mari4212: Gwen and Morgana from Merlin (gwen/morgana)
Dear Yuletider,

I'm just going to sit here and squee at you for a bit, one, for agreeing to write in any of these categories, and two, because you are awesome and I know I'm going to love whatever you come up with. So, start with this. If it's in that fandom, and has the characters I picked in it, I am going to squee with delight and love you forever, no matter what plotbunny takes control of you. Read more... )

And finally, I've tagged this entry with pretty much everything that could be relevant, so if you need more input about what I like, what kind of stories I write, and what my meta is like.
mari4212: "Okay, you don't just have issues.  You have the full set of collectable binders (issues)
A close friend of mine, [personal profile] reenchantress, has been blogging about gay issues and life growing up and not being straight. She's heard me give "The Rant", my name for the discussion of why we can't say that the Christian Bible explicitly condemns homosexuality, several times, and asked me if I'd be willing to type it up as a guest blog for her. This is a shortened form of the vocal rant, I've been timed at over forty-five minutes once delivering the full rant.

cut for discussions of religion, and mentions of rape in some of the biblical passages )
mari4212: "Okay, you don't just have issues.  You have the full set of collectable binders (issues)
For those somehow fortunate enough to have missed it, the context for this rant is this flowchart, on Jezebel, that purports to be a critique of the stereotypes female characters fall into when they are not written strongly. But when you look at the chart, and see characters like Zoe from Firefly, Ripley from Alien, Sailor Moon coded as only the adorable clutz, Nyoto Uhura coded as "Useless Girl", among others, including putting on two real life women (minority women, of course) as examples of fictional tropes, it's hard to consider it a valid critique of stereotypes. It reads more like a straightforward bashing of all female characters because they don't meet an invisible, unstated standard of what it means to be strong.

There are people out there who are already doing a fantastic job of picking apart all the ways this fails on gender and race issues. Here are a couple good links to get you started.

What I'm going to talk about for a bit here, is that weasel-word, strong. Because when it comes to bashing female characters in media, it seems to be the best excuse ever for saying you don't like any female characters. They're not strong enough. Never mind that a lot of fandom's favorite male characters are written with the exact same levels of "strength" or depth.

When I talk about a strong female character, I mean a character with goals and interests which are not just about the male characters' goals. And I mean a character with agency, who acts in some way for herself and her stated goals in the process.

So Zoe, who fought in the war against Unification because she believed it was wrong, who is loyal, but questioning, towards Mal, who loves her husband, but still lives her own life, who will go on after losses, she's a strong character.

Tuskino Usagi, the clumsy crybaby who hates fighting and isn't good at school, but who still gets up every day, who still fights to save others, the girl who is the protagonist for her series and who saves the universe with the power of love, unironically, is a strong character. As are all of her teammates and friends. The weakest character, development-wise, is her boyfriend, Mamoru.

Kathryn Janeway, the scientist turned Captain, who stands off against the Kazon and the Borg through the power of coffee, the pool shark who turns around and embroiders a blanket for the newborn Naomi Wildman, the warm compassionate woman who suffered from bouts of depression and guilt, who made some brilliant decisions, and some bone-headed mistakes, she's a strong character. Not always the most consistently written one, but still strong and engaging.

B'Elanna Torres, the woman struggling to accept all of who she was, the brilliant engineer with some raging insecurity issues, who learned how to lead on the fly, but apparently does an excellent job of it, who gradually learns how to trust others and accept herself, she's a strong character.

Nyoto Uhura, the character who could have been so much more had the networks and producers allowed it, still sat there every day doing her job competently. She had interests in music and art, pursued her career, and in the books and later movies got more and more of a chance to shine. In the new movie, it's overshadowed by the other, action-oriented, crowning moments of awesome, but she pulls off some fantastic bits of translation on the go with no problems. Anyone who's ever tried to learn more than one language can tell you how hard that can be, and she does it with grace.

