Sexualized Saturdays: Where Are My Butch Queer Heroines?

supergirl

The epitome of a female hero?

I love female superheroes, I love female heroes with tragic backstories and redemption arcs. Basically, I love female heroes. They’re great because they don’t conform to traditional female character roles of being quiet damsels in distress, and they show women as complex characters with stories and goals. However, while they break the mold of traditional female character narratives, these characters still overwhelmingly conform to heteronormative societal standards of beauty, gender presentation and sexuality.

So, while we should celebrate all awesome female characters, we should also be mindful of the heteronormative ideas that these characters reinforce and what type of character could challenge them even further. To put it bluntly, I want to see butch queer (super)heroines, but they‘re near impossible to find.

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In Brightest Day: Disability in the Avatar Universe

When I was watching Avatar the first time, I was probably in middle school or high school, and I remember getting into it just for the bending. Each form of bending is based on a different form of Chinese martial art, and because my family is from Taiwan and I grew up in a household where we watched Jet Li movies just as often as any Western action movies, the idea of martial arts giving the martial artist control of the four elements was extremely compelling to me. Upon rewatch, though, I realized that as a kid, I somehow missed a lot of the diversity of the Avatar universe. Though bending is such a physical act, the Avatar universe also went out of its way to showcase many characters with physical disabilities and mental trauma.

Spoilers for all of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra after the jump.

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Magical Mondays: Non-Powered Worldbuilding

A lot of media in speculative fiction has characters with magical powers, and those characters are often introduced in opposition to characters with no magical powers whatsoever. Think of the X-Men, whose powers are an allegory for discrimination and prejudice in the real world. When a universe has both powered and non-powered people, the story should, at some point, discuss the implications of a world where one side has an inherent ability to do something that the other side will never be able to do. Unfortunately, many stories never venture into the conflict between powered and non-powered people, and the ones that do don’t manage it very well.

Who's to say that Muggles couldn't have helped out in the war?

Who’s to say that Muggles couldn’t have helped out in the war?

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Sexualized Saturdays: The Importance Of LGBTQ+ Heroes

Representation matters, and everyone wants to be a hero. Unfortunately, what we LGBTQ+ folks get more often are queer villains, queer-coded villains, or anti-heroes. At least, they’re the most famous ones: pretty much every Disney villain ever, Loki, Constantine. The predominance of these types of characters and the lack of LGBTQ+ “good guy” superheroes creates the image of queerness as being tied to wickedness, threat to society, and general “otherness”. This influences both the way the general society sees LGBTQ+ people and how LGBTQ+ folks see ourselves, especially young people struggling with their identities. It creates a certain narrative for us, implying that we can only fit a certain type of mold and that it always sets us apart and makes us a threat. And that sucks.

constantine

I love a rugged jerk with a heart of gold as much as anyone, but Constantine’s morals and ethics leave something to be desired.

However, I’m not saying all queer characters need to be “good guys”. It’s just that a balance is needed to avoid forcing the idea that queer equals bad. Therefore it’s important to have more LGBTQ+ heroes and “good guys” who are people others follow and look up to (I’m not saying bisexual Steve Rogers, but I’m totally thinking bisexual Steve Rogers). We need to see that we can be great heroes and that we can have all kinds of different stories be about us.

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Fanfiction Fridays: What Spring Does by thrace

The Legend of Korra fandom has always been the unicorn of fandoms. Even before the finale confirmed that Korra and Asami were indeed in love, the Korrasami pairing had more fanworks than any other ship in the show. Few fandoms can claim a femslash pairing as their top commodity, and fewer still can give that honor to women of color.

never over it korrasami

If you wanna take time for yet another victory lap before hitting the jump, by all means do so. Hell, I’ll take one with you.

Far be it from me to assume I’ve ever hit the peak with these two, though. Finding this fanfic has taught me that Korrasami is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Challenging Inappropriate Affection

I have very little tolerance for relationship drama in TV shows. Ninety percent of characters’ problems stem from a lack of communication, and my humble opinion about love triangles is that the answer is always polyamory. One of the things that makes me most uncomfortable, though, when it comes to fictional relationship drama, is inappropriate displays of affection.

S2e2_into the bunker dipper wendyWhat do I mean by inappropriate affection? I’m referring to a situation between two friends or colleagues where one has an unrequited crush on the other, and said crush-er constantly attempts to win the affections of the crush-ee, despite the latter being uninterested/much older/unavailable. It’s not quite a friendzone situation, but it’s based in similar ideas—essentially, the person with the crush believes that they are such a good catch that any of the aforementioned objections should be moot. In constantly forcing their affections on the other person, they’re actually being selfish and disregarding any feelings or opinions the object of said affections might have about the situation. It’s important that shows that engage in this sort of characterization portray it as it is—inappropriate—but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Continue reading

Is a Revolution Without Bending a Revolution Worth Having?

(Here there be spoilers for all of The Legend of Korra. You have been warned, you giant babies.)

First, let’s take our conversation out of its context. I’m a sworn enemy of decontextualization, but we’ll fix it, I promise. Imagine that you haven’t seen the spoiler warning above, or read the title of my piece. Now, imagine that you live in a different country. Things have been strange lately; there was significant political upheaval a generation or two ago. However, it seems that affairs have re-normalized somewhat. People are going about their lives; industry has resumed what seems like normal function. Now, I’d like you to imagine that people are disappearing. Imagine that they are being taken from their homes in the middle of night, never to be heard from again. Imagine finding out that this is largely orchestrated by the powerful and secretive force tasked with protecting your country’s head of state and executing their will.

Mohammad Mossadegh

Mohammad Mossadegh

Some of you will note that this is very much like the situation that led up to the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, was overthrown in a coup d’etat orchestrated by the CIA and MI6 (yes, Americans, we did this). This allowed for the Shah of Iran and his military puppet government to rule in an absolute monarchy. Under his rule, with the help of SAVAK, a secret police agency tasked with domestic and external law enforcement, Iran held thousands of political prisoners. Many of these were intellectuals, dissidents, and revolutionaries. You’d agree that something must be done about a situation like this, wouldn’t you?

Now, imagine for a second that instead you lived in neighboring Iraq, where child soldiers fought in the armed forces as recently as a decade ago, facing punishment for any refusal. Certainly you’d agree that forcing children as young as twelve into armed service is among the most heinous of crimes. It’s the sort of thing that warlords in the developing world do. It’s the sort of thing that Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and UNICEF have whole campaigns to stop. Its association with Timothy McVeigh aside, the quotation goes: “the tree of liberty must, from time to time, be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson said that.

tumblr_inline_n84kt8yusw1s7csahSo, now that I’ve buried the lede about six fathoms deep, let’s recontextualize. What I’ve described is not dissimilar from what we discover the Earth Queen is doing in Book 3 of The Legend of Korra. She’s kidnapping the new airbenders, people as young as Kai, and forcing them into her airbender regiment, where they are beaten as a matter of course. Put another way, Hou-Ting is kidnapping children, torturing them, and forcing them to become soldiers. She does so with the entire force of the Earth Kingdom at her command, to say nothing of the rather impressive Dai Li. There’s no legal recourse to stop her. But, certainly you’d agree that this is unacceptable and that something must be done.

That’s pretty deep stuff for a children’s show. I raise these points because in Book 3, Legend of Korra essentially asks the same questions that it did in Book 1 with the Amon and the Equalists: If a system is or leader is fundamentally corrupt, unequal, or oppressive, to what lengths can or should one go to abolish it? Continue reading