sebastienne: (Ruby & Sapphire)
If you've been seeing pictures of brightly-coloured gem-ladies all over the place, and haven't known what's going on... allow me to welcome you to the world of Steven Universe.



Yes, it's a cartoon for kids with simple 10-12 minute episodes. It's also queer and complex and sneaks up on you with that; for example, those gem-ladies? Actually non-binary shape-shifting geological-concept-aliens (think Sapphire & Steel) who just happen to be taking human-ish form and using she/her pronouns at the moment.

It also (IMWO) has good & varied representation of characters of colour, and all three main gems are voiced by actors of colour.

Occasionally, there are songs.

Sometimes, I find myself having major feels about a minor background character.

And the ARC PLOT. So carefully slow-built and foreshadowed.

But today, I want to talk about an aspect of the alien society that's been resonating with me and sending my thoughts off in all sorts of directions -- gem fusion.

spoilers )

And I'm going to have to end my analysis-post prematurely, as I appear to be crying over fictional characters again. Further discussion massively welcomed in comments!
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
Medical professionals are so fond of telling us that regular exercise is great for our physical and mental health, but for a lot of us that's about as much use as prescribing chamomile tea to a chronic insomniac.

There's a huge amount of privilege involved in being able to take regular exercise. Factors that make it difficult or impossible to exercise might include: disabilities and pain conditions; long working hours; family/caring commitments; lack of access to safe or appropriate spaces for exercise; lack of access to specialist equipment or clothing; lack of interest in exercising.

For me, it was all about being fat.

Read more at the Lashings blog >>
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
Back when I kept trying to be vegan, the longest I ever managed to go entirely without dairy was only about 3 months.

But even that short period of time was enough, it seems, to kick my general human lactose intolerance up a gear; and now if I drink too much dairy milk, I feel ill. I can eat all the cheese and ice-cream I want, but a latte or a bowl of breakfast cereal? Forget it.

I know that it's nothing like being properly lactose intolerant, and I hardly ever mention it because it's rarely ever relevant. But it's there.

In that regard, I suspect it's quite like the increasing sense of visceral wrongness I get every time I see my title written as 'Ms' or 'Miss'. It's *nothing like* that thing that it's superficially similar to (anaphylactic milk allergy, gender dysphoria).. but it causes me discomfort, nonetheless.
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
(This isn't new to me, but this morning gives such a clear articulation of this concept that I thought I'd share in case it's useful to any of you)

Often, depression isn't about the things I do; it's about how I think about the things I do.

Depressed-Emma looks at this morning and thinks "Oh god, it's 11am and I am still unwashed in a dressing gown, feeling hot and sticky and lazy and lethargic and all I've done is poke the internet aimlessly and I'm such a failure as a person".

Non-depressed-Emma looks at this morning and thinks "I made breakfast - avocado and eggs and fresh-baked bread! I helped a stranger on a web community with tech support, and then I sent some emails and did some Facebook networking in support of a new group investigating medicine for marginalised groups. (All the time, I had my work email up in the background - I might not have any booked appointments til the afternoon, but it's good to be on call.) Now I'm running a bath to soothe my aching muscles (last night I squatted 90kg and benched 40kg, no wonder I'm a bit lethargic today)."

And, sure, if I'd been at my worst I'd be unlikely to have made such a nice breakfast, or to have gone lifting; but non-depressed-Emma knows "I can't be expected to fulfil all those obligations when my mental health is struggling, and it's fine to be a bit gentle with myself at those times."
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
Some successes!

Two different banks have given me proof of ID with the correct title!

cut for images )

My experiences with Smile and Britannia have reinforced something that I kinda knew anyway - that change to oppressive systems has to happen through changing individual minds. (Top-down or bottom-up are both valid approaches, but perhaps both are necessary.)

With both banks, my experiences have been wildly divergent depending on the individual I've spoken to.

For example -

Me: Please can you fix my title? It should be "Mx".
Smile employee 1: Dear Ms Stardust: nope.
Me: Are you really really sure? How about at least not addressing me by an incorrect title in these messages?
Smile employee 2: Dear Ms Stardust: no chance. It's automatic.
[Time passes]
Me: I'm about to be due a new credit card - when it comes, please can you list my name on it as Mx Sebastienne Stardust? I understand that you can't change it within your systems, but at least in this one place, is it possible?
Smile employee 3: Dear Sebastienne: sure thing!
Letter from smile: Dear Mx Stardust...


