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.

~DoriMelinda

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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.

~DoriMelinda

“Even if it’s Far Away, it’s Better… ‘Cause They’re Not that Scared”

“Even if it’s Far Away, it’s Better… ‘Cause They’re Not that Scared”

I think one of the scariest parts of doing this blog throughout the semester has been how easy it is to find instances of overt sexism. It is 2015, and yet every time I log into Facebook or Instagram (I myself am not a Twitter-er) I find something else to write about.

But I think this video takes the cake.

Let me set the stage. A Buzz60 host Patrick Jones was conducting street interviews to see how New Yorkers feel about catcalling and the new anti-catcalling street signs that have been popping up all over the city. From the edited video, one can assume that the majority of people interviewed agree that catcalling is inappropriate. It makes women (and the occasional man) feel uncomfortable and unsafe, and it’s harassment that women are forced to deal with on a near-daily basis.

But one guy energetically — and moronically — disagrees. He argues that it makes women feel good about themselves. Ladies – he’s doing us a favor! He’s taking the time out of his day to congratulate us on doing something great: getting out of bed in the morning so men can look at us. At one point in the interview, he says something that makes you wonder, “Can this guy even hear himself talk?!” He says in reference to how he whistles and hisses at women, “Even if it’s far away, it’s better… ’cause they’re not that scared.”

‘Cause they’re not that scared. Huh. So… you know that women are less afraid when you’re calling them from afar. Which means you know that women feel afraid when they experience this harassment. And yet… we like it?! And yet, it makes us feel good?! What. The. Fuck?

Need I say more? This guy is a perfect, infuriating example of overt interpersonal sexism that women encounter all the time. And he has no idea that it’s an issue. After all, he uses the exact same whistle to call a dog, and they always head straight towards him. So ladies, what’s our problem?

~DoriMelinda

#ImNoAngel

#ImNoAngel

In early April, Lane Bryant, a popular clothing retailer for women who are “plus-size,” launched a lingerie campaign called #ImNoAngel. By design, this line of bras and panties contrasts with Victoria’s Secret’s infamous Angel Collection which has, for years, featured very thin and fit women with (mostly) very large breasts. But #ImNoAngel was highlighting that most women don’t actually look like Victoria’s Secret models. It’s main point: without being an “angel,” women of all shapes and sizes are sexy.

This campaign was very well received among most; writers and social media aficionados applauded the campaign for being more representative of women in our society, for being body-positive, for enabling women to feel sexy in their own skin. I agree with all of that. But no ad campaign is perfect, and I would like to point out a few flaws with this progressive campaign. Admittedly, most of these issues were brought to my attention when reading media responses to Lane Bryant’s release, so I cannot take credit for being the first to recognize the downsides. But I will summarize them here, doing this with the hope that in the future, we keep pushing ourselves to be more inclusive and more aware of the impact these campaigns can have on women.

As Amanda Richards points out in her response article in xojane, #ImNoAngel is not truly representative of the women who shop at Lane Bryant or plus-size women in our society. She points out that all of the non-angels are around a size 12 or 14 with “proportionate” bodies, whereas the majority of Lane Bryant customers are actually a size 20 or above. Richards refers to herself as plus-size, and mentions that she has never seen a Lane Bryant advertisement that features a women whose body looks like hers. A big problem, right?! And so, Richards takes things into her own hands, encouraging women to post their own photos on instagram, using the hashtag #ImNoAngel and #ImNoModelEither. She’s hoping that this will allow women to see real pictures of real women, who are proud of their bodies — whether or not their proportions are “plus-size model perfect.”

Richards also takes issue with the premise of the campaign. She states that the #ImNoAngel hashtag is explicitly pitting larger-bodies women against smaller-bodied women. It’s not a competition. Just because one group of women is sexy does not mean the other is not. Sexiness is not a zero sum game.

I couldn’t agree more. Sexiness comes in all shapes and sizes and is ultimately a state of mind. But this point — making sure that all women know they are sexy — this brings me to the third downside of the campaign. I can’t help but be rubbed the wrong way by this advertisement: another commercial, telling me to be sexy.  In my opinion, and perhaps it is mine alone, this campaign is still unnecessarily objectifying and sexualizing women. Granted, in the video above the models do speak about what makes them feel sexy, rather than look sexy to observing eyes. But, what if I don’t feel sexy? What if I don’t want to feel sexy? Should I, must I always want to be sexy? According to the media, I should. I get it, they’re trying to sell lingerie, and lingerie is designed to “be sexy.” But if we’re talking about promoting body diversity, if we’re talking about women feeling good about themselves, maybe we should stop pushing sexy, and start pushing other characteristics. #ImNoAngel could mean that I’m a free-thinker. It could mean that I embrace a different kind of femininity. It could mean that I do what I want. There are all sorts of ways for women to feel good about their bodies. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be about sex.

~DoriMelinda

Forced to Live a Lie

Forced to Live a Lie

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/23/abu-daooh-dressed-like-man_n_6925956.html

A 64-year-old Egyptian woman was recently rewarded by the President of the country, for being “an exemplary working woman,” proven by her ability to work and be the sole provider for her family over the past 43 years. There’s just one twist to this story: every day that she worked, she did so disguised as a man.

