the body narratives

You watch as she pinches the fat on her stomach, hips, thighs–disapproval written all over her face. “If only I wasn’t so fat,” she says. “I’ve gained so much weight lately.”
And you don’t know what to say. Nothing comes out right. You tell her “you’re not fat,” and “curvy is in these days,” but that’s not what you mean to say, and she knows that you are lying. What you mean is “yes, you are fat, and yes, you are beautiful, because the two are not mutually exclusive.” What you mean is “fat” is not an insult, it is not a swear word, it is an adjective, and the fact that it can be applied to her does not mean that she is lesser. What you mean is “you are beautiful no matter what your body looks like.” But nothing comes out right.
—  Nothing ever comes out right.

5/5 Stars.

I devoured this book in a frenzied state of awe, feeling grateful each moment to be experiencing something so beautiful. I’ve never read anything like it.

The entire story takes place in one night. Abraham Lincoln’s young son, Willie, has died, and grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

The narrative is entirely unique: a combination of brief excerpts from historical texts (mostly real, I believe?) about Lincoln and a cacophony of voices from the ghosts in the cemetery where Willie has been laid to rest. It takes some getting used to at first, but it’s brilliant.

The ghosts—and now Willie—are stuck in purgatory, and Willie’s arrival will change everything for them as they seek to help him transition to what comes next.

It’s a dazzling and deeply moving work of speculative fiction that delicately confronts the most profound topics: death, grief, love, sorrow, loss of a child. It’s tender, humane, funny and wildly inventive, written in prose that flows like poetry. I ached for the characters and felt such deep compassion for them, as Saunders clearly did, too.

I can’t think of a more beautiful and affecting meditation on love, life and death. Reading this was a gift and I’ll be surprised if there’s a better book this year.

Writing Tips #6: Punctuating Dialogue (Advanced Skills)

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another installment of Writing Tips. Today, we’ll be discussing advanced dialogue punctuation (for more basic skills, please refer to episode 5). Let’s get started.

1. Combining narrative beats with dialogue tags. In the previous post, we discussed how to properly punctuate dialogue tags (he said, she said, they asked, etc.) and narrative beats (body language, non-vocal responses, etc.) Of course, there are times when you want to use both techniques at once. In this case, you want to punctuate the dialogue like so:

g.) “I can’t believe you did that,” she whispered, staring at him in horror.

h.) He turned to her and said, “We’re going to need more explosives.”

i.) “Well,” she said, eyeing him appreciatively, “that went better than I expected.”

Each of the above examples handles this technique in a slightly different way, but you’ll notice that the punctuation is consistent with that of dialogue tags, rather than narrative beats. In this structure, it can be helpful to think of the dialogue tag acts as the main course, while the narrative beat is more of a side dish (which is not to say that your side dish is any less nutritious or delicious than your main course, but much like the main course at a fancy restaurant, the dialogue tag gets priority.)

And because I am sneaky, I have nested another set of dialogue lessons into these three examples. Example G is the vanilla version of combining narrative beats with dialogue tags. It’s the format you’re most likely to see, and the most easily constructed.

But look at Example H. Rather than coming after the dialogue, as you’ve seen in previous examples, the dialogue tag (and narrative beat) come before the dialogue. The punctuation is very similar (a comma to conjoin each segment of the sentence), but you’ll notice that the first word of the dialogue is capitalized. Dialogue like this is basically a complete sentence nested within a larger sentence, and is punctuated independently (except when followed by a dialogue tag, in which case the period at the end of the dialogue becomes a comma, as we’ve discussed.)

Example I is even more complicated, with the dialogue split into two separate pieces by the tag/beat combo. In cases like this, you want to insert the tag/beat where there’s a natural pause in the dialogue (usually at a comma). But because you are continuing the dialogue after the tag/beat, you end the tag/beat with another comma (as we saw in Example H), then continue the dialogue as if there had not been any interruption (by which I mean, do not capitalize the first word of the second segment of dialogue). Here are a few more examples of how to do this correctly:

j.) “I hate to break it to you, mate,” he said, setting his hat on the bar, “but it might be time to admit defeat.”

k.) “You know,” she said, “it probably would have been faster to walk.”

l.) “I don’t normally say this,” the man grumbled, peering down at her, “but that was some damned fine shooting.”

