Using Beauty to Establish Gamer Cred [The Gaming Beauty Myth, Part 3]

Wearing our sexuality on our sleevesLast time I talked about two prevalent female gamer archetypes that represent the gaming beauty myth and this time I want to expand upon how that interacts with the real gaming world.

One facet of being seen first for your sexuality and second for everything else is that it can influence your position in something unrelated. In the case of gaming, that means that it’s possible that how much you conform to beauty standards plays a part in how the community receives you.

I. From Geek to Glam

I think that the problem is this… for YEARS the only women who were seen in the gaming world WERE the less attractive women because it was a safe, tech driven world where they felt like they belonged. [...] Once the cuter gamer girls started making themselves known, the mass quantity of male gamers started showing attention to them. [...] Then the revolution started! All of those girls who weren’t frilly.. and didn’t feel they were “pretty” and “popular” started getting really upset and causing a stink.

[From Pageant Hid as Revolution: Miss Video Game 2007, comment by Becky "Aktrez" Young]

In her comment, Becky creates a timeline that begins with the Traditionally Geeky Female Gamers, who are later outsted from their position by the Girly-Girl Gamers (there’s actually another step between that and the “revolution” she references above, but that will be addressed later). Though the simplified run-down doesn’t ring true to me, I don’t know of any studies on the rise of gaming culture, let alone the role that women played. Nevertheless, I have heard the same kind of run-down from more than one person and so at the very least it’s a perception that exists.

The obvious connection here is that the evolution of female gamers is being presented directly in the context of the beauty myth. But, digging deeper, I’d like to put a hypothesis out there as to how the Traditionally Geeky Female Gamer’s gamer cred is established via the beauty myth.

Not part of the beauty myth... or is she?We start with the idea of women as the “sex class” — we are expected to be appealing to men and many parts of femininity are connected to that idea (makeup, being good at domestic tasks, etc). The pure Traditionally Geeky Female Gamer archetype is the exact opposite of this — she is conventionally unattractive, not interested in the feminine, and is often considered “one of the boys”.

Even today, gaming is often percieved and heralded as a male activity. How many times have you seen a guy on a gamer forum say that there just aren’t any female gamers? Marketers trying to include the feminine in gaming is a recent development, and their approach illustrates quite well the perception of femininity that they have. To the female pioneers of gaming, and probably most geeky pursuits, becoming the neutral/masculine may have seemed like the only option.

Although, as Becky states, there is now room for female gamers to be “cute”, as I will illustrate below displays of the feminine are still degraded and therefore it is still desirable in some ways for women to continue being the Traditionally Geeky stereotype, especially if they have no interest in conforming to the beauty standards that the Girly-Girls are held to.

II. Does Glam Get or Lose Cred?

The moment you post a picture of yourself or start with the whole I’m a girl gamer thing, you lose all creditability as a gamer and will have to start down the road of proving to the whole world that you actually game.

Sex has always been a seller in the video game world. BECAUSE it is male dominated, the marketers use that to drive the industry. Once the cuter gamer girls started making themselves known, the mass quantity of male gamers started showing attention to them.

[From Pageant Hid as Revolution: Miss Video Game 2007, comment by Becky "Aktrez" Young]

Much like being the Traditionally Geeky Female Gamer is a double-edged sword — you get cred as being “one of the boys”, but in a way that entails the rejection of the feminine — so too is the Girly-Girl Gamer. In this case, it hinges on how the feminine is seen to be included into the gaming community.

Faith’s take on it is pretty clear: posting pictures of yourself immediately invalidates your gamer status and makes it so that you need to “prove” that you’re a gamer despite being feminine. While Becky does have her own take on that (it’s in the next section, I promise), she makes the statement that the two aren’t mutually exclusive: “I AM a gamer and yea.. I model too. That shouldn’t matter at all!”

But, clearly, it does matter, and not just for those like Faith who believe that the Girly-Girl type are a detriment to the gaming community. On Miss Video Game’s “About MVG” page, they have this to say:

Miss Video Game was created in order to showcase female gaming talent and marketable female gamers to gaming publishers and industry decision-makers as well as the gaming community as a whole.

Now, just like it sounds like, Miss Video Game is a beauty pageant for female gamers. They emphasize that one of the reasons for this pageant is to get exposure for female gamers. But, let’s take a deeper look at the part that I quoted. They say that they want to showcase “female gaming talent and marketable female gamers to gaming publishers and industry decision-makers” [emphasis mine]. In the context of a beauty pagent, I don’t think there’s any room for wondering what “marketable” means: the most conventionally attractive women, as voted for by the judges and the audience.

