matril: (matril)
Once more I find myself at a sort of philosophical crossroads. I come here often. Perhaps I engage in too much thinking and not enough doing. But, as proven by how I voluntarily dedicated my college career to hours and hours of reading and overthinking literature, thinking is my favorite kind of doing.

What triggered this particular trip to the Overthinking Crossroads is an email from the mother of my one and only piano student (unless you count Emma and Ryan). Her son just isn't enjoying it at all; it's a huge pain to get him to practice, and he's going to have to take a break. I wished them well and said I'd welcome him back any time. Meanwhile, I'm spiraling into existential gloom. Since I started teaching four or so years ago, I've had two or three students, but I always sort of assumed that once the momentum got going, I'd get more. Instead, some have moved away, some have changed teachers, and one - my lovely adult student of three years - got a new obligation making her too busy for lessons. I thought it would change this fall when a piano teacher friend was moving away and offered to refer some of her students to me. I had five or six contact me and come for a trial lesson. None of them got back to me.

It's kind of hard not to assume there was something decidedly undazzling about my teaching.

I originally planned to be an English teacher. It was a crowded program at my college, so you had to send in an application package, including a video of a pretend lesson. When I applied, they informed me that the video concerned them, since I didn't seem to have much of a "presence" and they feared I wouldn't be able to maintain control of a classroom. It's possible that, as my last name was at the end of the alphabet, they didn't have any more slots when they got to me and had to think of some excuse for rejecting me. I mean, isn't it the whole purpose of such a program to teach its students how to teach, how to have a presence, how to maintain control of a classroom? All I knew, however, was that I had been measured and found wanting in my intended profession.

I toyed with the idea of going into library science for a graduate program, as working among the quiet shelves of a library seemed ideal for a mousy person with no presence. But after I received my regular old English degree, I just didn't feel a burning need to pursue any further education right then.

I had my children. I became, as they call it, a full-time mother. Though let's be honest: there's no such thing as a part-time mother. These are the sort of labels they use to sort everybody into tidy boxes so we know who's a Good mother and who's not...or who's fulfilled and who's repressed....or who's Like Me and Not Like Me. Blah. It was during my early days of stay-at-home motherhood, interestingly, that I became more and more engaged by the concepts of feminism, at least the sort of feminism that speaks to me. Because even though I was doing what I had chosen, and was very happy to do it, I still wished there were more resources to navigate the rocky transition from full-time student to...well, I know I need to take care of my baby, and that's my number one priority, but honestly it doesn't take up every minute of every hour, and what else should I do with my time that's worthy and fulfilling and useful, and how do I stay sane without much human contact beyond a gurgling infant, and am I selfish or selfless or some nebulous space in between? The specific details of my situation have shifted over the years - Luke being autistic, kids starting school, moving to bigger houses - but I still have that basic struggle, trying to navigate a place that no one's ever really mapped out.

I'm still not sure what I should do with myself.

The fact that I have a choice in the matter is, I know, a tremendous luxury. There are so many women who have no spare time to worry about the meaning of their day-to-day existence, because they're fully occupied with working long, lousy jobs to scrape together just enough money for necessities, worrying how they'll feed their children or keep a roof over their head...I know, I'm a place of privilege to even be pondering these things.

Having said that, here's my conundrum. As far as I can see, there are several motivators that get us to do things. One of them is necessity. I don't wash the dishes because I enjoy it; I do it because we need clean dishes. Work is a big part of this category, since, as most of us can't make, grow or build the entirety of our clothing, food, shelter and other needs, we have to earn money for them.

Another motivator is enjoyment. Hobbies go here, though people generally like to find work that at least sometimes falls in this category as well. If you have to do something to earn money, you might as well look for something you can enjoy too, right?

And then there's a vague "good for you" motivator. More on that in a moment.

So, what do I do by necessity? Housework, as mentioned above. I enjoy having a clean house but that doesn't mean I have much delight in the process. Caring for my children, obviously, though when they're at school there's not much to be done there. Earning a wage? I was bringing in a tiny fraction of our income with that piano lesson, but now...nope. Could we use the extra money? Of course we could. My husband's a schoolteacher. We bought pretty much the cheapest house we could move into, because anything bigger would have required a dual income. But we're getting by with just one. Barely.

