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Content note: Sexism, descriptions of physical and emotional abuse, some brief strong language towards the end, and descriptions of interpersonal conflict within a family.

There's a good story somewhere in Ender's Game. A child gets taken away to a magical school In Space, and is forced to survive when both teachers and students are literally trying to kill him. In the end, he faces a moral dilemma, and how he responds after everything that he's been through defines who he is as a character.

It resonates with me, because it basically describes a Mormon upbringing.

On the one hand, you're mass produced and depersonalized, especially if you come from one of those Utah families with nine kids. On the other hand, you're told repeatedly that you are a Chosen One, part of a chosen generation of Mormon kids, and your actions and faithfulness will help bring about the second coming of Christ. (Mormons are averse to calling him "Jesus" for some reason.)

Ender spends his whole childhood training to be a soldier. Mormon kids spend their whole childhoods training to be either a mom or a missionary. I can't overstate how much these two roles are glorified, or how much the bike-riding, nametag-wearing missionaries are held up as role models to Mormon kids who are assigned the male gender. And all the while, your belief that you're one of the few people that God approves of -- and that everyone else needs to be like you -- is creating this wedge between you and the people around you, which you are encouraged to see as "they hate me because of my righteousness."

Seriously, this is the major theme in the first couple parts of the Book of Mormon. The POV character is a Mary Sue, whose brothers hate him and repeatedly try to kill him because he's so awesome and always does what God wants him to.

The problem with Ender's Game is not that Ender goes through all this. It's that Orson Scott Card did, and is apparently blind to it.

Read more... )

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tl;dr: Women aren't living "the female lifestyle." Trans women (and men, and non-binary trans persons) aren't "living a lifestyle" by being who they are, either.

Content note: Transphobia, religious abuse, and Final Fantasy III and VII spoilers. Edited slightly in response to [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith's comment and [personal profile] sophie's feedback.

Are you a boy or a girl?

A picture of the character select screen from Pokémon.

Poor Professor Oak. His memory just hasn't been the same since the accident.

Everyone gets told the answer to this question when they're little. But sometimes, the answer they're given is wrong.

As many as 1 in 100 people are born intersex, meaning their bodies aren't strictly male or female and may have both sets of sexual characteristics. This isn't a pleasant thing to be, in sex-obsessed North American society. You might get mutilated by doctors when you're still an infant, to try to make you look more like a boy or a girl. You might grow up feeling uncomfortably different from everyone else, and never be told why, because even your parents thought it was shameful. And if an intimate partner finds out that you're different, they might tell everyone you're a "trap," reducing you to your genitals and making you out to be some kind of freak.

Because North American society is obsessed with sex, and tries to define everyone by their genders, parents of intersex children usually feel pressured to choose a "true" sex to raise their child as, even when their doctors have no idea what their child's "true" sex is and may as well settle it using a coin flip.

A picture of \*Mute, from Analogue: A Hate Story, incredulously asking the player if something really happened to someone else.

Geez, *Mute, show a little respect.

Sometimes, an intersex child grows up and realizes their parents called "heads" when they should've called "tails" (or just let the coin lay on its side). Sometimes, they don't even know their parents made the call. They just know they don't fit in the box they've been put in, and it's making them miserable.

Sometimes, a person feels this way even when they aren't visibly intersex, and there is no outward indication that they are anything other than their assigned gender. The only sign that things are wrong is that person's misery and feeling of not-right-ness, which psychologists call gender dysphoria and the people who go through it call "being trans."

"I am confused about my gender"

This is a common stereotype, about what it means to be trans. But while the process of self-discovery that trans people go through starts with being confused, that's usually not where it ends. By the time someone comes out as transgender (i.e. announces it to their friends and/or loved ones), they feel confident that their actual gender is not the one that they were assigned by the doctors at birth. Whether they now consider themselves to be "male," "female," "both depending on my mood," "none of the above," or even simply "I don't know yet."

They may not have figured everything out yet, and it can sound confusing to hear them discuss it when you don't know what the words mean and have never met someone like them (at least not and knew that you had). But just because you're confused about what gender somebody else is, that doesn't mean that they are, or that you know better than they do how they should feel about what they see in the mirror.

Finding out what you are

The first step can be as simple as finding out "transgender" is a thing, and immediately knowing "that's me." Other times, it takes years of soul-searching and introspection, during which time you might legitimately be confused. The reason that you are confused, though, is because you were told to expect one thing (feeling like your assigned gender is natural) and encountered another instead.

