exactly that

Posts tagged ‘WTF?’

Race, Disability, Ms. Magazine (Again), and Mythbusting the IUD

It happens every now and again. Someone writes something really remarkable. A post or article that is so full of win that I want to give it as much attention as possible. It has a ring of truth that many people don’t want to read, especially segments (HA! Segments. By segments, I mean most of feminism.) of feminism that believe that reproductive justice is a one-size-fits-all movement and that we should all snap-to and join together, because all of our interests are equally yoked in the fight. A strike of brutal honest fact that shows that some victory has been won, historically over the backs of others.

But then I read it and I see some little segment of non-truth, some swipe that isn’t as well-done as the rest that leaves me with a sour taste and I see it as equally harmful to some.

That can be said of this almost-home-run piece by Nicole Guidotti-Hernández at Ms. Magazine’s blog. It isn’t a secret that I have my share of issues with Ms. or their blog, like their ridiculous Obama as Superman cover or the recent blog post about how all us disabled folk were a hive mind of dupes working for the anti-choice movement. The difference being that Guidotti-Hernández’ piece was actually good. Solid. The reproductive justice movement, and feminism in general, has thrived on as marginalized women have laboured, forgotten. White women, rich, well-off women marched on to vote, enjoy their new freedom, and gain rights and non-white women nursed their children, and disabled women stayed in the corners forgotten as worthless and unworthy anyway.

Nicole had me until the part where she seemed to be dissing on IUDs:

Yet, I can’t help but think of a recent visit to the gynecologist (not my usual one, but an affiliate in the practice at the University Medical Center in Tucson), at which the doctor kept insisting that I consider an IUD even though I am unmarried and have no children. As a recently tenured faculty member with a hyphenated “Latino” name, this unwavering persistence that I need an IUD–or, rather, am a good candidate for one–and therefore not needing to reproduce, suggests that reproductive racism is alive and well, even for an Ivy-league educated Chicana. It makes me wonder how many other Latinas, educated or not, are being pushed to control their reproduction with this subtle racism that is the dark underbelly of reproductive justice.

I can sympathize with her feelings of frustration here. My own heritage is full of women who were forcibly sterilized. Perhaps what she senses was happening is in fact what was going on. I don’t know. I am not one to fully discount institutional racism. I know all too well what it feels like to feel like your provider isn’t listening to you, maybe even better than she does. There is no excuse for a provider to not listen to your wishes. It still doesn’t change the rest of it. It is also entirely possible that she had a doctor who was simply trying to give her the best possible birth control option for her, and that because she hasn’t researched the IUD properly, and that she is spreading myths about it, that she was dead set against hearing that it was that: a great choice for her. Having “Native American” stamped in my medical record didn’t make obtaining my one any easier. I had insurance on my side, and even my “white” appearance, getting me more than one odd glance when what they see doesn’t match what they read. I am forgetful with pills. I am horrible with getting refills. I have all kinds of complications that interact with hormones, and more reasons than fingers for doctors to dissuade me from having more children. And yet, I have had the opposite experience. Twice.

It is also no secret how I love my IUD. How I have had to fight to get it. Why is that you ask? Why did I have to fight to get it?

Because people seem to be caught up in the days when IUDs in the U.S. were getting a bad rap for still being dangerous, and it seems that most people — women, nurses, doctors, preachers, whathaveyou — can’t be bothered to pick up the latest literature and brush up on what is so awesome about IUDs, or so safe, convenient, affordable (for a privileged sect), and practical.

Modern IUDs, available in two forms: The plastic hormonal and the copper non-hormonal (Mirena and Paraguard in the U.S.). The thing is, they are not just for married moms of three kids these days. IUDs are also great for…well, almost anyone. No longer do you have to have popped out kids in order for your cervix to be right. Some doctors still believe otherwise, and I believe that if we continue to allow people to spread myths like the above quoted passage, they will continue to turn women away from this great form of birth control. Armed with information, doctors, nurses, and even *cough* nurse midwives, will begin to see that everyone’s cervix is different and that it depends on the woman, not her status of maternity.

Being married is no longer required either. It is more important to be smart and responsible about your sexual health than to be in a marital, or even a monogamous, relationship. I think people realized a while back that being married is no longer (HA!) proof that you will be protected from STIs. Many professionals recommend a second barrier method in conjunction with an IUD, but you would have to use that with the pill, the patch, and most hormonal birth control anyway.

IUD is about the most popular form of birth control in the world. In fact, according to Guttmacher, its use in Europe outdoes the other leading three uses of contraceptive in the U.S..

Why could that be?

