We Are All Entrapta

If there is one accusation that the allistic world likes to inflict on people like me, it is the idea that we do not care. Our norms flout theirs, our preferences are alien to them, our interests do not align with theirs, our emotions do not work like theirs, and to each of these, they levy their curse: you don’t care. They fling a tiresome welter of robot and reptile and cold and computer and alien at our feet, each a stiletto aimed at the part of us that is willing to believe them. Their only idea for who and what we are denies our humanity.

When I see the same accusation leveled at one of the most impressively competent and compassionate portrayals of our neurology in popular media, Princess Entrapta from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, my irritation turns to icy resolve.

Continue reading “We Are All Entrapta”

We Are All Entrapta
{advertisement}

Redemptive Sacrifice Done Right: On Shadow Weaver

Redemption through sacrifice is an old motif that has gotten more attention in recent popular media. Redemption arcs are powerful when done correctly, but they are also difficult to execute and require specific story structures to support them. Writers who want the powerful singular moment of redemption with less of the work required to earn it often use sacrifice as a shortcut. When a character’s life ends in the service of the people they have wronged, it can seem like the ultimate return payment for the harm they have caused, but can also be emotionally cheap. Without an effort to actually make right the wrongs of one’s past, a redemptive sacrifice can seem like an effort to suffer enough that some cosmic scale is balanced, a retributive impulse turned inward rather than a restorative one aimed outward. Worse, destroying oneself in a sacrificial blaze can also seem like an effort to escape accountability and prevent an honest reckoning with one’s legacy. For these reasons, I have grown to resent the idea of characters experiencing redemption through destroying themselves.

But one piece of media managed this difficult task with impossible grace, and that is She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. The story of Shadow Weaver might be the only time in my conscious memory that I have seen a redemptive sacrifice work. And to understand why, we have to go through Shadow Weaver’s story.

Continue reading “Redemptive Sacrifice Done Right: On Shadow Weaver”

Redemptive Sacrifice Done Right: On Shadow Weaver

Love Lives Here: A Review

“Thank you,” I told them. “Thank you for being so much better than an occasional phone call asking if I’ve given up yet.”

Zoë Michelle Knox and Amanda Jetté Knox were already famous in Canada for the improbable beauty of their journey when I met them. They were the family that had gone from the picture of white suburban normalcy to a beacon of queer hope, as father and son rediscovered themselves as wife and daughter, made public by Amanda’s blog and Internet presence, and they had been all over Canada’s magazines and web sites. The fact that they were local meant that my friends and extended circles were particularly aware of these lovely people, and made sure I heard when their speaking tour brought  them to an auditorium within not-too-forbidding walking distance of my home. They spoke about Amanda’s then-nascent book, Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family, about trans issues in general, about how society fails us and how people can make sure the transgender family members among them feel loved, supported, and cared for despite widespread social disapproval and even violence.

Continue reading “Love Lives Here: A Review”

Love Lives Here: A Review

Their Brows Look Like Mine: FFS and Ethnic Identity

“This is what it means to be a girl, isn’t it? To never feel like enough.”

I wrote these words as one of the sadder moments in “The Prom Pine,” a short story whose fanfiction version you can read here. (The non-fanfiction version, an extended narrative meditation on dissociation and its uses, will appear in a future edition of Spoon Knife.) It’s true that this world imposes that pressure on women in general, with every ad for makeup, diet, clothing, exercise, and more promising relief from that anhedonic treadmill, but trans women face a special pressure here. The outside world doles out validation in proportion to our efforts to conform to cisfeminine expectations, and we often start from difficult positions, testosterone poisoning setting us back before we even begin. It takes eons of soul-searching to find the lines between gender dysphoria, social conditioning, and everything else. I’ve found a whole other line, and it weighs on me now.

Continue reading “Their Brows Look Like Mine: FFS and Ethnic Identity”

Their Brows Look Like Mine: FFS and Ethnic Identity

There Are Words For Us: What “Striking Vipers” Did Wrong

Transformation and exchange are two of the most thematically interesting ways to explore gender and relationships in fiction. This isn’t a new idea, with the story of Tiresias providing an example from Greek antiquity. Such stories can range from ignorant and banal to nuanced and powerful. As a trans woman, I have long held a fascination with them, and they ultimately helped me come to understand what I wanted from my body and my life. “Striking Vipers,” the first episode of season 5 of Black Mirror, is neither of these, instead being a tragic, wasteful misfire that perhaps handles some of its other themes better than this one.

Continue reading “There Are Words For Us: What “Striking Vipers” Did Wrong”

There Are Words For Us: What “Striking Vipers” Did Wrong

He Mourns: The Narcissistic Abuser at the Heart of Infinity War

CN spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Avengers: Infinity War

Families can be tough.”

In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor offers this wisdom to Gamora after learning that her adoptive father is the omnicidal titan Thanos. The horrors of familial strife are a recurring theme in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being a fixture of the Thor, Black Panther, and Guardians of the Galaxy sub-franchises, but in Infinity War that theme reaches its darkest crescendo. Thanos is the compelling antagonist he is in no small part because of his children, and how his relationship with them is a pitch-perfect recreation of real-world narcissistic abuse.

Thanos, in golden armor, and Gamora as a child, holding hands as Thanos leads Gamora to a pavillion. Thanos is gigantic, and the young, red-haired Gamora's head is roughly at waist level.

Continue reading “He Mourns: The Narcissistic Abuser at the Heart of Infinity War”

He Mourns: The Narcissistic Abuser at the Heart of Infinity War

Listening on Repeat: A Playlist

I didn’t used to think of myself as a person who listened to the same song over and over again in emotionally trying times. A good look through my actual listening habits forced me to re-evaluate that image of myself, because…I actually do that a lot. My usual music habit is still to put my entire playlist on Shuffle and skip over anything that doesn’t suit my mood, but when my mind is sore and my heart ailing, it’s time for something that feels right, 15 or 20 times. Lately it’s Zard’s version of what is better known as Dragonball GT’s theme song by Field of View, but over the years, it’s been many, many different things.

Continue reading “Listening on Repeat: A Playlist”

Listening on Repeat: A Playlist

Highlights from the Void, 2017

As the surreal hellscape of 2017 winds to a close, it’s time to look back on the past year of blogging and pick out some high points my dear readers might have missed. So, for your enjoyment, here are ten of Alyssa’s proudest creations of 2017.

Continue reading “Highlights from the Void, 2017”

Highlights from the Void, 2017

How to Cook and Eat your Favorite Republicans

It’s that time of year again, when humankind holds back the darkest night of the year with expansive meals and festive lights well across the northern hemisphere. And what better festive meal on the darkest night than the pitch darkness made manifest that is the average Republican?

I know, I know—Republicans are notoriously tricky to cook, since most of them are toxic enough that no plants ever grow again on the ground where they have trod barefoot and gutting them for consumption typically requires a full hazmat contingent. But there are some tips and trick that an enterprising culinary wizard can employ to make their Republican meals safe, easy, and even fun. Let’s begin.

Continue reading “How to Cook and Eat your Favorite Republicans”

How to Cook and Eat your Favorite Republicans

Lovecraft Letters: Leznard Twitruvian, World’s Sexiest Man

“Blake Shelton looks like what would happen if the same neural network that made recipes out of “1 cup mixture” was tasked with ranking men’s sexiness.”

Encounter the Neural Network’s Sexiest Man below the fold…

Continue reading “Lovecraft Letters: Leznard Twitruvian, World’s Sexiest Man”

Lovecraft Letters: Leznard Twitruvian, World’s Sexiest Man