The answer isn't to double down on the thing that you know isn't right (i.e. acting out your assigned gender's role), in the hopes that this will somehow make dysphoria go away. If anything, that just makes it worse. The answer is to try something different, and see if it makes you feel better. Whether it's trying on another gender's clothing, playing a character of another gender in an online video game (where no one can see what you look like "IRL"), or even "transitioning" genders through medical and/or cosmetic treatments.

For a thing that supposedly comes naturally, being a man sure takes lots of work. Click here if you can't see the video.

Unfortunately, trans people -- as opposed to women of Chinese legend -- can't just transition in a Disney montage. It takes time, money, and effort, both to undergo treatments like hormone therapy and to ... well, basically learn everything that a person of your actual gender is normally taught from birth, in a very short time.

Worse, trans people are especially vulnerable during this time, because they might be visibly (or audibly) "between genders," which is just about the worst thing a person can be in sex-obsessed North American society. On top of that, they have to face the reactions of their family, friends, and acquaintances, which can range from "I love you no matter what" to "pack up your things and get out."

In many American states, it is completely legal to terminate someone's employment or kick them out of their rented home because of their gender identity. (This technically means you could fire someone for being cisgender, or "not trans," but there isn't a cisgender rights lobby because no one has ever done that.)

In many places there's no social stigma for treating trans persons like crap. Some religions actively mandate it. Doctors and police may be hostile, and even emergency medical technicians may refuse treatment. There are few protections of any kind for trans persons specifically, which may be part of the reason their suicide and mortality rates are so high.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance, held each year on November 20, memorializes the lives of trans persons lost to violence. This, if anything, is what characterizes the "transgender lifestyle," especially for trans women of colour: Living your life in fear.

My transformation story

My birth certificate says that I'm male, and up until my late teenage years I thought I was okay with that. It helps that boys get cooler toys to play with.

Silly girl. Can't she see the Atari XL isn't pink? Click here if you can't see the video.

Even when I was little, though, I was fascinated with stories of transformation, like in myth and in young adult fantasy. I remember reading a story about a girl who was transported back in time and was suddenly living her ancestor's life, with her clothes changing to match. And I imagined going through the same thing, including becoming a girl. It just seemed really neat.

I picked female characters in video games, when they were portrayed as equally competent. I liked Samus from the Metroid series, and Blaze from Streets of Rage II. When Digimon Tamers debuted on TV, I became a Renamon fangirl, and bought mediocre PlayStation games just so I could play as her. I also wrote self-insert fanfic (which I never published) starring me as a tamer and her as my Digimon partner.

Of course, my self-insert was female.

A picture of an anthropomorphic fox with stylized yin-yang designs on her fur.

Admit it: Renamon is way cooler than you are.

Later on, "Erin Fox" kept showing up in the tabletop RPGs I GMed, from Star Wars to Dungeons and Dragons, as a helpful non-player character. I tried to make a male self-insert, but kept killing them off or sidelining them because I just wasn't all that invested in them.

It didn't help that I was raised Mormon. So in between being asked by my bishop if I touched myself, I was bombarded with messages about how women are "God's crowning creation," while "the natural man is an enemy to God" and I was a dirty good-for-nothing if I didn't stop masturbating, go on a mission, and get a high-paying job so I could support a wife and twelve kids.

Obviously, this isn't the message that most Mormon men get. If anything, their self-flagellating rhetoric about how they'd be starving, naked, and on fire without their wives, is a means of overcompensating for how Mormon culture treats women as inferior.

The last man to speak on motherhood was Brother Rick Dalmonico, 23, a new father. “Sometimes when I come home and my wife is nursing our newborn, the spirit is so strong that I feel it would be irreverent to interrupt them,” he confessed. “So I just usually go in the other room and watch football. I wouldn’t want to interfere with something as sacred as precious motherhood.”

-- From "The Sugar Beet," a parody Mormon newsletter

In my case, though, it hurt because I was a woman. I didn't just dislike the insulting male stereotype they presented me with; I hated having to be male to begin with. I wasn't just ashamed of the "sacred parts" of my body, after being taught to feel bad for having sexual feelings. I was disgusted by them, so much so that I could barely admit I was morbidly fascinated with these bizarre alien things.

I didn't want to have them. I didn't want to sound like this, I didn't want to be shaped like this, I didn't want to hear jokes about "testosterone poisoning" causing car accidents and feel ashamed for having it.

If I'd had the choice, I would have picked "female"

But Mormons believe you consented to live the life you have, in the "pre-existence." So I told myself it was my burden to bear, an act of self-sacrifice so that through marriage, I could complete a person who was born female.

