sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Or, Why I'm not participating in [ profile] hc_bingo / [community profile] hc_bingo

Here is a list of the h/c (hurt/comfort) cliches used for the cards. Warning: many of these are upsetting and offensive.

Here is the fanlore wiki page for hurt/comfort for anyone unfamiliar with this fan fiction genre.

1. Ableism

Many of these "cliches" listed are real disabilities and problems that affect real people. Many of them are triggering. Many of them are lifelong, difficult issues and many of them are wrapped up in people's identities. The potential for problematic portrayals of disability in this challenge seems especially high. If you are participating, please do your research, and please be respectful. Consider writing from the point of view of the person with the disability, rather than the caretaker. Consider what it's like to have that disability; maybe read some blog posts.

Disabilities, in my experience, are most often not cured but instead lived with. Hurt/comfort stories seem to rely on a trope that love and/or sex can "fix" or greatly resolve the problems created by the disability or traumatic event. I get that this is romantic, but it is not realistic. People live with disabilities on a long-term basis and are people are not magically fixed by relationships. Even "comfort" as is it thought of (physical affection, food, sex, etc) may be unwanted in these situations. People may want to be alone or may not want to be touched.

I also think it's weird to use a disabling event as a catalyst to bring to characters together. What I think might be more interesting? Take two or more characters who are already disabled, give them interesting well-rounded lives and relationships, and have them talk to each other about what their respective disabilities mean to them. Have them care for each other in the same ways that able-bodied people do.

2. Format

The "bingo" format, taken from [community profile] kink_bingo, levels and equalizes the squares, so that if you are participating, you may find yourself writing stories or making art for the challenge in ways that surprise you. In this case, a bingo card serves to equalize such things as "brain damage", "wings (always there)", "body hatred", and "zombie apocalypse".

Unlike kink_bingo, I cannot find a wiki or other education materials meant to elucidate what the squares mean. These are difficult subjects, and it's a long list of cliches. Making information available about each category doesn't seem to be a priority.

3. Triggers and Warnings

From the FAQ:
"I am triggered by sexual trauma prompts and don't want them on my card. What do I do?
The mods recognize that the nature of a hurt/comfort challenge has potentially triggering content. If you would like a card without sexual trauma based situations, please note that when you sign up so we could give you a card avoiding this area altogether.

"I am triggered by another prompt that isn't listed as sexual trauma. What do I do?
Please either note this in your sign up comment or email the mods. We want to make sure everyone has a good time so we will work with you to make sure any triggering prompts are not on your card.
Besides that, given the specific nature of the prompts, you can look the list of cliches the cards are made from before signing up and veto from one to three cliches that would be triggery/uncomfortable for you to write about, without penalty." (emphasis mine)

Why one to three? You know, maybe the bingo format, or the chosen prompts, just doesn't work that well for this challenge.

From the rules post:
"14. Even if it is in the prompt you are still required to warn for rape/non-con, dub-con, incest, character death/suicide, or graphic self-harm. The other warnings are left to your discretion, though we do encourage you to warn as fully as it's possible."

I understand that there is not currently a fandom-wide warnings policy, but this rather light warnings policy, especially given the nature of the prompt, leaves a lot of readers in the cold.


Comments not needed in my blog:
"You shouldn't be offended"
"Stop harshing our squee"

Important ETAs

The hc_mods are revising their trigger and warnings policies and have said they will be hosting an open discussion about prompts for their next round.

Please also see [personal profile] damned_colonial's post on this subject.
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Date: 2010-06-12 01:53 am (UTC)
rhivolution: Freema Agyeman is badass (save the time lord save the world: Marth)
From: [personal profile] rhivolution
Thank you for this post, it expresses a lot of things I was thinking too. If I end up writing a post, do you mind if I link to it?

Date: 2010-06-12 02:19 am (UTC)
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, Reina holding Kumiko's face w/one hand, faces close enough to almost touch. (a thousand nights to change the world)
From: [personal profile] laceblade
As someone who doesn't read a lot of fic, this stuff is weird to me too, but so is something like "questionable/dubious consent" or humiliation, which I think are part of kink bingo?

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Date: 2010-06-12 02:47 am (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
Thank you for writing this.

Date: 2010-06-12 05:54 am (UTC)
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
I was just thinking about this, about how I wouldn't do kink bingo since it would squick me, but the hurt comfort bingo would be more likely to really crush my spirit. I'm still quite upset about a story I read some time ago which used symptoms very similar to my chronic illness as a magical curse for a h/c fic that had everything suddenly and unconvincingly fixed by deus ex machina at the end and was just...blech.

