sfp 6 60 for web

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  • Philip Petrunak

    To be fair, the metal plated one does have a point and her feelings are valid. The green one’s dynamophism makes her more employable, not less. It makes her life easier. It’s like listening to a rich person complain about their taxes when you have barely enough to pay your rent. At the end of the day the green one will probably go home to her nice apartment while the other probably still lives with her parents because no one else will rent to her even if she could afford it. Hell, even look at the fact one can afford to wear and by the clothes she wants, and the other one can’t wear clothes at all.

    She is right to be sick of hearing this. People who have more problems should be paid more attention to. Just because they both look different doesn’t mean they’re equally deserving of the groups time. Are they really equally deserving of pity? Equally deserving of comfort? You don’t comfort the comfortable, you comfort those in pain.

    • Mechwarrior

      So it’s perfectly fine if people just see you as a sexual fetish instead of a person as long as you look good? She’s attractive and therefore it doesn’t matter if she can’t have meaningful relationships?

    • Debbie Jackson

      Not exactly.

      You have something of a point in that direct oppression and prejudice can vary on an individual level from person to person, and that members of several underprivileged groups tend to experience more oppression than members of one. So yes, due to this, it is extremely important that such people are highlighted rather than silenced within any given underprivileged community, just as the experiences of all in that community should be highlighted in wider society by those who have it.

      But this assumption shouldn’t be levelled against random strangers in a discussion group. The entire point of segregated group discussion is to learn to empathise with people who share some of your traits but whose experiences are different from your own; to broaden your horizons and your understanding of *all* the challenges and experiences that come along with membership of said group. In addition the group is a carefully crafted safe space where the voices of disadvantaged people can be heard without being countered or downtrodden. Instead Vanessa destroyed the cohesiveness of the group for everyone, making it impossible for anyone else to safely share and turning mutual support and bonding into threat and divisiveness.

      And discrimination and suffering take more than one form even across a single demographic group. Privilege intersects; you can have high levels in some areas and extremely low levels in others. Refusing to accept, recognise or engage with this wider range of experience just isolates and excludes people who would otherwise be standing in solidarity with you and your own suffering and fighting together to tear down the oppression affecting everyone.

      Also, as “some guy” says, the aspects of her dynamorphism that present her with more opportunities in some areas massively detract in others. It’s less like listening to the rich complain about a tax rise when you’re struggling to find money for rent, and rather more like realising the only reason your richer neighbour can make *their* rent every month is that they’ve been forced into working as a call girl for the last several years, constantly under the threat or actuality of sexual violence, and no matter what they try they can’t escape their circumstances because it’s the only work available for their demographic. I mean, Vanessa literally calls her a “green porn star” even while ranting about how Carmen doesn’t face any real injustice, and apparently doesn’t see the irony present in that response; being constantly objectified, exploited, sexually threatened, and treated as subhuman in a different but equally problematic way, is still absolutely injustice.

  • chaosvii

    Well it’s official, feelings aren’t real therefore they’re a waste of time to discuss.
    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to belittle (non-impoverished) 8 year olds for having problems that are way easier to resolve than my own.

  • Spectacles

    Man, this comic depicts these kinds of discussions too realistically. Sometimes I kind of wish there was a Blue Girl Moderator for every internet discourse like this that occurred…

    But look! Orange spikes is there! Maybe with her will come some chill diffusion of tension? Maybe?

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    How date you complain, rock monster. One of you here is a literal blue gas that has to be contained into a pressure bottle and she didn’t even get a chair.

    For real though I’m going to shut up and let the smart people talk on this one. There’s a lack of empathy there betraying the tragic human unwillingness to trade perspectives and self-reflect that feels lived, real and difficult. Reminds how Zoe Saldana being cast to play Nina Simone caused a legitimate uproar and the way we abused and misunderstood each other in the face of it.

    • Tylikcat

      I’m back to wondering about biodynamic folks as a population. I mean… will they have biodynamic kids? (And what’s the genetics there? I mean, clearly they’re not only going to settle down with eachother – I’d guess exogamy to be the norm rather than the exception.) Is the storm going to be a recurring thing?

      Or is this a one off, and there’s just this one group of folks, all within a year of the same age of eachother, who are going to continue to be this same-age cohort, all around the world? Because it’s such a weird way to structure a community…

      • Weatherheight

        Well, there certainly does seem to be some evidence for genetic expression as a source of abilities, given the physician we’ve seen assigned to Alison basically saying just that. But one of the worst assumptions to make is “evidence for a thing therefore makes it universally true” – while it may be so, more usually there is a very specific set of circumstances that make a certain genetic expression possible. And the idea of biodynamic expression interacting with more conventional expressions of humanity has a spectrum of possible outcomes that boggle the mind.

        As to an age-based cohort being odd, what, ya never hear of Baby Boomers? 😀 I’m certain that, given the nature of humans to classify stuff whether that classification really fits or not, I’d expect it to happen more likely than not (along with every other sub-group anyone can figure out).

  • Sasha

    Silly question – Vanessa and another character appear to be naked here?
    I’d think it correlated with the amount of morphing they’ve gone through, but characters like Daniel and the orange girl do wear clothes.

  • Dean

    I realise that both Vanessa and Carmen have valid problems, but all I can think about is that the blue woman looks exactly like an asari from the Mass Effect series of videogames.

  • Demononion

    So many side characters that would have such interesting stories, shame we don’t have the time to explore them all

  • Shjade

    *oh gosh Allison please don’t intervene let them handle it it’s fine everything is fine stay in the chair oh gosh oh jeez*

  • Columbine

    Having never ever been to something like this before….is this how they often go in the real world?

    • Mechwarrior

      It depends on the moderator, but yes, it’s depressingly common for emphatically challenged a-holes to put down anyone who doesn’t meet their personal criteria for “real problems.”

  • MisterTeatime

    Oh god, I sympathize with all these people even when they’re at each other’s throats. Excellent work, Brennan and Molly.
    (Alison, this is going to be super hard and I sympathize with that too, but please stay in your seat… and seriously, get us Big Orange Lady’s name!)

    • lizasweetling

      *whispers* it’s Vanessa
      Edit: oh shooot! I just realized you meant the other one, and I don’t know how to delete this!

