7 Reasons I Love Witch Please

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Hey everyone! I’ve talked a bit about the podcast Witch, Please — a fortnightly podcast about the Harry Potter world, to definitely not quote its own introduction — on this blog before, but it’s just started up again after hiatus and I’m feeling a lot of love for it. Instead of yabbering on to my friends all day, I thought it would be fun to actually voice these feelings and thus convince you to flail about it along with me. (Fun fact: this idea literally came to me as I was falling asleep. I AM SO GLAD I REMEMBERED IT

1. Feminism 

I mean, do you even need any more of a reason? FEMINISM IS THE BEST. For a while I sort of, er, forgot that feminism was a thing because I was going through a bunch of personal stuff but this podcast reminded me that feminism is a cool thing that exists. *nods* I feel like I’ve learnt a lot of stuff and just in general become more engaged with feminism and how I can think about the world and what stuff I read.

2. The hosts are super cool

The hosts, Hannah and Marcelle, are extremely cool badass lady scholars! I admire them a lot! I, too, would love to be such badass scholar one day. The guests that feature in various episodes are also of course very lovely — I mean, to be honest EVERYONE IS LOVELY.

3. Excellent use of sound effects

I mostly listen to narrative fiction podcasts where, like, the audio corresponds to stuff happening in the story, but I think this makes SUCH good use of sound effects! I now imagine owl noises whenever anyone mentions Hedwig. Actually, I just imagine sound effects into my whole life.

3. I’ve learnt a lot

Every time I listen to an episode I feel like I LEARN SO MUCH. I read Harry Potter when I was in primary and although I think I have reread it at some point, I…definitely missed a lot. So it’s cool to revisit the books, sometimes even reread them as well, and then listen to the episodes. However, I not only learn about Harry Potter but also stuff like: how film works! Narrative! Print culture! Advertising! Long words that I can use to intimidate people!

5. I’ve been inspired

I admit, I haven’t been enjoying English lessons at school that much? I don’t really like our GCSE text and I was feeling like it was a bit pointless but this podcast taught me that academia & analysis actually can be fun be fun and interesting. It really inspired me to take more of an interest in reading because I, too, would like to be able to read a book and go LOOK AT THIS, THIS IS INTERESTING. Now sometimes I use things I’ve listened to in episodes in class and feel very accomplished, mwahaha.

6. It makes me laugh

You might not be expecting a lot of laughs from the summary but trust me, IT IS VERY FUNNY. Listening really puts a smile on my face. I also really adore the recurring jokes! And the segments! I spent most of the holiday special episode laugh-crying. Other highlights include character impressions and the ‘sexyy’ sound effect. Just trust me.

7. The awesome Witch, Please community

I love that there’s a really interactive listening community for this podcast! There are many lively discussions and insights from other smart people on Twitter, where @ohwitchplease are the most active. It’s great that you can have a conversations with the creators and other listeners beyond just listening to each episode. ! I actually went to some of the London fan meet-up (although I had to leave early to go to my friend’s birthday, alas) and it was VERY AWESOME.

Just AAAAALL the superlatives, if you couldn’t already tel. I wholeheartedly recommend. You can find all Witch, Please episodes, including the first episode of the new season on ohwitchplease.ca, iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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The Women’s March on London

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As probably a lot of you have heard, last Saturday hundreds of Women’s Marches were held across the world in protest of recent political events. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated. Over the previous week he has continued to do pretty awful stuff. These Women’s Marches were in support and protection of our rights, and for equality.

I attended the Women’s March on London. It was my first demonstration/march/suchlike — I didn’t bring a placard, and I wasn’t able to march the whole way, but I walked for a bit and then my mum & I stood on the steps in front of the National Gallery. I was surrounded by others who were angry about the world.

We talked a bit to the those standing around us, and it was cool to see that there seemed to be a wide variety of people attending. The newspapers after said that it was mostly young people, but I actually saw a lot of families there, so. I’m not sure where that came from. I don’t completely know the stats, though.

You can keep reading this guest post I wrote on The Feministas. 🙂

But Netball’s For Girls! // gender and school sport

I go to a co-ed school. Mostly, it’s pretty good at being welcoming to all genders — we aren’t separated for any academic classes, and you aren’t particularly encouraged/discouraged into anything because of your gender. This is with the obvious exception of sport.

