It's not a word you hear often in the circles of fandom. And admittedly, on a list of people suited to pontificate on such a theme, I come pretty low, perhaps just above FEMA grande queso Michael D Brown (linguistic humor and cultural references? Yeah, you better gasp collectively, I'm too legit to quit).

We don't like to associate responsibility with comics, games, and other things that nerds get excited about; such “flights of fancy” (and ultimately, all venues of art and entertainment) would appear to be a deliberate shirking of responsibility in favor of expression and the gratification of creative venture. But society and media has curved in a way the abstract language centers of our brain could not have predicted. We live in an environment where media is not only consumed, but emulated.

The “monkey see, monkey do” nature of humanity has driven us to isolate from the real world in favor of recreating the fiction we read ( help escape the real world...huh...that seems so obvious when we think of it, I don't know why I didn't see that coming...I never should have played God!), a phenomena that, despite its similitaries to the ancient human tradition of organized religious practice, is but a newborn when compared to the chronology of human existence. As far as I know. I took two history/anthropology classes and cosplay, fanfic, and translating culturally relevant writings into imaginary languages never came up.

Allow me to do the time warp and re-read my last sentence: basing your life off the bible isn't that much different from Star Trek fandom, when you consider the fictitious nature of the source material. Yes, I just said the Bible isn't real.
Come on. Flame me 'til I love you.

We are all tangled in a web of misinformation and sleight of hand, where even the most empirical , materialistic of knowledge and fact can be lost in a sea of baseless uknowns. And now for the non-poetic description: nobody knows anything because we're all SHOUTING OVER EACH OTHER to get our point across.

But're a Discordian, surely you must favor such a disorganized system of information. To which I reply nay...voice inside my head...such a system is actually representative of order, because this “system”, if you can call it that, gives all opinions (and the facts that are misfiled as opinions) equal weight. This facilitates the layer cake that provides the foundation of western society, where “white” people are given more opportunities than people of color, where religious fundamentalists can vote down the restoring of human rights to groups of non-believers, and (insert your own misjustice here). In such a system, everyone is responsible for maintaining the integrity of their own background and community. It only takes one gaffe, one slip up to get our “we have our shit together” card revoked.

In a society where teachers have to respect parents keeping their children home from field trips because it doesn't jive with a Biblical understanding of science, you can bet your ass that a writer can be held accountable for what they say, even if its fiction.


Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, authors behind the Twilight and Harry Potter books respectively, are irresponsible and should be held accountable for the marketing the reinforcement of patiarchal stereotypes to children (and adults for whom Pahlaniuk is too much to ingest).

Say what?

I will preface my onslaught of unwarranted criticism by saying this: I don't think the system is fair. In a perfect world, Stephanie Meyer could continue to promote the marginalization of women without meanieheads like me poking their noses in and saying “hey, that's demeaning to women everywhere...can't you show a little pride for your own?” But life isn't fair. As a trans writer, I am expected, to a degree, not to embarrass the trans community with my ignorance or oppressor apologism. And just as I can't come on here and say “doof doof we're the best of both worlds doof doof”, Meyer and Rowling, as women, should not be allowed to get away with marketing their gender de-powering fiction to a patriarchal audience (many of whom are young women hoping to see strong female characters to identify with). Maybe when women make as much as a man does in the same position, when an abortion does not require armed security, we can write Meyer as a mere peddler of subpar fiction and be done with it. Until that day, however, we are all charged with the task of not hurting the credibility of our respective communities.

Twilight is an easy target because it sucks. Meyer's writing style, if it can be called a style, most resembles a composition notebook of gothic poetry written by a group of teenagers who upon pooling their literary background together would come up with an improperly quoted Edgar Allan Poe poem, some Robert Smith lyrics, and a half-finished Mad Libs book with “blood” or some variation of filling every blank line. The dialog is pedestrian, the characters are negative one-dimensional, it easily undoes the work Bram Stoker and Anne Rice did to establish a solid literary vampire mythos, and oh god if I keep this up the article will never be finished. It sucks, sucks, sucks. If anyone believes I am speaking in too broad and dismissive critical language I will be happy to write an even longer article just about the inequities of Mrs. Meyer's literary suckage. Don't. Tempt. Me.

I will not mince words (or meat, since I prefer pies with cream filling): Twilight is gender mutiny. It's female protagonist is a submissive, spineless basket case who longs for the love of a brooding, possessive pedophile. Bella is incapable of fending for herself in any way, even relying on Edward to protect her from herself (see also: lose her virginity because even blood-sucking cannibals know it feels great to wait). When Edward up and leaves her because he grows tired of having to be her constant protector, she simply latches onto another supernatural hearthrob, thus igniting one of the most anti-feminist social trend (Team Edward vs Team Jacob) since “should we a)drown b)hang or c)burn these witches”? Admittedly, Meyer is probably not entirely at fault. I'm sure that's some advertising Machiavelli's idea, and when Joe Lieberman brings forth the apocalypse, Lady Gaga will punish him for his sins.

