It’s Bi Visibility/ Celebration Day.

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not.

A selfie of a smiling white-skinned woman with brown hair and glasses. She is wearing silver headphones, purple earrings, a grey jumper and purple scarf. A pink, purple and blue rainbow is painted on her face, from the middle of her forehead down to her left cheek. She is wearing a badge in the shape of a piece of cake with the bi flag colours (pink, purple, blue) on it.
At the “Big Bi Bonanza” event last year

I’ve mentioned it off-hand a few times since last year, but I wanted to take the chance today to properly come out and explore it a little.

I’m bi. Usually this is short for bisexual, or bi-romantic. I like to use the shorthand rather than either of the longer terms. I feel that describes me best, given the way I understand and experience the different types of attraction.

The definition of bi(sexuality) that I like to use comes from the Melbourne Bisexual Network: “Bisexuality is romantic or sexual attraction to the gender the same as your own, and to other genders. Some people use it to mean attraction to two or more genders. It is not attraction to only men and women. The understanding of ‘bisexual’ as being supportive of gender binary is one that is from outside the bisexual community.”

I’ve highlighted the part of the definition that I usually like to use, as it sounds less clunky to me than the first sentence. Both of these definitions are true. In a plural form, “bisexualities” or “bi plus” it can also be used as an umbrella term for various types of multi-gender attraction (e.g. pansexual, polysexual), though each of those exist in their own right too.

Let’s bust some myths, shall we?

  • Bisexuality does not equal promiscuous.
  • Bisexuality does not mean “more likely to cheat”.
  • Bisexuality does not mean “confused”.
  • Bisexuality is not “a phase”.
  • A person does not need to have had relationships with more than one gender to call themselves bisexual.
  • A person does not stop being bisexual if they’re in a so-called “opposite sex” relationship.
  • A person coming out as bisexual is not jumping on a trend.

All being bi means is the definition above – being attracted to two or more/ your own and other genders. I am bi. I have only had relationships with (cis) men, though I have kissed a couple of women and gender diverse people outside of that. Even if I hadn’t, I would still be bi. I’ve also been in the same relationship, with a cis man, for the past four years, and we are very happy together. I hope it continues for good. This (again) does not negate my bisexuality, and the very idea that some would think my sexuality means I’m more likely to cheat on him is offensive to me.

But, how do I know I’m bi? Well, firstly, that’s a very intrusive question – please don’t ask it. Only exception being is if you’re extremely close with the person and they’re inviting questions. It should never be used as a “gotcha” or an “I know better than you” moment.

In the spirit of the day, I’ll answer. I know I’m bi because I find particular women, men and gender diverse people attractive, and I’ve enjoyed kissing people of all genders. It’s that simple.

I did not decide to identify as bi on a whim, but after a lot of questioning. Being bi is the best descriptor that fits me. I know my own identity.

Happy bi visibility/ celebration day!

A photo of a white woman standing under a marquee. Her brown hair is pulled into pigtails, she's wearing blue earrings and blue brooch on a white jumper and purple skirt. She is smiling and holding a bi flag - of pink, purple and blue horizontal stripes.
At my first Bi Pride event a few years ago.

What I’ve been up to… (plus cats)

I’ve thought about blogging, a lot, over the last few months. As things have happened, I’ve thought of blog titles or why I “really must post something about that”. However, blogging takes a specific type of thought, and these days, when work and life take up specific energy, I must prioritise what I do with my free time. Writing fanfic isn’t easier than blogging – but it’s more fun. Especially when WordPress has had issues whenever I try – I’m writing this on the desktop app instead of the web browser and that seems to have helped.

So, it’s been almost four months since I last posted. In that time:

  • We came out of lockdown, went back to work for a few weeks, then returned to a stricter lockdown – it’s been exactly six months today since that first Tuesday of lockdown in March.
  • I’ve had a number of professional successes;
  • I’ve continued to be disappointed, enraged and disgusted at the behaviour of JKR;
  • I’ve learnt a lot about my own resilience, privilege because of that, and how to use it, with my professional knowledge and access to supports, to manage my own mental health (a work in progress);
  • Watched countless hours of livestream videos of cats (thanks to Tinykittens) and, now, falcons (thanks to the Melbourne Peregrine Falcons nesting).

I’ll talk about all of these in future blog posts – right now it’s school holidays, and I’m hoping to type and schedule a few posts while I have the time.

The topic I want to highlight today is the cats of Tinykittens. Tinykittens is a not-for-profit cat rescue organisation based out of Fort Langley, BC, Canada. They’ve been broadcasting their rescue stories live for seven years now, and I’ve been following them, on and off, for three. They specialise in Trap-Neuter-Return/Adopt programs for feral cats in their community, and in educating others about how to help similar efforts in our own communities.

I’ve learnt a lot from them, like, how to care for and socialise feral cats. Tinykittens believe all cats, no matter how feral, sick or injured, deserve a chance to be treated with compassion. We can do more than just euthanising ferals. Read more on their website:

I first encountered Tinykittens in 2018, with Chloe’s litter, which included the remarkable Auracuda. Aura had a very large cleft palate, which was life-threatening. If she’d been born in the feral colony, she would have died. It was touch-and-go for a long time, with around-the-clock care with tube feedings. At 179 days old, she was big enough for groundbreaking surgery which gave her a donor cleft palate (from a dog!). She’s a medical foster at Shelly’s home still, and loving life – though it’s not without challenges.

This year, the first lockdowns coincided with “kitten season”, the time when the bulk of Tinykittens’ fosters and TNR efforts are focused on pregnant feral cats. They trap the pregnant feral and hope to socialise the mama and babies for adoption. If the mama proves unwilling to “hand in her feral card” as the TK volunteers and chatters call it, she’s spayed when the kittens are old enough and returned to the colony she came from, where volunteers provide food and socialisation every day. (The hope is that eventually, the mama cat will show signs of being happy with humans – she can then be re-trapped, and fostered to adoption.)

The kittens are socialised from birth, and when old enough are adopted in pairs. I’ve seen four litters go through this process so far this year with their mothers. Twenty cats in loving homes instead of running feral and contributing to the cat overpopulation problem.

There are currently another four litters of kittens at Tinykittens HQ. They share time on the two livestreams. Two sets in particular are ready to go home, and I thought I’d profile one of those today: a mother cat, Caramel, and her boy kitten Salty. They are a very social, playful pair. All they need is an adopter. I don’t know if I have any followers in Canada, especially any who are in BC. But if I do – or if you know someone who is – maybe you or they have a cat-shaped hole in their life?

Screenshot from YouTube of a grey and white kitten stands next to his mother, a tabby. They are in a room full of toys, including a red tent next to them. In the top left corner is red writing saying, Adopt Caramel + Salty:
Look at their faces! Aren’t they the cutest?

Black Lives Matter

Content warning for discussion of police brutality and racial violence, including naming some victims.

By virtue of having this blog, I have a platform of sorts. So I’m using it to speak out, after spending the past few days signal-boosting and processing and listening.

Across the world, it is well past time for change – actual systemic change, to remove the racist structures that have prevented Black lives and the lives of people of colour from thriving. The change must be led by Black people, indigenous peoples and people of colour. Not whites.

I’ve seen a bunch of different ways to help – donation threads, petitions, people/ groups to follow and actions to take. If you’re white like me, especially, see the links in the list below and choose some ways to help. (There’s probably some overlap in the donation threads, but I can’t be sure so I’ve included them all.)

I’m white. Being a white woman means I have a particular sort of privilege, which isn’t negated by my disabilities or bi/demi identity. That privilege is the sort that Amy Cooper used – turning on the tears, the false outrage, the fake fear, to try to get a black man, Christian Cooper, arrested for simply asking her to leash her dog in a park where that was a legal requirement. Thankfully, it didn’t work out the way she wanted – because by ringing the police, she could’ve caused his death.

Like how white actions – usually police actions – have caused the deaths of Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbrey, Dion Johnson – and now George Floyd, and those are just the publicised ones I know about in the last few months. It’s a deep problem of systemic racism, intersecting other bigotry like queerphobia (Nina Pop and Tony McDade were trans) and ableism (they’re claiming that George Floyd’s “pre-existing health conditions” could’ve been factors in his death). But the root of it all is the racism.

Year after year, month after month, week after week, we see things like this – white on black violence, often state-sanctioned (police brutality). It makes me feel sick inside, and I know that for Black people and people of colour, it’s worse. They confront this shit every day in ways that I never will never have to, because the colour of my skin affords me that bubble of protection. Read this post, or this one for black voices talking about that.

I support the protestors. I don’t care if they smash things – and I’d say that if they were rioting in my city, too. I do note that a lot of the worst of the damage appears to be initiated by white people stirring things up, including undercover cops or other white extremists. (In Minneapolis, they’ve linked arrested looters to out-of-town white extremists, with evidence of white extremists stirring shit up online too.)

But even if it that wasn’t the case? Black people are angry and have a fucking right to be. We should all be angry. Buildings can be rebuilt and goods restocked (most places would have insurance, anyway – especially big corporates). Lives though, once lost, can’t return.

Protesting and rioting is a valid political tool. Yet the tone and framing of such is completely different depending on who’s doing the protesting. Remember when those selfish ignorant white people protested about their freedoms and having to wear masks back at the start of May? The police were civil and calm to them.

