don’t really know shit. The strongest, biggest guy is not automatically the best. The most naturally talented character who blows off their training sessions, does the bare minumum, and just hangs out because they don’t have to work hard to be successful in a controlled environment isn’t going to be the best when the time finally comes for a real test.

Your short female isn’t going to stay lithe, delicate, and small unless she is only fighting with a sword. If she’s training to wear the armor then she’ll end up stocky, lose a large portion of her chest to her pectoral muscles, have bigger shoulders, a more ropey neck, and thicker legs due to supporting the extra weight so she’s able to move for longer in battle. Those muscles are a necessary part of building endurance if she’s wearing plate. This is similar to modern militaries where the body type comes from training for endurance, the ability to march for miles while carrying heavy gear and still be ready to fight at the end of it.

Smaller bodies are more compact, which lends them better balance. Women build musculature better in their lower bodies rather than their upper which leads to stronger legs and a better base. Lighter in weight means they can move faster. They generate less force from their momentum, but lighter and more compact frames mean more fine control over their striking patterns. This can be more helpful when training in sword combat because the focus on accuracy makes them less likely to fall into the bad habit of relying on brute strength to get the job done.

It’s also worth pointing out, again, that no knight was trained in any single weapon nor carried one weapon into battle. The sword, particularly the longsword, is most commonly associated with them, but they also used: longarms/polearms including lances, maces, hammers, and that family of weapons, archery for both hunting and war, hunting both as a cultural exercise and part of their training, horsemanship, etc. Hunting was where the young noble/page/squire/knight learned important skills like tracking, utilizing tools such as animals, patience, command, etc.

Can she not do it because she’s a girl? No, it will be more difficult because the training is designed for boys and there may be cultural pressure against her, but it isn’t impossible. What will sabatoge her is her belief that girls can’t do it. The mind is a powerful tool, one which can often be the deciding factor between success and failure. If you believe you can’t do something, then you’ve already lost. You either decide to do it or you don’t. This is why you can’t forcibly train anyone to be a successful fighter. You can train them, use them as cannon fodder, but outside forces cannot make anyone the best of the best. They do it on their own with outside aid, but the thrust of the decision comes from within.

The same goes for you as her author. If you believe your female character cannot compete with boys through her own merits and by virtue of her own hard work then you’re more likely to institute what we’ll call “special exceptions” which inevitably lead to the female character being “uniquely qualified”. You sabotage yourself and your story by making the path easier, and end up talking more about how different she is from other girls rather than focusing on what she’s doing to achieve her dreams.

Try to keep in mind that there are plenty female practitioners of both fencing styles and HEMA which is Historical European Martial Arts. It’s not that women can’t, it’s that they need to work hard.

Much as media, roleplaying games, might wish to tell us, neither your body nor your sex decide how you choose to fight. It doesn’t lock you into a fighting style or type of combat. It doesn’t limit you to any sort of fighting, it doesn’t deny you from combat.

Culture does. Our own beliefs and prejudices do. How we see ourselves and what we believe ourselves to be capable of will.

Our bodies are just bodies.

There’s a popular opinion that hard work will always be outdone by genius, but the truth is: only be a genius who works hard.

Your character can keep up with the boys if she works hard, if she’s willing to address her weaknesses, and focuses to turn them into her strengths. If she’s willing to put in the effort required and doesn’t fall back on “unfair”.

Hard work and solid research ultimately win the day.

Research:

Tamora Pierce: Protector of the Small, The Song of the Lioness Quartet

These two book series by Tamora Pierce feature useful information about knighthood/training (the Protector of the Small series specifically) and a short woman learning to be a knight (Alanna the Lioness). If you haven’t read them, both will be helpful to you as jumping off points.