Note, however, that if you split the dialogue at the end of a sentence, you end the following tag/beat with a period, not a comma, then punctuate the next snippet of dialogue as normal. Examples:

m.) “That wasn’t quite what I had in mind,” she said, pulling her shoes on. “I was trying to suggest we look for answers ourselves.”

n.) “If you don’t clean your room right now, you can forget about going to the park,” his mother said, hands on her hips. “Honestly, the things I put up with around here …”

o.) “We could always kill him,” she suggested, frowning when her girlfriend looked at her in horror. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

2. What to do when the dialogue goes on for multiple paragraphs without a break. This is a fairly rare occurrence, since most of the time, it’s pretty easy to sprinkle in a response from another character to break up a monologue, but you may find occasion to use it, so here’s an explanation: When a single character is speaking for more than one paragraph at a time, without any sort of narrative beat or interruption, you punctuate it like this:

“See, Leah was a fine young woman. Had a mouth on her, sure, and she could shoot a man dead in the eye from a hundred paces, but she had her chips in a row, if you take my meaning.

“Cindy, now, she was a different beast. Mean as a rattlesnake, and just as quick. Why, I’d rather go into a gunfight unarmed than cross her. And that’s not even takin’ into account that dog of hers. Meanest sumbitch I ever did see.”

Notice that there is no ending quotation mark after the first paragraph. This indicates that the dialogue is not yet finished. Note also that there is an opening quotation mark at the beginning of the second paragraph, which acts as confirmation that the dialogue is indeed still going on. And then, at  the end of the second paragraph, when the dialogue actually is over, there’s a closing quotation mark. As I said, it’s rare for dialogue to go on for more than one paragraph without some sort of interruption, but it does happen, so it’s best to be prepared for it.

3. Quotes within quotes. Another situation you might run into is having a character quote something another character has said (or mentioning something, such as a poem, song, or short story which would ordinarily be in quotes). Fortunately, this one is pretty easy: you follow the same rules you would with any regular piece of dialogue, except that instead of putting it in double-quotation marks, you put it in single quotation marks (note: with British English, the reverse is true). Here are some examples:

p.) “And then she said, ‘Well, I just don’t know what you’re talking about.‘ As if she really didn’t know! Can you believe that?”

q.) He leaned back in his chair, expression thoughtful. “Yeah,” he said in his gravelly voice. “I remember the first time I met her. Up on stage, singing an operatic version of ‘Second Chance.’ Damned beautiful, she was.”

r.) “You’ll find ‘The Raven’ on page two-hundred sixty-four of your textbook,” the teacher said.

And that’s pretty much everything you need to know about punctuating dialogue. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like clarification on any of the above points. In the future, I will post lessons about how to write dialogue itself, but that’s a ways off yet. For now, I hope you found this post helpful, and thanks again for reading.

anonymous asked:

What is your pet peeve?

Shit like this:

Come on, I don’t burn everything.

…But I did burn his entire front yard. And four or five cop cars. And the cops. And a bit inside his house.

I probably traumatized his parents, but fuck them, they were assholes. Cat was cute, though.

[Theme] Letter to My Younger Self by Amaal Said

How often do we look back at our adolescene and reflect on the things we wished we’d known, the things that would prepare us to cope, survive, overcome, or even love? Amaal Said writes a letter to her younger self.

One day you will sit in a politics class and the teacher will put up an article about a Somali boy and a woman will be quoted saying, ‘he is not stateless because he is a citizen of Somalia’. She will turn her face and feed him to the wolves. You will be in that classroom with a burning face, tears ready in their sockets. You will remember the time you were in a Danish airport and they pulled you out of a crowd to be questioned. They asked you why you came. You were going back trying to find home. It spat you out each time. Wiping away your tears in the classroom, the teacher will call you sensitive.