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Date: 2010-06-12 07:14 am (UTC)
emceeaich: A close-up of a pair of cats-eye glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] emceeaich
Those are good arguments. Also, I have my own reasons for not being synonymous with hurt/comfort.

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From: [personal profile] damned_colonial - Date: 2010-06-12 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand

Dropping in from /network.

Date: 2010-06-12 11:31 am (UTC)
jackandahat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jackandahat
Agreeing very much with this. And the thing is... I like h/c. I even like h/c that involves certain forms of disability - speaking as a person with disabilities, I think it's my version of junk food. Not a guilty pleasure, but a little goes a long way.

This... I just suspect it will go horribly wrong. (Don't even get me started on how badly child abuse and male characters - because it is going to be mostly slash, it always is - is handled by fandom as a whole.) It's going to be a majority of able-bodied people projecting their ideas of what disability means, and what it means in terms of h/c.

I wrote fic a while back involving a character who was a cane-user getting a hand massage. Because canes can end up screwing up/hurting your hand. And most of the comments I got were "But isn't his leg the problem?" Yes, but. Even if something is related to your disability, it's not always about your disability. And people with disabilities can have the same needs as everyone else, dammit.

Which is the other thing that bugs me - outside of the disability-related squares, what are the chances that these will involve people with disabilities? Or that it won't just be "Disabled person being comforted by an able-bodied person". For example, what are the chances we'll get a wheelchair-using woman helping her able-bodied boyfriend deal with his abandonment issues, or a Deaf man taking care of a boyfriend with toothache? Not bloody likely., I put my ranty pants on there. Ahem. Excuse me.

Re: Dropping in from /network.

From: [personal profile] jackandahat - Date: 2010-06-12 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Dropping in from /network.

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Re: Dropping in from /network.

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2010-06-13 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-06-12 01:42 pm (UTC)
cypher: (earthbound)
From: [personal profile] cypher
Thank you for this post! I'm really grateful to see this stuff being brought up -- you've hit on a lot of things that make me uncomfortable about this challenge. Every time I see somebody's bingo card with one of my own problems on it, I get a little queasy and hope they won't write that one.

I hadn't really thought about how the bingo format would put these incredibly disparate things on the same footing, but that's a really good point. It does tend to suggest a mindset where "brain damage" is just as much of an unreal-to-the-writer experience as "zombie apocalypse," laid out like that.

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From: [personal profile] jumpuphigh - Date: 2010-06-12 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-06-12 03:42 pm (UTC)
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] susanreads
I hardly ever read explicit fic and I'm not familiar with the h/c genre, but this really makes clear how not-OK that structure is for those topics. Thank you for writing it up.

Date: 2010-06-12 04:21 pm (UTC)
dagas_isa: Fukunaga Yuuji from Liar Game (fukunaga russian roulette)
From: [personal profile] dagas_isa
Thank you for writing this, as it's a pretty good expression of my own issues with the h/c bingo challenge. It also seems to take a very narrow definition of what qualifies as h/c, without discussing people's assumptions of h/c or how else h/c as a genre can be interpreted, especially through the prompts that are most tied to real, and serious experiences.

I'm also not sure if those prompts are being presented or thought about by the challenge as anything other than common fandom cliches. At this point, it's just the major issues, and then just a lot of other minor issues that show that they maybe need to consider inclusiveness more than they have.

Date: 2010-06-12 06:18 pm (UTC)
lasergirl: puppy with the word "obey" under it, and a heart (Default)
From: [personal profile] lasergirl
I also think it's weird to use a disabling event as a catalyst to bring to characters together. What I think might be more interesting? Take two or more characters who are already disabled, give them interesting well-rounded lives and relationships, and have them talk to each other about what their respective disabilities mean to them. Have them care for each other in the same ways that able-bodied people do.

I fret over this when I write stories involving characters with disabilities/characters who become disabled/variations thereof when I wrote stories, as it is somewhat of an interest for me that I can't seem to get away from. And I do like to think that I approach it respectfully and don't try to 'fix it' with comfort beyond the comfort that a romantic relationship would bring to the disabled partner. That is to say, I think I use the circumstances as the frame, and the emotional block as the hurt that needs comforting, and not the actual injury/disability itself.

Although I don't think I've had this conversation with anyone I can recall, and certainly I don't think that anyone's ever called me out on writing something unrealistically or offensively... but I am always open to feedback/comments.

Date: 2010-06-12 07:05 pm (UTC)
kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate
Thank you for this. It codifies a lot of the generalized unease I had about [community profile] hc_bingo.