Enjoyment. I have quite a few hobbies, and I feel plenty lucky that I have time to indulge in them. I might have lost all my piano students except my own kids, but I play the piano for myself all the time. I knit (working on my Halloween costume right now, as it happens). And yes, I do sometimes just watch TV shows and movies. Most of all, I write. Every day I spend at least an hour on something involving my writing.

But this leaves the "good for you." What do I mean by that? Well...

How do you measure your worth? Ideally, it should be absolute as a human being. And, as I believe, a child of God. Nothing you do or don't do should alter that sense of absolute worth. And yet I do judge myself as more or less worthy based on rather arbitrary criteria. One of those is by my career, or rather, my non-existent one. I don't make any money. I don't contribute a penny to our household. Sure, neither do my children, but they're children. Much as I try to silence this internal criticism, the voice keeps reminding me, You're basically a leech. No one has ever accused me of this. It's all self-directed. My husband is completely and utterly supportive of whatever I choose, as long as our family remains our priority. It's just my own issues.

And I think rather drearily, well, I don't have tons of options when it comes to making money. Last time I looked for a job, I ended up working at a register at a grocery store. For one miserable year. I was never happier when I quit. And that was when I got my first piano student, so everything seemed like it was working out great. But basing my worthiness on whether I'm earning any money is stupid and a fantastic way to set myself up for failure. I mean, we need to have an income, obviously. It's necessary, but it's not related to my worth.

So maybe it's not about the money; maybe it's about feeling like I'm contributing some good to the world. Volunteering? Getting involved at my kids' schools? This is the "good for you" stuff I'm talking about. Something that provides human contact for my hermit-like existence. Something that has me feeling purposeful and useful. Something that builds my character by stretching me beyond my comfort zone and teaching me new skills.

And here's the thing: that sounds like a perfect nightmare to me.

I like spending the day at home. Alone.

I feel like I shouldn't. I feel like I should be itching to get out and be around people. I feel like I should be longing for a career path, something to define my adult life beyond motherhood; something that makes use of my talents and desires and...ugh, it just sounds exhausting. I don't want it. I believe in fiercely defending the right of any other woman to pursue her dreams and excel in whatever her chosen field, but climbing the corporate ladder or working in a courtroom or leading meetings all day? Not for me.

Lots of guilt here. Am I happily squandering my abilities? I'm no genius, but I'm pretty smart, a hard worker, got good grades throughout high school and college. I don't feel my education was wasted from an abstract standpoint; I like the person it helped me become. But we like to categorize things by their cost - education is expensive, so why am I not using it to make more money? Or at least contribute to the world at large in some measurable way?

Oh, I know motherhood is my big contribution. I'm not diminishing the importance of that in the slightest. I'm glad that I'm available at home if they ever need me during the school day. I know that the time I've put and continue to put into raising them and providing a safe, clean happy home for them is invaluable. It's just...if I have this much free time now, how much more when they're grown and independent, at least Emma and Ryan? Lots of mothers find themselves seeking new careers, or renewing old ones once their children leave home. What do I want?

I know the ideal answer - I want to write novels, and have them published. Day-to-day, I would work from home, quiet and alone and happy. Once in a while I'd go on book signings or whatever, and get some amount of human contact and travel and all that good fun stuff, hopefully just enough to add a little variety to my life without making me miserable. But there is absolutely no way to guarantee that kind of career. And everything else....I don't want it. Even non-fiction freelance writing, or editing, other stuff people have recommended that really should be right up my alley...I've considered pursuing it, but it just doesn't feel right.

I know, I know. I'm really spoiled here. I can sit here, unemployed, and just summarily reject option after option of viable jobs. But every time I consider something, I think, well, what's the motivator? Do we need the income? Yes, but not so urgently I have to take it. Is it something I would enjoy? No. In fact, I'd probably be miserable. Is it good for me? Yech. Like medicine.

So I'd be perfectly happy going on with my simplistic home life, except for the crippling guilt telling me I shouldn't be happy, how dare I enjoy anything so bereft of monetary worth or real value, and what did I go to college for, anyway?

Apparently, for the sole purpose of writing overlong navel-gazing blog posts. Sigh.
matril: (matril)
I don't like calling motherhood my job. Or my career, or my profession, or any other highfalutin synonyms you could think of. I'm not a fan of those memes that describe a stay-at-home mother's work as some insane combination of short-order chef, chauffeur, maid, therapist, coach…and all unpaid! 24 hours a day, seven days a week!