Marguerite Krux, from The Lost World, a woman who doesn't know anything about where she came from, who wants so much to know who she is. Who doesn't hesitate to lie or seduce someone to achieve her goals, who spends most of the first two seasons of the show getting used to the idea that people might help her with no hidden agenda. Who is a hero, even when she keeps it secret. She's a strong character, even as a character they added in just to make it not be all a bunch of guys.

Joan Girardi, from Joan of Arcadia, who has enough going on in her life without adding "talks to God" to her resume. She's occasionally thoughtless and self-obsessed, she'd far prefer to just be a normal popular girl, but she grows so much, and she keeps trying when it's hard. She's a strong character.

And there's dozens more I could be listing, like Kate, Ziva, and Abby from NCIS, Susan Ivonova and Delenn from Babylon 5, 95% of the female characters in Harry Potter that get more than one line, Kaylee, Inara, and River from Firefly, Buffy, Willow, Tara, Dawn, Anya and Joyce from Buffy, and so on and so forth down the line.

So you know what, makers of that flowchart?

Fuck you, she's awesome. They all are.
mari4212: Text: When Mister Safety Catch is not on, Mister Crossbow is not your friend (crossbow)
Oh no you don't. This person posted a response to both the most recent incident of racefail and to people objecting to aspects of the H/C bingo. Where, in effect, she says that people raising objections to the J2 work, or pointing out the problematic issues involved with the H/C bingo cards, are acting to silence the poor authors.

I, erm, responded with this )
mari4212: Text: When Mister Safety Catch is not on, Mister Crossbow is not your friend (crossbow)
By now, I imagine that a large chunk of my flist has seen the latest bit of race-fail, in the form of [personal profile] asteroidbuckle's J2 story set in Haiti, immediately post earthquake. If not, I first suggest you go to bossymarmalade's excerpts post here, and then to [personal profile] amazonziti's link list here.

Read more... )
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)
So, [ profile] havocthecat mentioned that it's about that time of year to re-do the "fuck you, she's awesome" meme. Which is, pretty much, to post about all the female characters in various fandoms that you like. Because, bizarrely, there are some people out there in famdom who insist that there are no female characters out there that they like. And when there are this many awesome characters available, there's no reason for that.

It might take me several posts to put up all the female characters I enjoy, at least when I'm also including a brief explanation of why they're so great.

Starting with fandoms I'm currently reading/watching: Read more... )
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)
Note of warning: this is coming partially out of reading a few too many discussion posts/fic requests that paint Ziva as this queen high bitch of the universe. Parts of it are semi-coherent arguments against the assumptions the people bashing her have, and parts of this are my own attempts to understand a fairly complex female character on a show that does a decent job writing strong female characters.

One of the most important things for me, when it comes to understanding Ziva as a character, is understanding how much she's been shaped by her early relationships with those she's loved.

That seems like a bit of a no-duh for understanding almost any character/person when we know their background, so let me expand a bit. To the best of my knowledge, having admittedly missed several episodes from seasons 4-6, Ziva has mentioned or had other people mention for her, four people whom she has loved. Her father, Ari, her sister Tali, and a Muslim boy she mentions was her best friend as a child. Not much, if at all, is mentioned about her mother or any other family member.

So, of those four major loved ones, what's happened with them? Two, her father and her half-brother, have betrayed and used her for their own purposes. And the other two were taken from her in semi-random attacks. The major themes of her relationships prior to NCIS, therefore, are betrayal and loss. Her assumptions about the world, and thereby her defense mechanisms, focus on the concept that the people she cares about will either betray her or die in a way that she can't prevent or control.

Now add in the fact that she seems to have been trained with the idea that the mission is of utmost importance, above personal safety, morality, or potential cost, and with the concept that she cannot rely upon anyone else, that she must be completely self-sufficient.

When you put those two facts together, and add in Ziva's underlying personality, what you get is many things, among which is a very fascinating character, massive issues, and really good tv drama moments. What you don't get is someone who has a clue what to do in a team dynamic. It is literally completely out of her scope of reference to trust that the person beside her has her back now, and will have her back two weeks from now and beyond.

