The Creepy Cull of the Female Protagonist.
I’m starting to really really like this guy’s videos.
I guess it does seem a little silly to be all “People need to see this movie!!” like it’s an ~important cause~ or a small indie project or whatever. Yes, it’s a blockbuster movie. But I’m getting the impression that people are judging it inaccurately, mostly by comparing it to other blockbuster movies. For example, the vast quantity of people I’ve seen saying, “This looks like a ripoff of Transformers”. Nothing could be further from the truth!
It’s not Transformers.
Transformers is everyone’s favourite example of hugely successful, critic-proof summer idiot movie. It’s based on a popular toy/franchise so the audience already knows what it’s about, it has really great CGI, and it transparently appeals to teenage boys. No matter how bad the reviews were for each successive Transformers movie, people would watch them because they’d spent the past 5 years being beaten into submission by the Transformers publicity juggernaut. And because they were guaranteed to show cool scenes of giant robots smashing into stuff.
Pretty much the only thing Pacific Rim has in common with Transformers is that it includes cool scenes of giant robots smashing into stuff.
Rather than reducing the main female character to a adolescent male fantasy (don’t even get me started on Michael Bay’s glaringly obvious lack of respect for women), it looks like Pacific Rim’s Mako Mori will have a heroic character arc. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t comment on whether it passes the Bechdel test or whatever (AFAIK, there’s only one female lead and one secondary female character in the ensemble cast), but Guillermo del Toro has a really good track record with female characters.
Pan’s Labyrinth, which has a female protagonist, is fantastic, and if you watch Hellboy I think you’ll be surprised by how excellent Liz Sherman is. Hellboy really does embrace its own cheesiness, but at the same time Liz Sherman gets the most interesting character arc I’ve ever seen for a comicbook love-interest. As in, she actually gets to have a life and goals of her own, separate from Hellboy — even though they grew up together, and sometimes work together. In the first movie, she actually has herself committed to a mental institution because she thinks it’ll be the best thing for her. And this is in a mainstream blockbuster movie that basically amounts to “Men In Black: Demon Edition”.
Pacific Rim looks like it was written by someone with an actual brain.
It’s already clear that wayyyy more thought has gone into Pacific Rim than into, say, Man of Steel. Man of Steel is a pile of trash garbage that disrespects its audience in every way, but was a huge success because a) Superman is a well-known franchise, and b) the advertising campaign was obliteratingly intense. (If you want to read an interesting article about Hollywood’s obsession with making stupid & offensive tentpole franchise movies, I recommend this: “The Lone Ranger represents everything that’s wrong with Hollywood blockbusters”.) The concern is that Pacific Rim may flop because a casual glance at the trailer makes people think, “That looks like Transformers vs Godzilla, starring some people I haven’t heard of,” whereas a glance at the Man of Steel trailer makes people think, “That’s Superman. I like Superman, and Zach Snyder and Christopher Nolan have made good superhero movies in the past.”
For a major Hollywood movie, brand recognition almost always means more than the quality of the film. If something stars Will Smith or Bruce Willis, people will go to see it because it’s a Bruce Willis or Will Smith movie. If a movie is part of a recogniseable franchise like Spider-Man or Tomb Raider, people will watch it because they’re familiar with the character, even if it’s so bad it makes your eyeballs roll out of your skull. With Pacific Rim, you’re looking at something that looks kind of like Godzilla and kind of like Transformers, but isn’t “the real thing”. Therefore, it must therefore be a cheap knockoff, like those “Transmorphers” movies. Or Megashark vs Giant Octopus.
In fact, Guillermo del Toro has already put a great deal of thought into the worldbuilding of Pacific Rim. First of all, it’s a look at what happens after the events of a monster movie like Godzilla or Cloverfield. It’s not an origin story. It starts in media res, like Star Wars. Here are some of del Toro’s thoughts on why he didn’t want to make an origin story:
"The part that I was interested in was the part where things are hard. If you start with the origin, then you have to go with investigative characters, which are hard for me to relate to. Like a reporter, or military forensics. For me it has to be a character that has something against him or her, from the get-go. A character that starts already oppressed or down on his/her luck, for me to be interested in them."
Pacific Rim seems to be full of little details on what would actually happen in a society in the aftermath of a monster-movie style event. Because the Kaiju are so enormous, their skeletons are often left behind and people end up building houses around them. One of the main characters is a black market trader who specialises in selling parts of dead Kaiju to people who fetishise or worship the monsters.
