Conviction

posted August 4th, 2015, 2:01 am


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August 16th, 2014, 3:40 am

GreenKrog

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I don't know to who I am apologizing, but, I am sorry I used my parent's names. Not that I regret using them, because it makes it easy to remember. I guess I feel bad about making my biological mother seem to evil. She isn't as bad as I make her seem in Wildflowers. Not quite that bad..

Er.. way to say your name with conviction, Annie?

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August 4th, 2015, 2:31 am

Anon (Guest)

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I hope Annie's dad doesn't feel too bad about occasionally using the wrong name and gender in that conversation. It just can't be helped when talking to people like that. It's like trying to argue with insane troll logic, fully knowing that everything you say is entirely pointless yet letting yourself be drawn into the crazy until your own arguments stop making sense.

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August 4th, 2015, 11:08 am

GreenKrog

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@Anon: Like arguing with the internet, everyone just walks away stupider and angrier than when they started. But at least Annie knows that her dad was trying to defend her.

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August 4th, 2015, 3:45 pm

Anon (Guest)

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@GreenKrog: Yeah, that's true. I may be wrong because I'm not the one writing this, but to me it doesn't look like Annie's dad's slips were evidence that he doesn't really see Annie as a girl. It looks more like the mother is just messing with his mind.

When arguing with irrational people, often the only way to get through to them is to speak their own language, and that's an adjustment your brain tends to make without telling you. Seriously, start arguing with a racist and at some point you'll start sounding pretty racist yourself. Or start arguing with a religious person and you'll find yourself trying to prove that the Bible is on your side, even if you don't believe in it.

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August 4th, 2015, 4:11 pm

GreenKrog

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@Anon: Oh not at all. Annie's dad only borked up because he kept hearing the name Tony over and over. Plus, that was Annies name for like, her entire life, and he gets to spend so little time with her to rearrange his brain for this new information.

Fun thing that you can do. Talk about toast a lot, and then ask someone what you put in a toaster. A lot of the time they will say toast before correcting themselves to say bread. Our brains are programmed for patterns, and names are a pattern we fall in to when hearing it frequently enough.

I spend a lot of time arguing with religious people (and a lot of time now arguing with feminists about racism). I know exactly what you mean about sound racist. I manage to escape that by remaining on topic and not letting the other party change the flow of conversation. Let them strawman all they want, if you stick to the topic, they have no ground they can stand on.

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August 4th, 2015, 8:05 am

TallMist

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I'm so glad that SOMEONE is putting a stop to those therapist meetings. Honestly, I kinda hope Annie gets kicked out of her mother's place and so that her father can give her permission to live with the Bernts.

Can't say I'm surprised, though, that not even Annie's dad could convince the mother. The mother is a stinkin' bitch all around.

Also, I hope that Annie realizes her dad IS trying and is still taking time to get used to him having a daughter instead of a son now.

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August 4th, 2015, 11:07 am

GreenKrog

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@TallMist: There is a difference between a terrible person and a person brainwashed by religion and cultural expectations rooted in said religion. Annie's mother is horrible, but only because that is how she was trained to be.

This is something we all need to learn. A person is only as terrible as what they were raised to be part of. Nobody starts out with hate in their hearts.

I'm sure Annie knows her dad is trying, and her forgiving him was real. Or at least, I hope so. I still have huge difficulty forgiving myself when I accidentally misgender one of my coworkers after such a long time knowing them too.

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August 4th, 2015, 11:32 am

TallMist

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@GreenKrog: Honestly, that's no excuse. I can't be fair to any hate. In fact, it's even worse for using God, one so highly worshiped for his love, to promote hate. Especially when aimed at their own child. Disgusting, IMO.

And yeah, I've accidentally misgendered people as well. Although, for the most part, it was just in YouTube comment sections where I couldn't possibly know their gender. :P But if I were to actually misgender someone that is transgender, I'd feel sorta ashamed of myself.
Not saying you should, just that I myself would.
But it can't be helped sometimes. Slips of the tongue.

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August 4th, 2015, 11:53 am

GreenKrog

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@TallMist: It isn't an excuse, no, but it is a reason. Hating a person for how they were raised to think and act begets more hate, and that leads to isolation, and furthers the cycle. The only way we are a world can move forward is to communicate and try to sway the others opinions honestly and earnestly. You can despise the hate itself, but taking it out on the person perpetuating it when it isn't their fault is unfair.

If you had been raised in a family where you had been told from day 1 that race X was inferior, and brainwashed constantly to reinforce it, you would probably believe it until a certain age when you gain your own ability to think and judge for yourself. It doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a person who suffered abuse and are perpetuating the cycle.

