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25 January 2011 @ 12:10 pm
213: Being Any Gender Is a Drag  
There was so much interest in the whole peeing-behind-dumpsters poll (important items learned: only 10% of you think peeing behind dumpsters is no big deal, but 25% of you would tell your co-workers about it anyway, because in fandom it isn't really oversharing until you're sending sex toys to actors) that I sort of thought I should do a whole watersports recs set, but that didn't work out. I just don't have enough links.

So I'm doing gender-related stories instead. (It's - sort of relevant. It's certainly true that peeing is way more of an issue for the vagina-equipped than for people with penises. Okay, fine, whatever, maybe it isn't related. Gender-related recs: I has them.)

The One That Teaches Us That in Smallville, It's Very Important to Have an Emergency Sex Change Wardrobe Fund. Budgeting in Smallville Must Be Complicated. Skin Deep, by [dreamwidth.org profile] rivkat. Smallville, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor.

Okay, first, I just need to extend a quick warning. If you listen to music while you're reading this, don't let any of it be Part of Your World from the Little Mermaid soundtrack. Because after a while, you will decide that that is the song for Smallville and genderfuckery, and you'll have constructed most of a vid in your head, and, and - I'm just saying. "Wouldn't you say I'm the girl, the girl who has everything?" THAT'S LEX, people. He yearns to be part of Clark's world! Meanwhile, Clark is yearning to be a real human boy! It makes so much sense! In that way where you can tell your brain is overheating!

Anyway. In this one, the situation is a little more complicated than Clark just yearning to be a real human boy, because for most of this, he's actually female, in terms of his actual physical body. The Kryptonians apparently believed in punative sex swapping, which is exactly how I always pictured them, because, well. They have all this awesome technology that should be great fun, and instead they use it to blow up their own planet. I mean, seriously. They can fly through space and make sentient computers and they go the trite old world-destroying cataclysm route? Please. (Now, if I thought Krypton was destroyed by Kryptonian MythBusters in search of the perfect boom, I would like them lots better. But no. I bet it was all dramatic and angsty and political. I just cannot respect these people.) And so I totally believe that they could discover sex-switching technology and immediately think, Well, this will make a suitable punishment for unruly teenagers.

So, yeah, Clark earns the Kryptonian Sex Change Smackdown in this, and - I like to think this is thanks to the influences of humanity on him - immediately puts it to excellent use by fucking Lex basically nonstop for months. (And here I really must say: Oh, Clark. You could have done that before. It must be your Kryptonian side that insists on making everything so damned complicated.)

And then the awesomeness continues from there. I'm not going to go into details, though, becauseI really don't want to spoil it. (Nor do I want to win some poor vidder in a charity auction and force her to make a vid for it, set to Part of Your World. Really. Not at all. I mean it.)

The One That Proves Definitively That John Watson Can Only Truly Love Someone Smarter, Wickeder, and More Talented Than He Is. Intemperance, by [dreamwidth.org profile] basingstoke. Sherlock Holmes, and I'm gonna call this gen.

One of the things that I find totally entrancing about the canon Holmes stories - as opposed to their weaknesses, which, okay, not getting into that here - is that we only have Watson's word for it. That's the joy of the first-person narrator (and the heartbreak of the eyewitness). If he wants to make shit up, he can. If I want to believe that he's making shit up, I can. If someone wants me to believe that there's more to the story than Watson was able to tell us, she can try to make me. And if that person is [dreamwidth.org profile] basingstoke, it turns out that I will, in fact, believe her.

Because this story works. I mean - okay, I think I am giving nothing away (since it's right there at the beginning, and also in the notes, pretty much) when I say that this is FTM Holmes basically exactly as he would actually be - in other words, he'd manage everything with unprecedented brilliance right up until he went off the rails at breakneck speed and needed Watson to rescue him. (Sherlock Holmes: really having no clear understanding of the concepts of limits or boundaries since 1887.) And this is just so fucking amazing I am in awe, and a little bit speechless at how perfectly this is done, how much it makes sense, how incredible it is. Really, I can't tell you. If you haven't read it, you will just have to see for yourself. (Now's a good time.)

But I have another love in this story, and that is Mary Watson, nee Morstan. She is perfect in this, a perfect match for both Holmes and Watson, which is precisely what someone would have to be to marry John Watson. And she's smart and kind and tough and she learns to cook using Mrs. Beeton's book, which fills me with joy because I am currently reading that book. (And I just need to say this: that woman used her mortar and pestle the way most cooks use a knife. It's horrifying. Was everything boiled, ground to a pulp, pushed through a sieve, and flavored with mace in nineteenth century England? Apparently so. I prefer to think that Mary Watson focused on the non-pulpy recipes, though, largely because I think if you tried to serve that shit to a pregnant person, you'd end up with it up your nose, and deservingly so.)

