Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Reading List

I Don't Care If You're Offended:
Now, I think many people who write about and try to fight structural bias are just accustomed to using “offensive” as something of a shorthand for this notion of harmful-because-it-reinforces-pernicious-memes; I know I generally have. But offense is only defined in terms of how the offended person feels, which means it’s an insufficient concept. It actually obscures the real problem.
For example, I was watching CNN, and there was a CNN reporter that was talking about a Haitian hotel that brought a hose out for people to take water from if they came by. Were those people looting water? I’d say no. The norms changed. What if people are together in a group and they decide that they need to go get some rice. Is it looting to get rice and feed your family in desperate situations? No. It’s a new norm developing in the midst of a very extreme situation.
Remembering National Tragedies: The U.S. vs Germany:
Plantations were many other things, but they were also the engine of slavery. It is this that should stand out as the most important thing about them. Concentration camps were many other things as well (e.g., a military training site, a daily job site for German soldiers, a factory producing goods, and a strategic part of the war effort), but we have absorbed the important lessons from them so thoroughly that it is difficult to even imagine what an alternative tour might look like. In contrast, one can visit the Lara Plantation and come away not really thinking about slavery at all, in favor of how pretty the china was and oooh did you smell that candle as we walked by? Delicious. I need a coke, you?
We live in a society that makes money off of making us feel bad about ourselves, after all people who are 100% content with their body don’t go on expensive fad diets or purchase tons of expensive beauty supplies.
Female Sexuality As A Weapon:
With the recent release of Bayonetta, I was reminded of female sexuality being used as a weapon or a power in games. This is not an original idea. Having not played Bayonetta I will only mention some other games that use this mechanic.
Rape Analogy Redux: The "Stroll In The Jungle" Theory:
What is the fate of the man-eating bear? Many of the past decade’s person-eaters were either shot, killed in some other way, pepper-sprayed, lured out of the wilderness with elaborate traps, or quarantined in animal training. Sixty percent of rapes are not even reported to police, which seriously impedes the government’s ability to trap rapists. Why aren’t these women reporting their rapes? Oh, perhaps it has s0mething to do with jungle rape theorists who suggest that everyone who gets raped is a big ‘ol dumbass.
Also, Felicia Day, otherwise known in these parts as that girl who lives through Epitaph One and the girl who doesn't live through Dr. Horrible's Sing Along-Blog has her own blog! In it, she is as witty as one could hope. I highly recommend reading her, and I defy you from coming away fantasizing she'll be you're new BFF. And Stuff You Should Know's Kiva team, of which I am a part, has raised $64,225 so far. Go Team!


John said...

Penny Arcade offered a rather interesting defense of Bayonetta's character design the other day. They acknowledge that at first the character seems like a typical objectification of women, but they also point out how it's different from games like Wet or Bloodrayne.

petpluto said...

I liked the article I linked because it explained how it wasn't necessarily the body of the woman in question, but her skills - and how those were unnecessarily sexualized. Like, blowing kisses, for example.

I understand what Penny Arcade, and the article they linked, is saying. But I think they're both missing out on a large component - (1) why is female sexuality weaponized in these games (and using female sexuality "ironically" in a game is problematic for the same reasons hipsters are) by using blowing kisses, etc. to do things male characters can do without, you know, blowing kisses, and (2) why female sexuality is generally presented as a transaction - ie, I kiss you, I win the battle; I charm you, I get the item; etc.

I would also be very interested to know whether or not maintaining male sexuality is as big a concern within these games in the way making sure the female characters are still sexual is.

smadin said...

First, thanks for the link!

Second, I found that Penny Arcade news post very interesting, because of the conclusions I think Tycho almost reaches. I've been feeling recently like he's sort of coming close to a "Getting It" moment on a lot of issues, and he's talked once or twice about his trepidation concerning raising a daughter in gamer culture, so when he writes something like
But since Marcus Fenix is a man, his physical virtues are an acceptable template for such extrapolations. If a woman is the subject, and is thus interpreted, now you're engaged in a truly dangerous enterprise. There's something very strange simmering below that assertion, and it's weirding me out.
I wonder how much (or how little!) more it might take to push him to that breakthrough.

Rebekah said...

I've been gone a while (I had to take a break when I got behind in Dollhouse so I wouldn't see spoilers!) but am slowly catching back up, working backward. Love Felicia Day of course, so I'll definitely check it out. And I'm also in the SYSK Kiva team (even got a shout-out on the podcast a while ago when they read my profile!). Cool!

petpluto said...

I've been gone a while

Hi! Glad you're back!

I had to take a break when I got behind in Dollhouse so I wouldn't see spoilers!

You're kind of in luck. I got behind in my reviews. Which is sad and something I hope to rectify in the week(s) ahead. Unfortunately, life went along its merry way and left me little time!

And I'm also in the SYSK Kiva team (even got a shout-out on the podcast a while ago when they read my profile!). Cool!

That. Is. Awesome. There are no other words. Except "cool".