Women

Holy Sexism, Batman! What is up With Geek Culture?

I’m seeing a disturbing trend in geek culture, true believers. I see many blog posts and news stories posts calling out the sexism and misogyny within the culture. Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s being called out. It needs to be called out. I just don’t like there’s this awful attitude towards women in geek culture in the first place. This awful attitude goes beyond the trouble with the roles of women in comic book movies–I’ve seen posts asking a photography company to stop using cosplay images on body pillows, reposts of angry tweets directed at Feminist Frequency‘s Anita Sarkeesian and her vlogs on video games, and posts documenting sexual harassment at various sci-fi/comic book conventions.

 

What the hell is going on?Aren’t geek guys supposed to be shy and nice and excited whenever a girl shows interest in something the mainstream considers “lame?” you may be thinking. Oh wait, I see the problem. Geek culture has become mainstream. CBS airs The Big Bang Theory (pictured at left), a sitcom where two physicists are the lead and not only do they talk about science, they talk about comic books, sci-fi movies and tv shows, video games, computer parts, conventions, so on and so forth without any shame. San Diego Comic-Con is no longer just about comic books, it’s more of a pop culture convention if anything–I just read that the cast of How I Met Your Mother will be going this year. Last I checked, HIMYM was about a man searching for his soul mate, not about a superhero or captain of a futuristic space command center.  I feel that a lot of these geeks see this as an invasion, and are fiercely trying to hold on to things that are no longer considered quirky or unique to their subculture.

 

When women get involved, it’s tricky. I feel there’s a sense of “women are trying to take over, trying to make it PC, change everything we love and grew up with.” It doesn’t help if the woman in question is considered “hot” or “attractive,” more mainstream. The vicious attacks against Sarkeesian to me are partially these guys saying “Hey, you’re a hot girl, I’m supposed to show you what video games are, you can’t know this already, who are you to say that there’s sexism in Super Mario Bros.? I hate you! You’re taking away my special thing.” If the women aren’t discussing these games, they get accused of not being a part of the fandom, they’re just seen as women who like to dress as sexy versions of Princess Peach, The Pink Power Ranger, Wonder Woman, etc. They’re not real geeks, they’re not welcome–so what are they supposed to do?

 

I feel a lot of this is tied into the “nice guy” thing–that certain guys feel that these women, who, if it weren’t for the popularization of geek culture, would have no interest in it, owe them something. “I’m a nice guy, I’m sweet, we both like Power Rangers, but you’re still going after a guy I think is a jerk because he looks like a guy who gave me a swirly in 6th grade? Fuck you, bitch, you probably don’t actually like the show, you just think the costumes are cute, you’re not a real fan!” It’s ridiculous, and has actually made me wary of “geeky guys” for that reason. Just because they’re not “meatheads” does not mean that they’re exempt from being jerks.

 

So what can we do to change this? Keep calling it out. If women want to do cosplay, they can be whomever they damn well please–they’re not dressing up to impress the men in attendance, they’re dressing up because they love a character and want to show their appreciation, get into the spirit of the convention. They didn’t ask to be body pillows, and they certainly didn’t ask for you to grab their ass while being photographed with you. Anita Sarkeesian isn’t shunning video games, she’s just letting people know that they can be problematic with character design and the roles of women within the stories. That’s all.

 

What’s your take, LivLunatics? The the mainstreaming of geek culture a fad, or is there no such thing? Are people being too protective of their favorite superheroes and sci-fi icons? Why the hate towards women?

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News, Political

Occupy Gezi: The Revolution is Not Being Televised

A small park in Istanbul has become a hotspot for a new political movement, Occupy Gezi.On Wednesday, a group of people (not part of any specific group) met to protest the demolition of Gezi Park. Last year, it was announced that the small park would be leveled off to be turned into a shopping mall. There are numerous malls in Istanbul, and protestors had enough, wanting to keep the park with 606 trees. The protests started off peaceful, with people bringing blankets and tents, to be ready when demolition started the following morning.

Sure enough, the demolition started and protestors stood in front of the machines. That was all, there was no media attention, just people standing up for what they believed in. However, police were called in anyway, bringing water cannons and pepper spray, causing the number of protestors to grow so large over night, the local government shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square. This did not deter the protestors, many of whom who chose to walk. The police continued to use excessive force, even going so far as to burn down protesters’ tents.

Although the police lifted barricades in the hope of relieving some tension, Erdogan was still defiant, promising to stick to the government’s redevelopment plans. He called the protesters a “minority” that was trying to forcefully impose demands and challenged the opposition that he could easily summon a million people for a government rally. “I am not claiming that a government that has received the majority of the votes has limitless powers … and can do whatever it wants,” he said in a televised speech.“Just as the majority cannot impose its will on the minority, the minority cannot impose its will on the majority.”

Although Turkey has seen great economic growth under Erdogan’s leadership, he remains a divisive figure in mainly secular circles due to his strong conservative Muslim beliefs and is criticized for his often abrasive style. Why did he overreact to a peaceful, environmentally charged protest? It wasn’t about him until he decided to bring in pepper spray and water cannons to quell the protests.

Many social justice groups such as Amnesty International are concerned with the excessive police force used during the protest, especially as Reuters has reported that school children on a field trip were caught up in the tear gas. The protests are also exposing a larger issue in Istanbul–the disconnect between Tayyip Erodgan and the people. In a piece for the The New Yorker, Elif Batuman reports that on her television, CNN Turk was broadcasting a cooking show, while other networks were showing dance programs and a study abroad show. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and personal blogs are showing the truth; harsh photos, live tweets, etc.