Anyway. My point is: this is an awesome story. Read it for the perfection of an FTM Sherlock Holmes, read it for the terror of a pregnant and housebound Sherlock Holmes, or read it for the love of Mary Watson, but read it.

Just don't read it with Part of Your World still in the background. I am really serious about this.

The One in Which We Learn the Medically-Approved, More Sensible Carrying-over-the-Threshold Technique. If You're Getting Married, You Might Want to Read This Just for That. A Perfect Honeymoon, by delilah_joy. Some Like It Hot, Daphne/Osgood Fielding III. (Sorry. According to the IMDb, neither Daphne nor Jerry has an actual last name. Feel free to make something up.)

I cannot be the only one who got to the ending of Some Like It Hot and went, "Did they just DO that? I thought they weren't allowed to do that in black and white times! I thought they had rules against this kind of thing, and sweet virgin audiences who had never had sex and who were in fact probably not anatomically correct!" (Look, all I'm saying is, Barbie came from the black and white era.) But they did, in fact, just do that, and I love them for it. (Those black and white times, I later discovered through haphazard study, were much racier than I had suspected. They had sex back then! And probably all the body parts we have today! And people who had sex with people of their same gender! All kinds of stuff. Crazy. Black and white times: not just single beds for married couples.)

A Perfect Honeymoon turns that ending from a joke - I mean, a joke you could definitely read two ways, but still - to a love story. (And, uh, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, just go watch Some Like It Hot. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag! Marilyn Monroe! Seriously, this is required viewing.) It's exactly where I wanted this movie to go without every knowing, and it works and makes sense and fills my heart with glee and - oh, look, you're going to have to read it. I don't think I can discuss it at all rationally.

I tell you what, though: this story is a gloriously sweet, romantic, gentle, genderqueer story. I could do with many more of those. Although I'm not sure how you get that - I mean, this is fandom. And yet delilah_joy wrote a sweet, romantic story about an established relationship that is the furthest thing from curtainfic. I - I am not actually sure that is allowed. I thought we had rules against that kind of thing, too. But apparently not, and for this I say: yay! (Growing up: a lengthy process of discovering that most of the rules don't actually exist.)

The One That Describes a Country Song I'd Really Like to Hear. Seriously. Links Requested. The Spirit and the Letter, by [dreamwidth.org profile] lightgetsin. Dresden Files, Harry Dresden/John Marcone.

I am not up on the Dresden canon. Like, not at all. (I did watch several episodes of the series, but I gather from those who know that it is Not the Same Thing at All.) Here's what I know: There's a wizard named Harry Dresden. He lives in Chicago. He has a talking skull. I also suspect, but do not know for sure, that he's kind of a tool sometimes.

That's not a lot to go on (name me a character popular with fandom who isn't kind of a tool sometimes - I mean, there are some, I'm sure, but I'm not coming up with any off the top of my head). And yet. It's all I needed to know to love this story, in which Harry Dresden pisses someone off - I get the feeling that's not really unusual for him, though - and gets a vagina for his troubles.

(What is it with the punitive sex changes? I - I just find it fascinating. Plus, I can't help thinking about the punitive sex changes other fandom characters could get. John Sheppard becomes a girl because of his total failure to admit that he has ever had a feeling, and grimly represses his feelings about that, too. Aeryn Sun is turned into a boy for crimes probably relating to being a total badass, and snaps, "I already have a gun. Why would I want a dick?" Lionel Luthor turns Lex into a girl to punish him for being, you know, Lex, and Lex grimly says, "I can work with this," and does. Morgana is turned into a boy for being such a wicked, wicked sorceress, and hacks the person who did it to pieces with a sword. Sherlock Holmes is turned into a girl until he can actually be a decent human being sincerely, and "decent to John Watson" turns out not to count, so he has to stay a girl forever. Seriously - now that I think about it, every fandom imaginable needs this trope.)

And Harry Dresden is not exactly the most, um, delicate ambassador between the sexes, let's put it that way. (Clark is way better than Harry at dealing with the punitive sex change. Let's think about that. Clark is a) a teenager and b) Clark Kent, and he totally outshines Harry at coping and being a functional human being. Mr. Dresden, your therapist is on line two. Weeping uncontrollably. I imagine that happens a lot, though.)