Now, there’s footage of police actively enciting violence at these formerly peaceful protests by being punitively aggressive, before riots had started – tear-gassing protestors or riding their horse into the crowd and knocking someone over, or driving their cars at protestors and forcing them out of the way. Not to mention their attacks on journalists and medical/ first aid stations. This article explains it well, too: Police erupt in violence nationwide.

Of course, Trump weighed in – tweeting about calling in the National Guard and using words that even Twitter classified as “inciting violence”. It’s terrifying – and the fault of the white oppressors like him and the racial systems that privilege us white people. Black people protesting have every reason to be in the streets, agitating for change.

Protests and riots throughout history have won rights, because the freedoms sanctioned by majority aren’t given just by asking politely. See also: the labour movement, Women’s Suffrage, the Civil Rights movement , Stonewall Riots (started by a black trans woman!)… Something all of us white people could do to remember, but especially those of us who are white and queer, disabled or women. My disabilities, my womanhood, my queerness are not shields for my behaviour.

For more about the race politics of rioting/ looting, see this article: In Defense of Looting. It was written a few years ago after the murder of Michael Brown caused riots in Ferguson. See also this one, written this week. And read this excellent article about race politics and white-on-black violence It Does Not Matter If You Are Good as well.

It’s not limited to America. State-sanctioned white-on-black violence is a problem in Western countries across the globe, not just the USA. There are easy-to-find examples from Canada, the UK and my country, Australia.

Australia was founded on racism. My ancestors helped displace the First Nations peoples of the land. I grew up, live and work on stolen lands, where sovereignty was never ceded – but taken. The history of Australia is racist as fuck, and it continues today. For example, First Nations peoples make up 3.3% of the total Australian population, which in itself should be sobering, given their numbers before white invasion and colonisation began. However, they make up a disproportionate percentage of Australia’s prison population – 28%.

The discourse around George Floyd’s death has been very upsetting for many First Nations Australians, especially the family of the Dunghutti First Nations man, David Dungay Jr, who was murdered by prison officers in 2015. I saw a sobering Twitter thread yesterday – tweet after tweet of names of First Nations people who’d died in custody. There was a Royal Commission about it in 1991, and there have been over 400 deaths since, with not one cop convicted. (See here, here and here, as well as here – last link refers to Australian police misconduct in general.)

White Australia’s shame has also been the forced removal of First Nations children from their families and culture. The Apology to the Stolen Generations happened in 2008 to politically acknowledge this, but it hasn’t got better. It’s actually got worse.

White Australia is really shit at acknowledging the protests of First Nations people and people of colour in Australia… See this satirical tweet thread for examples. We’re also really, really good at denying our problems. A breakfast TV show was quoted saying that “People in Australia don’t have the understanding of the history of police killings” in the United States. Wilful ignorance, more like.

Then there’s the way we treat non-white migrants and refugees in this country. I remember well how the Victorian Liberals used racist tactics to attempt to encourage fear against ‘Sudanese youth gangs’ in 2014 in the lead-up to the state election. Thank goodness it wasn’t enough to get them re-elected – but it’s extremely telling that they tried. Also, there’s no escaping the fact that the refugees currently locked up in prison hotels or languishing offshore are predominantly non-white. Those on Manus and Nauru have been there for up to seven years with no change. Every single bloody election in Australia that I can remember has had an element of racial politics to do with “boat people”. Racism, all the way through.

So the next time something like this happens in Australia? Those of us who are protesting about the situation in the United States better bloody well be as vocal and outraged as we are now.

The other thing that’s been on my mind this weekend has been the intersection of racism and ableism that means that black disabled people and disabled people of colour are at particular risk of being subject to white-on-black violence, especially by cops. I saw a Tweet on Saturday that summed this up exactly.

“Shoutout to the black autistic people who are in even bigger danger of police brutality than other black people due to the intersection of ableism and racism. Shout out to the black autistic people who have trouble processing verbal information, who lash out when touched, who run away from loud sounds, who are non-verbal*, who have body language and stims that could be considered odd or threatening. Shoutout to the black autistic people who act, express themselves and react in ways that are considered socially inappropriate and who are in danger because of it. Your lives matter.”

Pastiche Graham, (*Note that I’ve quoted the tweet as written, but I do usually prefer the term ‘non-speaking’ to ‘non-verbal’ as it can express a bigger picture.)

This tweet put into words something I’d been thinking about in the back of my mind, especially as this week/ fortnight/ month have been pretty upsetting in terms of the treatment of disabled people in general. (Ways to be a good ally around that here.)

When I read this tweet, I thought of the students I work with at school. I can think of three off the top of my head whom I had sessions with on Friday – and as I’ve written this section I’ve thought of more still. They’re kids now – 6, 7, 8 years old. They are lovely children, full of passion and expression. In fifteen, twenty years time I can picture them as engineers or artists. However, my heart hurts for them and the others like them – because I see them in that tweet above. All are children of colour, with particular sensory and communication needs as well as specific stims. All of which are heightened when they’re distressed. Their lives have value, as does the life of every single black child and black person in the US, Australia and across the world.

The current situation of white-on-black violence can’t go on. It has to change, it has to stop. We won’t make change just by sitting politely and asking – that’s been tried before. It doesn’t work without other work that hits aggressors (fellow white people, corporations, police, the state) where it hurts, while lifting communities up.

I’m putting my money where my mouth is and have signed petitions. I’m also going to make a concerted effort to disrupt racist talk around me, which means having difficult conversations with people as required. I struggle to be assertive at times, scrambling around to express my point and often feeling like I’m coming up short in casual conversation (especially with neurotypicals!). But I have to use my privilege and try – following the lead of black people and people of colour.

I also want to try to remember to be more alert for state-sanctioned violent behaviour in my own area. If I can use my white womanhood to bear witness to it and support people, I must.

If you’re a white person reading this, I urge you to do the same and to continue doing it.

Please take care of yourselves out there, people. It’s been a traumatic week for so many. My heart hurts.

Hi there….

So, it’s been a while since I posted. Let me tell you why:

  1. The pandemic and shift to working from home (which began properly the day after my last post) has meant what I do with my days off has shifted and I have less energy for writing & posting;
  2. What energy I have for writing things is getting funnelled either into my Twitter interactions, or other projects that I don’t want to lose steam on (fic writing, for example);
  3. And – the big one – I have this tendency to avoid stuff if I’m already late with it…the ‘pressure’ of coming back after I miss self-set deadlines is annoying, so I avoid and continue to do so, by letting 1 & 2 distract me.

Going forward: I’m going to try to aim for one to two posts a month. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

picture of a manmade creek and big bridge. There is water flowing in the creek. The creek has sloped concrete sides, with a concrete path running along each side at the top. There are trees with branches overhanging the path.  The bridge is big because it's a road bridge. It has tall sides to prevent noise from the road travelling to the creek.
The creek at the bottom of the street near where I live. These paths have been lovely to walk on during this time.

So, what have I been up to since April? Lots of things. Let’s start with work.

I was in a hands-on role prior to the lockdown, which has changed to a mostly admin/ support from afar role during this time. For nearly seven weeks (not counting the extended school holidays) myself and the team have been supporting staff, students and families by offering programs to assist regulation, ideas for things to do with household items, and most recently, info sheets about different body skills and senses. It’s been a lot of fun at times, but also a bit of a drag at others – I get my energy from working with the kids, so not being able to be with them has been hard at times.

In that sense, I’m glad that I’ll be going back to work onsite next week – the Victorian government has told all special schools to go back this coming Tuesday. Mainstream have different arrangements depending on year level. Returning to work onsite means a number of other good things – like having regular driving time again, as I work towards my licence by driving to and from school on my work days. It means a return to the physical separation of work and home, with my routines around that.

But we’ll go back to a changed environment. It’s not going to be “straight back to usual”. The rest of term – four weeks of it – will be spent re-adjusting and taking things as they come, with specific health and safety measures in place. After all, by Tuesday, we’ll have had ten weeks off – students were last onsite on Monday March 23, while staff switched to WFH from Tuesday March 24. This has been the longest that students have had off, ever. Longer than the usual summer holidays. Add that to the new health and safety measures and it makes for an interesting few weeks ahead.

A colleague reminded me that the best thing is to focus on the positives, while keeping our expectations low. Be kind to ourselves and the students while supporting our and their wellbeing. We’ll get there.

Also, big ghost/ Jedi/ virtual hugs to everyone else out there who’s worried about all the things, especially if you’re in a country overseas which is struggling more with this thing.

Picture of drawing of head and arms of person. Person's arms are open and they have a love heart in the middle of them. Person has two dots for eyes and a small smile. Text above the person reads: sending vritual hug. Underneath the person the word 'loading' is written, with a half-full bar line underneath that.
You can’t feel it physically, but it’s there!

What else have I been doing? Hmm. A few things.

This lockdown time has reinforced for me how my neurodivergent brain works and what it needs to be happy. Many, many routines were lost and disrupted with lockdown – like choir being cancelled (and possibly remaining so for longer than other things, due to the way the virus spreads). Also, work (naturally), church and not being able to go to gym/ BodyPump. I’ve had to find new ways to do things and acknowledge my hidden supports.

