Tag Archives: Feminism

I Am A Gamer, and I Oppose #Gamergate Because It Is Wrong

I won’t add many of my own words to this. I’ve not been very active about it. I tweet articles sometimes or retweet others’ thoughts. Basically, it has come down to this: For those aware of what’s been happening in gaming lately, supporting #Gamergate and not opposing it are both immoral acts. That is not to say they are equally immoral. It’s one thing to say ISIS has some good points and another to actually behead people, but they are both wrong. If you believe comparing #Gamergate to ISIS is hyperbole, you might be right but just barely because at this point #Gamergate is a terrorist organization. True, they haven’t actually murdered anyone yet, but the tactics of threatening and fearmongering are remarkably similar for a group of people claiming to be concerned with “ethics.” Anyway, I won’t say more about them myself. Below are links to articles more comprehensive and eloquent than anything I have to say. The purpose of this post is for me personally to take a stand. I want anyone who reads this, anyone who knows me to know, I am a gamer, and I oppose #Gamergate because it is wrong.

 

Links:

If you only read one of these, make sure it’s Felicia Day’s. She shows so clearly exactly the problem with the #Gamergate movement while expressing her usual, positive call to action attitude where so many others, myself included, can only speak negatively regarding this.

The Only Thing I Have To Say About Gamer Gate by Felicia Day

Why #Gamergaters Piss Me The F*** Off by Chris Kluwe

Report from the Salt Lake Tribune regarding Anita Sarkeesian cancelling her speaking engagement at Utah State University after receiving a mass-shooting threat.

From The Guardian: Gamergate is loud, dangerous and a last grasp at cultural dominance by angry white men

How To Boycott John Scalzi For Speaking Against #Gamergate

Rape and death threats are terrorizing female gamers. Why haven’t men in tech spoken out? by Brianna Wu

And finally, a report from ThinkProgress, which I admit isn’t the best source for objective news, but they’ve done a good job with the facts about the backlash against Felicia Day. Actress Felicia Day Opens Up About GamerGate Fears, Has Her Private Details Exposed Minutes Later

Proactive Anti-Sexism

Sexism is nothing new in the world. We’ve been trying to fight it in our culture for a few decades now, but still it persists. In fact, it seems like it thrives in places, and unfortunately a lot of those places are where I like to spend my time. I’m talking about the world of gaming, literature, speculative fiction, and just nerdery in general. These of course aren’t all the places we still find sexism, nor even the worst of them, but it’s still a problem that needs addressing. I like to think of myself as a feminist/humanist/egalitarian whatever you want to call it, and I think in my life I’m fairly good at not being a total dick towards women. And you know, that’s great. Good job me for not being terrible.

While that’s a great starting point for feminism, it’s not really a great landing point. I was reading this article yesterday from Polygon, which is basically just a showcase of the horrible treatment women in gaming receive. That article links to this one from Leigh Alexander, which is not necessarily better but was more useful for me personally. I don’t contribute actively to the sexism in industries I love. I find it appalling, disgraceful, horrific, and completely disgusting. But I don’t really do anything to actively combat it either. I do try to share articles like these two. I try to be a good example of not being an asshole. I do my best to educate people about bigotry when given the opportunity. But I don’t really do anything. Part of that is just that there’s not much to be done, or rather there’s not a lot that I can do personally. However, reading these articles, I decided I can be more proactively anti-sexist.

One of the ways I am still allowing our inherent cultural sexism to influence my life is in my choice of authors. Most of my favorite authors ever since I was a child have been male. That’s not surprising seeing as industry (not just publishing, but most if not all western industries) has favored male products over female. Most of the books on the shelf were written by men. But not all. And that’s the point. I didn’t have to have mostly males as favorite authors. I just bought in to our society’s sexism. I don’t have to do that anymore though. So, from now on, for every book I read by a male author, I’m going to buy one by a female author too. If I buy a male authored book, I’m also going to buy a female authored book. If I check a book written by a man out from the library, I’m also getting one written by a woman. This in no way will fix all the sexism in the world. It won’t even fix all the sexism in my life. This is a small step on the way to making myself less sexist. It’s the beginning of what I hope will grow into a lifestyle not just absent from active sexism, but proactively anti-sexist.