So, you know, I don't know the canon, and I don't the characters, and I still loved this, because apparently dysfunctional human being + unwanted sex change = good times, fannishly speaking. It certainly does in this story.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
 
cattrainecattraine on January 25th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
The second and third stories in the Spirit and Letter series are good too. And really, the books are NOT the same as the series.
kitewithfishkitewithfish on January 25th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
They are totally excellent stories. But, spoiler-warning for the latest book.
Imaginary Researcher: Allison Cameron - hollow_arthannahrorlove on January 25th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
punitive sex changes
I wrote something like that for House where it was more random circumstance than deliberate punishment, but there was still plenty of trying to figure out how to work with the new plumbing and social expectations of gender performance. If you're interested I could send you a link.
Girlfriend Resplendent Valentineimkalena on January 25th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Clark is a) a teenager and b) Clark Kent, and he totally outshines Harry at coping and being a functional human being. Mr. Dresden, your therapist is on line two. Weeping uncontrollably.

I don't know what I'll think of this story, but I completely and totally adore YOU. :)
Holly: Facepalm - Mulanhollyxu on January 25th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that punitive sex changes (wow, that phrasing is just) tend to be more... well, punishing for men than women in stories. It's weird. Most women pick themselves up and go with it, occasionally evincing the desire to hack people to pieces, but the men? They go to pieces completely, to the point where I think it's actually a more effective punishment - because with women, it either doesn't change much or (surprise!) makes their lives better.

I dunno, I might be veering dangerously into wank territory, but that's how I see it.
Gwynevere1gwynevere1 on January 25th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
I dunno, I might be veering dangerously into wank territory, but that's how I see it.

You are not wanking at all. This is SO VERY TRUE, and something I did not even process until you put it into words. All the examples I could thinks of where the punitive sex changes actually, well, *punishes* are men-to-women, never the other way around.
Gwynevere1gwynevere1 on January 25th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
(What is it with the punitive sex changes? I - I just find it fascinating. Plus, I can't help thinking about the punitive sex changes other fandom characters could get. John Sheppard becomes a girl because of his total failure to admit that he has ever had a feeling, and grimly represses his feelings about that, too. Aeryn Sun is turned into a boy for crimes probably relating to being a total badass, and snaps, "I already have a gun. Why would I want a dick?" Lionel Luthor turns Lex into a girl to punish him for being, you know, Lex, and Lex grimly says, "I can work with this," and does. Morgana is turned into a boy for being such a wicked, wicked sorceress, and hacks the person who did it to pieces with a sword. Sherlock Holmes is turned into a girl until he can actually be a decent human being sincerely, and "decent to John Watson" turns out not to count, so he has to stay a girl forever. Seriously - now that I think about it, every fandom imaginable needs this trope.)

I . . . kind of want to run a comment-a-thon for this theme now. (Except that I've never run a comment-a-thon nor fic-a-thon before.)

There'd be so many more to explore! Shawn Spencer is turned is turned into a woman until he can stop being a jackass for more than thirty seconds in the presence of someone besides Gus and/or Henry; he quickly discovers that behavior that's considered "charming" or "boyish" in a man is dismissed as "bitchy" and/or "ditzy" from a woman. Michael Westen is changed into a woman until he can admit to the people in his life that he cares about them; his situation soon becomes more complicated when he goes to tell Fiona--and Fi shoots the strange woman entering her house. Jack Harkness is turned into a woman; nothing changes.

I'm going to be thinking about this for *weeks*.
feannafeanna on January 25th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
"Jack Harkness is turned into a woman; nothing changes."

Totally! Which really illustrates the point of why punitive sex changes (as they are written now, mostly, which also says a lot about what the author is actually writing about, because if we're talking gender dysphoria, then females can be just a affected) male to female work. They work because of the attitudes of the males that are subjected to them and the attitudes of the people around them, that are also reflected in how they act towards the changed. It works because the changed person has to suffer through prejudiced treatment and has to face their own prejudices. So gerderfuck fic in general tends to be about gender in society and less about gender in the individual. There are many more fics about guys who suddenly have to deal with people thiking them weak, staring at their boobs, treating them as incapable (and having to suffer period cramps) than there are fics that truly consider beyond the trappings of society what it means to be male or female. This is not necessarily criticism, it's just an observation. And of course neither factor can (in a good fic) be totally eliminated. (There is also the SGA epic where Teyla totally struggles with being turned male.)
(no subject) - pslasher on January 27th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - feanna on January 28th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
Admission to the Burning Ruins — 10¢: SH - Art in the Bloodlaughingacademy on January 25th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
...read it for the terror of a pregnant and housebound Sherlock Holmes...

