The Equality of Differences – QRM post

Hey all — my blog post for Queer Romance Month is out and I wanted to mention it here because I think people might be interested in it. I called it The Equality of Differences and I don’t think I can totally copy the whole post over here (since that wouldn’t be fair to QRM) so instead I’m showing you just the beginning of it below.

Follow the link at the end to read the rest.


I have spent most of my life feeling like an alien on Earth. The main reason for this is because it has often felt like, at every step of the way, I was different than what society expected.

My earliest memory is of being at recess in elementary school and running up to a teacher to ask, “What’s a lesbian?” I know I asked that question because somebody called me one, but I don’t remember exactly what they said, nor what the teacher’s response was. All I know is whatever the teacher said gave me the impression it was something very bad, because I remember running back and yelling at the other kid that I wasn’t a lesbian at all.

I was too young back then to know I actually was a lesbian, and way too young to know I was asexual as well. Maybe if I’d known I wouldn’t have denied it to that kid, because later I would grow up to realize how important it is to be myself. Even when that means I feel like I don’t belong.

For anyone who’s interested, I wrote a blog post earlier this year called An Asexual’s View of Love which talks about how, to me, romance can seem like a fetishization of love. I don’t want to be repetitive so I focus on different topics in this post than I did in that one.

The topic of having romance be accessible to everyone is something very dear to me, as a woman who is definitely a romantic at heart but who also happens to be both asexual and a lesbian. I’ve often felt that the things that are expected of human beings, and especially female human beings in the US, are things that are utterly foreign to me.

There are different ways of feeling alienated or consistently “not normal.” For me, it’s always been a whole lot of little things that added up to me feeling like a freak of nature as far as mainstream is concerned. Stereotypes shouldn’t be expectations, but in aggregate they are.

Women are overtly sexualized in the US (which creeps me out as an asexual), with the expectation that men should get the most out of her and have some control of, or accessibility to, her beauty (which creeps me out as a lesbian), and with the further assumption that her end goal in life must be to have children, marry and settle down (which creeps me out as someone who didn’t like kids as a kid and doesn’t want to be around them any more as an adult).

In short, if you imagine what is assumed to be “normal,” I was almost always the opposite.

CONTINUE READING: http://www.queerromancemonth.com/ais-lin-2015

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NerdCon: Stories (NerdCon 2015)

I made the trip to NerdCon: Stories, the first year of this new convention originally created by Hank Green and then done with Patrick Rothfuss and a whole lot of other authors. As they put it:

Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all.  — John Green

NerdCon is here to celebrate the enthusiasm of the Nerd! We want to capture some of the most important and exciting cultural institutions in physical spaces. We started on this goal in 2010 when we launched VidCon, but it just wasn’t enough for us. Now, NerdCons celebrating all sorts of important, fascinating, and vital things will arise. We are starting with NerdCon: Stories.

Story-telling is as old as humans. In fact, it might be one of the things that helped us become humans. NerdCon: Stories is here to honor that institution with a diverse gathering of story tellers.

I heavily debated whether I would go when I heard about it, because it was expensive ($100 for tickets) and I wasn’t sure. But my friend and I were both interested, and I thought it would be cool to be there the first year of something that might take off in the future, so we went.

I am so incredibly glad we did. It was amazing. Amazing. Seriously, it was my favorite convention I’ve been to in… as long as I can remember, actually.

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Let’s Talk About It: the complexity of feminism

This is something I’m labeling as a “Let’s Talk About It” here because I ended up talking at length about this topic, but it originated from an ask on tumblr. Below is the ask, as well as my answer. I’m posting here because it’s a long answer and others may find it to be of interest, or I may want to find this post again in the future.

Copied tumblr post below:


feministetalquestion

I answered the ICoS questions in a different post so here I’m answering just the feminist question. I split them because whether I consider myself to be a feminist is a complicated/long answer on its own.

You may be wondering why this part took me so much longer to answer. It’s because no matter how many times I started this post, it always devolved into way too many topics way too quickly and somehow it involved a rant. Although you said it was fine to rant, I felt like I wasn’t explaining my thought process well and I kept getting way too sidetracked. To me, everything is interconnected so there are several really big topics that can get pulled in from the simple question of “feminism: yes/no?”.

This is probably try #6 on this post and hopefully this will be the last attempt. All of this is, of course, merely my personal opinion– other people could think completely differently than I do, and it doesn’t make them less valid than me. It simply makes them a human being with a different opinion, which is not something to judge but rather something to accept and even love.