Walking through the park near your house, you will tug at the kids when you see the crowd of white children. You will remember the time you were eleven and the police were called to a park that resembles the one you are in. All you did was swing back and forth. The white girl yanked you by the headscarf until you fell to the floor. You do not want to tell your younger siblings that bad things will happen even if they are children.

Your mother came with a mouth full of spit to save you from them. Next thing you know, there are dogs. There are the white women who gather screaming, 'dirty Somalis; go back to where you came from.’ Others will nod in unison. You’ll want to run out of your skin, wanting no more of it. It will happen time and time again. The casual presence of white women and the way they come together, talking in low whispers. Whenever something happens, when there is fire, when there are police and broken windows, black boys in the backseat, there will be the white women whispering, 'get them before they blow us all up’. 

Stop counting the number of boys the neighbourhood has swallowed. The ones in your English class would want you to think about them. But do not romanticise the hurt they have caused. Do not give them a goodness they did not own. You will be touched and knocked over by boys you have made greater inside your head. Soon the shame will grow until you will not look your mother in the face. I want you to remember that the body comes back, even when you swear it’s dead now. God is not angry with you. It does not matter the time of night or where you were.

It is so easy to forget how there are wars in your own home when outside gets so loud. The women in your family have taken to their skin and it will not matter what you say, just how you love them. Do not cry when your aunt takes you to her home and you wander aimlessly into her bedroom to discover the creams. You will watch a programme about skin bleaching the next day, taking down the ingredients. When standing next to your mother’s beauty table you will bring your list, matching the chemicals. 'Hooyo’, you’ll say. 'Why do you want to be white?’ She’ll tell you it evens her out, makes her brighter, healthier. Do not grow up hating brown.

Kiss your baby brother when he comes home to say, 'the boys in class said that I’m black. Did God leave us in the oven too long?’ Do not let him see the tears. Hope to God that he becomes a loving man, a gentle one. Try to not draw blood when your other brother calls you a bitch. You will stay away from him for weeks, afraid of your anger. You will spend so much time trying to mould your brothers into the men that you want to love. It will be difficult. He will ask 'why are you so sensitive?’ when you grip your belly, wounded.

You will gather around the coffee table looking at old photographs with your family. The newswoman will say that after the massacre everybody was missing a relative. It will be talked about like losing possessions in a fire. You will be in classrooms where they talk about your women like possessions. They will say, 'well we’re not that bad to our women, look at Somalia!’ Don’t spend the next few school years trying to forget the language. Do not hate the guts of the girl who denies that she is Somali at all. You see the hushed tones as she talks to her mother. She does not want anybody to know.

Instead of forgetting where you came from, the memories will move in. At times, they will keep you warm in the classrooms with the white classmates and white teachers, who will try again and again to shush you. Ask, 'does the ghost hurt today? Are you living with the dead? How loud are they becoming?’ to the women in your family, who come together at times to watch a wedding tape.

When they tell you to go back, do not look behind you and utter, 'to where?’ It is what they want. You have many homes and you are many things. You will learn how easy it will be to choose death over shame. Shame will make the faces of those that love you into wolves. Your mother will guard her doors from it only to discover it in the body of her own daughter. When they spit in your face, love yourself deeper, reaching right beneath the bone. Sheikhs will pray for you and your siblings many times, do not chase them away. Hold each palm towards the ceiling. Pray for a forgiving heart, one that releases all the bad that has been done to it. Pray for a heart that melts the daggers that have been launched into its middle.