Gaming While FemaleIt also matters to other gamers out there. Most gamer forums out there have at the very least a thread, sometimes an entire part of the forums, devoted to picture threads. In those threads, women are the main posters and I’ve even seen men told not to post because the male commenter in question only wanted to see the “hawt babes”. Women who aren’t up to the standards of the forum posters get called names, women who earn the ire of the forum goers for either being “too pretty” or for reasons unrelated to their looks get called men, and told that their pictures are fake.

I will be discussing the negative response from the female gamers in more depth later on in this series, but in addition to the quoted comment above, Faith also has this to say about picture posting:

Now I’m not blaming these types of girls saying it their fault for posting the pictures, but I’m just warning those female gamers out there that there are consequences to outing yourself, especially if you aren’t bad to look at.

While often praised to their faces, in other areas of the gaming community women who post their pictures get labelled “attention whores” and get told that they are one of the reasons why female gamers don’t get taken seriously.

III. Deciding Who’s Legit and Who’s Just a Faker

So, that brings us to where we are today. TONS of fakes in the gaming world who lick controllers, pose naked with consoles and strut their hottness just to get the attention of attention starved adolecent males. It’s one big ego stroke.

[From Pageant Hid as Revolution: Miss Video Game 2007, comment by Becky "Aktrez" Young]

Real or Fake?Which brings me to the bottom of this constructed hierarchy: the fakers. I can hear you all thinking, “Morgan Webb” right now. Or perhaps, as Becky says earlier in her comment, booth babes. Maybe some of you are even thinking of the Nerdcore calendar. But the truth is that all female gamers are in danger of being slapped into this category; stripped of our gamer cred because we overstepped our bounds somehow.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this subject, as I think it’s better suited for the next part of my series, but suffice it to say, “fakers” are classified as women, usually models, who are faking their interest/knowledge in gaming to get attention/money/whatever. These are the bottom of the barrel and are considered not to have any gamer cred whatsoever. It’s also a classification based solely on these hypothetical women’s looks; it is contingent on the perception that these women entered the gaming community/industry in order to profit off their appearance.

IV. Conclusion

What does credibility of a gamer have to do with looks? Why is the choice between gaining cred through rejection of the feminine and embracing the masculine or getting cred through embracing the feminine to the point that it defines you above all else? Looks, feminity, masculinity… none of those have anything to do with gaming.

It shouldn’t matter, but it does.

One may argue that by buying into the beauty myth, the Girly-Girl Gamers deserve to have their gamer cred be contingent on their looks. Yet, to say that is to downplay, if not outright ignore, the parts of the gaming community that encourage and pressure women into posting pictures, that when women post pictures it’s read in a much different way than when men do it, and it ignores the greater cultural influence of the beauty myth that makes it so that it’s hard, if not impossible, for women to divorce oursleves from sex and sexuality.

Femininity shouldn’t be seen as mutually exclusive of “real” gaming. But it is.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
This entry was posted in Feminism, Gender Cultism, Series, The Beauty Myth, The Gaming Beauty Myth, Video Games. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Using Beauty to Establish Gamer Cred [The Gaming Beauty Myth, Part 3]

  1. Lake Desire says:

    Aktrez wrote:

    All of those girls who weren’t frilly.. and didn’t feel they were “pretty” and “popular” started getting really upset and causing a stink.

    Apparently those of us who are frumpy are so jealous because all we women care about is getting attention from men. Like that’s the reason we are gamers.

    The Miss Video Game blurb tekanji quoted, with my bold-face added:

    Miss Video Game was created in order to showcase female gaming talent and marketable female gamers to gaming publishers and industry decision-makers as well as the gaming community as a whole.

    Sounds to me like they’re trying to prove how much market value women have as accessories if game companies could only utilize our hawtness.

  2. Katie says:

    Wait a second…isn’t traditional masculinity also a double-edged sword (I think I’m using that term right)?

    Aren’t men who are strong enough to push a fridge up their staircases without help considered unlikely to be good gamers?

    And aren’t men who are talented at gaming considered unlikely to be strong enough to push a fridge up their staircases?

    I mean, isn’t that WHY talented-at-gaming men are considered “traditionally unattractive?” Because they’re not supposed to have the time to do the kinds of things that make them “appealing to women” in the ways that they’re “supposed” to appeal to us?

    It’s funny…your lose or win cred scenario just made me pull back from this whole “beauty myth” thing applying to women & making us a “sex class” even in gaming. This just made me wonder if men, from the beginning of their entrance into gaming, have lived with at least SOME DEGREE of the exact same stereotypes. And hey, maybe the “unattractive” but talented men have ALSO reacted to the “attractive and trying to prove talent, too” men that have come into the world of gaming through Xboxes in frat houses.