Me: Hi, when I renew my savings account with you, I need to change my title to Mx - will that be ok?
Britannia employee 1: Sure thing, just send us your deed poll!
[Sigh; Deed Polls aren't required to change title. But I've got one anyway.]
Letter from Brittania: Dear Ms Stardust, it is not possible to process your name change. Also we've cashed that cheque that you made out to Mx Stardust because apparently when it comes to taking your money, we recognise that titles don't actually have any legal standing as part of a name.
Me: Hey wtf? You lied to me on the phone and cashed a cheque fraudulently, I think maybe I should close my account..
Britannia employee 2: Shit, sorry, that's not cool. I've looked at our systems and I reckon I can get "Mx" onto your statements and stuff, just not onto your internal record with us; there I'll have to put a custom note asking people not to call you "Ms". Will that be ok? There's still a human error element, but let me issue you a statement now and you can see whether or not it comes to you addressed as "Mx".
Statement from Britannia: Dear Mx Stardust...

Next step is the DVLA. They've sent me a letter addressed to Mx (because I fixed their online form) and I've sent back an application with a deed poll. It's been more than the three weeks I'm supposed to wait, though...
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
Britannia seemed really helpful when I phoned because I needed to renew my savings account with them. They wanted me to post them my deed poll (..sigh) but they were definitely going to be able to change my title, no problem.

So imagine my surprise when
  1. They returned the Deed Poll to me, with a letter addressed to "Ms", querying which type of account I wanted to move to and (casually, incidentally) containing the single line "Regarding your change of name unfortunately our Customer development Systems will not allow us to do this."

  2. I later discovered that, despite refusing to change my name and also not knowing what kind of account I was opening, they had nonetheless cashed a cheque I had made out to myself as "Mx".

I pulled on my privilege-pants and called them this morning to query the fact that they'd taken my money, despite not having done the thing they'd told me they would, or indeed even having opened the new account. I don't know how strong of a case I have for fraud, given that they cashed a cheque to someone who isn't even in their systems, "Mx" me...

The person I spoke to was businesslike, helpful, and did not question my title had changed. They explained the internal processes with their fixed set of titles to choose from, but suggested that at least my statements could be addressed to 'Mx' (as that's a different system). They also spoke pragmatically of all the points where the big note now on my file saying "please address this person as Mx" could maybe be missed or ignored by good old human error.

They've put a request in the system for me to be sent a statement; if it comes saying "Mx" I'll stick with them for now, but if it comes saying "Ms" I'm gone, gone, gone.
sebastienne: (notebook)
Tomorrow I knuckle down and Get Some Work Done, but today I've a few reflections on the stuff I've been chilling out & watching since the end of term:

Doctor Who

It's not Matt Smith's fault. He's a great actor who's done some stellar work on the show; but because of the scripts he's been given, he'll be remembered most for being a creep. For being a mouthpiece for Moffatt's problems with women.

To be honest, this bothers me to the extent that I'm hoping for fan-edits before I'll want to go back and re-watch the Clara episodes. And I always re-watch New Who, often marathoning it for full immersiveness. But I can't face doing that after "hell in high heels" and "the legs" and "don't let him see you age" and "a woman" and touching Clara while she sleeps and "naked!" and all the other things that I've probably forgotten in self-defence.

There is so much I've loved about Eleven's era! The Ponds (whether that's just Amy and Rory, a glorious OT3, or the whole family unit). Jenny and Vastra ("I'm a lizard woman from the dawn of time and this is my wife"). Gaiman's episodes. The way the plots all tie up, even though sometimes the cleverness is too smug or too thrown-away. But I can't ignore the misogyny any more; it's no longer a few OOC Moffatisms that I can circumlegate, it's become integral to Eleven's characterisation. And that makes me very sad.

Tipping the Velvet

Oh, now, this takes me back! It's so much more melodramatic than I remember, probably due to the fact that I was a teenager when I first watched it. It's a pantomime, really, the whole thing; in the oldest and bawdiest sense of the word. (The media were obsessed with this show when it first aired - with a particular focus on the fact that we (*gasp*!) see a strap-on dildo.)

It's a little discomfiting to watch through the episodes - episode one, the theatre! episode two, kink! episode three, socialism! - and realise how much this show is me. I first saw it so long ago that today when [personal profile] shortcipher called it "Emma-bait" I had to question which came first, the Emma or the bait! Because really, this is one of the things that built my queer identity, along with But, I'm a Cheerleader and Velvet Goldmine and Rocky Horror.

