Batwoman Part 2: Revenge of the Suits or… WTF You Made The Old Creative Team Quit So That THIS Story Could Happen? Really?

Hey guys, remember when I wrote that post about how great the Batwoman series was and how Kate “Batwoman” Kane and her fiancée Maggie “Captain of Major Crimes with Gotham PD” Sawyer worked together in the story and how Kate didn’t do that lame cliché “noble sacrifice” of giving up her relationship because obviously Maggie is a grownass woman who can make her own decisions? ‘Member that? Yeah, scratch that.

The Switchover
For Volumes 5 and 6, Marc Andreyko takes over writing duties from J.H. Williams III who quit because the suits at DC wouldn’t let him tell his story the way he wanted.

Volume 5&6

Here is the result

The style of Andreyko’s run is much more cartoony. And I don’t just mean the artwork. The world feels much less grounded and the characters far less fleshed out. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I just automatically hate the new run because it isn’t Williams. In fact, I’d rather Andreyko bring his own style to Batwoman than try to imitate what came before him. It can be refreshing and fun to see a character depicted in a new way so if he wants to put Batwoman in a more fantastical world then the more power to him. I actually would have liked to see more of the medievalized Gotham time travel bit. And the re-design of Kate’s sister Elizabeth as Red Alice was pretty awesome.

More of their crime-fighting adventures together, please

A Brief Wrap-Up

Volume 4 ends with Batwoman and Batman fighting. Batman tells Batwoman to stop and she says no. As far as I’m concerned that’s how that story ends. Volume 5 picks up at that point and does a decent job wrapping it up, but we’ll never know how it was really meant to end. The end of this storyline also marks the departure of the DEO and Agent Chase (boo!) and the last time Maggie is involved in the main story in any meaningful way, besides standing around at crime scenes.

I Love You So I’ma Dump Your Ass… Cool?

Anyway, moving on to the true start of the new run. Right off the bat (ha!), Maggie and Kate are given completely separate storylines. Oh, and I guess we’re supposed to forget about that time they got an apartment because for some reason they don’t live together. Maggie has no real involvement in the Batwoman/crimefighting element of the story and is relegated to a custody battle. And, of course, we all know how that is going to end: Kate “selflessly” ends their relationship so that Maggie doesn’t have to choose between blah, blah, blah. This is stupid for a whole lot of reasons. Let me tell you a few.

1. The whole catalyst for this is supposed to be Maggie’s daughter, Jamie, walking in on Kate all bruised and battered.

Batwoman Bathroom

Yeah, it’s kind of traumatizing to see your mom’s girlfriend bleeding onto the bathroom floor. And sure, having a costumed vigilante as a fiancée isn’t the safest. But you know what else isn’t safe in Gotham? Being a cop. Hell, being a citizen. It’s never implied that the kid realizes that Kate is Batwoman so really all this can be cleared up in 3 simple words: “I got mugged”. I mean, she can’t be blamed for being the victim of a crime, right? Right? (Hint: this is foreshadowing.)

2. Maggie is never torn nor is she shown having second thoughts. She crossed the whole “I’m dating Batwoman” bridge a while ago and let’s face it, as a cop, if Kate is ever unmasked Maggie’s screwed whether she’s dating her or not. Having Kate make the decision for her and presenting this as a selfless gesture asks us to believe that Maggie (again, a grownass woman) doesn’t know what’s best for her or her child and also that she’s incapable of being both a mother and in a relationship. There’s a weird, hopefully unintentional, implication that a single mother is somehow more preferable to two married women with a child. And that caving to the homophobic pressure from the ex-husband is somehow noble. Which brings me to…

3. Kate leaving actually weakens Maggie’s case. From what we’ve seen (and judging by the fact that Kate has never actually met the kid before) the ex-husband pretty much has full custody anyway so they have everything to gain from using the top family lawyer that Kate threw her money at. I mean, even accounting for a judge’s bias on account of the gay, it’s pretty rare for the father to get full custody. The kid loves her mother and it’s not exactly hard for a lawyer to spin Kate as a positive: she’s super rich and from a respected family and it’s not like the ex-husband claim she’s a shallow socialite with poor morals; she served in the damn army. And Kate’s got no day job so she can pick up the kid from school and junk. Which, y’know, is helpful to a full-time police detective. Like, maybe, working as a team would be the better than… eh, fuck it.

4. So hey, maybe Maggie considered her future wife to… I dunno… be part of her family? And didn’t view this as an either-or situation? Because why the hell would she? Just a thought. Her reaction to the bruised and battered bathroom bonanza isn’t “GTFO”, it’s “I’m worried about you, here’s the card for a therapist I found helpful.”

At least Maggie maintains her awesomeness.

At least Maggie maintains her awesomeness.

5. What the fuck is wrong with that therapist that he reacts to Kate dumping Maggie with a “good for you”? He doesn’t know she’s Batwoman. In his mind how is Kate Kane a threat to her fiancée’s relationship with her child aside from the inconvenience of her being gay when the ex-husband is bitter and homophobic? People really need to stop implying that things are all Kate’s fault (again, more terrible foreshadowing). You know what would be worthy of a “good for you”? Standing by your goddamn woman and fighting for a future instead of making a sketchy deal with her doucheface ex-husband that Kate even acknowledges would piss Maggie the hell off if she found out.

But whatever, I guess it’s not really Andreyko’s fault that the powers that be didn’t want Batwoman to get married for “reasons”.

gay-marriage

Enter the Vampire Seductress

So obviously what happens next is that Batwoman gets seduced by a mind-controlling vampire named Nocturna.

Her real name is Natalia Mitternacht because of course it is.

Her real name is Natalia Mitternacht because of course it is.

Nocturna has a history of marrying rich older men only to have them die mysteriously, leaving their fortunes to her. We first meet her in Arkham Asylum and eventually she gets out and has a couple rooftop fights with Batwoman.

Now… I can get behind the whole sexy lesbian vampire temptress thing. I have no qualms about that.

Carmilla? What are you doing here? Get back to Youtube!

Carmilla? What are you doing here? Get back to Youtube!

If Kate and Maggie must break up then we might as well have some fun playing around with a dark temptation we know won’t last. Here’s the problem: when I say Batwoman was “seduced”, what I really mean is “repeatedly date raped”. Because there is no room for any other interpretation. At the end of Volume 5, Nocturna sneaks into Kate’s bedroom and uses some mind control power BS that makes her see Maggie. Then we end on this image:

Not pictured: consent

Not pictured: consent

Batwoman is Wildly Uncomfortable… And So Am I

The next we see them, they’re in a “relationship” which Kate is far from enthusiastic about.

You know it’s love when every muscle is tensed whenever your gf touches you.

You know it’s love when every muscle is tensed whenever your girlfriend touches you. (Note Kate recoiling in horror on the far left)

And in her scenes as Batwoman we see flashes of her going all murder-y and vampire-y. When her sister Beth (back as Red Alice) helps break the spell, Nocturna explains that she’s not a rapist because you can’t hypnotize someone into doing something they wouldn’t do in the waking world.

