The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: feminism (Page 2 of 3)

THE GENDER BLENDER: When Feminism Meets Cultural Insensitivity?

women

My friend Cathy recently made me aware of this new blog called Gender Eyes, where a blogger by the name of Jennifer is setting out to “walk in the shoes of women from other parts of the globe.” From her blog:

Ever wonder what it’s like to walk in the shoes of women from other parts of the globe?  Say a woman from Sub-Saharan Africa or even the local homeless woman?   Well, I HAVE!

My name is Jennifer, and I’m a wife and mother foremost, but curiosity, my passion for human rights, and the desire to shed light on women’s issues has led me to chronicle my journey of adopting some of the daily rigors of what it means to be a woman in the world.

Follow me as I apply global women’s struggles to my own life by walking in their shoes for a day, one day and one issue at a time.

When I first saw this, I knew that her intentions were good, she’s clearly passionate about women’s rights, and she’s done a lot of study on the subject, but there was something about the endeavor that bothered me, and I couldn’t put my finger on what. I think what finally helped me do that was this:

All to gain a humble perspective on what it’s like to be a woman in other parts of the world.

I will explore my own prejudices, presumptions, and privilege as I chronicle my adventure. However, I recognize I will be doing so through the lens of a middle-class, white, American woman. As a result, I’ll also interview other women along the way who personally bear these burdens on a daily basis. My hope is that through this project, I can shed light on the struggles so many women and girls face in the world solely because of their gender, while offering solutions or ways to help, when possible.

It kind of bothers me that she’s framing sexism as something that she doesn’t have to deal with as a middle-class, white, American woman. She faces it every day. Getting paid less than her male counterparts for the same job, needing to worry about choosing between working or raising her daughter, sexist comments or assumptions about her based on what she does or doesn’t wear, or how she does or doesn’t live her life, etc. Given her Women’s Studies background, she should already be well aware of the effects of sexism in her own life, despite being married to a feminist husband. Yes, there’s a difference in degree between what middle-class women in the US experience, and what women experience in other countries, but a lot of those differences are deeply rooted in culture and class, things that she wouldn’t truly understand by “wearing a burqa for a day.”

Also, there’s stuff that she’s getting into that’s presented incompletely or inaccurately:

  • She’s going to shave her head as an example of how women in India face a “social death” when they become widows. What she doesn’t say is that men in India also shave their heads and facial hair to express grief. The head-shaving is the part that actually has the least to do with the gender inequality.
  • She’s going to spend time in a menstruation hut for three days to highlight how certain cultures feel about the “uncleanliness” of menstruation. However, many Native American tribes had menstruation huts for their women for exactly the opposite reason. There was no shame in menstruation – on the contrary, it was a way to honor women in their natural state, and for four days out of the month, women in the tribe would commune with each other and engage in a strong oral tradition. This makes me wonder if her knowledge of menstruation huts in Mali and the Congo is based in fact, or based on the assumptions of an outsider looking in and not understanding what they’re seeing.
  • Spending a night in a shelter is not the same thing as experiencing domestic violence or homelessness. Applying to work at Hooters is not the same as being a victim of sex trafficking. And she’s going to “be a subservient wife?” What exactly does that mean? And she’s already chosen to stay home and raise her daughter rather than work. Which is a TOTALLY valid choice, but it’s still generally only a choice the woman in the relationship has to make. No one expects Dad to stay home to raise the child. And if he does choose to do so, he’s hailed as The Most Awesome Person in the Land, while Working Mom feels guilty for being a “bad parent.”
  • Also, has she given any thought to how LGBT people, both here and globally, experience gender? Like, at all?

Her heart’s in the right place – I’m not saying she’s a horrible person – I just think that this particular experiment is a little misguided and feeds into class-ism and ethnocentrism, albeit unintentionally. I’m not the first person to criticize mainstream feminist discourse for for focusing on white women who are middle-class and above while treating women of different cultures and classes as “other.” While she says that she wants to examine her prejudices and privilege, I feel like this whole exercise is an example of her privilege. I feel that, by doing something like this, Jennifer is reinforcing the fact that “those” people have it worse than we do, when the truth is, it’s all the same fight. This seems like a stunt somehow. I’d be happier if she focused on the interview component of what she wants to do. Let these women tell THEIR stories. Give THEM a voice, rather than trying to imitate what they go through. Nothing she does for a limited amount of time is going to give her insight that’s any more real than talking to women who actually LIVE this on a daily basis.

What do you all think? Feel free to comment below. And Jennifer, if you ever read this, please know that I’m not criticizing your cred or your intentions, but I am concerned with your methods, and I would love to hear more about how and why you’re doing this, should you choose to share.

SONG OF THE DAY: "UPRISING" – MUSE (Or, Reporting Injustice Is a Crime)

I was fine this morning. I was feeling good, worked out, made time to journal and center myself. I was getting stuff done. And then I started reading about Bradley Manning. And then I read a great post by Laurie Penny at The New Statesman about what Manning, Edward Snowden, and the Steubenville hacker have in common, and I became hugely disheartened.

Aren’t we living in the United States? Aren’t we supposed to be the Good Guys? Apparently not. Not if shit like this can happen. Not if the price for exposing the truth is being keelhauled by your own government. Because, apparently, exposing your government committing war crimes harms “national security.” Apparently, helping to bring rapists to justice doesn’t excuse computer hacking and could, in fact, allow you to serve more jail time than the rapists you helped to convict. For HACKING.

I’m so angry right now, I could vomit. And the only thing I can think to do, is just help more people be aware. My greatest talent at the moment seems to be delivering information. So there you go. Links to articles you should read. Go read them. Then read others. Then think about what you want to do.

Today’s Song of the Day is “Uprising” by Muse. Because dammit.

** DON’T FORGET THE POUND BY POUND PLEDGE DRIVE –RUNNING APR. 5TH 2013-APR. 5TH 2014 **

Happy 15th Birthday, Sex and the City!

Yesterday was the 15th Anniversary of the premiere of Sex and the City on HBO. What’s funny is that I’ve been meaning to write a Sex and the City-related post for weeks now.

It all started with a conversation I had with a male friend of mine. I said something to the effect of “I understand if you don’t like Sex in the City. Lots of dudes don’t. Which is a shame, because it’s a good show, and I feel like a lot of guys see the shoes and pink and assume it’s got nothing for them.” He was skeptical of my use of the phrase “good show,” and insisted that he didn’t not like it because he was a dude, but that it was just a bad show. He’s watched a lot of it, because the women in his house watched it, and so he felt comfortable speaking about it with knowledge.

Why did he think it was a bad show?

It was “all about” superficial stuff like shoes, clothes, fashion, etc. (No it wasn’t. Clearly, he and I didn’t watch the same show.)

But here’s the kicker.

It was apparently a bad show, because it taught young women bad things. Like what? Things like it being OK to wait until you’re much older to get married and/or have children. Because that doesn’t take into account the very real fact that having children later increases risk for things like autism in their children, breast cancer in the mothers, and other conditions.

I had a problem with this for a couple of reasons:

1) This assumes that all women want to get married and have children. Indeed, that that’s the Correct Choice.

2) This assumes that women having their own children as opposed to adopting/fostering/etc is inherently better, which really bunches my panties.

3) Something I learned well after this argument, but am glad I know now. With relation to autism, while advanced maternal age is a factor, advanced paternal age is more of a factor, because it is more likely that older sperm has more wrong with it. From that Wikipedia link (which links to the sources):

The risk is greater for advanced paternal age. One hypothesis is that this is caused by older sperm that have greater mutation burden, and another is that men who carry more genetic liability have some features of autism and therefore marry and have children later. These two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive.[10] In the largest study of this kind as of 2012, a whole genome sequencing of 78 families in Iceland showed that the number of mutations in children increased with the age of the father. Not only the fathers passed on nearly four times as many new mutations as the mothers, the number of new mutations being passed on rose exponentially with paternal age. Increased mutations will increase the risk of the children developing autism, schizophrenia and other diseases often linked to destructive mutations.