      • Izo

        I’ve just been calling her orange feather woman until someone mentions her name 🙂

  • JohnTomato

    With one exception all the ladies are Star Trek TOS aliens.

    • Guest

      I recognize species Orion, Horta, and Medusan. Anyone want to list the others, I want to know now! 🙂

  • GreatWyrmGold

    Ah, yes, the old “My problems are worse than yours, so you don’t get to complain” fallacy.

    • Elaine Lee

      It’s that idea that kills most marriages.

  • Probably be flamed for this…

    Please tell me the facilitator is going to correct Vanessa further in the next strip. Compassionately and intelligently of course, I’m interested in correction, not some sort of revenge by proxy. It’s selfish, but I would find it comforting for every time I’ve felt driven out of a support group when I heard:
    “You don’t really have a voice here, men can’t be sexually assaulted.”
    “But you knew sex was going on there, you should have expected what happened. I had no way of anticipating what happened to me.”
    “He only implied he was going to hurt you. He never actually said he was going to hurt you or actually hurt you.”
    “Shut up, you’re cute.”

    I recognize that some people/I have greater privileges than others (and in the case of the being cis male thing I do recognize I can even represent a group that is more likely to inflict disadvantage on other groups,) and to a certain degree it is a comfort when facing our challenges. However it’s not some set of scales where one negates the effects of the other. It’s not a competition for whose pain is the most real or valid. Yes, my privileges are real, but so are my traumas. I would like support too and while it may or may not be comparable to what others are going through, I’m tired of feeling like I’m doing it alone and like I’m opposed by even the people who say they are there to help.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Sadly this too is accurate to my experience with (thankfully a minority) of panels and support groups I have been to. And again the lgbt analogy might not be the best one but it’s one I have seen up close. So often in minority communities, they present a strong unified front to the mainstream but the divide between members that can pass for “normal” and others that can’t fosters some resentment. Unspoken or otherwise. The talk between Carmen and Vanessa is a tough one because this is the realm of superhero sci-fi and it escalates to the point where one of them can’t even find clothing for her body. And like Daniel/Cleaver, the talk of having a sex life (outside of with unusual fetish enthusiast) is there too.

    It’s a thorny issue. Whose pain is “greater?” I personally come down to the fact that both have pain and both are valid. The metric of whose troubles are greater than the other is arithmetic I have always found too…quick and easy. There is plenty of pain to go around and I don’t want to start telling people how they feel or how they only think they feel and start comparing that to myself or another party. I feel I don’t even know those closest to me well enough to start quantifying their hurts.

    Also, is one of them liquid in glass? I can’t even imagine the life adjustments required.

    • lizasweetling

      talk about issues with the fashion industry- I wonder if the fluid(?) girl can get a job…

    • Huttj509

      I’m reminded of the X-men 3 movie. “No Rogue, you don’t need curing, it’s not a disease, take pride in what you are.” From the goddess of weather and lightning who can fly, to the young woman who discovered her powers when she put her boyfriend into a coma and can’t touch anyone for fear of doing the same to them. Rogue could use a hug…oh wait, make sure there’s long sleeves…

      • Pol Subanajouy

        I agree that was a tone deaf moment in the movie. Also, I have some problems with Halle Berry as Storm to this day, but that’s a whole other, much nerdier, issue.

  • Apromor

    I like that the character who looks like a cylinder of compressed gas with a lava lamp/snow globe atop it identifies as female and choose to go the a woman’s discussion group.

    • Elaine Lee

      I think SFP’s biodynamics began to exhibit their powers (and the traits that went with them) as teens. So the cylinder may have been exhibited typical female traits through adolescence and would still think of herself that way.

    • Mechwarrior

      I’m waiting for her to turn to Vanessa and point out that at least she’s still a biped.

      • Izo

        I’d be surprised if she didn’t actually feel the same way that Vanessa did, or moreso. Unless she’s very laid back and accepting, which is also a possibility.

    • Izo

      I’m pretty sure they’re ALL women in that group, since it’s a woman’s biodynamic support group, judging from the sign on the door, and I’m assuming that she was a woman before the change happened, which somehow I feel person who has it worst of all unless she’s able to morph back into a normal-ish body. Which probably she can’t or she wouldnt need the robo-suit.

  • Sebastián Rodoni Figueras

    Don’t get involved Al, don’t get involved Al… Please, please, please don’t get involved.
    Oh who am I kidding. She’s gonna speak up and make everything worse, isn’t she?

  • 3-I

    This happens in a lot of communities, sadly. =/ You get the gatekeeping folk who say someone isn’t “oppressed enough” to have a voice. As if the closet isn’t oppressive. As if people aren’t facing persecution for the things that you’re claiming are “easily solvable” by closeting themselves. As if “passing” or being a sexual fantasy for the people with institutional power is a privilege. Hell, I’ve heard people saying that once a trans person passes, their problems are over. Or that a light-skinned or biracial black person doesn’t face oppression. Or that asexual and aromantic people are “basically straight.” And it’s a lie, of course.

    And yet at the same time, I do understand the frustration. I understand that there are problems that seem small when you’re suffering your own. And while I don’t agree that ANY person in an oppressed group doesn’t deserve a voice, I do know that it can feel like the people who “look normal” can have their voices much more easily heard than the people who most desperately need a community. As much as I resent the people who say that LGBTQIA people who are “closeted” are just fantasizing and not actually facing “real” issues, I understand the pain that makes ’em say that. I understand how much they must be suffering when the voices of others are lifted above their own every time, because those people fit the profile of an “acceptable” marginalized person.

    It’s a complicated dialogue, and I’m glad you guys are portraying it… Though I wish Vanessa wasn’t breakin’ out the gendered slurs. C’mon, Vanessa. You’re a giant pulsating armadillo woman. You KNOW you’ve been called horrible names by people who fetishize your appearance. Remember, all women are shapeshifters: I can transform from a “sexy angel” to an “ugly wh*re” in the space of a single “no.” Don’t tell me you ain’t faced that.

  • Loranna

    Hmm. I wonder if Carmen’s story will make Alison wonder about Max’s intentions – or, wonder more about them, if she’s already wondered at all.

