Geek Girls

Jul. 25th, 2013 04:02 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
This one's for my beloved Geek Girls, Fiona and Delia:

See the associated Tumblr here.
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I really know squat about gaming, but I've been keeping an eye out about the subject because 1) Fiona's interested in it, and 2) it seems to be one of the most interestingly seething, roiling arenas lately with regard to issues relating to feminism. Here is an exceedingly interesting article with careful reasoning about why challenging misogyny in the gaming world matters (written by a man). I've recommended this article to one of my favorite bloggers, Jim Hines [ profile] jimhines, asking him to take a look and perhaps comment upon it.
pegkerr: (Not all those who wander are lost)
I read this article a couple of days ago and I've been thinking about it ever since. It pins down something I thought about quite a bit when I was writing Emerald House Rising. I was intensely irritated about the fact that so many fantasy authors seem to have difficulty with trying to come up with a reason for women to go out and have adventures. SO MANY. I got sick of books that started with a family being destroyed, or a rape that drove a woman from home, usually on a quest for revenge. Can't you think of OTHER reasons for women to leave home?

I hadn't thought about some of the other points she makes, including that we really don't have any narrative for a woman on the road other than the one that ends in tragedy: she will end up raped and/or dead. The classic example that springs to mind for me is 'Vagabond.,' (or 'Sans Toit ni Loi' in the original French, which translates, I think, 'Without Roof or Law.') You can watch it in its entirety on Youtube, starting here. The movie begins with the woman's doom: she is discovered dead, in a ditch. The rest of the movie backtracks, telling the story of how she got there.

The quest narrative is so important in fantasy literature; it is archetypal. Jung thought that we needed it as part of our human story. So why do we suffer such a lack of imagination if our protagonist is a woman?

This takes on an interesting frisson for me, as I contemplate my daughter going traveling abroad next year.
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Posting this for Fiona, my woman warrior and dedicated gamer.

From Think Progress here:
After launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a long-term project that would examine the roles women play—or are consigned to—in video games, Feminist Frequency video blogger Anita Sarkeesian was subject to a vicious, violence-saturated campaign of harassment. While it was awful to watch Sarkeesian be threatened and slandered for the sin of wanting to do her job well and comprehensively, the utter inability of her harassers to shut her work down has been wonderful to watch.

And I’m cheering Sarkeesian’s perseverance even harder now that the first installment of her project, titled Tropes Vs. Women, is out—and it’s terrific. Examining both the depiction and gameplay of characters like Pauline, Princess Peach and Zelda, Sarkeesian goes back to the origins of the Damsels In Distress trope art and literature, explores how the trope migrated into video games after the rights to Popeye characters couldn’t be secured for a video game, and examines how the trope became valuable to the video game industry:

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I am seriously behind in watching the Lizzy Bennet Diaries. I do need to catch up.

Good blog post on them here. An excerpt:
"...“I let him film us having sex, Lizzie. I let him do that. … He never made me do anything, so just tell me that I didn’t get what I had coming Lizzie, just try to tell me that!”

A sobbing and self-abusive young woman named Lydia Bennet is speaking to her older sister Lizzie on the latter’s YouTube Vlog. They have just learned that Lydia’s so-called boyfriend, George Wickham, has set-up a website and is staging a countdown to the worldwide release of what Lydia thought was a private sex tape of her. “I thought he loved me,” Lydia cries in her sister’s arms.

The scene is featured in the 87th episode of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the sensationally popular YouTube series and transmedia phenomenon created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

As a college professor and Jane Austen scholar I (like many of my colleagues) have been fascinated by the series. In an earlier Ms blog, I praised The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for its refusal to overly romanticize Mr. Darcy.

But nothing has impressed me more than the Diaries’s treatment of the Lydia plot in Pride and Prejudice. The adaptation not only continues the series’ de-emphasis on romance but also celebrates the importance of female bonds and addresses the need for women to work together to address sexual victimization."
Here's the 87th episode discussed in the blog post:

pegkerr: (Default)
More awesomeness from [ profile] jimhines doing cover poses to illustrate the ridiculousness of 'strong women' poses
pegkerr: (Bloody brilliant!)
This is the same thing [ profile] jimhines has pointed out about 'strong' females on SF/Fantasy bookcovers, except it's about comic books: "How to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: Replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing,” said Gingerhaze, creator of the Hawkeye Initiative. Artists took to Tumblr to fight back against badly drawn females in comics by replacing all of the badly-proportioned ladies with equally badly proportioned Hawkeyes. The results are hilarious. And eye-opening.

Also on Facebook and @HawkInitiative.
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I discovered the blog Advanced Style and have been poring over some of the entries with great interest. First of all, I've been thinking a lot about my body and how I dress. Pennies have been tight for quite awhile, but although I don't know much about fashion, I know all about the mental lift it can give you when you feel as though you look fabulous.