Like, working at a school means, in usual circumstances, I work in a really structured environment – three sessions a day, specific windows of time for morning tea and lunch, and so on. Then I’d added further routines on top of that – for example, driving the same route to and from work every day and only wearing my name-badge and visuals lanyard on school grounds. My work days were my biggest step days as I walked between office, classrooms and staff areas.

Losing all of that meant I had to create my own structure and find my own ways of getting that movement into my day. I’ve used Google Calendar and reminders on my laptop as my own visual schedule. I kept my morning wake-up routine, albeit a little later than usual. I did things like have a specific Chrome window for work-related internet stuff, only using/ opening work-related apps like Outlook and Webex during work hours. Regular walks became a thing, with plenty of pictures taken to mark the things I saw (two of which have featured in today’s post).

Picture of water in a creek. The water is almost at the height of the creek banks, where green grass is growing on both sides. There are also some trees on the creek bank and a gravel path visible to the right side of the image. The sun is shining brightly in the top left of the image, reflecting in the water. There are a few fluffy thick white and grey clouds in the sky.
Another image of the creek at the bottom of my street. Taken a day or two ago after all the rain Melbourne had this week.

I ordered some gym weights so I could keep up with that, because I find it grounding. I joined in on a couple of virtual choir events, have been to regular virtual church services and video-called people or chatted over Discord to feel connected. LaTUCS has maintained a regular Wednesday social time on Discord since we had to stop meeting in person, which has been lovely. I’ve also found lovely online things to provide good feels (though sometimes sad, too). Like this cat-cam YouTube channel, advocating for a Trap-Neuter/Spay-Adopt-or-Release approach for feral cats. There are so many kittens on the two channels right now, with the promise of even more joining them in a few weeks. I love watching them and definitely have my favourites.

Health stuff like psych appointments became virtual, too, with telehealth.

This will continue for me for some time yet – I’ve decided that how i’m going to handle the anxiety of work going back is to recognise that this acknowledges schools as essential workplaces, with staff as essential workers. I am going to still keep physically distancing myself from most things except shops and work, at least until the end of Term 2. We’ll see how it goes. But I am proud of how I’ve managed myself during this time and want to continue that.

The other thing that’s been occupying my time is fandom. In times of stress, fandom is one of the big things that give me joy and make me feel safe and happy – though it can still be its own mess, at least I can carve out my own corner and defend/ fix it. It’d be nice if there was more to claim for my corner and less to fix, but still. Taking part in fandom in a critical way makes me happy.

That’s meant that I’ve been reading and writing fic, retweeting pertinent views on Twitter and engaging with people. I also did a few nice things for Star Wars day. I wore my hair in Rey buns (I tried Leia buns but that was too tricky *sadface*), wore my BB-8 earrings and edited some photos from Supanovas past into little flipbook movies with accompanying music. Thread here. Fun!

I think photos from this year’s Supanova count as my “last normal photos”, which is a thing that went around social media last week…people posting photos from the last “normal” thing that they did before the lockdowns. It’s rather fitting that my photo is related to fandom:

A photo of Clare standing in front of a background painted to look like a Star Wars Rebel or Resistance base. She is wearing her silver headphones and her glasses, in a cosplay for Rey Skywalker - white tank top and shorts, cream scarf hood and brown belts. She is holding a lit yellow lightsabre in salute. Next to her is the droid BB-8, who is taller than her knee. BB-8 is looking at the camera, while Clare looks off-centre to the left of the image. Clare is smiling.
One of several photos from this year’s Supanova, where I cosplayed as Rey Skywalker. I wish I had a BB-8 of my own….

Stay safe, everyone. Until next time!

Roast chicken recipe

Recorded here so I can remember it for next time, and the time after that.

Yesterday, I decided that I was going to do some of the “usual” Easter things that I’ve either done in the past or have been new additions to the Easter routine in the last few years. So I bought myself some Easter chocolate, watched my church’s online Easter service, and, in the evening, cooked a roast chook we’d bought the day before.

First note: make sure you allow enough time for cooking the whole chook! I misremembered the cooking time and got started a bit late, so was very hungry by the time it was all ready. The packaging the chicken comes in should say how long to cook it for. Ours was 25-30 minutes per 500g.

So, the recipe. I began with a recipe from my Great Australian Cookbook, for “summer roast chicken”. Then I adapted it a bit.


  • 1 whole chook
  • 1 lemon
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • breadcrumbs
  • mixed herbs
  • paprika, salt & pepper
  • canola oil
  • potato, carrot, other roasting veg
  • corn, peas, Warrigal greens & other veg for steaming


  • roasting tray(s)
  • chopping board
  • knives
  • bowl
  • spoons


  1. Take chicken out of its packaging and let it rest, out of the fridge, for 15-30 minutes before preparing it.
  2. Preheat the oven to the required temperature (this will also be on the packaging).
  3. Halve the lemon and skin the garlic cloves. Set aside.
  4. Make the rest of the stuffing: in a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, salt, paprika, pepper and a little oil. Stuffing should be fairly red in colour.
  5. Back to the chicken.
    If you have sensory sensitivities, this is the step where things get gross and messy for a bit, FYI.
  6. Dislocate the leg bones at the top of the thigh to flatten the chicken; also, remove the wishbone.
  7. Open the cavity and stuff a lemon half and half the garlic cloves in, so they’re right at the end of the cavity.
  8. Add the stuffing. Pack it in.
  9. Shove the other lemon half and remaining garlic in, then close the skin flaps over the hole.
    If you care about properly closing it, seal the hole with a skewer or toothpicks (keeps more juices in).
  10. Now for the outside of the chicken. Drizzle oil, salt and paprika over the outer surface of the chicken. Use your fingers to smear them into the skin.
    Phew! Wash your hands! You’re finished with the messy gross bit!
  11. Put the chicken in the oven for the required time in a roasting tray.
  12. Prepare your root veg for roasting and put them in later. They’ll need maybe an hour, it depends. (I’m still figuring this bit out!)
  13. Prepare and steam the other veg in the last half an hour of the roasting. Steamed veg shouldn’t take more than 12-15 minutes on the stove in a steamer pot.
  14. Test the chicken for readiness by sticking a knife or skewer into the breast and seeing if the juices run clear and the meat around the incision is white.
  15. Serve!

Rubbing the oil and salt and paprika into the chicken skin gives crispy, seasoned skin (it literally cracked open when I stuck my knife in to check for doneness!). The lemons, garlic and paprika mix give a zesty, flavourful stuffing. The chicken meat inside should be tender and juicy.

Image description: a whole roasted chicken with reddish brown seasoned skin rests on a white plate. The plate is on a brown table.

My next project is figuring out what to do with the juices that leaked out during the cooking process…I’ve got enough for a stock base or something. Any ideas?

Staying home and staying connected

A landscape photo of the ocean and sky. The ocean is very blue, with some waves visible and lots of choppy white foam at the front of the picture. The ocean stretches out to the horizon to be met by very blue sky with some white fluffy clouds.

Hi all. Well, it’s been over a month since I last posted. *sigh*. I wanted to post more thoughts, sooner, but got caught up in work stuff and when that happens, I don’t want to think enough for blogging on my days off. Motivation goes away. Then the whole thing with this virus started.

I have many, many thoughts, but these days it’s often easier to share them in short-form conversations, such as Twitter threads. You can follow me there if you like. (I’ve been very into fandom on there lately!)

This post was started two to three weeks ago, but then WordPress had a hissy fit when I tried to post it and refused to save. I’m just hoping this one works. It feels like it’s been three months since then, not three weeks. Supanova feels so far away too…

Supanova Melbourne is going to be my marker in all of this in terms of when things started. I attended with some caution, but on the second weekend of March, cases in Australia were still limited to international arrivals. I’m also privileged in that I’m not immunocompromised or otherwise at risk, so the risk felt minimal. A week later, Supanova Gold Coast only went ahead because our Prime Minister decided to time the first community restrictions to start on the Monday, not the Saturday. If Supanova GC had been first and Melbourne second, I wouldn’t have gone to it, because things changed so much so fast in that first week. It’s surreal.

How are we all going, people? Hope you’re as okay as possible, right now, physically and mentally. In Victoria, it’s week three of shutdown. (Australia, too, but the way this crisis has been managed so far, the states have had to take the lead and done everything slightly differently to each other, so I’m referencing my home state only.) No-one’s allowed out of the house unless it’s for one of four very specific reasons, with specifications in the fine print. We’ve been told to expect changes in some form for at least six months.

Councils have closed libraries and pools/ activity centres, initially until the start of April, but now indefinitely. University choirs, including my local one, LaTUCS, have paused or suspended activities. (Even this year’s national intervarsity choral festival has been postponed and won’t happen this year – a first!) My church has gone virtual, live-streaming pre-recorded services. Schools will be operating with online/ remote learning procedures and end-of-year exams have been postponed.

Despite the inevitability of the Victorian shutdown decision, its suddenness still took me by surprise. While I’m very pleased it happened – it gives me confidence that our premier and his government are on top of things as much as they can be – it’s still disconcerting.

