Friday, July 28, 2006

My Type of Thesis

While I was not working at work, I discovered this cool interview with Robert Parungao that Gamespot put up. Maybe this is old news, but I thought what he has to say about racism in video games is very insightful. This is an issue that has bothered me for some time now, and it was nice to see a site like Gamespot discussing it. Even though the title is a little inflammatory, and the comments should be read at your own risk, I think its worth checking out. I would love to read his full thesis.

I unfortunately read through the comments. I couldn't believe the amount of resistence and fear towards this guy's thesis. I don't understand how people can deny someone's study of racism so easily. I did think it was cool to see that some people defended the article. It made me start to think that I should e-mail those people and get their friend codes. I would love to have a community of people that I knew it would be safe to play with online.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Masculinity, Nerds and Me

In one way or another, I found myself in the company of a bunch of fanboys this past weekend. At first, I was thrilled. What new games would I play? (Super Mario Strikers) What comics would I be able to pick up and read for free on the sly? (JLA #0)

And at first, it was good. I felt accepted. I held my own in Strikers even though it was my first time playing. I got to talk about Catwoman and Chris Bachelo. Nerd talk uninhibited.

But then, unexpectedly, it started. Faggot. Pussy this, pussy that. Vagina this, slut that. Dumbfounded and silent, I held my tongue. Sat rigidly on the couch, smoothed out my skirt, buried my face in a comic.

It was naive of me not to expect this. And I thought that I’d be prepared for this situation, where talk turns sour and everything becomes an insult. The amount of sexism and homophobia was staggering. I thought I’d be able to make some quick witty comebacks (filled with insightful knowledge) that would enlighten or at least make them shut up. After all the theory I’ve studied. Everything I’ve written on this blog, everything I’ve read on other’s blogs. You’d think I’d be able to come up with something. The only time that I was able to say anything was when one of the guys asked if I was looking at my own boobs. I shot him down so quickly and defensively that I surprised myself. I shocked him, and I’m sure the group was happy when I left—I was the bitch who ruined all the fun.

I first I felt exasperated. Do these guys represent the majority of the fan community that I want to be a part of? I mean, I desperately want to be part of some sort of group of people who share the same interests as I. But can that even occur because I’m a woman? At Wizard World I’ll be handing out flyers for as a way to be proactive, as an attempt to further create a space for women in geekdom. Yet, after my intensive nerd run-in, passing out flyers doesn’t seem to be good enough. Writing in this blog doesn’t seem to be good enough.

As a few days have now passed and my hopelessness has ceded a bit. I’ve been thinking and thinking about the whole situation and managed to come up with this: the guys I was around were taking part in a form of alternative masculinity. They’ve suffered the consequences of not being traditionally masculine: they’re not rich, they don’t have tight bodies or physical prowess. A way for them to prove their masculinity is through wins and game scores, and extensive comic book knowledge. Another way is verbal; by using sexist and homophobic slurs, masculinity can be proved by effeminizing their peers.

I’m not interested in games, comics, anime, what have you, in order to prove anything. My interest is that I simply like them. I think the guys I came in contact with initially started out the same way, but found that as they grew older and had their masculinity questioned, they had to use their hobbies as a way to prove themselves. I, as a geek girl, stand in direct opposition to that, which is why I failed, after the first couple of hours, to find a common ground with them.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Access to Power

Thanks to When Fangirls Attack, I've come across Megham Daum's article for the LA Times that discusses Batwoman's lesbianism. She discusses in her article that strong women in the media have to be lesbians:

I'm allowed to say this because I'm secretly gay too. Or at least I try to be. What choice do I have? Apparently "lesbian" is now the de facto label for any woman who asserts her own tastes and opinions and does not necessarily need to get married tomorrow. Granted, this might be confusing for people who lack opinions and their own tastes, and are desperate to settle down, but happen to be actual lesbians. But, according to the current cultural mind-set, a heterosexual woman who has her act together simply does not exist in nature.