It's not that I think mothers have it easier, or that they have less to handle than whatever a typical job entails. Quite the contrary. Motherhood, and parenthood generally, entail some of the most demanding, challenging, stressful things one can undertake. But I'm feeling more and more that trying to shoehorn motherhood into a career box is a disservice both to mothers and to anyone with a job. It's a quintessential case of comparing apples to oranges, and it inevitably leads to mean-spirited arguments of who has it harder, who deserves more praise, and who's generally a better human being than everyone else. This is not productive. And it's a false dichotomy to being with.

And now for a cursory, entirely unresearched history lesson )
matril: (matril)
I don't have any new movies to write about, but for some reason I was cogitating about The Princess and the Frog recently, and something stood out to me that hadn't before. I like this movie a lot and think it's generally under-appreciated, though I can see it would be incredibly frustrating for girls with darker skin to finally see a Disney heroine who looks like them - only to have her spend most of the movie as a frog! But, predictably, what I'm going to talk about here is gender roles.

Dynamic or Static )
matril: (matril)
Happy Successful Rotation Around the Sun! We had a very nice holiday, a fun Christmas followed by a drive down to Pennsylvania to spend the week before New Year's with my family. It was the first time I got to meet my new niece and nephew, and I was quite the delighted aunt. We drove back today so we'd get back in time for school, but then of course they've preemptively cancelled school because of forecasts of heavy snow. Well, that gives us more time to sift through our Christmas presents and figure out where we're going to put all of them (people were very generous to us this year, including a number of anonymous gift-givers.)

While we were at my parents', we had the chance to see Frozen. And I am happy to say, after many misgivings, that the movie is excellent.

SPOILERS!Forget princesses. This is about a QUEEN. )
matril: (matril)
It's been a while since I've had a nice thought-y post here. I've had a lot of possible topics running through my head, but nothing's really coalesced into a full entry. I think I've got one here, though. Since they're making Into the Woods into a movie (which I have lots of misgivings about, but that's another issue), I've been thinking a lot about its themes. At times I get downright angry about it, and then I wonder if that's how I'm meant to feel. There's truth in its storyline that's almost too real for me. Seriously, the first time I saw it I hated it (the second act, anyway, when all the happy endings fall apart.) Then I couldn't stop thinking about it. Anyway, here's a look at one of its motifs - the pangs of adolescence.

Giants and Wolves )
matril: (matril)
Well, we had a nice winter break, even though it included driving through a horrendous snowstorm to get to my parents' house in Pennsylvania. While there, we finally watched Brave. It's been a few weeks and I'm still trying to piece together my thoughts about it. I can't even give a simple answer of whether I liked it or not. On the one hand, every time the movie flashbacked to moments between the mother and the young Merida, I got teary-eyed, and it was a highly-charged emotional experience for me in general. On the other hand, I had many moments of twitchty dissatisfaction that I'm still struggling to articulate. Let me see what I can do.

The Bravest/Only Girl in the Land )
matril: (matril)
So, my thoughts on Wreck-it Ralph. First off, it's easy to compare it to the Toy Story movies, since it also creates a universe in which characters come alive when humans aren't around, but I also see similarities with Monsters, Inc.; in that a big old lummox with a soft heart finds true fulfillment as a kind of surrogate father. Yet another movie with a metaphor for parenthood; hooray! If only they'd consider having a mother-figure as the protagonist instead of a father-figure every once a while....but that's all by the by. I want to talk about this movie as a story that advances feminist themes. And by feminist I don't mean passing the Bechdel test (it does, but mostly only with scenes wherein the catty girls pick on Vanellope, and that kind of stinks) but by picking apart the notion of arbitrary roles.