For some reason I’ve always directed my general frustration with school at sport. I’ve never been good at team sports, so I spent most of my primary school days being told to practice shooting in the corner as the A team was coached. It’s definitely better now, but there’s still a massive gap between boys’ and girls’ sport.We do play hockey, tennis, and water polo mixed, which is great. But continuing down the list: girls do netball, dance, fitness, and rounders. Boys do football, fives, cricket, and occasionally softball. I quite honestly cannot fathom the reasons for this…?

I often see the ‘males have a biological advantage over females’ argument put forward. I don’t actually know the science of that, but top male athletes do perform better than female athletes. Still: I would like to know the strength required to play fives. Obviously women could never be physically capable of patting a ball against a wall. It couldn’t possibly be because fives is a sport almost exclusively invented and played by public schoolboys. Of course not. -_-

It’s not just girls wanted to play ‘male’ sports. I know a lot of boys who’ve expressed interest in playing netball or rounders. (Although there are probably also many who would only play it as a joke, so that’s not the best argument.) I detest the idea that girls must do fitness but boys are…I don’t know, already fit. Encouraging gender stereotypes doesn’t help anyone, and it certainly doesn’t teach values of equality to your pupils.

And  all this discussion discounts the existence of non-binary pupils. Let’s just remember that non-binary genders aren’t even recognised under UK law, fabulous! Which apparently doesn’t result in ‘any specific detriment’. Apart from the obvious detriment of being forced to choose a gender that doesn’t represent you, and effectively being told that your identity isn’t as worthy as someone else’s. Not being able to access the right healthcare. Not being able to choose the correct title. Not being able to apply for jobs, courses, use public services because they require presentation of ID that only has two gender options. (I found some of these in this article, where you can also find many other quotes about the Ministry of Justice’s statement and living as a non-binary person in Britain.) It also means that there’s very little awareness of non-binary identities, and schools probably aren’t going to start doing things to support pupils who don’t identify as either male or female.

Sports, like many others things, is just very linked to the gender binary, since the divisions are based on sex and physiological advantage. Maybe with the exception of roller derby, which I really recommend you check out because it altogether seems pretty cool. I don’t know how we’d solve that. I probably wouldn’t want all my sports lessons mixed. I know that I’d be uncomfortable around many boys, because they have harassed me and I really just don’t like them as people. (I guess I deal with them in class, though?) A lot of young people — and above, too — are embarrassed of their bodies. They don’t want to be around the ‘opposite’ gender, and it’s difficult to just force that to happen, you know? Maybe it’s better when you’re in a sports team with fellow players who respect you, but I’m unlikely to ever be in a position. But then again: mixed teams are going well, so maybe we should just take the lessons together and be done with it.

It’s difficult. I know that I’m pointing out everything that’s wrong and not providing very good solutions. In general the state of Britain and current UK politics is pretty depressing right now. Still: to be honest, teaching fives to girls and netball to boys wouldn’t be that difficult. Neither would legally recognising non-binary genders. *coughs* But though I don’t know if there’s a perfect solution to gender and sport, I hope that it’s something we continue to explore and improve.

The Problem With the Strong Female Protagonist™

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You’re sassy, physically strong and person most likely to kick butt. You are Not Like Other Girls. You probably don’t like ‘girly’ things. But you’re in a love triangle with two guys either way. They’re in love with your unique bravery unlike any other bravery. Introducing: the Strong Female Protagonist™. *movie trailer voice*

I see the topic of ‘strong female protagonist’ come up a lot in discussions about books and feminism. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t enjoy any characters like this. I love Katniss Everdeen! I love Alina Starkov! I was always looking for girls having adventures when I was younger. I think this trope sprang from the typical weak damsel in distress figure (particularly in fantasy) and I have no inherent problem with it.

But. But. I often feel like now the only way to have a strong female character is to have a Strong Female Protagonist™. I see double standards from female readers: if male characters show weakness, it’s cute and makes the reader feel protective. If a female character shows weakness, she’s whiny. (I’m not ridding myself of blame. I’ve done this too, though I’m trying to be more aware of it.) Case in point: the Raven Cycle. I adore Blue Sargent with all of my heart, yet so many people say “She’s not a feminist; she lets Gansey call her Jane!1!!” but will ignore the assholery of the Raven Boys themselves. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT PEOPLE. I’m not a perfect feminist. Not all fictional characters are mouthpieces for the views of the authors.