“I’m not a rapist, but…” Totally as convincing as “I’m not a racist/sexist/homophobe, but…”

“I’m not a rapist, but…” Totally as convincing as “I’m not a racist/sexist/homophobe, but…”

Now I understand why Andreyko did this. Having a plot where Batwoman is repeatedly raped is way too dark for a story where there’s a battle with a medieval witch in outer space. But you know what’s way darker than Batwoman being repeatedly raped? Having Batwoman being repeatedly raped and then saying IT’S ALL HER FAULT! I mean, Jesus. You might be thinking that you could explain this away by saying a rapist isn’t going to admit they’re a rapist, but Alice confirms this dumb hypnosis excuse so we’re clearly meant to take it as fact. It’s at this point that I should point out that this explanation is also complete bullshit.

It’s Called a SUBconscious For A Damn Reason

There’s no way you can convince me that Batwoman would ever try to kill two teen boys for spraypainting graffiti unless she wasn’t in control of her mind. And it’s clear she isn’t in control when it happens. Whenever she goes all batshit (ha!) crazy, she comes out of it clearly disoriented and she even mentions having blackouts. She doesn’t remember how she got the bites on her neck.

That. That's how.

Again. That. That’s how.

I feel like if she knew about that, it might just colour her opinion of Natalia somehow. Also, just WTF? Obviously if you’re hypnotizing someone you’re making them do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do or you wouldn’t need hypnosis. What Nocturna (Andreyko) really seems to mean is that Kate had all these desires subconsciously and Nocturna just made her act on them. Newsflash: that’s not how free will works. I mean, most of the time I’d like to hit Donald Trump upside the head with a tire iron. It doesn’t mean I’d ever actually do it. And if someone magically made me, you can’t blame me because I had the urge. It’s the same with sex. I think Nicole Da Silva’s super hot and I’ve probably said something to the effect of “I’d like to spend some sexy cuddletimes with her” (gasp!), but that wouldn’t make it okay for her to roofie me.

Adding this gif was a distracting mistake.

Adding this gif was a distracting mistake.

Nocturna’s whole argument boils down to: she wanted it. And there is no way of justifying that. No matter what Andreyko says. (See this article on the Mary Sue)

Pictured: the appropriate reaction to his response.

Pictured: the appropriate reaction to his response.

Now I don’t want to tell Marc Andreyko how to do his job, but here’s exactly how he should have written this story instead.

Regan Reyzja Tells Marc Andreyko How to Do His Job

1. Generally speaking, you want to avoid having to have your characters explain why they’re not a rapist (Fact: 99.9999% of all statements containing the words “I’m not a rapist” are made by rapists). So have Nocturna seduce Kate the old fashioned way. Natalia’s hot and we know from Kate leering at her at the courthouse that she thinks so too. Boom! There’s already at least a physical attraction to build on.

2. Nocturna brags about how easy it was to ensnare Kate. And this holds up. Kate’s in a pretty vulnerable position and Nocturna exploiting this ties way back to Renee Montoya’s assertion (after her own break-up with Kate) that Kate needs someone to look after her. Have Nocturna feed her that sob story about childhood trauma and being misunderstood early on because again it holds up that Kate would buy into this, especially if she’s in an emotionally fragile state.

3. I think Andreyko was trying to touch on Batwoman’s dark side, like… I think that was the point of the whole vampire thing? So fine. We know Kate has anger issues and trouble dealing with loss. We’ve seen it before. It’s pretty much the basis of her becoming Batwoman. So have Nocturna ease Kate’s slide back into bad habits like heavy drinking and being angry at the world.

4. Nocturna can use the classic abuser tactic of isolating Kate from her friends and family. (Hey, this could be the reason Red Alice comes around to check in!) Maggie’s (rightfully) pissed about being dumped by her fiancée with a note.

We're with you, Mags. That was totally lame.

We’re with you, Mags. That was totally lame.

All Nocturna has to do is say to Kate: “That’s how she treats you after all you gave up for her?” See, it’s easier for someone with anger issues to be angry than hurt, so feeding Kate’s anger while pumping up her self-righteousness is way more effective (and cruelly manipulative) than playing the jealous girlfriend.

5. Build all this up, pushing Batwoman closer and closer to the line until she’s in danger of crossing it. Maybe even have her cross it and make everyone question her motivations. Then when Nocturna shows her true colours and tries to frame her for murder, it’s even more impactful because she didn’t use her powers to make Batwoman a believable perpetrator. Kate will have to face up to what she’s become and acknowledge her role in it. See THAT would warrant the ruminations of “I don’t know who I am anymore” that follow.

A victim of domestic abuse, that's who.

A victim of domestic abuse, that’s who.

6. When Batwoman ends up fighting Nocturna in medieval Gotham, you could employ this thing called a character arc and instead of stomping Nocturna’s face in, Batwoman could knock her out and haul her ass to Arkham, thus proving her true colours (to herself as much as everyone else).

I dunno, to me, it just makes for a better story than “Yeah, I drugged you and made you think you were a vampire, but, like, you totes got some dark thoughts soooo…” *shrugs*

At least there’s a suggestion of a reconciliation with Maggie near the end.

"See, NOW I'm worried about having you around my kid."

“Hey Mags, you still totally trust me around your kid after the whole vampire thing, right?”

Anyway, Volume 6 ends with “Future’s End”, a short, one-off (and I’m assuming non-canon) issue set 5 years in the future where Batwoman really is a vampire, throws Maggie off a building, kills a bunch of people, then is staked by her sister and dies. Oh, and BTW, this series got cancelled so that’s it. The end. K, bye!

 

And Now For Something Completely Different

You guys, you guys, Ohmygod, you guys… fuck all that noise above because I have the ultimate palate cleanser: Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Super Girl uniting to fight in WWII.

Squeeee!

Squeeee!

It’s called “Bombshells” (ha!) and it was born of the Ant Lucia alternate covers that DC has been releasing that feature all their superheroes in ‘40s and ‘50s style get-up.

BATwoman (ha!) They really stepped up to the plate with this one. Knocked it out of the park. It's a real homerun! K, I'm done...

BATwoman (ha!) They really stepped up to the plate with this one! Knocked it out of the park! It’s a real homerun! K, I’m done…

The series is written and drawn by two women, two Marguerites to be precise (Bennett and Sauvage), and it’s really fun. The art is bright and dreamy and pretty much ‘40s pin-ups come to life. Which is a pretty hilarious style to see our Broody Bat and Tough Cop in. (Because huzzah, they’re still together in this one!)

Seen here in this panel chosen completely at random.

Seen here in this panel chosen completely at random.

But it’s not just brainless, pulpy fluff. We get intelligent, caring portrayals. Wonder Woman questions the relevance of intentions versus consequences. Super Girl chats about the cycle of violence. Batwoman ponders a more meaningful life. And there are some great little background details.

So many adorable details!

So many adorable things!

Each issue is 99 cents so it’s well worth it. The first 3 are out now digitally and a new one is released each Saturday. Get it! Or don’t… I don’t know you. Linky Link!

The Xena Drinking Game or… How to Get Completely Hammered in 45 Minutes or Less with the Aid of a Campy ‘90s Adventure Show (And Liquor… Lots of Liquor)

The Rambling Preamble (The Pre-Ramble?)

