Let’s not talk about me, Zhiro, we’re here to talk about YOU. Right? RIGHT??
The first vlog of the month is up and open to the public over on Patreon. If you’d like to see all my weekly vlogs and support my journey as an artist, please become a regular patron! And as always, a huge THANK YOU to all the LeyLians currently contributing. Every dollar goes to paying my amazing color flatter, Sorrel, who helps me get these pages done on time. (YOU’RE THE BEST, SORREL!!)
In today’s Vlog I talk about something that’s been on my mind lately. The strange idea of “realness.” Who is “real” and who is not? Why do communities see the need to search for legitimacy by denying others a place within them? Where do you stop drawing lines to keep others out?
“The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer
“Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation” by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Article in particular is “We’re All Someone’s Freak” by Gwendolyn Ann Smith
If you don’t have the time or ability at the moment to watch the video, the gist of it is discussing why so many communities seem to have the need to divide people into those that “count” and those that don’t. There is a strange demand for people to be “real” all the while questioning whether or not someone is real ENOUGH to qualify as actually real. Which I’ve always found very strange, and very frustrating, and exceptionally isolating. Because ultimately, if you start drawing lines, where do you stop? Go about it long enough, and the only person who gets to be real is the person at the center of the exercise…meaning they also get to be completely alone.
I’d been thinking about it in respect to the artist community, but reading “Gender Outlaws” made me realize that this phenomenon exists in a wide variety of groups. Gwendolyn’s article, which I quote in the video, really spoke to me. She put the behavior and the ultimate folly of it so powerfully that I will quote her again here:
“In the end, we find ourselves with one of two choices: do we push others like us away, to best fit in? Or do we seek out our kin, for comfort and company? For that matter, if we are all someone’s ‘freak’, does this mean we are all each other’s ‘normal’ too — and worthy of embrace?…The notion of classifying things and then claiming that only this or that is a proper version of some being is a distinctly human construct, full of arrogance and hubris….We can worry about who is this and who is that, we can argue about who does or doesn’t belong. We can talk about how much more legitimate one or another of us is. In the end, we are all somebody’s freak — and basic human dignity is not a privilege of the lucky superior few, but a right of all or none.”
Cory and I were discussing this further this evening and tying the question of “realness” to science fiction stories involving duplication or cloning in some form. Questioning whether the replicate, the clone, the copy is a REAL person or not. Do they count as REAL? In SOMA, or The Prestige, or even the clone armies of Star Wars, do those duplicates count as somehow less human? And how might the way that question is answered connect to this question of being “real” in a community?
This got me thinking about the concept of genuineness and realness in other manifestations. Many of us act differently at work than we do at home. Which person is real? This question used to haunt me a few years ago. I found that the way I expressed myself here on this blog, verses on a podcast, verses with a client, verses with my friends, were all different. Did that somehow mean I was being fake in all those places except for one? Which Robin was the REAL Robin? And where did the REAL me go all those times when I wasn’t her?
Eventually I concluded that I’m allowed to be more than one thing. I am not 2D. I have multiple dimensions, multiple facets. I am a person. I can be more than one thing. I can have good days and bad, be smart and clueless, skilled and untrained, gracious and monstrous. I have more than one facet. Each of which are impacted by situation, emotion, input, response, and even the quality of dreams I woke up from in the morning. ALL those versions of me are the same me. The seemingly paradoxical existence of all of those reflections does not negate one over the other. All of those Robins are real. Diverse, and yet the same.
What are your thoughts on real-ness? What stories do you think explore this topic? Have you ever had a time where your real-ness was challenged, and how did you deal with it? When do you feel the most “real,” and how do you cultivate that feeling?