    Of course, none of these strong and conventionally sexy-to-women men were “booth babes” at E3, I assume. And though looks have probably helped many male gamers who “have both talent and looks” break out of hobbyism and make millions (I’ll bet plenty of company founders were attractive), it’s true that you can see completely “unattractive” men among rich company founders in California (just look in the media that report gaming business success stories), whereas you don’t see the same proportion of conventionally unattractive women who are rich & company founders simply because they gamed a lot and did something about it, with no help from looks. So yes, the degree is different.

    Maybe we can take those anecdotes–like booth babes and unkempt Silicon Valley company owners–and use them as targeted, specific ways to even out the playing field. (And, as we’ve seen in the rest of the world, griping about objectification just gets us thrown in with the gripers about sex of any kind. No–we’re going to have to get ugly women on the cover of magazines, not get the hot ones taken off the covers of magazines. We’re going to have to DEMAND male booth babes at E3 if we want to eventually see the female ones go away, because just directly demanding that the female ones go away won’t work.)

    But yeah, I think…hmmmm. Actually, I think realizing that there IS a “beauty myth” applying to men in this field (whereas it might not apply to them in other fields) HELPS find specific things we can be activist about. It makes it seem like we have a much smaller pruning & planting job to take on.

  3. tekanji says:

    Lake Desire wrote:

    Apparently those of us who are frumpy are so jealous because all we women care about is getting attention from men.

    Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of attitude that the beauty myth is supposed to foster. When women are so busy competing with each other because they put everything in the context of attracting men, we lose the opportunity to forge strong bonds with other like-minded women and that hinders our ability to actually get to a point where we can be taken seriously no matter how we express ourselves.

    Sounds to me like they’re trying to prove how much market value women have as accessories if game companies could only utilize our hawtness.

    Yeah, that’s pretty much my take on it. After all the talk of “empowerment” and whatever that they had in the rest of the page, my jaw kind of dropped at how transparent that one line was. It’s not about representing female gamers it’s about representing the kind of female gamers men want to see.

    Katie said:

    Wait a second…isn’t traditional masculinity also a double-edged sword (I think I’m using that term right)?

    Yes, traditional masculinity is certainly a double-edged sword. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, I’d recommend Real Men Are Not, which is a blog by Shrub.com guest blogger Luke that explores masculinity from a feminist perspective.

    I’m not going to get to the rest of your questions on men and the beauty myth here, as I will address them specifically in my postscript to this series (and, with your permission, quote some of what you’ve said here).

    No–we’re going to have to get ugly women on the cover of magazines, not get the hot ones taken off the covers of magazines.

    Also don’t forget that “ugly” is an arbitrary standard. On today’s magazine covers “ugly” all too often boils down to “accurate representation of a human being.” I presume you’ve seen the Dove ad that illustrates how a normal-looking woman gets made up, put into an artificial situation (ideal lighting, wind on the hair, etc), and then photoshopped so much that the woman who ends up on the ad itself is the representation of the idea of womanhood, rather than what any real woman looks like. It may seem like an extreme example, but if you look on the internet you can find portfolios for professional image retouchers that do the exact same thing, and often with images that I myself have seen in magazines.

    We’re going to have to DEMAND male booth babes at E3 if we want to eventually see the female ones go away, because just directly demanding that the female ones go away won’t work.

    While I agree that just demanding that the female ones go away won’t work, I don’t think the “equal objectification” angle (ie. demanding male booth babes) will work either because the power is simply not balanced. A male booth babe doesn’t convey the same power structure that a female booth babe does. For example, female booth babes often represent their video game counterparts, but — since men in video games both are portrayed in a wide variety of ways and more often than not are not overtly sexualized — male booth babes would not have that connotation.

    Although how to get the video game industry to enter the 21st century and hold itself to an actually professional standard is not something I have the answer to.

  4. Katie says:

    You’ve got my permission!

  5. Katie says:

    Also don’t forget that “ugly” is an arbitrary standard.

    SO sorry. I should’ve put it into quotes myself. I think I see what you’re saying–that even just getting conventionally pretty women onto [business, gaming, etc.] magazine covers unaltered would be just as good?

  6. Your post also makes me think about the pink consoles and handhelds: that they were made for the casual girl(y) gamers, and are also looked at as such. So essentially, you can lose your gamer credibility from a color that is the representation of femininity.

  7. shannon says:

    This is not really related, but think of how much better the miss video game contest would have been if instead of this mess about marketability, they merely had an all women’s gaming contest. Now that I could go for.

  8. BrainFromArous says:

    “For example, female booth babes often represent their video game counterparts, but — since men in video games both are portrayed in a wide variety of ways and more often than not are not overtly sexualized — male booth babes would not have that connotation.”

