On Death Stranding, Queerphobia, and Rape Culture

This tweet was brought to my attention and I’d like to go over it. 

image

In the following text, I will break down line by line this the above is just biblically old homophobia, recycled queerphobia in general, as well as sexism and rape culture.



The title says an “Asexual World” not a “Celibate World” not “A Population In Decline.” An asexual world. Many times casual acephobia would use those two words to mean the same, but what Death Stranding does is even worse. 

Line one and two reads: “Widespread aversion towards physical contact and intimacy”. Since we are talking about queerphobia and rape culture it should be noted that aversion towards physical contact and intimacy are not issues exclusive to asexuals. Not all aces have an aversion. Furthermore, sex repulsion and touch aversion are often found in rape survivors and other victims of abuse. It is a safety feature, not the back story to a horror genre. You also see an aversion to touch in same-sex couples that do not feel safe to even hold hands. If the societal issue is a “widespread aversion towards physical contact and intimacy” the issue is not “An Asexual World”. It’s a world were people have no ability be interact safely.

Line four, five, six read:  ‘”sexless lifestyle” among young people.” and “younger cohort were self-identifying as asexual, claiming to be incapable of feeling desire or attraction.” Once again asexuals may have sexless “lifestyles” but so may anyone. It is again not an inherent feature of asexuality.

You can also note in this section the double usage of young and younger. This is classic queerphobia of “the youth and their new labels.” It’s been said about every letter of the queer community. Death Standing further goes on to say people are “claiming” further removing the agency from those who gained enough agency to feel like they could safely label themselves in the first place. And year after year studies shows that the number of LGBTQ people goes up as awareness and safety for these groups go up. LGBTQ people vanish without labels, they hide.

Line nine, ten, elven reads: “demisexuals, who are incapable of sexual attraction without an emotional connection, and panromantics, who profess an attraction unrestricted by sex or gender–albeit one not necessarily sexual in nature.” I mentioned most acephobia is misguided definitions. These here have a flavor text of the game but are otherwise correct. This flavor text is not a misguided stray comment from Death Stranding. It’s someone who knows what the a-spec community is and still decided to take a shot at multiple queer communities. Attacking panromantics is an attack of any multi-spec person.

Line thirteen reads: “One theory posits that the Stranding accelerated the proliferation of these sexualities.” If you haven’t heard the recycled homophobia before this line, I hope you do here. This the classic homophobic line of: those social deviants are ending our society.

Lines seventeen, eighteen, nineteen reads: “Incidences of sexual harassment and assault have also seen a sharp decrease, which seems to suggest that sex could be further from our minds, for better or for worse.” First off, if anything that reduces sexual harassment and sexual assault. It is for the better. Rape culture is not the price we have to pay for having a culture, and it isn’t directly about sex being on the minds of rapists either. Even in a Me Too era Death Standing still does not understand that harassment and assault are abuses of power.

And while it is not directly mentioned in the screencap a few more things need to be mentioned. Two cis gay men did not produce offspring. They are not and should not be shamed for it. I point this out because  “Oh no, those queers are going to ruin the population” is a biblically historic form of homophobia. And the only reason Death Stranding isn’t direct homophobic is because those exact same believes are indirectly hiding behind willful acephobia. By taking a shot at asexuals for “not breeding” you are taking a shot at anyone who does not “be fruitful and multiply.”

Now that I’ve done a Scooby-Doo unmasking of homophobia, I’d also like to mention further implied rape culture and sexism. You’ll often find men like Hideo Kojima and his writers who concern troll over if those who can have children are fucking and having babies. You see this played out in the fight for rights for people to control their own bodies.

Horror as a genre can point out the unknown lurking out of our sight. Unmast it, or hold it just out of clear view. Death Stranding’s back story does not do this. Instead of subverting a society that already has rape culture, compulsory sexuality, heteronormatity, and sexism, Hideo Kojima theorizes that maybe the backstory to his great horror story is asexuals, the very same people who are not the monsters but the targets of those four things.

Book Announcement!

I’m so excited, I’m just going to copy paste the announcement here.


Creative Aces Publishing Acquires Suicide By Ghost

Several books in our collection subvert tropes commonly found about our communities. “Bury Your Gays” turned into the Unburied Fables collection and brought together many authors to raise money for The Trevor Project.

Suicide By Ghost will be the second charity book. This time fifty percent of the proceeds will go to True Colors United, an organization working to prevent youth homelessness in the LGBTQ community.

This novella will continue in the vein of acknowledging the bad, while refusing to forget the hope and community that can be found together. Suicide by Ghost has an expected release of Winter 2019.

Spiritually divorced from the church, former exorcist Ryan Macy is finding his own path as a ghost hunter. Traveling with only what can fit in his trusty truck, he roadtrips around America trying to prove the paranormal. When he’s called to a church to investigate a demon possession, what he finds is unexpected and, perhaps, just as divinely in need: A seventeen year old kid named Andrew.

