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Author Topic: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria  (Read 1733 times)

AnchovyJovi

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Hey Guy's Gal's and Robots, Anchovy Fish girl here long time watcher and reader first time writer.

I wanted to get your opinions on a particular "Vibe" I'm getting from this recent storyline with Roko and her new body.

Sensation of begin stuck in a body that dose not feel like your own the way it seems to just haunt her periodically regardless of her mood (whether in good spirits or bad), psychologically feeling that something about your body just doesn't reflect you correctly no matter what you do going so far as to repeatedly preen and pick at the attributes that do not feel right, And now currently expressing a desire to injure or harm yourself to "correct" the error.

Now I mean I know Death of the author an all, and whatever you take away is true but no more or less true than someone else's interpretation but it's still validating if others see or feel it too or but I get a subtle feeling that this is intended to be an allegory to Gender Dysphoria and I'm getting some funky Resonance with my own life experiences.

Now I know we just met but I have to admit I was not always the catch you have today but I was instead born a prawn, and not the fish girl you see before you now.
As a Teen I would wear super heavy oversized black hoodies to "obfuscate" my body preferring to be seen as this unassuming "blob" rather than the prawn body I had. I also akin to Roko engaged in the obsessive compulsive scrubbing and preening but then lead upto pulling the chitinous protrusions that had begun to grow from my face with tweezers, I'd engage in this behavior  so much so that I'd injure myself  scrubbing holes in my membranes and I'd go out with scabs over my face weirdly I'd feel superficially better knowing I'd done something but horrifying my friends and family, this got worse with me ultimately inflicting some grievous wounds on my Prawn biology that ultimately got me put in hospital.

And like Roko the alienating thing is you "KNOW" something is wrong. You try to explain it to others and the response is "you look fine" "your supposed to look like that" No it's not fine! Something is wrong, I have something wrong with me... And it was impossible to explain.

Until I fixed it but that's a different story.

I mean I could be well off the mark, Their certainly is a large lack of Fish-Girl Prawn-Boy media as of late hell even a few years ago circa 2010 - 2016 you'd find more media about it but I guess the political climate has made it controversial so nobody wants to speak about it so I might be reading far to much into this due to a hunger for the subject material.

I dunno I'd like to hear if anyone else has other interpretations for this particular arc or if they relate to what's happening in any particular way?
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Umlaut

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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #1 on: 25 Mar 2019, 08:27 »

Yes, that was my immediate thought on it as well (and I'm not really a regular at these forums but popped in just to see if others were seeing what I was).

Makes a lot of sense to me that Jeph would tell the dysphoria story via this allegorical route, rather than more directly. As a matter of representation, we need characters who happen to be transgender but whose story isn't about that, and QC has done that quite well. In Jeph's shoes, having accomplished this I might eventually wonder if I had done so a bit too well, to the point of downplaying or dismissing the real pain of body dysphoria that people can and have gone through, and whether there were a way I could honor that struggle without undermining what I'd already done. If that's what Jeph is in fact doing with this storyline, I'd say he nailed it.
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fantasticalice

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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #2 on: 25 Mar 2019, 09:33 »

I was going to post about this and stumbled upon this thread after hitting next.

Wow. Between Doctor Who Sevenrh Doctor's New adventures(big finish 2018) and this I am seeing sruff that reflects my unique brand of dysphoria.

I used to post on MySpace "The face in my mirror isn't mine" and I still can't see myself unless my eyebrows are done a very certain way.

It's really easy to feel alone when you are actually the .2% that is intersexed and a lot of media(even the good ones) I can't relate to.

Despite floating betwixt nb and female(my stated gender identity is "dyke") Boys don't cry is the only film I have completely and 100% identified with.

So when I cry or jusf look at something and feel.... Well I need to mention it. It's still surprising how well qc pulls of queer relationships to me.

It's why I am a huge fan or #ownvoices being multifaceted. If I were to put a checklist I would say 1: promote, liftup, and help #ownvoices get their qork out there.
2. Listen to input, advice, and clarity from #ownvoices for your own projects. Share diversity and show people why it is important. Until creators are as diverse as they should be we can all help art itself to be diverse.

