In spite of everything I love
Harley Quinn but, damn, writers treat her so badly. I swear, the temptation to
make her actually stupid must be terrible because it’s so often implied, or
explicitly stated, that she slept her way through school. First of all, it
does not work like that. Second, she’s
not a therapist or a psychologist, she’s a psychiatrist, she’s a fricking MD
and a damn young one too. Managing pre-med and collegiate gymnastics that she
relied on to keep her scholarship? Harley is fucked up, but she’s not the dumb
blonde she plays. (also stop making her stacked, she’s a gymnast. she is 4’11”
of pure muscle and is not top heavy)
If you want a good Harley
backstory it’s simple. She’s ADHD but medicated and slightly robotic because of
it. I want to take special care not to demonize meds but, rather, people’s
disapproval of neurodivergence and a lack of focus on what is best for a
patient rather than what is most convenient for others. So, maybe, around ten
years old Harley is a hyperactive space cadet who’s brilliant at tests but
sloppy at coursework, who would be a gymnastics prodigy if she could actually
focus on technique and put in practice time instead of fooling around. Then the
meds come and it’s actually really cool because she can do the things she needs
to do instead of just wanting to do them, doing something else entirely, and
getting in trouble. People are proud of her, she’s proud of herself. But now
there are expectations. Family and teachers and coaches overschedule her, find
worth only in her success and don’t care about her mental health at all as long
as she’s performing and castigate her when she does fail. Fuck if you don’t
internalize that. But she doesn’t look unhealthy and she’s doing amazing. She
actually has to choose between the Olympic trials and continuing her grad
studies. She probably has some issues with self-harm but it either doesn’t look
like self-harm or is well covered up.
When Arkham accepts her, fresh
from her residency, it’s not a mistake. The woman is amazing. All they can see
is a mountain of achievements rather than the seething ball of nerves,
self-loathing, and imposter syndrome boiling just under the surface. That’s
when Joker comes in. He’s got the Hannibal Lecter shtick down. Where everyone
else sees an intelligent driven young woman he sees a frightened overwhelmed
girl who is working her hardest to convince the world she’s anyone other than
herself. Sending her into a nervous breakdown would be too easy so he doesn’t even
bother. Instead he’s open with her, almost friendly. The other doctors are
amazed, Harley is amazed, she’s not done anything particularly revolutionary
but, for the first time in forever, it looks like the clown prince of crime is
showing progress. He unravels her and it’s a challenge, she flinches back and
gets very serious when he comes too close to the real Harley under the
professional. Still, soon she’s questioning everything. She doesn’t even really
like her co-workers. She hasn’t had a real friend in years. She’s forgotten how
to have fun. Did she ever want this to be her life or did she just do it for
other people? It starts so slowly that it looks, at first, like she’s getting
better at self-care. Maybe something totally silly one weekend, a trampoline
park where she can enjoy the way her toned body moves without stressing out
over landings, a face painting booth at a street fair, some garishly colored
downright tacky decoration that clashes with her sensible apartment. Suddenly
she realizes how much she hates knowing the difference between cream and ecru.
The beigeness of her life is repulsive. She hates the person she’s pretending
to be even more that she hates herself which is really saying something.
After her weekend of freedom she
would have called in sick if it wasn’t so suddenly important to see him. The
relief she feels at talking to one of Gotham’s most infamous supercriminals is
disturbing but it is relief and she’s been swallowing a slow-motion panic
attack for hours. She admits, though she shouldn’t, that she took his advice
about doing something fun and he teases her, what would straight-laced Doctor
Quinzel do for fun? Did she realphabetize her sock drawer or buy a new
clipboard? It’s not important to impress him, it’s really not. He’s dangerous,
cruel, and he looks so proud when she admits that she bought a lamp shaped like
a lawn flamingo. The only mistake, he says, is that she should have stolen it.
She hopes the wicked thrill it gives her doesn’t show on her face. It does. She
almost even laughs. He likes it when he can make her laugh and she likes it
when he likes things.