Sharon Kay Penman, When Christ and His Saints Slept

Sharon Kay Penman’s novels, particularly her Plantagenets series, are helpful for getting some groundwork for the historical medieval lifestyle, history, culture, and most importantly: politics. Her novels feature some incredibly interesting women such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, which can be helpful when trying to develop well-rounded female characters who break with tradition in a much more culturally “acceptable” way. This series also focuses on one of my favorite historical periods and English dynasties. All in all, if you want to write about knights then I recommend reading. 

Scholagladitoria

Matt Easton is a HEMA practitioner and instructor, and his videos are incredibly useful for anyone looking to write about sword combat. He’s informative, well researched, and if you can’t take classes then this is the next best thing. You’ll also occasionally turn up the YouTube back and forth internet debates where he and different HEMA tubers debate the different merits of their arguments.

Skallagrim

Skallagrim focuses mostly on swords, different kinds of swords, whether the fantasy swords created for movies would work in the real world, etc. He’s entertaining and a useful resource.

Samantha Swords

Another useful resource, Samantha is a female HEMA practitioner and stunt woman who participates in the sport.  If you want a discussion from a decidedly feminine perspective or just want confirmation (again) that women really can fight like knights then check out her page.

Wikitenaur

This is a free library of historical european martial arts books and manuscripts. It’s still in progress but you can find some translations and pages of historical treatises by masters there if you’re willing to slog through ye olde language. If you’re used to reading and learning terminology used in different time periods then this will be a helpful resource. If not, or you’re new to scholarly study then I recommend starting with the above resources and working your way down. A good litmus test is: do I have trouble understanding Shakespeare, Chaucer, and/or the writings of Madison without the help of a translator? If no, then feel free. If yes, ground yourself in the above. If you decide to check it out anyway (no reason why not) and get frustrated then go back to A.

Remember, language changes over time. Often it’s easier to think of writings/articles/books from the 16th and 17th centuries as a different language all together regardless of whether or not they’ve been translated. The problem in understanding isn’t intelligence but rather acclimation. As it stands most writers from older time periods wrote for the audiences of their day, meaning different expectations in culture and educational background that modern readers lack.

There’s no fault in needing the footnotes in Shakespeare in order to get the jokes, even less in not understanding the play until you see it performed on stage as it was meant to be. It really is okay if 10 Things I Hate About You is your necessary prerequisite to understanding Taming of the Shrew. You aren’t dumb, you just don’t understand Elizabethan culture, social structure, or the political climate on which the humor or references are built.

If you need to start smaller with other references then that really is okay.

-Michi

This blog is supported through Patreon. If you enjoy our content, please consider becoming a Patron.

Wasps as a feminist symbol

You may wonder why I love wasps and their kin–ants, bees, sawflies–more than any other animal on earth. I have many reasons. Wasps and their kin range in appearance from beautiful (e.g. cuckoo wasps) to adorable (e.g. Baeus species) to exquisitely frightening (the contorted face of a trap-jaw ant). Ants and bees are among the most dominant and ecologically integral animals in all terrestrial ecosystems. We are utterly dependent on bee pollination to grow many of our crops. Individually, ants are tiny, but all the ants in the world are thought to outweigh all the humans in the world. Parasitoid wasps keep countless other invertebrate species in check in a legendarily gruesome way. Fig wasps are the only organisms capable of pollinating fig trees, but horrifically their wings and antennae are ripped off and their abdomens fatally rupture in the process. Eusocial species are capable of impressive feats of teamwork (creating bivouacs and unsinkable rafts from living bodies) and crowd-sourced intelligence (swarming bees using quorum-sensing to choose a new nest site).

However, one of the biggest reasons why I love wasps is what they symbolically represent to me: female empowerment.

Contrary to popular belief, only female wasps/ants/bees can sting. Male wasps/ants/bees can’t sting because they have no stingers in the first place. Moreover, in all the eusocial wasp, ant and bee species, it’s the females that do every ounce of the work. The females construct the nest. The females feed the young. The females forage for food. The females defend the nest with their lives. The females go to war against rival nests. The males have one job only: to find a virgin queen from another colony and mate before they die.