    I would add that video game “booth babes” are merely the latest application of a older practice. Exhibitors have been posing scantily-clad females for every manner of product launch and trade show for some time now. I’ve even seen them at past ISC events. (ISC is a big security / surveillance technology trade show held in New York.) There has never been a real male equivalent to this.

  9. BetaCandy says:

    So, basically, it’s all about receiving male approval. The picture threads in forums, the preconceptions that keep marketers from understanding women gamers… it’s not about what women are. It’s about what men will accept them being.

    It sounds like these picture threads are really set up to allow insecure boys to put down someone society considers superior to them (hot women). Must alleviate a lot of frustration, and of course it would help them put off that dreaded look within themselves that might reveal that they really ARE losers… not because they game or because they’re geeks, but because they let the world make them feel like losers.

  10. BrainFromArous says:

    Partially, BetaC, but there’s also the plain (essential?) fact that males like to look at attractive females. There’s a simple, powerful sensory pleasure in such spectacles. I can’t imagine there are many women who don’t know this; one aspect of their agency is choosing whether or not to play along.

  11. Aktrez says:

    I came across this post when Faith sent it to me. It’s interesting how much you pull apart our very simple arguments.

    I have been competing in pageants since I was very young. I’m an actress and I enjoy performing I’m a gamer and I enjoy competing. Pageants gave me the opportunity to compete and also perform. I have learned a GREAT deal about myself and also have gained very important interview skills and the ability to be able to handle personal critism.

    Miss Video Game is nothing but a pageant for girls who are into gaming. I too would like to see more GAMING oriented questions and goals for the participants. It’s not really skill level that I would like to see but more knowledge and creativity. Not all girls can kick ass in gaming. I, personally, play to have fun and not to be the best. Therefore, a whole gaming contest just for girls closes off a lot of participants.

    I think that it would be cool to get more creative and draw in more gaming themes to make this a more well rounded pageant.

  12. tekanji says:

    BrainFromArous says:

    Partially, BetaC, but there’s also the plain (essential?) fact that males like to look at attractive females.

    But, that’s not a “fact” at all. It’s a heterosexist assumption that we all grow up with from the time we’re small. But there are homosexual, asexual, and even men who are sexually attracted to women out there who don’t share the same view.

    And, anyway, I think BetaCandy’s point is not that wanting to look at the kinds of people you’re attracted to is a problem, but rather that (and my personal experience backs this one up), all too often these things express and reinforce insecurities found in both men and women. I don’t think either of us believe that there’s anything wrong or bad about having picture threads, but the way that they’re treated right now doesn’t seem to encourage healthy self-esteem building overall.

    Aktrez:

    It’s interesting how much you pull apart our very simple arguments.

    But, see, I don’t think they’re simple at all. I think it’s the fact that they are so common — and, while I am primarily relying on your and Faith’s posts, I hope I’m also making clear that this isn’t something unique to you, but rather something that we all deal with — makes them seem simple, but in reality they’re much more complex than they appear.

    Women grow up with highly conflicting messages — be sexy, don’t be slutty, seek male approval, don’t be an attention whore, etc — and the way we internalize and deal with them is a complex process. One that, for my series, I, too, am oversimplifying.

    If there’s one thing that I want people to take from this series, it’s not the idea that a “perfect” kind of female gamer exists (because I don’t think it does), but rather I want readers to come away from this with even a small understanding of the pressures that female gamers (and, really, all women, and to a certain extent all people) face in this regard.

    Miss Video Game is nothing but a pageant for girls who are into gaming.

    Just a sidenote on the pageant, a few gamers have been doing some digging and have some concerns about the people/organization running it. Here is one of the most recent posts on the matter, but if you look around that community you can find some more on the subject. It’s too early to say for sure about anything, but please do be careful and urge your fellow contestants to be careful.

  13. Katie says:

    Thanks for the link, Andrea. For people who’re still reading this thread, here’re my favorite comments from a followup thread (in response to a letter that the MVG 2007 pageant/competition/whatever-it-is organizers sent back) to the link Andrea just provided:

    I’m thinking if they really wanted a pure gaming competition and still wanted a public voting round, they could just take away the picture submission altogether so that you’re only based on what you write in your profile or whatever. :\

     
     
    Another favorite is:

    …if they’re constantly trying to improve it, then why are they so “offended” at suggestions that the suggestive pictures might not be the best way to go about it :P

    If they ARE legit, they certainly aren’t trying very hard.

    And she’s right. The organizers are ignoring real people’s feelings and the suggestions based off of them. How does that indicate “improving the experience for contestants” or “address the concerns, questions and suggestions of our contestants?” It just plain doesn’t, and any of the real people with real feelings and intelligent suggestions should be offended that they’re not being taken seriously when the organizers claim they’re serious about taking contestants [and, by extension, potential contestants] seriously.
    These organizers must get their act together and do what they say they intend to do. We–including every person who’s already submitted an entry–need to tell them so! People with feelings like this quote below are critical to listen to if the contest/pageant/whatever-it-is is going to be any good.

