Whoa … I’m …

So, there’s a Thing that’s a bit viral on Twitter.

Seems a young lady in a Minnesota school found herself assaulted by staff of said school.

Oh, yeah, see, there’s video evidence. One mo, and I’ll fetch that for you dears:

So … yeah, I mean I suppose that in some ways it could be argued it’s not assault … using a dictionary. Legally, however, there’s a few child sex crime kind of laws in violation by the adults seen. To say nothing of a little thing called psychological assault in violating her privacy like that and by misgendering her so thoroughly.

I kid you not, this has created an uproar. Twitter seems to actually be in consensus about it (only other time Twitter was in consensus about something Joffery had been poisoned). I mean never mind any trans rights debates, everyone is enraged about treating a child that way. Oh and maybe because they didn’t issue an apology, they issued a statement and were then suddenly worried about ‘privacy’.

So I had a little something to say to such a non-apology:

As did the amazing Amanda Jette Knox (this one a thread):

And hundreds more with thousands of reactions that basically come to ‘I’m with you, mate!’

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Best (and most awesomely put) writing advice I’ve ever seen

From one of this year’s NaNoWriMo Pep Talks

Pep Talk from Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig

Imagine being allowed to do something you’re not supposed to do.

Imagine you’re given the keys to a mud-bogging Bronco, or a dune buggy, or a Lamborghini. And then, you’re pointed toward a field. A soccer field outside a high school, or maybe just a wide open grassland. Nobody there. No kids playing. No animals frolicking. In fact, right now, nobody is here to see you at all.

You have total freedom to rev the engine, slam the pedal to the floor, and gun it through that field. You can do donuts, spinning the car wildly about, flinging up mud, leaving tracks that look like the calligraphy of an old, mad god.

You can slop mud on the car. You can get out and dance in the grass.

You can do whatever you want.

This is not something we’re particularly used to, as adults. My toddler gets it. He isn’t fenced in by the boundaries of adulthood—which, okay, yes, that means he doesn’t necessarily know not to shove a ham sandwich into a whirring fan (instant ham salad!) or not to climb the tallest thing and leap off it like a puma.

But it also means he doesn’t know why he can’t just pick up a pen and start drawing. It means he has no problem grabbing a blob of Play-Doh and creating whatever his fumbling little hands can manage. It means that he’ll grab a Transformers toy and half-transform it into some lumbering robot-car monstrosity—and when an adult might say, “No, no, it’s like this or it’s like that; it’s a robot or it’s a car,” he’s like, “Uh, yeah, no. Go back to your tax forms and your HGTV, stupid adult, I’ve just created a Frankencarbot and you can go hide your head in the sand-swept banality of grown-up life, sucker.”

His entire creative life is the “Everything Is Awesome” song from The LEGO Movie. Because he doesn’t know what he can or can’t do. He doesn’t know about art or form or criticism or any of that. He can do whatever he wants. (Ham sandwiches and fan blades aside.)

And you can do whatever you want, too.

The blank page is yours. Cast aside worries over art and criticism. Imagine a land without rules. Imagine that nobody has ever told you that you cannot or should not do this thing. Those people were wrong. Forget those voices. Because, for real?

It’s an empty field and you’ve got the keys to a freaking Ferrari.

It’s a white tablecloth and you’ve got ketchup, mustard, and relish.

It’s a blank page and you’ve got all the letters and words you need.

Rev the engine and take the ride. Paint with all the colors the condiments at your table allow. Create whatever robot-human monstrosities your mind cares to conjure. Crack open your chest and plop your heart onto the page.

Right now: just write. Donuts in an empty field.

Leave your mark.

Chuck’s Website
Chuck’s Books

Taboo

Oh what a subject.  And, no, I’m not here to talk about weird board games, either.

I was actually participating, not just browsing, today on the NaNoWriMo forums and incest was brought up.

Should it be incorporated into a tale?  Oh, dear me, I believe I’ve said all I can about an author asking “should”.

Still, that aside, it is an intriguing question.  Taboos aren’t like eye colour, and hair colour.  Should my character be blonde, should they be Asian, should they be Jewish.  While, perhaps, in other eras those questions can carry the same weight as incest, today it’s really unimportant.  Oh, but incest.  The ultimate sexual taboo, well it or bestiality anyway.

Incest.  Calls to mind scenes of brother raping sister.  Of father molesting daughter.  Of mother seduced by son.  Mostly, in today’s society, it is firmly in the public consciousness as a Bad Thing, so you say it and people do lean in the direction of rape and molestation, drugging, slavery, torture.  Even in the V C Andrews book my sister likes so much (no, I haven’t read it and I know it was a series and so am uncertain which title to reference, sorry) where the incest is treated far more consensually and even slightly more romantically … it’s in the face of abuse and isolation.  It’s not so bad, next to everything else going on in the characters’ lives – or so I gather from listening to her go on and on about it.  Even if I’m mistaken, it’s a good point and one someone has probably published.  QED.

