I think the average guy thinks they’re pro-woman, just because they think they’re a nice guy and someone has told them that they’re awesome. But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations.
i swear to god if i see another person saying ‘if you think obesity is bad, you’re a fat shamer!!’
obesity is a real problem that causes lots of diseases
and just because i don’t like obesity, doesn’t mean i don’t like obese people
it’s like, i hate cancer, but i don’t hate people with cancer or shame people who have cancer
“I’m an elementary school science teacher. I believe in science education.”
“Why do you believe in it?”
“Because kids are naturally scientists. They want to know how this world works. They are curious what happens when I drop this thing on the ground. Unfortunately, we take that natural scientific inquiry away from them because we focus so much on standards and having to do this and this and this. We forget that one of the most important things is our basic connection to the universe. For some people, that’s God and religion; for others, it’s human interaction. For me, it’s always been science—understanding how the world works and understanding my connection to it.”
Q:I've seen a lot of female characters in fiction being sorted into two camps: the "weak" emotional, sensitive females and the "strong" cold-hearted, kickass females. I'm always scared that when I write that my female characters fall in either those categories or are left behind in a tag-on love-interest way. Or become Mary Sues. How do you find a balance?
DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. THIS QUESTION IS A TRAP.
I mean, look, it’s not your fault that it’s a trap; don’t feel bad. You didn’t build the trap. You may not even know you’re in there — god knows I didn’t, in the years I spent asking myself and others this question and questions like it. It’s a good trap. It’s tricky. It gets almost everyone, at some point or another. There are a lot of people who never actually find their way out.
But, hey, don’t take my word for it. A trap is easiest to identify in action, after all. Let me show you how it works.
You should write strong women — but not too strong, because then you’re saying that only strong women are valuable, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. So you should write weak women — but not too weak, because then you’re saying that all women are weak, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. So you should write women who are both strong and weak — but only in the right ways, of course, because if you write women who show strength and weakness in the wrong ways then you’re only enforcing the idea that women can’t handle themselves, which is wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. Make sure you write women with flaws, because that’s how you develop interesting characters — but not too many flaws, and definitely not the wrong ones, because then you’re saying that all women are inherently flawed, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. But don’t write them without flaws, because then they’re too perfect, and that makes them a Mary Sue, and that’s wrong, and you’re writing women wrong. HOW DARE YOU WRITE WOMEN WRONG. Don’t you think it would be better not to write women at all?
See? It’s a trap. And it’s not even a trap in the way you think, either, because the issue here isn’t that you can nitpick out in any direction and then yell HERE IS AN ARBITRARY REASON YOU ARE DOING WOMEN WRONG — that’s a problem, don’t get me wrong, and its own trap to boot, but it’s not what we’re talking about right now. Like, it definitely sucks, but that happens all the time about all kinds of things (Women shouldn’t sleep with too many people, BUT ALSO NOT TOO FEW; women shouldn’t compromise themselves for their spouses, BUT HOW DARE THEY NOT DO THAT; I could go on but, like, why), and it doesn’t have shit to do with how you tell a story unless you let it.
Naw, friend, the trap here is the idea that you are writing women. You’re not. You’re writing a woman. One person. Every time you write a female character, that’s what you’re writing — just that one. She’s not an archetype, she’s not a statement on All Women Ever, she’s just a person. Singular. Solo. The same way (I hope?) you don’t think, “What is this male character saying about every single dude who has ever walked this earth?” whenever you write guys, so you should avoid thinking that when you write ladies. They’re just people. They don’t have to Be Everything — the idea that women have to Be Everything is enough of a drag in day to day life, you know? It doesn’t need to be given any room to strut around in your writing.
Build her, and not who you think she’s supposed to be: that’s how I do it. What’s she afraid of? What does she believe in? What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to her? The best meal she’s ever had? How would she describe herself if she had only five words to do it? What makes her laugh? What makes her cry? What does she think people want her to be, and what does she want to be, and is there a space between those things, and how does she fill it, if there is?
Nadia, one of the main characters in my novel — she’s a chef, because she likes the simplicity of food, the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to disappoint it, that its nuance is in physical construction as opposed to conceptual tone. She’s spent so much of her life desperately trying and cataclysmically failing to be the person her parents want her to be that she projects a certain amount of hostility towards everyone else, almost daring them to demand anything of her at all. She is hesitant to trust, because she has regretted trusting in the past, and she’s the sort of person who takes regret as a sign that she, herself, has done something wrong, something she should resist repeating in the future. She sneers because she’s used to being sneered at. She smiles when she feels someone has earned it, because that’s more or less the only way she’s ever received that reaction herself. And the thing is, for all I know this now? When I first thought about her, all I knew was her name and her profession. But I built her out out from that, thinking about how she, personally, came to be where she was, as opposed to how women, in general, might come to be in that place. It’s a much more effective strategy, in my experience. Less anxiety-producing, too.
Whoever your female character is, the more you know about her as a person — the more real she feels to you — the less you will feel like that other shit, the what-if-I’m-writing-women-wrong-shit, matters. Because it doesn’t; the truth is the trick, the really important thing to remember in writing women, is to write them one at a time. To write them into individuals, as opposed to into boxes. I hope that helps <3
When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatise those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.
What A Clown Taught Me About Dressing
Or: How Not To Be A Lonely Nerd In A Fedora
I’ll admit it here and now: I went to theater school. School of the Arts in San Francisco, specifically. It was a public school; auditions to get in, academics in the morning, arts in the afternoon. I was an actor.
Part of my training was a class in physical theater taught by a clown named Jeff Raz (pictured above in full clown garb). Jeff now runs a school for clowning - he’s an expert in Commedia dell’arte and a veteran of the Pickle Family Circus, one of the world’s first “alternative” circuses. He taught us a lot of lessons that I later used in my comedy career, as you might imagine, but there was one in particular that I think about when dressing all the time.
Here it is, put simply: before you can vary, you must demonstrate mastery.
I’ll give you an example. A clown walks on stage with five pies. He throws them in the air, and they land all over, including his face. Not very funny.
But if the same clown walks on stage, juggles them succesfully for a while, then they fall on his face, that’s funny.
Both punchlines are the same. The difference is a demonstration of mastery. You can break the pattern once you have established the pattern. Surprise grows only from consistency.
What does that have to do with dress?
Every day, those of us who chose to dress conscientiously, and especially those of us who are passionate about clothing, push the limits of dress. It may be dressing a little more formally than those who surround us. It may be a particularly outre element from a designer collection. It might simply be eschewing cargo shorts and flip flops at the fraternity house.
I wrote recently about the point of distinction: the element of difference that demonstrates that you have control over your dress. Dressing works the other way, too. If you have an established pattern of dressing well, whether over time or within a single outfit (say a suit that fits exceptionally, sharp quality shoes and the perfect sober shirt), you can add an unusual element and it will reinforce rather than destroy your aesthetic.
But fail to demonstrate mastery? Take swings in the dark? Pile wildness on wildness without qualification?
You’ll end up looking like a clown.
Male privilege is thinking that gay men are just gay because they like other men, but lesbians are lesbian because they want attention from straight men, and aren’t actually attracted to other women.
is that they pretend they’re some perfect union which supports doing the right thing. They see religion as the “opiate of the masses;” they see religion being racist and sexism and homophobic, etc. So they “support” people of color, women, and the lgbt* community even though they don’t actually do…