A Woman on the Internet Reviews The Lion’s Song Episode 3: Derivation

 

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A Woman on the Internet is an intersectional feminist community that focuses on conversations about sexism, racism. homophobia, transphobia, ableism and many other social issues. Created by Aurelie Nix, A Woman on the Internet also produces content such as Video Game & TV Show reviews from an intersectional feminist point of view. The community & blog are safe and all welcoming spaces, with a focus on ensuring the protection of women of colour & queer/trans folks. If you enjoy its content, consider supporting the space financially through a Patreon subscription or a donation through PayPal.


<–THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 2: ANTHOLOGY

THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 4: CLOSURE – SOON –>

Once in a while there are some games that add unexpected layers to their stories.

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Although the subjects in The Lion’s Song: Derivation were interesting and important ones, I was ultimately distracted and touched by a demonstration of respect and a diversity of experiences that I, even if I have to repeat myself, was truly unexpected, but that I welcomed with very open arms.

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In Derivation, we follow the Story of Emma, a mathematician, who, although when the story begins experiences a tragedy of her own, right away sets to enter a famous and respected club of fellow mathematician and like-minded thinkers. Due to being a woman, Emma is laughed at, her role and place as a woman are reminded to her and her capacity to think critically are doubted, if not denied altogether. Of course, following in the footsteps of interesting characters that The Lion’s Song’s studio Mi’pu’mi Games has given us thus far, Emma does not stop there. She decides to dress as a man and finish the equation the men have so far been unable to complete, to prove herself not only as a Mathematician but a Mathematician who also happens to be a woman.

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But Emma’s struggle and inner turmoil do not solely revolve around her many attempts to enter the club, or to prove herself to who she sees as who should be her peers. She also struggles with her personal loss, her grief, and confusing feelings she experiences in regards to who she is, feelings triggered by her disguising herself as a man day after day, going by the name of Emil, a name that, depending on the game you play, she feels fits her just as well as Emma or maybe even more.

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The identity of Emma as Non-binary isn’t simply hinted at, it is a core subject of the story, it is something always on the main of the main character and appears in many of the conversations that Emma has with people, something she either cannot hide or doesn’t feel like she has to hide. For the sake of truly respecting the character and ultimately non-binary folks in general, I will refer to Emma with They/Them for the rest of this review considering that, in my playthrough at least, Emma is as much Emma as they are Emil, neither male or female, or perhaps both, maybe simply sitting in the middle, or entirely out off the box.

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I have asked the followers of A Woman on the internet, specifically non-binary/genderfluid/agender folks, how they would define or describe those “identities” (I put this in quotes since a lot of people don’t see it only as an identity but simply who they are). The general responses revolve around comfort and simply not sitting in either box marked “woman” or “man” but also not necessarily in the middle, some connect to femininity more on one day and the next day will feel some other way, some reject the notion of man or woman and simply exist as the human being that they are, however, the general person might want to define them.

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In many instances though, such as the one that I saw while playing The Lion’s Song: Derivation, was that some people might connect more to one thing more than the other, such as Emma eventually ending the game as Emil, remaining dressed in a suit, and even though they have expressed comfort as either, Emma chooses to experience life as Emil, as this was the most comfortable way for them to be, the most genuine Emma/Emil. They are many things that I could say about Derivation. I could talk about the casual sexism that Emma experiences when not going about as Emil, but to be quite frank that is not the story that Derivation has left me to be haunted with.

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That is not what I keep thinking about, what truly made me feel, what I’ve learned. There are already stories of women who experience casual racism and the struggles of cis white women in the 20th century, these are not stories entirely new. But Emma’s realization of their own identity as Emil, whether triggered by their loss or by having to dress “as a man” to have their intelligence recognized ultimately I am not sure this matters, Emma is Emil and Emil is Emma and maybe Emil is the truest self, maybe there are no selves truer than the other. What The Lion’s song had given us in this story is something I personally never experienced through another game, not in such a forward way.

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So when I finished the game and an achievement popped up called “non-binary” with the description being: “Prove that there are many possible states and everything is in flux”
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I smiled, and right here and there, studio Mi’pu’mi Games reminded me why I love video games.

10/10: in this third episode of The Lion’s Song, we thought we were given a story of 20th-century sexism and the beauty and art and mathematics, but instead, we experienced a beautiful story of a non-binary person finding themselves and ultimately, finding peace.

