Women in Video Games

Women in Video Games

I couldn’t write an entire blog about sexism without bringing up the video game industry. Well…that’s not entirely true. i could have easily done so. I rarely think about video games, but it just so happens that my partner said “Hey… you should write about the video game industry” the day after I also heard a Planet Money story about the sexism within this world.

But… I’m glad I didn’t miss this opportunity. Because it turns out that the video game industry is really sexist. There are three key problems that I’ve learned about:

1. There is a significant lack of female representation when it comes to video games. Apparently, less than 10% of characters in the top 150 video games (in the year of the study) were female. This information, paired next to the fact that studies show that around 50% of the “gaming audience” are female, does not make sense.

2. If you get tired of playing as a male character, it often costs more to buy a female character! How is that fair? Does it cost the developers more to draw a woman? To hire a female actress to record the sound? This also makes no sense.

3. Finally, of the very few female characters, there is an even smaller percentage of female characters who are actually interesting. (Not that I really find any of the video game characters interesting, apparently people who do play DO want interesting, well-developed characters.)

Add these three issues on to a much bigger problem that the video game industry has a long history of advertisements that are kind of misogynistic and obviously targeting men, and you’ve got yourself a sexist industry.

I may not care too much about video games. But I do care that the next generation of women grows up in a world where they feel represented, everywhere they look. And I want women to be represented as we are, unique. We need more female video game characters and they need to be diverse; we need women of all ages, races, classes, of all body-types, sexual orientations, and appearances. We need women to be truly represented. In video games and beyond.


High School Heroines

High School Heroines


Although it’s happening more and more these days, it’s still newsworthy when people stand up to fight sexism in our society. Especially when they’re in high school. In Utah.

Last month, a group of Young Democrats at Jordan High School held a bake-sale to raise awareness about a very important issue: the wage gap between men and women’s earnings. To do this, they charged young women $0.77 per item, and young men payed $1.00. They did this to highlight that, according to the US Census Bureau, in 2012 on average women were still making just 77 cents to the dollar that men made. So… fair’s fair, right?

Not in internet land! Let the comments begin (I know, I did it again! I’m just trying to make myself angry at this point…):

There’s a few people saying that the wage gap disappears when controlling for certain factors… one woman who cheers on the young kids… another few people who say the Census Bureau is wrong (never any citations, by the way!)…and then… there it is. There’s the battle cry I was looking for. A man complaining that this is discrimination against men. “Celebrate gender equality by being unequal? I guess they don’t teach what the word ‘equality’ means anymore” and a bit later on in his post, “this is blatant sexism masking itself as social justice.”

“This is blatant sexism masking itself as social justice.”

Is it though? Is it really blatant sexism? I don’t think so, sir (the commentor identifies himself as a “guy” in his post, for the record). I would argue that it is not blatant sexism. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. These students are raising awareness that our society still values men *just a little bit more* than women. Sure, it’s only 23 cents more, but that’s more folks. Contrary to what the other commentors on the page said, lots of studies have been conducted controlling for factors like equal work, experience, education, etc. And the gap still exists. So these young people raising awareness that our system is not fair, that our system pays women less for the same work, that our system is sexist? That’s not sexism. That’s fighting against it.

Now, do I think that everything should be priced differently for men and women? Absolutely not, that doesn’t make sense (But it does make me consider why items that are “for women” are so freaking expensive. Anyone buy a box of tampons lately? What about a “female condom”? That stuff is EXPENSIVE….)  But a group of teenagers putting on a bake sale to raise awareness about gender inequality is not discrimination against men. It’s a group of high school heroines.


My New Favorite Fox Correspondent

My New Favorite Fox Correspondent

I am rarely one to send a shout out to a Fox News correspondent. In fact, the only time I ever really watch Fox News is when it’s a compilation of ridiculous clips that Jon Stewart has put together. But, I couldn’t not recognize Fox Sports 1 television host Katie Nolan, who recently blasted one of her colleagues Rebecca Johnson for writing a sexist, dated blog post entitled, “How to Land a Husband at the Masters.”

Johnson’s tips include:

  • Go with another girl. (Obvi, Johnson. We wouldn’t want someone to think we were dating a man we went with. And of course, there’s no way that a girl could be dating another girl.)
  • Dress appropriately. Take off the Lilly Pulitzer skort and golf shoes. Guys aren’t into that. (And women, remember that you are dressing to please the men around you. Not for comfort or because *gasp* the clothes you wear make you feel good.)
  • Smile and have fun. No one wants to approach a girl with a scowl on her face. (You must be in a good mood. All the time. Full stop.)
  • Don’t drink too much. You’re looking for your husband, not a one night stand. (Because you could never marry someone who has a one night stand. That’s obviously off-the-table.)
  • Keep moving. Let’s be honest. You aren’t there for the golf. (Need I say more?)

Just to be clear about the above tips, the parentheticals are my words, not Johnson’s.

Katie Nolan brilliantly trashes the whole premise of this article. This article that is blatantly, overtly sexist. This article that perpetuates old-fashioned ideas about everything that women value… Oh wait. The only thing the article mentions that women value is… a HUSBAND. That’s the only thing women want, you guys! How foolish that I was pursuing other goals in my life.

Obviously, this article irritated me. I am obviously riled up that in 2015 a woman is writing this garbage, presumably writing for other women! And now… now I’m starting to get scared. How many women actually feel this way?

