dreamingfifi: (Default)
There's a lot of critiques of the genre that focus on the creepy stuff that the harem genre in Manga and Anime (one man, a lotta women) as it relates to what's happening to the girls and/or women in such series, but there's something else about it that bothers me, that I don't think gets enough attention. Oddly enough, it's a flaw that the reverse harem genre (one woman, a lotta men) lacks.

One of the sexist stereotypes of men is that they want sex all the time. Therefore, they can't be raped by women. Only women can be the victim of sexual violence. If a woman rapes a man, then he should go along with it because he secretly wants it.

In harem stories, there always is a bunch of pretty girls who force themselves on an unwilling male protagonist. The idea is that if he isn't pursuing them, then he isn't victimizing them. But, it's actually just been reversed. The protagonist is the one being assaulted - often graphically, with a ton of violence. And we're supposed to find it funny, because a man couldn't possibly be sexually assaulted, and he secretly wants this, right?

A prime example in the plight of the protagonist of The World Only a God Knows, Keima Katsuragi. He's pretty high up in the Asexuality/Aromantic scale. He also is intensely uncomfortable with physical contact. Even in the dating sims he plays, he doesn't really think of them as romances, and he isn't getting sexual gratification out of them, he sees them more like strategy games. In the series, a demon crashes to earth and tricks him into making a contract to help her catch runaway evil spirits. The catch is that they're in young women, and to get the evil spirit out, he has to seduce them. If he breaks the contract, he will die horribly. Let's think about what this actually means: He's a sex slave, forced to prostitute himself under pain of death. As creepy and gross as what he's doing to all of these women is, it's no where near as horrifying as what's being done to him. We, the readers, are expected to think: He's being sexually assaulted, LOL. Now he's being beaten up for being sexually assaulted, LOL. It also was this series that triggered this rant.

There a lot of other creepy things about this genre, but I just wanted to point out this particular one, because people seem to forget that sexual violence isn't restricted by gender.
dreamingfifi: (Default)
This essay/rant is mostly based off of an essay by a friend of mine whose website vanished from the internet because she's moved on. Or died. I have no idea, she's just gone. Farewell Nurvingiel, you were a great writer and your essay on using foreign languages in story-telling was one of my favorites.

Whether you're writing about Middle-earth or the Beika district of Tokyo, you'll be dealing with foreign languages that you may or may not know. You may be tempted to work in some of the native languages to give your readers a greater feeling of immersion in the world. There are several things I'd like you to keep in mind though.

  1. Don't assume that your readers will know as much about the language as you do. Therefore, use the same language you use for the narration for all of the dialogue. Any term not in this language should be clearly defined for the reader. This also applies to honorifics, titles, and terms of address, like Mr./Mrs./Mz./Miss/Lord/Lady. Translate them or leave them out entirely.

Say someone is jumping into a fandom for the first time, and doesn't speak any Elvish or Japanese or Na'vi. They click on a fanfic that looks interesting, but they can't read the dialogue because it's a word-salad of languages they don't know. They give up and go away.

  1. Write the dialogue from the point of view of the characters whose point of view you're using. You can use a different language to reflect the characters' inability to understand what is being said to them, immersing the reader more into the characters' perspective.

So, you've got a Japanese character in a Japanese setting, and you're writing in English. They'll be able to understand everything said to them in Japanese, so write all of the Japanese dialogue in plain English. But, if the character doesn't speak English well, or at all, you could phonetically transcribe the English into the Japanese phonology, so it seems just as foreign and bizarre to your English speaking readers. Here's an example:
“Ah, I didn't see you there; forgive me,” Kogorou said, stepping aside.

The woman with a long nose and carefully fluffed brown hair looked confused a moment, then said, “Aimu sari, ai dina kachi za. Kudju ripii za?”

Kogorou blinked, uncomprehending. What was this strange amalgamation of sounds this woman was spewing?

Conan sighed loudly behind him and answered the woman. Ran tugged him aside and whispered, “It's English; Dad, they're speaking in English.”
As you can see, it is as confusing and incoherent as Kogorou would find it.

For another example, say you're writing in English; your POV character only speaks of Westron in Middle-earth, and they meet an Elf, who only speaks Sindarin.
I stood back, surprised. To me, it'd looked like the tree and sprung to life, but now, I realized I was looking at an Elf. A real, live elf. The elf backed up a step, hands up to show she wasn't holding any weapons. “Goheno nin. Ú-ethilen dhe thostad.”

I blinked. What was this “thostad,” and did it hurt?
Another situation that you may come across is a bilingual character. You need some way to distinguish the fact that they're speaking another language, but it needs to be in plain English. I suggest putting the dialogue in the other language in italics (no more than that though, too many layers of italics, bolding, and underlining can be distracting) or simply mention in the narration that they're speaking this other language now.
Ah, I didn't see you there; forgive me,” Kogorou said, stepping aside.