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Available on: PC

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<–THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 2: ANTHOLOGY

THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 4: CLOSURE – SOON –>

Big life change 10/07/2017

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As some of you may already know due to my announcement on the AWOTI FB page earlier today, I lost my job today. I dont want to get into specifics since I dont want people to figure out who my employer was etc, but what I can say was that this is the result of a multitudes of breaks I’ve had to take recently (the trip to Morocco, being stuck in Paris for an extra 9 days, breaks I took when we moved place & the many times I couldnt do the work due to my unstable health). This creates a lot of changes and a lot of uncertainty in my life at the moment as while I try to look for a new job, a job that fits my needs and limitations (I’ve been working from home for 5+ years) I don’t know how I will make it financially both in regardless to the basic things we all have to pay, rent, bills, necessities, but also all things relating to my health like medication and appointments with healthcare professionals. This is me asking for your help and support, both emotionally as well as financially, as I try to figure it out. Consider becoming a Patron to my Patreon, or donating to my PayPal to ensure that the page is kept up as I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue if I am obligated to get a 9-5 job out of my house, and see how that affects my health, and how I used to live/freelance.

Aurelie

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A Woman on the Internet reviews Ma Vie de Courgette/My Life as a Zucchini {SPOILER FREE}

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There is something about animated movies that connects with me, a connection that I rarely if ever experience with live action movies. It’s been my experience that when it comes to animated movies, Studio Ghibli is the best, no other studio compares, but when it comes to stopmotion, they are gems scattered across the world, gems you either have to look for, or find.


This Swiss and French movie, My Life as a Zucchini, is one of those gems.

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We sat on our couch on a rainy and wet Saturday afternoon and popped in My Life as a Zucchini which we had rented a few days prior but had forgotten about, we knew nothing of the movie other than the fact that it was stopmotion, our emotions were scrambled like morning eggs mere seconds into the movie.

My Life as a Zucchini offers a type of story that both adults and kids can enjoy or relate to, although it is quite dark, even with it’s lighter moments here and there. It follows the story of Icare aka Courgette (or Zucchini if you watch it in english?) whose home life environment is abusive and who eventually after an event takes place, gets placed into an orphanage. The story follows Courgette, the emotions he experiences, his relationship with the other kids in the orphanage, and their daily life, until a new kid arrives, Camille. My Life as a Zucchini does a beautiful job of introducing us to a variety of children with a variety of issues, dark pasts, realistic and touching personalities. From hints of sexual abuse, to drug abuse, deportation, the movies offers a cast of children who, although adorable, are profoundly real and relatable.

Throughout the movie, the story and the music allows us to stick with it’s very melancholic and calming tone, the children’s voices, the glimmer in the puppet’s eyes, all of the moments of silence, you spend the entirety of the movie forgetting that these are puppets and not real life children attempting to heal each other’s wounds as well as their own.

10/10 – I cried so many times, sometimes from sadness, sometimes from happiness, and sometimes simply because I was so profoundly touched. I related too much, and when it came to things I could not relate to, I empathized in ways I only seem to do with these gems of animation.

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Morocco Trip Update 02/03/2017

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It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a game, a while since I’ve taken the time to sit down and properly write something, whether it be a review or an update. Over two months ago I created a fundraiser in order to get people to help me get to my grandmother in Morocco, after I was given the news that her health was declining even further, and after I was finally offered information I had been looking for for the past 6 years, like her location (ish, it’s hard to get the address of someone who lives out of the city, out of the grid, and who, well, doesn’t have an address). After two month, the original goal was reached and I was able to purchase tickets. Since then there’s been some complications, the cost of avoiding the U.S. as well as U.S. airspace for my safety, my miscalculation of our budget and how much I underestimated the cost of hotels and riads in Morocco (or is it particular to Rabat, I’m not sure). Since, I’ve raised the goal, but still, I am profoundly grateful to the people who donated, who 100% made this trip possible, who paid for my tickets and so much more, who did so much more than they can possibly understand.

I have been writing, not as much as I hoped for considering the amount of stressed that has claimed home atop of my shoulders, but I am writing. May is still over two months away, and so there is some times left for me to seek a place to stay (as well as start apartment hunting in my own city) and a mountain of others things such as insurances and medication I need to order, purchase and get a green light on in order to travel with overseas, two months is a good amount of time to wrap things up, and at the same time, I will be writing.

