i dont actually read a lot of stuff aside from psychology non-fiction books and papers. i expected this page to be mostly those but actually i consume a lot of fiction media without realising it because i consume twice as much nonfiction stuff and the nonfiction stuff is more memorable for me. anyway! SPOILERS for everything i mention here, srsly.

Fukakai na Boku no Subete o
A.K.A. Love Me for Who I Am

This is the cutest series of all time! There's not a lot of feel-good manga about transgender people where the subject is handled tastefully, even less of them that are drawn in such a completely adorable way >W<

The plot follows Tetsu, who has a transgender sister (Satori) who runs a "girlyboy" cafe (don't worry, they have a respectful discussion of the term "girlyboy" and its implications and such) & Mogumo, who is nonbinary. Tetsu sees Mogumo writing a wish and pinning it to a tree (it's a japanese shinto? thing, not an idiosyncratic thing).

He vows to help them find people who accept them and he starts by inviting them to his sister's cafe. There, we meet Mei, Ten, and Suzu. Mei is a transgender girl, Ten is a crossplayer, and Suzu is a gay crossdresser. In between discussion of LGBT-related issues going on in their lives, there's a very healing positive atmosphere to their interactions. Satori, Tetsu's sister, acts as a motherly prescense, providing them all with a place they can safely express themselves and be accepted for it.

The character design (especially the costume design) is so so so cute! I've always wished i could draw stuff as cute as this but I don't have the time to practice that these days because of college. The art and panel design is super strong, it's a very easy read on the visual front.

Plotwise, there's enough going on to keep you invested but it's not so dramatic that you feel thrown off emotionally by it, which is a major plus for a series like this which is trying to maintain a cute, healing atmosphere. I haven't finished reading it yet but I'm definitely not gonna drop this one, it's so cute. Over the holidays, I'll probably return to it as an art reference - if only I could draw people half as cute as whoever drew this omg.

I love Mogumo more than anything. My favourite character so far is probably Suzu though or maybe Ten. I'm most like Ten because I'm a crossdresser and an A+ student ( ̄ω ̄) but Mogumo is just so damn cute (also so far Ten hasn't gotten much screentime).

Sidenote, but I've always been intrigued by the idea of being nonbinary. I wonder what it's like to be agender the way I think Mogumo is meant to be. It's cool having an agender character that doesn't look androgynous at all. I think I'm still confused about my own gender but I know I'm not agender and thank god because the struggle is real! If you got dysphoria from being referred to as either gender, life would be difficult. That's why I try not to automatically gender people any more, wouldn't want to ruin anyone's day. That being said, I'm mostly comfortable with any pronouns so long as I know the other person's not gendering me in a particular way to be a cunt. ANYWAY, tangent over.

Fukakai na Boku no Subete o is totally fulfilling the transgender fantasy where the fear of transphobia is there, but all of the titular characters are accepting. It's super healing to read. It's like a "cute girls doing cute things" manga but for gay/trans people. If you're looking for manga centering around the topic of transgenderism and nonbinariness but you can't handle anything super dark, this is the perfect series for you!

Kaze to Ki no Uta
trigger warning: CSA, child abuse, grooming, pedophilia

Kaze To Ki No Uta is a complicated series for me. On the one hand, it explores the effects of childhood abuse, neglect, and grooming in a realistic way. As a victim of these things, i can appreciate and relate to the experiences of, in particular, Gilbert, who engages in sexually compulsive behaviour and acts in an antisocial manner which alienates him from his peers. His emotional attachment to his abuser, his step-uncle who neglected, manipulated, and physically and sexually abused him, is tragic to watch and all too reminiscent of my own experiences as well.

On the other hand, the series, intentionally or not, romantisises these experiences both through its aesthetic choices and through the way the author continuously legitimises the "love" Gilbert's uncle and Gilbert's other abusers feel for him.

The manga is drawn beautifully, from the period accurate dresses to the character design to the landscapes, the flowers, etc. etc., I could sing its praises on that front for days. This is to the detriment of the narrative in my opinion. It's disturbing to see how other people discuss Gilbert given the fact that he is 14 or under for the majority of the series. The wiki describes Gilbert as "the male version of a femme fatale". However, it is not surprising. The way the artists chose to portray Gilbert is kind of disgusting. Below, I'll include some photos of Gilbert between the ages of like 5 and 10 years old (warning: its seriously gross as fuck).

The artist's portrayal of Gilbert legitimises the perspectives of his abusers. If you don't think about it too much, it's easy to see why Gilbert's uncle or Serge (his age-appropriate partner) or the guy who kidnaps/rapes him later in the series find him attractive because the narrative is constantly sexualising him.

