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.

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2011

WAM! It Yourself, Los Angeles: 2011 Conference

Originally posted at Women, Action & the Media.

Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26

Santa Monica College, 1900 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Humanities and Social Sciences 263 (see campus map)

Part of WAM! It Yourself 2011, a multi-city event by Women, Action & the Media. For more information about events happening in LA and all over the world, check back here or email Rachel.

RSVP HERE: Facebook Event Page. Seating is based on first come basis.

Friday, March 25th

2:00-3:00 p.m.

Video presentation and discussion on the representation of Women of Color in academia with Morgane Richardson, founder of Refuse the Silence

3:15-4:15 p.m.

Lecture on strong female characters in science fiction and fantasy television shows with Anita Sarkeesian.

4:30-5:30 p.m.

Presentation on the possibility of social change through social media with Pia Guerrero, co-founder of Adios Barbie.

5:45-6:45pm

Video clips from the Kick It Up! project and discussion on women in new media with Amie Williams and Kamala Lopez of Global Girl Media.

7:00-8:00 p.m.

Workshop on ImMEDIAte Justice, a summer program that empowers young women from Los Angeles to share their experience of reproductive justice through film, featuring Jacqueline Sun and Carla Ohrendorff.

8:15-9:15 p.m.

Discussion with Daena Title on her recent “DROWN the DOLLS” series and the work of feminist art.

Saturday, March 26th

11:00-12:00 p.m.

Poetry slam and video presentation with Cleo Anderson.

12:15-1:15 p.m.

Presentation on “Beauty Activism: How media messes with our body image and what we can do about it,” with Claire Mysko.

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Discussion on social media and media literacy as tools of activism in the classroom with Melanie Klein and Rachel O’Connor.

2:45-3:45 p.m.

Presentation of LoveSTRUCK, a discussion about the Twilight phenomenon and its glamorization of unhealthy relationship behaviors, with Elin Waldal.

4:00-5:00 p.m.

Presentation on “Revolution of Real Women: Infiltrating Media, Normalizing Authentic Beauty and How to Spark Your Own Revolution!” with Briane Widaman.

5:15-6:15 p.m.

Discussion of the role and state of feminist online media and reflections on the first year of the Ms. Magazine blog with Michele Kort and Jessica Stites.

RSVP HERE: Facebook Event Page. Seating is based on first come basis.

Saturday Night Mixer

7:30-10:30 p.m., at private residence in Culver City, CA

Sarit Rogers, a local feminist photographer, will be hosting a social networking event in her home in Culver City, CA. More information forthcoming!

*Registration for Saturday night mixer required.  Contact: melmelklein@cs.com

Related articles:

January 11, 2011

Prevent Official Release of Kanye West’s Women-Hating Video

Originally posted by Sharon Haywood at Adios Barbie. Cross-posted with permission.

Kanye West in bed with two dead women
Kanye West in bed with two dead women

HipHopConnection.com has leaked a video teaser for the Kanye West hit song “Monster” and what we’ve seen is beyond disturbing. In just 30 seconds, viewers take in image after image of eroticized violence against women:

  • Dead women, clad in lingerie, hang by chains around their necks
  • West makes sexual moves toward dead or drugged women propped up in a bed
  • A naked dead or drugged woman lays sprawled on a sofa


Rick Ross sits in view of a dead/drugged woman & a plate of raw meat

Rick Ross sits in view of a dead/drugged woman & a plate of raw meat

If that’s not enough, a behind-the-scenes clip of the video includes a semi-naked dead woman laying spread eagled on a table in front of Rick Ross as he eats a plate of raw meat. It is likely we can expect more brutal images in the full-length video.

The victims in this video are clearly women. Only women. And the men, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z are far from bothered by the female corpses. They seem to enjoy being surrounded by lifeless female bodies, apparent victims of a serial killing.

The official release date of the full-length video has not yet been announced. Let’s make it clear to Universal Music Group, the controlling company of West’s record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and MTV that the music industry’s portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.

Dead women hang by chains

Dead women hang by chains

We call on Universal Music Group and MTV to combat violence against women by refusing to support, promote, and/or give airtime to West’s “Monster” video.

We call on you to support our efforts in preventing the official release of this disturbing and hateful video. In conjunction with Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (Australia)Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, and Melinda Tankard Reist who brought this issue into the light, we have created a petition to block the video’s official release.

Please take a moment and sign the petition, which will be sent to Doug Morris, the CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Group  and Judy McGrath, the CEO of MTV.

And don’t forget to spread the word that our world has absolutely no room for this monstrous video.

Visit Care2 Petition Site to sign the petition.

August 13, 2010

Ladies! Grab Your Wallet & Cast Your Ballots!

Filed under: Advertising,Media,Politics — Tags: , , , — Lani @ 3:56 pm

Reposted with permission from www.aidstillrequired.org

Today, when we go to the market or Target or even the convenience store we are asked 9 times out of 10 if we would like to add a donation to our purchase to save the whales or feed the children or save little Timmy’s music education program. That’s pretty new. (There have been donation boxes for as long as I can remember, but this is still pretty new). It is an easy, near effortless way to make a contribution to an organization that is working to make someone, somewhere’s life a little better while buying our (toxic) laundry detergent or tonight’s (genetically modified) dinner. NGOs have learned how to make it easy on us. Add on a dollar, send a text, etc.

This simple action makes us feel good. But, I’m really not concerned about whether or not you feel good about yourself when you’re buying your (paraben infused) shampoo; I’m concerned about what’s in our shopping carts at the time of said purchases…..