What you get is someone who has learned not to trust easily, who has learned that the people she counts on will leave her or betray her.

Ziva spends the majority of the third season of NCIS expecting the others on the team to not back her up, and expecting the others to fail her. In "Frame Up" and "Probie", she's the one most likely to assume that Tony and McGee messed up. "Under Covers" startles her when Tony makes sure she can get out ahead of his own safety, as she's well aware that Ari wouldn't have done the same for her. "Jeopardy" shows her going on her instincts here as well. As soon as she is called into question, she assumes that no one will believe her or back her up, and that she will get the blame regardless of what happened. Gibbs standing by her, Ducky and McGee trying to reassure her, these are new things to her.

In the third season, we also get one of the episodes she's most often criticized for, "Boxed In." (If it's been a while since you've watched this ep, or you haven't been reading the Ziva bashing metas and stories lately, it's the episode where Ziva and Tony were locked in a cargo shipping container with several million dollars in counterfeit bills, and the B plot is that Tony wasn't invited to a dinner party Ziva held for the rest of the team.) Basically, the criticism of her centers around the fact that she deliberately excluded Tony from a team event, and the episode portrays it as being something Tony is rather upset about, given his insecurities about his place on the team.) Now, if you haven't watched the episode recently, or you've read the metas/post eps since, you'd assume that she'd stabbed Tony and then jumped up and down on his wound repeatedly, by the vehemence of the vitriol aimed at her.

Point one: yeah, she was definitely in the wrong to have excluded him from a team event. She is well enough aware of her teammates characters to understand how being left out would hit him at a weak point. She knew very well she was hitting one of his triggers when she discussed it with him in the shipping container.

Point two, which most people skip over in their attacks: before they get out of the shipping container, she's apologized for her actions already. And she makes restitution by offering to cook a private dinner for him.

Watching the episode, part of it seemed like the situation snowballed. That she invited McGee and Palmer initially to thank them for helping her get settled. Abby would have been invited as an olive branch, given the friction and hostility Abby has shown towards Ziva earlier. Inviting Abby to dinner gets her on Ziva's turf, in a less tense environment, to give them a chance to get along together. And inviting Gibbs is just basic office politics. If you're inviting the team, it's basic people skills to also invite the boss along, given their work environment.

Not inviting Tony seems like it was in part, an effort on her part to control the situation and direct her effort at building relationships towards the ones she had easily in hand (McGee, Palmer, Gibbs to a certain extent) and the one she in particular wanted to work on (Abby). Tony tends to challenge her, and he makes himself the center of attention in any group, which wasn't what she was going for.

For the other part of it, there is the fact that her relationship with Tony tended to be very competitive in the third season. They enjoyed verbal sparring and scoring points off of each other. She might have been attempting to score more points in their running game, and went a bit too far. (I will note, the same thing tended to happen with Kate and Tony in earlier seasons, and still does happen occasionally with McGee and Tony. Tony tends to play these escalating games with all his teammates, but he tends to be the one to pull back right before he hits too hard, while the others will sometimes hit him pretty hard at one of his weak points. Normally? That weak point is his own insecurity about his place in the team hierarchy/professional skills.)

So, all in all, what you get in this episode is a misstep in their banter that hits too close to home for Tony, Ziva starting to twit him on it, then eventually apologizing for going too far, and making amends for her actions. She's not exactly an ax murderer here.

She's more secure, more confident in her teammates by season four, but in the first episode, when she's in trouble she doesn't rely on Tony or the rest of the team. Instead, she goes to Gibbs. Someone she holds a secret for, someone who owes her a favor. Under stress, personal stress, she reverts to her first instincts, trusts only those who have a quantifiable reason to help her. I think this is also the season that starts the pattern of anyone on a case that Ziva is interested in either dying or turning out to be the killer. Part of it is fairly standard for a crime drama, after all, there have been multiple occasions where Gibbs, Tony, or Ducky have been interested in a woman who ends up being the murderer. But the other part of it is a repetition of Ziva's life-long pattern of watching people that she cares about die or betray her trust.

