Category Archives: Gender Issues

A Little Positivity Goes a Long Way

I have many issues with the internet, social media in particular, and I’ll probably do an epic post about it once I can get past my inhibitions for doing so*. Right now, though, I want to discuss what I like about social media and why I spend so much time on it. Less and less so, granted, but still more than the average person, I’d wager. I was reluctant to join Facebook and Twitter for various reasons. One, I’m a loner by nature. I don’t like talking to people that much on a regular basis. Two, I have OCD traits that would probably suck me into being compulsive about checking both. Three, I’m very conflict-avoidant and don’t like telling people that they are wrong or that I disagree with them. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still something I don’t like to do. Four, I feel the need to talk to anyone who talks to me, which makes it hard for me to ignore people on Twitter or Facebook. Five, I think it’s a substitute for living life in the real world, and while it’s valuable for people who cannot leave the house for physical or emotional reasons.

I joined Facebook before I joined Twitter, and initially, I wanted to keep my friends list to ten. Then it was twenty. Then thirty, forty, and fifty, and then sixty-nine for very puerile reasons. Every time I added someone, I had to take someone off the list, but at some point, I gave up that weird personal tic and just added whomever I wanted. Which wasn’t many people. Early in my foray into Facebook, I had a bunch of people from high school wanting to friend me. For some unknown reason, I accepted. I hated high school. I have some fond memories of a few people, but other than that, it was a nightmare. So, I accepted, but then watched in horror as their true nature came out. This was right after Obama’s election, and one called for his impeachment a month after he was inaugurated, and another identified him as a proud Glenn Beck fan. These are both people I liked in high school, but I just could not stand what they were posting on a daily basis. Then, I got suspended from Facebook because someone reported that I was posting indecent posts, and I knew it was one of my ex-high school classmates and that it was probably for my political views. I managed to get my account reinstalled, but I mass dumped all but two of my high school classmates.

That’s part of what makes social media tolerable to me. I carefully curate my friends list on Facebook and my following list on Twitter because I don’t need that negativity in my life. it’s tricky because part of the beauty of the internet is the diversity of people found online, and it’s too easy to only listen to people just like you. You have to be open to different ideas and different experiences, but at the same time, you have to draw the line somewhere. That line is different for everyone, but I realized my line is people who are entrenched in their opinions. I don’t want to follow or friend anyone who isn’t interested in having a discussion, but only in haranguing his or her viewpoint (and this is on my side of the aisle, too. Demagoguery and ideology isn’t a partisan thing). I’m interested in debate and discussion, both which are difficult to achieve in social media because of the inherent limitations, and anyone who’s a Glenn Beck fan or wants Obama to be impeached a month into his presidency isn’t a rational human being.I have enough negativity in my head without adding exterior voices to the clatter.

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One-Hundred Percent, Unequivocally, Proudly Pro-Choice

don't take away my choice
I stand with Planned Parenthood

On Black Friday, I watched on Twitter as a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs unfolded real-time, and while I had to leave to go to my taiji class, I knew several things immediately. I knew that the shooter was overwhelmingly likely a man, most likely a white man, that he had mental issues, that he was probably Christian, and that he was rabidly anti-abortion. I also guessed that he probably watched Fox ‘News’ on a daily basis. It’s not because I’m a brilliant profiler, but because this is who commits the majority of mass shootings in America, neatly cross-sectioned with those who are most ardently anti-abortion. In other words, it’s not fucking rocket science. I also predicted that the shooter would be called a loner and that media would not call it terrorism. I tweeted my thoughts on the subject, and then I had to go to taiji–which I sorely needed. The last thing I saw before I left was that the shooter was shouting something about ‘baby parts’ as he shot–which I’ll get into later.

After I returned home from taiji, I checked the news again, and I was right. The shooter was white, male, supposedly Christian, and rabidly anti-abortion. Later, the NYT wrote that acquaintances described him as “a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.” There was an outcry on social media at the inherent awfulness of that wording, and they quickly took out the word ‘gentle’ from the sentence. From that same Salon link, the NYT later changed the sentence to read that he was an “itinerant loner who left behind a trail of disputes and occasionally violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew”, but the bias to describe white shooters as loners (and in this absurd case, gentle loners who are prone to violence!) in the mainstream media (MSM) is so strong, I was able to call it before it even happened.

