marsden_online: (write)
Today I added my body to a Women's March here in Christchurch, a sister and supporting event to one focused on Washington, DC. Because,
- as their manifesto says, Women's Rights are Human Rights and I support that. Both in the specific and in the general sense that improving women's rights will by extension improve the lot of (at least) every other marginalised group containing women
- and I feel it is important for progress that men are seen to be supporting that, because sadly many men are still more likely to listen only to other men
- but also on another level because I feel it's also important for the well-being of men that women are seen and treated as equal.

Here I just want to pull together a few threads from around the internet on why I think there is still a long way to go in western, particularly New Zealand society.

1. From an early age boys have been told to "don't be a girl", teased for being "girly" or put down for "hitting like a girl" in response to failure, asking for help, or expressing any "negative" emotion except anger. As well as indoctrinating the idea that women are somehow less than men in both boys and girls from an early age this negative approach to dealing with emotions also contributes to New Zealand having one of the highest rates of youth suicide (especially among young men) in the developed world.

Things are getting better on this front (I believe) but there are generations of us still alive who need to challenge those ideas within ourselves and strive to do and teach better.

2. If a little boy pulls a little girl's hair "it means he likes you". Not only is the reverse not held to be true, this normalises attack (physical or emotional) as a form of showing affection. Follow the chain and you get coercion seen as a valid form of obtaining affection in the form of sex, women criticised for not responding positively to catcalls or unwanted advances, and "he only hits me because he cares".

Again, NZ has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world.

3. There's this thing about queer/gay being used as a slur. Why is it that being romantically/sexually attracted to men is percieved as a bad thing by other men?. I'm theorising here, but coming back to my first point could it be that being attracted to men is something women do, so it is another accusation of girliness? Or could it be, as beautifully laid out here that a lot of men are afraid that a man attracted to them will subject them to the same form of unwanted attention they know they give the "objects" (women) of their affection (or even passing interest)?

I believe that in our hearts we men (most of us anyway) know that this behaviour is wrong because we become uneasy at the idea of it being turned on us. Knowing that it is our responsibility to try and
- firstly face up to the discomfort and accept when we are called out on it, then try and do better.
- secondly publicly represent and model for that better behaviour
- the hardest of all (and I fail at this often myself; pick your battles): call our friends and family out on it and support others - whatever their gender, orientation or colour - when they call others out on it in our presence.

If men can step up and do this instead of passively supporting the status quo, then fairness for women (and intermediate/null genders) will come a lot faster than if they have to keep wading through us every step of the way.

~~~
With all that off my chest, here is the gallery from todays march.

Victoria Square to Cathedral Square
The leading banner
marsden_online: (write)
There's a bit of a zeitgeist going around at least in my echo chamber about 2016 and the deaths of a number of celebrities who were of great influence on my cohort in their formative years. I have been mostly an observer in all this as I have never really attached to a real-world role model in this way. Partly because growing up I never had exposure to the same mass-media which made them household names elsewhere, but as I read more about what each of these people meant and represented to people only a click away through social media it becomes clear that it is also greatly because as a cishet white male on an easy course through life I never needed that role-model to aspire to. (Which isn't to say that I wouldn't have been the better for some more varied role models in my life.)

This was particularly well summed up in what I think was a retweet I saw a couple of days ago but have been unable to find to quote exactly, thanking "Prince, David Bowie, George Michael for showing me there was more than one way to express masculinity". Searching has however shown that this is a very common sentiment.

Today it is Carrie Fisher (among others, to be sure) we are mourning; and I do mean we because although I do not have the same strong personal connection I am not so emotionally stunted that I can not respect and and share in the grief for a woman who stood for - and spoke out for - so much to so many.

But to quote one angry man we "lost" in 2015
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...”

These people and many others both past and still with us are the butterflies which create storms on the other side of the world with a flap of their wings. But they did (and do) it not by flexing their own but by inspiring others to do the same, until the beat of a million wings upon wings creates a force which can not be ignored.

With their passing the storms which are their legacy still rage and they will not be forgotten as long as those they inspired, and those whom are in turn inspired, over and over ... as long as we continue to beat our wings, sing their/our songs, carry their light*.

* I don't believe Princess Leia ever used a light sabre. But I believe wasn't entirely unrelated that that she was dressed in light/white, and Carrie stepped up to be a beacon in the real world.

~~~
It's particularly poignant for me that I write this today as I remember a friend of my own.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am one morning (quite a while ago now) and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This is the fourth in a short series.

These are written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

Possible trigger warning for child abuse themes.

Goblins, a desperate and diminishing race )
~~~
I originally wrote this article thinking of goblins, then it occurred to me that it made very similar sense for halflings, those carefree and likeable folk who get to make their way through human society at will, generally well liked and generally also overlooked ....
The halfling (or other small folk) take )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
Stupid humans, always judging first if you can give birth and not how hard you can swing an axe. Easy to fool.
- Orc warrior
It is a strangeness of humans that so many of their cultures define and even segregate persons first by whether they possess the physical attributes to bear child and only then how skilled they are at their craft, often assigning primacy to one or the other sex.
- Dwarven sage
Pity the short-lived races trapped in expressing only one portion of themselves based on accident of birth, without the time to master the bodys secrets and wholly fulfil all the self.
- Elven shaper

In the real world gender is very much a cultural construct, in western society currently very tightly tied to the popular sexual binary. I've a vague theory that this is both a luxury and a (hopefully) temporary curse of having time to think about such things and no ability to change them.

I'm aware that non "western" societies have different sets of gender constructs and admit to not knowing much about those, so I'm going to look at a few hypothetical fantasy races, still assuming a sexual binary*, to see where similar conflicts of identity might arise. In all of these it can be assumed that some concept of male/female exists but is generally of as much significance as hair or eye colour is to us.

* for non-binary ideas see my Alternate Reproductions series.
Disclaimer: my understanding of gender issues is flimsy at best so I apologise in advance for any terrible faux-pas / offence made in this writing in regards to real-world issues.

snip )
marsden_online: (globe)
From their upcoming publication Kobold Press have an extract from an essay on Gender and Magic
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am one morning and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This is the third in a short series, previous entries: Dwarves Orcs

These are written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

This is less of a full article and more short jottings on a variety of the woodland inhabitants.

Elves )
Fey )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am one morning and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This is the second in a short series, Dwarves can be found here

These are written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

This entry has a mild trigger warning - like the rest of their culture the orcish reproduction process is fairly brutal.
~~~
The ultimate survivors )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am this morning and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This will probably be one of a short series.

This is written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

~~~
Moradin forged the first dwarves from elemental earth and stone and imbued them with the spark of life. Dwarven reproduction is analogous to this process.
A stone in the oven )

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