My Mormon parents mostly supported me through my deconversion, which occurred after I realized gay people have feelings too and "the church" is making life Hell for them. My mother of origin only cried in front of me once, and my father of origin only called me "stupid" once or twice, at least where I could hear him. He went on about the "cloud of darkness" that I brought into their home, when I visited. But it was because I was afraid that my brothers would stab me to death, not because I was playing Final Fantasy III.

When I came out as transgender, it was a different story. He cut off contact with me completely, right before Christmas, except to do something stupid and hateful that made life much harder and more expensive for me. I tried to reach out to my other family members, but my mother of origin made it clear that everything about my life that they disapproved of (which was seemingly just about everything) was off-limits for discussion. Meanwhile, one of my brothers broke radio silence long enough to express his disgust at me, and to compare me to a violent criminal just for doing what amounted to growing my hair long and changing my name.

Clearly, Sephiroth's REAL crime was not getting a haircut. Click here if you can't see the video.

The point of the above story isn't to shame my family of origin, or to open myself up to amateur psychoanalysis by people who want to know the real reason I'm trans. It's to give an idea of what the life of a transgender person is like. And I said "life" and not "lifestyle," because the latter is used as a slur. It depersonalizes those that it's used against, and reduces whole people to what's in between their legs and what they choose to do in bed.

Sex-obsessed North American society sees those things as more important than anything else about a person. The stories we tell, the things we create, and the causes we choose to devote ourselves to are irrelevant. Just like my 16-year-old self sitting in Priesthood quorum, unable to take my mind off of how many "sausages" were in the room with me, a lot of people see trans women and all they can think of is sex. The kind they don't like.

It's wrong. Please stop.

My transitioning does not hurt, endanger, or threaten anyone. I am not going to turn you gay. I am not going to make your child trans. The only thing my being "out" does is remind you that people like me exist.

If you can't bear to think of that, then maybe I don't want to be in the same world as you, either.

Screenshots from Pokémon Black and White versions and Analogue: A Hate Story.

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There is a stone monument in the park where we live, to the Spanish navigator that the English call Christopher Columbus. Viewed from behind, it looks like a gravestone. I doubt if that was the intent, but it's still a fitting monument to the person that [personal profile] rev_yurodivy called "America's first supervillain," and one of the few people to orchestrate genocide on such a large scale that comparisons between him and Hitler aren't hyperbolic.

Every now and then I think of dousing it with lamb's blood, just to make it clear to the people who don't read history books. I don't think anyone else needs to die in his name, though.

Happy Columbus Day.

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Holiness is a terrible destructive force. It does not heal; it brings no comfort. It divides the pure from the impure, and it does so violently.

I do not wield it in any capacity as a healer. I wield it the way a thaumaturge wields fire and ice, and I do so with the same intent. You who glorify “purity” and “sanctity” would do well to remember that.

-- Mira Fox


A globe of purple and white destructive force, which looks like a crystal lattice.

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Dungeons and Dragons (and its successor, Pathfinder) uses a mechanic called "alignment" to describe your character's morals. It consists of a Good / Evil axis and a Lawful / Chaotic axis, with the possibility of being "Neutral" on either or both.

A lot of people have discarded the alignment system, seeing it as neither a fun game mechanic nor a useful way of understanding people. We don't really like it as it's implemented in Pathfinder, but we feel like the Planescape campaign setting for D&D really showed what kind of potential it has both for storytelling and philosophy.

Planescape portrayed the Chaotic Neutral afterlife as a "Limbo" of swirling clouds of random matter, which change so often as to be essentially formless and static. It noted that there are "anarchs" who can reshape the landscape at a whim, but did not seem to think much of them.

We think that if someone were to make a game where you play as one, though, it'd look something like Microsoft's Project Spark ...

Click here if you can't see the video.

... either that, or the Internet.

Floating islands of games, stories, and content, connected by threads of imagination and lit by sparks of wonder. That's what we feel it'd be like, to live in a realm of pure creativity and personal expression.

We were always told that we'd get to create (and populate) worlds, in the Mormon afterlife. But that was always used as an excuse, to keep us from doing so here and now. We had to "endure to the end," first, and then somehow we'd go from a Lawful lifestyle of self-negation to an eternity of fulfillment. Either that, or we would be destroyed and replaced by someone who would be fulfilled as a Mormon.

I think our family of origin still wants that for us.

I think that's what all conservative religious people mean, when they talk about "loving the sinner but hating the sin."

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Someone posted some valid criticisms of certain points we brought up in our last essay, and we were a bundle of nerves at that point so we just pulled the essay and will address those later on.