Not playing by the rules )
matril: (matril)
I've been ruminating a great deal on Austen's most famous work lately (it is her most famous, isn't it? I haven't done any quantifiable research, but it seems to be the case from general observation) because of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a clever modern adaptation in the form of video blogs. (Check it out if you haven't already; it's on YouTube. Just start with episode 1 and, if you're like me, spend the next four hours compulsively clicking on the next one.) P&P has been endlessly adapted, including a few in modern settings. But this is perhaps one of the most ambitious for taking on a unique format, which requires that many of the plot points are conveyed in recap form. Don't worry, though - the "costume theater" reenactments make it far from boring. Since the characters who appear most frequently in Lizzie's diaries are her sisters and close friends, the narrative leans heavily toward the female characters' stories and relationships with each other. It has the most nuanced portrayal of Lydia that I've ever seen as well. So, hooray for that! Of course there's romance, by nature of the original story, but it's more than that. Oh, and it's definitely a comedy. Very, very funny.

In any case, watching the story unfold gradually in 3-4 minute segments over the course of months, has stirred all sorts of reflections about the major themes of the original novel. I've lost track of how many times I've read the book, and I adore the 1995 miniseries. I've seen bits of the 2005 version but it just seemed overwrought compared to the miniseries. And occasionally anachronistic. I'm a purist. So I would say I have a fairly obsessive knowledge of the story, and can anticipate the general idea of what's coming next. (It's currently at the point when Lizzie comes home from Huntsford, after Darcy's first proposal and the letter, sadder and wiser.) There's lots of speculation at this point about the Pemberly arc, and how Lydia's elopement will be translated to the modern era. Taking away the trappings of the Regency era has required that everything be distilled to its essentials. And even though social expectations are vastly different in 21st century America, I believe that the story, at least in one facet, is still about good character. That a charming attractive person like Wickham may earn immediate admiration, but his dishonest and reprobate nature will eventually be revealed. That a proud, socially-awkward man like Darcy may gain quick dislike from casual acquaintances, but the strong principles at the core of his character will become clear to anyone who has the chance to really get to know him. And so far this adaptation has every indication of following through with that.

Which is why it drives me slightly insane to see people speculating about whether they'll include the "pivotal lake scene" at Pemberly. First and foremost, there is no such pivotal scene. That's from the miniseries, and only pivotal if you have a burning need to know whether Colin Firth looks good in a wet shirt. The real purpose of that scene is to create a profoundly awkward moment, and I suppose the wet shirt accentuates that for people who wouldn't pick up on it otherwise? But more importantly, this fixation on Darcy's attractiveness betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the novel's themes.

P&P has inspired many a romance; in fact, you could reasonably argue that it spawned the entire romantic comedy genre. Boy meets girl and inspires instant dislike, misunderstandings ensue, feelings change, kissing commences. But I cannot count the number of times those shifting feelings are portrayed by the sudden realization of long-repressed physical attraction. Bleargh. Physical attraction is a nice element of romantic relationships, but it absolutely cannot be the foundation. The ironic thing is, Pride and Prejudice illustrates that very truth. Wickham is handsome and attracts Elizabeth from their first meeting. But her interest has begun to wane even before she finds out his true nature (she feels no bitter envy toward Mary King, his new pursuit) and feels all the shame of her unfounded preference toward him when she does find out what a total scumbag he really is. As for Darcy, no one ever argues that he's not handsome. When Elizabeth's feelings begin to change toward him, it's not revealed through page after page of loving descriptions of his gorgeous face or muscle-y frame. It's her observations of his concerted efforts to be more friendly and approachable and his obvious affection for his sister, and finally the tremendous task he takes on of rescuing Lydia and their family from disgrace and ruin. In other words, his excellent character.

Elizabeth and Darcy do not fall in love at first sight and then deny and hide and repress those feelings until some contrivance forces them out. Remember that Darcy, though he falls quickly, first speaks of Elizabeth as "tolerable." He comes to loves her for her playful, witty personality. Those "fine eyes" he so admires are just a reflection of her admirable character. And what about those who do base their attachments on physical attraction?

"How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtues, she could easily conjecture." Hardly the heroes of the story. (I assume the LBD Lydia will have a better end because she's proven to have depth beneath her shallow silliness, and it doesn't make sense in our era to have marriage to a cad as the best possible ending for an errant daughter.)

