Havin’ a real nice time in my home town this weekend.
The Adelaide Fringe is a gosh darn fantastic festival and I’m so glad I could make it home for a tiny slice this year.
Last night I saw a show called Pretty Peepers and it was just everything I love in performance art - sexy, challenging, subversive, staunchly feminist, hilarious, serious, queer as fuck.
Adelaide is jam-packed with art and life and food and love and nature and friends and thought and fashion and architecture and design and culture and history and science and philosophy and I love it so tenderly.
This is a city in which I feel settled, centred and complete - and also not covered in weird sweat and grit, ahem SYDNEY.
Although nobody’s yet told me what the issue is (nor should they have to; it’s not their job to be always battling ignorance and educating people) I’ve been told, second- and third-hand that my article about Deep Down contains cissexism and transphobia.
I’m quite distressed at this because that was far from my intention, but intent isn’t enough. I’m ignorant, and with all the good will in the world I may have made a dreadful mistake.
I’m reading back over my own words - written in haste and anger - and while I still stand by all the things producing MRA freak outs I’m looking at the phrase “slap some tits on” in reference to a character model and things like “men in skirts” thinking oh fuck, what, Brenna, what are you doing, reducing femininity/femaleness to these physical characteristics?
If it turns out that’s the problematic part, I apologise profusely. I have never ever thought of transwomen as “men with…” and I’m horrified at the thought that my stupid mental image of a developer lazily making a new character model could be in any way likened to a human being’s incredibly brave and strong journey to live as they truly are. If these phrases upset somebody I can’t take that back. But I can acknowledge the error I made, apologise for
the hurt caused the hurt that I caused, remove the offensive elements, work to educate myself, and leave this post up.
I’m not on Twitter which makes things hard but after I’ve posted this I’m going to find a way of reaching out through various channels to see what edits I can make to the piece (and also to my own thinking) to ensure it is inclusive of transwomen and transmen, as well as other kinds of human being who might be affected.
I think the fact that I mention a third umbrella gender category (edit: in the article, I mean) for those who do not identify as male or female shows I’m sensitive to non-binary gender issues - although obviously that’s very far from the same thing as cissexism or transphobia, even if they often get lumped together. I mention this because I hope this helps the people I speak with see that despite my privileges I am already capable of absorbing the kinds of lessons I obviously need to learn. (I also hope my tone there did not come across as dismissive, because I didn’t include a third category as a joke. I meant it very seriously. I don’t want to represent the world as a gender binary, because every bit of representation counts.)
As I said, I’ll be proactively reaching out, but if you’re informed on these issues and would be willing to talk to me about this and help me, my email address is easily obtained - and many of my games media peers have it along with my phone and IM details. I’d love to hear from you because I don’t want to cause hurt, and I passionately believe.
Please don’t get in touch to tell me I did nothing wrong, though! I am pretty sure I did, if people whose work and social justice stances I admire found something problematic, and while I’m not very happy right now I don’t need my hand held because I’m sad I offended somebody. I need to make it right for all the people I have offended.
Edit: I was lucky enough to get a really helpful response from the first person I contacted, so I can get the edits done and write a proper apology to go with this one this afternoon. I feel much better now I know I can do the right thing about it, you know? Hooray for learning!
Yesterday I got very angry about sexism in the games industry (again). Normally I tone down my editorials and angle them to try and disarm comments from weird sexist males, which I hate but feel much safer doing, but this time I did not. I just ran with it, and we switched comments off.
My reasoning for switching comments off is that there are very few places in the world and on the Internet where sexist asshats don’t feel safe yelling at each other. But there are almost no spaces I feel safe pointing out their asshattery, so I created one for myself. Let them go yell at each other somewhere else; they have no lack of choice and are certainly not being violently silenced.
The result has been excellent in two ways:
01) Normally I receive no feedback or only negative feedback on my work - that’s the way of the Internet - but with comments closed, several people took the time to email me and show support, something that has never happened before. I only received one negative email. I have a couple of theories as to why this is.
02) A thing exists on the Internet challenging sexist asshats and while there are no doubt plenty of forum posts and personal blogs scattered around raging about it none of them are directly linked from the article itself; there is no reinforcement of sexism to defray the original piece.
There have been multiple studies and reports recently about the positive effects of switching comments off. Switching comment offs altogether is never going to work for us as a business, I expect, and to be honest I wouldn’t actually like it. But the ability to selectively switch them off on particular pieces is super enabling. I’m glad I tried it.
01) HELP ME PILLS I DID SPORTS AND NOW I DO DIE
02) No! It cannot be!
03) Aha good friends I knew you would not fail me
04) Noooooooooo, why ibuprofen why
A collection entitled, Have I Been Mistakenly Eating These As Candy
*send half a dozen pitches*
*sweats continuously for two weeks*
I just wrote the most beautiful letter to my ex wife and was having a little moment of “when they publish my/her collected correspondence in 100 years this will be a highlight” and then I remembered the letter hinges on a Skyrim analogy and my face did that comical slip thing
My porridge is too hot
Now it is too cold
I microwave it
Now it is too hot
I eat ice cream instead
Now I am too cold
I’m going to go live with bears
At an art gallery on the weekend I had to draw a self portrait. I drew a picture of this guy in orange, added a ROYAL RAINBOW helpfully labelled in coloured pencils, and had him singing “na na na na na na na na na na na”.