Date: 2010-06-12 07:20 pm (UTC)
telesilla: black and white picture of telesilla (Default)
From: [personal profile] telesilla
Thank you for this. I've been uneasy about [community profile] hc_bingo and you really put words to my "oh ick!" feeling.

Date: 2010-06-12 08:20 pm (UTC)
helens78: A man in a leather jacket, seated on the ground, looks up hopefully. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helens78
This, yes, thank you! I've been squinting and kind of backing away slowly from h/c bingo, and this articulates a lot of why those prompt lists bothered me so much.

(I also contributed some thoughts to damned_colonial's post on the topic!)

Date: 2010-06-12 09:34 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Ultra modern white fabric interlaced to create strong weave (interdependence)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Smart Sasha is smart! Thank you for thinking :,)

Date: 2010-06-12 09:38 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
From: [personal profile] thingswithwings
I really appreciate this post; thank you for making it. I had many of the same accessibility concerns about that list, and it's such a relief to see it all spelled out like this.

We have and have had our own accessibility issues at KB, of course, and it's all an ongoing process - but I found that writing the shorter kink descriptions last year, and then making [community profile] kink_wiki this year, really forced eruthros and I to confront each kink and what kinds of potentially problematic issues they might be drawing on - like, it was a really useful process for us because it forced us to think through the difficult aspects of some kinks that we hadn't stopped to think about before. So I feel like, in addition to helping the players out, the mods of any such challenge that uses broad prompt terms would really benefit from making a wiki or set of descriptions or something, because in that exercise issues of ablism, racism, misogyny, etc., are much more difficult to avoid.

Date: 2010-06-13 02:28 am (UTC)
embroiderama: (Default)
From: [personal profile] embroiderama
I appreciate that you took the time to post this because I think what you're saying is important. I'm a very h/c-oriented person--it's a pretty hard-wired part of my brain, and I don't think that's going to change--but I try to be very conscious of RL issues on the occasions when I write about serious things like disabilities. Posts like yours remind me to keep grounded in that regard.

Hurt/comfort stories seem to rely on a trope that love and/or sex can "fix" or greatly resolve the problems created by the disability or traumatic event.

Not to take away from what you've said, but that's not really my experience of h/c, especially h/c from recent years. I'm fond of a lot of gen h/c or established-relationship h/c that shows how dealing with an issue (often relatively minor things like the flu or a toothache or a minor injury) reveals the closeness already between two characters. Certainly there is "healing cock" h/c, but it's by no means the majority of what I see.

Date: 2010-06-13 02:44 am (UTC)
birgitriddle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birgitriddle
I've never written hurt/comfort before and I've never been much for it in the usual sense, so I'm going to try and take the concept and make the comfort more of a friendship thing - having someone to hear you out (who is already your friend or who can understand). And I never want to magically make something go away 'cause things take years or never go away.

I do, however, kinda feel guilty for signing up for the thing now (I was feeling this way prior to reading your post), but I think I'll still keep on doing it and making sure I treat things with the respect they deserve. I already plan on writing my "insanity (always there)" square from the pov of the "hurt" character who just happens to have everyone assume that he was always insane when he was in fact not. So it's more of him dealing with that assumption that society has placed on him instead of him suffering from insanity.
Edited (added a missing word) Date: 2010-06-13 02:45 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-13 02:48 am (UTC)
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
From: [personal profile] damned_colonial
This sounds like a good way to go about it, to me. Best of luck with your writing!

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Date: 2010-06-13 06:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for this post. You've articulated a lot of the problems I have with certain kinds of fanfic (not all of it h/c, either). I think it's a wonderful thing that people like you and damned_colonial are raising awareness of the potential pitfalls of this challenge.

I'm signed up for it, I must admit, and I'm still intending on participating; as a writer, I like the challenge of needing to deal with topics I haven't or wouldn't before. And as a person who's suffered through some of the things the mods are considering h/c cliches, I'm intrigued by the thought of trying to put those experiences into words. But you've made me think about the challenge in a slightly different way, and I have to thank you for that; hopefully my contributions will be the better for your post.

Date: 2010-06-13 11:54 am (UTC)
jackandahat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jackandahat
What's pissing me off now is how - just like racefail - my /network page is filling up with people essentially going "Waaaaahhh, the big meanines are taking away my funtimes! How dare they say I'm hurting them? Don't they know that "write what you know" kills good fiction???" (Nevermind that I haven't actually seen anyone say "write what you know" - the closest has been "Be aware that you're Writing The Other.)

Basically, people proving again and again what the initial bingo showed - that they care far more about getting their rocks off than about if they might hurt people.