Meyer could, perhaps, be forgiven for such a problematic premise, if it not were for her highly publicized Mormon faith. Mormon author. 108 year old man and teenage girl who cannot be trusted with her own sexuality. Awkward descriptions of intimacy, as if written by someone who's either 1) never done it or 2) never enjoyed it. I'm sorry, if you don't see the parallels here, if you can't see where the story of vampires ends and the Mormon morality story begins, if you can't see the Joseph Smith watermark (metaphorically speaking, don't your book to the light), then I'm sorry, there's nothing more I can do for you. Crawl back into your parent's basement and read the nearest religious scripture until the world ends. Which should be relatively soon, if all these articles and stories I read on the internet about girls leaving their boyfriends and “holding out” for someone more like “their” Edward are indeed true and not some elaborate hoax. Twilight is fitting the women of our generation with a psychological chastity belt, encouraging them to reserve themselves for someone who doesn't exist, in both a very literal and metaphoric/philosophical sense.

People like Edward Cullen do not exist. If they did, instead of writing this article I would be huffing smelling salts in a bunker gripping a shotgun that I've named Lilith and a case of silver bullets that I've drawn various emoticons on to give me some semblance of company. Because if human history has proven anything, it's that people with power will use it for their own gains, and for immortal cannibals “their own gains” that would mean tearing out every jugular from here to Istanbul. If vampires existed, they would not be benevolent and loving. Society can hardly handle the people who think they're vampires.

Now, I'm not arguing that this was all Meyer's plan. But I would argue that if such a scenario were to happen, if women everywhere sought to emulate Bella, if the book inspired more women to sexually repress themselves and reject relationships with other people in favor of “holding out” for some imaginary prince charming, then Meyer and those like her would experience a feeling of validation. And there's no hint that this phenomenon will fade anytime soon. People are making money every day by feeding this fad to women, women who have not been properly educated on their own herstory, who couldn't tell you who Susan B. Anthony is or what Helen Keller did with her life other than be deafblind and the butt of so many ableist jokes. Like the digital sexism mentioned in my Misnintendogny article, Meyer is just one of many people who make a profit from the undereducated, underdeveloped, and underappreciated female population in our society, and have few if any ethical qualms by promoting female submission and sexual repression. And Meyer is one of just many people who should be held responsible, though her more than others because she is the one who hath released the hounds, so to speak, by allowing her work to be snatched up by merchandise peddlers.

When the patriarchy is overthrown and women are restored (not granted) their equal standing in society, I want it made perfectly clear that Stephanie Meyer is not invited to the Lilith Fair on PPV viewing party. But beyond that, there is no further retribution necessary. One day every women in this country will have a destiny free from the constraints of male interest. But her books will always suck.

I saved J.K. Rowling for second because apart from the troubling “downtrodden protagonist who still manages to have every advantage (and people who are trying to kill him for it)” premise, I really liked the Harry Potter books. Up to Goblet of Fire, after which I went back to casually reading them on long flights and waits in the doctor's office as opposed to the “walking home so I can read this chapter on the way” setting that was my default. Rowling is an exceptional writer, and I make no reservations about giving her credit for getting kids re-interested in reading again. That's what makes her patriarchal pandering all the more heartbreaking.

When asked what attribute is most essential for wizardry, most would respond with intelligence/brain power/chutzpah. Culturally we link brain function to wizardry, like strength to warriors and glitter to queens. So it should follow that of the main characters in the Harry Potter series, Harry should be the smartest wizard, being the “chosen one” and all that. But not so. The smartest wizard of his clique is clearly Hermione, who on more than one occasion uses her wits to save Harry and Ron from some bullshit situation they probably put themselves in the first place. And what does all that studying and “applying herself” get her in the end? Third banana to a scarface over there with the complex. Oh, and married to the second banana, Ron.

So after all those adventures, after standing up against the forces of evil and assisting the prodigal hero on his quest that we all knew from Book One he was going to complete, she ends up married to the comic relief in another one of those “we're always at each other's throats because we love each other” that is so my mother's first marriage. Why couldn't she have married Harry? Because Pothead needed to end up with Ginny, his damsel in distress of choice. Better yet, why even marry within the trio to begin with? Can't a sister go on some adventures without marrying one of the males in her party? She's the only one of the trio to complete her seventh year, and the only one to pursue a viable career after that final fiasco with the Death Eaters. Harry and Ron become Aurors (magical cops). Oh gee, how convenient, becoming Aurors after you've defeated the most dangerous wizard you will ever encounter, ever.