As you might recall from a previous post, this Thursday marks one year since I told my best friend it was a no-go on the peen, panicked, swept my computer off my desk, and ran away screaming with my arms flailing wildly about. (This may be a slight exaggeration.)

Woody

One day it will be this easy

I had planned to post this then, but the magical procrastination goblins that usually hang about took the weekend off and I finished early. And so in celebration, I’d like to start your week off with something very dear to me. Something that can be used not only for big occasions like awkwardly coming out to a trusted friend, but any day of the week: Margarita Mondays, Boozeday Tuesdays, Wasted Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, Fucked Up Fridays, Sloshed Saturdays, and finally Spirit Sundays (and I don’t mean the Holy Spirit… wink wink, nudge nudge).

Hey, look who's back!

Hey, look who’s back!

I’m talking, of course, about my Xena Drinking Game. Honestly, there could not be a better show to create a drinking game around than Xena: Warrior Princess. This was a show that was completely aware of just how ridiculous and terrible it was and just went for it with total abandon and a big goofy grin. It was camp and low budget and had zero fucks to give in the most positive way.

Xena’s personal philosophy: “Meh”

Xena’s personal philosophy: “Meh”

Watch some behind the scenes videos on Youtube and you’ll see how proud the people who made this show were of their whacky creation… and that’s probably why at one point it was the most watched show in the world. It’s dumb, earnest fun. The only way to improve it? Alcohol!

(Disclaimer: alcohol is not ever necessary for fun. Regan Reyzja and Subtitled are in no way responsible for any alcohol poisoning, property damage, injuries from improvised chakrams, and/or emotional damage from drunkenly cutting straight-across ‘90s bangs that may result from participating in this game.)

And so without further ado, I present: Xena – The Drinking Game (<–click here for printable version so you can follow along!)

The Power, the Passion, the Danger… the Many Rules

Now, since I’m me, I couldn’t create a straightforward “drink whenever this happens” sort of game. No, no. Everything I do must be needlessly complicated and overly long. (Ironically, I’m very quiet in real life. Some might say unsettlingly quiet…) So open up your handy dandy PDF from the link above and let me walk you through it.

Feel free to dress for the occasion. And do jazz hands? Not sure what that pose is.

Feel free to dress for the occasion. And do jazz hands? Not sure what that pose was supposed to be.

Step 1: Choose either Team Xena or Team Gabrielle. This will determine which side of the Individual Drinks chart you’ll follow.

"Boy, we sure are wearing very little clothing for women in Ancient Greece"

“Boy,  we sure wear very little clothing for women in Ancient Greece, eh Gabrielle?”   “Tell me about it. I seem to wear less and less each year.”

It doesn’t really matter which you choose, either way you’re getting sloshed, but it’s good to have a mix of people on either side so you can point and yell “J’ACCUSE!”… I mean, “DRINK!” Speaking of shouting, Xena and Gabrielle yell each other’s names A LOT. Like, just so much. Which is what that first line in the chart is all about (that was a damn good segue, eh?) So Team Xena, you drink when she hollers “Gabrielle!” and Team Gabrielle the same applies when our scrappy sidekick screams “Xena!”

The rest are fairly straight-forward. Any time they lose their respective weapons. Any time Xena does her crazy ninja gymnastics or Gabrielle is kidnapped or in grave danger. Any time Xena breathes fire or Gabrielle drones on about her scrolls. Also, can I say, the very fact that I have to differentiate between real fire and CGI fire proves I will never be even half as cool as Lucy Lawless. She actually breathed fucking fire! For real! Presumably for multiple takes!

Just… I can’t even… Jesus, woman!

Just… I can’t even… Jesus, woman!

And last but not least, finish your drink if your lady dies. Which happens a fair number of times to both of them. You know how it is with death.

Step 2: General Drinks! These are for both Team Xena and Team Gabrielle, and they’re fairly self-explanatory. Any time the chakram goes flying or Xena does her signature war cry or puts the pinch on someone or there’s terrible CGI or a sidekick (usually Gabrielle or Joxer) fucks everything up… take a drink. Whenever Xena’s past comes back to bite her in the ass, take a drink. Any time someone makes a speech about love or there’s “subtext” (aka “Xena and Gabrielle are totally lesbianin’ together but we’re not going to come out and say it”), take a drink. Any time a resolution is reached by hugging it out, take a drink.

Demonstrated here. But seriously, play this game with shots and you’ll die

Demonstrated here. But seriously, play this game with shots and you’ll die. Don’t do it.

Step 3: Dice Roll! Did I tell you you’ll need dice? You’ll need dice.

Sometimes platonic lady friends casually take baths together. When this happens or when someone is naked for another perfectly legitimate reason, you each roll a die and drink whatever number it lands on. Similarly, sometimes Gabrielle will just completely lose it and go off the deep end, either in a fit of anger or crazy or occasionally demonic possession. (Tuesdays, am I right?) Roll that die and make a toast to her total meltdown!

Step 4: By the gods, the humanity! I mean… Drink Multipliers! This is the fucking lightning round, my friends; any time one of these takes effect you should immediately imagine the lights dimming and strobe lights going off every which way. In fact, you should probably go ahead and buy dimmer switches and professional stage lighting before you start. I’ll wait here.

Something like this will suffice.

Something like this will suffice.

A Warlord Did It – There are a lot of warlords wandering about the Xena-verse. Should you discover that one of them is the architect behind the nefarious scheme of the week, you will now drink double on your individual drinks.

Arch Nemesis – Xena has pissed off an impressive number of unstable sociopaths in her time, chief among them: Callisto, Caesar, and Alti. Should they turn out to be the villain in your episode, double up on the general drinks.

Olympians Among Us – Deus ex machina? More like “Drinkus est maxima”! (Yes, I’m aware that adjective doesn’t match its fake subject) Whenever Ares shows up, Team Xena goes twofold on their individual drinks. Ditto for Team Gabrielle if Aphrodite turns up.

Evil Xena – Gods help you if Evil Xena Mode is activated. If our intrepid warrior princess takes a turn for the insanely villainous and goes all murder-y, EVERYTHING IS DOUBLED! EVERYTHING!

So what happens if Callisto were to team up with Ares, Aphrodite, and a bunch of warlords to turn Xena evil? Well… you’d probably be passed out on the floor by the time they got to that shameless shot of Lucy Lawless’s rack in the opening credits. But I’m pretty sure that never happens. At least not more than once. So don’t panic. You’ll see that cleavage yet.

Your Courage Will Change the World…Into A Far Drunker Place

There you have it. The Xena Drinking Game. Soon to be a party favourite. A deadly, deadly party favourite. And you saw it here first! So spread the word and remember, if in doubt…

Drink

Oh Lena Headey, I’ll do anything you tell me.

Oh, one last unwritten rule: should a heavily pregnant Xena start rapping… just shut it down. That’s too much to handle with that amount of alcohol in you. You will start to giggle uncontrollably and be unable to stop. Breathing will become an issue. Shut. It. Down.

