A facebook friend just posted this great article on her wall, and I decided to comment on it. As always, I wrote too much. So I'm just turning it into a blog post! Yay laziness.
First the article:
This kind of conversation is important to me, and even though I often feel like I'm not allowed to be a male feminist, as if I have no right to speak about social equality (maybe then it's ESPECIALLY important to me because of that). I also think geek issues are tremendously important because geek culture is 90% of my social life and thus matters to me. I particularly LOVE this quote: "Because geek cultures often think of themselves as countercultural, they don’t usually believe they are tainted by the sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, ad naseum that infect popular culture. And there are entire blogs that prove that nonsense untrue." Sooo freakin' true. Many geeks still carry this victim stigma around from being countercultural, aka not the popular kids. But the last decade has proved that being a geek isn't just about liking certain things, it's a legitimate lifestyle with a legitimate society that comes with it. And we're subject to the same demons all societies deal with.
Maybe it's the reductionist and the deontologist in me, but I think social problems need to be addressed and held responsible on the individual level. Women clearly have to deal with a lot of pressure coming from a complex social system made up of a horny patriarchy, overly competitive female peers, and a hypersexualized entertainment spawned by and enforcing the attitudes of the former two to look/act a certain way to be accepted. Men have the same pressures in a different ways of course, but in regards to this subject men have grown up in a patriarchy that says it's OK to give into their baser instincts and to treat women as sexual objects. This is even MORE pronounced in geek culture, where the geek women are likely to have faced rejection from society in their life and thus seek approval and acceptance both sexually and socially even more, and the geek men are used to geekdom being a boy's club and are especially fond of their pretty, shiny toys (sexual objects, toys, what's the difference). It's up to the individual geek woman to not give into the benefits of self-objectifying costumes (cosplaying a sexy costume because you actually like the character and there are no other reasons for doing so is excused, obviously), and it's up to the individual geek man to stop objectifying the slave Leias and Olivia Munns out there and to let geek women into the fold naturally. As a side, there's a reason that feminism still exists and it's because the glass ceiling and boys' clubs and a million other sexist institutions are still in place. I know, feminism is inherently flawed and sexist, but I can't be a post-feminist completely until the feminism's work is done. Much to my delight however, my life has been full of co-ed geek circles on the highschool, college, and post-college level. So maybe the situation isn't as bad as it looks, or I've just been incredibly lucky to find wonderful people in my life.
There's another set of individuals with a responsibility in this situation: people who know what's happening is wrong. We need to speak out about it. We don't necessarily have to be hyper dicks about it constantly speaking from a soapbox. Simple reminders to our peers will do. I found this amazing quote from the comments section of Film Crit Hulk's blog post about the sexism in Arkham City. Here's the link: http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/hulk-vs-arkham-city-round-2-bitches-be-trippin/ (btw, read Film Crit Hulk, every article is amazing, and while I didn't necessarily agree with him about Arkham City after I played it myself, this article is an amazing lesson in reasoning and common sense) This comment literally made me weep when I read it:
Commenter A: "The tragedy is, the people who could most benefit from that well articulated, moving last piece of Hulk wisdom are the ones most likely to completely overlook it."
Commenter B:"That’s quite true, but really they’re never the target of a well-formed argument like this, are they? It’s the people on the edge, the ones who read the argument through tinted glasses that make them predisposed to disagree that sexism in games exists and is a problem, but would agree given logic that hits them just so. Every time the right argument comes along and they reevaluate their stance, the demarcation line between the people who ignore it and the people who disagree with the state of things moves forward, just a bit. And that means a whole new group of people who have their own ways of voicing their disagreement, people who are more likely to be friends of those who still don’t see a problem, which gives whole new opportunities for other people to recognize the issue, and so on."
It's up to us to make geekdom and all of society better. And we can do it, slowly but surely.