(It's also perturbing to remember that I used to think Nan's choice at the end was hard to make, and to question if she'd even made the right decision. Teenagers, eh?)

Well worth a re-watch, though, I'd say. Once I'd managed to stop cringing at the use of camera effects and voiceover repetition to convey emotional turmoil, I still found it as moving - as joyful and as tragic - as it ever was. And the queer family unit stuff at the end: I feel like I really get that, for the first time, perhaps.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
The oven's full of improvised Christmas-food. (Some kind of veggie shepherd's pie that's full of slow-roast tomato and red wine, with sage-and-onion stuffing instead of potato.)

The Wicked soundtrack just finished playing. (I danced around the open-plan kitchen & living room, jumping on sofas and stirring pans.)

It's December 25th in [personal profile] shortcipher's new Oxford flat, my gin-and-tonic's full of fresh lime, and I'm... optimistic.

(We both have terrible memories, had to consult calendars and chatlogs to remember how this started. Turns out it was May the Fourth. (One way to make sure that geek-partners won't forget your anniversary, I guess.))

Recently, [personal profile] kaberett wrote about their polymer, and I was moved to do the same. I hope to get round to it at some point. But I couldn't even think about doing that without writing about [personal profile] kaberett - an amazing friend and human being, three times my metamour and, it turns out from today's chatlog-reading, basically responsible for goading me into admitting how much I wanted... what I have right now this moment.

So, 2013. I dragged myself out of my worst mental-health-fail to date. I joined the Indelicates. I started planning a solo show, but soon realised that I'd always rather work with [personal profile] deathbyshinies, if there's any way that I can.

My mental health's not perfect. My job situation's insecure at best. But this polymer - especially this boy right here, who's just moved to Oxford and starts his new job in January - make me feel like, somehow, it'll all work out ok.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
STOP THE PRESSES

IDINA MENZEL IS IN FROZEN


Like, I went to see it because I'm researching Disney villains at the moment. I thought "oh, that's some interesting riffing on Elphaba they're doing there. And the voice actor is doing a really great imp.... HANG ON A SECOND"

If you have no interest in giving Disney money // seeing a Disney film in the cinema - you can watch the power ballad here.

spoilers )
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
For those that don't know - "Mx" is a title. Y'know, the bit that goes in front of your name, like, "Mx Sebastienne Stardust". I often explain it by analogy to "Ms" - much as Ms was created to get rid of the shitty situation where a woman was forced to disclose her marital status (or, to *appear as if* she was revealing her marital status) through her choice of Miss or Mrs; so Mx was created to get rid of the shitty situation where a person is forced to gender themself through the title they use. (More on Mx: from Ganymede on the Lashings blog.)

I have set myself a goal of becoming a Mx by the end of the calendar year. Now, this really should be easy - titles have no legal standing in UK law (unless they are tied to particular qualifications, eg, Dr) and when I stopped being Miss Sebastienne Stardust and started being Ms Sebastienne Stardust, nobody batted an eyelid or asked for a deed poll.

But - as many genderqueer people and their friends reading this will already know - it ain't always that easy.

There are systems problems - "computer says no". Places that *require you* to use a title from their drop-down list, which might include "Wing Commander" but almost certainly won't include "Mx".

There are human problems - "that's not a real title", "I'll need to see a deed poll".

(A "deed poll", of course, having about as much legal standing as a title, ie, not very much. But already, I'm starting to think that I may need to get one if I'm going to make this work.)

A few weeks ago, I contacted my bank to discuss this change. (This is the same bank that moved me from "Miss" to "Ms" without too much faff, about five years ago.) They flat-out could not help, and continued to address me as "Ms Stardust" throughout the conversation. Eventually I got them to agree that they could remove the title from my bank cards, but their internal systems? Not even that.

(And I've had other customer service problems with them recently - they very nearly cost me a job through failing to provide a bank statement that I repeatedly requested - AND they've just been bought out by hedge fund managers. So.)

Yesterday, I visited two banks to enquire about moving my current account.

The Coventry Building Society was perfectly happy to put "Mx" on my record, as long as I could provide a deed poll; but they needed me to deposit a certain amount every month, which in the current economic climate, could be difficult to commit to.

Nationwide Building Society said that there was no way they could put Mx, even with a deed poll (computer says no), but they could remove my title altogether (this could be a good workaround if my primary goal was to not be gendered; but actually, my primary goal is to increase the visibility of Mx). They offered an account that suited my needs quite well, so I am considering finding an address and writing a letter to see if I can get Mx on their systems.