To sum up all this rambling, I wish people would take more from P&P than the template of romantic misunderstandings, or the confused notion that Darcy's status as a swoonworthy romantic lead comes from how he looks in a wet shirt or from being silent and brooding. Those are really dumb requisites for romance, and frankly, women deserve better than that.
matril: (Default)
So last Saturday we went to see Wreck-it Ralph, a clever and adorable movie which I'm sure I'll be poking at from a feminist angle once I've had the chance to process it a little more. For now, though, I've been thinking about the Oz the Great and Powerful trailer that showed up beforehand. There's a number of interesting details to pick apart here, including the fascination with prequels/backstories that has been so prevalent lately (and maybe-just-maybe sparked by a certain much maligned trilogy of prequels), as well as the idea of casting Oz as the hero in place of Dorothy.

A humbug will save us... )
matril: (Default)
It's been a while, hasn't it? I've started a Wordpress page for my writer persona, and post writing-related stuff there in the hopes that if anyone (literary agents, theoretically) Googles my name, they'll find something better than my Facebook profile. So my brain's kind of been occupied with that, not to mention our move to a new house (hooray!) I spent the last few days making about a thousand phone calls to several school departments to figure out why Luke's records seemed to have disappeared and he wasn't getting all the services he needed. Blech, blech, blech.

Well, all that aside, I've had this idea for a post floating around my head for some time now, and though it's not strictly in the same category as other SAHF musings, it's still rather pertinent. Also, it's about my original and favorite fandom. What is appropriate behavior, and what is not, in the two romance stories from the Star Wars saga?

Romance, creepiness, and every gray area in between )
matril: (Default)
During our trip to Disney World, I found it interesting that we saw not one, but two shows that pitted Mickey Mouse against Maleficent. A decidedly unbalanced match, which in any realistic scenario would have Maleficent easily emerging as the victor - but of course Mickey always wins. The reason for this, other than the obvious need for a kid-friendly happy ending, is that the actual conflict represented is the power of imagination versus the power of - well, I guess evil imagination, nightmares, cynicism, whatever you want to call it. In one show Mickey and his buddies, including a recently converted Donald Duck, fended off Maleficent with a repeated chant of "Dreams come true." Sheesh. I think I preferred the cynic Donald, with his hearty response of "Phooey!" to all nonsensical talk of dreams. Maybe I just like the word phooey.

But that saccharine coating is simply part of the Disney atmosphere, and I don't mind it so much as long as my kids are aware that dreams coming true includes more than just princesses finding their handsome princes. What Maleficent's role sparked, instead, was an exploration of the predominance of female villains in Disney movies. This isn't something Disney invented, of course. Fairy tales are rife with evil mothers, stepmothers and queens. Why? And perhaps more importantly, is this a problem? After all, having strong female characters doesn't mean having only good female characters, and in fact having only angelic, uncomplicated females is as much a problem as having only monstrous, uncomplicated females. Of course there's the issue that these females are often defeated by strong manly heroes, rescuing their various damsels in distress. I'd definitely like to see more females pitted against females.

All that aside, though - the real question is, what sort of female villains are these? Multi-dimensional, or flat cliches that only further promote gender stereotypes?

A panoramic view of female villainy )
matril: (Default)
We got our kids a bunch of movies for Christmas, including Toy Story 3 and Ratatouille. We're well on our way to having the complete Pixar collection, and I want to emphasis that I really love these movies. The only ones that haven't interested me are the Cars movies, because I'm not really, um, a Nascar enthusiast. I picked apart Wall-E's gender conventions earlier, but it's not because I dislike the film - quite the opposite. These are some of the best movies out there, animated or otherwise, entertaining for kids and grown-ups alike, and endlessly thought-provoking.

Here's a few more thoughts they've provoked.

What else are girls for, after all? )
matril: (Default)
After noting the absence of decent mother-daughter relationships among the canon of princess movies, I realized something else is missing - ordinary human friendships. Consider, after all, that the Disney princesses never look at each other or acknowledge each other's existence. It's not just that the heroines tend to develop bizarre relationships with animals (sometimes verbal and sometimes just vaguely anthropomorphic), it's that those are usually their only friendships.

The lonely life of a fairy tale princess )
matril: (Default)
I've only seen Tangled once so far, so I haven't had too in-depth a look at it yet, but there's one thing that stood out to me, in how it compares to past Disney/princess stories: the mother matters. But....she's actually a fake mother who's manipulating and exploiting her stolen daughter, and by nature of the story of Rapunzel she had to matter, so I doubt Disney was making a deliberate choice to finally have the mother fill the central parental role. Too bad, since their track record is unfailingly skewed toward father-daughter relationships.