    I love the floor pattern in panel two; both symbolic of chains, and the colors foreshadow the contrasting background colors used for the rest of the comic. Nice touch ^_^


    • Weatherheight

      Loranna, please stop pointing out the color choices here when they’re subtle- I keep getting it together only to have you mess with my mind again. 😀
      Mind you, it’s in a good way…

  • Jay

    Literally Captain Kirk’s stand-in girlfriend. Heh.

    I do think the dynamic is a little different, as Star Fleet is presented as this egalitarian melting pot where aliens and humans hooking up is considered normal-ish. From magma-girl’s perspective, I can definitely feel the frustration. This doesn’t seem like a meta-human problem nearly so much as a normal person problem experienced by a meta-human.

  • gray-haired grad

    Dang, s**t just got real.

  • Jon

    I dunno, I kinda side with Metal-plates-over-exposed-muscle here. The green one is traditionally attractive enough to get by fairly well. She looks like one of the green girls Kirk is always kissing on Star Trek. The blue one next to her looks like an Asari from Mass Effect.

    Compared to the one who is apparently a puddle in a robot suit, or the giant fish-person, or Skarmory over there, she has a lot less to complain about.

    Social phobia is a serious issue, but it’s not one as serious as quadriplegia.

    • Elaine Lee

      Problem is, dividing types that way is just putting them in separate tribes. This conference could end up with 27 small groups, all of which have only two of three members, and all believing they have no common ground with the others. We haven’t yet learned the extent of green girl’s anomaly. It could be physically painful, of she might send out pheromones that attract sexual predators. Appearance isn’t everything and cute doesn’t always equal lucky.

      • Mechwarrior

        At the very least, she probably has issues with guys being able to tell what color her eyes are.

      • Tylikcat

        The amount I am wincing about the sexual objectification Carmen is getting in some of the comments is pretty epic.

    • Izo

      I was going to say the blue one looks like a Twi’lek from Star Wars (had to look up what they’re called) – except less tentacles on the head.

  • Some guy

    Well Carmen could totally get a job on either Star Trek reboot. But to be fair, so could the rest of them.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      I’m sorry but isn’t that kind of super insensitive? Even as a joke, that’s like saying your family’s weird-looking cousin could work as a circus freak. Rude.

  • Mechwarrior

    Dear Dynama…

  • Lostman

    If this conversation happen online, there wouldn’t be much different.

  • Lauren Tipps

    Doesn’t sound all that different from discussions on race, gender, and any number of issues regarded to body type and image, now does it? Even in a world with “superpowers,” we just can’t get away from those issues. Take away the armor and green skin, and they could be talking about all kinds of real life issues. This actually makes it more sad for me.

    (Also, I now understand the satisfaction of commenting first. Lol.)

  • ClockworkDawn

    I look at the brain in the jar and all I can think of is Tom Servo from MST3000.

  • Richard Hughes

    I’m kind of with Vanessa on this one in spirit.

    • Tylikcat


      • Richard Hughes

        I just respect the frustration she must feel, seeing her own pain and this pain lumped together. She should be more polite about this, but her irritation’s legit.

        • Tylikcat

          Mm. To me, understanding someone’s irritation is one thing. But picking sides?

          But it might also be be a matter of unpleasant experience – so many things that seem to make sense end up being unconstructive.

          • Richard Hughes

            Nothing in the world is more natural than picking your own side.

  • Sebastián Rodoni Figueras

    I think Vanessa was just frustrated that they were not discussing more, let us just say “logistical” problems than feelings (not that emotional anguish isn’t any less valid or anything, of course).

  • Elaine Lee

    And it’s never helpful. It drives apart people who should be natural allies.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    Both are sympathetic, but I’m more on Carmen’s side. Everyone’s gonna get a chance to speak, and there’s enough sympathy to go around. It’s not a contest where you get points for checking the most oppression boxes. Nor is it a zero sum game where showing sympathy for another person somehow means there’s less for you.

  • weedgoku

    “Carmen’s Experience” is an interesting thing to prop up though because just from what she’s said, it’s just that she feels like she’s being used by guys she’s boning. Which is something most people go through in a bad relationship. This is the exact kind of conversation you see in a lot of support groups or safe spaces for people who just need somewhere to talk, where someone who is usually younger, more attractive and generally more naive will complain about a bad date. They’ll cry about how a relationship that went south even if it has nothing to do with why they’re there, and they’ll do it for hours. People who want to talk about their anger and frustration with life have to sit there listening to someone who should probably just be writing a blog and it’s hard to keep that inside. It sucks to call it “oppression olympics” and all, but sometimes yes some people’s issues are more important to talk about in some circumstances and just looking at the group makes that clear. some of the people there literally can not wear clothes, one of them doesn’t even have a body. But they’re expected to just patiently listen to her talk about how bad she feels that she boned the wrong dude.

    • Izo

      Very succinctly said! 🙂

  • Tylikcat

    I agree. But, ideally – and I don’t know how much facilitator training these kids have – I would hope they do it while steering Vanessa into expressing herself in a more constructive way. Because long term, shutting her down is not helpful. And seriously, she’s someone who needs community, even if she’s lousy at having it.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      I hope she does, but I’m pessimistic. The way she said her last line felt very rehearsed and non sequitur– it certainly wasn’t technically relevant to the subject at hands, hopefully she knows what she’s doing.

  • Tylikcat

    “Only if she wants to rely on the exploitation of her physical appearance, which is kind of a shitty thing to pigeon-hole her into.”

    And there are also a lot of pretty women out there, and a lot fewer jobs for pretty women that actually pay particularly well. (And yes, I’m taking into account the adult film industry and stripping.) The idea that a woman can have no skills and can just coast on her looks is pretty much 196 proof sexism. Sure, attractive women tend to have it easier in life (as do attractive men) but it mostly serves to reinforce a lot of resentment against women.

  • lizasweetling

    it’s okay even if she does speak- if noting else she’s in an extremely good place to talk for Carmen’s position, since no one seems inclined to consider her pain as valid (except Paladin, because she’s awesome)

  • Snorkels

    How deep into Wild Cards did you go? I gave it up with the arc in books 2-3 failing to light a spark, though the base-work of the universe is rife with potential. The worldbuilding of the first anthology was beautiful. From limited wikidiving, I’m sure there are later gems, but a dozen books behind makes it unappealing to return to.