But the most significant thing is that it’s an international movie. The Kaiju are a threat to the entire planet, so it only makes sense that people from all around the world are fighting back against them.
In blockbuster disaster movies, the action is almost always reserved for New York or another major US city. In the Star Trek reboot, “Earth” is represented by Iowa, San Francisco, and London. In the Batman franchise, it’s (obviously) Gotham, America. In Man of Steel: Metropolis and the US military, despite the fact that they’re facing a worldwide threat. The formula is: defend America, and occasionally send in the US Marines as canon-fodder against whatever alien attack we’re fighting this week. Actually, I’m struggling to think of a major blockbuster that treats a “world threat” as a threat against the world rather than just America. (Maybe World War Z? I haven’t seen it, but the trailer seemed to have scenes in places other than America.)
However, Pacific Rim shows a diverse cast of characters from around the world, because the Kaiju are a threat to everyone, everywhere. The Jaegers (giant robots) even have a variety of different characteristics, depending on where they were manufactured.
And don’t forget that in order to pilot the Jaegers, people have to forge a mental link. Yes, that’s right, Tumblr. This is a movie with canonical soulbonding.
So yeah, I haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, but I’m pretty damn sure it’s going to be smarter and more entertaining than every one of the major blockbuster movies that came out this summer. And if you don’t feel like trusting me, trust Kanye:
Excellent, well-reasoned hype for Pacific Rim! It’s important to see this movie because it’s ORIGINAL CONTENT (if heavily inspired by/homage to the monster/mecha genre), it looks like it’s going to be more representational than a LOT of the stuff already out there, and it’s helmed by a director who’s already well known for intelligent, quality cinema. We should support things like this, because we wanna see more stuff like this!
"Senator, you ever heard of Chicago? You know what happens in Chicago every night? What has happened in Chicago cumulatively makes what happened in Newtown look like chump change. I’m not kidding, folks."
Rush Limbaugh, calling the Newtown massacre of 20 CHILDREN “chump change.” And he says so himself—he’s not kidding. (via thisgingersnapsback)
See this right here was the shit I was talkin about when I mentioned that I was slightly suspicious of folks all of a sudden caring about Black and Brown babies in light of the Sandy Hook shooting. Everybody knows that Rush Limbaugh doesn’t give two fucks about the Black and Brown kids that are killed every damn day in the South Side of Chicago (and let’s be fucking real for a moment, that’s where most of the murders are taking place, in the neighborhood that’s 93% African American).
He has made it abundantly clear that he gives no fucks about black people. Look at the racist shit he’s done over the entirety of his career. Do you really believe that he cares that our children are dying in the streets? But now that 20 innocent white babies have been killed, he feels that he has something to make the Black president from Chicago look bad and he wants to exploit that. If he has to make light of the 20 babies that were slaughtered and pretend to care for Black and Brown children, well that’s just a sacrifice he has to make.
Fuck you Rush Limbaugh. You ain’t bout shit. If there is a/are god(s) out there, I hope they send your ass to the deepest, hottest pit of Hell with gasoline soaked drawers on.
Reblogging for commentary.
This…is playing the race card.(via invisiblelad)
And it’s not like I’m saying transphobic radscum have no ability to make my life hell or to use their cis privilege against me but are we really going to ignore the fucking realities of male violence and hegemony or
No, we’re not.
Men should be held accountable for their crimes and violence - but so should women!! Women are capable of rape, violence, transphobia, racism & sexism! Being a woman or a feminist doesn’t make you incapable of these things!!
Not all men are rapists and not all rapists are men!! This is an important fact to consider!
I have every goddamn right to be fearful of men than women because men commit the majority of these crimes.
Some people don’t understand that the reason people are always talking about the crimes men commit is because men commit virtually all documented (and undocumented) sexual crimes…
The thing is, there is a reason that women are scared of men and men are barely ever scared of women. It’s a fear of being taken advantage of. Men do not go about their days being fearful and feeling like “oh god maybe i shouldnt go out tonight” , “let me call my friend and see if she wants to come with me” , “girl wait outside in the car til i get in the house”, and things like that…
men perpetrate 88% of total violence against men and women
women perpetrate 9.6% of total violence against men
whine more about how this is misandry??????
Throw in some statistics on motive, and you’ll probably find a lot of the women killed in self defense. Men are so fucking oppressed I can’t even stand it.