And I think it's so awesome how amazing QC is on diversity. And it feels and looks natural and I love thaf too.

As a huge fan of Doctor Who I am both a strong proponent of ownvoices as well as knowing that a straight white bloke from Scotland can have me crying my eyes out.

In regards to gay mixed race companion, Bill it's technically two Scottish blokes and of course Pearl Macky.

And QC has done that so many times. If just 50% of the men in this world had the insight and compassion Mr. Jeph, James Goss, Alan Flanagan, and yes even Steve Moffat have this world would be safer.

I have very complicated body dysmorphia issues. I'm intersexed and I was butchered at birth because of it. I can never tell when I will relate to an experience or I will just cry because their experience is done well.

And this panel helped me relate. I have so much anger and frustration when it comes to my body. Between never knowing what life would be like if I had not been cut up as a child and having my foot cut off and reattached 4 years ago it's a complicated reality.

But I needed this. And honestly, even the bread strip was important. Knowing certain things about you still work the same is super important.

Also, Seventh Doctor new adventures is really really good and has an amazing third story with great writing and lots of nuance. It's my favourite release right now because of how real the trans character was.

It's a Big Finish radioplay and it is the seventh Doctor and his companions Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester. Chris is pansexual and Roz is not only a woman of colour but has a long and storied ancestry going back to Nelson Mandela.

I'm a little off topic but trans characters don't show up in scifi a lot and it's also a really good box set of stories.

I hope they do more because not only was this amazing but I love the Doctor having a pansexual companion. It's why I love Torchwood so much.

Back on topic. It's really wonderful seeing a visual medium like comics show what art Should be. When I see the trailer for secret life of pets 2 and am disgusted because the entire cast is white it's nice to see that not all people are stupid.

Even if webcomics can be expected to never be as bad and as sexualised as comics at their worst(ie the 90s, chuck austen, and new 52 Supergirl and Starfire) I still love how progressive this comic has ALWAYS been.

And I mean that. I know Jeph has written about some missteps and also his feelings on the early years of the comics but..

My favourite character has been Dora for a very long time. And honestly it's partly because she is bi. This was mentioned really early on and it was never Grossed On in any way. But mainly it felt like a character detail in a way bisexual characters don't always get to be.

even in some of the best and well.meaning writing for something there can still be some sensationalism to it.

I'm not bi..... Well, truth is I do identify as gay and males horrify me. But with my semi frequency of finding trans men attractive(and I see them as 100% men) and the rare head turns with blokes from my home country(NI) I... might identify as bisexual if people didn't treat bisexual folk as horrible!s, awful,evils, etcetera.

I get so much horrible crap just for being gay and I also identified as bi for 5 years.

But wow long post.

I love this storyline and the way I relate to it.
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Milayna

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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #3 on: 25 Mar 2019, 12:58 »

Since it's been mentioned a couple of times in this thread, some of you might want to check out Zombieland Saga and gen:LOCK. (Spoilers follow obviously!) One of the main characters in Zombieland Saga is trans (it can be debated what parts they do well and what they misstep on, but the sincere effort is apparent and there was of course some controversy because mainstream anime in general is pretty conservative), and gen:LOCK has at least one and probably 2 characters on its 5-person "Voltron Team" that are non-cis. It also becomes apparent that it's explicitly exploring the question of identity, self-perception, and body image, within the context of giant mechas.
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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #4 on: 25 Mar 2019, 13:06 »

Welcome, new person!

I think you're on to something given what I've heard on the subject from trans* people here.
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fantasticalice

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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #5 on: 25 Mar 2019, 19:11 »

When I was discovering who I was my mental state was in really terrible shape. I had full mpd(3 personalities and clearly split) and it was like being fractured. I also had an unhealthy obsession with the zombie apocalypse. Some part of me believed it would happen and I would become my best self.

It's a little scary. But getting the crimes against my birth fixed was the healthiest obssession that came from it. I was terrified about a world where medical science had collapsed and I would be stuck with what they did to a baby and never feeling ownership of my own body.

I love stories with trans and gender atypical folk in apocalypse tales and superhero stuff.

