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Diversity Lioness misfire?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Graylorne, Mar 20, 2015.

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  1. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    @Nimue: Based on your question I rewrote the part where Maud explains their sex-swap to Jurgis. Is this more acceptable?


    Later in the book, after Wemawee managed to teleport herself away, her lover Wargall joins Maud and the others. He wants to clear the name of his clan, and prove himself as a warrior male. The queen, though doubtful, gives him permission. At first, Wargall is very unsure and emotional. Then he goes through a short stretch of puberty and slowly grows into a man. Jurgis aids and stimulates him, saying that while Wargall seems weak compared to the Kell women, he is a stout fellow compared to males of the other peoples. Jurgis wants to prove that Kell males by exercise can regain their strength. I googled this all, to see if it at least sounds biologically plausible and it seems it does... Anyhow, Wargall soon outfights Jurgis.

    Finally, when he and Wemawee meet again, they team up again, but this time as equals like Maud and Jurgis.
     
  2. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    @ Penpilot:

    Thanks, that's exactly how I think, too. I have to admit, after being told I can't sympathize with what it's like to live as a POC, I was a bit like "well, WTF?" like, does that mean I can't write realistic PEOPLE who are CHARACTERS in a book?

    @ Darkwriter:

    If you ask me, my concepts aren't offensive, because if I thought they were, I'd not write them. I'm trying to make sense of a comment I received about my sensitivity level and I just can't believe how hesitant it's made me to write the story I've had on the back burner now for a year. I appreciate your being as confused as I am :) My original concern about writing a POC MC was whether his language ought to be something different than how I speak. I'm American but I married a British guy, so we speak a sort of hybrid language and in my writing, that comes out because for some reason, I find it more expressive and more familiar all at the same time. Maybe it isn't even as noticeable as I think it is. Anyways, I wondered whether a certain vernacular would be insulting/ expected/ sorely missed? if I write the way I always do, would it suffice for my POC MC, or would it be somehow insulting, as if I were trying to make him less ethnic. I thought it was an honest question (and one I'd still like an answer to) but rather than being clearer after asking, I felt like I was a hopelessly ignorant person, verging on racist for my thinking I should just treat everyone the same.



    I appreciate your suggestions, scribes. To me, in my mind and the world in which I live, treating everyone the same is good, but when I was told it was bad, I have to admit, I was really confused. But I've given it a lot of consideration in the meantime and I guess I can understand how omitting parts of race (whether it be intentionally avoiding anything that could look like a stereotype, or omitting language, physical characteristics, or personality traits that could be viewed as "negative") was actually insulting. That's the reason I felt "damned if you do/ damned if you don't", because by their very omission, I may be drawing attention to what I "perceive" as the unsightly or unpalatable elements of being a POC.

    See? See how it hurt me to be called insensitive? I think I'm very sensitive and I care a lot about all people (who aren't stupid or abusive) and I don't think about skin tone when I meet potential friends.

    I am ashamed to admit, since that happened, drawing attention to my racial insensitivity, I've been overly-nice to African-Americans I've met because I experience anxiety now, yet all my previous POC friends I treat with familiarity and racial indifference. This has affected me and now that I moved to Columbus, OH, I hope I can get over it because in Albuquerque, everyone was Hispanic or Native American and my anxiety seems only piqued by my perceived insensitivity toward African-Americans. I feel sick thinking I'm now more racist than I was before, by being overly-thoughtful and nice. It's like when I see elderly people in the store and I offer them a hand...am I being ageist? or am I just being a good citizen? A few weeks ago, I saw an elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair and passed her multiple times, grocery shopping the same aisles, and once, she was extricating herself from her ride, to reach something on the top shelf. I rushed over to reach it for her and she told me she could do it herself. Not in a rude way. But I felt like maybe my kindness (or as I think of it, being a good citizen) was mistaken? I'm fairly convinced I'm not insulting, but maybe perceptions are different for others. I just want to be a sensitive and good person. I also had an uncomfortable incident with a transgender friend, who I treated as a woman because in my mind, if you dress like a woman, you want to be treated as one, right? Probably another thing I'm not sensitive enough about. But anyways, it wasn't her transgender choice that made me uncomfortable, but certain very sexual comments made. After pretending to admire the photos she showed me from a nude photo shoot, I sort of felt a need to distance myself, not because I'd seen his, you know...everything, but because the topics of our future conversations became less day-to-day, and more tinged with sexual undertones--something she very much wanted to discuss but I didn't. I again, felt insensitive, but I just wasn't comfortable and felt cornered in conversations that to me weren't appropriate.

