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The Commitment 18/40

The Commitment 18/40 published on 30 Comments on The Commitment 18/40


Del: We rather suspect your husband has lost himself, Agent. A mind-reading magical girl confirmed that he genuinely intended to stay where we put him. Presumably he’s having one of his fugue states, and can’t recall his own intentions.

Dex: He hasn’t had those — not even the really short ones — for more than a year now!

Del: Which is precisely why we didn’t plan for it. I suppose some sort of stress has pushed him into a relapse. Can’t think what that might be.

Dex: If this is a setup . . . If you’re using him, or putting him in danger as a scheme to bring me in . . .

Del: Give us a little credit, darling.

Dex: What, as if the Secret Order of Monster Hunters wouldn’t be that ruthless?

Del: As if the Secret Order isn’t that desperate to get you back.

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30 Comments

Ah, D, your background as a straightforward problem-solver is showing.
The SOoMH isn’t desperate enough to lie to a rogue agent? Well… Lie somewhere a rogue agent would come across the lie and call home.
Dex’s side of things requires constant lying to civilians. One would think that would foster quite a lot of mistrust in their mind the moment they’re given even the slightest shred of evidence… such as the man who nearly killed their husband wandering free in the same city as their husband.

Honestly, I feel like D is showcasing how spoiled she’s been (admittedly, mostly by her younger sister in her early years). Sure, her father wasn’t exactly nice to her, but her younger sister, Pascentia, mitigated most to all of the fallout from the two of them actively picking fights with each other. And then she left home and found a husband who would actively spoil her beyond what her sister did.

Basically, I have no sympathy for D, as she’s shown no consideration for anyone but herself, particularly with how she abandoned her sister (both allowing her to develop obsessive compulsive behaviours growing up, and with treating her as an accessory to her attempted murder by having her take her to the party). Even how much she cares for her husband can easily be interpreted as another medium of self-absorption.

Alternatively, I have a lot of sympathy for Pascentia, who has had pages showing that she’s had personal issues developing throughout her lifetime; often notably due to her older sister caring more about herself than her younger sibling.

Dex is nonbinary and should be referred to exclusively with they/them pronouns.

I fully admit to being the type to easily forget what I typically consider small, personal, details like that.

Well, that’s why people step in to remind you!

It’s like spelling/pronouncing someone’s name wrong…if you did it every single time, at some point it would stop being an accident and just turn into “being deliberately rude to that person.” But if you make a mistake once in a while? That’s fine, happens to everyone, someone can just quickly let you know and it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

“Sure, her father wasn’t exactly nice to her, but her younger sister, Pascentia, mitigated most to all of the fallout from the two of them actively picking fights with each other.”

Dex’s father physically abused them, and Pascentia has internalized their father’s excuses for it. Your dislike of Dex seems to have caused you take the side of an abusive father by minimizing the abuse and blaming Dex for it. There’s never an excuse for abusing your child, not even if they “get on their parent’s bad side”.

You might think that your victim blaming only affects a fictional character, but a victim of abuse could easily read your comment. That would at best upset them or, at worst, increase the chance that they’d internalize self directed blame. The fact that you’re dehumanizing Dex by referring to their gender identity as a “small, personal, detail” only makes this worse.

I don’t believe that we have been shown that Dex and Pascentia’s Father physically abused them. Now to be PERFECTLY clear, we HAVE been shown that their Father (A) Had a Temper, (B) Came Home while drunk or otherwise irritated and could easily got into arguments with Dex, and (C) those arguments could devolve into a physical fight between Dex and their father, often initiated by the father swinging first. Or at very least, we’ve been shown enough supporting evidence to say that that’s likely the case.

I, personally, consider physical abuse to primarily be something that is unprompted from the recipient, and thus don’t consider that physical abuse. Sure, you can say that the circumstantial evidence is there, but I’m refusing to give Dex any benefit of the doubt due to how we’ve seen them treat their sister. Particularly since I don’t know of anything we’ve seen that shows the father directing his temper at Pascentia. Unless you’re one of the people who consider a parent hitting any of their children at any strength, at any point on their body, at any age, for any reason, to be “physical abuse”, I am more than willing to say that I suspect that Dex and their father are VERY similar people who got into arguments due to that fact, and those arguments easily devolved into fights.

As for my opinion on Gender Identity being a “small, personal, detail”… Humans have two distinct genders, physically, and it’s regularly easy to determine the two genders apart in adults of our species. However one wishes to perceive themselves is perfectly acceptable, but unless a person talking to them lives in a culture where gender-neutral terms are used as a baseline, there are going to be times when people either don’t remember, or don’t care, about how someone doesn’t perceive themselves to fit a gendered baseline. Personally, I typically default to using gendered terms due it regularly being being considered impolite and dehumanising NOT to in English, and base that terminology on the person’s physical gender as is standard. While this is also a reason why some people in the non-binary community have wanted to make a new, third set of at least semi-non-binary pronouns in the past (I remember hearing about an attempt a decade+ ago, and I don’t think that one lasted), the English Speaking World at large isn’t going to pay much attention to how a relatively small group of individuals perceive themselves. Particularly when the English Speaking World at large still has numerous ongoing major issues with things like racism that’s being under addressed.