But I never want to read a story about someone who defines themselves as pre-op trapped in the apocalypse. I once saw my visit to Thailand as proof the world was not against me. Due to being intersexed(although I was lied to about the Doctor being experienced yikes!) I had unparalleled success and almost wolverine speed healing.

I had started to combine(mpd) mere weeks before I got on a plane but I... relaxed. I had taken control of my body back from the bigoted idiots who took away my ability to be who I was when I was born.

And the apocalypse could happen and I would be ok. But I would love a story of some who is struggling woth a world that no longer has our comforts. Last time I looked for hormones I was given "Your Ovaries are fine" as a firm answer. I have a non existent level of both t and e and a part of me likes that.

But I love the different ways that narrative could exist and expand.

What would be really cool is a story of a transwoman who was on a road trip to the Midwest for a rumour that the city survived. A story all about the journey but the first arc/ending would complete with the Doctor still being alive in a bunker and her being able to get the surgery.

It could be a beautiful exploration of hope, faith, and identity.

If the surgery wasn't the end of the story I would suggest having the star(cause she should be!) have this deep sadness about her that is always there underneath a steely determination. And post feeling her body is right she has a passion for fixing the world and she and her friends find a way to rebuild the world.

I'd also love a story about a bloke on the teans masculine spectrum learning to cope with not the apocalypse in general. Finding he is more accepted as male because most people post apocalypse see in a cis binary. And his struggle with safety and identity.

That would explore the dynamics between passing and our own self identity. I identify as genderqueer and that technically makes me cis as I was born intersexed. But I use nb and female pronouns and always want to be read as female. But I want to be seen as something more.

Being accepted because a person isn't aware of intersexed, trans, and nb identifying folks existing is helpful when there are safety concerns but it's not comfortable.

And part of it is because I often feel very unsafe in situations like that. It's like when I'm assumed to be white and hear really nasty anti-Semitism from someone and have to weigh my safety on whether I stand up for my people, stay quiet, or stand up for my people AND myself.

Sadly when I hear nasty transphobic rhetoric from people who don't know I am intersexed and identify with my birth non binary sex I will often stay quiet. Because it is scary.

I think the struggle for people who "pass" and for people on the spectrum for whom passing is a goal is not shown very often in media.

Which is surprising. For me, all my minority characteristics I can hide when I am in danger. I am visibly crippled but as a Lesbian Jew who was born intersexed I have to choose when to reveal those things.

I haven't seen anything on passing since Alex Haley's Queen and especially in this messed up world I think it's an important issue.

I might crosspost this to the trans thread but I am often surprised at how little certain narratives show up.
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cybersmurf

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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #6 on: 25 Mar 2019, 23:17 »

You want a story about a trans person in the apocalypse? Go write one yourself, I think you can do it.
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AnchovyJovi

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Re: Roko's Prediciment as Allergory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #7 on: 26 Mar 2019, 01:10 »

I might crosspost this to the trans thread but I am often surprised at how little certain narratives show up.

Fantastic Alice I don't know if your a fan of manga but might I recommend this manga to you for you to read if you haven't seen it already.

https://mangakakalot.com/manga/is_otoko_demo_onna_demo_nai_sei
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Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #8 on: 26 Mar 2019, 09:38 »

Global Moderator Comment Hope the spelling fix to the thread title wasn't too presumptuous of me.
« Last Edit: 26 Mar 2019, 09:40 by pwhodges »
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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #9 on: 26 Mar 2019, 09:48 »

ZoeB's written about cis people whose mental body maps don't match their bodies and even named the brain areas involved. Apparently it's a horrible condition to live with.
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hedgie

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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #10 on: 26 Mar 2019, 11:43 »

Life will be better when we can get amazeballs cyborg bodies to replace these shitty meat sacks.
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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #11 on: 26 Mar 2019, 12:34 »

.... maybe.  It will probably depend on what body you can afford at that point, and we've seen issues with that in May. 


I do wish May and Roko would spend some more time together.  I think their different life experiences could be good for each other. 


Of course, they may not understand each other at all.  Working towards some understanding may be worth it in its own right. 