While new stuff pops up on social media every day, I find it so appalling that the mainstream media in Turkey seems to be completely ignoring the story, and fueling the fire. Ted Turner’s vision for CNN was that it was news twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In the US, Turner used to steal footage from the big news networks in order to get his stories. So why isn’t CNN Turk doing the same thing and aiding the disconnect between the government and the people? Occupy Geziis news. People need to know what’s going on so they can make an informed choice, to decide to get involved or to just hang back.

So, LivLunatics, what’s your take on the situation? Turkish LivLunatics, did I miss anything important? What’s your take on the lack of  mainstream media coverage?

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Celebrity, Women

Enough With Rape Threats.

Trigger Warning: Rape

Writer and comedian Lindy West is finding herself faced with rape threats. Why? Because she dared to call out rape culture in comedy.Last Thursday, West (below) appeared on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell to have a debate with comic Jim Norton about censorship in comedy, with focus on rape jokes in particular, and how they contribute to rape culture. The debate has caused a great deal of controversy. West described the feedback as:

“And how did they try and prove me wrong? How did they try to demonstrate that comedy, in general, doesn’t have issues with women? By threatening to rape and kill me, telling me I’m just bitter because I’m too fat to get raped, and suggesting that the debate would have been better if it had just been Jim raping me.

This isn’t just coming from anonymous trolls. Local comics — whom I know and work with — have told me to shut the fuck up. One hopes I’ll fall down a flight of stairs. (He later apologized—to my boyfriend, not me.)”

This is rage inducing for so many reasons–West’s point was that one has to understand the situation behind a joke before they make it. When people don’t get the joke, taking it too seriously or calling the offended “too sensitive,” it contributes to a big problem. Telling someone they’re “too fat to be raped” or “it would have been better if the show was just [Norton] raping you” is unacceptable, especially when the response is to someone saying they’re uncomfortable with a very violent sexual act. The reason rape jokes are particularly sensitive as it’s so complex–the way our society handles it is women get taught “don’t get raped,” rather than teaching men “don’t rape.” (Men get raped too, and women can be rapists, yes, but the prevalent problem seems to be with men raping women.)

These responses are only proving West right–our culture is so messed up when it comes to dealing with rape culture. This isn’t a matter of whether or not she’s hypersensitive, this is a matter of a woman who is being threatened with violence simply because she didn’t agree with a man’s take on rape jokes. It happens more often and in more subtle ways than outright saying “I’m going to rape you.” On Twitter a few weeks ago, Katy Perry commented that she wasn’t a fan of Chief Keef’s song called “I Hate Being Sober.” Keef’s response?

“Dat (sic) bitch Katy Perry Can Suck Skin Off Of my Dick […] Ill (sic) Smack The Shit out her.”

Chief-Keef-Goes-Off-on-Katy-Perry

Instead of calling him out on his vulgar attitude towards her, Perry wound up apologizing to himKaty Perry apologized to Chief Keef. Not the other way around. The scary thing is, Chief Keef is only seventeen, and thinks it’s acceptable to talk to women or anyone like that. “But he’s just a kid! He doesn’t know any better, he’s just being stupid” some people may think upon reading this exchange. Yes, he is stupid, but that’s no excuse for talking like that.

West and Perry’s experiences are examples as to why we need better education about rape and rape culture. West and Perry should not be faced with threats of sexual violence for expressing distaste over an opinion/song. Perry had no reason to apologize to Chief Keef. She was the one being threatened, not him. I’m finding more and more people who think it’s okay to use rape as a verb. It’s not. It’s not just a word, it’s an act of sexual violence that our society doesn’t seem to have a real grip on for whatever reason.

What’s your take, LivLunatics? How can we teach about rape/rape culture in a way that will get people to stop making light of such an awful and complex thing? What do you think of West and Perry’s individual responses?

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Celebrity, Women

Rex Reed Calls Melissa McCarthy “Tractor Sized”–How Mature.

I don’t understand why body type has to come into play during film reviews. Unless it is an essential part to the role an actor is playing, there is no need to make comments. Someone forgot to tell New York Observer film critic Rex Reed that it’s not necessary.

In his review of the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman action comedy Identity Thief, Reed not only trashes the film, but McCarthy’s appearance as well. He calls her “cacophonous, tractor-sized” and a “female hippo.” He also goes on to say:

“Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success […] Poor Jason Bateman. How did an actor so charming, talented, attractive and versatile get stuck in so much dreck?”

Rex’s criticisms are very mean spirited. It’s one thing not to like McCarthy’s performance, but why is it necessary to throw in comments about her body size, especially when she’s been so candid about her struggles with weight loss and accepting her curves. In the November 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping, McCarthy said:

“I don’t really know why I’m not thinner than I am. I don’t really drink soda, I don’t have a sweet tooth, and we eat healthfully at home […] Sometimes I wish I were just magically a size 6 and I never had to give it a single thought, but I am weirdly healthy, so I don’t beat myself up about it — it wouldn’t help, and I don’t want to pass that on to my girls.”

As a woman who has spent most of their life plus-sized, I can tell you, seeing these criticisms is hurtful. Sure, it’s easy to laugh it off and call Reed an asshole, but these messages get internalized, that once again, plus-sized people are being told they’re disgusting and should be locked away, never to be seen. It’s sick. Clearly, Reed is not going to be responsible for the end of McCarthy’s career (which doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all,) but as a professional, he should keep his criticisms about the film itself, not the appearance of the actresses–Bateman got away with being “attractive.”

I’m sick of the sexism and fat shaming in Hollywood, aren’t you, LivLunatics? Ugh. Are you sick of criticisms like Reed’s? Have you seen Identity Thief? Did McCarthy’s figure ruin the film?

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