Monday, December 30, 2013

'Man of Steel': This is Not the Superman Movie You Were Looking For

So yeah, late to the... Well, if this movie got a party, it'd be a pretty unfun one.

WARNING

... matey
So tonight, I'd like to rant  a little about Man of Steel. I'm not quite sure how to organize this, so we'll see how this goes.


Okay, so first some small nit-picks.

1) I knew there would be a bazillion explosions. And yeah. The fight scenes were long and predictable. I mean, literally, Kal lands in front of a gasoline truck at one point, and I groaned when I saw the shot even beginning because I knew what was going to happen. And yeah, of course, there's a slam, and BOOM! The thing blows up. There really did not need to be that much.

2) I liked Lois (because Amy Adams WUUUUT!), but I'll admit that I had kind of hoped we'd get beyond the gorram "he saved me so I luuuurve him" bullshit. Asking  too much, I guess. Sigh.

3) If it took Kal "all his life" to adapt to the atmosphere on Earth, why does it only take Zod a few minutes? I mean yeah, he  was genetically modified to be a warrior, but  still. I call BS. 

4) Why did it have to be Kevin Costner? Why?

5) I didn't need the twenty minutes on Krypton at the beginning, especially since that  projection thing of Jor-El shows up and fucking explains everything  again  later. Ohmygod, seriously, dudes, learn to edit your scripts down. We do not need  to see it happen  and then hear  it explained  again. I mean, fuck, you could have at least had  Kal's projection say, "Let me tell you what  happened," and show time pass by a change in how much light was left outside. 

6) Oh yeah, the projection thing? What the Hell was that? It was  a computer programmed...  with his  consciousness? I mean, it could answer questions and such, and somewhat  differently from the A.I.s we see as  Kryptonian tech. So like... why? And alsoalsoalso, we already  saw  Jor die  at the beginning, why make a BFD about the projection getting "killed" later? There's this huge dramatic "BWAAAAA!" (c'mon,  Hans- it's getting hard to defend you, bro) as if it's some big shocker and we're finding out Darth is Luke's father while seeing it in theaters for the first time in 1980. Sigh.

Okay, now the longer critique, and the main  course. 

So, those friggin' Kryptonians. What the frak? I had absolutely no concern for  the fact that their planet was blowing up- I know I was supposed to feel sad, but  I didn't. Why? Because they had totally done it to themselves. It's heavily hinted at in the beginning, and  then made pretty explicit later by Jor-El's projection... thing... during one of the huge-ass exposition scenes between him and Kal-El/Clark. They had the technology to save themselves, in abundance, and they did nothing. And they had become basically an almost entirely loveless society, stagnant and arrogant (the exceptions being, of course, Jor-El and Lara). So you know something? When the council of elders or  whatever sticks Zod in his chryo-banishment thing (which... really? The planet blows and suddenly they're freed?), I'm pissed... for him. Because he's absolutely, 100% right. 

So that speech Zod gives at the end, about how he was created to protect the Kryptonians, how any act of violence had been for their good (he says  "greater good," but what he really means is the greater good of the Kryptonians, after all). It makes perfect sense, and I found there was a rather epic sadness to the  character. I liked him far more than Kal/Clark. And even though I knew Kal would break his neck before seeing it, I was still quite saddened by it. Not because Superman had killed- I didn't care about that much from this particular story's standpoint (which will be  my next gripe). No, it made me sad because Zod basically had no control over himself, had been driven to madness by his, erm, programming, for lack of a better word. He was trying to protect his people, an instinct  that had been embedded into his gorram genetic makeup.  

And so here I go on my disability high-horse. Killing Zod is like killing someone that is mentally incapacitated. Faora, Zod's second, even says she and the other followers of Zod lack any form of morality, to which we can likely associate lack of empathy. So, they're sociopaths. They trully cannot comprehend why committing genocide to save their own skin even could be  problematic. If put on trial, they'd be declared criminally insane and put in a psychiatric prison, not executed.  

So this in itself, in the story within this movie, is problematic. Our hero is killing someone that, sure, may need, um, some pretty fancy holding facilities, but would still likely not be executed. (Sound a tad familiar? Like, c'mon, at ... all?) That's just... gross. And it sort of comes out of nowhere. 

I say "sort of" because while there are a lot of heroic poses and sexy pan shots of Clark/Kal (exhibit A), really most of the movie is just him angsting over "who he really is," so to speak. And I guess the answer to that is "super-human,"  so yeah, Superman. But.

BUUUT.

He's not the Superman we all know. Not at all. He doesn't have the feel of  this guy

or this guy

or this guy

or any other vision of Superman I can possibly think of. (At least, not one actually living in the United States of America- this guy is from a different kind of canon.)

I felt like we were watching a 33-year-old man go through puberty. He was discovering himself, sure, but as a grown-ass-man, and it just made no sense and I couldn't feel attached to him at all.

I think part of the problem is Superman doesn't really have the "origin story" in the same way others do. Like, he starts out as the All-American-Boy in Metropolis,already knowing who he is. Sure, he has a background and backstory, but  there's never  a question over what he's supposed to do. He's supposed to fight  for "truth, justice, and the American way," you know? And sure, that may make  him kind  of  boring, but I've seen Superman be more interesting than Batman before, be shown capable of gritty emotion, actually be compelling

Although, to be fair, I'm not really sure I've seen Superman star in anything I didn't find him kind of boring in before, when he's not backed up by other members of the Justice League. And maybe that's the problem- for us to believe it's Superman, he can't really be compelling enough to be the star, or at least not have other people there. 

Full disclosure: I've never watched Smallville, so I could be missing something huge. 

So I thought Superman was boring  before, but this guy surprised me in being even boringer than I anticipated. Yes, I said "boringer." That's how boring I found Cavill to be.

And I think Goyer was trying to go for the gritty crap in making him kill Zod, but all it did was seem out-of-place and awkward, both in-story and with respect to my overall DC-knowledge-base. Even with Zod about to fry a family, it still didn't make a lot of sense. I actually found myself stifling a laugh as Kal starts yelling with the dead Zod in his arms, and I couldn't help myself but do this under my breath (my little sis laughed). 

And I went into it with a sincere heart yearning to enjoy  it, but I couldn't. Not really. It wasn't as bad as Daredevil, but it wasn't much  better than Green Lantern

I will say this: While yeah, the fight scenes  were overall too long, the one between Zod and Superman looked  just like a comic movie between two supers with powers like that should. The way the concrete was, indeed, crumbling under them, was  exactly  the  sort of thing I'd expect if, say, Green Lantern and Sinestro were fighting one another. Or what happens when members of the  Justice League go against their contra from the various rogues galleries. The fight in itself made sense- and, actually, I'll be honest, here. THAT fight was the only one I thought lasted long enough. Granted, there was still far too much broken  glass and fire for my taste. If they had taken it to a big field or something (which I would think any other Superman would have tried to do), it would have been perfect. Oh, yeah, and there would have been no family for Zod to use against Superman. 