My brain thrives on predictability and certainty. I was anxious during the week prior to the shutdown due to the uncertain circumstances. I had a meltdown after I went home on the last day of onsite school work actually, because it had built too much. It’s still unsettling that this is going to continue indefinitely and I don’t know when I’ll be able to be physically close to my friends, family and colleagues again.

I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling with feelings around this. In these times, we all need to be gentle with ourselves. We need to support those who work in essential services, like health care workers, cleaners & garbage collectors, posties, and supermarket (etc.) workers. Give them a smile, don’t be a dick to them. The current chaos isn’t their fault.

Honour your own feelings at this time. It’s scary, frustrating, tiring, sad. I’ve found acknowledging the feeling and brainstorming what could help is useful. As well as things like seeking out favourite activities, watching calming/ funny/ moving videos, snuggling with warm (and/or weighted) blankets, taking warm showers and listening to music. All the usual advice applies about trying to get enough sleep, food, physical activity, mental stimulation and social contact. Keyword there being “trying to”.

I’ve been creating daily schedules for myself using Google Calendar. They’re loose and flexible but provide my brain with the structure it needs. I schedule needed activities first, so I can reward myself with the wanted ones after. I also make sure to include reminders for breaks for food and movement.

One of the things I’ve organised are scheduled “virtual café” catchups with friends and family. The idea is we each grab a beverage of choice then phone or video call at a pre-determined time. I love having catchups with friends, and moving this online during this time seems like a great way to stay connected when every other way of socialising is restricted.

Another idea is to do something like what’s suggested by the Black Dog Institute in this article: a self-care plan. They have a template you can follow, it’s quite easy. Give it a go; we all need to think about taking care of ourselves in this time, especially if we’re supporting others.

Everyone needs to figure out how to do stay connected during these times. What works for you? (Please comment! I’d love to get some virtual conversations going!)

I’m going to aim for blogging once a week – I want to get into the habit again. Until next time, remember you can find me on Twitter, like I said at the start of this post.

REBLOG What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Weaponized White Womanhood

Please read this, especially those, like me, who are white women in fandom who think/ thought of fandom as “having problems, but still a great space for all to create our own worlds etc.”. We have to do better and ask ourselves – who is the “all” we speak of? What real-world biases are we bringing in to our creative spaces?

We need to start paying better attention. We’ve had the privilege of not noticing fandom racism. We have to start noticing because others don’t have that privilege when it’s aimed directly at them.

Stitch's Media Mix

Content notes: As with a majority of my pieces, this one focuses closely on antiblackness including the antiblackness inherent in weaponizing white womanhood to excuse dogpiling and slandering John Boyega as a misogynist, as a potential sexual predator, as a bunch of other gross and untrue things. I talk briefly about some examples of Rey/Kylo fics from the fandom’s past including non-graphic (I believe) mentions of sexual assault and include links to a recap of one and an image of the other.

White women have most (if not all) of the actual observable power in transformative fandom spaces.

White women are the image of the typical “fan” in Western transformative fandom spaces.

They are frequently the most popular Big Named Fans (BNFs) in online spaces, the people who dominate discussions about and displays of Being A Fan. If you’re in transformative fandom and you see a particular set of headcanons…

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Epic Essay

I mentioned last time I posted that I’d watched the latest Star Wars movie. I focused on fandom stuff in that last post (and it continues to be a thing, ugh). Today I’m going to talk about the movie itself because why the heck not? After all, I positively gushed on here after seeing The Force Awakens.

This review will not be so gushy. It is also very, very, long. I debated splitting it, but in the end have not. So pull up a seat, grab a drink of choice and set aside some time with me.

I have some initial thoughts, and then will dive into the details (WITH SPOILERS). Sections are divided into “liked”, “difficult” and “awful”, with additional headings. You know we’ve got a problem when the “awful” section is the biggest section of the essay. In that section, I swear and talk about racism, sexism, abuse and queerphobia, too, as a heads up.

Let me start by saying, Sequel Trilogy creators, you had me in the palm of your hand after The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi was more difficult to like, but I focused on the good points. I hoped The Rise of Skywalker would be better…but the dominant emotion now is disappointment.

The Rise of Skywalker (TRoS) has been out for just over a month now, and I’m far from the only one with Opinions about it. I’ve gathered some opinions I like below.

So, what did I think of the movie overall? As Scalzi said (in the first link) it was largely entertaining to watch, if you didn’t think too critically. It’s the slightly-predictable movie that tugs at the emotions effectively and tries to tell a good story. It was an End Movie for its trilogy. However, it doesn’t do the best job at concluding itself (as Chuck Wendig, second link, points out) and character development and a coherent, nuanced plot is treated as secondary to “entertainment”.

It’s disappointing that it the story couldn’t have been told better…and a little differently. Like, looking back on TFA, I still recall it fondly. The more distance I have from watching TRoS, the more questions and difficulties I have with it. It could have been a film full of nuance and character development, but is instead a rushed film full of missed opportunities. I wish my expectations had been lower going in – something I never thought I’d say. *long sigh*

As a Star Wars fan, it’s possibly true to say that everyone has “their” trilogy, the ones that they saw in the cinema or were of appropriate age to remember them coming out. The Sequel Trilogy is mine, being just a smidge too young for the Prequels. The thrill of hearing that theme and seeing that logo and those words, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…” is still fierce. They had me right where they wanted me, hooked and eager for more, after The Force Awakens…and then the other two trilogy movies happened.

I really wish that they’d built a storyline and planned the whole trilogy right from the start. I also wish that they’d had a consistent creative team throughout the trilogy and included more people of colour on their teams. That would’ve helped prevent the current situation, where the trilogy movies don’t fit together as well as they could have, and representation is thin – a gloss at best, without substance. TFA and (especially) TLJ don’t pass the Bechdel test and TRoS barely does, for example. Character-wise, there is nowhere near enough time or space for character development to grow. Plot-wise, TRoS spends half its time backtracking over TLJ and rips along at such a fast pace you can barely process anything or catch your breath. They seem to have tried to bank on ambiguity (giving hints of everything) to give everyone what they think we wanted, leading to a narrative that overall lacks character resolution and pleases very few.

Another general gripe: it’s become apparent that the creators are relying on viewers consuming the tie-in media (e.g. comics, novelisations, extra tie-in novels) to make up for at times lazy storytelling and lack of character arcs. I strongly dislike this, as I don’t want to feel forced into consuming the extra stuff. I want to enjoy it for its own benefits, which is my current plan now. This approach is also undermined when they pick and choose what they want to include from the tie-ins. For example, a book called Resistance Reborn was written to explore the concepts of TLJ, bridging part of the gap between that movie and TRoS. I haven’t read it – or any tie-in stuff except Aftermath – yet, but apparently a lot of the threads it puts down aren’t picked up by TRoS. I guess because of how much of TLJ they retconned? Yet they crafted an entire narrative using comics and tie-ins to explain away Ren’s evilness. I don’t get it.

Also, TRoS could have been so much easier to watch if they’d toned down the bloody light-show effects. I have sensory issues, one of which is photosensitivity. When I’m exposed to flickering or very bright light, it’s very distracting and I can’t stop “noticing” it: It’s a constant irritant which I can’t ignore. How much of that movie do you think I spent with my eyes shut or squinting, trying to see past the flickers to the action? I missed out on the full experience of several important scenes thanks to the insistence of having flickering bright lights contrasting against very dark background. We were warned at the beginning by a notice on the screen and I knew buying the tickets, but there’s “brief flickering light effects” and then there’s what that movie did. Ew.


What I Liked

We’re all in this together…

–> The thing I liked the most was the inherent message, spoken by Poe and Lando and others, about coming together and fighting together against the Big Bads of the galaxy. As well as Luke’s speech to Rey about facing your fears and doing what is necessary despite them. (I liked the fan-service X-wing Force-lift.)

Those plot points, as predictable/ cheesy as they were, landed well for me because sometimes I think we need to hear that “obvious” stuff, to remind ourselves that yes, we are actually stronger together. Of course, the Fandom in general isn’t paying attention to that at all right now (😤 *grumpy face*), as I mentioned the other day. It does feel like a bit of a pancea in that context. But I still liked it.

–> In a similar way, I liked the final battles of the movie – somewhat predictable, but also cool/ entertaining. And I’ve read Aftermath, so I really felt it when Snap died (thanks for that Chuck!). I liked what I could see of the last lightsaber and lightning battle, with the speechy bits.

Character developments

–> I also appreciated how they handled the aftermath of Leia’s death in the movie. I think Chewie was us, there. I really liked that they recognised that fans should have a “goodbye” scene. One of my favourite parts of the movie is the section when they’re mourning her, because it felt like the actors were speaking for us…about Carrie. ❤

–> The continuing friendship between Finn and Poe and Finn and Rey, as well as Finn, Poe and Rey finally getting some bonding screen time. Regardless of whether Finn and Poe’s connection is romantic or platonic (more on that later), their friendship is certainly deep and meaningful and should be celebrated. John Boyega has some lovely words on this. We need these examples of deep intimate male friendships on-screen and what we have is beautiful. I also appreciated the dynamic they tried to build between Rey and Finn. You can tell Finn wants to support Rey through the difficult stuff she’s dealing with during parts of the movie, though she struggles to let him in. Also, one of my favourite TRoS moments was the hug between the three at the end.

