SFP

sfp 6 75 for web

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  • Rens

    10/10 moderating there, Brad.

  • Sebastián Rodoni Figueras

    Brad, you beautiful bastard. You’re gonna make an awesome elder.

  • palmvos

    i sit in stunned amazement. Alison didn’t get involved. It seems Alison is learning… now lets get to the fun bits…. dynamorph wedding customs!

  • Liz

    …damn, someone get Brad to the closest conflict area. Dude’s a goddamn genius on what to say and when to say it.

  • Markus

    That last panel though. Really makes it feel like Al is a stranger looking in on this whole thing.

  • Loranna

    Beyond the obvious observation that Brad Is Completely Awesome, and joy for everyone all around, I’d just like to note, in Panel 7, the background color almost matches Kiele’s dress, giving greater emphasis to their skin color – or maybe de-emphasizing their dress. Interesting choice for a panel where the previously-arguing pair are united in happiness for another.

    Also, I just love the dynamorph in the tank in Panel 6. No particular reason, I just do ^_^

    Loranna

    • Margot

      Like, the emphasis on Kiele’s blue skin emphasises their dynamorphism, which is what unites them with Teresa and everyone else in that moment?

  • motorfirebox

    I don’t know if I’m with Brad on the “disadvantaged” thing. I often find it frustrating how often a given set of problems in the world are really nothing more than the ‘hard-won lessons’ that have been imparted on our generation by our parents, and that we’re imparting on our kids.

    • Huttj509

      I’ll note there’s a difference between “harumph, back in my day…” ‘elders’ and kindly “we tried this 10 years ago, here’s why we changed from it…” Elders.

      Elders as advisors, and not as dictators.

  • Infinitive

    I love this story arc, and I passionately feel that it wouldn’t work without the remarkably well-written characters we’ve been seeing.

    Start with Gupta. He ran a remarkable class that seems to indicate to me–as a university professor in the humanities–that axiomatic thought has no place in the real world. It forces hard and inappropriate action that hurts many and helps few.

    Move to rich boy. Blinded by privilege and power, he is Gupta’s implicit warning made flesh. As long as the world is capable of conforming to his deep-seated belief in absolute freedom, he’s a great guy, but that need to believe that he’s not the product of blind chance means that he just can’t cope with situations where that’s the only explanation for the way things are.

    Then we’ve got Amanda. She tried that whole “dynamorphic equals superhero” thing, and found that it didn’t work. She was unfulfilled, unable to express herself as a person and forced into a role that she found boring and unnecessary, so she bailed on it and is pursuing something that she thinks will be.

    And she’s such a perfect response to the Tina and Carmen dichotomy. Each of the two has internalized their victimhood as a part of their respective identities, and while their vulnerability and need is certainly valid, the centrality of that to each of their identities leaves them unable to cope with really basic parts of being alive and part of the world.

    And then Brad, who might be the most thoughtful character I’ve ever seen written. He’s careful and earnest and freely admits that he doesn’t have the answers, but he does everything he can to make sure people understand that their needs have been heard and that, even if he can’t address their problems, he wishes he could.

    It’s an array of ideas and ideals here that really puts the simplicity of Allison’s worldview on display, because she has more in common with rich boy than she does with Brad or Amanda–and it’s because she’s so deeply invested in her own axiomatic worldview, not because of her personality or desires. And I think she’s realizing that.

    So, I just wanted to give you a big bravo here, Brennan. I know that you’ve caught a lot of flak over these characters, but now that we’ve come to where we are, I can’t imagine them being any other way.

    • Rich The Bluegeek

      I really don’t agree with a lot of this. I’m all for being compassionate, but that has nothing to do with right or wrong. Teresa is being made out to be unreasonable here, in not wanting to accommodate what Kiele wants. Maybe she is, but we haven’t been shown enough context to understand where she’s coming from and why. Kiele is being portrayed as the injured party, but perhaps the truth is that he/she is too wrapped up in her own troubles to consider that -his- presence in a women’s support group may be emotionally damaging to somebody else.

      Brad wants them both to feel safe and happy, but doesn’t know how to do it. The reality is, we don’t really know how to do that out here in the real world, either. The only real answer is the last part of Brad’s response: Do we want each other to be safe and happy, or are we just wrapped up in what works for us? The implication there is that we’re actively working to achieve some kind of middle ground if at all possible, or else we’re just playing the aggrieved victim card to get what we want at others’ expense.

      In regard to the whole ‘axiom’ thing, something is true or it isn’t. What is not evident is that there is a lot of mixed truth in a lot of the statements being made in this comic. Which implies that the truth is being mixed in with a whole lot of false, vague, or misunderstood or misapplied statements.

      I don’t disagree that Allison’s worldview started out being simplistic. But that only means that there are truths she hasn’t discovered yet, lies she hasn’t learned to reject, and how all of that fits into a universe full of different contexts.