I was thinking about exactly this last night. If Misandry is super srs and such a real problem, show me the upsurge in female violence against males since it’s gained popularity. I’ll wait.
christ this is like when they use male death in the workplace as an example of institutional oppression against men
because feminist groups are renowned for campaigning against workplace health and safety standards and woman-led groups weren’t in fact responsible for helping reduce the incidence of child labour (in the UK at least) and responsible for some of the earliest incidences of successful labour action in British history
Romney - Red & Obama - Blue
It’s a sad day when the majority of Americans voted for someone to be President and our voices got OVER-RULED.
Maybe after these 4 years y’all will understand that Obama was not the best choice for moving this country, ‘forward.’
It’s all the damn big cities
I wish people in cities couldn’t vote. They don’t understand what it means to be American. They don’t understand our principles, and they don’t understand our Constitution.
The heartland of America will save this nation, mark my words.
You’re wishing that more than half of the population of the country would lose their voting rights and be subject to the whims of a minority. Tell me how that reflects our principles or our Constitution, I would love to know.
Dear people who don’t know how county voting maps work.
Just because the red covers most of the map doesn’t mean that “most of the country voted for Romney”.
This sort of map measures what direction each county in America went.
There could be all of ONE person in that county; if they voted Romney, then it would be a giant red spot on the map.
This is why “most of the map” appears to be red. Because in counties where they were very few people, most of those people voted Romney. Not even all of them. Just most of them, making that county red.
I repeat: If a county has 100 people in it, if 51 people voted Romney, it’s a bright red.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE VOTED FOR ROMNEY.
In fact, the majority of this country DID NOT vote for Romney.
Over 50% of voters voted Obama. Just because those spots seem to be scattered blue points doesn’t mean that it “wasn’t a lot of people”.
It means that those people are concentrated in those counties.
So basically: If 1000 people live in a large county, very spread out, and 1,000,000 people live in a very, very small county, very close together, but the small county voted Obama and the large Romney, it’s not “more people” because of the space the county takes up.
If 501 people voted for Romney, the county is red. It would take 500,001 people to make the eensy weensy crowded county blue.
That’s not “majority”.
Also y’all is dumb as fuck.
Reblogged because all of this information seems to be lost on more than a few….
Free and good food in the garbage due to the over-production of this country, while billions starve to death. Capitalism at it’s best.
…………white people with dreads yall
nasty nasty nasty asses
again for that gif lmfao
why didn’t I think of that
of course they have dreads
White ppl dumpster dive? Resourceful and green and commendable.
POC dumpster dive? Moochers, gross, why can’t they buy food themselves?
my favorite part of this photo set is the last picture where that “sandwich” is proudly presented to the audience.
Lol, that sandwich looks likes something that even roaches would pass over.
It’s Smith, guys. Barack Hussein Obama Smith.
I’m so done.
I’m not having a good day. I see this and have burst into hysterical tears. Ignorance, meet google.
This is more than just ignorance.
Every single person who asks this question has made the unquestioned assumption that we’ve all been calling the president by his first name this whole time. Not as part of an unflattering nickname like “Slick Willy” or “Tricky Dick” or a friendly and familiar campaign slogan like “I Like Ike”, but that this is just how commentators and pundits and even straight reporters talk about him: Obama did this, Obama said that, Obama’s policy, Obama’s trip…
This isn’t just not knowing whether “Obama” is a first name or last name, this is hearing people habitually referring to the President of the United States of America and assuming that the speaker is giving him so little respect or deference. Granted, this also says something abut the way his name sounds in so many people’s mouth and how rarely he’s accorded even the simple courtesy of a “Mister” in front of his name… but it also says something about the person who hears this disrespect and not only doesn’t question it, but assumes it goes one enormous step further and doesn’t have a problem with that.
As a nation we’ve always been a bit careless about how we refer to our presidents, ever since our first ones dispensed with styles like “Your Excellency” and “Your Honor” and even (I kid you not) “Your Elective Majesty”. Officially, they call him Mr. President, but in the interest of squeezing another word into the headline our very democratic free press has long viewed even that token of honor as optional. But when so many people take so much care to pack as much disrespect into every syllable of our elected executive’s name as they can, I think we need to take equal care to refer to him with proper respect and courtesy.
Mr. Obama. Mr. President. President Obama. Governor Romney and Governor Palin have both been out of office for years… three years haven’t been long enough for Palin to shed the title she voluntarily “refudiated” and it apparently also hasn’t been long enough for President Obama to be accorded the title he earned.