Shut it down

A Blacksmith’s Tale or… How to Improve the Movie “A Knight’s Tale” a Hundredfold Using Only Rudimentary MS Paint Skills (But Not Really Because A New Poster Doesn’t Change the Film)

A Blacksmith's Tale

Seriously, Wouldn’t This Have Made a Great Movie?

So this past weekend I was drinking/watching Lip Service and suddenly it occurred to me that A Knight’s Tale would have been way better had it been all about Kate the blacksmith. This revelation had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that, if you recall from an earlier blog, I’ve had a big crush on Laura Fraser since before I realized it was a crush. And of course absolutely zero to do with her performance in the aforementioned Lip Service. Nothing at all. Perish the thought. ‘Twas merely a heavenly bolt of inspiration. But think about it… doesn’t the story of a widowed woman making her way as a blacksmith in medieval-y times have the potential for some high quality shenanigans/epic badassery. You know she’s secretly gotta have some bitchin’ skills with a sword. It would be at least as exciting as the story of a dude who wants to knock other dudes off their horses but can’t because his father wasn’t dudely enough. (Why yes, I am really good at plot summaries. Why yes, I should do it for a living.)

 

help-me-im-poor

– William Thatcher

Anyway, because I’m a big dork and apparently have nothing better to do with my time, I created that lovely poster. And this super short post. Tune in October 9th for a special 1 year Coming Out-iversary edition (Yes, that’s two days before International Coming Out Day because I am also apparently a hipster. “Yeah, I was coming out before it was like a thing.”) You can expect something that may or may not rhyme with Dena Xrinking Game.

She's ready. Are you?

She’s ready. Are you?

Batwoman to the Rescue or… Holy Progressive Storytelling and Stunning Artwork, Old Chum, We’ve Got a Comic Series That Elevates the Medium on Our Hands

My Dark Origin Story
I always swore I wasn’t going to be a comic book nerd. “Graphic novels,” I would scoff derisively, “Come on… who are you trying to fool?” That was the geeky line in the sand for me. Collector’s editions of video games… sure. Harry Potter Lego and apparel… fine. Writing my own fantasy novel series… doesn’t every girl do that? But not graphic novels. Never graphic novels.
And obviously I broke this rule. It started out innocently enough when I picked up the 3-part Dragon Age series (“It’s about my love for Dragon Age,” I told myself). Then Blue is the Warmest Colour (“It’s a coming out thing,” I told myself). But that was going to be it. This wasn’t going to be a thing.

Really, I gave up all right to geek elitism when this happened.

Really, I gave up all right to geek elitism when this happened.

Then Kate Kane aka motherfucking Batwoman charged into my life. I’m not too ashamed to admit that the proverbial light-up red batphone that summoned this badass superhero into my life was a Buzzfeed list. Anyway, all of this is my long-winded way of explaining why I’m so late on the scene (apparently a pattern of mine) for a character whose current incarnation began in 2010(?). I’m still not 100% clear on how DC issues operate and when exactly Batwoman’s storyline began so here’s what I’ll be discussing:

Pictured: the possessions of a very single woman. Ladies…

Pictured: the possessions of a very single woman. Ladies…

The Story So Far…
Okay, time for a little Batwoman 101. (Also a good time to warn that this post is pretty spoiler-y.)

Here we go: Kate Kane’s mother and twin sister are murdered (or were they?), she follows in her parents’ footsteps and joins the army, she’s kicked out of the army on the grounds of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when she refuses to lie about being gay, she becomes a boozy mess, and then rises as Batwoman (with a little help from high tech military equipment provided by her high-ranking father).

"My costume's better than yours"

“My costume’s better than yours”

It’s a pretty epic backstory for a very cool character (I think we’ve already established my love for tattooed rocker babes). But that was just the hook, it wasn’t what really pulled me in…

Boff… Zam… Pow Goes the Patriarchy!
What was most remarkable to me about this series was that Kate wasn’t written as a woman. She wasn’t written as a lesbian. She was written as a person. If you don’t get what I mean, go watch the horribly disappointing Kickass 2; the defining trait of every single woman in that movie is that they are female. They’re not characters, they’re female characters. Batwoman is simply a character.

She’s neither Madonna nor whore. She’s got integrity but there’s no pure and innocent BS. She’s not overly sexualized either. Sure, we see her bare back as she changes and we see her in bed with her paramours, but these are depicted as simply matters of course. There’s nary an arched back or model pose to be found; she’s given power stances that reflect her strength and dominance. And her uniform – she makes it clear she does not see it as a costume – is no more revealing than her male counterparts.

Though I think she may have burned her bra… feminists, amiright? *crickets*

Though I think she may have burned her bra… feminists, amiright? *crickets*

Speaking of male counterparts, there’s none of that “Men are from Mars…” crap; no “I’m just as tough as a man”. The second a female character says something like that, it becomes untrue because it’s an assertion that men don’t have to make. Bringing it up is unnecessary and patronizing.

Now let’s talk about the gay. How awesome is it that Batwoman is a lesbian? And how much more awesome is it that it’s not played as a gimmick or given an afterschool special vibe? Because it isn’t. When she’s questioned by the army about “homosexual conduct” there’s no long speech or grandstanding, Kate simply reminds the officer that cadets are not supposed to lie and after a long pause says “I’m gay”. Boom. Done. It only takes a couple words for the emotional gutpunch to land.

Then there’s the fact that this moment is such a great setup for (and adds so much nuance to) the story of a woman who has to go outside the system to be the soldier she always wanted to be. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, her romantic life is handled with maturity and is about two people with a connection rather than “hey guys, watch these two chicks make out!”

Though I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this bit of fan service

Though I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this bit of fan service. Damn, girl.

If you think I’m gushing… well… you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Take a Hike, Lois Lame!
And now we come to Maggie fucking Sawyer, Captain of the Major Crimes Unit at Gotham City fucking Police Department. Anyone making a superhero movie should take note: this is how you write a love interest. And no, it’s not just ‘cause she’s gay (though seriously, who doesn’t love a lesbian cop? Is it me, or is a woman in a bulletproof vest hella hotter than those ‘sexy cop’ Halloween costumes).

Maggie Sawyer. Cop. Heartbreaker. General badass.

Maggie Sawyer. Cop. Heartbreaker. General badass.

Let me break down for you why Maggie puts every other super hero’s love interest to shame.

A) PURPOSE! She serves a purpose in the story outside of her role as a love interest. If a character is defined solely by their relationship with the hero, the audience has no reason to care about them. That kinda negates the purpose of the character when they’re inevitably put in danger. Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy in the Spider-man movies, Natalie Portman (I don’t even remember her character’s name… Jane?) in Thor, Pepper Potts in Iron Man, and Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight all do nothing to advance the plot. Some might argue with me about Gwen Stacy and Rachel Dawes, but that obvious attempt to make Gwen look useful in The Amazing Spider-man by having her go to the lab to disable that dispersal thing could have been done by literally any other character; the movie would have had the same outcome had she not been in it at all. Same with Rachel; she was a plot device to expose Bruce Wayne’s tortured psyche more than a character, impressive career aside.