      By that measure, we’re all rather simplistic. But sometimes the truth is simple enough that anyone can see it, if they’re not fooling themselves. I see a lot of these characters walking around fooling themselves, just like in real life. Allison, at least, is probably the most honest character in the comic except maybe Brad. She has her illusions, just like everyone else, but she has the capacity to grow out of them in a positive way.

      • Tylikcat

        Misgendering someone doesn’t help make your point. Kiele was female when she was prevented from going into the meeting. (Though I’ve been using they/them a lot to reflect their changeable status.)

  • ClockworkDawn

    Al is demonstrating another one of her newfound powers, super-creeping.

  • The Improbable Man

    The shading, lack of smile, and wide eyes, in the context of what has happened to her today makes me think Alison is thinking that the group doesn’t “need” her, and maybe that she doesn’t fit in, either (I hope the latter isn’t the case, but she’s had a rough day, and sometimes we think things like that even if it’s not true).

    • Margot

      I think Alison’s mostly feeling overwhelmed with all the things that have happened today. And maybe realising a little bit more how much she doesn’t understand.

    • Arkone Axon

      She has a small smile there. She’s watching and utterly and completely mesmerized by the scene. She’s seeing how incredible her old teammate truly is. She worked alongside them for years, but she never really KNEW them… now she’s seeing what Brad is really capable of, and her mind is blown.

  • Anders

    Brad is so awesome.

  • Tylikcat

    There are so many things about this sequence that are just so right.

    First off, Brad, gods, you are trying so hard you are just about breaking my heart. I ran community events when I was nineteen and twenty – not quite this scale (though not that far off) and not this outre. And sometimes I (and sometimes we, it was often but not always alone) sort of had elders, and sometimes not (or only had them to be bad examples). I was already thinking about the differences between twenty year old me and forty year old me handling this kind of situation, and… yeah. Oh, Brad, how did you get so wise? But I suspect he’s taking way too much on himself.

    But there is also the sense of the accelerated pace of life at a convention for a community that is otherwise geographically scattered. Everything is happening all at once!

    • telk

      Well among other things, Brad’s probably a pretty good listener :-p

  • Shweta Narayan

    oh my HEART! <3

  • blashimov

    <3

  • Jordan Hiller

    Brad’s the best. It’s really heartwarming to see all of these people with all of their differences come together and try to be the best people they can despite all of the crap they’ve got going on.

  • wright1

    Brad is the Elder his community needs. I just hope he can find the support he needs when that role becomes overwhelming.

  • beastlytales

    And everyone feels really heart warmed and uplifted except Alison who is clearly truamatised any association with her kryptonite – love. Seriously wise words from Brad, I get the feeling he does not have the close mentor like relationship Alison has with her government doctor (psychiatrist? Biologist? Can’t remember). Did other dynamorphs who weren’t as useful not get the same attention, not get as good doctors or if there wasn’t the genuine fear that their anomaly could cause mass murder if they became too mentally unhinged mean only Alison is getting the special treatment? I think they mentioned that Moonshadow was still getting regular check ups and passing them so couldn’t possibly be murdering people… Are the other goverment doctors just not that competant at assessing the mental health and needs of the anomalies in general or of dynamorphs specifically?

    Also with dynamorphs marrying and having kids one day… Is it inheritable and there are going to be loads of anomalies forever or are they a one time deal and the only genetics to get passed on will be the pre-change ones?

    So many questions…

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Good question. If the biodynamics are all about 21, then some of them are likely parents. However, it seemed like the superpowers didn’t show up until puberty, so even the oldest of the second generation will still be under 10.

      The whole super powers showing up around puberty does support the whole biodynamism as a metaphor for sexuality, though….

      • Lizzy

        “Biodynamism as a meaphor for sexuality” – can this trope just die please. The bios in this universe have powers that elevate them above humans, how can that possibly mean that they are oppressed the way IRL minorities are that have no such advantage? Portraying the dynamorphs seen here as unilaterally oppressed despite this fact leaves much to be desired.

  • Shjade

    Damn, Brad.

    And judging by their expressions, I suspect they DO both want that, even if neither of them is sure how to achieve it either.

    What a page.

  • JohnTomato

    Where in the Great State of Texas did all those people come from? With the balloons.

    Ali, hang in there young lady. Hang in there.

  • Insanenoodlyguy

    Poor Allison. There’s been nothing to punch for a while now and people are having successful relationships to boot.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    Not a huge fan of public engagements in general. But in this case both of them look pretty happy, so that’s good.

    • Margot

      I’m telling myself it became public when the person proposing shouted “they said yes”. Somehow they managed to make the kneeling-down-to-propose thing really subtle and private…
      But I guess if you know someone well enough you might know that they would be really happy with a public proposal.

    • Floweramon

      Generally my thoughts on public engagements are they’re okay if the couple have discussed marriage already so they’re on the same page. If it’s sprung on a partner out of the blue in a public situation and where the initiator doesn’t know whether or not they’re okay with the idea, then yeah, that’s a thoughtless thing to do.

  • Alex Hollins

    Completely agreed, and I’ll add that I personally know an intersexual person who literally does feel female one moment, male anoth, agender or inter, as time passes. Usually not that fast of aflah through things, but enough to where this. Conversation could happen.