The short answer is that I don’t consider myself to be anything in particular. Without going way too much on a tangent, the way I personally feel about things (others could feel otherwise and be totally valid) is that labels are limiting, both externally by what people make assumptions about based on the label, and internally by what people will allow themselves to think/feel based on trying to fit in with whatever label they’ve self-assigned.

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Anti-bullying, and remember: you could become someone else’s bully

I received this message at tumblr, and after I posted my response I decided I wanted to add it to my blog as well– both so it wouldn’t be lost, and because this is something I believe very strongly that will never change. I see way too many people use their own real or perceived hurt to hurt others, and that is exactly what bullies are often thought to do. Don’t let yourself become so certain of your own moral superiority that you are blinded to the impact of your own actions or words.


anontothisday

Wow, thank you so much for pointing that out! I hadn’t seen it before and it was amazing! Since I think everyone should watch it, here’s the video:

I love the message in it, and that it stands for anti-bullying. I really like how it talks about the different parts, how something small can become something so huge. I could really identify with that, both for me and for some of my characters. I want to take a second to remind everyone how much words can hurt, and how verbal or emotional abuse can cause as much– if not, in some cases, actually more– long term damage as physical abuse.

But I also want to mention something else: I think we should all strive to treat others the way we wish we would be treated. This is unrelated to this video but sometimes, especially on social media, I see people get so wrapped up in whatever cause they’re trying to champion that they start attacking everyone else, labeling them as XYZphobic or XYZist even when they aren’t. Even when the behavior they’re demonizing is, at best, ignorance that could easily be changed through education by treating the other person with the respect those people are demanding they themselves deserve. Calling people names doesn’t help any cause. And I know some of those people don’t want to hear it, but if you start down that path you could easily become someone else’s bully.

Be kind to one another, and always be willing to understand the other side. Because when you start making snap decisions about other people based on one comment or one moment or one aspect of who they are as a human, you can become no different than the background voices hurting others with their words like in this video.

Anon, sorry to segue that video into this topic but it’s something that’s been really bothering me lately, and seriously upset/angered me earlier today, and when I saw this video I loved it so much. All I could think about was how all the perspectives can come together to tell a story that could be a tragedy, or an inspiration, or anything in between.

We all hold responsibility for our own actions and our own voices. We can use them to try to help or, whether purposeful or not, to harm. Always be mindful of the power of your words and your reach. You aren’t invisible and you aren’t screaming into a storm, so if you use that power well you can be a light in someone else’s darkness, or build a bridge where before there was only a rift, or be a bandage to cover a wound. You can and do make a difference everyday, so let’s all try to make sure that difference is a positive one.

Neurobiology of Rape and Sexual Assault: Let’s Talk About It

In honor of US National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and for my 100th blog post, I wanted to cover a topic that is really important to me. This will be the first in my Let’s Talk About It series, looking at complicated or serious topics and exploring it in pieces a post at a time.

Today I want to talk about the neurobiology of trauma, specifically in regards to rape or sexual assault. This is a complicated topic that many others cover better than me so I’m going to do as much of an overview as I can, and because there’s a lot to cover I will only touch on pieces.

TRIGGER WARNING FOR ANYONE WHO HAS SURVIVED RAPE OR SEXUAL ASSAULT: I will be talking about what happens in the body and brain during trauma, so it’s possible some wording might be triggering. This focuses on hormonal reactions and the chemistry of the brain. Please do not read further if you think this will be detrimental for you.

Regarding this post:

First, you might notice me switch between victim, survivor, and victim/survivor. There is no specific reason for where I use each. The term ‘survivor’ is what I’ve seen preferred by those who have survived assaults and they are part of my target audience; however, another large part of my target audience is people who have never experienced an assault and who do not understand why things happen the way they do, and oftentimes that demographic uses the term ‘victim.’

Second, you should know that there are a lot of misconceptions about rape and sexual assault, and this feeds into rape culture. Two main myths of rape/sexual assault can be explained by neurobiology and very human responses to trauma so those are the two I will cover in this post. There are a lot of other myths and misconceptions so if you are interested in me talking more about this topic, let me know.

  1. MYTH NUMBER ONE: It isn’t rape if the person didn’t say no/fight back.

  2. MYTH NUMBER TWO: If someone says they were raped but their story doesn’t make sense, it means they’re lying or covering something up.

