gender issues

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World of Warcraft and Female Models


 

A few weeks ago, Blizzard, the maker of World of Warcraft, held Blizzcon to showcase all of their games; WoW, Diablo III and Starcraft II. They started off the con with information about their new WoW expansion, Mists of Pandaria. They showed off a lot of new things such as the new playable race, Pandaren, a new class, Monk, new mobs to fight, and new locations to explore. One thing they didn’t show off was the female model for the Pandaren.

 

There was a picture of a Pandaren with a bow on it’s head, and many people wouldn’t mind that being the female model for the new race, but I don’t know if that will happen. Apparently the creator of the Pandaren has always drawn females as Red Pandas. People fear that female Pandaren will be slimmed down to fall in line with the other female races.

 

 

Blizzard has changed female (and male!) models before. In the Alpha version of WoW, Troll females were just as hunched over as males and seemed to have more facial choices. For whatever reason, Blizzard decided to change the model into what is now used today. The female Troll model has limited facial options and many Trolls tend to look the same. There’s a video of the Alpha Troll model here. Below is an image of the current female Troll model.

 

 

They also seemed to have slightly altered the Tauren female model from the Alpha version. It doesn’t seem to be a huge change, like with the Troll females, but it’s still an odd change as the Alpha Tauren female looked fine. Here’s a video of all the Alpha models, Troll and Tauren included. Below is an image of the current female Tauren model.

 

 

As I said before, Blizzard even changed male models for Blood Elves back before Burning Crusade was released. The Beta male models were slim and not as muscular as the other male members of the Horde (minus the Forsaken). There were some complaints that the Beta models looked “too gay” or “too pretty”, this might not have been why the change was made, but no one knows for sure.

 

 

The latest model change came back before Cataclysm was released. The Worgen male and female models went through a lot of changes; from looking, some would say, more wolf like to becoming more feral. The female model came under the most fire as they lost a little of the muscle they had and didn’t really seem to match the male Worgen model. Here’s a video of the Alpha models. And below are images of the Alpha and current models.

 Alpha:

Current:

It’s all personal preference and personal opinion on whether you like the old models or the current models better. I’m just hoping that the female Pandaren aren’t going to be too different from the male version.

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PMS Comics

What do people have to say about PMS Adventures?
“How many menstruation jokes can I fit into this quote? Bailee and Lauren are bleeding geniuses. PMS Adventures is better than just being feminist- it’s hilarious, and gorgeous, and fun to read. Plus it helps with cramps! It’s so clever, you might even call it post-menstrual.” – Emily V Gordon, nerdist.com
“I was told PMS Comics was about Puppies Making Smiles. Boy was I misled.” – Comics Bulletin
“F*ck off.” – Jeff Katz, GeekWeek.com

PMS (Phemale Super Heroes) Adventures is a weekly web comic written and created by Lauren Pottinger, illustrated and co-created by Bailee DesRocher. It tells the story of three down on their luck girls who stumble upon a paid medical trial. Excited about the prospect of cash in exchange for free birth control, they are injected with a serum that does more than prevent pregnancy. Due to an interaction with high sodium levels in their blood from overconsumption of Bottom Ramen Noodles, the girls are mutated into super-heroines… but only on their cycles. They are taken under the wing of their landlady, Aunt Flo, an ex-cop with a penchant for robe wearing, chain smoking, and gun wielding. She whips them into shape with a series of training montages, and the girls go from underappreciated to empowered.

Introducing the ladies of PMS:
Cassie “Crimson Tide” Taylor is mild mannered (cliché!) literati who transforms into a fiery flame throwing threat when facing fiendish foes.

Maya “Maxi Pad” Parsons is a musical maven … but on her monthly menses her velvet voice turns into a tonal terror, its piercing sound debilitating any man who hears it. She also has wings. Get it? Maxi Pad? With wings? Bwahahaha!

And finally, Teresa “Tam Pon” Pacciano, a rough around the edges engineer. Already equipped with a short fuse, she becomes Tam Pon when provoked, a white furred she-beast who’d rather throw you out than ‘talk it out’.

PMS Adventures pays homage to all the goofy stuff the creators (and readers) love: fun stories packed with pop-culture and puns, while lampooning the comic crafting process at the same time. Released once a week on www.pmscomics.com, this comic will make you chuckle… and probably bleed from your vagina, if you have one.* Synch with the ladies every Wednesday on the inter-webs. Your brain and funny bone will thank you.

*If you don’t have one, you’ll still like it. We love Bruce Campbell, Star Wars, and making fun of women on their cycles… and ourselves… and you!