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Btw yes, I’m still doing my whole hair in natural state challenge & it’s now been 2 months

As stated, the goal for the fundraiser has been raised and I invite anyone who hasn’t participated yet who still wishes to, to check it out. There is not much left but whatever has been amounted since will help pay for a place for me to stay, and for a lot of papers I’ve had to fill in and get in order to safely travel and be allowed back into Canada. Someone recently asked during my last Q&A what I would do in an instance where there is extra money from the fundraiser, and to be honest, I just want to take my grandmother out for lunch or supper, extra funds or not, as I am hyper aware that these 4 days and a half will be my very last with her.

If you want to participate, share, or anything else, here is the link to the fundraiser.

Much love, Aurelie.

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews MANDAGON

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Ahh the beauty of Indie games. 2016 has been an incredible year for me in terms of Indie games I have had the chance to find and play, both old and recent. The games I have played throughout 2016 had helped remind me time and time again of my passionate love for video games and my never ending search for the next story.

Although released in 2016, Mandagon was the indie game that started 2017 for me, and oh boy was it one hell of a beautiful game!

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Created by developer Blind Sky Studios, a small UK games studio composed of four coffee loving people, Mandagon is a short and free indie, adventure and pixel styled game inspired by Tibetan theology and philosophy, in which the focus is Bardo, the Tibetan word or version for “Limbo”.

In Mandagon you play as a sort of statue or part of a totem, and you explore and climb a sort of temple, in which you are given samples of a story about a man, his daughter, and a choice. Although Mandagon is quite straightforward in its gameplay and purpose, a rather simple and not particularly challenging gameplay of hopping your way to the top and around to access the inside of a temple, the mystery of the story is what will give you the desire to keep hoping, to find out what is on the other side, and, ultimately, what will make you keep thinking about Mandagon even after you are finished with its story.

There are also two other elements of Mandagon that caught my attention and still has it, the aesthetic of the game and its soundtrack. Although simplistic at first glance, Mandagon is an incredibly gorgeous game in which I encourage you to stop at times and observe your surroundings. See how tapestries move with the wind, the birds flapping their winds, and every other sparkle of color and detail that were a very welcomed surprised for a free game. The soundtrack of Mandagon was also a surprise. A single 22 minute composition seemingly designed for you to meditate your way through the universe, the story and the game, with themes of contemplation and sacrifice. Though available for free on steam at the moment, a digital art book, soundtrack and extras are available as a package for 4.43$ on steam, which I highly recommend not only because it’s awesome, but because I truly believe that Mandagon has too much to offer to be a free game.

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In the hour or so that I spent in its universe, surrounded by its music and its themes or death, life, purpose and sacrifice, Mandagon gave me more than hours and hours long game have been giving me: it gave me an experience.

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10/10 – Will purchase the art and OST package, and would purchase anytime if it means putting my money where it belongs, in the pocket of true artists.

Available on:
PC: here

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A Woman on the Internet starts a very personal fundraiser

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Ahhh 2017, it’s only been, what, 2 weeks and a half and I’m already doing so much and flipping tables!

As some of you know, I’m on a hair rediscovery journey where I have stopped straightening my hair and attempting to learn my curly hair and battle all of this internalized racism I have been taught since childhood, it’s been wild!

But, also, I have been given some information that have led me to make the decision to ask my followers/readers for help.

“My name is Aurelie Nix, I am a freelance writer located in Montreal Canada, a queer, disabled, woman of color and what could be considered an “online activist”. I am the person behind the blog A Woman on the Internet, an intersectional feminist platform.

In 2010, on December 23, I received the news that my mother (my aunt, the woman who raised me, who lived her entire life sick with cancer) had died in the night from her cancer that had returned yet another time. I hadn’t been made aware that she was sick again, and the news were broken to me through an email. At that time, I was out out the country and unable to afford a flight to attend her funeral or say the goodbye that I should have been able to say to her in person, and it broke my heart and affected me in ways I simply cannot explain.In the years that have passed, I have never been able to return and I have never been able to talk to my grandmother, grieve with her, be with her, simply due to the fact that she lives on her farm, with an entire ocean separating up, with no internet or phone. Through the years, I have been told that she has given up on live since the death of her daughter, and it has broken my heart even further to not be able to be there with her or for her, to take care of her pain a little bit. Not only am I unable to talk to her, and unable to visit, I was never told there her farm is, and since being forced to cut off contact entirely with my family due to abuse, no one has ever been able nor willing to give me that information.