The Futility of Misogyny

There’s been a lot news and opinions flying around about the dreadful murders which occurred in Santa Barbara last week. I’ve neglected to post anything about it on here because honestly, I felt like enough was being said already. I did decide to add my comments to another post, and while doing so I discovered one sentiment which I feel strongly enough about to share. That comment follows. The original post on which this comments is here:

The Santa Barbara Shooter Spews MRA Mind Poison Before Going On His Shooting Spree

Transcript of the shooter’s video, and the quote I take below, can be found here:

Video allegedly from mass killer in Santa Barbara: “If I can’t have you, girls, I’ll destroy you.” [TRIGGER WARNING]

Comment below:

One thing I wanted to say earlier, but felt didn’t quite fit, is how to me the saddest part of Roger’s pathetic rant was the statement, “All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would’ve all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes.” This thing is entirely in the subjunctive “what if” case. This rampage was, at least in large part, motivated by entirely perceived possible future slights. I don’t know if there’s any combination of words that can accurately convey how utterly pathetic and useless this is. He didn’t even ask these girls out and give them the chance to reject him. It’s like a bad plot twist at the end of a horror film. “And then he woke up and realized the girls’ rejections were all in his head.” It’s like a bad Game of Thrones dating show where the host has to grab the idiot and tell him, “Maybe if you just asked her out you could have a nice relationship without any rape or murder.” Obviously there are far worse things we can and should focus on, like the actual murders, but this part of it just pisses me off so much for the sheer imbecility and uselessness of it all.

NEA Read Across America Day

I just found out today is the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. In honor of this, I’m going to share one of my favorite children’s books with you. I love it so much, I found an old copy on Amazon and bought it. (I even bought it before today. That’s how awesome it is.) Luckily, I have a picture I can show you, which I’m 85% sure doesn’t violate any copyright laws.

Did you doubt my word?

How many friends do you have?

The King With Six Friends

The book is called The King With Six Friends, in case you couldn’t tell from the picture. It is the delightful tale of King Zar, who lost his kingdom. Sadly, as a king he is unfit to do anything but rule, so he goes off in search of a new kingdom. Along the way he comes across six unusual shapeshifting specters. (Really they’re people, but come on, the one guy can turn himself into a fire.) He saves each of these “people” from some terrible conundrum, like shoeing a mouse away from the elephant wizard. In gratitude for his bravery and ingenuity, each man offers to follow him.

After searching around with his buddies, Zar finds a few nice kingdoms (they’re kind of just laying around), but they all have kings. Eventually, he stumbles into the kingdom ruled by Invictus, a friend of his father’s, where he learns the king is having trouble marrying off his daughter. His first reaction, “Is she so ugly?” (Nice, Zar. We can tell you’re quite the catch.) He finds out she is actually very beautiful (score!), but her father is very proud and will only marry her to a king. The only problem is, every other king around is already married (polygamy anyone?). “Huzzah!” Zar cries (not really, but he should have), he is in luck. If there’s one thing he’s good for besides being a king, as he tells Invictus, it’s marrying hot princesses. Oh, but Invictus isn’t satisfied yet. You see, his daughter is very rich, and Zar doesn’t have jack squat! Not to be deterred when his eye’s on the prize Zar just says, “When I marry her, I will be rich, too.” He does have impeccable logic. So, the king agrees to let Zar marry his daughter if he can pass a few tests. Zar is no fool though, he demands to see his reward, I mean the princess before agreeing to any trials. After satisfying himself with her beauty (I assume he checked her teeth or something), Zar agrees to the trials, but only if his friends are allowed to help him. Invictus agrees, with the stipulation that if they fail, they will all lose their heads.

Zar and friends must pass six trials (hmmm, nothing convenient about that number.) As luck would have it, each of the trials seem uniquely formulated to be beaten through the use of a very specific kind of witchcraft which one of Zar’s companions just happens to be an expert in. After using his friends to win him the princess’ hand in marriage, there is a wedding and a great feast. At the feast the king’s steward asks one of Zar’s companions, “Each of you six had something he could do best. It seems to me that it was you who passed the tests, not Zar. What did he do?” The companion replies, with a twinkle in his eye, “Merry Christmas to all! Now you’re all gonna die!” Err. Sorry. I’ve had a Weird Al song stuck in my head for a couple days. He actually says, “He did what only a good king can do. He led us.”

The End.

What Can We Learn From This?