Why, though, are only the females equipped to defend the nest? If stingers are so useful, why don’t males have them too? The answer is simple: a wasp’s stinger is a modified ovipositor. An ovipositor is a tube through which an insect lays eggs. Only females lay eggs, thus only females developed ovipositors, thus only females could go on to develop stingers to envenomate their prey and their enemies.

In other words, a wasp’s femaleness is integral to her strength. Female wasps don’t just happen to be powerful; wasps are a force to be reckoned with precisely because they are female. From a wasp-based perspective, “feminine” cannot ever be synonymous with “passive,” “timid,” or “weak.” Rather, to be feminine is to be strong, tenacious, resourceful, courageous, practical, and resilient.

This is also why I have little patience for ant- and bee-centric movies like A Bug’s Life, Antz, The Ant Bully, and Bee Movie. All of these movies squander a perfect opportunity to tell a story about powerful female characters that actually makes biological sense. Instead, they went the route of changing a quintessentially-female insect society into one where at least half the work force is male, especially the main character, probably out of some fear that a movie with a female protagonist would be seen as “girly” and would alienate male audiences.

Not to end on a bitter note, I know of a perfect antidote to these male-dominated ant and bee stories, and that is a comic book called Clan Apis, by Jay Hosler. It’s the story of a colony of honey bees, and it is told from the perspective of a female worker from her larval days to her old age. It’s cute, funny, clever, and about as biologically accurate as any story about talking animals can bee.

Androcentrism, Belle, Rumpelstiltskin, and the Enchanted Forest

This is something that I’ve been batting around in my head since I saw the promo yesterday and now it’s ready to come out.  A lot of people I noticed were upset that Belle didn’t take a more active role in defeating Zelena, but I wasn’t.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wanted Belle to kill her.  More than that, though, I just wanted her to die because I wanted to be rid of her (probably much like Rumpelstiltskin).  But why did we expect and desire Belle to be the one to do the deed?  The answer, I think, has to do with androcentrism in the fans (myself included) but also presented in the show.

To begin, let’s discuss what androcentrism is.  According to Wikipedia

Androcentrism (Greekandro-, “man, male”) is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing male human beings or the masculine point of view at the center of one’s view of the world and its culture and history.

Once I started thinking of the show in terms of an androcentric perspective, I realized that it explains a lot about Belle and Rumpelstiltskin and the way that the other characters (and in some ways, the fandom itself) react to them.

Once Upon a Time is a highly androcentric show, although it is female driven.  This can be seen in a few instances, (eg. the sexual aggression present in the villains, the emphasis on physical acts of bravery as the only sort of bravery in the Charmings and Rumpelstiltskin’s backstory, and the frequent battles and confrontations against the Big Bad each season).

Meanwhile, Belle (and Rumpelstiltskin, but we’re going to get to him in a bit) is a far more gynocentric character.  This is probably self-explanatory, but gynocentrism is the practice of putting traditionally female perspectives at the center of the story.  For all her bravery and desire for adventure, Belle is a character with a highly feminine perspective.  Her big heroic moment is going with Rumple, saving her people not with a sword but with sacrifice.  Even during her time fighting the Yaoguai she defeats him using her mind (knowing what language he’s writing in, thinking to use the fairy dust, tricking him into getting wet) and not by any act of physical strength.  This carries into season 3, when the fandom is disappointed that she’s left behind to guard Storybrooke rather than go off into the dangers to face Pan and when her heroic moments involve doing research and insisting she won’t be bullied by Zelena.  These are all heroic things, although they are far less valued by the show and the characters within it than things the more androcentric characters do.

This lack of value and understanding, however, does not diminish the character or the acts themselves.  We can call this Sansa Stark Syndrome in reference to the Game of Thrones character.  She’s survived in arguably the most dangerous place for her in the world based solely on her ability to play the game of politics as it applies to women in her time period and yet a large segment of the fandom dislikes her in comparison to her tomboyish sister Arya who passes herself off as a boy and survives by behaving in a more masculine fashion via sword fighting and being good at shooting bows.  Sansa behaves like a girl, and the fandom punishes her for it.