    The thing is, he doesn’t know that. Point out that he’s missing info, but llets not burn him and the author at the stake just yet.

  • This Guy

    This comic’s metaphors could stand to be more didactic.

  • Eric Meyer

    ‘cept there IS a certain amount that the body defines your gender. Neurotransmitters and hormone levels can seriously change how you react to situations. The addition or lack of testes alone (and the accompanying flood of testosterone) will dramatically change how aggressive you’ll react to something- as will simple body shape. If you’re bigger and stronger than usual when something happens, you’re more likely to react in a more aggressive way. If you’re smaller and weaker, you’re more likely to react passively or defensively.

    • m n

      None of those things *define* gender. Also, protip, you don’t need testes to have high T, even leaving out the whole “we can control that shit with medicine now” business.

    • Tylikcat

      Except this is a lot more complicated and a lot less binary than popular commentary would often have you believe. And testosterone is less magical. (Though taken over time, it will have predictable effects, of course.) And, of course, there is a huge amount of socialization that tends to try to reinforce the idea that biology matters more than it probably actually does.

      (And yet, here I am, 5’11”, strong, assertive, and notably NOT MALE. It is true – former software developer, current neurobiologist, likely to go on and working biologically inspired robots. And I teach martial arts a couple of times a week. Oh – and I’m a heck of a cook, and I’m coaching one of my research students through leveling up in her costuming, because hey, skillz, I haz them. I could go on, but it’s already ridiculous.)

      There is a whole subset of people who, because they are large, don’t feel threatened, and indeed, make a point of being mellow and laid back so people won’t be intimidated by them. There is also a very large subset of people who because they are small feel they have something to prove. (Have you never met these people? I mean, seriously, how many of these people have I dated? I kind of want to stop using people I’ve dated as examples…) I’m mostly fairly laid back unless someone start playing dominance games with me (because hell, female software lead in the nineties? Fuck that shit.)

      • I think the term you’re looking for about the combative people near the small end of the bell curve is “Napoleon Complex”.

        • Tylikcat

          I’m aware of the term, but some of them have been women?

    • Nightsbridge

      No. It seems like you have yet to learn what ‘transgender’ means.

      You have some research to do.

  • Margot

    I love Brad, but I don’t understand your problem with Alison.

    • Arkone Axon

      I don’t think Clemens has a problem with Alison. It’s just that Brad is just… amazing! 🙂

    • Ellis Jones

      Suppose it’s about whether the comic wants to use Alison as a window into the universe or as a part of the unvierse to examine all on its own. It can’t really do both at the same time without weakening both.

      I’m indifferent to Alison because she represent(s/ed) the sort of pretentious, you’re-doing-it-all-wrong person that I’ve encountered a couple too many times in my life. Obviously that’s changing, but good lord if it didn’t take too many people literally dying for her to figure our that she didn’t have everything figured out.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      I actually really like Alison, (and I mean, a lot of people don’t realize this but I *really* love this webcomic) and I express this affection by being the absolute worst critic of her every decision and never giving her any respite.

      Don’t tell anybody, they might think I have feelings underneath my oceans of idiotic snark.

  • Asher Freeman

    For some reason, when I read that last line, the theme for The Odd Couple started playing in my head.

  • Shjade

    It’s easier to give a character one or two shining moments than it is to give them an entire shining narrative.

  • martynW

    As I watch the continuous carving up of people into smaller and smaller interest and ethnic groups, I wonder how long it’s going to take before it’s realized that the ultimate unique minority is the individual human being.

  • Izo

    I like that Brad did figure a way to give Kiele what he/she wanted without (unlike in the last strip) totally dismissing Theresa’s concerns.

  • notquiteotaku

    Just ask Boba Fett.

    • Dean

      All Boba Fett had was an interesting look. His ‘shining moment’ was being chumped by a blind man with a stick.

  • Loranna

    I hereby recognize you as the superior artistic critic, and – with a sense of sorrow and joy – return to my lurkings, content in the knowledge that Molly’s work will get the attention it deserves from one more perceptive than I. ^_^

    Loranna

    • Weatherheight

      I respectfully bow to one who has often schooled me.

      For those keeping score, she’s still better than me. I wouldn’t have been paying as much attention without Loranna clearly explaining (and to be honest, reminding me things I had learned long ago). 😀

  • Loranna

    Vel mælt , vinur! ^_^

    (Aye, I know that’s cheating, but . . . Vinna með það sem þú hefur fengið.)

    Loranna

    • Weatherheight

      Google Translate er ógnvekjandi!

  • Background Character

    I’m pretty sure Julian was genuinely confused. No reason to be so aggressive, Ian.

  • Zither

    I was interested enough by your question to do a bit of digging, and the answer appears to be “not really.” LGBTQ-friendliness is a rather hard metric to quantify, given that a country can be good in some aspects but not in others, or discriminate more against some members of the LGBTQ community more than others, so it’s kind of a hard question to answer.