This is where the idea of this fundraising came up. A few nights ago, I received some information from an uncle bylaw that my mothers house, a house I had been told had been sold along with all of her belongings, actually hadn’t been sold and was currently abandoned. Futhermore, I was told that my grandmother was still alive, yes, but was very unwell. She doesn’t visit the city anymore, doesn’t talk to anyone at all, and that nobody really knows how long she has left, but things aren’t looking good at all. Although the information that I was given, I had been seeking for years, it only served to an added weight on my conscience, because time feels limited, and I still cannot afford to visit especially due to my health and my recent hospitalization.

It’s one thing to lose a parent, and it’s another to lose a parent unexpectedly, but it is an entirely different thing to lose a parent unexpectedly and never be able to see the places you used to go to, visit their house, relive the memories, or even visit their grave. If there is one way that I can describe it, is that it feels as if you’re not allowed to grieve at all. I long to see my grandmother, to cry with her, to miss my mother together, to learn about my grandmothers past and our identities as aboriginal Amazigh women, to be able to sit down and be with her before she is gone the way that I wasn’t able to be with my mother.

I’ve been encouraged by a lot of people from the A Woman on the Internet Facebook page, to make a fundraiser so that people could help. So that I could make the trip I have never been able to afford.The money goal of this fundraising would consists of a plane tickets for Rabat, Morocco for myself as well as for my partner (since I cannot and do not feel comfortable traveling alone with all of my health problems and without a companion), and a portion of the cost of staying at a hotel for 5-6 days since I do not know anyone there that I could stay with. The goal is an approximation as the price of place tickets vary, and since I’m frankly not exactly sure how much it would all cost. If this fundraiser makes this possible, I would be able to visit my mothers home, grave, my grandmothers farm, and be able to be in places and with a person that I should have been able to see years ago. It would make it possible for me to take pictures, relive memories and create new ones, bring to my grandmother pictures of me and my life, tell her about myself, and bring home some of my mothers belongings as well as pictures of her and my grandmother, all of which I do not have and long to have.”prtscr-capture_3

In less than 21 hours, 600$ was raised.

“600$ raised in 21 hours!! I am absolutely in awe at the support, kindness and generosity that I received since I started talking about my current situation and since creating this fundraiser! The goal I calculated is 3500$ and to think that 600$ was already raised in less than 24 hours, I’m absolutely amazed.”

And I am, absolutely amazed. I will continue to share news of the fundraiser and some of the personal things I have found out in 2016 and 2017, and the decisions I am making, the planning and all.

The fundraiser: here

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Cafe Venosa, more than a Cat Cafe, and the importance of keeping shelters open.


A few years ago, when the very first Cat Café opened in North America, I was delighted. As a lover of all things Japan, I was already familiar with the concept of Cat Cafes, and was impatiently hoping and waiting for some of Japan’s awesomeness to reach our shores.

Café Venosa wasn’t the first Canadian Cat Café I had heard about, but it was the first that I visited. Since, I have been to a few more, but there is something about Café Venosa that brings me back again, and again, that other places simply do not have, a quiet environment that almost feels like a second home. A place filled with love, respect and cohabitation for a type of animal often misunderstood, often dismissed or assumed to be something that they aren’t, cats.  The first time that I visited Café Venosa, I went alone on a week day morning. There weren’t a lot of people, and most of the cats were either asleep or in another room. But when I pushed in Café Venosa’s first door, and then its second, my eyes widened in surprise as a small, furry and black thing nearly collided with my legs and ran off the back of the café with a straw in its mouth, that is how I first met Tarquin, one of Café Venosa’s famous resident.

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Tarquin being cute

Through a conversation with the poor employee who had just gotten their straw stolen, I learned the thief’s name, his fondness of straws, and the idea behind the café. Since that time, I have returned to Café Venosa on more occasions than I can count, brought many of my friends there, and have attempted to order beverages that come with a straw as often as I could. On all of these occasions I have had the chance to meet many of Café Venosa’s rescues, because that is what they are, and a Cat Café isn’t all that Café Venosa is. Unless you were too preoccupied by cute furry friends, whiskers or the great coffee, then you’ve probably had the chance to chat with some of the café’s employees about the purpose of the place, some of its story, and its main goal.

