If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that.
Junot Diaz speaking at Word Up Bookshop, 2012 (via clambistro)
Once at a festival I went to a discussion panel with sci-fi writers and someone asked them how they would write a pregnant character.
And all three of the male panellists said that they couldn’t, because they literally couldn’t even begin to put themselves in the position of being pregnant.
These are sci-fi writers. They make their living writing about space lizards from Mars, or alien invasions, or futuristic dystopia where everyone breathes through their fingers or whatever
Their entire function is to write unimaginable, crazy, out-there stuff. That is the whole point of their existence. And they couldn’t even try to imagine what it would be like to be pregnant. It’s seen as this inherently and totally mysterious female thing, that no man can ever even think of representing, even though as men they write things that none of them have ever or will ever experience.
It made me realise - In the world of sci-fi fiction, alien experiences are more human than women’s experiences.
have you ever equated female to having a vagina and/or breasts or being male to having a penis/pecs/testicles? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
have you ever said anything about men not being able to have periods? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
have you ever laughed at a “man in a dress” joke? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
have you ever invaded a space meant for trans people? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
have you ever invalidated someone’s gender? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
have you ever compared the systematic oppression trans people face every day to a few blogs online that poke fun at cis people and point out what cis people have done to trans people? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
have you ever said or did anything that suggested that being gay was a method of birth control? you’ve contributed to transphobia.
just because you’re not openly hateful towards trans people doesn’t at all mean that you aren’t transphobic or that you don’t contribute to transphobia on a daily basis.
Also what the heck was with those new Daleks that were new and pure and… dumb-looking… they showed up, all brightly colored, and then we barely ever see them again. What happened, and who wrote that episode?
I think it was a Mark Gatiss episode, but I watched Doctor Who Confidential afterwards and I think the Daleks and the planes in space ideas were both Moffat’s and that was the first time I started to fear for Moffat’s writing because those were both crap.
And having brightly-coloured, different Daleks was the opposite of the Daleks’ previous beliefs so it didn’t make much sense. They weren’t at the Dalek parliament in Asylum of the Daleks, so who knows?
This is the hardest question I have ever answered because the HIMYM finale was the worst finale I have ever seen and (much as I hate Moffat) this finale is one of the worst episodes I have ever seen of anything. Moffat has no character development, but the HIMYM finale destroyed every drop of character development Robin, Barney and Ted (the show’s hero!) ever had. It made no sense, destroyed the foundations of the show, destroyed everything that had been building up for nine seasons…
I wouldn’t say they Moffat’d it, I’d say they Gossip Girl’d it. I see what you mean (as it focused on big events rather than connecting them with characterisation) but in a finale that’s less surprising (and if it had just shown them carrying on with the big moments of their lives I would have enjoyed it). But Doctor Who is a show with more flexibility of concept than HIMYM, so although Moffat goes against some foundations of it, he can’t destroy all of it, and he doesn’t have the power to ruin the whole show (because of all the different eras), whereas the HIMYM finale ruined the entire show, start to finish. I’ve seen some bad retconning in my time (including by Moffat), but HIMYM has outdone them all.
Hello you wonderful people! I just wanted to tell you how thankful I am that you make this site. You have words for all the things that always disturbed me from the moment Moffat took over, and could never lay my finger on. Moffat has turned this show into what I call ‘christmas decoration presents’. You know, those pretty wrapped up boxes lying under christmas trees in malls and stuff?
When I was a kid I would stand before those hours on end, imagining what wonderful things these shiny glittery boxes held. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that they were empty… and that is Doctor Who now. Shiny, glittery, sparkling - but empty. Disappointly empty, and every episode is leaving me with a bad feeling in my mind now.
And that makes me so fucking angry.
Doctor Who used to be something that I looked forward to. When it aired here in Germany for the first time, I was hooked on the spot - which was quite a task for me, since ‘Dead like me’ aired at the same time and I loved that show. But DW won. Heh. And now it’s losing. Screw Moffat. Screw him.
Those boxes are empty??? I always suspected but I kept telling myself that there could still be something inside. Which is how I feel about Doctor Who, really.
You’re right, that’s a great way of describing Doctor Who now. It feels empty and it’s frustrating to see when it used to be so awesome.
The petition to legally recognize non-binary genders expired because it did not reach 100,000 signatures in time.
HERE IS A NEW PETITION. It expires April 20th. DO NOT LET THIS ONE FAIL AS WELL.
its been about a day since this has been up and its gotten past 35,000 signatures. seriously if it keeps it up we could get achieve this in about three days ple a s e if you have not already signed please sign now
You can still sign even you’re not in the USA. Just leave the zip code blank!
one look at ‘gopyouth’s blog and i’m pretty sure anything they have to say about ‘traditional marriage’ and ‘representation’ can be totally disregarded. i actually find it difficult to believe they aren’t a complete troll.
That’s a relief. It’s hard to tell sometimes.
It kind of blows me away people are wanting ‘traditional’ values in Doctor Who. Dude, go watch The Waltons or something buddy. Clearly this show isn’t for you.
Ugh, definitely. And the values on Doctor Who are still fairly conservative in many ways, so I don’t know why someone would be so shocked by it.