Extra things:

  • The musical score; as usual, lovely – and how could it go wrong, with John Williams as composer?
  • Little characters like Babu Frik and D-0 (the cone-wheel droid).
  • Rey’s struggle with understanding herself and her power, and the found family arc.
  • The fact that Finn’s Force-sensitive (about time!!).
  • Jannah and the other stormtroopers’ existence (about time!!).
  • Hux’s reason for being the spy: it felt in-character to me.


What I Found Difficult…

A lot of the stuff in this section could have been in the one above, or unremarked upon, if they’d landed differently. For example, if they’d been introduced better or given more scope or nuance…or more time to land.

Slow down; too fast

–> The first difficulty is the pace of the movie. It was far. too. fast. We were flung this way and that, racing around the galaxy at such speeds there was barely enough time for plot to unfold and story-beats to land. This led to some of the difficulties with character arcs that are explored in this or the “Awful” section. It also left me struggling to keep up. It’s no wonder it took me a few days to process everything.

Examples of the pacing getting the way of character arcs included: Chewie (“He’s dead!” “No he’s not!” Apparently there were two transports in the air, but I didn’t notice them); Hux (“You’re the spy?” …. a handful of scenes later… *bang* “Tell Ren I’ve found our traitor.”), Threepio (“I choose to do this memory-wipe thing (after a lot of pressure), goodbye, friends.” … “Artoo’s brought him back up to speed, I guess?”), and D-0 (why’d they exist other than to be a cute plot device?). Also, the pacing of the film meant that, while they tried to include bonding moments between Poe, Finn and Rey, they didn’t always land effectively – or resolve (more on that in the next major section).

Btw, was I the only one that wondered if Threepio’s memory reset would give us a Prequel-era droid? It would have been interesting if they’d had time for that, and for Threepio to be gradually brought up to speed by Artoo across the rest of the movie, for example… and it might have given his arc more depth. It would have even provided a nod to nostalgia/ history, which is a theme they were going for, right?

Leia’s storyline

–> The second difficulty: Leia’s storyline. Now, I said upthread that I liked the aftermath of her death, and why. As for everything else, it was always going to be difficult, figuring out how to honour Leia and Carrie Fisher’s role in the films. The end of TLJ sets Leia up as one of the last major characters from the OT who’s alive in-universe…and then, after filming wrapped, Carrie passed away. This forced the creators to change tracks. IX could no longer be Leia’s film. While they largely did the best with what they had, and I do think they tried to be respectful, they could have done better.

I mean, for goodness’ sakes, why did she die in-film by using the Force to reach out to her son? This was one of the things that passed me by at first, but upon reflection, it feels wrong. Leia’s death is so passive and flat for a character as vibrant as Leia – who was introduced as a passionate seeker of hope and justice. Her end is in the service of another, male, character’s arc. Not only that, but her son’s arc – she’s become a movie mother dead for the sake of the plot. WHY?

There were more nuanced, engaging ways to honour Carrie that could have avoided those tropes. For example, I saw commentary from Fangirl Jeanne that suggested, as part of a mega what-if fix-it thread, how Leia could have died by actively defending the Resistance: they could have set up a last stand scenario, used other female characters – like Rose – to support this, and used camera angles to imply Leia’s e.g. shooting stormtroopers, without having her in the frame, using the shadow body-double that way. Instead, they gave us that simplistic end.

The Palpatine plot and Rey’s character arc

–> My third point of difficulty: the Palpatine thing. Re-introducing Palpatine was always going to be iffy. To be honest, I don’t know why they did it. It smacks of their idea of fan-service and the need for a Big Bad Force-user that wasn’t Kylo Ren. They could have handled it a lot better, if they’d really had to bring him in. Like, why identify him in the opening scroll? Why not devote some time onscreen to characters hearing the voice and searching, then discovering that it’s him and their reactions? Why not devote time to a Palpatine arc, referencing the Legends canon and the other trilogies? Palpatine cloned himself in the Legends canon, and there was that whole thing about Darth Plageius conquering death as part of the set-up of the climax of RotS – and Palpatine was more than just a cartoonish villain there. Done so hastily, here, it doesn’t make sense.

–> This shoddy introduction and lack of character arc for Palpatine then leads to Rey’s arc faltering. Here’s where it becomes obvious that there wasn’t a consistent, coherent story narrative across all three trilogies. If they’d really wanted a Rey Skywalker, that should’ve happened in TLJ. They could’ve done something from that about Rey needing to reconcile the good and evil parts of her family. Like, Leia has issues being related to Vader, but Luke thinks of him as redeemed… what would Rey’s view have been, when she can see how it affects Leia (see TFA) but can also hear Luke’s stories?

Then, they could’ve contrasted this with Ren’s struggle with the Dark…while also giving room for Finn to be the “no-big-name Force-sensitive”, and drawing on the expanded canon to remind viewers that the Jedi were more than just Skywalkers, anyway. (More about Finn later.) As it is, the Rey Skywalker bit took some people by surprise, finished the retcon of the “Rey from Nowhere” arc (one of the few good character arcs of TLJ) that the Rey Palpatine arc started, and felt rushed in, right at the end.

If they wanted Rey to be a Skywalker in a post-TLJ world, they should have built in more self-reflection from Rey. Here’s another space where they could have used other female characters to make up for the absence of Carrie Fisher, for example, Maz, to build more depth into this so we were ready for a Rey Skywalker by the end of the film. (Again, Fangirl Jeanne has some good thoughts about this in that epic fix-it essay.) It would have also meant that Luke wasn’t the only one Teaching Rey Stuff, so we’d have got some interactions between Rey and other women instead of just the “Old” White Guy Teacher.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, Rey didn’t need a “powerfully dark” last name to struggle with the power of her abilities and the good and evil within herself. She could have just as easily remained “Rey from Nowhere” during most of the film. A great arc could’ve been written from this angle, where Rey has to choose to confront the Darkness within herself (that’s within all of us, just as the Light is) and choose to be who she is: the last “Jedi”/ trained Force-user. What does that mean for the galaxy? There are other untrained Force-users out there (like Finn) after all… A nuanced conversation could have been had. But this isn’t the film for nuanced conversations, so the narrative suffers for it.

The Redemption of Kylo Ren

–> Finally: Redemption arcs can be interesting if done well. But they require nuance, recognition of wrongdoing, and atonement, in a way that’s not usually easy to convey in a movie, especially one that’s got pacing issues. Therefore, Ren’s redemption doesn’t make a lot of sense, narratively – at the start of the movie, he’s still killing people, with little remorse, just to gain access to the place where Palpatine is. He “returns to the light” due to Rey (and Leia) – which, I mean, *vomits*. Seriously? (More on that in the “Awful” section.)

I enjoyed the cameo from Han Solo/ Harrison Ford in Ren/Ben’s mind (probably replacing what Leia and Carrie’s role would have been) after that fight. However, it’s been revealed that Han wasn’t a real Force-ghost, just a manifestation in Ren’s mind, sooooo….effectively, Ren/ Ben was talking to himself? Did he ever actually admit fault/ ask for forgiveness to anyone living (e.g. Rey)?

Or was everything just “presumed” forgiven because he helped his stalker crush win a fight against the Big Bad and healed her before fading away into the Force? Ongoing forgiveness and growth is another thing altogether – and that’s the thing that would have given Ren’s arc some actual redemption. Want an example of a redemption arc that works? Take the redemption of Zuko, a tortured-soul villain in Avatar: The Last Airbender. As Hoai-Tran Bui explains in this article from, Zuko shows how a villainous character can be forced to examine who they are and change, through the hard process of recognising their mistakes, owning up to them, and atoning for them.

It’s not easy, because redemption – real redemption – isn’t. They could’ve done something like that with Ren – if they’d allowed the screen time for it. I’ve read that some of his past actions are downplayed or explained by other means through some of the tie-in comics and books – but we really should’ve seen the explanations onscreen for a coherent redemption arc.

For a coherent redemption arc, Ren should have started the movie with less killing and more regret, then should have faced the consequences of his past misdeeds, verbally acknowledging he’s stuffed up – an extension of what’s already in the movie. Then he dies heroically sacrificing himself, maybe. Or he lives and is punished for his deeds justly, in some sort of way that means he could help rebuild what he broke. Maybe being unable to use the Force in the meantime – and staying well away from Rey.

Instead, he’s “absolved” through assisting with the fight with Palpatine then gets to fade away into the Force with barely any self-reflection. If they were going to do such a poor job, they should’ve just built him into this movie’s Big Bad (in a scenario that ignores Palpatine) and then had Rey capture/ kill him, with no redemption at all. I’d actually prefer that – it’s what I hoped for after TFA in the beginning: a strong female character whom I identified with kicking the male villain’s arse, and the male villain having chosen to be evil. But no: “Bendemption” was enabled – because Kylo Ren is white. Which leads me to…


What I thought was Awful:

Reylo and why I hate it

–> My biggest gripe and “UGH” moment for me? The Reylo kiss. The fucking Reylo kiss and its surrounding context: “redeeming” Ren through Rey and giving a hetero ‘ship between the white “former” villain and the white female protagonist. To explain why, I need to take us back to TFA again. During the whole of that movie, I loved Kylo Ren’s characterisation – he’s a desperate neo-Nazi fascist incel type, who has no qualms attempting to force himself into others’ minds and flies into explosive, violent rages at the slightest provocation when he doesn’t get his own way. He’s a bully and an abuser. He’s torn between good and evil, yes, but he wants evil to win. He kills his own father to ensure that (a choice I loved – such a great plot moment). I left the cinema after TFA hoping we’d eventually see Rey take him down. I did not want this guy redeemed.