    • martynW

      One more thing: In the Wild Cards books, the major “classes” of people affected by the virus were Aces (superheroes with useful powers), Jokers (people with strange appearances and no useful powers or even fewer abilities than normal people), and Deuces (people with useless powers, like being able to levitate pennies).

      “Normal” people were called “Nats.” The interesting part of this was that appearance sometimes mattered less than powers. Bizarre-looking people with useful powers could still be considered Aces, not Jokers. Kind of like Brad.

      It was usually more complicated than that, though.

      If Vanessa had something like super strength or the ability to throw fire or something, maybe she could have been an Ace in the Wild Card universe.

  • FlashNeko


    I’m going to leave this here because its seems massively relevant.

  • Mechwarrior

    Misery Poker is a strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

    • Izo

      I agree that it doesn’t actually SOLVE anything, but I can at least understand Vanessa’s anger about it.

    • Weatherheight

      How about a nice game of chess?

  • Snorkels

    Slave trade, yo.

    Feral made a choice. How many individuals with powers didn’t have a choice and were turned into a piece of a supply-chain? Captain Jack knows an immortal POW is a shitty situation. But that’s purely evil, plenty of room for banal evil in the neutral alignment.

    Snake-oil salesmen, for both cures and trigger substances. Rhino horn, only using the saintly body of a dynamorph child. Any form of entertainment which can have an asterisk amended to it to either include or cater to dynamorphs. Apartments charge more for pets, how about dynamorphs? Dynamorphic law is being written today, plenty of money to be made as a lawyer on all sides there. Does your dynamorphism express itself within the bell curve? If so, drug companies would love you to sign a waiver to be in their test pools. Would you be willing to be involved in reproductive trials? Donors and hosts wanted, this research has only begun.

    Rambling, but I’d like to see the ball rolling here, it’s a good question for fleshing out the universe.

  • MrSing

    I think she simply can’t afford clothing because she doesn’t have a job and with her mutations she’d need very sturdy and personalized clothes.
    It’s not like she can just go to a cheap second hand store where she can buy a run down shirt for a dollar like others.

  • Amulya

    Everyone’s talking about the Oppression Olympics and I’m sitting here wondering if this Carmen is going to Hulk Out.
    I’m calling it. She’s gonna Hulk Out.

  • Sasha

    So she just goes around naked? I wouldn’t take her statement that literally. Plus there’s the one to the left of the liquid jar person. Maybe in the next panel she’ll join in with Vanessa!

    • That same guy


      Whatever those plates are is probably pretty rough on fabric. “hardened” custom clothing is pretty expensive, and she doesn’t strike me as charismatic enough to strike a sponsorship deal that would cut the price.

      Assuming the plates cover what clothing traditionally covers (which also assumes she’s still anatomically ‘normal’ enough to require covering), she may only want clothing for warmth or fashion.

  • Zedd

    If Carmen was black, and complaining about how her white ex-boyfriend used her as a trophy of tolerance and acceptance… she wouldn’t belong in this group. Not that her problems don’t require help and support, but that she’s looking for it in an inappropriate place. I would guess, this is why Vanessa is pissed, she just sucks at expressing herself because of said pissiness, and it comes off as “oppression olympics.”

  • Lostman

    What if a physical fight break out, then should she step in?

  • Guancyto

    Is it wrong that I really want to find out the story behind the goo in the robot suit? Seems like they would have had a more, ah, interesting time adjusting than the others.

  • Debbie Jackson

    And I would agree that it does not.
    Much like with the opening ceremonies, though, the wrong person was probably chosen to start the discussion. This could have been avoided. Then again, more than likely they were chosen for being on the facilitator’s direct right, or simply spoke up first ..

  • Debbie Jackson

    Agreed; Vanessa is still making wild and frankly aggressive assumptions about Carmen’s life and presuming that her suffering is somehow inferior, even before she flatly dismisses it. But moreover she’s also calling Carmen out for sharing her experience in an environment deliberately designed to encourage all dynamorphic attendees to share their experiences! It isn’t as if only Carmen was going to be able to share in that circle, or even receive an uneven portion of time, but now she’s been invalidated and silenced and evicted from the ‘worthy’ dynamorphs present anyway. And then Vanessa shouts down the facilitator whose role it is to ensure Vanessa herself also gets a fair hearing. Vanessa’s impatience and frustration has spoilt the dynamic; in a few short snaps she’s destroyed both the social contract and the safety of that discussion circle, as well as endangered the very purpose of their attendance.

    • Izo

      Agressive assumptions? Yeah. Wild assumptions? Not really from what little we’ve seen of Carmen. It doesnt seem like there’s much ‘difference’ in her appearance beyond skin color. But who knows – maybe she can’t touch people without them being injured or something like Rogue, or maybe she has to eat rotting meat or spoiled milk (like in Alien Nation). But I don’t think Vanessa’s outburst was a ‘wild assumption.’ so far. I think Vanessa’s impatience and frustration is a little justified, albeit misplaced (since Carmen isnt a bad person from what has been shown).

      People snap sometimes when watching others complain about problems that they would do ANYTHING to have. Like the child of a rich family complaining that mommy and daddy won’t pay her credit card bills anymore (just the rent, the car payments, and school loans), while another person is hoping they’ll be able to get their job to pay them for the 3 months backpayment so they can pay their share of the rent in efficiency apartment they have in the bad part of town with the four roommates to have in order to not be homeless… or the person living in the alley outside of that building in a cardboard box hoping they’ll be able to scrape together enough change to eat tomorrow.

  • Izo

    I don’t think that racial differences between black and white is the same as what these people deal with (the Fantastic Racism TVTrope). Mainly because these people face problems that are beyond skin-deep. A black person can still wear clothes and get most people to hire them for work (even though there are going to be some racist people out there). A gay person can still have sex without accidentally killing the other person (please no AIDS joke here, I know I sort of opened myself up to that sort of joke). A hispanic person doesnt need to change every element of their life to accomodate their difference (like orange feather girl may need to do because of her extreme size).

  • Tylikcat

    Are you under the impression that Carmen, by dint of being Green, would be?