As the author, I don’t like to respond to comments with “you’re interrogating the comic from the wrong perspective,” rather “hmm, guess I need to make certain things more explicit within the strip.” So that’s going on my to-do list.

Although it’s worth mentioning that it’s verrrrry common for an abuser to have a “golden child” that they don’t hit, compared to a “scapegoat” that they do, precisely because it gives them cover. “See, it’s not that I’m abusive, it’s all because this kid is Bad, unlike my Good kid.” (And then whatever the kids actually do, the abuser will explain how that fits their pre-determined roles.)

As for the pronouns…welp, you didn’t forget after all, you were taking some Principled Stand Against Singular They. Surely you would’ve had more time to fight racism if you just used the word, instead of stopping to type up lengthy comments against it?

(Seriously, what a wild non sequitur that is. Just imagine a conversation going “Actually, my name has two T’s in it…” “How can I be bothered to spell your name right when there is RACISM in the world??”)

Using “it” for a human in English would be dehumanizing. Using “they” is perfectly fine.

Also, there aren’t just 2 biological sexes, people can be intersex in lots of different ways. And wouldn’t “using the pronouns someone gives you” be faster and easier than “trying to play detective about the biological sex of everyone you see”? You’ve already guessed wrong about Dex, so you’re off to a bad start.

On Abuser “Golden Child” and “Scapegoats”, I am unaware enough of abuser trends to not have known that. I fully apologise to those who considered my wording offensive, but we’ve only seen the father for a single page where his anger was mitigated, and we’ve seen Dex completely disregard Their sister’s Boss, Boss’s Family, Co-worker’s, and essentially the sister’s entire future career to commit an attempted murder against a now grownup child-criminal for the crimes that individual committed primarily, if not completely, as a child. Nothing Dex went through, including Their various trauma, makes that even conceivably acceptable, to the point where I consider it reasonable to be damning Them.

On the pronouns, I fully admit that I did just forget. I don’t have principals against using the singular They, it’s even something I consider logical for non-binary people to adopt. It’s more like I have principals for how I treat people as a default, and those are the reasons behind them. I raised that argument purely due to Panda directly attacking me for forgetting and calling it something “minor”, as anyone speaking English who prefers the non-binary “They” will still have to deal with people either forgetting or outright ignoring their preference for their biological gender on a highly regular basis. Expecting otherwise requires us to basically change the fundamental use of English, and I see us dealing with more major issues such as Racism significantly before even attempting to do so.

I am not trying to aggravate anyone here. I fully admit that I am highly ignorant in a vast number of area’s, particularly social ones. I also regularly attempt to assume the best, unless given notable evidence to the otherwise. Dex’s actions at the party were enough evidence that I believe they don’t deserve any positive belief about their character from me. If the situation at the party changed a bit, such as Dex not hitching an invitation with Their Sister, Dex not knowing that it was a party with Pascentia’s Immediate Boss, or any of the other issues Dex would have directly arrogantly created for Pascentia by committing the murder, I would give enough benefit of the doubt to consider giving Dex a chance. The full equation of the party events, however, remove any desire to give Dex any leeway, basically on anything.

I realize I haven’t given specific ages in-universe, but for the record, Kale was hired by Northwind the year he turned 23, and had his breakdown the year he turned 28. Still young, but not a child.

And we know he’s remorseful, trying to make up for it, and not planning to do it again — but remember, Dex doesn’t get to load the website and read those strips. They were openly surprised by the idea that Kudzu maybe didn’t gleefully brain-damage their husband on purpose.

Separately: The English language changes all the time. We adopted “Ms.” instead of having to pick Mrs. or Miss for every woman, we adopted gender-neutral terms like “firefighter” and “flight attendant” instead of defaulting to “fireman” and “stewardess”, we hoover up words wholesale from other languages, we make new verbs by adding “-ing” to nouns (and vice versa), we’ve revised the meaning of words like “phone” to include objects that a person from 50 years ago wouldn’t even recognize…

The point is, widespread adoption of singular “they” isn’t the fundamental change you’ve built it up to be. It’s just one more of the normal twists and turns that English makes constantly.

Ah, due how I read the flashback, I pretty much assumed that Kale was employed in his late teens, his breakdown started when he was about 16/17, and it all concluded within two years or so.