Despite this, the portrayal of Gilbert's abuse and it's effects on him are very realistic. He yearns for someone to love him, specifically his uncle, but only because he has been severely neglected and manipulated by him. His parents abandoned him because he was a bastard child and so the only adults he's ever had contact with have been servants who allow the abuse to continue because they are employed by his uncle and pedophiles. Because he is only ever given affection during sex, he constantly seeks it out to quell the empty feeling of emotional neglect and starvation the constant exploitation by his uncle has left him with. The other boys at his school don't understand him because he is gay but also because he can be extremely meanspirited, due to the fact that his uncle would only pay attention to him when he acted like that.

The narrative seems so sympathetic to Gilbert and so it baffles me that it would be equally sympathetic towards, say, the feelings of the guy who kidnapped and raped him. It's deeply frustrating and it feels extremely exploitative. They want to have their cake and eat it too; to romantisise child sexual exploitation and grooming and to portray those topics accurately. A narrative intimacy with both the victim and their abuser.

As someone who was recently groomed, this intrigues me. You'd think that if you were trying to groom a teenager/child that you would try to avoid the topic of grooming altogether because it would undermine your goal of trying to exploit them. However, this was not the case for me. Groomer GF and I discussed the idea that she may have been grooming nearly constantly and she was deeply conflicted between her desire to "not hurt me" and her desire to groom me. There is a seldom acknowledged middle ground between normal non-exploitative feelings towards children and sadistically sexual feelings towards them which both the mindset of Groomer GF and of the creators of Kaze To Ki No Uta fall into, a conflict between sympathy with the abuser and sympathy with the abused which combines empathy towards the victim with a romantisisation/sexualisation of their pain.

There is a desire to maintain an emotional connection with the victim that is inherently incongruent with sexualising them. No simple sadism, this desire seeks to consume the victim on the most intimate level, to penetrate them on the most deeply personal level. For Kaze To Ki No Uta, this is for the sake of milking Gilbert's tragedy for pulp fiction-esque melodrama: for Groomer GF, this was because she wanted to "a normal relationship" with me. She wanted the closeness and connection and intimacy that comes with a non-exploitative age-gap grooming relationship with a teenager six years younger than her i.e. someone without the life experience, social capital, or emotional stability to leave her for her vulgar and abusive behaviour.

It goes without saying that these narratives are harmful to victims. The empathetic understanding of the victim draws you in and then pro-pedophilic subtext insidiously lurks in the background until it slaps you across the face with, say, a scene where an 11 year old kissing his at least 30 year old step-uncle is surrounded with a border of roses (not gonna show that part, you'll have to look it up yourself).

For the sake of my own mental health, especially since the grooming thing is a very recent wound for me, I've had to drop this manga. I really don't recommend reading it, especially if this is a sensitive subject for you.

Exquisite Corpse
trigger warning: necrophilia, gore, age gaps, sexual predation, AIDs, cannibalism, racism

Exquisite Corpse is one of my favourite games. It's the one where you fold up a piece of paper into thirds, and then you and your friends all take turns drawing the head, torso, and legs, without looking at what the other people have drawn, and then you unfold it at the end and have a good time.

Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the game this time, I'm talking about the book written by Billy Martin (who is trans so it was written under his deadname, Poppy Z. Brite, sidenote: Poppy's not a bad name for a man but I digress). It's about four gay men during the AIDs crisis, two of which are serial killers. Andrew Compton, world-renowned serial necrophile, escapes prison after contracting AIDs and faking his death, fleeing from London to New Orleans where the rest of the novel takes place. Jay is our second necrophile serial killer as well as a cannibal, living off of his parent's hefty old-money inheritance. Lucas is a 30 year old writer with AIDs who was previously dating Tran, a 21 year old Vietnamese drug dealer who the author would not stop making awkward fetishistic comments about. They all meet, when worlds collide, etc.

I read this book because it was on NyxFears' top 10 most disturbing books of all time. Going into it, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the kind of disturbing stuff I was about to see, and to some extent that assumption was correct. The book has a lot of really graphic gore cannibalism scenes, descriptions of blood and viscera blossoming into each other, etc. etc., so flowery but disgusting prose basically. This was a major strong point of the book. You were never rolling your eyes at the prose like you would SONIC.EXE or whatever, it was genuinely unique and effective horror prose. The author doesn't shy away from detailing all the internal fluids you'd expect to be spewing out of a person after they'd been treated the way Andrew and Jay treat their "boys". And I do mean all the fluids.