    Why isn’t there a guy version of this?…seriously, even the THOUGHT of it makes me feel like they’re just out looking at meat anyway. bleh.

     
     
    I mean, the letter from these organizers lists the following traits they’re looking for in a spokesperson (who will, presumably, be the winner of the contest): “knowledgeable about gaming, has a good learning curve about games, is charismatic, and has positive views for the female gamers and the gaming industry as whole.” The first quote I posted, about the pictures, connects to the point that is quite valid to make–that you can’t tell about knowledge, learning curve, or views from a picture. The only thing that comes close to being discernable from a picture is charisma, and even that is usually better communicated via the voice–you could rate charisma over the radio better than you could through a picture. Sheesh–if looks ranked higher than voice control in determining charisma, Pierce Brosnan would be selling stuff like collect calls in ads, not Carrot Top. But that’s not what really indicates charisma, and, as a result, you see Carrot Top, not Brosnan.

    One commenter agrees with me that their idea of “rich media” to “allow contestants to showcase their personalities and offer better insight on who they really are [than] can be discerned about a person through…simple text,” (text from the letter from the organizers) sounds, well, dumb & ignorant about what various media are good at conveying.

    Plenty of other information, whatever. I’ve seen forum signatures that offer more than what their little ‘profile’ offers, hell, even myspace offers more question/answer/about me space :P There could at least be some kind of way to list games, icons to select for favorite/most used system, a graph of somesort for gaming progress.

    Rich media? A picture and a webcam? Geez, they could at least offer a section for music :P

    and

    If it’s not about appearence then uh, WHY is the main search/browse in…PICTURES?

     
     
    So, having debunked their claims that their methods actually match their stated criteria for a spokesperson, let me ask:
    If they wanted the added criterion of, “beautiful,” why won’t they just gosh darn say it?

    ARRRRRRRRRRRGH! I’m so sick of people not saying what they mean–especially when they’re in a situation of some power! (However small the scope may be in the grand scheme of things.) So is this commenter:

    Ok. They sound like they’re anticipating getting thousand of entries, and therefore have to narrow it down. Getting the public to vote for their favorite 50 and having those women compete is a good idea.

    However

    The format they’re using is obviously gearing it towards a “beauty contest.” If the picture is first and foremost, blaming it on the public (“we are not in control of which criteria the public uses”) is a total copout. And if they somehow didn’t realize that “Miss Video Game” is a direct parallel of “Miss America” and other beauty contests, then I have a magical invisible pixie who shits invisible gold coins to sell them.

    If it’s a “Check out the cute girl play video games! Isn’t it cool?” contest, and of course it is if they want to get any press, they should just admit to it and not act all offended that people figured it out.

  14. BrainFromArous says:

    “But, that’s not a “fact” at all. It’s a heterosexist assumption that we all grow up with from the time we’re small. But there are homosexual, asexual, and even men who are sexually attracted to women out there who don’t share the same view.”

    I think my point still stands. Most males are hetero and of those, the vast majority do indeed respond to images of attractive females. Exceptions exist but are just that – exceptions. In fact, straight guys whose eyes aren’t drawn to images of attractive women are rare indeed. What we DO with our sexual feelings is very much socially-informed, I’m with you there, but the engine behind the whole thing is biological. That’s why sex-exploitive adverts work so well; they push a button that’s wired right into us.

    I don’t want to be tiresome or pedantic, but the existence of exceptions does not invalidate categorization. It may be “bipedalist” to assume that people can walk since some don’t have two working legs, but the statement “humans walk upright” is valid nonetheless. It’s a true description of the primary locomotive mode of our species. Did I just write “locomotive mode?” Slap me.

    “And, anyway, I think BetaCandy’s point is not that wanting to look at the kinds of people you’re attracted to is a problem, but rather that (and my personal experience backs this one up), all too often these things express and reinforce insecurities found in both men and women.”

    Well, okay. Agreement there. I wish pictures of me merely made others insecure; the real danger there is permanent retina damage.

    “I don’t think either of us believe that there’s anything wrong or bad about having picture threads, but the way that they’re treated right now doesn’t seem to encourage healthy self-esteem building overall.”

    True that. I might be even more pessimistic about them than you are, Tek, since I’ve NEVER seen one that didn’t boil down to females being told to line for Male Gaze inspection. On forums (fora?) that I’ve moderated, such threads were zorched on sight for that reason. We want to know what people think, I would tell the members, so post x-rays of your brains if you really must have pictures.