Always yours,


Amaal is a member of the Barbican Young Poets and Burn After Reading collectives. Her work explores the idea of home, identity and what war has meant for her family, among other things. She is an 18 year-old Danish-born Somali who currently resides in London, UK. She is working on her first poetry collection. you can find her on Tumblr and tweeting @amaalsaid.

like i get what y’all are trying to say when you’re like “can we stop making the only narrative the ‘born this way/born in the wrong body/i always knew’ narrative” but like… you guys…. those are real legitimate life experiences and the answer to providing more diverse and relatable LGBT stories is NEVER going to be to silence those people. like literally just. stop saying that. stop saying that and any variation of that. there is no way to format that sentence that doesn’t make real legitimate LGBT people feel like they should stop talking.

unpopular opinion but i think, or at least hope, that the popularity of Butler in trans communities will go the way of the “born in the wrong body” narrative in a few years.

i think Judith Butler’s current popularity is attributable to the same things that caused many trans people to actively perpetuate the notion that we were “born in the wrong body” – we’re desperate for a language that describes our experiences and this seems to be the only one available.

but much like the conception of being “born in the wrong body” i think there are far too many truly fundamental problems with Butler’s approach that render it of very little use to us in the long run, and i think we’ll eventually realize that. What i would hope is that when we do, we don’t just latch onto someone else’s framework just because it’s the nearest thing again.

anonymous asked:

Hi hello um I just was wondering if you could give me some advice? I'm AFAB and I've been wondering if I'm trans or not. I can shower and change my clothes easily, so there isn't a lot of body dysphoria, and I don't feel like I'm "trapped in the wrong body". I do however feel a lot more comfortable in mens' clothing, being called a boy, having a flat chest and looking like a man. I get jealous by looking at other guys and how they look. I do have social dysphoria, though. Am I really trans?

If you find yourself identifying as a boy, you’re a boy. 

There’s a lot of emphasis on the “trapped in the wrong body” dysphoria essentialism narrative, when in reality it’s not a requirement, just a common experience of being trans. You like being called a boy, you like doing things in a masculine way, and while that doesn’t equate manhood, it can definitely be a deciding factor. You say you have social dysphoria as well, which is a common overlooked narrative among dysphoric trans people! As for showering and changing easily, frankly me too, and I have body dysphoria myself. That doesn’t mean much really.

But in reality, the only one who can decide if you’re trans is you. You certainly sound like you might be, and if you decide that you feel more comfortable calling yourself a man, then yes, you’re trans. I can’t decide that for you, and only you can know. I suggest doing a lot of self-exploring and learning about yourself. No matter your decision, you’ll come out better for it.


The term began as identifying as a trans woman while dfab, or a trans man as dmab. This definition is the most problematic, and is where the term came from. Use of the trans qualifier to describe your gender requires your gender alignment to be trans (identifying as a gender separate from the one assigned at birth).

The ask sent to AANB added even more issues to the term, using a “born in the wrong body” narrative. While the narrative is fine for individual use, the definition given implied that trans folk (specifically trans women) are all born in the wrong body, while people who are circumgender are born in the “right” body despite identifying as trans.

This causes a lot of problems. It invalidates trans folk who do not experience dysphoria in the very specific “wrong body” feeling. It fetishizes trans folk, especially those who do experience that kind of dysphoria. It erases nonbinary folk as a whole and in different ways depending on how they experience dysphoria. It also invalidates the experiences of intersex folk, both cis and trans.

The original poster was a cis woman troll. When her blatant transphobia was called out, she continued the ruse that she was a confused young trans person. She resorted to faking self harm. Many people did defend her with good intention before she was revealed as a fraud. These people did legitimately try to educate her on why this identity was offensive and to steer her toward better information in her gender exploration. These folk are not at fault.

In the same way that plantkin trolling is an echo chamber for transphobes, circumgender became parodied and believed by many different groups. A search of circumgender brings up TERF discourse about how this is “proof” that trans women are men. It brings up anti-SJ posts about ~those silly trans people~. It even sadly brings up trans people using it to deny the identities of other trans folk.

Unfortunately, the term did strike a chord with a few people who did legitimately have similar gender feelings. These people generally do not feel they are trans women when dfab or trans men when dmab. They generally identify strongly with the genders they were assigned at birth, but have some sort of “wrong body” narrative. Those who don’t follow that narrative still generally feel body dysmorphia despite not identifying with gender dysphoria.