Is it any wonder, then, that we (at least we in the media, who have high rates of secret lesbianism) are so fascinated by Batwoman's newest incarnation? DC Comics might be touting the idea of diversity, but I suspect what we're really seeing is an antidote to the rampant girliness of our era presented — how's this for ironic? — in the safest way possible.

If there's anything scarier than a strong lesbian, it's a strong straight woman. Now there's a superhero we could use.

I understand what Daum is trying to get at: that straight women, or rather femininity, is not viewed in our society as a bastion of strength or success. That in our society, lesbians can fudge the rules a bit, and be viewed as strong because, well, if you're a lesbian, you have to be masculine.

But I have to say, when the label "lesbian" is used in our society, the context is derogatory. Being a lesbian in our society is not a positive thing. When people call Condoleezza Rice (Daum's example) a lesbian, it is because she's being thought of as less of a woman. Are people really impressed with Rice's amount of power? Sure, they may be threatened by her position and whatever power she may yield, and that is because she's a woman. A straight woman. To call her a lesbian is to try to take away some of the power she might have from being in the public eye and serving the current administration. To call her a lesbian is an attempt to further other her and cast her in a bad light.

As far as DC making the current incarnation of Batwoman a lesbian: it's to sell books. DC in no way believes that straight women can't be powerful, that a straight woman superhero isn't the answer to the typical male (straight) superhero. Most of the superhero's that we read about are straight: Wonder Woman is straight, She-Hulk is straight, Phoenix is soo straight, I could go on and on. I can only count on one hand the number of lesbian superhero's I'm aware of.

To say that in our society that only lesbians are allowed to be "powerful" is drastically missing the point. To be a lesbian in our society is about being an outsider. It's about having less privileges. It's about being looked at as just a lesbian-period-and hardly anything else.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Too Easy.

I know, I know, I know. Complaining about IGN, complaining about this, is too easy. The feature obviously distasteful, noticeably sexist. But I can’t stay away.

I can’t stay away because of the cute blurbs about catfights for wank-fests. And I can’t stay away because of images like these:

So who had this costume first?

Four breasts are better than two:

The pain of wedgies:

and of a disjointed hip:

It’s like a car accident.

Link via When Fangirls Attack.


Over at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise is the Second Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans! Kalinara's put together an awesome edition.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Just Can’t get into it (In Which I Complain)

I’m in a video game slump. My usual routine is that whenever I find a bit of free time, I position myself on the couch, fire up on of the consoles or my DS and get lost in hours of fantasy. But the past couple of weeks—ever since I finished Baten Kaitos—it hasn’t been so.

I’ve started Xenogears. I figured since I’ve enjoyed the Xenosagas and Baten that I should try out their predecessor—but often I find that when I’m playing it, I’m bored. I don’t know if it’s the PS1 graphics, the more typical fighting engine, the lack of female characters...Whatever it is, my heart isn’t in it. Playing feels like a chore.

After renting it for months on end, I finally purchased a copy of Pikmin 2. I love the premise of the game: plucking Pikmin out of the ground, fighting off bugs with the big, fat purple ones, discovering and towing home treasures, such as little pots of Carmex. Alas, I’m finding that after playing it for about an hour or so, I get bored.

I’ve tried watching Shions_Glasses play Fable. I’ve enjoyed watching him play other games, why not this one? Once again, I’m not sure if it’s the deficiency of women characters (I’m notorious for developing apathy when I don’t have a good female character to latch on to) or the lack of a good, strong plot: I watch Shion play, I fall asleep.

We haven’t finished Silent Hill 4 yet, but I’m not really in the mood to.

I have a copy of Beyond Good and Evil, which I know I really need to play, but I don’t want to.

Maybe my problem is that I need an RPG—maybe subconciously longing for immersion, for total addiction. I just finished my summer class and have nothing really important to do before my trip—it’s perfect timing for hours and hours of play. So, Digital Devil Saga? I wanted to buy it used, but found that the first one is super-expensive. Tales of Legendia? Not cheap enough yet. I was tempted to buy the Game Boy release of Tales of Phantasia, but cringed at that price. Why are they charging $30 for a Game Boy game? Which brings me to the DS—nothing’s appealing to me there either. I’ve started up Animal Crossing, but with half-interest.

