Before I say anything else, I want to say thank you, anon, for your ask. I have been wondering when I would start getting feedback like this–and, honestly? I am surprised it took this long to get something like this…
I always encourage people to call me out on stuff they feel I could be doing better and, sure, that kind of overture probably feels akin to being asked over for tea and the host has covered all the seats in broken glass; however, I mean what I say. I want, very much, to engage with people whose views are outside of my lens because there is so much more life out there than I can ever experience alone.
So, while I feel like I would be wholly justified in just ignoring what is incendiary performative allyship hyperbolic tripe, I also want to stick to my principles of encouraging discourse. After all, the concerns I am getting from those questions are all entirely valid, if narrowly focused, criticisms of my work, and I feel that if I dismiss them out of hand, purely because I feel that their diction is purposefully confrontational, then I am saying I am not interested in entertaining opposing opinions. I realize, however, that engaging with this ask also invites more of the same so… allow me to be perfectly fucking clear about something…
I may be a depressed, neurotic ball of vibrating angst but, there is no dispersion which can be cast at me about having ‘hollow justification just to write futanari smut‘ that my depressed brain does not say to me at least fifty times a day in a stunning example of the converse Dunning-Kruger effect. There is no disparagement of my ability to write that I have not already felt in the depths of my soul as someone with two degrees in writing who has spent years working with people who have ages more experience and devotion to craft than I can muster.
Being told, over the internet, that I am a shitty person is seriously nothing in comparison to the vitriol I have endured from my classmates, my one-time friends, and even my family. Also, I am acutely aware that what I am writing and how I am writing it can, and will, be polarizing to some folks. Not just to those who are rightly upset about the fetishization and othering of trans bodies, but also those who purely want to fantasize about, say, turning that bitch in accounting into their personal, mindless sex-obsessed slave.
Writing stories which explore sex, gender, and the interplay between those parts of who we are is already a difficult undertaking. Doing that with empathy and moments of connection wrapped up in sexual/sensual entertainment must undoubtedly seem flippant to those who treat that sphere of topics with a more serious mindset. After all, one’s body and one’s identity are things which are both intimately personal and yet, are more universal than nearly any other part of the collective human condition. It is a confluence of elements which is always on the mind of those out there whose identities are brought into question every moment of every day by everyone around them.
Moreover, while I do not owe anyone any evidence that I have had that experience first-hand–and still do–that aspect of my life is why I engaged with this material in the first place and why I write what I do with the goals that I have. Chiefly, erotic stories that say something. Erotic stories that have an impact beyond just that romanticized peak of orgasm. Themes like ‘your presentation is not about pleasing another’s gaze, but finding satisfaction in whom you are‘, ‘having a sex drive (or lack thereof) should not be a thing that warrants punishment‘ and ‘empathy is the greatest emotion one can feel‘ run through everything I write–as do responses to things which happened in stories I feel could have been written better.
In the same way that I believe genre fiction has been saying essential things for ages which were ignored or dismissed because those stories involved the fantastical, I believe that kink-infused speculative can do good. I believe the stories I write and the effect they have on others are providing a frontier to find a common understanding. In a world that is only growing colder and less empathetic every day, we could all use a little more understanding.
Which is why, more than anything, I want to have offerings that speak to things other than two action figures being jammed together for the CHeWMaG (cishet white male gaze). Everyone, queer or otherwise––whether they be allosexual, asexual or somewhere in the grey area–should have fiction that gives them warm fuzzy feelings–whatever that means to them. It could be getting off. It could be taking pleasure in seeing a relationship with which they can identify. It might even just be seeing a character they empathize with finding contentment–however temporary that might be.
I have been short of meeting my lofty goals for a story before, a lot actually, and I will miss the mark again. However, overcoming those shortcomings, learning from others, and being too stubborn for even depression to knock me off my game for long is why I am the writer and person I am today.
So, other incendiary asks, like this one, will not be answered or even acknowledged. Vague shotgun blasts at my entire body of work are not worth any more time than I have already invested in this piece. So, if you feel like you could write better stories, fucking go do that instead of @ing me.
Now, if there is something specific I did in a story, or if there is an identifiable pattern which indicates a gap in my understanding, and that gets called out, then I will happily engage with it, learn from it, and do better. If there is an issue with how I represented a character from another culture, please, speak up. If there is something about my diction, my formatting, anything really–so long as it is something identifiable–I will at least consider what is being told to me. Again, however, sweeping hyperbolic pseudo-criticism is not worth my already limited writing time.
All that said, it is time to address the questions I received.
Why do you talk about how forward thinking your writing is when you often reduce women to their sexual traits and bimbofy them?
I am a little confused about this one and take a fair bit of umbrage with it, for multiple reasons.
