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Monstrous Agonies E78S03 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Seventy Eight.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-in Wales-”, a voice saying “-supported in their communities-”, rock music and pop music before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-trepanning is the new black.
Next tonight, we return to our weekly advice segment, where I answer your questions on life, love, and all thing liminal.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
You're listening to the Nightfolk Network – the voice of liminal Britain.
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Our first letter tonight asks what can be done about unwanted attention online.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I’ve always been interested in fashion, ever since I was little. I wasn’t super into streetwear or trends or whatever was at Topshop every week, but I loved watching old period dramas with my mums.
They weren’t always historically accurate, but I loved looking at the absolutely gorgeous gowns and jackets. They were so beautiful, all those layers of fabric, the flowing sleeves and collars; it was all so elegant and pretty! I knew from a young age that, at some point, I wanted to dress like that.
My genus is what you might call one of amorphous physicality. I’m very, um... Gooey? Not like I’m melting all over the place, but, like, quite slimy. [little laugh] The term “blob” fell out of fashion a little while ago, after the backlash to that movie, but I’ve never exactly hated it myself.
Because of the way our bodies are made up, we don’t really need to wear clothes. Some people prefer to, and I prefer to! I told myself starting out that I wasn’t going to let misconceptions about my body type stop me from wearing the things I liked.
I started a social media account when I made my first dress, just because I wanted to share with my friends overseas what I was making. I’ve always had a knack for sewing; with pseudopods there’s no risk of pricking myself with the needles. I make most of my own accessories, but had only ever made one dress at the time, and I was incredibly proud of it.
It blew up quite a bit. I was getting so much attention, which totally blew my mind. I mean, I’m not that good. [laughs] But people seemed to really like it! I’ve been posting more and more recently, and getting lots of praise and feedback.
But along with all the lovely comments, I’ve had some really nasty ones too. People seem to have all sorts of opinions on whether or not I’m allowed to wear these sorts of clothes. I get told constantly that I’m “ruining” the fabric, or that my body “wasn’t meant” to wear these styles.
I’m trying not to let it get to me. I love these dresses, and I love the way they make me feel about myself. But every time I look in the mirror I can hear those snide little comments.
I could just set my account to private, but I’d lose all the other people that love my work, and I’d feel really bad about that. I don’t want other people in my genus to think they can’t wear these styles, and I don’t want to give the nasty people the satisfaction of being right.
Is there anything I can do about this? Or should I just set my account to private and be done with it all?
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'm afraid this is one of those situations where I can't offer a clear, concise course of action for you, listener. You will have to make your own decision based on your own feelings, experiences and wishes. However, I hope I can be of some help in framing the situation for you, so you can at least see your options clearly.
As a visible member of the creature community, and one not often represented in mainstream media – schlocky, offensive B-movies aside – I'm afraid you don't have the privilege of simply existing in public. Sharing images of your obviously non-sapio body will not be interpreted as a neutral act. Neither do you have control over what kind of narrative people project onto you.
Some will see you as a proud defender of creature rights, a symbol of resistance to sapio-normativity and a hero of marginalised bodies. Others will see you as a threat to the status quo – a walking criticism of everything they hold dear. They will consider it their right, if not their solemn duty, to attack you in the name of defending those precious values.
And all the while, you are simply posting a picture of a dress you enjoyed making, on a body that enjoys wearing it. I am sorry, listener, that we do not yet live in a world where that is enough.
You need to decide the degree to which you're comfortable with your work being interpreted as a piece of art or media, put forth to make some commentary on the world. I would not blame you at all if you decided you'd rather maintain control over your images, and protect your privacy.
Equally, though, posting publicly would serve as some much-needed representation for amorphous body types. It might inspire others to do the same, and serve as evidence that people with amorphous bodies can wear whatever they damn well please.
It's a good message, and an important one. But it's not a message worth sacrificing your own health or happiness. If posting publicly makes you dislike what you see in the mirror, if the pushback is simply too strong to resist, then please, prioritise yourself.