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GeekGirlCon 2011

I used to go to WonderCon every year when I was younger. Anyone who goes to Cons regularly, knows you have your “Con Posse” (not to be confused with “clown posse” like Harley Quinn will now have with her new ICP-esqu costume… but I digress). When I was younger I was the one girl in a group of many dudes. After I had my son I stopped going, in the past year I have been back to attending. And have added more cons to my list of must see. In the time that I was away a major change happened. The con posse I’ve joined is 99% GIRLS! This is pretty phenomenal for a gal who has grown up getting the stink eye from the dudes (and gals) behind the counters at comic shops.

It’s not too surprising that we now have our own convention. GeekGirlCon –located at the Seattle Center and EMP– was a slightly bittersweet event for me. I was on the staff, one of the original members, first person to buy a pass, etc. I was the Vice President and Operations Director, filed the incorporation paperwork opened the bank account, yada yada. No one ever really cares about “Operations,” it’s the department that does all the behind the scenes work that allows the more creative types to do the shiny stuff. I had to leave the organization because of the huge amount of time it required. Since the staff is 100% unpaid volunteers I was essentially working a second full time job for no pay; and I have a husband and child. So it finally got to the point of having to choose, GGC or child. Obviously my child had to win. So the sweet part was how AWESOME of a time I had, and how amazing it was to see that both days sold out. The bitter part was that I was seeing it from the outside.

I do have to say it was a bit nice to not have to be working this weekend and was able to just enjoy the convention as a panelist/attendee. I got to romp around with a posse of amazingly talented and fun folks. I stayed out too late, drank too much (though oddly didn’t once get drunk) and was introduced to the most amazing alcohol I have ever tasted by the lovely Stephanie Thorpe.

I drove up Friday night with my “fake niece”, who is the 16 year old anime obsessed, blue haired daughter of a friend. Stopped by the airport to pick up a few friends then checked into our AH-MAY-ZING hotel the Marqueen, on Queen Ann St in Seattle. After that I met up with friends for drinks, a walk up a monstrosity of a hill and dinner with more friends.

"Token Dudes Panel"

Saturday morning I got up, had breakfast at Mecca Café, if you go to Seattle you MUST try this place. They have awesome bacon, great waffles; you get a mini pitcher when you order iced tea and the receipt showed that our server’s name was “BAT GIRL”. I attended the very fun “token dudes” panel. That night I attended the unofficial CheeseCon at The Melting Pot – go to twitter, look up the hashtag #CheeseCon to see the hilarity—which was one of the most fun dinners I have ever been to.

Every panel I attended had one common theme; Women need to support one another and act as the “elders of the internet” to support the younger generation. The vendor room, while small was diversely filled thanks to the hard work of Dixie Cochran. I only peeked my head into the gaming room but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

It was nice to see so many little girls dressed in cosplay. There was one family who had I think 3 daughters, all dressed up as different versions of Princess Leia. Most people I saw were smiling and having a good time. Sunday I was the assistant for Miss Bonnie Burton’s craft panel. The creativity of the attendees was awesome. We had Yoda, Tardis, Doctor Who and even… GASP… Star Trek puppets made.

Really the only negative thing I can think of was the fact that it was spread out between the Northwest rooms and the EMP. This would have been fine if panelists weren’t scheduled for back-to-back panels on opposite sides of each other. It is about a 10 minute walk between The NW Rooms and the EMP so if your panel ends at 4 and the next one starts at 4 there is no way to make it on time. But being a first year con I am sure they will keep that in mind for next year. There are some doubts as to whether the NW rooms will be available for 2012 but I am sure they will announce the location when it is secured.

All in all I am happy with the changes to convention culture that have occurred since I first started attending them. Girls are having more and more panels aimed at them, and hopefully, sometime soon, we won’t NEED to have a GeekGirlCon because all cons will be equally targeted for all audiences. And I look forward to seeing my Con Posse as soon as I possibly can. They are a group of individuals who inspire me to push myself and go for my dreams and I love them all in special and different ways.

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Book Review: The Wiener Diaries by Susanna Kramer

I adore MPREG (male pregnancy) stories. Ask any of my friends and they might tell you that I talk about the gender exploration of the genre more than they’d like. So, as a result, I often seek out not only MPREG fanfiction, but also mainstream novels that utilize the trope. Yes, there are many. And when I noticed that “The Wiener Diaries” by Susanna Kramer was one such novel, I asked the author if I could review it. The concepts are good in this book. You’ve got a society that has suddenly developed a third sex, male-bearers, who are essentially hermaphrodites that can menstruate and get pregnant. The story focuses on a teen, Joss, who is such a person and how he deals with the identity of who he thinks he is versus who society thinks he is. So, yes, great concepts to explore. The execution, however, is a bit flawed.