Then TLJ happened. It tried to humanise Ren by giving him the backstory of Luke having a moment of doubt and trying to kill him. Bit OOC from what we thought of Luke, there, but eh, we’ll chalk it up to Snoke’s influence, hm? Or unreliable narrating, given it was the villain speaking. It also began laying the groundwork for reconciliation/ redemption and ‘romance’ by the way Ren and Rey interacted – and the space that Ren had to tell his story. (See stitch’s post, When White Villains Get Woobified.)

That plotline was one reason I left the cinema after that movie more than a bit unsettled, begging the universe to not turn this into a “girl/ woman saves boy/ man by loving him” type arc. That shit is toxic and wrong. Perpetuating that myth is dangerous. Still, I had hope – Ren still seemed more like a guy with a one-sided stalker crush than actual romance material.

However, Rey and Kylo Ren’s joint character arc in TRoS changed that. Now, we can technically say, “Reylo is canon”. Yuck. Out of all the things to be unambiguous about (because a kiss is a pretty direct signpost), they chose the reylo relationship. I know, I know, it was just one kiss, but seriously. At the start of the movie, Ren is shown killing his way through a planet on his way to investigate a dark presence.

You’re expecting me to be okay with him and Rey kissing by the end of it? Not to mention, not long before his redemption, Rey fought him, stabbed him and healed him. Then he “returns” to the light as the result of her actions and the actions of his mother. I’ve addressed that upthread. As his final moment, he and Rey kiss before he dies and fades away. Ugh.

I really, really hate this arc. Kylo Ren should have ended the movie dead or imprisoned, without a Happily Ever After. Kylo Ren is not (as TLJ and some reylos would have us think) a victim. He is an abuser. Loving someone is not enough to turn them “back to the Light”, and it’s fucking dangerous that the latter movies suggest this!!! The more I think about it the more uncomfortable I feel. I know he faded away into nothing, but the fact that the kiss and foreshadowing happened at all is concerning.

It means that I and others, who identified with Rey in TFA when she pushed back against his mental assault (“Get out of my head!”) and when she defeated him at the end of that movie, can’t enjoy TRoS-Rey as easily, because to our eyes, a victim ends up being shipped with the man who was once her abuser.

The other thing that’s wrong about this and why it sickens me, why it’s dangerous that the movie suggests “love conquers abuse”? Aside from the message it sends people in vulnerable relationships, especially opposite-sex ones…it also sends that same message to children. Children pick up our context subconsciously…and The Rise of Skywalker tells young children that if someone’s mean to you, being nice to them might fix it. You think I’m exaggerating, but I am not.

–> The kiss also threw a bone to the reylo shippers, many of whom went wild. They like that it’s canon (and often are really annoying about it), and many are refusing to engage with other fans about reylo in a critical manner. Many are also continuing to be absolute dicks by sending hate to other fans and actors, for example, black fans and John Boyega. I addressed some of this in my last post, but it’s still ongoing and they are doubling down.

Due to the fact that many reylo shippers are white women, they’re hiding behind the “sexism” and “misogny” cards when people try to critique their view. They use it to deflect from their racism, too. I hate it!!! It’s really upsetting to realise that the fandom I love is not the fandom that exists – at least, not in a majority way. Otherwise, the reylo ship and its associated toxicity would’ve been called out by more than just actors like Boyega who are directly affected by their actions, it wouldn’t be supported by mainstream fandom publications, and it would have remained a fringe element with no kiss.

Finn’s (lack of) character arc

–> But then, pigs might fly. Something became clear with TRoS that I somewhat missed in TLJ: Star Wars has a problem with racism, and it’s not just a niche minority of toxic white fanboys. It’s fangirls, too, as the discourse around reylo has illustrated. It’s also written into the creative decision-making surrounding the films, especially the last two. For example, in order to prioritise the “Bendemption” and Reylo arcs…they made Finn’s character arc invisible/ non-existent.

I will be upfront: I missed Finn’s arc decreasing in TLJ because I’m white, so I didn’t pick up on the microaggressions and sidelining. I knew it seemed to repeat his TFA journey from a slightly different angle and was frustrated by that. However, I didn’t see some of the things that were racist but played for laughs. I also didn’t realise how yuck some of the plot/ character arcs were: Finn being “taught” that fighting for “those we love” matters, for example…and the scenes with the stablehand kids. (See resources I linked the other day for more.) The trend of minimising Finn continues in TRoS, and becomes blatantly obvious.

Finn is Force-sensitive, but the only nod to that is him feeling Rey’s death plus that one line of conversation with Jannah. It had to be confirmed after the movie’s release. Finn could have trained with Leia and been her protegé in the way that Rey was almost Luke’s. Finn could have had a chance to flex his intellect and use the knowledge of the First Order for good. Instead, Finn’s reduced to a comical character a lot of the time.

They wait until the second half of TRoS to have Finn positively interact with any other dissenting stormtroopers. This is right near the end of the trilogy, so nothing can really be explored. Imagine if they’d used this as a plot point from the beginning/ TLJ? Imagine if Jannah had been introduced earlier? I’d have loved to have seen more of her, too (more on that in a minute). The fact is that Finn has never been allowed to show much angst over the fact that he’s fighting against people that were once on his side.

He doesn’t know all of them of course, but he knows (or, he should know) that they’re just like he was. Forced to fight because they’ve been trained and conditioned to see the First Order as the best and only organisation that is Right. Finn knows what it means to be a child captive and soldier, forced to grow up in a very specific environment. But is that explored? Not a bit. The only stormtroopers Finn meets defected of their own accord and it’s handwaved away with “a feeling”, a.k.a. the Force. The Force helped Finn to rebel and escape maybe, but it’s a bit of a cop-out to suggest only ‘troopers with the Force could do the same. It doesn’t say much for human nature, free will and conscience, does it? Again, a wasted opportunity.

Finally, he had one of the more cringeworthy lines of TRoS: the “Rey, I’ve got something to tell you!” line, which is one that never. gets. resolved. on-screen. They try to build it up – Poe acts annoyed after, when questioning Finn – but Rey calls them on, and then it’s never. mentioned. again. This led to fan speculation that he was telling Rey he loves her. However, this was nixed by TRoS director, JJ Abrams, in a Q&A.

Apparently, Finn wanted to tell Rey he had the Force. Honestly. If that was the case, why didn’t they resolve it on-screen? Also, if that was the case, the scene should’ve been shot differently, to avoid the obvious conclusion. It makes me think that that scene was originally meant to be a love confession, and then the creative team decided to do the reylo-kiss-and-die thing instead, so cut any resolution of that arc. Leaving us with speculation and little substance onscreen. (After all, two whites kissing is easier to sell than an interracial relationship to some people, despite the fact that Finn has been in Rey’s corner the whole way, including during TRoS, and Ren has decidedly not been.)

This shows, to me, how little they care about Finn’s interpersonal connections. So much is set up in TFA about friendships and so on that isn’t easily followed through, across the trilogy. I wanted more Finn and Rey goodness overall…and there was a lack of Finn and Poe in TLJ too. (Rian Johnson’s been quoted as saying that he separated Poe and Finn in TLJ because they “got along too well” and it would’ve been “really boring”.). In TRoS, Finn’s friendships and overall character arc are hampered by the too-fast pace of the movie and the issues already mentioned, despite the amount of screen time given to him.

Rose Tico (with additional thoughts on Jannah and Zorii Bliss)

–> That’s not all, however. We need to talk about Rose Tico. Rose and her actress, Kelly Marie Tran, deserved so much better than what she got. After being what I’d call a “main supporting actress” in TLJ, with plenty of character development and growth available for TRoS, she is instead reduced to a bit-part role, spouting one-liners. That is fucking ridiculous and reads as the people in charge caving in to the noxious sexist & racist hate that Tran was subjected to after TLJ. Her downgrade is inexplicable, plot-wise, and was a huge disappointment. Rose had so. much. potential.

In TLJ, we get hints of this, as her arc revolves around showing Finn what’s worth fighting for (in itself a rather sexist arc). Beyond that, she has personal reasons to hate the First Order and she’s a kick-arse mechanic. I wanted to see all of that explored. It’s also problematic in that the connection that TLJ developed between her and Finn – that culminated in a kiss at the end of the movie – is completely unremarked upon in TRoS. Like, I know that kiss happened last year in-universe, but where’s the continuation or closure?

Adding Jannah (whose whole arc is a dangling plot thread) as another nonwhite female character for Finn to interact with does not excuse the banishment of Rose Tico. Her absence from the film is a glaring hole. Why didn’t she go with them to search for the object, hm? They might have needed her expertise – and it would’ve been fun to see her and Jannah interacting. Or they could’ve included her in other ways, if they’d bothered to tell a broader story. Instead, nada.

