Review: PETER RABBIT the movie, by SONY

THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS

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First, I don’t tend to review movies, because I’m much more of a book person, and the movies I *would* review I tend not to, because I don’t want to spoil them for people who can’t see them right away.

My kid wanted to see Peter Rabbit, so, given that it’s Family Day here in Canada I took  Mr. 5 year old.

If there’d BEEN another kids movie playing that he hadn’t seen, I would’ve taken him to that because I’d heard some really unpleasant things on Twitter about Peter Rabbit.

Hence this review.

Twitter, and the people who called it out for the reason they called it out for, were wrong.

So, what *I* heard on Twitter was “Don’t support Peter Rabbit because they make fun of people with life-threatening allergies.”

AND “Peter Rabbit has the bunny characters throwing items of allergy at someone with a deathly allergy for funnsies.”

And because I’d never been steered wrong by the people I heard it from, if my kid hadn’t so desperately wanted to see it, AND it hadn’t been the only kid-appropriate movie playing now, I would’ve avoided it. Based on that I wouldn’t have seen a decent movie.

It wasn’t THE BEST MOVIE EVAR!, it had some major issues, but it WAS good comedy if you like American style slap-stick comedy. (And I so rolled my eyes at how VERY AMERICAN some of the humour was.) My kid really enjoyed it, and there were enough parental jokes to keep me entertained as an adult. Especially the rooster, omg, the rooster was freaking hilarious.

Firstly, to address in no uncertain terms the allergy issue. (Last chance to avoid SPOILERS)

Allergies, especially life-threatening ones, are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE JOKED ABOUT.

But that’s not what the movie did. It didn’t even come CLOSE to that, so I really question where the hell the idea I saw on Twitter originally came from.

I have allergies, my kids have allergies, and though none of ours are life-threatening, they are not a thing to take lightly.

We as the viewer are made aware that one of the main characters, Thomas McGregor/Domhnall Gleeson, has a life-threatening allergy (anaphylactic reaction, his throat closes up/he can’t breath) to blackberries). I recognized him from Star Wars, not Harry Potter, that’s how bad of a fan-by I am for anything Harry Potter. (I really don’t care for HP, don’t sue me, I’m broke.)

The title character Peter overhears that Domhnall’s character/Thomas McGregor (who is the descendant of the nasty McGregor from the Beatrix Potter tales, acted, superbly by Sam Neill) tell the love interest of the story that he’s allergic to blackberries.

This is a very multi-layered story peeps. It’s a romance, on top of, and perhaps MORE THAN anything else. Despite it being a kids movie. (So if you’re ARO/aromantic, maybe avoid this one, it hits all the points of ‘love is everything’.)

Now. Peter RABBIT is much more than a Rabbit. He’s clever, he’s wiley, he’s a freaking asshole.

He’s also coping with the death of both parents and being the eldest brother to his three sisters.

Thomas McGregor is just as broken in his different but similar ways.

So when Old McGregor has a heart attack chasing Peter in the garden (MASSIVE CONTENT WARNING ON DIETARY JUDGEMENT CALLS) the lands, manor home, and gardens (charmingly represented true to form to what I recall of Beatrix’s paintings and stories) it passes to Thomas.

Via the trope of an unexpected inheritance.

Thomas goes to the manor and finds it filled with animals, which you can see in the trailers.

Lolz, he screams so very well. My goodness.

Anyway, the allergy issue comes into play when after many shenanigans, Peter and Thomas get to the point of trying to kill one another for real.

Thomas is ACTUALLY trying to KILL the rabbits, Peter is defending, what he regards at this point, as both his beloved mama (the love interest, Bea. played by Rose Byrne) and his lands (which Thomas McGregor, in the way of humans, owns).

I don’t know about you? But if someone is trying to kill ME AND MY FAMILY, allergies would be fair game as a weapon.

You can feel free to disagree with me on that? But this great big human with a hate-on for wildlife is coming after me, I know he’s allergic to blackberries, I’m going to slingshot them into his mouth at the first bloody opportunity.

It was NOT as it’s been portrayed on Twitter.

There is a graphic reaction to allergies, and Thomas has to scramble for his Epi-pen.

He survives, and (unrealistically) tears ass after Peter again.

Not for funnsies. For self-defense. And honestly? If you’re the abusive type who says I/a character can’t use ANY weapon against someone trying to KILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY as self-defense, I’m not a person you want to have something to do with.

Now on to the rest of the movie.

This is a romance! I didn’t expect that, and yeah, if the whole ‘love cures all ills’ aspect that allos love to shove down our throats at every opportunity bothers you, don’t see it. I’m grey-aro, but all it does *to me* is make me roll my eyes.

It’s actually a sweet romance with elements of fuck-it-all-up and still redeem it at the end.

Which surprised the hell out of me. The actors really did a superb job with that too. (It’s sweet, so there’s no sex/sexual tension to avoid for my asexual peeps as well.) Content warning on one awkward kiss.

Peter is VERY  Americanized for a British childhood story character. BUT, to be clear, the story of the movie takes place after the death of Peter’s mother-bunny. I never really read the Beatrix Potter stories as a kid, (books were such a luxury to us, we were THAT poor) but I think the fresh take helped, it’s a continuation of the tales. (I could be totally wrong, never actually read them.) Rather than a retelling.

The animation for the animal characters was freaking phenomenal and the movie is worth seeing JUST for that.

I’ve been around since before Roger Rabbit (Gods, some of you are so young you’re not going to know what I mean.) So here is some of the style… youtube of the animations of Roger Rabbit.

Compared to many of its predecessors, Peter Rabbit stands out, it’s amazing as per the melding creativity of live action and animation.

There were several lines in the film that made me slightly uncomfortable as a domestic abuse survivor, and I wasn’t happy with how Peter treated his sisters. (Seriously, when are writers going to learn to develop ALL of their characters as well as they do the primary ones?)