Sex is a good question, in the end, when the characters will be deviating from expectations.  This, today, makes some people very squeamish.  People are unlikely to be neutral about a sexual taboo.  Take homosexuality.  Today, it’s fairly acceptable in the main stream.  Oh, certainly, you won’t get the bible thumping Southern Baptist next door to much appreciate your story (though, he may surprise you, it’s unwise to judge an individual on what they are), but in the broader scope of things people will shrug and move on.  Now, make your terrible perverted faggot a school teacher; well,now they’re someone who should be ashamed of themselves as should you for writing him!  Dear me, gay is okay, but don’t let them near the children!

Oh, dear me, the children, oh what a fun time that is.  “Oh, how sweet, little Johnny has a crush on Violet, the girl who sits next to him in Kindergarden”.  And “OH!  How romantic, they go to the prom together, they’re high school sweeties, they marry and have ten kids.”  Of course, this is how society ought to be!  That indisputable spark of True Love, the growing story of love and devotion – the opening montage of Pixar’s Up.  And, for the record, I agree.  Doesn’t have to be when you’re 5, but society could do with more thinking with hearts and less with stock portfolios and logic … where love is concerned, I mean, obviously we need far MORE thinking with our brains in many other regards.  Now, let’s make that little Johnny has a crush on little Timmy, or Violet is trying to steal a kiss from Talia.  Perversions!  My God, how could the writer do such a thing?!  That’s sick, that’s perverse, they can’t possibly be … oh what a different story it becomes from those people who’d just moments before been singing your praises.

People will ignore the narrative, the dialogue, every clue, every explanation, every characterisation, everything so that they can love or hate your for a sexual taboo.  Now, in honesty, they rarely do so to love you – partially since it’s safe to assume that some explanation is needed to actually give context to this taboo so that it might be made inoffensive; exceptions abound, there are going to be some who will just go “right on!  lesbians!” or “the author is so brave to explore incest”, but not as many.  The opposite, though.  When it comes to that which will offend them, though, people will not see that which might take away the offence.  I love to take Heinlein’s work for examples of this.  He toyed with taboo, society, norms, mores, morals, ethics, and values.  Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Loveand others.  They ask hard questions about our selves, our societies, our beliefs.  Thick books, long books, lots of very profound prose and entertaining at that; still all some people walk away with is “eww, OMG they ate part of that guy after he died!” “WTF?!  Lazarus just had sex with his mother, Heinlein is a very sick man.”  Oh, sure, taken out of context, these do seem pretty bad – hence what I said about few loving you for the taboo.  In context though, it all makes sense, it all comes together.  You understand the reasoning, the thoughts … maybe you don’t agree with it, no one said you did, that’s not the point of writing, the point is, if the author does her job correctly you have all the data necessary to understand. Your opinions will forever and always be yours to keep and have, but the narrative opens the door to comprehension.

In my opinion, taboos are fun.  I like them.  It’s, I think, why I love to read SF.  I love the way that some of the greatest talents in fantasy and science fiction hold up mirrors and lenses to what we hold to be normal.  The way the run you through a funhouse of cultures and societies, of normals and taboos that are like unto our own, except when they’re not.  Like the mirrors that make you short, or tall, fat or thin, or the trick one that makes you a gorilla … Elves, and aliens, fairies and space pirates, they challenge us to reconsider our opinions, ideas, beliefs, faith, and thoughts.  Some become reinforced, some are shaken, some are shattered, but with the shaking and shattering, even with the reinforcing, that self examination and self-exploration broadens and strengthens us, because there is usually (at least in the stuff I like) a new selection of thoughts, beliefs, faiths, dreams, and opinions to take and make your own, to shape and consider and adopt to fill the void.

In the end, and in all honesty, I thought it might be nice to write a good ol’ sweet, light hearted boy-meets girl, except that’s so been done I wanted to put a twist, so it becomes girl-meets-girl.  Harmless, yes?  No.  now it’s a taboo.  Sure, not a big one.  But … I wanted to write for teens, young men and women, adolescents, perhaps the young ones just entering puberty.  The ones whose bodies have or are beginning to shift gears and open their eyes to a whole new package of wiring and experience that had been hidden away the decade leading up to this point.  Boy, that sounds twisted and perverse, doesn’t it?  I’m just saying, the ones who want to read something more emotional and complex than the latest misadventure of Amelia Bedelia.  When I was eight through ten, many both male and female took up watching Beverly Hills, 90210 and reading Sweet Valley.  They were curious about romances, sex, love, dating, etc.  That’s all I meant.  When you introduce a minor taboo to “children”, and I use quotations because they’re not so much any more at this point, the gears have shifted and they’re accelerating to adulthood, you open a can of worms where people panic and become defensive.  Little Suzy is just too young to know about that.  Worse, I made the characters, themselves, young adolescents.  Now I’ve not only become a dangerous person, but one who is a corruptive influence as now these impressionable children who can’t possibly think for themselves, and know their own bodies, hearts, heads, and passions, Lord Jesus, no, of course not, why they’re only reproductively capable now, they can’t possibly have the slightest idea what sex even is!  Let’s not be silly here.