    Just as an example, of the countries that have gender identity laws, a lot are Spanish-speaking (so two grammatical genders) and there are quite a few others with only two (French, for instance), some have dialectical differences in the number of grammatical genders (Danish is the one I’m thinking of here; some dialects have three, some two, some one; I think a similar situation exists in Norwegian), some have no grammatical gender (English, Maltese (I think), and Vietnamese).

    But if you were to look at different legal aspects of gender identity, that list would probably change (Vietnam, for instance, has legalised changing one’s gender identity if one has undergone reassignment surgery, but surgery itself is illegal, and people who HAVEN’T had the surgery cannot (I think) get their identities legally changed). Some of the same names crop up quite a lot in the top lists, others come and go, so it’s kind of hard to get an idea of which places are the most LGBTQ-friendly. On the whole I’d be inclined to say grammatical gender doesn’t have an impact on a culture’s attitudes towards LGBTQ people, or it has a negligible one if it does, but again it’s hard to be certain.

  • Tylikcat

    We also need explicit singular and plural second person pronouns – I mostly go with “you” and “you all” but what are you going to do?

    There are plenty of languages that don’t gender third person pronouns at all – I’ve always preferred that approach.

  • Arkone Axon

    That person referencing Batman TAS was me, actually. And yes, I see your point. Though perhaps Brad himself is simply unaware of how this affects LGBTQs as well. After all, he’s also very young… but doing his best to do right by everyone, as a young community leader.

  • Infinitive

    Just a note–the only reason I mentioned my job is to explain my affinity for Gupta, who I know is divisive.

    Also, the more I think about it, the more similar Amanda is to Allison, with one key difference: because Amanda was never a top-tier superheroine, she never got the delusions of being-able-to-fix-it that Allison struggles with so much, even though she’s aware that the world doesn’t work that way.

  • Infinitive

    I can see where you’re coming from on a number of these ideas, but there’s one that I just can’t agree with or give a pass on: the idea that only superficial axioms can harm. Axiomatic thought–also known as idealism, ideology, and such–is inherently dangerous not in and of itself, but because of how people behave when they truly believe in it. What makes it problematic is that, for an axiom to work, it must ALWAYS be true/accurate; if not, it cannot be, by definition, axiomatic.

    Allow me to illustrate. Take a fundamentally positive, inclusive axiom: People are good, and should be trusted. A person who believes in this idea has no way of understanding or incorporating rulebreakers, like thieves, bullies, or worse. Let’s soften it: When people are good, they should be trusted. This lets us deal with the obvious troublemakers, but how do we deal with people who’re trying to manipulate you, and as such behave well whenever they’re in your presence or in a situation where you might observe or hear word of them? They certainly aren’t good, by most peoples’ definitions, and you’ll eventually be hurt once this person gets what they want.

    The natural objection here is that the person in my last example isn’t good, and as such the axiom doesn’t apply. In a world of perfect knowledge, you’d be right, but that can never be in the real world.

    So, let’s try the softest, squishiest, most positive axiom I can think of: learning is good. Well, Oppenheimer spent his whole life trying to manage and control the entire Atomic world after his work generated The Bomb. How many soldiers have died because some jackass in the middle east learned how to turn a garage door opener, a soda bottle, diesel, and fertilizer into an IED?

    I hope you’ll pardon my lengthy examples, because my point is simple: the world is messy. Ideology never, ever stands up to extended trial in the real world, because the world doesn’t care about whatever silly little rules we come up with. That’s not to say that we should live without ideals–the point is that without cognitive flexibility, we can’t function.

    • Lucy

      I just want to say, I have never heard it stated like this before: “Ideology never, ever stands up to extended trial in the real world, because the world doesn’t care about whatever silly little rules we come up with.”

      That’s an interesting perspective, because, often, I am inclined toward’s Dartangn’s model of truth being good and only incomplete truths being harmful. To be fair, I was raised by a mathematician, haha ^_^; Math is peculiar because it cannot be observed in the real world (for example, you will never find a line that is infinite in length to observe, although part of the definition of a line is that it is infinite in length) and yet using correct math in practice results in strong structures, etc–math can be perfect, and known, even without direct observation.

      And my intuition from a young age was that all things are like that. Things are true, or false, or unknown only because we haven’t figured it out yet (rather than unknowable). This applied, in my mind, to ethics and morality as much as it applied to everything else. It is only recently that I have been thinking…perhaps this doesn’t work in, uh, pretty much any other field, actually.

      • Tylikcat

        This would often be referred to as neo-Platonism, IIUC.

      • Infinitive

        I can’t grant the incomplete truths argument; it’s a fundamentally Platonic argument based on the premise that there is an objectively best/perfect thing/truth/what have you. As famous and acclaimed as the allegory of the cave may be, it’s fundamentally pretty absurd when you think about it for any length of time. Besides, even if we grant the possibility that perfection is achievable or knowable (both dicey at best!), your model of truth is argumentatively unsound, in that any knowledge which is at least partially harmful is and must by the definition of your argument be incomplete. It’s a No True Scotsman in philosophical form.