Writing wise? This is a damned good film.

Acting wise? Freaking phenomenal, I might be a fan of Domhnall’s now.

Creativity/animation wise? AMAZING.

American humour? Gods could we please find a different way? (I’m American btw, even if I’m expat.)

So. In short (hah! I can’t write short to save my life, and yes I amuse myself) that’s what I thought of Peter Rabbit.

Twitter was wrong, it was a good movie and my kid loved it.

Soft-blocking can be ableist, so what?

I get in so much trouble for this idea. I have people who unfollow me because they tell me I’m being harmful by pointing out that soft-blocking can be ableist.

I have people arguing with me because it’s ‘just what people do’ and no more harmful than ghosting someone in real life.

Spoiler, ghosting someone in real life (unless, obviously and I shouldn’t even have to say it they’re an ACTUAL danger to you) is ALSO HARMFUL, and hurtful too.

Soft blocking can be ableist. I feel it’s actually INHERENTLY ableist simply because it fits the definition of an action which not everyone is going to be *able* to understand.

If everyone isn’t *able* then the action that causes harm is inherently ableist.

It really, really is. Whether we like it or want to admit it or not. Whether it’s your favorite choice of ‘protecting yourself’ or not.

It’s harmful, it’s ableist.

Some definitions and terminologies. I’m writing about this phenomenon on Twitter, since that’s the place I’ve seen it most.

A follow, on Twitter is where you click ‘follow’ and you’re able to see that person’s tweets.

An unfollow means you click unfollow so you don’t have to look at the tweets anymore.

A ‘mutual’ is a mutual follower, someone who you follow and they follow you back.

A block is where you click ‘block’ and the person you have blocked can no longer see your tweets.

First… Soft blocking is the ACTION of hitting the block button on Twitter with a mutual or someone who has followed you because you don’t want them following you/seeing their tweets.

OR you want them to unfollow you without it being a stink about it. (I’ve been told it’s possible on other social media outlets like Tumblr, but I don’t use those so don’t know how it’s done there.)

There are as many reasons in the world to soft-block someone as there are people. SOME few people have reasons that deal with self-protection.

People should ALWAYS protect their mental, physical and emotional health. That is an absolute iron-clad rule. If y’all twist my words as meaning anything other than the ACTUAL words I’m putting on the page, that’s on you.

Oh, and that’s harmful.

Sometimes the methods you use to protect yourself harm others. There is really no way of getting around that. It is a fact when it comes to dealing with intersectionally marginalized people.

 

Second. I think I need to discuss what ableism is.

The simple definition is that its discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

It gets a lot fuzzier when you’re dealing with intersectionally marginalized people, including those of us who are disabled.

So many of us are disabled in one form or another. Many of us have PTSD from so many things. (I certainly do, I’m diagnosed with C-PTSD and it fucks my life up A LOT.)

The deeper definition of ableism is this, I’ve pasted the definition below.

Ableism is the discrimination or prejudice against people who have disabilities. Ableism can take the form of ideas and assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes and practices, physical barriers in the environment, or larger scale oppression. It is oftentimes unintentional and most people are completely unaware of the impact of their words or actions.

Shall we dive even deeper?

We could. We could add on the ideas of privilege to that. Who has more power? Then even deeper, who has more PERCEIVED power.

Have we gone down the rabbit hole yet?

Here. We’d better take some carrots for a snack.rabbit-2505034_1920

Let me state this unequivocally. Soft-block to your heart’s content. It’s your space, do whatever you want with it. You SHOULD curate your space as you want/need to.

We all should.

Which includes me. When someone I KNOW knows that I have a problem with soft-blocking, AND they do it any way I’m well within my rights to block and not do business with that person.

For me, that means I won’t read or review their books. I won’t buy them. I certainly won’t be publishing them.

Now, the reason I HAVE to do that is self-care. If they KNOW I have a problem (because it harms me) with that action, then they do it anyway, I CANNOT trust them.

So I’m sure as hell not doing business with them.

If other people are allowed to soft-block because it protects them, then I’m allowed to protect myself too. Me being a publisher has nothing to do with that.

I’m a person before I’m anything else, and when my mental health isn’t good? I can’t publish books. So.

I block and blacklist. People don’t like that, but guess what? It’s my press. I make the rules. If that gets me a rep of being a bitch? I can live with that.

I HAVE to live with that because I’m a very, very broken person with regards to mental health.

There’s a million people out there who can help you get your book into the world, and so many hundreds more agents and publishers. You don’t like my rules of treating people decently and trying your best not to harm others in your words and actions?

Of apologizing and owning your shit when you fuck up?

Of respecting boundaries?

I’m not someone you want to work with.

And honestly? I recommend self-publishing, you’ll make more money by far and if you actually look at it, it’s not that hard to do.

So. Soft-blocking is curating your space as you need to.

I’m not telling you not to do it.

I *am* saying it’s inherently ableist to do it, if you’re neurotypical or abled.

An argument could be made that it’s ableist of me to share how badly it fucks with my head.

To be soft-blocked, I mean.

The argument for *me* being ableist by sharing how badly it messes my head up is that guilt comes into play. By sharing how badly it upsets me, I could technically be putting pressure on people not to soft-block.

I really don’t care if you use a harmful tool to protect yourself. You do you. Your guilt is the price you have to pay for that. I guess that’s too honest for most people though.

*Your* guilt is not *my* problem. It’s not *on me* (the one being harmed) by your action to absolve you of your guilt.

Hence it’s a long stretch to call me sharing my feelings and educated opinion on the realities of soft-blocking and the damage it can and has done ableist.

But it *could* be. A skilled debater or manipulator can make someone absolutely certain the sky is green with purple polka-dots.

The only thing that makes it *not* ableist for me to do that is that it’s also a self-defense mechanism. It’s selfish, but it’s not ableist in that scenario.

Life is not, much as many people would love to think it is, a black and white construct of right vs wrong.