  • Tylikcat

    Okay, so here’s the other extreme. While I think she’s being unconstructive in how she’s expressing it, she’s being unconstructive in a support group amongst her peers, not at a job interview. She has real and legitimate things to be angry about. Lashing out at one of those peers isn’t super useful either, but let’s not ignore the elephant in the room that her life does suck and she probably has been sucking down tons of misery.

  • Tylikcat

    Point of fact: We don’t know where Carmen works. When Vanessa, who is angry because Carmen is more conventionally attractive and is getting laid, refers to Carmen as a porn star, you might do well to take it with a grain of salt. This is the sort of thing that gets thrown around in anger as a term of abuse. (Not by me, and I’ll give people grief for doing so.) Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t.

  • FlashNeko

    Given a few days to think this over, while I understand Vanessa’s frustrations, I also think she loses a few sympathy points because she jumped right to the kind of language that rape culture apologists and, forgive my own use of language here, “slut shamers” use to discredit someone who tries to call them out.

    Now Vanessa probably didn’t do it intentionally, but that shows just how ingrained that kind of thinking can be in a society.

    And on certain levels, given how its presented here, you could call what happened to Carmen, if not rape, at least a form of sexual assault. She was convinced to participate in the act under false pretenses and then dragged through the emotional wringer when discovering she was just being used as a piece of meat to be held up as a social and sexual trophy by an abuser.

    Also, “you can hide your race/disability/differences” is an incredibly terrible thing to say to someone. It implies you think they should be ashamed of who and what they are when they shouldn’t.

    Yes, the social and personal issues Vanessa faces are more OVERT than the ones Carmen is facing, but that does NOT make Carmen’s “less real”. Yes, the things Vanessa is dealing with need to be addressed but ignoring/belittling the ones Carmen is dealing with, even if all of Vanessa’s concerns were addressed, would only lead to a surface-level fix at best while letting the more insidious and deeper problems continue to fester.

    (NOTE: I realize I am making a lot of assumptions based on a few lines of dialogue but, so far, those lines are the only evidence we have to work with.)

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Also, and this is perhaps the most important, it wasn’t her turn to speak. It would have been a very different story if she had waited for that to try and express the same frustrations, it’s okay to admit you can’t help but feel anger at the privilege that others don’t showcase having when speaking about their problems. It’s something to work on, but it’s human. But acting like this, like she cannot even consider that Carmen’s pain doesn’t prevent her from empathizing with her own and recognizing “who’s got it worse”, that’s… not cool.

  • Izo

    1) That’s not a joke though, is it? You’d just be trying to do something for shock value, not humor.
    2) I’d argue it, but I wouldnt call you rude. Even though what you’d be saying was not a joke, just a string of namecalling.
    3) It obviously did pass moderation.

  • Christophe2314

    Just to be clear, I don’t want to equate MRAs to all of feminism. Feminism in general is fine by me. I do however see MRAs as basically a mirror image of radical feminist fringe groups. Let’s be honest, the two are exactly the same. Personally, I’d love to see a men’s right group that doesn’t see feminism as the enemy. Thing is, men do have serious issues that need to be adressed, and no one is because MRAs are more interested in tearing down feminists than actually helping men. Meanwhile, most feminists are actually trying to do good, and often succeeding, but they still completely ignore a whole side of the sexism equation. That’s primarily why I don’t call myself a feminist, even though I don’t dislike them.

    Sexism against men and against women are not only both serious issues, they’re intertwined in ways that make it impossible to eliminate one without doing something about the other. The things that cause men to constantly put down women are the same things that make them miserable. I’m not dumb, I know that women have it worse, but I don’t believe that fact to be relevant in any way to what we need to do to solve the problem, and constantly bringing it up is just blinding us to half the equation. I don’t think we’ll fully succeed in eliminating sexism until we recognize it as not something men do to women, but as a set of expectations that everyone holds and that apply to everyone. Ironically, sexism itself is genderblind. That’s where feminism tends to fail, in my opinion.

  • Christophe2314

    “So, I just got an ultrasound. Uh… just take a look.”
    “Aww, what an adorable… what exactly is that? Where’s the baby?”

  • Huttj509

    Heck, my just shopping at a big and tall store costs an arm and a leg more than folks who can fit into the stuff at target.

  • Lysiuj

    “complain about a sexual relationship” You know, I’m pretty fucking tired of people trying to diminish Carmen’s experience. She isn’t complaining about relationship troubles, she isn’t trying to get sex tips, she isn’t ragging an ex.
    What she is doing, is the very frightening and difficult act of sharing her experience of being emotionally, psychologically and sexually abused by a man so he could use her as a trophy. That is in no way a minor problem that she should just deal with privately or internalize, and if Vanessa deals with many other problems, many of them more difficult than Carmen’s, that still doesn’t take away Carmen’s pain, or her strength.

  • Izo

    I think that the initial assumption you’ve made is incorrect. Look at the other people in the group – you’ll notice a difference between most of them and both Carmen and the blue asari girl. Especially with Carmen. Most of them can never EVER pass for human again, and many seem to have body differences which will forever make it difficult or near impossible to function casually in normal society again, let alone get a job outside of a few specialized areas, or be in a relationship with 99.9 percent of the population. I think most of them are in the group to support each other because of THAT – not because they had boyfriend problems with someone who was dating them because they happened to have green skin (cue the Orion Slave Girl jokes).

    It’s not about just skin color differences, which would be what you’re talking about when making it analogous to other minorities. It’s about actual physical differences which are debilitating. In some cases, like with Cleaver where it’s been shown that the mutations are getting worse, it might even be killing them slowly. At the very least, most of them can’t have normal lives anymore, which Carmen still can have, apparently. And if you substitue Carmen being biodynamic from her being black, or hispanic, or some other ethnic, racial, or religious minority, her story could be identical. The same can’t be same for Vanessa or orange feather girl or robot water girl, etc. You won’t see a support group for african american women saying ‘I can’t even afford clothes which won’t shred on my metallic-bladed skin’ or ‘I will never know what it feels like to have a human body again.’