Even Batwoman is occasionally taken aback by Maggie’s agency

Even Batwoman is occasionally taken aback by Maggie’s agency

Maggie, on the other hand, acts as a foil to Batwoman: the by-the-books detective to her vigilante. She investigates cases, providing important exposition, and helps ground them in reality, showing the impact crime has on victims and their families, which is often glossed over in Batwoman’s nighttime escapades. And most important and revolutionary of all, she takes actions that affect the outcome of the story. It all adds up to a character we can become invested in, not to mention how much easier it makes things for the writer when a single character can serve many functions instead of conforming to the tired cliché of “Oh, here’s the girl character and she loves the hero. Characterization done.”

B) CHEMISTRY! I already touched on Maggie as a foil to Batwoman and that’s part of why they work so well together. They’re both dedicated to serving others, often to the detriment of themselves so it’s clear they share the same core values. We can also see why straight-laced Maggie would go for someone with an edge and why Kate would want someone with Maggie’s stability.

Get it, girl(s)!

Get it, girl(s)!

C) COMPLEXITY! Maggie gets her own backstory and faces her own challenges that don’t involve her relationship with Kate/Batwoman. We learn that she has a daughter who lives with her ex-husband because it’s hard to get custody when you’re a workaholic cop who at the time had just come out. We get a flashback as she heads into a church to calm a group of citizens ready to riot of her as a child being locked in a stifling hot shed by her religious father who told her that if she was going to dress like a boy she should learn how to use tools. Her mother told her that her father did it because he loved her so much and didn’t want her going to hell. So y’know… slightly more compelling stuff than Mary Jane’s ‘acting’ ‘career’.

D) DAMSEL IN DISTRESS… FUCK NO! So I want to show you the moment that for me encapsulates this series and why it is so remarkable.

killercrocthoughts5edited

Waylon Jones, the killer croc, comes after Batwoman and Maggie and his inner thoughts really say it all. He expects the hero to send the love interest to safety, but no. This jackass comes a-knockin’ and Batwoman gets to whuppin’ ass and Maggie starts firing. Fuck. Yes.

Hell, when the handgun isn’t doing it, Maggie goes for the big guns. Literally.

Hell, when the handgun isn’t doing it, Maggie goes for the big guns. Literally.

Even Batwoman’s sidekick Hawkfire gets in on the action eventually.

No one is stronger alone. And the series really emphasizes this. Which has the added benefit of sidestepping the whole “I’m going to sacrifice my happiness by not being with you in order to protect you” nonsense that superhero storylines are so fond of. (A variation on this does kinda happen with Batwoman and her sidekick, but Kate’s concerns were legit and it served the plot beyond fabricating romantic tension)
Wanna know how Batwoman does sacrifice? Well, at one point she accidentally sticks Maggie with Scarecrow’s nightmare toxin in a mission gone awry.

Oopsy daisy. “Uhruhroahhh” indeed.

Oopsy daisy. “Uhruhroaaa” indeed.

So Kate finds more of it, steps the fuck up, says “Here, this won’t make up for it, but now I’ll know what you had to go through”, and jams the needle in her own arm. I should add that this is right before she has to go fight Batman. Now, isn’t that infinitely more interesting than the same tired BS we’ve seen time and again?

 Gee, could this be the end for these two lovebirds? *eyeroll*

Gee, could this be the end for these two lovebirds? *eyeroll*

Flashing Sword, Gleaming Shield, Golden Cord… It’s Wonder(fully Boring) Woman!
The only time I was really pulled out of the world was when Wonder Woman showed up. Bear in mind, this is a world with werewolves, ghosts, crocodile men, and a character who is literally a skeleton, so the fact that she’s a demi-goddess shouldn’t really be too fazing. But I think I’ve put my finger on why Wonder Woman stood out like a sore thumb.

In Kill Bill, Bill gives a little diatribe about how unlike other superheroes Superman was born Superman and his alter-ego is really Clark Kent. Wonder Woman has a similar situation. She is Wonder Woman. There’s no great divide between Diana, daughter of Zeus, and Wonder Woman besides a change in clothing.

Batwoman on the other hand, is nothing more than human; she has no superpowers beyond her advanced army training, gymnastics, and high tech gadgetry. And as Kate Kane, she’s messy. She’s emotional, she can be quick to anger and bad at communicating. She can also be funny, charming, and caring. But when that uniform goes on, she’s in combat mode, she’s something more than Kate Kane.

Time for a little etymology lesson. The word “ecstasy”: the “ec” is a variation on the Latin “ex” which here means “out” (think excommunicated, expelled) and the “stasy” is derived from the Latin verb “sto, stare, steti, statum” (yeah, Latin verbs come in 4 parts) which means “to stand” (fun fact: stat is not related to this verb, it’s a short form of “statim” which means “at once”). So basically ecstasy means to stand outside oneself. And why do we use ecstasy to describe a state of overwhelming pleasure? Because we’re fascinated with the idea of being more than what we are, with transcending our bodies and taking on a new identity. The word was first used to describe Bacchae or maenads, female followers of Bacchus, god of wine, who would work themselves into a frenzy through dance and drink. And whether it’s through alcohol, a costume or uniform, or even writing a blog, we’re all still taken with the idea of defying the limitations we see on our everyday selves. It’s a form of magic that lets us be more talkative, bolder, stronger, and take more risks than we normally would, if only for a little while.

It’s the reason we identify so strongly with Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Kate Kane, and all the other superheroes who don costumes. We recognize that desire. We have that desire. So when you take all that and put it next to Wonder Woman, she can’t help but come off as one-dimensional.

Also, Batwoman says shit like this.

Also, Batwoman says shit like this.

To Drown the World…in Estrogen
The great thing is, there’s more than just Kate and Maggie. The Batwoman series is full of complex female characters.
There’s Cameron Chase, the vaguely sinister DEO agent who rocks a mean suit and is given motivation for her association with the sketchy group.

Agent Chase

I totally have that outfit

Bette Kane who goes from annoying sidekick Flamebird to the more competent Hawkfire.
Hawkfire
Even Kate’s stepmother who early on seems relegated to the role of, if not evil then resented stepmother is fleshed out.

But All is Not Well in Gotham…
I’ve learned that the brilliant minds behind this storyline have been silenced and won’t get to finish their incredible run. We’ll never get to see how the cliffhanger of This Blood is Thick or the ongoing plot threads should really have been resolved because of some jackass suit at DC.

For some reason this comes to mind.

For some reason this comes to mind.

Apparently he thinks superheroes shouldn’t be happy aka there will be no marriage between Kate and Maggie even though they’re engaged. Gee, I wonder what the real issue here is.

gay-marriage

I have to say, I’m quite disappointed in the lesbian mafia for not stepping in. How could you let this happen, Rachel Maddow? You wrote the damn foreword for Elegy!

Maddow

Come on, Maddow, sober up and get on it!

It’s worth noting that the characters will remain the same and Batwoman is still engaged to Maggie, so I suppose I should reserve judgment until the collected issues of the new run come out in November. However, the individual issues are already out and word is it’s not as good. Guess I’ll have to figure out how these damn things work and find Batwoman’s first rebooted appearance in the Detective Comics series and figure out what’s up with her and Renée Montoya.

