jewelfox: A portrait of Rei Ayanami from the Evangelion series as an anthropomorphic albino red fox, in a sleeveless lavender top. (rei)

There are two ways to get someone to contribute to society, for varying definitions of "contribute" and "society."

One is to require it of them, and to deprive them of their wants or even needs if they don't perform as demanded. The other is to give them such abundance that they cannot help but share.

Everything that I've seen suggests that the latter is much more effective, and that nearly everyone uses it whenever possible. They reserve the former method for people they don't like, or that they feel entitled to exploit because they do not see them as people.

Real-world examples

This site is hosted on Dreamwidth, fandom enclave extraordinaire, so let's talk about fandom to start with. "Pirated" shows, lovingly subtitled by their fans, helped turn anime from an art style into a major Japanese export. Fandom could not get enough, and paid generously both through buying official and licensed products (once they became available) and by creating fanwork such as cosplay.

I used to be a professional writer, before things went south for me in that department. My best work, both in "pageviews" and in self-perceived quality, was what I was most passionate about, because I wanted so much to share with people what I'd learned. Whether because I was excited about it, or because I was incensed and wanted to share my moral outrage, or raise awareness of an issue.

Sometimes I needed a deadline to get me to write. But when my work became all about deadlines, and the supervisors who had stood up for me mysteriously went absent, and new rules kept me from writing essays like the ones that had won me awards and made lots of money ... I actually shut down from stress. I couldn't do it anymore, not and deal with my sudden personal / family crises at the same time. It wasn't until I felt secure with my partner's financial support that I could coax myself into writing again, to help my partner with expenses and to reward myself with a few games and toys.

I contributed the most to free and open-source software when I felt the most valued by its community, especially when they paid my living expenses as part of the Outreach Program for Women. I was so grateful to my sponsors and mentor, and even though I was living with untreated major depression I pushed myself to work on GNOME. Not just to give back to my benefactors, but because I believed in GNOME's mission and I wanted underprivileged girls to have a free OS of their own.

When the cheques stopped, the program ended, and community interactions showed me how little the free software world valued both women and "women's work" outside of anomalies like the program, I was surprised to find out there was nothing to keep me devoted to them. And that I liked Windows 8 a lot more than free software OSes, and that Microsoft, even as a for-profit company, was sharing a lot more with people like me than the free software "community" was.

Share the wealth

Now I'm surrounded by toys and games in abundance, and the one thing I most want to do is make something worthy of them, and of the people who gave them to me. I want to use the talents that I seem to have, to make artwork like fanfic and models and RPG books, and share them with those who appreciate them.

I play single-player video games, and trim plastic models, and read books curled up in my den, and it makes me want to give back. Not because of duty or forced gratitude, but because it's a natural expression of how I feel. I have to write things that continue the story. I have to share screenshots and work-in-progress photos, and enthuse about things that excite me, and find people to be excited with.

I feel so inspired, I have to share and create.

I think that's how it is for most people.

I think people who don't, or won't, or can't, at least not in socially acceptable ways, don't deserve to starve or be homeless.

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: 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... )

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: 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.

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)

And was reminded of why I usually don't.

I'm a fan of the kind of intersectional feminism I usually see advocated on the Geek Feminism blog, even if I think it doesn't go far enough (it's annoying to hear people equate "human" with "person"). My experience with Tumblr social justice activism, though, has been much more negative.

It's not about people there being young, queer, or angry, or being whatever kind of person isn't allowed to have an opinion. It's not about being called on my privilege, either.

It's the mind-readers.

Tumblr social justice mind-readers know that you're being yourself just to upset them. Your identity is either a roleplaying character bio or proof that you "need help." You are appropriating them and their marginalized identity by being who you are, and you need to stop it right now.

This is hard for me to deal with, because it's the same kind of crap that I've gotten from my parents of origin and from religious authority figures my whole life. The person I am, they say, is unacceptable to them, is a performance I'm deliberately putting on just to offend them. I can choose to stop any time I want, and the fact that I haven't yet is proof that I'm terrible.

This really gets to me. Because deep down, I feel like the correct response is to disappear for their benefit, even if I have to kill myself to do so.

It takes a conscious effort for me to tell myself that no matter who someone is, no matter what authority they claim, and no matter what they're accusing me of, if the choice is between upsetting them and dying then I have to flip them the bird. Because that really does not come naturally for us.

Even though we're part protobird.