  15. arielladrake says:

    Aktrez said:

    Not all girls can kick ass in gaming. I, personally, play to have fun and not to be the best. Therefore, a whole gaming contest just for girls closes off a lot of participants.

    And a whole lot of guys don’t “play to have fun and not to be the best”? Those guys aren’t pooh-poohing the idea of gaming contests because they’re not feeling included. And, perhaps more specifically, those guys aren’t entering ‘Mister Video Game’.

    More to the point, there is a gaming contest component to the pageant, so I’m not sure how that means women who aren’t wanting to compete at gaming are being given some solution here. Particularly, that the gaming contest component comes after the voting pretty much makes tekanji’s point for her: it’s saying ‘You have to be approved of as good enough for men to look at and rate before we start caring about your gaming skills.’

  16. Aktrez says:

    I completely agree that this pageant is starting to smell a bit fishy. Originally, there was a rating system where you could upload images/videos/creative things to get people to vote. I had thought about doing this entire “Aktrez: An E! Hollywood story” type thing using voice overs and Machinima to make things. But, now I see they only mean webcams.

    Then, there was suppose to be a gaming contest for EVERYONE. Now, it’s only the top 5.

    They haven’t been getting back to me about very simple questions, I found a way to cheat on views (simply reload the page and you get a ton of hits).

    I mean, I’ve been doing and running pageants since I was 4 years old. I don’t see anything wrong with pageants. I think it’s a fun way for girls to compete. BUT, that being said, I think their needs to be some more creativity added and less about look/popularity.

    As the head of PMS put it the other day “One PMS girl could post on the forums and get thousands of hits.” I never liked popularity contests because I was never popular. It never felt fair or right. I like the idea of a gamer pageant because I love pageants and I love gaming. IN fact, I was the creator of the MIss Rubi-Ka and MIss Galaxy pageants in AO and Star Wars Galaxies (respectively)

    I am just not sure what the best way is to do this!

  17. Katie says:

    I am just not sure what the best way is to do this!

    Sure you do, Aktrez. Just look at what you wrote:

    Originally, there was a rating system where you could upload images/videos/creative things to get people to vote. I had thought about doing this entire “Aktrez: An E! Hollywood story” type thing using voice overs and Machinima to make things.

    I’ve been doing and running pageants since I was 4 years old. I don’t see anything wrong with pageants. I think it’s a fun way for girls to compete. BUT, that being said, I think their needs to be some more creativity added and less about look/popularity.

    You seem to be just the person to make that kind of pageant. Anyone who can come up with the fun idea you did in response to “creative things to get people to vote” can come up with a pageant that shifts the nature of pageants from popularity to creativity [and other shareable aspects of a person's personality].

    Don’t doubt yourself. You’ve got 2 practice runs under your belt and you’ve got the spark I detailed above. Go for it. Make that reality-shifting pageant come true if you dream of it. I believe you can.

  18. Katie says:

    Holy crap, Aktrez. That’s a Myspace page?
    I might want to recruit you to help me design a page or two. I liked RAINN-DC’s format for a nonprofit organization’s Myspace presence, but I can’t quite figure out how they did it.
    Yours has similar kinds of overrides.
    I’ll PM you through Myspace when I get around to it.

  19. Lake Desire says:

    I have learned a GREAT deal about myself and also have gained very important interview skills and the ability to be able to handle personal critism.

    Aktrez, I’m not familiar with pagent culture, but hope that it’s not your personality or appearance that is criticized. I don’t think anyone deserved that kind of competition.

  20. arielladrake says:

    BrainFromArous says:

    I think my point still stands. Most males are hetero and of those, the vast majority do indeed respond to images of attractive females. Exceptions exist but are just that – exceptions. In fact, straight guys whose eyes aren’t drawn to images of attractive women are rare indeed. What we DO with our sexual feelings is very much socially-informed, I’m with you there, but the engine behind the whole thing is biological. That’s why sex-exploitive adverts work so well; they push a button that’s wired right into us.

    I don’t think it’s quite so simple as ‘our sexual feelings are biological and what we do about them is socially informed’. There’s a socially informed component to our sexual feelings, also. Not to mention that the entire paragraph above seems to be treating ‘attractive females’ as some kind of natural category. And this is the thing. What’s ‘attractive’ is socially informed, so to say that it’s some kind of biological fact that men like to look at attractive women is really to say that men are biologically wired to buy into a socially informed beauty standard. And, well, I have a feeling that’s not really what you were intending.

    I don’t want to be tiresome or pedantic, but the existence of exceptions does not invalidate categorization. It may be “bipedalist” to assume that people can walk since some don’t have two working legs, but the statement “humans walk upright” is valid nonetheless. It’s a true description of the primary locomotive mode of our species. Did I just write “locomotive mode?” Slap me.