Yet, no one makes “tick-tock, tick-tock” noises at men. History is rife with examples of men divorcing, or even killing, wives who “couldn’t give them a child” or “couldn’t give them a boy” or any number of things that were likely not her fault (or not only her fault), no matter how old she was. Dude Tip #1: Sperm determines gender. No woman can “give you” a boy, a girl, or anything else. That’s on you. You want a boy? Make your sperm deliver up Y chromosomes. Can’t control that? Yeah, thought so. Dude Tip #2: Just because your body keeps making sperm, doesn’t mean it’s any good. At least female bodies are well-designed enough to stop shooting out eggs after a certain point. Why continue putting out something that’s increasingly useless? Yet the continued production of increasingly weak-ass sperm is something that adds to many men’s sense of entitlement to get married whenever they damn well feel like it, have younger wives, cheat, and engage in general chest-puffery. Stop it. It’s not cute.

Also, yay science!

But back to Sex and the City.

The other thing that put the show on my mind lately was that last week, the Style Channel was running a marathon of the first Sex and the City movie (which was better than I thought it would be, and WAY better than Sex and the City 2). I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the screen, and I ended up leaving the marathon running all day as I did other stuff around the house. The more I watched the movie, the more I realized what I loved about the show, and why I will defend the show to the death.

It didn’t teach young women a Right Way To Live, it taught them that there wasn’t one.

Despite what my male friend seemed to think, it wasn’t about prescribing a “right way” for women to live. Sex and the City was all about these four women in their 30s and 40s exploring different options. And they were all presented as OK, depending on what the characters wanted and needed.

  • Charlotte always leaned more toward the traditional side of things, desiring love, marriage, and children above all else. After waiting for The Perfect Guy, she married someone she thought was The One, but rapidly realized he wasn’t. After Trey, she married Harry – a guy who couldn’t be further from who she imagined as The Perfect Guy. But, once she realized that there was no such thing as The Perfect Guy, she realized that Harry was perfect for her. In the child-having department, they had trouble conceiving, so they adopted a daughter. After a couple of years, they ended up getting pregnant anyway. A “fairy tale” ending? Maybe. But it’s not impossible. My mom had me in her early 40s after 15 years of nothin’. Shit happens. 🙂 The point is: there’s no such thing as a perfect path. Even if you choose a traditional one, you’ll face your own bumps in the road. There’s no such thing as the Right Way or a Perfect Outcome.
  • Miranda was the Career Woman (and saying that is weird, considering that all the ladies on SATC had careers that were important to them). She was a cynical lawyer who didn’t have time for silly things like relationships. Then, she met this bartender named Steve who, again, didn’t measure up to The Perfect Guy she had in her head. But after a long on-again, off-again relationship, she ends up with Steve. They get pregnant before they get married, but it all works out in the end, right? Well, not necessarily. Once married, Miranda thinks she’s done nurturing the relationship, and goes back to her career-focused thinking, which is compounded by being a mother. After a sexual dry spell, Steve cheats on Miranda by having a one-night stand. His actions were wrong, but it’s also evident that Miranda’s own disregard for their relationship was also wrong, showing that relationships take cultivation and care and that the work doesn’t stop once you go down the aisle.

Incidentally, in Sex and the City 2, both Charlotte and Miranda deal with the pressures of being the “Perfect Mother” and how insane an expectation that even is. It’s heartbreaking to watch them both struggle with “not being good enough.” And it was important that the movie, while flawed, dealt with that aspect of modern womanhood. The fact that women stretch themselves thin in a ridiculous attempt at perfection.

  • Samantha was the one who Loved Sex. She was a high-powered publicist, but unlike Miranda she made time for the pleasures of the flesh. Despite my friend’s view of this particular character, Samantha didn’t get off entirely scott free. She got STDs, as is increasingly likely the more careless sex you have. (and of all the characters, her sex was definitely the most careless as far as stuff like condoms go) However, despite the consequences she sometimes faced, it was never presented as a punishment for her “bad life choices.” It was never like “See! This is what happens when you’re a ho-bag!” It was more like, “If you’re gonna have lots of sex, just be careful about it, because this shit CAN happen to you, no matter how fun and vivacious you are.” Despite her love of sexual variety, she did have a couple of serious, long-term relationships – the most serious with an actor named Smith, with whom she moves to Los Angeles to be his publicist and manager. They date for five years, he sees her through breast cancer, and she loves him deeply. But through it all, she feels uncomfortable with their life together. She realizes that relationships are not for her. As she says in the Sex and the City movie, “I’m gonna say the one thing you aren’t supposed to say. I love you…but I love me more. I’ve been in a relationship with myself for 49 years and that’s the one I need to work on.” This wasn’t a matter of her being “afraid of commitment” and not settling down. This was a matter of her settling down…and deciding she didn’t want it for her life. I thought that break-up scene was one of the most powerful parts of that movie. That it was being presented as OK for a woman to design her own life, and have it be her own.
  • And then there’s Carrie – the star of the show. The one who wrote the column that gave us all these stories. She was the most Everywoman of the four. She dated, had sex, had long-term relationships and one-night stands…she was a bit of all of her friends – the way most of us are. But through it all, there was this one guy she couldn’t get away from. Mr. Big. Or as we finally got to know him, John James Preston. 🙂 Their long, tumultuous, on-again, off-again courtship was sort of a metaphor for what the theme of the show seemed to be.

There’s no such thing as perfect, only perfect for you.

As we follow Carrie and Big into the films, we see that traditional marriage (or rather, what society trumpets as important – the Wedding) is a sticking point. In a heartbreaking turn, Big leaves Carrie at the altar because, being thrice-divorced, he can’t bring himself to do the big pageant of a wedding with her. After being away from him for a while, Carrie decides she still wants to marry him, and realizes that she shouldn’t have put The Wedding ahead of the person she was marrying. They get married at City Hall. In Sex and the City 2, everyone immediately starts asking them when they’re going to have kids, and the movie presents the fact that it’s OK to be “just” a couple. Kids don’t have to be a part of the picture at all. A couple IS a family, and they’re not necessarily lacking because they aren’t parents. Especially if neither one wants children!

Sex and the City showed us women staying single, getting married, getting divorced, being mothers, choosing to not be mothers, having careers, being housewives…and they were all presented as valid choices.

When I was watching the show, I was ten years younger than the protagonists. Now, I’m their age. Yet, even in my twenties, I loved the message the show gave me. That a woman can have a happy, fulfilling life no matter what her marital or parental status, as long as she can choose it. The most important thing to any human being is the ability to design one’s  life however one wants it. Men generally grow up with that notion instilled into them. Even toy commercials tell them that THEY can build! THEY can create! and THEY can discover! Girls, on the other hand, get the message that the most important thing they can do is live their lives for other people, sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

I think it’s high time that all genders get to have the power of choice in their own lives, don’t you? I also think it’s high time that we stop gendering personality traits. Compassion isn’t a female thing. Ambition isn’t a male thing. They are personality traits, and a person of any gender can have both, or neither.

Another great thing about SATC was that most of the men the women dated weren’t threatened by their careers, their pasts, or their relationship with each other. Those men that did have a problem with any of those things? They got kicked to the curb. Love me, love the life I chose for myself. And also – respect my friendships. Which leads me to the other thing I love about the show.

Female Relationships Are Important.

Despite all the sex these four women were having in The City, the most important relationship they had was the one with each other. And all the guys in their lives knew it. In every episode, what got these characters through whatever problems they were facing was each other. They always ended up around a brunch table, or a round of cosmopolitans, and hashed things out.

More importantly, despite them sometimes having drastically different worldviews, they were never catty or competitive with each other. You know, that thing that women are taught they always are around each other? That thing that manifests itself because we learn that Women Always Hate Other Women, so we’re constantly on the defensive and attack other women before they have a chance to attack us? Yeah, the women on SATC didn’t act like that with each other.

This isn’t to say that they didn’t act like that with other women. After all, this wasn’t a fantasy show, and as I state above, that cattiness is a learned behavior that actually exists, mostly because we’re taught it does, and we’re taught to defend against it. To see other women as competition, usually over men. But at the end of the day, the show was about women finding strength in each other, and the importance of female friendships.

It’s interesting, then, that many of my female friends “don’t have a lot of girl friends.” So many of them grew up being friends with mostly guys, because the girls were too catty and/or they didn’t have anything in common with them. This is strange to me, because all of my close friends growing up were girls, and it wasn’t until college and shortly thereafter that I was even comfortable having guy friends. I always saw them as Those Attractive People I Like That Never Like Me Back, and so generally stayed away from them. 🙂 So this whole Being Friends With Guys business, while it has many of its own rewards (and I have several close guy friends now that I deeply cherish), wasn’t part of my early repertoire. So the message of SATC rang very true for me. I saw in those four women me and any number of my friends. And I hoped that we – like Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte – would withstand the test of time.

