k.flay’s music is so comforting to me. she is so raw
Ah. Interesting question.
My take is that of a creator. As a creator, I do not want any tools that I may want, even need, to use to be limited by the changing winds of politics.
If I’m writing a story, there are scads of reasons a female character may die, scads of ways she may die, and ideally the only dictate that guides my decisions, is the needs of the narrative. What is “respectful death”? Do I owe this incredibly contrived conceit to anybody? If the audience truly had control over this conceit in fiction, would it not lose its value? Would people not lament seeing narrative, rendered something sterile? What is respectful death?
I could leave it at that, but I don’t think that response really gets at the heart of the issue - which is, for me, ultimately philosophical.
1. Should fiction speak to what should be, or to what is?
2. Should narrative elements be framed in narrow political terms? IE, is it wise for us to take something as broad as “female character dies, male character is motivated in some way by it” and describe most or all instances of this as “women in refrigerators”? Is this useful, or does it limit or prevent one from seeing other trends at work?
3. Can the audience be depended on to apply prohibitive labels like “women in refrigerators” with precision?
I think fiction loses much of its appeal and utility when reduced to prescriptive moralizing. I did not come to paint pictures of what identity politics say that the world should be, and I certainly did not come to write what one writes in a world where only speaking to the ideal is socially acceptable, socially responsible. I didn’t come to tell everybody what they already knew. Yes, female characters do die as a result of lazy writing, when those creators fall back on long-lived sexist narrative tropes. Yes, I think that people should be critical of this. I think people should be critical of most things, really.
As a creator, I depend on my own judgment to dictate whether I am putting a woman in a refrigerator, and if I am, whether the reasons for doing so outweigh the sexism thereof. Yes, I’m saying there are potentially greater priorities than an instance of sexism. Sexism is important. I want to talk about it through my work, but there are more conclusions, more truths than simply, “sexism is bad, and I will not depict sexism through my work unless someone is punished for it, because it’s bad, and bad people should be punished.” I need every potential avenue of creative freedom open to me, so that I can shape discourse on sexism in the way that speaks to me. I do not trust others to be able to read my thoughts or see the future and dictate the right or wrong of what my narrative results in, and frankly do not trust people to apply prohibitive labels well enough to pay any predictions they make more mind than I would pay any other critique. So, just as I hope people are critical of most things - myself and my work included - I am critical of others when they fall back on pedestrian ideas of self-censorship.
People use women in refrigerators as a crutch to explain away unpleasant feelings about the death of a character, much like people use Mary Sues to explain away overall poor writing ability, or manic pixie dream girl to crap on any quirky “twee” girls they come across. All of these tropes have very solid roots in real narrative patterns that deserve analysis, but analysis is a lot like a fire hose. I mean, a real fire hose. It’s heavy, it’s hard to aim, and if you’re small, you’ll fall down and end up spraying some poor kid your buddy just rescued from the house that’s burning down. Analysis is a necessity, but becomes a necessary evil in the hands of the unskilled.
In short? I think the concept of women in refrigerators is valid, and I am glad that Gail Simone and crew brought it to light. I stood up for Kris Anka, because I think he’s right. One of the people in the comment thread says -
Good, proper, well-written fiction does not have gratuitous deaths nor exploitative plots.
and my first thought was, you don’t know that. Because, honestly, you don’t. That person doesn’t know to what ends a skilled enough writer can wrap a concept, any concept, around its metaphorical axle, or turn it on its head.
The whole fucking point of writing is that you can do anything. I can’t be on the side of telling someone what narrative devices they can and can’t use, because a whole bunch of people out there happen to think they can’t, or would declare it a failure no matter how successful the creator actually was. I’m on the side of magic, because that’s what writing is.
Writing is fucking magical.
QUICK i need drawing warmups, first five people that gimme yer favorite pokemon
its blob crocroads for tish because she paid me to make this also because she is the wonderfulest and best
you ever have a fight with a friend and think, “i still feel bad… i’ll make a picture where they are touching sentient garbage. the garbage can be insulting them”
doc is my forever girl
a collab between doc and i