Sexualized Saturdays: Alec Lightwood—Quietly Subverting Tropes

(image via eonline)

Shadowhunters may not be the best show out there, both in terms of writing and acting, but it does get a few things right in terms of diversity and representation. I talked about my love for Magnus Bane as a bisexual character before, and I just recently finished catching up with the second season, which had a lot of great moments between Magnus and Alec, his boyfriend. So, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at Alec Lightwood and how he is presented in the show as a gay man.

Some spoilers for the Shadowhunters TV show below.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Check, Please!, the Internet’s Most Adorable Soft Bro Webcomic

web crush wednesdaysThis week’s Web Crush is one of those “I can’t believe it took me this long to write about this!” type of deals, since I’ve been reading and rereading and sighing over this webcomic for months now—but let me back up a little and actually introduce it. Today I want to tell you about a sweet little thing called Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu. It has cute art, soft bros, young men falling in love and having a healthy relationship, and for those of you who are into that sort of thing—ice hockey.

But let me elaborate (with some spoilers!) below.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Even the Devil’s Masculinity Isn’t Safe from Women

luciferToday’s topic came about from conversations I’ve been having with Lady Geek Girl. We both love Lucifer, the TV show which follows the devil’s shenanigans in L.A. and which just returned for its second season. I enjoy the show because I’m a sucker for procedural shows and I have a lack of immunity towards charming jerks. But today I want to talk about one matter that both intrigues me and worries me—how the portrayal of Lucifer’s masculinity relates to the fact that being near one specific woman makes Lucifer, who otherwise cannot be harmed by humans, physically vulnerable. What intrigues me is how Lucifer deals with the emotions this causes, but the potential messages of toxic masculinity and misogyny are quite disconcerting.

Some mild spoilers for the show below.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Criticizing Masculinity through Magic in Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies

rocks fall everyone diesYoung adult fantasy is such a female dominated space that when I picked up Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar, I was surprised to discover that it had a male protagonist. Aspen Quick, our main character, comes from a family that can steal things from people. I don’t mean physical possessions; rather, they can reach into a person and take more nebulous things like good eyesight, a mole, or romantic feelings just by touching something with a connection to that person.

It’s an interesting power, but I wondered at first at the decision to make the protagonist male. However, I discovered that his maleness was essential to the development of the storyline, because the magical system in Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is perfectly set up to discuss consent and critique male entitlement.

Spoilers for the story below!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Male Fighters, Loss of Agency, and Masculinity

A few weeks ago I wrote about raised female warriors and their fight for autonomy. Since then I’ve been thinking on whether male characters are ever given a similar kind of tragic backstory where they‘re kidnapped, as children or even as adults, and their agency is taken away and they are forced to learn to fight and kill on the orders of their captors. I managed to find a few that could fit this trope—Matt Murdock (Netflix‘s Daredevil), Oliver Queen (Arrow), Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier (MCU), and D‘Avin Jaqobi (Killjoys). All these characters have their freedom and autonomy taken away (to differing extents) and, as such, they present a lot of opportunities for nontraditional portrayals of masculinity.

male-soldiers-weapons

Spoilers for Arrow, Killjoys, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier below.

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Sexualized Satudays: Splatoon and Super Smash Bros. Engender Performative Play

More puns! The praise train for Splatoon and Nintendo keeps going!

For many of us, video games are a form of escapism. This can come in a few flavors, either by having equal standing in the game’s society, being able to perform outlandish feats, or just experiencing a world unlike your own. Another form of escapism is getting the chance to roleplay as something other than yourself. One of the most common ways to roleplay in gaming is to take on a character of another gender. In light of this, I want to discuss Splatoon and Super Smash Bros. some more.

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Reconstruction for White Boys—Role Models in Comics

thankshawkeyeThe toxic masculinity at the heart of nerd culture has been exposed—most noisily through Gamergate, but via plenty of other incidents as well. While sexism has been the most obvious motivator for these reactionaries, spillover into racism, homophobia, and transphobia are par for the course. At a fundamental level, this burst of nastiness is a reaction to the first real challenge to the privileged position of white men in nerd culture.

Things have degenerated into something of a civil war in nerd culture, and while it rages on, it is becoming abundantly clear that the good guys are going to win this one. I’m not so optimistic as to say that hatred and oppression will disappear, in nerd culture or anywhere else, but there is at least a growing consensus that those things are wrong, and deserving of criticism.

The doors are open, and white men no can longer dominate. But this change comes only after generations of being told that those stories are universal and vitally important. For years, white men never needed to share the stage, and the tales of others were pushed away. As we finally start to knock down the worldview that so deeply privileges one identity, it becomes imperative to reconstruct whiteness and masculinity as something new. Before, the construction of these identities was deeply rooted in claiming entitlement to a supreme position. Now, we need a construction which both rejects that entitlement and recognizes what enormous privilege remains.

Terrorist organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan, forced Reconstruction to end in the American South before its time, leading to an enormous and destructive backslide for civil rights. White men in nerd culture are now threatening or executing political violence for the same purposes. We need reconstruction to make sure they do not succeed. Comics, so long at the forefront of everything toxic about nerd masculinity and exclusivity, have taken up the call, and are finally white, male characters into new roles which fit in a diverse world. With any luck, these are not just changing stories, they’re going to be changing readers.

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