For *me* soft-blocking is wrong. It causes far more harm than it could *ever* ease.

For others, it’s a no big deal, it’s an ‘I just don’t want to confront this person enough to tell them I don’t want to follow them anymore.’

For others, soft-blocking is a self-protective mechanism IN ITSELF. They feel safer soft-blocking than they do just unfollowing.

(I don’t pretend to understand that, the safest way to not see people’s tweets and to signal you want nothing to do with them is to either unfollow or block them. Period.)

But I *am* autistic and I *do* favor bluntness over all your allistic mind games. You guys can play those. I don’t and won’t.

Now. The reason I’m talking about soft-blocking and sharing my reactions is because *to me* (and probably people like me) it causes PTSD trigger episodes.

I’ve been gaslit so freaking much in my life that any little hint of anything that can make me doubt my memories, my experience, my thoughts… it’ll send me into a downward spiral where I’m left touching real-life objects to assure myself that they’re real. Holding my kids and doing all sorts of things slowly, just so that I can know it/they are real. That I’m actually in the space/time that I’m in.

THAT is what soft-blocking does to people like me. And the number of responses I get to this subject anytime I talk about it, saying something along the lines of ‘that happens to me too!’ mean I’m by far and away not the only one this practice is affecting badly.

Harmfully.

If someone is soft-blocking as an act of ‘fuck you for saying it’s ableist’ (I’ve had this happen a lot) it’s kinda obvious what the motivation is, you know?

It happens most from people who are on the younger side, FWIW. I guess I can’t hold it against them. Their brains aren’t done growing yet. (Seriously, medical fact, your brain isn’t mature as far as action/repercussions/risk assessment until you’re around 25, go ahead and look it up if you want. It’s why your car insurance is higher than mine.)

So what about what I said earlier? What about privilege? How does that play in?

I look white (I’m not, but I sure do look it) so I automatically have more privilege than anyone who is visibly not-white.

But when both people look white, that privilege is removed.

I’m unemployed, (I work for myself, and make very little money) so anyone who is employed or gets a regular disability payment is automatically more privileged than I am.

If you’re healthy, have a good income, if you own your home vs rent, there are SO many socioeconomic and anthropological factors that can go into your actual level of privilege that it pays, I think, to be cautious in how you act/react and what actions you use to protect yourself.

In the age of ‘me too’ and allegations of sexual assault being everywhere, soft-blocking is a viable self-protection tool for many. But like any tool, it can be misused and that particular tool has really sharp edges that can hurt both the wielder and the one it’s wielded against.

(I’m a sexual assault survivor, so I can almost see why it would work for people. I don’t quite, though.)

But the gaslighting I’ve been through has scarred me deeper than the sexual assault. I react and have stronger PTSD triggers to anything resembling gaslighting than I do to talk/reading about sexual assault.

This is not the case for everyone. If my words or actions have hurt anyone in those shoes, I do apologize. I’m trying to educate on the results of a harmful behavior that has and does cause damage to people.

I still don’t agree with people insisting that soft-blocking is harmless. Because it just isn’t.

An anecdote from my own life. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may recognize it.

Last October (I think?) I was repeatedly soft-blocked by someone I had more privilege than.

I did NOT understand I was being soft-blocked.

Let me explain something, Twitter is a really weird place for me. It has followed people for me in the past, and unfollowed people who have sworn they didn’t soft-block me. I’ve had people tell me it’s blocked people for them, people they NEVER would have blocked.

It goes pear-shaped ALL THE TIME. So how is someone supposed to know if they are being soft-blocked?

The problem that happened occurred because this person DID NOT want me to follow them, but they didn’t block me. We had mutuals in common so I would often see their name and I really liked what they had to say. I admired their bravery.

In my naivety, I wanted (because I do have more followers) to boost their voice and opinion.

So I’d see a tweet that I liked a lot, I’d boost it, then realize that (I thought, because I didn’t at the time understand soft-blocking) my follow had dropped because of Twitter weirdness.

I clicked refollow at least three times before I dim-wittedly clued in (that whole, I was NOT able to tell I was being soft-blocked) that it was intentional.

I’ve owned up and apologized for my perceived mistakes there, and for my actual ones. But do you see that if that person had said to ANY of our mutuals to drop a word in my ear that “Hey, you’re making X uncomfy with the refollows” I would have stopped and NOT caused the problems it did?

Instead, the person chose to use soft-blocking instead of communication or blocking.

How did that ACTUALLY help?

It didn’t. It harmed. It harmed me, and I inadvertently harmed THEM because I did NOT understand I was being soft-blocked. I was, at that point in time UNABLE to understand it. Making it an ableist act.

For what it’s worth, I *now* understand it when it happens. I absolutely do NOT like it because it messes with my perception of reality, but I DO understand.

How many people out there don’t though? Who are you hurting when you use this methodology? Is it worth it? (In some cases it absolutely will be, but you need to ask yourself that question.)

I’m not the only one this affects. There are so many people that don’t even know you CAN soft-block. Much less that people use it so flagrantly and without regard to the harm they are most definitely doing with it.

So what about power? Someone with more followers than me has more power. Someone with more money, a better job, better connections, they all have more power than me.

Someone who can work is also in a position of more power, or someone who gets a regular income in any form. They all have more power than me. So we need to be aware of our level of ACTUAL power as well when it comes to our actions.

Then we come to one that keeps biting me in the fucking ass.

Perceived power.

I really need to clear something up. People PERCEIVE me as having more power than I do because I was foolish enough to open a boutique press dedicated to diversity.

Out and out, we’re a shoestring operation, we don’t make any money, our AUTHORS won’t make any money. We have ONE patron. That’s it. (I say this on the webpage)

We (my editors and I) do it only because we love it and believe in diversity. That’s not a position of power, no matter HOW people perceive it as such.

