White Knight notes for later

This is mostly a note to myself and lots of rambling.

I want to revamp my character diversity – I have a huge number of characters, but there are a lot of diversity categories not represented or poorly represented (like, there are a lot of Asian characters, but very few black people…) (I don’t know what the breakdown of ethnicities actually is, that’s just an example). My plan is to basically use random numbers to fix this (I already use a random generator to determine relative weights, heights, and some other things).

Percentages I’m going to use: (I’m intentionally inflating numbers to increase representation)

  • Intersex: 1%
  • Transgender (binary): 4%
  • Non-binary: 15% (I truly believe that a lot more people would be non-binary if it was more widely known and accepted – which it is in my story) (I’ve decided Delia is a demi-girl, and one of Wild Rush’s henchmen is going to be non-binary)
  • Neurodivergent: ???
  • Invisibly disabled: ???
  • Disabled: ???
  • Race categories… (gonna get the statistics for the US and round up)
  • I’m not sure what else?

Plan for the generator:

Have list of categories, with what numbers mean the character fits in that category. For example, race/ethnicity* could be White, Native American, Black, South Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, East Asian, etc, and by having a list people could easily be more than one ethnicity.

Like any generator, results will probably be tweaked by hand.

* obviously for this, I’d use the words that fit my actual map, since there isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between my fictional world and the real world.

Diverse characters I know I have:

  • Lt. Aurita – cop, black / Pacific Islander,  Caling, an ethnic group that whose average height is under 4 feet Pygmy (I can’t tell from googling if this is an offensive term or if there’s alternatives – she’s not a little person, because she doesn’t have dwarfism, she’s ethnically a Pygmy) (Seriously, if I’m screwing up here, let me know). (Edited 4-27-14)
  • Mask – Middle Eastern, disabled (I need some Middle Eastern characters that aren’t criminals – don’t judge me for that, the majority of my characters are criminals.)
  • Delia Troy Burton – Asian, demi-girl
  • Joel Burton (Delia’s son) – Asian, disabled (fictional disease similar to Parkison’s)
  • Emily – Latina, Selective Mutism (I’m not sure if that’s neurodivergent, disabled, or both…)
  • Charles – (Wild Rush’s henchman) gay, non-binary
  • Andre – (Wild Rush’s henchman) gay
  • RV – black
  • (Since Ostanes is set in the same universe, I can count Iosis & Ostanes and their mom for Asian, and Dr. Maurell for asexual and Latino) (basically I already diversitied-up that story, so I’m not worrying about it)
  • (I really need some more asexual characters)
  • (I swear there’s more, I just can’t think of them right now)

Characters that I’m not counting as diverse:

  • Swordcat – multiple, through alien intervention (I need some naturally multiple people)
  • Wild Rush – neurodivergent, mostly likely diagnosis is sociopath (it’s more complicated than that and I don’t want to try to count him as representation of anybody because he’s a really terrible person)
  • Tectrix (I think that’s what I’m going to call him) – Middle Eastern (although that might change. He’s currently problematic and I’m trying to figure out how much of that is stuff I need to change about him and how much can be fixed by having other characters as counterweight) (He’s really just kind of a horrible person and I might just make him white, because making white people horrible doesn’t say anything bad about white people.)

I swear I almost should just make all the really horrible people white, because I’m totally racist against my own race. (That’s mostly sarcasm). (Anyone who non-ironically mentions ‘reverse racism’ will get laughed at and banned. Not kidding.)

Link Dump – Echidna edition

Echidnas are named after a Greek monster that was half women and half snake, and gave birth to most of the other monsters. That seems a bit unfair, considering how cute they are. There are four species of echidna and they’re related to the one species of platypus. Platypuses will fuck you up.

Lots of links, sorry no pictures this time. Feeling too lazy.

Fossil Words of Yore in the Offing “we may wait with bated breath for something in the offing, but it’s unlikely that anything else in our experience is ever bated, or that we’ve made any other use of the noun offing.” (From the MacMillan Dictionary Blog)

Princess Princess “Sadie and Amira are two very different princesses who decide to take their fairy tale into their own hands!” Short finished comic (44 pages) Lovely bits: Sadie is fat and can’t sing. Amara is a WOC and has awesome hair. The unicorn is not too bright. Not so lovely: they treat a guy like dirt for being a bit sexist and the villain uses fat-shaming and ableist language.