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I’ve had the chance to talk to Summer Geraghty, the owner of Café Venosa, on multiple occasions but we’ve recently sat down to have a more in depth conversation about the café and some of the struggles that have began since Summer 2016 when construction on Saint-Denis street lingered and stretched for so long that it began to destroy the businesses of many, including Café Venosa.  Many stores have had to close that summer, and although the café is still here as of December, it is struggling to remain open. Summer and I talked for a while, She talked about the idea behind the place, the cats, the past and the current residents, her own work outside of Café Venosa, and what makes this Cat Café like no other Cat Café in Montreal. There are a lot of things that make thiss particular Cat Café different than the others but the number one thing is: Café Venosa is a cat shelter before it is a Cat Café. You see, not only was the cafe the very first Vegan Cat Café in Montreal but it also was the first one to make its cats’s adoptable to the public.

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When you visit the place you might find some of your expectations not met. The cats of Café Venosa are not chosen due to personality, appearance, or their ability to do tricks and entertain, rather, the cats of the café are rescues, and often, rescues who have had a very difficult life. Abandonment, abuse, malnourishment, we sometimes forget that animals are just as complex as we are, and that many live lives of abuse or negligence, leading to the development of depression, anxiety as well as post traumatic stress disorder. So, when you walk into Café Venosa, these are the cats that you get the chance to meet, cats with stories, some darker than others, preferences, anxieties, fears and needs. Through the work of Summer Geraghty, the cats of Café Venosa that are rescued and cared for, and gently integrated into a new environment, get to have a home through the existence of the café. At your arrival, you are given a list of rules that are based on respect and consent, a break down of things not to do and the Café’s stance on breaking the respect that it asks you to give to its cats.

Through your purchasing of a cup of coffee, tea, or one of many vegan meals that Café Venosa offers on its menu, you directly play a role into the care of these animals our city far too often fails, and it’s working. Since it’s opening in June 2015, Venosa was able to find a forever home for over 30+ cats, and are constantly, through the help of the SPCA, integrating more rescues into the café, never discriminating, never picking a cat for its look or likability. Through my own experience of the cats of Café Venosa, I have fallen in love with all sort of furry friends, big, old, friendly, shy, grumpy, fat, partially blind, my heart does not discriminate and it has always filled my heart with much warmth to know that neither does the café, that every cat is given the possibility of healing, being loved and finding its forever home. That is the message of Summer Geraghty and her café. As she said it herself: “Café Venosa is built upon the ideals of compassion and empathy for the planet and all of it’s inhabitants, through using the most environmentally friendly practices possible and helping the overpopulation of cats in Montreal find homes and teaching responsibility in animal care.”

And this is where we have to come in, as consumers, feminists, animal lovers, fighters for empathy and compassion, however you choose to categorize yourself, whatever word you feel fits you best, there is no doubt that Café Venosa shares many of the values that I, and you, might share. While Summer and I talked, we talked about the many ways that Café Venosa can be saved. And many of those things require the direct attention and help from Café Venosa’s familiar clientele, Cat Café fanatics, as well as the every day people who most likely can all agree of the importance of rescues and finding homes for animals. So, I encourage you to visit Café Venosa if you are able to, bring your friends and families and see for yourself what it is that I have been talking about. Meet Tarquin, or Smokey, or Bandit, my latest love, in all of his one-eyed fabulousness.

As of right now, for Montrealers, I will be having a meet up on December 15th at Café Venosa ! I will be at the café starting 1pm until 6pm, the owner of Cafe Venosa is kind enough to host us so make sure to stop by, purchase yourself a warm beverage & come have a chat with me! This will be super casual so please feel comfortable to come say hi, bring a friend if you’re feeling a little weird about it, I’m sure I’ll be feeling shy too. See you on the 15th!

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Make sure to visit Cafe Venosa’s Facebook, Instagram, website, check out the place in person, take pictures and share it with the Cafe & I!

My info:
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A Woman on the Internet has P.O. Box!

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Hi everyone! Many of you have been wanting to send me letters, postcards, and some of you who have businesses have even expressed their desire to send me things, now it can be done! As of today A Woman on the Internet has a P.O. Box you can write to, send packages to, and even make orders for. The address is:

A WOMAN ON THE INTERNET
CP 83541 MTL CP GARNIER
H2J4E9
MONTREAL, QC. CANADA

Feel free to send me whatever you’d like, and if you send me a letter I will do my best to respond to as many of you as I can because letters are awesome. I’m very excited to hear from you, to see what you send me, and to celebrate the holidays with you both online and off.