This blog spotlights women in their seventies, eighties and even older who dress them to suit themselves and carry themselves with confidence. Some of them look stunningly elegant:



some of them (in my opinion) look more than a little dotty:


but what pulls the blog together is these women's self-confidence. Many of them choose pieces with brilliant color:





They are dressing to suit themselves, and they've reached the age where they can say they don't really give a flip about what you think; they're not doing this for you, they're doing it for themselves. It's the difference, as one woman puts it, between 'Look at me!' and 'Here I am.' It's no coincidence that many of these women have active and busy lives into advanced old age.

The man doing the blog, Ari Seth Cohen, has a book out and a movie in development:

I'm very attracted to these women, who seem quite sure of themselves. It was interesting to probe my reaction to these pictures of confident crones, if you will, (and I use the word 'crone' in the best sense of the word) with the more wary reaction I have to the Red Hat Society (and not just, as [ profile] sdn says, because their website looks so awful that it sort of breaks the eyes). The Red Hat Society, if you'll remember, is a social organization for ladies, primarily over 50: they do outings together, where they all wear purple clothes and red hats. Both Advanced Style and the Red Hat Society are trying to tap into the power of older women, help them harness self-confidence. And yet...I once was in a Red Hat Society store, and it struck me quite forcibly: 1) how corporate it is...see all the stuff they're trying to sell (note all the ads on the website) and 2) maybe it's encouraging women to discover their inner zing, stand out, be bold. But note how it works in practice: all the women at a Red Hat Society meeting dress alike: red hats, obviously, and purple dresses. The women that the Advanced Style blog follows seem to me to be much more individualistic. And they often make their own clothes, or create their own art pieces that they wear, sometimes with thrifted items.

I am sure the Red Hat Society has been a godsend to some women, opening them up to new adventures.

Somehow, I kinda think I might prefer, however, to hang out with the ladies profiled in Advanced Style.
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HOW IS IT that I did not know that this beloved book had been made into a Broadway musical? I ran across the link to this song, and I really really like it. What a great song about a young girl brimming with life and hope, on the cusp of adulthood. Mothers, take note. Will probably investigate and buy the soundtrack tonight.

Fiona and Delia? This one's for you.


Your mother

("I just want to... cure disease and write a symphony and win the Nobel Prize like other girls.")
pegkerr: (Default)
Here's a great way to celebrate Women's History Month.

Really well done.
(This was done by the same people who did "Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration." You can download the .mp3 for that one here.)

Also: Here's a teaser video they did, which gives you some glimpses into the making of the video.
pegkerr: (Default)
[ profile] cakmpls pointed this one out: here's a sickening story of the real world consequences when misogyny like Rush Limbaugh's permeates the culture. I've been watching the Rush Limbaugh story with a great deal of interest, and I'm pleased that his advertisors are dropping him. I hope that's a permanent change.

This essay also has a link to sign a petition to have Limbaugh taken off Armed Forces Radio. You do have to create an account at to sign, but all you have to give is your name, an email, and your zip (you can always make it up if you want).

I've spent the last two days trying to convince my 16 year old that she is not a "slut."
pegkerr: (Default)
[ profile] jimhines (Livejournal link here) Jim Hines mimicks the poses of the women on his fantasy book covers and discovers that striking a pose is not all it's cracked up to be. (Specifically, that the poses made his body, er, crack.)

I deeply, deeply adore him for doing this.
pegkerr: (Default)
So, if you ask Siri (the iPhone 4S voice-recognition based assistant) for birth control, she's stumped. But ask for Viagra and you get a list of drugstores.

Tell Siri you were raped, and she responds with "Really!" or "Is that so?" And yet, she can define rape as 'sexual assault.' Need information about abortion, birth control, help after rape and help with domestic violence? Siri doesn't have a clue.

I'd like to know more information about why Siri is playing it stupid.
pegkerr: (Default)

(Link credit here).

One of the commenters to this on the original link remarked:

"I hope you don't think that surviving depression disqualifies a person from being a hero."

The OP replied:

"Um. No. I've battled depression and anxiety. But I don't think Bella qualifies as a hero."

Good caveat and true reply.
pegkerr: (Default)
My heart just goes out to this brave young woman. Talk about--well, to be blunt--being screwed. By the football hero, and then by the courts, the school, and the community.

I hope there will be some way that in the end she'll get some justice. But it seems sickening elusive for now.
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I think I've blogged about Operation Beautiful before. Here's a great way the message has spread, empowering high school girls.

Apparently, inspired by a mentor who mentioned Operation Beautiful to them, five high school girls attending Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas decided to form a club Redefining Beautiful: One Girl at a Time. It's pretty simple: on Tuesdays, the girls wear the club T-shirts and no makeup. It's spread to over 200 girls at the school, and now girls at other schools and even around the world are taking note.
The formation of the club at Colleyville and the wide interest in it at other schools is reflective of the growing dissatisfaction many have with the message spread by TV, magazines and the Internet that girls have to look a certain way to be attractive, said Suzanne McGahey, the club's faculty adviser.

"It is definitely a response to that ... I think the girls wanted to send a positive message that you can be beautiful no matter what the circumstances," McGahey said. "It's about empowerment and self-affirmation for younger girls."