Dear Nicki Minaj,
Next time you dress yourself in animal print clothing and dance around in a cage while being a colored woman, you should realize that you the result of years and years of male-dominated media stereotyping colored women as exotic, hypersexual, promiscuous, animal-like things. Not even human, just things, objects. Hope you’re proud of yourself and how you make colored women look. So, next time…just don’t.
a disappointed young woman.
As somebody who is an African American woman and not necessarily a fan of Nicki Minaj, it pains me when non-African American people attempt to talk about our hyper-sexualization and our objectification. It pains me because most often they have not educated themselves about the history associated with the hyper-sexualization and objectification of black women’s bodies. They have not done the research necessary to understand its origins in our society, in what societal dynamics this occurs, what constructs are at play, and the effects it has had on African American women over the course of American history. Instead, cases like Nicki Minaj are often times inappropriately used as umbrella examples as to how the behaviour of one is affecting us all.
I, like many of us, have a voice. I am perfectly capable of saying what about Nicki Minaj’s representation bothers me and how I perceive it affects the representation of African American women in mass media. I am perfectly capable of saying that who Nicki Minaj chooses to be in the limelight does and does not have a bearing on my black woman’s body. But the onus isn’t on her to change her behaviour for the sake of black women everywhere. The onus is on society to stop the continued pattern of hyper sexualization and objectification of black women’s bodies which has existed longer than you or i or Nicki Minaj have been alive. The onus is on society to stop viewing black women’s bodies as merely objects for the taking and at the same time stop associating them solely with their sexuality. It is possible to be a sexual being and not have your identity totally wound up in the manifestation of such sexual expression. Yet black women have not enjoyed such individuality or bodily autonomy in this country and dare i say in on this planet. And if we continue to point the looking glass in the wrong direction, then we never will. We will always be body policing ourselves, afraid of whether our appearance or behaviour is sending a larger message to an uncritical audience unwilling to look at the whole person and not part of the person as a reflection on the whole group.
We, African American women, have been speaking to our oppression when it comes to our representation in mass media for years. We have published books, articles, spoken in documentaries and interviews. The problem is that people don’t listen, or their late to the larger conversational party and talk over us, talk over the scholarship we have done in an attempt to pretty much say the same thing and they garner more attention because they have no connection to the identity of being an African American woman. They are not black, so people will listen to them before listening to us.
Just as you are not black, and people have listened and reblogged your post instead of listening and talking to us about how we feel. And when African American people and our allies have expressed discontent over your post, pointing out the flaws in your argument, instead of being heard they get swept into the category of “haters who will just keep on hating”, people who have no right to their hurt or anger or their feelings.
And for the fact that our comments get swept into the dust basket of “hateration” continues the silencing of black women’s voices, shuts down the ability for non-black women like yourself to understand the seriousness of such critical issues as they are related to our livelihood, shuts down the opportunity for you to listen to us, and allows you and others to walk away with the impression that silencing is okay, talking over us is okay, talking about our issues using our women and our representation and our bodies without understanding all the facts is okay. When quite frankly…..its not.
I personally don’t think you should delete your tumblr. At the same time i was deeply offended by your post about Nicki Minaj i don’t think its worth deleting your tumblr over. You don’t deserve the hateful comments, but if you delete your tumblr i don’t think you’ll ever understand why this is such a hot button issue.
Tumblr provides you with a unique and rare opportunity to learn from people about their own oppressions from their own raw voices. Don’t allow the guise of “hateration” or the cult of personality that exists around you to blind you to such a unique and rare learning opportunity. I think you’d make a fine ally to black women, but its not something that happens overnight. It’s not something that happens because you have African American female friends who agree with you or because people are willing to sing your praises before challenging your ideas. It begins with discomfort, it begins with that internal twisting which wants to believe you have all the right intentions and the right desires for changing the world but maybe you lack the knowledge and the real world experience of being an African American woman. It begins with understanding that you only know so much and that’s okay because nobody is judging you on what you don’t know but more or less what you’re not willing to learn.
It begins somewhere, but delete your tumblr and it never begins. Shut out people with valid axes to grind and the evolution of your ideas will never come into fruition.
"Ok we’ve been to ‘Total Fantasy World Inspired by Medieval Germany’ ‘Set in Mystical Medieval Scottland’ and now ‘Anderson’s Scandinavia’. They’re just going to the whitest places on earth on purpose now. It’s like a scavenger hunt for places that they can have plausible deniability for not including POC even as background characters."