Gah. So. Um. 6/10? 

So this  makes me even less hopeful about the upcoming  Bats-Supes pairing. 

Sigh.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wonder Woman and 'Witchblade'- A Proposal As We... I... Wait

When I talk about my desire for a Wonder Woman comic movie, it's usually framed as a complaint that I don't think it's likely. Then, for some reason, one of two things happens. Either 1) someone involved will deny that there's sexism impeding a WW movie, or 2) it  turns into a "Marvel is better than DC" slug-fest where the other person acts like since Scarlett Johanssen is in the background of The Avengers (and apparently a side-character in The Winter Soldier, too), somehow Marvel movies are Comics' Gift to Women and People of Color, and I should be grateful- and satisfied- with Marvel's accomplishments. 

I call bullshit on both.




1) This one comes from ignorance- not necessarily willful, but ignorance nonetheless. And said ignorance can come from male privilege, or from sheer lack of understanding, or some combination thereof. Because, believe it or not, it's not just dudes saying sexism isn't involved to me- it's women. Women that don't realize the arguments they lay out- like, "How can you expect them to make a Wonder Woman movie when Catwoman and  Elektra were flops?"- actually have sexist origins in themselves. And there are dudes that also don't realize that sort of dribble is sexist in origin. Saying those two movies set the precedent that people won't see female-starring comic book movies completely disregards the fact that those movies tanked because they were bad movies. Bad movies that happened to star women. I couldn't finish Elektra and I regretted finishing Catwoman

Another big argument is that her backstory is too hoakey or convoluted or unrealistic. Even though, you know, this guy has two movies already:

Being the actual origin of Norse mythology? Totes doable. Being associated with Greek mythology? Not at all.

Right.
 

Or they'll bring up the Invisible Jet. And yet, uh, how many franchises have incorporated cloaked planes or ships? Again, we can gain look to Marvel:  X-2 and The Avengers both had stealth planes, but we've also seen that  shit in like millions of sci-fi properties that take place in space. Her Invisible Jet would not have to look like this: 

Sigh.
My point is stuff that has passed just fine  in other movies gets used as excuses for why a WW movie won't happen or would be "way too difficult" or whatever. And the basis for using those things comes from her being  a woman. I'm not sorry if you disagree, either- open your eyes a little and  think about it.  


2) As you could probably tell from my wording above, I do not believe that having women peppering the background in movies means equality. Women are not the active people in the Marvel movies, none of them. They do side-things, they help out, they complicate the plots of other people or have sub-plots at most, but who really pushes the main plots forward? Who really resolves them?

Thus, I find it exceptionally naive to assert that Marvel is "good" at portraying women. It's better than DC, sure, but good? I don't think so. That monstrosity of Elektra is, after all, a Marvel movie. And it's condescending that I often get treated as if I should be glad Marvel is around doing what it's doing, as if that should be  enough to satisfy me and I have no right to complain  or critique- I should be on my knees in gratitude, not biting the hand that feeds me. 


The X-Men movies do have a lot of women in them, but  none of them are the stars, are the major players in the plot- the original three were about Wolverine and First Class was about the relationship between Lensherr (Magneto) and Xavier. You can argue that Pheonix in X-3 drives the plot, but it falls apart when you consider that she was doing Magneto's bidding  and, oh yeah, SHE BEGS WOLVERINE TO KILL HER. She's a mystery for the other men to unravel, a tool for them to use, and a plot point to angst around. Anything she "does" is at the whim of or intended to emotionally affect a man in the movie. Yeah. And Rogue's subplots always involve her relationships to and with men. Her angst surfaces the most in X-3 when she thinks Bobby is cheating, and she seeks to cure her mutant gene so as to win him back. 


The Avengers has three women with more than two lines, Black Widow, Agent Hill, and Pepper Potts. All Pepper does is walk around in booty shorts, so um, yeah. And perhaps I'm misinterpreting, but Black Widow waving a scepter at an energy beam isn't really what we're supposed to care about at the end of The Avengers- we're supposed to focus on Iron Man. Black Widow is waiting for orders- orders from a man- and not acting on her own, there. No, it's Iron Man's tossing of the nuke into the portal that is seen as the heroic act, not her closing the portal. Then there's Agent Hill. Yeah, I like her a lot and agree she's pretty kickass, and I would have loved more scenes with her as the centerpiece, but she's still only a side-character. A prominent one, to be fair, but she takes orders from Nick Fury and is kept out-of-the-loop of a lot of his schemings, and after her opening action sequence is subsequently always to the side of Fury. 

I could go on, but the point is that while sure, there are more women in Marvel movies by the raw numbers, and yeah, they do a little more, the "better" in the "better than DC" is a VERY  relative  term, and, frankly, doesn't amount to much for me, because DC is so crappy at it that there's hardly much to be "better" than in the first place.  I don't think Marvel is  good at portraying women, because to me, being "good" at it means not having women whose characterization and stories revolve around or are entirely dependent on men. They're better in that there are more women, and they get to do some cool stuff, but until a woman is the center of her own story, I can't bring myself to say Marvel is "good" at women.

Now, recently, it has been announced that Gal Gadot will be playing Wonder Woman in the upcoming Superman-Batman flick, serving as a sequel to Man of Steel. I have pretty gorram mixed emotions about this, and it comes down to hope. Hope that Snyder doesn't screw it up, because as far as I can tell or suspect, this is going to be a litmus test. If the movie does poorly, they're going to say it was because of the character of Wonder Woman, and thus use that as fodder for not giving her her own movie(s). If the movie does well, they'll heavily scrutinize reviews and nitpick what is said about Wonder Woman, and I imagine any negative feedback will be blown way out of proportion and, again, used as fodder for preventing Wonder Woman movies from being made.

I like the little letter to Zach Snyder here, written by Glen Weldon, except for something she brings up that also gets talked about in the interview above her letter. What I'm talking about is this shallow argument about her, that Wonder Woman is difficult to portray also because she's a "contradiction" because she's a warrior for peace. I think in today's climate of sporadic conflict, revolution, and suppression of the people, Wonder Woman is exceptionally topical and not, in fact, out-of-place. I mean, my God, there are how many conflicts going on right now, as I write this? Just because there isn't an international war going on, doesn't mean there aren't people fighting and killing each other all around the gorram globe. And as for the dude being interviewed, I emphatically disagree with him when he says WB has been trying to make a Wonder Woman movie, too- I've seen too many articles about proposed script ideas or finished ones being rejected by WB executives. 

So I guess, my hope is that Wonder Woman will be done well in this movie, and it will, like the dude in the interview suggests, be the backdoor for her to have her own franchise. Because he's right- she's not a sidekick. She should be front-and-center. 

In the meantime, though, I have a proposal.


Witchblade, people. A quick elevator-pitch summary is that it's a series about the women that inherit a magic gauntlet with a sword embedded in it. This gauntlet can only attach to women, so by default, because of the mythos surrounding it, the main characters are women. As the Wiki article will tell you, there have been all sorts of reproductions and off-shoots of the original American comic series, including an anime and multiple mangas in Japan, as well as an American television series that was actually the continuation of a made-for-TV movie that received mixed reviews, but enough positive ones to get said series a green-light. 

