Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era.
so yes this is LITERALLY the 600-years-old butt song from hell
So there were all these bits and pieces to do with the body: a woman giving birth to one daughter after another, the long ear, transformation, cannibalism. It started to seem like a way to talk about fertility in patriarchal systems–how fertility must contribute, produce male children, in order to be seen as legitimate.
She heard, she heard them, three daughters, no sons, what’s the use, what’s a womb if it yields no name, the name, the womb is a means to a name, to a history, she heard them say history is dying, history is darkening, names are dissolving, all the stars falling she heard them say it, this body making only nameless vessels is cursed, this body is cancerous, see where she walks, watch for her shadow, don’t touch her hand, if you’re pregnant don’t look at her, yes, she heard them, her ear growing longer, more sensitive, delicate, quivering, bleeding, an ear like a quiver, she heard them, those arrows, she heard them, she felt them, she heard them. She overheard.
When you are hurting, there will always be people who find a way to make it about themselves. If you break your wrist, they’ll complain about a sprained ankle. If you are sad, they’re sadder. If you’re asking for help, they’ll demand more attention.
Here is a fact: I was in a hospital and sobbing into my palms when a woman approached me and asked why I was making so much noise and I managed to stutter that my best friend shot himself in the head and now he was 100% certified dead and she made this little grunt and had the nerve to tell me, “Well now you made me sad.”
When you get angry, there are going to be people who ask you to shut up and sit down, and they’re not going to do it nicely. Theirs are the faces that turn bright red before you have a chance to finish your sentence. They won’t ask you to explain yourself. They’ll be mad that you’re mad and that will be their whole reason alone.
Here is a fact: I was in an alleyway a few weeks ago, stroking my friend’s back as she vomited fourteen tequila shots. “I hate men,” she wheezed as her sides heaved, “I hate all of them.”
I braided her hair so it wouldn’t get caught in the mess. I didn’t correct her and reply that she does in fact love her father and her little brother too, that there are strangers she has yet to meet that will be better for her than any of her shitty ex-boyfriends, that half of our group of friends identifies as male - I could hear each of her bruises in those words and I didn’t ask her to soften the blow when she was trying to buff them out of her skin. She doesn’t hate all men. She never did.
She had the misfortune to be overheard by a drunk guy in an ill-fitting suit, a boy trying to look like a man and leering down my dress as he stormed towards us. “Fuck you, lady,” he said, “Fuck you. Not all men are evil, you know.”
“Thanks,” I told him dryly, pulling on her hand, trying to get her inside again, “See you.”
He followed us. Wouldn’t stop shouting. How dare she get mad. How dare she was hurting. “It’s hard for me too!” he yowled after us. “With fuckers like you, how’s a guy supposed to live?”
Here’s a fact: my father is Cuban and my genes repeat his. Once one of my teachers looked at my heritage and said, “Your skin doesn’t look dirty enough to be a Mexican.”
When my cheeks grew pink and my tongue dried up, someone else in the classroom stood up. “You can’t say that,” he said, “That’s fucking racist. We could report you for that.”
Our teacher turned vicious. “You wanna fail this class? Go ahead. Report me. I was joking. It’s my word against yours. I hate kids like you. You think you’ve got all the power - you don’t. I do.”
Later that kid and I became close friends and we skipped class to do anything else and the two of us were lying on our backs staring up at the sky and as we talked about that moment, he sighed, “I hate white people.” His girlfriend is white and so is his mom. I reached out until my fingers were resting in the warmth of his palm.
He spoke up each time our teacher said something shitty. He failed the class. I stayed silent. I got the A but I wish that I didn’t.
Here is a fact: I think gender is a social construct and people that want to tell others what defines it just haven’t done their homework. I personally happen to have the luck of the draw and am the same gender as my sex, which basically just means society leaves me alone about this one particular thing.
Until I met Alex, who said he hated cis people. My throat closed up. I’m not good at confrontation. I avoided him because I didn’t want to bother him.
One day I was going on a walk and I found him behind our school, bleeding out of the side of his mouth. The only thing I really know is how to patch people up. He winced when the antibacterial cream went across his new wounds. “I hate cis people,” he said weakly.
I looked at him and pushed his hair back from his head. “I understand why you do.”