    To take other real world support groups as a comparison…. if you have a support group for people who have gone blind from reasons other than being born blind (ie, diabetes, accidents, etc), you wouldnt have a person who’s just sort of nearsighted in the group talk about how much of a pain it is to have to either wear thick glasses or put contact lenses in EVERY DAY if they want to be able to drive to work. Because the other blind people will be thinking ‘WHAT IS THIS PERSON WHO CAN STILL SEE COMPLAINING ABOUT?’ It’s not ‘misery poker’ or ‘whatever olympics.’ It’s that Carmen doesn’t seem to realize that the others have it a lot worse for their daily lives than the problem she’s having, which is a legitimate problem, but not for what I’d think people like… pretty much every other person there would be coming there to support each other.

    I am, of course, making one big assumption – that Carmen doesn’t have something debilitating about her biodynamism beyond having a sucky user of a boyfriend. Even so, however, the problem she’s describing seems …. sort of petty in comparison to the other people there, as if there’s some false equivalency of experience. Vanessa’s anger is definitely misdirected, but not really unjustifiably so. She wants to, in her own words ‘talk about something REAL.’

  • Izo

    I don’t think Vanessa is getting into a game of ‘Misery Poker’ at all, that’s my point. I would be surprised if others there didn’t feel the same annoyance at having boyfriend problems compared with their own problems. I think if R2D2 Body in floating water girl or orange feather giant girl or webbed arms aqua girl (wish I knew the names of the characters) were talking, she wouldnt have the same type of angry outburst – there would be more empathy because of a shared experience, which is sort of the point of a support group – having different people who’ve experienced similar things know that they’re not alone in their suffering or trials or challenges in life.

  • Tylikcat

    Eating and sleeping do show up with most invertebrates.

    • Pol Subanajouy


  • Ironically one of my activisms is opposing a government scheme (‘Disability Confident’) that, amongst other things, runs disability job fairs. The problem is they persist in trying to sell disabled people as good employees via paralympians and inspiration porn, rather than by normalising disability and challenging discrimination, so they’re actually making the problem worse, not better.

  • Has it occurred to anyone else that Brennan and Molly have managed to turn the forum into part of the subtext of the storytelling?

  • Weatherheight

    The US band, the British TV series starting in 2009, the American series “Misfits of Science” from 1985 (featuring a *really* young Courtney Cox), or the New Zealand band bearing the latter name?

    All things old are new, all things new are old.

    Also, now you’ve given me another TV show to watch. 😀

  • Izo

    What happened to Carmen is not exclusive to her dynamorphism though. It’s complaining about hurt feelings while others have major, life altering problems from their dynamorphism, and acting like the two are equivalent. The clincher was Carmen yelling at Vanessa how ‘she has no idea how hard things are for her!’ … yeah Carmen, I think any problem you have, Vanessa (and every other person in that room) wishes they had the luxury of having. Carmen’s problem is not because of her dynamorphism – it’s because of a jerky boyfriend. It’s something entirely within her control, unlike Vanessa’s problems, which she’s not able to discuss because they have to listen to boyfriend problems instead. That’s why Vanessa is annoyed and angry.

    And also the ‘just for arguments sake’ is because I’m explaining WHY Vanessa is annoyed, not saying she went about it the perfect way. Just saying it’s understandable why she’d be angry and annoyed, and she’s even justifiably angry since I’m pretty sure she’s at this support group to talk about problems that are BEYOND their control that they’re having to deal with.

  • Izo

    1) It’s not a competition for who has it worse, but it is a support group for a certain type of problem, which is NOT the problem that Carmen is describing. What Carmen is describing is entirely within her control to deal with. Seriously. Go to a support center for blind people and tell them that you have it just as bad as them because you have to wear glasses. See how that turns out.

    2) Being the devil’s advocate is actually very necessary because it sparks debate, rather than an echo chamber.

  • Weatherheight

    On one hand, I (think) I understand what you’re saying, but I can see the other point, too.

    While Carmen’s issue isn’t what I would call earth-shaking, it is to her, and the idea of a “support group” is to give support. Carmen has a problem and she needs to express it.

    I wonder, however, just how long Carmen has been talking? If there is a limited duration for this forum, and assuming she’s been going on a while longer than necessary (a character flaw of my own), Carmen may be “hogging the floor” to the detriment of Vanessa’s opportunity to speak, which is kind of thoughtless on Carmen’s part, which is a provoking behavior fro Vanessa’s situation.

    Conversely, if Carmen started talking 30 seconds ago, then Vanessa’s response is not being particularly thoughtful towards Carmen.

    This is a very nice narrative trick, IMHO – we project our own interpretation onto a situation that is ambiguous, and it ends up saying more about the reader than the comic itself.

    Then again, maybe I’m just blowing smoke. As I so often say here…
    Waiting and seeing with abated breath…

    • Izo

      I agree that the amount of time that Carmen’s been talking would probably have an impact on how valid Vanessa’s outburst was.

  • Izo

    I’m not really sure how much difference there is in this case between ‘understandable’ and ‘justified’ depending on the reason for the support group. If it’s supposed to be a group where they can discuss how their dynamorphism makes them unable to function in normal society, then it’s both justified and understandable (even if misdirected at Carmen since she’s the one making it seem like what she’s describing is the problem most of them have) because a false equivalency is being stated, and Carmen made it WORSE by saying that Vanessa can’t possibly understand the problems that Carmen goes through. It’s like the examples I gave above about a blind support group and a person who wears glasses saying it’s the same thing. If it’s to discuss hurt feelings, it’s understandable but not justified.

  • Weatherheight

    Given the small percentage of the total population that is Biodynamic, this isn’t something Industrytm is going to address, but given the Internet age, I imagine the number of small businesses on the Internet that cater to biodynamics is probably a Thing. And likely pretty expensive, so her comment makes sense.

    I wonder if the folks that are Biodynamic and have special needs is proportional to the general population or if it’s greater? Hmmmm

    Thanks, Clemens.. now I gotta think this through.. 😀

  • Weatherheight

    I don’t suppose you have any brochures…? No..?

    ::trots off in a bit of a daze::

  • Weatherheight

    Ins’t it weird how Brad somehow keeps getting pushed to the edge of the scene when he’s the “stage manager”?

    Maybe he’s doing a better job than he thinks…

  • Izo

    From what I was reading, no, she wasn’t raped. But she had a boyfriend who she found out was with her mainly to make himself look ‘tolerant and accepting he was’ to have a biodynamic as a girlfriend. So she felt used, since he was only with her because of what she is, not because of her own character.