Many of these issues arise because the person does not have access to adequate information. There is a problem within the trans community where we expect people who are just discovering their trans existence to already be completely knowledgable about the intricate details of being trans and discussing trans issues. Even the “most accepting” of us are guilty of shaming other trans or gender questioning/non-conforming folk for a simple mistake instead of helping said person understand their mistake.

For these people, the ones who legitimately have an experience with their gender where they identify as the gender assigned at birth but feel their body does not affirm their identity, there are options:(this is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start for exploring your gender)

Demi{gender}: a commonly accepted trans gender identity where the person identifies with a gender, but not completely.

Magi{gender}- a less commonly acknoledged trans gender identity, where the person identifies mostly as a gender, but not completely. This one comes from the same place as nan0gender so proceed with caution.

Genderqueer {gender}- commonly accepted trans gender identity where the person identifies as a gender using “gender queer” as a qualifier. Gender queer can denote a non binary identity, a multiple gender experience, a fluid gender experience, and/or a non normative gender expression. It is also commonly used for people whose sex and gender identities are two distinct and important parts of their over all identity. It is a reclaimed slur.

Nonbinary {gender}- commonly accepted trans gender identity similar to genderqueer, but tends to focus more on the nonbinary aspect of the identity.

Gender nonconforming {gender}- a gender presentation similar to gender queer, but focusing more on the nonconformity and performative aspects. Not necessarily trans.

Cis {gender}- a gender identity where the person identifies as the gender assigned as birth. It’s perfectly fine to be cis but seek various forms of transition. Just understand that if you are cis, you are NOT empathetic to the trans experience.

{gender}- it’s completely fine to not assign a qualifier to your identity, especially when you are still questioning where it falls. Like using the cisgender label, be careful to understand where you do and do not empathize with the trans experience.

{gender} that happens to be trans- If you feel it is more accurate, you can tack “who happens to be trans” to the end, as long as you understand that you are not and cannot empathize with being a trans woman when dfab or a trans man when dmab.

Speaking of, you cannot identify as:

Trans woman/man (while dfab/dmab respectively): these are identities that are exclusive to people who’s binary aligned aspect of their gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned.

Trans feminine/masculine (while dfab/dmab respectively): these are identities that are exclusive to people who’s semi-binary aligned aspect of their gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned.

While I am an advocate for reclamation, circumgender isn’t exactly reclaimable. A few people tried by changing its definition to ~wanting to physically transition to a differently gendered body despite identifying as the gender assigned to said body~.

At its core, it’s definition harms our community. It also constrains it’s legitimate users into a very strict narrative which only harms. There are many different ways to experience your gender, but contributing to the continued oppression of the trans community by appropriation and fetishization should never be one.

Dear binary trans and cis people,

You don’t get to decide that Ruby Rose’s experience as a genderfluid person is “suspicious”, a “publicity stunt”, or otherwise not valid.

Same rule applies to every single agender, genderfluid, non binary, genderqueer, polygender, etc. etc., person you know or know of.

Guess what, we don’t need an “I’ve known since forever” narrative, or a “trapped in the wrong body” narrative for our experiences to be valid.

things mad max: fury road have changed for me:

  • sharpened my critical eye for determining when the camera is forcibly sexualizing female bodies vs. when the narrative is subverting sexualization
  • reinforced my understanding that a movie can be sensational in some areas while still lacking and worth criticism in others (race representation, for instance)
  • deepened my appreciation for vehicles, especially customs
  • never been more aware of tom hardy’s lips
  • all trees are now “tree things”

a lot of people know the “i feel trapped in the wrong body” trans narrative.

and if you are trans and that is how you feel, that is totally valid – but that is not how I feel, and not how a lot of trans people feel.

i love my body. i think it’s useful and attractive and relatively healthy.

but when i wear makeup or women’s clothes, society tells me that i’m ugly. i get called a faggot or a tranny, and people stare if i go out in public. i don’t feel happy or loved presenting how i want to, and perhaps most importantly of all, I don’t feel safe. trans women are murdered regularly just for being outside and “looking trans”.

