June 14, 2012

What’s Wrong With The Women of AMC?

Filed under: Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , , — Rachel @ 10:46 am

clockwise from top left: Lori Grimes (The Walking Dead), Betty Francis (Mad Men), Sarah Linden (The Killing), and Skyler White (Breaking Bad)

 

This post contains spoilers for the four AMC shows being discussed.  All spoilers are contained behind the jump.

As a fan of AMC’s original series, I’ve begun to notice a strange trend when it comes to the way people have reacted to the women on these shows, specifically:

The Walking Dead’s Lori Grimes, Zombie Apocalypse Survivor

Mad Men’s Betty Francis, Homemaker

The Killing’s Sarah Linden, Homicide Detective

and

Breaking Bad’s Skyler White, Homemaker

This is how these women have been described by various recaps and reviews:

Sarah Linden is: “a bad mother” and “the worst police officer on earth”.

Lori Grimes is: “incredibly stupid”, “irritating, self-righteous, hypocritical”, and “annoying.”

Betty Francis is: “selfish”, a “vicious, terrible mother”, and “the least sympathetic character” on the show.

and the actress who portrays Skyler White, Anna Gunn, discussed that she is found to be an “annoyance” on the show, in an interview with Vulture.

If you haven’t watched some or any of these shows, you might be wondering what awful behaviors and actions have lead to such strong hate among viewers.  To very briefly recap the storylines of each of the women listed and pictured above: (SPOILERS Within)

 

(more…)

April 9, 2012

There’s Way Too Many Women On Television…Or Not

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , — Rachel @ 12:11 pm

 

 

You know what’s really been lacking on television lately?  White, straight men.  At least according to the co-creator of Two and a Half Men, Lee Aronsohn.  In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Aronsohn had this to say about the recent uprise in female centered sitcoms:

“Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods,”

and

“…we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation,”

 

After all, there’s so few male main characters on current sitcoms.  There’s only: Wilfred, Louie, The League, Archer, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Unsupervised, American Dad, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, The Cleveland Show, Napoleon Dynamite, Raising Hope, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Eastbound and Down, Californication, Shameless, The Office, Community, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and of course, Two And A Half Men.

Women, meanwhile are taking over television with: New Girl, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Girls, Weeds, Are You There Chelsea, Whitney, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23, Cougar Town, and 2 Broke Girls.

For those of you keeping track, that brings the grand total to men: 21, women: 11.  So despite the fact that women are half the population, but helm a third of sitcoms, we’re reaching “labia saturation” on television.  Riiiiight.

Hollywood seems to consistently struggle with the inclusion of women in films and television shows.  And it’s important to remember, that even when women are the main focus of shows and movies, it’s not always a good thing.  ABC’s newest comedy calls the main character a “Bitch” right in the title of the sitcom.  2 Broke Girls hasn’t been without plenty of controversy30 Rock, Whitney and plenty of other sitcoms have recently attempted to make rape hilarious.

Aronsohn has since apologized for his comments on twitter.  Considering how he regularly (and I’m sure will continue to) treat women as second class citizens on his show, I can’t say I take his apology too seriously.  According to Aronsohn: “What makes men damaged?  Sorry, it’s women.”

September 25, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Kotaku’s Woman Problem

Filed under: Gaming,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Rachel @ 1:47 pm

The image above was created with a sample of recent post titles, and the comments I found on those posts.

Gawker has 8 different blogs, each with a different focused topic.  Kotaku is Gawker’s gaming blog, and it’s little surprise that they also have a bit of a problem when it comes to women.  While in recent months the site has semi-frequently posted about the issues that women in gaming face, and the misogyny that’s usually allowed to run freely, their comment moderation shows a serious case of hypocrisy on the part of the editors.

While men are the majority of Kotaku’s writers (they compromise the entire daily editorial team), there are two female contributors who write occasionally for the site.  A majority of the comments on the bios of Leigh Alexander and Lisa Foiles comment on their looks, or belittle them for constantly drawing attention to the fact that they’re female.  (Interesting side note – neither woman writes the posts that deal with gender issues in gaming – these pieces are almost exclusively written by the all-male editorial team mentioned above.)  A comment on one of the women’s bios included a death threat which was visible for months before it was finally removed, and the user banned.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for gathering gaming news that doesn’t also include having to read through sexist drivel.  IGN, Joystiq, and Destructoid all have the same problem.  However, while a site like Destructoid makes a mockery of a petition against Duke Nukem, Kotaku asks why girl gamers don’t get respect, then retweets someone who reduces one of the female staff members to her breasts.  Oh, and the featured comment on one of the women’s latest posts was “Tits! Nice!”  Talk about a hostile work environment.