Regan Reyzja will return with more pro-feminist ramblings! Same bat time, same bat channel! (By which I mean anywhere from a week to three months from now. On this blog.)

Wheel of Time Withdrawal – Episode I: In Defense of Nynaeve

I’m going to start out this new feature with something of a controversial statement because I know Nynaeve al’Meara (or al’Maera a couple times there in Eye of the World; seriously, I have two copies of that book and the typos are in both) left a lot of people wanting to pull out their hair (HA!), BUT: I fucking love Nynaeve. She is a badass, plain and simple, and I will make you love her. (I mean really, if you need someone to hate, may I kindly suggest Elayne?)

 

Major spoilers ahead… duh!

 

In the Beginning…

From the very beginning, Nynaeve stands out from the rest of the Emond’s Field Big Five. She is at a totally different place in her life from Egwene, Rand, Perrin, and Mat. It’s a place so often overlooked in the hero’s journey story. Rather than a fresh-faced youth, eager for adventure, Nynaeve has more or less established her place in the world. Therein lies the crux of her character: she has the authority of Wisdom, but is in that hazy transitory phase between being grown-up and true adulthood. It’s why she’s so resistant to change. She not only had a path laid out before her, she was on her way down it. And yet, Nynaeve leaves it behind in a ridiculous show of bravery. Remember how scared Rand was fleeing in the night? Nynaeve did that all on her own, knowing full well what was waiting in the dark. Also, how ballsy was she, challenging Moiraine? It might have come off as obnoxious to some, but umm, hello, what if Moiraine had been Black Ajah?

 

Actually, that would kind of be awesome...

Actually, that would kind of be awesome…

 

Much is made of Rand’s dead mother, and of the tragic murder of Perrin’s family, but little reference is made to Nynaeve’s parents, both of whom she lost. We know her mother died first, and her father taught her woodsmanship before he also passed away. So she’s someone who knows loss intimately and it makes perfect sense that she would take the role of protector to the extreme. The other characters might find her too (s)mothering, but I challenge you to find a more loyal character in the entire series.

 

Don't give me that look, Hopper. I'm talking about people.

Don’t give me that look, Hopper. I’m talking about people.

 

Power Up!

Nynaeve isn’t the only one to struggle with power (and the Power), but she sure has the most blatant obstacle with her block on saidar. That difficulty she has surrendering to saidar is entirely rooted in her anger and war with herself. She can’t embrace saidar because she can’t embrace herself. (Anyone else notice some serious allegories for homosexuality throughout this series? I mean, my God, those first couple books before Rand declares himself the Dragon Reborn…yeesh.) I think why Nynaeve’s struggle resonates with me so much is because she is such a solitary character. Her relationship with Egwene always carries an imbalance of power, first in her favour and then against, and during her time in the White Tower she lacks the sort of close friendship Egwene and Elayne develop. When she sets off with Elayne, the two never really bond and Elayne soon finds a new friend in Birgitte in any case. Even her relationship with Lan sees her on her own the majority of the time. It’s not like she has Perrin’s connection to the wolves, or Lews Therin in her head either. Plus, since the other four see her as something of an authority figure, she had to deal with those whippersnappers pushing her away. Despite all this, Nynaeve shakes off her prejudices and becomes what she used to hate. Growth!

 

And stylish growth, at that!

And stylish growth, at that!

 

And can we just talk for a minute about what Nynaeve does with all her amazing power (bonfire to Egwene and Elayne’s candles, remember?). She is literally the second most powerful woman on the side of the Light. And what does she do with all that power? She doesn’t join the vainglorious Green “Battle Ajah”. No, she chooses Yellow and healing. But, girl can also hold her own. Remember how she fucking KIDNAPS ONE OF THE FORSAKEN? Nynaeve manages to ensnare the Spider herself, Moghedien. She helps cleanse saidin. She heals stilling and gentling. She heals Asha’man madness. She’s at the Dragon Reborn’s side during the Last Battle. When every other character is wielding their power, she is sacrificing hers for Rand and stitching up Alanna with her own hands.

 

Love is in the Air… and Underwater

Let’s just be honest. Romance was not a highlight of WoT. I personally was so happy when Gawyn just died already. And while Nynaeve and Lan’s relationship might have its share of problems, I want it on record that Nynaeve is the only main character to choose a romantic partner who:

a)      She seems to genuinely love and respect

b)      Is a single person (Looking at you Rand. PS: the answer is always Min. ALWAYS!)

c)       Is strong of character rather than good-looking

d)      Has a complementary personality

e)      Is motherfucking Lan! Seriously, how great is Lan?

And through all the bond-loss madness, and Lan heading north to die as the last King of Malkier, Nynaeve stands by him, and gathers his countrymen so that he has an army at his back and survives to show the world how to sheath a sword (more on that epic moment in a later blog). Also, Lan diving into the water to save her and Nynaeve breaking her block? There’s a reason that made the cover of the new editions.

 

Near-drownings have never been more romantic!

You’d think someone from the “Two Rivers” would be a little better at swimming.

 

Growing Pains

So after all of Nynaeve’s braid-yanking, her desire for grey hair, her resentment at being treated as a child, where does she end up? Well, out of her, Egwene, and Elayne, Nynaeve is the only one to take the Aes Sedai test (and hers is a doozy). Those hundred weaves? Yeah, whatever, she learned them in her spare time. (Seriously, I love the casual way she just tells Egwene, “Okay, sure, I’ll do the test. I’ve got this shit down. Don’t you, Ms Amyrlin?” – exact quote.) She knows it’s the only way she will truly gain the respect of her peers, but she does it on her terms (like a boss!). Oh, and after learning that strength dictates the pecking order of the Aes Sedai (and knowing that she would be at the top without need of a single grey hair), she says that experience, not raw power, ought to be the determining factor. Nynaeve is also the one to trust Rand enough to support him, standing at his side rather than with the White Tower. (Like I said, she’s big on loyalty. Also, how great is the relationship between her and Rand? So sweet.) And in one of the smallest and yet most meaningful moments of A Memory of Light, she gives Moiraine, her old arch-nemesis, a big ol’ bear hug. There are so many layers in that single action that I could probably write a whole blog about it. (I won’t. I promise.)

 

Nynaeve is in many ways the heart of the series. Once Egwene died, I knew Nynaeve would make it through because no other character could sell the heartbreak of Egwene’s loss the way she could. Nynaeve left the Two Rivers to bring all of them home safely; her goal was always unity and wholeness, to mend the world by any means necessary. She not only wanted to keep all the Emond’s Fielders safe, but felt it was her responsibility.

 

I sure as hell wouldn't stand in her way.

I sure as hell wouldn’t stand in her way. (Hey, like this picture? Get the entire Ariel Burgess playing card set at taverentees.com! I’ve got the double set!)

 

It’s the small things, here and there, but Nynaeve’s growth is perhaps the most realistic and the most hopeful. When she loses her braid, the symbol of adulthood and authority in The Two Rivers, it symbolizes her recognition that in the world she inhabits she is in many ways a child. Yet paradoxically, she is more mature for the acknowledgement. It is an ending and a beginning, and we all know that that is exactly what the Wheel of Time is all about.

