In Defense of Anger

My brother is an engineer and makes robots. The thing that led him to be so great at his profession is that he sees things wrong around him that others do not and is driven to fix them. For example, when I was living in a shitty apartment with a  bathroom door that wouldn’t close all the way, he was at once compelled to fix it because the frustration of an easy to fix broken thing was unbearable to him.  I had been resigned to live with a broken door and had begun to think that occasionally jamming was one of its inherent properties. Then my brother came and saw it, got angry at the broken door, fixed it, and materially improved my life.

Anger about social injustice is like that engineer’s anger. It arises out of seeing clearly what is wrong. It leads to action. It’s not negative. It is energy.  If we let ourselves feel the anger we can use that energy. We see the world with new eyes. We see the things that are wrong that everyone assumes are just that way inherently, naturally. We refuse to put up with it. We try to fix what is broken. That means we live with more internal discomfort about society. We seem angry because we are angry.

Simply allowing ourselves to be angry is the first act of rebellion. The oppressed are not supposed to be angry at the oppressors, but we are. The more we try to suppress that anger the more it turns inward and destroys us from within. Women particularly aren’t supposed to be angry. Instead of turning that energy towards social action we turn it inwards into depression, or harmful self controlling behaviors, all to try to suppress the anger.

But if we allow ourselves to see, and to feel frustrated, then we have a chance to change the world for the better. We must see the problem before we can fix it.

Most fixes aren’t easy, but maybe there are some like that door that didn’t close that my brother fixed so simply, and everyone mistakenly thinks they have to deal with it.

Granny Weatherwax Explains Objectification is Wrong

“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that—”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes—”
“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”

from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett
It’s a basic point of ethics, as Granny Weatherwax so aptly puts it. Treating people like things is where the downward path starts. When a whole half of the human race is treated as things by the other half, and it’s so pervasive, so seemingly permanent that it seems like that’s the only way the world can be—well, that doesn’t make it any more right. It just makes it hegemonic.