By the way, here's me and some of my besties - circa 2009

By the way, here’s me and some of my besties – circa 2009

So, Happy 15th Anniversary, Sex and the City! Thank you for reaffirming that my life choices are my own, that my female friendships are important, and that I never need worry about looking ridiculous, because if Carrie can leave her house in half the stupid shit she wore, I can leave mine wearing whatever I want! 🙂

** DON’T FORGET THE POUND BY POUND PLEDGE DRIVE –RUNNING APR. 5TH 2013-APR. 5TH 2014 **

The Last Acceptable Prejudice

Sasha Trabane in her badass TARDIS dress at Arisia this year! Photo by jere7my (Flicker).

Sasha Trabane in her badass TARDIS dress at Arisia this year! Photo by jere7my (Flicker).

First of all, can we just talk about how AMAZING this TARDIS dress is?! This photo has been making the rounds on BoingBoing, Facebook, and Tumblr, and with good reason. This dress is awesome, and its model/creator, Sasha Trabane, should be SO PROUD. I wish I could make things…

Sadly, it appears no woman can cosplay without some sort of backlash. I saw this composite on my friend Andrea’s FB feed. She got it from Tumblr:

Bullshit indeed!

Bullshit indeed!

Apparently, a woman cosplaying at ALL, no matter what she looks like, is risking some kind of backlash. If she’s thin (and thus, “hot”), she’s criticized for being “fake.” If she’s overweight, she’s criticized for not being “hot” enough. It seems that women in the geek community just can’t win.

This started as a feminist post, and I could go on and on about the double-standards that women face when it comes to appearance.  I could also talk about how hypocritical it is for geeks to tear down other geeks when all we do is complain about how we were torn down in our youths by bullies. But there’s something else I want to talk about.

It’s generally deemed unacceptable to be racist, sexist, or homophobic. Sure, there are plenty of racists, sexists, and homophobes out there, but these days they are more likely to espouse their hateful views in hushed tones, knowing that there might be social repercussions from Society at Large. Religious intolerance runs rampant, from the way Americans see “those people” in the Middle East to the way we fight amongst each other, whether it’s Christians Vs. Other Religions or Believers Vs. Atheists. But again, people that espouse those views know that they’ll have to deal with a powerful backlash. Yet for some reason, it’s totally OK to make fun of fat people. It’s the last acceptable prejudice.

In fact, just yesterday this 82 year old “bioethicist” (is that an actual job?) came out and said that fat-shaming should be used to combat obesity. Like, as a serious medical solution. What’s disturbing is that so many people in the comments at the post I link to agree with him.

Because fat people are fat because they’re lazy. If they would just stop eating so much and exercise more they wouldn’t have this problem. Never mind that overeating can have to do with any number of things, from thyroid conditions, to emotional/psychological issues, to the powerful food industry/lobby providing unhealthy food cheap while driving up prices on food that’s actually good for us. (I’ll never forget the day I saw the list of WIC-accepted food at a supermarket I went to – a person on food stamps can easily purchase potato chips, but not vegetables) According to the World Health Organization:

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:

  • an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and
  • a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.

Changes in dietary and physical activity patterns are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education.

and

Individual responsibility can only have its full effect where people have access to a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, at the societal level it is important to:

  • support individuals in following the recommendations above, through sustained political commitment and the collaboration of many public and private stakeholders;
  • make regular physical activity and healthier dietary patterns affordable and easily accessible too all – especially the poorest individuals.

The food industry can play a significant role in promoting healthy diets by:

  • reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods;
  • ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers;
  • practicing responsible marketing;
  • ensuring the availability of healthy food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace.
McDonald's in South Africa. Photo credit unknown.

McDonald’s in South Africa. Photo credit unknown.

Hear that, everyone? It’s not about this person or that person being “lazy” or having “no will-power” or “self-control.” It’s about high-income and middle-income countries  “improving” our lives so much that we can be sedentary, because we have the technology that allows us all to sit on our asses all day. It’s about those same nations foisting their “energy-dense foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients” on other countries in the name of global commerce.

You folks have seen Wall-E, right?

And then there are the people who are going through emotional hardships or suffering from depression who, rather than turning to alcohol or drugs for comfort and escape, turn to food. Yet people who abuse food get treated with less sympathy than do those who abuse drugs. Even in the world of eating disorders, people who starve themselves get treated with more seriousness than those who overeat. Why? Why is it easier to see anorexia as an eating disorder, whereas most people see overeating as a matter of personal responsibility? Why is it so easy to take an anorexic seriously, but laugh at the expense of someone who is overweight? Is it because, at least in the case of someone who is anorexic, they are “closer” to a societal ideal than is a fat person? What kind of messed up thinking is that?

I am technically obese. There has never been a point in my life where I haven’t been overweight. I’ve spent the better part of the past year dealing with my issues with food. I know that I’ve overeaten for many reasons, often right after someone would tell me I eat too much. As a big Fuck You. As an exertion of control. You can’t tell me what I can’t or can’t eat! I’ll do what I want! I’m not going to get into it here (at least not now), but if you know anything about me and the things I’ve accomplished in the course of my life, you’ll know that “laziness” has nothing to do with it. I still have a long way to go, but I’m working on it – being more conscious of not just what I eat, but why. Exercising more. Trying to live a life that’s healthier not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, and valuing myself enough to actually deal with the problems and emotions I used to ignore by eating a pint of ice cream a day. Yeah – I used to do that. I don’t anymore.

The point of this rambly post? 🙂 The next time you feel yourself about to comment on someone’s size, ask yourself why. Why is it that the very sight of someone who is overweight brings out your worst self? What is it about that person that prompts your need to comment? What is there to be gained? Why is it so important to you to vocalize your feelings about someone’s size, a propos of nothing, just because that person has the audacity to exist?

They say that the best way to get what we want is to help others get what they want. Realize that we all have a part to play in each other’s health and well-being, and that we are all best served not by berating each other, but by ensuring that each of us has access to a healthier, happier life.

Why, Tony Harris?

I really liked Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina, and I was into Mark Millar’s War Heroes (back when they were publishing it, that is. Whatever happened to the other half of that 6-part series?). They both had one artist in common, Tony Harris, and he does great work. While I thought his style was better-suited to something like War Heroes than something like Ex Machina (as I mentioned in this Pink Raygun review), I always had a huge respect for his talent, and loved it when he’d surprise me.

It’s harder for me to respect him today.

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…someone’s up in arms about women who cosplay to “get attention” again. Except this time, it’s an industry professional – one whose work I admired – who’s spewing the vitriol. Tony Harris posted this as his Facebook status message today:

I cant remember if Ive said this before, but Im gonna say it anyway. I dont give a crap.I appreciate a pretty Gal as much as the next Hetero Male. Sometimes I even go in for some racy type stuff ( keeping the comments PG for my Ladies sake) but dammit, dammit, dammit I am so sick and tired of the whole COSPLAY-Chiks. I know a few who are actually pretty cool-and BIG Shocker, love and read Comics.So as in all things, they are the exception to the rule. Heres the statement I wanna make, based on THE RULE: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”. Well not by my estimation, but according to a LOT of average Comic Book Fans who either RARELY speak to, or NEVER speak to girls. Some Virgins, ALL unconfident when it comes to girls, and the ONE thing they all have in common? The are being preyed on by YOU. You have this really awful need for attention, for people to tell you your pretty, or Hot, and the thought of guys pleasuring themselves to the memory of you hanging on them with your glossy open lips, promising them the Moon and the Stars of pleasure, just makes your head vibrate. After many years of watching this shit go down every 3 seconds around or in front of my booth or table at ANY given Con in the country, I put this together. Well not just me. We are LEGION. And here it is, THE REASON WHY ALL THAT, sickens us: BECAUSE YOU DONT KNOW SHIT ABOUT COMICS, BEYOND WHATEVER GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH YOU DID TO GET REF ON THE MOST MAINSTREAM CHARACTER WITH THE MOST REVEALING COSTUME EVER. And also, if ANY of these guys that you hang on tried to talk to you out of that Con? You wouldnt give them the fucking time of day. Shut up you damned liar, no you would not. Lying, Liar Face. Yer not Comics. Your just the thing that all the Comic Book, AND mainstream press flock to at Cons. And the real reason for the Con, and the damned costumes yer parading around in? That would be Comic Book Artists, and Comic Book Writers who make all that shit up.