Girls who want to be traditionally feminine are not weak female characters. A feminist character is just a well-rounded, realistic character rather than a cookie cutter stereotype. We’re all people.  In my eyes, a strongly written female character equates a strong female character! I think it’s very important to realise bravery manifests itself in different place, but I also want people to remember that not everyone is brave. I want cowardly and villainous characters as well as brave ones. Girls don’t have to act masculine to be strong.

I think the response to some female characters has made me like them more. (Always rooting for the underdog, me.) And I especially like to be angrily in love with characters. I will protect Agatha Wellbelove with every part of my soul; the backlash she’s received from the fandom has only made me like her more. AGATHA IS WEAK? Please. She literally tells Simon she doesn’t want to be an object to be possessed. That’s not weak. That’s bloody brave. I cannot fathom it. Of course I adore Penny too, and I like that she has to reconcile herself with the idea that feminism = giving people a choice. I liked the exploration of that — “What if I want the gingerbread men to be pink?” — but I think Agatha has been interpreted in different ways.

There are countless quieter female characters that I wish weren’t left aside or even demonised so: Eliza Hamilton, Genya Safin, Cosette Fauchelevent. (I’ve seen Sansa/Arya comparisons for this argument, but I’ve only read half the first book. So I don’t feel very qualified to make a judgement.) Cath Avery might on the surface seem like she fits into this, but I feel like SO many readers of Fangirl really saw ourselves in her. And it’s contemporary, which I feel is a little more ‘allowed’.

Fantasy and dystopia in particular seem to see the Strong Female Protagonist™ as a necessity. High fantasy draws a lot on history for its worldbuilding, and history does tend to be patriarchal. In this setting women are typically inferior, meaning the way to be strong is to act like a man. I’m just…a bit tired of that brand of medieval European high fantasy. Authors: it’s ok, you’re allowed to be creative! Obviously sexism still exists in modern-day world so, you know, you don’t have to turn it into a totally equal utopian society. Most books are based around conflict. But hopefully we’ll be seeing more books playing around with and further exploring the various balances of power in the future.

I don’t want Strong Female Protagonists™.  We never say that we’re looking for strong male characters; they’re just accepted as such. I want to see complex and rounded female characters within interesting novels. After all, women are people too.

further reading:

  • Women in fantasy Guardian books podcast — featuring Lucy Saxon, Samantha Shannon, Alwyn Hamilton and Sally Green. I highly encourage you to listen to the whole thing if you have a spare moment, but the particular discussion of this topic is at about 7:30 mins in.
  • Women Are People Too by Jupe @ The Awkward Dragon (plus the Savannah Brown video that inspired the post) — a discussion of femininity and “I’m not like other girls.”

what do you think about kick-ass female heroines? love them, like them, hate them? any other tropes that rile you up?

Feminism in YA // hollys bourne & smale, cj daugherty, and anna james

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I had been very excited about this event ever since I bought tickets. Feminism and YA are two of my favourite things! So, obviously I arrived super early, despite the fact that I had CCF earlier… Yes. Can you tell I was enthusiastic?I had a lovely chat with the lady  sitting next to me about book signings and ALL l the books I TOTALLY NEED TO READ. When the authors came in I attempted to guess who was who, because I am professional and mature. 😉

When they were introduced, turns out I was actually pretty accurate! I’d seen Holly Smale at panels before, and I think I spotted books journalist Anna James cosplaying Eleanor from E&P at YALC? But don’t ever quote me on that. I guessed Holly Bourne from my memories of her author photo, which left CJ! (Just by the way, in this post HS = Holly Smale, HB = Holly Bourne, CJ = CJ Daugherty even though it totally should have been CD, and AJ = Anna James).

First of all we started with stating the belief with stating that the authors thought feminism was the belief men and women should be equal in social, political, and all things. (I am very tired of people telling me they’re not a feminist because it’s only women’s rights. FEMINISM IS GENDER EQUALITY, thanks.) The first question Anna asked was “What makes a book feminist to you?”