I remember that show, and I remember liking it. It was dark and gritty, but it starred a tough cop that kicked lots of ass while still having, you know, a heart. And while yeah, it only lasted two seasons, it remains the highest-rated show to ever be cancelled to date- it was cancelled because the lead actress, Yancy Butler, had personal issues, including addiction, to deal with. I don't blame her for that, but it needs to be emphasized that the show was doing well and received praise from reviewers and viewers alike. 

I remember the show and I remember liking it.  I remember being impressed with the fact that it had a female lead that wasn't scantily clad all the time. I'll admit, I've never read the comics, which yeah, as far  as I can tell, feature a lot of this:


Typical metal bikini for a comic
But the show, it was all about this:


Full leather? That's NOT skin-tight? GASP!
Maybe a little skin, but still, a loose-fitting
T-shirt underneath that leather jacket
The show (and movie) was about the original wielder of the Witchblade, an NYPD cop named Sara. I think if a movie was made that followed the lead of the TV show, that focused on Sara finding the Witchblade and her beginning acceptance of her new power and responsibility, it could be the start of a pretty awesome, female-centered, comic-movie series. And Hell, they could even make up their own star, if they though Sara was played out or something- that's what the Japanese animes and mangas have done, after all.  Just keep the fact that a woman has to inherit the Witchblade as part of the plot, and you're fine. 

I'm tired of waiting for Wonder Woman. While I'd love to see her in her own movie, I'm too skeptical to think it'll happen any time soon, so why not write a good movie about a sword-wielding homicide detective that just so happens to have been born with a uterus? 

Put this thing on an awesome female actress, emphasize the ass-kicking in the trailers, and you'll get dudes in the seats. I have no doubts.



Monday, December 9, 2013

Personal Plug (for my favorite band)

Warning: This one gets pretty personal and whatnot. If you read my blog only for the social critiques, you can probably avoid this post. Except go to this link and donate. 

I've mentioned The Damnwells at least once before. I think if ever I could say I have a "favorite" band, it'd be these guys. Their sound  is a mesh of country and rock and pop and folk. The lyrics are usually pretty "high level" poetry with respect to the metaphors and phrasing, but the messages are sometimes pretty friggin' emo. I find a lot of them have sort of a naked honesty quality, and one less, um, whiney than stuff like this* or this**- they're more complex, I guess is the best way to put it. Also, while a lot  of their songs are rather sad or what-have-you, they can also have fun and be silly sometimes. And yet whether serious or not, every song I've heard by them (and I think I've probably heard everything they have out so far) is pretty, for lack of a better word.

I hate that. "Pretty." That word has so much baggage attached, but it's the best word I can think of to describe what I hear. Like if you turned the music into a physical thing, it'd be admired and maybe sparkle.

Ugh.

Anyhoo, yeah. Like I said in the post from my own blog I linked just now, I know I want this song to be playing when I have my first dance as a married woman (if and when that happens- hope it's the latter):




So to expand on that blurb a little, this, like a high concentration of the songs in their catalogue, is painfully earnest and vulnerable. And real. I felt long before I heard it that love isn't like Disney. It's sometimes really messed up and awful. And that at some points, it's a choice- but that's what makes it beautiful. "Give me Heaven with a bit of Hell." Choosing to hold on through those moments of Hell is what matters and makes the Heaven all the more Heavenly; being willing to take those bad moments in exchange for the good, that's love. I don't expect someone to like me all the time, and I don't expect or remotely want them to worship me or think I'm the best person ever or that I'm flawless. No, I want someone  that'll be honest with me, that will be willing to be cruel to be kind, so to speak. But that will still want me, love me, even when I'm at my nastiest, or when life is doing nothing but throw shit in our eyes.

"Tonight and Forever" follows my firmstanding belief that love is chock-full of oxymorons and paradoxes and dichotomies. That it's not always easy, and often involves risk. Pain shouldn't be the default, no, but one should also be ready for at least episodes of discomfort. 


There are a lot of other songs by them I relate to on more than just the "I've  sorta felt that way before" level. Alanis Morrissette is the only other act I can say that about, and I've blogged about two of her songs before. What I'm talking about is phrasing and themes I've felt and thought on my own, without the aid of the music to get me there.  I'll prolly blog more about her in the future, but this post is dedicated to The Damnwells, and I actually take their songs too personal to blog about them individually. So I'll spat a few of particularly poignant meanings here and that'll be the end of it.



This is another favorite of mine, "Sleepsinging." I feel like this every time after a dude tells me he'd rather be friends than be romantically involved with me (even if he's willing to fuck me) (yeah, I don't get it, either). There's always a part of me that hopes he realizes he made a mistake later, but at the same time, I realize I was an idiot for thinking I had a chance with him, even if he had given me every reason to believe he actually felt "that way" too; I blame myself, for the most part, each time, even if that's not really objectively fair, and the more-removed part of me knows I did nothing wrong and any "misinterpretation" had to do with them leading me on (even if without realizing it- I mean, saying, "I wish more women were like you," and expecting it to be platonic? Kissing me in front of people we both know, but expecting it to be a "friend" thing?). And even if it hurts, being rejected, I can't help it if I'm not good enough for them whilst being rejected, but that doesn't mean I'm going to change for them. Besides, I could probably never be what they want or need, anyway, because chances are they either don't actually know, or they have some disgustingly high standard, a standard they can't admit to themselves is prolly impossible to meet. 

Another that's really important to me is called "Ragged Reprise;" it hasn't been on any albums except the soundtrack to their autobiography DVD that you can't actually buy (I have a copy, thank goodness) (and I somehow have the soundtrack, I think maybe iTunes?). So the best I can do is tell you what it's called and hope you find it somehow, sorry- I'm not linking to pirate sites on my blog. But the main refrain is, "So come, wrap me in sheets/ And walk me down all your streets/ And lead me from the darkness beneath/ Burn the light over me/ Sing this ragged reprise." I guess it relates to how I feel about people. The singer makes  a lot  of mistakes and is kind of broken, and is kind of scared of himself; and he basically begs for someone to understand him and ends up being dissatisfied. Because people suck- they let you down, they don't actually help you when you need it. They make you cry, they reject you, they turn away when you need them. The laundry list of shit I've lived through makes it so hard to relate to people, and even when I try to lean on them, it ultimately fails because I'm so... My shit is at a level that's just so far from anybody else. I just want to be forgiven for it all (as if I'm culpable for it, which I know isn't true- it's the guilt from pain), but even if it happens, I'm not as "whole" as the next person. Any "reprise" I get would, indeed, be "ragged." 