It’s my first gaming slump in a long, long while. Sadness.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

IGN: Digging a Deeper Hole, One Slice of Cheesecake at a Time

I don't know if someone's already wrote about this before--the article is kind of old--but I inadvertantly and unfortunately came across IGN's: Top Ten X-Babes while wandering around the internet.

Never before have I cackled (while experiencing rage and alienation all at the same time).

Yet, I can't tell what's more insulting: the blurbs or being reminded of the way that some of my favorite female characters have been drawn.

Japan, Ho!

After Tuesday, after being on the train that was behind the train the derailed on the blue line, after inhaling black smoke and walking for an hour and a half home, I'm setting my sights forward: in August, I'll be spending three weeks in Japan.

Two of the weeks will be spent staying with a friend in Nagahama, which is near Osaka and Kyoto. It's known for being the home of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's first castle that he built. (You know, the guy who built a castle in a day in Samurai Warriors?)

The third week will be spent in Tokyo. I've reserved a room in a ryokan in Asakusa that is just a few blocks away from the Kaminarimon Gate.

I cannot wait.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

When Silver Suns Have Golden Moons

So I have a confession. I'm playing a X-box game, and kind of enjoying myself. And worse still is that its Fable. This is a game that I totally lambasted when it came out. No female playable character, the lenght is really short, it's on X-box--the usual complaints. But now things have changed.

My brother got himself a new 360, so I got the leftovers. I think because I came into Fable with very low expectations my hopes weren't crushed when I started playing. The best part of the game, by far, is the ability to be queer. I get to chose my sexuality! I no longer have to be forced into the status quo! I can marry my same sex partner, and stroll through the town in my dress with pride. And the fair citizens will cheer for my life choices and high reknown, not knowing that it is I who is breaking into their homes at night and stealing their potions. And it warms my heart that after a hard day of slaying hundreds of Hobbes, I can come home and make love to my wife. Wait a minute, Wife?! I married a dude, game!

So here comes the disappointment: I, too, fell into the Fable trap of high expectations like so many others. I thought that I would enjoy the same benefits of a het relationship. I was wrong. The first thing that pissed me off was that the game continually refers to the love of my life as my wife. How hard would it have been to program the game to change the text depending on the gender of my partner? And here's a thought, why not just call him my partner--it works both ways. It just gives a weird, "this choice was not our focus when we made this game" vibe. A feeling that is furthered by the fact that I don't get a wedding ceremony for my same sex partner. Would that have been so difficult? I just would have liked something, it didn't have to be a wedding, but some cut scene that shows that we are now together, and that this marriage is just as valid as the heterosexual one. I was disappointed after these realizations, but I was still proud that I just married a guy.

So naturally, I wanted to bask in the glory of my newly changed stat. Oh more disappointment, so much disappointment. What was waiting for me when I check my status of sexuality?...GAY. I'm Gay. If I married a women I would be Heterosexual. But now I'm gay. Instead of using the opposite term of homosexual, Lion's Head thought it was best to use a slang term. (A term I was called through my childhood and adolescence.) I wouldn't have cared if the other option was straight, but no, they use the scientific name for that. But me, I'm gay. So there it is. So close but so far away. Well, at least I can be Bisexual.

I have to say that I am very impressed that Lion's Head added same sex marriage into the game. In a game based around the choices you make, its only natural to allow for more than one sexual preference. I can't think of many other games that allow this, and have it be such a large, interactive part of the game. I just wish that they would have put more effort into the "gay" experience.

And the Award for Most Offensive Ad Campaign Goes to...

First there was this:

Now blac(k)ademic alerts us to this:

The Sony PSP: Classist, Sexist, and Racist.

Click on over to blac(k)ademic for Sony's mailing info.

UPDATE: Jacob has informed me that Sony has pulled the PSP white ads and has apologized to those who are offended by it. There's a whole article over at Gamespot.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

One Year Old: Robotech Repost

I've realized that it's been a year since I started blogging--in the beginning I had a Xanga blog. It took a few months for me to figure out that Blogger was better than Xanga, which prompted my move. I'm glad I did--switching to Blogger has made me part of a larger community, one that I can partake in and learn from. Thanks to everyone who's made me feel welcomed, and thank you to everyone who stops by.