First of all, bimbofication is two separate aspects, the aesthetic and the unquestioning subservience to (masculine) penis owners. Whether the aesthetic existing is harmful to women as a whole is a personal belief. To me, no aesthetic is an issue in and of itself–its the contents and context of that packaging. If someone wants to pursue their ideal of beauty, and that happens to line up with fetishized notions of femininity, that is their call, not mine or anyone else’s outside of those they trust to have their backs. No, the issue I have with bimbofication, as typically presented, is that a) the transformation is almost never something she wants and b) that transformation goes hand in hand with the glorification of a character’s emotional and mental being getting erased so that their husk can be molded to suit the CHeWMaG “protagonist.”
Effective character death is one of my major peeves. As such, I strive to ensure characters have internality and personal velocity. I feel that if one were to read any of the stories past the warning tags, they would know how I take great pains to ensure that everyone in any given scene has an agenda, that every character a reason for being there and has something they want out of the moment. That is true even in my most recent story (The Other Side), which was in keeping with the bimboesque tone of the original piece by
@bigboobiesthatwrite Tess. I exerted a (little) bit of effort further developing both characters to give them additional layers of personality they did not have in the original.
Both of them now have a history and a context, and they both have goals–which are, I admit, warped beyond recognition at the end because of the Monkey’s Paw trope on which The Coin is based. However, at every step in the story, the protagonists each have an arc that is progressing. Sure, Sammy/Sammi/Mimi is forcing the issue, and her enthusiastic but straightforward worldview shapes how things turn out, but this is ultimately a story about a woman finding the power to support another woman in a time of distress and trying to comfort her in the way which makes the most sense to her.
Addressing the other questions briefly, yes, it is Sammy’s internalized patriarchy and misogyny that ultimately results in her becoming a virilized femme. The Coin does this to resolve the cognitive dissonance between her straight white girl concepts of what defines a relationship with the new reality of being in a committed relationship with Gina which, since she is a sex goddess, is very physical–and yes, that is both a problem and a Watsonian justification for why I did what I did.
However, this is why I use altersex to describe women like Mimi. She is very obviously both sexes by the story’s end, however, she still views herself as a woman even with her new physical status quo. And yes, she gains a massive horse cock, but that is not even a major element of the scene after it happens. The moment is about Gina and Mimi’s relationship evolving and changing into one fueled by a divine hedonism and a devotion to each other that both find satisfying. That lack of emotional development is a major reason why I moved away from futanari as a term for what I write. The word has become conflated with all of the other awful slurs used to describe porn of trans women and that is not what I am intentionally writing. This was not a story about dealing with trans issues, this was a woman’s toy cock becoming real through reality altering wish fulfillment.
The story could have easily involved other beats for the same ends, and I will own that. Still, ignoring or refusing to see my message in order to feel insulted or offended purely based on what the content of the story appears to be, does everyone a disservice. Which is why I make sure to label scenarios like this as obviously fetishized fantasy. The Other Side was never going to be a literary drama, it was never going to win a Pushcart Prize, it was always going to be an exercise in escalation and unexpected outcomes. However, an over-the-top series of events can still have meaning–albeit far more archetypal in nature. Which is why I want to delineate between these types of situations and actual portrayals of trans narratives. I want people to have accurate expectations of what they are about to read.
Also, the altersex label is about more than just content. A story where someone (near) instantly becomes a fetish ideal has a very different feel from a narrative featuring someone who has spent their lives surviving in a social context that insists they exist as an example of their gender binary label. That second individual has, to some extent, probably never felt like a whole person in the same way the transformed one has. On a similar note, someone who has just transformed has not had much–if any–time at all to fully come to grips with how their new sex redefines their identity. One of my other peeves with most TF fetish smut is the satisfaction of the kink and the reader’s needs without thought to how it changes a character’s life–which is more of that lack of internality in characters that I mentioned earlier–and maybe I should spend more time writing about that journey and the impact it has on them.
Back to the question at hand, however, the assertion the question seems to be making, that a woman cannot be portrayed as a sexual ideal and still be a person, is a false equivalency which only reinforces the whole point of my being unabashedly Sex Positive. I do not punish characters for their sex drive or their orientation. I have not yet killed a queer character (of which I have penned about 200 in the last two years). Above all, I make damn sure that every scene I do has moments of consent. Granted, yes, sometimes that results in unexpected outcomes–like in The Other Side–but that is a very different beast from being coerced into a situation or having something done to someone without their knowledge. Like, all of the stories with scenarios about women finding out that their partner has spiked their food, or swapped their meds are just… ugh. They are all date rapes taken to an extreme and are power fantasies of men who want to control women and women’s bodies.