Well, as you may have guessed, the book is kind of misogynistic, a fact I completely missed as a child. There are only two female characters, one of whom is a barmaid and the other of whom is the princess who says nothing, just stands there and looks pretty. The princess is valued only because of her beauty and wealth. King Invictus and Zar bargain for her as they would a prize cow, and indeed she is treated much the same. I’m willing to give these things more of a pass because the book was written in the ’60s by a man who was already a grandfather. That doesn’t make it right in any way, but what it does mean for me is that the book probably isn’t intentionally misogynistic. That counts for something, I think.

Now, at the beginning of the post I referred to this book as one of my favorites, and it definitely is, despite all the problems with it. One thing I love about this book are the pictures, which are detailed but still childish in the best way possible. The story, despite being fairly archetypal, is creative and imaginative, and the illustrations bring that out beautifully. Another great thing is it has actual paragraphs, as opposed to many great children’s books which have one or one half of a sentence per page. While still an easy read for an adult, this provides a great (as in good, not huge) challenge for children who may not be used to lengthier texts.

See?

See?

Lastly, dealing with the content, the book is not about misogyny, which is why I can give it a little bit of a pass. It is really about leadership and the value of good friends. It brings these lessons across very well, and to that I say ‘Bravo!’ I think the book is valuable enough for these qualities to still be read to children. If I ever have children, I will read this book to them. Then, I’ll talk with them about the lessons they should get from this book and the lessons they shouldn’t get. Who knows, maybe I’ll make up a few extra bits to add in about how the princess set the trials herself because she knows her value, and how she had a long talk with Zar about why beauty isn’t the best measure of a potential spouse. Maybe he’ll just win the chance to date her, and after a long courtship they’ll break it off because they’re just not really compatible as a couple. Maybe if I have daughters, Zar will be a queen and she’ll marry the rich, dullard, handsome prince and she’ll rule the land. In the end though, The King With Six Friends really is a wonderful story for children. Just take it with a grain of salt.

Facebook Politics Will Save Us All

Negotiating a peaceful journey through the online morass of social network politics is never an easy feat. No solutions readily present themselves. One person or another, and usually both, is always going to disagree with you. Even a non-participation policy will only get one so far as articles, memes, videos and everything else that can be used to push an agenda show up on a Facebook news feed, or Twitter feed, or Pinterest board, or Reddit, or email service homepage. Simply put, it is impossible to be on the internet and not be awash in political propaganda of one kind or another. Unfortunately, politics is one of those subjects where no matter what your opinion on the matter, someone close to you always thinks you’re an idiot for thinking that way.

I had an eye opening experience the other day. I posted this video on my wife’s Facebook wall:

When I watch this video, I see a triumph of feminist ideals. I see a plea for gender equality and a structure for a better society. These are views which most people I know would describe as “liberal”. However, the very first person to comment on this video was my staunchly conservative father who said, “This is excellent.”

“Wow. Cool story Hansel,” as my friend Lauren would say in her totally underwhelmed, yet sincere manner. You may have just been wowed by that video, but I don’t expect anybody to be wowed by the story of a conservative relation liking the same thing I do. Here’s the point though: That is a HUGE deal! Not that my father and I like the same thing. We like lots of the same things. But think about this for a moment. I posted something I thought could be held up as a bastion of liberal values (the good ones, like equality and democracy; not the crazy ones like homeopathics, and anti-consumerism). Then, it gets lauded by a very conservative man as “excellent.” I can only speculate why my father liked it so much—I assume it mainly has to do with the message against the sexualization of women, with which I wholeheartedly agree—but the point is we both liked it and thought it a valuable message. How many times a year do you think the Republican and Democrat congressmen and women sit down and say to each other, ‘Isn’t it cool how we all think this one message is completely politically accurate?’ I imagine that number would be somewhere around the zero range, possibly even in the negative.

These issues exist though! There are messages out there about which the majority of people can agree! Facebook doesn’t have to deteriorate into a storm of political sludge thrown about by people who love and care about each other! This is monumental, and if you don’t agree then Forget You!

What do you guys think? Are there other issues we can come together on across political lines? Have you had similar experiences? How can we all have these experiences more often?