And that leads into the other major criticism of Ziva that I've seen: her response to Tony's undercover fiasco. McGee blows it off as Tony being irresponsible, Gibbs is somewhat suspicious but stays out of it, but Ziva gets worried and immediately leaps to the conclusion that Tony is sick and dying. Beyond that, when Tony's car does go up in flames, Ziva is the first to assume that he has actually died, and maintains that assumption until given proof against it by Ducky.

By this point, it seems like she no longer believes that her teammates will betray her, but she does believe they will die on her.

The critique I've seen of her for this tends to focus on her being too clingy, too curious about what's going on in Tony's life, and too worked up over Tony. Which, erm, has my brain breaking a bit when I compare this critique of her to the criticism laid against her over "Boxed In." Really, at this point in the critiques, often coming from the same person in both cases, Ziva cannot win. It makes perfect sense for her character to assume the worst about Tony's health, and it fits in with her need to control things that she'd be nosy, that she'd want to know everything, even the worst prognosis, rather than be shocked by his death. Again, Ziva's major issues revolve around loss and betrayal. When she thinks she's going to lose someone she cares about, she goes into overdrive as a defensive mechanism.

That was nowhere near as coherent as I wanted it to be, but it is at least an attempt to formulate a defense of Ziva and an understanding of who she is as herself, rather than as the person setting off Tony's insecurities or whatever else she's being yelled at for this week.
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)

I was linked to that post by [ profile] cheshire23 as part of the ongoing response to Racefail09, and I think it is highly important and a very good articulation of what people with a privilege need to accept in any situation like this. I've added it to my own memories, but I wanted to make sure that people on my flist who wouldn't see cheshire's post would see this link.
mari4212: Text: Divide by Cucumber Error, Please Reinstall Universe and Reboot (cucumber)
Context is the comments being made in this post:

I've probably spent about two years now, paying active attention to issues of racism, homophobia, sexism, and other assorted isms in fandom, and trying (with varied success) to apply that out into the real world. I still consider myself a novice at a lot of this, and I probably make a lot more mistakes than I realize now.

But I've been paying attention long enough to get thoroughly used to, and sick of, a lot of the comments that come in whenever someone points out an instance or pattern of racism, homophobia, sexism, et cet. There's the denials, the 'you're overreacting's, the 'well, it's justified because of this's, the 'insert oppressed group of people does it back to the people in power, so it's fair for us to do this' arguments, and the 'my friend is insert oppressed group, and she's just fine with it, so there's nothing wrong' arguments.

And all of those arguments can and will make me froth at the mouth and rant to the nearest available person around me.

But the one that keeps driving me up a wall, and which is leading me to ranting now, is this learned helplessness argument that people keep making. It tends to go along the lines of: 'Everything I do you say is wrong, so you need to sit there and coach me through the basics of writing a character of insert oppressed group right now, and if you don't help me now, then I'm going to take my toys and leave just give up and write only white males from now on.

It ends up coming across as a form of blaming the victims. That it's their fault that a writer doesn't take the time to do research on their own before they write a character or set up a fictional world. Or that it's their fault that when they call someone out for perpetuating a negative stereotype, they're too upset to want to sit there and walk them through how to write a character or situation that doesn't hit five different hotspots at once.

You know, I really do get the confusion that hits when you first start confronting aspects of your own privilege. I know I freaked out about trying not to inadvertently cause offense or hurt someone after I started dealing with the fact that I grew up with a metric ton of unconscious privileges. I'm still freaking out about it as I write this, because yeah, I'm pretty sure I don't get it all right. But the way to respond is not to immediately demand that the person who has been hurt drop everything to teach you what to do. (There's been a lot of great posts on this topic already from a bunch of FOC, and they've covered it a lot more comprehensively than I am, with a lot more background on it than I've got.)

So what do you do? That is, if you actually do want to figure out how to do a better job in the future, and you're not just looking for an excuse to give up and not deal with the issue. Because a lot of the time, it's really obvious that people complaining about not knowing what to do don't want to learn any better, they just want to not have to deal with any of it anymore.

