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Every Body 20/23

Every Body 20/23 published on 18 Comments on Every Body 20/23

Violet: Rowan, you must’ve read descriptions of this thing a hundred times. Not just books — in poetry, in memoirs. Did you seriously think, if you hadn’t felt it yourself, then everyone else had to be making it up?

Because that is . . . awfully self-centered, and you normally do better.

Rowan: Well, it’s a little more complex than that.

I figured it was like “anybody can become President.” One of those peppy inspirational things we all pretend to believe, so people who don’t really have a chance won’t feel too bad.


Rowan: I know, I know!!

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Yeah Rowan that’s a bad look. As for Violet, isn’t hitting wings painful and potentially dangerous.

I mean, books and movies DO exaggerate things. As someone who was mostly aroace for many years it’s not self-centered it’s just… unimaginable. It’s not something you get anywhere near, normally. Like, most people don’t live in a Hallmark movie, you know? It sounds like a very nice fairytale, not real life.

Not that that’s precisely what’s happening here but I absolutely get where he’s coming from, in my own way.

Same, like, I literally cannot process the sentiment of ‘when you love someone, everything about them is amazing’. Trying to parse it turns up the mental equivalent of a 404 message, and it feels like I’m reading hieroglyphics when people write about what it’s like. I can kind of vaguely parse it based on context clues, but for the most part, I don’t understand a word of it.

Like, it’s not even in the vein of “anyone can be president” for me. It’s in the vein of “if you go to college you’ll get a job”- a nice lie that people older than me made up, but I have not experienced and probably never will.

It’s understandable for someone to realize “this is clearly not happening for me,” but Rowan’s outlook here would be the equivalent of thinking “no college graduate has ever gotten a job! Jobs are a fictional trope that don’t really exist.”

It actually seems more reasonable than that to me? Or at least more like a thing that happens often enough. I mean, unlike jobs, sexual attraction is really hard to verify the existence of when you’re not the one experiencing it, and hard to compare against other people’s — like, there seem to be lots of asexuals who take forever to figure out they’re ace because they didn’t realize people talking about sexual attraction were actually pointing at a real thing that was outside their personal experience. In Rowan’s case, I can imagine him thinking something like “most people don’t actually become physically attracted to a loved one who wasn’t previously their type, they just become willing to have sex with them anyway.”

That still doesn’t address the problem of, why do you need to “verify the existence” of other people’s experiences before you believe them?

I mean, I can think of a long list of things that are outside my personal experience. From serious ones like “being profiled by police” or “gender dysphoria” to frivolous ones like “having fun on roller coasters” or “not liking cats.” It’s not a good reason to decide “that’s not a real thing” when other people talk about having those experiences themselves!

(And to be clear, Rowan’s thought process wasn’t “most people don’t feel this,” it was “nobody feels this, everyone who says they do is just wrong/confused/making it up.”)

To add my own personal experience, the brain has a remarkable way of deluding itself. When I was growing up, i was absolutely convinced that people who claimed they loved themselves were lying. It was impossible for that to be true, because I didnt experience that, and I couldnt imagine it. It wasn’t until I started transitioning that the veil lifted and I realized that all the books and movies and human beings telling me to my face that it is possible to love who you are… weren’t deluding themselves to feel better. When you fundamentally cant understand something, sometimes your brain just gets stuck on it. It cant move past it. I completely understand why Rowan might have done the same, and honestly, you’re doing something pretty similar to what he is by being so adamant about his view being wrong and bad. Sometimes it just happens. The mind is complex. It’s definitely something Rowan should work on, but that doesn’t make it a thing that should be quite so… shamed.

Look, it’s not “shaming” to observe that someone is wrong about something. Explaining how they got to that belief is all well and good, but it doesn’t change whether it’s correct or not!

Going by what you’ve said here, you also know your disbelief in other people’s feelings was wrong, and it’s not self-shaming to admit it….

Heck, maybe things could even have gone better if people had told you earlier, “listen, that’s not actually true, and believing it anyway is a red flag for mental health issues. So we’re not going to ignore or dismiss it, we should investigate it and look for treatments that can help.”