There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose I should follow Maria von Trapp’s advice and start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start.

“Heres the statement I wanna make, based on THE RULE: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you.” – really? You’re “onto them?” And there wouldn’t be the SLIGHTEST projection happening based on your own insecurities or that of members of your fan base, would there. No, sir. Suddenly you’re mind-readers and you know for a FACT that if a girl is hot (or even “quasi-hot”, whatever the fuck that means) she couldn’t POSSIBLY find you attractive, or like what you like, or think you’re a cool person, or want to be nice to you because she actually WANTS to be, not just because she wants attention. That shit, like, never happens. Because all hot people are shallow.

Shallow is kind of defined by judging people based on appearances without looking deeper (not deep, hence shallow)….aren’t you being just a mite shallow RIGHT NOW, YOU HYPOCRITE?!

“Some Virgins, ALL unconfident when it comes to girls, and the ONE thing they all have in common? The are being preyed on by YOU. You have this really awful need for attention, for people to tell you your pretty, or Hot, and the thought of guys pleasuring themselves to the memory of you hanging on them with your glossy open lips, promising them the Moon and the Stars of pleasure, just makes your head vibrate.” – actually, the one thing those man-boys have in common is that THEY want attention, from girls and women they think are pretty. Because they think they are OWED that. Because they are raised thinking they deserve any girl they want. And if a girl DOESN’T respond to them for whatever reason, she’s being “stuck-up” and “shallow” and, by the way, “she couldn’t possibly be a real geek anyway.” Stinks of sour grapes to me. Mr. Harris, since you’ve decided to be the spokesperson for these boys in men’s clothing, let me give you a message to take back to the tribe. Not a single one of them is OWED female attention. It is something that has to be EARNED, and the way to EARN it is by being a decent human being, and showing women respect. It’s not a big secret. The thing is, it doesn’t always work, because not every woman is going to be attracted to you. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with her. But if you rant about how horrible she is because she doesn’t like you, that DOES mean there might be something wrong with YOU.

“And here it is, THE REASON WHY ALL THAT, sickens us: BECAUSE YOU DONT KNOW SHIT ABOUT COMICS, BEYOND WHATEVER GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH YOU DID TO GET REF ON THE MOST MAINSTREAM CHARACTER WITH THE MOST REVEALING COSTUME EVER. And also, if ANY of these guys that you hang on tried to talk to you out of that Con? You wouldnt give them the fucking time of day.” – you’re right. They might NOT give them the time of day outside the con. And my response is…SO?! (see my comment above about men feeling they are owed female attention) And you’re right, some of them might NOT know anything about comics, and might have simply thought the outfit of a particular character was cool and wanted to show off her hard work (costumes are generally MADE by these women, believe it or not, which takes skill – much like moving a pencil around a page to create art. Cosplayers are artists) in an environment where that character will be appreciated. Again, I say…SO?! So the fuck WHAT?! The only way her actions are hurting you, or any other man-boy, is that she’s not “really” the idealized “hot-and-also-into-comics” girl of your fantasies, and that disappoints you.

You know what? IT IS NOT HER JOB TO MAKE YOU HAPPY! It is not her responsibility to live up to your fucking expectations. I’m sorry if you just woke up and suddenly realized that not every woman is attracted to you, nor is every woman your ideal. GET THE FUCK OVER IT. Women don’t exist FOR you, they exist ALONGSIDE you, and they have their own shit going on. If you want one, approach her like a PERSON. Don’t spew all over the internet about how shallow and horrible they’re being. That reeks of desperation and hypocrisy. And the fact is, men who aren’t into comics would not be given this much of a hard time. If a guy who’s a comics fan attended a con with a dude friend who didn’t read comics, but who went just to “experience” the con, that guy wouldn’t be quizzed and harassed. Costume or not. It would just be ASSUMED he was a fan. And that infuriates me.

And lastly, this one really kills me:

“And the real reason for the Con, and the damned costumes yer parading around in? That would be Comic Book Artists, and Comic Book Writers who make all that shit up.” – you’re right, cons originally WERE just for comic book creators. Before they were fan events, cons were industry events where professionals could connect and make deals. However, they were opened up to fans so that those same artists and writers could SELL THEIR SHIT. So, unless you have a problem taking money from the fans at cons, shut your fucking face about who they’re “really” for. Otherwise, I demand a fucking refund.

Tony Harris, I have a little less respect for you today, and I’m a little less likely to buy your next project. I know that probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but there it is. As you and your man-boys are LEGION, so are women. Actually, we’re the majority of people in the country and on the planet. You’d think that, if nothing else, you’d realize that it’s an unwise business decision to say things that will piss us off. Alas, some people are too busy creating art with their heads up their asses to realize how the world actually works.

Moffat’s Women at GeekGirlCon (Or, My Super-Successful Panel Of Which You Should Be Terribly Jealous)

Me and the standing room only crowd that came out to see my Moffat’s Women panel at GeekGirlCon 2012! What an awesome, attentive, intelligent group! Photo by Miley Yamamoto.

Driving to and from Seattle for GeekGirlCon 2012 was tumultuous to say the least. So tumultuous, in fact, that I don’t even want to re-live it by writing about it. Needless to say, Miley (my friend, panelist, and exec producer for RETCON) and I got from L.A. to Seattle and back in one piece. While in Seattle, Miley and I stayed with my friend LiAnn, who generously let us crash at her place for the weekend. On the way up, we had a nice, brief stay with some of Miley’s friends in San Jose, too. And while in town, we hung out with Miley’s fabulous friend, Pam, and I made a really cool new friend in Michelle. So, despite the hardship, we were constantly surrounded by good people (not to mention those that helped us through our ordeals, including a kind Toll Booth Angel).

Best of all, though, was that the reason for our going to the con in the first place, the panel I was moderating – Moffat’s Women: Companions, Travelers, Gender Roles and TARDISES in Doctor Who – went amazingly well! First, the room was packed, standing-room only even, which stunned me, because we were the first panel of the day. I figured people would either be too tired to make it in the morning, or be too busy getting badges at registration. Neither of those things proved to be true, and I happily walked into a crowded room.

I was also so lucky to have the best panelists. Miley, Natalie Reed, and Alan Kistler are some of the nicest, funniest, and most knowledgeable people I could’ve ever asked to have on this panel. Also wonderful was that they complimented each other so well personality-wise. Alan and Miley (actors both, as well as writers and huge Doctor Who nerds) did an awesome job of keeping the crowd warmed up before the panel, and Natalie chimed in with a quip or a fun anecdote when needed, a nice, reserved balance to their boisterousness. They played off each other both before the panel and during, so that even when they disagreed on certain points, they always treated each other with respect, let each other speak, followed my lead when needed, and were articulate and thoughtful when expressing their opinions.

We discussed their general impressions of the way Moffat writes women and writes about gender (we all have trouble with something he does, though what those things are and the degree to which we are bothered varied from person to person), whether there ever would’ve been a panel called “RTD’s Women” (probably not, as he tended to include female and gay/lesbian characters in a more organic way than Moffat does), and the fact that the strongest female characters Moffat has written have been during RTD’s tenure as showrunner. We discussed our favorite Moffat females (Sally Sparrow, Madame de Pompadour, Molly Hooper – not a Who lady, of course, but Natalie cited her as a Moffat woman done well), our least favorite (Lorna Bucket, Madame Vastra and Jenny), and the ones we couldn’t quite pin down either way (oh Amy and River). We talked about Sexy the TARDIS and that, while she was a lovely character, it was sad that something like the TARDIS had to be gendered at all, and doubted that the character would’ve been received in the same way had the Spirit of the TARDIS inhabited a male body instead. We touched upon our love of Rory and how he showcases the best of masculinity, but we also discussed the fact that the very notion that we see things in a “masculine/feminine” binary at all in a universe that purports to be beyond that is in itself problematic. Natalie expressed something that I think we all feel is important and for which the room agreed the viewing public is ready. It’s time for Doctor Who to put its money where its mouth is. Rather than continuing to tell us what a gender-diverse universe The Doctor inhabits, it needs to really start showing us. Show us characters on a spectrum, characters that don’t sit comfortably in any one box. We. Are. Ready.