How to Be A Decent Human Being: Reply to How to Meet Shy Girls

I recently received a tweet saying, “So this is a truly disgusting article. And it’s begging for a parody.” It linked to an article entitled “How to Meet Shy Girls” written by a misogynistic, racist, pathetic pile of a human being. Sometimes the stupidity of a fellow human angers me. Sometimes I want to grab that fellow human by the back of the head and repeatedly smash their forehead into a desk made entirely of common decency. Sometimes I just want bad things to happen to them. (It’s not very charitable I know, and I feel bad for wanting that, but sometimes I really do want it.) Reading this article just made me depressed. I want to show these people how wrong they are, but it feels so pointless. I do feel that some response is justified, so that’s what you’re getting here.

Let me explain this article to you as best I can. The gist of it is as a man you don’t want a woman who will be anything but entirely beneath you in every way. I’ll give you a small glimpse at the filth spewed by the sad excuse for a human being who wrote this. It ends with this thought, “When you finally do get in you’ll have the pleasure of saying, into her ear, ‘you’re my property now’.” If you feel anything less than revulsion and disgust at that, I don’t think I want to be your friend. There are people who are worth being friends with, even though they have faults, and there are people who provide no value to your life at all. I don’t know the man who wrote this article, but I feel that he is one of the latter.

Like this guy, only not good at expectorating.

Like this guy, only not good at expectorating.

This man describes the woman he wants like this, “If you are to have a girlfriend you should have one who helps you out and brightens your day, not one who is argumentative, bitchy, whorish or ‘feminized’.” This is a valuable point. A relationship, especially such an intimate one, should by all means brighten your day and help you out. And a partner who is argumentative, bitchy, or whorish is not a partner you want. I take issue with the idea that a ‘feminized’ woman must be any of these things. I won’t go into it except to say I take issue with that notion because it is simply not true. A much greater defect with this statement is its utterly juvenile one-sidedness. Call me crazy, but I truly believe if you want your partner to help you out you should also help her/him out. If you want a partner who brightens your day, it might not be too much to ask for you to brighten his/her day as well. If you don’t want your partner to be argumentative then I’d suggest not picking fights. This is one of the great issues with this whole piece. As previously shown, this is advice only to men about what type of woman to pick out at market. It says nothing about how if a man wants to find a good woman, he should make himself worthy of her affections as well. Overall, this is simply a selfish, childish view of the world and one person’s place in it.

Now, I understand some of the feelings which compelled the author to compile this garbage, but that doesn’t make it right. I understand the lust which drives date rapists to do what they do. That doesn’t make it right either. Everyone has the same basic feelings. We like to feel powerful, in control, loved, appreciated, useful. These are noble virtues which we should all strive toward. However, there are good ways to go about that, and there are bad ways. The author of the article suggests men should hunt women as prey (his words) and claim one as a possession. Let me be clear: THIS IS THE WRONG WAY TO FEEL GOOD! If you want to feel powerful do not, I repeat, DO NOT subjugate another human being to your will. This is shallow power, and it makes you a dick. (Although, to be fair, you were probably a dick before you actually subjugated anyone.) If you want to feel powerful, don’t find someone you can protect as your property. Be able to protect someone who might need it even though you have no claim on them at all. If you want to feel useful, don’t find someone who can’t function on their own. Make yourself available for use when it is needed or wanted. If you want to feel appreciated, be a decent human being and others will appreciate you for it. Lastly, if you want a good woman you can share your life with, don’t hunt her down, capture her, and subjugate her to your will. Be a good man who a good woman would be lucky to be with, and when you meet one develop a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration.

I don’t want to argue with the man, who is so clearly wrong, because I feel he is worthless. Let me say that again for emphasis; I feel like the author of this article is completely worthless as a human being. I don’t want to feel that way. I would like to love this person, and give him a hug and tell him there are good girls out there who are strong and independent and that’s okay. I would like to tell him he can find a good woman who can help him be a better person, and more importantly, who he could help be a better person too. I want to feel that way, but I don’t. I feel like he is not worth the effort it would take to help him be better, and that’s a really bad way to feel. I don’t want to completely write someone off. I generally want to help people see things my way (read: the best way), or at least help them grow by letting them show me how I might be wrong. After reading only a few paragraphs of this article, I tweeted back at my friend, “This guy’s not worth our time and effort.” It’s why I don’t feel angry at this article, just sad.

Here’s a link to the article. I don’t recommend clicking this link, but at least now you should be prepared for what you’ll find if you choose to do it anyway.

http://boldanddetermined.com/2012/11/29/how-to-meet-shy-girls/