Overall, we haven't had much energy this week because of anxiety over things that we've been putting off, like bills and mental health things and being screened for disability. That last one involved a public transit adventure, which included slipping and falling on pavement and walking about 2 km on the side of the highway in the rain. Thanks to Google Maps being inaccurate, we still would have missed our appointment, if some people at a Christian ministry we stumbled across hadn't let us use their phone and then given us a ride down the road to the place we were supposed to be at.

We are currently scraped up a bit and sore all over, but bandaged and mostly okay.

Read more... )

As an aside, Dreamwidth email posting does not seem to be working for us right now, which is making it hard to attach a picture to the other post that we wanted to write.

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tl;dr The overheat mechanic from the BattleTech / MechWarrior games is a really good metaphor for being triggered when you have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Detailed explanation

BattleTech is a board game played with miniatures which represent BattleMechs, which are basically big walking tanks. It has a whole slew of spinoff games and novels, including the MechWarrior PC and console games, which most people are probably more likely to have heard of.

Most of the games let you customize your mech. The big limiting factor, though, that keeps you from slapping on as many weapons as you want and mashing the fire button, is the fact that firing weapons heats up your mech and can cause it to shut down.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Someone I knew once put twelve fire-linked extended-range large lasers on a single mech chassis, just to see what would happen. As he put it, the "fire" button doubled as the ejection seat switch.

It's an easy mechanic to get the hang of, because it's ludicrously detailed but all the details make intuitive sense. Using energy weapons overheats you faster than using projectile weapons. Operating a mech on a desert planet generates more heat than driving it through the tundra. Standing hip-deep in water while firing weapons helps cool your mech down. And if you want, when building your mech you can skimp on armour plating or advanced electronics and put in a bunch of heat sinks, which work exactly like you'd expect.

How this relates to PTSD

Having your PTSD triggered is not the same as "choosing to be offended," or throwing a fit because you aren't getting your way. (In my experience, the people most likely to accuse others of doing that are narcissists, who all seem to think it's a legit debate tactic or parenting method when it's them doing it.)

PTSD triggers are called triggers because they're reflexive responses, like the ones most people have upon seeing a jump scare or being tapped on the knee with a hammer. They can immediately put someone into "fight or flight" mode. But when you've been socialized not to do either (like in my case), or you "heat up" too much or too rapidly, they can make you just freeze up instead.

Just last night, someone said something that created a huge spike of "heat" during an FFXIV raid, when I already wasn't doing too well, and I shut down just like a BattleMech that overheated. I was watching the fight going on around me, and I couldn't do anything about it. I couldn't move. I couldn't talk. I could barely even think. I felt like a deer in their headlights.

I'm having trouble even writing this, because I remember how I felt and I freeze up again.

What you can do

It's not hard to explain how to deal with someone who has PTSD. There are really common triggers to avoid, like rape jokes and anything sexist / cissexist / homophobic. There are signs to look out for, like that deer-in-the-headlights look and someone freezing up and being unable to talk, or suddenly becoming really defensive. And there are things you can do, like say "I'm sorry if that was a trigger" and "it's okay if you need to take a break."

You don't have to understand how it feels to be triggered if you can just think of a mech shutting down, and let the person cool off and get back to "all systems nominal."

Click here if you can't see the video.

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(Content note: Racism. Additional content note: Visibly white person having unoriginal thoughts about racism and attempting to cite proper authorities on the subject.)



Q. What do you call a white man* who's an unconventional maverick, doesn't like to play by the rules, and frequently pisses off authority figures?

A. An action movie hero.



Q. What do you call a black man who's an unconventional maverick, doesn't like to play by the rules, and frequently pisses off authority figures?

A. A prisoner. **



* Feel free to prepend "cis," "straight," "abled," and otherwise normative here. Unless we're talking about the dood from Avatar, which is a whole 'nother kettle of alien fish.

** I actually doubt that most of the black male prison population in the United States is composed of assholes like James Kirk from the 2009 movie. I just wanted to point out the double standard, and how the stuff that gets people like him a reputation of being a troublemaker gets people like them destroyed. Fun to think about next time you take in an action flick starring anyone other than Will Smith~

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(Content note: Transphobia, detailed account of interpersonal conflict.)

I went to speak with my therapist the other day, and the first thing on the agenda was how I was treated by one of the receptionists on my last visit to my psychiatrist's office.

Read more... )

I kind of have to fight my Mormon upbringing to write accounts of being treated badly. I feel like, what she said and the way she said it were right; I just need to be patient and accept that I'm not a full person, and it's okay to do things to me that they would never be okay with if it were anyone else. Abuses of power and trust are supposed to stay hidden and never see light, because abusers are more valuable than the people they hurt and it's important to not hurt their feelings.