No matter what is written, no matter the topic, the focus always becomes their appearance.  On every one of Lisa Foiles’ recent posts, the majority of comments are sexually harassing, threatening, belittling, and just plain cruel.

Kotaku wants to draw attention to women’s issues in gaming and hear our thoughts but provide nothing even slightly resembling a safe space for us to do so.  If they are promoting comments that reduce their female staff to their cup size, why the hell would I want to register for an account to contribute to the discussion of “I’m An Anonymous Woman Gamer“?

My guess for the reason behind this completely contradictory attitude is that if they remove comments and ban users who contribute misogynistic comments on a daily basis, their readership will suffer. (Something that I don’t think any Gakwer blog is willing to risk after the redesign.)

Kotaku’s own commenting guidelines claim, “…break the rules, get off topic, start calling names, and you’re going to get banned.”  However, with a complete lack of enforcement, the “guidelines” are joke, and utterly worthless.

 

 

 

 

July 24, 2011

Comic-Con Recap: Oh, You Sexy Geek!

 

I went to Comic-Con this year; on Thursday, I attended a panel titled “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” a discussion of the implications of “sexy women” in geek/nerd culture, and how that may or may not be used to pander to men.  The panel consisted of moderator Katrina Hill and panelists Clare Kramer, Adrianne Curry, Bonnie Burton, Jennifer Stuller, Chris Gore (who almost no-showed), Clare Grant, Kiala Kazabee, and Jill Pantozzi.

I was excited for the panel, considering I am frequently frustrated by the media’s exploitative use of women (whether it be the host of a show, such as Olivia Munn, or booth babes at E3) to appeal to a market that they treat as exclusively male.  However, my expectations were quickly dashed when discussion of media literacy was tossed aside in favor of accusations of jealousy.  Bonnie Burton and Adrianne Curry mused that women who were critical of sexy geek culture in any way were just jealous, had no confidence, and were projecting their issues with self-esteem onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume.

When Jennifer Stuller (one of the creators of the upcoming Geek Girl Con) suggested that women who criticized “sexiness” were more than likely deconstructing the media, and by extension a society that tells women their worth lies in their ability to appeal aesthetically to men, she was rebuffed by the other members of the panel.  Later, Stuller attempted to turn the discussion towards media literacy, to which Clare Grant responded that she doesn’t read magazines, therefore the media has no influence on her whatsoever.  Adrianne Curry added that women criticize one another “because we’re all a bunch of bitches.”

Attitudes such as “Slave Leia kicked Jabba the Hutt’s ass while wearing that bikini – that is EMPOWERING!” and “I can’t help it that some of the characters I like to cosplay as are scantily clad” were met with rounds of applause from almost everyone in the audience.  When the moderator mentioned that one of her friends posted a picture of her seven year old daughter wearing Slave Leia costume on Facebook, Adrianne Curry responded that there was nothing wrong with the human body, and that the U.S. is way too purtinical and prudish.

There were many disappointing moments that had me almost leaving the panel entirely, but nothing was quite so horrifying as the one contribution Chris Gore made when he finally showed up five minutes before the panel ended.  He took the stage, apologized for being late, and said “Hey, I’m here to represent all the guys in this room who want to stick their penis in every woman up here on this panel.”  There was nervous laughter and a bit of applause.  I don’t even need to explain how disgusting and problematic that is.

The only good moment during the entire hour, was when the moderator called out Seth Green, who was looking disappointed with the discussion, sitting in the front row of the audience.  Katrina Hill asked if he wanted to contribute or share his thoughts, and he unexpectedly took the mic for about fifteen minutes.   As Hill explained to the audience what the audience would know him from (Robot Chicken), Jennifer Stuller mentioned that she had seen him promoting media literacy for the Girl Scouts.  Seth responded that he felt media literacy is incredibly important in the ever-increasing, constantly-unavoidable, media saturated world we live in.  He described how celebrities hold tons of influence over decisions people make, whether it’s over what product to buy or what sources can and should be trusted, and that certainly shouldn’t be the case.  Green said that the media promotes a lot of “poison” and that girls, kids, and even adults need to know how to keep that poison from infiltrating the way you think, make decisions, and live.

When I returned from Comic-Con, one of the first things I did was go in search of that video.  It is amazing and here it is:

July 1, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Criticism Does Not Equal Censorship

On Monday, The Supreme Court announced their ruling in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (representing the video game industry).  I was ecstatic.  Despite how often I write about the horrid depictions and unnecessary violence against women in video games, I’ve never called for their censorship.