I also like this one, which isn't as straight-forward as the title suggests. The lyrics hit at a lot of the complexities of American citizenship- militarism, capitalism, excess, sexism, the prison-industrial-complex, religiosity v. materialism, alcoholism, and hypersexuality, colonialism and globalism, racism, propaganda... And it sounds cool. I'm a sucker for  3/4 time and  any other compound time signature. You'd prolly think I'd hate the US, given how uber-anti-oppression I am, but I don't. I don't ascribe to blind patriotism, but I don't see myself moving anywhere, even if I had the money. Unless Benedict Cumberbatch decided to marry me; I'd move to England in a heartbeat for him. But anyway, 'Murica... not quite Fuck Yeah,  but more like, "America... Alright."




This one is kind of heavy on the nigh religious imagery. But I like the image of a woman opening her arms to the sky and the stars that this song puts in my head, and I can relate to the singer in feeling as if I have nothing left to give because I've been trying so bloody hard for so long. I'm getting exhausted with life- I'm not quite thirty, and I feel eighty. I don't know how much I'll have to offer if I ever meet someone willing. Sigh. But it's both metaphorical and literal- there's a dual theme of nothing to give in the emotional/energy sense, but also in the practical, monetary sense, through their music, and I can relate to that, too. I sometimes wonder how different I would be if I had been wealthier. Not even wealthy, just not so poor. Between being emotionally exhausted and practically penniless... What a catch I am, eh? 




I enjoy this one- it's fun, but still very poetic. And the former almost-classicist in me loves all of the references- "Let's sing Grecian lullabies/I'm Dionysus in disguise," etc. These guys may get kind of sad sometimes, but they know how to have fun. And that's important. Even when being very sexual, they're still poetic and write actual lyrics- as said above, it's still pretty




Lastly, a brand new song  by the lead singer and songwriter, Alex Dezen. This is very typical of his pre-band  recording  stuff. I have samples and acoustic versions of a lot  of their  stuff when it's just Alex coming up with the original idea. I sometimes prefer the  demo to the final studio version- there's an almost painful beauty in the simplicity of just Alex's sort of gritty voice alongside the guitar. I don't know if  "None of These Things" will make  it onto the new album  they're working on, but for now, I'll just say this is the prettiest new song to my ears in a long, long time***.

So, new album?

They used a crowdsourcing website for their most recent album, one specifically for musicians, and they  have another going for the one they're working on now. The site is called "Pledgemusic," and it works slightly different from Kickstarter in that you pick  specific perks, rather than getting all previous ones a your donation increases.

Here is a link to the new album's page. Look and pledge. 


When I pledged for the first one, I got a few hours' worth of extra music on top of the digital album. And a shirt, and a signed CD version of the album, too. I opted for the poster and the extra music part this time. I thought they were closer to the goal than this a few days ago, but I must have  been mistaken. I hope they make it. As of this moment, they're at 63%. 

*Yeah, this is the song with prolly THE MOST emo bit ever: "The truth is that you could slit my throat/ And with my one last gasping breath/ I'd apologize for bleeding on your shirt."

**And don't get me wrong, I liked emo when it was new in the late 90s and early 2000s, and, frankly, I still do. It, too, has that kind of naked honesty, but it's youthful in its simplicity, a simplicity the Damnwells's breed of emo overcomes. I mean, they never reference "making out."

***The song  linked there, another of Alex by  himself, is actually the prettiest song I've heard in a LONG time; note it's only like two months older than "None of These Things." The point, though, is Alex and The Damnwells release great music, reliably so, and it blows other stuff out of the water.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pedantic Sexism; Or, How I Got Into Urban Dictionary

Because of the frequency  with which I point out oppression, a lot of people would say I'm just "looking for a reason to be upset" a lot  of the time. Actually, I know I've been told so on more than one occasion- and I don't think coincidentally, at least one of those people unfriended me on FB because, gasp, I think feminism isn't about men! So here's another thing I saw that got me thinking. That would prolly make those people think I'm overthinking.

My favorite website, as stated before, is called Overthinkingit.com; I've guested twice on the podcast and written one guest article so far. And while I've toned it down recently (realizing I was just acting like a fool and somewhat creepy/stalker-ee), I read everything they post. I wouldn't call myself a friend of any of the writers in the, like, "Come to my party," sense of the word (especially since they're all in different cities, snap!), no, but I put the site and its editors/regular contributors in the same kind of category I think a lot of people put  pop culture stuff they care about into regularly. I have a (probably, to them, creepy) emotional attachment to the site- it remains the place I feel safest about adding to a conversation online because there are still, even though it has been around for a few years, very few trolls.

A while back, they started getting some, though, and, unsurprisingly, they were all MRA-types getting pissed about gender politics and sexism against women. So the editors decided to scale back on identity politics for a while, and the trolls seemed to go away.

Then  they posted this harmless (and positively delightful), entirely not gender or identity politics piece about Lawful Good characters, using Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks as the exemplary figure. I loved it. And any content-related feedback in the comments suggests everybody else does.


Except look at those comments.

Some asshat started griping at the author about citing gifs and images, saying the author wasn't "giving credit where credit is due." Listing a few links in their comment and suggesting this author is in the slimy dredges of Intrahnet Societah because "even Tumblr bloggers are capable" of citing sources (the "capable" I found exceptionally insulting and deliberate- I could do an ableist sidenote, but yeah). Another person, Commenter (my new nickname for them), responded by pointing out that the "original sources" the Asshat posted can't be verified, to which Asshat responded with a link to a video about fair use (and of course being a condescending poo-head whilst doing so). Fortunately, the response from Commenter was well-thought and poignant, basically signaling the hypocrisy, and shut Asshat up.

So here's my thing.


Does this Asshat go around and nitpick at everybody on the Internet about "citations" of gifs and images? I highly doubt it.* Even if the article they commented on happened to be the first on OTI they said anything about/on with respect to copyright, they didn't say anything on any of the other articles on the site, nor did they make  any mention of all of the other articles on the site when criticizing  this particular  author- and nearly every. single. one. has "uncited" materials. So what makes this article stand out?

The author  is a woman. 


And in case you didn't look at the page, Asshat's username? It's actually "Someguy." Someguy




I'm giving this kind  of behavior the terminology of "pedantic sexism." Because the way I see this, it's an example of a dude coming into a conversation and mansplaining at a woman because she's "doing it wrong" somehow, and that the dude in question either would have phrased it differently (i.e. less arrogantly) or even wouldn't have said anything at all, were the person "in need of correction" a fellow member of the Penis Club. It's a dude nit-picking at a woman with a subtext that she's incorrect because of her ovaries. And with a sub-sub text that she would have  been given a pass if she hadn't been born with said ovaries in the first place. And what he's nit-picking? Doesn't even merit the nit-pick in the first place. And, although not every time, it usually involves flat-out ignoring the exact same thing being nit-picked when a dude does/did it, or ignoring even worse "errors" on the part of males.

And I'm insistent on the the "pedantic" part,  because yes, it's nit-picky. I'll be having an in-person conversation with a group, and a woman in the conversation may have one factual  error in her statement, while a man had three; another man will ignore the first man  and tell the woman to check her facts, and maybe she should just sit this one out because she's obviously confused. 