If our saying that upsets someone, or our using the first-person plural whenever we feel like it upsets someone, the most I can do for them is apologize for the confusion. I don't have the time or emotional resources to educate everyone who challenges me to a debate and then argues in bad faith. I'm not obligated to justify my existence to anyone.

The only obligation I feel is to explain who I am, what is important to me, and why. For my benefit, and for the benefit of anyone else who's having trouble finding the courage to be themselves.

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: The links in this essay may contain NSFW artwork or ads, or animated icons.

One of the artists I follow on FurAffinity was recently surprised to find out someone had taken on the persona of an incredibly popular character he designed, on Twitter. He didn't explicitly say (in the journal) that he disapproved of this, but soon afterwards the Twitter account vanished.

As far as I know, the person on Twitter did not credit him in any way. He also did not mention them making money off of his persona. He, on the other hand, has sold commissions of people's characters posing with this character.

I used the phrase "taking on the persona" rather than "impersonating," there, because I'm not sure I see anything wrong with what this person did besides not crediting him as the artist. I'm not even sure one should need to ask permission for something like this.

A black-and-magenta foxgryphon with wings, wearing a sleeveless teal top and jean shorts.
Artwork by [personal profile] aliaspseudonym.

If someone looks at our avatar, and has the same feeling the-part-of-us-that-is-Rei did when she watched Evangelion for the first time, I don't want to take that away from her.

I don't want to pretend it's impossible that she exists.

I don't want to tell her that what she is feeling is wrong.

I don't think she should be able to tell me not to be upset, when she posts transphobic nonsense on her Tumblr. But I don't think that should be illegal because of an exclusive "right" that I have to this character. I think that it should be outlawed because it's hate speech.

I personally feel the whole system of ownership is designed by and for rich people, usually rich white hetero cis men. The whole system of "property" seems designed to transfer as much social and financial wealth to them as possible, at the expense of fans and indigenous peoples. Then, after they "own" everything, they license or rent it to everyone else, including in some cases the people who made it.

The first victims of "property rights" on this continent were First Nations people. My understanding is that many of them didn't know just how evil the men they were dealing with were, until they found out that they'd "sold" their lands. And that they continue to be victimized in this way today, by "copyright" laws which allow capitalists to exploit their oh-so-exotic designs for profit and ignorant white people to use their designs without attribution.

But try to sell your Final Fantasy fangame, or publish fanfic without attaching this to it:

I DO NOT OWN THIS! All characters (c) by Square-Enix

And watch the legal and/or popular reprisal.

People self-police on this stuff, in the parts of the web that I go to. I think some of that is okay. You really should attribute the original creators. You shouldn't impersonate them or imply their endorsement of your work, whether you're drawing fanart or explaining religious beliefs.

(Don't get me started on the irony of Christians getting mad at Mormons for appropriating Christianity.)

But a lot of the policing goes on along lines of oppression. Corporations sue fans for making things that were inspired by the work of another person just like them, just because the people in charge have the money to say that they "own" that person's work. And people who had the lifestyle and ability to allow them to create artwork tell people who don't that they aren't allowed to have refs for their RP characters.

When I start creating a new character, like the one that I played in D&D Encounters, the first thing I do is look up other people's interpretations of that idea (or ones like it) on DeviantArt and Bing image search. I've never been able to draw very well, and I don't feel that being able to do so should be a requirement for having a personal character. I don't feel that having money should be a requirement.

I don't feel that agreeing with the creator should be a requirement, either.

Just look at the "genderbent" fanart on Tumblr. The feminist appropriations of characters originally meant to be male fantasies. Hell, Christian Sonic the Hedgehog is how I got into writing originally. And I may write elaborate backstories for my characters, but the more popular my writing becomes the more likely it is that someone will draw them as her lesbian love slaves.

(Plz send me links if you do.)

Sometimes, I feel this is wrong. That I do need permission, and that everyone who disagrees with us should have the right to shut us up. Or at least the people in the social justice world, or whatever we look to for morals and purpose these days.

But the thing is, if I had to get permission from everyone whose ideas I use, I would have to throw out two-thirds of my identities and all of my essays about them. What should I ask them for, anyway? The right to exist? To use the words that they say to mean what they say they mean?

Does the word "dysphoria" stop meaning what transgender people say it does, when a trans woman who's also an otherkin uses it?

Rei I'm not claiming to be an albino Asian girl because I want to make a statement about albinos, Asians, or young women. I'm not saying it to pretend, or insult people, or make money from others' hard work, or make an intentional political statement. I am saying that because it is part of who I am.