Ryan is certain something evil lives within the house: home-grown hate. Kicked out for being gay, Andrew hitches a ride and joins the ghost hunting team. But something is following them….

If you’d like to join the early reader team, be sure to sign up here.


So exciting, right?!

Why I’ve Given Up Hope For Cyberpunk 2077

A short essay on marketing, flavor text, and Poe’s Law

Cyberpunk 2077 is no stranger to controversy when it comes to its behavior towards trans people.  Faith was all but lost when their official twitter replied with a transphobic meme.

They said sorry, and there’s a rumor that whoever tweeted this was fired, who knows though.  The point I want to make is highlighted by this nearly year-old tweet. In order for this joke to be funny, you have to believe that misgendering is funny when it’s been shown that doing so leads to higher suicide rates. This types of jokes come at the expense of trans concerns and always from an outsider pov.

Many found new love for the name when Keanu Reeves appeared by surprise announcing he’s in the game. Known for the Matrix, a movie that has strong trans themes and was made by two trans siblings. And as much credibility Keanu can bring, Cyberpunk 2077 has a huge problem: Poe’s Law

It’s an internet adage that says without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the parodied view.

This week at E3 when they showed off more of the game, a lot of people saw a new problem. Namely, this fictional soda ad:

On it you have a femme model with a penis showing, which caused many to ask why. And the art director was quick to defend saying, “their beautiful body is used — for corporate reasons.” as reported by Polygon. Not only am I concerned that irony has died in the year 2077, but here’s where Poe’s law kicks in.

The art director went on to say:  “In [the year] 2077, especially with how much body modifications are available, I think people just mix and match however they want, however they feel. […] This is not to say that the player should see this kind of advertising as good. Redesiuk said that it was designed to feel jarring and overly aggressive, like all the other ads in the game, but not because of the femme-presenting trans model.

While that’s all well as good, it has the same problem that “did you assume my gender” jokes have if not something worse and worthless.  2077’s critique of “soda companies sell to trans people” is not criticizing rainbow capitalism. It’s hardly even critiquing capitalism. It’s largely saying “isn’t it edgy to be trans, mix it up, buy two of our sodas and combine them.”

Let’s look at Watch Dogs Legion, another do crime ‘n hack shit game coming out around the same time. In the top image, their flavor text images show something that is clearly pro-nationalism, and if you ‘misread’ or even agree with these ads the whole plot is there to correct you. It’s a game about subverting the police state, something they make known from the first seconds of the trailer.

Cyberpunk 2077 (shown again as the second image above) instead uses this background space to have two meaningless ads and then this one. And here’s the point I don’t think I can emphasize enough. If you “misread” 2077’s ‘critique of capitalism’ you end up with ‘soda companies are selling transgenderism, aren’t they out of control?!” That’s a problem, one the developer CD Projekt Red could have easily avoided instead of trying to play a double negative about hypersexuality.

But instead, their defense is: There are many examples of hypersexualized women, hypersexualized men, and hypersexualized people in between. […] You fight against corporations. That [advertisement] is what you’re fighting against.”

In 2077, the “we’re not sexist, we objectify everyone” defense is still around?
That’s cispicious.

Shelby Eileen’s Goddess of The Hunt

I was given a review copy of this book, because I wanted to be able to review in time for aro week. As you might know, I love aro ace Artemis. It’s something that shines the truest to me so if you also want more a-spec Artemis this is a great option. Just out of the gate, you might like this for that.

I’ve posted Sappho’s poem was about Artemis before, that felt divine in a way. This is from a far more personal standpoint and will connect to those struggling with their identity. It’s not a book of greeting card affirmations, it’s honest and full of things that need to be said just as much.

From a pure poetry style point of view, it’s not my favorite style, but let’s be honest, poetry so wide ranging it’s a matter of personal taste. So if you’re unsure, give it a try because you wouldn’t want to miss something wonderful. I think everyone can find a gem in here that they’ll want to carry with them after reading.

Overall, it’s a worthy addition to any a-spec or Hellenistic pagan’s bookshelf.
Be sure to check it out for yourself!

Dollar Store Finds

As an author, books ending up at the dollar store are strange and curious things. I know several ways it could have happened but there are no clues to tell me exactly. Was it too many copies? Never sold what was expected? Or many it’s such a best seller everyone and their cat already has one. We’ll never know for sure, but I can tell you about what I found on my last trip. I bought the following without much of a cool of what they were so let’s find out together.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

This book is like if at the end of the telephone game you were given a copy of the last story. A tale based on a youtube series that was based on a different book. I’ve never watched the youtube series but I always heard good things and to see them expand on what they did there in novel form felt like an idea more than worth the rock bottom price for it.

The Gap of Time

I also got this one not because of what it was, but what it looked right. Proving that covers really do sell books. The design looks like a classic science fiction story was updated and captures that vintage modern feel completely. Be sure to click the goodreads title link if you want to see what I mean further. Since it’s a retelling of a Shakespeare play, maybe it missed it the mark but I don’t think so. Anything that makes you want to pick a book up is working well.