The woman with a long nose and carefully fluffed brown hair looked confused a moment, then said in English, “I'm sorry; I didn't catch that. Could you repeat that?

Kogorou blinked, uncomprehending. Conan sighed loudly behind him and answered the woman, “He just apologized for bumping into you. He's very sorry.
In scenes such as this, using the foreign language in the dialogue makes sense. Most of the time, just don't.

  1. Make sure that the translations you use are accurate. Bad translations could end up annoying or insulting everyone who does speak the languages in question. Or rather, it's a pet peeve of mine and it drives me up the wall.

This is so bad in Anime fandoms. The Fan-Japanese is so... so... *tears hair out, flails uselessly at the screen for a few minutes, mouth starts frothing* MAKE IT STOP.

  1. Using foreign terms in the narration is the most effective, and could lead to using them in the dialogue.

This is pretty simple to do, actually. You have a character think about or discuss the term. Here are a few examples:
Ran scowled down at Shinichi, hands on her hips. “Stop using my name without honorifics. Little boys should call older girls 'Neesan.' I'm older than you.”

Shinichi looked down, inspecting the floor. He hated being reminded of his condition. “Yes Ran-neesan,” he mumbled to his toes.

“I don't think I heard you. Say it again.”

He glared back up at her. “I wanna go home, Ran-neesan!”
Now the reader will know the significance of Shinichi addressing Ran as Ran-neesan when in his child-form, and they get some insight into Shinichi's situation and personality.

My fingers brushed across the net the Elfwoman had tucked my hair into. I'd never seen such a device before, but it was holding in all of the stray hairs with ease.

The Elf tugged gently on the net. “Cathrae,” she said, clearly pleased with my reaction.

“It's a cathrae.” I said, tasting the word.

“Ma!” she said grinning. “Cathrae.”
In the scene, we get a taste of Elven hair-styles by having the elf character teach our human about Elven hairnets.

Once home, she absentmindedly stuffed her shoes into the kutsubako, a small shelf by the door that they put their shoes away in.
Or, it can be as simple as this.

In conclusion:
Write in whatever language you're writing in.
Don't expect everyone to know as much or as many foreign languages as you do.
Use foreign languages from the perspective of the characters that you're telling the story through.
When introducing foreign terms, define them carefully and creatively in the story.
Make sure the translations are correct, because this little linguist and translator is driven insane by bad translations.

Thank you.

Back to the Rant Index

Bullying

Aug. 17th, 2011 09:07 am
dreamingfifi: (Default)
No matter how I try, it seems to have scarred my mind in ways I can't escape.

I was always a weird kid. I over analyzed everything, and through my analysis I found may things superfluous that others clung to as social norms, and ended up denied access to society for that reason.

When I was little, I wore dresses even though everyone knew it was fashionable to wear pants. I was constantly teased for it. But I liked long flowy skirts, and pants had a way of pinching the backs of my knees in most uncomfortable ways. So, I wore dresses all the time.

When I got older and my aptitude for languages and linguistics started showing itself, I had no languages to learn around me, so I started talking to my chickens and turkeys. One day in 4th grade, around Thanksgiving, the teacher did the normal schpiel about "gobble gobble goes the turkey", and I raised my hand and corrected her, presenting my findings and research. This forever marked me as the girl who talks to chickens and turkeys; and sealed my fate as an outsider.

The teasing got far worse. I got into fights on the bus and the playground. The physical stuff wasn't too bad though. I was tall and strong, so anything they could dish out I could counter. It was the girls and their practices of ostracizing and ridicule that hurt.

I didn't see the world like they did. I didn't organize my views of the people around me by their places in society, but by the ways they treated me. To them, I didn't fit into society, so I was a blemish on their surroundings. They were also starting to reach puberty, and the hormones running through them confused and frightened them. To comfort themselves in the face of their insecurities, they lashed out at the blemish in society.

Oh did I hate being their scapegoat.

It didn't help that I mentioned on the bus that I wasn't Christian and neither was my family (except for my Nonna). Now, not only was a weird, but I was a heretic as well. The brat on the bus cornered me on the playground and threw rocks, shoes, and woodchips at me while screaming "burn the witch".

I spent most of those years, 9-12 years old, angrily grinding pebbles into dust on the playground all by myself.

My little brother Jethro entered Intermediate school too, and the bullying he faced from fellow boys was pretty terrible, and I often ended up stationing myself by him whenever I could to protect him. At one point, I ended up ripping bullies on the bus off of him who had his neck pinned to the window, strangling him. It got so bad that he spent more time protecting himself than learning, so my parents pulled him out of public school to homeschool him.