All in all, this was my best panel experience yet, and I feel so lucky to have been blessed with such a great group. Even though we didn’t have time for Q&A with the audience, they were completely attentive, and told us afterwards that they got a lot out of our conversation. Afterwards, several attendees with whom I struck up casual conversations throughout the con would say things like “There was this Doctor Who panel in the morning that I wanted to get into, because it sounded really interesting, but I couldn’t get in, because it was full” not realizing it was my panel. 🙂 I saw tweets citing the panel as many people’s favorite on the Saturday of the con. I was thrilled. And proud.

Huge thanks to Jennifer K. Stuller, GeekGirlCon’s illustrious Programming Director, for allowing me to be a part of GGC this year. And, of course, an ENORMOUS thank you to my wonderful panelists: Natalie Reed, Miley Yamamoto, and Alan Kistler. You were great!

And if any of you out there happened to have recorded it, hit me up at Twitter or my FB page, as I’d love to link to it from here! Thanks! And keep your eyes out for my full GeekGirlCon write-up, which should be going up at Tor.com very soon.

My Response To Moviefone

The Guy’s Guide To Raising Kids: What You Need To Know If You Know Nothing**

by Joe Blow

As your girlfriend has probably told you, she’s knocked up, and the kid’s coming any day now. And you, dutiful boyfriend, are gonna Man Up. But you hate kids, and you don’t even, like, have little cousins or anything. (Of course, that’s not a slight against the dudes who actually wanna be dads – ie: those guys you know who wear pastel colors and are a little effeminate and watch movies like Knocked Up without any irony – but for this, let’s just stick with the stock view of dudes, dudes!)

Still, there’s no need to worry. Beyond the fact that having a MiniYou will be Awesome (note the capital A), we’ve created a streamlined Guys Guide to ward off any confusion or middle-of-the-night how-the-hell-do-I-attach-this-diaper whisperings.

Including all sorts of girlfriend-impressing shit (stuff that’ll totally get you back in her pants once she’s not carrying a kid anymore), below is everything you need to know about being a dad:

The Backstory
Seriously, dude? You didn’t use a condom? You couldn’t spring for an abortion? This shit’s on you now.

The Main Players:
You: Hell, yeah you’re the Main Playah, Playah! But you can’t make it like it’s all about you. It’s your job now to pay the bills and shut the hell up. Wifey (I don’t care if you’re married or not. Once she’s your Baby Mama, she’s Wifey) makes all the decisions from here on in.
Wifey: Baby Mama. Practice saying the following in the mirror – “Yes, baby. Whatever you want, baby.” Because from the time that kid is born, you become Number Two, and there aren’t even particles small enough to signify how little of a shit Wifey will give about what Number Two says. “Number Two” is code for shit for a reason. She already thinks you’re shit, so she ain’t gonna give any about you. Except when she wants to give you shit, which will be all the time.
The Baby: MiniYou, but don’t ever say that. If Wifey asks, always say it looks like her even if you know better. Will be seeing Wifey’s titties more than you will from here on in. ‘Nough said.
Wifey’s Parents: Where she got all her crazy ideas from.
Your Parents: Sure they put you through college, but even they’re leaving you high and dry, taking Wifey’s side just cause they want a cute grandkid.

Terms:
Diaper Genie: No, it won’t grant you three wishes. What it will do is force you to have a big-ol’ strand of shit-filled sausage links. Somehow, someone got the idea that having a big plastic  container of shitty diapers was better than throwing them out one at a time. And you’d better pretend you like it too, even though half the time you’ll end up taking the top off and cramming all that nastiness back into the can, because the top part doesn’t work right. I don’t care how smart you are. You will fuck it up at least once.
Baby Bjorn: No, it’s not the hot Swedish nanny you want to hire. Or the one you wish was Wifey. Or that chick in that porn you bookmarked on the laptop Wifey doesn’t know you have. This is the thing you’re going to be carrying MiniYou around in. Sure it’ll make you look like an asshole. But you’ll be an asshole carrying a kid, which means that somewhere, there’s a woman that your potent ass boned and made pregnant, and that’s pretty sweet.
Desitin: At some point, you’ll have to rub this on MiniYou’s ass. Keeps their ass cheeks from getting all chapped and shit from their diapers. Try to convince Wifey to get Anti-Monkey Butt instead. It’s the same stuff, pretty much, but the name is hilarious.
Yo Gabba Gabba: A kid show that you will inevitably have to watch at some point, and will make you want to shoot yourself in the fucking face. But you better learn all the songs, otherwise MiniYou is gonna throw, like, twelve tantrums, and Wifey will throw the thirteenth. But yo, seriously? Biz Markie is on it. I wouldn’t lie to you, Bruh. It’s true.

Bromance:
Yo, I know the only team you play on is the one where you get to impregnate ladies. I mean, that’s how you got here in the first place, right? But if you want a good dad example, who was more badass than fucking Phillip Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes? Answer: nobody.

Lady Crush:
I know you wish that your Baby Mama was as hot as Katherine Heigel in Knocked Up, or fucking Ellen Page in Juno. But she’s not. You just need to get the fuck over it.

What NOT to say:
“Of course I love you, Juno. I mean, Wifey.”
“The baby looks like an old man.”
“I didn’t get to be involved in your ‘pro-choice,’ so I’m not getting involved in changing shitty diapers.”

What to say:
“I wasn’t using my manhood anyway.”
“I don’t have an opinion.”
“Whatever you want.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Dear Moviefone:

THAT is satire.

YOU.

ASSHOLES.

Though, understandably, you might not recognize it as such, being that it’s well-written and factually accurate. And spell-checked.

I will be going to see The Avengers this weekend, because I’m actually already a fan of both Joss Whedon and comics. And people like me are the only “guide” a newcomer to either Whedon’s work or the medium needs.

**For those not in the loop, this is in response to a really stupid post at the Moviefone website about The Avengers that was supposed to be a “satire,” but was actually really offensive to me, not only as a woman, but as a geek and as a fan of the English Language.

A Geeky Poem About Grimm (Audio)

So, this poem popped into my head as I was commuting to work the other day, and I spent the better part of yesterday scribbling this in a notebook. Couldn’t help myself! Consider this my really geeky contribution to National Poetry Month. Dedicated to Grimm fans everywhere – particularly the ladies. 🙂

Check it out over at my Cowbird page:

The Girlfriend, The Hexenbiest, and the Shopkeep

Why the “Girl” Matters: Yet Another Post About “Geek Girls” and “Gamer Girls”

This woman...

The argument comes and goes. the “Geek Girl” argument that isn’t actually one argument, but two.

  • “Geek Girls are attention-seeking posers!” Vs. “No, they’re not!”
  • “We shouldn’t call ourselves geek girls, because we’re segregating ourselves!” Vs. “Geek Girl is a label I wear with pride, because…”

I’m writing this to address the second argument, as that’s the one I’ve seen happening lately, particularly in gaming circles, but I can’t do that without touching on the first, because the first is the reason for the second.

...and this woman...

Bullshit Double Standards

Here’s how I feel about the first:

It’s bullshit. It’s such a bullshit, useless argument that I don’t ever want to have it again. Here’s the deal – the fact that we only have this argument in relation to women, while actors (and potential posers!) like Thomas Jane or Chris Hardwick get to start comics companies or empires built on a geek platform without their geek cred being called into question makes the whole thing bullshit. If we’re going to talk about posers vs. non-posers, fine. But that’s never how it breaks down. Chris Hardwick dresses like the tenth Doctor, and we assume that he has all this geek cred. Never mind that he could be less an actual geek and more a master marketer who is skilled at allying himself, not even with geek celebrities, but celebrities geeks like, not to promote geek culture, but to promote himself. Thomas Jane doesn’t have his geek cred questioned despite never showing any interest in comics before 2004, when he founded RAW Entertainment, perhaps only as a means to an end. Because his rough good looks belong in the realm of action and super heroes, he creates comics that can then be made into films in which he can star.

All Thomas Jane has to do to “prove his geek cred” is dress up like Jonah Hex to get a role. Film School Rejects said, “We’ve got to hand to ole’ Thomas Jane, the man has both serious geek cred and a copious amount of gravitas. The geek cred was shown off over the past few weeks when he went out of his way to dress up like Jonah Hex to show his interest in playing the part.” Really? Cosplay is all it takes? Hmm. Funny, ’cause women usually have to do more than that. Also, the fact that he had to go “out of his way” to do that means that it’s not the kind of thing he’d do normally. Just sayin’.

