Submission: As a queer, nonbinary person and an animal educator, I’ve thought a lot about the issues recently being discussed on this blog and I wanted to share some of that here. I’ve tried to be as calm and clear as possible, but this is an emotional issue for me so it might be a bit emphatic.
Serveral people in this discussion have mentioned already the problems with questioning the existence of bi/pan/trans/ace/aro animals, but not questioning the existance of straight, cis animals. You’ve made passing mentions to this, but I think it’s actually really important to step back and reframe the entire discussion in this context, if you want to be fair and accurate both to the animals and to the people emotionally affected by this issue.
In particular, this passage: “However, the animal science world uses gendered pronouns to denote physical sex in an animal, because that is how efficient and accurate communication about the animal is ensured” raises some massive red flags for me. Yes, it’s important to clearly communicate with your vet about the body parts an animal does and doesn’t have, for ease of treatment. However, pronouns are far from the only way to do this, and definitely not the most efficient. The pronoun “she” doesn’t tell you if a dog is unaltered, spayed, in heat, pregnant, or menopausal - information your vet definitely needs to know. It’s the work of half a moment to state “my dog is a spayed female” at the start of an appointment, regardless of what pronouns you use after that. In fact, many trans* people have already learned to talk with their doctors in specific terms about their hormone levels and organs they do or don’t have, and cis people need to catch up. Part of the reason this is such an emotional issue for trans people is that the argument, “your doctor needs to know the gender you were assigned at birth! Therefore everyone you meet needs to know, and it should be on your ID, in case you get in an accident and we have to tell the doctor!” is often invoked. (I wish that was an exaggeration. It’s not. This is in spite of the fact that, as a trans* person, knowing the gender you were assigned at birth is more likely to lead to false assumptions about your health and biology than true ones.) So yes, your doctor needs to know about your biology and your vet needs to know about your pet’s, but gender pronouns really aren’t the way to do it.
Outside the vet’s office, insisting on cisgender-equivalent pronouns for your pet leads to a world of problems. I volunteer at an animal shelter, and I see people misinterpret animal’s actions through their percieved, anthropomorphic gender roles constantly. They’re more eager to read aggression from a male animal and affection from a female, which has the potential to lead to massive problems, since both of those behaviors can be dangerous to misinterpret. I would personally argue for the stance that people would be more able to accurately interpret the behavior of animals if we refered to all non-human animals with gender-neutral pronouns, to more accurately reflect the fact that animals do not have gender. Even in social animals that do have sex-differentied social roles, those are completely different from human gender roles and should not be confused with them by the use of human gendered pronouns. If the biological sex of an animal matters in a particular context, you can mention it in that context, rather than applying it all the time as though it was part of their identity.
I do understand that some people find it reassuring to observe that the social roles of biologically male or female animals are different from those of humans, and that they too can be as nurturing as a male penguin or as fierce as a female hyena. So I understand that sometimes people will want to refer to those animals as male or female, in the same way that I want to refer to a cuttlefish as genderfluid because it makes me feel happy and validated. I just want cis people to understand that those interpretations are exactly equivalent.
As for how this perspective affects the emotions of humans impacted by this issue: claiming that gendered pronouns are a form of scientific terminology that accurately reflects the biological sex of an animal is, intentionally or not, supporting the idea that there are biologically and scientifically two genders. It gives fuel to people who try to force that mindset onto humans, and believe me, they use it. I’ve met many people who become enraged if I use the wrong pronouns for their dog, but refuse to respect my identity and pronouns. The attatchment of gendered pronouns to biological sex in non-humans is absolutely reflected back into humans by most of the public, whether that is your intention as an educator or not.
Using gender pronouns as scientific terminology also muddies issues significantly as soon as you leave the field of mammals, where it quickly becomes clear that a male/female dichotomy is far from absolute. Do I use female pronouns for the hermaphroditic flatworm who lost the penis-fencing match and is now carrying eggs? Will those pronouns still apply after the eggs have hatched? What if they win the penis-fencing match next time and contribute sperm instead? How about a worker bee, who is genetically female but has not developed reproductive organs and plays no reproductive role? Do I use male pronouns for a fish who was born genetically male, but isn’t able to engage in sexual behavior and fulfill the male sexual role until mating is initiated by the supermale? How about for the supermale, who is genetically female and used to be reproductively female but has since morphed to be reproductively male due to being the largest fish in the school? Is it even accurate to say “genetically female” of a species where both major reproductive roles are carried out by the same genetic category of animals, and those born “biologically” male only reproduce at all by swimming into the middle of the mating dance, ejaculating, and hoping for the best?