Annie's mother is not a horrible person for doing what she has been trained to do. She is a misguided person who needs to be shown how to be good.

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August 4th, 2015, 12:00 pm

TallMist

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@GreenKrog: Thing is, Annie's mother is at that age of self-thinking... Unless some very bizarre plot twist shows itself. XD

Anyways, aside from that, though, you're completely correct.

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August 4th, 2015, 12:56 pm

GreenKrog

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@TallMist: (Sorry, again, based on my biological mother). She is of the age to have reason, but she is also not particularly intelligent and she does not have inquisitive mind. To her, what is already in her mind is good enough. Alternately, you don't know her history on how inquisitive nature was treated when she was a child. If her parents raised her to never ask questions or to obey and not speak, then she can hardly be blamed for how she was raised.

As much as we might want to hate Annies mother, we shouldn't. I keep trying to show people that hate only begets more hate, and forgiveness is what makes everyone better. How a person was raised is not how they have to be - I mean, isn't that what all trans people learn in time? We need time to learn how to undo the damage that is built into us about our expected roles. Annie's mother needs that same time.

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August 4th, 2015, 1:02 pm

TallMist

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@GreenKrog: I totally get what you're saying. :)

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August 4th, 2015, 1:09 pm

GreenKrog

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@TallMist: My dad (Annie's dad) always said, there are no bad people, only good people who do bad things.

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August 4th, 2015, 2:36 pm

TallMist

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@GreenKrog: And those that intentionally harm with ill intent?

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August 4th, 2015, 2:51 pm

GreenKrog

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@TallMist: Then those people have serious issues. How did they come to have those issues? The incidence of sociopathy isn't high enough to account for that sort of thing. There must be a root cause of such anger and hate, isn't there?

Think about it this way. I was abused emotionally and neglected physically as a child. I adopted hurting myself as a way to cope with the pain I suffered. I could just as easily have taken it out on others. Indeed, I spent a year in sales where I took as much money as I could from as many people as I could without much heed for their actual needs. I showed every sign of intentional harm because I was angry at everything and everyone. It took me a year to realize that the hurt I was foisting on everyone else was helping nobody. I was a good person who was doing bad things.

Have you seen the movie 'Butterfly effect'? I recommend watching it if you haven't. There is a young man who, for all intents, grows into a criminal and a sociopath because of how he was raised, NOT because of who he is. Yet in other timelines in the same movie, he grows to be a really good person, bringing happiness and support to his friends.

If I had been raised in a better environment, I would not have done what I did. I would not be in the place of hurt I am so often now, where I support everyone else but still hurt myself. My mother did not do these things to me because she is a bad person, she did it because she was raised in a bad way.

The sins of the father and such. Very few people are born evil. Everyone is worth forgiveness.

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August 4th, 2015, 6:23 pm

Anon (Guest)

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@GreenKrog: I tend to disagree with that. There are people, intelligent people, who do truly horrible things while being completely aware that what they're doing is wrong. We live in a world where sexual slavery is a multi-billion dollar industry. There are people in North America who sell their own children.

All of our media decries bullying, rape and violent crime in general and yet people still do those things while being repeatedly told by society that it's wrong. There are crime lords who commit awful crimes against humanity and I wonder all the time, how do these people deal with knowing that they are the cartoonish villain in every book and every movie?

The only answer is that some people are simply evil. Some people know that what they're doing is wrong and do it anyway because they just don't care. They don't have the moral compass that makes someone a "good person".

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August 4th, 2015, 6:50 pm

GreenKrog

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@Anon: As I said, there is sociopathy. And that can be inherent, but it can also be a learned behavior. The amount of value a person puts on something can be a learned behavior. Do you quite honestly believe that the majority of white people were sociopathic when it came to owning slaves? Or was it that the society they were in trained and allowed a mindset wherein slave ownership was considered normal? Did we have a sudden and drastic shift of our brain chemistry, or was it due to educational factors and a shift away from the socially accepted norms?

Bullying, rape, and violent crimes are generally cries to power. People who feel a lack of power will often try to gain it through means not appropriate to what power they lack. For example, bullies have been linked to people who lack power in their home environment, so they seek to have power over others to satiate their own need for control over their situation. Rape (of the violent kind) is generally seen not as a sexual act but as an act of violence, one again, a person who wants control over another person. So how did they get to that state? You need to ask how these people were raised, so you can figure out what made them into this.

Crime lords, where do they come from? Likewise, when they do their evil, do they do it for sociopathy, because they value their own people more than those they hurt, or for other reasons that should be looked at? Let us look at some very generic (eg, TV criminals).