        I think, rather, that truth is contextual and contingent. A thing that is absolutely true in one context is untrue in others, and I’ll cite one of your own examples on it: the mathematical line example. In the abstract world of mathematics, an infinite line is not only normal, but necessary, but in any other context, an infinite anything is an absurdity. Hence, anything can be, and often is, both good and bad at the same time.

        Now, to get back to the original idea here, if anything can be both good and bad simultaneously, then anything axiomatic must be false at all times, because an axiom cannot allow for a single thing which is both true and false at the same time. That’s why axiomatic thought/ideology always fails in the real world. What’s good to one person is bad to another, and no effort by either party can control for that.

        By the by, this is all the foundational argument for the importance of cultural relativism; since absolutes never pan out in the real world, understanding and respecting multiple opposing perspectives on the same thing is the only way we can fully process multifaceted, complicated problems.

      • Dartangn

        It works in the other fields, it’s just that the other fields require exponentially more effort to sort out. That’s why biology gets mocked. It’s very difficult to get definitive answers. Nothing every ends, and it’s just about impossible to be really sure. And yet, the thriving success of human progress in medicine offers definitive proof that truth can be determined with increasing levels of specificity, and certainly to the point of incredibly effective practical applications.

        The world is complex and multifaceted, but it’s far from unknowable, and we shouldn’t give up and cling to apathetic relativism just because there’s a lot we can’t explain.

    • Dartangn

      “the idea that only superficial axioms can harm”
      That was phrased badly, that wasn’t what I meant at all.
      My point was more along the lines of “Harm caused by excessively general or unsophisticated axioms can be mitigated by careful thought and carefully selected axioms, or sets of axioms’. Yes, it’s difficult, but that shouldn’t deter people. It hasn’t for thousands of years of philosophers. You can’t make a society based on ‘everything depends, nothing is true’.
      “People are good, and should be trusted.”
      That’s a ridiculous axiom for the reasons you mentioned, and anyone that advocates it ought to think about it for at least a moment or two. The flaws in it aren’t hidden.

      A better axiom might be ‘engaged, commited individuals can influence large organisations and societies with effort and time’.

      Like any philosophical viewpoint, they change with time and experience. Nothing says you have to declare your axioms just once, and then for the rest of your life, use those same ones.

      • Infinitive

        I hear where you’re coming from on the early stuff. Language is messy, especially mediated text like you get online. =)

        I have to again dispute your axiom; it’s too hedged to be axiomatic, and is more a statement of strategic intent. In philosophy, an axiom is an irreducible primary; in other words, no part of it may be subdivided for clearer intent. The more axiomatic version of what you said is so common as to be cliche: “one person can change the world.” Thing is, it’s not only untrue (that ‘one person’ really always changes the world by getting a bunch of other people with them), it’s almost always only true demographically, rather than intrinsically (how many of those ‘one person’s were rich, white, and male?).

        Thing is, none of that’s my real problem with axiomatic thought. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I grant the axiom as you stated it. The killer problem is that , while it may be technically true, it is unhelpful and ineffective for the vast, vast majority of all persons. You want to change the world? Well, I hope you’ve got a good job, benefits, the support of a family, some money laid aside, and the ability to find a new job fast if your political action results in you getting canned, because that stuff happens all the time in the real world. Political speech is risky. Small wonder that those who engage in it are rarely those who are able to survive if it blows up in their faces.

        Since equity of opportunity is not a thing, your axiom must by nature privilege those who are already privileged, and will disenfranchise the disenfranchised. Not because you want to or intend to. Because the real world is messy, and because each choice and action and identity each person makes/does/is overlaps and impacts all others (and, at this point, I’m going to avoid talking about intersectionality because that’s a deep rabbit-hole in and of itself), an idealistic statement–yes, like yours, but really like any–rarely results in anything productive. Hell, that’s why folks tease philosophers that they never really do anything besides think and talk and write.

        Really, you example falls prey to the same trap as Rich Dude’s gardeners. Yes, they could change the world, but when? How? When you’re working all day to merely survive, chances are you’re not going to a political rally in the morning.

  • anon

    There’s no gendered pronoun in Hungarian at all, and I haven’t seen any notable difference in sexism or homophobia compared to other countries in the same region.

  • Dr. Mercurious

    …can I nominate Brad for living sainthood? Because he FUCKING DESERVES IT. ‘Our Holy Suspendered One’ has a nice ring to it, dontcha think?

    Also, I don’t like Teresa’s look in the second to last panel. Of course, I don’t like her — geez, how do you go from writing Brad to writing Teresa, that’s some impressive feat of characterization — so I will admit to being biased.

  • Ontogenesis

    Thank you for sharing. I lived in Cap Hill for four years before moving to the U-District. I was surprised to learn that Seattle (mayor/city) declared support for LGBT back in the 70s!