    I'm a pagan with a generous number of lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, asexual, swinger, polyamorous, nudist, vegan, feminist, Catholic, Heathen, Wiccan, etc. (by that I mean different from me, not different in a negative way) friends, that come from a multitude of ancestral backgrounds. I guess ignorant is the right word for what I am, but until being exposed in a meaningful way to a "culture" into which I wasn't born, I just can't understand deeply. However, I relish the relationships I've had with people who brought me understanding and took the time to tell me about them and their lives. It's certainly given me a lot of insight, though I'm sure there's always much more to learn. I just think all people have flaws and strengths and I want to be able to write what I like and what I feel, and I want to do justice to any character I am inspired to write.

    @ Graylorne

    I apologize to you for placing my personal thoughts on your thread, but this segment of the forum has captured a lot of attention from the open people to whom I want to pose my questions. Thank you for bringing your feelings up here and opening this door for conversation. The issues of race and sexuality in your work, and bringing them and their portrayals to light, may help a lot of people. I know I'm one of them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  3. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    You're quite welcome, CM.

    Besides, our outlooks are not dissimilar. Over here we are taught to treat everybody the same. Well, that is what I did in my book and see what comes of it :)

    But I'm glad we have a sensible discussion, and if it can help other people as well, all the better.
     
  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    @ Graylorne

    One thing that comes to mind about your women, is their fertility. I'm not sure how you have this planted in your book, but if hormones have actually shifted and females are producing larger than normal amounts of testosterone (and presumably less estrogen) they may have fertility problems.

    Estrogen levels are controlled by your body fat. If you're a muscular, athletic girl, (think gymnasts) you may never have the onset of menarche until you're like 20 (after they give up competitive gymnastics). Low body fat and high muscle percentage creates infertility. You don't ovulate and you don't menstruate, accordingly.

    Also, the converse is true, that in women with an overly-high percentage of body fat, the body produces too much estrogen, leading to emotional instability and glandular imbalance. Those women often have fertility problems, too because again they don't ovulate and menstruate, and often will be lucky to have four cycles a year.

    If your culture is indeed hormonally different from what we consider the appropriate balance for optimal fertility, you may not have a lot of children and it may even be encouraged to be sexually active with a multitude of partners (where if you're only having sex with one man, his sperm count is continually diminished, but multiple partners offers the best chances for fertilization).

    Just some thoughts.
     
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  5. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    @CM

    Yes, I took that in consideration. They do it by magic, and have all sorts of suppressor spells (I really didn't want Kell women with mustaches), of which a few were badly calculated. I haven't written it down that detailed, but I look at it again when I have Mindfire's comments, whether I need to go that far.

    Your last paragraph is correct, free sex is the norm. Maud mentions it, also that she knew her mother, who went m.i.a., but her father could be one of several males. The birthrate (esp of boys) is going down. This is one of the reasons why Maud and her friends want to see how their people can return to their old country and a family life, instead of their present somewhat artificial existence.

    NB: Delated menarche - that is a very handy suggestion. That means you can have both a strong and practicing sex drive, yet no fertility till past twenty? If that's so, I don't need anti-conception amulets. I really hope I don't shock even more people with this...
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    It's completely plausible. Most full-time athletic women, or those in developing countries where food is not plentiful, don't have their fertility set on until later. In our European history, the age of marriage was higher than people think (in the 1530s in England it was 25) and while some children were married (because of nobility) much younger, they often didn't consummate their marriage until 16 and still then many weren't fertile. Nutrition, body composition, and health play important roles in fertility. As modern people living in a world flooded with synthetic estrogens and with abundant food sources, we have 13-year old mothers, but in the past, it was much less likely. Not only did biology play a part, but a sense of protection for our daughters. European parents after the plague had less children and spent their meager resources securing apprenticeships for their sons and buying good marriages for their daughters. A man wasn't considered "marriageable" until he'd finished his apprenticeship (age 24) and daughters worked in their family businesses alongside their parents (or cared for younger siblings/ cousins) until married. It was less about "mouths to feed" than it was pre-plague and while we have a lot of mis-history to pull from today, there are a lot of relatively "modern" attitudes toward parenting and having and raising children to be found in actual history.