The Natty Professor

This book is a case of not what you know, but who you know in a way. And I have a soft spot of Tim Gunn. You might know him from Project Runway or you might know for his activism work. Either way, he’s always a positive force. Part memoir, part self-help book, I’m certain there’s plenty of gems in here to help make it work.

The Ring and The Crown
Featuring such a classic YA color this book made me wonder if I has seen it somewhere before. If you pick it up the blurb tells you about princesses, mages, and identity swapping.

Exit

Normally, I’d be able to say that hardcovers are a rare find at the dollar store but Exit makes three. “From a renowned sociologist, the wisdom of saying goodbye” is the sort of tagline that makes you believe this book has a secret of life hidden within it.

The Mystics of Mile End

You know how some books have a more textured feel? This is one of them. You pick it up and just feel the thought that went into it. The book absolutely appears to be about the Jewish experience, which is absolutely a story worth telling and reading if you don’t know much about that.

Have you read any of these? Do you want to? Just jealous of my pumpkin caramel creme candle? Let me know!

Social Justice—what now?

Satire is an interesting beast.

When The Colbert Report was on most people understood that it was all satire. Airing on Comedy Central proved it was a joke.

But these days, it seems like a lot of people get news from these sort of shows, and there’s more than ever.  I remember when The Colbert Report had a running “gag” that he couldn’t see color. I’m not going to get into why color blindness is bad if you don’t know I’d check out MTV’s video on the matter.  The point is, if you aren’t in on the joke, satire can support what you are making fun of.

As movements and societal trends grow the misuse of those successful tactics also grows. Thus more satire is often created. Which cycles back to the problem of satire supporting what you don’t want.

This phenomenon has a name: Poe’s law. Which follows, “without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, parodies of extreme views will be mistaken by some readers as sincere expressions of the parodied views.”

The story it was named when Nathan Poe wrote an article and then added a winky face at the end and a commenter replied, “Good thing you included the winky. Otherwise people might think you are serious.” When watching comedy favored news you at least have tone as an indicator of intent. But when you read this article or tweet the writer can’t control what tone your inner voice uses. This becomes a real problem when speaking to an online audience.

It’s not that social justice has run amok and therefore should be tossed out. It isn’t that people have become too politically correct, or too easily offended. It’s that we all learn at different rates and times. My experience of working daily with certain activist groups means I’ll see things that it could take months for you to see, or years for someone who doesn’t spend their life on the internet. And you could learn just as many new and different things in some other circle. This isn’t to fault anyone. Merely point out that we aren’t more divided than ever, we are more interconnected than ever.

“A wise man knows that he knows nothing.” I heard that as a kid, and as I think about the internet and interconnectivity, the age of the quote stands out to me. Socrates first said it in B.C. times. Just consider for a moment how nearing timeless that philosophy was.

If we want progress we have to build on the past. But, each person has to learn from a starting point of zero. So jokes and methodology will get misused or misunderstood. We mustn’t think that a minority group is just now speaking out, when in reality they have been fighting the whole time. Far too often nothing gets done because we are missing the frame of reference. But maybe we don’t have to know everything if we can simply admit we don’t.

#WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo

#WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo started with a misplaced and insulting internet comment, as many hashtag movements do these days. If you didn’t know, my co-author and I write a science fiction series on the free to read site. It’s a video game inspired novel called Bone Diggers. Since I have one foot in the publishing world, and another in the Wattpad camp I feel like I’m qualified to weigh in on the subject. But, I’m not here to talk about Bone Diggers today, at least not directly.

There are obviously many differences between the two paths, just like how a serialized newspaper story in the old days was different than a novel. But these differences don’t matter. Writers put in as much heart and soul into their Wattpad stories as any other writer does. All writing is an act of creation, and that creation has value no matter where you end up posting it.

I’m thrilled to announce that Bone Diggers has recently been handpicked to be featured on the site, but that doesn’t mean it was any less real before this. Just like how a any well written novel that isn’t widely known isn’t less meaningful. Wattpad specifically has given me countless things that my publishing deal can’t. It’s a trial run in ways, and very real in many others.

Last year, I posted a chapter of Bone Diggers every single week. It wasn’t as spotless or query tested as Hello World which is going to be published with Pandamoon, but I was given something I never thought. Each week I felt progress, I felt that I was building to something great. Bad weeks had a beacon of hope at the end of them thanks to Wattpad.

We all quickly learn that the traditional route is slow. It can take years to get a book deal, and while Wattpad books might not be traditional, they have as much hope and longing from the writer to share and connect with people as any other piece does. Wattpad books are as real as the writers creating them, and can sometimes give a momentum like nothing else can.

What do you think? Does the platform where something is posted dictate value, or does writing always speak for itself no matter where it is found? And remember you can check out all of Bone Diggers over on Wattpad!