Other myths that could be covered in more detail if anyone wants:

  • If a person is raped when they are drugged or drunk it’s their fault and/or it isn’t actually rape (untrue; in many places you can’t legally consent if you’re under the influence of anything)
  • People lie about being raped all the time (actually, only about 2-8% do, compared to 66% who don’t report to authorities for fear that they won’t be believed)
  • You have to worry most about being raped by a stranger (not accurate; over 2/3 of rape or sexual assault is committed by someone the person knows)
  • Men can’t be raped, especially by a woman, because men always want sex (this is a huge topic so in short, this myth is completely untrue and pisses me off every time I see it said or implied)
  • Everyone is just as likely to be raped as anyone else (another huge topic, but: no. While some forms of sexual assault may have similar percentages for different demographics, there are some statistics and likelihood of vulnerability based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, and more)

NEUROBIOLOGY AND TRAUMA

Myths #1 and #2 listed in red above can very easily be explained by the way the brain and body respond to trauma. Important facts to know right away that I will explain in detail beneath the cut:

  • It isn’t fight or flight– it’s fight, flight, or freeze
  • The hormones that are released at the time of trauma determine the response the victim/survivor will have, and the survivor has no control over this response
  • Memories are recorded completely differently in traumatic situations vs normal situations
  • A percentage of rape victims/survivors are literally paralyzed by their own body during the assault

Disclaimer: I gathered this information through research in multiple sources but especially from three nationally recognized subject matter experts. I listed their names, credentials, and links at the bottom of this post. I highly recommend you check them out if you find this topic interesting at all.

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An asexual’s view of love

I’m going to use this blog now and then as a normal blog, not just related to specific excerpts or art pieces to share but also about some thought processes that are central to me as a person or writer. I hope no one minds.

A week ago Sonny mentioned a blog post he was writing about tropes vs reality and said he wasn’t sure how to conclude it, because tropes don’t always work out the same way in reality. I wrote the below post but then forgot about it in the holiday rush. Today he wrote a post about what descriptions or exposition to use in a diverse cast (read here), and through the ensuing conversation I was reminded of this post.

Everything below is what I originally wrote.

The question of tropes vs reality got me thinking about the romance genre (regardless of whether it’s straight, LGBT*QA, or something else) and how it seems to me it’s a fetishization of love.

You might have seen me mention in the past that I’m semi-asexual. There is a specific list of terms I can call myself that gets at what I am but I don’t really go by that. Basically, I’m not often attracted to other people, and when I am it’s usually first for their personality, and then I’m only interested in other women. But most of the time, I have no romantic interests in anyone.

As a result, I’ve spent most of my life seeing the idea of “love” from the outside. Throughout high school, I couldn’t understand why all my friends seemed obsessed with constantly cycling through boyfriends, and in college when others seemed to have hooking up and/or partying as a priority, I wanted to sit in my room and watch anime with friends. After college, when people started to settle into long-term relationships, I lamented that I couldn’t get a dog.

This may or may not be normal for other people who identify as partially or totally asexual; I really don’t know, you’d have to ask them. I can only say what it’s been like for me, regardless of whatever labels I might give myself to try to understand why I am how I am. Even now, I don’t know how asexual I am except I think I must be because when I’ve read the descriptions of different terms, they fit.

As the years have passed, I’ve watched the lifecycles of all these other people doing the things that are “expected.” Friends and family settling down with their significant others (SOs), moving in together, getting pets together, buying houses, getting engaged, married, having kids… All of this feels so disconnected from me as a person, yet as a writer I’ve found it to be interesting to watch the way “normal” people progress.

I don’t truly understand love. I mean, I understand it in terms of how much I love my dog, my family, my friends. But I don’t understand the human connection of love between two significant others: the way it might differ from other forms or the way different people experience it. All I know of love I learned from books, fanfiction, movies, and the way people interact around me.

Despite not understanding it on a personal level, I’ve come to recognize the variations in other people. Friends ask me for advice in dating or love a lot, and I always say, “Well, I don’t really know anything, but it seems to me…” and I explain based on my objective view of what seems to happen with two humans in love.

What’s interesting to me is that I’ve started to notice trends.

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Q&A: The politics of ICoS/Geopolitical influences

This is taken from our Santino & Ais Goodreads group. When we got this email, we both talked about what the answer would be. Santino’s much better at articulating specifics of history so he ended up writing the email. Below is the post he put on GR explaining it and the answer that was sent back.


A few weeks ago, we received an interesting e-mail from a mysterious individual who asked us some pretty specific questions about our inspiration for the geopolitics in the ICoS universe, whether our views have changed in the current political and global climate of 2014, and whether we think there could be a major armed conflict in our world like there has been in the past (and like there was in ICoS before the series started).

Some readers asked me to post my response, so here it is! I’m not including language from the original e-mail since I do not have permission to do so.

Paraphrased questions are in bold.

Warning: May contain spoilers!

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