My disgust with the refusal to call it terrorism grew as I continued to read reports on the shooting. Let me back up a step. All through the first day, the media and public officials were cautioning people not to jump to conclusions as to the motive of the shooter. What the fuck? It’s clear what the motive was–the man shouted it as he was shooting. “Baby parts” for those fortunate enough not to be in the know, was a key phrase used in conjunction to heavily-edited videos that an anti-abortion group illicitly shot at Planned Parenthood. In it, they appear to be discussing the bartering of fetal tissue with a PP doctor, which somehow morphed into the selling of baby parts in the mind of rabid anti-abortionists. These videos have been debunked, but it matters not in the mind of anti-abortionists. They are not going to let facts change their minds, damn it.
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Toxicity Within the Gaming Culture: An Outsider’s Observation

Toxicity Within the Gaming Culture: An Outsider’s Observation

Ed. Note: This post has been written over the last week or so. It’s not as cohesive as I’d like it to be, but I wanted to get it all out. Plus, I’m still getting my writing chops back, so keep that in mind as you read this post.

It’s been a horrible couple of weeks for gaming culture, and it started when the ex of an indie developer decided to air his dirty laundry publicly, accusing his ex of sleeping her (and her gender is very important here) way to some positive reviews for her game. Which, as many gamers were quick to point out, isn’t really a game, presumably because it didn’t have any guns that go PEW PEW. Soon, there was a witch hunt against this developer* and nude photos of her were spread across the web. The man she’s accused of sleeping with in order to get this juicy review (didn’t happen) has also gotten some shit, but not nearly as much as she has.

Before I tackle this and the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian** has received for her newest Tropes vs Women video, I want to take a look at gaming culture in general. You can read my prior post on what it took for me to call myself a gamer for some of the negativity I see dominating gaming culture. Some will argue that it’s just a reflection of society in general, and while I agree, I have to wonder why it’s particularly vitriolic in gaming culture. I mean, writers and directors of movies don’t get umpteen death threats if the end of the movie isn’t agreeable to the viewers, so why is this a normal thing that happens in gaming? I mean, the developers of Call of Duty got death threats when they tweaked a weapon, for fuck’s sake. What the hell is wrong with gamers that this is a common thing?

Part of the problem is the endless patching of games. A game is released, oftentimes in an unfinished/unpolished state with the knowledge that there will be patches in the future. In the Early Access program on the Steam website, developers actively ask for gamer input. I have complicated feelings about the Early Access program which shall be left for another blog post, but suffice it to say that it’s interactive nature allows gamers to give feedback to a game in a manner that actually affects the outcome of said game. Therefore, it’s not unreasonably to say that gamers are a part of the creative process, albeit a small one. So, they have a sense of entitlement, that they DESERVE the ending they want (or the gun power or whatever). Still, that doesn’t seem like enough to inspire death/rape threats, does it?
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Channeling My Inner Cyndi Lauper and Putting the Religious Right on Notice

The subject of birth control should be far from controversial. To many women, the only thing controversial about it is that we’re still fighting this battle.

I’ve loved Cyndi Lauper since I first watched her video, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. This was back in the eighties, and she was the most outrageous person I’d seen up to that point. She had obviously dyed hair cut in a punk cut, loud makeup, funky clothing, and gaudy jewelry. In addition, she had Asian women in her video. I’d never seen that before! Cyndi was unapologetically different, and she seemed so comfortable in her own skin. Plus, she could fucking SING.

Watch the video and try not to smile and sing along. You can’t do it; you simply cannot. She brought some much-needed color to my life and even though I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, she was the first woman to show me that being a freak wasn’t necessarily a negative thing.

She had another song that came out in 1993 but that I didn’t hear until much later called, Sally’s Pigeons. The tone of this song is much more somber, as is Cyndi herself. It’s the story of two best friends growing up and doing the things that girls that age do. Their girlhoods are normal until the best friend, Sally, gets pregnant.

She left one night with just a nod, was lost to some back alley job.