CJ: For me, it’s putting girls in positions of normality and equality. The girls do things wrong sometimes and do things right sometimes, and the guys do things wrong sometimes and things right sometimes.

HS: I think it’s the same thing for me; it’s putting both girls and also boys and showing there’s no female and male in terms of how people think and act. It’s also about showing  that strength can be physical but it doesn’t have to be, that it comes from many different places. We’re all breaking that feminist egg in different ways to make one big omelette!

HB: I wanted the link in my trilogy to be feminism; it’s kind of ABC of feminism for teenagers. But a book that doesn’t explicitly write FEMINISM isn’t less feminism. A feminist book is just pushing back at the gender construct bullshit pushed on us from birth. (A few cheers. Because YES THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS.)

I really agreed with all the authors said! I mean, I spent a lot of the evening agreeing. But I thought it was very important to mention that a book doesn’t have to explicitly mention feminism or have a typically ‘strong badass female character’ to be feminist. It’s just a book with well-rounded characters of all genders!

“You’ve all alluded to this strong female heroine thing. Are we past that? Does it have any worth now?”

CJ: I don’t think so. I know I’m writing aspirationally, about characters who are brave enough to take chances and hoping it will inspire me to do the same.

HS: It’s not about showing girls who are flawless and strong. Being able to shoot a squirrel is a great talent to have; we’d all like that very much. But it’s about showing everything that’s part of a person; creating real and not flattened out women is the step towards feminism.

CJ: You can’t be brave unless you’re afraid of something. If you aren’t brave, you’re reckless. As adults we address things that frighten us every day of our lives, and then you have to do the scary thing. We’re introducing teens to that idea.

HS:  I had to deal with a lot of crap like ‘Oh, I’m not reading a fluffy book about models.’ Putting a character who is scared of the world of make-up is bravery; it’s something we as women have to tackle on a daily basis — how much of ‘being a woman’ do we sign up to in order to be feminist?

HB: With Katniss Everdeen, she’s too busy saving the entire world to worry about boyfriends, and with Evie I wanted it to be a feminist novel — but she also just really wanted a boyfriend because she thought it would mean she was normal. The boys in books I read about as a teen were not the boys dumping me on the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve, which is a story I always bring up! You can be a feminist and want to have a boyfriend. For Evie bravery was leaving the house; I wanted to take back that bravery is saving the entire world from a guy in a robe.

HS: I’d have been much more interested in that series if Katniss had been a bit shit at shooting things.

HB: Or she got her period when she was stuck up a tree and she just dripped blood. She never had her period!

HS: Bringing in romance is difficult. It’s about not changing yourself for someone you love; it’s about finding someone who loves you for being you. (11:39)

AJ: I studied an adult novel where the man was the one entirely changes. Why is this still so unusual?

HS: How I Met Your Mother wouldn’t have worked if Ted was a woman. Everyone would have gone ‘What is it, the 1950s?’ We’re watching this because it’s a man’s search for love.

“Do you think writing YA is a different experience to adult fiction? Sometime’s it’s perceived to have more of a responsibility to its readers; is that valid, and how do you deal with that?”

CJ: I wasn’t going in with an audience in mind. It was just like: words on a page, brilliant! It was only once my readers started feeding back about feminism and saying that my MC Ally was always getting rescued. I made the series about her going from that girl to the girl who rescues herself.

HS: I’ve always been a die-hard feminist. When I was four I hit a boy with a stick for saying I wasn’t allowed to be an airplane pilot! The Borrowers was one of my favourite books, because Arrietty was just this kickass genderless girl. It seemed natural that I would write a feminist book.

HB: You have  responsibility to not corrupt children with swear words that they couldn’t possibly know, or talk about sex like there isn’t porn on the internet. You need to pander to that so people buy your book. But you also have a responsibility to be honest to teenagers, and that’s the one I always side with. Pretending the world isn’t there is very damaging.

HS: It’s just about being true to your character and the book you’re writing. It’s about showing people our version as authors of honesty. I feel like I’m responsible for showing girls what they’re capable of and who they can be inspired by.