No matter how much people on the internet would like you to be, you are not a symbol or a representation or a piece of content to be consumed and analysed. You are a person, and a creature, and your happiness is resistance enough.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
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[End background music]
That's not even the correct plural of “cloaca”. Ugh. Moving on. [sighs] Our second letter tonight is from a listener concerned about sharing their identity.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
I'm really hoping my parents don't listen to this. I mean, they- they couldn't know it was me, could they? You get letters from all over the place, there's, there's no reason they'd think it was me. Right? I really just, I need this to be, um. Private. Um. [sighs]
So, this was ages ago, I-I don't think you'll remember. You had this letter from some guy whose kid was, um. Well. He'd found a letter from his son in the bin and it was his son telling him th-th-that he was, you know. Uh. Different.
Well, uh, I, um. Well I've... I've always been, um. A bit different. The, the boy in the letter was autistic, I-I-I'm not, I-I don't think. But, um. In other ways? I was listening to that letter and the man kept saying all these things about, um. Iron? Uh. Touching iron. Or- Or not, uh, not being able to. And being really, weirdly good with animals. Um. And being lucky? Being really incredibly lucky to the point where you can't even play games like other people because it's- it's not fair on them.
Um. Well, I-I... I started looking into it. Googling, you know. Only I deleted my search history, not like that other lad. [laughs gently] And I started putting things together and... Um. [pause] I, uh... I think... I think I might be... [pause] Be, uh. Different. Too. [shaky breath]
Um. Uh, my parents– Is it alright that I still call them that? I know now, they're not my, um, biological parents. That's so weird. I look like my dad. I thought I... [sighs] Well I thought I did. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Or maybe when they... When they did the swap, they- [trails off]
[breathy and emotional] Uh, I can't- Can't really think about that, actually. [sniffs] Sorry. Um. [sighing] Uh. I can't tell my parents. They're not, um. They're not hateful or anything. I feel like if I got bitten or turned or something, they'd- they'd be alright with it.
But to looking them in the eye and saying, uh. [hissing inhale] Yeah, uh. Yeah, no, actually, I'm... I'm not yours. [weak laugh] I was never yours. I've always been... something else. You had your own son, a real son, and then you were tr-tricked- [tearful] Like I'm a bad consolation prize. Um. Uh. Uh, wha- what do I do?
The Presenter (as themselves)
Oh, my dear listener. Let me get something absolutely clear from the outset – you are not a consolation prize. Your parents are lucky to have you in their lives, and you deserve every ounce of love and affection that they've given you since you became their child.
The way you came into their lives may be unconventional. But that does not undermine your place in their family. Biology is nothing but a happenstance of blood, a quirk of genetic code. What is mere biology in the face of shared experiences, dedication, affection, commitment?
When it comes to telling your parents about your suspicions, you need to tailor your approach according to your relationship with them. You don't have to share your concerns with them if they aren't safe for you to be vulnerable with, or if you feel their worst likely reaction might put you in danger.
However, from what you've told me, it doesn't sound as if that's the case. If the worst likely reaction is that they don't understand or have some complicated feelings on the matter, I think it's worth taking the risk.
But please, take your time. There's no deadline here, and you aren't doing anything wrong by holding off until you've thought things through.
If you are, as you suspect, a different genus to your parents, you will need to learn about your genus and how it affects your body, you abilities, your limitations. You may or may not wish to connect with your genus's culture, and even asking that question is something you could find emotionally challenging.
If your parents are people you can trust, who love you and want to take care of you, then they will be invaluable allies to you in this search for meaning and stability. If they are not – and only you can judge either way – then I recommend you find other people to support you in this, whether that's another family member, a youth group leader, or a trusted teacher.
You can't navigate this alone, listener. Nor do you have to. Reach out, and let the people who love you help you through this. And please, try to be kinder to yourself. To put it simply, my dear: you are a gift to your family, and to the world.
That's all we have time for this week. Up next, we take a deep dive into the world of competitive dimension hopping. What is it that draws competitors to this extreme sport and the extremes risks entailed...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through a voice saying “-demolition-”, classical music, a voice saying “-ten sixes between them-”, dance music and a voice saying “-are you ready to tell us what really happened-” before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Seventy Eight of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted by Spiderhoney, the second letter is by Robyn, and this week's advert was by itssomethingcosmic. Thanks, friends.
Hello and thank you to our latest support on Patreon, Claire. Join them at patreon.com/monstrousagonies or make a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
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