To put that in more concrete terms, it is like the difference between agreeing ahead of time with your partner that they should surprise you on the train and be rough with you and some random forcing themselves on you instead. Extending the metaphor, the unexpected result element of the scenario is when your partner will “strike.” You agreed to have the scene, and they will let you know it is them when they do pin you to the closed door in the packed, 1715 train out of Boston, but when the encounter happens is entirely out of your control–and that is the thrill of the scene.
Now, yes, proper treatment of consent requires also being able to withdraw it at any time for any reason. That is hard to accomplish in most transformation scenes. They are a thing which has to run a course, they are not just a switch to be flipped off–unless they are, of course. To go back to the metaphor, it would be like you either not being able to tell your partner to stop the scene or them ignoring your request–and that is most definitely an issue. No argument from me there. Which is why it is something I try to mitigate by having such transformations be temporary or reversible in some way. Is that a perfect answer? No, not really. It is, however, a recognition of the shallow bar that women are people and that their wants can be in opposition to the outcome of a scenario. It is, again, all about not punishing that autonomy by forcing them to submit to the whims of another character or the CHeWMaG’s expectations of blissful acceptance of a perversion of domesticity.
Do you believe that your writing becomes more progressive when you cut out as many men as possible, but assign clearly masculine traits to women and you can?
I do not think my disinclusion of males or men is nearly that extensive. Sure, I write fewer men. That happens, in part, because I have trouble writing characters that do not just end up dude bro stereotypes for me to strawman–because it is tempting and it hardly feels like an exaggeration anymore. Which makes me wonder if this issue is with assigning masculine traits to those who identify as women or is it actually about changing female bodies to replace male ones? Because masculine traits like the confidence to stand one’s ground, the ability to put one’s emotional needs first, and not being forced to prove oneself to every chucklefucker in the world are entirely things everyone should exhibit. Just as, in the same way, more men could stand to exhibit the converse feminine traits of being cognizant of what they say, recognizing there is more to life than their needs, and having the drive always to be improving.
That said, my issues are not with masculinity or men or males. My beef is with the toxic, machismo, Dad-knows-best bullshit that got a man who views his daughter as a sexual object, and admitted to sexual assaults, elected fucking president! My quarrel is with the enforcement of patriarchal notions at all levels of society about what traits go to which sex organs. My fight is with the willing ignorance that has perpetrated since the ’40s by a stratum of humanity who believe it is okay to call the president of Lucasfilm a cunt because they feel The Last Jedi was an awful movie. It is the same group who are upset that they are being forced to share their toys with their sisters who, by the way, have easily written a quarter billion words about Star Wars while their brothers were busy throwing tantrums about how underwhelmed they were by The Force Awakens.
In fact, on that topic, Reylo is a fucking concrete example of what happens all the fucking time. When it is a woman’s idea it is ‘a cute attempt’ or ‘fanfiction’ but, when some douchecanoe on YouTube plagiarizes from a dozen different metas to come up with a low-effort five-minute video, he is ‘presenting a theory’ or ‘doing great work.’ It is no different from when Janice the AVP of Accounting suggests the business use a new website one meeting, only to be vaguely engaged with, while Jim in the call center suggests the same thing at lunch or during golf and gets a promotion out of it.
My gripes also extend to the institutionalized nostalgia for an era which is only thought of as a Golden Age because we “won” a war, it put women “back in their place,” and the average white guy just had to stay in their lane and not think about injustice. Like, seriously, those young men coming back from Europe were injured in more ways than one. They were, however, encouraged to not speak up about the damage inflicted on their souls by the war in exchange for manufactured prosperity in cookie-cutter neighborhoods surrounded by other people who looked and thought like them. This denial of mental health only further entrenched the stigma attached to it and had lasting effects on the support given to vets returning from war.
That is not to say The Greatest Generation are blameless. They ignored how men who had fought and died for their country were returning home to a crueler, colder hostility than even what they faced overseas. They did not take time to examine the cancerous Us vs. Them mentality which had metastasized into society out of the malignant xenophobic sentiments that had built up before the war. Sentiments which convinced us, as a country, to gleefully demonize an entire nation to justify the cruelties inflicted on Japanese-American citizens and then the use of a weapon ultimately even more inhumane than Mustard Gas not once, but twice. Sentiments which continue to this day in the rhetoric of our leadership.
Simply put, my issues are with the pointed, deliberate lack of empathy within most men because society grinds it out of them. It is the cause of a justice system that justifies rape culture with victim blaming, a war machine of mass murder with fear, and the continued exploitation of people purposefully pushed to the margins with the Yzma-spoken sentiment of ‘[Y]ou should have thought of that before you became a peasant.’
Which brings me to this:
Why do you always have a problem with the term ‘futa’ when you KNOW altersex term is just a band-aid over it and you’re still fetishizing trans bodies?
I feel like I have probably hammered the point a few times already, but, as any witch will tell you, three is the most important number when it comes to having things succeed. So let’s talk language.