If we were a big 5 publisher? Sure, we’d have power, both actual and perceived. But we don’t.

The perceived power people assign us because we could ‘make their book happen’, look, that’s a fallacy. It’s malarkey.

YOU publish your book. We help, for a percentage. That’s the way publishing works regardless of how you do it. If you’re lucky enough to have an agent, you (the writer) pays the agent for their time and connections via a percentage of a sold book. The publisher will ALSO keep a percentage of said book.

I take forever to get back to people submitting to me because I’m hoping like hell a better offer comes down the line for them.

Because they’ll NEVER make money with my press. Or if they do, it won’t be anytime soon, and an author’s work deserves to be paid for.

For my tiny little press and one of my editors to accept a book… it’s so astronomically rare because we have to BOTH love it so much we want to work on it for free AND we have to have the time to put towards it.

Since none of us make any money, and we all have to eat? The press and me being ‘a publisher’ is not a position of power, no matter how often I’m accused of it being so.

But all of these things (and probably more that I can’t think of) play a part in the interconnected strands of how people interact with one another on Twitter and other social media outlets.

ALL of these things are things that make soft-blocking ableist if you have MORE power, and selfish, perhaps, if you have the same amount or less.

So what. So it’s selfish. Big whoop. There aren’t any Twitter police. Obviously, or we wouldn’t have any Nazis.

So you feel guilty about using a double-edged sword to protect yourself, one that can and does hurt people.

Big whoop. Again, your price to pay. If the cost is worth it to you, fine. Do it.

If it isn’t, then don’t, just unfollow instead.

If it’s ME you’re dealing with? I guarantee you that I will react better to a straight up unfollow or block than I will to you soft-blocking me and making me doubt the cohesion of my mind.

Because to me, and many people LIKE me. That’s exactly what that does.

It’s a very minor form of gaslighting.

As I’ve said on Twitter in the past 24 hours or so, intent does not excuse the harm you cause.

It’s my intent to educate about the damage of soft-blocking. I’ve been told I’m hurting people by pointing this out.

I can’t pretend to really understand how it DOES. But I trust that people are telling me the truth that it hurts.

I’m sorry for that.

Truth often does hurt? It’s the precursor to growth and awareness.

Me pointing out that soft-blocking harms others is no different than whoever first noticed and pointed out that we needed ramps for disabled people to access public buildings.

I’ve been wondering the past day if those people, the ones who fought for that kind of accessiblity, have gotten as much flack and push back and accusations as I have about this issue.

Probably. But progress is never made by being silent.

I could go on with this and try to unpack how it’s less ableist for another disabled person to soft-block another disabled person, because if it’s done out of self-protection, at least there’s a justifiable reason for the harm they’re inflicting.

But again, intent and reasoning doesn’t change the harm they’ve done.

For any of my mutuals? Straight up unfollow me.

I unfollow for unfollow. You unfollow me, I unfollow you, always. Period.

I don’t follow many ‘real people’ on Twitter, at the time I’m writing this I have 515 accounts that I follow. More than half of those are images/news/weather etc accounts.

They aren’t people I talk to. I follow 4 people who don’t follow me back (they’re all authors, FWIW, some of my favorites.)

Everyone does Twitter in the way that best works for them.

If people don’t like the way *I* do things. They are well within their rights to not have anything to do with me.

Just like *I’m* well within my rights to do what *I* need to do to protect myself.

The Toll of Thoughtless Comments

A fantastic piece describing the mid-range of what occurred yesterday to me.

The wounds from that thing yesterday will be festering sores for years.

It’s just the way many autistics work. It’s how I do.

autisticzebra

It’s only January but so many of my autistic friends on Twitter are already done with this year. They are frazzled, exhausted, burnt out.

Because we never seem to catch a break. We are never given the benefit of the doubt. Allowances are never made for our neurology. We are constantly having to watch what we say, how we say it, or we get accused of being rude, being aggressive, being in some sort of nefarious gang.

And yet non-autistics can say what they want, in whatever way they want. Especially when it comes to conversations about autism. I’m not talking here about the obvious trolls, the people firmly anti-autistic, the ones looking for a cure for us poor suffering specimens.

I’m talking about the person who maybe cares deeply about their autistic child or sibling. Or who has a friend who has an autistic cousin. Or maybe who works…

View original post 306 more words

Me: Autistic.

I’m sitting here cuddling my sick son. Wondering how badly the world is going to chew him up and spit him out because he’s autistic. Just like I am. It’ll be bad. I know that. The world is going to break him. I would let it break me, over and over and over again to spare him this pain. I’d let the world tear into me, over and over again if I could just spare my kids from feeling like this.

Even once.

It’s why I’m talking about this right now, when I’d really, really rather not. When I’d just as soon leave the internet and stop tilting at the windmills of allistic society in a vain hope of educating people enough about autism that they don’t hurt my kids.

The world is going to take fat, wet bites out of both of my kids and leave them scarred. They’ll develop massive mental illness problems because of how they’re wired and because allistic society doesn’t bother to try to understand how autistics think, communicate and feel.

It’s been an absolutely terrible 24 hours for me. I lost my temper and wrote a blog post about marginalized readers, privileged writers and THINKING about what you write and why you’re writing it.

A couple of people I thought might eventually be people I could call friends attacked me for it.

They didn’t explain how it hurt them. They just… attacked me for it on twitter. I admit, I got defensive, but I don’t know a single person on the face of the planet who wouldn’t when you have three or four people who you thought might be okay people suddenly in your mentions claiming you’re a harmful person.

Without making it crystal clear exactly how they came to that conclusion.

I mean. They could’ve explained? Instead of clinging to hurt feelings and twisted meanings of my words? Instead of being sarcastic and just telling me not to read their books? Instead of being angry and hurtful when I said over, and over, and over again that ‘I do NOT understand’ and ‘How did I do that?’

They all knew I’m autistic. But they treated me exactly like they would another allistic.