    • fivethingsunmixed

      ‘Tolerant and accepting’…? No, that sounds like a rapist, sorry. That sounds like how predators in liberal and feminist communities talk. They pressure women at particularly vulnerable intersections of society (rape victims, people of color, people not conventionally considered attractive) to have sex with them (which is rape) and then hold this up as proof of how ‘tolerant and accepting’ they are.
      To me, it reads as rape.

      • masterofbones

        By that logic, telling someone ugly “I love you” is rape if it leads to sex(regardless of whether the statement is true).

        Hopefully it is clear that such logic is absurd.

  • Izo

    Oh I totally agree that Brook’s injury is terrible and if it was real life, I’d feel bad for her, but it seems wrong to trivialize Peggy’s amputee status as them being ‘sisters’ and Brook now being able to understand how Peggy feels.

    Then again, I’m not a disability activist so maybe I wouldnt do as well in that setting. I also never had a major physical disability so I can’t put myself in their place, and wouldnt try to.

  • Izo

    It doesnt seem to read like she’s describing rape. More that she’s describing finding out that her boyfriend was with her in order to use her as a status symbol. Also, I’m ‘exotic’ looking – i don’t consider it a vulnerability or a strength. It’s just a definition. Anyone who looks different than the mainstream ethnicity can be considered ‘exotic.’

  • Izo

    I didn’t say they don’t belong in that group. I just said it’s more probably that they were born female to begin with, given the young age when they changed, and that most people who identify as a sex different than the one they were born as biologically don’t do so at that early an age. Statistically speaking.

  • Izo

    Considering I fit all three of those categories, I don’t think those categories would describe me as being biodynamic.

  • Izo

    I really like how this comic handles these sort of questions actually, regardless of how people talk about it on the comment board. I’m just not sure sometimes if they are trying to put themselves into some sort of idealized situation of ‘If I were Vanessa, I’d be so much better than she’s acting.’

  • Izo

    Apparently you’ve never been to the website, but TV Tropes isnt just about TV. It’s about literature, comic books, music, movies, real life examples, etc.

    Perhaps before commenting on the difference between analogies and TVTropes, you could actually look at the website to realize that TV tropes IS about analogies, comparisons, subversions, inversions, cliches, etc.

    In fact, TV tropes has a page on SFP


  • Izo

    Allegory – a story, picture, or narrative that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning to reality, often a moral or political one.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      I know the meaning of the words I use, yes, your point?

  • Izo

    I’m not sure I understand what the point of your post here was. I’ve read if a few times and not even sure how you’ve responded to the ‘Strawman has a Point’ trope.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      It’s okay, I’m going to simplify.
      Gay people = biodynamics.
      Bad people thinking gay people threaten society = Bad people thinking biodynamics threaten society

      I know some of those words in these equations aren’t the same. I know, I know. But I really do believe you have the capacity to get it if you pay close attention.

  • Izo

    Except from what I know, people in real life arent green. Or 10 feet tall, orange, with feathers. Or sentient gas or liquid. Or covered with sharp metal plates all over our body. Or have a bat head or deer head, or look like an Asari. In real life our difference are all comparatively EXTREMELY minor, on a basic genetic level.

  • Izo

    I’m saying you shouldn’t call people in real life rude because they made a joke about a fictional person. One thing is insulting a person who exists in real life. The other is insulting a person who does not exist at all.

    Why do you continually put words in my mouth which I didn’t say? That seems weird and nonsensical to me.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      So do I need to redo a “Alison is a [fill in the blank]” for you to remember what I already responded to that flawed opinion of yours and we’re going to go in cycles forever?
      Also, “rude” is an insult now? Wow.

  • Izo

    Um… the ‘D’ in ADA.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Yes, they do. They are concerned in these problems only insofar as it enables them to shut women up when they are trying to say that they have their own problem. It’s reactionary. “Look, we have problems too, so I guess it’s balanced and no need trying to solve any of them”. If they spent *a tenth* of the time they spend defending themselves like idiots trying to improve men’s issues instead…

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    I edited, look up. It was a jab because he’s someone saying the rape jokes of his one man show didn’t harm anybody.

  • Every time I see something from MRAs (which is pretty much weekly) it’s trying to put women ‘in their place’, or attacking women for daring to have an opinion on something they consider a male preserve. Maybe that’s because as an activist in one area (not feminism, I’m definitely only an ally there) I tend to associate with the kind of people they’re attacking, and see what gets passed around, but even if that’s so, any good MRAs might do is being lost in the noise of the MRA haters’ attacks on women.

  • Relationship issues are very much a dynamorphic social issue, especially if they’re being used to exploit, objectify and belittle her. And it’s entirely possible Carmen is discussing sexual abuse.

  • ‘Perfectly average issues that everyone one faces?’

    The absolute best interpretation on Carmen’s situation is that her boyfriend slept with her for the bro kudos of sleeping with the wierd chick. It’s utter objectification, and lying in that manner to get sex makes it so close to rape as makes no ethical difference.

    • weedgoku

      That is an insultingly broad definition of rape. Both parties consented to intercourse, just because one turned out to be a jerk after doesn’t make it rape. It just mean’s he’s a jerk. Welcome to the vast majority of failed relationships. “He/She just wanted to get me into bed!” is one of the age old complaints you hear from people who wound up with a bad date. It is an incredibly mundane issue to have, something most people in the world who actively date will run into at least once.

  • There are ways to do it right, that respect the person involved and seek to educate the audience. you almost never see them used.

  • And my answer was to point out a real world parallel that’s close enough to home the joke made me wince. Calling it victimless wasn’t entirely accurate.

    • MrSing

      Those are real people. The joke did not concern real people or real disabilties.

  • MrSing

    I always held the exact opposite view on this. The idea implies that if we murder in videogames, this somehow makes it more likely that we become violent in reality. But numerous studies have already proven that fake violence doesn’t make a person more violent.
    The vast majority of people have a very sound understanding between what is fake and what is real. I understand where you are coming from, saying that the very fact that we enjoy fictional violence means that at some base level we enjoy the idea of real violence. But if this “violence” or “bigotry” is only expressed in fictional settings against fictional people. That does not mean that the people participating in this condone this in any way in real life. Or that they strongly hold bigoted or violent views.
    They are just expressions of our more animalistic side that are “let out” in safe and victimless ways. Isn’t that a good thing instead of botteling these ideas up?
    Instead of reinforcing bad habits, I think they are a way of recognising them and being able to neutralise them in controlled and harmless ways.