Sisa Abu Daooh, whose husband passed away in the early 70s when she was pregnant with her daughter, knew she must take care of her family, and she quickly realized that it would be much easier for her to earn living wages if she presented as a man. So she wore traditional men’s robes, and she worked in a town where no one would recognize her.

There are two components of this story that deeply frustrate me. The first is that she was forced into this situation to begin with. It’s terrible that she lived (and still lives) in a society that is so opposed to women being a part of the workforce, that she would have been unable to provide for herself and her child without pretending to be someone she’s not. This is a very straightforward and overt example of cultural sexism in Egypt. Although the situation may be slightly better today than it was 40 years ago, there are still many regulations and practices in place to make earning an income challenging for women. Obviously, that’s a huge problem.

My second frustration stems from the fact that she was rewarded for doing this…and nothing else happened. Not that she doesn’t deserve recognition for supporting her family — she absolutely does! Being a single parent, and earning enough to support oneself and one’s child is certainly challenging, and anyone who successfully accomplishes this task deserves accolades. But rather than simply rewarding someone for making the best out of a terrible situation, perhaps we should take a look at how the culture must be changed. In all of the articles I read regarding Daooh’s story, not one referenced any policy changes that were proposed or even discussed. Seemingly, the President said, “Wow. Great job navigating a whole host of barriers. If you can do it, everyone else can too.” This is not enough.

How many stories like this do we need to read? How many times will women fight the system, challenge the patriarchy, find the loopholes, before all of that work — all of that deception — is no longer needed? I get it; she is an amazing woman and she beat the odds. She deserves her reward; and with that said, maybe more than $6,500 would have been nice. But, don’t all women deserve the opportunity to provide for their families? Shouldn’t all women be able to access living wages, without hiding the fact that they are — gasp — female?

~DoriMelinda

Dear Meghan Trainor – –

Dear Meghan Trainor – –

Meghan Trainor’s 19050’s style music video entitle “Dear Future Husband” has been divisive to say the least, and at first, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about it. Yes, it is absolutely sexist, but perhaps it’s ironic? Maybe she’s making a statement about traditional gender roles and the video is supposed to be funny since everything is so different now? Right? Maybe?

I was allowing myself to feel conflicted, to give her the benefit of the doubt, until I read that she does not consider herself to be a feminist and that she told Time that “she deserves a good guy to take [her] out on a date.” Now, don’t get me wrong. She probably does deserve a good guy to take her out on a date. The problem is that she seems to believe she “deserves” it because she’s a woman. Full Stop. She seems to believe that women must be taken care of and told we’re beautiful and placated for no other reason than that we are females. That we are helpless on our own and that we are of no value and that we are not beautiful unless we have a man to tell us — every night — otherwise. Umm… nope. Disagree. Dear Meghan Trainor — you are setting women back.

So… now that I’ve realized this video is probably not satirical, let me list the top five ways it is sexist and perpetuates tons of negative stereotypes about women: 1. all women want to get married. 2. we want to get married  *to a man*. 3. we reserve favors (like sex or buying groceries) for when “our men” do something good for us in return. 4. we expect men to always say we’re right *even when we’re crazy* (ughhh didn’t I JUST talk about women being emotional and how that’s not the same as being “crazy!”?!) 5. being a good wife means wearing tight outfits and looking super sexy while scrubbing the kitchen floor.  Oh dear.

This song is sexist. But I will be damned if I don’t admit how catchy it is.

~DoriMelinda

A Heroic News Anchor

A Heroic News Anchor

Rima Karaki is a Lebanese news anchor and a brave, inspirational woman. In this video clip, she attempts to redirect an interview when her subject goes off on a tangent, but unfortunately the speaker — who was supposed to be talking about Christians joining extremist groups like Isis — refuses to be interrupted because… you guessed it…. she’s a woman. Without watching the clip, perhaps you would guess that I am assuming that he’s behaving in this way because of her gender. Sadly, that is not the case. He explicitly states — a few times — that he will not be interrupted by a woman and that he refuses to be told what to do by any woman, even if she is the head of the news program.

This clip shows sexism on several levels, and shows how individual women can combat it in many ways. Most obviously, Karaki is a Lebanese woman in a very public position on television, a move which her own family called “irrational.” Although Lebanon’s constitution does legally protect all citizens, in practice, there are no gender based discrimination clauses, and women rarely obtain upper-level positions in their careers and often are not treated as equals to men. This treatment is primarily due to the multiple religions in the area and their views on how women should be treated. Karaki has fought against her odds however, to become a banker in her previous career and now, a popular news anchor. In this way, she has combated the cultural sexism that exists in her society.

Additionally, she is experiencing overt, interpersonal discrimination throughout this interview. Although Hani Al-Seba’i’s opinions about women and where “their place” in society is is culturally based, he has thoroughly internalized these views and is seemingly incapable of treating Karaki with the same respect she is showing him. Karaki hardly seems flustered however. She attempts multiple times to re-direct the conversation, alluding to the amount of time they have spent arguing, rather than discussing the important interview topic, and yet, he will not stop.

Ultimately, Karaki  decides that she has had enough of his sexist talk. She turns his mic off and carries on with the news. My hero.