American women hold 60% of the personal wealth in the United States, influence 85% of the purchasing decisions, and are the number 3 market in the world! Bigger than Japan! And even in 2010, American women do more than 90% of the shopping for our families. There are countless studies and market research companies that are trying to understand how to get and keep the “voting” dollars of American women. We all know that fashion magazines are mostly advertisements….you have to flip through 30 ads in a Vogue before you get to the table of contents!

That being said, with the simplest of our daily purchases we are casting a ballot. We are by default acknowledging and approving of the business strategies and practices of the companies that we are buying from. Wal-Mart? Archer Daniels Midland? Monsanto? McDonald’s? Chevron? Or, god-forbid, BP?!

It may not seem very “feminist” to tell women that they have the collective buying power of an entire nation. Is that really a way that we want to have “power?” But, really that is a huge, huge power to wield! We have the power to make or break entire product lines and corporations by utilizing a collective sense of ethical consumerism! I know, I know – it sounds like a lot of work & responsibility. But, to help you out on your own research journey – here are a few websites: Ethical Consumer (U.K. based, but as so many corporations are now global they have some really great information), Treehugger, Knowmore.org, and BrandKarma (a new site with great potential).

I hope that the next time you go shopping you will consider the global impact that your seemingly tiny, insignificant decisions are making on other people, in other places, that are probably far less fortunate that we are.

March 29, 2010

The revolution will be televised (and blogged and tweeted)

wam_logo11

As Thursday’s presenter Carla Ohrendorff said, “the bad-assery” was tangible.  WAM! Los Angeles brought together media makers, activists, and feminists for 2 days of films, video remix, critical analysis, and collaboration.

Blogging/videoblogging, tweeting, and lecturing are powerful tools that allow the feminist movement’s momentum to continue, connecting and expanding the community of activists. But, nothing beats the opportunity to get a bunch of fabulous people together providing the time and space to teach, learn and inspire, leaving us all feeling connected to something larger than ourselves and our immediate peer group. And that’s what WAM! allowed us to do.

After 2 days of events that included the opportunity to socialize, laugh and share ideas for future projects over the communal potluck at Friday night’s movie mixer, I felt high. The collective spirit was palpable and energizing. And while we were “waming” it in Los Angeles, feminist media activists were waming it in Boston, Chicago, New York, D.C., and San Antonio. Knowing that women and men were taking part in similar events, tapping into and invoking the “bad-assery” in their respective communities, not only connected me to the larger national collective but to the spirit of consciousness-raising groups of the second wave of feminism that were integral in creating social and political change.

Like most, I am prone to moments of doubt and self-sabotage (do I have anything to say? does this make a difference?), but the solidarity evident last week in Los Angeles and knowing there other cites across the United States were drumming up the same collective momentum in the same way second-wavers did in CR groups is more than enough to shake off the self-doubt and move forward.

That’s exactly what WAM! is about.

The revolution will be televised by people like me and people like you (thanks to Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency who ended her segment on Thursday with the following clip.)

img_3488img_3497img_3509img_35161img_3500img_35391

February 17, 2010

20 years of beauty ads

Filed under: Gender — Tags: , , — Melanie @ 1:42 pm

Click here for The Illusionists look at 20 years of beauty ads and their changing themes, from the aspiring female professional, assertive and independent, to the narcissistic themes characteristic of the “me-generation.”

Leisure. Indulgence.  Self-entitlement.

It’s unsurprising that young women aspire to do, well, nothing except  pamper themselves. Hey, I am an open and avid fan of the mani/pedi, great shampoo and a massage but, in reality, a life of ceaseless leisure is a goal that is not only dangerously self-absorbed but unrealistic given the economic climate.


February 9, 2010

She's probably a bitch…

So often we women are quick to judge other women and I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone given the suspicion and competition that is encouraged between girls and women in the media and the culture at large.

Skinny bitch. Slut. Ho.

Those are just some of the names we hurl at other women that we don’t think we have anything in common with. We judge other women on their hair, clothing, color, size and relationship status. We assume that we won’t like one another and don’t bother to take a chance. Now, I am not saying we’ll have commonalities and connections with every women we may come across but we certainly have the potential for connection and solidarity with a more diverse group of women than we imagine.

I wrote about this in September 2008 after I returned from one of the many women-centered retreats I have helped organize and attended with my teacher, Nita Rubio, and the women I have circled with over the years. But, since that last retreat, I entered my second trimester, had a beautiful baby boy and lost my sense of self and sisterhood in the process.

It’s easy to do when you’re recovering from a c-section and adjusting to the needs of new baby. Somewhere in the process my individual identity got mixed up with the dirty diapers and pumping.

This past weekend was my first weekend away from my boy since he was born last February. It was my first weekend immersed with a group of women that gathered with intention in a sacred female space in over a year.

I forgot how much I needed this despite my clear sense of longing and isolation as I nurtured my newborn babe.

Even so, I found myself with the same tendency to judge. We were 13 women among the Joshua Trees of the desert, away from partners, children, and careers. I have known many of the women for years in circle, many I had never met. Despite teaching Women’s Studies and lecturing on the division that is encouraged among women and despite the enriching experiences I have had with my community of women, I still find myself quick to stereotype and judge.

As always, I was confronted with my judgements and the walls I erected hastily were smashed and I was able to meet a plethora of amazing women of various walks of life. I am grateful for the ability to move past these superficial boundaries more quickly than I was able to as a young woman but the fact that these judgements still arise is noteworthy and troubling.

By the end of our 4 days communing together in the desert over delicious food, in the hot tub, in the sacred dance, late night wine, laughter and deep conversation I felt deep gratitude for the lessons I was offered and the reminder that we women have a lot to offer one another if we can move beyond our culturally embedded assumptions and suspicions.

Sisterhood is still powerful.

To read Nita Rubio’s post on this past weekend, click here.

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Picture taken by Nita Rubio. Joshua Tree Highlands, 2010.