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Elsie Chapman's first novel, Dualed, sounds like a cross between a bad Hunger Games ripoff and the stupidity of someone who has never actually thought about what it's like to be an identical twin. It's about a city where people prove their worthiness by killing their identical twins, who are raised apart from them.

The stupidity hurts. Why is one half of the population murdering the other half? Are they in a competition for scarce resources? In that case, why keep both twins around at all? Why not selectively abort or turn to infanticide?

Furthermore, the ableist and eliminationist implications of this are disturbing, to say the least. If one twin has a disability and the other doesn't, there are many ways in which the twin without the disability could exploit the other's disability to kill him/her off. Has the author thought about the bias against disabled people inherent in her worldbuilding? To be clear, I have no problem with ableism in worldbuilding. I do have a problem, however, with ableist bias in worldbuilding done by an author without a grain of self-reflectiveness.

You know, if you really wanna run with this "kill your twin" premise, why not attack the inherent ableism head on? Give both twins disabilities. One could be a deaf person with agoraphobia and an anxiety disorder. The other could be a person with depression, narcolepsy and binge/purge syndrome. Then they could grow to be friends. Maybe they would even fall in love. They would decide that this whole "kill your twin" thing was, in fact, incredibly stupid and struggle to make their own lives in a society that a) expects them to try to kill each other and b) devalues people with disabilities anyway.

Man, that would be a much better story!
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I've been reading Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Remarkable Journey of Siamese [sic] Twins from Slavery to the Courts of Europe, by Joanne Martell. It's a biography of conjoined twins Millie and Christine McKoy, who were born into slavery in North Carolina in 1851. Owned/Managed by a variety of people during their lifetimes, they toured with sideshows in both the U.S. and Great Britain as singers and dancers. They died in 1912.


Discussion of rape, dehumanization and sexual assault behind the cut. )
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Wow, this temporary free 2-day shipping deal with my Amazon Prime test membership is really liberating me to purchase books that I have long yearned to buy, but never gotten around to. Today's purchases include two books about conjoined twins [Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton], Sex Changes: Transgender Politics and The Development of Imagination [about paracosms!].

I'm quite curious about Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, the story of Millie-Christine McKoy, conjoined twins who were born into slavery in the US in the 1850s and became well-educated entertainers, dying in 1912. They were treated both as one person and as two. For example, their family called them Sister, but also gave them separate names. From what I recall of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, they had a joint sense of self, referring to themselves in the first-person plural. I look forward to finding more about Millie and Christine's concepts of their personhood as I read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

Conjoined twins fascinate me. In One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal, Alice Dreger actually touches on two of my interests -- conjoined twins and trans subjects -- by discussing the case of conjoined twin boys who shared a set of genitalia. When they were separated, one boy got the penis and was raised as a boy. The other penisless boy was raised as a girl. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm eager to learn more about these twins, especially since their case addresses both non-consensual separation surgery and non-consensual genital change surgery. [NB: Non-consensual genital change surgery rarely goes well. See David Reimer for details.]

Non-consensual separation surgery and non-consensual genital change surgery both piss me off for the same reason. In both cases, people with abnormal bodies [either conjoined twins or people with ambiguous genitalia] are changed against their will. Guardians and/or medical professionals decide that the conjoined twins and the intersex people must be modified to find societal concepts of personhood. In the case of conjoined twins, they go against our deeply ingrained belief that a single person must have a single body. In the case of intersex people, they go against our deeply ingrained belief that a child's genitals must easily appear to belong to one sex or the other. So we cut them up because we have problems with them, not because they have problems with themselves. We disrespect the autonomy of such people and the self-acceptance that they show in the vast majority of the cases because we get queasy seeing two people share a body or a person possessing ambiguous genitalia. They're not wrong; they have no need to be altered; it's our narrow definitions of personhood that must be changed.
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Now that I have a month-long trial of Amazon Prime [free 2-day shipping!!!], I can't stop buying books. Yesterday I got Whipping Girl by Julia Serano and One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal by Alice Dreger. Today I got Alison Bechdel's two memoirs, Fun Home and Are You My Mother? Yum yum yum, so much to read!
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Remember "Identity," that SVU episode that I've been harping on for several entries now?[ Here's my plot summary. Here's my analysis.] Not only is it ridiculous, melodramatic and bigoted, but it's also scientifically wrong.