so maybe i do want to physically transition. maybe i want more feminine facial and body features. not because there is anything wrong with my face or my body, but there is something wrong with how our society perceives my face and my body.

if our society and our culture depicted trans women as sexy, desirable, and normal, i could dress how i want. but instead we are depicted as gross, as abnormal, as pedophiles and perverts.

i just want this to be clear: if i, as a trans person, decide to physically transition, it is not because i hate my body and want to become different – it’s because the world hates my body and won’t let me be how i want to be while i’m in it. so maybe i will change so that i can live a life with fewer insults, less staring, and less harassment.

i love my body. there is nothing wrong with me – there is something wrong with how society perceives people like me.

[Theme] I Am a Woman Without You by Nuella Onyilofor

When our hearts break how often do we question who we are? Whether we are enough or too much? In this poem and letter Nuella Onyilofor unravels the process of reclaiming yourself after ruin.

baby girl,

what defines you?

what makes you feel, woman

girl, what makes your shoulders square,

flint against the entire world-

a glistening knife edge waiting to stab through,

chin up like that boy’s love didn’t cut you

is it your curves and thighs?

wide eyes, bright smile?

the way he looks at you like,

the world doesn’t exist?

the way he loves you like

his heart’s in your fist?

is it the way he won’t?

the way he should?

the way, maybe your lungs tell a bigger story,

how their space can’t hold enough air when sadness

crushes you, crammed full of metal when loneliness 

suffocates you

(you can taste that metal on your tongue,

it is melancholy;

un-replied texts at 2.58 am,

open laptop as a bed partner watching

never ending series that may

fill your mind with something other than

poisonous feelings)

baby girl,

what makes you feel, woman

is it the crown of glory around your face,

the one on the head you hold high

tendrils to locs to kinks framing poker face masking

the forest fire in your chest

and you won’t ask for help when your insides are burning

-is it what you can do?

the words that bleed from soul and pen tips to ready paper,

blank lines waiting, sure to understand you?

does your woman, live in the affection of a man,

in the smile he has just for you

or really doesn’t, won’t, can’t

the one you think he should?

baby girl, why are you woman?

you have spirit inside you;

ethereal, whole, pure and burning-

it is you dancing around the empty house alone

not a waltz, not a tango, not

foreign fingers, foreign palm leading you across a shiny floor,

telling you in their clench, that you need them, him, no

this is alone, content and music stills the room after you spin-

and the afterglow, the radiation on your face, static on your skin, light around you, its from in you- it forms you

how then, can your woman,

be in the yearning of a man?

baby girl, you’re already whole.

Nuella  is a Swaziland-born Nigerian poet and is currently a final year Law student in the UK. She has a passion for God, literature, philanthropy and all things art. She posts her poetry frequently on her blog and is currently working on her debut poetry pamphlet.

You can follow her on Twitter or Tumblr

anonymous asked:

When I say I don't "agree" with trans people I mean I don't support the fact that, for example, a man feels like he "was born in the wrong body" and he feels "like a woman". There is not such thing as being born in the wrong body and if masculinity and femininity didnt exist no trans people would feel this way. As a female, im not that feminine at all, im a female because I have a vagina and its unfair to men call themselves a woman bc they want to be ladylike. being a woman is more than that