Well, for one, if you opt for the Paragard, or copper version, there are no side effects. Once your body adjusts — most women experience mild to “oh my stars I want to ker-smash things” cramping the first month or so — you no longer have any of the brought-on-by-hormones deals that are associated with the pill, the shot, etc. Smokers, those with high blood pressure, heart disease, and even people like myself who have medical situations that interfere with the pill, can happily use the copper IUD.

Mirena offers a low dose of hormones with the benefits of being an IUD. An extra whammy if you will. Conditions like endomitriosis are believed to be helped slightly by its use. It is also believed to help aid heavy periods and can help lighten them. It won’t set off metal detectors at airports*. Slate has a good article that focuses on the IUD.

Both are easily reversible. By “easily”, I mean “almost instantly”. I mean, were I to go in to my doctor’s office today and have my Paragard removed, The Guy and I could, in theory, conceive a child within ten minutes of the doctor leaving the exam room. Long term doesn’t mean permanent. You don’t have to wait a month (or longer) for the hormones to leave your body. Many women in Europe and Asia use the IUD as an alternative to the more permanent sterilization at the end of planning their families. The U.S. just hasn’t caught on yet.

It is also ready to use the day (THE SAME HOUR!) you have it inserted.

The start-up cost is, sadly, higher than most other forms (between $300-$500 without insurance), but the maintenance is lower. “Lower” here reads as “virtually nonexistent”. Every other form of birth control requires you to maintain. The shot and ring: Monthly. The patch: Weekly. The pill: Daily. Condoms: Every damn time (no, really, you can’t re-use them, even if you wash them!). With the IUD, you have it inserted, and then you basically ignore it for five years or ten years, depending on your device (well, you should stick some fingers in there to check for the strings once a month or so, but checking your bits out is a good idea anyway), or until you decide to have it removed, barring any complications (and I am not saying there won’t be any).

There is no month-month cost, and if you are paying $60 a month in birth control, over the 5-10 life of your IUD, it is cheaper. In reality, I know that if you can’t afford $60 a month, you likely can’t afford $300, let alone $500, but this is the reality of the economics of the device. If you have access to a women’s health clinic, like a Planned Parenthood, they may be able to help assist. More VA centers are getting into the Women’s Health arena, with closed curtains and everything, but I am not holding my breath. IUDs are usually covered by insurance, but I am not going to pretend this is always the case. I know quite a few notable exceptions to this, which is why it is important for people to realize that reproductive justice issues are a part of women’s health care.

The reason attitudes like this irritate me is because even OB/GYNs and other women’s health professionals have a hard time paying attention to the good side of IUDs. The reasons for this, I am not sure, but it makes it damned difficult for people who want or need them to get them. Some people who need them, who can not use other forms have a hell of a time getting them, and not just because of lack of availability or costs, but because doctors just simply don’t keep up with the latest information (as I recently found out for myself).

You would think that its 99% + efficacy would be a drawing factor. Sure, studies show that the pill and patch and condom also tote these, but with perfect usage. Typical usage put them at closer to … not so much. Depending on who you ask, those methods are more or less reliable if you use them well enough. The copper IUD is has a less than 1% failure rate, and the hormonal IUD a pretty close second. That is the most effective birth control after abstinence. A couple of hormonal birth controls come close, but really, it is the most reliable.

It just irks me, irks me to no end, that amidst sharing parts of a dark history that needs to be highlighted that someone would mix in myths with their, possibly justified, suspicion. Non-white women have endured a long history of forced sterilization, and messages that we shouldn’t enjoy the same freedoms with our reproductive rights. That justifies the suspicion with reproductive medical professionals. I’ve had them myself. But it doesn’t mean that every time it is going to be that way, or that things like IUDs are suggested to keep our wombs closed forever, because that just isn’t what they do, and I will not sit idly by while someone writes a mostly good article, and while it is passed around passively and highly praised (albeit, mostly deservedly). But someone needs to point out the flaw. Someone needs to point out the dangerous myth. Maybe some young woman, maybe a young Latina woman, possibly with some sort of disability or need I can’t think of, someone who doesn’t want children while she completes an education, or doesn’t want a family and doesn’t want an invasive procedure like sterilization, might read this article and think that she has no other options. And specialists will only confirm that suspicion.

I can’t have that.

For more IUD love from a non-white perspective, see Lena Chen.

More of my IUD love.