I don't care if otherkin hate fictives, trans women hate otherkin, radical feminists hate trans women, or the patriarchy hates radfems. I don't care if everyone agrees that "transethnic" and "transability" are not real things, and that the only people who say they are those things are posers. I don't care if an actual, Asian, albino young woman thinks I'm making fun of her, and I wouldn't care if someone we all agreed was the actual Rei Ayanami told me to please cease and desist.

Even the-part-of-us-that-is-Rei, quiet and compliant as she is, could not do that. Because she can't help but believe that this is who she is, the same way we all agree we're female. She could stop talking about it, stop claiming to be it, or prepend "I believe" to statements she knows to be true. But the people who would ask her to do those things have the privilege of not having to do any of them, theirselves. And if the person she feels she is has less privilege along different axes than we do ourselves, well, maybe that isn't her fault.

I don't think it's right not to credit creatives, and I feel copyright laws should protect them and indigenous peoples from misattribution and capitalist exploitation. But I don't feel that anyone can legitimately gatekeep someone else's access to a myth or an identity. Whether their "ownership" of the "intellectual" "property" comes from being the artist, hiring the artist, or being a person who has been hurt or oppressed, on account of believing in that myth or having that identity.

"Fake geek girls," represent.

Trans women, represent.

Trans everything, represent.

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)

I am trying to say: "These are the words and concepts I've found that best describe us so far. I am sharing them with you so you will know what names and pronouns to use in order to better relate to us, and in case they are useful to you in describing yourself."

I feel like I'm actually saying: "I had a mind-blowing spiritual epiphany, and have since taken a vow to be exactly like a mythological creature / video game protagonist / anime girl. Feel free to critique how well I live up to your expectations of those things!"

(Content note: Most of the rest of this essay describes ablist and xenophobic responses to what I say.)

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)
We're tired right now, and thinking about things clearly but mechanically. In the process we realized some things.

[fox!Taryn]: I want to live among people not like me, and have the fact that I'm not like them be an interesting quirk instead of a drawback.

I want to be welcomed for who I am, instead of having to hide it. I don't want to have to lie to people for my own safety. I don't want people to say that I'm dangerous, and use that as a reason to hurt me. I don't want people to say that I'm lazy, useless, unworthy, or unpleasant, and use those as reasons to hurt me.

I want to be able to take my safety and acceptance for granted, and never worry about either again. I want to know that the people around me will not let me die or be hurt, or take away things that I need. I want to know that I won't be forced to be someone else's idea of a good person.

I want to feel okay with doing things that I enjoy, and to enjoy doing things that help others. I want the world around me to help steer me in that direction, instead of encouraging me to be selfish, to see others as less than, to feel entitled to enjoying myself at their expense. I want everyone around me to know that everyone needs to be included, and that it's fun to come up with ways how and think about how to change things for them.

I am currently looking for safe places to live and seeking internship and volunteer opportunities in free software projects, so that I can have all these things. I don't know how people would feel about my presenting as nonhuman -- in some way -- but I want to do that as well, even if I don't know how to modify my in person appearance acceptably yet.

[veloci!Taryn]: I want to run faster than things that can hurt me. I want to be feared by things that can hurt me. I want to leap onto them and rip out their life, and take from them what I need that they deny me.

I want to not have to do any of the above. But I want to be able to, when I need to. I want to be able to translate my impulse to actions that won't get me killed or imprisoned, and preferably that won't hurt anyone who doesn't deserve it, but will be more effective than lashing out with real claws.

I want the voice inside me that tells me that I'm a bad person to shut up, even if it's me. I want to not feel so scared and threatened that the only times I've been fronting lately are to scream, and hiss, and use profanity. In private, when it's the only way I have to deal with a day's worth of reactions to things that fox!Taryn was dealing with, and I'm scared and I wish she wasn't putting me through this and I just want to fight what I'm scared of so that I can end this either way.

I want this "transitioning" thing to be easier. I want to be able to be out to everyone who sees me and have it not be an issue. I want to be able to tell people who ask me things "Whoops, sorry, I'm still working on presenting as female." I want to not have to worry about being outed. I want to dress for myself without having to worry about being outed.

I want to be able to run, and wear feathers and tight clothes, less clothes, and be aware of my body and not ashamed of it, and I don't know if that means that I'd have to look a certain way or not. I know what I want to see in the mirror though, even if I hate it.

I want to not hate being this creature inside, and know that it's okay to be myself.

I want to not hate being this creature on the outside, and know that it's okay to be myself in front of others.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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