Good News, Everyone!

From henceforth Subtitled will be divided into 3 categories:

Super Subtitled – will continue to bring you the very best in geek culture.

This Time It’s Personal – people seemed to really like reading about intimate details of my life (stalkers!), so future super gay (no, really) outpourings of emotion will go under here.

Wheel of Time Withdrawal – this will be a new feature. Obviously, I’ll be writing about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. So, y’know, plenty of material to cover.

Enjoy!

-RR

Fording the Depths of Denial or… Belle, Butterflies, and Being a Total Lesbian

(Be forewarned: this is the longest and most personal blog I will ever post on Subtitled)

Something About a River in Egypt?
There are only so many times you can say “Ehhh, it’s probably nothing”. For me, that number has come and gone… and then doubled, tripled… added a zero or two…. What I’m saying is it’s about damn time I wrote this.

See, denial is a powerful, magical, wonderful cure-all for life’s inconvenient little truths. It’s like the Siberia for all your dissidents. An easy-to-swallow tablet that lets you go about your day with a simple “Hmm, I’m sure that rash will go away on its own”, or “Hey, everyone has a mickey or three during lunch”, or “I’m going to start working out so I’ll get the extra small”, or “Lesbi-whaaaat?”

Lesbihonest_Fat_Amy

That last one is where I come in. I’ll be honest, it’s something I’m still wrestling with. And I know a large part of that comes down to a single word. Oh, I can joke about being super gay or giving off some serious Sapphic vibes or being a “friend of Ellen”. (I mean, y’know, not out loud, but in my head it’s a laugh riot!) But saying I’m a lesbian? Well, that’s still a little hard for me to even type. (Making it a question helped a bit there.)

But why should it be? I’m a writer. Why should any word scare me? I wrote a 700 page novel. Words are my bitches! And yet this one made a bitch out of me.

The Almighty Word
I never gave the word much conscious thought growing up and yet it seemed to follow me around. I did know early on that it was NOT something I wanted to be known as; that it was, if not exactly an insult, something decidedly negative. “You don’t want to wear a cuff on your upper ear,” my aunt said to me in grade school, “or you’ll look like a lesbian.” “I think gay men are born that way, but for lesbians it’s a choice,” I remember hearing. And in high school, when my parents were getting divorced (finally!) my mom’s friend warned her that she should be careful I don’t become a lesbian. (Surprise! That’s when I got that crush on that boy in my English class. What a coincidence!) Sometimes the word was absent, but the implication was there, like my step-grandmother’s comments about my boyish clothes when I was younger, or a university roommate’s casual assertion that I was “totally in love with” a friend, or a co-worker saying that she couldn’t picture me with a boyfriend.

None of it was meant to be hurtful (or so I like to think), they all just got caught up on the same thing I did. That word. It’s so unfair, really. I don’t want to imply that gay men get off easy, but the stereotype there is that they’re hip, stylish, and fashionable. While I’m sure it’s annoying to be seen so often as an accessory for a straight woman, there’s not much outright hurtful or mean there. Whereas lesbians get classified as bitter shrews, somehow both mannish and man-hating. Which I don’t really get. Here, I’ll name some famous gay ladies off the top of my head (celesbians if you will): Ellen Degeneres, Portia DeRossi, Ellen Page, Tegan Quin, Sara Quin, Kate McKinnon, Wanda Sykes, Cynthia Nixon, Leisha Hailey, Raven Symone, kd lang, Melissa Etheridge, Rosie O’Donnell, Sara Gilbert, Jillian Michaels, Mary Lambert, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, and a whole bunch of others I’ve forgotten.

Look away, she's hideous?

Look away, she’s hideous?

My point is: not one of them fits that stereotype. Some might be on the butch side, but why does that make them any less of a woman? Did long hair make Jesus any less of a man? (Yeah, I went there; there being a terrible comparison.) Looking at that list I think the lesbian stereotype should be awesome. And hilarious.

Know what though? My battle with that word is fairly recent, waged only in the past year or so. To get to that, I first I had to un-latent some tendencies. And that is quite a tale. I’ll pause here as you gather refreshments. Waiting… waiting… okay, here we go.

The World Through Denial-Coloured Glasses
What straight people might not understand is that you can be gay and on some level know you’re gay without ever admitting it to yourself. It’s like seeing as blue what the rest of the world sees as red. Some might figure out really early on that their perception of blue doesn’t align with the majority. Some might take a while. A long while. Even when there is an obscene amount of clues that BLUE MEANS YOU’RE INTO GIRLS, IDIOT! Okay, that metaphor got away from me, how about some real life examples.

Let’s head back to my fourth year of university. I was watching Beauty & the Beast with a male friend and we got to the scene where Belle is being chased by wolves in the forest and she’s got that cloak on and her hair flies loose and she’s got this makeshift club… Anyway, my friend confessed that he thought that scene was totally hot when he was younger (except he said in a much classier way because he’s a gentleman) and I almost outed myself by blurting out “Me too!” Now, I was nowhere near identifying as gay at that point, but I remember consciously stopping myself from agreeing, even though I totally did. As a kid that scene had stuck out as something that I knew I liked for some reason even if I hadn’t figured out why.

Stop judging me, Belle!

Stop judging me, Belle!

So why didn’t that trigger a round of soul-searching? Because I’d been there before. I knew how to deny and dismiss. Starting in second year, I would go through these periods of depression and invariably I would start to…wonder. But eventually the bout would pass, I’d be happy again and I’d think “Man, feeling down can lead to some strange thoughts, am I right, conscious part of my brain?” and with some nervous silent laughter I’d move on. Well, mostly. At one point I remember thinking, “ehh, maybe I’m bisexual, whatever”. That was great because if I was bi, I could completely ignore the part of myself interested in girls and just be straight. Huzzah! Of course, even on that I flip-flopped. After all, normal, quiet girls weren’t bisexuals. Oh, young 19 year old me, with my youth and my prejudices.

If it seems like my university years were a mire of self-doubt, well, they actually weren’t, not like the agonizing that came later. In fact, those were the years that I established my mind as something of a safety bubble: every thought was safe in there. Nothing had to mean anything. No one had to know. That turned out to be a double-edged sword, but I’ll get to that later.

Pictured: A Halloween costume without any lesbian subtext whatsoever

Pictured: A Halloween costume without any lesbian subtext whatsoever

Hindsight is 20/20 and Super Gay
Looking back it seems so painfully obvious. I still remember the moment of panic in high school when a friend asked who my favourite male celebrity was so she could get a magazine poster for my locker as part of my birthday present. “I like a lot of them,” was my red-faced, knee-jerk response before choosing the very safe, non-questionable, Johnny Depp. After that I realized I was behind the curve and that I should figure out which movie star I should like, completely missing that for most girls it was not a conscious deliberation.