It’s wrong and unprofessional,
the relationship she develops, and she knows it but her whole life she’s been
so high strung. Nothing she’s done has been for her, she’s not sure she knows
how to really do selfish things anymore, but he knows the selfish things she
needs to do. It feels good when she follows his advice even when it’s small
things like the rainbow striped socks she wears concealed under her very bland
slacks and sensible shoes. She’s so happy, almost giddy, and he loves her
happiness, he loves her, he loves the real her that she’s had to beat down and
hide for so long, the her that even she isn’t able to love. She is able to love
him, though, and since he loves her she’s able to love herself for him, to
protect and nurture something so important to him.
When the choice comes between
her old self, the tedious endless labor of making the world proud, and Him, the
spectacular man that brought color into her life, it’s not even a question.
She kills Doctor Harleen Quinzel, she throws away the version of her that let
herself burn just for medals and hollow accolades. She embraces Harley Quinn
and it’s so much a part of her nature she can’t even see that she’s still
living her life for someone else’s approval, except this time that person is a murderous
clown. She hasn’t let her hair down, she’s just put it in pigtails instead of a
In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death four days after she suffered a massive heart attack, one thing that was reported by some news outlets was that she had been in “significant distress” on the flight. We don’t know the exact details of this, but in my experience as an EMT, it often means “hysterical woman having a panic attack and thinking she’s dying…*woman dies* …oops, guess she really was dying.”
It is SO IMPORTANT to remember that many women present in what medicine considers an ‘atypical’ manner for heart attack, but it actually IS typical…for women. Women are more than twice as likely to die from cardiac emergencies, not because our physiology is that much different than men and thus gives us a worse chance at survival (it’s actually better if treated promptly and adequately), but because our symptoms are more likely to go unrecognized or to be dismissed entirely.
Thus, please take a moment to review and pass on this list of cardiac distress symptoms as seen in women:
Shortness of breath - This is the most common one. If a woman, especially one without prior history of respiratory issues or shortness of breath, seems to be having trouble catching her breath and/or complains of such, pay very close attention. If she continues to feel winded after sitting or laying down, it’s probably time to call for help.
Feeling of impending doom - This can range from a sense of general unease to a full-blown panic attack. This one is extremely important, and is the symptom most commonly disregarded by doctors and hospital staff. If a woman tells you that she feels ‘not quite right,’ or like something terrible is about to happen, or that she’s about to die, LISTEN TO HER FFS.
Nausea and “indigestion” - Also common. Heart attacks frequently present as a feeling of vague nausea or indigestion, but unlike typical heartburn, antacids and other OTC treatments will not alleviate the symptoms.
Hiccups - Unexplained hiccups, especially if seen with any of the other symptoms listed above, can be indicative of heart muscle that is being acutely or chronically starved of oxygen. The exact mechanism isn’t known, but it’s thought that the enzymes released by the dying muscle irritate the pericardium and adjacent diaphragm, causing spasms in the healthy muscle.
Fatigue - This is another commonly seen symptom, and is often overlooked or ignored as just transient tiredness. Many women having a heart attack will complain of feeling “flu-like” symptoms of nausea, sweating, fatigue, and shortness of breath, and they’ll lie down for a nap and never wake up.
Lightheadedness - A feeling of being lightheaded or about to faint isn’t terribly uncommon in many benign conditions, and many women experience it on a monthly basis. However - be aware when it appears unexpectedly or unexplainedly, and/or with one or more of the other symptoms on this list.
Sweating (diaphoresis) - Heart attack does funny things to the sympathetic nervous system, which is behind reflexes such as sweating and hiccups. If a lady is experiencing unexplained or excessive sweating, pay attention to anything else that might be going on with her.
Tingling or numb extremities - A feeling of numbness or “pins and needles” tingling in the extremities can be an important sign that cardiac function is being impaired and those body parts aren’t receiving enough oxygen.
Peripheral and/or central cyanosis - Often accompanies tingling or numbness, and is considered a later-stage symptom of cardiac distress and heart failure. Finger and toe tips will turn pale or blue first, and lips and gums after that. Important to remember that darker-skinned women may present cyanosis as ashen, grey, or darker purple rather than pale or blue.