A similar issue exists with the assumption that animals are straight. I’ve seen some cringe-worthy anthropomorphization of male/female pairs of animals, including calling them “married,” referring to them as being “in love,” and a lot of analogies to human married-couple behavior, but I’ve never seen this criticized or significantly discussed as an issue of anthropomorphization. But every time I see a post about lesbian birds or trans fish, this issue comes up. I don’t think that animal educators are doing this on purpose, but I do think it is an indicator that many animal educators have not sufficiently deeply challenged the cultural narrative that straight and cis are “normal” but queer and trans* are “debatable” and should be challenged and argued about.
Science is an ever-changing field, and scientific terminology becomes outdated and is changed as we realize that it reflects our social assumptions more accurately than in reflects reality. The terms we use to discuss sex, gender, pair-bonding, and mating behavior are all deeply intertwined with human social assumptions of cisgender, heterosexual, monogamous life-time bonds that are simultaneously romantic/affectionate and sexual in nature. Scientific communication would be improved by dropping those assumptions and the terminology that comes with them.
I don’t think I have much to add to this - it’s really well thought out and well said - so I’m going to boost it as is as part of the continued discussion.
Scientific communication would absolutely be improved by changing the terminology to something more accurate. I don’t know if it’s something that would currently be feasible - because of a myriad of things that make attempting that type of change across so many cultures and languages and historical/social contexts difficult - but I definitely support the idea.
PRIDE TO BE WHO YOU ARE PRIDE FOR ALL THE ONES THAT SUPPORT YOU AND LOVE YOU PRIDE OF DOING CHANGES PRIDE OF FIGHTING FOR A BETTER WORLD
This month is not about pride of being Gay, because being Gay is not an achievement. The achievement has been the result of many fights, demanding rights and people that has given their life so thay today you can take your couple’s hand or kiss in public.
I am not really a fan of rainbows but today I raise this flag that symbolizes fight, pride, gratitude, happiness and freedom!
What's your take on the whole Mass Effect Andromeda animation debacle?
I’m back, I’m jet lagged, and people are being stupid on the internet. Whee.
Off the top of my head, here are a few thoughts on the matter:
#1. It is never ever EVER ok to harass somebody personally
This whole thing about a bunch of people harassing that former EA employee is horrible and should never have happened. It is never ok to go after somebody personally for what they may or may not have done in a professional capacity. There is no justification for it. Ever. If there’s a problem with the product, everybody shoulders the blame - that includes the publisher, dev team, marketing team, everybody. Even if there was one person who worked on one feature completely solo, that person still had a boss, who had a boss, who had a boss. There are so many people involved and so many moving parts that you really can’t blame any one person except the executive producer in charge of the entire project. The person in question is most assuredly not that executive producer.
#2. People comparing ME:A to the Witcher 3 are oversimplifying
There’s a meme floating around about how the Witcher 3 was created by a couple of Slavs as if it was done by a couple of dudes in a garage somewhere, compared to ME:A, which had a huge team from EA. That’s incredibly shortsighted and utterly ridiculous. The Witcher 3 cost over $80 million to develop, which is probably a bigger budget than ME:A had. CDPR had an internal team of 240 full-time professional devs and another 1200+ contractors working on it. The Witcher 3 is “indie” in the way that Star Citizen is “indie” - they didn’t work with a separate billion-dollar publisher because they had enough money to fund the project already.
#3. From what I’ve seen, Mass Effect Andromeda has animation issues in general
From the cursory footage I’ve seen (I haven’t played the game yet since I’ve been out of the country), it looks like there’s a bunch of problems, most of which aren’t related to the facial animations at all. The characters have that weird slightly hunched-over broad-elbowed walk similar to how they walked in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and there’s something about how the elbows don’t quite sit right to me while the characters are idling. I also spotted a character in a T-pose in one clip which was a rather clear bug. The facial animation probably stands out most because players spend a lot of time in cinematic conversations, and that features the faces quite prominently.