Personally I really dislike when books are ‘dumbed down’ for teenagers. Yes. I know not everyone wants to read swearing — and it’s totally cool if you don’t; books are allowed to have warnings. But everyone at my school, like, swears the entire time. I hate books that pretend the world is all wonderful unicorns; I’d much rather read an honest book and characters. (I just really hate taboos in children’s & YA, guys.)

“Feminism is cool right now. How do you feel about the way we talk about feminism at the moment?”

HS: I would rather have people being feminists than saying they’re feminists.

HB: Actions not words is what the suffragette cause is about! We need to use both.

HS: People say we shouldn’t call it feminism because it causes people to move away, but I’m like, we shouldn’t have to change the word feminist just because people are scared of it.

HB: Two women a week die in this country because of domestic violence and people are worried about branding? All over the world half the human population are so much more buggered and you’re worried about a word not emasculating you? I don’t have time for that when people are dying.

“What place do you think men have in the conversation? Emma gets a lot of criticism for dumbing down the message with her #HeForShe campaign.”

HB: I’m very pro-men — I’m pro-human. I do think when you’re in a position of privilege it’s important to listen to the oppressed group rather than talk. My anger isn’t coming from nowhere; listen to my anger, and try to understand rather than getting your feelings hurt. It’s tricky when men want to talk. But if someone wants to talk to me about intersectional feminism I think I should listen.

CJ: We don’t win by making men invisible in the debate; they’re 50% of the population. I’m so happy when men say they’re a feminist.

HS: Having one gender talk at another is the problem we’ve had for thousands of years. It’s about not making women objects to look at and men people to listen to.

“What’s next? How do we move the conversation on?”

HB: This is really obscure, but if you’ve ever seen that episode of Buffy where she creates the spell that unleashes all the slayers — that’s what I’m trying to do with the Spinster Club books. I wanted to release all these feminists and inspire young people to change things in a positive way.

HS: It’s about saying feminism isn’t necessarily about scary hairy women shouting at you. It’s about keeping the conversation going. But it can’t just stay in books; you have to bring it into your real life.

Now it went onto questions! To avoid confusion when authors were being addressed, the two Hollys asked to be called S and B which apparently is a thing from Gossip Girl. I’M SO SORRY I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT GOSSPI GIRL. But there we go. I haven’t transcribed everything for this section; I just summarised the answers instead. 🙂

“I’m a reception teacher and I’m already seeing sexism in four and five year olds. Would any of you be interesting in making a feminist picture book?”

Holly Bourne recommended the feminist picture book My Big Shouting Day, as well as suggesting the recommended reading lists of the diverse picture books charity Inclusive Minds. “That really scares me, what you just said!” CJ Daugherty said that maybe picture books were lagging behind, although there was a movement to reduce engendering in toys and books. They also talked about the new more diverse Barbie dolls — in the 60s feminists swapped the voice of GI Joe with the voice of Barbie!

“Do you think you can write outside your gender? Do you think a male author can write a woman the same way a woman can?”

All the authors agreed that it was definitely possible, if portrayed responsibly and sensibly; not just for an element of representation. “How do you not emphasise the difference and close the gap? It’s a fallacy to say that our experiences are the same.” CJ talked about her co-writer on The Secret Fire, Carina Rozenfeld, who usually writes from a male POV, and said she thought Carina was successful — “She didn’t patronise them; she treated them as equals.” Hollys Bourne and Smale added that male writers can write female characters badly, for example in the movie About Time! Who was — well. Very manic pixie dream girl.

“I’m 16, and when girls say they’re feminists boys say things like ‘When are you going to stop shaving?’ How do we let girls know these things aren’t all actually true?”

Holly explains that her third book addresses cognitive dissonance — having two conflicting beliefs at the same time — and that it’s difficult to be a feminist in every single action you do; “There’s no perfect feminist.” Anna added that asking “Why?” is a good way to respond; then people will either have a thing that you can tell them is wrong or will realise it’s nothing. It’s difficult to combine maybe wanting to be attractive but also wanting to be a strong woman. The world and media is a myriad of problems we as feminists have to sort through. “Feminism is in your head; it’s about being able to do what you want to do and not what society tells you you should do,” said CJ.

“How did you come up with the premise Manifesto on How to Be Interesting [by Holly Bourne]?”

