In light of recent journalistic failures, I deemed it necessary to have “the talk” with twitter about the safety and privacy of survivors. Below is a slightly modified version of the talk I had with twitter earlier today. [TW: Mention of rape]
My issue with the #femfuture retreat is the partly the fact they made it barely accessible to people and partly the messed up history of #femfuture itself.
Yes, they are offering a travel scholarship, but it’s only up to $500. If you live a significant distance away from New York, $500 isn’t going to cover a one way plane ticket, let alone a round trip one.
Yes, they are offering childcare for potty trained kids between the ages of 4 and 12, but what about the parents who have kids not in those categories. They say they’ll help you find local childcare, but will it be free? If not, who will have to pay for it? What if the parent finds childcare but can’t afford it? Are they then stuck in Rhinebeck, NY with their child and not able to attend the retreat?
Then there’s the whole selection committee. You can submit your application, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be selected to attend. They say they’re doing this to create a “safe space,” but we know from past experience that the “safe spaces” #femfuture and their handlers create excludes Women of Color. Not only have they known to exclude Women of Color, they have also actively denigrated us. So my question is, will any Women of Color be selected to attend? If they are, how will they be treated? We have seen in the past that WoC who have dared to criticize #femfuture and it’s handlers have been treated with dismissal and disrespect. Will the same happen at that retreat? If they do pick two or three WoC to attend out of the 20, will they even feel comfortable speaking up?
The whole thing just feels like the same old gatekeeping of feminism just packaged in a different container.
I’m at the point where I really think it’s time that people stop giving a platform to these racist, transphobic, ableist “feminists.” These feminists don’t give a fuck about trans women, WoC, disabled women, poor women, or anyone who falls outside of their comfort zone. They fuck up like it’s their day job and dismiss any criticism as people being “divisive” or “hating” on them. They only listen to the people who blow smoke up their asses and try to silence the people offering relevant criticisms. Instead of waiting for these people to change (because they never will) hit them where it hurts, their wallet.
Stop buying their books, visiting their websites, or going to speeches. Stop supporting the websites that support them. Start giving time, support, and attention to the trans women, WoC, disabled women, and poor women who have been ignored. Start paying these women for the hard work they do both online and offline. Give the women who have been shunned and ignored by mainstream feminism a platform. Stop looking at these women as “free labor.” Stop asking that they write “for exposure.” Stop trolling their blogs and twitter accounts for content that you can jack and pretend like you thought of it all by yourself. Start paying these women and paying attention to these women like you do the white feminists who fuck up on the regular.
If feminism is ever going to be truly intersectional and inclusive, it has to start giving attention to people other than the cis, white, able-bodied, upper middle class woman. Until that happens, feminism will always have a problem. As it stands, the mainstream feminist movement is not for everyone. It has a lot of work to do before it becomes a truly inclusive movement.
The two lovely ladies you see above are playable characters from Vanillaware‘s new title, Dragon’s Crown. For those of you who don’t know, Vanillaware is the company that made the games Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Muramasa: Rebirth on the Playstation Vita). They’re best know for their very distinct art style, which comes from their use of proprietary programming toolsets and a process known as tebineri which allows them to create environments and characters that look 3D but are made entirely of 2D pixels. The intricacies of their art style however are not what I’m here to talk about.
There have been many criticisms made about the blatant sexualization of those two characters, and many others, in the game. Some have been good while others have been just ok. What I’ve noticed in almost all of said “criticisms” have been the attempts to write off the sexism inherent in depicting women in this manner. I’ve heard people say that they should ignore the ridiculous depictions of women and simply focus on the gameplay. I’ve heard people say that we should stop talking about how the Amazon and Sorceress have breasts and butts larger than their heads and talk instead about how pretty the scenery is. I’ve heard the “but the men look ridiculous too” argument. I’ve even heard that absolutely ridiculous proportions and positions the female characters are depicted in are ok because Vanillaware was trying to be over the top. To those people, I say please just shut up!
No, I will not ignore the ridiculous amount of sexualization because the scenery is pretty or the gameplay is good. I will not ignore the cringe inducing video of what I assume is a fan of the game delighting in rubbing all over a woman who is shown chained to a bed. (I’m not linking that video here. If you want to see it, go to Google. I warn you it is really creepy.) I won’t ignore that those women are contorted into positions no actual human can replicate without either being a contortionist or breaking a few bones just because Vanillaware made a few other good games. If you don’t like it, that’s your problem not mine.
Things like this need to be called out and called out frequently. There aren’t many games out there that allow you to play as a female character, and too often the ones that do go for this formula of women with over the top body proportions contorted into impossible positions. I’m sick and tired of being forced to choose between playing as a semi-realistic looking male character or a female that looks like a horribly photoshopped Barbie doll. I’m not going to sit silent on the sidelines just so sexist dudebro gamers can stare at ridiculously large bouncing breasts that defy the laws of physics.
I figure the only way we’re going to get game developers to stop it with the over the top sexualization of women in games is by letting them know we’re tired of it. If we don’t speak up and let them know that this type of thing isn’t ok and we really, really want something different they’ll simply keep making the games that make them the most money. Now, I’m not going to tell you to boycott the game or anything. What I will tell you to do though is to speak up when you see things in games you don’t like. Let the developers know, through twitter, tumblr, youtube, email, forums, or any other method you can think of, what you want in games. Let them know you don’t find sexism, misogyny, and sexualization acceptable in games today. Game developers are listening and watching. This might be just a bit of blind optimism speaking, but maybe if enough of raise our voices and refuse to be silenced we’ll get through to them.
Robin Thicke, the mastermind behind the incredibly sexist song and video Blurred Lines, believes that he’s starting his own feminist movement. I’m just completely astonished at how deluded this man is. Does he honestly think that adding to the degradation of women in media is how you make a feminist statement? If so, this man has a lot of learning to do.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to take your art and make feminist statements. Robin Thicke went about it the completely wrong way. Just take a look at what he did. He wanted to make a statement about degrading women, so he decided to degrade women in both song and video form and then brag to GQ about how “fun” it was. He wanted to start a conversation about naked women in media, so he decided to make sure every last woman in his video was naked and all the men were fully clothed. As twitter user @SpokesGay pointed out, he wanted to “challenge ‘taboos’ by promoting the bog-standard degradation of women that’s not at all taboo.” Robin Thicke didn’t “make a statement” or “start a conversation” with Blurred Lines. He simply reinforced the rape culture, sexism, and misogyny that already permeates our culture.
Now, if you’re interested in seeing a real feminist message, check out what Melinda Hughes did. If Robin Thicke had done something similar to that instead of the hot mess he left us with, we’d be having a much different conversation.