Let's have a look, shall we? )
matril: (Default)
Shrek makes for a fun fractured fairy tale. It contains a surprisingly sweet romance without becoming too saccharine or losing its sense of humor. It's a little heavy on the potty humor for my tastes, but otherwise I find it quite rewatchable. When they were making a sequel, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wondered if a movie so clever at skewering the typical Disney archetypes was itself about to suffer from the sequelitis that has undermined so much of Disney's legacy. On the other hand, I knew if they did it right, it could be just as entertaining as the first. I heard the new villain was a vengeful fairy godmother, and my hopes increased. It seemed quite promising...but somehow, in spite of the generally delighted response audiences had to Shrek 2 (it even made box-office history) the movie just didn't work for me. It took a lot of puzzling for me to figure out why.

I guess I'm just one of those humorless feminists )
matril: (Default)
This morning my son was watching Disney's Hercules, a movie which could foster all sorts of interesting discussion. It wasn't nearly as well-received as the films that preceded it, probably because it attempted a peculiar blend of humor that only adults would appreciate and, simultaneously, a high level of sheer silliness. Then, of course, you have its appalling deviations from the original Greek myths, but Disney is famous for taking massive liberties with its source material, so that shouldn't have come as such a surprise. In any case, I think one of its most problematic elements is the heroine - and perhaps at times anti-heroine, Meg.

A complicated woman? Gasp! )
matril: (Default)
I haven't been writing much (either here or in my current work in progress) because I managed to mess up my wrist somehow - either tendonitis or an occult ganglion cyst. (Look it up. It stinks.) Until I can get the orthopedist to call me back and have a look at it, I'm pretty limited in my hand usage. But I'd like to write up a quick entry anyway.

...and a wisecracking dragon, too! )
matril: (Default)
So there's been plenty of discussion about the evolution of the Disney Princess - from vapidly optimistic, passive damsels in distress to proactive, multi-dimensional characters (although the merchandising just lumps them all together as pretty girls in pretty dresses {who never acknowledge each others' existence even though they're portrayed as standing right next to each other}) but I thought it might be even more telling to examine the men they're supposed to fall in love with.

From Prince Charming to Rogue with a Heart of Gold )
matril: (Default)
So, to start my Stay-at-home feminist series, I'm going to look at Wall-E. Let me clarify a few things. I love this movie. It might be my favorite Pixar movie. It's definitely up there with Monsters Inc. and Toy Story 3. Now, my favorite part isn't the robot romance. We'll get to that in a second. My favorite part is the story of humanity, summed up by line, "I don't want to survive! I want to live!" Perhaps a little on the nose, but I love it. The sense of simple wonder found in making old things new ("We have a pool? I didn't know we had a pool!"), by bringing hope back to a long-abandoned Earth - I don't fuss about the heavy-handed ecology message, because it's just a vehicle to get humans off Earth and back again. The end credit sequence alone gives me goosebumps.

As for the romance )
matril: (Default)
So I've kind of been flailing around trying to decide what to write about here...there's only so many times I can write about my kids' latest shenanigans (like Luke repeatedly dumping things out the second-story window) before I start feeling kind of like a whiner. But I do like being a mother, honestly I do! And I'm quite happy being at home with the kids most of the day. It occurred to me that that might, superficially, seem to contradict my feminist leanings, but such is not the case. That's why I decided to adopt the title of Stay-at-home Feminist. It tickled my fancy. And then it occurred to me that the times I'm most likely to go on prolonged musings about gender roles is when my children are watching movies. Peter Pan? Quite a showcase for Victorian Era gender politics. Beauty and the Beast? Gaston's greatest evil might be his assumption that Belle would be content as a foot-massaging little wife.

This is fun. I think I'm going to make this into a series.

I think some brands of feminism are all about empowering women. Which is nice, but not enough. Power is only one of many things that tend to be held back from marginalized groups. It's about having a fully-realized identity and sense of self-worth. And, in literature, which is mostly what I ramble on about, it's being a three-dimensional character, not a cardboard cutout. It's about having a purpose, a quest, and being an active agent rather than being acted upon. It is that standard by which I judge all characters, female or male, alien, elf or nanite. :D


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