And I’ve never actually had an issue with Dex attacking Kale, that part’s reasonable to me. I understand that I don’t know how much they actually know about Kale and what went down there, and accept that. No, my problem is how much disregard Dex had for how their sister’s situation would develop as a result of their murder that makes me write them off. The blatant disregard Dex has for the repercussions that would have negatively affected Pascentia for YEARS if their attempted murder succeeded. Hell, the only reason the repercussions for the failed murder attempt are unlikely to affect Pascentia is because it became obvious that Pascentia wasn’t involved as she actively tried to catch Dex. And, even then, there could easily be some unintended negative repercussions for her.

And, yes, English Language does regularly change naturally over time. However, what is considered polite changes much more slowly. This is particularly an issue here because I am under the impression that those who care the most about what is considered general good manners are also those who would be the most bigoted against Homosexuals and Transexuals, aka, the “Holier Than Thou” Religious Bigots. If we manage to get large corporations to encourage it in a widespread manner, like we did with “Happy Holidays” replacing “Merry Christmas”, it might be able to happen sometime soon. But I’m not expecting anyone with that much authority to even attempt it, and would expect a more aggressive response from the aforementioned bigots than when they hear “Happy Holidays” and throw a tantrum in the middle of a shopping centre.

(thread is too deep to keep replying directly)

If Kudzu took over Central the way he did Montmere, and Pascentia ended up controlled, and/or seriously injured the way Hermosa was, that would also negatively affect her.

I don’t understand why you’re going into long paragraphs about how transphobes are hard to convince. This isn’t news! We already know that! And nobody is imposing on you to Personally Change the prevailing standard of the English-speaking world, so there’s no need to get defensive about how hard it is. Just change your own speech and don’t make a big deal out of it.

Also kinda baffled by your focus on “the state of the characters’ adult genitals” downthread. This isn’t a NSFW comic. Any nakedness (e.g. in shower scenes) is strategically censored. Unless there’s been a specific reference somewhere in the dialogue, you don’t know the current state of *any* characters’ genitals.

But Dex also knew about the Magic Suppressing Bands, the fact that Kudzu being in the community was known to… basically anyone with actual authority over Kudzu, and a whole lot of circumstantial evidence that suggests that putting it off for a day, two, or even a couple of hours to attack him on his way home wouldn’t have harmed anyone. This wasn’t about protecting Pascentia, it outright ignoring her presence while USING her as an accessory to murder. As I said below, I would be more forgiving to Dex they made the attack on Kale/Kudzu in the middle of the street in front of a bus of children than what they actively chose to do at the party.

Both the transphobes talk and the genitals talk came directly from me speaking about how and why I default to the way I do. Which is to utilise the limited information I have to assume the gender of a person’s genitals, and call them by that gender. After I made the mistake to misapply this to Dex once, and decided to make a short and casual “This is why I made that mistake, but it’s still my bad” comment in response to my being corrected, it somehow resulted in people taking personal offence and making aggressive responses to that I feel required me to explain and defend myself. And repliers kept on acting like, or twisting, my words into personal attacks against Trans, so I responded to that and tried to explain what I was trying to actually say.

Kudzu has mind-control powers.

If a nuclear bomb was wandering around your neighborhood, hanging out with your family, and certain people were supposed to disarm it but you thought they might be compromised, how long would you consider it safe to wait?

And, c’mon, your first comment didn’t say anything about “it’s my bad.” It just said “I forgot because I don’t consider it important.”

Obviously people got upset about that. Same as they’d get upset if you said you didn’t consider it important to spell someone’s name right, or remember what country they’re from, or any other detail that matters to people.

And since then, you’ve left (by a quick wordcount) almost 1,000 words of explanation about why you default the way you do (or about how, breaking news, society-at-large is transphobic). All of which is totally unnecessary. We know why you default that way. It’s not a special circumstance that’s unique to you, it’s the same reasons as with everyone else who defaults that way.

So, fair warning: any more comments re-treading this territory are getting deleted, because at this point they’re just tedious.

Good god.

I just looked at the strips where Pas gives her history. It’s UNAMBIGUOUS. The dad is physically lifting Dex off the ground when she distracts him. That’s not a fight, that’s a beating.

Since you apparently claim to care about racism more than you care about transphobia (which is what disrespecting pronouns IS), what you just said is rather like refusing to learn the name of someone’s country of origin because that country makes up such a small percentage of the world’s population.

And if you think it offensive to say, “I’ve never even heard of Sierra Leone, how do you expect me to remember that?” (hint, it is offensive as HELL), then it is JUST as offensive to fail to remember a they/them, except by short term and genuinely accidental slip of the brain.

I also challenge you to accurately describe Dex’s birth “gender”. We don’t know their history and haven’t been shown, the way we were given clues with Juniper and Delphinium. This comic is very good about being ambiguous when it chooses, and many fashions we associate with feminine aren’t read as feminine in this world (see half the outfits Lief chooses for himself). Dex may never, even at birth, have used she/her or had the biology that most commonly uses it. So saying “I defaulted to she/her because biology” isn’t just backwards, it could be 100% wrong.

