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Day 326:Outlander, A Die Hard Fans Defense of Characters Besides Claire and Jamie

I found the Outlander books in my late teens or early twenties amd fell in love. Seriously, I have at least three different sets of the books and that doesn’t count my Kindle copies. The only other book series I’ve ever done that with  is Harry Potter.I love Claire and Jamie. I love everyone else in their world too. Colum and Dougal, Frank and  “Black Jack ” Randall and everyone else. Yesterday I saw this post .

 

The writer reffrank randallers to Frank Randall as a twit and I found that this bothers me immensely. Frank is not Jamie but he does love Claire very much, if you need proof look no further than the fact that he raised a child that he knew was not his own. He and Claire’s relationship may be strained but he throws himself into loving the little girl with his whole self. His love for Claire is definitely not the forest fire blaze that Jamie sometimes  is but that is because Frank and Jamie are two very different people. You don’t need a bonfire  to heat a house a fire contained within a fireplace is still fire.

 

In fact it is these two vastly dissimilar relationships that put the Outlander series into a weight class entirely its own. I’ve never seen another series in which the female protagonist has two relationships, both of which last decades, in two different centuries.  I feel terrible for Frank because he has the misfortune of having a face that is an almost exact copy of “Black Jack” Randall, a truly horrifying person who finds immense pleasure in torture and rape of any person who he wishes to exert power over. Frank’s only fault as far as I can see and bearing in mind that in spite of having the entire series several times over I am still less than halfway through, is being a direct descendent of Black Jack which really isn’t his fault, nobody gets to choose their blood relatives after all.

Outlander-S1-Colum-MacKenzie-Gary-Lewis

I admit that I started reading for Jamie and Claire and Frank and romance and sex. Then  met Himself and was totally and thoroughly invested in the series and it wasn’t even halfway through the first book. Colum ban Campbell MacKenzie is chief of the MacKenzie clan and also has Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome a degenerative disease that is similar to osteogenesis imperfecta which also causes sterility, a fact important to the plot of the first book. Anybody who knows me for a considerable length of time can tell you that one of my biggest soap boxes is the invisibility of the disabled body in media. If a disabled person is shown in is often in the role of saint, martyr, or else curiosity.Colum Mackenzie is definitely not any of these. Warped limbs or not no one would ever mistake him for a shrinking violet  and crossing him isn’t wise.

He refuses to appear ashamed of his disability even though he holds the very common belief that his disability  is punishment from the Devil. When a tailor takes it upon himself to make him a coat that would hide his twisted legs Colum holds the man at knife point  and demands a standard mens frock coat which falls just above the knee be ready the next day , I  cheered aloud.

Outlander 2014

I love to hate Black Jack. He is so complicated and nuanced. He is evil, absolutely no argument there,but there are no physical tells no warts, disfigurements etc. in fact he is very handsome, his speech polished, his manners charming as the situation requires. The only physical difference between him and Claire’s Frank is that his hair is long enough to tie back where Frank’s is short. If Claire had not met Black Jack whilr in Jamie’s era I don’t believe  her and Frank’s relatiomship would have suffered as deeply when she came back. Think about it by the time she returns she and Jamie has both been assulted mutiple times by a sadist who wears the exact face of the man she has just returned to, that would be enough to give anyone nightmares. ‘

Outlander is Claire and Jamie’s story all day long but dismissing supporting characters is a huge mistake.It narrows the focus of a complex story that is about so much more than just the two leads and reduces  it to the level of a drugstore paperback romance.

outlander cast

Author’s Note: None of thee images are mine.

 

 

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Day 325: People with Cognitive Impairments Make Me Uncomfortable, Or Disabled People Can Br Jerks About Disability Too

pillar8-thought-and-art-vitruvian-man-leonardo-da-vinciNondisabled people often think that if there are two or more disabled people within a 50 mile radius of each other we all know each other by default and must be best friends. I understand the basis for the assumption, people who live in the same area might receive some form of therapy or other community services to help with their disability at the same place. This is a logical assumption but it is unfair and limiting to assume that just because disabled people are thrown together by circumstance to assume that everyone knows everyone else is more than just a passing acquaintance. More often than not strangers will assume that my boyfriend is actually my brother unless they have just seen us kiss each other. People have expressed surprise that I’m not dating someone “like me,” by which they mean someone who is also disabled. I have dated both disabled nondisabled people and I find the assumption that I would or should”stick to my own kind” insulting on several levels.

 

That being said the fact that I am part of the disabled community does not absolve me from my own narrow minded behavior. While the medical community will never call me physically healthy because of my disability and I admit to struggling with depression daily one of the boons granted to me was an extremely sharp mind. I have a 119 IQ. 120 is considered the start of the genius bracket. I have a ridiculously good memory for people’s names especially if I meet their pet at the same time. I have been told that I am good at mimicking accents and I know that picking up languages and writing are not difficult for me at all. In short I am a very good communicator and often times find myself uncomfortable in my dealings with those whose chronological age does not quite match up with the level at which their brain processes information. I found it especially difficult to navigate at summer camp where many of the people had cognitive differences on top of their physical ones. I know now that it painted me as cold, uncaring, and stuck up to some of the other campers. To those whose feelings I did not realize I was hurting I am truly sorry, it was never, ever intentional. It has not been until just this year that I started to feel less awkward about bridging the gap between myself and cognitively disabled people. Sometimes it’s easier than others but I do it anyway because just because someone processes things differently than I do doesn’t make them any less worthy of my empathy, appreciation, or understanding.

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Day 324: In Which a White Girl Asks Ain’t I a Woman?

In 1851 Sojourner  Truth, a former slave spoke to group of feminists in Akron, Ohio and asked , ain’t I a woman? It is 2016 and I ask myself that every day. I struggle to find space within the feminist movement because  the truths that I live as a disabled   wonan are very rarely if ever recognized as wrong at all  in mainstream feminism.  For instance I am thirty and I have dealt with street harassment a grand total of once in my life. A male acquaintance who was also in a wheelchair groped my chest when I was in college. I  did report it reluctantly and the guy never bothered me again. Never once has an able-bodied man so much as cat called me. Instead I am ignored so totally that on the rare occasions my service dog  hasn’t been with to make those around me pay attention I have had people trip over my 300 pound wheelchair and nearly end up in my lap because they “didn’t see me.” Really? How do you miss  seeing something that like it wants to be a Transformer when it grows up ? It’s PURPLE for effs sake! When I am noticed I get asked how having sex with me “works” or  can I get pregnant? I have been asked these thing in public, by strangers as if I’m some sort of carnival exhibit  or scientific test subject. Maybe I  should start charging for every answer, even test subjects and circus performers get paid.

I’m not saying that the street harassment most women face is anything less than demeaning, awful and wrong it is and it should stop. All I am asking is that if a disabled woman tells you  she’s never had that happen instead of saying just saying :”you’re so lucky,” ask about her struggles, ask how they are different from yours, make space for us at the table,lets be each others advocates regardless of race, birth sex, income or ability. If you ever wondered “ain’t I  a womam?” I say yes you and your story is every bit as important as mine.

This is Kerry Washington performing Ain’t I  a Woman . She ROCKS IT.