DEAR LORD. The prospect has me torn between horror and glee.
joycejoyce on January 25th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
I just finished reading it. Glee, trust me. :)
the cereal *is* the prize: YAYnix_this on January 25th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Woot! Dresden Files fic! My day, you have made it :D

it's just that you're unbearable: He's a lovely manfitofpique on January 25th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Sherlock Holmes is turned into a girl until he can actually be a decent human being sincerely, and "decent to John Watson" turns out not to count, so he has to stay a girl forever.

Now I can't stop thinking about a story where Watson is turned into a girl. I would love to see how Holmes would treat him, given his typical contempt/lack of use for women. Hrmmm.
kitewithfishkitewithfish on January 25th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW.
Wait, you don't know The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher? Okay, stop what you were doing, go get these books NOW. Do not read any spoilers- the canon is snarky and wonderful and totally worth the incredibly brief time it takes to read these books. Marcone and Harry as slashy from BOOK ONE. and generally a little slashy in every book thereafter. And there is a lot of wonderful slashy fanfic of them.

(And, really, don't read any spoilers, cause the last book, "Changes", really did actually kind of... well, EXPLODE the slightly-predictable/wonderful noir-ish formula on which many of the previous books were based, and culminates a whole lot of build-up. And I am normally not a person who gives a damn about spoilers or getting spoiled for a book [I found out Snape killed Dumbledore by looking on Wikipedia, and I don't care] but this... this series is worth it. )
feannafeanna on January 25th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW.
I second the bookrec! The first two books are a bit slower, but it gets better!
I don't like the Harry/Marcone pairing personally, but I won't deny the shlashyness of their scenes, I've just no desire ever to read them actually together, because that just don't works for me with how I read the characters and how they relate to each other. In my mind Harry would have to fall really far, so it'd have to be darkfic. But I'm not here to start a pairing debate. No matter what, the books are great! One of them does involve a child in a sucky situation, but she's not what I'd call helpless.
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - kitewithfish on January 25th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - feanna on January 25th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - sienamystic on January 25th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - xparrot on January 25th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - feanna on January 25th, 2011 11:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - xparrot on January 26th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - tingler on January 26th, 2011 12:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - feanna on January 26th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: The Dresden Files- GO READ THE CANON NOW. - feanna on January 26th, 2011 12:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Essiesentientcitizen on January 25th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
Aeryn Sun is turned into a boy for crimes probably relating to being a total badass, and snaps, "I already have a gun. Why would I want a dick?"

Can... can this be a real thing? Please? Someone? Anyone?
Stasiastasia on January 26th, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
Yes, see, this is amazing to me! I SO agree. I wan tto read this. It's so perfectly funny and in character and omg, I want this story.

Stasia
Luce: [DF] but somebody's gotta do itlucia_tanaka on January 25th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
oh god you read possibly the best Dresden fic out there, yay. Having sunk +100,000 words into a Harry POV fic, yeah, he is a tool, but in really fucked up, fascinating ways that make sense the more you look into his history. I am so tempted to give you a crash course in the awesome of this fandom (it just got its own kinkmeme! d'aaaaawww) as it is a great one.

Also, John Marcone is the most GQ BAMF in the history of BAMFs. I'm just saying.
delilah_joy: Daphne and Osgooddelilah_joy on January 26th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for reccing my story! I suddenly got a bunch of comments and, like, a dozen kudos after a year of steady quiet, and I was baffled until I did a search and found this post. Which is hilarious, by the way. I love:

...because in fandom it isn't really oversharing until you're sending sex toys to actors.

Anyway, thanks! I'm looking forward to checking out some of the others, too.

(Deleted comment)
keerawakeerawa on January 26th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
Aeryn Sun is turned into a boy for crimes probably relating to being a total badass, and snaps, "I already have a gun. Why would I want a dick?"
You have just spontaneously created a 100k epic in my head, and it is a thing of beauty and wonder.
Neeryneery on January 26th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
If you like the Spirit and the Letter series, you'd probably enjoy the books. lightgetsin does a pretty good job of portraying Dresden's brand of toolishness pretty exactly the way he is in the books, although I get the feeling that Jim Butcher is nowhere near as aware of the fact that Dresden is, in fact, a tool as lightgetsin is. But, you know, I like to think of Dresden as an extremely unreliable narrator who tends to leave out the fact that people probably roll their eyes at him even more than they already do in canon.
Luce: [DF] doing the right thinglucia_tanaka on January 27th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
although I get the feeling that Jim Butcher is nowhere near as aware of the fact that Dresden is, in fact, a tool

You know, I was totally giving Jimmy B the benefit of the doubt there until Proven Guilty.

OH JIM BUTCHER NO.
(no subject) - neery on January 27th, 2011 04:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)