Or a hypothetical. 

It'd be like if you have two college kids in a chem class, a man and  a woman, fill in blank Periodic Tables, and the prof is a man; the woman gets the  number of protons in ONE box incorrect, while the male student, say, gets some letters wrong AND messes up some of the numbers; the prof ignores the man  and says to the woman, "Now,  you see this? This isn't correct, do you realize that? No, you didn't, otherwise you would have done it right. I know high school students that could do better, you know." And that would be  the end of the conversation.

Now, in this case, I'm sure this  Someguy character is, no doubt, generally an arrogant jerk. His reaction to SeminymousCoward, the person I called "Commenter," was exceptionally arrogant and condescending. But I think the whole "citation" bullshit was started  because of the genders of the author and this "Someguy" character.


And this just sends my Irk-O-Meter through the gorram roof. It's petty and pointless. It happens to me a lot, and  I see it  happen to other women all the time. And I don't think it's exactly the same as mansplaining, but rather a particular breed of mansplaining. Because it's over something petty or trivial, or at least petty or trivial in comparison to other things that could have been pointed out. And it should be in Urban Dictionary. But I looked, and it wasn't. So I submitted an entry. And wouldn't you know it, it was accepted!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Small victories deserve big excitement
And in case you don't feel like giving Urban Dictionary traffic (or if it's blocked on  your phone, like it is on mine for some reason), here's what I came up with:
When a man critiques/criticizes a small detail of something a woman has said or done and mansplains at her about it, either "correcting" her or shaming her for being "incorrect" somehow. Importantly, the gendered nature of the interaction indicates he would not have made any comment, or would have been less rude about it, if the woman were, in fact, a man. Bonus points if there are examples of other errors, or more egregious ones, by men in the same situation at that moment (i.e. comments on a discussion forum or a group of people talking).
Anne says, "I have only the best vegetables in my basket!" Tom says, "So do I! Look at these ripe tomatoes we both have!" Roger points at Anne and says, "Anne, don't you realize tomatoes are fruits? There are tomatoes in your basket, so you can't say you have only vegetables in your basket, now can you?" Anne says, "Wow, Roger, what a great example of pedantic sexism! I love how you go after me about tomatoes, when I wasn't even the person to mention them!"

Not that I really think my getting an Urban Dictionary entry approved will, like, end the phenomena. But I firmly believe that naming something doesn't give it power and that's the end; I believe that when it comes to societal practices and discourses of marginlaization, you have to have a name for something if you want it to change.

So, there you have it. I'm famous. Via a pseudonym.

NERDFIGHTERS.


*Also, if this dude cares so much about citations and source material, why didn't they also include in their comment proper citation information for the show Twin Peaks or any of the other shows/ movies/ etc. mentioned in the article? I think they picked gifs and pictures because that's easy and involves one Google search and copy-pasting a link, not Googling then searching a page  and deciding what and what not to include in a "proper" citation of a movie, etc. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quantifying Identity- "It Only Takes One Generation"

Story Time:

At a gathering for graduate students in a local bar, the inevitable, icky question of funding came up with people I was meeting for the first time from other departments. My roommie and I explained how ours worked, and part of this involved discussing the nature of graduate fellowships. I clarified that most  of our fellowship students are on one of two that last five years each, while I was a unique case with my two-year-master's-diversity one. Another guy said he was on a Ph.D. fellowship for diversity  because he's Hispanic. I said I'm Native American. He squinted his eyes and asked me, skeptically, "How Native American?"


"Wait, what?" I asked.

"How Native American are you?"

I stared, slack-jawed. Some other gals at the table started to say something like, "Now hang on, it's not like I get asked, 'How woman are you?' and I say, 'Uuuuuh, 98%!'"

"Well," he went on, entirely unphased, "I ask because there was this girl at my undergrad that's 1/32 Cherokee and had a full ride for it. I mean, the girl was as white as white can be, but she claimed this random, distant relative, and got free college, it seemed really unfair."



How cute.


I knew exactly what he was doing- implying that since I'm pale with dirty-blonde hair,  I must be a total poser, milking the system unfairly, etc.

So I puffed up and said, "You want to test how Native American I am? My grandpa was beaten by a priest for speaking Lakota at school, that's how Native American I am."

(Granted, it was actually my great uncle, but I was pissed- same generation, at least.)


"What?" he asked, confused. I repeated and he asked, "I'm sorry, speaking what?"

"Luh-coe-tuh, you know, my tribe's language?"

"Oooh, LAKOTA!" he said, as if he just now got it. 


"YES!" I said, "Lakota. Sioux, Oglala Lakota Sioux, like Crazy Horse?"

"Yeah..." he said, but his eyes squinted again. "So your grandpa?"

"Uh-huh?"

"Was beaten?"


"Uh-huh?"

"For speaking Lakota?"

"Yeah, exactly, so don't you dare go implying I have no connections to-"


"Well," he interrupted with, "so you got the diversity fellowship, that's great. Mine was a doctoral one, so it was for academic merit and diversity."

So we went from implying I'm "not Native enough" to having no actual academic credentials because I am "Native enough" in a few seconds. 


Now, this dude would prolly have gone off the rails if I asked "how Hispanic" he was. And would have thrown the table at me if I suggested he didn't deserve his fellowship because the only real reason he had one was because  he's a minority. But I'm not that kind of person. So I refrained.

I kind of wish I hadn't.

The above conversation is one indigenous persons in this country have over and over again, even if they have darker skin than I do. It comes in different forms and in different contexts- it could be from institutions testing their credentials; from non-indigenous persons they meet; or even from other indigenous persons themselves. This comes down to blood quantum.

Remember how that guy said, "...1/32 Cherokee..."? I'm sure you've heard people talk of their heritage that way before- "I'm 1/2 Irish." "I'm half Muggle." You know, as a way to highlight whatever portion of their heritage they wish to highlight.

With indigenous ancestry, there's an entirely different connotation.

Blood quantum is the shorthand way of saying "Amount of Native American blood in a person needed in order to 'count' as Native American." Blood quantum laws were set by the federal government and then adopted and modified by individual Nations as a means of controlling tribal membership and rosters. The federal government doesn't mind it, and there are always fights about it in Indian Country. Because yeah, resources are limited, so there needs to be a way of figuring out whose claims of ancestry are "legit" and whose aren't. But at the same time, there are so many problems with it, it's rather deplorable. But nobody can really come up with anything else. So it doesn't change.*


Why is it problematic? Well, remember how I said that guy would have flipped his shit if I had questioned his authenticity? Yeah, that doesn't really happen to any other ethnic/racial minority. It stemmed from cause to discriminate, oh sure, but the opposite happened with Blacks with the "one drop" rule, and now it stands as a means of affirmative action-esque policies. No other minority group has to provide government documentation in order to proclaim that as their identity. None. Period. Nor do they have to pass a gorram background/blood check. I think this is something  that gets taken for granted by other minorities. And I don't think anyone asking, "How Native are you?" (because again, we get asked this all. the. time.) intends to bring this  baggage up, but by invoking the question, they do. And coming from a white person, it feels like, "Fuck you, it's your ancestor's fault you'd even feel the need to ask that." When it comes from a minority, it feels like, "And I bet you've never had to answer the same question, have you? Must be  nice." Even if they  mean well, as if they  just genuinely are curious, blood quantum is an underlying, unspoken  presence in the conversation. And other people just do not understand this. The authenticity  of claims of indigenous heritage is brought into question daily by the government. And that leads to general questions from everyday people, like  that guy in the bar.

