Just a little bit of commentary on this week's chapter of :

The introduction of Cyrano as a third-party POV caught between Jules and Hunter's worlds juxtaposes Jules, a man, and Hunter, Jules's hypermasculine former abuser, as competing models of masculinity.

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Long ramblin' thoughts about themes of trauma, gender, patriarchy in TWCAD 

I've mentioned before that has themes of masculinity, healthy vs. toxic, but was talking with @dontdoitneil last night and realizing how much it also exposes and seeks to process the deep trauma of being classed as female in a patriarchal world (as embodied by Jules, who is transmasculine and best represents my personal perspective).

I think healthy masculinity cherishes and protects the feminine in itself and in others as well. Seeking to carve out agency in a male-dominated world, Jules makes himself the man and the hero he would have wanted on his side in his darkest hours, but only for others, failing to realize he can also be a hero for the neglected and violated parts of himself. Reclaiming his own abandoned vulnerability is a major arc for him in this book.

Jules is of course negotiating his femininity from the perspective of someone socialized female who has built his personal definition of masculinity from the ground up. Many of the male-socialized characters, by contrast, are approaching femininity from the angle of having had certain definitions of masculinity forced on them, including Rory, who doesn't much identify with being male, and Cyrano and Hunter, who very much do.

The defining trait of patriarchy, I think, is its punishing and exploiting of vulnerability, its defining value the dominion of the strong over the weak. Men, who are supposedly strong, over women, who are supposedly weak, is just one of many ways this manifests. As bell hooks famously put it, “The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves.” TWCAD explores this violence and its consequences in its extreme manifestations via Cyrano, a male-socialized person who fails to destroy his vulnerability but can only tolerate it by subjecting it to shame and violent abuse, and Hunter, a male-socialized person who has so successfully vanquished his own vulnerability that he can only connect with it through his fetishistic obsession with exploiting the vulnerability of others.

@emrys I love it when characters can play out broader, scarier ideas in their interpersonal relationships. I tend to write about cycles of abuse and how that trauma affects people and how it shapes who they are if it's left unmanaged. The idea of these juxtaposed symbols of masculinity are playing off of each other is interesting to me.

In my book Charlie, Charlie (who is a 17-year-old girl at the beginning of the story) leaves her controlling and domineering mother only to end up running into a couple different kinds of monsters (a serial killer and a vampire) in her travels who are a kind of spectrum of abuse (the serial killer being the unhinged, violent abuser and the vampire as the manipulative and sneaky abuser).

Anyway, your post made me think of that and examine my own intentions in my writing. Which is great! Thank you :)

@joehumphrey Ooo, interesting. I'm curious how Charlie copes with those dangers. Is your novel a WIP?

I think cycles are what define trauma, which means the question is always how to break them. Jules redefining himself in relation to Hunter is a big part of his healing process. In a weird way it's Hunter who remains hopelessly attached to/haunted by Jules, not so much the other way around, but Hunter's continued obsession definitely causes trouble for Jules.

In general masculinity's a major theme of Those Who Create and Destroy—what it is, and what it should be.

That sounds really interesting! I'm a big fan of honest and critical examinations of masculinity and the relationship between it and self-image and dealing with conflict. Mad Men comes to mind as one of my favorite examples.

Charlie is finished and on amazon! It's my first novel and I'm quite fond of it. I've tried to carry those themes through the whole series (cycles of abuse) as these characters make their way through the centuries. It does make for some difficult scenes though. I've got a few TWs to share if you ever pick it up. I tried to add them to the amazon listing but they won't take for some reason.

@joehumphrey Ha, I've always said Hunter would fit right in with the cast of Mad Men.

And awesome, thanks for sharing! I'll take a look! No need to worry about TWs for me in particular. There's not much I find overwhelmingly upsetting these days, especially in text.

I was about to ask why you didn't link your work from your profile, but now I see you do. I must've missed it 🙃

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