The fact that I was raised this way, by people I now know were terrible, is part of the reason I write about this. Also because I want to keep my friends and loved ones posted, and I want to remember what happened and explain it to myself, so that I don't slip back into feeling like I deserve it all and it's all my fault.

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(Content note: TERFs, transmisogyny, xenophobia directed at otherkin and other invisible minority groups.)

I wrote, awhile back, about some social justice warriors on Tumblr, who take a break from smashing the kyriarchy to enforce it on minorities they don't like.

Not all people who profess a concern for social justice, or identity as SJWs are like this. The ones who are, though, use a skill that I called "mind-reading," but is really more like "depersonalizing someone by claiming their identity is not genuine and is just an extension of their privilege."

Read more... )

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(Content note: Abusive religion and families, depression and self/victim-blaming.)

One of the reasons I still sometimes visit the exmormon Reddit is because it helps to see what I went through from an outside perspective. When you're Mormon and live in an abusive family, everything's supposed to be all smiles and happiness, and you suppress even your memories of the times that they're not.

Part of the reason for this is that you are told, outright, that when you're having hard times it's your fault:

My FIL is a Branch President [Pastor] at the MTC [Missionary Training Center]. He shared an insight that turned my stomach [...]

Every so many weeks there is a set talk that is rebroadcast. The main theme of the message (from one of the 12 [Mormon apostles], I think) is that obedience and worthiness (and work) are the key elements of missionary success. And that there are people prepared in the mission field, prepared for every specific missionary. It is vitally and eternally important that every missionary be worthy of the full guidance of the Spirit™ to ensure they can be led to these people. These nonmembers, these brothers and sisters, are relying on the missionaries to be worthy so as to receive the inspiration to give the nonmembers a chance at the gospel – possibly their only or best chance in this life! The guilt of worthiness is laid on THICK!

So thick, in fact, that every week after this rebroadcast the Branch Presidencies are overwhelmed with missionaries bawling and shaking in dire need to confess to sins so as to be worthy. They are terrified that their past mistakes will condemn someone else. They line up to confess things they hadn’t shared before entering the MTC(fearing they’ll be sent home) or reconfess to perfect strangers sins they already owned up to but are afraid they need to make double/triple sure they have covered so they won’t condemn someone through unworthiness.

Emphasis in the original.

This isn't always the way Mormons handle these things. There's a glurgy song one of them wrote which confronts this viewpoint, and shows how unfair life is. Then it goes on to remind the Mormon listeners that "after the trials we will be blessed, for this life is a test." It's still a bad way of looking at things, and I've seen it used to minimize other people's suffering as being God's will and nothing to complain about. But it at least acknowledges that bad things happen to people who don't deserve them.

What it never quite got around to pointing out is that part of that unfairness is who gets blamed for what happens to them and who doesn't. The 18-year-olds entering the MTC are near the bottom of the Mormon hierarchy, right above women, poor people, and gays. And they're blamed for everything that goes wrong, like getting zero baptisms in a European mission. They usually pay for this privilege, out of their or their families' pockets. Meanwhile, the rich white men doing the blaming -- the Mission Presidents -- live in big houses and have their living expenses, medical expenses, kids' educations, and a lot of other things paid for out of members' tithing.

The biggest revelation I had, when I started reading books like Barbara Ehrenreich's, was that there were people who played by "the rules" and were thrown away anyway. This was such a blow to my system that I don't think I ever recovered. In a way, it helped to find out that not everything was my fault, and that the world was just a scary and unfair place. But knowing that doesn't make the guilt and feelings of worthlessness go away, and doesn't really help me deal with it.

I think that's why a lot of Mormons have this "just world" belief. (TW: Rape) They know, somewhere in their hearts, that they are all play-acting. They put so many things, so much loss and pain, on top of a shaky foundation of belief in their God's will and power, even when it means believing that they must have prevented him from blessing them through their unworthiness. And they know that if they ever stop bracing against it, it will fall down and crush them.

I'd have more sympathy for them if they weren't standing on me while they're doing so, and blaming me for not being a doormat.

I have even less sympathy for narcissists, whatever church they attend. Because what's worse than feeling like everything is your fault, is believing that nothing is.

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(Content note: Racism. Originally posted on Paizo's product page, under the title "Unfortunate Implications.")

I played this at tier 1-2. This review does not contain spoilers.