  • Carmen’s exploitation is just as much the product of external factors as Vanessa’s. Vanessa is openly abused, Carmen is objectified and sexually abused in a way that causes most people to not even realise it is happening.

    I’ve been physically assaulted for walking while disabled. Most people would equate that to Vanessa’s situation. But the physical element of the assault was actually the least damaging, it was the fact someone would consider me a target to be assaulted simply because I happen to be different that was truly damaging. And being targeted for their difference is something as true of Carmen as it is of Vanessa.

    You’re misapplying the Hierarchy of Disability in your example. First we need to understand that being blind is not an absolute. Most blind people have some vision, there’s a legal definition of blindness as corrected vision no better than 20:200, or a field of view of 20 degrees or less (that’s the US, other definitions are similar). But that’s arbitrary, is someone with 20:210 so significantly less disabled as not to count? The reality is there’s a spectrum running from better than 20:20 to needs glasses to needs glasses but still has problems to severely visually impaired. People with SVI but some vision are actually at greater risk of harassment than those who are completely blind because people see them doing things they don’t associate with being blind – a friend says she gets very strange looks when she hangs her white cane off her wrist to read a text. The rejection of a Hierarchy of Disability says we need to recognise everyone with a visual disability (or any disability) as disabled and not draw exclusionary borders around them because actually we all experience common problems with society as a result of our disabilities, no matter the relative severity (which as I’ve pointed out elsewhere varies with context).

    But in talking about provision of appropriate support we’re moving away from the rejection of a Hierarchy of Disability and over to the Social Model of Disability, which says that disability is the discrimination we experience as a result of the failure of society to provide adjustments for our impairments. Rejecting the Hierarchy of Disability looks at the common experience of being disabled, but provision of appropriate adjustments is something that absolutely needs to take individual details into account. I just took delivery of £1800-worth of new, NHS-provided, built to my individual measurements, wheelchair yesterday, so it’s a subject dear to my heart.

  • Yep, I at least halfway subscribe to the belief it’s deliberately bad so as not to annoy business.

  • 3-I

    I don’t see how else I can read your post. I posted “This gatekeeping-silencing happens, and it is problematic, and while it is understandable, it’s not okay.” Your responses have been along the lines of “It should be considered okay in situations when I think someone is insufficiently oppressed to be allowed a voice.” I rather have to put words in your mouth; you keep replying to my core premise with “but she obviously ISN’T oppressed enough to have a voice” and then using the same rhetoric as Vanessa is using. The one I’m rejecting. Those words I’m putting forth to you are quoting from my own first post, where I was addressing the way Carmen is being silenced. It’s kind of the core of the issue.

    Your entire point has been that you agree with what Vanessa is doing, because you see Carmen as privileged and being insufficiently hurt by her dynamorphism to be allowed a voice. My whole point was that deciding that other marginalized people’s oppression is insufficient to allow them a voice in a group of their peers is understandable, but not acceptable, and yours has been that it should be acceptable in this circumstance because you don’t think Carmen should have a voice here.

    What exactly am I missing? What are you trying to SAY if it isn’t “You are always wrong, gatekeeping is valid, those with greater privilege should have their life problems analysed in terms of the most oppressed person in the area before they’re allowed to speak in a community, Carmen’s problems aren’t important and she shouldn’t have a voice because she’s speaking from privilege”? If that is not what you are getting at, what ARE you getting at?

    Because, no, I don’t think Carmen’s problems are easy. I don’t think she can leave this man, and suddenly her life will be fine again. I don’t think that the experience of being USED by a person for brownie points “I-Have-A-Dynamorphic-Girlfriend, You-Should-Adore-Me” style, when you thought they cared about you, goes away the instant the relationship stops. I don’t think you can erase emotional trauma with any one single life action, done quietly without talking to anyone about it. I think that being seen as visibly different leads to problems of ALL kinds, and the level of discrimination that Dynamorphs face can vary wildly, and that ALL of that discrimination is a valid topic of discussion. I think that even if they DID, people in a support group have a right to speak in a nonjudgmental space when it’s their turn, because the POINT of these support groups is to come together into the community and find strength in it.

    Please feel free to stop me and point exactly where we disagree, because ALL you have said so far boils down to “Carmen isn’t REALLY suffering, so she shouldn’t be allowed to talk.” Is that not what you’ve been intending to convey? Because I’ve already made a pretty serious rebuttal to that… in the post you replied to in the first place.

  • Izo

    That looks like Big Mac Tonight


  • masterofbones

    Except Carmen keeps eating the diseased burgers every day because she doesn’t want to switch diners, and then goes to a support group on weekends to talk about how her stomach hurts all the time.

    Vanessa is force-fed diseased burgers against her will. See the difference?

  • Izo

    You can break up with a jerky boyfriend when you realize he’s a jerk. It happens rather regularly in life. There is no ‘divine providence’ necessary. If you’re food poisoned, you can’t magically make the food poisoning go away. They’re in no way similar, and that’s a very poor comparison.

  • I do, however, have a *mutation which has caused people to attack me in the street for looking different. Different details, identical experience.

    *Possibly unique, but my bet’s on inherited.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Let’s chalk it up to having to very different views of what a worthy discussion is and that I’m very comfortable calling yours entitled and worthless.
    Here’s how mine goes: either your opinion has something to challenge mine, or it doesn’t. In which case, either I am compelled to teach you what I know as humbly as I can, or you’re being a stuck up clown only here to impose your ideas and I don’t.
    Seeing as you don’t categorize in either, I have no desire to converse. If you find that model suiting to your needs then fine go waste somebody’s time who’s much more indulgent than I am.

    Before you tell me *I* am imposing my opinion in blatant disregard of your own, please. You have the basest most boring uninformed opinion there could be.

  • danima

    In my first read, I thought Vanessa was being literal when calling Carmen a “porn star” and that Carmen had been talking about being manipulated into doing sex work. So, different impression than most of the comments here.