*I had the surprising experience of my IUD setting of a metal detector at the Honolulu Airport while going to drop The Kid off for an Unaccompanied Minor flight. I had no metal whatsoever on my body, no clips in my hair, and a t-shirt on. The guards were baffled, that the wand was only picking up a crackle near my abdomen. They let us through and when I came back, it was the only thing that occurred to me. They agreed that it was what must be giving them issue. We all had a good laugh, and it cheered me considerably.

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The 60th Anniversary of The Korean War, Hillary Clinton Visits the Korean War Museum, and Some Musings on Classism and Disabilty…

A statue of South Korean soldiers poised as if fighting curved in the frame from front left back to right, ending in a line of what looks to be Korean civilins suffering from the strife of war.It’s the 60th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. The Forgotten War, as some will call it, but if you ask my Papa, and many of the other veterans, and many of the people living here in Korea today who are over 60, the will tell you that this war is not forgotten. It is a war that still simmers at the DMZ, where soldiers from both sides stand at the ready to fire upon anyone and anything they see moving, no matter what pretty message you may hear. For the younger generation of Koreans who live here, they seem to believe that there is a hope that there will be reunification with their fellow Koreans above the demilitarized zone. They believe the 38th Parallel to be a political boundary, and not a national one (true story, The Guy actually got into quite a heated discussion with one of his teachers over this, and eventually let the subject drop).

Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Bob Gates hopped over here for official talks with the South Korean Defense Minister, Kim Tae-Young, who used to be my neighbor, as a weird little “my world is so small” factoid. As a matter of honor, they did a ceremony at the National Korean War Museum here in Seoul. In a gesture I was delighted to read, the USAG Yongsan put up on its Facebook page that all family members were “cordially invited” to attend the ceremony.

Exterior of the Korean War Museum, showing a pond with small fountains, a manicured lawn, and many flags of the various nations that came to the aid of South Korea during the Korean war next to the flag of South Korea in a wide semi-circle starting from the front left and arching around to the back right.What a wonderful experience, thought I. The commemoration of joint forces by a laying of a wreath and a thoughtful gesture by these world leaders would be a beautiful thing to see. Kid and I decided to join a friend (who had called to let us know to check the aforementioned Facebook page for that information) and check out the whole thing. I thought it would be a wonderful gift for my Korean Veteran Grandfather, to send him some photos of this ceremony, of these people remembering his service and the service of countless others from so many nations, and from right here on this very soil who protected this country from being shoved off of the Peninsula.

But the information we were given was not very complete. People were turned away for improper attire. Sundresses and open-toed shoes, as it turns out, were not appropriate for attending this ceremony. Our bare shoulders were not appropriate and not to be in direct line-of-sight of Clinton and Gates and Kim as it turns out (even that was not uniformly enforced, as I saw a woman in a sleeveless t-shirt and flip-flops with three kids and a stroller leaving the ceremony later — a regular t-shirt, not a sleeveless shell). It seems that we just addressed the bare-arms issue when people asked if it was appropriate for Michelle Obama to attend official functions in sleeveless attire. (The answer? She said she would wear whatever she damn-well pleased to see her husband speak, and I agree!) As my mom reminded me today in a phone call, Jacqueline Kennedy wore a sleeveless dress to her husband’s inaugural address (bottom right of linked photo, Jackie is in a black sleeveless dress, and none of the other women are dressed so)… so it isn’t without precedent, which is what I wanted to tell the dude who told me that it is “common sense” to wear certain kinds of clothes to these kinds of things.

Which I thought was kind of an odd thing to say to someone … because I have a bit of trouble with my body self-regulating temperature at times. It was 95 degrees and ridiculously humid out Wednesday, and in Seoul, it is a good chance that I am going to be walking a good distance when going somewhere. We had on nice sundresses what covered our bodies in the socially acceptable way, but allowed us to sweat and breathe. In fact, I have worn the particular dress that I had on with black tights and dress shoes in the Winter with a sweater. It is a really versatile dress. I also wore the only shoes that I can walk in that don’t leave cuts and blisters on my feet right now when I have to walk long distances in this heat, which causes them to swell considerably for reasons I don’t wish to go into right here right now. I am really apologetic that they are Rainbow flip-flops, but they are well-made, leather, and fit and support my feet like I was born in them. The dress also has pockets, allowing me to carry a small wallet and my cell phone, and to hook my cane onto, freeing my hands for using my camera. It seems that I dressed according to my good sense for where I was going and what we were doing.

But people don’t really consider disabilities when they say flip things like that, and they almost always consider things like “common sense” in the scope of their own experiences.

An extremely cropped photograph of the National War Museum of Korea's front steps and main doors, with various Republic of Korea military standing at attention, and in the center, the very tiny figures of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young are walking down the stairs.So, as it stands, for the third time since I have lived in Seoul, Hillary Clinton has evaded me, and similar to my President Obama sighting, I managed to get a laughable picture to prove I was there.