Back pain - Pain between the shoulder blades, in the cervical spine, or even further down in the torso or lumbar region can be a symptom of heart attack. Alone, it isn’t that suspicious, but if it’s unrelenting and presents with any of the other symptoms above, keep a watchful eye on things.
Classic “crushing” or “tight” chest pain or pressure - Women DO experience this classic pain, too, just not as frequently as men do. This may be due to our higher pain threshold, or differences in blood volume, or maybe we’re just not sure because nobody’s bothered to really study it. Whatever the reason, some women do still experience the crushing or tightening pain, and others may experience less painful pressure or tightness that doesn’t seem to be relieved by anything.
Arm and jaw pain - Another “classic” heart attack symptom, and a bit more common than central chest pain. Unexplained pain in the left arm or shoulder, and on the left side of the neck or jaw, should not be ignored by anyone.
in the original myth mulan isn’t really a clumsy fish out of water. she’s strong and smart and the reason she goes to war is because she’s the most qualified person in her family to fight, regardless of gender.
so how about this: mulan’s a fighter. she knows exactly who she is, like in the original myth, she’s knows how to be the blossoming flower and the great stone dragon. she’s still mulan though, so she still doesn’t memorize the silly ways she’s supposed to be a good wife and has little patience for appearing graceful while pouring tea. she’s innovative and courageous and beautiful, but no one is under any illusions about what kind of wife she’ll be.
and the matchmaker is the matchmaker for the li family as well, for this great big part of china. and general li wants his son to be married before he goes off to war, wants his son to have a reason to fight to live, like a wife waiting for him. and the matchmaker reads the stars and the tea leaves and the astrology charts, and no matter what all the signs point to one thing: the honorable li shang is destined to marry the insolent, arrogant fa mulan.
the matchmaker isn’t going to let that happen, she refuses to be responsible for that disaster of a wedding. so she sends her most beautiful girls, the ones that are obedient and quiet and know their roles, the ones that are eager to marry into the li family.
and each of them are entertained and met and sent back. shang is many things, but smooth isn’t one of them, he has nothing to say to these quiet girls who smile at him, feels large and awkward around their polite smiles. so he and his father go to the matchmaker’s village, shang reluctantly and his father to demand she stops messing with them and provides a proper bride.
it’s on the day that mulan and the other girls are parading in the street. shang sees a girl - mulan - hurry into the end of the line, jumping over a bench and darting around a careening wagon to get there, and stifles a laugh.
then there’s no reason to laugh at all, because a group of huns have decided that this village is in their way, and attack.
everyone scatters, women hide, children hide, and most of the men do too. shang and his father join the fight with some of the other men who hadn’t hid, and these men are starved, clearly not with shan yu, so even though they’re outnumbered they’ll likely win.
shang sees a hun go to attack the girl he’d seen earlier, the girl for whatever reason hadn’t run and hid. the hun raises a sword above his head to strike her down, and shang is so sure he’s about to see this pretty girl lose her head.
but she doesn’t. instead she rolls out of the way, and pops up, headbutting him in the stomach. she takes his sword from his now-slack grip and plunges it into his chest. without hesitation or pause the girl joins the fight, swinging the sword expertly and cutting down every man who stands against her. soon they’re fighting back to back, and shang has never felt more in sync with another person. she cuts off the head of the last hun, and shang has never seen anyone more beautiful than this girl, dress ripped and make up smudged and covered in blood that isn’t hers.
“mulan,” one of the other girls says, peaking out of a store front, “is it over?”
the girl, mulan, looks out over the dozen dead men and says, grimly, “it’s barely begun.” she searches the crowd, finding and old man and yelling, “gather the bodies, we’ll burn that at dusk outside of the village. everyone else,” her eyes sweep across the gathered people, and shang is struck by the fact that this girl isn’t well liked. there’s anger and disapproval in many of the faces, but they’re listening. these people don’t like her. but they do trust her. “let’s clean this all up. these were bandits, not soldiers. there’s nothing more to fear.”