    Since you're writing a semi-tribal and African-inspired culture, I remember watching a documentary about a certain African tribe that openly encouraged youths to engage in sexuality and girls weren't considered "marriageable" until they'd produced a first child. At that point, whomever wanted to marry her would adopt the child as his own and be her husband and the father of her future children. I guess in a place where fertility isn't guaranteed, it's as good a reasoning as any.
     
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  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    And you could probably do some more research about muscular women and infertility. As far as I know, most women could technically exercise their way right out of fertility. I'd imagine if your body composition is right, even past her teens, a girl might never have become a woman. I only know it in the case of Olympic gymnasts, some of which couldn't conceive for years (not like 5, but more like 1-2) after giving up their sport and exercise routines. This is different from the sort of exercise you should do if you have terrible cramping or large amounts of blood loss. it's the actual suppression of ovulation because of less than necessary body fat to produce estrogen required for ovulation and successive menstruation. Also in the other thread we've discussed all kinds of herbs you can use to suppress your cycle. Women have been doing it since ancient times as well. No magic necessary, really. And contraception.

    For me as a reader, I think the simplest explanation is always easiest to grasp, so perhaps just the glandular route would work. Girls don't begin to be fertile until about age twenty because they don't have enough estrogen until then, and if they're muscular warriors, even later.
     
  8. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    'My' Kell girls start their sexual life early as well. Maud at eighteen had had already two lovers and Wemawee at sixteen wasn't a novice either.

    I keep to the legal limits as they apply to the Netherlands, and over here the age of sexual adulthood is 16. Between 12 and 16, children may have consensual sex with their peers, but parents can file a complaint against the other. So for a Kell girl to start at 12/13 would be no problem.

    So here, the overproduction of testosterone makes them either fierce in battle, or fierce in love, and delays the cycle till a balance is reached somewhere in their early twenties. Then, the urges get less, and they have learned to fight fiercely on willpower alone.

    That is more or less as written, but perhaps I must add a bit of description somewhere. Or else put the whole explanation on my website. Maud and Jurgis will get one child for the sequel, a girl. At the end of the book they stay in the old country and with a lot of other Kells (m/f) start a new clan, with a more traditional way of life.
    The Kells who stayed behind after the war and were not part of the sex-swap, should if I guess right, help bring things back to normal in a few generations.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  9. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    You bring up another valid point. I have written sexual relationships with young teens 14/15 and while I don't morally object to the notion (lest I be called a hypocrite), is there any legal reason it might not be okay? I mean, it's written words I'm showing to people, not images, but is there some sort of author responsibility to not show such a relationship? It isn't graphic and indeed shortly after the acts take place her father throws the boy out of the house and he...disappears, creating a mystery and a broken heart in the process. But that's my story, centered around two teen lovers who want nothing more than to be married and love each other. And remember, I'm the one that just posted about the lateness of sixteenth-century marriages. I treat this relationship as very special and there's a reason for it (partly stemming from an absent father and a neglectful step-mother). But you mentioned writing within the age of consent and here it's a ludicrous eighteen, but that never affected my views on being a young person. I write characters, not moral statements, you know? And these two characters are young and in love, and I didn't write many details. Where is that line drawn? Is there a line?
     
  10. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    Your story sounds OK to me, but I'm probably the last one to judge. I am a product of the '60s/'70s (at least intellectually, not practicing) and as we had neither right-wing politics nor televangelists to halt it, our mores are still more relaxed.
    I do remember reading that the age of consent in the US varies from state to state. But I would say, if it is important to the story, keep it in.
     
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  11. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    A caveat: I was just thinking as I read this that this might turn off potential American readers. Here in the States, the age of consent is 18. We make a much bigger deal out of underage sex than other countries (as far as I can tell). You don't necessarily need to change it, but I felt it was worth noting.
     