Junior high was surprisingly peaceful for me. I found a few other outcasts, and we banded together. I finally had friends that I could sit with at lunch. I wasn't spending every moment of recess and every bus ride protecting my little brother. Classes finally got interesting as well. They picked up the pace, and I found myself, for the first time, facing challenging and interesting classes. I headed toward highschool with a positive outlook, because my teachers said that classes would be far more challenging.

Highschool was challenging for other reasons.

All of a sudden, they were fighting tooth and nail to find a place in society for themselves that they were certain would be their place for the rest of their lives. I just didn't get it. I entered puberty very late, so I didn't feel the same rushes of emotion that they did. Anyways, I wanted no part of their struggle, but they were adamant to make me part of it. Since I wasn't on the attack, they figured they could make certain that I inhabited the lowest rung of society, and made me and my little group of friends their punching bag. Metaphorically of course. I didn't suffer any physical attacks in highschool, just psychological ones.

And oh, were those brutal.

During gym, they'd make endless jokes about the weight of one of my friends. One nasty little wanker made it his business to call me "chicken-fucker" every day on the bus. At one point, we were surrounded in the hallways by those little brats chanting "Freak! Freak! Freak!" Seeing if they could bring us to tears seemed to be their sport.

It didn't help that I discovered that I was bisexual and lived in constant fear of being found out.

All this left me really, really messed up. I wish I could say that it made me stronger. It didn't. It left me angry, cynical, and fearful of my fellow man. I keep finding the scars on my consciousness.

When I was struggling with depression a few years back, part of it was unearthing old fears that their is something wrong with me... that my strange outlook on the world meant there was some sort of mental disability that made it difficult for me to connect with my fellow man, but no. I'm just, as the psychologist put it, scientifically-minded, and that's a good thing.

I often wonder if the abuse I suffered at their hands made my imagination so much darker than normal. I look at my book collection, and I see a lot of horror and tragedy. My manga collection exhibits this particularly well. When I was fresh out of highschool, and just discovering manga, one of the first series I picked up and loved was Angel Sanctuary. The plot is apocalyptic and displays angels that are twisted and screwed up as humans - the main characters being a fallen pair of lesbian angels that were trapped in the mortal coil - endlessly reborn in human bodies, then hunted down and murdered by angels over and over and over... I connected with it so strongly because I recognized the shame towards my own sexuality, and the pain of persecution from my peers that I grew up with. In manga, the themes of simmering social injustice and fear/stifling of one's own sexuality are common, so I felt quite at home in Japanese literature.

In my own stories, it's been noted that I enjoy torturing my characters. It's rare to see them not being trapped and ostracized. In one of my first attempts at novel writing, I wrote about a girl whose skin sucked the life out whatever had the poor chance of touching her.

The anger is the most destructive of the scars. I found myself lashing out on the internet in the form of parody and ridicule. Starting at 15, I drifted through the Pit of Voles, finding bad stories and ripping them apart in every detail. I joined a group of similarly angry people, Godawful Fanfiction (GAFF) and we licked each others' wounds while clawing and kicking at our imaginary foes. It took a long time to realize that I was trying to lash out at the kids who hurt me, but only striking little girls posting their sexual fantasies online for everyone to read.

What is the point of this long ramble?
Bullying changed me. It left me in a lot of pain. Healing myself is taking a long time, and I still suffer flashbacks of it from time to time. If you see someone being bullied, step in. If you're an adult, goddammit you dolt, it's your responsibility to step in. These kids are riding a wave of irrational fear fueled by hormones and weird changes to their bodies - they don't have complete control over their actions. You have to shut down their attacks and remind them of human decency. Tell them that they are doing something wrong. If only the teacher "in control" of that hallway where me and my friends were cornered had stepped in - it could have stopped. Their argument, that we were freaks, could have been disqualified by the authority. But no, nothing was done to help us, and it appeared that their argument was given validity by the lack of action.

Now I'm in college. I isolate myself from the aggression-fueled social structures (sports), and I am happier. Bullying is a thing of the past. My friends all have suffered the same wounds, but we heal together. There is nothing wrong with us. We're just different. It's a state of being, not an affliction.

A few weeks ago, I finally came out to my family and friends as being bisexual. It unearthed a lot of the old fears of ostracization, and I found myself suffering many flashbacks and painful memories. But, I also found that those fears no longer apply to me. I'm not trapped 7 hours a day with a bunch of hormone-addled children. I choose my friends, and the friends I chose accept who I am. My family might not all understand, but I know that they love me enough to let me explain.

It got better.

/ranting

July 2015

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