“I had a massive fight with my boyfriend, because I discovered he was popular at school,” Holly said. After taking a train to London in a fit of rage, Bree’s whole story “downloaded” to her head. Which both Holly and everyone else agreed would all be lovely to happen again. “Just get angry and go to London!”

“How do we keep feminism going after it fades as a trend?”

Holly Smale said the trend right now is for very overtly feminist books, but even if the trend morphs into something different women’s voices will continue to be heard in fiction. CJ talked about the new young generation of feminists, which was lovely to hear because at least for me, young people are passionate about feminism.

“We’ve talked a lot about male and female, but not much about nonconforming genders or even disabled characters. What’s your view on that?”

CJ started straight off by saying that this should be the next wave, but that publishing moved very slowly. People also want to get it right — “although that isn’t an excuse for not publishing it at all”. Holly Smale said that you have to tell the story that you personally have to write the story you want to tell, and you have to make sure you and publishers are listening and encouraging all kinds of stories. CJ finished by saying she hoped that more diversity would also be seen in writers as well as books.

After this we all got our books signed! My copies of Geek Girl had all been a YALC, and much to my disappointment/dawning realisation, ALL MY HOLLY BOURNE BOOKS ARE ON KINDLE. But I got her new Spinster series one, How Hard Can Love Be? signed. And promptly read it. 😉 It’s fabulous, for the record. Overall I had such a great evening and I came home so excited by feminism and books and EVERYTHING. So this post ended up being way longer and more detailed than I intended it to be. 😛

what did you think about the authors’ responses? talked about feminism with anyone recently? have you been to any great book events? 🙂

Feminism, Fangirls and the Fandom

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I am a really big advocate of all things fandom. I love to be a fan, and I love to talk to other fans, and I love fanfic. In short: I love being excited about things! I didn’t always know what fandom was – for me now, being active in the fandom is not just liking something, but liking something and connecting with other people about it. (Probably over the internet, but not necessarily.)

Fandom has not just been about discovering the community. It’s more than the actual fandoms themselves: although I’m pretty new to everything, it’s essentially been my doorway into learning more about feminism and diversity and current issues. It’s really interesting to look at the demographics of the fandom in comparison to that of the characters in fanworks.

Personally, I feel as though the fandom – through the way I experience it – is largely women. But I often see articles saying talking about being a girl geek as though we’re in a minority? Maybe this used to be more true; I’m not sure. (And sadly I don’t have a TARDIS.) Is a fangirl different to a fan or a geek or a nerd? I don’t feel like it should be, but in my mind it’s more closely linked with someone…kind of like Cath Avery. And also maybe like me. I thought this was just my brain, but it seems like it’s true that the creators of fanworks (I’m kind of using this to talk about fanfic, art, edits, podfic, all that kind of thing) are mostly female.

The gender disparity is really, really wide when it comes to fanwork creation. It’s quite unusual for me to see a fanartist, writer, or blogger who isn’t female. I mean, It’s difficult for me to talk about fandom as an entire entity because at it is essentially ‘I like something and I participate on the internet about it’, and I am definitely not capable of collecting statistics for the entire internet. But as someone young and new in the fandom, the concept of ‘fan’ as a male role bemuses me because coming into the fandom in recent years I’ve never experienced it that way.

Do I think we shouldn’t call ourselves fangirls? For a while, I thought that it was kind of a negative term, but it can better to change those views than the actual word itself. Although some fans might get on your nerves, that’s not everyone! I find that in most part people who call fangirls stupid etc. don’t tend to be part of the fandom. I’m happy to call myself a fangirl. However, even within the fandom I think there’s negativity towards people who are quite fierce in their shipping. (Also: I keep trying to find a place to put this stat, but I haven’t found it yet. Apparently most slash shippers are LGBTQ+, which admittedly was not something I had thought. It feels like there’s an idea they’re mostly straight?)

Even as I say that the creators of the fandom are predominantly women, the subjects of their works are usually men. It’s a really strange relationship. Probably because it’s strange how mainstream media is populated by white men… I mean, fic is even more overwhelmingly male than actual published fiction. Fic is still remixing something already there, and what’s already there tends to be men.