This book feels like a first draft. It’s more scene, summary, scene, summary than a continuous storyline. The essential plot, Joss’ gender issues, are weighed down with red herrings and subplots that the novel doesn’t give time for. Max, who Joss has a one-night stand with and gets pregnant by, is cutting, yet that avenue isn’t actually dealt with in any way more than a passing mention. If he’s depressed enough to cut, possibly brought on by his big brother’s homophobia, then I would have liked to see that dealt with. Joss is the first male-bearer to become pregnant, though there are others immediately after him. However, society doesn’t seem to have a negative reaction to any of them when faced with them on the street. It’s just a calm acceptance of “a pregnant male-bearer is normal.” I would have loved to see some reaction, especially when it doesn’t seem like this society is very accepting of homosexuality despite the repeated assurances by the narrator. There’s a brief mention of one pregnant male who was killed and his baby removed from the womb that might give a hint towards a more sinister storyline, but that’s dropped quickly. And there’s a subplot about aliens having created this third gender, but they’re glossed over to a large extent. I was left unsure of who they were, what they looked like, and why they thought this path was the best one to take in achieving the peace they seemingly sought. Added to that, there is stilted language in the dialogue and noted editing and spelling errors throughout. Again, it feels like a first draft. I think many of these issues could have been cleared up with subsequent drafting and critiques.

One of the larger issues I had about the book was about the sexuality storyline. Joss falls into bed with Max out of nowhere and then repeatedly assures everyone he’s not gay. I can understand denying your own sexuality, I get that, but it’s more like everyone is against being labeled homosexual. Joss becomes pregnant and gets it confirmed by the doctor and his mother is more concerned with assuring herself that her son isn’t gay rather than dealing with the fact he’s pregnant and wants to give the baby to the scientists as soon as it’s born so that it can become a lab rat. Joss repeatedly says that as soon as the government will allow him, he’s going to get his female sex removed, thus becoming the full man he believes himself to be. Yet he has adults constantly telling him that it’s okay to experiment because he has both parts, giving him an out with the whole “I’m not gay” mindset. However, when the baby’s born and the doctor asks if he’d like to go through with the procedure to remove his female sex, he does an about-face. There was no lead-up or acceptance of his gender or sexuality, he just decides he’s okay with who he is randomly. I saw no motivation for the sudden turn in his thinking.

Gender exploration is hard and when a novel sets out to subvert the societal expectations of what it means to be male-gendered or female-gendered it’s made even more difficult. The spark of potential was there in this novel, but it was just not allowed to come through. I’m interested in what this third gender means for a society such as ours, as well as what the male experience is when dealing with menstruation and pregnancy. If those issues were given time enough to be explored, this could have been a great novel. Unfortunately, too many events and plots were condensed down into 140 pages so that all the interweaving plots got cheated. I’d love to see the author do short stories from this universe that has been created because I feel like there’s so much more to explore and I don’t want to give up on this world just yet.

Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Good Idea: Writing for a Website that Caters to Nerd/Geek Culture       Bad Idea: Admitting on that site that you rejected a guy BECAUSE you considered him a Nerd/Geek

You’re a Gamer? Date Over.

This post is strictly my opinion and may not reflect the opinion of everyone at Nerds in Babeland.

Good Idea: Writing for a Website that Caters to Nerd/Geek Culture Bad Idea: Admitting on that site that you rejected a guy BECAUSE you considered him a Nerd/Geek

 

I don’t think I have ever ranted on this site but I am incensed. Judging from the outrage in the nerdverse, I’m not the only one. Recently a “former intern for Gizmodo” posted a scathing article on how she met and briefly dated a former World Champion of Magic: The Gathering.

For those of you that don’t know what Magic: The Gathering is, it is a collectable card game published by Wizards of the Coast. Magic can be played by two or more people each using a deck of cards and each game represents a battle between the players.

The author of the post wrote about how she decided to make an OKCupid account one night that she was intoxicated. Already, the article was off to a fantastic start. To justify her joining the site, she called it an “online dating experiment”. After several weeks of various creepy messages she received a genuinely pleasant message from a “normal” guy (italicized to foreshadow her shocking revelation) and they arranged a date.

They met for a drink and started a genuine conversation. At some point in the date, he revealed that he played Magic: The Gathering and that he was the World Champion. She decided to research him after the date.

On their second date, she brought up the topic and continued to barrage him with questions about it. After she opened up that dialog she then decided that they had nothing to talk about (even though their initial meeting started with “normal” banter). In her article she accused him of lying in his profile.

With the way the internet reacted, I’m obviously not the only person angry about this farce of an article. Yes, everyone has their own versions of deal breakers when it comes to dating. I’m not judging her for thinking that she didn’t have anything in common with him. She doesn’t.