I can see the holding of the shirt with both hands, but I assumed that Dex was still on the ground… mostly because I assume most shirts would rapidly tear if the entirety of their wearer’s weight were applied to them (I live somewhere where clothes are thin and light all year round), and the fact that holding the shirt with both hands occupies both hands, making it hard to hit a person with them. Basically I have been seeing it as a “threatening” gesture, not the “unmitigated attack” you seem to be seeing. Particularly since the panel before that seems to show both Dex and Their Father as being roughly the same height.

Also, a previous comment by the author does state that I was wrong about Dex’s biological gender. That is my mistake, and I am fully willing to admit to that, as is the fact that I used the wrong pronoun. I should have used They, but I had forgotten the fact that it’s what I should use in regards to Dex. Additionally, after being corrected, I have been using the correct, non-gendered, terminology for Dex, so I don’t know why you’re still aggressively attacking me over that. In my follow up comments, I have used “she” for when I’m talking about Pascentia only. I admit that I am giving reasons why I may make similar mistakes in the future, but I still have actively avoided doing so immediately following my being, justifiably, corrected.

Still doesn’t make Dex, as an individual, in anyway someone I am willing to give any leeway to, directly because of how they treated their sister at the Party. To the point where I would consider Dex stabbing Kale in the middle of the street in front of a children’s school bus a more forgivable act, as at least then they weren’t knowingly, and actively, directly causing harm to someone they know, who cares deeply about them, and that we have reason to believe that they should care deeply about.

The bringing up of Racism was simply me stating that there’s longstanding, widespread, and significant issues that English Speakers are not only need to, but are probably going to, focus on before the majority of us start paying anything but a glancing attention to how to adjust using the English Language to communicate with Trans People without accidentally causing offence. And, unfortunately, I suspect that if we ever get close to fixing our general societal bigotry issues with racism, our general societal bigotry issues with homosexuality and transsexuality may end up replacing them in severity before we start to even attempt to properly deal with them, even if it’s a significant issue right now, let alone adjusting basic manners to be inclusive of the Trans Community anytime soon.

Additionally, I don’t care about Dex’s birth gender, I was making (that the author has stated to be incorrect) assumptions about Dex’s adult gender. Basically, I assumed that Dex had female genitals, and have been informed that They probably don’t. I’m not 100% certain which of the twins between Rosie and Rhododendron Muscade was Trans, but to my assumption is that the adult one that was has the genitals of their preferred gender, and so Rosie is female and Rhododendron is male. Hell, given how early it was recognised by the individual in the comic, and the fact that the comic’s magic-based gender-change-therapy seems gentler than the little I know about our gender-change-therapy (I am ignorant enough to state that the only thing I know for certain is that the individual’s who undergo it probably need to take hormone blockers for their birth gender, as well as hormone supplements for their preferred gender, before, during, and after the change), I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they actually had the accurate genitals for their gender every time we’ve seen them.

Oh. So they were this lax because they believed Hermosa isn’t good enough to fool that magical girl? … like, they might’ve been right if his illness didn’t interfered, but still.

The implications are that he wasn’t fooling at the moment he was scanned. Unfortunately, his fugue state seems to (roughly) act as a kind of mental reset. He told the magical he wasn’t going to bolt, and at the time he truly meant it. Then he went into fugue state and thinks he’s still active.

Yeah, the implication here is definitely that he’s been doing loads better but that he’s had an unexpected and extremely severe relapse – supported by his own confusions and ignorance of what happened to him. We KNOW he KNEW what happened to him, before, even if the details were all still fuzzy, but now he’s completely lost lock on what’s going on.

He escaped because he thought he was being held prisoner by Northwind, not because he was trying to escape confinement to help Dex, and the second is what they were worried he would do (and he, apparently sincerely, had no intention of doing).

It’s basically an awful situation all around!

It’s a different time of day wherever Dex is… wonder where they ran off to. East? South? Probably not west to the desert. Or north to Sondheim.

East is the desert, not west.

Hey Erin, I just wanted to say thanks for cultivating such a caring community (not sarcasm, I know it sounds sarcastic). I’ve been reading your webcomics for years now, and I was poking through the comments and noticed the argument/debate going on further up this page, and while I was reading it and getting annoyed, I realized how uncommon it is to see arguments like that on your comics to begin with. You’ve managed to maintain a really friendly, welcoming enviornment, where even when people disagree, they’re generally willing to see the best in people and try to educate or listen instead of just steamrolling each other. It’s something that’s hard to do, and while I know it’s at least half because of the people who read this to begin with, I see you stepping in when necessary but not acting like the end-all authority, either. I just wanted to write this to thank you, because I know it’s a lot of work to do that.

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