The girls wear sky-blue T-shirts with their club logo on Tuesdays. As a show of support, boys at the school will soon wear dark-gray Ts with purple lettering that says "Give me that girl" on the front and "That's the you I like best" on the back. (link)
As the mother of two high school girls (who don't wear makeup, actually) I really like this story.
pegkerr: (Default)
The Female Characters Flowchart.

The chartmaker's caveats:
Before we get to the graphic itself, here are some explanations and caveats.

1. This flowchart focuses on the one- and two-dimensional female characters we see over and over again in modern fiction.

2. The graphic does not include every type of female character that has ever existed, but I did my best to focus on the most important tropes.

3. Some of the listed tropes might be considered crazy-sexist, and others represent more positive stereotypes. The tropes are subjective, and they exist on a continuum of sexism. Consider Family Guy’s Lois Griffin (who falls under the category of “Perfect Wife”). Lois isn’t a particularly complex female character, and the idea of a fun-loving sexpot wife who stands by her man no matter what he does is kinda-sorta sexist, in that this character is a fantasy fetish figure tailor-made for adolescent male audiences. But as far as sitcom housewives go, I’d much prefer to watch a Lois-type character than a classic sitcom shrew like Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond. At least Lois represents a more positive (and sex-positive) stereotype.

4. If you’re a writer and you find that one of your characters fits one of the categories on this chart, there’s no need to panic (or start yelling at me)! Two-dimensional characters are the backbone of fiction, especially fantasy fiction and most comedies.

5. However, if you find that all or most of your main male protagonists are well-developed and all or most of your female characters are not, you should probably start worrying a little. (Chris Nolan.)

6. When you get to the “love interests” section of this chart, be aware that it refers primarily to heterosexual relationships. It’s not that I’m trying to be heteronormative; it’s that, hey, we’re talking about modern pop culture here. How often do you see homosexual rom/coms or long-term lesbian relationships on TV or in the movies? (Porn doesn’t count.) The exception, of course, is The Wire, but then Kima and her girlfriend were obviously well-developed strong female characters who wouldn’t be found in this flowchart in the first place.

7. Obviously, this chart in no way applies that there aren’t male stereotypes out there in the pop culture ether. There are. Obviously. But it seems like Hollywood has a significantly harder time writing non-stereotypical female characters than male ones, so I made this chart to help out.
The link to the actual site itself, which enables you to see the chart close up, is rather slow to load, so be patient.
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You may have seen the news stories about Abby Sunderland, the sixteen year old girl who was attempting to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. (Her website is here.) She was in contact with her parents via satellite phone, reporting rough weather with 30 foot swells. Then her distress beacons were activated, and the family knew nothing for twenty tense hours until she was spotted by a rescue plane. Her boat had keeled over and demasted, but she is safe and sound. She has food and the keel is sound, and rescue is on the way. Now, of course, there are plenty of voices decrying the parents for allowing their daughter to make this venture. Renowned Australian round-the-world sailor Ian Kiernan said Abby should not have been in the southern Indian Ocean during the current southern hemisphere winter, saying "Abby would be going through a very difficult time with mountainous seas and essentially hurricane-force winds," Kiernan told Sky News television.

There have been accusations that the parents were reckless to allow their daughter to do this. I have been interested in following this story and weighing this question. There are a few considerations that make it seem less cut and dried than "oh, those stupid, reckless parents."

First of all, this family has actually been through this before. Abby's older brother is Zac Sunderland, who accomplished the same feat at the age of 17 and briefly held the record himself that Abby was trying to break. Everyone in the family is extremely experienced at sailing, with thousands of hours logged, and the father is a shipwright who knows ships inside and out. The family personally fitted each boat for the voyage, step by step. Furthermore, they planned the voyages extremely carefully, with every conceivable failsafe support they could muster, including telemetric navigation equipment, alarm beacons, and the aid of computer weather and navigational support. The family was in touch with Zac every day via Skype and Internet, just as they were with Abby. This isn't a case of a kid sailing off on a lark. Instead, these voyages were each carefully planned for over a year. See, for example, the FAQ from Zac's website, and the FAQ from Abby's website, concerning why the parents supported their journeys, preparation, safety and dangers.

Zac ran into trouble himself a few times. He, too, faced mountainous waves. At one time it was feared he had been kidnapped by Somali pirates, and again, the family had several tense hours before learning he was safe. He also had damage to his boat, which caused the necessity to stop for repairs. I don't recall quite so fierce criticism of Zac taking this adventure as Abby.

Could the difference be the few months in their ages? Zac was 17 and Abby was 16 when they set out.

I don't think so.

I suspect, frankly, that a large part of the difference is that Abby is a girl, and she is therefore automatically seen as less competent and serious than her brother Zac. And that makes me bristle.

I am not a fan, in general, of kids doing death-defying things. But if your kid really does want to do something big and adventurous, has done her research and prepared accordingly, then perhaps you have to set them free. I do think that the Sunderland family did their very best to anticipate and prepare for every possible contingency. The kids had prepared for years and despite the fact that they were kids, they were much more experienced and prepared than many adults who have attempted sailing adventures.

Of course, my girls have never asked me to let them do something like this. I am not sure how I would react when/if I'm ever asked to make the decision!

What do you think?


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