1-Up Mushroom Pizza Rolls “When you need energy to make it through the mushroom kingdom on you way to rescue Princess Peach (again), level up your game with these 1-Up Mushroom Pizza Rolls.” (from Kitchen Overlord)

Look Straight Ahead “Jeremy Knowles is a 17-year-old outcast who dreams of being a great artist. But when he suffers a severe mental breakdown brought on by bullying and other pressures at school, his future is called into question.” TW: depiction of schizophrenia based on the creator’s experience. Complete.

Beyond the Binary: Master Post “twenty four questions about gender, sex, sexuality, genderqueer issues, trans issues, stuff, things, the kitchen sink etc. answered by an amazing panel. Some of it’s 101 – some of it 201 – some questions that we get asked all the time, and some that many won’t have considered before.” (from A Gentleman and a Scholar)

Let’s Be Real: Balancing Life’s Roles “We say that ‘real men don’t eat quiche’ or ‘real women have curves,’ and it lets us draw arbitrary boundaries around broad identities in order to make them more exclusive, more secure.” (from Balancing Jane)

The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly… CN: discussion of benevolent sexism and history of research about sexism. The comments aren’t too bad, but there’s gender essentialism, sexism, and call outs of ‘reverse sexism’ there. Of course.

16 Words That Are Much Older Than They Seem (from Mental Floss)

Psychopathic criminals have empathy switch “Placed in a brain scanner, psychopathic criminals watched videos of one person hurting another and were asked to empathise with the individual in pain. Only when asked to imagine how the pain receiver felt did the area of the brain related to pain light up.” TW: the other links of the page are probably triggering (from BBC News)

What is an ontological metaphor? “metaphor in which an abstraction, such as an activity, emotion, or idea, is represented as something concrete, such as an object, substance, container, or person.” (Glossary of Linguistics terms) (Saving for when I get back to conlanging)

English words with Chinese characteristics “Chinese netizens are making up new English words based on very Chinese cultural phenomenon, making the foreign language a unique part of China’s online popular culture” (from Offbeat China)

Willard Suitcase Project – Jon Crispin is photographing the contents suitcases left behind by patients of the Willard Asylum. It’s very non-judgemental and each suitcase acts as a time capsule.

Pokemayan – Pokemon redesigned by a Mexico-based artist (from Monarobot)

SNESbox.com – play NES and SNES games in your browser.

Social justice link roundup (from Pharyngula Wiki)

Easiest fix: make everyone amoebas

Don’t have to worry about diversity when everybody’s genderless, asexual, shapeless, and transparent.

But anyway.

This is going to be one of those awkward things, where I say a dozen things wrong. I apologize.

There’s a discussion over on Shakesville of how everyone is sick of white straight able-bodied male protagonists. And I’m in agreement, but…

Neill, the protagonist of the novel I’m revising, hits three of those (He’s asexual). So, I could make him black or Hispanic or something. He comments on the antagonist being mixed-race (for example: ‘The tip of his tongue moistened his bottom lip, very pink against his dark skin.’) and I don’t know if that would be weird coming from a POC. If not, yeah, he’s now Hispanic. (He probably will be) (And once he is, none of the main characters will be white. Which is groovy.)

But I kind of want to make him disabled as well. But he’s a doctor in a criminal mental institution and a major physical disability would put him more danger, so they wouldn’t allow that? I think? I do think I’m going to make him dyslexic. So, um, suggestions. He had meningitis as a kid, so I don’t know if that could cause something (besides cognitive disabilities. But he’s very smart. Maybe a problem with balance?)

There’s one other character, not for this story, that I want to give a disability to. He’s a guy in his twenties, very smart, and extroverted. He does tech support and that sort of thing. I’m open to suggestions.

(Content notice: discussion of gender essentialism, sexual harassment)

What I’m finding with this is, I’ll think, oh, do this. But then that means that event will be read as something completely different. Okay, so do this other thing, but now that other event reads as… And you’re all looking at me, going use your words, give us examples.

Okay, so I make Neill a woman. Cool, we’ve got this highly educated, very smart woman. Groovy. Exceeeept… at one point Ostanes kisses Neill, without consent. Now, it’s just a kiss, on the lips, no tongue, no groping. That still comes off as much scarier than a dude kissing a dude. Okay, make Ostanes a woman as well. Now people will interpret it as straight women kissing to get attention of guys (even though it happens in a gay bar). (I think – I might be overthinking that one).

But that raises another problem. Ostanes is a dandy. He likes really nice clothes, in bright colors, and he pulls it off. A woman doing the same is going to be read as, well, ‘women like clothes’. So I don’t want Ostanes to be a woman. And there are other problems with changing Neill to a woman, that come down to people thinking girls like girly things. It’s frustrating.