This fear made me do something I don’t normally do. I made a critical internet error. I read the comments section. I was hoping that I would find that all of the female commentators (and lots of men!) would agree with me. And… there were a few great ones: “You are an embarrassment to women everywhere.” ~ AnnMarie H. “AnnMarie is wrong – this article is only an embarrassment to women with self respect.” ~ Chris B. responds. But sadly, for each of those accurate comments, there are at least three defending the author.

After considering this for a minute, I catch myself. Maybe I shouldn’t be so angry? Maybe I should forgive Johnson for writing about how to find a husband? I’m sure that there are lots of intelligent, self-respecting women out there who want to get married to a man who loves golf and is attracted to women in brightly colored dresses and sensible flats. And that is fine with me. Is it wrong that they have these desires? Absolutely not. After all, I’m all for people being free to make their own decisions and pursue their own happiness, whatever that looks like for them.

So yes. I’ve decided that it’s totally fine that there’s an article out there entitled, “How to Find a Husband at the Masters.” But it’s even more fine that there’s a video completely shutting it down. Freedom of speech, y’all.


One Man Tells the Truth on HuffPost Women

One Man Tells the Truth on HuffPost Women

Recently, when I was browsing Huffington Post Women, I came across an article entitled, Men Just Don’t Trust Women — And it’s a Huge Problem. I didn’t quite know how to feel when I saw this headline. Part of me agrees: men don’t trust women; they don’t like it when we are “in charge,” and they have a hard time trusting that our experiences are real. But, another part of me thinks: this is ridiculous. We can’t make such broad, sweeping statements about how men feel about women. This is an outdated way of thinking! Shame on this author.

But then I realized, the author of this overgeneralized statement saying that the way men think is a problem… is a man. And then,  I paused. And interestingly, even though I probably wouldn’t have read the article otherwise (it did seem like “click-bait”), I decided to see what this man had to say.

In his article, Damon Young speaks about how after two years of being with his wife, he has realized that he doesn’t trust her. He makes sure to specify that yes, he trusts her to make big decisions and to “not smother him in his sleep” (ehhh, this seems a bit sexist IMO), but that he doesn’t trust her feelings. If she approaches him and is upset about something, he immediately assumes that whatever her problem, it’s probably not that big of a deal. His first thought, is that she’s overreacting.

My first response after reading this: ANGER. I hate when men tell me that I’m overreacting. Nothing pisses me off more when I’m upset than someone else trying to minimize my experience. But then I realized that perhaps, I was overreacting a bit (It’s ok. It’s ok as long as I am the one telling myself I’m overreacting. Hypocritical? Perhaps. Do I care? Not at all). Once I got over my anger, I found that I really respected this man for writing about his experience. I’m impressed that he is admitting — to the entire world, including his wife — that he doesn’t trust his wife’s experiences. I’m also exceeding happy that he is realizing that this is a problem that needs to change.

Young is addressing a cultural problem: men (and women, for that matter) have been indoctrinated to believe that women are hysterical, that they think with their hearts instead of their heads, and that they are moody… especially “at that time of the month.” Now — and I may get in trouble for this — I think that in general, the majority of women are more emotional than the majority of men. This is not a hard and fast rule, and there are a million exceptions to it. Also, this is not all biological: our society tells men that they should not express their feelings (young boys are bullied and teased if they do) and women are expected to talk about their feelings (do we think it’s a coincidence that so many “tell me about your feelings” social workers are women?!). So yes, despite these disclaimers, in general, the stereotypes are true. Even so, however, even if women ARE more emotional than men, it does not mean that our feelings are not real or that we are not to be trusted. And that is the problem Young is addressing in his article.

I agree with the conclusion that Young made about his situation. He has learned that often, when his wife is expressing her feelings — how frustrated or angry or upset she is with a problem — she is not asking him to agree with her about how awful the situation is. He doesn’t have to be “at a 9” in terms of anger if she is “at a 9.” Rather, she wants him to honor her experience. To validate her emotions. And to believe — to trust — that she has a legitimate reason to feel that way.


Patricia Arquette in the Hotseat

Patricia Arquette in the Hotseat

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At the 2015 Oscars, Patricia Arquette used some of her precious acceptance-speech time to speak about wage equality for women. Exciting, right?! I certainly thought so, and from the standing ovation from women (including Meryl Streep) in the crowds, I assumed that others were also happy to hear this issue being raised.
It wasn’t until the next day that I heard about the backlash. People criticized her for making it seem that women’s rights are more important than black people’s rights or gay people’s rights. They claimed that she herself was being sexist for only speaking about women who have given birth, rather than all women. And they argued that she has no place to talk about this issue at all, as she is a wealthy woman herself.
I hear what “they” are saying. Arquette’s speech was absolutely not perfect. She could have been more specific about income inequality, rather than “wage” inequality, and she could have specified that she meant “all women” rather than just those who had given birth. She also could have spoken about the intersection of identities and that womens’ issues are also LGBTQ issues that are also people of color’s issues. She didn’t do any of those things, and her speech would have been better if she had done so.
But aren’t we being just a little bit hard on her? She was the first person to bring up this issue at this event! She had under a minute to speak, and rather than thank all of the important people in her life, she chose to talk about the wage gap. A writer from the NY Times summed up my concerns with the media’s cricism of Arquette perfectly: “

…As we listen to her words being torn apart, there’s a real risk that other women, other actresses, others who may at various times in their lives have a chance for one minute that the whole country will hear, are hearing something else:


 And wouldn’t the silence be worse than an imperfect speech?