#4. Bioware is certainly aware of the issues
From what I’ve heard, there were team members who raised the warning flags internally as well, but the decision was ultimately above their pay grades. It’s really hard to say why they decided what they did without knowing the full context, and that isn’t likely to happen. The scope of the new Mass Effect game is different than before - this is the first game of the series on Frostbite, with a new lead studio helming development (Bioware Montreal), and with new team leadership (after the departure of Casey Hudson, Mass Effect’s former executive producer). There’s a lot of moving parts where things could have broken down during development, and we’ll likely never know. They’ll never share that information publicly… nor should they. Bioware the studio shoulders the blame for it, just like Bioware the studio owns any praise they get.
Animation issues are often some of the hardest and most expensive problems to fix. Building animation rigs (skeletons) takes a lot of resources. Utilizing those rigs to build animations takes a lot of resources, even when you’re using motion capture data. Building animation systems to blend, layer and play those animations under the correct circumstances take a lot of time. Animation is one of the most expensive types of content to create - that’s why so many games reuse so much of their animation data. That said, Bioware also developed and released the extended ending to the last Mass Effect game for free in response to the fan backlash about the ending, so who knows?
On February 23, 1945 (72 years ago today) a small U.S. flag was first raised atop Mount Suribachi soon after the mountaintop was captured at around 10:20 am. 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier, executive officer of Easy Company, volunteered to lead a 40-man combat patrol up the mountain. Lt. Col. Johnson, the battalion commander, handed Schrier a flag saying, “If you get to the top put it up.” The patrol carried that 54-by-28-inch flag, which had been taken from the battalion’s transport ship, the USS Missoula, and up to the slopes of the extinct volcano. Lt. Schrier successfully led the combat patrol to the top. The flag was attached to a pipe, and the flagstaff was raised, marking the first time in history the American flag was raised on Japanese soil. The moment was captured by U.S. Marine Corps photographer, SSgt. Lou Lowery.
There was a roar from the Marines and sailors off shore and on the island, and the blasts of the ship horns alerted the Japanese, who up to this point had stayed in their cave bunkers. The Marines and corpsmen on Mt. Suribachi found themselves under fire from Japanese troops, but Schrier’s Marines were able quickly to eliminate the threat.
“Pinugutan daw ng mga isis yung ibang teacher na kinidnap sa isang school (Dansalan College) sa Marawi tapos dinisplay daw yung mga ulo sa highway”
Isis beheaded the kidnapped teachers from a school (Dansalan College) at Marawi. Then they displayed their heads across the highway.
This is seriously happening right now guys. The people of Marawi in Philippines are in need of help and prayers.
Edited: It is not verified if it’s actually Isis involved, however the Maute group has raised black flags connected to Isis. The Filipino media and government has not confirmed anything, this could be propaganda from the Maute group.
However, the horrors the civilians are facing right now at Marawi city are real. Many are trapped in the city and fear for their lives.
Since you brought up the sort of myths with fandom vs what you've seen in tv... I'm sure you've seen in probably all fandoms, there comes a time when a collective comes together to say that something is/isn't happening because of "X movie company" or "management". So my question is - from behind the scenes, how much of that is actually true? Like are there people really holding the strings like that? Or are we going crazy? 😳
The answer is it’s complicated.
Also, you’re not crazy.
me start by comparing TV writing to book writing. I just wrote a book,
and I only got creative notes from one person, my editor. She does two
rounds of notes with me (a general edit and a line edit) and then passes
me off to the copyeditor, who gives me grammar and spelling and
continuity notes. Then it goes to print! Easy peasy! (Well, not easy at
all, it’s a lot of work, but very straightforward.)
process to the TV writing process. Every Rdale script is broken
(meaning: figured out) in the writer’s room, where there are 11 writers
plus Roberto, our fair boss and Showrunner. We all chime in with ideas
and suggestions and Roberto decides what direction he likes best and
chooses the pitches that work best until we have a working outline. Then
we put the scenes onto notecards, moving them around, re-breaking,
rejiggering, until the story works. That’s a lot of hands stirring the
pot so far, but we have one head chef: Roberto.