On the L.A. Weekly blog, Chris Hardwick’s geek cred is undeniable: “To accusations that branding and repackaging the term “nerd” waters it down or takes away his cred, Hardwick responds, “I picked all of the people I wanted to work with, and it’s sort of a weird reality come true. … It’s humble-braggy to say, but it’s true, I wake up in the morning and go, ‘I’m going to sit down with Brian Henson today and talk about the channel, then I’m going to the Weird Al shoot,’ and it still blows my mind that I get to do that … I’m the same person I was before … I still know [the Yankovic song] ‘Nature Trail to Hell’ top to bottom. … Any of those critics in the same position would pretty much do the same thing I’m doing, I think.” He adds, “We’re not trying to be anything but ourselves and do what we want to do.”

This man can undeniably walk the nerd walk — despite his MTV beginnings, most notably hosting Singled Out with Jenny McCarthy.”

Um, he knows a Weird Al song. That’s his geek cred? Yet he “can undeniably walk the nerd walk.” Despite not actually saying anything of substance in response to the question of his geek cred.

The thing is, I’m not calling their geek cred into question right now. I wouldn’t, because I don’t know them. I don’t know what they’re genuinely into, or how they grew up, or what’s in the deepest cockles of their hearts. I bring these things up to point out the ways in which the “attention-seeking” arguments could be applied to men in the same way they’re applied to, say, Olivia Munn, and yet aren’t. Both men and women seem perfectly happy to tear down someone like Munn, going so far as not wanting to watch The Newsroom, what looks like a brilliant new show from Aaron Sorkin, because she happens to be on it.

I guess when you’re a guy, using a subculture as a platform on which to build an empire is respectable. Being ambitious about your career is respectable. Olivia Munn daring to appeal to a geek audience to further her acting career is a huge sin, apparently.

...and this woman...

The “Girl” Label

So, the fact that we only ever have this discussion in relation to women makes the whole thing bullshit. But what I really wanted to address was the second point about the “geek girl” label itself. I’ve seen the term – and its sister term, “gamer girl” – get a lot of flack from women who don’t think that other women should take on these labels. On Nuyoriqueña, Chastity Irizarry writes, “I understand some feel due to the imbalance in the industry there was a need to encourage girls to feel comfortable knowing they weren’t alone. But unfortunately, these titles create the very segregation we were hoping to destroy.” On Respawn Reload, Debbie writes: “Generally speaking, if women want a better acceptance in the video game world, then stop immediately identifying yourself as a female.  I’m not encouraging anyone to try to hide who they are, but if you want it to not matter what gender you are, immediately segregating and identifying yourself as female is contradictory of your goal.”

While I understand and appreciate their sentiments, the underlying foundation of their points is shaky, because it comes from a place where the male-dominated mainstream is the default, and the ideal. Irizarry writes, “I do believe there is an imbalance in the video game industry, but we don’t change it by creating cliques who complain together. You have to be invited to the big boys’ table, and that comes with proving yourself. It should be based on merit,” as if the Big Boys’ Table is the place to which we should all aspire, rather than questioning the validity of that table being a “boys'” table in the first place, or the lack of female spaces.

Debbie says, “While women have to bat off comments like “you’re probably fat and ugly” or “go make me a sandwich”, players with many different skin tones have to defend themselves against truly hateful racial slurs.  I have on numerous occasions heard conversations in a lobby where an African American player was being targeted and told things such as “I’m going to drag you to death behind my truck” or “I’m going to hang you from a tree like a slave”.  Ladies, I love you, but being told to make someone a sandwich in no way compares to this kind of insult.  Stop complaining,” as if this were a Suffering Contest. As if racism canceled out sexism, because clearly racism is “worse.”

Both writers make the point that no one differentiates professions by gender: like doctor, lawyer, teacher…apparently forgetting that there are actors and actresses; tailors and seamstresses; and older examples of jobs that used to have gendered titles, like “stewardess” becoming “flight attendant” when men decided it was an OK job for them to do, or “firemen” becoming “fire fighter” after women joined the profession. There’s a huge precedent for this. While I’m not saying it’s right, I am saying that to say that this is inappropriate usage because it’s limited to the geek world is just factually wrong.

However, highlighting how often gendered terms for professions are used demonstrates how powerful a term like “geek girl” or “gamer girl” actually is.

Labels Allow For Specific Needs to Be Met

Let’s take “actors” and “actresses,” for example. Back in the day, women weren’t allowed on stage, and so there were only actors. The term “actress” had to come about because once women joined the theater, they came with their own distinct set of issues and concerns that needed to be addressed separately in a profession so inherently intimate. Dressing areas, sleeping quarters while touring, appropriate vs. inappropriate touch for better or worse are all valid concerns where gender is the deciding factor. Creating the gender-specific term allows for the separate category that allows unique concerns to be addressed. It’s like declaring your race and gender on the US Census. You can’t get the resources specific to you and your community if you aren’t identified and counted.

...are all on the same team.

We Don’t Punish Arsonists By Burning Their Houses Down: What Equality Isn’t, and the Importance of Gender-Specific Spaces

Equality doesn’t mean exactly equal treatment. You wouldn’t market tampons to men any more than you would market jock straps to women, and yet both genders deserve to have access to whatever they need to keep their junk in order. That’s equality. Equality means equal consideration, equal respect, and equal treatment under the law, particularly where circumstances are the same (ie: a man and a woman holding the same job should receive the same pay). It doesn’t mean denying there’s a difference.

Men and women are not exactly the same, nor should we try to be. We have a lot to gain and learn from each other’s differences, and a shared geek space can be where we do that. But the notion that in order for women to have “made it” as geeks, or anything else, they have to join the male sphere doesn’t sit well with me. No one ever says to men, “Hey, the only way you’ll ever be truly valid as a person is if you join the world of women.” Why is the reverse so acceptable? I agree that we need to share a space – we’re sharing a planet, after all – but I reject the idea that the male space and the mainstream shared space are one and the same. A shared space that takes both genders into account equally is what we should strive for, but this doesn’t mean that we need to eliminate an all-male sphere or an all-female sphere, because there are ways in which we grow and things we can learn by being surrounded by a supportive network of people of our own gender.

My friend Alex and some of his male friends have this thing every year called Meat Fest, where they basically go out for steak and scotch in a very manly fashion. 🙂 Now, I love steak, and I love scotch, and as Alex is my “brother from another mother,” I thought he’d think me a sufficient enough “bro” to be able to go to Meat Fest. When I asked, he said no. I thought he was kidding. He was serious. And even though I gave up on asking after a while, I was a bit hurt.

I know you don’t want women there, but I’m not one of “those” women! I can totally hang with you! I’m a guy’s girl!

And just as quickly as the thought came, I realized the horrible flaws in my thinking. First, sometimes men wanna hang out with other men. It has nothing to do with how they feel about women, but with how they feel about men. Men see being with other men as an advantage. A respite. A situation in which they can relax with people to whom they don’t have to explain themselves. Women often have Girls’ Nights, where they can just let loose and be themselves around people to whom they don’t have to explain themselves. The sad difference is that men don’t see their male spaces as inferior to the mainstream, because they are the mainstream. Women see their spaces as inferior, because it’s not where the power is. It’s seen as Mainstream Lite. Fine in small bursts of femininity, but not sustainable, because there’s no future in it. And so many of the ambitious ones, the ones who would build their own security and fend for themselves think that being accepted into the male sphere will allow them to do so, not realizing that by leaving their sisters behind they’re doing themselves harm, bringing down their own worth as women by engaging in the same blanket patronizing of their own gender in which men too often engage.

The only way the mainstream shared space can be a truly equal one is if both sides equally value their gendered spaces. Men are already there, and it’s why they control everything. It’s why, despite being out in greater numbers than ever before, geek girls continue to feel slighted. We feel slighted, because we rely on male acceptance rather than our own; rather than seeing the value in each other and helping each other onward and upward, creating our own successes on our own terms outside the male-dominated mainstream, if need be. There are more of us, after all. If we all prioritized investing in and purchasing female-created comics, or went to see female-helmed films, or otherwise supported female endeavors, we’d have the financial security we need and the geek community we want. Men see “guy time” as a benefit. Many women see “girl time” as a consolation prize. That makes me sad.