Hoo boy 

  1. The “born in the wrong body” narrative does not describe the experiences of all trans people. Not all trans people experience dysphoria or feel that their body is wrong; just that the gender they were assigned at birth is wrong.
  2. You’re probably talking about European conventions of masculinity and femininity that were spread and enforced through colonization. Trans people existed in non-European cultures LONG before they had contact with Europeans. They didn’t use our terminology to describe themselves (given how relatively new it is), but trans people existed!
  3. There are butch trans women. Presentation has no bearing on your gender. Try again.
  4. You’re gonna need to come at me with something better than your 5th grade understanding of biology, bud. The male/female sex binary is just as fake as the gender binary because biological sex IS WAY TOO COMPLICATED TO BE DESCRIBED BY TWO NEAT LITTLE CATEGORIES. So, you’re saying that the qualifications of being a woman is to have a vagina? Well, sorry (not sorry) to break it to you, but defining genitals isn’t as easy as looking at them. There’s a FUCK TON of variety in external genitalia. In fact, there are babies born with external genitalia that can’t be definitively described as a vulva (that’s the part that’s visible from the outside, “vagina” describes an internal organ) or a penis! 1 in every 100 babies born have bodies that can’t definitively be described as male or female! Intersex people exist, wow! Most of these babies will undergo invasive surgery to “correct” their genitals and the justification for giving them one set over the other can be totally arbitrary. Not all people do, though. So tell me, are intersex women not women? And that’s just covering what’s visible from the outside. The internal part of the reproductive system can also form in ways that differ from standard “female” and “male.” Hormones aren’t a clear cut binary either. There are people who have XY chromosomes with bodies that don’t know how to deal with androgens (ex. testosterone) so they end up displaying some “female” primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Speaking of chromosomes, there are also chromosomes outside of “XX” and “XY.” And because the only way to determine what chromosomes you have is an expensive test that most people spend their whole lives not needing to undergo, you can’t definitively say that you don’t have a set of chromosomes outside of the male/female binary because some chromosomal variations have no visible effects on the body. AND THAT’S JUST PRIMARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS. When you include secondary sexual characteristics, the amount of people with “non-standard” combinations of “female” and “male” becomes too great to pretend human sex follows any sort of binary.
  5. Woman and man are social constructs. The differences in human bodies are very real, but the concept of “woman” and “man” did not exist until we decided it did. And the fact that the definition of woman and man is different across time periods and cultures should make it obvious that these categories are things we made up rather than the natural order of things. Since we created the concept of womanhood, we can change how it’s defined. If anything, you’re the one with a limiting definition of womanhood. Being a woman is more than what’s between your legs.
  6. Trans women are women. Cry harder.

Do people not realize Africa was rich just by existing? Diamonds, gold, silver, copper, salt, cocoa–and the list goes on. The continent was robbed by countries poorer than them so that their greedy asses could make millions and leave Africa to be treated like all it ever was since the beginning of time is flies, disease, starvation, and poverty.

Slavery alone, the exploitation of free labor, turned the United States into an economic force. I’m not talking about the indentured servitude of the Irish, or whatever moment in time you wish to denigrate the topic of this specific atrocity relevant to the black experience with by using another atrocity, because its only purpose would be to spew anti-black commentary instead of empathy. I’m talking about one thing here: the diaspora and enslavement of black bodies that provided the narrative for the continued discrimination against them today, as a race. The belief that black lives could be bought, sold, and mistreated like property turned into an enterprise that could be invested in, and I’m not referring to the actions of just slaveowners in the south, no. I’m talking WALL STREET. JPMorgan Chase, Brooks Brothers, Aetna, Wells Fargo… huge corporations that flourished off of the sweat and blood of many. Also, let’s not forget the ivy league schools whose students came from wealthy slave-owning families, paying for their tuition with the profit garnered from slave labor. That means Harvard, that means Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia…universities where the demographics are still predominantly white males.

This country (and specifically just this country, we’re not even talking about England, Spain, France, Netherlands, and Portugal’s paper trail) has seen trillions of dollars generated from slavery–plus interest–and not a penny returned. That means that money has only begot more money. It’s not gone. It’s not a thing of the past. It shaped this country into what it is now and so many whites (god bless the knowledgeable ones) act as if black people are supposed to see it as a good thing while simultaneously being told we should just “go back to Africa”, to the lands that have been ravaged by their forefathers, since we’re not always pleased with our environment. 

Those of us who are conscious of what went on and what’s still going on are not just crying over spilt milk. This shit goes too deep for that. And the worst part is, the only way to completely wipe the slate clean of the atrocities that POC in general have faced at the hands of European colonization is to wipe the face of the earth clean, then start over. But nobody wants to touch on the basis of these things. Not even in Jenga. It’s much easier to just keep going skyward because the consequence of getting too close to the foundation is watching everything you built come crashing down.