My judgment is reserved for her accusation that he was hiding his World Championship title and therefore lying. With an online profile, you tend to include random pieces about yourself that you think of as your type. It’s not a professional resume. I don’t know who would spend hours crafting an online profile – maybe a drunk girl?

Okay, I am a little irritated about her dogging on his nerd cred. It sets everyone back. It feels like every month or so someone makes a comment about how a hot girl can’t be nerdy. Switching the gender makes this story a bit more interesting to read and a lot more depressing. Whatever it is that you enjoy in a nerdy/dorky/geeky capacity, it isn’t the only part of your personality.

What the author fails to realize is that she was having a great time with this guy and he makes a brief comment about his accomplishment and I’m sure she pictured a big red “rejected” stamp smash into his forehead. But still, she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, dinner in New York is expensive.

Obviously I was livid about this. Typically when I’m upset I enlist the email chain of awesomeness. I sent them the article and some of their replies are included below.

Marissa: In fairness, the one-man show based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s life story isn’t necessarily something I’d want sprung on me as first-date fodder either. But I’m not surprised she’s single.

Seth: My issue is with her accusing the guy of lying on his profile. He never lied, unless he said “Hi, my name is Josh and I DEFINITELY DO NOT PLAY MAGIC BECAUSE ONLY LOSERS PLAY MAGIC AND I AM A SOCIALLY SUCCESSFUL HIP URBAN PROFESIONAL.”

Marissa: Unless OKCupid specifically asks you to divulge your nerd/geek tendencies, there’s no lying. The only lying going on is the difference between the person she IMAGINED/WANTED him to be, and the person he actually is. And all the MTG “offensiveness” is bull. Would she expect someone to dump her for wearing an ironic (kind of but not really) New Kids on The Block t-shirt? Who does she think she is, and what does she think she deserves is the question?

Marissa: I just hope that all those guys out there complaining about a girl who judges them, aren’t busy judging another girl by similar standards.

Seth: Clueless hypocrisy is a basic ingredient to online relationships, isn’t it?

Ali: Now you’re just saying smart things to get quoted, aren’t you…

I was originally not going to write anything about this as I loathe to give her anymore publicity, but I found something on twitter that hurt my heart.

@Jonnymagic00: “I know there are a lot of younger guys out there who are thinking, “I can’t let girls know I play magic or they won’t think I’m cool.’”

This was posted by the man who she didn’t mention by name but was easy to find. He doesn’t hide his gaming. It’s surprising that she waited so long to Google him when she encouraged him to Google her. I doubt if she realizes that her lack of interest was evident before he even laid his Magic cards on the table.

Links:

For the original, unedited post

For the US post.

Jon Finkel opened up a Reddit IAMA/Ask me anything page on Tuesday morning on Reddit answering the questions he could about the article.

Pierce - COVER FINAL.indd

Book Review: She, a Blueprint


Book review:     She, a Blueprint

words by Michelle Naka Pierce, images by Sue Hammond West

Review by Jenn Zuko Boughn

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In any creative-writing class I’ve taught recently, I’ve instructed students, when doing daily creative journaling, to make sure they include both image and text in each entry. I do this because of several reasons (some of which can be found in Diehn’s The Decorated Page) but the strongest reason I have for this discipline is that it seems all writing these days has an imagistic aspect to it. From blog posts to graphic novels to novels like Like Water For Chocolate with long image or sound-only chapters, to interactive, new-media presentations, it’s rare to sit down with a (short, especially) piece of writing without a visual.

Pierce and West’s volume of poetry uses this image/text interdependence with the artistry and care of a good picture book, yet for an adult audience. Pierce’s Gertrude-Stein-esque musical repetition and richness of word choice work in tandem with West’s urban/organic paintings to good effect. The best entries in this volume are the ones in which the text is arranged in an unusual visual way, and the image incorporates text, thereby adding more layers to the text/image dance. This multi-layering of literary and visual art gives the reader more and more to sit with before turning each page.

Another engaging aspect to She is the map-like, film-like titles to each chunk of text. The poems are called “Lot”s or “Cut”s and the different-fonted titles to the images are called “Legend”s. These bring to mind auctions, film clips, map keys, and other images to the entries, and again are onion-layers of meaning.

She is a book one can spend time with—absorbing each page-spread before continuing. It does what good poetry (and visual art) should do: it builds imagery in the reader’s mind, so that the book changes with the reader each time she comes back to it.   ~Prof. Jenn

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My First Year At San Diego Comic-Con

Before last month I had never been to San Diego Comic-Con. I have been to WonderCon many times over the years but never made the trek down south. That has all changed. No longer am I a SDCC virgin. I had a general idea of what to expect from it, having attended WonderCon, only not really. The crowds are bigger, the panels more surprising and the after-parties more insane.