At the beginning of the book, the characterisation seemed strong as well. The motives behind Andrew's and Jay's killings are completely true-to-life explanations of why someone might commit cannibalism - loneliness, neurotisisms, the routine of it being more straightforward than solving your emotional issues in a normal way. Basically for the same reasons any other variant of sexual predator might. Lucas's grief around contracting AIDs was compelling as well, and seeing how he and the other side characters dealt with their grief in different ways was too. I found the first two thirds of the book extremely compelling.

In this book, killing and cannibalising another man seems to be a metaphor for what hookup culture felt like during the AIDs crisis, especially since engaging in necrophilic acts is what leads Andrew to contract AIDs and since the way Andrew talks about his killings (getting one "boy" because you feel lonely, killing him, messing around with him for a bit then discarding him) mirrors how people treat hookups a lot of the time. Just my thoughts though. Either way, it seemed to have enough depth beyond the gore and the prose to make me think, at least at first, so props for that. I guess.

There's lots of uncomfortable age gap stuff in this book that I didn't really like but hey the characters aren't meant to be aspirational, are they? That was something I could kind of let slide since it's in almost all gay media, at least gay media with any sense of realism. What bothers me is I can't tell how the author feels about it. Maybe I'm just naive and I give these schlocky authors the benefit of the doubt, but I was willing to wait until the end to see if Billy could pull it off, even though the subject matter was disturbing. That there was a good heart behind the horror, a person with a point purposefully depicting the terror of AIDs, sexual predation, violence, and violation, in order to make a commentary on them.

However, unbeknownst to me, something sickening was bubbling up out of the pages and pages of blood and shit and questionable political commentary, something which I really couldn't stomach and which retconned my previous understanding of the book. In retrospect, this aspect of the book had a lot of the foreshadowing but I could never have predicted how major this element of the plot would be until I had read the entire thing:

Racism. The author is so fucking racist.

At first, I didn't think much of it. I assumed it was a character thing and not an author thing and the author was just giving Jay a fetish for Asian men for some reason. After all, he is literally a white sexual predator living off of an inheritance obtained through slavery. Then more little comments started popping up about androgynous Asian boys being extra cute or something from side characters to Tran himself. Then some of the side characters start calling Lucas a "rice queen" prompting him to go on a rant about how Asian boys are extra cute (especially when young) or something. At that point, I was thinking, "Okay, so this author's deifnitely a little racist and fetishy about Asian men, but so far Tran is written pretty empathetically, so surely it's going to remain a background element, right?"

Cut to the end, and boy was I fucking wrong. Basically, Andrew and Jay end up dating each other and kidnapping Tran so Andrew can get his first taste of human flesh. Tran manages to escape for a bit for the sake of plot contrivance, running around naked in the street with a major head injury when he gets picked up by the cops and Jay and Andrew have to try and convince them to hand him over. I knew things were going south when Billy introduced his first black character, the only black character ever mentioned in the entire book, exclusively so he could get harassed by police when he tries to intervene in Tran's kidnapping, so Billy could have one of the cops say the n-word. He didn't even name him, I think he literally just added that so that he could write a racist slur into the book without technically saying the n-word or some shit.

It only gets worse from here. Immediately following this, Jay successfully bribes the cops to let Tran come home with them. Andrew and Jay have Tran strapped down to a table or something and they've begun torturing him. Meanwhile, Lucas is scaling walls and such because Jay's rich boy house is maximum security, and it looks like the book is gearing up for the climax, every major character's path converging.

The torture scene with Tran is very sexualised. Unsurprising, right? The whole point of the book is pretty much to sexualise these kinds of things. Pretty part and parcel. However, there's an important difference between this scene and the ones proceeding it: in none of the other torture scenes do we get to see the torture from the receiving end. We get to hear about the gruesome final moments of Andrew and Jay's respective victims and the sexual feelings they project onto their victims "submission" to them, but we assume that's not what the author actually thinks it's like to be on the receiving end of such torture.

In Tran's torture scene, we get to hear about how ~his sexy frail Asian boy body submitted to the older white men~ but in more flowery terms obviously. We get his perspective and it's no longer an empathetic one. It's the kind of pained but receptive attitude you'd expect from cheezy fetish porn and not from a 200 page novel. Lucas comes in at the final second, but he's too late - Tran, his lover NINE YEARS his junior, has been mutilated. He ends up killing Jay and then both him and Andrew go their seperate ways I guess.