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I believe portraying teens as sexual objects is probably more a problem than writing them enjoying themselves in the skinny little arms of their teen peers. I guess that answered my question, though, since it jogged my memory and since I've read it in published books, I have to assume it isn't illegal or even immoral to portray teen sex, even in a relatively distasteful light.

    I read romance and recall a novel about a 13-year-old MC who is married and pregnant...one of the things that irks me about the genre. I mean, yes, historical references exist, but it's a misunderstood thing, historical marriage, and the way modern writers portray times past sometimes irritates me thoroughly. But I totally understand, Tom, which was why I wondered whether fantasy readers would be put off by my 14-year-old and 15-year-old romance. While I personally don't have a problem with teens having sex, there does appear a sort of public intolerance and while romance readers may not dissect it, fantasy readers may be a different breed.

    For me, I was more offended by the 13-year-old MC of the book I mentioned putting so much weight on being a pleasing wife to her 30-year-old husband and relishing her pregnancy before age 14, even competing with other girls in her social circle, like the only thing a girl is good for is sex and child-bearing. That left a bad taste in my mouth, (which is saying a lot because I was sexually active at 14 and have four kids, the first of which was when I was 25), and I stopped reading that author because of it.

    I certainly hope my portrayal of young love is more respectful to girls and women, and focuses more on the love aspect than the act of sex. In fact, she gets in a lot of trouble for the whole incident, and her father's punishment is harsher than anything she could have anticipated. Her young love goes missing and after finding certain bits of information about his disappearance, she writes him off as dead.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  13. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Age of Consent varies by state in the US. Where I live, it's 16. But I agree, it might be kind of off-putting for a fair number of people.
     
  14. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    It's 18 here in New York. We have some of the strictest sex offender laws in the nation. People around here flip when it comes to underage/non-consensual sex. We take that sort of s*** seriously.

    When I'm reading, I don't mind if it's two teenagers engaging in mutually consensual sex, but a legal adult and a minor--no. Just no. That would seriously put me off a book.
     
  15. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    I realize that, and on this subject got some good advice from my beta readers. I changed some things and explained some things, but in the end this is how I see it.

    NB: I'm talking about peer sex, not teen-adult.
    Sex happens :). I am firmly convinced that openness about sex and good anti-conception would be of benefit to young people and help preventing teen pregnancies.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  16. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Whoa. Um. Please tell me that's not exactly what you meant to say. Emotional instability is not a direct response to over production of estrogen, or at least not solely to an over production of estrogen. (There's depression and bipolar and traumatic brain injuries and brain tumors and thyroid cancer, etc etc.)

    And what about guys who are larger? They have estrogen. Are they also prone to emotional instability, or is that just for teh ladies?
     
  17. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    New York, eh? Interesting. You'd expect a red state would have the stricter laws in that respect. Well, good on New York. And yeah, gonna add my voice to the choir here. The underage sex thing is kinda squicky. Less so if between peers but I still wouldn't feel comfortable reading it. But I was raised in a relatively conservative household. Results may vary.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  18. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I don't like "kink-shaming" other people's preferences, because I've been the target of that myself, but I can understand why some don't like the idea of older people being attracted to teenagers. It can easily be construed as a power fantasy insofar as elders are regarded as institutionally more powerful than teens in our culture, and there's never an excuse for sexual abuse.

    Though on the other hand, if you're an older person who hasn't already married, I really can't blame you for being drawn towards youths still in their physical prime. And the attraction commonly does work the other way. When I was a teen, I sure would have wanted to date Gabrielle Union even if she was 17 years my senior.

    In general I believe our culture would benefit from relaxing our hangups about sexuality. They may have made some sense before advances in birth control and treating STIs, but in the modern era there's no excuse. I'd even go so far as to say our ideal of monogamy is no longer applicable to anyone who doesn't want kids. If a guy isn't ever going to father a child, why would he need to stick around the same old woman when there are so many more out there?
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  19. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Jabrosky, that's not a "kink", it's pedophilia. An adult having sex with someone under the legal age of consent. Legally, even if the child or teen did consent, that's still non-consensual sex, because they're under the age of consent. They are considered not yet old enough to make that choice. It's squicky and illegal. Period.
     
  20. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    I agree with Tom in this.

    Also, if anyone wants to discuss this further, please do it in another thread. 'Lioness' suffers enough controversy without that.
     
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