The identical twins in the ep commit a supposedly "perfect crime" at the end of the ep by murdering the doctor who molested them. Actually, only one of the twins murders the doctor, but no witnesses, including the security camera, can discern which twin it was, and the twins aren't talking. Furthermore, there was DNA from one of the twins left in the form of spit on the doctor's corpse, but DNA tests, according to the ep, will not point to one twin or the other, because, as Stabler says, "Identical twins, identical DNA."

WRONG! Identical twins have been long thought to have identical DNA, but recent research suggests that their genes are very very similar, but not the same. See the New York Times "Really?" column for details.

In all fairness, though, the SVU ep "Identity" did come out in 2005, three years before research about identical twins' different genes was published, so it was still within a period during which identical twins were thought to have identical DNA. Granted, but I still fault SVU for sloppy, stereotypical thinking about the similarity of identical twins, making us seem like magical duplicate halves of a single entity, instead of two very similar, but separate, people. >:

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The Law and Order: SVU ep “Identity” [season 6, ep 12], summarized earlier, features a bitten penis, gangbanging, homeless women, ID theft, an anti-graffitti task force, a pair of unusually identical twins, a sex therapist, a secret language, possible incest, violent siblings, possible lesbianism, unethical investigation of medical records, non-consensual gender reassignment of a minor, molestation by therapist and, finally, “the perfect crime.” Now that I’ve summarized the plot for you, I’m exhausted. No, seriously, it’s time to examine some of the deleterious assumptions at work in your average SVU ep.

Thesis: SVU pathologizes everything in sight.

Read more... )

 

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I've been watching a lot of Law and Order: SVU lately [enough to realize that the script writers have an unhealthy obsession with prison rape jokes, which they are apparently contractually obligated to shoehorn in once per episode]. Among the many eps that I've watched is "Identity," ep 12 from season 6. I remember enjoying this ep especially because it features a pair of identical twins, of which I am one, as you no doubt know. I also remember this ep for its particularly exploitative and melodramatic plot twists. Heck, this thing has enough melodrama and occurrences for an entire season of a show! Let me summarize for you...

A corpse drops off the top of a building right through the windshield of some guys with blue balls. Stabler, Benson and the ME wonder who the dead chump is. His bling labeled "SCA" seems to be a clue. Also someone bit his penis real hard. DUNT DUNT! Read more... )
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...about an envious Goth whose popular and perfect twin sister becomes a vampire? Sign me up for Thicker Than Water: Vampire Diaries 1, not coming anywhere to a theater near you. Clearly I need to see this.

Beeswax

Aug. 7th, 2009 06:09 pm
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I am interested to learn more about this movie, as it is about a set of female twins in their late 20s and one uses a wheelchair and one walks!



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The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior and Oracle's Queen, all by Lynn Flewelling, have an unusual premise for your standard Training of the Fantasy Prince trilogy. Prince in question is actually a princess who, through the help of necromancy suffered shortly after birth, has appropriated the body and likeness of her dead twin brother.

Critical details within. )

On the level of an adventure fantasy, this trilogy works well. High points include universally appealing characters and an appealingly matter-of-fact treatment of both magic and ghosts. As a ghost story and/or a transgender story, the trilogy, for all its interest in matters ghostly and transgender, doesn't do so well. While making central the subjects of spirits and transgender identity, Flewelling ultimately uses them as unusual, skillfully rendered, but uninsightful, plot points. Good fantasy.

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StoryCorps is a neat project aimed at tapping the oral history of the nation. At mobile booths around the country, almost anyone can schedule time and record an interview with a friend or a family member about...almost anything. I have listened to two stories so far, and I will be checking out more. Here a man talks about saving his friend's little brother from the train tracks. Very dramatic! Here a Vermont lesbian couple are talking about their 30-year partnership and getting civilly united. Their happiness, after all these years, is still infectious.

Bonus: Here are two women talking about being identical twins, dispelling some stupid assumptions about their relationship and being very practical about the whole thing. "Being a twin was the best thing that ever happened to me! I recommend it to everyone!"
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Dolls to hack up for a set of Elfdoll Hana conjoined twins:
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So I'm casually thinking about making a pair of dicephalus conjoined twin BJDs that are like my favorite pair of conjoined twins, Abby and Britty Hensel. Below is a list of possibilities for making my set of doll twins. I really don't care if you're not interested. I'm just writing this down so that my ideas will not bother me while I'm trying to work, sleep, crochet, write, walk home or otherwise function in a sane manner.

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