Well, for starters, you find resources. Multiple resources, and without focusing on the people who you have already hurt and are frustrating the hell out of. You read books written by people from within that context, you talk to people you know about their own experiences of being a part of that group. You don't let one person's views stand for the entire group, and you don't expect the entire group to be exactly the same on issues, any more than you yourself would want someone to assume that you were exactly like everyone else who is of your gender, or racial group, or religion. You read and analyze, or watch and analyze, the media and genre you're working in, and pay attention to the repeated tropes and figure out why someone might find them offensive. And you listen to what people say when they yell about something, and that gives you a lot of the negative space of what is wrong to avoid.

And then you drop your excuses and write your characters as people, and you figure out how their being a member of an oppressed group would shape them, without making everything about their character be about them being that oppressed group. And yeah, it's not easy, and yeah, I'm definitely far from perfect in my own right, but you do have to try. And if you fail, you keep on trying, with more information.

Comments and critique more than welcome, and here's hoping I didn't just put my foot halfway down my esophagus at some point in here.
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (flower)
So, [ profile] natertatersmom on my flist was asking about how we defined feminism. And apparently this has been stewing for me for a while, because I ended up writing a rather hefty comment in response. So I'm re-posting it here, and asking you guys the same question. How do you define feminism? (As always, feel free to disagree, and I'm not going to moderate here because you guys are all reasonable adults, but that being said, do try to be polite.)

Read more... )
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)
Run and hide, I'm meta-ing!

Spoilers for the first seasons of Stargate Atlantis and Supernatural )
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)
Otherwise known as, turn and run the other way as fast as possible.

I've had a lot of fandoms, and in most of them, I've had ships, to one degree or another. So who do I ship, why do I ship them, and what are some underlying similarities in my ships?

Star Trek )


Stargate Atlantis )

Harry Potter )

Thoughts, anyone?
mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)
Why do frat boys have to exist?

Okay, not all of them, just the ones that think it's great fun to sing songs of loyalty to their fraternity outside my dorm at the top of their lungs. At three in the morning. The day I have an eight am test.

Speaking of that test, I think I did well on it. Our teacher learned from last time and shortened this test, and there weren't any questions that I had no clue how to answer. Considering I managed to get a B on that test once she curved to account for the missing questions, I'm rather optimistic about this one.

As I was getting ready for bed last night, I kept thinking about hero archetypes and which kinds I like and dislike.

Generalizing a bit here, I tend to notice three main types, with assorted hybrids between each.

The first one is the naive hero. The hero picked up from obscurity and sent out to save the day, a la the Joseph Campbell hero story. They tend to start out innocent, optimistic, and idealistic. How they end up is more variable, but they tend to return to where they came from, older and wiser, having fulfilled their destiny. I'd say that Luke Skywalker, Frodo, and possibly Harry are good examples of this archetype. I really have no strong opinions on these guys, good or ill, but they tend to not be the ones that draw my attention.

The next is the rebel. In my experience, he tends to be a bit more cocky, a bit worldly and rough around the edges. He doesn't conform, he doesn't do well with any authority figures, and he tends to be a bit more cynical. At the end of the story he tends to be the one who mellows, who finds an ideal or a group that appeals to him and works for that. Examples would be characters like Han Solo or Mal Reynolds. Of the three archetypes, this is the one that most consistantly annoys me. I almost never empathize with heroes of this nature, and I tend to lose interest in them easily.

The third is what I tend to call the dutiful soldier, although there are characters that fit this archetype who aren't soldiers. He's also more experienced than the naive hero, but not as cynical or cocky. He tends to be the one who knows what he's getting into, or thinks he does, but does it even knowing the consequences because it needs to be done. Examples would include characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Faramir. And as you've probably guessed, this is the archetype that most consistantly appeals to me.

Thoughts, comments, disagreements, random death threats?


mari4212: calla lily against a black background (Default)

February 2017

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