Parasitical Horror: Where do we go in post-Roe America?

There’s something inside you that you didn’t want there. It might kill you. You know you can’t live with the fall out of it, and the very existence of it inside you is traumatizing.

You’re watching Alien, of course. Or The Thing. Or Slither, or The Bay, or Viral, or Malignant, or–

….where does parasitical horror stand now, really in a post-Roe America? Because while of course, a human fetus isn’t a parasite in the scientific or traditional sense, it’s still an intrusion into the body that not everyone wants there or is happy about, let alone safe with.

My state has now banned abortion even in the cases of situations such as ectopic or molar pregnancy. For anyone unfamiliar with these terms: a molar pregnancy is when the fetus becomes a tumor. Not a potential child, to be entirely and crystalline clear: a tumor. And an ectopic pregnancy is in which the fetus develops outside the womb. Neither are viable. Both will kill the pregnant parent. 

When Roe was overturned, I flashed back to the scene in Prometheus where Noomi Rapace’s character had to have the alien parasite removed. She sat in the medical machine, demanding an abortion for the inhuman creature which had taken residence in her uterus.

But just like the system which she found herself in, our system was also not designed for women and others with uteruses. It took reifying the situation to one a cis man might face for her to receive treatment. It’s not the most delicate metaphor in Prometheus, nor the most impactful at the time, but…now in the shadow of the SCOTUS decision and various trigger laws going into effect throughout the states? It’s horrifyingly real, in ways we thought were behind us.

Allow me to get a bit personal.

I grew up a fan of horror. I always get looks outside the South or even in the South by the younger crowd when I tell them the first movie I remember wanting to watch over and over with childish glee wasn’t a Disney film, but was Ernest Scared Stupid. And as I grew up and consumed more horror media, I noticed it, like all media, reflected a lot of what society had to say about itself. It’s very telling really.

Alien. The Fly. The Exorcist. Rosemary’s Baby.

There’s something inside you that you didn’t (necessarily) want there. It might kill you. You know you can’t live with the fall out of it, and the very existence of it inside you is traumatizing.

Even in horror, the scariest thing we can all imagine, even cis men, is the loss of autonomy of our own bodies.

This isn’t to discount the countless valid stories of parents of wanted pregnancies, who lose what would have become a beloved child to tragedy beyond their circumstances–who are then victimized more by a system that holds no grounds for nuance. I cannot imagine the pain, the suffering that causes, the sheer mental fortitude and bravery required to go on. I remember the far off pained look and the quiet embarrassment of my mother telling me about her miscarriages quietly during my adolescence, as if speaking of them as more than a whisper would be enough to invite more shame. 

But that isn’t my story and I feel it might ring hollow or disingenuous, even though I want to stand and scream for them as well.

So here’s my story:

I was born in the late 80s in Nashville to a biological mother who already had teenage children, and a biological father who already had a different wife and possibly children of their own. From what little I know, they knew each other from work. He had a position of power over her, which he abused. We won’t go into more detail–no more is known by me, and no more is needed. My biological mother made the choice, or was perhaps cajoled, I truly do not know, into giving me up for adoption through a Christian adoption agency.

I was adopted by a couple in rural TN, who–for all our fussing and fighting at times–do love me very much. I can’t fault them there. And due to this I grew up, like one might imagine, thinking the only choice–adoption–was as clear and easy as day.

And then I started getting sick. As I got older I got sicker. Needed surgery in my late teens to fix problems usually relegated to 50+ year old alcoholics even though I never drank more than a glass of white wine my whole life up till that point. Took till my twenties to figure out I had a genetic disorder that affects every system of my body–reproductive included.

I’d wanted to be a parent, up to that point, even though pregnancy sounded kinda scary. I’d realized by that age that not evrything was black and white, and I was nominally pro-choice, but still somehow in my mind, I guess I thought abortions were for other people. And I’d done everything “right”–never acted on being bi, and never questioned why the label “girl or woman” had chafed my whole life.

But then the doctor was saying words like “rupture” and “hemorrhage.” “Growth restriction” and “collapse.”

“Fifty percent chance of heritability.”

I remembered dislocated ribs on the playground. Fainting just standing up after a long lecture because my veins are too fragile to regulate blood pressure some days. Throwing up pure stomach acid before tests, not because of anxiety, but because my esophagus won’t function properly on the bad days.

There’s something inside you that isn’t you. You didn’t invite it in. It might kill you.

And I knew that even despite what I’d thought I wanted most of my life, I couldn’t let it kill anyone else either. I knew in that moment, if birth control failed, I’d get an abortion without hesitating. And in that moment, I knew whatever little judgment I may have held onto for others didn’t have a leg to stand on.

