58 comments posted · 1 followers · following 0

80 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Unseen Aca... · 0 replies · +14 points

So much of Madame Sharn and Pepe both feels like striking a balance between several really difficult to navigate areas.

On the one hand, traditional Dwarf culture says all dwarves are men and must stamp down any femininity, and also any flamboyance? On the other, the major source for Disc dwarves incorporating femininity and other forms of experession into their culture is... humans. Who have a female option, but rigid rules for both, and rules that differ depending on the "respectability" of the person or of their societal role. Then even within counterculture movements, which the "dwarves can be women" movement is and which the fashion industry as portrayed here also is, there can be these unwritten rules that come about regarding *how* you're supposed to portray your difference from the norm. And it can be difficult to transition from a world where your identity is hidden, but where there are quiet corners and nooks that you can find some space in (in a traditional Discworld dwarf mine, who's to say if a dwarf couple consist of a biologically male and female pairing or not? Who would even think to ask? Compared to, say, what life might be like for people in Borogravia)

I'm agender and autistic, and I feel A Lot Of Things about how both Pepe and Madame Sharn portray themselves in both public and private settings. I realise there's a strong chance I'm projecting A LOT of my Lot Of Feelings, but still. Because one thing I've found is that I never really feel like I fit anywhere where my performance of gender matters. I struggle to fit in when surrounded by cis AFAB folks and usually feel utterly lost and unable to connect with most of the stuff going on. I can't get along with being "one of the guys" around cis AMAB folks. Then I feel like I'm "not queer enough" pretty much 99% of the time I'm in actual queer spaces. Pretty much the only time I'm comfortable is when hanging out with other autistic nerdy folks, where I feel like my gender rapidly becomes a non-thing.

For me, my gender feels like as much of a performance regardless of which group I'm in, the only difference is what kind of performance. So both Madame Sharna and Pepe feel like me. They found no home amongst the default cultures they both grew up in. They looked for a home within a counter-culture that felt more right, but found it with its own set of rules and expectations. But they did, at least, find each other. And in private together, none of the performance matters. They can just Be.

I mean, any other AFAB agender folks out there feel like they're in drag when they're wearing make-up?

118 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Going Post... · 0 replies · +10 points

GNU Sir Terry Pratchett.

I am SO GLAD I can say that here now!

119 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Going Post... · 1 reply · +2 points

I mean I feel like between the 3 of them we've got a traditional witches-three combo right there.

Pit them against Granny, Nanny and Tiffany and watch the Disc explode.

119 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Going Post... · 7 replies · +16 points


Nsgre guvf obbx vf qbar jvyy jr or noyr gb cbfg TAH Fve Greel jvgubhg Rot13? Vg'f fhpu na rzbgvbany guvat sbe zr naq V ubcr Znex trgf gb rkcrevrapr vg naq gur vzcyvpngvbaf bs vg nf jryy.

129 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Re-Reads 'Monstro... · 0 replies · +18 points

"People don't think fat men can fight. They think fat men are funny. They think wrong."

Jackrum is a powerhouse of physical strength and endurance. Decades in an army, to the point he is probably of an age where most people would not physically be capable of holding their own against younger fighters, and he's maintained a level of prowess that means he's notorious and terrifying. Every enemy he encounters in this book knows his name, and becomes imminently terrified once they learn who they're facing.

His fatness is armour and protection and disguise in so many ways. People underestimate a fat person they don't know. People expect fat folks to be weak, lazy and soft and stupid. And people see a fat body and interpret gender markers differently. (Also as a fat AFAB person myself, there's an invisibility you gain in the sense that people raised to see people they interpret as women as being potential sex partners, potential caretakers or irrelevant non-existent things that I can totally see working for Jackrum's efforts to avoid being interpreted as AFAB. If they're not attracted to you they don't bother looking as closely).

I'm fat, NB, AFAB and I may have A LOT OF FEELINGS about Jackrum. To me, Polly's initial impression of Jackrum worked as it's a demonstration of exactly what he's doing and why.

129 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Monstrous ... · 0 replies · +2 points

Wrigglesworth was definitely one of the more... difficult parts of the book to reconcile for me.

But I did see one thing. That I think didn't work because it lacked counterpoint.

In the world of Borogravia, we have The Rules Of Nuggan. We have Abomination. These are treated as stark, inviolable, and of severe consequence. Polly grew up learning how to walk a tightrope and didn't even think about how lucky she was to be able to do it until she met Tonker and Lofty. Tonker and Lofty broke... we don't actually know what rules... and had their lives destroyed by the system for it. Wazzer gets traumatised and abused to the point that a "life without beatings" is heaven to her. We see explicitly and repeatedly in the text how these women's lives are constrained and controlled and how Absolute the rules are to them.