Cheers! Aurelie.

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews The Lion’s Song Episode 2: Anthology

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A Woman on the Internet is an intersectional feminist community that focuses on conversations about sexism, racism. homophobia, transphobia, ableism and many other social issues. Created by Aurelie Nix, A Woman on the Internet also produces content such as Video Game & TV Show reviews from an intersectional feminist point of view. The community & blog are safe and all welcoming spaces, with a focus on ensuring the protection of women of colour & queer/trans folks. If you enjoy its content, consider supporting the space financially through a Patreon subscription or a donation through PayPal.


<–THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 1: SILENCE

THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 3: DERIVATION–>

A few days ago, Mi’pu’mi Games released their second episode to their The Lion’s Song series: Anthology. Similarly to the first episode, Silence, Anthology follows an artist struggling with their art and with who they are. In Anthology, we follow Franz Markert, a young painter who recently arrived in Vienna, who is looking for a new subject while dealing with, as we found out later, some dark and troubling issues of his own.

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I will be honest, I struggled with Anthology. The game itself is just as beautiful and creative as Silence was, even more so. The Lion’s Song has grown since Silence. In episode 2, you are offered a map of Vienna and a few locations to visit pretty much whenever you like, which was very nice. The game presents the concept of seeing people’s “souls” or their “layers” whichever term you prefer or think fits best, but Anthology struggle with how it presents or sees the women of that episode.

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There are many women physically noticeable/present in the game, but nearly all of them are either entirely in the background, not offered as an option of characters to interact with, almost as if to say that women are not interesting, do not have souls, or no layers. Those that Franz Markert does notice have layers I found to be profoundly shallow. They are shown to us as being either envious of other women, being in love or lustful of men (or simply lustful in general), lonely or distressed, gluttonous or old. Although it is good that women are not portrayed solely as innocent creatures unable of sin, these things are generally attributed to women, and considering that there are only 2 women in the entire game that you can actually interact with, one of which you treat in a very questionable, I found the decision and the treatment of women in this episode particularly disappointing.

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By the second half of the episode, the story of Franz seems to figure out where it truly wants to go, and what the character itself also wants to go. Although at the expense of others, Franz struggles with very real and human things, beyond simply who he is as an artist or who he is as a person, but how his art and his decisions define him, and what it is doing to his well being.

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Franz’s journey is a rough, complex and ugly journey. As his journey went on, a dislike of him grew within him. I realised that what I saw him seeing was not who people were, but rather, what he saw, with all of his ignorant, judgmental and inexperienced self.

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By the end of this episode much of how I felt turned into something else, I saw what the episode was presenting me as a complex character, a character I originally did not like, as a character that wasn’t created to be merely liked. Just as Franz realises, people and the world that we live in has layers, layers we may find simple at first glance, but never truly are. I appreciated that Anthology gave me a character that I did not hold simple feelings for due to the fact that characters should not be simple, they should have layers, and this story does.

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8/10 – Anthology was a great episode. It has complexity and is very well aware of that. The music is lovely, the world and the options it offers were expended. Yet, Anthology made the mistake of placing women in the background, defining them almost as background objects, shallow beings, or guides needed to perfect your art – rather than human beings just as complex as the men of the game. This was, I believe, a mistake, and I am curious to play episode 3.

“Great games don’t have to be big” Absolutely. Some extra info on the series.

Available on: PC

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<–THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 1: SILENCE

THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 3: DERIVATION–>

A Woman on the Internet Reviews Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 3: Holly, Jolly

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<- EPISODE 2: THE WEIRDO ON MAPLE STREET

EPISODE 4: THE BODY ->

FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD

Note to self: when discovering a really good show that you think your partner will like, refrain from telling him about it because then he’ll check it out and gently nag you to watch the rest of the show with him, resulting in you having to write not one, not two, but ALL OF THE REVIEWS for every single remaining episode. Good job, me.