Mexican mafia guy X comes to America. If he begins selling drugs, he is either in a situation where he needs to sell drugs due to lack of opportunity, or he is from a culture where selling drugs is an expectation of normality. You take the same human being and raise him in a different area (say, Vancouver), and his opportunity and concious will be structured more around how the situation presented in his youth.
Moving on to, say, African crime lords. They tend to come from opulance more than they do lower class, as in the above example. This however means that they are expected to have a family lineage or build a family lineage to show how important their family is. They have access to the tools to be able to run things. However, they have also been raised in a way that shows they need to be brutal and ruthless to hold power, and do whatever is needed for as long as possible to maintain it. In a state of unrest, enforcement of power means putting that need for control above that of the people you hurt.
Do they know they are doing wrong? Yes. Is it objectively more wrong to them than it is the situation that was placed on them? That is up to them to know, not us.

I am going to go straight to Godwin's law and invoke Hitler. Considered one of the most evil Christians in history. What was his first act of war? To invade Poland, which had exactly.. what? What did Poland have that was of strategic value to him and his people?
Food.
Hitler invaded Poland so he could have food to feed his people after the brutality they had suffered following the end of WW1. This is the same brutality that they would suffer after WW2, btw.
Hitler now had nearly the food he needed to feed his people. And yet, those who were not considered german because they chose to keep their own cultural identity (jews, gyspies) were not worthy of his food. He is committing acts of war, sending his young people to go and die so he can feed his country - why would he possibly want to keep a bunch of foreigners around to feed? Especially since he was raised in a culture that told him, day after day, that the jews were in control of the wealth and thats why his people were in such a horrendous state of inopportunity?

We know what follows, of course. Some of the most evil acts known to mankind. But you know what happened during the execution of the jews, by the man running the executions?
"After Himmler witnessed the shooting of the Jews he was deeply concerned for the Einsatzgruppen who had to go see the executions through. After the executions, he said something to the extent of, "these men are ruined for life." Himmler's dissatisfaction at the inefficiency of these shootings coupled with the perceived psychological toll they had on Nazi soldiers led to the formation of the gas chambers"

Himmler, the man who was responsible for killing the jews, cared about his people. Not the jews, but he cared deeply about the people who had to do the executions.

If you unpack history, there is a lot of evil. But you have to consider the evil that drove them to reach that state. Very few people open their eyes and want to kill an entire race. They have to be taught and brainwashed that this is acceptable.

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June 9th, 2017, 1:59 am

sunspark

mother

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@GreenKrog: I know you hate that people hate Annie's mother so passionately. And I know you always ask us to see the possibility that she may have had, as Annie often says, "reasons." And she probably does. But don't forget that your readers, too, have reasons to hate her. They have their own experiences with people like her, which is cause enough. They have the constantly increasing violence against trans people that they see in the news, which is another reason. And they have the simple fact that your webcomic portrayal of her, while it may have had its origins in your real mother, paints her with *no redeeming characteristics whatsoever.* You gave yourself an opportunity, just before the trial, to create some sort of sympathetic moment. But you immediately jettisoned it, returning her to her continuous bigoted, arrogant blather the very next time we "saw" her.

I think a lot of your reaction to your readers' negativity is based on your own knowledge of your mother; however, you also know that Annie's mother is NOT yours. You didn't make her that way. She is a caricature of all of the worst attributes of transphobic parenting. She is the hyper-religious mother who drove Leelah Alcorn to commit suicide...except that I can find it in my soul to dredge up sympathy for that woman because she is multi-dimensional; Mrs. Andrews is not. That isn't a criticism: villains are often portrayed two-dimensionally. Giving them depth of character complicates matters. It can be a great complication, but it often simply is not what the story demands: sometimes the story just needs a well-defined villain. But I think it is unfair of you to blame your readers for their reactions when you yourself pointed them in that direction.

PS: A note about hatred and evil...

I am a Unitarian. Core among our beliefs is the worth and dignity of all human beings. I do not believe in "evil." I believe in evil deeds and acts, but not in evil itself. So, no, I don't see this woman as evil. I see what she is doing as appalling, though. Yet, if I believed in heaven (which I don't), I'd expect her to end up there...right next to Hitler, and Christ, and Joan of Arc, and the Marquis de Sade, and I'd expect her to be ashamed of what she has done. The "Evil" done in our lifetimes amounts to the horrible decisions we as humans sometimes make, like the ones Annie's mom is making. Of course, I live in her lifetime: I personally am allowed to find her actions appalling and hate her for them. But I hold in the back of my mind the knowledge that she is more than her actions, even if (because I am who I am) I react with my own emotions to those actions.

Does any of this make sense?

