Author Archives: jfpbookworm

Alpha Males, Calling Out, and Frown Power

In the comments of my earlier post on the idea of alpha males jeffliveshere asks:

What would be an example of a man calling another man on sexism that doesn’t also fall into the problem of domination hierarchies–if, indeed, we (men, women and those of other genders) find ourselves steeped in them like fish swim in water?

Continue reading

Posted in Feminism, Masculinities | 4 Comments

"Alpha" and "Beta" Males

Jeff over at Feminist Allies has a series of posts up on the intersection between feminism and “alpha males.” In his latest post (part three of the series), he writes:

The first prominent train of thought in this regard is along the lines of “the term “alpha male” is just too fuzzy a term (or is an inappropriate term, or is the out-and-out wrong term to use here)” to the point that, rather than helping us understand the realationships between men (and women, and those of other various genders) and feminism, it actually gets in the way.

I’m all aboard this train of thought; I’m never exactly sure what “alpha male” means at any given time. Sometimes it seems to be an application of observations about animal behavior to humans (the “evo-psych definition”); other times it seems to be more a way of dividing people up into “winners” and “losers” (the “ranking definition”). Continue reading

Posted in Feminism, Masculinities | 8 Comments

Excuse Me, But Your Pants Appear To Be On Fire

What do you do when someone makes a claim of personal experience that just isn’t believable? Specifically, do you accuse them of fabricating the claim?

I’m sure many of you have heard by now about the anti-choice blogger who mistook an Onion article for a serious editorial. In a response to that article, he made the claim that the reason he thought the article was genuine was because he would “meet people like her in the field all the time.” Most readers of feminist discussion forums have encountered other experiences of dubious veracity, such as the tale of the poor man harangued for opening a door, or the malicious women’s studies professor who lowers the grades of her male students. Continue reading

Posted in Eradicating Divisive Discourse, The Internet is Serious Business | 6 Comments

The Realism Defense

Earlier this month, Collie of Collie’s Bestiary posted about her experiences with Planescape: Torment.

A short while ago I started playing the computer game “Planescape: Torment,” and stumbled across this issue again, with painfully eye-opening results. Keep in mind, this game won numerous awards for its storytelling and quality in 1999, the year it was released — which makes me wonder in appalled horror just how awful the other games were. But to continue: I first noticed the sexual objectification of women with the game’s job/species designations, which float above the head of the graphical character on the screen. There were monsters, and men and women. As I recall, men were classified about 50% as townsmen and 50% thugs. Women were similarly classified as either townswomen… or harlots.

What?! Um, hold on. Why were there no male harlots? Why no female thugs? Is the game trying to teach us that women can only be for sale, and only men are capable of violence? I found myself bewilderedly wondering: are the creators of the game afraid of women or something, that they feel the need to so dehumanize women in the game?

My first reaction was to attempt to excuse these aspects of the game as “ignorable.” There’s no need to look at the portrait gallery to play the game, and the “harlots” don’t actually have much in-game purpose (they can improve Morte’s Curse ability; that’s about it). It seemed a waste to miss out on a game that had so much else going for it. This, of course, is precisely the wrong framing – it puts the burden on the player to put aside her own discomfort. Besides, there are other uncomfortable aspects to the game which are not so easily ignored, such as the geek-girl fetish of the Brothel of Cartesian Dualism Slaking Intellectual Lusts, or how every girl’s crazy for a gothed-out Hulk. A better way of approaching these issues is in terms of the costs and benefits of the design decisions – is it really worth alienating a sizable portion of your audience for this? Continue reading

Posted in Gender issues, Video Games | 7 Comments

Finally, An End To Single-Sex Televisions

I recently saw a commercial for the Sony Bravia which billed itself as “The World’s First Television for Men and Women.”

At first, I thought they were advertising something like this, but after checking out the web site it turns out that it’s just a marketing campaign for a high-end HDTV.

I’m trying to figure out what the advertisers were thinking this one. I’ve narrowed it down to the following possibilities:

  • They noticed that purchasers of HDTVs were disproportionately male, and saw women as an untapped market; however, they were worried that a women-centered ad campaign would lose more male buyers.
  • They’re looking to provide the stereotypical man with justifications to his stereotypical partner for the purchasing decision.

Given the blatant sexism of the advertisement, I’m leaning toward the latter. Continue reading

Posted in Advertising, For "her" | 4 Comments

Strangers in Paradise and "Man-Hating"

So my latest infatuation is Terry Moore’s comic Strangers In Paradise, which I discovered through the immensely fun Scans Daily Livejournal community. It’s well-drawn and well-characterized, and is erasing that reluctance to check out indie comics that viewing the hipper-than-thou movie adaptation of Ghost World instilled.

What struck me, though, was a letter to Mr. Moore printed in the second issue of the first run, which asked:

I do have some criticism about the writing… is it me or do you hold a dim view of males?

[Spoilers for the first issue of Strangers in Paradise follow.] Continue reading

Posted in Comics, cartoons, manga, and anime, Eradicating Divisive Discourse | 2 Comments

Gunning Down Romance

[Quick intro in lieu of the full introduction I haven't bothered to write yet: tekanji invited me to guest-blog here a few days ago. I don't currently maintain a blog, but I moderate the Gender Roles and Patriarchy Hurts Men Too communities on LiveJournal, the latter of which I've crossposted this article to. Like the other bloggers here, I'm especially interested in the intersection of feminism and popular culture.]

There have been quite a few discussions lately (On Hugo Schwyzer’s blog, at Punk Ass Blog, and at Pandagon (also this post), Saucebox and Neurath’s Boat, about young men who think that feminism and heterosexual male sexuality are incompatible. (Which is even more interesting given the discussions here and Putting the “Fist” in “Pacifist” about how most men aren’t feminist *enough* to be worth getting involved with.)

I originally started this post as a “how-to guide” for these (presumably) sincere but frustrated nice guy types (I’m probably giving their professed sincerity more credence than it deserves, but the ones who are just the larval form of MRAs don’t really deserve much mention – I’m talking more about the ones Protagoras calls “Shy Feminist Men”), but was quickly overwhelmed by how much “how to” would be needed, and it was increasingly obvious what was fueling these misconceptions. Continue reading

Posted in Gender Caste, Gender Cultism, Gender issues | 9 Comments