In reality, while all the girls were trying to decide between Freddie Prinze Jr and Paul Walker after watching She’s All That, I was thinking “Wow, Rachel Leigh Cook is super cute, and hello there, young Anna Paquin”. (Rogue being my favourite mutant from the X-Men movies… I mean, really?) Then along came Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale, and while the other girls were swooning, I was wondering why the hell there wasn’t more of Kate the blacksmith. And of course, anything with Winona Ryder with her amazing hair, flawless skin, and ‘90sness was an instant win. But it wasn’t all petite brunettes with big eyes… early in high school who should strut into my life but Brody fucking Dalle. That woman was my teen years. I’m not sure how any female fan of The Distillers is straight, frankly. Add in Amy Lee and Kat von D, and I was in rock n roll heaven.

Seen here, casually Rock Goddessing.

Brody, seen here casually Rock Goddessing.

Boy, it’s a good thing that no one out there combines that petite brunette look with the whole tattooed rock babe thing.

Damn it, Tegan & Sara!

Damn it, Tegan & Sara!

So you see, (ex)friend of my mother, it wasn’t the divorce; you were always going to be too late to change me. And I could talk about how when I was young I played softball and tennis, I hated dresses and used to forswear all make-up, I tried to get out of every single figure skating lesson and wished I could have been in hockey, I liked the Sword in the Stone better than The Little Mermaid, and Lego better than Barbies… but that really has nothing to do with anything. Those things are true of countless straight girls (most of whom are sick of being called tomboys).

What’s important is the butterflies. It’s all that really matters. And I’ve only ever gotten butterflies in my stomach for girls.

Coming to Grips with Reality
In Orange is the New Black, the main character, Piper, has a speech about how being unable to escape yourself and coming face to face with who you really are is the hardest part of being in prison. That’s true when you live on your own too, which I did for 3 years post university. At first, it was a lot of fun, I was free to do whatever I wanted without having to look over my shoulder. I had my Hawke (the player character) romance the female characters in Dragon Age 2.

Here we are on a stroll. I... did not get out a lot.

Here we are on a stroll. I… did not get out a lot at that time.

I watched movies with girl-on-girl lovin’: Jennifer’s Body, Farewell My Queen, Side Effects (that one was actually a surprise; I only watched it because I thought Rooney Mara was amazing in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Lost & Delirious, Imagine Me & You. At that point I was still too scared to watch The L Word (though considering the sharp decline in quality post season 3, I should have been even more scared). That felt like admitting something. As long as everything stayed locked away in my head, everything was fine and life could go on.

Otherwise known as the Toddler Technique

Otherwise known as the Toddler Technique

Shit got real at the start of 2013. I got sick. Sick enough for multiple hospital trips, but after bloodwork and EKGs they had no answers. I would get headaches, dizziness, I’d feel nauseated without ever being sick, my heart would race, I had a near-constant stomach ache, and a lot of nights I’d go to bed with a sense of inescapable doom, wondering if this was all there was to life. At the hospital, they asked about stress or anxiety, and I said no, after all what did I have to be stressed about? I had a 9 to 5 job that was a cake walk compared to the stress of my bachelor’s degree. And I had no relationship stuff to worry about; I was single. I got better-ish, or maybe I got better at handling it. The symptoms persisted, but less severe than before.

In the summer, I moved home; it was time to find a job in a place that wasn’t so remote. I thought I would go crazy in the presence of my mom and step-dad after years on my own, but it was nice to be with people and have dogs to cuddle. In the evenings, I kicked back and binge-watched some Orange is the New Black. “Who would ever pick Larry over Alex (Tattooed Babe WITH GLASSES!) Vause?” I asked myself as I watched. “Probably a straight girl” was my laughing response. Then there was that scene at the end of the Thanksgiving episode where Piper pulls Alex into the chapel and they make out. “Yep,” I thought as the credits rolled, “I’m definitely gay.”

“Really, bitch? It took you that long?”

“Really, bitch? It took you that long? That was episode 9.”

It was terrifying and exciting to finally admit that to myself. I mean, I’d known for a while (it was the bloody reason I was watching the show) and now I couldn’t figure out why it had taken me so long to get to this point. And the funny thing was, after that day those feelings of sickness from earlier in the year just sort of vanished. It wasn’t all roses, though. Aside, from the terror of my family EVER finding out, I was afraid that this was going to be like all those times in university where I waved my hand dismissively and moved on. So I resolved to tell someone.

She doesn’t know this (I mean, she will in a second when she reads this… hey girl!) but my BFF was the absolute last person I wanted to tell originally. I was terrified to disrupt the dynamic of the best friendship ever. But of course, it had to be her.

October 9th: Okay, here we are. Skype time. I’m ready. Gonna do this. How hard can it be to spit this out? Alright, here’s a good segue aaaaaand…
Yeah…no. I wimped out. BUT! Later on Facebook I totally did it. It was beautifully eloquent and certainly not something to the tune of “yeah, umm not so much with the guys. Gahh! I’m so awkward”. Definitely not that. Ahem. Moving on. I hit that reply button and let me tell you… I have never wanted to reach into the seedy depths of the internet and rip out the series of 1s and 0s I’d just sent racing down the information superhighway more than I did at that moment. It wasn’t worry about her reaction either. It was knowing there was no going back.

Unless…!
I don’t want to embarrass myself with all the crazy plots and schemes that ran through my head in the days that followed as a way to undo what I’d done. Suffice it to say that each was more insane than the last (and the first was saying that I was conducting a social experiment for research purposes). “Yeah, I’m totally okay with it,” I told my friend in the conversation that followed. I was not okay with it. I cannot stress how un-okay with it I was. I wanted to be. I wanted to joke. I wanted to be able to gush about my celebrity crushes the way she did with Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I wasn’t there. And it took a while to get there, not in the least because it’s not in my nature to be effusive; I play things pretty close to my chest as you might imagine.

Except for my bass, which I play slung way down low. Did I mention all my instruments have female names? Yeeeeah. Meet Astrid.

Except for my bass, which I play slung way down low. Did I mention all my instruments have female names? Yeeeeah. Meet Astrid.

Onwards and Upwards!
I still freak out, and I worry about what my family will think or say or do, and I worry about all those ugly connotations. At those times, I try to remind myself that if I don’t agree with those views, that if I know they’re patently false, why should I let them influence me? Setting aside all the politics, the labels, the hate, when all is said and done, I’ve just got to follow the butterflies. And as for that word I’m so afraid of, the one that turns my cheeks bright red… that’s the cool thing, because every lesbian gets the privilege of redefining its meaning and as a (supremely long-winded) wordsmith, I’ve totally got this!

But seriously people, you gotta stop invoking the word lesbian to scare young girls into that pink tutu. It is NOT a synonym for the witch that tried to roast Hansel and Gretel alive. Gay is something that you can be; lesbians aren’t mythical unicorns that exist out there somewhere in theory (as so often it seemed to me). And we need to create a society where kids aren’t turned against themselves before they even know who they are. It ain’t fun. But y’know… at least we’ve got our bitchin hairstyles to comfort us in the meantime. That shit is on point!

Oh, and lady, until Hiddleston can pull off a mullet, Tegan>Tom. I await your rebuttal.

Know what? Might as well add Sara>Benedict to that challenge as well.

Know what? Might as well add Sara>Benedict to that challenge as well.