No one’s judgment really does.

Because they know it’s a horrifying situation to be in. Frankly I’m tired of pretending they don’t. Art reflects life, and since the dawn of the genre of horror, its many male authors have known the same thing:

The horror isn’t the whispers in the woods at night. Not always.

Much much more often, it’s the loss of autonomy. The loss of feeling full personhood. The gaslighting by society telling you you’re crazy for not being happy about it. The complete and total lack of help by anyone around you capable of giving any significant aid.

It’s interesting to think of where horror might go from this point in regards to parasitical elements. Even prior to the overturn of Roe, directors of such films did seem to have an inkling of what such horror reflected in our culture and how it might be received differently by roughly half the populace. With the advent of a new more socially aware generation of horror directors and films thereof, it seems impossible to avoid as a subject going forward.

There’s something inside you that you didn’t want there. It might kill you. You know you can’t live with the fall out of it, and the very existence of it inside you is traumatizing.

Don’t let them make excuses. Don’t believe the lies. They’ve told us this whole time they know.

We don’t have to make them know.

We have to make them afraid too, somehow.

Afraid to be voted out, afraid to be the bad guys of history, afraid to lose every ounce of the credibility that they’ve tried to make for themselves.

They are the monsters of these stories. It’s time we fight back. 

There’s something outside you that isn’t you. You didn’t invite it in, but it’s trying to take your choices. 

Don’t you dare let it.

The Apostates: A Queer Gothic Horror Podcast

A zip drive arrives at the FBI. On the drive is video of dozen of graphic murders and an implication: the scions of a wealthy family are more monstrous than anyone might guess. THE FBI agents and Georgia AG’s office intends to bury them, but evidence is scarce and facts aren’t lining up. What’s more, one of the agents keeps having a feeling that something is going on beyond murder for revenge or profit–something occult. With everything already seeming too circimstantial for their liking, it’s not as if they can pursue what amounts to an X-File, but Agent Baylor is… He’s having strange dreams. Nightmares. As the trial and a verdict looms ever closer, it’ll be up to the FBI agents to make sure to close the case on the seven young adults who seem to have the whole world fooled.

Hey y’all! Those of you who know me, know that I have been working awhile on a narrative fiction podcast project. Thanks to my supportive friend-based team, we now have social media for the podcast! Give us some follows at the following links to see progress, videos, art, and updates!

TikTok (we just posted a full set of videos!)

Twitter

Tumblr

Instagram

We will also eventually be launching a Kofi and Patreon for anyone interested, but for now, just give us some interaction on the art and videos we’re working on! I’d genuinely appreciate it so much.

And if you’d like to help, contact me and we can work something out! We’re still looking for a lot of our male VA cast.

Slight Blog Hiatus

I had a car wreck! I’ll be okay as it’s passed at time of writing this and I let the queue go a bit too. Unsurprisingly though, this got me behind, so this is just an alert that there will be about a week or two of no posts while I build my queue back up!

Pics of my poor Prius :sob:

We were rear-ended into this lady, so we weren’t at fault to be clear!!

Hopefully, gonna be back at my dark doings soon enough!

art dump pt 1

I’ve been drawing for a long time. I really feel like I’ve only gotten passable at digital art in the last year.

I did draw fairly well in traditional media–I preferred paper and ink for a long time. Went through pens and markers like crazy! Unfortunately, age changes stuff, and as the hEDS got worse, it hit my hands and arms and shoulders, to where it got too difficult to draw that way. And well starting all over on learning to draw in my late twenties wasn’t easy, I’ll say that!

I still have to use photo references pretty heavily, so if you think you regonize any of the portraits below as a model or celebrity–yeah, you probably do! I use Pixlr, mostly because only had a chromebook for three years, and I got too used to it to use much of anything else. I can’t really use a tablet for the same reasons I can’t use a standard pen and paper anymore, so I just use the trackpad of my laptop.

The below portraits are intended to be original character portraits taken from the narrative story podcast that I have been working on for a little bit. I’ll occasionally talk more about it, but for now, you get portraits and a little blurb. Maybe it’ll intrigue you!

Character name: Daciana Havich née L’Angelle, the soul witch.
Character name: Aleksander Havich, the cult leader.
Character name: Dr. Bhavani Lal, the FBI forensics analyst.
Character name: Lyssa Delgado, the auteur.
Character name: Rowan Foxx-Delago, influencer, mommy blogger, black hat hacker.
Character name: Dahlia Delgado, the arms dealer.
Character name: Nova Vernera-Delgado, intrepid journalist and food blogger
Character name: Dr. Rhoda Cargill, BSU psychiatrist
Character name: Malcolm al-Batawi, the fixer.