To add insult to injury, the epilogue contains a poetic detailing of how Tran's and Jay's bodies decomposed together, romantisising how this poor vulnerable homeless Asian boy was violated by three much older racist "rice-queen" Asian-fetishising white men and is now decomposing alongside one of them.

This left a bad taste in my mouth (LOL) and ruined the entire book for me. It was so compelling up until that point, gripping. It seemed so wellwritten, not without its flaws but without flaws that fundamentally ruined the entire story. It seemed like it had a point. When it ended like that, I realised that the book was essentially just an excuse for the author to be edgy and get off to the idea of torturing ~sexy androgynous Asian boys~. It was essentially slightly denser snuff porn pulp garbage.

It genuinely seemed as if the author was just padding the rest of the book with edgy bullshit as build up for his lame as fuck racist rape torture scene. Especially since after Tran dies, the book is basically over. Nothing interesting happens past that point, aside from the shit in the epilogue. Lucas is basically like, "Welp, guess my boyfriend's dead" and Andrew's like, "Guess my boyfriend's dead" and then they both get bored and piss off. There's a couple lines about Lucas having electric energy the likes of which Andrew's never seen, but it is pretty much just padding. It ended when Billy got the post-nut clarity and realised he had run out of minorites to violate.

It's graphic but it's only offensive in the sense that it is offensively disappointing. There's nothing novel about sexual predators, they are literally everywhere. There's nothing novel about romantisising sexually predatory behaviour, because that is the norm. It would have been more surprising to see an empathetic, not just sympathetic, look into how it feels for TRAN to be CONSTANTLY VICTIMISED by those around him, and I can't believe I gave this asshole the benefit of the doubt that he might take it in that direction.

Ultimately, Exquisite Corpse suffers from most of the same problems Kaze To Ki No Uta does; it's shallow. It's aesthetic qualities are top notch but it has nothing new or interesting to say about the disturbing topics it covers so it just regurgitates wholesale the kind of exploitative abuse apologism shit you see everywhere else. Don't waste your time reading this shit.

Landscapes of Memory
trigger warning: discussions of the Holocaust, childhood sexual abuse, & incest

I am constantly trying to get other people who are into psychology to read this essay. Not only does it answer some very interesting questions about the nature of traumatic memory, it is also written beautifully.

This essay explores the differences between traumatic memory in childhood Holocaust survivors versus survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). We tend to see Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) occur in CSA victims but not in Holocaust survivors. Why is this? I always wondered myself and finally I got an answer.

Laurence J. Kirmayer claims that the difference in traumatic memory comes from the fact that the Holocaust was processed by the Jewish people as a community. Whether or not they were aware of it, those who were brave enough to share their stories were assisting their fellow survivors by providing them with a framework to make sense of their experiences. This community support helped people to integrate their memories of the Holocaust into their greater life narrative.

This is in contrast to CSA, which is usually something people are too ashamed to discuss well into adulthood. CSA victims are frequently isolated by their abuser to prevent knowledge of the abuse spreading to other people, which also results in the child being unable to access support that might help them make sense of their experiences. Our culture around CSA doesn't help. Victims are mocked more often than they are supported.

Think about how many people make fun of incest. The incest taboo is strong yet people never seem to acknowledge that incest is frequently the result of grooming. You could imagine that if you were having mixed feelings about your abuse (normal for grooming of all kinds) that you would not want to speak up about it for fear of being further ostracised or mocked. At the same time incest is romantisised and fetishised in porn and literature. Incest is a good example, but the same can be said of CSA in general. Think about how people treat pedophilia for instance.

Victims are punished for talking about their abuse but talking about their abuse is what prevents them from processing their trauma and integrating their memories into a coherent life narrative. The narratives they are provided are humiliating and deleterious to their wellbeing; fetishistic, mocking, sympathetic towards their abusers. This lack of suitable narrative to make sense of their experience is the basis of DID; it is a disorder of neglect.

There is a widely held misconception that trauma is caused by the scale of an event itself, e.g. getting punched is worse than getting scolded. In actuality, trauma is a lack. It is the failure to process and integrate a memory into wider systems of memory. The more support people are provided, the less traumatic the incident will have been. This is why PTSD doesn't occur from the same events in all cultures. Look it up, it'll blow your mind.

Laurence totally knocked it out of the park on this one. If anything I've said interests you, then seriously GO READ THIS NOW! Here's a free PDF of it (legal btw because you can also access it here). He says everything way way better than I do and he takes the essay in a completely different direction to me. I can't emphasise how beautiful of an essay this is enough. Tt's a must read, not only in terms of content but in terms of this guy's essay writing chops.