    Even if we assume the above is true (and that’s a big assumption), there’s no reason for such categorisation to take place outside of scientific discussion (if it even has a place there), and certainly no place for such blanket categorisation within discussions about anti-oppression work, which I might remind you is precisely where you are. Because what such categorisation does is that it places the majority case not just as the majority, but as the standard, which says to those “exceptions”, as you call them, that they’re not valid, and, at times, that they don’t count as human. Kindly, check your privilege. The “exceptions” you’re dismissing from your standard are actual living people, and it would do you well to remember that.

  21. BrainFromArous says:

    “I don’t think it’s quite so simple as ‘our sexual feelings are biological and what we do about them is socially informed’. There’s a socially informed component to our sexual feelings, also. Not to mention that the entire paragraph above seems to be treating ‘attractive females’ as some kind of natural category. And this is the thing.”

    They are a natural category the same way food is. Sexual interest, like hunger, is a biological imperative – that for food is far stronger, ‘natch – which is “informed” by culture and socialization. Informed by, not created by. The utility to marketers of pandering sexist tripe like Miss Video Game, booth babes and the like is that they are guaranteed a certain level of attention from the lads. The marketers have but to provide the sexual spectacle; that their (straight, male) audience will respond to it is taken for granted just as restaurants take for granted that you will, at some point, be hungry. Their task is not to invent or engineer hunger, but merely to convince you to sate it with what they’re selling.

    “What’s ‘attractive’ is socially informed, so to say that it’s some kind of biological fact that men like to look at attractive women is really to say that men are biologically wired to buy into a socially informed beauty standard. And, well, I have a feeling that’s not really what you were intending.”

    I agree that it’s socially informed, to a point. (Anthropologists have found some interesting universals regarding the preference for youth, clear skin, symmetrical faces and so on, but that’s another discussion.) But here again we are talking about the cultivation and manipulation of desires already present, not the ex nihilo creation of something heretofore absent. I agree that there is great subjectivity and variance in what is considered “sexy” but it’s a non sequiter to claim therefore that the interest in “sexiness” is NOT based in biology.

    “Even if we assume the above is true (and that’s a big assumption), there’s no reason for such categorisation to take place outside of scientific discussion (if it even has a place there), and certainly no place for such blanket categorisation within discussions about anti-oppression work, which I might remind you is precisely where you are.”

    Ok, this entire statement is puzzling. First: Which one is the “big assumption” – that walking upright is the primary locomotive mode of the human animal or that exceptions do not invalidate categorization? Second: Why would the consideration of valid general claims about phenomena NOT have a place in scientific discussion, or beyond it? Third: Why wouldn’t “anti-oppression work” include the understanding of generalities or, indeed, innate attributes when they are relevent?

    “Because what such categorisation does is that it places the majority case not just as the majority, but as the standard, which says to those “exceptions”, as you call them, that they’re not valid, and, at times, that they don’t count as human.”

    Only if you wish it to. Example: Left-handedness is not the standard; the majority of people are right-handed. Southpaws are exceptional. Those are valid, categorical statements that have precisely ZERO to say about the worth or humanity of the left-handed. I’m well aware that people love to load simple statistical terms like “normal” with all manner of moral and cultural baggage. Many do so deliberately because of their irrational fear of those who are different – your “exceptions.” That is not the case with either of us, I trust, and there is no reason why you and I should have to treat the concepts of categories, deviance, prediction and so forth like some kind of contaminated radiation zone.

    “Kindly, check your privilege. The “exceptions” you’re dismissing from your standard are actual living people, and it would do you well to remember that.”

    I’m not “dismissing” anyone. I’m no more asserting “privilege” than you are. I reject the ‘classification = exclusion = oppression’ formula because I think such equations are simply wrong.

  22. tekanji says:

    BrainFromArous: Please review the Discussion Rules. Your assertions break the “Don’t State Stereotypes as Facts” rule.

    You are making sweeping generalizations about “natural” human behaviour that support established stereotypes as if they are accepted fact. They are not.

    If you wish to discuss possible traits of human beings, you must at the very least state your sources. And furthermore (as has been pointed out to you twice) stating them as such is dissmissive and contributes to a society in which groups that don’t conform to these standards are erased from view. This blog is an anti-oppression blog, which means that when you’re told to consider how your views contribute to the oppression of others you do just that.

    I also advise you to check out the new rule on what to do when told to check your privilege. You’ve already had your warning about privilege, and if you are told to check it again and respond with something such as ” I’m no more asserting my ‘privilege’ than you are,” then your comment will be deleted.