    • Tylikcat

      It’s changed so much over the last several decades (the gentrification has been ridiculous – my parents bought their old place in the era of “Would the last person leaving Seattle please turn out the lights”*) but I’m really grateful I had the chance to grow up there. It was a pretty amazing neighborhood – I was half a block from the NE corner of Volunteer Park, and it was a pretty great area for pluralism, with everyone inviting everyone else to their holiday celebrations, and then going on and then going on to hang with the Q Patrol as soon as I was old enough. And on the personal side, I had the easier coming out ever – I mean, I remember this whole bit when I was ten when I’d never heard of a bisexual and I had a vague idea that I had to pick one, which sounded horrible, but as things went, it was pretty tame. When I look at all the mixed up self loathing, or all the family crap a lot of friends went through, I feel like I got off absurdly lightly.** (I mean, my family was crap, but my sexuality was kind of the least of things.)

      Of course, it was still the Reagan years, and the AIDS years, and all the gay bashing that went on around Volunteer… I *still* give money to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance (which used to be the Chicken Soup Brigade) and it mostly comes down to them doing some very good work at a very dark time.

      * Not that as someone who turned around and worked for Microsoft for many years right out of college I wasn’t arguably part of the problem.
      ** Gods, calling around to find an available room, someone with a van, and a bunch of people ready pronto to move a friend out of his parents house on about an hour and a half’s notice… I guess I look back and I’m just so glad that we had the community we did, so when shit like that happened it could be the least bad possible. And we had an easier time that the generations before us – except, of course, AIDS meant that no comparison is really possible, because we came of age pretty much in time to bury them.

  • Weatherheight

    If dynamorphism has the same mortality rate as the TakisA xenovirus, that’s a legitimate concern – also a very, very messy one.

  • Nightsbridge

    It’s really no harder than the singular ‘fish’ and the plural ‘fish.’

  • Nightsbridge

    Truly baffled by the number of people who can’t wrap their mind around ‘They’ today. People never seem to notice in casual conversation, but whenever LGBT+ issues are close to the forefront it becomes unfathomable to people for some reason.

  • I love that Kiele is a new take on Mystique-style shape-shifters. If you could physically switch biological sexes and change form, that would have A HUGE effect on your psychology and your gender identity, which is exactly what we’re seeing here.

    Excellent and comprehensive work, y’all.

  • LaChatSayWha

    The former, i.e. ‘they’ as non-gender-specific pronoun, is becoming more widely used among people who do not feel that their own gender identity can be adequately conveyed by the male or female pronouns. Despite the grammatical awkwardness, ‘they’ is winning out over ‘ze’, ‘xe’ or such earlier options as s/he (which lugs about an awful history).

  • Daniel Van Patten

    Brad is making the intentional decision to NOT get into specifics (which either party could find fault with an argue) and instead use emotional rhetoric and a plea to sympathy to create a truce. And it worked like a charm. That is a great peacemaker skill.

  • Eva Smiljanić

    Honestly I agree with one of the comments saying that Brad made a mistake. He is being very polite and thoughtful, but I just don’t agree that someone not having a certain set of genitals (at all times) makes them less of a woman. I think Kiele had a full right to that group tbh.

    Also I am very scared by that face Alison is making. She looks like she’s hurt and about to freak out. Maybe she thinks she’s not really needed? Cuz that would sting after being told all her life that she HAS to help people, regardless of what she wants to do.

    • Kate Blackwell

      I think the issue is from making the event women only to begin with, if you do that you are bound to run into the who is a woman argument sooner or later. I can see the same thing happening in the real world, no superpowers involved. Say you make a women only group, can someone who went through their transition attend? Someone who is only planning to transition? Do you allow someone who looks and acts like a dude but says they totally really feel like a woman on the inside? If yes to all then at that point why not just allow anyone?

  • Here’s a Name

    They’re announcing to the crowd so that people can celebrate their happiness.

  • Dean

    The second person plural pronoun is ‘youse’. 🙂

    • Ian Osmond

      “Youse”, “y’all”, or “y’guys” are all used as second-person-plurals in various communities, because an unambiguous plural is useful.

      One of the interesting things I’ve observed is that, in some dialects, people pick up the “plural as respectful/formal address to an individual” thing that evolved into “you as singular” in the first place. You will, rarely but occasionally, hear “y’all” being used to refer to one addressee. Which makes “y’all” no longer unambiguously plural to those speakers, necessitating “all-y’all”.

      The primary purpose of “all-y’all”, however, remains to unambiguously refer to the totality of a group rather than a subset.

      I’ve got a bet going as to what the unambiguous-third-person-plural will be when singular-they reaches full penetration. I’m guessing “they-all”, because we already have “they-all” being used to refer to “not just a subset of them”. And then that eliding to “they’ll” — yes, it does mean “they will” as well, but we’ve got both “y’all” and “you’ll”.

      If that happens, I’ll be interested to see if you get a vowel shift, the way you did with “y’all.”

      • Tylikcat

        I love this comment so much.