Another reason is you have to prove it through documentation of your lineage. So if there's a missing spot on the family tree, PRESTO! go home, you don't count. Have a nice day. It's really easy to get kicked off the roster because of some bureaucratic error, rather than because you actually are not qualified. 


Another reason it's problematic is the rules themselves keep changing. A few years ago, for example, the Cherokee Nation declared it would no longer allow people descended from slaves to count. A whole huge group of people were taken off of the Cherokee roster as a result. And yes, there are economic issues to consider, and they claimed they were doing so in order to keep resources in the hands of people whose blood ran Cherokee, but the Freedmen are descendants of people immersed and bred within the Cherokee Nation's culture. What the Cherokee did itself isn't my main concern, though, but rather why. The fact is, they were having trouble with their rosters and dealing with blood quantum, and kicking some people  off the dole made that easier to do. And other tribes change their rules all the time as their resources shrink and as their lands are encroached on more. Never mind whether those people getting kicked off identify in their heart of hearts as that tribe- it's the bottom line taking precedent over some people because others are suffering.

And that relates to the next reason it's problematic. Again, the rules began with the federal government. And it's entirely colonialist for a government to tell the people it has conquered the rules for identifying as part of that group. The tribes carried those rules over because they didn't have any other model to go off of- legal documentation to prove status? Entirely foreign to indigenous peoples in North America. I don't know how other tribes work, but I know back when this shit was made into law, my people, the Lakota, would accept you if you wanted and earned it. There was no document to sign, you just had to prove you lived Lakota, loved Lakota, breathed Lakota, and would die Lakota. The document thing may sound easier, but it's not- it's a lot more exclusionary to say a person's blood has to be pure enough than to say their heart does. And again, the government doesn't set these rules for any other group, so the only people whose cultures are being defined all have brown skin and have been sequestered onto Reservations.

The main reason this is problematic, though, is that it's an institutionalized, bureaucratized form of modern genocide. 


Think about it.

If a person has to pass a threshold of "Indianness" in their blood before being allowed to claim it as their identity, it's only a matter of time before Native Americans will die off. Even if we keep "breeding" with each other, the way the blood quantum laws are so finnicky with some tribes, if you're a mix of enough stuff, even if it's more Native stuff than white, if you can't claim enough of one tribe's blood, you're out. I'm not into inbreeding, and we shouldn't have to resort to that sort of thing in order to retain the "purity" of our blood just so that the government will be happy. I see no reason why mixed bloods shouldn't count, so long as they believe it in their hearts.


My mom has a saying, "It only takes one generation." Hers was the first generation to grow up off-res on her dad's side. And she is 100% city girl as a result. In one generation, the language, the skills, the culture- pretty much gone in her family.  I have more "Native heritage" than her because I learned how to do things like start a fire and grow vegetables from my friends and "family" out in Washington- and they're white. Her sister and one of my cousins are sort of going back to their roots, so to speak (I think my cousin is trying to learn Lakota, and she works on the res now), but the only way for my cousin's kids to officially count would be for her to marry someone with HELLA more Native blood than she has- and her fiance isn't at all Native American, so that's not happening. So she can immerse herself and her family on the res all she wants, the government isn't going to give two shits unless she bangs a Real Live Indian.

"Why should you let the government decide? If you want to be Indian, be Indian!" you say. Again, I point you to the uniqueness of blood quantum laws. They do not exist for anyone else. So the government has already said our identities need to be codified and quantified, ours and ours alone. There's no blood test to be American- but there's a test to be Native American. Which is pretty fucking ironic, given all of the ridiculously hypocritical nativism arguments being spouted by white people afraid the Mexicans are going to ruin the country. You want  Homeland  Security to secure your borders, do you?



I think that image is pretty telling- notice how those Apache warriors have guns? That's escalation. It shows how we aren't dying off, we're adapting. 

And I say all this as someone that doesn't "count." I'm 1/16 Lakota; that's not enough. My mom's generation is the first to be raised off-res, but the last to make blood quantum.

"It only takes one generation." 


With the birth of me and my siblings and cousins came pretty much the death of the Lakota line  in my family. Unless by some miracle  I meet a nice guy that happens to be Lakota- because call me selfish, but I'm   having enough trouble with men as it is, so I'm not about to limit my search to Lakota men.

But  as resources shrink, as demands increase, blood quantum laws are going to get stricter and stricter. And there may be some ridiculous reversal where they all of a sudden get really loosey-goosey, but in all honesty, I don't think  a swing like that would work. I think there are too few of us left for it to make a lasting difference. And anyway, individual tribes would  have to disappear. Hell, they kind of already  are.

But.


We are not dead yet.  And  yeah, Indian Schools stopped running  a while back, the last being Stewart Indian School, closed in 1986. So our culture isn't technically illegal  any more.  But legacies  of direct violence such as war, rape, and forced removal, as well as indirect violence, such as discrimination and  blood quantum, are doing their job, and I worry that within a few more generations, there won't be enough of us left to hold onto our lands, to keep our cultures alive. 

I wonder what I'm going to tell my children. And it frightens me, and it saddens me, and I mourn for the identity they won't really be able to have. Because how can I tell them they're Native when they're two generations away  from "counting" and every signal they get from the entire United States culture is telling them that? How can I tell them they're Lakota when I already have asshats like the one in the bar going after me? When they're prolly going to look whiter than I do?

It's prolly a good thing I'm single and am nowhere near having my own kids  yet, otherwise I'd have to more seriously think of this shit, and I'd prolly have a huge meltdown.


I get angry when people ask "how" Native American I am.  And I get hurt. And  I'm not really sure how to end this, except to ask anyone reading to think next time they start to ask somebody claiming Native ancestry "how much" that ancestry is. Because it's bad enough we live with the knowledge we're being measured by the government  every day. It's bad enough we know there are government-sanctioned practices acting as the norm today that are gradually killing us off. 

We don't need you reminding  us. 


*I realized after writing this I was almost uncannily channeling this gentleman here, so I figured I should give credit where subliminal credit is due. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wide Open Spaces

I had the weirdest thing happen today, and I figured I could turn it into some deep message to anyone that gives a damn, so read on, if you care.

The seating at my favorite on-campus coffee spot, which  is also attached to a cafeteria, was uber full this morning. I'm guessing it was the rain- I imagine I wasn't the only person with the idea of just camping out and working until my meeting, rather than having to go in and out of the rain a bunch of times. No big deal- it happens, right? So I stood around for nigh thirty minutes waiting for a table to clear up in order to meet a former student about grad school rec letters. As soon as one cleared, I put my stuff down, then hopped over and ordered a yummy hazelnut  latte.  