On Mirrors and Monsters

Junot Diaz once wrote on the subject of representation and monstrosity:

 “You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like,  “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?”

I cannot, of course, speak to the experiences of a person of color who grew up not seeing themselves. As a white kid in rural Tennessee, in a town that was just about as blindingly Caucasian as one might expect, my media had plenty of mirrors–plenty of stories of kids who looked like me.

What a weird funhouse mirror trick, huh? Shows you what’s on the outside, but none of what’s on the inside. Probably for the best though, considering what cracked and garish mirrors did exist for what I hadn’t yet realized was the truth of myself.

Villains or victims. Vampires too if you just barely squinted at the new wave of vampire media in my youth–Lost Boys, Interview with…, etc. 

Just guys being dudes, am I right?

White queer kids got a right to see ourselves but only so long as we never actually saw the cause behind what made them dreadfully different. As long as by the end of the film, we got the reminder that all that waited was death for the vampiric villains.

Let’s not even talk about supposed representation for those of us who were also neurodivergent or disabled.

Still, I guess horror was the only place I could see anything in the mirror that wasn’t someone else entirely. There’s a comfort to that, I guess?

Not that horror wasn’t fun too! I was way too enamored with the aesthetics of the spooky and the forbidden fun the genre offered to even realize why I love the genre so much on a whole other level till I was an adult. Horror for kids in the 90s was a booming industry, with Goosebumps books at every Scholastic Book Fair and Disney Channel offering a new spooky original movie every October. I wasn’t the only kid hooked by the genre well into adulthood, even without all of us crossing those same intersections of identity on the way.

Still, the way I’ve approached my love of horror over the years is from a perspective of multiple identities for myself (queer, neurodivergent, disabled) and from an empathy and attempts to understand others through that same lens. It’s my intention through this blog to analyze horror media, particularly film and literature, through a lens of identity.

I go by Res. The name Novel Divergence combines my neurodivergence and love of literature–and also my love of puns and play on words. I have degrees in graphic design and art history (B.F.A.x2), English Literature (M.A.), and Education (M.Ed.), from a couple different universities in my state. My capstone in design was on queering propaganda posters, my art history final journal article was (disabled) queer themes permeating the works of Warhol, my M.A. final work was on the queer themes of Victorian era Gothic Horror, and my M.Ed. proposal was on disability representation in children’s literature. After a stint of doing other jobs and taking time for my health, I taught various grade levels for about five years. Eventually had to quit due to an injury caused by a student, that I might address in a later post.

Pronouns for the purposes of the blog are they/them, though I answer to any of them really. I work in hospitality in a large tourist city, in a decently bougie hotel. Been with my partner for over a decade now. No kids, no intention of kids. Cats though! Got a lot of them lil bastards!

The baby assortment.

As for neurodivergence and disability, I’m on the double axis of ADHD/autism, C-PTSD, persistent depressive disorder (previously called dysthymia), and general anxiety disorder. With a light peppering of psychotic episodes–you know, for funsies. Physically, I have a systemic genetic disorder of the connective tissues, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, hEDS type. This is comorbid to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Mass Cell Activation Disorder (MCAD), and even Tempero-Mandibular Disorder (TMD) to name just a few. I’m a mobility impaired medical atrocity! Fun fun.

I use the general blanket term queer as a descriptor. While I’m definitely nonbinary, I interact on different areas of the gender spectrum in different aspects of life, some out of freedom and some for the sake of personal safety. I’m definitely on the multi-attraction spectrum, and while I self-identify as bi, pan is also a decent descriptor tbh. I also use the term queer, though I know some don’t care for it–I didn’t for a bit either. When and where I grew up, it was very much a hurtful term. Still is for some people in some places, and I respect that. I won’t use it for another person if they express discomfort with it, but I prefer it to self-identify and use in an academic context as it has come to be ubiquitous in academia.

There’s definitely more about me that’s interesting, I suppose, but those are more for later entries. 

That Diaz quote from above had a bit more to it, fyi.

“And part of what inspired me was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

I eventually realized that the mirror handed to me that showed what I looked like so clearly on the outside was a funhouse mirror of its own: a trick mirror made by society to keep people in the roles deemed most appropriate by the powers that be. The scary mirrors, the one painted with monsters and madmen, are sometimes the more “real” even if they aren’t representative of everyone.

I’m not here to excuse the way horror has reinforced cultural prejudices, to be clear. But for those of us who felt more comfortable in the strange, who felt more empathy or recognition for the “monsters”…

Even if the mirror didn’t show your reflection, I still see you. I hope I can help see yourself better, through this project, even if just a little.