That’s just one line, tucked in the song, but the impact is powerful. I’ve used this song when posting about this topic before because it’s one of the few songs that actually mentions the reality of life before Roe v. Wade. I’m not saying this was a true-life story of Cyndi’s though it feels authentic; I’m just saying it hit me hard because I could imagine this scenario, except with me in the role of Sally.

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Religious Freedom For Thee, But Not For Me

Religious Freedom For Thee, But Not For Me

Ed. Note: My thoughts are still jumbled on this. It’s really hard to get past incoherent rage. So, I apologize that this is going to be disjointed. It’s the best I could do. 

My reaction in reading the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday: FUCK YOU, SCOTUS, AND THE HOBBY LOBBY HORSE YOU RODE IN ON.* I was pissed off, disgusted, seething, and a whole plethora of other emotions, and I still am. But what I am the most is tired.

I’m tired of being considered a second-class citizen in this country because of my gender. Yes, I can get pregnant and give life, but that doesn’t mean that I should be forced to do so. “The fetus is a person.” Well, no. It’s potential person at best, and given that 10 – 20% of pregnancies end up in miscarriages, it’s easy to refute that truism, even if you can’t convince the person saying it. If it were true that every pregnancy should be brought to term, there would be no miscarriages. There are valid reasons for terminating a pregnancy, even if it’s not because the fetus has a genetic defect. Now, I’m going to say something heretical. Even if I were to concede that a fetus is a life (which, again, I don’t), my rejoinder would be that I am, too. I’m a living, breathing person, and I fucking matter. I matter as much as those cells hypothetically swimming around inside my body; no, I matter MORE. I wrote about this realization after Dr. Tiller’s murder. You can read my thoughts about why I matter here. And, to get even more meta about it, why it matters that I realize I matter.

Going down that road, that’s another thing that makes me tired. These religious extremists are telling me that I don’t matter as much as this potential person does. My hopes, dreams, fears, ambitions, etc., are meaningless to these assholes once I become pregnant. Then, I am nothing more than a vessel for the potential life inside of me. They are saying that anything I want for my life is moot once a sperm happens to hook up with one of my eggs, and I am having none of it. What’s ironic is that they don’t give a shit once the baby is actually born, but another post for another day.

I am tired of the anti-choice successfully dominating the narrative so that pro-choice activists have to apologize for abortion or qualify it. Yes, it’s a terrible horrible awful thing and yes the goal is zero abortions and, and, and….We’ve allowed them to define ‘good’ abortions (or rather, acceptable abortions, i.e., in the case of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother) versus ‘bad’ abortion (unacceptable abortions, every other abortion). It’s because of this that anti-choicers can argue about the evil Slutty McSluts who are having sex all over the place and then going through the drive-thru of McDonald’s to order up their abortions for the day.
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Conscious Discrimination in Gaming as in Life

Conscious Discrimination in Gaming as in Life

Now that I’m dabbling in gaming culture, I’m seeing a common complaint by some gamers that I used to see in politics, and, indeed, in society in general. “Why do you have to bring ___________* into it? I just want to enjoy ____________** without any of that icky identity crap that goes with it!” In case you can’t guess, the people saying this are usually white guys, probably straight, and they don’t understand why they have to deal with race, gender, sexuality when all they want to do is play a damn video game! They can’t understand why we minorities have to harp on these issues. Well, let me try to explain why it’s important to us who are not in the majority.

The default for video games is to have a white, straight male as a protagonist.. Even though gamers themselves are becoming more diverse, the protagonists have remained mostly a monolith. Blah blah blah developers creativity, but as I pointed out in a previous post, if every developer churns out the same product, it’s not really creative, is it? I will say that I started gaming in the heyday of its diversity with you having the ability to choose to customize your character to varying extents in more games than ever. However, if a game gives you one protagonist, you can bet that nine out of ten times*** said protagonist would be a white male. So, those of us tired of playing straight white males are going to point this out from time to time. Not all the time as some straight, white male (SWM) gamers claim. Probably not  even half the time or a quarter, but enough to make it uncomfortable to those who wish to remain oblivious of the issues. Any discussion of an issue that one would rather not face feels like too much attention given to said issue.