jezebelfactory:
gamesandtrips:
Chainmail bikinis? For seriouscat feminists Critique goes deeper. Chainmail bikinis serve as metonymy for all objectification of women in fantasy and gaming. Or, broader, for the problem of unrealistically scantily clad female figures. Objecting to women scantily…
Yes! The problem isn’t that women are scantily clad, it’s that they’re scantily clad for fanservice. Could a female character who made a living as a performer wear not a lot of clothes onstage, while still being a well-developed character? Could some girl want to wear a bikini to the beach, without being strictly for the male viewer’s enjoyment? Could a woman wear a revealing outfit on her own time because she liked the outfit, without the writer being sexist? Could a character from a fantasy species (elf, fairy, whatever) come from a culture where clothes aren’t seen as that necessary, without descending into dumb trope fair? I don’t think any of these things are the problem. I think the problem is that we never hear any of the actual perspectives of these women. We see the performer dancing around, but we never see the work and rehearsal and planning that went into the performance on her end. We never see her think about her costume choice or anything. We never get to relate to the girl in the bikini having fun at the beach. She’s just lying around, getting her tan, or at best doing some beachy things but in an obviously fanservicey, posed way. We never get to see the girl wearing the revealing outfit talk about why she likes it, or hear about how wearing something she thinks is cool makes her feel cool, or worry if it’s a little too much. And if we do, we’re not supposed to be really listening to her. We very rarely get to follow her around on her day and be part of her wacky misadventures. And the silly elf girl who doesn’t know she’s supposed to put on some pants? We never get to understand why nudity or almost-nudity is appropriate for elves, what cultural values or species differences led to this. We don’t get to see that to her, covering up arbitrary body parts makes no damn sense. We never get to see the culture clash from her point of view. We don’t get to see her embarrassment and frustration at not being able to figure out the new set of rules, or her decision to abide by her own rules and let people be uncomfortable if they don’t get it. In very few circumstances do we see the culture clash in other situations that aren’t sexy or funny. A lot of writers just don’t let their girls be people. Scantily clad girls can definitely be a case of girls as objects, and when they are it’s bad, sexist writing. But scantily-clad girls don’t have to be objects, and if we’re deciding that “scantily clad girls = sexist” and “conservatively dressed girls = okay”, a lot of dumb sexist shit is going to slip through the radar. All the women who just exist to be moms or girlfriends or daughters and then die tragically so that the main male character can have feelings about it? Putting them in a turtleneck and nice set of slacks doesn’t make them actual characters instead of just props.
Fanservice, yes, that’s the word! Mostly I just want to reblog this because your extension of the critique of women-as-objects going beyond the scantily clad and into other object-roles is spot on.">jezebelfactory:
gamesandtrips:
Chainmail bikinis? For seriouscat feminists Critique goes deeper. Chainmail bikinis serve as metonymy for all objectification of women in fantasy and gaming. Or, broader, for the problem of unrealistically scantily clad female figures. Objecting to women scantily…
Yes! The problem isn’t that women are scantily clad, it’s that they’re scantily clad for fanservice. Could a female character who made a living as a performer wear not a lot of clothes onstage, while still being a well-developed character? Could some girl want to wear a bikini to the beach, without being strictly for the male viewer’s enjoyment? Could a woman wear a revealing outfit on her own time because she liked the outfit, without the writer being sexist? Could a character from a fantasy species (elf, fairy, whatever) come from a culture where clothes aren’t seen as that necessary, without descending into dumb trope fair? I don’t think any of these things are the problem. I think the problem is that we never hear any of the actual perspectives of these women. We see the performer dancing around, but we never see the work and rehearsal and planning that went into the performance on her end. We never see her think about her costume choice or anything. We never get to relate to the girl in the bikini having fun at the beach. She’s just lying around, getting her tan, or at best doing some beachy things but in an obviously fanservicey, posed way. We never get to see the girl wearing the revealing outfit talk about why she likes it, or hear about how wearing something she thinks is cool makes her feel cool, or worry if it’s a little too much. And if we do, we’re not supposed to be really listening to her. We very rarely get to follow her around on her day and be part of her wacky misadventures. And the silly elf girl who doesn’t know she’s supposed to put on some pants? We never get to understand why nudity or almost-nudity is appropriate for elves, what cultural values or species differences led to this. We don’t get to see that to her, covering up arbitrary body parts makes no damn sense. We never get to see the culture clash from her point of view. We don’t get to see her embarrassment and frustration at not being able to figure out the new set of rules, or her decision to abide by her own rules and let people be uncomfortable if they don’t get it. In very few circumstances do we see the culture clash in other situations that aren’t sexy or funny. A lot of writers just don’t let their girls be people. Scantily clad girls can definitely be a case of girls as objects, and when they are it’s bad, sexist writing. But scantily-clad girls don’t have to be objects, and if we’re deciding that “scantily clad girls = sexist” and “conservatively dressed girls = okay”, a lot of dumb sexist shit is going to slip through the radar. All the women who just exist to be moms or girlfriends or daughters and then die tragically so that the main male character can have feelings about it? Putting them in a turtleneck and nice set of slacks doesn’t make them actual characters instead of just props.
Fanservice, yes, that’s the word! Mostly I just want to reblog this because your extension of the critique of women-as-objects going beyond the scantily clad and into other object-roles is spot on.

Continuing the Conversation Beyond Chainmail Bikinis

Beyond Chainmail Bikinis: Objecting to Objectification is Not the Same Thing As Objecting to Indecency

Chainmail bikinis?
For seriouscat feminists
Critique goes deeper.

Chainmail bikinis serve as metonymy for all objectification of women in fantasy and gaming. Or, broader, for the problem of unrealistically scantily clad female figures.

Objecting to women scantily dressed for no reason (other than to satisfy the male gaze, of course) leads to accusations that one is a prude. For this reason many women include a reflexive apology in their criticism, or seeing themselves as sex-positive (or wishing to be seen as sex positive) don’t make the criticism because they don’t want to be uptight. The accusation that objecting to objectification is prudery comes from either ignorance or bad faith. Ignorance, we can fix. Fixing bad faith is beyond my powers.

