Harem Guard

Whenever I read a speculative fiction or sci-fi story that includes a 'harem', I'm inevitably confused. Why are harem guards almost invariably male? (Okay, we can argue about whether or not eunuchs are male, but you see what I'm getting at.) Part of the point of the books I like to read is to present a new perspective on what it means to be human, and this is weakened if the author isn't conscious of his or her own cultural assumptions.

In this case, I think what's bothering me is the prevailing assumption that women cannot protect women. (Caveat: I'm only talking about my own culture here: American, middle class, post high-school, between the ages of 18 and 45, 1996-2008 edition. This is the only culture I've ever lived in, so I'm really not qualified to make sweeping statements that include more than that narrow range.)

When I think of what isn't shown in popular media when it comes to protection or guardianship, a woman effectively protecting another woman is at the top of the list. The only thing I can think of are movies like 'Panic Room', where one 'woman' is a child. We see men protecting other men all the time, although less often than we see men protecting women. In the latter case, we can usually count on some romantic tension, which helps sell movies/magazines/whatever.

What's going on here? Is this a lingering perception of inequality? Or is it just less sexy, and therefore harder to sell? Of course, saying we don't see it because it's 'harder to sell' isn't really an answer. If it sold, we'd see it. The question is why don't people want to see a kickass woman (plenty of those around, clearly we like those) protecting another full-grown, mostly competent woman?

PS: if you want to have your socio-cultural assumptions fucked with, go read some Octavia Butler.

Lesser Hippogryph

More fun with learning how to paint. Fun. Wheeeeeeeee. (strangles self)

I didn't like learning how to paint the first time. It's just not really my thing. I learned some watercolor and some acrylic so that I could paint a picture if that particular idea demanded to be painted (I've mentioned that visual ideas have a mind of their own) but only rarely did I have a meditative 'flow' moment when painting.

And now, I am besieged by ideas that demand to be painted. And they want to be painted digitally. They're very specific about this.

*Sigh*

So, I'm trying to keep myself amused while I bang my head against learning to paint. Today's image is thanks to WoW, Google image search, and as always, Wikipedia. In WoW, there are hippogryphs. Traditionally, a hippogryph is a bird/horse hybrid, just as a gryphon is a eagle/lion hybrid. The in-game hippogryphs always looked a bit more like deer or antelope to me though.

So I got to thinking: Regular hippogryphs look like the bird portion came from a really big bird. However, birds are known for their variation and world-wide presence. They aren't like equines, which have horses, donkeys, zebras, (and Onagers, but that's a bit obscure) and that's about it. Now, antelope are also a very successful group, if you loosely define group. Antelope is sort of a catch-all category for stuff that isn't goats, sheep, cows, or horses. Antelope are all over Africa, have a presence in Asia, and were well-represented in the Americas before almost all of North America's megafauna died out about a million years ago. (Just coincidentally when humans were migrating throughout the Americas...*cough*)

So, if hippogryphs can look like bird/antelople as well as bird/horses... wouldn't there be a lot of different kinds of hippogryph?

Enter one of my all time favorite animals: The dik dik.

I suggest you try to get all of your giggling done in one go.

I made a dik dik the donor for the antelope portion of the hippogryph image above. I chose a sparrow for the bird portion for familiarity sake,  because the colors were compatible, and because the beaks are interestingly hard to get right.

And now, a sad rant:

Originally, I wanted to include a picture of a dik dik with some sort of scale element in this post.  Dik dik are tiny, tiny animals, and therefore funny. I wanted to visually share that with you, but I'm afraid I'm not up to it. Every image I find of a dik dik next to anything recognizable is a picture of a dead dik dik. Not just a dead one, one that has been shot as part of an African Safari, and is now being displayed for the camera.

I've always had a problem with stuffed trophy heads and the like, but this is just the sickening extreme of that behavior. You shot something completely harmless that is the size of a large hare, and you're just so proud of yourself that you have your buddies take a picture to document your skill and bravery?