Not only that, but Disney movies that are specifically fairy tales with no necessary historical basis are defaulted as “white.” Sleeping Beauty. The Little Mermaid. Cinderella. Tangled.
One can make an approximation when these stories take place in the movies, but the historical basis is unneeded, and certainly wouldn’t add or detract from the general story of the fairy tale.
But let’s look at Princess and the Frog. And Pocahontas. Where the presence of a POC character is justified by historical relevancy. This is because, as noted again, Disney assumes that white is the default, even in semi fantasy fairy tales.
And now claims of historicity work to exclude representations of POC from such movies. So what can we say about all this? Disney’s claims of historicity, even when handling fairy tales allows them to justify the inclusion or exclusion of POC in their films, though white is assumed to be a default.
Also, telling the uninsured person that it’s their own fault that they’re uninsurable probably isn’t a great idea.
Because obviously the uninsurable person enjoys being in their situation or they’d change it, right?
Easy peasy….just find some bootstraps.
”To me, what hurts me, is the fact that you are told all the times: “we are equal” like “I don’t know what is your deal” like “what is your fucking issue with this or with that?” but then you realize: no, actually we are not! You are getting paid more than I. You get to have more options in terms of what you want to watch for entertainment. When you go to the movies you have 90 movies. 90 different stories that you can watch through your eyes, through the eyes of a male. And one complain that I might make - one observation - that’s actually very very truth about the fact that there isn’t enough things for us, for women out there it’s like ”shut up!” Why aren’t you happy? Why can’t you just be like every girl? Just… why do you always have to try to be the man? It’s not even about trying to be the man, it’s about trying to feel significant, trying to feel equal, trying to believe that my purpose in life was more than just be half of something else and deliver the packages, the kids to this individual so that they can glorify themselves. By the time of my 30’s and I fall in love and I have a career, I’m gonna be making less than a man, I’m gonna lose my name to a man. […] And by the time that they come back they are unattractive! (x)
so neil cicierega is still pretty great
N-Neil… I love you……..
how are bronies this fucking stupid
ah neil’s comment are so good
(Source: , via jhenne-bean)
"Keeping things the way they are because that’s just how you’re familiar with them is problematic, due to most everyone in comic fiction being a white, cis-gendered guy. It’s not an overtly racist distinction you’re making, which is why you seem to feel you’ve come to it without prejudicial racial bias (“similar conclusions can be reached by different arguments”), but it actually IS racist by way of exclusion. “Don’t do something directly racist, but also just keep things how they’ve always been” is racist [and heteronormative, and sexist, and cis-sexist, and so on] because “how things have always been” are white, cis-gendered, and male. Therefore, you prefer things to stay white, cis-gendered, and male. The world has changed, but you want these characters to persist as vestiges of an outdated, slanted view of society."
Nerds and Male Privilege (definitely worth a read!)
I want to tell you a story.
A few years ago, I was dating a girl who was decidedly not nerd curious. She tolerated my geeky interests with a certain bemused air but definitely didn’t participate in ‘em… not even setting foot inside a comic store on new comic day. She’d wait outside until I was done… which could be a while, since I was friends with several of the staff.
She came in the store exactly once, after I’d explained that no, it’s a pretty friendly place… well lit, spacious, organized and with helpful – and clearly identified – staff members who were willing to bend over backwards to make sure their customers were satisfied.
She was in there for less than 4 minutes before one mouth-breathing troglodyte began alternately staring at her boobs – evidently hoping that x-ray vision could develop spontaneously – and berating her for daring to comment on the skimpy nature of the costumes – in this case, Lady Death and Witchblade. She fled the premises, never to return.
When both the manager and I explained to him in no uncertain terms as to what he did wrong he shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, I was just trying to help you guys! She couldn’t understand that chicks can be tough and sexy! Not my fault she’s a chauvinist,” he said.
And that was when I shot him, your honor.
So with that example in mind, let’s talk about a subject I’ve touched on before: Male Privilege and how it applies to geeks and – more importantly – geek girls.
MALE PRIVILEGE: WHAT IS IT, EXACTLY?
