It’s a new month, and new month means new cute. May is RED PANDAS.
So we’ve been having some good discussions on the Internets about DnDNext and fixing the crap that we see in the art. You know what I’m talking about. The sexist, racist crap, the stuff that caters to the male gaze, male power fantasies, all that noise. The stuff that shows the genre hasn’t really grown since its original publication in 1974. People have been talking about that, and how much it sucks, and how we should totally fix it, and why we should fix it, and sunshine and puppies and rainbows.
If you are a reader of the D&D Comics, you should be familiar with one of the Fell’s Five, Tisha. She’s a strong and capable character with lots of spunk. The majority of the folks that I’ve talked to love her character, but a few have commented to me about her depiction. They acknowledge that my main audience is older males. They acknowledge that her “role” doesn’t require armor. They even acknowledge that her look is in line with the general depictions within 4th edition. Despite all that, they still have some concerns about her depiction. Too much skin, too sexy, too large breasted, and so on.
For every email I get along these lines, I get ten from folk who love her. Does that make me right in my decision to “approve” this depiction? I’m sure there will be folks on both sides of that argument. I made a decision based upon the business goals, the sales channel, the audience as it was defined, and what was acceptable in the market at the time. Times change. Audiences change. Business goals change. And fan acceptance changes. When that happens, I change my decision-making process as well. Remember, I mentioned earlier that I am a professional creative. I make decisions that help keep me employed. If the world changes, the way I do business changes.
So. Joe Schindehette. Your blog post. Where do I begin.
Well for one thing, this blog post is just a long-winded, meandering, pseudo-philosophical way of trying to justify your desire to draw tits all day. I mean, let’s just sweep that one right off the table there. Be honest with all of us, and more importantly, be honest with yourself.
Mainly, though, you’re trying to hide behind this thin veneer of “business, people!” and is a mediocre excuse at best.
“It’s just business.” It’s just business that white folk don’t want to share a restaurant with black folk. It’s just business that “men work harder than women”, and women are “just going to get pregnant and leave your company anyway”, so don’t pay them as much, don’t offer them the same benefits, don’t fully cover their medical needs, don’t invest in them as employees. It’s just business that the gay guy kind of weirds out your customers so you should maybe find a reason to let him go. It’s just business.
It’s not just business. It’s hurtful. It’s part of a larger system where women are cast as sex objects, and treated as less valued in the workplace. It’s part of a system where black actors can’t get a leading role of value in a mainstream film, where Idris Elba can never be Batman (and come on, guys, how amazing would that be?). Where despite that Megan in Bridesmaids was the character who actually had her shit together, she was still the butt of the joke. When 99.999% of the positive rolemodels are also white, thin, able-bodied persons, typically male, and it’s impossible to find a character who looks like you and is celebrated, there’s a problem. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Everything has context.
It may be business, but there’s nothing just about it.
And if you’re still unmoved, folks at WotC, then you could stand to read what the fiction editor at Paizo has to say about objectification and the bottom line:
If you haven’t already determined that there are some major problems around gender in the SF&F publishing world, a quick Google search should yield a hundred authors better equipped to discuss the problem than I am. But even if you aren’t interested in such issues, you should know they’re out there, and that they’re both important and worth discussing.
Got it? Good. Because I’m going to ignore all that and talk economics instead. All too often in these discussions, I see people jump straight to the philosophical side of things and miss a key point:
Cheesecake covers can hurt sales.
Come on, folks. Paizo is calling you out on excessive T&A. And stomping all over your bullshit financial arguments.
“It’s just business”? Please.
The worst part about all of this, if you ask me, is that we’re just looking for parity. We’re just looking for companies and creators to create things for a broader audience. Don’t stop making chainmail-bikini clad women. Just add some women in proper armor. Have your hero be black. Draw a female barbarian who looks like a body builder. Draw a fat female cleric. Something for someone on every page.
But no, they won’t, because it’s easier and safer to make every page cater to one audience. It’s lazy, and they’re comfortable with being lazy.
STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)
Banned from Kickstarter for being a Stalking Victim — Wow, Kickstarter. Good. Fucking. Game.
‘Sandwich Makers’ Finally Described as ‘Female’ in Facebook’s Leet Speak Option — “In the interest of hearing all sides of the situation—it’s only fair—I fired off an e-mail to our contacts at Facebook PR asking for comment on the “54ndw1ch m4k3r” description. Not long after the e-mail was sent, I checked the settings again and “54ndw1ch m4k3r” had quietly been changed to “Female” under the Leet Speak option. But why did Facebook wait until now to do so?”
Hackerspace for Moms in Berkeley — Holy cow, this is so cool.
Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story — I may have linked this before and I’m likely to someday link it again, but every time this comes back on my radar, I just want to share its awesomeness.
Before you ask, I’m not linking to the stupid Oatmeal bullshit because no.
The Type of Women I Want to See at PAX — A personal essay on being trans at a gaming convention.
Colonialism and Games — A game specifically designed to bring up discussion about colonialism.
Ten Year Old Makes Audio-Only Game for his Blind Grandmother — HANG ON I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY EYE
TV AND FILM
Tosh.O Suggests Dudes Should Grope Women For Laughs — So can we arrest him yet? I discovered that making mediocre television isn’t a crime (unfortunately), but surely this must be?
How to Spot a Male Fauxminist — Male Fauxminist, better known as The Nice Guy
Why the ‘Girl’ Matters: Yet Another Post About Geek Girls and Gamer Girls — While I don’t agree with using the word “girl” to self-describe, I respect opinions and think that, of the opinions that disagree with mine, this is well-stated.
Hey Everyone: Stop Taking This Picture. No, I Mean It — The tits/ass/glance over the shoulder shot. You know the one.