Apart from everything else, I find dress codes for occasions like this quite classist.

Common people should not be denied the opportunity to partake in the events that their world leaders open up to the public simply because they don’t own proper shoes or more than one pair of pants. If someone shows up in blue jeans they should not be turned away. I doubt very much that Hillary Clinton agrees that proper clothes should separate her from people, and I have been advised by many people since Wednesday that writing to her would be a positive suggestion.

I live in a place where people wear blue jeans to work on a military base, and “peeky toed” high-heeled shoes are considered appropriate shoes, because they are the trend (and I noticed that they were allowable footwear, while flat-heeled sandals were not). It seems that the line is blurred, and left completely up to the discretion of whomever is standing at the door to decide who can and can not enter. Many people, especially people with children, or lower enlisted couples trying to balance budgets, don’t have the money to keep many sets of clothes just in case someone important visits. I keep my clothing utilitarian. I like it to be versatile and able to be worn through many seasons adding or taking away layers accordingly. I also like them machine washable and dryable. I just bought my first ball gown this year, which we saved up for with my writing stipend, and will attend my first Navy Ball this year (I was never able to attend them in years past because child care was so inadequate, so I missed the chance to be a sailor at a Navy Ball — something I will never get back /digressing). This was only available because we found a wonderful Korean tailor in Osan who made if for me and offered us a good price for paying in Won, being polite, and because my partner spoke Korean to her. Dress codes for civilian attire ridiculous.

This isn’t even to say anything about the fact that the Army did a poor job of disseminating information. If they knew ahead of time that people needed to be dressed a certain way then they should have put more than “families are welcome” or whatever in their Facebook blurb. And don’t even get me started on how awful it is to depend on Facebook to disseminate information. ACCESSIBILITY FAIL!

The important thing, however, is that we did visit and enjoy the museum, as did Secretaries Clinton and Gates, which I think are important and touching gestures. To acknowledge all that was lost in order to gain what was held on to. Later, when we stood in the halls with all of the names engraved of the people who gave their lives to hold onto the bottom of the Peninsula, I held my breath for a moment, and I wondered in my mind if my Grandfather’s feet may have passed under mine or my daughter’s. I paused, and thought of the troops we have elsewhere, and thought of them, and of the ones who will be names on walls. I thought of the Korean War Veterans of all the nations who fought here, who know that their legacy is to be of The Forgotten War. At least for a few minutes I became overwhelmed with it all.

Part of coming to Korea, while separating us from our family, has put a connection between me and some of my family; this ghost of a war still smoldering on the edge of two nations pulls me into a place where I feel this ache of loss for them. This connection. And yet, I know I can never really know.A pale Native American girl with short-cropped hair in a long purple and black maxi-style dress with a messenger bag slung over her shoulder and an umbrella in her hand pauses to look at the wall of names carved with names of those who gave their lives during the Korean war in a long hall of columns.

© All material Copyright Brandann R. Hill-Mann/Ouyang Dan 2010

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

The One Where My Boundaries Were Also Violated…

Warning, this post if very rambly…

I went to a very whitewashed high school in the U.S.

My U.S. History teacher had a fucking shrine to Monticello in back of the room, and we learned about what a Great Guy Christopher Columbus was. He was seriously a hero.

We were taught that the Trail of Tears was a necessary means, and that the gov’t was Really Very Sorry for it.

Mad Ann Bailey was a Women’s History icon.

No one ever mentioned that my tribe was the only one to hold off the French oppression. In fact, most people have never heard of my tribe at all.

(You don’t “look Native”!)

I took the standard history I was fed.

I grew up scraping together pieces of my heritage because I only had parts of it to keep. I won’t rehash it because the people who know me know how difficult and personal it was to hold together and how fucking hard it is to assert my right to keep my non-white identity.

I can barely keep up w/ my own heritage and the emotional toll it takes on me, because discussions about race are extremely personal for me. Just because I don’t blog loudly and publicly about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t touch my life deeply on a daily basis. I don’t have to pass a litmus test to get cookies. I bake cookies if I want them.

