Flight of Valkryies at SDCC?

So both Dr and I are going to be at SDCC this year, and we were wondering… are any of you out there who read this blog going to be there too?

Should we, perhaps, arrange a luncheon hangout in the park?

This post is to gauge interest. Please to comment if you would like such a thing, and we’ll figure out what works best for schedules.

And because it’s not a TeamV post without a reaction gif:

Daily Slow Loris

June. New month. New cute. I present to you: the slow loris.

Sexism Doesn’t Exist, Except When It Totally Exists

On Wednesday night I went to the Women in Games event at Zynga. It was pretty awesome, I got to talk to some incredibly smart and talented people in the industry, and hear some really sharp women talk about their experiences. The panel was a joy to listen to, in particular Brenda Garno, who is totally fabulous and knows all my feels about being a lady in a male-dominated environment.

But something cropped up in the panel discussion, and it came up a few times, and it’s one of those things that irks me that we do: saying sexism “doesn’t exist” in the spaces we occupy, then go on to say “oh wait except for this one example I have.”

“I never notice sexism. People treat me the same. Oh except that I get asked a lot if I’m in marketing.”

“I’m one of the guys, you know? I’m not like other girls, so they respect me.”

“There’s less sexism in games than anywhere else, I think. Oh but I get treated like armcandy a lot.”

“I don’t dress nice because I don’t want guys to get certain opinions of me, you know?”

This is pretty common, and it makes me sad. And there are a few problems in statements like these. Saying sexism doesn’t exist because it’s never happened to you (that you can recall) is like saying Australia doesn’t exist because you’ve never been there.

I think a lot of this comes down to having to refine the definition of sexism. Once upon a time, sexism was smacking your secretary’s ass and telling her to get some coffee, sweetheart. Sexism was telling a woman to her face that she was being let go because shouldn’t she be at home with the kids anyway? It was telling a woman she couldn’t do something because her ovaries would get in the way.

This sort of behaviour is unacceptable now. But you know what’s totally acceptable? Assuming every woman at a gaming convention is there to be looked at by men and judged on their fuckability, rather than assuming the nicely-dressed woman standing at the booth might actually be responsible for developing the game she’s selling. If a woman is attractive, it’s acceptable to dismiss her, to say she only got to where she is based on looks alone. The shit that gets spewed forth in the comments pages on Kotaku is acceptable. How do I know all this is acceptable? Because it keeps happening, and nobody’s really putting a stop to this shit.

So that’s one point. Sexism is more subtle, harder to spot, and easier to dismiss. But there’s another problem here, one that irks me ever so much: why does a woman have to be “one of the guys” to be accepted?

There was a comment made which was such a clear-cut example of internalized misogyny that I had to bite my hand to keep from laughing out loud. “I’m not like other girls. I’m one of the guys.”

Here’s the thing: being “one of the guys” is totally cool. Being a woman whose personality is dominated by typically masculine traits is totally cool. I’m really glad that it’s acceptable for women to behave that way.

What I’m not okay with is deriding women who act typically feminine. And I’m less-okay with the traits that were described as belonging to “most other girls”: catty back-biting, passive-aggressive comments, obsession with appearance… basically a MRA laundry list of why women suck. I shouldn’t have to state the obvious, but I’m going to: these traits exist among both men and women (seriously, meet the men in my office, oh the catty gossip). Singling out women as being the ones who posses this trait unfairly maligns an entire gender, all because you can’t think past the latest romcom you just watched.

But what about other typically feminine traits? Nurturing? Building? Concern with appearance? How are these bad things? Why are we celebrating eschewing these traits in favor of conquering and destruction? How about a little balance?

It’s difficult to argue sexism doesn’t exist when the panelists themselves are making the sexist comments.

And lest I sound like I’m harping on games, let me be clear: this problem is everywhere. I have had to rescue women from creepy-ass men at professional scifi/fantasy literature conventions (professional conventions), only to have them turn around and say “There’s no sexism in SFF.” This shit happens errywhere. It’s simply easier to deny the problem than face it.

The point was raised that things are so much better now than they were ten or twenty years ago. And I agree. They are. Totally better. Loads better. Alls I’m saying is, let’s not rest on our laurels. Let’s keep pushing this.