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June 9th, 2017, 8:58 am

GreenKrog

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@sunspark: Annie's mother is an execution of metaphor to conjunctively lead to psychological understanding of internalized reaction in the face of external circumstance. If you are simply looking at the surface value of villainy then you are also going to be led to the same conclusions about other aspects of personality and personhood, including but not limited to interactions of familial intelligence and inability to move beyond ties that bind.

If you want two solid examples, look at the aspects of debasing yourself on someone who shouldn't be relevant, and the character arc of Bill.

Bill is clearly an easy answer. He was set up to be nothing but a villain as well, hurting Annie, mistreating her, and overall being a terrible person. He did so primarily under the assumptions given to him by his mother and societal pressures. Yet as the story progressed, he moved past what he thought was obvious to what should have been obvious - that Annie needed to be happy even if in danger, rather than unhappy and out of it. You might not see it the same way, but Penn Gilette noted something about evangelizing religions. He said "to them, hell is the worst thing imaginable. They want to save me from it. How horrible would they be if they didn't try to". The arc of Bill was completed, but what if the arc of Deb was also completed by that simple thought? If the definition of her based on her actions of trying to protect her child from bad mistakes that can have both lifelong and eternal effects, then, is she actually evil? Perhaps you are the one who is boiling her down to be two dimensional and forgetting what drives things.

So lets move on then to the second point, which is using Deb as a personification of internal dialogue and the ability for one to move beyond it both physically and mentally. Deb has been structured in such a way that you are intended to hate her, not because she is supposed to be hated, but as a psychological device of objective-based healing. Readers who are in a similar situation to the protagonist can continue to live in and allow themselves to be affected by the types of pain given by Deb or they can learn to forgive THEMSELVES and move on. Everything Annie's mother has said is part of Annie's internal dialogue. To hate her mother is to hate yourself for having those same thoughts. By compartmentalizing them to this person who can be ignored, rationalized, and moved past, readers can grow beyond their own hangups. Look at how little time Annie spends with Deb - this is because she knows how she can work around that sort of pain and no longer be forced to value it despite the intrinsic closeness of familial ties. Yet look further that Annie goes back to her biological mother time and again *because* she wants to feel down. She cannot move past the presentation of internalized transphobia and revels in it when she needs to villainize herself. To make progress with Deb is to make internal progress, to overcome how we feel inside by dealing with it on the outside.

Additional to all of this, which is a point I have made time and again in the hopes that people can begin to get better - we all need forgiveness. Personal forgiveness. If we can look inside ourselves and see that what we allow ourselves to think is wrong, and still love ourselves, we can begin to work on it. Avoidance and trying to push an isolationist standpoint leads to psychological stunting.

Wildflowers is meant to be a place of pain so that people can work through it. Annie's mother is a source of pain that can be ignored, but isn't. I ask my readers to really break down what is in their minds and why they hold on to hatred so that they can move onwards in their own lives.

I hated the RDeb for my entire life for the things she has done to me. I cut her out because I knew I would be better off without having that influence. But I also knew that hating her, when she was no longer a part of my life, would not hurt HER in any way. It would only, and COULD only, hurt me to hold on to that. My mother did things, not out of malice, but out of being misguided or lack of intelligence. Don't hate her. Learn from her. And live.

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June 9th, 2017, 10:34 am

sunspark

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@GreenKrog:

"Readers who are in a similar situation to the protagonist can continue to live in and allow themselves to be affected by the types of pain given by Deb or they can learn to forgive THEMSELVES and move on. Everything Annie's mother has said is part of Annie's internal dialogue. To hate her mother is to hate yourself for having those same thoughts. By compartmentalizing them to this person who can be ignored, rationalized, and moved past, readers can grow beyond their own hangups."

We are not really in disagreement here. I totally see where you are coming from and (as I said) I also see Deb as a character more to be pitied than hated. She's the product of her upbringing, as is everyone. However, I do think that, especially for readers who feel or have felt acutely the pain that people like this inflict upon them, it isn't always just a matter of externalized self-hatred. What she puts her daughter through is simply cruel. Would you argue that, if Annie had been internally stronger from the start, she would NOT have said and done these things to her? Of course not; her character is motivated by that need to save Annie's (or Tony's) soul that you mentioned. So it isn't merely about *reflecting* self-hatred; it's about *forcing* self-hatred where none exists.

In Annie's particular case, she magnifies what is there. In Leelah's, well, who knows, but it is certainly possible that she, like so many others, might have been able to live happy lives had it not been for transphobic parents. 42% of us don't try to kill ourselves (yes, me too) because we are intrinsically broken people. We do it because we don't believe society will accept us. And that (far too often) begins at home.

Anyway, I do understand your concept. I love talking with you about this comic. You have a deep and analytical mind and have created something remarkable here. I hope you are really proud of it. And I hope you know how much it touches and moves people. I'm sure it has saved people too.

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