Their expectations were exactly the ones they’d have expected from another allistic.

Their reactions did not take into account that I don’t perceive or understand things the same way they do. Which does not make me stupid by the way. I’m a tested and certified genius, for what it’s worth (which is absolutely nothing). It just means I’m wired differently.

They expected me to process the sarcasm they used as ‘you hurt me’. Instead of saying THESE WORDS YOU USED HERE HURT ME AND THIS IS WHY.

They expected screenshots of my words as receipts to give me some clue as to why they were hurt.

Does that actually work for allistics? It doesn’t for many autistics. It doesn’t for me.

They expected me not to react when four people were in my mentions accusing me of terrible things. Only autistics aren’t allowed to react to that you know. Quite a double standard there.

They expected me to be ABLE to process the information as fast as they could throw it at me. Which, like… I can’t.

Actually cannot. It takes me longer to process written information because I’m dyslexic. (A common comorbidity with autism.)

I’ve since been accused of using my neurodiversity as a shield for me being a dick.

Except I apologized, both publicly and privately to the person I hurt the most. If I could AT all wrap my head around how I hurt the one who hurt ME the most, I’d apologize there too.

But I don’t get it, no one wants to explain it and fuck me. Aren’t I allowed to be hurt and angry too?

No. Of course not. I’m autistic. I wrote the blog post that got twisted to hell and gone. I’m not allowed anything.

I have not received any apologies. I have received correction, for which I’m grateful. I am SO grateful for people when the call me on my bullshit. I’m human, I’m quite capable of making mistakes. I’m also capable of learning when I fuck up.

But I truly did NOT understand how my words could be twisted so. Still don’t, for what it’s worth.

You know. When you’re autistic, you’re not allowed any room to be autistic. It’s why we mask so much.

We process information differently. We communicate differently, but the second you prove you’re not allistic?

You’ll get attacked. Especially on social media. This has happened so many times to me. It’s so fucking exhausting.

I’m coining a hashtag. #GuiltyOfBeingAutisticOnSocialMedia

It’s so long it won’t catch on, but it’s so freaking common, and not just for me. SO, SO many autistics have been in my mentions the past 24 hours offering support, telling me their stories of similar experiences and also… telling me that the blog post did, in fact, say exactly what I meant it to say.

Now… I DO mean exactly what I said in that post. There is NO ulterior motive, no hidden meaning. I wrote it when I was angry and I wasn’t as clear as I could have been in some ways. I edited it for clarity after the fact and all edits are labeled as such. It makes it rather a mess to read, but I don’t want to be accused of changing anything to cover my ass on top of everything else I’ve been accused of being the past 24 hours.

I don’t understand how allistics can’t understand that many autistics communicate using words we ACTUALLY mean. And nothing more.

Like… twisting an autistic person’s words is just flabbergasting. Most of us TRULY don’t mean more than what we say, with the EXACT words we used. We don’t mean the opposite, we don’t mean twisted and turned meanings, there is no undertone to our words. Because we’re not allistic.

Allistics don’t tend to communicate the same way, and I think that is the source of the problems I ran into? Maybe? There’s always this subtext to allistic communication that autistics both don’t catch and are for most of us, incapable of comprehending.

Yes. I needed to wait to post that until I wasn’t angry and could’ve proofed it for clarity. My opinions are strong, I’m blunt and I say things people really don’t want to hear.

Like some stories aren’t yours to tell. People really hate hearing that one, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Especially, OMG especially white writers. Truly, they HATE hearing that one. If you chose to write a story, did your research and due diligence, of course you can write what you want. Even if it isn’t your story to tell. There aren’t any publishing police, no one is going to arrest you for it.

It’s your responsibility if you hurt someone too.

But yes, I’ve learned that the least I can do is make sure I proof posts for clarity before I release them onto the world.

Someone I regard as a friend said they could see how the post could be twisted and it doesn’t mean what I think it means.

I know what I meant. I SAID what I meant.

Even if I can’t understand the twisting, I can understand that some people will take my words and turn them into what they want them to mean rather than what I actually meant.

Isn’t that where asking for clarification is supposed to come into play?

The basic building blocks of communication?

“Hey, did you MEAN what I THINK you meant?’ < Clear question of intent.

“Oh, gods no, I didn’t mean that! THIS is what I meant.’ < Explanation of actual intent

‘Oh, cool. Glad I asked, cause if you’d meant that it would’ve hurt me a lot. We good?’ < Acceptance that they needed to ask for clarification, explanation.

‘Yeah. We good, oh and man, I’m so sorry if I hurt you, it was totally unintentional.’ < ^^Acceptance and apology.

‘S’okay. I forgive you. You didn’t know.’ < Acceptance and apology.

You have now communicated. Level up! (I’m a gamer, I’m exhausted, in a fibromyalgia flare from emotional stress and massively hurt, down to my soul from this latest of blows from being autistic on social media.)

I think one of the ways the world is going to hurt my children the most is the ways in which it’s hurt me the most.

It takes my words, it twists them, it assumes meaning that isn’t there, then it penalizes me for what people THINK I said.

When I was trying so damned hard to be clear with my words too.

You know… there’s an old saw.

Assuming. When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME.

They assumed, and turned us all into asses.

I assumed that people would read the actual words on the page, and turned us all into asses.

And you know? I already know this post will be used as yet more evidence that I’m using my autism as a shield from me being a dick.

I’m not trying to. I’m trying to explain how I think, what I perceived as it was going down, and why it happened. I’m trying to make sense of it all, so maybe I can keep it from happening again.

I’m trying to learn how to guide my kids so they don’t get hurt by the world as much as do.

I AM wired differently. If that’s using my brain as a shield it’ll be awfully messy. Brains go squish.

But it’s sort of like a sighted person screaming at a blind person to LOOK, SEE. The blind person cannot.

It’s like being furious at a deaf person because they can’t hear what you can.