I had been typing, my coffee cooling beside me, as I waited for less than five minutes when this old dude started putting his stuff on my table in vacant seat (for the student). And  I watched, flabbergasted, as his companion started doing the same thing to the young lady, also typing and with the remnants of a coffee and muffin, at the table beside mine. Neither even asked if it was okay, they just did it. 

I said I was waiting for someone to come, could they please find an empty chair, and the guy at my table said this "isn't a place for students to wait around."

Students, huh?


I corrected him and said that I'm an independent instructor, waiting for a student to show up so we could discuss recommendation letters, and he sat down and said, "This is a place for eating, not meeting," as he pulled his bread (I think pumpkin...? some sort of sweet loaf he got from the coffee shop, at least) out of its little wax baggie. 

I held up my own coffee and said, "I paid for this coffee, so I have every right to be here, and you're also obviously meeting with someone, too, so I see no difference between the two of us." 

He pointed at my laptop and said, "You paid for your coffee, but this isn't a place to work, it's a place to eat." 



"Oh really?" I asked. "So are you going to go around to every single other person on a laptop or whose food or drink is empty and tell them to leave? I'm not moving, sir, I paid for my coffee, just like you paid for yours, and this is a public space, so you can't tell me I have no right to be here." 

He grumbled something incoherent, then turned toward his companion and the two started speaking in another language to each other while glaring at me and the other woman whose table had been invaded (obviously they thought she shouldn't have been using her laptop, either). The other guy got up for something just as my student showed up, at which point  the other young lady offered her table to me. I said, very loudly, "Well, there's someone at your table, too, so that's not really going to work." I looked poignantly at the guy across from me. He glared, then moved to her seat, and when his companion returned, they continued to mutter and glare at me as I started talking to my student about her applications. After a few minutes, they seemed to get over it and I'm assuming started talking about other stuff, although I still couldn't understand  them.

Now these two old men... I don't know if they were professors or what, but  they were entirely inappropriate and rude and hypocritical- I had paid for the space I was occupying by buying that coffee that was still too hot to sip. Further, they seemed to have no concept of how public spaces work, let alone ones on or near a university campus- wherever there's a chair, bench, or some other thing you can sit on, there are going to be people camped out, working. Do they go up to complete strangers at the Starbucks off the highway and tell them to leave because they have a book or a laptop? And there's the fact that they didn't ask. And then being so overt about talking trash about me in another language? 



I mean, I seriously have trouble understanding/comprehending how anyone  would think any one  aspect of their behavior was okay, let alone all of it combined!


Of course, I could offer the entirely opposite story from when I was at an airport Burger King once and this adorable old man  in a suit asked to share my table, and I ended up seeing pictures of his grandchildren, including the newborn  he was about to visit. Same situation, different approach, different results. 

This  makes  me  think,  though.

Because while studying (or at least looking like you are) or meeting  people for official stuff (or at least looking like you are) is totally expected in open spaces on campus, even doing so, gasp, socially (!). I do think I'm kind of judgy about other stuff. Like I find it kind of more than a little inappropriate when I see people asleep on benches or soft chairs around  campus. Our  Union has a whole bunch of couches and cushioned chairs on one of its floors, and I swear, I don't think I've ever been  there without seeing at least one person napping. And that just... I dunno, it irks me and weirds me out. And I feel kind of bad about being  judgy, and I usually end up thinking something closer to, "Oh God, that poor person must be so drained and overworked!" but not  until after, "What a slob!" sits there for a few seconds. But I do know I'd never let myself fall asleep in public like that.


And  here's  another thing that irks me: When say you're at a coffee shop, and there's a table big enough for six, and one person is at it, alone, with all of their crap spread all over the table  so a person would either have to move it for them, or they'd have to do it themselves in order for the space to be shared. Now I understand  that sometimes you're alone  and the only table left is the big one, but why spread your stuff, except to passively say, "Fuck off," to anyone considering  asking to share? Again, the idea of acting that way just isn't brain-wrappable  for  me. 

Where does a body draw the line? When does  a body know  when it's okay to ask and when  it's not?

And I feel bad and a little useless for not really even knowing how to begin to answer that. Except maybe to say, "Follow your gut," and hope it's enough? I mean, I know I usually try to take up as little space as possible, and if I'm alone and it looks like someone else needs to sit, I'll sometimes call out to them and offer my spare seat. And I always, always  ask permission to sit with a stranger.


So I guess for once I don't really have much of a deep point to make. I just know that while I may  be kind of rude in my head, I'm not remotely as huge of an asshole as either of those dudes this morning. And no, that's not a very high standard to use, it's better than throwing my stuff down in front of people and trying to make  them feel like crap.

And I'll also say, albeit slightly bashfully, that I'm kind of proud of myself for not just sitting there silent or, worse, getting up. I stood my ground- by sitting on my fat, Native American  ass, to be fair- even was a little snarky, which isn't something I'd usually expect of myself. So, uh, go team?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Girly Nerdery 2: Cosplay, Cons, and the Intersection of Rape and Geek Cultures

I absolutely,  in my heart of hearts, believe that the way creepers at conventions think it's okay  for them to do their creeper thing at said conventions is a direct result of a combination of both rape culture and the hyper-sexist environment of geek culture. It doesn't matter whether a woman is  fat,  thin, blonde, brunette, white, of color- women are treated like crap at cons and in geek culture.  

TRIGGER WARNING: I'm going to be discussing real sexual harassment I've experienced at an anime convention, as well as bringing up other real-life accounts I've heard of online. 

There are lots  of posts online about how women at cons get harrassed. I think there's a strong misconception that only women in skimpy outfits face it, or only heavy women. I saw this on FB and I think it gets at some of this:
Contra to what a lot of people  on the comments there and  on the place I saw it on FB think, this image isn't about fat-shaming per se. It's about how women of any shape and size are treated like crap at conventions- heavy women, like the woman brave enough to draw this, are made fun of for being "too fat" for their costumes (much like this gal was here). BUT. The strip also shows how women with that "ideal" body type are called sluts and oggled at by the same people, and their "legitimacy" is constantly tested. 

In May, I hosted a bachelor/bachelorette party at an anime convention. Sort of. It was held at the  con, during the con, and myriad  of the  guests did con things throughout the weekend. I didn't- another friend and I got a room together at another hotel, so whenever I was at the convention hotel, I was running back and forth doing things prepping  for the party. So I was never in costume. I did, however, try to be somewhat in cognito by bringing a nerdy shirt for the day  I knew I'd be around  the con more. When waiting for an elevator whilst wearing this  shirt, a very tall, bulky dude that looked like David Bowie in Labrynth, except with  green skin, said to me, "Can I have your autograph?" I chuckled and said  it'd be pretty useless. He stepped closer and said, "Well how about you come up to my room?"

