Posted by: hellonhairylegs | September 13, 2008

Rantings of a Sick Teenager

I have spent the last couple of days thinking about truth, reality and other things you should have a philosophy degree to contemplate. I’ve also spent far too much time giggling over romance novels I was intending to satirise, if only the darn things didn’t satirise themselves. Oh, and I now have superhuman abilities and am intending to call myself the Incredible Snot Tap.

The construct man is a strange thing, isn’t it? I’ve known friends who were almost allies, known boys who I knew and trusted. I’ve watched them grow into beings that might as well be a different species. The stream separating us has become an ocean and now I am just a thing to be judged by my fuckability. Sure there are exceptions, patriarchy is not so perfect that it can mindfuck everyone into their ordained places. And this is where philosophical thoughts about words, interpreted meaning and communication comes in. How can I communicate to a world that gobbles up pop lit about men and women coming from different planet, a society that creates films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall (I want that hour and a half of my life back), how can I communicate the pointlessness of putting people into boxes? There are always more boxes, boxes of different sizes, boxes for everyone.

Well thank dog for post-modernism, because I can actually pass this piece of goo as something. Post-modernism has influenced my senior school English and History education. Do teach the children that nothing matters, and then tell them to study several hours a day, that’ll work.

I have a confession to make. As well as being a science fiction nerd, I’m a D&D nerd. I was creating a feminism class (and no, it wasn’t a paladin knock off) when I realised that creating the class would be wrong, because all of the classes can be feminists, plus it isn’t how cool your characters class and race is, it is all about character development. My favourite character of all time was a human fighter. She was awesome. I’ll create a secret society instead, with pink robes for everyone, even troglodytes.  Faerun could use a little more feminism.

I’m not particularly stupid or crazy. I know no matter what I write, how I try to communicate, an iron cobweb of perception will separate some people from me. I know that those boys were never free of patriarchy, I do remember having to play Poison Ivy again and again. I want to know how communication can fail to such an extent that places like Auschwitz have actually existed somewhere in time and space.

In the end it comes down to men. You know how happy I was that I didn’t need them? No desire to please them, only a bright new world. But they are everywhere. Positions of power, man, man, man, woman. Like a game of duck, duck, goose.

I don’t want to be a superhero. I want more than that. I want to change the world,  change how we communicate, change how our realities interact. I don’t know what is more scary, the knowledge that I will probably fall flat on my face, or the possibility of succeeding.

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Responses

  1. Ah D&D– so many hours spent as the only woman in the group (although more joined eventually).

    I don’t think that postmodernism means that “nothing matters”– because postmodernism is a method of cultural critique, rather than a philosophy of life. The moment you try to make it a philosophy of life, it stops being postmodernism, because you’re turning it into a metanarrative. I see postmodernism as something that we can use to examine WHY things matter to us– why we see some things as having meaning and others not. It doesn’t say that it’s “wrong” to seek out meaning (nor is it “right” to do so), just that we have to be aware that this process comes with a whole heap of cultural baggage which society paints as “natural”.

  2. I used to play D&D with guys at my school but they always randomly became blackguards and started killing everyone. Also, they treated the female NPCs like pornbots.

    I don’t know, the way our school teaches post-modernism is different to that. They say it all about the medium of the message, not the message itself.

  3. There’s nothing like badly taught postmodernism to turn you off it. 🙂

    They say it all about the medium of the message, not the message itself.

    This doesn’t really give me enough info to work with regarding your teachers’ views, but I do think that if the “medium” is language and other signs, then they might be on the right track, even if they’re not communicating effectively. I think one of the most useful things about postmodernism is that it lets us examine the way that systems of signs (linguistic or otherwise) reinforce notions of “intrinsic” value, even though the system itself is a social construct. So, for instance, it is useful in recognising the way that our language reinforces patriarchal norms, and instills the idea in us that these are “natural” and therefore immutable.

    Also, they treated the female NPCs like pornbots.

    Ah yes. My first D&D character had a low-ish charisma (8), which my fellow (male) players found extremely amusing. She did kick serious arse though.

    A few years ago, I decided to play a male character, and that was interesting too, because there was a LOT of social pressure from the other male members of the group to suddenly treat the female NPCs like crap. This particular character was supposed to be a bit of a charmer, but he refused to treat female NPCs disrespectfully*– the guys in my group found this very amusing.

    *I will add that I did end up subconsicously having him to some misogynist things anyway– it’s such an easy trap to fall into, which makes you realise how much we define masculinity in terms of misogyny.

  4. As to the medium/ message thing, they act like linguistic techniques are the message and that it is somehow passe to talk about what the people are actually saying. I guess there are positives to post-modernism, it just seems kind of silly to me.

    My human fighter had a 7 charisma, so my father as DM always had the male NPCs comment on her appearance. I appreciate that D&D has the same stats for female characters, uses “she” in half the player descriptions, but the gamer dude influence is insidious. Flipping through the Monster Manual demonstrates how sexualised female characters are.

  5. they act like linguistic techniques are the message and that it is somehow passe to talk about what the people are actually saying

    That sounds a bit problematic– the message is filtered through the medium, and talking about one without the other, well, it doesn’t really work. 🙂 One needs to approach it from both sides, I think.

    Here is a picture I drew of my first D&D character– the one with CHA 8. She’s the redhead with the long braid on the left. Andela was a Neutral Good Human Ranger, and she fought with a bastard sword and a short sword. The woman on the right is Miriam, a Chaotic Good Drow Mage– she was an NPC, and in fairness to the DM, she was a well rounded character. Andela started out with a huge prejudice against the Drow, as they were one of her favoured enemies (and most of them are evil– scary scary matriarchy don’t you know?), but she began to get over it when she and Miriam got drunk together one night. After that they became best friends. I always kind of wanted them to hook up, but I was afraid that the guys in my group would just see it as a porny-HAWT thing, rather than as a relationship that I thought suited both the characters.

  6. Onyx was a human fighter who had a history of saving everyone in th party and then getting killed herself. She was average height, brown hair and brown eyes, I made her average on purpose. She was also neutral good and AWESOME. She kicked butt two levels below everyone else in the party, primarily because I knew what I was doing and everyone else didn’t. Half-way through our alst campaign she got changed into a half-orc, meaning my dad mae more ugly jokes. She thought everyone in the party was irritating and/or stupid and was only in it for the cash and magic items.

  7. “She was only in it for the cash and magic items.” Hey sounds like my life philosophy!
    Also, can I just say that “The Incredible Snot Tap” made my day?

  8. Yeah, she killed the evil beasties, but at the end of the day it was the Belt of Giant Strength (+6!!) that made it worth the adventure. Thanks Lemur.


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