        Huh. “Theyse” is kind of nice, though. I mean, I use y’all, informally, and you all in a more formal register (there’s a lot of code switching there, I totally channel my grandpa if I think someone is being a complete dumbass) but the collision between th’all and they’ll is awkward, and well, it *is* English.

  • Hawthorne

    It’d be interesting to see the challenges of working in a dynamorph maternity ward. 🙂

  • lightdefender

    The singular “they” is no more or less confusing than the singular “you” that came into fashion when English dropped “thee” and “thou”.

  • Julian Arce

    Like other people on the comments I was considering the possibility that the person being proposed to had some sort of multiplicity of entities that require the whole to accept, thus the “they”.

    No problems with “they” being used as singular gender neutral; languages are changing and evolving. In English you got it easy, in Spanish we have even more to deal with because some adjectives are gendered modified – so in saying “she is beatiful” [ella es hermosa] the adjective ends in “a” because a female is the subject, a male would be “hermoso” ending in “o”… best solution I’ve heard is using “e”, since e-ending adjectives are gender neutral (fuerte-strong, inteligente-smart) or using “u” so we could say “hermosu” as gender neutral.

  • Tylikcat

    I adore Brad, but I’m also pretty anxious for him.

    After poking myself to try to figure out why, I’m realizing that while we’re seeing him do some pretty amazing things supporting his community, we’re not seeing a whole bunch of people be the social network who will be there to support him in a pinch. And the existence of the first does not imply the existence of the second. (Or… well, it’s complicated.)

    *grin* Now, *obviously* I’m over-reading here, and this is coming out of remember far too much what it was like being a 20 year old event coordinator running around trying to put out fires without a lot of support. But… Brad, in a way different from Patrick, generally knows a lot more about what’s going on with people than they do with him. Unlike Patrick, he’s not an utter fuckwit. But I am not convinced that all is well in the life of Brad.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      I wouldn’t be either for Brad the infinitely complex real person, but I fear in the context of the webcomic he is wont to stay as is, a secondary character putting up one front (being the utmost excellent person to an absurdly ideal degree) for the plethora of narrative reasons it is interesting to contrast and conflict his philosophies to Alison’s character journey.

      I’ll gladly welcome the webcomic to prove me wrong on this and color me surprised but then again, if we are to, let’s ditch pretense and have Empathetic Male Secondary Character be a thing.

      In the meantime I’d be very curious if you would be comfortable sharing how your experience gave you this insight and elaborate further, although it admittedly doesn’t sound like a joyous memory…

      • Tylikcat

        Well, there’s the general bit –

        Volunteer organizations can be great – you can meet people, you can do cool stuff, etc. etc. But it is the nature of volunteer organizations that people will only be casually aware of just how hard you are working. I mean, they’ll appreciate you, but they’ll have no idea how much they really should appreciate you. And the pressure will always be for you to do more, and there won’t be anything like a reasonable rewards structure. This will be better the more organized they are, but the smaller and newer they are (or the higher up you are) the more it tends to be like this. They run on free labor, and kind of need to suck the life out of you.

        This is probably the biggest of source of volatility in these organizations. People are either getting frustrated and blowing up because they feel under-appreciated and over extended, or they’re having all kinds of interpersonal politics, because they’re in it for some kind of perceived power. (This always struck me as a little hilarious. Oooh, look, you are the lord high king of the local scottish dance association. What power you hold! Then you get into the kind of posturing you see in the pagan community… :O= )

        There are a bunch of ways of managing this. I did a decent job going in when I was in my late teens (I had to – I was usually working at least twenty hours a week in addition to carrying a heavy course load. I was protective of my time.) For yourself, be really clear on what you’re getting out of it, decide what you can afford to put it, and keep to your boundaries. And get the hell out when it isn’t fun anymore. (Though OMG, this taught me so much for when I did management in software later.) On the organizational side, if you can divide things up into reasonable tasks, parcel them out, and then make a fuss about how great everyone is, you’re going to have a smoother running organization. (And then having a fair bit of social cohesion among the core group of people running things. But you really want to watch out for either burn out or weird interpersonal politics, because that only leads to tears.)

        But with all of that… don’t expect a lot. People enjoy the events (or whatever) and if someone bothers to point out to them that hey, there are people putting a lot of work into it, they’ll give you a great round of applause, but that’s about it. You’ll meet people. You might end up with a few close friends. And a zillion casual friends. Those people… well, they’re casual friends. Don’t expect much from them.

        The personal bit. A really bad romantic situation left me with an ex who was both stalking me and running a smear campaign. (And contacting people who knew me and trying to get information about me from them. Or just screaming at them, sometimes for hours. Sometimes contacting new friends I’d just met. And pumping them for information, and trying to get them to “mediate”. It was creepy and terrifying. Parts of this went on for years.) This was twenty some years ago.

