A Galaxy of Possibilities: Discussing Character Writing, Diversity, Star Wars and Fandom – Week 11: Nadgkema An’Telkis

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Nadgkema An’Telkis, The Sovereign Principality of Ruusan
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Nadgkema was the third character I created at SWRPG, after my Jedi Satkia and my Sith Baska. It was kind of a natural order with the existing factions back then. Indeed, when I joined, the New Republic and Sovereign Galactic Empires hadn’t been resurrected yet as existing and accessible groups. I found the concept of Dark Jedi interesting and a possibly challenging middle ground between Jedi and Sith, though they are also dark siders. Until this day, Nadgkema remains my only active character in the Sovereign Principality of Ruusan faction on the board. I still use the same image claim I picked for her when I created the account, i.e. the actress Aishwarya Rai. Her grace is perfect for the character.

Nadgkema was born at the Onderon court in Iziz, where her noble bloodline had her picked to be trained as a royal handmaiden since she was a child. Having been very interested in the Naboo handmaidens in the prequel trilogy, I thought it was a great opportunity to explore such an occupation for one of my characters. I like how such a position saw her go through combat training and that some of it was kept rather secret, besides how she was educated to be a courteous and elegant lady. It still is part of who she is even as a grown up and despite how her world collapsed when she was a teenager.

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Her Force sensitivity manifested at puberty and whenever she was under a strong emotion, telekinetic outbursts happened. Until this day, combat and telekinesis are still her forte as a Dark Jedi. Her family considered the Force sensitivity a disgrace and locked their daughter up, coming up with lies as to why she wasn’t seen anywhere anymore. During this time, the future queen Nadgkema had known since she was a child, attempted to find ways to help her. In her seclusion, Nadgkema was able to curb her telekinetic issues through fencing and dancing. It gave the future queen the idea of helping her friend escape to Coruscant, where her talents could be of use at the Opera. The plan was a success, though Nadgkema ignored that the night she left Onderon would be the last time she saw her friend, as the future queen would be poisoned within the next year.

Nadgkema spent a couple of years as a solo dancer at the Coruscant Opera, where her talent was praised and she became one of their star performers. Dancing allowed her to keep focus and not risk losing the faint control she had over her potential, once deemed malicious. Yet, she kept much to herself, save for a friend she made when both women met by chance. One day though, Nadgkema’s life changed again as a Dark Jedi discovered her potential and took her away to be considered as a candidate on Ruusan. Despite her surprise and distrust, she made the best of the offered chance and joined the Penumbra, soon beginning her training.

In the past few years, Nadgkema has been flourishing as a Dark Jedi and finally befriend the potential living in her. Yet, dancing and fencing remain some kind of art to her and still hold a therapeutic dimension in her life. It still brings her peace and balance, making her more confident and grounded. She has no problem reveling in her inner darkness though, such as when she finally took her revenge on her parents and went to kill them herself, or whenever killing is the most viable option for herself or her fellow Dark Jedi. That also makes her fiercely protective of the few people that matters to her. And of course, her noble rank and her celebrity as a star dancer allows her to go to many places, which can help her play spy or ambassador for the Court of Ruusan, depending on the settings. Political schemes and backstabbing are ingrained in her and she enjoys being able to pull strings from the shadow.

  • Do you write characters similar to royal handmaidens, if not actual ones?
  • Did you ever use art as therapy for any of your characters?
  • Do you believe that being rescued and self rescuing are mutually exclusive?

Social Constructs, Stigma and Bullying Part One

My friend Rose B. Fischer’s interactive blogging project Redefining Disability: A Discussion of Pop Culture, Media, and Changing Perceptions (which you should check out if you haven’t already done so!) has led to many engaging discussions for the past months.

One of the most recent exchanges I had with her had to do with the impact of social constructs on our perceptions of disability and other stigma. This is the origin of this post. Please note that I speak from my experience being raised and living in France, so it is possible that some of this isn’t exactly applicable to other countries, including the USA.

At some point, she mentions how someone wearing glasses doesn’t see their ability to take care of themselves questioned, contrary to someone using a wheelchair for example. That made me reflect on how society has evolved in regards to people wearing glasses over the past decades. While this could be considered mainstream for a very long time and considered like a “normal” part of life and doesn’t make a person’s identity, there was still stigma associated with it when I grew up.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Until recent years, terms like “nerdy” or “geeky” didn’t really have any equivalent in France (now we tend to use the English word “geek” instead of an actual French translation). People wearing glasses could be considered “intello”, which can be akin to “nerd” though doesn’t mean the same. It is the short version of intellectual but with a negative connotation. “Intello” can an easily be the development of someone who used to be a “teacher’s pet” in school.

I have worn glasses from age 6 and my first year of elemental school. Until first year of middle school, I got physically bullied on more than one occasion. I was a girl, top of her class and I wore glasses, so that made me a target of choice. I wasn’t the only one wearing glasses even at a young age, nor was I the only one bullied, but I can tell that my glasses were a part of the “fun” of bullying me for the perpetrators. I still recall one of the last times I was physically bullied in first year of middle school. I was thrown against a wall and I got very lucky when I only got a scratch on my glasses when it grazed against the corner of a window. Another centimeter and my glasses were history. A few centimeters and my skull could have been history.

In a less dramatic fashion, wearing glasses weren’t “cool” for a long time for me. I was raised with parents wearing glasses and considering it normal and who taught me that it was normal. Yet, it took me many years to truly like my glasses. I can’t wear contact lenses and for years, when going out, I left my glasses home, making do with my myopia for an evening. I only wore them for specific tasks or when going to school. When I reached my twenties, I changed my mind and now I like my glasses and I consider that my comfort is more important.

I think that glasses are fully part of life now, more so than when I was younger. Maybe this is because it added to other labels I had – being female, overweight, bookworm, geek and top of my class when in school, but I faced times when my glasses definitely came into play to put more labels on me and to be bullied.

Links: Writing, Media, Inclusiveness

Links: Writing, Media, Inclusiveness

Photo Credit: Lucas Löf.

Photo Credit: Lucas Löf.

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Feminist Friday: How Valuable is the Bechdel Test?

Natacha Guyot:

Feminist Friday Discussions are back. Today’s one is hosted by Victim to Charm and focuses on the Bechdel test and women’s roles in movies.

Originally posted on Victim to Charm:

Think about the last movie you saw. Were there two or more female characters? Did they talk to each other about something besides men?

The Bechdel test, created by Alison Bechdel, examines female roles in movies by asking three questions:

  • Are there two or more women in the film?
  • Do they talk to each other?
  • Is their conversation about something other than a man?
alison bechdel, dykes to watch out for

From Alison Bechdel’s comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” (1985).

The test seems simple—women talk to each other about things besides men all the time in real life—yet a surprisingly high number of movies fail to represent this basic activity.

5540832_origThe test is so basic because it’s a standard that should be easy to pass. The fact that so many movies fail to achieve one, two, or all three of the test’s clauses highlights the rampant misogyny of the film industry. If a movie can’t…

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Links: Writing, Feminism, Bullying

Links: Writing, Feminism, Bullying

Photo Credit: Paweł Wojciechowski.

Photo Credit: Paweł Wojciechowski.