But hey, May helped Roko with an existential crisis once already, right?  Maybe there's more there than meets the eye...
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Thrillho

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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #12 on: 26 Mar 2019, 14:04 »

*raises hand* First of all, 'death of the author' is bullshit. Every single thing that is created is directly informed by the person that created it and the context it was created in. I understand it to a degree and as a way of analysing something on its own merits, but I maintain that it's ridiculous.

I think you're onto something with what Jeph is doing, though. He is definitely very aware that he is a cis white dude, and I think after the rapturous reception for Claire's portrayal this is the closest he can get to actually talking about these issues without having to work out how someone feels when having emotions he doesn't have. Obviously that is the nature of being a writer, but this uh... isn't the same thing.

And funnily enough, to me, I see a lot of the AI experience as that of being queer. 'You mean you want to fuck a MACHINE?'
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cybersmurf

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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #13 on: 26 Mar 2019, 14:07 »

Life will be better when we can get amazeballs cyborg bodies to replace these shitty meat sacks.

The day the meatspace becomes less meaty...
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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #14 on: 26 Mar 2019, 14:15 »

>I see a lot of the AI experience as that of being queer

Please say more! It's a parallel I would never have thought of.

(Maybe for a new thread though)
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Thrillho

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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #15 on: 26 Mar 2019, 14:16 »

I will happily start a thread, if I remember/have the energy :psyduck:

I will not be offended if someone that's not me wishes to go for it in my stead before I get around to it.
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pecoros7

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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #16 on: 29 Mar 2019, 01:32 »

*raises hand* First of all, 'death of the author' is bullshit.

Firm disagree! I can say from experience that an author's intentions are not always reliably transferred to the page. There have been many times (some even on this very forum!) where what I meant was not, upon further reflection, at all what I wrote.

Consider Mass Effect. The series (at least the first 3 games of it) has strong themes of individualism. Institutional authority consistently fails to address threats and only the lone wolf, extra-legal murder hero can murder the bad people to death and save the day. I doubt the developers had that theme in mind (you can even make a point of telling Garrus how bad that is), but that theme exists nonetheless. Whenever you're confronted with a moral question, the answer "Consult the council and seek consensus" is never on the table. God of War (again, at least the first 3 games. I haven't played the 4th) idolizes toxic masculinity. Kratos grunts, murders and quick-time-button-sexes his way to the top and is only ever brought low by acts of deception. Then he grunts and murders and quick-time-button-sexes his way back to the top to get his revenge by being the best at violence. The developers probably didn't intend for that message. They probably only created that narrative to make a fun action game. But that still is the message they created.

I think you're onto something with what Jeph is doing, though. He is definitely very aware that he is a cis white dude, and I think after the rapturous reception for Claire's portrayal this is the closest he can get to actually talking about these issues without having to work out how someone feels when having emotions he doesn't have. Obviously that is the nature of being a writer, but this uh... isn't the same thing.

And funnily enough, to me, I see a lot of the AI experience as that of being queer. 'You mean you want to fuck a MACHINE?'

I suspect that AI is an all-purpose mechanism for exploring the "other". I absolutely agree that I see a lot of queer and trans* experience represented in the AI in this universe, but that may be more about my own experience than what's actually in the comic. I relate to Roko's current experiences as being similar to dysphoria, but others have compared it to trauma induced dissociation. Which, I mean, yeah. Absolutely. It allows Jeph to explore broad concepts like feeling like a stranger in your own skin while not making it about real people's actual lived experiences. It allows us as an audience to relate on a personal level and not sweat the details if the story doesn't quite get the specifics right.  Because Roko's story isn't actually about being trans*. It's about being an AI not fully adapting to her new chassis. She just happens to be having feelings I can relate to in a very visceral way.
« Last Edit: 29 Mar 2019, 11:02 by pecoros7 »
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Re: Roko's Predicament as Allegory for Gender Dysphoria
« Reply #17 on: 03 Apr 2019, 09:53 »

... It allows Jeph to explore broad concepts like feeling like a stranger in your own skin while not making it about real people's actual lived experiences. It allows us as an audience to relate on a personal level and not sweat the details if the story doesn't quite get the specifics right.  ...

... which is one of the things science fiction (among other forms of extrapolative literature) does. I've heard it said that SF and Westerns are more about the time and place in which they are written than about the time and place they depict, and that's an interpretation I fully support.
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