I don’t think I’m breaking any news or blowing minds when I point out that geek culture as a whole is predominantly male. Not to say that women aren’t making huge inroads in science fiction/fantasy fandom, gaming, anime and comics… but it’s still a very male culture. As such, it caters to the predominantly male audience that makes it up. This, in turn leads to the phenomenon known as male privilege: the idea that men – most often straight, white men – as a whole, get certain privileges and status because of their gender.
(Obvious disclaimer: I’m a straight white man.)
In geek culture, this manifests in a number of ways. The most obvious is in the portrayal of female characters in comics, video games and movies. Batman: Arkham City provides an excellent example.
The women are all about sex, sex, sexy sextimes. With maybe a little villainy thrown in for flavor. They may be characters, but they’re also sexual objects to be consumed.
I will pause now for the traditional arguments from my readers: these characters are all femme fatales in the comics, all of the characters in the Arkham games are over-the-top, the men are just as exaggerated/sexualized/objectified as the women. Got all of that out of your systems? Good.
Because that reaction is exactly what I’m talking about.
Y’see, one of the issues of male privilege as it applies to fandom is the instinctive defensive reaction to any criticism that maybe, just maybe, shit’s a little fucked up, yo. Nobody wants to acknowledge that a one-sided (and one-dimensional) portrayal of women is the dominant paradigm in gaming; the vast majority of female characters are sexual objects. If a girl wants to see herself represented in video games, she better get used to the idea of being the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. If she wants to see herself as a main character, then it’s time to get ready for a parade of candyfloss costumes where nipple slips are only prevented by violating the laws of physics. The number of games with competent female protagonists who wear more than the Victoria’s Secret Angels are few and far between.
The idea that perhaps the way women are portrayed in fandom is aleetle sexist is regularly met with denials, justifications and outright dismissal of the issue. So regularly, in fact, that there’s a Bingo card covering the most common responses. Part of the notion of male privilege in fandom is that nothing is wrong with fandom and that suggestions that it might benefit from some diversity is treated as a threat.
But what is that threat, exactly?
In this case, the threat is that – ultimately – fandom won’t cater to guys almost to exclusion… that gays, lesbians, racial and religious minorities and (gasp!) women might start having a say in the way that games, comics, etc. will be created in the future. The strawmen that are regularly trotted out – that men are objectified as well, that it’s a convention of the genre, that women actually have more privileges than guys – are a distraction from the real issue: that the Privileged are worried that they won’t be as privileged in the near future if this threat isn’t stomped out. Hence the usual reactions: derailment, minimization and ultimately dismissing the topic all together.
As much as my nerdy brethren wish that more girls were of the geeky persuasion, it’s a little understandable why women might be a little reticent. It’s hard to feel valued or fully included when a very vocal group insists that your input is irrelevant, misguided and ultimately unwelcome. It’s small wonder why geekdom – for all of it’s self-proclaimed enlightened attitudes towards outsiders and outcasts – stil retains the odor of the guy’s locker room.
HOW MALE PRIVILEGE AFFECTS GEEK GIRLS IN REAL LIFE
Don’t make the mistake of thinking male privilege is solely about how big Power Girl’s tits are, fan service and jiggle physics in 3D fighters. It affects geek girls in direct, personal ways as well.
Remember the example I mentioned earlier with my then-girlfriend in the comic store? Her opinions were deemed mistaken and she was told she didn’t “get it”… because she was a girl.
Y’see, one of the issues that nerd girls face is the fact that they are seen as girls first and anything else second. And before you flood my comments section demanding to know why this is a bad thing, realize that being seen as a “girl” first colors every interaction that they have within fandom. They’re treated differently because they are women.
We will now pause for the expected responses: well that’s a good thing isn’t it, girls get special treatment because they’re girls, guys will fall all over themselves to try to get girls to like ‘em so it all balances out.
If you’re paying attention you’ll realize that – once again – those reactions are what I’m talking about.
Y’see, nobody’s saying that women don’t receive different treatment from guys… I’m saying that being treated differently is the problem. And yes, I know exactly what many of you are going to say and I’ll get to that in a minute.
Male privilege – again – is about what men can expect as the default setting for society. A man isn’t going to have everything about him filtered through the prism of his gender first. A man, for example, who gets a job isn’t going to face with suggestions that his attractiveness or that his willingness to perform sexual favors was a factor in his being hired, nor will he be shrugged off as a “quota hire”. A man isn’t expected to be a representative of his sex in all things; if he fails at a job, it’s not going to be extrapolated that all men are unfit for that job. A man who’s strong-willed or aggressive won’t be denigrated for it, nor are men socialized to “go along to get along”. A man can expect to have his opinion considered, not dismissed out of hand because of his sex. When paired with a woman who’s of equal status, the man can expect that most of the world will assume that he’s the one in charge. And, critically, a man doesn’t have to continually view the world through the lens of potential violence and sexual assault.