Then we write an
outline, which gets notes from the producers, the studio (Warner
Brothers), and the network (CW). Then we adjust based on those notes,
which come from a few of the execs at each company, who are smart and
very good at their jobs, which involves reading and analyzing TV scripts
from many shows and deciding what works well for them. They’re drawing
on their whole careers-worth of experience doing this on lots of
different shows to figure out how to guide the direction of Rdale.
we go to script. The writer of that episode takes the very detailed
outline and starts writing scenes. Sometimes s/he might farm out some
scenes to other people in the writers room, or sometimes the room will
move on to the next episode and leave that writer to write solo.
the completed script goes to Roberto, who does a pass on it to make it
sound like his vision for the show, and feel like the characters he has
in his head.
Then, when he’s happy, he brings it back to the
writers room and we all read it and go through it page by page together
to revise it and give notes. At this point, Roberto has the script open
on a computer in front of him, and he changes dialogue, action lines,
scenes, etc. live as we give feedback.
Then, the script goes back
to the producers, the studio, and the network, to get notes from them.
Sometimes those notes are minimal, and sometimes they’re major, it all
depends. The writer and Roberto make revisions based on those notes.
Sometimes we have to go back to the room and rebreak as a group, but
Somewhere along the way, someone at Archie Comics
reads it to make sure we’re taking care of the characters they’ve had
and loved for 75 years.
At some point, someone in a legal
department reads it for clearance, which means sometimes we can’t use
certain brand names in dialogue or else we’ll get sued, and we can’t use
certain people’s names unless they’re in the public eye.
someone in some department reads it to make sure we aren’t swearing too
much or referring to something too vulgar or the FCC will fine us.
the script is sent up to Vancouver where production reads it and starts
pre-production. Sometimes there are changes to the script at that point
because we can’t get a location or we can’t get an actor because he’s
booked on another series, or the weather won’t allow us to shoot
somewhere, or we have to move an outdoor scene indoors, or a night scene
to day for budget reasons. Revisions are made here. The actors read it,
and occasionally they’ll have notes which require revisions.
it gets shot. Then the footage is sent to post-production, who starts
to edit it. In the edit, frequently we’ll learn that our episodes are
several (maybe many) minutes over, and we’ll have to cut lines, jokes,
moments, sometimes whole scenes for time.
Then those rough cuts get sent to the producers, the studio, the network for notes.
get the idea yet? There are lots and LOTS of hands in the pie here.
Hundreds, maybe a thousand. If a certain idea isn’t making it through
from initial pitch to the final screen, it could be any one of the
people along the way raising a red flag. Usually there’s no grand
conspiracy – there’s too many people with competing interests for that.
If you find that you’re less than satisfied with something on your
screen, it could be for the devious reason you suspect or it could be
for a completely benign reason like budget or schedule. There’s no one grand puppetmaster holding the strings, but there are lots of people making changes along the way.
There are too many companies and too many people for any kind of grand
conspiracy, but that doesn’t mean that a bunch of people giving tiny
notes couldn’t add up to something bigger.
The historic American flag that was photographed by Joe Rosenthal, during the second flag raising on top of Mt. Suribachi, is shown here displayed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.
On February 23, 1945 (72 years ago today) a 40-man patrol of U.S. Marines, not knowing if they would reach the top or not, summited the 545-foot extinct, volcano of Mount Suribachi and raised the first American flag over Japanese soil. Later, a second Marine patrol reached the top and raised a second, larger flag so the entire island could see the stars and stripes waving in the wind. Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, who witnessed the flag raising said, “The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”
Marawi was attacked by the Maute group. They raised the ISIS flag, supporting the infamous terrorist group. Theyve burned down homes, schools and hospitals, took people from their homes and killed those in their way. I also heard that if a person cannot prove theyre muslim, they are ‘taken care’’ of.
I am saddened when incidents like this happen to other countries. Now that it is happening to a city in my country, I cannot help but feel helpless and sad and terrified. We live in the same country but I cannot do anything. I can only tweet, post or share information about what’s happening.
PLEASE PRAY FOR MARAWI!
I am Christian, and I believe that Muslims are not responsible for this. Murderers are murderers. Religion is not the problem!!! The moral compass is dictated by the conscience of an individual.
PRAY FOR MANCHESTER. PRAY FOR BANGKOK. PRAY FOR SYRIA. PRAY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD BECAUSE UGHHH EVERYONE DESERVES TO LIVE FREELY AND PEACEFULLY