I do want to make things diverse, and I think even if I screw up it’s better than not trying. But sheesh. In story I can say, oh well the society doesn’t think like that, but that doesn’t actually fix anything.

Update July 16: So Thomas Neill is now Tomas Maurell. And he’s overweight and has a bunch of minor problems caused by the meningitis, including a balance disorder and chronic fatigue. I’m still working on editing those in. And the other character I mentioned, has something like Parkinsons (he’s young and in college, so I have to do some research.)

Overthinking how to fix Ostanes

So instead of finishing writing, like, for example, the short story that’s about half done and would only take a few more hours, my brain insists on going back to Ostanes. Aside from the obvious (making it so it’s not so much talking heads), I noticed it’s basically a sausage fest, at least for the first half. And most of the characters are barely described right now (yes, that’ll be fixed), which means everyone will assume they’re white, able-bodied, straight, and cis. The last two aren’t things that will really come up without me having to force it in.

This is not acceptable.

But let’s talk total diversity (because I want people’s opinions on how to improve it). Diversity bolded and my questions in blue (so you can skip the teal deer if you want).

(Spoilers likely – also, this doesn’t take place in our world, but for simplicity’s sake I’m going to use Terran nationalities.)

Dr. Thomas Neill. White, somewhat overweight (although not mentioned very early), asexual.

Ostanes and Iosis. Multiple (not considered a bad thing in this setting). I need to do something about them denying they are, because it comes off as silly (first, research). But that’s a different issue. Ambiguously brown, probably mixed because he has curly hair. Their mom shows up and is Southeast Asian. We know basically nothing about their dad. Tall and very thin. Ostanes is pansexual. Iosis says he’s asexual, but likes to have one-night stands and make out with people at bars. Ostanes says it’s because it’s a power trip. I think it’s just complicated. Opinions? Iosis at least possibly has a mental disorder or personality disorder (that or he’s just a giant self-centered vain asshole). Ostanes has selective mutism, which I need to clarify.

Various undescribed guards. Easy place to add diversity.

Security chief. Pretty much undescribed. Woman, which I need to mention earlier.

Dr. Caro. Jerk. Male. No description.

Dr. Callis. One of Ostanes’ ex-doctors. Woman. Tried to seduce him, which is problematic. (Or at least Iosis insists she did, but he may not be an entirely reliable witness…)

Dr. Ginson. One of Ostanes’ ex-doctors. Male, no description. Could easily be a woman, which would make up for Dr. Callis.

Dr. Tross. One of Ostanes’ ex-doctors. Male, no description. Iosis thinks he’s a jerk.

Iosis’ victims. The few that are described are men, presumably white. I’m pretty sure that’s fine with me.

Uco. Overweight. Male. He has a heavy accent, but I don’t say from where. He could easily be a woman, but I’m afraid that that’s saying that making clothes is woman’s work? Or am I overthinking?

Uco’s assistant. Male, has Café au lait spots on his face. Could also easily be a woman. Maybe make Uco a woman and the assistant a man?

Delivery people. At least one is a woman. They’re otherwise undescribed.

Anita Trevino, Ostanes’ and Iosis’ mom. Southeast Asian. Woman (duh). Gorgeous. Probably has the same mental/personality disorder Iosis does because their personalities are very similar. One of the few people who can get the better of Iosis, and it’s wonderful.

Dusty. Who still needs a name change. Currently male. Going to be changed to a woman, possibly a woman of color. (Also, probably pansexual, but that won’t come up. I am NOT going to write young Ostanes walking into the kitchen and seeing his mother making out with his mentor. Not happening, but it’d be hysterical. Because I’m a jerk.) The other person who can chew out Iosis and it’s even better. Shows up as a fox (trickster archetype – actual talking animal fox) later. If I change him to a woman, is it problematic for her to be a fox? If so, suggestions for a different trickster type?

Mr. Hiddles. Rabbit of various anthro states. Male. Not changing, because oh god I lurve him. I lurve him to bits.

Elliana. Woman. Probably going to be changed to overweight, possibly a woman of color. Neill had a crush on her. She’s a fairy princess. Opinions wanted. The real Elliana was Neill’s kindergarten teacher, when he had a crush on her. Any problems there that I’m not seeing?

Three old women / witches (presented without judgement). I’m tempted to do the crone/maiden/mother thing, but I don’t think it fits. The king of fish and an ogre. Yes, this story gets odd. I need to foreshadow the change and read a lot more fairy tales to get the tropes right. It’s beautiful and I need to expand it more. It’s just so so lovely.