Mar. 14th, 2011

gyzym: (Turtle puppy!)
So, I think I've mentioned before that I have a big black labradoodle named Jerry Garcia. If you did not know that....now you do? In any case, he is the best dog in the history of dogs and I love him more than is strictly reasonably, make no mistake. The things I would do for that animal are staggering; he is the sweetest ever and so adorable and crazy, which is why we get on so well. My family being what they are, if he hadn't been crazy, I would never have known what to do with him.

But. But.

Okay, the thing is, the writer's block question on LJ's main page tonight is "If your pet were a person, what occupation would they choose?" I would have done the thing where I embed it or whatever, but I am Bad At The Internet, and I feel no need to develop the skill of doing this, since I've never wanted to answer one before and probably never will again. I didn't even intend to answer this one, actually, except that I saw it right before I went to take him out, and for whatever reason I turned it over in my mind while we were outside.

Right, I thought to myself, Jerry's likes and dislikes. I immediately discounted the basics, as to my knowledge there is no job in the real world that consists of eating, sleeping, and making comforting whuffing noises every couple of minutes; if I am wrong about that, please inform me and pass the application along. So I started going through the other things Jerry likes to do, and I came to a shocking conclusion.

Jerry likes to overreact. He likes to assume that things which are not threats--passersby, the plow, his own reflection--are in fact the harbingers of doom, come to kill us all. He likes to find things he knows better than to chew on and chew on them anyway; he likes to bark and bark and bark and bark until oh my god, Jer, I get it, for fuck's sake, Jesus Christ. He likes to arbitrarily decide that people he doesn't know--and sometimes people he does know--are in fact TERRIBLE KILLERS WAITING TO MURDER US IN THE NIGHT. The things I say to him most often are (and [livejournal.com profile] angelgazing, who has sat through many a phone conversation with me while I was taking him out, can attest to this) "Jerry, you are a lunatic," and "Oh my god, Jer, seriously, calm down, calm down, what is wrong with you?" He has been known, on occasion, to eat his own shit.

Guys. You guys. I think if my dog was a person, he would be Glenn Beck.

I'm going to try to sleep now, but this knowledge weighs on me. He's looking at me like he knows what's been said here, Livejournal. He's looking at me like he knows.
gyzym: (Rainbow balloons!)
Right, so, before I say anything here, I'd like to make the following disclaimer: this is not about wank, and I'm going to be heartbroken if it becomes wank anyway. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad, I'm not doing the fandom politics thing, and I'm not making this post in order to single anyone out in that passive-aggressive "I'm talking about it like it's all over the place but REALLY IT IS ONE PERSON AND I HOPE THEY FEEL SHITTY ABOUT IT" way people do sometimes. There's this fantastic sixth grader that I'm lucky enough to call my baby brother; if I was interested in playing those kinds of games, I'd go with him to middle school. This is more...well. This is more like the kind of post I'd make if, while traipsing about the internet, I discovered that a large majority of fandom was using the word "green" to describe the color blue. And, as always, if I've gotten something wrong within, I encourage and welcome corrections with open arms.

Okay? Okay.

So, about a year ago, my friend [livejournal.com profile] iambickilometer made a post called Five+ Ways Being Transgender in Fandom Really Sucks, and Why I Stick With It Anyway. It is an incredible post, and everyone should read it; it's concise and clear and moving, and you will unquestionably learn from it. I know I did, when I read it last April. Iambic says a number of things within that post that are worth reading and rereading until you know them by heart, and I'm not going to discuss most of them here--he's done a far better job of saying it all than I ever could, and he speaks from a plane of experience that I've never traveled on. You should go read his words, you guys--read and reread, digest, take to heart.

There's just one thing that I'm going to say, because I've been seeing it everywhere for months and months now and I think it's just because folks don't know: that stuff that's usually called genderswap fic? Guys, it's pretty much always sexswap.

These are two definitions Iambic included in his post; he pointed out there that they are his own, because these are words that can mean different things to different people. His understanding of these terms lines up with mine, so I am using them here; I humbly second his request not to challenge these definitions unless they are unintentionally offensive.

sex: a classification of body dependent upon reproductive organs and hormones associated with reproduction and development.
gender: the way a person relates to their sex.


To put it another way: gender's about identity. It's about who you are as a person, not what body parts you do or do not have. So stories where, I don't know, Arthur from Inception wakes up in a female body, or Kono from Hawaii 5-0 wakes up in a male body? Unless you're also addressing a shift in gender identity (which, by the way, is something I personally would love to read), these are sexswap stories, not genderswap stories. It's not a question of which sounds better, or which is clearer, or even of fandom vernacular--it is, really and truly, a case of one being a misnomer, and the other being correct.

I have this life philosophy, you guys, about taking in as much as you can, about viewing every situation you find yourself in as a potential learning experience. When I got into fandom originally, I thought it was going to be a place to stretch my writing muscles, a place to teach myself to write by writing. Instead, I discovered more than I ever thought I'd know about other people's histories, cultures, identities and life experiences. I'm a cisgendered, bisexual Jewish girl from a city on the edge of a once-burnt river; I don't know really know shit about shit, and I don't claim to know. But I know more than I would have, is the thing, and it's because people like Iambic have taken the time and energy and inherent risk to tell me.

And I say all this to make the following point: this post is not about shame. It's not about making you feel bad about stuff you've written or thought about writing; you're not going to find me in your comments, typing in RAGECAPS and making angry faces. I'm not interested in policing you or pushing you or making choices for you--that's not who I am, and it's not what I'm about. Rather, this post is about awareness. It's about broadening horizons, and learning something you maybe didn't know before. It's about the moment I had, reading Iambic's post last April and realizing I'd had some things wrong; it's about sharing that moment with you guys, both for the sake respecting the experience of others and for the sake of accuracy, for the sake of our own integrity as writers and readers and artists.

In conclusion: we're a community of fans, and whether they've been scripted and acted or inked and bound, we know better than anyone that words have power and weight and meaning. So let's use them correctly, yeah? Let's say what we mean to say. ♥

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July 2011

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