Here is a fact: anger is a secondary emotion. Anger is how people stop themselves from hurting. Anger is how people stop themselves by empathizing.
It is easy for the drunken man to be mad at my friend. If he says “Hey, fuck you, lady,” he doesn’t have to worry about what’s so wrong about men.
It’s easy for my teacher to fail the kids who speak up. If we’re just smart-ass students, it’s not his fault we fuck up.
It’s easy for me to hate Alex for labeling me as dangerous when I’ve never hurt someone a day in my life. But I’m safe in my skin and his life is at risk just by going to the bathroom. I understand why he says things like that. I finally do.
There’s a difference between the spread of hatred and the frustration of people who are hurting. The thing is, when you are broken, there will always be someone who says “I’m worse, stop talking.” There will always be people who are mad you’re trying to steal the attention. There will always be people who get mad at the same time as you do - they hate being challenged. It changes the rules.
I say I hate all Mondays but my sister was born on one and she’s the greatest joy I have ever known. I say I hate brown but it’s really just the word and how it turns your mouth down - the colour is my hair and my eyes and my favorite sweater. I say I hate pineapple but I still try it again every Easter, just to see if it stings less this year. It’s okay to be sad when you hear someone generalize a group you’re in. But instead of assuming they’re evil and filled with hatred, maybe ask them why they think that way - who knows, you might just end up with a new and kind friend.
By telling the oppressed that their anger is unjustified, you allow the oppression to continue. I know it’s hard to stay calm. I know it’s scary. But you’re coming from the safe place and they aren’t. Just please … Try to be more understanding. /// r.i.d (via inkskinned)
in the tumblr tagging system, unsourced artwork is considered especially heinous. on this blogging platform, the users who source these felonies are part of an elite task force called the source your fucking artwork unit. these are their stories.
There are times when I wish I could write with the same blithe naiveté that I had as a kid, where I’d churn out pages and pages and pages of prose without thinking for a half a second about unfortunate implications and implicit messages and the depth and importance of stories.
I was writing utter crap then, but I was having fun doing it.
And now I know too much about the world, and I know the power that stories have, and I know that whose story you choose to tell and why you choose to tell it are important.
And I’d love to tell a Harry Potter-esque ‘magic exists and has always existed as part of a masqueraded underworld! Mythical beings exist! All the myths are true!’ story. I’d love to write a story that takes pieces of all these amazing Harry Potter headcanons I see on tumblr and runs with them in their own universe. One with character diversity and explorations of intersectionality and kyriarchy and how magic slots into these systems.
But the stories that I want to tell are about the scary-ass fairfolk and their baby-stealing iron-fearing ways, about selkies in Boston harbor and witches in Providence Place Mall.
But that’s European stuff. So what’s it doing in America?
If magic has always been real, why did colonialism and genocide roll the way it did?
I don’t want to tell that story. It’s not a fun story.
And I don’t want to tell the entire history of a world that went a very different way, because while that’d be a kickass story, it doesn’t get me to the ‘the world we know, but with magic!’ place I’d like to get to. It couldn’t possibly be the world we know without all the painful, fucked up history.
And what good is magic if it can’t have altered that?
This is my beef with American Gods.
And I think the real heart of the problem is ‘I am not intimately familiar with the stories of my own ancestors, because genocide and diaspora. I am far more intimately familiar with the stories of colonizers. How fucked up is that?' and I have no idea what to do about it.
And that’s why I’m never going to get around to telling my “Normal everygirl gets sucked into magical underground masquerade world and has adventures there involving people who survived the changeling process, and the fairfolk being creepy and amoral and alien, and harbor selkies and library goblins” story.
My resentment at only having flickers of Ananci, while being able to tell you all about phooka’s and redcaps and mushroom rings and the frustration of trying to imagine succuyah and wondering why they didn’t strike the colonizers - that Jim Butcher, Dresden Files bs, where black and NDN wizards were ‘convinced’ not to interfere — the dark pasts of the world’s I’d need to create before getting to the story I want to tell and hating half the chars in it as much as I love them because I know them and not the ones my ancestors knew…
"And what good is magic if it can’t have altered that?"
All of this. Yes.