The opening scene of this episode has now become my ultimate favorite scene, As Nancy gets busy with Steve (that’s his name, right?) We watch as Barbara wakes up in some other place, but, it actually turns out not to be some other place. It is a bit ambiguous but my assumption was and still is that Barbara wakes up in some sort of alternative reality, still in/by the pool, but not where Nancy is. The creature is there and she attempts to run away, which doesn’t work and she is (highly presumably) killed/eaten. Can we talk for a second about the weird lighting in this episode, with night time scenes having daylight coming through the window…but it’s night time? This was very annoying.

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Nancy gets dressed and looks rather sad or disappointed, I can’t exactly pin point what emotion is on her face, gets dressed and leaves Steve’s house, but not before looking around a bit in case Barbara stuck around (you are a terrible friend, Nancy, and this will haunt you for the rest of your life) She goes home and her mother catches her in the act, reminding her that they had agreed on a much earlier time. Nancy is irritable, annoyed, and, again, there is an emotion, something going on with her that I just can’t put my finger on.

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Jonathan wakes up to find his mother talking to Will by herself and explaining that Will is communicating through the dozens of lamps that are in his room. Jonathan seems to think that his mother is doing so badly that she cannot differentiate reality from her imagination, he expresses his concern and presses her to get some sleep, but she doesn’t.

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At Michael’s house the boys are trying to come up with a plan to kill whatever monster is after Will. Lucas brings a pretty impressive arsenal, while Dustin brings an impressive amount and snacks. If you want my opinion, I think Dustin is very underappreciated, snacks are very important, what happens when you get lost in the woods and you’re hungry, huh? Dustin explains that most of the weapons Lucas brought would be completely useless against an actual monster, and reminds them that they have someone with actual powers right there. He tries to ask El to use her powers to make things levitate but she’s not having it because this shit is exhausting, ok? How many nosebleeds do you want this girl to have? Their meeting is cut a little short as the boys have to get to school. But Michael agrees on a time and place for El to meet them at the end of the day.

In school, Steve approaches Nancy who feels like people are staring at her and she asks him if he has told people about what happened the night prior. Steve says that nothing was said, I sipped my tea and it tasted pretty heavy with doubt. When she gets to class Nancy notices that Barbara still hasn’t arrived and asks around to check if anybody has seen her, no one has, and she continues to worry.

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Hopper attempts to bring his search to/into the institute and is turned down, I’m not sure what he was expecting.

In Michael’s home, El is bored out of her mind. She decides to wander through the house, look at the phone and then the TV. The TV surprises and shocks her, she doesn’t seem to completely understand what it is, as if she’d never seen one before. As she flips through the channels, she finds an AD for Coca-Cola and is triggered right back into another memory. Through this memory, we get to learn even more about what was done to El. In one instance she was asked to crush a Coca-Cola can with her mind, and succeeded, getting a smile from “papa”. Breathing heavily, El decides to turn off the TV. It is a very important scene and we will get many of those.

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We return to Joyce who is still at her house and has decided to hang Christmas lights as a way for Will to communicate with her. It’s kind of a scary sight, but is also a beautiful one as we are shown a mother quite simply trying to find where her son is.

Hopper is pretty certain that the missing kid came from the institute and as he watches the tape that was given to him, is even more certain that it isn’t a tape of the night he is trying to investigate. The two other police officers continue to be completely useless. Meanwhile, at that very institute, they are getting ready to send someone into a portal that it into the wall. And that’s sort of that.

El, now in Nancy’s room, is looking around at Nancy’s things. On her face lays all sorts of emotions, perhaps she’s still distraught from her memory from earlier. Perhaps Nancy’s things make her sad or envious, maybe it’s a reminder of what she never had, or maybe it’s a reminder of her loneliness. On one of Nancy’s walls are a bunch of pictures, Nancy as a child, Nancy’s friends, and there El sees pictures of Nancy with Barb and sadness (perhaps even guilt?) takes over El’s face.

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At school, Nancy asks Steve’s friend Tommy aka douche #2 if he saw Barbara leave the previous night. He says no and then they proceed to mock the fact that Nancy and Steve had sex, for some reasons.

The boys are looking for a rock. I can’t remember why. They are wondering how El got her powers through the beauty of comic books. El is still called a weirdo, other boys come by to call Will or whoever really, a “queer”, and Michael gets tripped and falls chin first on a rock. Idk, it’s cute but there’s not all that much about the scene.