Date: 2010-06-13 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] samantha_kathy
You brought up a lot of points that had me agreeing. I did sign up for the h/c bingo, but a lot of the squares on my chart had me going *how do I write this and write it well?*.

I think if the h/c bingo had a wiki, like the kink bingo, in which all of the things on their cliche list were explained and explored, together with suggestions on how to write it respectfully, it would take care of a lot of the problems you list. If only because the chances of the fic being well written and thought out is larger if people have an easy to access place with accurate information.

Now that I think about it, that's probably why my first and to date only piece for this bingo has been a meta-piece...

Date: 2010-06-13 09:50 pm (UTC)
mourning_night: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mourning_night
Hurt/comfort stories seem to rely on a trope that love and/or sex can "fix" or greatly resolve the problems created by the disability or traumatic event.

I self-identify as somebody who loves to read* h/c fic and I think this is an unfair generalization. Yes, there is h/c fic that uses sex/romance to "fix" disability but there is also a lot of h/c fic that does not. Comfort can be something as fleeting as a hug that brings temporary comfort. It doesn't have to permanent fix everything comfort.

I know warnings are a very tricky thing to get right and even after the last round of meta on warnings I think there is more for me to learn. Sometimes I do recs and I always go with what the writers lists in their warnings but your post has made me realize that might not be enough if I want to rec things from the hc_bingo. So I'm curious to know what revisions you'd like to see in the hc_bingo warnings policy.

*I'm not a writer so I'm not sure if it's really my place to say anything, please let me know if I've overstepped.

Date: 2010-06-13 10:15 pm (UTC)
kaz: "Kaz" written in cursive with a white quill that is dissolving into (badly drawn in Photoshop) butterflies. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaz
It looks as if this is exploding all over DW so I figured this would be a good time to brave my mobile phone keyboard (pls excuse typos) and offer hugs and support. I'm fond of h/c but that list made me want to run far, far in the other direction... and one of the most hurtful things I have ever read was a fic where someone used my speech disorder as a sort of h/c device (not sure of the exact details and am not reading it again to find out) so, yeah, I share your concerns.

This makes me want to get onto that disability ficathon we were talking about way back when. Now if only I had a proper Internet connection...

Date: 2010-06-13 10:25 pm (UTC)
were_duck: Icon of woman hugging a man who looks like a page out of a book (Bookhug)
From: [personal profile] were_duck
This makes me want to get onto that disability ficathon we were talking about way back when. Hopping in to say, yes, I was thinking the same thing! We should get on that this summer if possible.


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Date: 2010-06-14 12:04 pm (UTC)
toft: graphic design for the moon europa (Default)
From: [personal profile] toft
This is a great post, and really articulates some of the weirded-out feelings I had on a very brief look at the hc_bingo community.

h/c fics in general

Date: 2010-06-15 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] freekydj
I find myself both pleased and somewhat disturbed by the conversations that the whole h/c bingo is generating. I've personally experienced way too many of the more touchy "hurts" than I'd like to dwell on. But I figure I've got a right to my opinion, too.

I'll admit that there are a few immature authors out there who may take a serious problem, gloss it over and it's all magically better in the end. These are in general, author's I don't read more of. As close as some subjects are to me, such as childhood bulllying and abuse, and now physical disabilities; I still enjoy a good fic that incorporates these elements into the storyline.

I am pretty ok with it if the comfort portion is just some emotional support during a tough time, and it's not all bettter in the end. It is even better if the disabled person is also portrayed as a strong character, not just some sniveling ninny who constantly needs a pat on the back to get through their day.

To me, I enjoy a fic when you're left with a feeling that the person who's been hurt is not left feeling all alone in the world at the end of the fic, that they've found someone they can count on, if that makes sense.

I don't think that any author out there would knowingly write something disrespectful and/or discriminatory, which seems to be part of the question here. I think if they do make this mistake, that they will find in their comments that they've touched a nerve, and will hopefully learn from the experience. I would hate to see people afraid to sign up for these events because someone is offended by the storylines that are proposed. But I am glad to see that the writers are concerned with handling the subjects with care.

Date: 2010-06-16 01:37 pm (UTC)
deuteragonist: (angel)
From: [personal profile] deuteragonist
Here via [community profile] metafandom

Thank you for articulating so well what could be problematic with fics coming out of this challenge. I am taking part in the challenge, and while I don't think my card contains any of the most problematic 'cliches', the ideas here have definitely prompted me to think about how I can interpret the prompts I do have in interesting, challenging and respectful ways :)
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