Feb. 23rd, 2017

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One of the amusing things I recently recognized is that "bitch" is a word whose two meanings contradict each other, which is just...Oz as fuck as a concept, really. Read one way, it implies that the person it refers to (usually female) is overly intractable, aggressive and domineering; read it the other, and the person it refers to (usually male) becomes overly passive, submissive and ineffectual--ie "Oz didn't make you a bitch, you were born that way," as Keller tells Beecher in the very first episode of Season Four, when he refuses to give up on trying to find Vern Schillinger's son Hank. I mean, Augustus Hill could probably do an entire monologue on that subject, if he wasn't dead.

All of which is by way of saying that I am now officially one episode into Season Three of my big Oz re-watch, and still enjoying it far more than I ever thought I would. The idea of ending with Season One scares me a bit, but I think I'll be able to deal with it; I still remember inviting seven or so friends from the Serial Diners over and mainlining all eight episodes in a row. This was before we even knew if it'd been renewed or what, and by the end, we were basically high on our own shell-shock, much like Beecher himself--air-guitaring his way through the riot, choking people out and dancing amongst the flaming trash-piles while Vern basically hid under his bed. Oh man, it was great.;)

Over at AO3, meanwhile, I've finally started reposting the slightly tricked-out/fixed version of "My Wife and My Dead Wife," in roughly four section-long chunks. It's getting a little bit of action but no kudos thus far, and certainly no comments; AO3 Oz fandom appears to be pretty dead overall, except for maybe two people (though of those two, at least one appears to be obsessed with the Vern/Beecher dynamic, so there's that). I'm currently fixing up Rachel Renton Schillinger's first appearance and musing over her general classic Mary Sue-ness, but I guess it really is far too late for regrets, in that area. (I was extremely chuffed when somebody on Tumblr recently acknowledged that I almost "invented" B/S longfic, though.)

Meanwhile, I keep turning the idea of a cisswap AU over in my head, because A) I can and B) the dynamics really do tweak me, especially in terms of the way they shift when you reframe things to acknowledge that all female prisoners are far more overtly victimized by the system, and know it. Guys can convince themselves they have a limited amount of power, even with somebody like Hill constantly pointing out that they really, really don't; it's such a huge part of their identity as men, this idea that they have inherent free will and agency no matter what the situation, so even when the boredom and routine conspire to bond them together, toxic patriarchy fallout will eventually cause these spasms of violence that make sure they can't stay allied long enough to do anything useful. Then again, as Guard Whittlesey points out, if they were actually capable of making truly informed, long-term decisions, they probably wouldn't have ended up in Oz in the first place.

So far, one of the single biggest changes is that a female version of Beecher would come into Oz knowing that rape was not just a possibility but a likelihood, and that it might come from almost any direction (but most predictably from the guards), which means she'd immediately start shopping around for a posse to surround herself with and going at it in a very cold-eyed way: figure out what she has to offer, what she can potentially swap for goods, services and loyalty--free legal advice on the one hand, sexual favours that won't leave her potentially knocked up on the other. (The equivalent of "we sing in the choir together" would thus probably become "she's my lawyer" for short, "...my legal consultant" for strictest accuracy.) A bit like Shirley Bellinger, therefore, though constantly showing people Paris, France wouldn't be much of an incentive in a place that's literally jam-packed with alternate pussy. And also acting crazy from the get-go, too, though kind of in a "like a fox" way; doing her level best to channel her junkie tendencies deliberately into things that aren't quite as likely to wreck her parole as snorting heroin on the sly, or getting big-ass drunk on homebrew. But since the alternatives are sex, "good deeds" and/or violence, that could still be problematic in itself...

The weird thing about a female Vern, meanwhile--as I've established with Vee Speller, the Schillinger expy I've already slipped into two short stories and a script--is that a good part of her power would probably come from being somebody's widow, the mother of somebody's kids; that last name wouldn't even be hers, which is strange to contemplate, though I very much like the idea of a back-story where a younger, punked-up version of her (probably straight out of Lardner) sees her husband-to-be preaching White Power Conspiracy Theory 101 somewhere and comes up to him afterwards with her eyes on fire, going: "Man, you just explained my entire life to me!" She'd also be far more in tune with her own motivations, especially in terms of the whole gay-'til-graduation aspect of jail, which means she'd be less likely to press on Beecher 'til she explodes, because it just isn't threatening to her to admit she's enjoying her company; the dominance aspect of things wouldn't be as much of a motivator, because she wouldn't need to alleviate her own unexpressed feelings of helplessness by making somebody else feel helpless. So they'd be more likely to be co-conspirators, not enemies.

Ah yes. The question then becoming how that sort of set-up would affect the whole Keller menage, if and when she turned up...

Anyhoo, that's part of where my head is right now, in and between everything else. Still working on the fetish piece; still doing all sorts of other stuff. On Saturday I did a reading for Women in Horror Month which was fun, and you can watch it here, if you're so inclined (https://www.periscope.tv/damnedlibrary/1gqxvqPeVWgJB?t=8m); on Sunday they broadcast a podcast interview I'd taped last Thursday, the bulk of which is here (https://soundcloud.com/whatshesaidtalk/author-gemma-files-talks-experimental-film-what-she-said-ebook-cafe). Otherwise, it's back to the grind.


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