Feminism Matters

21 Jun

It’s been a bummer week to be a feminist and I’m feeling bruised. I’m generally pretty upbeat, but yesterday I hit the sexism saturation point and just bottomed out. No amount of exercise, children’s television, or conversations with the very sensible and decidedly feminist Mr. Irises seemed to help me shake the feeling that the world was sliming me — and not just me, but women in general. Now, I know I promised to keep the blog positive, but I just need to share a few of the most frustrating examples of misogyny from last week:

1. Planned Parenthood of Indiana has run out of money and needs to close temporarily while they wait on a judge to rule on an injunction against HEA 1210 — an Indiana law which defunds Planned Parenthood entirely because it provides abortions. This means, of course, no health care for thousands and thousands of low-income women: no pap smears, no HIV testing, no breast exams, no birth control, etc.

2. This article on Smartly.com, a site I have previously contributed to. Here, Rob LaGrone defends the perpetrators of sexual assault at the infamous Tailhook Convention and takes part in some rather-breathtaking victim blaming. Try to hold down your lunch as you read, and be sure to read the PBS write up on the convention and the scandal. It’s hard to feel sorry for the poor aviators when you consider the experiences of 83 molested women and Ms. Coughlin fleeing “the gauntlet” with her clothes half-ripped off and officers chasing her.

3. Scott Adams arguing that rape is just part of men’s virile nature. “If a lion and a zebra show up at the same watering hole, and the lion kills the zebra, whose fault is that? Maybe you say the lion is at fault for doing the killing. Maybe you say the zebra should have chosen a safer watering hole.” Maybe you say the ignorant cartoonist better put a sock in it before his career is in shreds. After reading Adams’s post, be sure to sign this petition demanding he apologize.

4. Finally, there’s been a bevy of debate this week about geek girl culture and whether geek men can be as misogynist as anyone else (guess what, they can be.) On the Huffington Post, Elizabeth Perle laments the lack of social resources for girl geeks, and the comments are so hostile it’s laughable. The women organizing GirlGeekCon posted the article for discussion on facebook and, again, the comments are indicative.

And heavens, these are just a sampling. It’s days like this I worry about raising a daughter.

But… that said, there are some glimmers of hope — GirlGeekCon, for example, and this list of Feminist YA books on Goodreads (I just finished The Hunger Games. Feel free to friend my Goodreads account, if you’re so inclined.)

I realized that just writing this little blog isn’t enough for me right now. Time to do some organizing. A friend and I are talking about what to do next, and I’ll keep you up to date as we get the details worked out. If you have any inspiration or interest in this, let me know.

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7 Responses to “Feminism Matters”

  1. Grace June 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I actually didn’t care for the Huffington Post article; equating Twilight with female geeks insults us. The real female geeks and gamers tend to get upset when developers try to cater content toward women, because they make the assumption that we want less depth to our games and more fluffiness. It then creates even more of a gender divide because of that stereotype, and nobody takes the games developed for girls seriously because they lack the artistry and challenge that draws us to video games in the first place. “Marketing towards women” tends to mean dumbing down the content in real life applications.

    • Djinnjer June 21, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

      Sure, equating all female geeks with any single franchise insults us — but no more than equating all geeks (regardless of gender) with a single franchise insults us. I don’t think she means to suggest that all woman geeks are Twihards any more than she’d suggest all geeks are Trekkies. To me, the throw away reference to Twilight is a counter to the sadly common argument that things that appeal primarily to women/girls don’t sell. Twilight, for all its flaws, sells.

      Marketing towards women” tends to mean dumbing down the content in real life applications.
      That is a huge problem! I suspect that it’s a problem exacerbated by guys trying to guess at what (stereotypical) women want. But I refuse to accept that male-oriented games/media are somehow universal and the only things worth playing/watching/reading. There must be ways agitate for well-made female-oriented games/media, rather than accepting a status quo of good games and girl games.

      • Danielle S. July 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

        I think the indie gaming market is oh-so-slowly beginning to make games that are more universal — games like Flower, Journey, Tiny Bang Story, Blue Toad Murder Files, Eufloria, Machinarium. When they try to market towards women, you end up with games like Final Fantasy X-2 where changing clothes changes powers..ugh. Final Fantasy XIII saw a return to a primary female protagonist — although like many FF games you switch between playable characters which is pretty evenly split between the male and female. It’s hard not to see how video games like so much media are still dominated by the idea that marketing should be towards white males — movies, books, comics, tv.

    • Darlene June 25, 2011 at 11:21 am #

      I agree with your comments about the way developers tend to frame “girl geek” content — watered down, less challenging, fewer boobs, yes, but also fewer weapons. That said, I think articles like this challenge that tendency, expose it, and tell the world “Hey, we’re as smart and technically oriented as you, guys.” In the long-run, hopefully that would help to close that divide, by encouraging developers NOT to dumb things down for women. “Girl-oriented” shouldn’t equal “less interesting.”

  2. Noël June 23, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Right there with you Darlene! And, there was the Supreme Court sex discrimination decision with the three women justices writing in dissent that will make it harder from here on to bring such suits. Uggggggggggh! I’m thinking, I’m thinking . . . don’t have any specific courses of action in mind yet, but keep me in the loop as an interested organizer!

    • Darlene June 25, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      God, I know! And the Wal-mart decision… it’s just been a crummy week to be a feminist. The good news, of course, is it’s been balanced by passing the temporary injunction for PPIN and equal marriage rights in NY. All is not lost!

  3. Danielle S. July 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Don’t forget about the awesomeness that is WisCon! Have we decided if we like The Mary Sue yet — http://www.themarysue.com/ — for girl geek culture?

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