The meat of the scenario is a resource-management minigame, which affects a village's readiness for a siege and mass battle. Unfortunately, given the racial and ethnic makeup of the average party of Avistanian PCs versus Shokuro villagers, what it amounts to narratively is Mighty Whitey swooping in and saving the bowing and grateful brown natives.

Seriously, this isn't a case of "the PCs are special and the villagers just happen to be brown." Not only do they turn over complete control of the village to you, to the point where you decide how many people will work the fields versus shoring up the defences, but mechanically, one PC can do the work of five villagers ... even when that work is harvesting rice. In an agricultural village where that is their livelihood. I thought Profession wasn't usable untrained?

It was when I realized this that I said, flat-out, "this is really racist," and the GM was like "yes, it is."

I tried to explain away some of the implications by saying that my PC (a kitsune shrine maiden of the goddess of rice) was performing a harvest ritual or something, while our half-orc fighter could do the work of ten farmhands just because of how strong he was. But it just seemed really unfortunate that these people had no agency and were being reduced to playing pieces ... which was a theme I felt like I had seen in the other Dragon Empires adventures, where the whole continent was exoticised and existed only for "western" people to have an adventure in.

Finally, it may just be that we aced the resource management part. But the epic battle some reviewers liked felt more like shooting fish in a barrel, because this overwhelming force seemed to attack in such tiny waves. I get the impression they were going for something like Dynasty Warriors, and I'm wondering if our GM was just having trouble describing the action.

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... is especially meaningful for us.

You can view it here, if you don't care about spoilers or have already read the rest of the comic from the beginning. It contains a Wham Line as part of a Wham Episode, that'll change the way you see one of the major story arcs.

If you don't want to trawl through six years' worth of comics to get the meaning behind this, though, we've written an explanation that's as non-spoiler-y as possible behind the cut.

Explanation )

Why is this meaningful?

(Content note: Homophobia and religious abuse)

The Mormon church promised us everything. Godhood, creating our own worlds, and having an "eternal family," that being how they refer to spiritual hostage taking. If you don't have a straight Mormon temple marriage with kids, and stay a temple-worthy Mormon the rest of your life, you get nothing. Just the same crap clouds-and-harps heaven the non-Mormon peons get, which they basically see as hell, because God splits you up from your loved ones forever when he sends you there.

When I realized I couldn't support the Mormon church, it wasn't because I thought it wasn't true. It was because I couldn't be part of the bullying anymore. None of the rewards meant anything if I had to hurt other people to get them. And I was, by supporting these terrible people who hurt LGBTAQ innocents. Who I knew weren't doing the work of any god that I wanted to worship.

I may be too cynical to be Good-aligned, but I am not Evil-aligned. And that doesn't mean I "have a good heart" like the innocent killer, Ender, or like how my parents of origin see themselves. It means I stop doing something when I find out that it's hurting people, and try to make up for it. Instead of denying my victims' hurt, and trying to bully them into shutting up about it.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Will Wildman, talking about Ender's space empathy:

[...] basically everyone loves Ender because he's so caring and smart, and he doesn't need to actually interact with people in order to maintain empathy, and he's capable of jetting into a situation that he's never heard of before, becoming an expert, and speaking with absolute truth and conviction on the matter in a couple of weeks.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT MORMON MISSIONARIES THINK.

Here, let me give you a quote. This is what I repeated each week at Missionary Prep class, and what they're apparently still teaching the kids today:

I am called of God. My authority is above that of kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him - to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my doctrine is His doctrine.

My Commission is to do what He wants done; To say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous Latter-day work. How great is my calling!

And to make matters worse, Card went on a Mormon mission to Brazil, before writing this book (Speaker for the Dead) where Ender goes to a Brazilian space colony and apparently solves all their problems for them.

Ender is Orson Scott Card's self-insert, and he relates to the whole Enderverse the way a 19-year-old Mormon missionary relates to the non-members around him. He thinks he knows them better than they do, has perfect love for the image in his mind he's constructed of them, and wants only the best for them ... even when that means annihilating them.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Content note: Spoilers for the Ender's Game film, and a certain PC strategy game.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

5 minutes later ...

Cut for Homeworld spoilers. )

And now for our thoughts about how the story itself should have gone, inspired by Will Wildman's spectacular Ender's Game deconstruction.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

A week or three ago, Bungie, the makers of Halo, opened their upcoming MMO first-person shooter, Destiny, to PS3 / PS4 players, for an open beta and stress test. I played it for a few hours, the night before the beta ended.

A day or three ago, Trion Worlds made their MMO third-person shooter, Defiance (sponsored by Dodge!), free-to-play for people on PS3 consoles. It's based on a SyFy TV series that I've never watched. I downloaded it a few days ago, and have played it every day since, partly because a PSN friend invited me to her clan.