–> I also want to take a minute to talk about Zorii Bliss. I thought her character in TRoS could have had a lot of potential – the appearance, perhaps, of a female character using her feminity in empowering ways. I mean, look at the suit – and the fact that Zorii never takes the mask off (a conscious choice that the actress, Keri Russell, leaned into, even on set). However… that’s not quite what we got, was it? While the hints were there, Zorii’s main role in the movie was to be someone Poe used to know, giving Poe a female love interest…and giving Poe a Past.

Poe’s Past

–> A past as a spice runner. I cringed when I heard that line. Poe’s past, up until this point, has already been well-fleshed out. Before the release of TFA, Poe’s actor Oscar Isaac developed his own headcanons about Poe’s backstory: Poe’s from Yavin 4 in part because those scenes were filmed in Guatemala, the same country where Isaac was born. The creative team heard about this and decided to lean into that, releasing comics that made the imagined backstory canon. ❤

Before TRoS, we knew Poe as a Rebellion-era baby (he was born sometime after the Battle of Yavin/ first Death Star), whose parents fought in the Rebellion. He defected to the Resistance from the New Republic Navy and was known as a good pilot. We’d last seen him go through his own crisis of conscience in TLJ, failing and relearning how to be a leader. I disagreed with a lot of Poe’s arc in that movie because of how it took the Poe of TFA – warm-hearted, supportive, respectful – and turned him into a machismo-man type (his interactions with Leia and Holdo are weird – he’s disrespectful to both of them and it stinks).

However, the “learn from failure” bit was interesting and should have been built on. Instead, we get an irritable, reducive TFA-lite Poe, tagging along without much development…except to add unnecessary backstory. In Star Wars, “spice” is a euphemism for drugs. The creators saw fit to give Poe – who is played by a Latinx actor – a drug runner backstory, shoe-horning it in around the rest of the gorgeous backstory.

This is despite the fact that Oscar Isaac has made efforts to avoid being racially typecast (See the backstory link above) – he’s previously rejected roles that “perpetuate the stereotype”. I think that it’s disrespectful to Isaac, as well as racist, that the creators added the backstory. As one commentator put it, “no wonder Isaac seemed kind of disgruntled while promoting the movie”. You have to ask why the filmmakers did what they did. It’s probable that if it had been mooted from the beginning, Oscar Isaac would likely not have played Poe at all.

FinnPoe and the same-sex screen-kiss

–> My final complaint for this review essay is this: TRoS and its creators could be said to be perpetuating queerbaiting. Abrams, in an interview before the film’s release, confirmed two things: one, that FinnPoe wasn’t going to happen, and two, that there would be a same-sex kiss onscreen. Reader, the latter was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kiss. It also came right after the last of several intense moments which occur across the film that could be read as FinnPoe. I think that juxtasposition was intentional.

There are GIFs and fanart and fanfic of those scenes all across the internet. We knew it wouldn’t happen. But to have it not happen so blatantly sucks. I maintain that the two characters with the most chemistry onscreen were Finn and Poe. Both John Boyega and Oscar Isaac have indicated that they would’ve been fine with playing it that way. Indeed, Isaac has been particularly vocal about it – and has called the studio out on not doing it. (Which, actually, has fuelled some fan theories about the reasons behind the spice runner backstory controversy.)

Finn and Poe had some beautiful lines together in TRoS, and throughout the trilogy. It’s always felt like the subtext was there for the taking…if the creators allowed them to lean in just that little more…

Examples of deep male friendship are lovely. However, there are so many examples of canonical male friendship out there already. We really, really need canon queer characters in mainstream (i.e. not explicitly queer-coded) film/ film franchises – like Star Wars, Marvel and Harry Potter. Why couldn’t the queers have this one? It doesn’t have to involve negating their female love interests, despite the “nothing gay to see here” feel of the introduction of Zorii – I happily headcanon either/ both of Poe and Finn as bi. 😉

I have to wonder, though, how fucking long will it be until we get a same-sex kiss in a mainstream film that involves two main characters – not just two bit-part ones? Two characters that have such dynamic chemistry together? Two characters whose friendship is so strong outside of the romance, and romance would’ve just added an extra layer? It’s called representation for a reason. Two bit-part characters kissing in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene is not good enough.


And, finally…

That’s my wrap-up. That was a lot to unpack.

While this film has been a disappointment, I still love TFA and the Star Wars universe. I will still cosplay as Rey (now with yellow lightsaber!) at the next Con I go to. I will still participate in fandom. The next thing on my to-do list about fandom is to find all the Sequel Trilogy tie-in books and read those. I’ve got to find my character backstory that the films didn’t have time for somewhere, after all.

As for the canon? Well, I’ll just have to, as Chuck Wendig said once, point the cannons at canon and make my own fun. In the spirit of that, I’m pulling together a list of headcanons and fanfic that make me feel good about the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. I might share those on my Twitter at some point.

For now, thanks for staying with me through this epic ride through Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The Importance of Fandom and Fan Creation

Content note: we’re going to touch on transphobia, racism and sexism in this piece. Also, it’s a long post, FYI. Don’t let that deter you though. I’ve used some section breaks (***) to note where sections start and end and, I hope, short enough paragraphs for readability.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll have noticed that I love fandom. Fandom = all fans of something (in a broad or narrow sense); or the state or attitude of being a fan. This can be about anything – sports, fashion, celebrities, or fiction such as a certain book or television series or film.

I have an entire category of blog posts on this site devoted to it. Fandom was instrumental in my child and teenage years in providing me with a belonging space and a space for my creative ideas to expand. Through identifying with characters in specific fandoms and using them to explore different scenarios based on what happened in their stories, I felt connected.

Fandom has largely been a positive experience for me. However…we’re going to go a bit deeper than that today.

If you were to go look through the Fandom category of this blog I linked above, you’d find two posts where I list my fandoms: “Fandoms, or I’m a Fan of…” and “Fandoms, Updated“. I have a lot of them, some more obscure than others. There are nuances on that list, as I like to engage with my fandoms critically. Friends, it’s time for another update of those lists.

Almost three weeks ago, two Fandom-related events happened:

  1. The author of the Harry Potter series fully showed herself to be a transphobe. I discovered this on the morning of the 20th of December, AEDT.
  2. The latest Star Wars movie was released after great expectations. I cosplayed as Rey to watch it at the movies on the afternoon of the 20th of December.


I’m a major Harry Potter fan. It was my second fandom and one that has endured through the years. I know that it – and the fandom around it – has shaped my sense of self and how I see the world. For example, I describe myself as a Hufflepuff – loyal, hard-working, and kind. I identified strongly with Hermione and Harry in the books. I’ve spoken about this in my Fandom posts and in other posts such as Happy Birthday Harry.

However, over the past four or five years, I’ve become more aware of the uncomfortable parts of the books and fandom. See Harry Potter and the Canon-Fanon Thing for an early example. I honestly thought I’d addressed it more than this, but apparently not.

Basically: Harry’s world in the books still echoes the ‘real’ world – it’s set in a boarding school (echoes of the posh British boarding school trope), has racist undertones regarding the goblins and elves, and there is next to no representation of black or queer characters in a positive manner. Most of the representation came later, after fandom asked. (For example, if Dumbledore’s gay, which I do support, why did it have to be “hinted at” instead of mentioned?)

Also, looking at the new Fantastic Beasts movies – are the Goldstein sisters Jewish? No clue from the first movie….and the revelations about Nagini (she’s a shapeshifting Asian woman rather than a snake) turned me away from watching the second one. Also, the women in the books often don’t have the most well-rounded or fleshed out characterisations. Fandom has had to do a lot of our own exploration of these characters to “fill them in”.

We haven’t had to do as much with the male characters – though we often still do, as there are still problematic elements we want to address through exploring them. I used to think the books were “nuanced” in their character development. Now, I’m not so sure… and I feel that it’s strange that the fandom “catchphrase” is the “after all this time? Always.” line that’s taken from a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape and is actually, in context, kinda creepy.

Then there’s the author herself. Over the timeframe I mentioned above, she’s become more obvious in her biases and prejudices. (See the canon-fanon article for an example.) There have been rumours that she was a transphobe for some time, through the form of her liking things on Twitter or following certain people there, explained away by her PR team or herself. Then on the 20th December, she actually tweeted her own transphobic views and refused to back down.

I had begun to separate her from her books and the fandom for some time before that, discussing it with friends. I think it was sometime in the first half of 2018 that I made this decision, but I didn’t share it on here. Sorry about that. I think that a number of fans were hoping that she’d realise her folly at some point and back off. Or they didn’t know how to deal with the “hinted” transphobia and other concerns and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite what many trans people and other minority groups were saying. Sorry about that. There can be none of that now. She’s shown herself publicly and has in fact doubled down on her comments since.

This is particularly infuriating because – as I mentioned above – for many Potter fans, the Potterverse made us feel welcome. Including trans fans. It’s upsetting to see the creator reject that. So, we reject the creator…but keep the fandom. A lot has been said about that in the past few weeks. I stand with trans and non-binary people, especially those who are fans hurt by the recent comments. I am sorry that the Harry Potter creator has said those things and I reject her premise. Trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are people, and so on. You are loved and valued.