"Ah, no, I'm not that kind of person," I said, backing away toward the larger, open space of the lobby. I stopped parallel with a group of three guys that weren't in costume, but rather really outlandish  hats. They apparently had been watching and listening to the whole thing, because they were sniggering and looking at me. 


"You sure?" Bowie said, taking a step in my direction. 

I shook my head, but my body froze. Bowie glared at me for a moment, then said, "Psh, cunt," as he started to turn  around. The  hat guys started laughing as I bolted.

I found a staircase and took that upstairs.


Then about an hour later, as I was getting ice for the party, a dude in a Mad Hatter (ala Johnny Depp) costume said as I was passing him, "Hey, baby, where you goin' in such a hurry?" tipping his hat up a little as he overexaggeratedly looked me  up and down.

In my shock, I blurted, "Party!" as I started to walk much, much faster, which meant I had to go past him. 

From behind me, I heard him say, "The party's right here!" 

So to clarify, I was propositioned inappropriately not once, but twice, while 1) having absolutely no "provocative" clothing on, and 2) while still being the same shape I've been for ages, i.e. overweight. Yeah, big boobs, but in a shirt like that, plus with the sweater-wrap thing I had on over it, I prolly looked more like a black-and-grey blob than anything else.

Yeah, anecdotal evidence isn't always generalizable, but given the plethora of pieces about harassment at conventions and shady stuff that gets reported then ignored by the people that should care, it's hard to deny there's a problem. And it's obvious there needs to be better security and measures for people to report violations of their privacy or person.

But the misconception that it only happens to hot chicks in skimpy outfits is I think one of the biggest problems. This article from Kotaku has a good cluster of variant incidents, but some "highlights," if you will:


  • A security guard getting up in the grill of a journalist.
  • A game developer kissed a PR gal's head in a bar, and another kissed her neck.
  • Another PR gal was accused of not doing her presumed job of taking a picture with a dude that thought she was a "booth babe."
  • Another journalist had a man take a zoom-in shot of her breasts.
  • One dude confessed to another that his usual strategem of making women to feel down on themselves in order to bed them wasn't working.

One thing all the women in this piece have in common is they either presumably or explicitly weren't even in costume. And you'll notice (if you read the piece) the rather entitled reactions of some of the men- that they have every right to pick up on these women and get in their space, and it's the women violating some social norm by not fucking them or not being pleased with their behavior. 

You know what that is? Rape culture.

I've had countless instances where I was harassed on the street or in a mall or something. I've been followed into stores, I've been cornered in buildings. I've had men call me a "cunt" and a "bitch" for telling them something as innocuous as, "No thank you," (in a very timid voice, I may add). And all this while being overweight, not a "hottie" at all. 

And I've had people that find out ask  me if I was wearing a short skirt or low-cut top. I've had people ask if I fought back when I was raped (and some even say I "must not have been trying hard enough" when I say that yes, in fact, I did). As if I somehow was at fault, or at least partially to blame. I can't win- just by being a woman, I'm both a cunt for resisting, but to blame for not resisting enough. My only purpose is to please men, and anything that goes "wrong" with them is my own doing. 


This  is what conventions are like, only at conventions, it's concentrated and hyperactive. I think maybe  it has to do with the pseudo-anonymity of being there- it's not in the "real world," so inherent assholery and douchebaggery are magnified and less restrained. I think this is intertwined with the sexism in geek culture that gets so adamantly defended by men, too, of course. I've discussed some of this already; and my next "Girl Nerdery" post will most definitely tackle this from the pro-feminist perspective ala Anita Sarkeesian and the backlash anyone expressing dissatisfaction gets.

But men at conventions are, after all, men from the real world, so the contradictory/paradoxical assumptions about women irl translate to cons pretty smoothly. And I think the tight spaces and brief timeframe make the behavior in itself more extreme. If the idea of geek-culture is a boys' network, conventions are the closest to the tangible manifestation of that- so it follows for women at conventions to be mistreated and viewed as subordinate at best, as entirely lacking autonomy or individuality or even humanity at worst. 

There's this entirely false assumption by men at cons that women there are only present to provide entertainment and sexual gratification for them, the men. If women aren't buying into cheesy pickup lines, the reaction is, "Psh, women." If they don't want their picture taken, they're a "bitch." There's no second thought to asking them entirely inappropriate questions like their bra cup size, their sexual fantasies, if they'd go to the man's hotel room- it's deemed "harmless" by these men. 

Women in costumes are called names, judged negatively for being dressed as such, but they're also called similar things for not taking lewd remarks as complimentary. If they voice a complaint, they "shouldn't have been dressed like that, anyway."* And like  with the "fake geek girl" bullshit, they're assumed to now know anything about what they're there for.
Wearing a costume does not equate free gropes or open legs, let alone does the mere state of being female at a convention. Gay or transgendered doesn't mean a person's internal thought process is, "Please, please, make a comment about your semen winding up on my face!" Having ovaries doesn't entitle anyone else to the right to copping a feel. 

And yeah, I think a few reasons people should find this (more) disturbing (than they do) is the overall lack of response from convention personnel, the visceral reactions against anyone speaking out (the comments section on that Kotaku piece, for example, turned into a blob about how the dude that took the camera from the guy that took the boob-picture was the asshole last time I looked, for example- even men  trying to do something about it are attacked), and the way women are basically expected to expect that kind of treatment. Men aren't held accountable, women  are lashed out against, and we're supposed to remain silent. This last is the most disempowering: We're expected to literally take  it lying down in some instances, and it's a big shocker if we don't.

That's rape culture.


And I think one thing that's rather sad about it is the environments within conventions are entirely constructed and created by people, and those people do nothing, or not enough, to create a space free from harassment or violation; and people choose to go to these things without stopping to consider that maybe, just maybe their impulse is inappropriate and invasive. And  why should these guys tone it down? They don't face repercussions! 

Women at conventions aren't there for men to oggle. They're there because they're fans, too. And their legitimacy is questioned- it's a disgusting  double-standard that is entirely constructed at each convention. Wil Wheaton,  bless is nerdy heart, has this great quote from The New Statesman on his Tumblr:
"A man can wear a bow tie and a fez and he's in costume. A woman can spend hundreds of pounds or weeks of her time on an exact replica of an outfit a minor character wore onscreen for five minutes, whilst reciting  the Prime Directive in Klingon, and she's an attention-seeking slut."
I'd go further  and say that, should she decide the comments she's getting are inappropriate and  have the gall to say as such,  she'd be called even worse things. 

Now I've been to two conventions besides the one I talked about above. I was with a large enough array of people each time, and with enough men, that I don't think much, if anything, negative really happened to me- it would have stuck  with me. So make no mistake, I'm not saying every woman that goes to a convention is going to get slut-shamed, made fun of, propositioned, and attacked. But what I am saying is that it happens a lot, and when it does, it's a reflection of the values of society writ-large and geek culture specifically.

And that is rape culture. 




*Nevermind that the most popular female characters are also usually pretty gorram skimpily-clad, but that's a topic big enough for its own post.