Growing up in the mid-2000s, I was very much shaped by internet culture. I used to browse and participate in “roleplaying” forums– communities made of usually young, ostracized girls/queer kids who would make up incredibly contrived characters and wedge themselves into some established franchises and “roleplay” out a story with their own characters. Their characters tended to be extremely powerful, beautiful, all-knowing … total alien/foreign godlike beings of strength that inserted themselves into a world that wasn’t their own. This raw, naive ethos (something people look back to and consider “cringe”) is something I hope to channel through my work. People would chide these characters for being too perfect or unrealistic, but rarely would they see them for what they were, a coping mechanism– tools that let these girls roleplay power, desire, beauty, or courage. Concepts become more and more fleeting or confusing as they grow up under the shadow of misogyny. In my case, I only came to revisit this idea after the pandemic and my assault on campus– I felt so isolated and delusional, I felt like I almost chose to embrace it; like I was this warrior-woman who was fighting for an imaginary being of “justice” despite knowing, deep down, that justice was not always attainable, and that sometimes survival was all you could hope for.
During this time, I learned to describe this “roleplaying” as “proxies of power.” Through their avatars, they can embody a different being, and through that transformation, completely liberate themselves from systemic oppression. Though the method is only imaginary and naive, and perhaps cannot truly alleviate systemic pain, it serves as a way to privately, and individually heal. It is a way to escape into one’s wildest delusions, freely with no bounds.