Here is the difference. Arguments against scantily clad women which arise out of the indecency premise are about the men. They leave the male gaze unquestioned and focus on the corrupting effects of viewing women’s bodies on the male viewer. They maintain the assumption that women are corrupt and corrupting. The worry of the indecency argument is always about how the scantily clad ladies will harm the men. Women, if considered at all by the argument, are only judged against the ideals of womanhood and always found wanting. Women are always found wanting. Virgin or whore, you can’t win.

Arguments against scantily clad women in unrealistic scenarios which proceed from the anti-objectification premise are on the other hand about women. I feel almost crazy pointing this out, but the female characters in video games, in fantasy art, in comics, aren’t real. Those are not the women I’m talking about when I say the anti-objectification argument is about women. I am talking about the women playing the games, looking a the art, reading the comics.

When we, women, consume media with female characters designed for the delectation and titillation of male viewers, we know that we are not the intended audience. There may be no man in the picture when you stare at Lara Croft’s bum, but there is a man implied by the way she is presented. There is an audience already implied in the way the image is made, and that audience is not us. These images of women clearly designed for the male gaze alienate women from our own experience of playing games, looking at art, watching movies.

If we want to enjoy them, the easiest course of action is to identify with the implied male viewer and try to see through male eyes. There’s no harm in imagining oneself other than what one is now and again, but to be forced into the state continuously is a burden.

Further, by designing media with female figures dressed for the delectation of the implied heterosexual male audience, the creators train men in a certain way of looking at women. That problem goes way beyond video games and fantasy art. It’s part of the dominant paradigm ruling our world. Everywhere you look there are images of women designed to appease the male gaze, metaphorical and literal training manuals teaching men how to objectify women.

Real women consuming media know that this is how men look at us. And now, even here, in the imaginary world where we wish to escape for a moment from the constant consciousness of the male gaze turning us from human beings to objects that exist only for the pleasure (and at the pleasure) of another, the form of the world reminds us that even here, we exist only for men’s pleasure.

And that is why constantly sexualized images of female character models are objectionable, not because they are indecent.

Do The Right Thing: Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor

At Blizzcon 2010 I was really impressed by the Female Monk preview for Diablo III. The male and female character drawings were displayed side by side, and they both looked dressed to fight in reasonable armor, fierce and tough. The female monk wasn’t even smiling. She was just badass. Not only that, she had short hair. When I see melee characters with long, fancy hair it breaks the immersion a bit, as I think about how they’re totally going to die one day when that shit catches on something. (Khal Drogo nonewithstanding)

When I got into the Diablo III beta I of course chose the female monk as my first hero. She’s melee and can heal, my two favorite things! Unfortunately my monk left the monastery (or wherever she came from) dressed in ripped up bandages. You have to earn that badass armor, it appears. I’m OK with that. You start out wearing crappy cast-offs and slowly as you get more badass your armor gets more badass. That makes much more sense than the much lamented chain mail bikini effect.

While the Diablo III monk has become my go-to example for great female character art in a video game (and frankly in a fantasy setting in general), she’s not the only one.

There is a whole Tumblr dedicated to collecting images of Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. I sincerely urge you to go there and look, because it’s refreshing.