Here's what I make of the two.

Defiance

A few minutes into Defiance, I thought "This game is awfully silly." That impression has yet to leave me.

It tries very hard to be "hardcore" with its characters and world design, from the square-jawed colonel in charge of the Not A Spaceship at the beginning to the wise-cracking, alien Bad Girl, who largely pushes the main plot forward. She loves chargin' in and killin' her some post-apocalyptic mutants, and the whole game is based on the premise that you do, too.

Which leaves my "survivalist" character up shtako creek without a paddle, because so far she's run into:

  • Men who can take a direct shot to the face from a bolt-action rifle,

  • Hills that can't be climbed even with a backpack full of survival gear,

  • Wildlife that runs after her as soon as it sees her,

  • Trucks that just sit in one place and disgorge wave after wave of enemy soldiers without resupply,

  • Quests that can't be completed until I run up close to a target with no cover,

  • "Friendly" soldiers that shout at her to "Get over here and HELP!" while she's finding a position to snipe from,

And more cheesy one-liners than you can shake a hellbug at.

In a way, it's kind of a letdown. Because they let me create, as my character, a woman of colour who's a "survivalist" and a "professional" and who actually dresses the part, right down to the beat-up propane tank attached to her pack. And instead of Don't Starve in 3D, I ended up having to bro it up in the bro-iest bro shooter ever.

So why the jekk am I playing it?

Because I haven't played pretty much any shooters since DUST 514, minus brief excursions into Uncharted and Bioshock, and it's ... actually kind of fun. In a cheesy, ridiculous way, but fun nonetheless. The premise (an alien colonization of Earth gone wrong) is interesting, despite how the game handles it, and I feel invested in my character. This is one of the few games that feels like it lets me inhabit a world as myself, so I figure I might as well make the best of it, especially as long as I have a few friends here.

I just get the impression that it was made by a bunch of TV execs, based on a stereotype of "what gamers like."

Destiny

Other than that it was made by the people behind Halo, and that it involved a big sphere floating over a city for some reason, I had no idea what to expect when I logged in to the Destiny beta. But enough people were talking about it online, with what seemed to be wonder and awe, that I started it up with my headset on and the overhead light switched off.

It pulled me in right away, with graphics that seemed almost PS4-quality and ... a reverence I rarely see, for the power of myth and the people who want to be part of it. Just the way they use words, like Titan and Ghost, that makes it seem like these are the names for something sacred. I didn't feel like I was "playing a game" so much as that I was physically there, helping act out a story, like when I went on the Star Trek: The Experience "ride" years ago.

I didn't know what was shooting at me, or why I was able to shoot back. I just knew these things were somehow responsible for the destruction that I'd woken up in, and that my revival was supposed to somehow bring back ... what?

Transhuman civilization, apparently, including both living machines and mysterious "Awoken." "These worlds were once ours," says the poster in the limited edition set, depicting the solar system. But what was that civilization like, besides grand and ancient? It felt kind of like playing Journey, and having to use your imagination to fill in the intentional gaps in the myth. This was no dystopia I was fighting for; it was whatever I thought was ideal. The best impressions I'd gotten from living on Earth.

I'm sure there's story material that fills in the gaps, somewhere. But they don't give it to you up front, and there aren't all the silly, ridiculous things in the gameplay that jarred me out of Defiance. Granted, I haven't played Destiny as long. But it left a strong impression, and I am tempted to preorder it.

Oh, and the gameplay was fun, too.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Conservative pundits and religious leaders seem to have a thing against Facebook and Twitter. Not because of how Twitter can be used to harass women and minorities, or how Facebook's "no pseudonyms" policy excludes anyone concerned for their safety, but because they let people share themselves with the rest of the world.

"Nobody wants to know what you ate for breakfast!" they cry, and accuse people of narcissism for thinking otherwise. I could hear their voices, figuratively speaking, while writing that last entry, about things I find fun (and why I apparently can't stand them).

When I think of narcissists, though, I think of people like them. Shallow, egotistical hypocrites, who at best are extremely un-self-aware, and at worst hate and envy almost everyone else. Who whine about "whiners," complain about "complainers," take offence at people who "choose to be offended," and use force to prevent clergy members from performing marriages (and women from accessing health care) on the basis of "religious liberty."

What they all have in common, is that they seem to think things were much better when no one had the words to describe who they were, how they felt, and how others were hurting them.