Now with this in mind, consider why being a girl first may be a hindrance to geek girls. A guy who plays a first person shooter – Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, what-have-you – online may expect a certain amount of trash talking, but he’s not going to be inundated with offers for sex, threats of rape, sounds of simulated masturbation or demands that he blow the other players – but not before going to the kitchen and getting them a beer/sandwich/pizza first. Men will also not be told that they’re being “too sensitive” or that “they need to toughen up” when they complain about said sexual threats.
Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are. The most common responses a woman can expect in an argument – especially online – is that she’s fat, ugly, single, jealous, a whore, or a lesbian – or any combination thereof – and therefore her opinion is irrelevant, regardless of it’s actual merits. This is especially true if she’s commenting on the portrayal of female characters, whether in comics, video games or movies.
Men can expect that their presence at an event won’t automatically be assumed to be decorative or secondary to another man. Despite the growing presence of women in comics, as publishers, editors and creators as well as consumers, a preponderance of men will either treat women at conventions as inconveniences, booth bunnies or even potential dates. Many a female creator or publisher has had the experience of convention guests coming up and addressing all of their questions to the man at the table… despite being told many times that the man is often the assistant, not the talent, only there to provide logistical support and occasional heavy lifting.
Men are also not going to be automatically assigned into a particular niche just based on their gender. A girl in a comic store or a video game store is far more likely to be dismissed as another customer’s girlfriend/sister/cousin rather than being someone who might actually be interested in making a purchase herself. And when they are seen as customers, they’re often automatically assumed to be buying one of the designated “girl” properties… regardless of whether they were just reading Ultimate Spider-Man or looking for a copy of Saint’s Row 3.
Of course, the other side of the coin isn’t much better; being dismissed for the sin of being a woman is bad, but being placed on the traditional pillar is no less insulting. Guys who fall all over themselves to fawn over a geek girl and dance in attendance upon her are just as bad. The behavior is different, but the message is the same: she’s different because she’s a girl. These would-be white knights are ultimately treating her as a fetish object, not as a person. It’s especially notable when it comes to sexy cosplayers; the guys will laude them for being geek girls and celebrate them in person and online. They’ll lavish attention upon them, take photos of them and treat them as queens…
And in doing so, they’re sending the message that women are only valued in geek culture if they’re willing to be a sexually alluring product. Everybody loves Olivia Munn when she enters the room ass-cheeks first as Aeon Flux, but nobody is particularly concerned by the girls dressed in a baseball tee, jeans and ballet flats. One of these is welcomed into geek culture with open arms, the other has to justify their existence in the first place.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN TO YOU?
The reason why male privilege is so insidious is because of the insistance that it doesn’t exist in the first place. That willful ignorance is key in keeping it in place; by pretending that the issue doesn’t exist, it is that much easier to ensure that nothing ever changes.
Geek society prides itself on being explicitly counter-culture; nerds will crow about how, as a society, they’re better than the others who exclude them. They’ll insist that they’re more egalitarian; geeks hold tight to the belief that geek culture is a meritocracy, where concepts of agism, sexism and racism simply don’t exist the way it does elsewhere. And yet, even a cursory examination will demonstrate that this isn’t true.
And yet geeks will cling to this illusion while simultaneously refusing to address the matters that make it so unattractive to women and minorities. They will insist that they treat women exactly the same as they treat guys – all the while ignoring the fact that their behavior is what’s making the women uncomfortable and feeling unwelcome in the first place. They will find one girl in their immediate community who will say that she’s not offended and use her as the “proof” that nobody else is allowed to be offended.
Changing this prevailing attitude starts with the individual. Call it part of learning to be a better person; being willing to examine your own attitudes and behaviors and to be ruthlessly honest about the benefits you get from being a white male in fandom is the first step. Waving your hands and pretending that there isn’t a problem is a part of the attitude that makes women feel unwelcome in fandom and serves as the barrier to entry to geeky pursuits that she might otherwise enjoy.
Bringing the spotlight onto the concept of male privilege as it exists in nerd culture is the first step in making it more welcoming of diversity, especially women.
*Thanks to Madoka for bringing this to my attention.