The Need for Better Representation in Fiction

[This is an old post from Tumblr, first posted in July 2014. This was actually my very first blog post and the reason behind starting this blog.]

When it comes to subjects or themes that have social stigma attached to them, it is rare to see them explored in fiction with neutrality. Have you ever watched a film or tv show in which love between cousins is referred to as something distasteful? Something that only unsophisticated, backwards people would engage in?

Consanguinamory themes in fiction:

I’ll give a few examples… In the movie Sweet Home Alabama (which I love to the most part, except for this one bit), there was a fleeting moment of misunderstanding where the main character’s new boyfriend thought that she had once been married to her cousin. Of course, this was a misunderstanding, but his reaction of shock implied that this possibility alone was worse than the fact that she had not told him she had been married before. Then there’s the sitcom, Big Bang Theory (I also enjoy this show, but I hate this one reference), where the character Howard mentions that he had slept with his cousin once. His friends are disturbed by this fact, as well as his girlfriend Bernadette. It’s used as a point of ridicule by everyone who hears of it throughout the show, since it’s mentioned more than once. Howard himself says it like it’s something he half regrets, purely for it’s being a socially unacceptable act rather than any other reason. I am sure there are lots of other examples, though I can’t remember right now off the top of my head. But I know that (in modern fiction or media at least) this topic is rarely mentioned in a neutral tone or with any kind of true empathy.

LGBTQ themes in fiction:

There are also many instances in other films, books, or shows where there are ‘gay’ moments, used mostly to tease the audience, because we all know perfectly well that the characters having these moments are straight in the context of the story. I’ve seen this in anime alot, where we are given blatantly obvious fan service scenes where two girls are in scantily dressed poses together, lingering at the edges of a potential sexual encounter between the two – feeding just enough to the imagination without committing to anything. These kinds of scenes must be what inspires Yuri mangas focusing on exploring the ‘possibilities’ further. I love Yaoi and some Yuri, when done tastefully, but it leaves me feeling empty when I see pairings between characters that don’t even have any chemistry on the actual show. It’s as if the creators are saying, ‘don’t worry, guys. this is not real. you know it, we know it. so just enjoy this ‘alternative’, non-cannon diversion. it can never be anything more.’ And then there are shows in which two same sex characters do have chemistry with each other, but it is never made clear whether or not they are actually gay.

… Reflection:

Now, I am not saying that these kinds of representations are completely useless. They can serve a purpose within the story itself – to show the prejudices of the society the characters inhabit, or to imply that even straight people are capable of having ‘gay’ moments but still be straight at the end of the day… And some characters will be really twisted and abhorrent while having these types of relationships. That’s ok. These representations can be valid in and of themselves, objectively speaking. Where it becomes an issue, I think, is when they become the most prominent and frequently portrayed versions of these relations for all to see.

This pattern projects a very negative view of LGBTQ and consanguineous relationships, making them seem transient, wrong, or downright non-existent. In the long-run, they can end up hurting minorities in real life. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some artists seem to mold their work to shame marginalized people into giving up what is right for them, be it a lifestyle or a partner. It is no less than bullying on a large scale. The world gets together and bullies those who are different from them, making it hard for those minorities to seek refuge from their realities even in the worlds of fiction.

Fiction feeds into people’s existing prejudices and people’s existing prejudices inevitably shape fiction. This has been one destructive cycle (among many others) that is largely responsible for the stigmas minorities face day to day. One way I see that people have been breaking this cycle is by creating art that offers an alternate view/treatment of these subjects – stories, poetry, paintings, songs, films, characters – that delve deeper into the meanings of these ‘unconventional’ actions and thoughts, helping to present them in a more balance way, educating people on the realities, rather than just using the topics to reinforce misconceptions and endorse myths.

This is one way we can fight back. It will be difficult to convince people at first, but if enough of us touch upon these topics with sincerity and empathy through art, then we have a chance at discrediting the myths over time.

Coming from people who have experienced these stigmas first hand, the Fictions we create have a better chance of being authentic, and therefore powerful enough to overturn the less than mediocre, half-hearted, uninformed explorations of these subjects that currently flood the mainstream.

old pic for tumblr post

What are some films/books/shows in which you feel these topics have not been treated honestly or with dignity? What are some that have done the opposite?

-Here is a short LIST OF FILMS that I personally feel handles some of these topics well.

Bullies, Antis and Unconventional OTPs

I know I said it isn’t worth writing about, but actually, it is. I just don’t think one post or two is enough to cover the ridiculousness in full. This is a follow-up post to the post I wrote about hypocrisy in the queer community with regards to consensual incest. See that post here.

Antis don’t always come from the queer community, but the anti that I encountered did. I am writing this post because I think this kind of incident is worth recording and analyzing a bit. It might be useful to someone who has been bullied for liking something different in fandom or for having a different opinion on a controversial topic.

So I am going to share.

Continue reading “Bullies, Antis and Unconventional OTPs”

Cousin Dynamics and my preference in fiction

This is something I’ve noticed when looking at different kind of cousin pairs in fiction. Cousins can have various dynamics depending on how they are brought up, their individual personalities, their life experiences and so on… Even though this is a simplified way of looking at it, if cousin dynamics were to be broke down into categories  according to upbringing alone, I think there would be 3 main ones:

Dynamic 1. Sibling-like –

When cousins are raised together as siblings or adoptive siblings

Example 1: In the 1999 movie Sunshine, the cousins who end up marrying were raised in the same house as siblings first.

Example 2: In the 2013 film Friends from France, the two cousins who end up having a fling in adulthood had grown up together under very close quarters, to the point where the girl says the guy is “like a brother” to her.