“what if there are more?” the other girl asks, arms wrapped around herself.
mulan raises her stolen sword and says, “then i will slice them to ribbons. this is our village, and this is our country. any who would try to take it from us - from me - will suffer the consequences.”
and it shouldn’t be comforting, hearing words of violence from this young girl, yet everyone around them relaxes, and gets moving, gather the bodies and tending the wounded.
“who are you?” his father asks, and someone who doesn’t know him might think he was angry, but shang can tell he’s impressed.
mulan turns to them and bows, “my apologies. i am fa mulan, daughter of fa zhou. thank you for helping us.” she stands, and shang meets her eyes for the first time.
he swallows, and blurts out, “you - you fight good.”
his father coughs to hide his laughter, but mulan’s eyes crinkle at the corners. “thank you. you do as well.”
and they just keep standing there smiling at each other until his father claps his hands and is like okay - they’ll have to report this to the emperor, no time to dawdle, have to go now.
so they take their leave, and shang thinks this is the last time he’ll see fa mulan.
except there’s still the draft, and this time mulan doesn’t take no for an answer, won’t hear of it. her father is injured and old and she is young and fit to fight. she will go in his place.
so she arrives at the camp, prepared to pretend and lie - except she goes to meet her commanding officer and it’s him, that boy who had fought with her. shang’s eyes widen, but they’re in front of too many people. he can see it on her face, her fear, and she hadn’t shown any fear when she was facing down over a dozen huns, but she does now. so he makes his choice and says nothing, pretends he buys her story.
she tracks him down that night and demands an explanation. he says this war is too important to kill good warriors, whatever gender they are. he swears to keep her secret. mulan is his best soldier from the beginning, and means to treat her like anyone else, but it’s impossible. she isn’t like anyone else, is strong and smarter and braver than them. they argue tactics, and she’s the only one who can give him a workout in hand to hand, and he doesn’t have trouble finding his words with her. he finds himself falling in love with her, but doesn’t say anything. she’s not here for love, she’s here for a war. he vows to say something if they survive this, but it’s unlikely that will happen.
they head to the front earlier. they get there in time to provide back up for his father and his army, and it’s a loss but not a slaughter. his father is too distracted to notice ping is the girl from the village. all he knows is this soldier had led the second wave of attacks, and it was thanks to her any of them were alive at all. they prevent half of the huns from getting through the pass, but that’s still an army heading for the imperial city. the general is injured, so mulan and shang lead the army after him.
they find him at the mountain, and just like before mulan uses the cannon to destroy the army. she knew it would spell their death, but it was worth it, for her people, for her country, for her family. this time it’s shang that won’t accept her death, that tries to drag her unconscious body to safety. only he fails, and mulan becomes buried under the snow.
they return to the city, and shang is besides himself - the woman he loves is dead, she saved them all and she’s gone, and he’ll never recover from this. only he can’t tell his father this, their friends. they think he mourns a friend, not the woman he wanted to make his wife.
except mulan survives, and sees the other huns as well. only she kills them there before they can get to the city, and decides this is for the best. fa ping dies honorably in battle, and fa mulan is free to return home to her family.
so general li decides that it’s time to go to that matchmaker again, and demand she stop playing games. the matchmaker confesses that she thought the bride was unsuitable, and the general demands she send her anyway.
so mulan has barely had the chance to settle back home when the matchmaker shows up at her door saying she’s sending her to see a potential husband, but not who. so mulan shows up all made up to li household and shang drags himself into the room, already resigned to a loveless marriage, when they see each other. “mulan?” he demands, and his father is all pleased because it’s the fighting girl from the village.
but then his son starts crying and they run to each other. shang picks her up in his arms and she clings to him, and shang is babbling about how he thought she was dead, and mulan is so overjoyed that she’s with shang, and shang wants her, that she kisses him without explaining.
except now shang’s father demands an explanation. so they give it to him, the whole story comes tumbling out, and he stares hard at her, and remembers her as ping, the brave soldier that had saved them all. he’s not upset - he ecstatic. he goes to the emperor and tells him everything, and the emperor officially offers mulan an officer position in the army. she accepts, as long as shang is by her side. shang seconds this, and they set in motion the plans for the wedding.
fa mulan and li shang get married and lead armies and live happily ever after, just like the stars intended.