One important summer’s day I came across Qahera, the badass Muslim woman superhero, and felt a little more than good. Witty, empowering and politically perfect, Deena’s Webcomic has crucially been well received. I wanted to know more about the inspiration behind the Hijabi superhero that takes on misogynistic Muslim men and white-saviour-complex feminists.

Q. Who is Qahera and why is she important?

At this stage of her development, Qahera is a female, visibly Muslim superhero. She’s important (to me, I suppose) because I feel like there is a need for female Muslim superheroes who actually deal with the real-life issues we face instead of fictional supervillains (because let’s face it, half of the things Muslim women have to deal with feel like they’ve been concocted by supervillains.) But yeah, there’s a need for her. Both in comics and in real life.

Q. What does it mean for her to be a superhero?

I feel like it means she doesn’t have to be afraid. She can face the challenges all Muslim women face head-on and obliterate them. Superheroes have this remarkable ability of standing out in a crowd and getting their voices heard (admittedly, usually because they’re wearing skintight lycra and a cape) and I guess that’s what I want Qahera to do.

On an audience-receptive level, her being a superhero also means she can break past the barriers of constant arguing and the words we use over and over again, like “privilege” and “patriarchy” and “intersectional feminism” and just visually slap you with the reality of the words in simple, simple terms. People understand superheroes. Nothing is clearer than angry words in a speech bubble coming from a lady holding a sword.

Unfortunately this also has its drawbacks because angry words in a speech-bubble cannot fully describe or explain the intricacies behind the challenges we face. It can also lead to infantilising or over-simplifying an issue (particularly to those unfamiliar with them), but I guess that’s my own personal challenge to work on.

Q. How do you feel she challenges the stereotypes and tropes Muslim women face, particularly as they (and their bodies) are often spoken for, spoken at, and spoken against?

I guess she mostly challenges them just by existing. Even though there are already two veiled superheroes in the comic book world (Dust, Excalibur), the majority of the comments I’ve received have been “what a great concept!”

People are surprised by the idea of a Muslim woman as a superhero. Superheroes are Western concepts, even though every child in the world probably knows Superman. The idea that a Muslim woman would be a part of that (especially a Middle-Eastern based one, as Qahera is) is sort of different to them in itself. Apart from that I think she challenges the stereotypes head-on. Her entire existence is bent on being outspoken, independent and fierce.

The worst and most common stereotype Muslim women face is that of being helpless and controlled, lacking autonomy. A superhero is the opposite of that. Qahera is the opposite of that.

Q. Where did the concept come from for the comic?

My frustration with the world. Qahera came about because she was basically everything I longed to be. Additionally, I see so many strong and powerful women who constantly fight and strive for freedom, both politically and socially, and I feel like some of them are already superheroes. The two ideas - that I’d like superpowers, that women are superheroes - sort of collided into Qahera.

Q. Where can we get more of this badass superhero?

Ahhh my blog probably! I’ve received an incredible response, which makes me think I should probably make a separate place to post Qahera’s adventures, but until then she’s at Blog Like An Egyptian 

Deena is an Egyptian university student majoring in graphic design. She also works as a freelance illustrator. She currently resides in Egypt where she watches too many television shows. She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

It’s not that they killed Lexa. It’s that they made her collateral damage. In a world where such value is placed on how you die they made her death meaningless. 
The only worth they gave her in her death was the technology intrinsically linked to her body. Yes, her body. 

This is a show that likes to parade around its strong female characters, but in it’s game-changing, catalyst moment they made a decision on the only significant thing this young woman could contribute. They decided that the only narrative worth telling wasn’t related to her mind, her strength or courage, not even her resilience. No part of her death meant anything but the salvaging of a part of her body.

This story wasn’t just disheartening as a queer narrative, but as a woman’s narrative.

This is what we, as women, face everyday - more value is placed on our bodies than our minds. But our narratives are more than just our bodies. Lexa’s narrative should have been more than just hers.