It’s like screaming at a person who cannot walk to get up and run.

I don’t often consider my autistic brain to be a disability. I love my brain, it’s awesome. I love what I can do and learn and perceive with it.

Today though? I’m well aware that I AM at a disadvantage when trying to communicate to allistics.

And so are my kids.

Because society makes no accommodation at all for differences.

Which is ableistic as fuck.

 

 

 

THE RENAISSANCE CLUB by Rachel Dacus

Blog Tour January 23, 2018 - February 23, 2018 (1).pngThe Renaissance Club

By Rachel Dacus

Fiery Seas Publishing

January 23, 2018

Time Travel Romance

 

May Gold, college adjunct, often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis – Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque.

 

But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend who is paying her way. She yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit, and when the floor under the gilded dome of St Peter’s basilica rocks under her feet, she gets her chance. Walking through the veil that appears, she finds herself in the year 1624, staring straight into Bernini’s eyes. Their immediate and powerful attraction grows throughout May’s tour of Italy. And as she continues to meet her ethereal partner, even for brief snatches of time, her creativity and confidence blossom. All the doorways to happiness seem blocked for May-all except the shimmering doorway to Bernini’s world.

 

May has to choose: stay in her safe but stagnant existence, or take a risk. Will May’s adventure in time ruin her life or lead to a magical new one?

 

Buy Links

 

ISBN: 978-1-946143-41-9  ~  eBook  ~  $6.99

ISBN: 978-1-946143-42-6  ~  Paperback  ~  $16.99

 

 

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Kobo  ~  iBooks

 

 

 

~  Praise for The Renaissance Club  ~

Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. In THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, passion, art, and history come together in this captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover her true self and the life she’s meant to lead. Rachel Dacus deftly crafts a unique and spellbinding twist to the time-traveling adventure that’s perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon. — Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

The Renaissance Club is a beautifully written story about a woman torn between two worlds—the present and the distant past. This time-travel adventure kept me guessing until the end about which world May would choose, and if that choice would be the right one. Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness. — Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend.

 

 

The Renaissance Club shimmers with beauty, poetry, and art. Author Rachel Dacus sweeps her readers away to Italy with her, lifting the senses with the sights, sounds, and tastes of that stunning country; imparting her deep knowledge of Renaissance and Baroque art while immersing the reader in a gorgeously romantic story. This book is time travel at its best! — Georgina Young-Ellis, author of The Time Mistress Series

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Rachel Dacus is the daughter of a bipolar rocket engineer who blew up a number of missiles during the race-to-space 1950’s. He was also an accomplished painter. Rachel studied at UC Berkeley and has remained in the San Francisco area. Her most recent book, Gods of Water and Air, combines poetry, prose, and a short play on the afterlife of dogs. Other poetry books are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau.

Her interest in Italy was ignited by a course and tour on the Italian Renaissance. She’s been hooked on Italy ever since. Her essay “Venice and the Passion to Nurture” was anthologized in Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience. When not writing, she raises funds for nonprofit causes and takes walks with her Silky Terrier. She blogs at Rocket Kid Writing.

 

Social Media:

 

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Guest post By Rachel Dacus

Why Love Stories Need Happy Endings

Because if we don’t believe in the power of love, what do we have to live for?

Because love really does outlast everything. Once you’ve felt it, you never forget.

Because where you end a story is arbitrary. Life doesn’t always end in the right place. But you can always choose to believe in a happy ending if you look back far enough.

Because love is the only unending story.

Because ending is an arbitrary construct that often deprives life of meaning. Meaning is what matters.

“Because love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside.” – Lin-Manuiel Miranda, accepting the Tony Award for Hamilton.

Because the day is long and when we read at night, we really need to go to sleep happy.

Because a romance story ALWAYS has a happy ending—and there’s a reason why it’s the bestselling genre of novel in America. That might just be it.

Because, c’mon, we all believe in love, and even if it hasn’t worked out, we just know one day it will. For someone, if not for us. And following her story, that makes it for us.

The Renaissance Club’s love story has the possibility of different endings in time—but you’d have to read it to find out which one is the happy ending. Or are they both?

Queer Kerfluffles and Marginalized readers

Content warning bad words and loud opinions.

EDIT: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON A CRUTCH. Non-autistic readers, I am AUTISTIC, I mean ONLY what I’m saying with the words that are on the page. I am not IMPLYING anything. There is NO HIDDEN MESSAGE. Y’all have caused me to have an emotional meltdown with your accusations.

If I wanted to SAY don’t write something, I would say DON’T WRITE SOMETHING.

I was trying to convince myself not to write this post. I’m so flipping MAD right now, and I try not to emote too much when I’m mad. But I feel maybe I need to write this post. Both for me and for other marginalized readers.

Right now on Twitter there’s a kerfluffle in the m/m romance and erotica community. I don’t even know what originally started it and honestly, other than rabid curiosity  I don’t care that much.

I was vaguely aware of the dust-up but was ignoring it. I’ve got sequels to write and art to do and I just don’t have the time.

Until a former mutual made the mistake of saying readers should judge a book BY the book instead of by the author’s ID.

This was in regards to m/m romance.

No. Nope. Niet. Nix. Nie. Nein. No fucking way.

Why?

First point. It’s awfully fucking privileged to say that to a marginalized reader. And if you’re saying it on Twitter? You’re saying it to marginalized readers. We’re kinda everywhere there. You know?

It’s how we tend to get book recommendations.

Oh, yeah, I’m marginalized, I’m a special little snowflake. I’m mixed race, I’m queer as a three dollar bill (pansexual, kinky, asexual, non-binary trans), I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill (fibromyalgia/possibly EDS), I’m autistic… there’s probably more stuff I’m forgetting.

I NEED NEED NEED NEED good representation of my marginalizations. I need it like I need water to drink or air to breathe.

I need to see myself in fiction. In the pages of a book, on the screen. I need this so much.