Please ladies, don’t make fun of women who wear pads. Like, don’t call them a dipper butt or a child or anything thing else degrading for not inserting a tampon in their vagina.
Some of us can’t physically do it for medical reasons and it hurts to try and if you manage it, it’s just even more excruciating to pull out. A lot of women fear TSS that runs rampant when a tampon is inserted for too long. Other women like me do it because it’s more comfortable for us.
For whatever reason it is, don’t make fun of it!
It’s already enough that periods in modern day society are considered taboo and shameful to have in any way shape or form, we don’t need to feel bad about how we contain it too.
“The first time Clarke sees the Head Girl she’s sitting on a throne,
presiding over her dominion with a piercing stare and a crown of braids
in her hair. Her warriors are spread at her feet, a multitude of them,
all long-haired and wild and clad in identical brown regalia. There’s
something of the sacred about her, like the crimson cloak draped across
her shoulders and her divinity are one and the same.
This is the seventh installment in a series of book recommendations, all of which will introduce you to kickass women from mythologies around the world, all of them written by women. All books listed had to pass the following criteria:
Be written by a woman
Have a woman as (one of) the protagonist(s)
Feature Russian or Slavic mythology
This recommendation list comes on the heels of the Asian mythology rec list, because I really wanted to include Russia (which falls under both Asian and Slavic mythology), but I wanted to keep the country as a whole in one post. @kostromas
(x) and @lamus-dworski (x) (x) were kind enough to take some time answering my questions.
While I mainly looked for books ft. Russian and Slavic mythologies (I used this Wiki file as a measure to determine the Slavic region), I also include a few books with other origins, such as Norway and various Eastern European countries, because I think - out of all the recommendation posts I have done and plan to do - this is the one they would fit best in.
Please note as well that there is a lot of overlap among most of these cultures, with different versions of a character appearing in many, so some of the below classifications may be rather arbitrary (I usually go with what’s 1) listed in the summary, then see if 2) the writer specifies a culture, or if 3) readers had helpful input).
UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that this post could do with some clarification and additions. To start with, I’d like to address the small number of books listed under Slavic. I don’t mean to say that only the countries listed are Slavic countries. The list is as limited as it is because I found it difficult to locate books that met all the above listed criteria, and an unconscious fifth - that they be written in English. If you take out any one of those criteria, a larger pool of books would open itself up, and I encourage you to consider that as an option.
While I understand that limiting these lists to books written in or translated into English is not ideal, I also don’t think I am the right person to judge which books written in Slavic languages should be included, as I am not Slavic and don’t speak or read Slavic languages. Readers should be aware though, that reading a book featuring Slavic mythologies or cultures, which are not written by someone who identifies as Slavic, may promote a stereotypical or otherwise harmful depiction of those cultures.
Moreover, those authors who do hail from the relevant region are more likely to be published if they don’t push the envelope too much to be acceptable for a generic Western audience. Therefore, additional reading of books on and / or featuring Slavic mythologies or cultures can aid in understanding the context of these tales. I have listed a couple of books in the honourable mentions with that in mind, and I have decided to add an asterisk (*) to all works written by an author who is confirmed as hailing from the region their work is set in. Typically, I’ve listed one or two books per author, but do check for their other writing.
Finally, I should add that I might have made a mistake in including Russia in this list. This was done because I wanted to keep the country in one post, rather than splitting it between the Asian list and this one. The Asian one was sufficiently long I didn’t want to add it there, but I might have been better off creating a completely separate list for it rather than including it here.
With the above reasons in mind, I have decided to move the Slavic section up, I have added a number of entries throughout, and expanded the resources list at the bottom.