No, no one has much taken that approach with my work, thankfully, I’m honestly not sure how I would or even ought to react to such a thing.  I’ve seen it though.  I’m sadly only adding a bit of snark to arguments I’ve seen or heard before regarding other works that parallel mine in regards to those particular themes and elements.  Are You There, God?  It’s me, Margaret., Harriet the Spy, and Harry Potter … no, not homosexuality, not sexuality in “children”, but the fact that they paint children and “children” being exactly what they are and ever have been, sometimes with the fun twists of fiction — Harry’s wizardry, for example, but it’s taboo that Margaret should be having anything whatsoever to say about sex, masturbation, and faith – it might be interestingly controversial, if the book weren’t meant to be read by children Margaret’s own age, but rather as a philosophical exploration for adult readers, but give that same exploration to those of an age to be going through that very exploration!?  God, no.  Harry’s wizardry, and Hermione’s witchcraft does bother some, yes, but besides that there’s the fact that the children, through formation of their own opinions and thoughts, challenge some authority and respect others … doesn’t Ms Rowling know that, if she’s going to be writing these books for children, then the children in them ought to do everything someone older than them saws, just because they’re the teacher, adult, etc.?!  Good God, authority should never be challenged, questioned, or ignored, let’s not be absurd, wherever might our society be today if people went around doing such things?  Cute how Harry and Harriet both have the same criticisms, I didn’t choose the two for that reason, but I may consider pretending I did, since it looks bloody brilliant.

Taboos, really are great.  They force both the author and the reader to think.  Some resist, some go with it.  Some are changed by it, some don’t bother to keep thinking for longer than needed to get through the chapter.  Still … I guarantee people will definitely talk, you may not like what some of them say, but you’ll have ’em talking.

Now & Forever ABCs (Nonnina)

Rachele Carmen Agata Constellino née Gentile

5 March 1947
Roman Catholic

Rachele was born and raised in AgrigentoSicily, Italy to a family that was not well off, but was well to-do enough that they always had plenty of good food, and had no trouble keeping clothes on their backs.

She was the second youngest of eight children, and the third — and youngest — daughter.  She is rather well educated, her father adamant that a good wife should also have a good mind, so made certain she got to  and did well in school and encouraging her to attend college when she was offered a scholarship to Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples.  There she studied Letters (Literature) and earned a degree as well as meeting a young fisherman’s son who was working in a coffee house while studying history at, in his words, L’Università della Biblioteca Civica (The University of the Public Library).  His name was Amadeo Constellino, a Corsican who’d come to the city to make his fortune.

Amadeo made a determined effort to win the affection and hand of the charming young Sicilian girl he’d met; and she was quite popular with the lads being both beautiful and an incomparable cook as well as, as her father had predicted, witty and intelligent … many a young man would try again harder to win her attentions after a sharp-tongued rebuke from her it making her that much more an alluring challenge.

Amadeo supplemented his pocketbook with busking in parks and on the street, being a remarkably good guitarist, even writing his own songs.  Rather than stubborn determination (because Rachele had turned down his first request to take the pretty college girl to a movie) he took a subtler approach:  not charging her for her orders at the little café, and by writing her a song which he convinced the owner of the shop (the eldest brother of one of Amadeo’s childhood friends) to let him perform the next time she came in.  She finally agreed to the movie.

The couple was married a year and a half later and went on to have five children.  She worked as a school teacher and he eventually found himself manager, then owner of the café.

Rachele has always been a strict and opinionated woman, sharp tongued and sharp witted she kept her family in line and got them all, even her carefree and religiously lackadaisical husband, to Mass regularly (and for both husband and children, frequent trips to the confessional — her children being a little much like Amadeo, at times).

When Amadeo died the couple had already been retired for a number of years, he having given the café over to a daughter-in-law, and she having earned her pension from the school.  In 2008 Rachele was widowed by Amadeo’s weakening heart finally giving up.

She does not approve of Sally’s sexuality, because she does so deeply love her grandchildren and she is concerned for the young girl’s soul.  She has long prayed that it was merely a childish phase that her granddaughter was going through and eventually would grow out of once she’d met a good man — after all, she loved and admired Amadeo, and is so very fond of so many of her uncles, her father, and her male cousins (Rachele having a vague notion that lesbians must, inherently, dislike men in general).  It was a shock to her when Sally told her about Lauren, but still she loved her Salencia and became so much more determined to pray for the girl — a good child, really, but clearly corrupted from living in that Godless country her daughter-in-law had dragged her son and grandchild to (she loves Zoë like a daughter, but considers the woman to be quite insane at times — a sentiment that Zoë is wont to agree with).