Or, they SHOULD be anyway...

I Will Not Throw Other Women Under the Bus

Here’s the second flaw in my feelings about being denied steak and scotch. I didn’t want the guys to think I was one of “those” girls. Whatever that means. So, not only was I trying to ingratiate myself to the boys, but I was perfectly willing in that instant to throw other women under the bus based on criteria that I didn’t create. It’s why I’m now conflicted about supporting stuff like International House of Geek’s Kimmie Britt’s video entry to the Maxim Gamer Girl contest. Rather than simply being the kind of girl she wanted to see represented as Maxim‘s Gamer Girl and convincing us why she IS the best thing for Maxim (for the record, I’d love to see that, too, and I voted for her), she makes it all about what she isn’t, creating a “me vs. them” vibe. She makes a point of saying “I’m not going to show my tits and ass.” Well, good for her! She shouldn’t have to! Yet, it sounds like she’s taking the onus off of magazines like Maxim who use women’s bodies to sell copies, and placing it solely on the women who do what they need to do to get ahead. A wise pimp once said, “Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.” 🙂 But seriously, I don’t think its helpful to misplace blame. A woman can choose or not to participate in something like Maxim. That’s her individual prerogative, and there are certainly alternate ways in which to pursue success.  But the problem isn’t with her. The problem is in the media forcing women to choose between being successful and having a certain level of integrity. I think we should all remember who the real “enemy” is. (Hint: it isn’t each other)

Listen, I’ve done this, too. Don’t get me wrong. I’m writing this, in part, to keep myself in check and be more aware of doing this. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to not think in a way that tears other women down for doing what they need to do. I will not comment on what a woman wears. It has nothing to do with her mental ability or her actual geek cred. I will not comment on a woman’s looks, because beauty and intelligence are not mutually exclusive, and people are attracted to many different types. There’s no such thing as universally attractive. The media perpetuates that myth, because it allows them to sell the most product with a minimal amount of effort. Having a narrow view of beauty means less models to hire, less commercials to film. The beauty standard the media has created is for their benefit, not ours. I will not hold a woman’s looks, history, or choices against her. And if I’m ever creating something, and have the power to do so, I will prioritize working with and hiring talented women that can get the job done.

Let me be clear. This is not about ignoring men, or hating them, or anything like that. Being pro-woman doesn’t mean being anti-man. I shouldn’t even have to say that, but some people can’t keep those two ideas separate. This is about women supporting each other being a priority. It’s about the fact that terms like “geek girl” and “gamer girl” are powerful, because they show our very specific presence, one that shouldn’t be erased or overlooked in the mainstream geek space. The terms allow us to address issues that are of concern to us – like seeing ourselves accurately portrayed in the art we consume, for example. But more than that, it’s about creating a community for ourselves. The male sphere is not the be-all and end-all, nor should we treat it as such. Men don’t worry that women won’t like what they create, because they know other men will buy it.

If only women could be as secure in each other. I think we can be. I think things like Geek Girl Con, Geek Girls Create, and female networks like The League of Extraordinary Ladies are positive steps toward that, but we should do more. I embrace the “geek girl” label, because I believe in the power we can wield if we work together. There’s no one way to be a geek girl any more than there’s any one way to be a feminist, but embracing each other under the broad category despite our differences can go a long way in allowing us to make real change in the geek community as a group rather than constantly being seen as a bunch of fighting cats.

It’s funny, but I feel about women the way 2Pac felt about the black community:

“First ship ’em dope & let ’em deal to brothers.
Give ’em guns, step back, and watch ’em kill each other.
“It’s time to fight back”, that’s what Huey said.
2 shots in the dark now Huey’s dead.
I got love for my brother, but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other. We gotta start makin’ changes.
Learn to see me as a brother ‘stead of 2 distant strangers.”

And now, I leave the discussion to you! Comment below! I’d love to hear what people think.

*shout-out to the geek girls I know (online or IRL) whose photos I used here! *big hugs*

#MenCallMeThings

I love Twitter, not just because I’m a social media junkie (though I sorta am), but because it’s so often on the pulse of important goings-on in the world. Yesterday, writer Sady Doyle started a hashtag that’s since been covered in The Guardian in the UK and Time Magazine here in The States. A hashtag with the purpose of highlighting the fact that female writers, particularly when they write about feminism or address inequality in any way, suffer the most vitriolic, violent, and hateful criticism online.

#MenCallMeThings

I first caught wind of it today, when artist Molly Crabapple posted about it, and it forced me to think about whether I’d been on the receiving end of such things. And I have. While I thankfully have never been threatened the way many other women have, I have been insulted and have had men try to undermine my intelligence online by being condescending. The article where they really started coming out of the woodwork was my piece called “Moffat’s Women: Amy and Her Skirt.” Here are some of the highlights:

“What an over reaction…the whole 5th season had Rory being treated quite poorly and Amy tried to cheat  on him more than once with the Doctor….and that’s acceptable to you apparently as humour?…just don’t mention her skirt. Sigh.”– Jessie1977

[NOTE: Notice how this person – who I’m assuming is male, because most women who disagree about stuff like this mention that they’re female – ignores the point of my article by bringing in other stuff that I’m not even talking about?]

“Meh. I think you’re looking for an injustice where none exists….If you expect a gender bias, or an orientation bias, or a racial bias, or whatever kind of bias you prefer to stalwartly defend against, then you can usually find it.” –  BenPatient

[NOTE: Notice how the onus is put on the person looking for injustice, rather than on the injustice found. So, if I found it, that means I made it up? It’s not real? It’s all in my head? I’m crazy?]

“To make a big deal out of nothing. This is how it’s done.” Tesse

[NOTE: Dismissing even the discussion about the fact that I was bothered by, yes, a small, but telling thing.]

“I once had an argument with a so-called feminist friend of mine who claimed that she wanted a huge engagement ring and a man SHOULD be wealthy enough to “look after her”… and yet she would tell men not to hold doors for her, or pull out chairs because she could “do it herself”. I told her she can’t have it both ways. You can’t pick and choose chivalry, that’s not how it works. I had a friend who’s fiance broke up with him because the ring he could afford, was too small. Seriously. There is a HUGE world of things to get upset over when it comes to the battle of the sexes, but a line on Doctor Who is NOT one of them.

As to what Moffat feels about BOTH sexes. Do yourselves a favour and find the 4 seasons of COUPLING that he wrote with his wife, as they illustrate ALL the stuff that BOTH men and women do wrong in propogating steroetypes about each other. It’s a two-way street that often I find women don’t want to look down their own side at. As is evidenced by my above-mentioned friend who has never forgiven me for showing her logic.” – Jessie1977 (again!)

[NOTE: Um, “she can’t have it both ways?” Really? So, she either has to be TOTALLY dependent or TOTALLY self-sufficient and there’s no inbetween? I’d hardly call that “logic.” Also, once again, trying to derail my argument by bringing things into it that I’m not talking about! Also, the fact that he had to “show” his female friend “logic” kills me! And incidentally, I HAVE  seen Coupling, and while I enjoy it, it’s also the most entrenched-in-gender-bias show I’ve ever seen, so bringing that in as an example, probably not a good idea.]

“This has to be one of the silliest arguments about one of the most innocuous jokes on the interwebs…Good Lord, people, Doctor Who is one of the most progressive shows on television. Let’s loosen up a bit. And as someone who works with domestic violence shelters and rape victims, I find these accusations of DW being part of a ‘rape culture’ highly offensive. Making those kinds of accusations about a show like this put the credibility of the accusers in question. But that’s just my opinion.”GeekToMe

[NOTE: There’s no “injustice contest” going on! I wasn’t trying to equate disparity in how female characters are portrayed on television with domestic violence and rape! Merely calling it out as being another symptom of the same problem – that women are not deemed as important as men. I love how this guy, because he works with domestic violence shelters – which is, indeed, admirable – thinks that qualifies him to dictate what women should or shouldn’t be upset about with regard to sexism. That’s the most backwards notion of “feminism” I’ve ever seen.]