Hermione goes on to have a career and uses her position to improve the quality of life for magical creatures, and H & R Blockhead eat donuts and bore themselves to death with war stories. Who's gotta kill your parents for a gal to get a break around here?

I have argued in the past, and will continue to in the future, that Harry's loss of parents is a form of privilege. He gets a reputation that doesn't really earn until later in the books, has quite a long list of people who are willing to risk their necks to keep his ass off the chopping block, and, if I remember correctly, was fucking loaded in the books. Oh, and he's full-blooded (to my knowledge, feel free to correct me). Hermione, despite being smarter than Harry, saving him on a few occasions, and being so vital to the story that Rowling herself admitted that she was used a “plot dump” to explain the HP universe in-story, does not get the recognition she deserves because she does not possess Harry's reputation (privilege) of surviving Voldemort's curse, an incident that Harry had almost no control over.

This is not to say that Hermione is not a dynamic character. She is, in fact, one of the best in the story, and one of my personal favorites. But with that admiration and identification comes the tragedy of realizing that no matter how smart she got or how many dark wizards she slayed in battle, she would always remain confined in some infernal cursed glass ceiling because not only was she a girl, but not “chosen”.

Unlike Meyer, I don't really believe Rowling was intending to make a message with her restained female protagonist. But she set out to make a series of books about a prodigal male protagonist, one who would overcome evil and become the most powerful wizard of his day and use that power for good for blah blah blah, and by sheer design, these types of stories regulate women to be sidekicks and the occasional love interest. Rowling could have broken that mold and had Hermione branch out and become her own woman and forge her own destiny, but instead she ends up married into the same family Harry does (hmmmm....remind you of Song of Roland, aqueertheory?). To tell little girls that they could one day grow up to be like Hermione is, in the grand scheme of things, only mildly different from telling her that she could be a very very well liked receptionist.

I'm not suggest that Rowling be flogged in public (despite my proclivities for BDSM and British ladies) or put through the critical ringer. But as a woman author, even if only a “children's” author, I think she is susceptible to a certain amount of criticism for simply telling the same old “boy with destiny eventually grows up to earn it” story when the public could have really used something a little more empowering for the female readership which makes up a considerable amount of the fandom. There are no statistics available as far as I know, but of all the HP readers I know, 80 percent of them are women, easily. I'm sure if I did the math I'd get a bigger number, if I did the math right, which there is no guarantee of. It's not hard to imagine that if more women are going to college than men, than more women are reading than men. And if you're a woman writing for an audience that is comprised muchly (if not mostly) of women, perhaps it's not outrageous to demand a little better gender sensitivity from you. Just a thought.

So what does any of this mean? That female authors should be held to a higher standard in regards to their portrayal of women and the female condition? Yeah, I think that's fair to say.

Also, I think it's fair to say that I'm blowing this up, and that I'm over-analyzing two series of fantasy books that were intended for kids and teenagers, and that I'm just finding shit to complain about, and that I shouldn't be, because I'm the comic book and video game person, and this is a little out of my league.

You may be right on all acounts. Especially that last one.

But in a period of inequality, in the age of the layer cake, we must hold everyone accountable for the advancement of their oppressed communities. Even if every women becomes an avowed feminist, if every queer become an activist, even with fronts united we would still be fighting an uphill battle, and we cannot afford, nobody can afford, for people like Meyer and Rowling (but Meyer mostly) to profit from underselling the capability and spirit of women, even if only through fiction. Blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah.

No one is going to make room for feminism.

We must make room. Boycott, criticize and expose the truth of patriarchal religious propaganda disguised as vampire stories. Kindly remind decent writers that they could and should be doing a lot better, considering those same people they're underestimating are the ones who put her ass in that nice-ass house she's got.
In the end we are all responsible.

Just as I chide Meyer and Rowling for failing women, I will chide anyone, including myself, who simply shrug off this mainstream babble as damaging and stupid but does not seek to replace it with something better, by either promoting/distributing/spreading the word or creating it ourselves. But I'm an artist. That's my solution to everything.

So, fight the good fight.

Yo, I like your video game stuff a lot better.

In the meantime I'll try to get my own works published so I have other things to do than bitch about people who are more successful than I probably ever will be.
And you'll be posting them on here because it's the only way you could get people to read it.

One day, I'm gonna afford healthcare and medicine, and you're gonna wish I didn't.

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