So, I don’t think that I need to explain in great detail, that when I was enjoying an internet free day, while my partner, in my single computer home, was playing EVE Online and I was tucked into a great Space Opera novel (Spin, I recommend it), that shit went down that I was unaware of…

I didn’t check my email, my backends, or anything that day… in fact that email couldn’t have hit my inbox any more than an hour after that first angry comment went into the mod queue at FWD, which is a site that has a comments’ policy that clearly states that we have bloggers from four countries in several different time zones and that comments (all comments are in full mod all the time) can take up to several days to respond to or even approve. That first comment was given fifteen minutes time before the next came in, and then they rolled in again and again. On a website where the mods have disabilities and have to manage spoons that need to fuel their on and offline lives…

Then came the abusive — yes, abusive — comments asking if we didn’t have the spoons to deal with our racism… calling into question our disability status while many of us were sleeping or spending time with families or taking self care time. Something we have a right to do and that the internet has no right to take away from us. All within a couple of hours’ time… (but I hadn’t seen any of this yet) I would never dream of calling into question another person’s racial/ethnic or disability status when they have laid it out publicly so often…I would expect to get that shit called out quickly. That doesn’t fly in my playground…ain’t how we roll on my rez (OK, that is how they did roll on the rez, and maybe that is why I am so protective of people I love now, because calling that shit out is racist/ableist and I ain’t gonna do it)…

Then, Father’s Day was observed for us here on the base near where I live, even though we are currently living in the Republic of Korea, which I will point out is in the Eastern Hemisphere and in the same date and time zone as parts of Australia (you’ve heard of them, right? It’s another country, and continent), and we had plans to go out and spend some great family time together, after we finished up the grocery shopping. I made a list, and noted that the Kid is on school holiday, so I needed to incorporate home lunches for two into that, and was going to plan for home made bread which I remembered might be more fussy than my Korean oven would allow right now, with it’s temperature numbers missing, so I needed my Laser Gun (thanks s.e. for helping me choose!) thermometer, and decided that before I forgot I needed to really quickly close my Amazon cart…

I always leave my email open, but since we have multiple computer users Apple does this neat thing where we can have different screens running at once, and I used the “apple + left arrow” to scroll over to my screen to open a new tab and saw at the top of my inbox an angry email calling out myself and my fellow FWD blogger, Chally, for not addressing the issue of racism at FWD, since we were “POC”s and such…

That was the official moment that I learned what the fuck “Juneteenth” was. So, my ignorant ass had no idea that any internet crime had been committed. And suddenly I had to spend two hours derailing my family’s plans — because that is how OCD works — and had to catch up on WTF was going on. But our policy states that we have that long mod time to allow us to work on an international schedule and to make every attempt to contact the original poster… none of us can move unilaterally in this situation and I don’t know why the fuck this is still being explained b/c you all could read it if you were so inclined (which many of you are not or you would have)…

We have this in place to protect us from reacting too quickly and rashly to things, and it has been this way since the beginning…but I suppose it is less fun to read silly things like comment policies and intro posts than it is to run amok all over the internet w/ whatever information you believe is the truth and tear people’s lives apart — some of those people being people who have mental illnesses that are affected by this kind of abuse — there’s that word again — and create more page hits and fun bandwagons to endorse for yourselves…

Because I have read the posts, I firmly maintain that there was no fault at FWD. I think that Anna and s.e. didn’t need to apologize for shit — and I realize that this will be unpopular because everyone fell all over their damned selves to rally around the loudest person yelling — because the Helen Keller Blogswarm invitation was clearly an invitation to write about what was important to each of us, and about intersectional issues. The date wasn’t specifically chosen by FWD, but by a larger group celebrating a well known, international disability rights activist. If this meant that Juneteenth was important to you, then by all means, write about that. It would have been productive, and it would have been eye-opening instead of destructive. If I am accused of Tone here, fine. Accuse me of tone. But claiming that an invitation to write freely in any space in the internet about anything that you desire is erasure is disingenuous (so sorry you were caught doing some shit you shouldn’t have and this is how you reacted, but we didn’t deserve this kind of fucking abuse). At best, really. And more obviously a way to openly attack a group of vulnerable people by using the privilege of voice, platform, and popularity. Details are made up and twisted (comments closed specifically to shut down Black people? That is some incredible foresight to close comments on a personal blog months ago and to request the same permission weeks in advance!) and no one bothers to do the required reading before throwing a hat in the ring and trashing bloggers’ names.