In the “about me” section I wrote I AM A PRINCE.
May or may not have just ruined my dinner and dramatically set the kitchen on fire
Does anyone want to take me out tonight
Last night I dreamt about a team of Marvel heroes breaking into a super villain conglomerate HQ staffed by Frankensteins and tiny baby girl Frankensteins. Infiltration was eventually achieved by scattering copies of Lolita about, which feminist manifesto (??) turned the tiny baby girl Frankensteins against their masters, who in turn became the slaves. Villain HQ was thereafter covered in doilies and all the villains sat around meekly drinking tea with dollies. This was genuinely frightening, although looking in a tiny baby girl Frankenstein’s wardrobe I suddenly segued to a dream about not having a date to my senior high school dance, because my heart had been broken by a composite of the last two women to break my heart, which was even more frightening.
The worst bit, however, was when I, as Spider-man, faced down Deadpool, and suffocated him with web. Sitting shaking and weeping over his body. “He could have killed me, man,” through spider-tears. “He was going to kill me.”
Peter Parker is what, 20?
Just bought tickets to go to America, heck and gosh
No, no; actually, she was 35. I feel like she was 36 because I have had a birthday since. But the dead don’t get any older.
Montage photos of my retinae. Everything healthy and normal except the veins and arteries are more squiggly than they should be, because of my blood pressure. Fuck my blood pressure, for reals.
Hey, you: you have looked inside my body.
It was called “Saturday Disney”. Every Saturday, for an hour or maybe two hours, a Disney show aired on one of the major commercial networks. I liked it when it was the animated movies - I remember my relief when the family friend asked to tape Robin Hood the weekend we’d be at a wedding came through - and was disappointed by boring live action - especially anything with a tang of history, like Robinson Crusoe. Was it Robinson Crusoe? Why do I think he had a beaver hat? It wasn’t Robinson Crusoe, but I wouldn’t have liked that, either.
Saturday Disney was a weird title, in retrospect. We just called it “Disney”. What’s on Disney this week? Did you see Disney this weekend? Not now, mum, Disney’s on.
We didn’t often have to say not now, mum, because Disney was an acknowledged event in our household. Usually we all sat down to Disney - it was much better after we upgraded to (gosh!) A 20” telly from the tiny portable my mum had won at the local show years before. That’s also when we got our VCR, and our microwave. What happened? Why did we, always aware of impending financial ruin, suddenly have so much cash? Was that after mum closed her bank account, the one she’d shared with dad, in some sort of dramatic falling out with the Commonwealth Bank - or in an effort to muddy the financial waters for the divorce? Was dad still around? Or is it John I remember trying the first vegetables out of that microwave?
I can’t remember what was showing, the night of the aurora. (It wasn’t Sleeping Beauty, as fitting as that would be. I saw Sleeping Beauty on VHS, along with either the latest Care Bear or My Little Pony film, as a special treat for my birthday. VCR hooked up to the little portable telly, alone in the play room. Everyone else at the pub.) I only remember that it was something I wanted to see - or maybe just something I’d rather see than what I was supposed to be seeing, and was not able to. It might have been a circus; I remember a circus, one time. I liked that.
She came to the living room door and summoned us, manic, insistent, in the enthusiastic way we knew meant refusal was not an option. “But Disney’s on,” I said, or maybe it was my sister, shocked by this rude intrusion into a ritual that had become only more precious as it shrunk from four to three to two, and sometimes only one. But Disney didn’t matter that night. It hadn’t mattered for some time, and it never mattered again.
We stood shivering in our skimpy summer clothes in the cold, damp wind off the lake, slapping and scratching at mosquito bites, and we stared fixedly, brows furrowed in concentration, at the blank night sky.
"Can you see it," she exclaimed. When we couldn’t, when we looked down, at each other, anywhere but at her slack face or the bafflingly empty blackness, she took me by the shoulders and shook me. "Look, look! Look, you stupid little bitch! This is beauty! This is real beauty! You may never see this again!"
We stared and stared and eventually we agreed, we could see it. How beautiful it was, the aurora, visible that one night in a place it was never otherwise seen! How wonderful! How glad we were to witness it! We would remember this night for the rest of our lives.
"I couldn’t see anything," I told my sister numbly, later. By now lying came so easily we each never gave it a second thought; truth could only hurt you, while lies protected us. I wasn’t ashamed to tell my sister I’d lied; I knew she’d understand my need to feel a part of whatever it was that had been happening, which I couldn’t understand.
"Neither could I," she said, and she made a wry, amused face I’ll never forget, because there were worlds of meaning in it, and in the half shrug she made towards the corridor, where the sounds of unsteady footsteps were fading. She was 12. I was six. "I just wanted to go watch Disney."
My sister killed herself in October 2013. She was 36. I cry every day for her, and for me, and for two little girls who just wanted to watch Disney, and who couldn’t see the aurora.
Aftermath of the “my contact won’t come out” song