To me the fallout from colonization — being separated from one’s heritage and its languages and folk lores and stories while over-familiar with those of the colonizer — and the working of magic are separate things, though. “What good is magic if it can’t have altered that” is actually an excellent question, one that provides tension and anguish and searches for meaning. It’s not entirely unlike “what kind of God could be good and allow atrocity to happen” — you can answer it in several ways that all lead to different worlds, different systems, different stories.
This is not to contradict Moniquill’s initial point about the blithe magic-in-world story that she’s prevented from writing. Just to say that this question about magic — there are many ways to answer it. I think of Jo Walton’s AMONG OTHERS, and how literally being able to do magic doesn’t prevent (and actually somewhat causes) the death of a sibling; how magic is fluid and unreliable and retrofits itself into reality to have always brought about its own existence.
There needn’t be one magic, anymore than there need to be one world or one history or one story. Or one good.
medievalpoc should really honestly just be called ‘yesblackpeopleexistedineurope’ because that’s the aim of the blog which is a GOOD AIM I AM NOT SAYING IT’S BAD because it’s good exposing racial diversity in a whitewashed european medieval history
I wish trans activists spent less time arguing about how being trans isn’t a mental illness and more time rejecting the ableist framework that even allows this debate to exist.
I knew that attempting to access transition with a “colorful” mental health record might be tough, but nothing could prepare me for being re-traumatized the way I was a few weeks back.
Basically, my parents think my gender identity is a symptom of borderline personality disorder—an incredibly stigmatizing diagnosis I was almost, but not quite, saddled with as a teenager.
The symptom in question is “identity disturbance: a markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.”This is one of the 9 diagnostic criteria. You need to meet 5 to get the diagnosis. Because I have not identified or presented as male for my entire life, my parents insist this shift meets the criteria for a “disturbed identity.”
They mentioned this to my therapist after a group session, and suddenly he went from totally supportive to distrustful. He sent me to my first endo appointment with a letter warning the doctor of my history instead of recommending me for hormones. I did not find out about this until I was sitting on the doctor’s examining table, staring at the letter in disbelief.
I dissociate for the rest of the appointment. Another symptom of BPD. Two down, three to go.
Flash forward one week. My therapist has demanded that I come in for another session of gatekeeping questions before he will write the endorsement he promised months ago. He refuses to show me either the old or new letter, despite my legal right to see them. He tells me he sees me as a liability, and demands that I promise never to “blame” him for my problems later in life. I feel angry and betrayed, and I tell him so.
My sudden change in feelings toward my therapist suggests “a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation” as well as “inappropriate, intense anger.” Two more symptoms down. That brings us to 4 out of 5.
Add a history of self-injury (“self-mutilating behavior”) and chronic, sometimes severe, anxiety and depression (“affective instability”), and I’ve now met 6 out of 9 criteria. In the eyes of the right person, I could be branded with this diagnosis for life.
Do we not see how incredibly fucked up and farcical this is? I did a search on gender identity disorder as it relates to borderline personality disorder, and all that came up was an essay by some trans person saying “we” (trans people) are not like “them” (crazy borderlines). I have news for them: it’s not just GID that’s a joke. It’s the same fucking circus for EVERYONE who tries to engage with the mental health system!
Trans people fight for autonomy over our bodies by demanding access to hormones and surgery. People with mental illness fight for autonomy over our bodies by demanding the right to make choices about the chemicals we put in our brains—in particular, the right to refuse treatment. In both cases, professional opinion trumps consent. A bad interaction with the wrong doctors can bar a trans person from access to needed drugs; a bad interaction with the same doctors can result in forced-drugging or forced hospitalization.
As a trans person with a mental illness, I am FORCED to once again present myself for examination by the same system that once exercised full control over my mind and body. At the disclosure of my history, my rights to my own medical records suddenly vanished. I was coerced into relinquishing my rights to legal self-defense. Months of work to “prove” my “sanity” were suddenly overwritten by three words—”borderline personality disorder”—which, I should emphasize, were only spoken by my parents and not written by any authority. I got very lucky. I am now on hormones, and I am no longer seeing that therapist. But I have lost access to a support system that, in theory, exists to help me stay stable.
All I can say is: fuck all this noise.
Also, signal boost all you please. This kind of thing is really not talked about enough.