But if I may: Making something All About You when it isn’t is awful. Someone I once respected taught me that. Once again, taking something that wasn’t specifically aimed at excluding an obscure U.S./North American holiday (but was intended to include it if any author wanted it to) and making it so, is selfish, so obviously a cry for page hits and fabricated drama, and once again centering a discussion that shoves people aside and silences voices that aren’t as popular or powerful as your own. Once again, this forcing of a race issue to be Black or White is erasing people who fall in between. Where is the outcry when Aboriginal/Islander/First Nation/Indigenous holidays get no attention? Where is this outrage when our people are misidentified or white hipsters appropriate our traditions? Sport’s teams our names as mascots? Where is the cry of racism when mixed ethnic people are labeled Black or White, and their identities erased? Where is the Day of Emancipation celebration for Indigenous people in the U.S.? (We don’t have one because we are not free.) Where is the freedom from oppression for PWD? (There is none!) These identities also intersect within my own body, both of those having extremely high instances of sexual assault that is ignored by law enforcement, placing bodies in situations where pay is cut/lower than livable, benefits are denied…the list goes on. And yet, instead of bullying anyone off the internet I was/am proud to be part of something that cherishes all voices and wasn’t working to hurt some in the name of my own singular, louder voice…

I am not going to ask permission for this one: I appreciate being tokenized about as much as I appreciate being erased. I have drafted and re-drafted an email response to that original email, before I gave up and realized that no response will suffice, especially after being publicly flogged for having the audacity to be offline with my family for days. I have a right to self-care and non-internet time. I have a right to value time with mine. No one can take that from me, as my body tried to take that from me, and as this abuse now tries to take more of it from me mentally, I will not stand for it as I now need pain pills to cope w/ the flares this added stress is causing.

It is equally racist to call me out because of my ethnic heritage and demand that I stand with you. Yes, “POC” can be racist too, and this action was racist. Expecting me to stand in solidarity (as baseless claims and hurtful half-truths were slung) based solely on my non-white status is a racist act. Telling a person to don white sheets is hateful abuse. Emailing me and expecting me to react instantly is a North American-centrist attitude, and expecting that I could/should respond while I was sleeping because you said so smacked of an attitude of colonization. Too many times am I erased because my color is not the right color, and finally, when it is convenient to you, I am expected to fall in line and fight, or be called a colluder. Fuck that.

I have a right to decide where I lay my loyalties, and I have decided that I stand with intersectionality, and with people who don’t need an Either/Or, because there isn’t a limit on pixels or tube space. We can have all of it. We can share the space and overlap our margins, and that is what I am striving for. No one gets to tell me how I use my spoons or what battles I fight. I resent being chided like a child, as if somehow I can’t understand my actions. I will not be colonized, not by White people nor by anyone who forces any label on me. Not with any form of guilt (I spent enough years as a Catholic TYVM). My people still live in poverty and in special places set aside for them. Slavery has not ended. I know racism, I don’t need a primer or a racesplainin’.

Oh, yeah? Closed comments? That was a lesson I learned from a very wise person indeed. You call it silencing? I call it self-fucking-preservation from your fucking abuse. I won’t take any more of your public floggings, and is sure as hell won’t happen in my fucking space. Anyone who comes here will know the dog damned truth.

If only they wouldn’t act like KIDS…

A mostly white kitty with tan and black stripes and a black smudge on his cute pink nose sits up with a tired a bemused face. Text reads "You have woken me... and where is your offering...?"
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So I didn’t have to read more than a paragraph or two of this to be annoyed.

I am not even sure that “annoyed” is the proper adjective (or past participle, wev) here.

These kinds of posts in feminist spaces make me want to toss in my feminist card and return my free toaster oven (it doesn’t work on the 220 volt anyway). The first thing that these kinds of posts do is set expectations that are too high. Whether or not these posts say it directly, and irrespective of later claims and clarifications in comments by the authors, they are expecting children to behave at an adult threshold. They are expecting children to comply with behavioral norms established by and for able-bodied adults. They are also putting the onus on able-bodied adults to “control” that behavior, only mildly admitting that children do not yet have the faculties to reach those thresholds.

The only nod I will give to this post by Jill, who has privilege coming out her nose here in this very U.S., East Coast centric post, is that she isn’t calling for parents and care-takers to hide indoors with the windows locked for 18+ years. Children do need to learn how to live in our world, and how to behave in public and interact with people who are not them and their parent or parents/caretakers. But here is a newsflash for the child-free crowd: part of socializing children is also about teaching them that they are not the center of the universe. That is why we take them to places that are not “kid friendly”. That is why we go to restaurants that “couldn’t advertise any harder that children will be bored out of their skulls“, because they need to learn that they need to live in the grown up world too. That is why we tote the big bags full of crayons and toys and snacks and enough stuff that makes it look as though we have moved in. That is why it takes some of us two hours to leave the house (the “we” that means whoever this includes, not necessarily me, even though I once fit into this, but this is a very privileged set of parents and caretakers) with youngins. We work over time to make sure that our kids behave. Most of us.