And people are daring to tell me I shouldn’t care who writes the book?

Look. Don’t go off from here thinking I’m insisting every author out themselves. I’m not. It’s NOT a safe world to be any sort of marginalized author and I will never, ever say you have to out yourself.

But you shouldn’t be insisting that I read your books either, if you aren’t going to be out. If you absolutely aren’t marginalized? Where the fuck do you get off?

Now… the former mutual in question I know for a fact is an allo cis het vanilla writer of m/m kink. I know, because I asked, that they write it for money and because they love to read m/m porn.

Whatever… you do you. Write your books, take your lumps if you fuck it up. Just like any other author on the face of the planet. She gets to choose what she writes, and what she doesn’t and honestly? I could really care less.

But don’t tell me I have to read it. Don’t tell me or any other marginalized reader that it’ll be just as good as queer fiction.

I don’t have to read it and it almost certainly won’t be.

I do not in any way have to judge a book by the book itself, not if it’s written about one of my marginalizations.

Why?

Because historically marginalized people have had books written ABOUT us. They aren’t written FOR us. And trust me, there is a huge damned difference.

Do you know what doing that is? That’s profiting off the backs of our very existence, while edging us out of publishing, because when you’re white, cis, allo, het you AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A LEG UP IN THIS INDUSTRY.

And often? The books aren’t that good. They’re just not. Even IF the author hasn’t fucked it up, (and a lot of them really DO, see my ass sex post for just ONE of the ways they fuck it up) they completely miss the nuance that marginalized authors bring to their work.

Because they don’t live it, they cannot, as in they are NOT capable of actually repping that. I mean, how could they be?

No amount of research in the world can give you lived experience.

None.

Research can keep you from fucking it up (dear gods I hope, anyway) but it can’t let you know what it FEELS like to be autistic, or queer, or mentally ill, or (insert marginalization).

It just can’t.

We as authors of things, especially queer things, do need to make room for people who are exploring their queerness. Identity is weird everyone, it really is. Writing is often a way to find out that oh, hey, wow, I’m REALLY FUCKING QUEER.

Writing and reading helped me figure out that oh, wait, I’m actually trans and was so heavily socialized as a ‘girl’ that I didn’t know that.

So yes I’m absolutely willing to make room for those baby queers who are exploring. That’s not what this is about, so don’t even start with me about it.

(And you know, I’ve read work by people who *I* could tell they were queer even if they didn’t know it yet, I’ll never forget reading one of my favorite authors and being surprised as hell to find out that they thought they were straight and vanilla. Author came out later that year as being bi and kinky, but after reading their work? I already knew that.)

I’m not gatekeeping with this post. I really don’t care if you want to write marginalizations that aren’t yours. What I do care about is you insisting that we marginalized readers MUST give it a chance. We do not, in any way shape or form owe you that.

I once listened to a radio program on the CBC where an older white male writer opined that he thought HE could write what it felt like to be a black woman BETTER THAN A BLACK WOMAN.

Because he was objective and did his research. I swear to gods you can’t make this shit up.

The fucking arrogance is astounding. Truly.

So. How close do you have to be to write it right? (or at least WELL… jeez)

I think that depends on the topic, to be frank.

I really don’t want non-autistic writers writing about autism or having an autistic MC because they’re gonna get it wrong. There is SO MUCH misinformation out there about what an autistic is really like that… yeah, just don’t. Leave that to those of us who live it please and thank you. EDIT: If you absolutely feel compelled to write an autistic MC, HIRE A BLOODY AUTHENTICITY READER.

I think queer people can write pretty much any variety of queer fiction (EDIT: including kinky fiction, kink, trans, ace etc are all part of the LGBTQQIAAP2 acronym and I don’t understand how that is even a question. Kink is also a part of the QUILTBAG thank you very much), as long as they do their research and employ an authenticity (previously known as sensitivity) reader.

I include m/m sex in my books, yes, absolutely, but every m/m scene I include is beta read by three bi or gay male beta readers. I’ve known them since university and they have no trouble smacking me down if I get it wrong.

Trans fiction is tougher, I’m a little leary saying all queers could write trans fiction because…well… how would all queers know what it feels like to be trans? But they’re probably less likely to fuck it up than a cis person would be.

I think a mentally ill person can probably write most mental illnesses, but maybe not the really badly demonized ones like DID or sociopathy or BPD or even ED.

I think for kink? You really need to be kinky/think you’re kinky to be writing it. Not sorry. EDIT: It is POSSIBLE to write kink well without being kinky based on research alone. It may still ring false to a lifestyle kinkster, but as long as it’s not harmful? Enh? Go for it. The reason I’m fussy about this?

POINTS AT ALL THE DAMAGE 50 SHADES OF GAGS HAS DONE.

EDIT: I personally know people who will bear lifelong emotional and physical scars from their partners reading poorly written kink and then doing it. Kink. Is. Not. A. Game.

If you aren’t black, why are you writing a black MC? Seriously, you really think you’re better at writing their experience than they are? Please. EDIT: First Person POV. I think it’s fine, based on what I’ve seen black people say, to write a third person POV black person or Asian person (or other POC)… because in third person, you’re writing about/including them, not REPRESENTING them.

If you aren’t mixed race, or Asian, or… why? Why are you writing it?

If you aren’t asexual, you’re gonna fuck it up, because not even all of us aces agree on what good rep is. EDIT: So you fuck it up? Big deal. People have been fucking it up all through history. I’m not saying don’t write it. You do you.

At the end of the day, you, as a writer, need to ask yourself WHY you’re writing what you’re writing with regards to marginalizations. You need to ask yourself if it’s your story to tell, because some of them, no matter how shiny an idea or fluffy a plot-bunny, will not be your story to tell.

You need to ask yourself what kind of harm you’re doing (cause if you aren’t OF the marginalization, but you’ve chosen to write it anyway? YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING ENORMOUS HARM. Not Fucking Sorry).