If you’re a SWM in gaming, you have the luxury of not having to think about race, gender, sexual identity, etc. All the games cater to you because you are the default norm. When minorities point out the rather obvious fact that they are missing from the equation, it seems like THEY are the ones who are bringing up race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and injecting it into the conversation. The SWMs don’t see that race/gender/sexuality already play a big part because you don’t come up with that kind of uniformity by accident. No, I’m not saying it’s some kind of conspiracy – I’m saying it’s societal norm that is invisible because of its pervasiveness and acceptability.
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Intersectionality is Sometimes Bullshit

Intersectionality is Sometimes Bullshit

“My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”

This is not a new phrase, but it’s being said with renewed vigor on social media these days. Briefly, intersectionality means that systems of oppression intersect and cannot be considered independently of each other. I agree with this. In fact, in college, I got mad at my Feminism in Philosophy prof because she said we ‘didn’t have time’ to talk about racism. As an Asian American woman (this was before I realized I was bi), this pissed me off because I knew that any talk about what it meant to be a woman for me had to include my race as well. So, yeah, I’m down with intersectionality – just not all the time. Why not? I’m glad you asked.

First of all, you can’t include everyone all the time. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. And, if that’s the case, where do you draw the line? That’s the tricky part. Let me give you an example. Martha Plimpton hosted a charity event to benefit an abortion clinic in Texas. She called it A Night of a Thousand Vaginas. Now, the name is not the greatest, I admit, but you can bet that it caught people’s attention. Well, some people started complaining that it excluded trans*men and should be changed. I’m not even sure if it was trans*men themselves who were complaining or other people on their behalf, but to me, it was an example of letting perfect be the enemy of the good. Abortion is being systematically eradicated in Texas to the point where Roe v. Wade is de facto revoked. Martha Plimpton was doing something to change that, and instead of celebrating her involvement, some people were fixated on the title of the event instead.

In addition, you need to have a vagina (and a uterus) in order to have an abortion. If a trans*man has had an abortion, he had that equipment at that time. I’m sorry if that’s offensive, but it’s fucking true. Pointing that out is not trans*phobic – it’s reality. Calling Martha Plimpton transphobic because she refused to change the title is not doing anyone any good, and just because she disagreed about it, it doesn’t necessarily mean she was transphobic by default. I wrote another post on how shaming shuts down a conversation, which you can read here.

Which brings me to another reason I’m wary about the word intersectionality. These days, it seems that people use the word to say, “You better care about my issues, but I’m not going to give a fuck about yours.” As an Asian American woman, my issues are rarely addressed in feminist circles. So, when I see, say, some black women saying WoC when making blanket statements about white feminism, I want to point out the hypocrisy. They aren’t talking about me when they talk about intersectionality or use WoC. They mean black women, which is fine, but they use WoC to imply that they’re speaking for or are including all women of color. They aren’t.
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I’m Just a Girl…Gamer

I’m Just a Girl…Gamer

I didn’t grow up playing video games. At least that’s what I said when I first talked about them with my close friend, Ian. However, the more we talked, the more I realized I had played video games early in life. Pitfall!, Pong, Space Invaders, to name a few. Later, as a teen, whenever I was forced to hang out at the student union at the U,* I’d KILL on Ms. Pac-Man, often heading up the leaderboard. I l also played The 7th Guest with my brother around the same time.  In my late twenties, I dated a gamer, and we went to an actual arcade. I was faintly disapproving of his love of games, but I figured that since I was there, I’d play a game of Ms. Pac-Man or two. I might try another game, but  NOT a shooting game. Never. Ever. Ever. My ex (boyfriend at the time) introduced me to a game called Time Crisis II. It was a shooter, and I wanted no part of it. He coaxed me into just trying it, and the minute he placed the plastic pink gun† in my hand, I was hooked. I pumped quarter after quarter into the machine. He wandered off to play something else. When he came back to ask me how it was going, I shushed him and sent him to fetch me more quarters. He laughed, but did as he was told. Untold number of quarters later, I beat the damn game, and I was exhilarated.

Still, I considered that an anomaly and went about my merry way game-free. Kind of. I played solitaire on the computer, and I also started playing casual games. Hidden Object games, Match-3 games, Time Management games, etc. I didn’t consider that real gaming, however, as look! It’s right there in the name. Casual games. Those aren’t REAL games, no, not like Call of Duty or anything like that.  I felt vaguely guilty for playing casual games, as if I weren’t hard enough, but I enjoyed them in part because I didn’t consider them video games; I would have recoiled if you said I was a gamer.