The thing is, it sounds to me (and I’m guessing Kiwi as well) like you’re not just pointing out that he’s wrong, you’re saying he got to his wrong conclusions in an unreasonable way. You said “it would be reasonable to think X, but he’s thinking Y” and you also said “that’s not a good reason” to conclude such-and-such. I think we agree that he made a mistake, but disagree about how easy a mistake it was to make, and it can easily seem like there’s moral judgement attached to the latter disagreement. If you didn’t intend any moral judgement there, great! But if you did, I do feel kind of defensive on behalf of those in real life who I really do think make that particular type of mistake more often than you think they do.

I agree with Erin, it’s not shaming someone to say that they were wrong or even that the way they were wrong was problematic, it’s simply a statement of the rightness or wrongness of an IDEA not of a person. Having an idea that is wrong or even terrible and messed up doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a person with a bad BELIEF, it’s the idea not the person that is bad.

Also, maybe don’t argue with the author about what the character in their story is doing or thinking or why they are doing or thinking that. Only the author knows the mind of their character and it’s a bad look to assume you know better than they do, it comes across as arrogant and as “my answer is the only right answer.” Might be something to work on.

I feel like Kiwi and I are talking about a different thing than you’re talking about — like, you’re talking about someone making a conscious judgement that they would stick to even when argued with, and we’re talking more about something like the experiences described here:

And, I mean, you would know better than we do whether Rowan would’ve actually stuck to that worldview even during an argument (with someone he agreed on basic definitions with), but I’d been imagining it was or easily could have been a lot less conscious on his part, and that any conversations he might’ve ever had about it would’ve been the kind of conversations where it’s really hard to figure out whether you’re even talking about the same thing in the first place. (When I said “verify the existence,” I didn’t mean that at all in an “oh yeah? prove it to me” sense; I meant it more in a “but duuuude, how do I know the green you see is the same as the green I see?” sense.)

Yeah, it definitely seems like you’re talking about “any time a person disregards other people’s experience for any reason, especially reasons beyond their conscious control.”

Sometimes that’s the case! Other times, people do do it consciously — and it’s totally possible for their reasons to be bad ones. (For an extreme example, I’m remembering this one guy on Twitter who said “women don’t have orgasms, any woman who says she’s had one is making it up, I know because I’ve had lots of sex with women and never seen one…”)

Rowan here is not an embodiment of everyone who’s ever gotten the wrong idea. He’s a specific character who disregarded a particular set of experiences for specific reasons.

And, listen, I don’t want to tell people there’s Only One True Way to interpret the comic — but I do want to be upfront that I’m not hiding anything in this strip, or setting up for a later reveal that undermines Rowan’s self-assessment here. He knows himself pretty well, and he trusts Violet enough to be frank with her, even about things he finds embarrassing in retrospect.

Oh, I do know that happens, sure enough. And I didn’t think you were hiding anything, I just couldn’t tell for sure if Rowan actually meant he’d been doing That Thing or not. Makes me sad that he was after all, but I’m glad at least he’s aware of it.

I’m certainly with you that it’s not “awfully self-centered” to assume some experience you’re only familiar with through writing and/or people mentioning it might just be a metaphoric device or poetic expression.
Like, I’ve never seen anyone’s jaw literally “drop” or hang open from surprise. Maybe it happens, just rarely? But I’ve never witnessed it and media would leave you thinking it’s happening constantly. It’s DEFINITELY not “self-centered” to go, oh, people are using it because it’s the established metaphor for extreme surprise. It doesn’t normally happen.

I know this page is about Violet and Rowan but last night I had a dream about Kallie and Atarangi. In it, I made a comic about them.

Panel 1: Kallie is looking at a note Atarangi wrote. The note says “I got a present for you”
Panel 2: Kallie says “oh boy, a present! I wonder what it is!”
Panel 3: We see the rest of the note. It says “it’s a dentist appointment”
Panel 4; Kallie is kinda miffed

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