        I cut contact. Firmly. Mostly I just wanted to hole up and put myself back together. I withdrew from all of my community activities. But I also found that I didn’t have a community – I had a few close friends, people who had the toughness that I could trust them at my back (I mean, I can understand, a lot of people found her terrifying – I never had, I just had no interest in letting her scream at me since the whole point was that she didn’t want to listen to me and she was clearly not good for me.) And then there were a lot of bystanders, many of whom, even when they professed personal support, did things like hand over my newest telephone number, or other personal information, or bring “presents” from my ex to my new apartment. And even though I had been training successors to take over my organizational roles* – since I was on the verge of stepping down and entering the computer industry – and even though I remained available to those people, both of the community organizations I had been a key player in crashed and burned in the wake of all of this. (Leaving didn’t bother me nearly as much as watching all of that go.)

        Looking back, I kind of feel like I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the idea of community was seductive, and I really enjoyed my part in building it an awful lot. The people who went all deer in the headlights… none of those really surprised me. At least one of those who ended up standing by me kind of did (we hadn’t been that close. Now he’s one of my best friends.) And it was really good to learn that I could just walk away. I am often super stubborn, but knowing how easy it actually is to leave has served me well. And I did eventually rebuild connections with a lot of those people – but by that time, I was someone else, and most of them were just so much less interesting to me.

        * I’m sure my training was inadequate. At the time I was leaving I was twenty-one, and while I could teach them basic procedures, it never really occurred to me that I had leadership skills, much less to try and teach them. No one taught me.

  • Lucy

    I think Brad is being wise. Even though I mentioned yesterday, I think Kiele is in the right and Teresa is in the wrong, and my personal reaction was, “suck it up Teresa!” (or, er, I think what I said was, “Teresa needs to resolve her prejudice on her own time”) I am impressed that Brad did not share my impulse. Mainly because, a leader in his position often must learn not only to wear many hats, but when to wear them.

    In this case, it is not the best to be judge and jury. Nor is he choosing to be a tough-love advocate for Kiele. Instead, he chooses the role of diplomat, counselor, and peacemaker. He offers a sort of solution to Kiele (another women’s group that would be happy to have her woman-self), consolation to Teresa, and then makes a bid for common ground.

    If the goal of the dynamorph community meetings is to help everyone heal, and also perhaps to move towards dynamorph-positive legislation and social programs, then trying to handle the situation in a way that doesn’t alienate anyone or cause divisions is probably for the best. So, good for Brad. I hope he’s not too hard on himself. We need more leaders like him.

  • FlashNeko

    Y’know, Brad really does seem like a very good person, which is endearing him to people. However, given the nature of this story, I wonder how people will react when the inevitable skeletons in his closet crop-up.

    So far the one consistent with our ex-superteam members is that none of them escaped without some form of baggage and/or guilt and it seems unlikely that Alison is the only one with some form of body count to their name.

    Now I’m not saying it’s going to be revealed that Brad’s done MASSIVELY horrible things but it’s always interesting to see how one’s view of the Saint they meet changes once they get to know the Man.

  • Olivier Faure

    My answer to this problem is to respect everyone. I can never know if someone else has a world of pain, experience and wisdom that I’m unaware of, so I try to respect everyone’s opinion and moral character even if I find them despicable or really silly.

  • Elaine Lee

    It’s not just in the LGBTQ community that these kinds of problems arise. I saw it happen in the early women’s movement, when people had different ideas of what being a feminist meant, when women did or didn’t think men should be allowed in certain groups, when feminists who were lesbians or women of color thought straight, white feminists couldn’t understand their problems, when women who decided to primarily be mothers thought they were being disrespected by women who were fighting for equal pay, when women who were religious thought that others, the women who believed religion was responsible for their oppression, were shunting them aside. These problems arise in any community and science fiction is one of the best ways possible to make them accessible to people, without accusing anyone of being wrong. Someone who may be guilty of behaving like one of the “bad actors” in SFP may be reading along for quite some time, feeling bad for one or another character, before realizing, “Oh! I get it! I may have been a jerk! I may have hurt someone by my behavior in the past!” That’s why you do it as sci-fi. It allows victims to enjoy the story, without re-experiencing victimization as they read. And it lets those who may not be the most sensitive folks identify with victims, before they realize they’ve been guilty of victimizing others.

  • Tylikcat

    Isn’t one of the stealthy joys of this comic watching Molly’s art evolve? This Chapter in particular has just been blowing me away.

  • Ray Ingles

    In panel 7 (lower left)… is Kiele now the same height as Theresa? In panel 5 Kiele’s eyes are about even with the top of Theresa’s head.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it’s already been implied that Kiele’s outward gender shifts in response to their emotional state. Could witnessing a romantic scene have induced a gender shift that quickly? Or perhaps not, since Brad’s also now about as tall as Theresa in panel 7 too.

    • Weatherheight

      I think that has more to do with shifting “camera” perspective than anything else (and maybe just maybe Molly playing with visually expressing a consensus of opinion via “equal heights”. It’s a thing for a long time in comics.).

  • Lexkat13

    For a second there, when I saw the “Woooooo!!!” at the bottom of my page (because I hadn’t scrolled down far enough to see what it was about yet), I was worried that Alison was cheering on the way Brad handled it. I also initially thought it was “Woohoo”, not “Woooooo”.