Belle is not punished as severely as Sansa, not by a long shot, but the characters can be compared in that both survive and flourish by behaving as women in their society do and not by acting as men.  Belle even calls attention to this when she tells Rumple it’s not easy for women to show the world what they can do, because the Enchanted Forest (as in the real world and the world of GoT) values acts of physical bravery over Belle’s more subtle ability to fight things by understanding them rather than conquering them.

This androcentrism also plays out via the way the characters behave around Rumpelstiltskin, whose initial sin that sets the rest of the world against him is that he chooses home and family over wartime heroics.  For this he is labelled a coward time and time again.  He returns home to Milah and his son by injuring himself, he refuses to fight Hook and leave his son orphaned, he captures the power of the Dark One to protect his son.  Rumpelstiltskin is a Papa Wolf (the male analogue to a Mama Bear).  He will do literally anything to protect his family, this is summed up by TVTropes thusly:

Rumpelstiltskin of Once Upon a Time, especially before he gets his powers: a friendless cripple whose wife ran out on him years ago, his son is the only thing he’s got left, and if you threaten that son, he will happily burn down his duke’s palace, kill an evil wizard to usurp his powers, and then merrily kill every soldier he gets his hands on. He’s also shown displaying Papa Wolf-ish tendencies towards other people’s children — he speaks of wanting to protect all the children who’ve been conscripted to war, not just his son, and is visibly angered by Cinderella’s casual offer to sell her other child.

There is a reason that the term people are most familiar with is Mama Bear, because protection of children is seen as a traditionally feminine trait, and Rumpel’s choice of family is what sets his reputation as a coward in motion – a reputation he still lives under to this day.  It’s no coincidence that his big moment of heroism involved killing himself and Pan to save his son and Belle, or that Zelena still identifies him as a coward after that.

This, I think, is the reason so many Rumbelle fans are becoming frustrated with the presentation of the characters and their relationship on the show.  They are an underused couple, because their personalities – their very essence as characters – run contrary to the central theme of the show.  This is not a bad thing, though.  They present the feminine archetype in a heroic fashion, even in the face of disrespect from the more masculine aspects of their society.  So, do I wish they had more screentime?  Yes.  But I still wouldn’t change their story arcs in exchange for that, because this is important to see regardless of how often it’s on screen – it is important to see the feminine treated as heroic, and to see characters embodying those traits who are not weak.

Books for Aspiring Scholars: Feminine Perspectives

Here are two books I highly recommend that change the perspective that our religion is usually interpreted through. Both of them are written by women, and both are a refreshing change of pace from the usual male bias on Islamic exegesis.

  • Sexual Ethics in Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence by Kecia Ali
  • Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective by Amina Wadud

anonymous asked:

Hi, I know you've answered this question several times, so I apologize, but I'm asking anyway. I am biologically female, and it is VERY obvious; however, some days, despite obvious.. ahem... physical attributes... I genuinely don't feel female. Some days I want to walk around in a big tee shirt and jeans and just kinda sit "like a guy" (y'know, how they sometimes look totally chill?). Other days I want to be ultra pretty and feminine and wear skirts and makeup. Is that genderfluidity? Thank you

Hi there lovely,

I most definitely understand. I think everyone has masculine and feminine days, but your perspective and identity can only be determined by yourself. I think that if you genuinely identify and feel as though your gender is fluid, then you are, and that’s definitely something only you can come to terms with, you know? I am proud of you for reaching out and embarking on this journey. I know it’s a struggle. I facilitate a monthly non binary group at the Pride Centre in my city, and the people who come out are so incredibly different from each other and all understand their gender identity in different ways. Sending you some love and good vibes. I know you’ll figure this out!

xo LR