Long lines

I had a general plan of which panels I HAD to see and those I would like to. I didn’t realize that Ballroom 20 meant a line outside, down the stairs “you better get there at 5am” kind of situation. I didn’t do that, but did find a friend who had so, yes, I got into the Game of Thrones panel. AWESOME! I was far far faaaar in the back but that doesn’t matter I got to hear the answers and dialogue before those of you who saw it online. SWEET!

I wanted to make sure I supported my friends who were on panels more so than see celebrities, because I am of the opinion that Friends are better than celebrities. In waiting for the Archaia Immortals panel I saw on the schedule that Dark Horse had something going on in the same room, and the door guards were letting people in mid-session. So I popped in with my friend Dina and, oh look, Guillermo Del Torro was on the panel; in a room with maybe 60 people in it. I was blown away; I didn’t see his name on the schedule he was just… there. He was, by the way, cracking jokes and cursing up a storm. That was probably my biggest, “HOLY CRAP” moment; mostly because it was so unexpected.

As anyone who knows me is aware I’m a huge Star Wars fan so of course I attended the Star Wars Lego panel. Where they showed clips from the new Lego Star Wars cartoon that aired that night (thank you Xfinity iPhone app! I was able to set my DVR to record it at home, from the panel; WE ARE IN THE FUTURE!). They also revealed a few new toys and a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar. This is probably the coolest thing ever. Every year I get Seth an advent calendar, and every year it has crappy old chocolate. This year we will have the Star Wars Lego one for sure. They go on sale in October if you were unable to purchase it at the Con.

I also attended Bonnie Burton’s Star Wars craft panel on Sunday instead of waiting in the crazy person line for the Doctor Who panel (see again Friends are better than Celebrities, but I still love you crazy people I call friends who stood in that line!). She was hilarious as usual and entertained the crowd with stories about condiment googly eye murder scenes in the fridge and sparkly doggie poop with eyes. We made felt Yoda puppets from her Star Wars Craft Book. I own the book and it was on my list of projects so getting to make it with a bunch of other people was a lot of fun!

Cosplay Fun: Daenerys (aka The Nerdy Bird) and the Tardis (aka me)

On Thursday morning I attended the much talked about “Oh, You Sexy Geek” panel. Kristen McHugh goes into the panel in detail here, so I will only touch on a few of my own personal observations and thoughts.

The fact that I am friends with and/or know ½ of the panelists and where they stand on the issue of sexy cosplay I was expecting a good back-and-forth. I was a little disappointed that the self-described “humorless feminists” did not make a larger effort to speak and get their points across. And I was even more disappointed when one panelist said to another “Well would you wear a Slave Leia costume?” This was said to someone who has never been seen in a Slave Leia costume, so from an audience member’s point-of-view it appeared to be an attack on her personally and not a legitimate attempt at furthering the conversation. On the specific topic of “Slave Leia” there is a post over at FanGirlBlog that makes the points I would love to, in a much more eloquent way than I ever could.

I have never identified as a “feminist” mostly because the feminists I had been exposed to were very much of the “This penis party’s got to go hey-HEY ho-HO” ilk and that is not a world view I agree with or wish to spread. I am also not one who enjoys looking at the world though one very specifically colored pair of glasses, always looking for a reason to get angry about things. However, recently I have been exposed to a much different flavor of feminism that falls more in line with my personal beliefs and view on things.

Which, in a much condensed and quickie version, are this: We are responsible for our actions and how we react to and feel about ourselves and the world we live in. We have no right to dictate what another individual does, says, wears, etc. unless that person is causing direct harm to us or another individual whose care is our responsibility. I do not believe that a girl walking around in a metal bikini is causing anyone any harm, so let her have her fun and who gives a damn if she is doing it to be “empowered” or just to be “sexy” or “cute” what matters is if she is having fun while doing it. And if she isn’t having fun doing it, then it is on her to make the necessary change.

One more thing I would like to talk about before we resume our regularly scheduled programming is the Chris Gore comment and subsequent fall out. Yes, Chris was late to the panel, bad on him; yes he made a bad joke, some of us speak before thinking perhaps he should look into that. I personally was not offended by it, mostly because it was not directed AT me, but also because I tend to have the sense of humor of a teenage boy (farts are HILARIOUS, so are poop jokes). The only individuals who truly have a right to be offended are the ladies on the panel; the comment was directed AT THEM and no one else. If they have a problem with it, it is their responsibility to address it with Chris. People seem to be forgetting that Kat asked him immediately after he said it if he was trying to get kicked off the panel, the moderator DID address it immediately. I was horrified when I saw this post online. It is one thing to be upset by a comment someone makes on a panel, to blog about it and discuss it with the person who said it if possible; it is another thing entirely to try and negatively impact their livelihood because of your upset feelings. That is taking your personal beliefs and feelings too far. It wasn’t as if he said he was GOING TO, or would do so against their will. He simply said he would be willing to. It was in poor taste, especially considering the content of the panel, but it certainly wasn’t a punishable offense to the extent of his livelihood being threatened.