Hopper goes to the library where we discover that the librarian isn’t super ok with not being called back after dates. She calls him a dick, he agrees with her, and then they move on to look through newspapers registers to find information about the institute and “the missing kid”. There they find that the institute dealt with all sorts of accusations of child abuse, off experimentations, lawsuits, and in particularly, the disappearance of someone’s daughter.

Joyce is dealing with some unexpected visitor, and comes up with some pretty reasonable explanation for the dozens of Christmas lights hang across her house, it’s surprisingly believable, even cute.  Mike’s mom seems worried and like she truly cares, but as she expresses that to Joyce, Holly sneaks off, led by the lights into Will’s room where something legit creepy happens and the wall attempts to grab her, before Joyce arrives.

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Nancy decides to call Barbara’s mother to see if perhaps she is at her home, but she isn’t, and she never came home that night. Before she gets to really start worrying, Steve and his friends decide to go after Jonathan after they’ve been told that he may have taken inappropriate or creepy pictures of Nancy. As much as I can’t stand Steve and his gang, it was a pretty reasonable reaction considering the level of creepiness, and even Nancy refrains from really stopping them. After Steve rips Jonathan’s pictures and breaks his camera (which made me a bit sad) Nancy notices something on one of his pictures, takes it and leaves.

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As El waits for the boys to meet here she has another flashback, and it is an intense one. In one of the experimentation they did on her, El was ordered to use her mind to kill a cat and she couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it. She is tend promptly punished, as she screams for “papa”, taken into the small brown room. Before they can close the door, she kills all of the guards, snapping their necks. “Papa” comes back to her, and touches El in a way that may seem as affectionate. She cries under his touch. He carries her and El passes out, as he walks away with her in his arms.

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It is a complex memory that ends when the boys arrive while yelling her name. As the group travels to get to their destination, El asks Mike about his bleeding chin. Mike explains but gets upset at the thought of El thinking of his as weak, but she quickly clarifies that she doesn’t, and that she understands. It’s so incredibly cute I want to cry into my cup of tea.

Nancy, who previously left school in a hurry because she couldn’t get Barbara out of her head, returned to Steve’s house to, well, I’m not really sure why. There she sees that Barbara’s car is still parked in the same spot, and so she goes behind Steve’s house where they were hanging out last night by the pool. She calls out Barbara’s, which I thought was quite odd. What is Nancy thinking? What is she expecting? As she calls out Barb’s name into the woods, something runs behind her and she runs away in fear.

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In Joyce’s house, the Christmas lights go on and leads her into some sort of dresser. There she finds a set of white lights which she uses to communicate with Will. She instructs him to make the lights blink once for yes and twice for no, and the scene that unfolds was truly beautiful and emotional. She asks Will if he is alive, and the answer is yes, but when she asks him if he is safe, the answer is no. Because Will cannot tell Joyce where he is or how to find him, Joyce decides to hang the Christmas lights on a wall and paint an alphabet in order to give Will the ability to truly communicate with her and help her rescue him.

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At the library, Hooper gets a radio call and they quickly rush out. The gang, not too far, watch as multiple police cars rush down the road and they decide to follow,

Joyce, having finished her alphabet, continues her conversation with Will, and this time it is a terrifying scene that takes place where Will tells his mother that he is right there, and that she needs to run. Immediately after, the creature comes out of the walls and it’s freaky as shit. Joyce runs for her life, right out of the house.

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Meanwhile, the boys are still following the cops and they all arrive on scene, where they all find a body in the water, and it is confirmed that it is Will. Mike, in a fit of rage, blows up at El and blames her for Will, claiming that she was supposed to bring him alive, that she lied to them. As El stares at Mike and the look on her face breaks my heart, Mike bikes away.

On his way home, Jonathan runs into his mother. The episode ends with two scenes happening simultaneously. Michael arriving home and hugging his mother, and Jonathan hugging his mother in the middle of the road, as police car’s lights can be seen and heard, bringing some very sad news.

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8/10 – This episode originally started a little clumsy, a little slow, which wasn’t a problem with me at all, but the second half of the episode truly picked up with El’s flashbacks and Joyce’s construction of a way to communicate with her son. There is a lot I could say about the presence of mothers, motherhood, and women in general in the show and the way they shape how emotions are demonstrated and valued in these episodes, but I will touch up on that later.

<- EPISODE 2: THE WEIRDO ON MAPLE STREET

EPISODE 4: THE BODY ->

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