TV AND FILM
Whitewashing, Racebending, and Why “We’re All Human” is Bullshit — I am putting this first for a reason. READ IT.
John Carter is from Mars, and Women are Nowhere in Sight — So apparently the female character in John Carter… does stuff? Is active? You wouldn’t know she even existed going by the trailers. Marketing fail.
STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)
Cookie of the Week: Chad Whitacre — Came up with a name for something that was dumb; got called out on dumbness; apologised and changed the name. Win.
Female Students Wary of Engineering Workplace — “Women who have internships or jobs find they are too often relegated to ‘female’ roles of note-taker, organizer or manager…” and “a fair amount of the older men in my working environment treat me like I know nothing and I’m only working there because my dad works there.”
Etsy Hacker Grants: Supporting Women in Technology — in conjunction with Hacker School, Etsy is announcing a new scholarship and sponsorship program for women in technology
Internet Entrepreneurship is getting Arab Women into the Business World — “Adbullah Alghadouni is CEO of the Glowork.net, a Saudi-Arabian site aimed at helping women find jobs in a nation where they are not legally allowed to drive.”
In a letter from a little girl to Albert Einstein:
I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact.
Anyway, I hate dresses and dances and all the kind of rot girls usually like. I much prefer horses and riding. Long ago, before I wanted to become a scientist, I wanted to be a jockey and ride horses in races. But that was ages ago, now. I hope you will not think any the less of me for being a girl!
And Einstein responded:
I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.
HANG ON I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY EYE
Women at Gaming Events — A positive note on women at gaming events: Seems there are more! And not just women, but families! Kind of awesome.
Titular Characters and Gendered Titles — “… when I hear the term ‘Lady Captain’, I hear an unnecessary gendering of my character whose gender was never in question anyway.”
MTG Tournament Participants Not Immune to Sexism — Excuse me while I recover from the shock.
Network of Video Game Creators Tries to Equal the Playing Field — “They just assume the woman at one of these events isn’t a game developer in her own right but just there as somebody’s girlfriend… We need to get reality to catch up.”
Bastion and Men as Automatic Protagonists — Why all the characters with stories and motivations gots to be mens, and the one lady character is just a prop? Spoilers for Bastion within.
Sharing my Own Privileged Dumbassery — I feel like it’s been a little while since we’ve talked about how awesome Jim Hines is. Let’s talk about that! He’s awesome!
The Problem is Not the Books — Oldie but a goodie. When people cry about how there are no books for boys to read, maybe let us ask ourselves why we think boys can’t read books about girls (but girls can read books about boys).
Cover Trends and the Female Body — “In thinking about these covers and thinking a lot more about the notion of gendering books, I’ve really found myself finding fault with a lot of ya covers. More specifically, the ones marketed to teen girls.”
The BSFA Awards — So, that happened, and Meaney happened, and it’s worth reading and chasing the links, just to know. It’s also a happy-making to know that apparently many people simply walked out of the award ceremony in protest. That pleases me.
Newcastle Ad: Brewer’s Hands — So, I think what they wanted to say, if I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here, is that they don’t need to use scantily clad women to sell their beer? Maybe? Eh, who am I kidding, they’re sexist assholes too. Great going, beer!
The New Aesthetics of the Male Gaze — An interesting take on New Aesthetic, surveillance, and male gaze.
Why Rape Jokes Are Never Okay — They’re just not, mkay?
Emptying the link coffers. This is just part of it, I don’t want to drown you in links.
TV AND FILM
Is Game of Thrones Too White? — by Saladin Ahmed
Step Into My Film School: The Importane of Casting In Breaking Open Movie Stereotypes — This is what internalized –isms looks like.
STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)
NASA Girls, New Mentoring Program — Eligible girls in grades 5-8 can apply to be selected in this program where they will be mentored one-on-one by a woman working at NASA.
Abandoned by Facebook and Foursquare; Creepy, Stalker-Enabling App “Girls Around Me” is Pulled by Developer — This is just gross and I’m so glad it was pulled. I can’t believe it was ever approved in the first place.
There’s No Such Thing as a Good Stereotype — Discussing why stereotypes of positive qualities are still a bad thing.
We’re All the Same Deep Down — Why this statement of how we’re “all the same, really” kind of misses the point.
Evil Straight White Dude — Why opening your comments with “I’m just a straight white guy so you’ll probably ignore what I have to say” is really really stupid.
Mists of Panderia: First Impressions and Nitpicks — World of Warcraft’s new expansion and — surprise!! — sexism.
The Unsung Female Game Designers of Japan — My favorite part? There’s only pictures of the games they made!
Grammar Tip: Woman vs Female — Apparently it’s hard for some people to know when to use “woman” and when to use “female.” Spoilers: one is a noun, one is an adjective.
Misogyny Isn’t Caused by Male Horniness — There was this Cracked article recently about how men are trained to hate women, which kind of missed the mark for me, and thankfully there’s a writeup as to why.
What. The. Hell.
The developer says that it wants to introduce the League of Legends-style game and the MOBA genre (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) “not only to hardcore players who already love it, but to their friends who might be more casual, and of course to their sisters and girlfriends who may not be as hardcore.”
Oh, of course.
Some details from the PA report:
You want more women playing your games? It’s pretty easy, actually: cut this pandering bullshit, check your product for sexism (if you cannot identify any sexism in your product, I recommend hiring a feminist, just to be sure), and monitor your community with an iron fist. When someone pulls any vile, sexist nonsense, boot them from your community. Women will feel welcome, and will feel all right dragging their friends into the game, knowing they’re in a safe environment. You may think booting someone is bad for your sales in the short-term, but if your goal is building a mixed-gender community, you’ll be better off in the long run.
But I guess it’s easier to just call it ladies nite up in your game and kick back, amirite?