I have a lot of strong feelings about fanfiction. I would happily give a fully PowerPoint-ed presentation explaining why it is an excellent thing. There’s this idea that it’s all terrible and terribly written, and whilst there are some maybe less good examples, they’re not the only fics out there. There are also trashy books, in case you hadn’t noticed. (I like some fics more than books. I admit it.) And one of the things that I enjoy the most about fic is the diversity, because I kind of end up wanting everyone to be queer and that can definitely happen in fic.

The spectrum of diversity and representation in fandom is really varied. In canon queer elements tend to stay in subtext a lot; even though there’s starting to be more representation of LGBTQ+ characters and same-sex relationships in mainstream media, it’s still not…that much. Whereas most fanfiction on AO3 features a non-straight couple.

RETURNING TO MY POINT. I love fanfiction because people write pieces that are both diverse and well-written. You can find awesome fics about queer characters that both a) don’t erase their queerness or struggles and b) have excellent plots and writing. can we have this in books as well pls Or you can even write it yourself! But, I mean, whilst fic can have a really diverse cast in relation to sexualities, there are less fics with characters who are any gender other than male. If you go into the Archive of Our Own tags and plug the numbers into a calculator, the ratio of f/f to m/m is about 2:15. Which is a lot. There was a great conversation on Twitter about LGBTQ+ characters in YA fiction and the media — about the fetishization of m/n/, and the lack of f/f — which is also very true for fanfiction. And here is another post about queer girls as a cautionary tale in literature, including some stuff about the fandom. Fic isn’t without its problems.

I love the fandom. I am ever-grateful to it. It would be nice if fanfiction and books could help each other out over a nice cup of tea — the only way to do it, darling — and then I can find even more things to be excited about than before.

My Hero Monday: Nimona

my hero monday This month, I’m starting with something a little different – I’ve decided to participate in Chloe @ The Book Hugger’s My Hero Monday linkup! My Hero Monday celebrates female heroes in our society. This month, we had a free topic, so I decided to go with Nimona from my the webcomic Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. nimona cover

Nimona

When did I first hear about her? Nimona is the protagonist of the fantasy-scifi-monkpunk-I-don’t-even-know-what-genre webcomic Nimona, which I literally cannot recommend enough. (Especially since it’s finished now, so you don’t have to go through the agony of waiting for updates.) I was introduced to Nimona by a friend around a year ago, and have been completely hooked on it ever since. It’s written and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, who also writes The Lumberjanes, contributes to Wander Over Yonder and even drew the illustrations for Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. What makes her one of my heroes? Nimona is an an awesome character for a lot of reasons.

  • Nimona is a shapeshifter. She could look like anything she wants. In a world where the media tell us that we should be skinny if we can, Nimona doesn’t – and she’s still awesome. She is still beautiful, and I think that it’s great she has started to show a greater diversity in comics and books. (In fact, the characters in the comic who most fit society’s norms are probably the guys.) And she also has the best hair, which changes colour quite frequently
  • She’s also a really strong heroine; she’s way more villainous than the supposed villain, Ballister Blackheart, who is basically just a big softie. She’s impulsive, fierce, and she doesn’t ever wait around to get saved (she does most of the saving herself). However, when I say ‘strong’ heroine, I don’t just mean kick-ass, because that’s not just what I want: I want shy heroines too, and clever heroines, and heroines who sometimes make the wrong decisions. I want well-crafted and flawed characters. Nimona has flaws, too, and I really like that she isn’t just a two-dimensional character.
nimona goldenloin
Goldenloin, who runs like an idiot.
  • There’s absolutely no romance between her and the male lead, Ballister. They have a great friendship instead! There is some romance, between Ballister and Goldenloin (yep, I promise that’s his name) but I feel like a romance between Nimona and Ballister would have been really awkward. And wrong. So I’m just glad, for once, that there’s no romance for the protagonist.
  • She’s had a dark past, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of stuff (mostly). I really admire how she overcomes things.
  • She has the best way of playing Monopoly ever:

Nimona comic, copyright Noelle Stevenson So, those are the reasons my Nimona is my hero. If you haven’t already read the webcomic, then hopefully this has persuaded you to do so! Be sure to check out Chloe’s blog, and be on the look out for more MHM posts. I really enjoyed participating, so hopefully I’ll remember to do it next month! All of the images used are credit to Noelle Stevenson.