“I guess if you wish to support the ‘supporting rape culture’ argument — which I was calling commenters out on, not you — then I guess I have to point to the fact that by posting the vids you are helping propegate said culture. I find a bit of irony in that. Again, this is the silliest. Argument. Ever.”GeekToMe

[NOTE: As if my posting them in this one article was the thing that was the tipping point. So, by that logic, his advice is to either not talk about it at all – because merely mentioning these things that upset me will make the problem worse. OR, talk about it without showing the videos. In which case, I leave myself open for someone else to come along and try to discredit what I’m saying by saying that I haven’t provided any evidence or backed up my claims sufficiently. I can’t win, it seems. No matter what I do, I propagate the thing I’m against. So I should just shut up. Right? Also, the argument might be “silly” to you, because it doesn’t AFFECT you. It always seems “silly” when people “make a stink” about something that doesn’t hurt you.]

“Look, It’s REALLY easy. If this scene had been reversed and Rory was ripped and muscled and took his shirt off distracting Amy…what do you think the Doctor would have done/said? Better yet what would ANYONE have done or said? Would he have said “Amy, get your crap together and stop oggling Rory, look what you did to the TARDIS”? Gods no, that’s not even remotely realistic. What he’d say is:

“Rory, put your shirt back on, you’re distractingPond”

There’s no point in trying to argue that…it’s what he would have said. So I fail to see how you think poorly of the line when Amy bears that brunt, when if it happened to Rory I’m sure it would be fine with you…at least according to your Harkness/Trope on head idea…haha!

But for some bizarre reason I am sure the feminist inside of you would find some other way to take issue with even that. So it seems you are bound and determined to label Moffat sexist or at least thathe made sexist comments. I hope he reads this and sees how very backwards you see the world.”Jessie1977 (he’s a genius, no?)

[NOTE: Oh, you’re right! It IS really easy! Thank you, kind sir, for teaching me how to use my brain! Except that he’s clearly deluded. If the roles WERE reversed in this case, it’s more likely than not that Amy would’ve gotten reprimanded as a silly little oversexed girl. But REGARDLESS of what would happen if the situation were hypothetically reversed, my point is that it WASN’T reversed. That THIS happened, and THIS was what upset me, and I find it really interesting that he couldn’t stay on topic, but insisted on bringing in all these other examples that had nothing to do with anything, and was clearly upset enough about my having an opinion to keep coming back with the same tired comments over and over to tell me how clearly stupid I am. And they say WOMEN are too emotional! 🙂 ]

“I’m confused on why, “Pond…put some trousers on,” is not okay but flipping that with Jack is okay. Seems like a double standard to me. Sexism is sexism, is it not?” – AsheSaoirse

“Also, as a believer in equality, I still don’t see how a joke can be oppressive and sexist when applied to women yet funny and provocative when applied to men. If we really are equal, it should be funny or offensive either way. Turning an offence on its head can be an effective provocation, but it’s still offensive.” – Atrus

[NOTE: This is another interesting thing I’ve noticed. Guys suddenly care about the sexism they receive only when women bring up being upset about what they face. Do you know why they only bring it up then, and not at any other time? Do you know why “masculism” isn’t a movement? Because the “sexism they face” doesn’t affect them in their day to day lives, that’s why. They live blissfully unaware of sexism until a woman complains about what she deals with EVERY DAY, then have the nerve to say “but I’m a victim of it, too!” First, no you’re not. And second, so that makes it okay?! Because you’re a “victim” and don’t mention it, you expect women to do the same? Suddenly guys believe in “Total Equality” when they’re called on their shit, skipping right over the part where they have to take responsibility for their actions, or deal with the same in kind. Let’s make this journey to “Total Equality” as simple and painless and as comfortable for us as possible, shall we? Because we don’t like being made uncomfortable! WAAAAAH! *calls waaaaaambulance*]

There’s more at the Tor post, but it’s more of the same. You can scroll through the comments if you want. However, there was apparently a comment that was worse that I never saw because it was deleted by one of my diligent Tor editors who then wrote to Jessie1977:

“Jessie1977 @77, not currently visible: Jessie, do you want to try rephrasing that in terms of the fiction, rather than the character of the author of the entry, or do you want me to let the first version stand but disemvowel those bits? It’s your choice.” – tnh, Moderator

I was thankful she did that, and glad I never saw what Jessie1977 said that was so bad tnh deleted it! Jessie1977 then accused her of being biased, and that what he said wasn’t that bad, and that this is some sort of evil feminist conspiracy, or somesuch nonsense. He then hits me a couple of paragraphs down with this:

“In my eyes (for a while now actually) I just think you are a feminist trying to get a point across without actually knowing what you are talking about. Your viewpoints are tilted in a way that makes you less able to opine about “sexism” and more inclined to male-bash from a feminist standpoint. A truly balanced idea about sexism wouldn’t condone it in any way shape or form and would see an equality across the board. “Levelling the playing field” in art and media would actually have the opposite affect of what you profess it would. It would not “balance” things out at all. It is a petty revenge tactic plain and simple. The fact that you don’t see that makes me feel sad that you were even given the quarter in which to express such a clearly lopsided opinion.”Jessie1977

[NOTE: see my note above about guys being “above” dealing with the nitty gritty of fixing the problems of sexism in the media by saying that women should just act as if it already exists, and that the reality will follow.]

And that’s all just from the comments on ONE ARTICLE.

My articles at Tor continue to take the representation of women in media into account, and that doesn’t sit too well with one of my readers, publishedauthors, who was so upset that his comment was deleted from one of my posts that he came to comment on my blog. He says:

“I’ve read everyone of your reviews and whether each one gets a good review hinges on the treatment of the women in the episode. I knew as soon as Amy was put upon by The Doctor you wouldn’t like the episode. It’s fine to want a stronge female character in the story but your pattern suggests you have a fixation on this, a fixation that needs to be addressed. I would suggest therapy. A television review is not the proper venue for you grind an axe.” – publishedauthors, in reference to my Tor review of “The God Complex”

[NOTE: Sooooo, reviews are supposed to be critical without criticizing the things we think are wrong? How does that work? Also, continuing to mention a problem that continues being a problem is apparently reason for therapy. Good to know. I wonder what this reader does deem the proper venue for criticism other than a piece of criticism…]

What gets me is that the mere bringing up of instances of sexism is enough to make men not only comment once to tell me how stupid I am, but to keep coming back to do it over and over again, despite the fact that I’m flat out telling them that I was offended. The response is never “Sorry you were offended,” but always “You shouldn’t have been offended.” Or, “you’re overreacting and stupid for being offended.”

Why is that always the knee-jerk reaction when a woman speaks up?

And really, that’s what all the comments above – and at the post – boil down to. Apparently, I’m stupid, illogical, emotional, and my opinion is worthless. Apparently, I don’t have the right to be upset about the things I see, because that would be overreacting. Apparently, all men are totally into gender equality, so we shouldn’t bring it up anymore, because there isn’t actually a problem, and we’re crazy for thinking otherwise. OR, we should only bring it up if there’s broken bones and blood involved, because sexism only matters as far as violence, and not the million and one societal things that allow for that violence. (It’s sending aid to foreign countries only when they’re starving, but caring very little about how they got that way in the first place, and whether or not we’re in any way to blame.)

Lastly, and I see this in the reaction to the #MenCallMeThings hashtag, a lot of guys seem to be getting offended by the hashtag because it “implies that ALL men feel that way or say stupid things.” No it doesn’t. What it isn’t implying, but flat out saying, is that it is ONLY men that say these things. Granted, there are many women who think that feminists make a big deal out of nothing, too, but they’re not generally the ones on the internet leaving vitriol for women writers that dare bring up feminism in what they write. So, the people who criticize the hashtag do so in the interest of not “alienating” men, or making them feel bad. You know what? As my good friend Eileen once told me, Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get over it! Perhaps instead of sheltering men from being made uncomfortable, we should demand – not ask – that they put their money where their mouths are and become more vocal if they are, indeed, not the men that make those hateful comments online. Keep your brothers in check, Gentlemen! Rather than criticizing us for making you feel bad, acknowledge that we have a reason to be upset and help! I would say “Be a man!”, but that statement is sexist. Instead, I will say, “Be a fucking adult!”

Guys, I know it’s difficult. You might be seen as a “pussy” or a “pansy” by your bros for speaking out on behalf of women. Here’s the thing. THIS is how sexism affects you! It’s forcing YOU to not act when you see something happening that you clearly know is wrong! It’s making YOU change your behavior to adhere to some arbitrary notion of what you’re supposed to be! Sexism controls how YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE. It’s not just a problem for women. It’s a problem for you, too.

And “being nice” just isn’t cutting it anymore. I’m tired of being nice about it.

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