Haunted San Diego: Ghost Tours

I had an excellent time all around, my cosplays were well received, and I got to see friends old and new. Met some of my twitter friends in person for the first time and got some awesome graphic novels from the Archaia booth. Wednesday night I went on a Haunted Tour of San Diego with my friends Matt & AJ and had a BLAST! We didn’t see any ghosts but that’s ok, it was still fun and I found the “haunted” hotel where I hope to be able to stay next year. All in all it was an awesome 5 day vacation. It had its ups and downs, I had a few moments where my anxiety kicked into high gear and I needed time to myself. But the good far outweighed the bad and I cannot wait till next time!

Copyright © 2011 JennKL Photography (www.JennKL.com)

Oh You Sexy Geeks, the Takeaway: We need to Reject the Premise

Copyright © 2011 JennKL Photography (www.JennKL.com)

Going into the Oh, You Sexy Geek panel on Thursday morning, I was excited by the prospect of seeing some of the latest attacks on the concept of women as geeks dissected. The panelists were knowledgeable and varied: Bonnie Burton, Adrianne Curry, Jill Pantozzi, Clare Grant, Kiala Kazebee, Clare Kramer and Jennifer K. Stuller are steeped in geek cred.

Unfortunately, there are two things that soured some of the discussion for me: Ms. Stuller (ironically or not,) referring to herself as a, “Humorless feminist,” and late arrival to the panel, Chris Gore, talking about being willing to stick his penis in any member of the panel.

I can take a joke, but that summed up the problem for me pretty succintly. The misogyny and pre/proscriptivism that we get from external media sources is driving the continued marginalization of women as geeks. I also felt that Ms. Stuller’s inference wasn’t simply that she was there as the academic, legitimate voice of, “Humorless,” i.e., “Serious,” feminism, but that the rest of the women on the panel somehow weren’t. I don’t know Mr. Gore or Ms. Stuller, and I’d like to think these were simply bad jokes gone awry, but if they aren’t. . . these extremes are exactly why this panel exists.

So I’m rejecting the premise. Can women be geeks and be sexy? Let’s ask Nathan Fillion how being a sexy geek is working out for him. Are hot starlets pandering to a geek audience? Oh, hey, John Barrowman says he’s a lifelong sci-fi geek, let’s ask him if he’s pandering. My rule is this: unless it is a direct biological function, asking someone of any gender whether they’re capable of being x, y, or z is unacceptable.

The panel was too short, and Chris Gore’s flippant comments felt like they derailed a conversation that was turning over at least a few of the issues faced by women in the geek community. I’ve never met Mr. Gore and I’m not ascribing a motive, but tacky doesn’t begin to describe that remark.

If a man looks at a woman while thinking he’d like to screw her and simultaneously thinks that she can’t possibly be an authentic geek, there’s the breakdown in a nutshell. If women look at other women and think that because men will want to screw them, or because women look like they don’t mind men thinking they want to screw them, they can’t possibly be an authentic geek, are two sides of the same coin. There’s no one way to geek, or be a woman, but I’ll be damned if people don’t keep trying to say there is.

I found most of the discussion productive, but the fact is: there are so many intersections when it comes to simply being women, that when we’re talking about being geeky women, let alone sexy, geeky women, it’s the big red button of overload. There’s not enough time to cover everything in a meaningful way. I also felt that with so many panelists, it was hard to ensure that everyone got equal time. Bonnie and Adrianne were obviously the most extroverted members of the panel, and addressed the questions asked by both moderator Katrina Hill and the audience, with blunt aplomb.

Some women just identify as geeks, without the qualifier. This is no more or less valid than my choice to identify specifically as a geek girl, because I want recognition that I’m both. That we see repetitious questioning of women’s geek credibility, and then see the marginalizing of attractive women who claim to be geeks, is and will always be absurd.

Copyright © 2011 JennKL Photography (www.JennKL.com)

A high point for me, among all the discussion of cosplay, comic book characters’ costumes, and the what is sexy/is sexy okay for female geeks, was some discussion of why there aren’t more sexualized male characters in geek media. I loved that the panel, most prominently Bonnie Burton and Adrianne Curry acknowledged how underserved the female gaze is. Yes, we do need more scantily-clad men in comics and cosplay. The female presence at SDCC is growing, and if we’re not at least half the attendance numbers already, then that day is coming soon. Again, it’s time to reject the premise that we’re in the minority. We’re not. We’re half the audience. Some of us consider ourselves sexy, some of us don’t. Some of us want to be, some of us don’t. Some of us are more introverted, some are extroverted. None of those things determine our value as people, as women, or as geeks.