    I am pretty sure that you are commenting here to engage in an exchange of ideas and information. To do that you need to be willing to think and learn as much as you’re willing to express your ideas and point of view. Challenging privilege is an integral part of that (at least on this blog), and responding with a defensive “no I’m not!” reaction to being told to check your privilege without thinking about what people have been saying is simply not acceptable.

  23. arielladrake says:

    BrainFromArous:

    There’s a difference between saying “most humans walk upright” and “humans walk upright”. To go back to your original comment, you talk about the ‘fact’ that “men like looking at attractive women”, and justify that formulation by saying that most men fit such a description. It is not me ‘wishing it so’ that makes your classification a dismissal of the exceptions. That’s a function of classification.

    “Humans walk upright” as a classification statement, does actually carry the assumption that not walking upright = not human, regardless of how much you wish to pretend it doesn’t. “Most humans walk upright” indicates the ‘primary’ locomotive mode of human beings without rendering exceptions invisible and invalid. The latter does not justify the former.

  24. Godless Heathen says:

    I saw this ad they played on G4 and it made me think of these articles. The very girly girl representing the console that’s being marketed to casual gamers verses the geeky girl marketing the hardcore gamerness of the Playstation 3. There are a lot of layers to that beyond the obvious, including the implication that the girly girl has no substance and you’ll tire of her quickly (she’s supposed to represent the Wii but she also represents the casual but hot female gamer). Yes, I realize these are Mac vs PC commercial parodies, but the Mac guy never fondles himself and giggles like the Wii girl does so I’m willing to see them out of that context for a bit.

    Not only is the little video coded for men to remind them of the false dichotomy, remember G4 is a channel for gamers, so female gamers who are watching also get a dose of the message “remember, girly gamers are ruining your cred”. Nevermind that your gamer creds are decided without your input by men who find you hawt or not, we’re supposed to believe that it’s other women who somehow wreck our chances of being taken seriously.

  25. Caseyshere says:

    I read this all and another rather obvious culural norm is also overlooked: most women prefer looking at sexy, exotic, etc women as well. I also do not mean homosexual women, but rather most women. It starts as very young girls, who we could argue as “asexual”. They prefer women characitures. Disney Princesses have been around for decades, why? because they are pleasing to look at. Barbie as well. Males do not have a matching “icon”. Young boys are also drawn to females as charaters. Long before sex and lust cloud the picture. Women are just more pleasant to look at for most people.

    And I believe that women gamers were initially gamers not because they were unattractive or geeks, but rather because they were GOOD at it. Not all women are, as the majority of female brains are biologically not geared toward hand/eye coordination and technical skills. I did not say ALL, but most. That is proven, through science, PET scans etc, that women as a whole utilize our brains differently then most men.

    Accepting women as DIFFERENT is not stereotyping, but rather is embracing the fact that women ARE different, we are NOT men.

  26. Malachi says:

    “Young boys are also drawn to females as charaters. Long before sex and lust cloud the picture. Women are just more pleasant to look at for most ”

    Not so fast, Casey. Young boys may not be sexually mature, but that doesn’t mean that societal ideas about sex, gender, and all that haven’t affected them.

  27. Denise says:

    Cseyshere said:
    “Not all women are, as the majority of female brains are biologically not geared toward hand/eye coordination and technical skills. I did not say ALL, but most. That is proven, through science, PET scans etc, that women as a whole utilize our brains differently then most men.”

    Utilizing the resources we have differently from men, while proven, does not mean we use them to an inferior effect. Kitting and quilting, traditionally women crafts, are can be incredibly intricate and require a great deal of both hand-eye coordination and technical skill (else there would be a spray of bloody dots from stabbed fingers instead of a pretty pattern). In my experience, there is a great deal of variation in women’s and men’s abilities to use our brains, and the variation among members of each sex is greater than the difference between the sexes.

  28. dreamer says:

    I hate to be a pain, but can anyone cite these scientific studies which show all women’s brains categorically being differently structured to all men’s? Thanks.

  29. Lake Desire says:

    I’d like to see these studies, too. If they exist, they’re worth looking at critically (what values situate the subjectivity of the scienctists?) because people use these supposed biological differences to justify discrimination.

  30. tekanji says:

    dreamer and LD: I’ve come up with a couple of references and whatnot off the top of my head. If you find a better resource for this sort of thing, please let me know.

    Study: PDF File
    Commentary:
    Sexual Dimorphism and Feminism
    Embracing Your Inner Skeptic

    Book: The Female Brain
    Commentary:
    Busy tongues
    Neuroscience in the service of sexual stereotypes
    Sex and speaking rate
    Your hormones are telling you not to use a vibrator

    Other:
    David Brooks, cognitive neuroscientist

Comments are closed.