To give a little backstory and context of the Supreme Court case, the law in California was an unprecedented restriction on media.  Films are self-governed by the MPAA, not the law, and it works.  An employee at your local theater who sells a ticket to an R-rated film to an underaged kid, is not criminally liable.  While, the video game industry has an equivalent with the ESRB, the law that Leland Yee proposed would hold cashiers and retailers criminally liable for selling an M-Rated game to a minor.  Especially absurd, considering the FTC report released earlier this year, that rated the ESRB as the most successful self-governing body in the entertainment industry.  X-Play’s Adam Sessler does a great job of explaining the ramifications of this law being upheld in his most recent episodes of Sessler’s Soapbox, available here and here.

There seems to be frequent confusion in the interpretation of my posts – that by expressing frustration with misogyny in the video game industry, that I have a problem with violence in video games, or I think they should be subjected to censorship.  It’s certainly not the case.  I find people like Jack Thompson, and Carol Lieberman abhorrent.  Using video games as a scapegoat, and making up information as you go along has potential to be incredibly harmful.  Leland Yee, is similar to Thompson and Lieberman in his views on video games (he certainly has a history of falsifying statistics), and almost succeeded in setting a federal precedent for restricting the freedom of speech.

I view video games in the same way I view every other form of media – with a critical eye.  Writing about Victorias Secret’s stupid ad campaign doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be allowed to market their products, and writing about the incredibly sexist attitudes held by the video game industry doesn’t mean I think their games should be banned from sale.

In my first post on Feminist Fatale, I wrote that despite my disgust with imagery and depictions of women in media, I “believe in…having the right to publish.” It’s an opinion that extends to video games. I hope that by writing about video games, consumers will learn to demand better from the creators.  The writers, designers, and developers shouldn’t be forced to limit their creations by the government.

June 14, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Duke Nukem – Hail To The Queen

Trigger Warning: The following video contains nudity and sexual violence.
This is actual gameplay footage of Duke Nukem Forever.



Anyone who keeps up with my “Rants of a Gamer Girl” series/column, or simply scrolled through the front page, may have noticed the “popularity” of one of my recent posts “Duke Nukem: Smack My Chick Up

It’s garnered a bigger and more hateful response than anything I’ve written previously or since. There would be even more comments on the post if the threats of violence and classic anti-feminist name calling remarks hadn’t been deleted before they ever saw the light of day.

In fact, it garnered enough attention that Gearbox CEO, Randy Pitchford himself, stopped by the blog to respond. And despite the fact that I called his companys creation “misogynistic crap”, he managed to leave one of the most mature comments of them all.

Rather than respond to every comment individually (not to mention the waste of time it would be – I receive a new comment notification every day that spews the same bullshit) I decided to make a post. Something to sum up my feelings towards the response in a (sort of) brief summary.

So here goes:

Let’s start with the whole “I’m friends with a woman, therefore that makes me an expert on the matter/a feminist scholar/the decider on what constitutes misogyny”. Similar to the argument “I’m not racist, some of my best friends are black” a response such as this just makes you sound like you failed sociology 101. I challenge any commenter who claimed to know more than me about feminism and women’s studies to name a book title of Bell Hooks, quote Gloria Steinem, or even tell me who Kathleen Hanna is, without googling it.

Also – if your defense consists of calling me a: bitch, lesbian, cunt, whiny feminist, or tells me to shut the fuck up, congratulations, you just supported my argument, and failed at making your point by resorting to misogynistic name-calling.

If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, obviously you don’t read this blog very often. I’ve been a gamer for over twenty years, and occasionally write posts defending games. I’m not calling for censorship, never have, never plan on doing so. Gearbox Software has the right to make these games, and I have the right to call them on their bullshit. So, no…not like Jack Thompson.

And as for women having all the rights, getting free rides to college, and being treated so much better than men – women’s lives are so easy. Well, I could list hundreds of links here proving you wrong, or you could spend a whole 30 seconds of your time on google.

I almost won feminist gamer bingo.

So, feel free to continue to comment, even though not one of you has managed to make a compelling argument. In fact, thanks for the continued inspiration to write. You all make me realize how important my voice is in the echo chamber of gamers who’s philosophy tends to be something along the lines of “STFU BITCH”

With the game now on sale, and gamers uploading videos to YouTube, it turns out, I was right in my assertion that it was “misogynistic crap” all along.