As for the Star Wars movie: I’m planning to write another post after this where I get into the good and bad stuff in a bid more detail (i.e. with spoilers). For now, I will say that – as you can see from my Force Awakens post, I was really keen on where the Sequel Trilogy was going after the first movie. The ending movie? Not so much. It was an ending that gave us one version of how those threads could’ve tied together, with Last Jedi in the middle, but to be honest I’m a bit disappointed that that is the canon ending we get.

There are multiple reasons about that. Chuck Wendig, who’s written for the “new” Star Wars in the form of a tie-in book trilogy set between RotJ and TFA, has some thoughts over on his blog that I agree with a lot. I’ll expand more on that angle in the TRoS-themed spoliery blog post. What I’m going to mention today is: SW fans, we have multiple problems within our fandom.

Namely, racism and sexism. The sexism can be seen in the way some fans have interacted with Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) over the course of the films. Fans compared Rey to a Mary Sue after TFA and got really angry at Tran after TLJ – they’ve made social media engagement so toxic that both Tran and Ridley have deleted their public social media accounts (Ridley in 2016 and Tran in 2018). Tran’s role in the films has also been impacted by racism.

The racism in the Star Wars fandom is a big problem. This is present in the people working on the films (how else do you explain how Finn’s story-arc has diminished each film, as well as the disappearance of Rose, and possibly the lack of thought about Poe’s “new” backstory in TRoS?), but it’s feral in the fandom. The fans have been absolutely toxic to Finn and his actor, John Boyega. Boyega has received so much hate for daring to exist as a Star Wars actor and be black, all through the films. To quote an article on gizmodo from a couple of days ago,

” The larger point is that throughout almost the whole of his run as one of Star Wars’ central characters, Boyega—like essentially all of the actors portraying Star Wars characters who aren’t white men—has been the recipient of an inordinate amount of what seems to be outright hatred for having the audacity to simply be themselves in public spaces.”

A lot of that negativity passed me by – I knew it was a thing, but I’d largely grumbled then dismissed it as toxic white fanboys. In the past week, I’ve been forced to realise that there are many toxic white fangirls, too. They don’t like Finn and they don’t like John Boyega. He exists and he “gets in the way of” their ship of Rey and Kylo Ren (bleurgh). He calls them out on their shit, as well. This has been present from the beginning and throughout filming (see John Boyega tells fans to stop harrassing cast and John Boyega explains his assertive stance on toxic fandom and the article I quoted above).

A lot of what I know in detail about this has come from me reading other more-well-informed fans’ posts about the issue(s), especially in the wake of John Boyega’s comments on Twitter over NYE. Please read them. They explain things better than I ever could.

We need to ‘fess up to the dark side of Fandom – how it carries the -isms of the real world into it. We need to examine that critically and call that out. Or else we risk the enjoyment of fandom being ruined for fans who aren’t cishet white people. We need to do better.

Edited to add this last bit because I acccidentally published an earlier draft:

So, Fandom can be absolutely wonderful, when we make the stories ours. I will always be grateful for that. But we need to think critically when we do so, because our own biases get in the way of making Fandom inclusive and enjoyable for all. Otherwise, participating in Fandom can suck.

2019 Soundtrack

It’s that time of year again – the time when I look back over the past year and decide what were the songs that mattered to me. Previous soundtracks are pre-2015, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The first soundtrack post is also an exploration of how I engage with music.

Firstly, songs from AIV2019:

  • Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre
    • despite being on the list last year, it gets another ‘honourable mention’, because we sang it in the concert as well as while floating in the sea at a social event.
  • Magnificat by Kim Andre Anderson
    • A beautiful work that set the words of the magnificat (Mary’s glorious speech from Luke’s Gospel), in Latin, to music. The work was six pieces long, with different tempos, a soloist and choral soloist (from the choir), and was very fun to sing.
  • Stars by Eriks Esenvalds
    • A beautiful work that set the words of a poem by Sara Teasdale to musical accompaniment made by tuned wine glasses, filled with specific amounts of water. These glasses were played by running a wet finger around the rim of the glass, and the amount of water in each glass corresponded to a different pitch.
  • Sure on this Shining Night by Morten Laurisden
    • A beautiful song musing about the beauty of faraway stars. It has some lovely lyrics, for example, “I weep for wonder, wand’ring far alone… / for shadows, on the stars…”
    • This song is included on the list, however, because at the AIV camp revue the Perth University Choral Society (PUCS) performed a filk of it – keeping the tune and pacing, but with alternative lyrics. To give you a hint, the title was “Sure on this Friday Night”, with the alternative title “Maccas Run”. We then performed this to the conductor later, just for laughs. Loved it!

Moving away from AIV, the next songs are a set of three about being true to myself. That was one of my themes for 2019, building on previous years. I haven’t shared all of that journey with you, but I think I’ll be ready in 2020 to do so. Starting now.

You see, I’m bi – and probably demi, too. Not to mention doubly disabled, having Dandy Walker Syndrome and being autistic. I’ll share more of my journeys of understanding those parts of myself with you in other blog posts. Now, onto the songs:

  • Brave (Sara Bareilles)
    • This song was first in my 2017 list, but it became more powerful for me in 2019. This song is a song that Sara wrote for a friend who was worried about coming out of the closet. Sara wrote it to encourage the friend to feel safe with her. This song is huge for me.
    • In 2017, I identified with Sara, though I was beginning to identify with the nameless friend. Now, I identify with both. I came out about my sexuality to my “choir family” at AIV, telling my truth as an intro before I sang Brave to them. I then repeated the song as a solo performance at the semester 1 LaTUCS concert. While the intervarsity choir community definitely isn’t perfect, without their support, it would’ve taken longer to discover who I really am, I think.
  • Welcome to My Truth (Anastacia)
    • A song about being true to yourself, despite everything that gets thrown at you, and living your dreams. It’s about finding the courage to take off the “mask” you’ve been wearing as a disguise, to show and be proud of your true self.
    • I heard this song when I was about to come out as bi to other important family in my life. It reminded me that whatever the outcome, I know myself and my dreams – and what I don’t know, I’m finding out for myself.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
    • LaTUCS sang this song as part of our semester 1 concert. (We also watched the movie later.) I identify strongly with parts of this song for similar reasons to the above song.
    • It’s a well-known song, but if you really listen to it, it’s also a song about pain, rejection, loss – and choosing what matters to you and how you recover from it. In a way. I certainly took it that way when we ran through it at choir the week after I’d had a particularly important conversation that led to a rejection of part of my identity by others.

In 2019, I trialled going to two intervarsity choirs each week during semester. While I don’t think I’ll do the same this year (it was a bit much for me to continue on a regular basis), it was still fun.

  • MonUCS songs:
    • One of the MonUCS songs I did was Song of the Dragonborn (Skyrim: Main Theme) (Lindsey Stirling, Peter Hollens).
    • We did plenty of others, including a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem, but that’s the one that sticks in my head most.
  • LaTUCS songs:
    • Songs sung by LaTUCS this year included:
      • Counting Stars (OneRepublic),
      • Northern Lights (Ola Gjello),
      • What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong),
      • True Colours (Cyndi Lauper), aaaand:
      • The Four Chords Song (Axis of Awesome).
    • Do yourself a favour and check out the latter here. It’s cool.

Edited to add: I can’t believe I nearly forgot the Come From Away soundtrack. I’m going to put Welcome to the Rock and Me and the Sky in here too.

That was my soundtrack for 2019.

In 2020, I hope to stop procrastinating and purchase songs on my to-buy list, keep singing in LaTUCS, go to QIV2020, attend other choral concerts and singing opportunities, and keep developing my appreciation for how music moves me. In that light, I thought I’d end by quoting a blog post I wrote back in October.

I have several passions …. [including] music; listening to it, relaxing with it, and performing it.

Last Friday’s [Brahms] concert was fantastic. It was hard work – I wasn’t as relaxed as I was in other concerts. But I feel really happy about it all the same. The reason for that is …. a number of people were there who’d personally either bought a ticket from me, or came at my recommendation, because I was singing.

Afterwards, they were of course the people whose opinions I cared about the most. So to see their happiness and excitement at what we’d performed – pardon the pun, but it made my heart sing. When someone else gets a thrill from watching me do something I love and do it well – it makes me very happy. It fills me up, completely.

Partly, it’s because it is a gift that is shared. I am forever sharing “me” through my passions. But society’s rules and expectations, the way that quirkiness is looked down on because it’s different, meant that I struggled with fitting in for a long time. Anxiety, especially social anxiety, is a leftover gremlin from that. Finding LaTUCS, then the rest of the choir network, helped me become more comfortable in being “me” – because in the choir(s), we’re united through a love of music and a love of sharing that through choral singing. Regardless of our differences.

Being able to share that with the people I love, my friends and family, is wonderful. So I say to you: support your friends in their passions. Go see us perform, or ask us about our current project. Watch us light up and understand: It means the world to us. Often, we’ve spent a long time hiding or minimising our passions and ourselves. Being supported and seeing our friends enjoy what we do? It makes us feel seen. And loved.

Taken from “Reflections”: October 7th 2019.