There is quite a bit about a culture one can discern from their lexicon; not so much in the articles and conjunctions, but in the handling of nouns, the conveyance of possession, and a focus on which words are alterations of other words. Man as the word to mean humanity and man as the pronoun for an adult human male were not always cognates, that usage began to take hold in the twelfth century. There was an extended period where masculine and feminine were both alterations of man in werman and wyfman. Though stylistic choices, however, wer- was usually dropped in text and, eventually, its usage withered entirely outside of Germanic countries. The Interpretation Act of 1850 is one codification of that–by stating that the masculine contained the feminine–and is, in my opinion, what people harken back to when they say “it’s always been that way” with regards to man meaning everyone and also men.
So, then, futanari. A Japanese portmanteau combining futatsu (two generic things) and nari (form) or naru (becoming), it literally translates to “two/dual-forms” or “becoming/being of two kinds.” It might as well apply to Transformers or anything Henshin-styled like Kamen Rider or Power Rangers as it does to the virilized femme form. The word is also not of a modern construction but is quite old and likely has roots in Shinto or Buddhist beliefs–since many spirits and deities were either of indeterminate or shifting sex and gender. However, since the term spread outside of Japan through the Internet in the 90’s, it has come to almost exclusively mean a woman with a penis. In an attempt to separate the word from “real life” trans women, activists worked to popularize the word newhalf to refer specifically to trans woman, but I am having a hard time finding any usage outside that footnote as part of the definition of futanari.
That said, as the paradoxical outcry and interest cycle about trans identities has churned through the last ten or so years, the word has, as I wrote earlier, ended up lumped with all of the other slurs commonly used to label porn that features trans women–which is part of why I moved away from it. That was not why I was into futanari. Again, I do not owe anyone explanations but, my involvement with futanari began because of my androgyny and because those stories and comics were erotic materials with women whose sexual identities were not merely consumables for men. Those early Wild Tales stories were all fantastic Burroughs-style adventures of women with a penis eventually having their first sexual encounter. It was never about sexualizing them as others–at least because of their bodies, they were generally outsiders of whatever setting they ended up in.
Yes, there are elements of futanari content which only exacerbate the existing problematic issues with portrayals of both cis and trans women. Futanari content, also, creates an excessively unfair expectation from a section of the population who are only into the idea of dating a trans woman because of those fantasy images.
As an aside, I feel like that, if more people were allowed to explore bisexuality–or, hell, that bisexual was consistently supported as an orientation at all–that the idea of a women having a penis (or a man having a vagina) could, someday, be no big deal–and that is part of my goal.
Why altersex then?
Well, the answer is that I wanted something at the opposite end of the spectrum from androgynous, something that conveyed “very obviously both” as opposed to “not obviously either.” Futanari might have meant that at one time, but now it is, on the whole, a muddled definition thanks to the many different sexual configurations and I wanted something with less baggage–if that makes sense.
When I made that remark about this time last year, I was forwarded a post about altersex as a term to use with a “strictly fantasy character whose physical configurations are otherwise impossible” which seemed like a great fit. In all honesty, “woman with a penis” is only the shallows of a concept as deep and wide as Loch Ness. With its current working definition, altersex can mean anything and everything alien or otherworldly. Depending on the text, angels and devils are altersex because of their inhuman genitals that would make one go mad from looking at them.
So, yeah. That is the paradigm under which I am operating. As such, no, I do not think altersex is a bandage over futanari or fetishizing trans femme bodies–and it never was supposed to be. I decided that the way things were did not match what I wanted to say and I changed my lexicon to suit the things I wanted to say.
In many respects then, I embraced hyperbole. By labeling a story with the altersex tag, I am deliberately saying these are stories about absurdist fantasy and that these are not trans women. However, does that mean that they cannot speak to the trans experience to some extent? These are characters who are just as outside the cissexual male/female binary as anyone who cannot or does not feel at home in their skin. I have alsty characters who are trans and feel dysphoria about their virilized femme or their femmasculine bodies.
More than that though, I write altsy characters who deal with masculine issues even when they identify as a woman. I write altsy characters who still experience feminine discrimination when they identify as a man. I write altsy characters who worry they could hurt their partners. I write altsy characters who worry that they could be awful parents. I write altsy characters who want to go to the moon, to fight fires, and cure cancer.
Them being both sexes is apparent, sure, but is that any more defaultly sexual than a guy who works out? A woman who ended up a bit bigger thanks to genetics? What about a woman who is making things work with store-bought hormones and support from her friends? None of those things are sexual by default and neither are altersex characters–even if they are rooted in a fetish. Because, ultimately, In or out of a sex scene, there is more to my altsy characters than their genitals.
Why does that sound familiar?