In honor of blogging about feminism and pop culture for a year, I'm re-posting a favorite Xanga entry of mine: my first shot at reviewing a comic.
From October 11, 2005

A Review of Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles

We've all been waiting a good, long time for the next installation of the Robotech Universe and with the first issue of Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, it has begun.

The Cover: It's okay--I don't think it accurately betrays Omar Dogan's talent however. Rick's head is way too small for his body, it doesn't work with the perspective. Also it seems so cluttered, but I do admit that I am a fan of minimalistic covers that go for the visual bang.

The Art and Coloring: Excellent. I love Dogan's work and the colors are vibrant. There's an anime quality, but it's not just "cheap imitation." Definately eye candy.

Character Designs: They're alright. However, I'm not too much of a fan of the uniform--they're not snazzy like they were in the original Macross series, however. Lisa looks good, though not too much older. (Are they afraid to draw an attractive 40-50 something woman? Are wrinkles that unsightly?) Rick does look older and very manly which I'm somewhat disappointed with. I loved how in the original anime he was shorter and more slender than the other characters--plus when you're Admiral, do you really need to be so beefy? Jean Grant's design is good, but what's with that huge purple bow? We don't really get to see Minmei, just the back of her head with a hairstyle that looks way too similar to what it was in her little movie in the original. It's kind of like "Look! I'm Chinese because I have this oriental hair piece!" All in all, it's a mixed bag.

Story: Here's where it gets complicated. I can handle flawed character designs and goofy covers but....well wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. There's an amount of back story missing when we start off, which is okay, I can deal with that. Either the movie or future issues will handle this. However, I don't think we'll get a step-by-step story that deals with "From the Stars" to this issue, but there doesn't need to be. There's lots of science lingo, mystery and governmental council bickering. There's blood, death, and drama. I'll wait to learn more before I judge these aspects of the storyline--there's only one thing I have a contention with: the treatment of Lisa or rather the attitude of "We don't know how to write for female characters--especially the strong ones!"

What is painfully obvious is that they're going to make Lisa Rick's motivation. She deserves more than that--they did such a good job with her in the original series. To make her pregnant, hurt/hospitalized and miscarry is just rediculous. It's akin to what Lucas did to Padme in Star Wars. They take their strongest woman character--Lisa is the head in command--and make her weak and pregnant. Even though this is the future the problem of women handling family and career has not yet been solved (and neither have the problems with pregnancy been solved either.) We then have Rick saying something along the lines of "I can't wait for Lisa to resign her commission--you can't be Admiral and a mother." This drives me mad--Lisa's father could be Admiral and a father--the double standards, I don't get it. Oh right, Lisa's a lady. Okay, so we start the story off with Lisa and the SDF-3 getting shot down by Edwards, this in turn establishes Rick's hatred for Edwards and then puts Rick in position to be the leading Admiral. I understand that Yune and others are working somewhat with a preexisting story--they have to put the pieces together. However, it's lazy writing to take out your strongest female character, to make her just a womb that has been victimized.

And did anyone else think that the scene where Jean tells Rick about the Lost Baby is horribly trite?

I'm ranting, and it's probably pretty uncomprehensible, but bear with my anger. It's just that I'm so disappointed--I had expected too much, I guess. I was suprised when I went to read the message boards at how many people were so sad about the miscarriage etc. etc.
I will continue to read the rest of the series and I will see the movie. I will remain, however, apprehensive about the treatment of Robotech's female characters.
Just to note: I did stop reading the comics and I haven't seen the movie yet. I'm a little afriad to.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The First Ever Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

Comics, games, and TV, oh my! Make sure you check out The First Carnival of Feminst Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans for a tour around the interweb by Ragnell the Foul herself.

Some of the topics discussed under the big top: Star Trek, gaming and genderbending, X-3, Joss Whedon and of course, Black Canary's fishnets.