Example 3: Jon & Sansa from Game of Thrones – raised together as siblings – see each other as brother/sister – they don’t know their real relation yet (up to season 7)

Characteristics: This dynamic is very close to being like a sibling dynamic, often indistinguishable from it. Couples with this dynamic are either extra intimate with each other OR forever hesitant to cross boundaries due to seeing each other more like platonic siblings for so long.

Continue reading “Cousin Dynamics and my preference in fiction”

Messages from the Author of the ‘Forbidden Flowers’ series

I’ve wanted to read Diane Rinella’s books for a long time, and I finally got them. There was an option for a customized message from the author, so I asked her if she could in one sentence tell me what I should keep in mind as someone who wants to write fiction that touches upon “taboo” subjects. Below are her messages, and anyone who is going to write about similar subjects could draw inspiration from what she had to say. (She addressed it to me, but I blotted out my name in this post for privacy reasons)

Diane Rinella's books

Without my name

“The only thing that matters when writing is that you do it directly from your heart. Much Love, Diane Rinella.”

Without my name 2

“Never be afraid to write about things that matter. Love Always, Diane Rinella.”

Results for~Fiction Writers’ poll (on Original Character Consensual Incest)

This poll was run on tumblr between June 1 to the end of July 2018 (2 months)

This poll was for any kind of original fictional incest pair. The votes would’ve been from different kinds of writers with their own specific interest areas.

The common theme: we’re all people who want to write, are currently working on, or planning to write at least one pair of Original Consensual Incestuous Characters in our own fiction.

Some of the comments were very personal… thank you for your openness and honesty. ❤ You people are absolutely awesome.

We all have our own visions and reasons for writing. This only means we will each have something unique to bring to this topic. One thing we all have in common is…a genuine interest in ‘taboo’ subjects/themes. If anything, hopefully this shows you you’re not alone in writing or wanting to explore these kind of topics/characters. Best of luck to ALL of you.

 

All your comments were amazing. 

 

❤   A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL WHO TOOK THE POLL !!  ❤

 

[Comments are below the chart.]

Link to poll results page: https://poll.pollcode.com/54796467_result_paused

You can also see the results here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/p2ako3azh06kulu/AABkVB5eq1sI8Yrwg34nEgpTa?dl=0

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The Song that best expresses my character’s feelings

If I were to pick one song that utterly captures what my male character feels towards his cousin, it would be ‘Closer’ by Tegan and Sara. There are a bunch that remind me of them, but this one is particularly reflective of what I want to see.

So how does this song apply to my OCs? I think of it specifically from Syden’s point of view… it expresses
how he feels perfectly: the playful language, the simplicity of the
expressions… he would use this kind of language/manner of self expression. He
doesn’t care for poetics or overly flowery language, so the lyrics in this song
reflect that in my head; how Syden thinks/talks… He is capable of being eloquent, but he prefers and would more often use simplicity in speech, like the lyrics in this song. I wrote up a thing on
how the lines would apply to him:

“It’s
NOT just all Physical”
(brings to mind the kind of
thing I know Syden would say to his aunt, who might be thinking that
what he feels for her daughter is just teenage hormones gone wild… that it’s a
phase, and nothing more. That it’s all about the sex. This line is the exact
kind of thing he would say to her in defiance)

“Here
come the dreams of you and me, here come the dreams”
(Syden dreams about Cela pretty often… often times the dreams are
sexual, but not always. Sometimes they are just about being close to her, just
about having romantic sweet moments where he feels, well, feelings. Lol. After
all, it’s not just all physical/lust. He truly loves her and connects with her
emotionally. The dreams are overwhelming.)

(This line could also refer to waking dreams. Even though the future is unknown, Syden can’t help but have flashes in his head of how life would be with her by his side. He would try not to think too much about the uncertainties, but the daydreams would come anyway, and that too is overwhelming, because he doesn’t want to be vulnerable.)

“I
won’t treat you like you’re typical” 
(Syden loves Cela specifically because they
have a connection. He has the tendency to feel impatient with most other girls
and the way they try to get him without really ‘getting’ him. But Cela is not
like that. She doesn’t even have to try and he just feels so at ease around
her… they have similar interests and have been through similar life
experiences, regardless of differences in ideology. She makes an effort with him when other people don’t bother… she
is not as judgmental as other girls/other people, even though she does tease him… he knows
the difference. So, he cannot treat her like she is ‘typical’, because she is
not. She has always been special to him, even when they were kids. And now that
they’re both older, she is special in a more important way)

“So,
let’s make things physical” “All I dream of lately, is how to get you underneath me”
(As much as Syden loves
her on a deeply soul-bound way, he also feels intense sexual attraction towards
her. This part of their relationship is one they’ve embraced as much the
romantic aspects. They express their love to each other in this way too. It
makes total sense that Syden would feel both lust and love when thinking about
her…inextricably; just as lust & love are both captured in this song. Their relationship has both elements,
and for this reason, is very complete and satisfying)

“I
want you close”
 (Being cousins doesn’t guarantee
‘closeness’. He loves her not because she is his cousin, but because he
connects with her as a person, soul-to-soul, body-to-body. His definition of
‘close’ would be unique. He would want to be close to her, not because others
expect them to be, not because they are family, but because he WANTS her to be
close to him…. As two specific people, not just as prototype “cousins”. Often
in family dynamics, people are not given an option on how to feel… they are
told they simply must care about family by default. No one asks whether someone
WANTS that closeness or not. It is simply imposed, orchestrated. And sometimes it’s not even
meaningful…e.g. people just going through the motions of taking care of each
other, just because “family”. It’s like people can’t define their own
relationships—like they’re trapped inside this snow globe where they can’t tell
what’s real and what’s not. This is why it would be important to Syden to tell Cela
that he wants her close, separate from the obligatory closeness of family, with
emphasis on the words “I” and “WANT”)