Another newsflash might be that “behave” isn’t synonymous with “control” because it seems to escape the attention of many a Feministe reader and commenter that children are people. You can’t control a child any more than you can control a 30-something grown woman who is a fully formed human being. They have feelings and needs and desires…the big difference here, and it’s a big one, is that they lack the capacity of communication that allows them to express these things clearly to the people in charge of satisfying these needs. And I don’ t know about you but that sounds like it is fucking irritating. I sometimes get sensory overload and just can’t communicate that, and I am an adult so people tend to listen to me more than they do to children (I am struggling for a Dumbledore quote here but it is escaping me, so I will have to watch Prisoner of Azkaban later). We as parents try to modify behavior. We try to communicate with children. We try to listen to them and validate them. What I find that most people who don’t have children mean by “control” is that they want us to grab a crying, frustrated child who is overloaded with feelings that they can’t express (an action that would get an adult punched by another adult, I am sure) and try to cover their mouths or even spank them. People assume that if they don’t see a parent physically engaging with a child or verbally (and sternly) having a dialogue with a child that they are taking a laissez-faire approach. We are lazy, the admonished “rather be friends” parent.

Again and again I see in comments that if such behavior in children was displayed by adults, such as a fight with a significant other in a restaurant, they would be expected to leave the public space for the sake of others. Well, of course they would. This equating of adult behavior that is inappropriate for public consumption to a child’s behavior is absurd, because you can not expect children to hit the same bar of behavior as adults. They are not adults. I don’t even expect 17-year olds to hit that same threshold, but I so see them as nigh adults, and expect a level of appropriate behavior. Because they are humans and individuals. Capable of behavior that is appropriate to them, and most of them surpass and exceed the threshold that even I set (which is higher than most, because of my weird notions that they are potential adults and all). We can not possibly expect them to behave like adults. They are not adults. This is a terrible straw argument. Plus, comparing typical child behavior to inappropriate behavior of adults (fighting, drunken conduct) is insulting to children. They are humans.

Also, I would like to note that any behavior that children might engage in that is outside of smiling demurely is not “misbehaving”. Children occasionally cry. They tend to be loud sometimes. Every now and then they want or need something and they don’t know how to tell you that, or they are bored, or they are tired, or any number of things we can’t predict from the Pandora’s box of their range of emotions, and they will find a way of communicating this. It happens, so far in my experience, all the way up until eight, and counting. This is not “misbehaving”. So far, it is behaving. I have seen this “misbehaving”, and a toddler dropping a crayon on the floor in a restaurant to see the response of a person picking it up. Again. And again. And again. Is not “misbehaving”. Read a baby development book for Ceiling Cat’s sake. That is typical development. They like reactions. In fact, if you ignore it, they usually stop.

Which brings me to my next point. (more…)

The Untapped Potential of a Jedi

screencap from Return of the Jedi, where Luke is telling Leia that he must leave to confront Vader, who is his father, and that, oh, yeah, he's your father too. Suprise! You're a Jedi, Leia! "I know I should have told you sooner, but..."Yesterday I babbled a little about how Anakin Skywalker, or more specifically Darth Vader over all, was a sympathetic character. I think I promised some thoughts about Leia today or at least in the very near future from that post.

I remember as a child and watching our copy of Jedi over and over until I am sure it must have worn out in some places that I clung tightly to the character of Leia. She was the only character of substance in the whole of the Trilogy that had any resemblance to me whatsoever. She was also this bad ass character too, one of the heroes, you know? She sauntered into Jabba’s palace with a thermodetonater and demanded that she be paid a high price for the bounty on Chewie’s head (however clever a ruse that was), she crept quietly in the night and freed Han from the carbonite, becoming one of Jabba’s prisoners, but which was all part of a deep and complex plan to free Han, kill Jabba, and get everyone out alive. She was a player in all of the game. And I loved that about her. Plus, she was a way better shot than all of those Storm Troopers. Combined.

She grew up believing herself the daughter of a Senator and a Queen. She grew up hearing stories of the heroes that were Jedi to the point that when she grew into adulthood, a member of the Rebellion and close friend of Luke Skywalker, student of the Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, she held that in a place of reverence. Strangely, she is able to sense when Luke is in danger, it has always worked since they had met, as a strange feeling that can’t be shaken off. Even those kept in the dark during the original release of the Saga couldn’t help but wonder why that was. Perhaps it was that famed sealed with a kiss moment meant to keep Han at bay, that even the cast of the movies didn’t know would be awkward later. On the forest moon of Endor, when Luke leaves to confront Vader she tells him that he has a power she could never understand.