hotcityblues:
I was talking on Twitter about how I was approached tonight when standing with my friend at a bus-stop downtown by a creepy guy. A male acquaintance asked me how he was being creepy, outside of “unreciprocated flirting”, with genuine curiousity. This is the difference between me and men - I don’t…
It seems shy, nerdy guys are always asking these questions: How do I flirt with women without being creepy about it? Just asking the question presumes a lot, like that dudes have the right to flirt with women at any time and women have the duty to explain to them if it’s unwanted. It also sets up a false equivalency between a dude’s desire to flirt an a woman’s desire to be physically safe. So I normally just link them to the Schroedinger’s Rapist article, and call it a day. I will now add this blog post to my list of resources for well-meaning but uneducated nerds. Please read it. What she says is all true.">hotcityblues:
I was talking on Twitter about how I was approached tonight when standing with my friend at a bus-stop downtown by a creepy guy. A male acquaintance asked me how he was being creepy, outside of “unreciprocated flirting”, with genuine curiousity. This is the difference between me and men - I don’t…
It seems shy, nerdy guys are always asking these questions: How do I flirt with women without being creepy about it? Just asking the question presumes a lot, like that dudes have the right to flirt with women at any time and women have the duty to explain to them if it’s unwanted. It also sets up a false equivalency between a dude’s desire to flirt an a woman’s desire to be physically safe. So I normally just link them to the Schroedinger’s Rapist article, and call it a day. I will now add this blog post to my list of resources for well-meaning but uneducated nerds. Please read it. What she says is all true.

Hot City Blues: How to Talk to Women And Not Be “Creepy.”

Breakfast of Champions, or All Your Macronutrients in One Convenient Pot

Yes, this is really a post about what I had for breakfast. But this is not just any breakfast. This is the best breakfast ever.

Inspired by Fitocracy’s gamification of exercise tracking, I’ve taken up weightlifting again. I take most of my weightlifting advice from Stumptuous, a site about exercise started by a feminist female weightlifter that has expanded into many areas of fitness and health over the years. As far as I can tell, Stumptuous is the best body-positive resource for women weightlifters on the whole internet.

I’m lifting weights again and the direct effect of that is that I get ravenous at meal times. Hunger is the best spice, which explains why gymrats often eat such bland crap, but this breakfast is not bland. It is delicious.

I invented it one day when I couldn’t be bothered to poach my egg separate from my oatmeal and inspired by the concept of huevos rancheros I just plonked it directly onto the oatmeal. Resounding success, I tell you.


Oatmeal with Poached Egg on Top

1 cup water

1/3 cup plain oatmeal (not instant!)

pinch of salt

1 egg

Optional Garnishes: soy sauce or tamari (this thing is gluten free soy sauce, basically), minced green onions

Bring the water to a boil. Toss in salt and oatmeal. Stir. When the oatmeal is about to boil over (it will do that) take the pot off the heat for a moment, reduce the heat, and put it back on. Cook uncovered until the oatmeal is just a little bit wetter than your preferred level of mushy.

Break the egg into a little bowl. Gently pour the egg on top of the oatmeal. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, and cover the pot. Let it sit for 1 to 3 minutes. The oatmeal fumes are going to steam the egg and it will be amazing. When the white has fully set, scrape the oatmeal and the egg into a bowl and mush it all up together so the egg flavors the oatmeal.

Add the soy sacue or tamari to taste and garnish with green onions if you feel like it.


Playing Nice By Making Excuses for Sexism in Gaming

Most online discussion of women’s issues, even coming from self declared feminists,  doesn’t go deep enough.  People are always trying to say in some way “well it’s not so bad”. The tendency to make excuses for the poor behavior of men we play with is endemic among women gamers(self sadly included). 

There’s reasons to pretend it’s not so bad.  Women have a hard enough time getting into raiding guilds. Women have a hard time getting the time needed to raid because of the inequity in household work distribution (aka the Second Shift).  Women have to put up with unwanted flirtation, with harassment, with getting obscene comments.  If we respond in kind we are attention whores.  If we object or are offended we are drama queens.  If we are mean and funny back we are bitches.
 
If we complain to our non-gaming friends about the sexism in gaming we are told if it’s so bad we should just abandon the hobby.  If we leave, where are we going to go, exactly?  What hobbies and activities are left to us? In the game at least you are physically safe! (Until some hare-brained CEO cooks up the scheme of making everyone go by their real name)
 
Newsflash: It’s so bad everywhere in the whole damn world.  Any time a woman tries to do something outside of the women’s sphere or even is too successful in the women’s sphere she deals with bullshit.  Walking away from the game is not a solution, because it’s not as though the real world is a magical fairyland of gender equality.   Go back to the kitchen where it’s safe?  Fuck that.  I want to kill Internet dragons.