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Disney Princesses Come of Age

Guest post written by T. Johnson. T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.

 

Recent re-screenings of several Disney films has got me thinkng about the “Disney princess” phenomenon. As animation fanatics and a majority of parents know, Disney Studios made a bunch of movies with female heroines over a fifty-odd year time span. Most of them were based on fairy or folk tales, so the heroine was usually a “princess,” even if she started out disguised as something else. The “princess” movies remain hugely popular with audiences. They were re-mastered in handsome DVD and Blu-ray box sets, inspired hundreds of Halloween costumes and were responsible for the “princess party,” that staple of little girl birthday celebrations.

The films have their detractors, however. Most of the critical vollies aimed at them have come from feminist thought. Critics complain that Disney has placed images of women in a time capsule, portraying them as passive victims waiting to be rescued, as debutantes dreaming only of their prince. They cite the 1950 film Cinderella as a prime offender: sweet-natured girl is pushed around by her stepsisters, remains sweet despite doing all the housework, then is rewarded for being a doormat by a fairy godmother who enables her to attend a ball and meet a prince.

Admittedly, Cinderella is not big on my list either. I don`t really agree, though, that all of these films present terrible images of women. I think there are some redeeming qualities in the princess film canon. I`ll discuss just a few of the movies in this post, specifically those which present heroines who are fully fleshed out as people. Quick note: I`d love to include the warrior-princess film Mulan here, but I don`t feel justified in talking about it since it`s one of the few Disney animation flicks I have not seen.

Image Courtesy of coloringweb.com

Consider Snow White of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). As she scrubs the palace steps in a tattered dress and wooden shoes, SW sings a song about wishing and hoping for the one she loves. But there`s a lot more to her than waiting around. When her wicked stepmother/queen decides to have her killed, she must fend for herself in a dark forest. She`s obviously scared, but doesn`t give up, pressing onward despite mysterious sounds and logs that resemble alligators. Snow White shows similiar courage when she meets the dwarves. This is a girl who`s never been away from home before, but she readily adapts to a group whose culture she`s totally unfamiliar with.

Instead of judging or mocking the dwarves, she befriends them. And yes, she does the housework. But one should keep in mind that the original Snow White story was told in the 1400s, a time when housework involved a lot of manual labor and the skills needed for tasks like spinning and washing clothing by hand. The dwarf fraternity respects her for pitching in, and she respects and likes them (I remember thinking as a child that they were way more interesting as people than the Prince)! Snow White displays a lot of sense and independent thinking, not to mention a genuine kindness for both animals and people.

Looking at later Disney movies makes one wonder what became of heroines like Snow White. Maybe, like characters played by Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn in the 30s and early 40s, she was shelved due to cultural reasons. After World War 2, real-life women often had to quit the jobs they obtained while men were away, leading to a quasi-Victorian idealization of the home and traditional femininity. Hollywood seemed to reinforce this by producing few films with strong female leads, and during the fifties, Disney followed suit. After the likable but maudlin Cinderella, we got characters like Wendy of Peter Pan (1953-sweet and bright, but hung up on Peter) and Briar Rose of 1959`s Sleeping Beauty (sweet and hard-working, has to be awakened by a prince). This is not to say that fifties Disney cartoons were total fiascos- they were well animated and ahead of their time- but strong heroines were not a huge priority here.

Gradually, times changed and so did the Disney empire. After several financial upheavals in the 70s, animated films began to emerge from the studio again in the mid-80s. “Princess” characters were beginning to be written in a different way, a prime example being Belle of Beauty and the Beast (1991). Belle, the daughter of a small-town inventor, is sweet-natured and hard-working like many a Disney girl. Unlike them, she seeks knowledge through reading and dreams of leaving her home and having adventures. And she`s not afraid of the ferocious-seeming Beast: when he orders her to come to dinner, she refuses until he issues a civil invitation. They gradually come to know each other as equals. The troubling issue here is the whole conceit of the Beast keeping her captive in his castle. This is how the original story went, but I can also see why some commentators read Belle warming to him as a form of Stockholm syndrome.

On the other hand, she does try to escape at one point in order to check on her father, and this makes Beast realize that he can`t merely keep her as a pet. Belle is a fully realized character who is intriguing as well as pretty. She does change clothes more than other Disney princesses, but hey, she is living in a palace with well-equipped closets-why not? And she has the courage to try and rescue her father from the creepy village folk by herself, not waiting for Beast or any of his servants to accompany her.