He tells her that she is wrong, and that she is his sister. And not only does she realize that she has known this all along, but we see an awareness dawn over her, as if something huge has just laid upon her. He leaves telling her that she must learn to use that power too, just in case anything happens to him, because the Force is strong in his family, and she will be the Last Hope for the Alliance. Not too heavy a message for her.

But then Lucas stops his story for her there, at least for the movie watching audience, and I for one always felt frustrated and cheated that we as an audience never were able to see Leia realize that. Luke tells her that she must learn to use the Force as he has for the good of the Galaxy, and now that we have been privy to the story arch of Episodes I, II, and III I can only assume that the Skywalker twins are indeed the ones who were indeed meant to bring balance to the Force (and knowing that Luke goes on to found a new order of Jedi who learn to balance Light and Dark powers, this confirms my suspicions, but again, further frustrates me). We never see Leia decide one way or the other if she will do this, and if she does, knowing that she grew up with this lore of famous Jedi it is likely that she may, we never get to see her reach for this power. The movies never go far enough into exploring her character and for that I always felt cheated.

Why did Luke have to be the Jedi hero? As my friend Anna mused once, what would have happened if their roles had been reversed? Indeed. What if Leia had been the twin raised on Tattooine, and had been in the right place selecting the right droids at the right time and had chased them into the desert after the right hermit on the right wild adventure? Would Leia have been so enamored with the sight of a holoprojection of Luke that she would have ventured across light-years with a stranger with little more than a folktale about her father to rescue him? What if Luke had been raised by nobles instead of farmers? How might have things been different? Would the world have been ready to see Leia come to terms with the truth of her parentage? Would the late 70’s have been prepared to see Darth Vader slice off the hand of a young woman defiant against the Dark Side? Or would the 80’s have tolerated a movie where an Emperor tortured a young woman who gave herself up so that her friends might live? Would the rogue smuggler have stayed on the fight while a young farm girl ran off to the jungle to learn to control a power fueled by folklore and a long forgotten folksy religion?

Or what if the story had somehow brought them to the realization at a similar place and time. The idea that Leia needed to be protected longer, that somehow her Skywalker blood wouldn’t be as strong to keep her safe was absurd. Sure, we saw that Obi-Wan and Yoda were right willing to make the same mistakes with Luke that they did with Anakin — not trusting him enough with his own powers and abilities to give him all of the information or to let him choose his own way to solve a problem. I have no problem believing that they would not trust the same in Leia, so why trust her at all? Two new Jedi would certainly be harder to control, but at the same time, if Luke died, how were two ghosts who only commune with those sensitive to the Force to be able to train another? The plot didn’t make sense.

We also found that Leia was just as protective of Luke as he of her, and her insistence that he run away confirmed that. She was more sensible and less reckless, possibly due to her diplomat’s upbringing. Perhaps they would have been a better team than a one to one duo.

I am reading a book right now, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, the first Star Wars novel I have picked up, because I have an issue with time lines (but this one is stand-alone, so I had nothing to lose). In it, and though it is not a significant part of the plot it plays a good part of the driving effect, Leia is coming to terms with her awareness of the Force within her, and her realization that not only is this amazing thing she grew up hearing about a part of her — in her blood — but the most powerful Jedi of all times was her biological father. She is overwhelmed that she is possibly potentially one of the most powerful Jedi ever and that she was unaware of it all of her life. And now, she gets these feelings that she doesn’t trust, and on top of her self doubts she worries that if she is wrong and tries to explain them to anyone about them before hand she will be picked on about that “women’s intuition thing” being off-kilter. Or something.

This kind of exploration is what I was particularly interested in. I have always been interested in, and while it certainly isn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity (and of course, it follows the “bad guy realized that Luke has an untrained twin who could be turned” thing that pisses me off, as if Leia always has to be protected, because that is what the dudes always jump to do, but the narration does jump to her PoV as challenging that idea) it is something I have always wanted. I just tire of reading it in books and never seeing it onscreen. I seem to have missed my calling. Or something.

I think I will always find Leia to be untapped Jedi potential. Even if I find books that explore that, I wonder if they will ever find them as equals. If the fact that Anakin and Padmé birthed twins that they will ever be twin forces in the…er…Force.

(Note: I realize that later in canon that Leia does undergo go Jedi training and such in the books that only hard-core fans will ever read. My focus is primarily on the movies, and the way that Leia, as a character, is underdeveloped in my opinion. While her character was revolutionary for the time, she wasn’t taken far enough in terms of the lore that Lucas set up.)

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