If you’re a cis het non-queer of other variety person writing m/m fiction for money? I don’t have a lot of respect for you, but go for it. There’s a market full of cis het women dying to fetishize gay men. Have fun, just don’t pretend you’re doing anything but writing it for the money and the fetishization of real people.

If you’re writing it because you just happen to love gay romance? Get gay/bi male beta readers at the very least and DO YOUR RESEARCH.

If you’re white and you’re writing a first-person black POV MC? Also don’t have a hell of a lot of respect for you, because we all can see why you’re doing it. You think it’s the in thing and it’s gonna get you cookies. (It’s not, really, it might get you published, because you have a leg up in this industry over black and mixed race peeps right from the get go.)

*I* won’t even write some of my marginalizations. I have a black/native grandfather, and a native grandmother, that does not mean I have the right to write what it feels like to be black or native american. It just does not, cause hello… I turn into Casper in the winter.

(I’m mixed, I tan really well, but I’m not black or native american. EDIT: My great grandfather was Portuguese and Spanish, I’m technically latinx, EDIT: Apparently that doesn’t make me latinix, I’ve been educated about that. Still, I won’t write it. But I won’t write that either, not and rep what that experience feels like. I’m white coded and I have passing-privilege.) I do write a lot of mixed-race characters because I can authentically rep that.

I read mostly own-voices work these days, because hands down, the work is so much better than non-own-voices. It just IS.

It all comes down to some questions and statements.

Who are you writing for?

Is it your story to tell? Some stories ARE NOT YOURS TO TELL Not sorry.

What kind of harm can it do?

WHY are you writing it?

and the statements:

Make your worlds realistic with all kinds of people, YES ABSOLUTELY. 

PLEASE include us, but don’t USE us.

Lolz, and don’t tell us we have to read your books. I don’t owe a read to anyone, especially if they’re writing ABOUT me instead of FOR me.

EDIT: I have been attacked by non-autistic people that I thought were pretty cool and accepting types because of this post. I do not understand how they can think I’m saying ‘don’t write that’ ‘ace and trans aren’t queer’ from anything in this post. I have since edited it, all edits are noted with EDIT and colored a different shade, take all the receipts you want. I haven’t deleted anything, nor will I. It would be dishonorable.

Y’all. You could do a LITTLE bit of work when it comes to communicating with autistics. We work all the gods damned time to communicate with you.

There is NO implied meaning to any of that. None. That’s on the reader if they think there’s something more behind it. Not on me for saying what I actually mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research as a writer

So. Research, we all know we need to do it, right?

I mean… we DO know we need to do some, when we’re writing, right?

Nope. We all really don’t seem to know this.

I read a book this past weekend that was a historical and it was very, very obvious that a lot (or maybe any) research hadn’t been conducted.

The story premise was good, but it lacked the depth that research could have given it.

I honestly can’t think of any genre of writing that you can get away with NOT doing research for. Picture books, maybe? But I did a ton of research for my Ace Shark picture book, so maybe not even that?

Some genres are heavier on research than others, I do the MOST research for Historical and Science Fantasy, but even for my paranormal titles, I still do a ton of research.

For my Ilavani series, I did so much research into genetic modification, quantum physics and historical power structures including the history and structures of indentured service that I could probably write at least a master’s level thesis on any of those subjects.

For my upcoming Bloodbound from NineStar Press I did massive amounts of research into the Mabinogian, Welsh Folklore, and supernatural critters.

Now. How do I do research?

It varies? That’s as helpful as mud, isn’t it?

So. I have a couple degrees in research related stuff. So I know how to do high-brow research.

But honestly? I start with Wikipedia.

Not so much for the articles, though some of them are surprisingly good, but for the links leading out from the articles.

Even if you JUST read the Wikipedia articles about the subjects you’re writing about, it’s probably enough for a lot of mainstream fiction.

But you can also find pages like this one (here on my site) where I add interesting links that I’ve found while I’m doing research for my books.

You can follow the links from Wikipedia to find further information. You can google search a specific topic (most of the links on my resources page were found doing one of those two things).

If it’s a topic? There is someone who geeks out about it. Find the geeks talking about it and listen to them. Many of them are very interested in consulting (waves at the lovely people helping me with long-range sniper rifles right now) in order to get the info RIGHT in books.

Cause getting it right kind of matters. Very little will throw me out of a story faster than a fact that I know to be untrue.

Because then I have to go look it up to remind myself that it is, in fact, untrue.

If I find it’s not factual, I will very likely never pick the book up again. Not everyone is as fussy as I am about things being authentic, but I very much am.

Why should I waste my valuable time in reading your words if you didn’t waste YOUR time looking up the information to get it freaking right?

I also use TV Tropes a lot (I spent probably weeks on this site while I was developing the world for the Ace Assassin World. (Bloodbound April 30th, 2018, and OMG that’s getting close!)

Just type in what you want to know about in the search bar and browse to your heart’s content. You’ll likely be surprised at all the questions you didn’t know you didn’t know to ask that you suddenly have when you do that.

Fair warning, it’s a HUGE rabbit hole. You could get lost. Take some carrots as a snack.

Where can you find the geeks? Internet. Most of us have blogs where we obsess about our interests. For those of us who don’t have blogs, we go to group meetings about the topic that we love.

IE: Beekeeping, look for a local beekeepers/apiarists association. They are in most towns, but it’s one of those things you probably have to go looking for to find.

Same with Blacksmithing, or genealogy, or spinning, or weaving, or, or, or, or…

Twitter is a fantastic resource cause many of us geeks do threads about topics we’d like people to get right.

If it’s a historical topic, you could look for historical reenactment groups. They exist for most areas of history, and trust me, you’ll find history geeks there.

Libraries are a fantastic resource if you can get to one. Librarians will often help you find books about any subject you need because that’s what they both love and get paid to do.

So. There is my two cents on research.