Then, Ian and I started talking about hardcore games because he’s an enthusiastic gamer. This was early 2012, and I was intrigued as I remembered the games I had played in the past. I confessed I played casual games as if were a crime, but that I hadn’t played a true hardcore game. I was, however, curious about them and asked him to pick one I might like. He suggested Torchlight as a ‘dip your toe in the water’ hardcore game, and a hundred hours later, the rest was history. I wrote about that time of my life in a post for Ian’s gamer blog, culturegamerwhich you can read here. I explained that while I enjoyed games for a variety of reasons, I was not a gamer. Oh, and that I would never, ever, ever play a first-person shooter (FPS). Ever.‡
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Rape is a Four-Letter Word

Rape.  It’s been in the news a lot lately as the Republicans are trying to redefine it to chip away at abortion laws.  It’s also in the news because Lara Logan, a journalist from CBS, was separated from her crew in Cairo and endured a sustained sexual assault.   My fellow blogger over at ABL’s place, Emily Hauser, wrote an excellent piece about it at her place (also cross-posted at ABL’s place and BJ).  Emily taps into the rage she feels at the prevalence of rape and how women are often burdened with the knowledge that whether one is raped or not often comes down to luck.

This is the opening to her post:

I’ve never been raped.

Why?  Because I’m lucky.

Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Go read the rest of her piece right now because I’m going to be riffing on it in my own post.  Go on, read it.  I’ll wait.  Let me know when you’re done.

Back?  Good.

Unlike Emily, I am not a lucky one.  I have been in two situations in which I endured recurring rape.  Those of you who read my blog regularly know about it because I post about it from time to time.  The first time, it started when I was seven.  The second, I was 21 and in a foreign country.  Both seemed like they happened a life time ago, and yet, I still deal with the aftermaths and the ramifications to this day.

I started this post a few days ago, and I abandoned it.  Why?  Because I saw what happened in ee’s threads about rape, both at BJ and at ABL’s place.   I saw how the excuses started pouring in, the rationale, the apologia.  “Yeah, it’s terrible that she experienced that, but…”

No.  There is no fucking but at the end of that sentence.   No one deserves to be raped.  No one.  Not even if she* was in the wrong part of town late at night.  Not even if she accepted a drink from a guy and he slipped her a Roofie.  Not even if she was dressed in tight clothing.  Not even if she went home with a guy she didn’t know and then changed her mind.

No one deserves to be raped.  Ever.**

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I’m Just a Girl

OK.  I got thoughts about feminism, being a woman, being girly, and related things, and I need to share them.  They are pretty jumbled at this point, so bear with me as I untangle the threads.  It started yesterday as I was sitting in my therapist’s room waiting for my appointment.  I will get to that later, maybe in another entry.

Actually, this started a little bit ago.  I have a party to attend this Saturday, and the dress is sexy/sophisticated.  I don’t wear makeup as a general rule for many reasons, but I suddenly had the desire to girl it up a bit.  I went to the MAC website (a colored girl’s best friend), and I did a little surfing.  I wear lipstick now and again, and I favor dark, bold colors.  I remember the last time I visited a MAC counter, they told me they were getting black-colored makeup in a few weeks.  I promptly forgot about it, but remembered it upon my visit to the website.  Now, in case you don’t know, black is my favorite color.  It’s like a second skin to me, and I wear it often.  So, I found a shade of lipstick called Cyber that is bluish-black, a lip pencil, and black nail polish for my toes.  I have no nails of which to speak on my hands, so I won’t bother with them.

Then, I got it into my head that I needed a cute pair of shoes.  I hate shopping.  I am extremely picky, and I have wide feet.  All I wanted were a pair of black platform heels in wide.  I scoured the intertubes, but I couldn’t find anything.  An offhand remark by a friend led me to looking at stripper shoes, and while I really liked the styles, I don’t DO four inch heels, let alone eight.  Plus, I don’t like patent leather–I prefer satin or suede.  So, while I love the look of this, this, this, and this (this is just hilarious), none of them matched up my specs.  I did find some cute black platforms with sensible heels (sensible stripper?)–for drag queens.

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