(I should also do some more reading about "Ms" - after all, that was a new, created title and feminist activists succeeded in getting it into the mainstream. What tactics did they use, and how can those be mirrored today?)

notes on politics )
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
Cliff felt the music rise up behind him and rush him forward into a tunnel of fire and sparks and excitement. He brought his hammers down. And it was Music With Rocks In.

I'm re-reading Soul Music, for the first time since I joined a band. (This was my favourite Pratchett book when I was a teenager; rock music and Susan and the High Energy Magic building.)

It's time for something new, although I don't yet know what form that will take. I feel like I've been re-bitten by the same bug that made me start Lashings.
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
Today's "play all the Indelicates on shuffle" discovery:

"Heroin" flows into "Bitterness" well. Like, really well.

On a train to Lewes for band practice: only seven hours' travel for four hours' rehearsing!

And, inevitably, I love it.

It might be time, flist, to collect your recommendations for tattooists... If there was ever a time that needed commemorating with something more permanent than a piercing, it is this time.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
Never age (make a wish). Never die (and see yourself). Live for ever (on stage) in that one last (inside out) white-hot moment (a tangle of garlands in your hair), when the crowd screamed (of course). When every note was a heartbeat (you are). Burn across the sky (pleasantly surprised).

You will never grow old . They will never say you died.

(Softly, he said)

That's the deal. You will be the greatest musician in the world.

(I will mangle your mind)
sebastienne: My default icon: I'm a fat white person with short dark hair, looking over my glasses. (Default)
So I'm not really a vids person - I don't have the attention-span or the right kind of brain.

But here I am, reccing a vid, because I have to share the joy I am feeling right now.

Suzanne, by [personal profile] such_heights, has given me headcanon for a Leonard Cohen song which will never shift. It's all-era Doctor/TARDIS and yes, I'm two years late to this party, but I got here in the end.

(Thanks, [personal profile] silly_cleo, for playing it to me.)
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
Goth music and sunshine and grateful, grateful, grateful.

Grateful for [personal profile] kaberett's excellent taste in people. Grateful for beautiful music and art and politics. Grateful to everyone who ever believed in me; I've absorbed it all, that belief-in-me, and now I'm ready to give it back to the world.
sebastienne: (notebook)
Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.

I miss manic :( doubt my GP will prescribe me more SSRIs if I go in and tell her that...
sebastienne: (stewart spider)
*only sleeps for 4.5 hours*

*eats a huge sugary confection for lunch*

This is not what I meant when I said I was going to be practicing self-care...
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
I love everything, forever.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
Recording for posterity, and because I'm about to start tapering down my SSRI dosage and want to make sure I am paying due attention to good things:

Saturday was a Lashings rehearsal for Fanny Whittington where I was standing in as musical director. We have two original songs, written by a new Lasher, and that's just so incredibly exciting! I was absolutely honoured to get to work with them.

Then, Doctor Who! I loved this one, a lot - and recommend this excellent review for extra context on The North in Doctor Who and Victorian philanthropy in general - I will never not love Madame Vastra, but this felt a lot more settled than their appearance at Christmas.

Then, I made some nice new friends (or rather, got to know some friends better). Are we beyond posting the single word "smug" as a status update? I suppose that is rather 2005... so I'll just make a meta comment on the practice. That's totally different.

Sunday - on very little sleep (oops) - I was off to watch all three Iron Man films. There are good critiques around, but I am All About The Squee today. spoilers )

Today is really the poly stereotype day, though - cycled to Didcot with my boyfriend so we could look after my girlfriend's cat while she and her husband are on their honeymoon. Now to eat pizza and steal their Netflix...
sebastienne: (notebook)
Has anyone got any recs for blogs that deal with race in Doctor Who?

My google-fu is all broken this morning, and I really want to read some analyses of Saturday's episode from that perspective.

OMG WOW. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS actually managed to deliver on that incredible title. As usual, I had to circumlegate a few bits of Moffat-sexism, but in general it was a really cracking adventure. (See what I did there? Ho yes. There's a LOT in this that harks back to season 5 and I will be VERY interested to see how this pans out.)

spoilers )

I mean, yes. I'm aware that we live in a world which is incredibly screwed up about race. I'm aware that I'm potentially contributing to that by spouting off in my own uninformed (& privileged) way rather than continuing to try to find other people's posts. If anyone reading this feels they might want to correct me or call me out, I will engage with that with humility; but also I know that it is nobody else's job to educate me.
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