Daily Red Panda

It’s a new month, and new month means new cute. May is RED PANDAS.

WotC to Women, Minorities: “It’s Just Business”

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.

Got it.

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.

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Many Links for a Friday

COMICS

Static Shock: Blackout (Short Film)

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)

Banned from Kickstarter for being a Stalking Victim — Wow, Kickstarter. Good. Fucking. Game.

Internet Entrepreneurship is Getting Arab Women into the Business World

‘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.

BOOKS

Female Science Fiction Author Reading List

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.

Amy Boggs on Diversity in Books and Why She Wants to See More

GAMING

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?

GENERAL

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.

Hot Girl + Nerd Culture = Poser

Hey Everyone: Stop Taking This Picture. No, I Mean It — The tits/ass/glance over the shoulder shot. You know the one.

Fan Artists, Stop All Your Whitewashing. You Are Making The Rest of Us Look Bad

The Legend of Korra premiered Saturday and naturally the fans are all abuzz with fan art and other ways to celebrate the show. A recent Tumblr blog by Where’s The Beef? did a great job talking about a problem that is prevalent in the fanbase, and other fandoms that have characters of color: whitewashing.

Whitewashing — or racebending as it’s referred to in the Avatar fandom — is taking characters who are non-white, and making them lighter-skinned or just flat-out Caucasian. This was seen in the movie version of Avatar: The Last Airbender with a predominantly white cast playing Asian characters.

When you get your own slang term for whitewashing because of a terrible movie but it sticks around for fan art, you’re being a bad fandom. There are people out there who consider themselves huge fans and dedicate their time and energy in artwork, only to think (whether knowingly or not) “This character is just too dark-skinned for my tastes, better lighten them up”. This is a problem and it helps explain why we got a casting call looking for white actors for Asian characters.

As WTB brings up the importance of role models and the effect such figures have on everyone, especially children in regards to self-worth. He talks about how there are people out there who already hate the color of their own skin, how they don’t feel good enough when compared to white or lighter-skinned people. How it’s important that the media positively portrays more characters of color, so children have one less system against them in regards to their skin. Whitewashing a character reinforces this and it should make everyone furious.

WTB mentions how it could very well be that the artists of such whitewashed fan art don’t even realize how racist their actions are, but he makes it clear: unintentional racism is still racism. He goes on to explain the reciprocated feelings between society and the media:

And that’s the problem here: unconscious racism IS STILL RACISM. What lesson do you think Hollywood is taking away from this whole debacle? The sad truth of the matter is that the reason so many racial stereotypes exist in Hollywood is that part of appealing to a wide audience means appealing to their prejudices, whether those prejudices are conscious or not. They’ve learned that if they don’t cater to all our preconceived notions, their movies won’t make money.

He’s right, and I can’t say it any better than he already did, so go read what he said. Pass it around, reblog it, post it where you can. His message is right and it should be widely known.

Help Tracy Hurley’s Kickstarter To Get More Fantasy Art Starring People of Color and Women!

Tracy Hurley has a Kickstarter up that wants to get more fantasy art out into the world. The best part is that she wants it to be filled with people of all colors and genders!

From Tracy:

Prismatic Art Collection is a free library of art representing heroes of all backgrounds. In geek culture, there are plenty of Lukes, but not enough Landos or Leias. We want to change that.

That’s so awesome everyone, like really awesome. It’s the kind of awesome that makes me overlook that we live in a world where that kind of thing needs to be deemed awesome and not just a standard practice.

So far they have roughly half the money they need for their intended goal and they still have a little over a month to reach it. If they reach it they’ll have art work available for any enterprising role-playing game maker to use for their game. This can happen folks, we can have cool, diverse fantasy art work and have it appear in games or just anywhere we want it to be.

The project doesn’t just stop there, if they can get even more cash they can add more pieces with different classes and fantasy races as well. If you are a fan of fantasy art, then why not go over and give a dollar?

Tracy is starting something cool and I hope others are inspired to do the same and we get more artwork that looks like it has characters from all over the world and not just Europe. This is a great idea to help show that the fans of fantasy art aren’t just white males, but are all over the map and go beyond men. I want to see some awesome magic people, help me out. Thanks Tracy.