That's why my profile, in the sidebar, currently lists the words that I use to describe myself. And why I write so much about what I go through. Because people, including myself, need to be reminded that this is all real. These feelings are real, these experiences really happened, I really am the kind of person for whom it makes sense to do these things and see myself this way. For whom it hurts not to be able to.

That's what it was like, before I knew the words. Before "cis" and "trans," before "allistic" / "autistic," before "fictive" and "therian" / "otherkin." It hurt, and I had no concept of why.

I had feelings for both male- and female-presenting persons, before I knew what "pansexual" was.

I saw humans as other, and identified with animals, before I knew what a "therian" was.

I thought I was demon-possessed, before I knew about multiplicity and trauma splits.

And when I read my stories back to myself, I heard them read in a female voice, in my head.

If someone had taught me the words when I was much younger, I would've been one of those 12-year-olds who wants to take androgen blockers. I would've worn cat ears or a fox tail, past the point where adults stopped seeing it as cute. I would've latched onto everything I saw that reminded me of myself, that struck me as sacred, that seemed real and not made-up like the rest of society.

And I would've written about it sooner, too. Because I need to put things into written words, to explain them to myself ... and because I'm not the only one who needs all these things explained to.

I'm not sure that's so different from writing about what you had for breakfast, either. How else are people going to find the best place to get coffee and French toast?

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Like seemingly most people who use the service, I have a library of Steam games that I bought when they were on sale, most of which I haven't played beyond a few hours if at all. In my case, though, it's not because I'm busy. Even when I can do anything I want, I rarely feel like I want to play them right now.

I guess most people have their own comfort zones. But mine seems to be so narrowly focused that my idea of fun is to play grindy MMOs, like RuneScape circa 2007. Or do grindy things in MMOs, like hundreds of random battles over and over again to obtain the extremely rare atmas in FFXIV.

Maybe it's how I deal with a high-stress environment. When you're being triggered every other day, and under tremendous emotional load, the idea of digital "comfort food" that's always there and always nearly the same experience can be soothing. Plus, being good at maintaining attention on repetitive tasks has advantages.

But then I put off reading messages from my loved ones, because I can't handle the thought that someone genuinely cares about my well-being. I fail to reply to supportive comments, that people leave on my most depressed entries, and I sometimes skip past them entirely. Not because they mean nothing to me, but because they mean so much.

I have procrastinated reading a loving, supportive message from my mother of choice [personal profile] burning_ground before, so that I could read things on Mormon websites that make me hate myself. Just because I'm used to the latter, and not used at all to the former.

Am I trying to conserve what I see as a scarce, precious resource? Am I so susceptible to autistic sensory overload that I avoid beneficial things? Or am I just a mean old lady, who hates fun and nice things and wants everyone to be miserable?

Maybe I just still feel like I have to do things I hate, and shouldn't do things that I like enough to notice the fact that I do.

No offence

Aug. 13th, 2014 02:48 am
jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Earlier, I realized that if someone tells me not to be selfish, it's usually because they want to keep the selfishness all to themselves. I'm now convinced that if someone tells me not to take offence, it's because they're going to start dishing it out.

Discussion of transphobic incident. )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Apologies for being away from Dreamwidth so much! We got put on a new medication that lowers your blood pressure, and it's made our limbs feel like lead and made us feel a lot weaker and tired-er. Worse, it was supposed to keep our PTSD nightmares from coming back but it hasn't ... so we're going to ask if we can be taken off of it.

(We also experimented with switching from coffee to tea for a little while, and that basically put us out like a tranquilizer.)

Besides that ... when we announced our intentions to set programming aside earlier, we felt really depressed afterwards. Same with when we talked about switching from D&D 4e to Pathfinder. These are things that we really like and care about, and the fact that we're having problems with them doesn't mean that we have to quit working on them.

We're going to experiment with ways to make 4e work better online. Also, we've been taking more programming classes. We don't have much to show for them yet, but everything we learn is exciting, when we're able to set aside the time and the energy to continue learning.

Sometimes we miss writing stories. Right now gaming is scratching that itch for us, especially tabletop gaming and the amount of creativity that goes into that. But every now and then, we feel like something precious has been lost, when we think about the stories we used to tell and the way we used to do so.

I don't think we can ever recapture the way that things were, but maybe telling stories can continue to be a part of our life going forward.

About us

Furry, fantasy, and fanfiction writer. Miniatures hobbyist, Mi'qote White Mage, 4E DM. Windows gamer, fangirl, and developer. Pronouns she/her, they/their.

Transfemale plurality, otherkin, fictive. Polyamorous pansexual. Proud introvert. Inari worshiper; xenotheist.

We wrote Jewelfox's Otherkin FAQ.

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