And then we learn about Wrigglesworth. Who does in fact frequently break or bend the rules. But the rule-breaking doesn't lead Wrigglesworth to be punished, beaten, or to suffer whatever consequences men face for "abominable acts". We don't even know what the punishments would be for a man.

Wrigglesworth gets excused. People make excuses for this person. Terrible excuses that reflect some damaging beliefs people still have about gender expression today, but excuses. Wrigglesworth is not courtmarshalled. Wrigglesworth is able to continue in their position in society while engaging in some small way with whatever their personal journey with gender - which we never get to actually see - is.

Because they're not some commoner. It's clear from Wrigglesworth's association with Blouse, Frock etc that they're part of the upper crust of the society they live in.

We see immediately how the rules that apply to the common people are applied differently based on class.

And we also see a hint at how Frock and the other generals will try to "solve the problem" of dealing with Jackrum's all-AFAB regiment. By covering up the truth. You can go back into the army and even get medals, just say you really were men all along. No? Oh then you can agree that you are women and not get in trouble, just say you were just not really soldiers and just "helped" Blouse. No? Oh but what if we make the excuse that- and on and on.

I think one major, major problem is that Wrigglesworth is the only GNC or possibly-GNC AMAB character in the book we know of, and with the potential exception of Nobby there's been no other character to date who was AMAB and experimented with gender presentation. And Wrigglesworth never gets to actually be a character present in the text. So whereas with say, Wazzer, we get to see how Polly and other characters interpret and stereotype her but we also get to see her journey and the ways they're wrong about her, with Wrigglesworth ALL WE GET is the excuses and deflections the generals and Blouse make to not have to apply their religious rules to someone they have a vested interest in. So we get zero text that dismantles what they say.

130 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Monstrous ... · 0 replies · +30 points


It was only about 3 years ago I found out I had options other than "cis woman" or "trans man intending to medically and socially transition".

For my entire life until then, whenever I expressed thoughts of my gender, I would refer to myself as "technically a woman" or "a bit shit at being a woman" or "vaguely female". I called myself a woman. I thought of myself as a woman. I, technically, identified as a woman in the sense that if asked to fill out a form on identity that's what I'd have ticked.

I now know I am a-gender. It is glorious. I have never felt so at home in my identity before finding out this was an option.

But before I knew it was an option, I had no other language to describe myself than "woman".

And it wasn't so long ago - during my childhood in fact - that people who would now be called transwomen or transmen would have been called - and in fact some identified themselves - terms that are now considered slurs. ROT13 because I don't want anyone to have to read them if they prefer not to: genafirfgvgr naq pebffqerffre ner gjb V erzrzore qvfgvapgyl.

It is important that we get to see ourselves in media. But I also think it's important to leave space for characters to have feelings and expressions of identity even when they don't have terms for it. And the specific mapping of identities outside of a single culture may combine, overlap, differently-split or look completely different to the ones inside it.

That said, I can totally see - and would loved to have seen in text - someone embracing Abomination or Abominable Woman as an identity - in any context of sexual, romantic or gender. After all, it's effectively a slur in Borogravian society and if there's one thing marginalised groups excel at, it's taking slurs back from the people who used them against us.

131 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Monstrous ... · 0 replies · +4 points

Mine was in childhood.

A very loved and close older mentor figure was reading them and let me borrow TCOM and TLF, and I loved it.

I think being a 10 year old in the early 90s it was an easier fit - it feels like the books grew up with me?

131 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Monstrous ... · 1 reply · +28 points

Before you stand six people, vying for the same two positions of authority. It is your choice to decide which one person gets it.

Two of the hopeful applicants are average at the work they already do. You do not promote them.

One is slightly above-average. They do not get promoted.

You are left with 3 applicants, all extremely good at what they do and at a roughly equal footing with each other.

Two are men. One is a woman. They are all equally qualified.

You could devise a tie-breaker. You could perform additional interviews and checks to look for smaller differences in their abilities. You could look at what extra skills they bring to the table that are not needed for the role, but might add something unexpected. You could pick their names out of a hat.

You do none of that and just promote the 2 men instead.

Your reasoning is that you only promote women if they are "better than the men".

To me, this is what General Frock said. They only promote a woman if she's "better than the men". Not "better than an average soldier". But better than the men, specifically. Of course you only promote people who are the best for the role. But to me this read as yet another example of this trope.

Essentially, it read to me as her saying "I only promote a woman to sergeant if she is better than all the men sergeants". Not "better than the men privates".

131 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Monstrous ... · 1 reply · +21 points

PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who read General Frock's reactions and emoting during the Duchess' arrival as a very clear sign that the general was in love with the Duchess?

That felt like such a starstruck moment and an early crush to me. Something the General carried with them the rest of their life.