The Princess and the Frog (2009) has a female lead who is more than able to carry the film. This princess is merely dressed as one for Mardi Gras-she`s actually an industrious waitress named Tiana, a fine cook who is saving money for her own restaurant. She becomes involved with the lazy and conceited Prince Naveen only because he`s been turned into a frog and requests her help. Kissing him turns her into a frog as well, so the pair must hit a Louisiana swamp in search of a voodoo priestess who can transform them back. Tiana is totally uninterested in Naveen at first, considering him hopelessly hedonistic. But the two bond as they journey through the swamp, and the prince is evantually ready to embrace work and give up his player-like ways for Tiana.

Throughout the film, Tiana`s ditzy friend Lottie epitomizes the stereotypical “princess” viewpoint, in contrast to the former`s practical ways. When read the old Frog Prince story as children, Lottie sighs in contentment, while Tiana exclaims, “No way am I kissin` no frog, no matter what!” You`ve got to love a girl who`s that feisty from childhood up. She also has a strong sense of morality. The evil Dr. Facilier offers to make her human again if she surrenders a charm- trouble is, he`ll use the charm to facilitate his takeover of New Orleans. Tiana refuses, vowing to “stay in the swamp forever”, rather than aid the voodoo dark side. All ends well, but with a twist: though Tiana and Naveen become restored to humanity, they achieve her dream of opening a restaurant, instead of looking for a kingdom to luxuriate in. Good film, great heroine-finally, an action princess! Yes, there`s still a prince, but the relationship dynamic is totally different. We see the pair get to know each other as people, not just become infatuated.

Disney cartoon features have become more progressive in terms of female heroes. It`s certainly true that they lagged behind the women and girls of anime for a few decades- compare any pre-eighties Disney heroine to Millenium Actress or Princess Mononoke- but they`re genuinely losing the passive princess mindset. Now that the studio is supposedly still going to do some hand-drawn animation as well as CGI, why not research some girl power-friendly storylines? How about a remake of The Black Cauldron with more emphasis on feisty heroine Eilonwy? Or a retelling of the Artemis or Amazons myths? Future generations of girls are waiting to see their own adventures in animation- they want to protect the castle, not just clean its courtyard.

Image Courtesy of StarWars.com

Skin-Showing Ladies of Clone Wars

Guest post written by T. Johnson.  T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was  starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced  that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.

A blog post on Wired.com assets that the female characters of Cartoon Network`s Clone Wars are “over-sexualized” by their “scanty” attire, especially Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano and the older mentor Aayla Secura. The author admittedly makes a good case for this in some ways. Male Jedis of Clone Wars tend to wear long monk-like robes and/or practical cropped pants. Ahsoka and Aayla do wear somewhat less.

Image Courtesy of StarWars.com

But I`m not sure if their clothing can be construed as scanty in the extreme. Consider Ahsoka`s costume: it consists of a leather halter top worn wth a short brown skirt and leggings. I never thought of it as particularly sexy or revealing. This is reinforced by the fact that AT is a character who is concerned with becoming a better Jedi, not dancing in a cantina. We usually see her in full-on action scenes, running,leaping, and wielding her light saber.

In fact, most costumes worn by comic book heroines are far more “scanty” (gasp)! Look at the stuff foisted on Supergirl. Everyone draws her with her navel front and center,regardless of what kind of shirt she wears. She and cousin Power Girl (to name but two examples) are also renowned for their amazing displays of cleavage. Marvel`s Emma Frost always sheds her snow-white or gray cloak to expose a white sports bra and miles of shapely legs. Next to these fan-boy favorites, Aayla and Ahsoka look amazingly modest.

Now, I’m no prude – showing skin (male and female) in comics and cartoons is a long-held tradition. Male heroes have always dressed to show off their chest and leg muscles, even in the fashion-conservative 40`s and 50`s. I’m sure many straight and gay folks enjoyed seeing them this way, and I do as well. But it`s interesting that no one worries about, say, Anakin Skywalker`s pants “over-sexualizing” him. This is something that is applied far more to female characters, as if they are somehow more vulnerable-even if they have good light saber skills or super strength. In fact, fretting about their attire sometimes seems to be a politically correct put-down.

A few months ago, the artists who draw Clone Wars modified Ahsoka Tano`s costume. She`s now wearing a long brown tunic and gray pants-like leggings (funny how this trouser option has never gone away, even in fiction). I`m not sure if fans will take her more seriously with covered legs. She never had much of a problem fighting in her other attire. It remains to be seen whether Aayla will suddenly cover her cleavage with a high-necked blouse. As noted above, I guess I did not notice clothing implications because I was far more interested in these women as valid people. Whether they rock short skirts or full body armor, the women of Clone Wars are competent and powerful.

 

A portion of this post can also be found at Nerd Society.

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