May 24, 2011

J. Crew’s Continued Campaign of Inclusiveness

Filed under: Advertising,Body Image,Gender,Media — Tags: , , — Rachel @ 10:26 pm
Image taken from JCrew.com – featured in the June 2011 catalog.  

Lately J. Crew has featured content on their website and in their catalog that steps outside the “norm” of what is usually found in fashion catalogs, or advertising in general.  In April, an ad on jcrew.com featured creative director Jenna, painting her son’s toenails pink (it’s his favorite color.)  The May catalog featured a designer for the preppy clothing brand, with his boyfriend.  So I wasn’t surprised, but happy to find when I opened the summer catalog today to find images of unconventional “models” featured. J. Crew staffers were featured again, this time in “Jenna’s Picks”.  The employees featured are of varying races, body shapes and sizes, including one employee who is pregnant.

The best part is that there’s no self-congratulatory praise – the inclusion is just there.  They act like it’s normal – because it IS normal.  It can come across as insincere when magazines like Glamour give themselves a huge pat on the back for including one small picture of a plus size model across hundreds of pages.

Even as the conservative news outrage continues about J. Crew’s so-called “agenda” they continue to say nothing, and let the images speak for themselves.  There’s no apologies to people who may have been offended or worry about alienating potential customers.  Their actions show they don’t give a shit what the critics say or think; which makes me proud to call myself a J. Crew customer.


April 20, 2011

Talking Back to Mainstream Media- Photobooth of Change WAM! LA 2011

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 12:13 pm

In keeping with the WAM! LA tradition, attendees and presenters of WAM! LA 2011 had an opportunity to talk back to the mainstream media. Check out what they had to say!

Related:


April 7, 2011

Make-up and Hot Pink Toenails- Not Just a Girl Thing

Filed under: Advertising — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 3:13 pm

My toddler son has a thing for all things wheeled.  He can easily distinguish a skip loader from a backhoe and a semi-truck from a dump truck. He’s also intrigued by my jewelery box, stacking bracelets high up his pudgy arms. After watching Mommy’s daily morning ritual of applying some eyeshadow and liquid liner on countless occasions, it’s none too surprising that he’s fascinated by my make-up box, eager to smear eyeshadow across his eyelids (forehead, nose and cheeks). My friend’s little boy loved sparkly ballet flats and dollhouses while another’s had a penchant for his sister’s pink tutu and glittered angel wings.

These boys are commonplace-and not represented in mainstream pop culture. There’s no room for these normal explorations in our hyper-segmented world of marketing. And, as a tragic example further down in this post will show, these normal, healthy childhood curiosities and small pleasures are usually quickly beaten out of boys, figuratively and literally.

Given this heavily color-coded world of children’s play, policed through gendered toy ads, catalogs and cartoons, this J. Crew advertisement comes as a breath of fresh air.Without eliciting much fanfare, a young boy and his mother are shown spending “quality time” together by painting their toenails. Hot. Pink. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

When a 17-month-old boy is beaten to death for being too “girly,” a 5-year-old is accused of being gay for choosing to dress up like Daphne from Scooby-Doo for Halloween, a boy who likes pink dresses causes headline news, and a high-school football player is kicked off the field for wearing pink cleats during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I think it’s more than obvious that social expectations regarding femininity and masculinity continue to be incredibly rigid, stifling, and too often dangerous.

And, advertising happens to be a major player in the active construction of culture and the socialization of it’s members (us!), a socialization process that shapes our expectations of ourselves and others, our desires and our relationships. In other words, the values and norms of a society are framed by the branded images and lifestyles consciously and carefully constructed by advertisers seeking to maximize profit.

J. Crew’s ad presents the idea that pink isn’t just for girls, just as blue isn’t just for boys. It expands the range of possibility for what girls and boys can do and be. It may be one ad running counter to a stream of narrowly defined ads that eliminate a full range of possibilities for boys and girls, but there it is.

And it makes me hopeful. And, sometimes, given the material I regularly work with, celebrating small victories and becoming hopeful is vital and necessary.

Cross-posted at Elephant Journal and WIMN’s Voices.

 

 

March 29, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Feminist Gamer Bingo!

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Rachel @ 11:02 am

Because I’m a gamer, I spend a lot of time reading reviews, blog posts, and articles about video games.  However whenever media critical thought or even gender enters the conversation, the same comments keep appearing.  So frequently in fact, that I felt it was worthy of it’s own bingo card.  Feel free to repost the above bingo card, but if you do so, link back to this page and give credit.

 

Inspired by the original Feminist Bingo Card.

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